Just a quick post to say I won't be posting this weekend. We're on the coast again so it's the dreaded dial-up connection. We have a Board of Directors (of our ministry) meeting here tomorrow... our first since coming out to join, so say a prayer for us if you think of it.
I care less and less about whether Christians are evangelical or post-evangelical, liberal or orthodox, charismatic or whatever. I just want to know whether they are open or closed to other ideas and does their faith make them the kind of people who are filled with the reality of God.
Todd Hunter is thinking about church again.
I am not so much down on the church—and if I catch myself in such a state I severely rebuke myself—as I am "up" on figuring out what it means to be the people of God: from creation, to Israel, to the church, to the renewed cosmos.
Man - that's good. I wish I'd written it. As you know I'm trying to quit my pack-a-day rant habit. I don't want to be down on the church... I want to be up on whatever it is we're supposed to be doing, and I think Todd has articulated it well.
He goes on to say:
What is God's ultimate intention in and through this Story? How do I align my life to it and help others (evangelism?) do the same? Upon understanding the Story, I want to know the nature of our role in it as Christians and churches. I don't think I am alone in this pursuit. Hardly a day goes by without someone asking me "what is the church?"
Along this line there have come certain predictable sub-questions. First among them may be: "What should we do about meetings?" "Do we need to meet?" "Why: what should we be trying to accomplish through meetings?" "Who should lead meetings: i.e. what is the appropriate mix of human agency and the Spirit?"
This thinking about meetings can get a little scary reading Isaiah chapter one.
Man - he's not kidding! Check this out (from The Message, of course).
Why this frenzy of sacrifices? GOD's asking. Don't you think I've had my fill of burnt sacrifices...? When you come before me, who ever gave you the idea of acting like this, running here and there, doing this and that—all this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship?
Quit your worship charades. I can't stand your trivial religious games: Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings—meetings, meetings, meetings—I can't stand one more! Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them! You've worn me out! I'm sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning. When you put on your next prayer-performance, I'll be looking the other way.
No link, but be sure to read the rest of his post.
...but our battered planet has many wounds, World Wildlife Fund Canada notes this week in its first-ever Nature Audit, a 104-page document subtitled Setting Canada's Conservation Agenda for the 21st Century. The wide-ranging study, borrowing from the world of accounting, tallies Canada's natural capital. It takes stock of our present-day environmental "equity," and compares what's left to the situation prior to European settlement, circa 1500-1600. The Nature Audit concludes that the way we've accounted for nature in the past -- by basically ignoring its destruction -- is a recipe for bankrupting biodiversity. A sort of environmental Enron.
Wander over and take a look. I'm in there too... but it's a 2 year old picture so it's a much more "corporate, back east" me, as opposed to the free-spirited west coast guy before you now!
OK, if you're reading this then you've noticed the new blog name, unless this is your first time here, in which case forget I said anything.
Thanks for the suggestions. Although I did give some serious thought to eMpTy Thoughts (thanks Pete) and some of the others, I've gone with Dan's idea. We've just fleshed it out a little on an MSN Messenger chat.
When I read Dan's comment the words of one of my favorite Caedmon's Call songs popped into my head.
No one would love me
If they knew all the things I hide
My words fall to the floor
As tears drip through the telephone line
And the hands I've seen
Raised to the sky
Not waving but drowning
All this time
I'll try to build the ark that they need
To float to you upon the crystal sea
Give me your hand to hold
Cause I can't stand to love alone
And love alone is not enough
To hold us up we've got to touch your robe
So swing your robe down low
Swing your robe down low
The Prince of Despair's been beaten
But the loser still fights
Death's on a long leash
Stealing my friends to the night
And everyone cries for innocent
You say to love the guilty, too
And I'm surrounded by suffering and sickness
So I'm working tearing back the roof
Give me your hand to hold...
And the pain of the world is a burden
And it's my cross to bear
And I stumble under all the weight
I know you're Simon standing there
And I know you're standing there
Give me your hand to hold...
Then Dan sent me this poem...
