Jared Witt - July 4, 2019
A couple is enjoying their lunch at a sidewalk cafe. The day is clear and warm with a late June breeze coming in from the lake. It’s about a week until Independence Day
This couple and their little son are a picture of contentment, casually trading thoughts on the news of the day but without any strong emotional investment this way or that.
She says to her husband, “Do you want my avocado?”
“No thank you.”
“What? You love avocado?”
“No, I always eat yours because you hate avocado. But I’m actually on the fence.”
“No, you love avocado.”
They both laugh.
Jared Witt - June 20, 2019
It’s a little bit sad—and grant you, I’ve done it too—when people push buttons on microwaves, not knowing how microwaves work, or send texts on phones that they could never build, and then thump their thumbs into their own chests and say “Look at how advanced I am as a human.”
We presume some sort of amazing progress as a species, as if our early bipedal ancestry could not have also pushed buttons on strange machines that would have otherwise utterly baffled them.
But as Martin Luther King Jr. says way back in the early 60s, in his essay, Paul’s letter to American Christians, “I wonder whether your moral and spiritual progress has been commensurate with your scientific progress,” or are these just (he quotes Thoreau) “improved means to an unimproved end.”
Jared Witt - June 6, 2019
After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” – John 20:20-21
“As the father is sending me, so I am sending you.”
Think about that one for a second. Otherwise, I fear, it’ll just sound like one of those Bible-y sounding niceties that can make one glaze over. Or even worse, we’ll turn it into the “doctrine of the sending” and rob it of its teeth. A mentor once told me, if no one would ever object to what you’ve said, then you haven’t said anything.
And Jesus has really said something here, no?
Jared Witt - May 31, 2019
I can see it in their faces whenever I teach a Bible study. People want to buy my version of who Jesus actually was: Something like a Dada performance artist meets an occasionally though not always zen-ed out meditation guru meets that guy who stood in front of the tank at Tiananmen Square.
They yearn for my image of Jesus, yearn for it in a vital and eager way, because they see Truth there easily and organically, not in the forced, top-down way that they’ve been taught they’re supposed to see the Truth in Jesus, depicted as a somehow weightless God-man who floats about saying wise old aphorisms about life in this world but who is basically unaffected by it.
They want so badly to believe in the earthy relevance and spiritual urgency of my version of Jesus, but there is a mental block. And it's one of the hardest things for people raised with the felt-board God-man image of Jesus to absorb. It sounds off to them, like some kind of blasphemy even if it's just a simple fact: Jesus didn’t know we were recording.
Jared Witt - May 9, 2019
Paraphrasing Aristotle: the sign of a well-developed mind is the ability to chew on an idea neither swallowing nor spitting it out right away.
When you’re a child, your ideas about the world and God are given to you. You have very little to do with it. Reality is described a certain way and you accept that.
As soon as you can talk, you start asking for the names of everything. What’s this? What’s that? It’s thrilling to name something. In one biblical creation myth, naming things was the main project for which humans were created in the first place. When you name something, you pluck it out of the swirling morass of undifferentiated stuff and honor its special, unique existence. That’s why we’re encouraged not to name animals that are likely to die soon. When you name something, you give it an emotional weightiness that it didn’t have before.
Jared Witt - April 26, 2019
The goal in Christianity is to lose your life, not your head.
This can be said of all of the great religious traditions.
Too far into the tradition and you’ll confuse the means with the end. You’ll mistake the tools for the house.
Too far out of the tradition and you’ll forever be searching the shed for better tools rather than making progress with the one that’s in your hand.
Too far in and you’ll confuse the paintings with the vision.
Too far out and it just looks like everything else.
Jared Witt - April 10, 2019
Hosea is a man who married an unfaithful woman. He did so, knowing full well that she always had been serially unfaithful and would continue to be so. He would get just as enraged as you might expect by her unfaithfulness, and that was the plan all along. But he lacked the resolve to leave her. So he was ever caught in this pathetic cycle of being cuckolded and then trying unsuccessfully, through gifts and forgiveness and grace, to win back the faithfulness of the woman whom he never had in the first place. Even worse, he would try to buy her something nice to heal the relationship, as if he were the one who needed to do the apologizing. But inevitably she would see the gift wrapping and just assume it was from one of her many other lovers.
Jared Witt l February 24, 2019
Life is the point of Christianity. Not the other way around.
Sometimes people within the faith talk as if Christianity is the point of life.
“Get thee to Christianity,” they say. For them, Church attendance is the goal of life rather than life’s launching point. They have faith in Christianity rather than because of it. Sunday is the week’s end—its goal or purpose—rather than its beginning. Their faith beckons them away from life rather than deeper into it. They cut out those parts of life which diminish religion rather than those parts of religion which diminish life.
Jared Witt l February 5, 2019
Reading the Bible is NOT the thing itself.
Prayer is the thing itself.
Caring for those in need is the thing itself.
Generosity is the thing itself.
Hope for the world is the thing itself.
Forgiving enemies is the thing itself.
Worship is the thing itself.
But the Bible is NOT the thing itself.
Jared Witt l January 29, 2019
Like many saints, Ignatius of Loyola was far from pious in his early days. He concerned himself with the things that most ambitious young men did, winning prosperity, military prestige, and of course women. Then came the ecstatic day—typical in the lore of medieval saints—where he ripped off his clothes, just like Francis of Assisi centuries before, handed them to a homeless person, and dedicated his sword and dagger to a statue of the virgin Mary at the Spanish abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat.
You don't need to experience a moment quite so dramatic in order to have a meaningful spiritual life. He did. But most people won't. Fortunately, there is a less cinematic but, in some ways, far more usable second part to this story.
How Castle Church is stirring up a new spirit in the church from a brewery in Orlando, FL.