UPDATE: There's a couple of great examples of Mike's writing and thinking over at Darryl's place.
There's also an interview this morning with Mark Oestricher, president of Youth Specialties.
Listen to Mike's last public presentation at the YS Convention in Charlotte on October 27.
Last week I teased Mike about the term "Christ-Follower". I thought it was silly for a bunch of "Christians" to "dis" the term that has defined them for 2000 years. He explained that this wasn't a decision taken lightly. There are so many "Christians" today who display such "unGrace", he doesn't want to be associated with them.
I'm not sure he has a choice.
In the first place, you shouldn't quit when the going gets tough. "Christians" aren't up to snuff so you abandon the field to them? Why should they get "Christians"? Stay and fight! If the term Christian is associated with unsavoury types today, it is up to good people like yourselves to change that! Don't cave. It's your word too.
Secondly, is dumping "Christian" Grace? I know (thanks to Yancey) Jesus hammered the Pharisees but unless you can walk on water, or bring the Red Sox back to life... The church today is in trouble. I am not sure you should abandon it when it needs you most. If you are "over" church, maybe you should stay the same way we should help someone with car trouble even if helping means we are going to be late for the opera. You should go to church and make it relevant, meaningful. I must admit that talking with you has taught me that some "Christians" are truly independent truth-seekers. The blog people I have met are such erudite thinkers and should not quit on the organization, anachronistic though it may be.
That's all from the atheist's corner.
|Mike Yaconelli was killed in a car accident last night. What very sad news.|
From the YS web site...
Early this morning, Thursday, October 30, we lost a friend, a father, an inspiration. Co-founder and owner of Youth Specialties (YS), Mike Yaconelli, was in a fatal car accident in northern California late Wednesday evening.
The number of lives touched by Mike is beyond what we could even estimate. He is the father of modern youth ministry in many minds. Through his books, speaking engagements, and YS events, he has ministered to untold thousands all over the world.
I guess it's a human trait to relate losses personally. I know that the hour I spent listening to Yac last year at Emergent was significant, inspiring, hilarious and profound... all in 60 minutes. What a guy.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. Wow.
NIH Faces Criticism On Grants
Coalition Assails 'Smarmy Projects'
By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 30, 2003; Page A21
A coalition of conservative church groups said yesterday that it will ask the Justice Department to investigate how scores of research studies relating to health and sexuality gained federal funding through the National Institutes of Health.
An NIH official said the studies, including several aimed at documenting the behaviors of prostitutes, intravenous drug users and others at high risk of spreading sexually transmitted diseases, are an important part of an effort to devise better public health and education strategies. But the coalition called them "smarmy projects" representing at least $100 million in wasted federal money.
The group's call for Justice Department intervention is the latest volley in an escalating war of words and actions in recent weeks between the Washington-based religious group and the NIH and its congressional and institutional supporters, who see the attack as part of a larger effort to foist conservative religious values on the federal scientific enterprise.
"There needs to be some adult supervision at NIH," said Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, a public policy organization that says it has more than 43,000 member churches. "We have nameless, faceless bureaucrats doling out money like a federal ATM to do things like study the sex habits of Mexicans before and after they cross over the border. This doesn't pass the straight-face test..."
This is great. These folks should team up with the Pope (who doesn't believe condoms help slow the spread of AIDS). Chalk another one up for those "religious" people.
|Ever have one of those days?
You know, when you feel a little like you're the only Liberal cabinet minister who didn't get a freebie at the Irving's summer place?
(In the interests of full disclosure I'm not having one of those days. I just couldn't wait to use the line...)
Jesus, Son of Joseph
Woodcrafter Carpenter Shop
Jordan Management Consultants
Thank you for submitting the resumes of the 12 men you have picked for management positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests; we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.
It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education, and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.
Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale.
We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic depressive scale.
One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory.
We wish you every success in your new venture.
Jordan Management Consultants
*Source: Greg Ogden, Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time
It takes all types.
I mean He takes all types.
Some days trying to get my thoughts into words is like getting blood from a stone. (Who came up with that expression anway? Sure it fits the circumstance, but is that the best they could do?)
Then other days they fall out of my head faster than I can write them down. Of course, that doesn't mean they're good, or even make sense... it just means they ARE. Yesterday was one of those days, so I apologize for the multiple postings - although I am by no means promising it won't happen again... like today, maybe. A friend pointed out that I can't throw different ideas at people from different directions, and then freak out when I don't get feedback.
