Putting on Christ

It has not been cool enough to put on a jacket, but I am sure looking forward to doing just that. I hope to find a five dollar bill in a pocket, I certainly will find a receipt or a business card from the last time I wore the jacket. I will take this item out and recall the event that brought me to save said item in the pocket. Often I remember it quite well, yet my memory was jogged by the discovery. Would I have remembered the event without finding the item, perhaps, but I obviously forgot about the item tucked within the jacket. The Christian canon, we refer to as the Bible, is not something we can read from Genesis to Revelation in one sitting. Well that is if you have any other responsibilities in life, and fitting three books in a week is hard enough, making sixty-six very difficult even if some are as short at Philemon. Of course, no one expects someone to read the entire Bible between Sundays every week. However, even those of us that have read the entire Bible once is not enough. We must return to the scriptures every day. Yet I know many Christians who concentrate on certain scriptures, and there is certainly reasons to hang around the familiar, the friendly, and favorites, for they confirm and comfort. That is important.

We must also read the passages we find less familiar, for we will find things we forgot. Our memories will be jogged by our discoveries, even memories that were not ours individually. We are all part of the one body as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:12 “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” Therefore, our individual discoveries are assisted by others. Pastors, theologians, commentaries, scholars, church mothers and fathers, have all left important knowledge, be it in writings, sermons, actions, and questions, and all of them must be part of one’s Bible reading experience. We read the Bible and read the comments in our respective Bibles. We read old and new scholarship. We are in it together thus we go to Bible Studies and help each other. We do not simply have people tell us the truth, we together as Christians discover the truth of God’s Love and Grace, together. Every time we open our Bible we open it together as church, and we have personal epiphanies, assisted by our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Knowing the Bible is not done in a day and it is not done alone. It is done with a jacket that has many pockets, with many depths and textures. We read our Bible with this jacket of Christ’s that we share and explore all pockets of the truth united by the Holy Spirit.


.....Here is a simple exercise:

Start with yourself.

You have two (2) biological parents. (Hereafter, the word "biological" will be assumed.) You are directly related to each parent.

You have four (4) grandparents. You are directly related to each grandparent.

You have eight (8) great-grandparents. You are directly related to each great-grandparent.

You have sixteen (16) great-great-grandparents. You are directly related to each great-great-grandparent.

By now, you should have the idea. Every time you step back another ancestral generation, the number of generational ancestors doubles.

Let's run the numbers as a two-column list. In the first column is the sequence number of the ancestral generation. In the second column is the number of people in that generation.

GENERATION - NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN THAT GENERATION 01 - 2 (parents) 02 - 4 (grandparents) 03 - 8 (great-grandparents) 04 - 16 (great-great-grandparents) 05 - 32 ( - simile - ) 06 - 64 07 - 128 08 - 256 09 - 512 10 - 1,024 11 - 2,048 12 - 4,096 13 - 8,192 14 - 16,384 15 - 32,768 16 - 65,536 17 - 131,072 18 - 262,144 19 - 524,288 20 - 1,048,576 21 - 2,097,152 22 - 4,194,304 23 - 8,388,608 24 - 16,777,216 25 - 33,554,432 26 - 67,108,864 27 - 134,217,728 28 - 268,435,456 29 - 536,870,912 30 - 1,073,741,824

Your ancestors 30 generations ago are your grandparents preceded by the word "great" 28 times and, mathematically, there was over a billion of them.

If each generation represents 30 years, then your (great x 28) grandparents lived 900 years ago or (for the year 2011, the year this article was published) the year 1111 CE.

Based on six different studies of historical populations; the number of people in our 30th ancestral generation far exceeds the largest estimate of the global population in the year 1111. According to these six studies, it was not until the time span from the late 1700s to the early 1800s that the global population exceeded one billion. Based on these studies and our ancestral calculations, each of us is directly related to every person who lived in the year 1111 or, if a person was childless, we are directly related to the siblings or parents of that childless person. Furthermore, in the same way, each of us is directly related to every person who lived prior to the year 1111. This means that each of us is directly related to each and every monarch, king, emperor, pharaoh, caesar, caliph, ruler, pope, bishop, cardinal, priest, priestess, prophet, shaman, oracle, knight, soldier, sailor, fisherman, farmer, hunter, herder, carpenter, mason, artist, seamstress, peasant, slave - without exception, every person that lived prior to 1111. Each of us is related to Mohammed, Jesus, Confucius, Buddha, Moses and Abraham.