Not Waving But Drowning
by Stevie Smith
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.
That's a little darker image, perhaps, but still appropriate. My wife Sue commented (as she "read" our chat over my shoulder) that the idea of waving or drowning can be, unfortunately, an accurate metaphor as we travel together on our various spiritual journeys. (Notice I'm avoiding the word "church".) As we walk along the shore we may see our friends out in the surf "waving at us". We wave back and keep walking. Except they weren't waving.
Chew on that for a while and let me know what you think.
(I'm not available to be traded yet, but I'm on my way!)
I've been toying with the idea of coming up with a name for the blog. It seems like the trendy thing to do. Besides, Mike Todd seems so, well, arrogant. It's been a struggle, though.
I consulted with the Blog Name Generator which suggested...
Nah. I think I'll keep trying. Feel free to provide input...
I just stumbled onto Anno Domini: Jesus Through the Centuries. (Don't ask me how - one of those rabbit hole surfing trips...)
There are some great images of Christ here.
John Wallis tells of an incredibly powerful interaction with a fellow traveler here. (The link isn't working so scroll down to his May 2 post.)
BTW - I found John by cruising my Blog Neighborhood!
Ask and you shall receive!
Neo: Well I suppose the most obvious question is, How can I trust you?
Oracle: Bingo. It is a pickle, no doubt about it. Bad news is there's no way if you can really know whether I'm here to help you or not, so it's really up to you. Just have to make up your own damn mind, to accept what I'm going to tell you or reject it. Candy?
Neo: Do you already know if I'm going to take it?
Oracle: Wouldn't be much of an oracle if I didn't.
Neo: But if you already know, how can I make a choice.
Oracle: Because you didn't come here to make the choice, you've already made it. You're here to try to understand why you made it. (Neo takes candy) I thought you'd have figured that out by now.
It may not be the most theologically sound conversation going (depending on who you talk to, of course) but it struck me as I sat and listened that this could be a conversation between us and God on the issue of free will. Very cool.
You can find the entire conversation here (Scroll down to Seraph/Oracle and Neo.) Check out the conversation between Neo and the Architect here. (Major spoiler warning: Obviously if you haven't seen the movie yet and plan to you might want to avoid these links!!)
"What is happening?" Robert C. Byrd asks. "What is happening to us?"
His voice is soft but etched with an unmistakable anger. At age 85, the West Virginia Democrat, the Senate's most senior member, has become its most outspoken dissident.
Our nation is in peril, he says, threatened not by foreigners but by the Bush administration, which he describes as warlike, arrogant and elitist -- "an administration of the wealthy, by the wealthy, for the wealthy."
Byrd, who supported the Vietnam War right to the bitter end, has emerged as Congress's most vociferous critic of the war in Iraq.
"We just fought a war that didn't need to be fought," he says, sitting on a white armchair in his Senate office. "There was no real justification for sending those 300,000 men and women to Iraq to fight. Contrary to what Mr. Bush tried to convince this nation of, Saddam Hussein did not constitute an imminent danger to this nation. . . . We've lost 145 men and women killed -- not a great number but too great a number. We didn't need to lose any of them. And we killed thousands of men and women and children in Iraq! Thousands of 'em! That was needless slaughter."
He pauses, but only long enough to draw sufficient breath to launch another verbal fusillade. "We have an administration that has projected this new doctrine of preemptive strike -- totally foreign, totally alien to our way of life -- and we're contemplating attacking other nations without provocation."
I have 3 words for you before I head for bed...
Well, I went and saw The Matrix Reloaded last night. Hoowah - good movie. I want to get the text of the brief exchange on "choice" between Neo and The Oracle.
Very powerful. Does anyone have a better memory than me? (Dumb question - most people have a better memory than me! Let me rephrase the question: Does anyone recall the exchange I'm referring to?)
Darryl, I think the mega movement will be replaced by the church planting and multiple site congregations and that the house church will flourish. I think the dislike of the institutional church will continue and the only way to overcome that is by developing real churches that love one another and are vibrant instead of what we mostly have today. As the church is today, it does not deserve to survive.