So I apologize.
(Of course, we could avoid all this unpleasantness in the future if you would just leave a frickin' comment. But I digress.)
"Filmed on the 1st September 2001, U2 Go Home is the first ever release to feature U2 playing to a home crowd in Ireland. Following an 80 date sell-out world tour, U2 headed home for two extraordinary outdoor shows at Slane Castle in Ireland, where the band played to a total of over 160,000 people. This homecoming concert will be released on DVD by Interscope Records on November 18th 2003."
For the Christmas list!
Here's one of my favorite lines from Winn's notes:
"The last morning he suggested that followers of Jesus should be aggressive in their attentiveness to God and apathetic to what others say about their attentiveness. Aggressive attentiveness and apathy should be seen as spiritual disciplines."
A Willful Ignorance
By PAUL KRUGMAN
The New York Times
October 28, 2003
According to The New York Times, President Bush was genuinely surprised to learn from moderate Islamic leaders that they had become deeply distrustful of American intentions. The report on the "perception gap" suggests that the leader of the war on terror has no idea how badly that war — which must, ultimately, be a war for hearts and minds — is going.
Mr. Bush's ignorance may reflect his lack of curiosity: "The best way to get the news," he says, "is from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff." Two words: emperor, clothes...
I would like to sit down someday with GWB and ask him, sincerely, for his thoughts on loving our enemies. What does that mean in what seems to me to be the most "evangelical" White House to come along in a long time?
More thoughts from God... via Derek and Amy:
I felt God saying, I need an imperfect people who are willing, more than I need a perfect people who are not willing.
I feel like I'm about ready to move from one side of that equation to the other. Read the rest here.
I love Anne Lamott.
I am not sure what grace is but when it arrives, it is the opposite of feeling like the smallest package on earth, all wrapped up in yourself. Grace is when something makes the now more spacious; walking the children out to their classrooms in children's church on Sunday, I asked a child named Kahari if he was still 7. He said, "No, I'm 8 now. I just live like a 7-year-old."
I've switched over to fotopage... so I can upload more than one image a day without paying for it. The link to the right has been updated.
WARNING: I may go a little crazy with this camera...
We finally bought a digital camera!
This is a quick shot from the balcony last night. Of course, 5 minutes after we took this picture we went out to a movie (Mystic River) and the sky was a blazing deep orange... and I didn't have the camera with me.
The movie? Well, it had potential but didn't really deliver in the end. The acting was excellent - it was the story that came up short.
1. Sadness or depression of the spirits; gloom: "There is melancholy in the wind and sorrow in the grass" (Charles Kuralt).
2. Pensive reflection or contemplation.
I'm doing some thinking about the blog tonight, for a couple of reasons. I have the usual blogger's complaint: the posts you really feel strongly about, and/or would like feedback on, are the posts that receive the least number of comments. I blog, in part, because I'm thinking out loud. Wait - scratch that. It's better than thinking out loud because you get the benefit of input, and can alter your own thoughts - change horses in mid stream, as it were.
In a strange way it's also ego. "Sacred ego", if you will, but ego none the less. I guess one hopes that the thoughts we find so profound, deep or significant to us will have the same effect on others. I want to see the "aha!" moment spread.
So here's my plea: Leave a comment!
For those of you who don't know what to say, let me help you out and provide some sample comments. Feel free to modify as you see fit:
1. Mike, I'm astounded by your brilliance. I'm speechless, really... but yet needed to tell you.
2. Mike, thanks for letting me in on your psychosis - there was nothing good on TV anyway, so this worked out well.
3. Mike, what the hell are you talking about?
4. Mike, the very fact that you have managed to avoid institutionalization up until the present time is indeed a testimony to your ingenuity.
Well, you get the point. If you agree, let me know. If you disagree, let me know.
OK - enough self-pity. I think I'm going to watch the Ducks again. You can't watch that and remain melancholy.
(Click on "watch quicktime movie" at the bottom of the screen. Thanks to Jonny Baker for the link. )
No doubt some of you are growing convinced that I'm losing it, but never-the-less I'll carry on with some of my "corporate crossover" thoughts.
I've been an opponent of the secular/sacred distinction for a while now. I think that particular compartmentalization of life has been a result of the "church on Sunday, real life the rest of the week" environment that many of us grew up in. As a result, we run the risk of being left with a weak faith - nothing more than a personal philosophy, really - that holds little credibility with the rest of the world.
