Jared Witt l December 29, 2016
Self-help gurus are really big on positive self-talk. More conservative Christian leaders get nervous about it—smacks too much of self-justification, I suppose. Either way, it doesn’t really work for me. I’ve tried it.
I’ve positively self-talked into the mirror while brushing my teeth, into the windshield on the way to a public speaking engagement, and a couple times I’ve even tried writing in a journal, which I quickly bury under a heap of old magazines the second I hear my wife pull into the garage.
The problem is: the more positive things I say about myself, the more I begin to question the source. Were I a pretty good judge of character, that might be one thing. But like the soprano in the choir, who can’t carry a tune but sings the loudest anyway, every bad judge of character thinks they’re a good judge of character. Even barring that pitfall, I suspect I’m pretty biased when it comes to myself. New age spirituality doesn’t give us any answers for a crisis of authority like that. Besides, at this point, I’m so unpracticed at saying nice things, that it always comes off a little forced.
Jared Witt l December 22, 2016
“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” – Luke 1:78-79.
I don’t think anyone who reads the Castle Church blog needs me to point out the madness of spending stupid amounts of money on shiny garbage in a world where Kwashiorkor’s Disease is a real thing and then getting bent out of shape because the checkout clerk wishes “Happy Holidays.” But just for fun, let's take that line of thinking to its conclusion. If I understand correctly, the argument goes that the more times you fit the word “Christ” or “Christian” into your speech, the more Christian you are. Or more generally, you are a thing only if and as much as you say you are that thing.
If the reverse is also true, then, of course, Lou Gehrig didn’t have Lou Gehrig’s disease because he never strung together the words “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” and Stephen Hawking stopped being Stephen Hawking when he could no longer say, “I am Stephen Hawking.”
Jared Witt l December 15, 2016
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) is a household name in many Christian and political activist circles both for his writing and for his opposition to the Nazi regime, the climax of which was his participation in a failed assassination attempt on Hitler, which ultimately cost him his life. As a Christ follower, he never tried to morally justify his decision to take part in the plot but stood by it, nonetheless, reasoning that there are extreme circumstances where it is better to dirty one’s own hands for the sake of others than to maintain personal moral purity at their expense. In other words, he considered it a broken decision in a broken world, which often deprives us of that option called “the good,” which comes so easily to philosophers when they are removed from the complexities of real history.
Bonhoeffer’s wrestling with that decision is the backdrop for these passages taken from Ethics, the book which he had intended to be his magnum opus and which he wrote in large part while awaiting execution in prison. His best friend, Eberhard Bethge compiled the unfinished book from his notes. It would be considered one of the great theological works of the 20th century regardless but has now taken on the added gravity and aura that comes with martyrdom.
Jared Witt l December 8, 2016
Four people are in a room. Three are good, upstanding family men—a pastor of a large, successful church, a politician, and a well-to-do business person—the fourth is a shoeshine who has spent a lifetime in and out of homelessness. The three have an argument about the nature of God, while the fourth shines their shoes.
Which is the Jesus figure in the story?
If you're smirking to yourself because you got it right, chill out. The question is remedial for a reason. I already know the answer. I made up the story. That's not why I ask. I ask because I'm interested in your process. How did you get to your answer? I suspect it depends on what kind of person you are. For simplicity's sake, let's say there are four types…
Jared Witt l December 1, 2016
Since, later this month, I’ll be celebrating the birth of someone who started his life a refugee and ended it a political dissident, I thought it might be interesting to see what the Bible says about refugees, immigrants, and strangers.
If you’re not interested in providing hospitality to those people who are “other,” this doesn’t apply to you. I’m only writing for people who are interested in Jesus' way of doing things.
The command on God’s people to provide hospitality to refugees is constant and consistent throughout the Hebrew and Christian testaments. I’ll just write about one example, Zephaniah 3.
On how Castle Church is stirring up a movement from a brewery in Florida.