Wow. When Bill Easum talks I tend to pay attention. Thanks Darryl
My Lord God
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following
your will does not mean
that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that my desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire
in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me
to face my perils alone.
Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
A Prayer, as quoted in
AquaChurch: Essential Leadership Arts for Piloting Your Church in Today's Fluid Culture by Leonard Sweet
(And unceremoniously stolen from the Allelon site...)
"God alone is capable of making Himself known as He really is; we search in reasoning and in the sciences, as in a poor copy, for what we neglect to see in an excellent original. God Himself paints Himself in the depths of our souls. We must enliven our faith and elevate ourselves by means of that faith, above all our feelings, to adore God the Father and Jesus Christ in all their divine perfections. This way of faith is the mind of the church, and it suffices to arrive at high perfection."
The Matrix Reloaded... (Yes, another Matrix post - The Matrix is the Bono of 2003!)
The film reinvents religion, updating the messiah myth (or fact, depending on your views). It may also have the effect of making religion seem cool. Neo is the handsome and charismatic Christ-figure, diffident at first, but maturing into his divinity, who blasts the evil ones, known as the Agents, eventually gaining control over the events of the Matrix - the guy performs miracles. Morpheus plays the role of a black John the Baptist, Cypher is a weaselly Judas Iscariot, Trinity may be God Herself (she does resurrect Neo after a particularly vicious run-in with the Agents). This is the New Testament story for people raised on video games, Star Wars, and extreme fighting. Jesus Christ with cool shades and a beltful of guns. I'm not saying this is a good way to recast the central characters of Christianity, but it's hard to deny its cultural impact. And there can be no doubt that the movie benefits from the religious resonance that runs through it. In the end, it may be said, The Matrix is just a movie. True, but then the Bible is just a book.
Check out the complete article.
Do not be afraid
Fear is a huge obstacle in the lives of many people. It stops us going where we want to go. It stops us doing the right thing. It stops us from speaking out when something is wrong. Fear stops us reaching out to people, stops us trusting. It is a block to having free, open, loving relationships with others.
Jesus knew this, and liberating us from this fear was clearly a vital part of his mission. In the gospels, we hear him say "do not be afraid" no less than nineteen times.
Fear can be just as much an obstacle in prayer, in my relationship with God. I may be afraid of what I find if I look honestly at myself, or afraid of what I might let myself in for if I begin a conversation with the Lord that I am not in complete control of. But God, who knows me better than I know myself, loves me passionately despite all my faults. I have nothing to fear from opening myself to the Lord - I have only to reach out and accept his loving embrace.
From Something to think and pray about this week at Sacred Space.
The First Church of the Mallard
Some more Tony Campolo from "Let Me Tell You a Story"...
Perhaps my favorite Kierkegaardian story is his parable of the ducks. He describes a town where only ducks live. Every Sunday the ducks waddle out of their houses and waddle down Main Street to their church. They waddle into the sanctuary and squat in their proper pews. The duck choir waddles in and takes it place, then the duck minister comes forward and opens the duck Bible (Ducks, like all other creatures on earth, seem to have their own special version of the Scriptures.) He reads to them: "Ducks! God has given you wings! With wings you can fly! With wings you can mount up and soar like eagles. No walls can confine you! No fences can hold you! You have wings. God has given you wings and you can fly like birds!"
All the ducks shouted "Amen!" And they all waddled home.
How descriptive that story is of many church people. They hear of their potential in Christ. They agree with the declarations about the new life that can be theirs through a faith commitment. But in the end, they do not act upon what they have heard. They do not make the commitment. They simply say, "Amen!" and continue on in life as they always have.
Here is my BlogStreet visual neighborhood.
What is Blog Neighborhood?
It is a tool for discovering other blogs which are similar to a blog.
For Blog Authors, their Neighborhood is a pool of blogs to track. Treat it as a list of blogs you *should* be knowing about.
For Readers, it helps them to find more blogs similar to a blog they have liked.