As I've said many times before I'm looking for a way of life, not a system of beliefs. In practice I'm looking for God's fingerprints (a great line from Adam) everywhere. Naturally then, that search extends to the business world, which is where I come from.
Check out some of these lines:
...his life's work has been to elevate the level of his own craft. In doing so, he has adopted an approach to his art and his business that is equal parts ancient and modern, historically grounded and technologically sophisticated, locally based and globally aware, product-oriented and philosophically informed...
Poilâne has developed an approach that he calls "retro-innovation," and it has made him successful in a city where people take bread very, very seriously. "Retro-innovation takes the best of the old and the best of the new," Poilâne explains. "You can only do it if you free your mind, if you don't belong to anything."
"In baking, people are always looking for the new bread. But it exists already. Using old ways is a glorious way to make new things. The man with the best future is the one with the longest memory."
The bakers' work doesn't look particularly complicated or difficult, but small subtleties can make a huge difference. "You can make thousands of products with only three ingredients,"...
"If you start to make too many things, that's extension," he says. "My motto is, Do things with intention, not with extension."
"The pleasure of life is in meeting people, and the shop is open to the street, so it's a great social space," he says.
Somebody please tell me you see the bread as a metaphor for the Gospel too!
Man, this bread has fingerprints all over it...
'The last three generations of filmgoers have never seen this properly."
On Halloween, one of the scariest of movies of all time returns to theaters. Director Ridley Scott fills you in on what you can expect — and fear — in the digitally-remastered director's cut of the 1979 hit thriller "Alien."
...I've heard all day (although it's only 8:30 am):
"Do you wish that your nose was longer so you'd have an excuse not to see past it?"
Once again, at the risk of offending those of you who are suspicious of all things "corporate", I read an article like this and it gets me thinking...
In 1974, a Harvard sociologist made a seemingly unremarkable discovery. It is, in fact, who you know. His study asked several hundred white-collar workers how they'd landed their jobs. More than half credited a "personal connection." Duh. But then it got interesting: The researcher, Mark Granovetter, dug deeper and discovered that four-fifths of these backdoor hires barely knew their benefactors. As it turns out, close friends are great for road trips, intimate dinners, and the occasional interest-free loan, but they suck for job leads and blind dates - they know the same people you do. In other words, it's not so much who you know, but who you vaguely know. Granovetter called the phenomenon "the strength of weak ties." He had discovered the human node...
Use your imagination.
I think I would like to meet Jim Wallis some day.
Backward Christian soldier: An open letter to the Christian General
by Jim Wallis
Dear Lt. General Boykin,
You've gotten a lot of press this week, General. Perhaps you didn't expect the things you've been saying in churches to go public - about America's "Christian army," the holy war we're waging against the "idol" of Islam's false God, and the "spiritual battle" we're fighting against "a guy named Satan" who "wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army." You call yourself a "warrior for the kingdom of God," but most of your service has been with the Special Forces and the CIA. You say, "We in the army of God, in the house of God, in the kingdom of God, have been raised for such a time as this." You apparently have no doubt that "America is still a Christian nation," while other nations "have lost their morals, lost their values." You think "George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the United States," but that "He was appointed by God." You say, "He's in the White House because God put him there." And maybe you believe God has put you in the new position to which you were just appointed as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence.
Because your views sound like a "Christian jihad" at a time when the United States government is sensitive to offending the Muslim world, you have become a controversy. I'm sure you've been under a lot of pressure since the story of your religious views broke in the Los Angeles Times. Your critics say your private religious views are your own business, but when you speak with your uniform on, you're a spokesperson for the U.S. military and government. We don't need to make the Arab world angrier at us than they already are and it doesn't help when you say things like, "Why do they hate us? The answer to that is because we are a Christian nation. We are hated because we are a nation of believers." Or when you describe the Muslim warlords you fought in Mogadishu, Somalia, as "the principalities of darkness" and a "demonic presence in that city that God revealed to me as the enemy," that "will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus."
General, I think the hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers" must have been written just for you. I'm sure your superiors have already given you a lesson in politics and public relations. And I've heard you have toned down your opinions and said you didn't mean to offend anyone. Whether you keep your job is a political question, the outcome of which we will know soon enough.