With this understanding of our universal connectedness to the past, we discover two contemporary humorous ironies:

1) Not only was the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown a rip-roaring entertaining mystery-adventure novel, its plot dependence on the existence of a line of descendants of Jesus was a joke. If Jesus did have children, then each of us is a direct descendant of Jesus. If Jesus did not have children, then each of us is a direct descandent of the brothers and sisters of Jesus.

2) There is no such thing as a nine-century-long (or longer) line of royal ancestry. Each of us is a direct descendant of every royal family that lived prior to 1111.

The bottom line is this - we are all cousins and we are all mutts. We are one family and we are the only family. In an objective and indisputable way, we make the point of the universal family by moving backwards from today through our own genealogy, by traversing a history that is personal and direct. In doing so, we are forced to confront our universal connection to all people and all events that, previously, we thought either defined us separately and exclusively or divided us along lines of opposition. We have just proven that there are no races, no tribes, no ethnic groups, no castes, no royalty, no aristocracy, no social classes, no families and there has not been for at least 30 generations. Here is the real kicker – this same exercise, this same proof will have the same result for each generation. It was true for our parents. It was true for our grandparents. It was true 1000 years ago and it was true 4000 years ago - it has always been true.

Even though 1st Century CE did not have the same mathematics or even the same numbering system (base 10, a 10-digit numbering system that includes a zero digit and uses positional notation) there was still an understanding of the one universal family.

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, .....the son of David, .....the son of Abraham.

02) Abraham was the father of Isaac, 03) and Isaac the father of Jacob, 04) and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 05) and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, 06) and Perez the father of Hezron, 07) and Hezron the father of Aram, 08) and Aram the father of Aminadab, 09) and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, 10) and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 11) and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, 12) and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, 13) and Obed the father of Jesse, 14) and Jesse the father of King David.

01) And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 02) and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, 03) and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, 04) and Abijah the father of Asaph, 05) and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, 06) and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, 07) and Joram the father of Uzziah, 08) and Uzziah the father of Jotham, 09) and Jotham the father of Ahaz, 10) and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 11) and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, 12) and Manasseh the father of Amos, 13) and Amos the father of Josiah, 14) and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers,

01) at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon: 02) Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, 03) and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, 04) and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, 05) and Abiud the father of Eliakim, 06) and Eliakim the father of Azor, 07) and Azor the father of Zadok, 08) and Zadok the father of Achim, 09) and Achim the father of Eliud, 10) and Eliud the father of Eleazar, 11) and Eleazar the father of Matthan, 12) and Matthan the father of Jacob, 13) and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, 14) of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.

So all the generations from Abraham to David are .....fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, .....fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, .....fourteen generations. ..........Matthew 1:1-17

This genealogy had at least two purposes: 1) To shockingly illustrate the inclusive nature of their ancestral history by including 4 women (their mention is emphasized in red), all of whom had an eye-brow-raising personal history.

2) By starting with Abraham, every Jew would realize that every Jew has the same history and that every Jew has an ancestry made possible by the inclusion and involvement and contributions of widows and gentiles and foreigners and outcasts and that their ancestors lead lives of questionable virtues and horrible mistakes and truly evil deeds as well as lives of great accomplishment, of questing for God and questioning God and wrestling with God and making peace with God and being in relationship with God.

We are one family We are only one family We are only family We are family There is no "here" and "there" There is no "us" and "them" There is only us There is only here .....and it has always been so.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The previous [D]mergent articles by Doug Sloan are listed here in order of publication: ..........RECLAIMING CHURCH ..........GOD IS... ..........RECLAIMING GOD ..........RECLAIMING MIRACLES ..........RECLAIMING NOT ..........RECLAIMING the GOOD NEWS - an epistle ..........RECLAIMING FORGIVENESS - it's personal ..........REFORMATION II ..........GOD IS - an update ..........RECLAIMING SCRIPTURE ..........RECLAIMING EXODUS ..........RECLAIMING EDEN ..........RECLAIMING THE ISSUES ..........RECLAIMING QUEERS

Confessions of a Dinosaur

Am I a dinosaur for thinking the Bible is divinely inspired, true, and important for Christian living? Knowing that I feel that way tells you nothing about my opinion on anything else. If you don't agree, then knowing the text will at least give you ammo against its misuse -- which might prove more persuasive than to simply denigrate its authority. And if you do agree, then please don’t jump the shark to conclude that you have perfect understanding and are therefore right in every opinion based on Scripture.

Read More

Disciples Don't Have Bishops. We Have Bloggers!