The Blog Neighbourhood groups together blogs of a similar nature, allowing you to find other bloggers writing about the same kind of things.
The natural question is how does BlogStreet decide whats related to what. Well, its a God gift. More seriously, we take into account whom you blogroll and who blogrolls you, add to that a few other factors, give weightage to all the factors and there it is - the Neighborhood.
Very cool. Thanks to Darren for the link. That sound? Oh, that's the sound of even more hours being whiled away cruising through the galaxy Blog.
"The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own,' or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life-the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one's 'real life' is a phantom of one's own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight: but it's hard to remember it all the time."
The letters of C.S.Lewis to Arthur Greeves
Tim Keel thinks out loud about the pace of a life, a rule of life, and quotes Dallas Willard on Quiet Time Guilt. (The fact that I'm up at 5:30 am reading it is kind of ironic, but let's go with it...)
Adding Tim to the Fellow Travelers roll.
He brings a great perspective. My only reaction is to repeat my earlier comment... to the effect that I don't believe it's about going/not going, but more about what we are going to.
I was about to say that this will be my exit from this particular discussion, as good as it's been. But I've just remembered that I'm having lunch on Wednesday with a pastor friend, and I think I'll raise it with him. So stay tuned...
After years of church going I became frustrated by the way it has become institutionalised. It frustrates me that it has become so rigid and closed to change and fluidity. Jesus gives a radical call to follow him, the majority of churches have become too comfortable, they have become like clubs and they have lost the passion. Like you (ed: Darren) said last week on your site, read Matthew 10 and compare the call of Jesus to his disciples with the way your church operates. Read Romans 12 and tell me where there is a church in the West grappling with that stuff! We've lost the plot – I have become disillusioned with being virtually the only person in a community of faith that wants it to be more than a nice and safe place to come and feel all warm and fuzzy with my middle class privileged life. Attending church sucked life from me – I figured that it was not healthy for me to continue to go.
Read the answers to all 25 questions here.
" ...you're just struggling to really understand our story, and tell it straight. That's no heresy, man. That's the gospel."
The Story We Find Ourselves In
Here's a thought I had yesterday:
When I "get to Heaven" (whatever that means) God and I are going to have some laughs over the issues I had "wrong". You know - doctrine, theology, dogma - whatever you want to call it.
He isn't going to condemn me, or even be angry. I am His, and I don't believe there is anything I can be wrong about that will be wrong enough to change that.
"In fact, not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die."
UPDATED: I've just finished reading this book. It may be the most beautiful thing I have ever read. Read it, but only if you're not easily offended.
We're off to Roberts Creek this morning for the long weekend. Lot's of R & R (&R)... that's rest, reflection and restling with all the stuff we bought at Ikea to set up the ministry office.
Those Swedes may be silver medal winners in hockey, but they get the gold for home & office decorating. (Sorry - weak analogy but it's all I had to work with.)
Have a good one. If I get a chance I'll blog from the other end of the string and tin can.
This is beautiful.
(Adding Real Live Preacher to the Fellow Travellers roll.)
Alan Creech has been reading Thomas Merton again. Over at Alan's place he's quoting Merton on Spiritual Direction. Very insightful. (Look for the May 15 entry)
OK- the whole world knows I'm a conference junkie, so there's nothing to hide.
The good news is I just found my (40 pages of) notes from Emergent! When I came back from the gathering I basically put them away and started packing for the move. We found them yesterday as we emptied out our "office" in preparation for installing our new shelves. (I say "office" because its 6' X 8'. I'm starting to feel like a monk.)
Have I mentioned that we spent most of the week at Ikea? At this stage I'm not sure if I love them or hate them. I'll let you know. Anyway, the office is starting to look good, and I'm finding all the books that I still need to read.
The point of this rambling post is to celebrate the found notes. Hopefully I'll be posting on some as I review them. Of course, I still need to finish posting on my notes from Shifting Realities.
I mentioned I was a conference junkie... didn't I?