But I want to raise some different issues: biblical theology, bad teaching, and church discipline. General, your theology bears no resemblance to biblical teaching. You utterly confuse the body of Christ with the American nation. The kingdom of God doesn't endorse the principalities and powers of nation-states, armies, and the ideologies of empire; but rather calls them all into question. You even miss the third verse of "Onward Christian Soldiers," which reminds us, "Crowns and thrones may perish, Kingdoms rise and wane, But the Church of Jesus, constant will remain." And let's not misinterpret the famous first verse, "Onward Christian soldiers marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before." The cross, General, not the Special Forces.
Brother Boykin, I believe you are a product of bad theology and church teaching. Why were you never given sound biblical tools to help you discern the shape of your vocation? Why were you never taught in Sunday school about the real meaning of the kingdom of God, and the universality of the body of Christ? And why have you never heard that only peacemaking, not war-making, can be done "in the name of Jesus?"
General, I really don't want to blame you for the lack of Christian teaching that you have obviously suffered. But there is a legitimate issue of church discipline here. When a high-ranking military officer espouses a zealous religious nationalism that claims the name "Christian" for both his nation and his army, and when he invokes the name of Jesus - not to love our enemies as he instructed, but rather to target them for destruction - the church must discipline that errant brother and name his public statements for what they are, not mere political incorrectness, but idolatry. General, you have substituted your nation and your army for God, your faith is more American than Christian, the Jesus you claim is not the Jesus of the New Testament, and his kingdom will not be ushered in by the U.S. military.
Whatever happens with your job, I pray that you find a church that offers you the ministry of repentance, forgiveness, and restoration to a more authentic biblical faith.
(From SojoMail 10.22.2003)
Recently, I have been reading "What's so amazing about Grace?" and have been really intrigued by the way Philip Yancey discusses the notion of forgiveness. I must say I have found the book has spoken to me directly and really want to thank the person who gave it to me (not Mike).
For those of you who aren't regular readers, I am the blog's resident atheist but don't hold it against me. Over the past few months, I have participated in the conversation and kind of adapted some of the notions to my life. The book discusses the notion that Christians, sorry, "Christ-followers" are commanded by Christ to forgive others as they are forgiven by God. I am not sure about that part of it but the author goes on to make a point about how forgiveness is enormously liberating. This struck a chord with me.
I have been wrestling with the whole notion of forgiveness. In particular, can one forgive another if there is no repentance? I am not talking about God but between we flawed mortals. Can we forgive one who has wronged us if they don't repent? What if we don't want to do so?
The book makes a very powerful argument that forgiving someone sets free the
forgiver even more than the forgiven. I am being selfish here. I am not looking to make the heavens happy.
I have been formulating a kind of gratitude principle recently. I believe more and more that living my life gratefully sets the right tone for me. It makes me value what matters to me and keeps my eye on the ball in long-term perspective.
However, I have not forgiven. I still feel I carry grudges and that's why this book hit home. I sense that ADDING forgiveness to gratitude might really be getting somewhere. As a matter of fact, the combination of gratitude and forgiveness sounds like my idea of Grace.
I would love some feedback.
|Oh yeah - this is going to be a good series.
I'm still working my way through the series on Forgiveness, but I'll definitely be tuning in for this one too.
Thank you Lord for mp3s.
(Hey - I guess other people use these blog things too.)
There have been some great comments to Giving.
I particularly like Heather's challenge:
'I just have issues with statements like "immediately stop contributing financially to your church".....because this might be where they are teaching us to live sacrificially as Jesus taught.'
Aha - A paradox!
(PS. If this post doesn't make any sense its because one of my neighbours is out on his/her balcony right now smoking a joint. Second night in a row, come to think of it.
Hmm. I wonder what's in the 'fridge...)
Mark Riddle is back at it, so the * comes off his name over on the Fellow Travelers roll. Welcome back, Mark.
...Opposed to this version of the Christian faith is the shape of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was not executed for his spectacular devotional life or his conservative sexual ethic. He provoked reactions because he opposed classism, sexism, and ethnocentrism. Jesus devoted himself to bringing freedom to the marginalized, oppressed, and suffering. He hit social issues at a social, even political, level. In doing so he upset the powers that be, religious and political.
The concerns of modern Christians have strayed so far from these pursuits that drastic changes are in order to shake our misplaced ideals. The proposal we offer, although radical, is simple. With two easy steps, we can all significantly recover the values of Jesus and make headway towards truly becoming good Christians.
