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3.04.2008

Geek Squad Jesus

Today's UPI column

So There I was…

Inside an organ. The church organ was old even during my childhood. It had fallen upon hard times, having been sold with the building by the Lutherans. It was as big as a small house, from the motor in the basement that filled its mighty bellows to the 16 foot pipes soaring above the sanctuary. My mother played it every Sunday. Trained on piano she taught herself how to play the two keyboards and the extra keyboard of pedals that she played with her feet. She had nearly perfect pitch and the organ that hadn’t had proper maintenance in a decade must have driven her to distraction.

This is how my father came to be the organ’s repairman.

He claimed it started with a toaster. She wanted to throw it out. He told her it was perfectly good, it just needed a little work. He was kinda cheap. She handed it to him. “Fine, Fix it.” So he took it apart and figured out what was wrong and fixed it on the spot. He was proud. She was cautiously impressed. She said “You think you can fix anything, don’t you?” He allowed as this might be close to the truth. She said “Fine – fix my organ.” And his career as a repairer of fine wooden tracker pipe organs began.


He climbed around inside that thing for years. And when there was occasionally something he wanted to reach in a space to small for an adult, he sent in one of us children. We learned obedience – touch this not that. Put your feet here not there. He was good with machines, and good with children. He was bold. And he knew that you couldn’t fix the organ from the keyboard you had to get inside it to do the job.

I cannot help that fact that he shaped my theological impressions. I wouldn’t want to.

I have previously stated that I think that the death of Christ had nothing to do with punishment. Even Pilate knew that this was a farce. So what did happen on that day outside of Jerusalem almost 2000 years ago?
I think something broken got fixed. I see Jesus the redeemer, as Jesus the repairman, tech support if you will. See, there was this system called ‘time and space’ and running on this system was a program called ‘humanity.’ And it got all buggy. And the code called ‘the law’ just wasn’t working. So the system designer had to crack it all open. Get inside, wipe some stuff, patch other stuff, write some whole new stuff.

It’s a frustrating job, but somebody’s got to do it. It helps if the somebody doing the fixing knows what they are doing. It also helps to have patience. Sometimes, people are just dumb, they do not interface well with the program, and you have to very patiently explain to them, again and again, how the thing is supposed to work. But if the code is all glitchy, you have to get your hands dirty. And you can’t fix the code from the desktop.

So for me the incarnation, life, teaching, death and resurrection of Christ is all part of the same repair job. He got in, bringing with Him tools, skills, and a supremely solid connection to the designer. He ran the program, personally. Diagnostics were completed. One of the buggiest parts of the program was death, so he ran that too. But death was not the end, Resurrection - the reboot to end all reboots was needed. Emptied the recycle bin called Hell while He was at it.

The Law was wiped, and with it the concept of clean and unclean. Do you know what a time saver that was? Efficiency upgrade deluxe. Religious practice within the confines of tribal groups was made obsolete. Limitless grace was written in.

Then the lovely fixed program had to be turned over to the users. So a help desk was established. Some people call it the Holy Spirit, some people call it the Present Christ, some people call it The Inner Light – there are lots of names for it. But it is there 24/7.

So we run the program. Seek the Kingdom. Pursue peace. Get Serenity. Achieve enlightenment. War and hate are options under the free will part of the program. So are glory, sacrifice, and love. Calamity is just part of the set up. Calamity makes room for altruism and compassion. The whole thing works imperfectly, very imperfectly, but that is because of the human interface, not the program. The program works just fine. The human learning curve is steep but it is also part of the design.

Everybody in the program has a task. Finding it and performing it is the work of being human.

I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I work for tech support. I run tutorials. I coach new users. I scan for viruses. I help people with their upgrades. I try and keep a very solid connection. Occasionally I help people bust out of dead end spots they get themselves into. It is a good gig.

Frustrating at times, but very satisfying at others.

I come by it naturally.

Dad would understand.
Comments:
OUTstanding! And a wonderful analogy. I still gotta do the Berean thing, but you have the right framework in place I feel.
Now for the down side..... Well, hey, I can't let you think you are perfect, can I? One niggling little detail concerning Law and the concept of "purity" being wiped; I would say "rewritten." Law is not so much wiped as recast so that it's not about the rules, but the why of the rules, which does wipe some details and leaves all open to examination in the Spirit. Purity is recast in terms of how it is maintained and/or regained, with sepatation from "unclean" things going out the window and getting our hands dirty in trying to right wrongs a part of exercisisng the power of God to make things "clean" again. I'm not good at explaining this, but a good short article can be found at http://ncregister.com/site/article/7343.
But all that is too much to put into one short article isn't it? You can bust me for niggling next time I visit Freedom Friends.
Closing note: you are tackling and dealing beautifully with some very tough stuff.

In His Love,
Nate
 
HI Nate,

Thanks for showing up.
I am soooo not in doubt about the status of my perfection.

I always appreciate the feedback - even when I don't listen to it! :)

You might be appaled to find out how little time I have been putting into writing up these 700-1000 word whacks at major theological concepts. Some people would call it thoughtless, reckless and hap hazard.

Fortunately I am a Quaker and can claim that I am just writing what rises out of my worship - which is actually a true description of my process.