TORONTO, May 14 -- The World Health Organization today removed Toronto from the list of areas affected by the SARS virus, saying that Canadian health officials had broken the chain of transmission and stopped the spread of the respiratory disease.
WHO announced the decision after a conference call with Canadian officials, who argued that the number of active cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome in Canada had dwindled and that there had been no further spread in hospitals or in the community.
Now people out here in the West will have no valid reason for disliking Toronto and will have to go back to hating it because, well, it's Toronto. (As a friend of mine put it recently, "SARS or not, there should ALWAYS be a travel advisory against going to Toronto!")
Regionalism is alive and well in Canada!
She started off asking 3 non-church-going Christ Followers a series of questions. Their answers are fascinating, disturbing and thought-provoking. Others have picked up on the theme, but I think Rachel has linked back to most of them.
Sue and I find ourselves "between churches" right now, and more connected with a small group of friends. What's more, we're very comfortable with that state, so this is fascinating reading. Thanks Rachel.
They sit stately and unadorned in every community, churches of stone or white clapboard that link today's frenetic culture to a pious, inconceivably mannered past. It is easy to drive by these old-time Protestant churches, where generations of immigrants thanked God for their lot, and assume they will anchor the culture forever.
But scores of churches across greater New York that are part of the "mainline" Protestant tradition are now gasping for life. Aging congregations of only a few dozen people have become commonplace, presenting the possibility that many churches will close over the next decade or so.
And then there's this honest assessment:
"For decades, the mainline churches were in denial; for the past few years, people were grieving for the days of yore," said the Rev. Michael Caine, minister of the Southeastern Region of the New York Conference of the United Church of Christ. "Now, we're starting to look at what's out there, to figure out how to bring our understanding of the Christian gospel to those who need it. How do we do that? I'm not sure we know."
From Mainline Protestants reeling in The Journal News.
Some of you may have noticed I've added online indicators for MSN and Yahoo under the Links section of the page (thanks for the source, Rachel!)
Last night I was signed in and Darren dropped to say hello. Before you know it we had Phil and Dan, Rachel and Blake on the line. Kind of like a good old party line (not that I'm old enough to remember those!)
Darren is right - it does an another dimension to the blogging experience. Very cool.
I can't wait to read it. I picked it up at the Shifting Realities conference (after hearing Anne speak at Emergent a couple of months ago. Can you say "conference junkie?)
If I ever get this office unpacked I'll dig out my notes from her talk at Emergent. It was a mind bending experience. The best way I can put it is to say that Anne is a unique individual. I think she freaked a lot of people out with her "presentation", but I loved every second of it. In it she said that when she writes it usually takes about 9 drafts, and she throws the first 3 out. Well, when she speaks I suspect it's like a first draft. There were nuggets of gold if you really listened. It was great.
Thanks for the excerpts, Darryl.
I added the Alta Vista Babel Fish translation link to the page, just for fun. I see in the French version I am now Microphone Todd, and in German Leonard Sweet is Leonard Bonbon.
I hope they're not using this thing at the UN...
"We've got too many people hooked up to a Christ who's dead and lived 2,000 years ago. We've got to latch our lives onto the Christ that's alive and at work in the world today. Christianity is in decline where faith is being passed on by churches where the real presence has vanished from the world. But, Christianity is growing where churches are crazy enough to expect that everyday life will be invaded by the unknown. The greatest feature of Christianity in the southern world is the... belief in miracles and a personal God who cares enough to intervene directly in everyday life."
The New York Times is doing an admirable job of facing their failure to put a stop to the fabrications of journalist Jayson Blair sooner. I didn't see the "paper copy", but our friend Robert alerted me to the coverage this morning.
From the article Times Reporter Who Resigned Leaves Long Trail of Deception:
A staff reporter for The New York Times committed frequent acts of journalistic fraud while covering significant news events in recent months, an investigation by Times journalists has found. The widespread fabrication and plagiarism represent a profound betrayal of trust and a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper.
And from William Safire's Op-Ed piece:
Just about everyone at this newspaper is sick at heart at the way one Times reporter betrayed our readers and all of us with his sustained deceit and plagiarism...