We should all:
1. Immediately stop contributing financially to the church we attend.
2. Immediately begin contributing that amount to Unicef or a similar organization that saves lives and empowers needy children throughout the world.
I know this was discussed a while back, but I've just read the essay How to be a Good Christian by Stephen Bush for the first time.
Due to the recent heavy rainfall, the GVRD has closed the Grouse Grind effective immediately. The situation will be reviewed daily for possible re-opening.
First they closed it because it was too dry. Now it's closed because its too wet. Welcome to life in BC!
On a more positive note, I think God was up to his old tricks again today. His timing is an interesting thing. We seem to think that things should flow, one right after the other. No down time.
We've been here 7 months already, and I have to admit I've started to get impatient recently.
"OK God... we're here. We've kept up our end of the bargain. Maybe you could keep yours and tell us why."
Really, in the big scheme of things, what's 7 months? Nothing. But it sure doesn't feel like nothing when you're in the middle of it. Anyway, I'm pleased to report that I believe He put another piece of the puzzle in place today, and I'm excited about that.
|J.I. Packer may know his theology, but he doesn't know squat about baseball curses.
(Thanks to Bene for giving me the heads-up on this heresy...)
I subscribe to an eMail summary of the eLearnspace blog, basically because I'm interested in learning. I laughed when I read the latest.
Here's a quick overview of the benefits of communities:
+ Live, changing, dynamic
+ "Need now" learning that meets the needs of learners in almost real time
+ Access to gurus (i.e. gurus and beginners can interact)
+ Diversity - both in terms of perspective and skills
+ High interaction - the teacher is no longer a hub...but a node on the network.
+ Other learners can teach as well.
+ Relationship building
+ Serendipity (seeing the value of other occurrences in the organization and using it to creatively solve your own problems)
+ Knowledge sharing
+ Safe environment. A classroom is typically a short-term construct (3 months). The classroom is torn down and rebuilt with each learning group. Communities last much longer. Trust grows over time.
Although the focus of the article is on educational communities, there's something in there for us as well.
I had some time to think this morning as I did The Grind. It was pouring rain, and most of the mountain was in the clouds. Very cool - in every sense of the word. Here are some of the thoughts that kept me going...
This prophecy stuff is cool. The community of Christ-followers needs some direction right now.
Yes, I think the traditional church has lost it's way. But then again, the "traditional church" is a rapidly disappearing species anyway. Yes I'm all for a postmodern, alternative worship approach. Less doctrine, more God! That being said, I believe if we all run around doing our own thing in reaction, and throwing the baby out with the bath water, we'll do some damage.
This is a critical time, and those with the gift need to tell us what God is saying these days.
Does that make any sense?
'To the "gen x" generation - "Friend, move up higher." This is the Lord's cry for us right now. "Friend, move up higher. I am killing the stronghold of 'relevancy' over you. This is a curse over your generation that has kept many of you from flying in your true selves. Break free in Me. I am ready to give you a new level of sitting at the feast - you are no longer the cynical generation sitting at the edges of the supper table. I love you and I call you Exquisite Namers; I love your subtlety and cleverness. I made you as one of the mighty generations that would express Me in ways the earth had never heard before. You will be remembered! Now I call you out from under the curse. Ask your elders for forgiveness; you have needed them. They need you to come out from your closets so that they can receive fresh vision and hope - for you are the hope that they prayed for... I am about to pour out on them a greater release of My spirit, which is greater than what they felt during their youth. And you are needed to help father and mother the generation that comes behind you, which admires you and though I have great plans for them, I need you to live out your dreams. Friend, it's time to start over. I am giving you a new start - a new job for me. It is the one I wanted to give you all along."'
Wow - quite a message from Derek & Amy. There's more. Go and read it. (They're going straight to the Fellow Travelers Roll...)
(Link from Jason)
I just had a strange experience. I signed in on MSN... and not a single person on my contact list was online. Not even the gang from Down Under, and they're always online! That's never happened before.
Maybe the Lord returned overnight and I didn't make the cut...
(Happy Thanksgiving from Canada, BTW.)
...That's the Scandal. God does things that undermine the behaviors we are trying to set up as a society. Gotta change your ways first before you get the good stuff, or change your ways and by practicing the new ways you will generate the good stuff. But here this god just gives the good stuff, seemingly without regard as to whether the people will change their ways.
