A Wretched Man discussion discussion

Part One:Tarsos

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message 1: by R.W. (new)

R.W. Holmen (obie) | 10 comments Mod
I know that several of you have received your copy. Please comment on your reading as you go. I've created this topic, Part One: Tarsos, as your starter.

message 2: by Ray (new)

Ray Branstiter | 5 comments Early on in my reading and I am hooked, I just completed Chapter 8. I enjoy you exploration of the mixed culture of the Tarsos community in which Paul grew up and the impact that had on his faith development. I am looking forward to a Sunday afternoon of reading.

message 3: by Joy (new)

Joy (PastorJoy) | 4 comments I am not so good at blogging but I will give it a try. I am far beyond the first part of this novel now but it occured to me in reading Paulos's honest response to his friend Arsenios, that Paulos was so well taught that God's laws are about shame and fear than embracing the possibility that God's creative word is not limited to human tradition or even human understanding. That Paulos had no control over his response to Arsenios could have been a freeing moment to him in that it was not a choice but a response. Instead, he assumed that God what testing or even punishing him somehow and it caused Paulos to lash out at those who he loved in an effort to "make himself right" with God. In my relationship with God I do not see a God who wishes that we cause harm to one another but wishes that we live together. I have seen so much harm caused by people who wish to "help" people know God but first telling them how they have to change into the same person and norms. Sort of a box that Christians "should" fit into. I see God as so much bigger that the box we build - reaching far into the world beyond our norms and traditions. Paulos is driven into the world by fearing the box he was told to fit into. this ends up being really good news for many.

message 4: by Ray (new)

Ray Branstiter | 5 comments As I continue on in my ready, up to page 240 I have not been surprised by any of the issues brought forward. I have heard the hypothesis of Paulos's “thorn in his side” since seminary. One item that has been running through my head as I read is this, following Palos's encounter with Arsenios at the river Palos ran away from the relationship. After the road to Damascus event he continues to run. I have always felt though that after the Damascus experience he was running toward something, not running away. However I am thinking, at least in the book, Paulos continues to run away from who he is, finding shelter in his new found religious beliefs. This is not uncommon in or world today, such shame as to who we are is at the root of much of the addiction to religion that we have in America today. It will be interesting to see if Paul can overcome his “religion of origin” and deal honestly with his feelings.

message 5: by Joy (new)

Joy (PastorJoy) | 4 comments I like the phrase "religion of origin" as a description of what so many people embrace as the faith they claim. Having served a small, conservative congregation that was so stuck on what they had been taught years ago, I know that this application of religion gives comfort to many. The sad part is that is becomes rather dead and cumbersome when we can only claim the good NEWS as an old lesson of morality and judgment. Critical thinking is never a bad thing and it can give those, like Paulos, who are startled by a new reality, the means by which they can see that God is present with them in that moment of real life. I think that your term of "religion of Origin" can easily be attributed to the clergy of old who wore the robes of authority instead of those of us who wear the baptismal garment of the alb. It is up to us to remember the authority under which we live is a living authority that is not imprisoned in traditions or the single authority of a particular pastor from our youth.

message 6: by Ray (new)

Ray Branstiter | 5 comments I am currently a pastor of a Recovery Church in Fargo, a multi-denominational gathering of people who have chosen to live by the 12 step recovery. They come to Recovery out of the harm that was inflicted on them in their youth. The traditional church of today still does not understand addiction. Thanks for you comments, I could not agree more.

message 7: by Joy (new)

Joy (PastorJoy) | 4 comments I am afraid that "the church" as an institution still struggles with what to do with those who are different from what has been perceived as the "norm". I would include in this those with special needs, those who struggle as your parishioners do, and even those who have been incarcerated. But this is our mission as leaders in the church - it can be unpopular - but the gospel is a dangerous thing! :-) We always have to

message 8: by Joy (new)

Joy (PastorJoy) | 4 comments Opps, hit send too soon... we always have to remember that the "the least of these" means that there is not one whom God in Christ does not love and our call to live as though we actually believe it.

message 9: by Ray (new)

Ray Branstiter | 5 comments I agree Joy, there is a lot we can learn from the early church of Paul.

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