To the 375 Times reporters who make up the greatest assemblage of talent and enterprise in the field of gathering and writing the news, I submit this hard line:
Self-examination is healthy but self-absorption is not; self-correction is a winner but self-flagellation is a sure loser. Let us slap a metaphoric cold steak over our huge black eye and learn from this dismaying example — so that other journalists in the nation and around the world can continue to learn from ours.
Good for them.
From the better late than never file... I'd like to announce the most recent addition to our family.
Sue and I are pleased to report that our IBM ThinkPad R40 GGU arrived safely (by courier) last Thursday at approximately 3:13 PM, weighing in at 2.9 Kg. Mother, Father and Baby Blue are all doing well, and big brother Dell is slowly adjusting.
Thank you! (You know who you are.)
Back in Oakville we had 2 desktops on a wireless network. We abandoned one of them when we moved (no room!), but I brought the wireless rig with me. Don't ask me why... maybe because we had spent a bunch of $$ to get it installed just 6 months prior to moving. Now I think I'll see if I can figure out how to/if I can install it again.
Hopefully I'll be blogging from the balcony soon!
While teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, I became good friends with a young Jewish student who eventually made a commitment to Christ. As I tried to mentor him and give him a direction as to how to live the Christian life, I advised him to go to a particular church that was well known for its biblically based preaching, to help him get a better handle on what the Bible is all about.
When I met my friend several weeks later, he said to me, "You know, if you put together a committee and asked them to take the Beatitudes and create a religion that contradicted every one of them, you could come pretty close to what I'm hearing down there at that church. Whereas Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor." down there they make it clear it is the rich who are blessed. "Jesus said, 'Blessed are they that mourn,' but the people at that church has a religion that promises happiness with no crucifixions. "Whereas Jesus talked about the meek being blessed, they talk as if they took assertiveness-training courses. Jesus may have talked about the merciful and peacemakers, but those people are the most enthusiastic supporters of American militarism and capital punishment I have ever met. "Jesus may have lifted up those who endured persecution because they dared to embrace a radical gospel, but that church declares a gospel that espouses middle-class success and affirms a lifestyle marked by social prestige".
As I listened to my friend's accusing words about the church, I realized it could just as well be aimed at me. Since that conversation, I've spent a lot of time reflecting on whether or not my lifestyle is really Christian. Soren Kiekegaard once said, "If you mean by Christian what the Sermon on the Mount says about being a Christian, then in any given time in history, there might be four or five such persons who would have the right to call themselves Christians". Tony Campolo (Let Me Tell You a Story)
Check out the resulting conversation as well. John's links don't seem to be working, so look for The Church vs. The Sermon on the Mount on May 7.
From an excellent post by Todd Hunter on leadership:
"What does it mean to lead a group of people who are supposed to be following someone else - namely God the Holy Spirit". It also suggests as a hypothetical answer: spiritual leadership, humanly speaking, serves and coordinates the divinely sponsored activities of the Holy Spirit among the gathered or scattered community of Christ.
I don't think I've ever heard it defined that way - or even heard that question being asked.
(Todd's links are out - See his Thought for Monday May 5)
This morning's daily eMail from the Washington Post contains an excellent story on the detective work it took to contain the SARS outbreak in our former hometown of Toronto.
The disease investigator was anxious. A terrifying, invisible illness was spreading like a predator in the city. It was already days ahead of him, and the detective knew he had just hours to catch up with it before it killed again...
Their search and those conducted by other public health officials around the city eventually led to the containment of SARS in Toronto, not by solving the scientific mystery surrounding the disease but by tracing the people who were carrying it. Old-fashioned, gumshoe detective work -- finding people and isolating them -- was instrumental in stopping the disease's spread.
There's also a link to a photo gallery accompanied by audio from several news reports.
I don't think I'm heading to seminary any time soon (stranger things have happened...) but if I did, this is where I would go.
UPDATE: There's quite a conversation going on here - make sure you check it out. We need a few more people to join in!