The reason it's scandalous? Imagine if a pastor today did that? Just bless people without requiring change of them. Maybe suggesting change from time to time - "go and sin no more." But not forcing it, not setting up an accountability or follow through program. (Ed. Yeah, what is Jesus' followup strategy?)
Wow. I love it.
Man, this whole thing was just plain ugly.
Watching the game on TV does not do justice to the rivalry that exists between Boston and New York. I was at Fenway Park a few years back when the Yankees were in town. During the commercial breaks the players on both teams came out of the dugouts to watch the fighting in the stands. I saw fans arrange fights like they were booking golf games.
"You and me, at the end of the 5th."
"Sure thing, bud. I'll see you then."
I've never seen anything like it.
(NOTE: No rivalry excuses what Pedro did to Don Zimmer. And I don't care if Zim did come at him with a fist in the air. The guy is 72.)
"We are not merely imperfect creatures who must be improved: we are, as Newman said, rebels who must lay down our arms."
The Problem of Pain
I love this quote. Even in this new era of "conversion as conversation" (which I fully agree with) I think there is still room for the notion of "surrender".
At some point in the conversation, as we sit around the table and talk, we quietly hand over our guns... and keep talking.
|... on $87,000,000,000.
(Link from Darren)
Modernism was never a friend to Christianity. But let's not be fooled; Pomo is not exactly a family member. Yet one of the positives of postmodernism is that it has helped evacuate certain aspects of conversion that was often overlooked in the modern period. Here are three areas we are becoming increasingly sensitive to:
1.Conversion is a timeful process of enculturation into community. Consequently, we ought neither to be impatient nor to rush to the punch line in evangelistic conversations.
2. There is persuasive power found when a pre-Christian participates in a community marked by the distinctive practice of caring for the poor. A postmodern evangelistic tool is what Andrew did for Simon Peter - inviting people to come and see. Such an invitation presupposes a community worth getting involved in. Today's spiritual guide (a word I like better than evangelist, pulpit minister, or preacher) must not be limited to simple proclamation, but must be broaden to include a passion for increasing the health of the community into which pre-Christians will be invited.
3. Christians are people of the Book, but the book God delights for us to open for others is neither a philosophical treatise nor a formal argument; it is a collection of stories.
I like all of those, but I'm particularly struck by #2. Can you imagine the possibilities of a pre-Christian "doing unto the least of these" within a group of believers? Now that is exciting.
|We just finished watching Pleasantville. What a great movie - deep on about 100 different levels.
"Where am I going to see colours like that?"
Now that George W. has taken care of Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, I see he's moving on to the final member of the triumvirate of evil.
Our good friend Ronz pointed me to an Ooze Interview with Jack Hafer.
Jack is the producer of the film, "To End All Wars", talks about how the realtionship between the church and the film. Here's acouple of gems:
"We have an obligation as Christians to shape culture - and the arts and entertainment arena is the greatest shaper of values in our culture today. We must talk about the faith, spread the faith, if you will. But we must also shape culture apart from that - in pre-evangelistic ways. We must be the great peacemakers of our day. We must take the leadership in standing for freedom of religion – standing for the right of people to be Buddhist or Muslim or whatever, according to the dictates of their own conscience. We must help save the ecological environment. We must protect mothers and children from undue pain, abuse of all kinds, and from poverty. Etc."
And how about this...
"Yes, I want to ask the church to encourage their youth who want to go into the arts to do so with a high calling, as kingdom-spreaders. The youth must see that this is important. And the church must acknowledge that this is an important calling in our day - a form of missionary service. We must encourage those who see this as their calling and not just tell them to become pastors or traditional missionaries. This isn't an either/or."
Ah yes. Creativity, art... all that good stuff we've been on about. And Kingdom-spreaders. I Love that!
As long as I have a mad on right now, you may as well check out this column from The New York Times.
"Here on the ground where President Bush's big anti-AIDS program is supposed to unfold, it looks as if the program was drafted more to win American votes than to save African lives..."
This whole column bears repeating. From Sojourners.
Baseball and the end times
by Jim Wallis
There are certain Christians (of the religious right variety) who sincerely believe the apocalypse (the coming of Christ and the unfolding of the end times) will be prompted by events in the Middle East. In order to create the right conditions for the Second Coming, these believers take a one-sided political stance (pro-whatever Israel does and ignoring all the consequences for everybody else - even ignoring the existence of Palestinian Christians, for example). This is not only bad biblical theology (as revealed in the recent Sojourners article, "Short Fuse to Apocalypse?"), it perhaps more importantly misses other events that might truly prompt the eschaton. Of course, I am referring to a possible match-up between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox in baseball's World Series. A World Series with truly eschatological implications is now possible after the surprise play-off victories of two of the most long-standing underdogs in baseball - or maybe in all of sports..
