Pyro-theology, Rupture, and a Stupid Tattoo

When I was 19, a freshman in college, and an aspiring rebel, I decided to go get a cross with fire bellowing inside it tattooed on my left arm. Obviously, you are asking yourself what this has to do with the title and theology. Tangent first.

After reading most of Peter RollinsInsurrection, I have come to rethink my entire view of the Christian message and its relation to ideas such as doubt and faith. Rollins views faith as a constant state of determining and re-determining ones doubts and stances about God and the human situation. Its called pyro-theology because our faith is essentially burning down from the inside. This idea comes from Buenaventura Durruti statement that “the only church that illuminates is a burning one.”

Sooner or later in our faith, we have to burn down our beliefs, deconstruct our ideas and thoughts, and in that deconstruction, we find what has been missing in our faith all along.

I remember when I was a kid, my Daddy would burn all the grass in our front yard so that it would grow better the next year. Burning the grass aerates the soil and the dead grass acts as fertilizer for new growth. Faith is the same way. Our faith, our church, must burn down at some point (or several, reoccurring points) so that it can flourish.

Over the last few days, I have been dwelling on the idea of an event or happening that ruptures our way of thinking. It may be a death (or a resurrection), a birth, or a state of unemployment that triggers this rupture, but either way, it brings us face to face with a newness.

Tangent over, now for the tattoo. The reason I used to tell myself I got a tattoo was to remind myself of who I am each and everyday. Childish. Then I convinced myself that it has a monastic story behind it. But maybe I got flaming cross without even realizing that 3 years later, I would be commenting on a “burning church.”

In essence, my tattoo is constantly burning. This is a much-needed reminder. The only problem is whether I should be urgent this put this fire out, or if I should pour gasoline on it and watch it illuminate everything around me.

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