I believe in something called “transcendence”. I believe that the eternal is out there, desperately trying to get our attention as we go about our busy lives, trying to get us to pause long enough to appreciate moments of great beauty. Most of the time we’re too busy walking with our heads down and our eyes focused on the road right in front of us, but if we slow down long enough, we may be apprehended by the eternal and blessed by the life we are experiencing.

I had such a moment tonight. On my way home from a gig… standing on the El platform at Belmont, just reading. Dozens of people around: some touristy family, some people out partying, and a bunch of Hispanic men and women on their way home from work. I’m reading a book, listening to Spooky Ghost. As “A New Promise” begins, I pause, and I look at the light snow that’s beginning to fall. God, it’s a beautiful moment, pregnant with possibilities and beauty. A. Perfect. Freakin. Moment. Transcendance. How I wish that I could write the words that would more adequately convey what I was experiencing in those few minutes, but words fail.

The drunk guy and his girl who was trying to steady him on the platform, the hipsters around me, all seem to be in perfect alignment with the song and weather. The orange street lights, the haze and mist. I’m standing there with a stupid grin on my face.

Who would ever want to leave here?

“I guess I’ll see you after…”

Yes, I believe in transcendence.



If you interact with the Christian church, as I do, you hear a lot about these guys. We mock them for being so clueless to Jesus' "secret identity." We rail at them for being so legalistic and moralistic, for loving to judge and condemn. Let's face it, they're big, easy targets in the gospels, and it's not difficult to take the evidence there and pass judgment.

However, I cannot. I can't because I see too much of myself in their story. My legalism, my disdain for "sinners"anyone who challenges my idea of what "acceptable Christian living" isis all too evident to me.

I find it troubling as well, that so many of our "biblical" teachers blindly join in the chorus of ridicule and condescension of the Pharisees (a group that, strangely enough, shared more key beliefs with Jesus than the other major competing religious groups of his time: the afterlife, holiness, engagement with the world, etc., etc.). I'm afraid that what it produces is a kind of spiritual arrogance in our churches' congregations that laugh at the (often unfunny) jokes and thank God that they're not like the Pharisees, all the while living a life unexamined, and missing the pointing fingers, the narrow walls that govern their own lives.

It seems to me that one of the Pharisees' mistakes was that they had reduced God's work on earth to too many rules and regulations. But don't I do the same thing? Do this thing and God will like you. Communion must look a certain way. God can only work in churches, and furthermore churches that are subscribing to certain doctrine.

Christ (and Godread the Old Testament, really) came to blow open the doors of our perceptions about how God works, about who can come to Him. The Psalmist declares that only those who are righteous (perfect) and those who don't engage in any form of moral nastiness can come to God. Christ says, "Yeah, right, but guess what: God's stance towards you first is love. Take a step towards God in faith, and he will take steps towards you (indeed, He probably already has, we're just blind to it). As you draw near, God begins to bring that righteousness into fruition through faith in Christ's work on the cross

Wow, did that end up sounding theological. Preach, preacher!

I believe that God is active in the world. We become "Pharisees" whenever we come to believe that He will only work in ways that are acceptable and understandable to us.

I believe that we all stand in need of a savior. We become "Pharisees" whenever we come to believe that somehow our sins are "not as evil" or "better" than others' sin