I went to seminary in Chicago, and, as a part-time job, was a school bus driver who sometimes took groups of school kids to Wrigley Field to watch the hapless Cubs play. And I must admit, sitting (for free) in the bus driver's section for many a summer afternoon game instilled in me real warmth for the north-side team, whose fan motto has always been "Wait 'til next year." Knowing more dogged Cubs fans than I, who were born and raised in the Windy City, I have always sensed the clear theological meaning to their motto. Indeed, I know the general secretary of a mainline Christian denomination (who will remain unnamed because there is no reason to single out the Reformed Church in America) who believes that being a lifelong Cubs fan develops a deep sense of eschatology. Justice may not come in this vale of tears, but vindication of all worthy but hopeless causes will come in the end times. Sammy Sosa's homeruns are extraordinary to behold, but what if the Cubs actually get to the big series and (dare we imagine?) even win it - for the first time since 1908? The Cubs hadn't even won a playoff series since then (almost 100 years) until they beat the mighty Atlanta Braves and put themselves in the National League Championship series with the Florida Marlins. Could the Cubs finally win? And could such an outcome be the catalyst for the end of history as we know it - the hope that many Christians have always longed for?
Then there are the Red Sox, not a hope-against-all-the-evidence team that won't ever give up, but rather the epitome of tragedy on an almost Shakespearean scale in sports, and the bearers of the heaviest burden in baseball. After winning the World Series in 1918, they sold the famed Babe Ruth to the hated New York Yankees in 1920, starting a new dynasty. Since then, the Yankees have won 26 championships, while the Red Sox, laboring under the "Curse of the Bambino," have none. Boston fans are the great fatalists of sports, always sure that something will happen (and always does) to ruin their hopes and shatter their dreams. This is a whole city that lives with the excruciating memory of that soft ground ball in the 1986 World Series that somehow trickled between the legs of first baseman Bill Buckner, losing the easy out and giving the game, unbelievably, to the miracle Mets. But this year it was the Red Sox that performed the miracle, coming back against the Oakland Athletics in three straight games, having been down 2-0. And now the Red Sox face the Yankees, the richest and most powerful team in baseball, in the American League Championship series. How sweet would that victory be? Could the cursed find redemption? Could the defeated and despairing find victory? Might the eschaton be upon us?
Ultimate, cosmic, and eschatological justice will clearly be on the side of either the Cubs or the Red Sox as they face their opponents. But what if they face each other in the World Series? Many baseball fans would respond with rapturous delight to such a World Series, no matter what the outcome, as the whole creation groans for righteousness to finally prevail. And given the events in Iraq, the White House, the CIA, the Middle East, and the California recall (any of which I might have otherwise written this column about), a little justice would be a wonderfully welcome thing just now.
Thursday October 9, 2003
The Catholic Church is telling people in countries stricken by Aids not to use condoms because they have tiny holes in them through which the HIV virus can pass - potentially exposing thousands of people to risk. The church is making the claims across four continents despite a widespread scientific consensus that condoms are impermeable to the HIV virus. A senior Vatican spokesman backs the claims about permeable condoms, despite assurances by the World Health Organisation that they are untrue...
(Link from Darren)
UPDATE: Here's my comment over at Darren's:
Too small, whatever. They help. Having spent a little time at World Vision I'm familiar with the incredible effort made to encourage people in countries ravaged by HIV AIDS to use condoms. A country like Uganda has actually managed to slow the spread, but it took a lot of education and time. Time is not something these countries have a lot of.
Quite frankly I still can't believe this story is true, but I've linked to it. If it is, these guys have set back the effort to slow the spread who knows how many years. Totally irresponsible and self-serving.
I think I've listened to this song about 1000 times in the last 3 or 4 days.
OK, maybe not 1000. But I'll bet I'm closing in on 950.
Last Sunday our church started with the 40-Days "Pre-Campaign Service. To start out the campaign (I really don't like that word in this context) the program asks three questions and answers:
1. What does God want? He wants my whole life.
2. What does it take? Discipline. (I knew there was a catch!)
3. Why should we give our lives? Because of the sacrifice of the Cross.
This coming Sunday, we will have the opening celebration and then the program will start.