“Disciples don't have bishops. We have editors.” So it has been said of us throughout the more than two centuries of our journey to faithfully follow in the way of Jesus, the Christ. While recognizing the need for structural leadership in the church, Disciples have always been more focused on the ability of words to inspire, challenge, educate, and equip those who bear the name of Christ than in the power of bureaucratic structures to affect change in this world.

When Alexander Campbell began The Christian Baptist in the early 19th century, it was a small, monthly print publication that enjoyed a limited circulation on what was then the Western American frontier. Gradually, though, Campbell's writing gained a wider audience as the Disciple plea for unity and simplicity through a return to the traditions of the early church grabbed the attention of a religiously weary populace. Campbell soon changed the name of the publication to The Millennial Harbinger to reflect his belief in the Church's progress toward reclaiming its unity and furthering its mission. Barton W. Stone, Campbell's colleague in the struggle for unity and simplicity, also published a monthly journal, The Christian Messenger, offer his unique perspective along with Campbell's to the emerging movement that would become the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Throughout the 19th century, Campbell's words and those of their successors at The Christian Evangelist, The Christian Standard, and The Christian Oracle (now The Christian Century) challenged and inspired Disciples in their journey of faith. By the mid 20th century, The Christian Evangelist had dropped Evangelist from its banner and had become the central voice for Disciples. As the process of restructuring the congregations, ministries, and institutions of the Disciples into the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) progressed, it was championed by those who edited The Christian, which soon became known as The Disciple, the official organ of the newly restructured denomination.

Members of our tradition have long valued an educated clergy and laity, encouraging a parity between those in the pews and those lead us in our common life together. Central to this parity has been the idea that dialog, both in person and in print, is key to bridging the gap between ministers and those with whom they serve. Disciples have had a long history of supporting print publications through subscriptions, advertising, and dedicated readership, but as times have changed, so too have Disciples.

Rumblings of trouble began at The Disciple in the early 1990s, and though several attempts at redesign, refocusing, and reducing costs were made, the publication folded in 2001. The demise of The Disciple left a hole in the church's communication system, one that the Office of Communication at the General Offices in Indianapolis tried to fill in the spring of 2001 with Disciple Digest, a monthly web publication. Disciple Digest, while a gallant effort, received a tepid response at best from a church often suspicious of all things emerging from its General Offices. Disciples value the free and honest exchange of information and ideas. We have little patience for “official” publications, even when offered with all due respect and good intentions. Such reticence led Jack Suggs and Robert Friedly, former publisher and editor of The Disciple magazine to create a non-profit corporation and invest a great deal of their own money in trying to revive publishing among Disciples in late 2001. DisciplesWorld magazine was born out of their endeavors, and while struggling in its first months of existence, the journal came to be regarded as one of the best religious journals in the United States. During it's eight year run, DisciplesWorld inspired, informed, challenged, educated, and entertained the denomination, and while expending a significant amount of energy and resources, the changing times and economy finally sealed the publication's end in late 2009. DisciplesWorld wasn't alone, though, in its final months, as hundreds of print publications either ceased to exist or became Internet only publications, among them United Church News, the official voice of our sister denomination, the United Church of Christ.

The world of publishing has changed considerably, but the need for conversation and dialog about the tough issues of the Christian faith has only increased. The time for print publications may have passed, but the need to keep those who seek to follow Jesus in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) connected and informed has become all the more important. Ignorance and isolation abound in our church and if we are to fulfill our mission of being a church that embodies true community, deep Christian spirituality, and a passion for justice, we must be connected to one another and share our insights as we struggle in our attempts to be faithful to the Gospel of the One who has claimed our lives in the waters of baptism and who nourishes us for the journey of faith at the table of Christ.

Blogs (short for web logs) became popular at the beginning of the 21st century, particularly among youth and young adults who sought ways of sharing their thoughts in more dynamic ways with family, friends, and the larger world. By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, blogs have become as widely read as print publications, challenging long running print publications to move toward publication in blog form. While DisciplesWorld made a worthy effort to transition to an online publication, circumstances prevented the move, leaving a void for others to fill. It is with deep respect and tremendous gratitude to those who have gone before us that we offer D[mergent] as one attempt to further build community and continue the conversation among those who seek to follow Jesus in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Perhaps, as we move into the future that God is creating in, among, and through us, we will be able to say, “Disciples don't have bishops. We have bloggers.”

--The Rev. Wes Jamison, B.A., M.Div., Minister-at-Large for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, Chair of the GLAD O&A Ministries Team, Qualified Mental Health Professional, and Contributing Editor for [D]mergent