As to your thoughtful comments. I am ok with 'rewritten' rather than 'wiped' for the law. I think you are right there. Jesus used "fulfilled" but of course He was not trying to use some groovey post-modern metaphor that He actually had little knowlege of.

I do think I want to hang on to 'wiped' for the concept of ritually pure or impure.

I think that concept was needful to keep the Hebrew people together as a group, and not be subsumed by their neighbors, but I do think Jesus by example and word, irrevocbaly destroyed that boudary. ( and a lot of other ones)

I think this is the point of the story of Peter and Cornelius. I think there is a good Biblical case for the irradication of the concept of clean and unclean people.

And my personal trump card, in my own experience of God, I find that clean and unclean has no meaning in my life and ministry. It does not feel like I am Getting my hands dirty when I kiss the lepers. I am realizing that i am no different than they are. They have God in them as I do.

When I myself sin these days it does not feel like I have become dirty and in need of cleaning before I can be useful. It feels like I am off task, and all that is required is a simple change in focus and direction. I don't change much, and no ritual is required to restore me. I can turn towards the Light or away from it.

so, I am off to the work of the day. God bless us all.
Peg
 
Peggy,
From the princess of metaphors, I really like Geek Squad Jesus. I thought it was cleverly done and an excellent picture. Even if it didn't take you very long to write it, I appreciated it. I especially liked the resurection as the reboot of the system and the Help Desk was also wonderful. The best part is, you never have to buy a new system, you just get to learn more and more depth to this one and how this screen is in color, not black and white.

Sarah

P.S. I think the built-in instant messaging feature is one of the best parts of this system. God is always online and up for a chat.
 
Peggy,
As a computer programmer, I love it. You know the human interfaces are always the hardest parts of a program to write. That's why I work on simple things like operating systems. My father designed elevator controls. I remember him saying that the hard part about making things foolproof was that fools were just too clever. He was glad that elevators run on rails because otherwise people would figure out how to have them run into each other. And that's just elevators which are pretty simple, not at all like pipe organs or living in a community.

Will T
 
Toldja I wasn't any good at explaining it. You are right on, but "ritual" purity is precisely what is rewritten as "Law" is no longer form, but rewritten to give the bases for laws or rules, all subject to re-examination, and worship is no longer ritual or form but must be INformed with our relationship however it is expressed, so "purity" is no longer about separation, but about the power of God to purify, and when we are agents "getting our hands dirty" no longer defiles us. In your example of Peter's vision, God says that He has made these things clean. I guess what I'm trying to say is that there is continuity, but on SUCH a different level, and your dad didn't toss any of those pipes, he just made them work right.
It all works without my nit-picking, but I just feel an urge to express those thoughts.

In His Love,
Nate
 
Sarah, you're not working with a black and white scren are you?
 
Will,

Thanks for dropping by.
I am relieve that someone with actual knowledge of computers did not need primal scream therapy after my attempt.

Your Dad and elevators? Who knew!

I had an ancestor who was killed in an elevator accident. In the early days they had two cabs in a shaft, and he was repairing on when the other landed on him. ICK.

MY DAD never threw ANYTHING out!

I could also see God running a cosmic junk yard.
 
Nate this is not knit-picking it is clarifying thought. thank you
Peg
 
Peggy,
I would have thought you would know the answer already but I'll humor you. I saw both black and white, and color screens growing up but felt more comfortable using the black and white controls. However, over time my eyes became strained and I was tired of being afraid I would break the screen all the time. So one day, someone told me to go look around at the computer stores, the screens were all in color! It was amazing! So I recycled my old screen and bought a new full color one with a lifetime guarantee. This screen is so much better. Not only is it indistructable but more and more colors are being added all the time and it just keeps getting better and better. Some difficulties black and white screen users have is that there are too many dark colors and you never really know if the screen's colors are right. But both of those complaints assume there is a right setting for color screens and there is not. Color screens are about beauty and seeing the colors in the first place. The Great Fine Tuner will take care of the rest. I believe color screens really are the way to go as I am sure you agree.

Sarah
 
Peggy, your post gets me thinking about James Alison and his teaching about the atonement, not at all sinners in the hands of an angry God. Rather a loving God trying to help guilty humans find a way out of their guilt.

" What does it mean to say that Jesus died to save us? The traditional account of atonement – in which Jesus becomes a substitutionary sacrifice for human sinfulness – is revealed as problematic as long as it is understood as a theory. In the experience of Israel, atonement was not a theory at all. It was a liturgy whose goal was not to placate some otherwise non-forgiving God (the Aztek or pagan imagination) but the more subversive action in which God’s creative, saving, redeeming activity is poured out to us despite our human sinfulness.

Rather than invoke the idea of sacrifice as something God demands of us, by becoming the victim in our place Christ puts an end once and for all to the human insistence for sacrificial victims. This is what makes the Eucharist a liturgical event with such profound ethical implications. It is also what makes Christianity a priestly religion of atonement: God overturns our violence by making himself the victim who approaches us with all-embracing forgiveness, enabling us to participate in the fullness of creation as if death were not. The theologies of creation and atonement are thought through together. Nonetheless, this is a process to be undergone rather than a theory to be grasped."

You can read the whole thing here: http://dlibrary.acu.edu.au/research/theology/ejournal/aejt_8/alison.htm
 
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