Tag Archives: N.T. Wright

Explore the You

Have you ever gone exploring?     ex  plore /ik’splor/ v.  travel in or through an area in order learn about or familiarize oneself with it.

Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier He had his gun, 'ol Betsy'

I have explored the winding banks of the Washita River and Cache Creek; I have wandered down meandering cow paths and crawled through a thousand barbed-wire fences on my way to nowhere. Daniel Boone had “Tick-Licker” and Davy Crockett carried “`ol Betsy”— I carried Ole Stickie.  You won’t find a lot of tigers or lions or bears around Apache, Oklahoma anymore. I killed `em all. I supposed I had hunted them to extinction by the time I was 11 or 12 years old. I did a lot of exploring by then.

The neighborhood boys had a favorite place to play called The Canyon. In reality it was only a 200 yard stretch of ditch. It was about fifteen or twenty feet deep and maybe fifteen feet wide. When you’re a kid, a place like that is a canyon.  One end of the canyon became a dumping ground for old cars. The canyon held quite a number of autos that were piled on top of each other, and the pile created a network of passages that little boys could crawl through. I can still remember the smell of the musty, rotting fabric from the car seats. It was dark down in the bottom of this stack of cars, but not too dark.


No parent today would ever allow a kid to have that kind of adventure. But hey! We were just doing what we were supposed to be doing, playing outside. (An advantage of growing up in a small town in the 1960’s, we would leave and be gone for hours, sometimes drifting a couple miles from home. Mom didn’t worry, we were in a community.)

The Topic: Go Exploring –  N.T. Wright suggests that we should explore four areas of our inner life in order to more fully understand and experience the Christian life.

1) Our longing for justice;

2) Our quest for spirituality;

3) Our hunger for relationships;

4) Our delight in beauty.

Justice:  I’m certain that we want justice in the world. We want earthly matters to be put-to-right. We would like for things on the playground to “be fair” too. As we study the life of Jesus, we see that so much of His work is pointing out the difference between the values of God’s Kingdom and and the values of worldly authorities (governments and religious leaders). Jesus is in the business of putting things to right. I want to explore more about my role in joining Christ to seek justice and just-ness.

Spiritulality: The goals of secularization seem to be set on quenching the quest for spirituality. Too many weird things happen with people in that quest and too many impractical “isms” are born there. How many ways are there to be spiritual? Jesus offers the way that is both practical and true.

Relationships: How many books have been written about relationships? Religion is that concern with vertical relationship and the horizontal relationship is how we find one another.  It’s always great to allow Jesus to lead us in the How Department of relationships.

Beauty:  My wife loves sunsets. She adores them like no person I have ever known. She is gifted in her ability to see beauty in the things we have going on most each and every day. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If that is true, it is true because Jesus addresses it in His words, “the lamp of the body is the eye, when your eye is good, your whole body will be filled with light.” (Matthew 6:22).

It’s important to study the Bible. Go exploring from time to time. Explore your inner life. Get yourself a coffee or a beverage of your choice. Open your Bible and read the words of Jesus. It is a wonderful adventure.

The most wonderful thing about the Living Word, is that you can seek to understand the Scriptures, and be amazed, because the Scriptures understand you.

Stories Written in Blood

by Josh Bottomly

Not long ago my wife, Amy, posted a picture of my night stand on her blog.

It was a picture of the books propped up on my stand.

From left to right.

Tim Keller’s The Reason for God.

Abraham Heschel’s God in Search of Man.

C.S. Lewis’s Quotables.

Eugene Petersons translation of the Bible, The Message.

And, N.T. Wright’s Matthew for Everyone.

An anonymous blogger saw this picture and posed this question directly to me (and indirectly to all Christians):

Why do so many Christians just read Christian books?

My first mental response was of course immature, arrogant, condescending, and reactionary:

How dare you try and pigeonhole!  I peruse the Fiction and Literature section at Barnes and Noble more frequently than I do the Spiritual Devotion section.

I have a undergraduate and graduate degree in English literature.

You name a classic or contemporary author, and I’ll bet I have studied him or her.  Shakespeare.  Check.  O’ Connor.  Check.  Camus.  Check.  Kerouac.  Check.

But later, after I had calmed down, I sat down to think a bit about that anonymous person’s question.  It’s an appropriate question, really.  And it was probably not meant to stir up conflict. But conversation.

So after some reflection, this is how I responded to this blogger.

Simply put: I’m interested in reading any story that is written in blood.

Take East of Eden by John Steinbeck, for example. Now that’s a book written in blood. Who of us hasn’t felt an acute sense of displacement? It’s not that we are living in the wrong place; just the wrong way. Or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.  I’ve got a son now and the thought of dying for Silas – not a iota of fear. But the thought of Silas having to live beyond my dying love – nothing but fear.

Any story then that struggles with what it means to be human, what it means to walk upright in a bent world, what it means to live within tensions and questions and doubts – that’s a story I want to read and participate in because it is written in the author’s blood. Whether it is written by a Christian. Or agnostic. Or atheist. Or Buddhist. Or Muslim.  Because all truth is God’s truth.  And part of the theology of common grace includes the animating belief that when we tell the truth about our experience of being human, regardless of our “worldview” or religious belief system, somehow, in some mysterious way, a “gleam of the evengelium”, as J.R.R. Tolkien argued, shines through.

J.R.R. Tolkein, smoking his famous pipe.

So I pose this contagion of questions for you to ponder – Christian or not:

What books have you read that are written in blood?

What stories have spoken and resonated with your deepest humanity?

What narratives have shaped the way you understand the narrative we live in?

No doubt, I’m always looking for a good read. And by good, I mean a story where the author simply has the courage as Fredrick Buechner puts it,  to “open a vein.”