I'm still chewing on my notes from the Shifting Realities gathering last week, and I still have a few more posts to write on it.
My friend the Global Girl (who was also there) and I had a couple of conversations on the incredible demonstration of grace we witnessed. Brian talked about how our faith has been influenced by the consumer mentality of our culture. A "good" Christian is an educated consumer with fastidious taste. The more you complain the more "educated" you obviously are. Sort of like a wine connoisseur with a sensitive nose and a bad disposition. What if instead of trumpeting our distinctives we confess our faults? Then grace would flow. He used that in the context of "church" (corporately) but I think it applies equally to us personally.
This was the context in which we watched Brian expound, interact and share with us for 2 days.
I'm relatively new to the postmodern conversation (better late than never...) but it seems to me that a lot of people are angry. ("Pissed off" is the postmodern term.) I confess to firing off relatively frequent rants myself. I wonder why that is? That's an issue we can deal with another time... I don't want to get off track. My point is we were led in some very uncomfortable conversational directions (for some) with such grace and gentleness. And in doing so an atmosphere of hope and enouragement was created, instead of despair, criticism, sarcasm and disdain.
It seems to me that's the way our faith should play out.
As Dan said, we can't go on just being against things. We need to be even clearer about where we are going.
So that's where I'm at. I'm going to be more positive... and less negative. I'm reversing my polarity.
God, I'm an imperfect being. Left to my own devices I will screw this up. Please give me the grace to be a positive influence. To challenge, yes, but also to encourage, to build up and to part of the Kingdom solution... and not part of the Kingdom problem. Amen.
Sue and I are in Roberts Creek again until Saturday some time. You know what that means - DIAL UP CONNECTION! Ugh.
That being said, I still have things to say about the gathering last week, so stay tuned...
Some of these are pretty good. (Now if I could just figure out how to load pictures on this thing...)
First of all let me say that I've turned over a new leaf - or at least I'm trying. Less complaining, less cynicism, more encouragement, etc. Less bitching, more pitching you might say.
Having said that, The Slacktivist has expanded on an idea from a Mother Jones article that I love. Conventional logic tells us that it does little good to live in a world of "what-if's". I tend to agree, but there is something to the notion that we can learn and grow, and perhaps be more aware of our options for "the next time" if we take the time to look openly at alternative ideas, courses of action, etc.
Fred writes on an article that looks at how GWB could have responded to 9-11. Have a look here.
Again, I've combined some comments from Dan Allender and Brian McLaren (from the gathering).
What is theology?
A systematic outline of truth, in the form of propositions extracted from the Biblical text through technique to create a "Biblical world view",
An ongoing creative enterprise of making models of the universe based on beliefs about God?
One represents a system of belief, the other a way of life.
Check this out from C.S. Lewis:
Footnote to All Prayers
He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow
When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,
And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart
Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.
Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
Worshipping with frail images a folk-lore dream,
And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address
The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless
Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert
Our arrows, aimed unskilfully, beyond desert;
And all men are idolators, crying unheard
To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word.
Take not, O Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in thy great
Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate.
+ Our theologies, like our prayers, are words at best. God is not them. The danger is they can become idols. "Concepts create idols, only wonder understands anything." (Gregory of Nyssa)
+ There are no answers. "He does not answer because He is the answer." (C.S. Lewis). We have no answers because we have the presence.
+ We are not here to preserve our own systems or to be at our own community's unique service. Every system is wrong. They are finite efforts to sanitize and domesticate God.
+ It's not that I have anything to offer anyone, but that everyone has the opportunity to offer Christ to me. Am I willing to learn from everyone?
What an incredible conversation! You could hear the sound of minds stretching in the room!
I just had one of those moments where I looked out the window and couldn't quite grasp the fact that we live here now.
What an adventure - terror and exhilaration all at once!
"If the rest of my life is so exciting, why is church so boring?!?"
We create, connect and interact all week long and then sit and watch someone interact for us on Sunday. Why? This culture we live in is so multi/non-linear, yet our corporate worship is often linear and static.
