What is at the heart of being Christian?

Marcus J Borg
Marcus J Borg

During my six days’ stay in hospital last month I listened to two audio books (using Audible from Amazon on my Android smartphone) as my eyesight was too poor to be able to read anything.

The first book I listened to was Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power—And How They Can Be Restored (HarperOne, 2012) by the American Episcopalian theologian Marcus J Borg.

In the book Borg examines a number of words that have been historically important to Christianity (such as salvation, mercy, righteousness, sin, forgiveness and repentance) and explores what they meant at the time the New Testament was written, compared with how they have been interpreted using modern frameworks of understanding, and the tools of post-Enlightenment thought.

I found the book really encouraging and in places challenging, although I would have much preferred to read the book rather than listen to it, not least because the (American) narrator mispronounces a number of theological terms.

In much of the book Borg attempts to get back to the heart of Christianity: what is Christianity all about? I found this article by Borg published last November on the Patheos website an interesting companion: What is a Christian?

In the article, as in his book, Borg argues that Christianity is categorically not about believing the right things. He argues that the focus is not on believing God but beloving God: committing yourself to “a relationship of attentiveness and faithfulness”.

The two ancient creeds of the Christian church (the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed) he says we should begin with an understand of “I give my heart to…” rather than simply “I believe…”

Believing in itself does not lead to a changed life. But beloving God, giving our heart in commitment and fidelity to God does.

At the centre of being a Christian is:

  • A passion for Jesus, the decisive revelation of God.
  • Compassion (love).
  • A passion for the transformation of this world; participating in God’s passion for a world of justice and peace.

I love the simplicity of Borg’s writing and thoughts. I love the simplicity of this core of Christianity. It pushes away all that is unimportant and returns it to Jesus’s response to the question “which is the greatest commandment in the Law”: Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind […] And […] love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22: 38 ff.)

Audio playing too fast

Here’s a weird thing. Ever since installing my new webcam (Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 with QuickCam v11.7 software) and after using it for a while, mostly with Seesmic my MP3s play at about 3x or 4x normal speed.  They should like a chipmunk band!

I’m still trying to work out what the issue is.  Could it be to do with the way that Adobe Flash Player is interacting with the webcam and audio input/output?

Strangely, normal service resumed as soon as I’d closed the Seesmic tab in Firefox and closed down Twhirl (Twitter client).

I’m also not sure what software/drivers I should have installed.  It came with QuickCam v11.7 but the download version (for XP) from the Logitech website is QuickCam v11.5.  Hmmm…

Update, pt.1

Saturday 21 June

I’ve just uninstalled Adobe Flash Player and reinstalled it.  Everything appears to be working as expected now, which is promising.  That may have been the issue … I’ll keep an eye on it.

Update, pt.2

Friday 27 June

The problem is still continuing, although not as much as previously.  It happened again this morning when I fired up WinAmp.  However, I’ve discoverd that if I exit from Last.fm that fixes the problem.  Not sure what’s going on.  Seems to have happened around the time when I upgraded to Firefox 3 and installed the Logitech webcam.

Investigations continue …

Update, pt.3

Wednesday 02 July

Having lived with this issue over the last couple of weeks, it certainly looks as though the main culprits are Flash player in Firefox 3.0 and Last.fm.  The audio in WinAmp just went ‘chipmunk’ again this morning and wasn’t resolved until I did the following:

  1. Stop WinAmp playing (not exit, just stop)
  2. Exit Last.fm for Windows 1.5.1.29527
  3. Start WinAmp playing again

Music returned to its normal tempo.  Very odd, rather annoying.

Update, pt.4

Monday 28 July

I’ve now not experienced the chipmunk audio effect for nearly two weeks now.  I found somewhere on the Adobe website that in order to run the Flash uninstaller fully it required a /clean switch:

  1. Download the Uninstaller
  2. Open the Windows Command Prompt ( Run > cmd ).
  3. Navigate to the directory where the uninstaller was downloaded.
  4. Run “Uninstall Adobe Flash Player.exe /clean.”

After that I reinstalled Adobe Flash Player 9.0.124.0 and all has been well again ever since.