Jared Witt - September 19, 2019
Who ruined the world?
Was it the Republicans? Was it the Democrats? Was it the Christians? The Mexicans? The Muslims? The black lives? The blue lives? Was it the Millennials? Was it old people? Was it me?...Definitely not me, right?
We’re not the first to ask that question. In the family and lineage-based cultures of Bible-y times they would put it this way: If your father eats sour grapes, will your teeth be set on edge? In other words, whose fault is it that there is so much wrong with the world? Ours? Or our parent’s generation? Are we paying the consequences of our own bad decisions or someone else’s? Who deserves the blame?
Jared Witt - September 5, 2019
For three years, I haven’t been able to forget this speech I heard by activist John Dear (not to be confused with the tractor guy), whom our denomination hired to be a keynote speaker at a regional gathering. This man, who has been imprisoned dozens of times over several decades for demonstrating against war and other human rights atrocities for which our country is responsible, gave this image of what he felt the church is supposed to be:
“A twelve step program for people who are addicted to violence.”
I thought that to be one of the most compelling and Jesus-like images I’d come across, certainly more so than country club, temple of the crypt keeper, religious tribe, or any of the other images that seem to be floating about out there. So I’ve often thought it would be a good thought experiment to add to it the other addictions for which the church ought to make a good detox center and recovery program. I’ll start with that one, give some biblical justification for it, and then do the same with others.
Jared Witt - August 15, 2019
22 He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?[a] 26 If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;[b] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying... 32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father takes delight in giving you the kingdom.”
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 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 - 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 March 28, 2019
If my life were the movie D2: The Mighty Ducks, anxiety and depression would be the Bash Brothers. One of them tries to stick out a skate and trip me. I jump last second and think I’ve successfully avoided the danger, only to be close-lined by the other one.
Unfortunately, our Bible is full of stories of what Jesus can do for dead people. But what does Jesus do for those who are just kind of always a bit sad?
We don’t have the story where Jesus cures the man of his situational depression.
Jared Witt - December 18, 2018
I'm looking for people who might describe themselves as spiritually motivated, who would like to participate in a series of midweek centering sessions that I am calling "Spiritual but Not Ridiculous: A thinking person's place to explore the divine."
By "spiritually motivated," think open and intentional as opposed to advanced or knowledgable. I'm looking for people who don't have all or perhaps any of the answers but who know there is a depth and a mystery to life and God still to probe. I'm looking for people who are perhaps not sure where to begin but who suspect that by seeking that depth first, joy, beauty, abundance, or what Jesus calls "the reign of God" will be added as well.
If that describes you, my disclaimer as the leader of the group is that I also don't have "the answers," but I share that same suspicion with you.
I'm designing this to be part theological exploration, part prayer practice, part spiritual exercise, part Bible study. We will center conversation around Jesus of Nazareth and his Way of being in the world as well as the mystical spirituality of finding the Holy Spirit in and among our lives together.
As all truth is God's truth, we will draw freely from other traditions and influences in which I have found Christ-like spiritual food. Examples include:
- Hebraic storytelling and the Rabbinic tradition
- Medieval Rhineland Christian mysticism
- Jesuit Examen Prayer and Ignatian Spirituality
- Zen Meditation
I'm there every Tuesday at this time for pastoral counseling with whoever shows up (closed on Christmas). But I hope to begin in earnest with a larger group on Tuesday January 8th.
You know who you are. Hope to see you there.
Cheers and Peace,
Jared Witt - September 10, 2018
Christians have a problem with sin.
Or rather, we have a sin problem.
Specifically, we have a problem with the word sin and defining just what it is supposed to mean. More progressive-minded Christians tend to see all the problematic ways that the word has been used to browbeat and alienate and for that reason might prefer to throw it out all together. More conservative-minded Christians see this as dangerous refusal to call the evils of the world what they are. In response, they are inclined to double down on their use of the term, throwing it at just about everything and, in the process, making it seem as though all the problems of the world ultimately boil down to a labeling issue.
How Castle Church is stirring up a new spirit in the church from a brewery in Orlando, FL.