The danger is we may use technology to take us even further down the path of being a religious service provider as opposed to really connecting in community. The good news is we've never had so many options for "telling our story".
One huge question many will have to grapple with "who is our congregation?" Jordon talked about a U.S. serviceman who logs into the Lakeview Church site every Monday from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Is he part of the congregation? In a completely different way I look at myself. I "frequent" a local church where there is great teaching, but we plan on checking out a couple of others (we're still new here). I listen to a couple of sermons on the internet weekly (here and here). I'm also part of a "core" group, or home church, which I feel is really my "community". Where should I tithe? Should I support them all a little? I know many churches that would not care for that arrangement. What would your church do with me?
These were thought-provoking questions, and some good discussion followed. The present/future is so bright, but we need to rethink everything.
UPDATE: In reading this post over I'm struck by the irony of it. I use the local church (and the 2 "web churches") as a spiritual service provider - the service being teaching. The core group provides my "community". And it works for me. If I'm unable to find community in a church of 1000+, is it wrong for me to "use" them for the teaching? I know they wouldn't be able to survive if all 1000+ used them that way.
This is intriguing. Is there room for "someone like me" in the traditonal church model? Or does the model have to change to allow, accomodate and yes, even encourage those who come to learn but probably will not engage?
+ We are in a transitional phase. This is "the era that is already now, and yet not yet". (That's from Dan. I love that line.)
+ This is an era when advice will always alienate.
+ The church is not the prime mission place in the next century - it has to leave the building. This era demands that the church goes to the world, be in the places where the world exists. They are not coming to us. We need to rethink and redefine the nature of church.
+ Brian put it in even stronger words: We need a refounding of the church, not a renewal.
I love the language that is used. There's a certain "something"... hope, potential and encouragement instead of cynicism and sarcasm. Personally, I'm going to go for more of the former, and less of the latter (for a change).
My good friend the Global Girl went live in the blogosphere yesterday!
Make sure you drop by and check out her perspective (which is truly global) on faith, art and whatever else is on her mind.
Welcome aboard, GG.
My thoughts from the conference will have to wait just a little while longer. Yesterday we helped friends move, and it has turned into a 2 day effort.
All I can say is never rent from U-Haul.
Talk to you soon.
I'm writing this from the top of Grouse Mountain. No, I don't have a laptop (and if I did I wouldn't drag it up the Grouse Grind - the torture I love to hate!) It's good old fashioned pen and paper, and then keying it in later/now. (I have no idea who those people are in the Grind link - they're the only pictures on the web I could find.)
The climb up here this morning was a great opportunity to reflect on the Shifting Realities conversation of the past couple of days. It was great, and God spoke to me in several ways.
I had one of those rare/great blogger opportunities to meet "e-friends" in person - Jordon and Wendy Cooper. That was very cool!They're great people, as well as great bloggers. Both of them have some good coverage of the gathering on their blogs, as they were posting in real time! Being the techno-dude that he is, Jordon brought his own wireless rig with them. (Although, given that the church was apparently built to withstand a nuclear blast their wireless coverage was iffy - every time Wendy blinked the connection would cut out.)
Speaking of Jordon he led a great workshop on the impact of technology on "church" He reflected on the benefits of being able to connect with others online. A skeptic in the crowd wasn't buying it - if we wanted to connect with people he'd rather pick up the phone. Jordon and I had the same reaction at the same time - he pointed me out and talked about how we had just "met" an hour ago, yet we had already had about a dozen eMail conversations.
That's one of the beauties of this medium - the ability to broaden our circle of friends, broaden the conversation, and thereby broaden the collective experience of the entire group. I thought of the great interactions I've had with new friends in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia as well as others all over Canada and the US. (As well as the Coopers in Saskatoon, which is almost like another country - especially in winter.) I met Ron from Surrey who stops by here on occassion. He asked how we were settling in - he knew some of our story. That was very cool. Thanks Ron.
When I get back home today I'll go over my notes and post on some of the highlights. More later.