Two things struck me as I read this. The first is trivial; I don't like the word "campaign" either, Christopher!
The second is really bothering me. I don't think I agree with statement 3 above.
What about those 12 guys (OK, the 11 guys)? They didn't know He was going to the cross, yet they walked away from everything to follow Him.
What about Mary and Martha? They didn't know He was going to the cross, but they loved Him anyway.
What about the Woman at the Well? She didn't know He was going to the cross, but her life was (hopefully) forever changed by a brief interaction.
What about... well, you get my point.
I don't think the cross is the reason we should give our lives. We should give our lives because that's what He asks of us. Because He's building His Kingdom with our lives. Because not giving them is a lousy alternative. The cross is the incredible gift/sacrifice that made it possible.
Any thoughts on what I'm trying (and failing) to say?
I'm so bored of little gods
While standing on the edge of something large
While standing there, so close to You
We could be consumed
What a glorious day
I give up, I lay down
Rest my face upon this ground
Lift my eyes to Your sky
Rid my heart of all I hide
So sweet this surrender
How great Your love for us
How great our love for You
That grace could cover us
How great Your love
How marvelous, how brilliantly
Luminous, You shine in me
And who can fail to give You awe
To fear You, God, so sovereign and strong
What a glorious day
What a wonderful day, today
What a glorious day
What a wonderful day, today
David Crowder Band
Turn your ear
To heaven and hear
The noise inside
The sound of angel's awe
The sound of angel's songs
And all this for a King
We could join and sing
All to Christ our King
How constant, how divine
This song of ours will rise
How constant, how divine
This love of ours will rise
O praise Him
O praise Him
He is Holy
He is Holy
Turn your gaze
To heaven and raise
A joyous noise
The sound of salvation come
The sound of rescued ones
And all this for a King
Angels join to sing
All for Christ our King
How infinite and sweet
This love so rescuing
O, how infinitely sweet
This great love that has redeemed
As one we sing
He is Holy
He is Holy
O Praise Him (All This For a King)
David Crowder Band
Fred had something important to say today...
Christians are called to be salt and light to an unbelieving world but the gospel will remain a mystery until the church finds a way to (corporately) live out the gospel in close proximity to the host culture.
It seems even as culture speeds up, the church (for the most part) is standing still. That's not going to work.
Here are some quotes from the first talk in the series (stolen from the downloadable powerpoint file):
The most important single concept in Christianity is that of forgiveness
David Benner, Psychiatrist
The only remedy for the inevitability of our history is forgiveness
Hannah Arendt, Jewish Philosopher
Humanity is never so beautiful as when forgiving another
Jean Paul Richter
Forgiveness lays the basic foundation for any continuing relationship
Dr. Chuck Lynch, Theologian
Forgiveness is a door to peace and happiness. It is a small, narrow door, and cannot be entered without stooping
Johann Christioph Arnold
Forgiveness is a beautiful word, until you have something to forgive
C. S. Lewis, Philosopher
True forgiveness is the hardest thing in the universe
David Augsburger, Psychologist
Forgiveness is God's invention for coming to terms with a world in which, despite their best intentions, people are unfair to each other and hurt each other deeply
Lewis B. Smedes, Psychologist
Without forgiveness, there is no future
Bishop Desmond Tutu
Forgiveness is not so much a word spoken, an action performed, or a feeling felt as it is an embodied way of life
L. Gregory Jones, Theologian
The rule of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth cannot sustain itself forever; ultimately both parties end up blind and toothless
People are mistaken if they think of Christian forgiveness primarily as absolution from guilt; the purpose of forgiveness is the restoration of communion, the reconciliation of brokenness. Neither should forgiveness be confined to a word to be spoken, a feeling to be felt, or an isolated action to be done; rather, it involves a way of life to be lived in fidelity to God's Kingdom
L. Gregory Jones, Theologian
Forgiveness lays the basic foundation for any continuing relationship
Dr. Chuck Lynch, Theologian
The purpose of forgiveness is not simply to heal the guilt of the sinner but the purpose of all love: to come into community
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you
In keeping with our discussion on Kingdom Corporations, etc., the former Dean of London Business School, John Quelch, writes in the UK's Independent that U.S. multinational corporations aren't doing enough to help the communities they inhabit overseas.
This is a whole other angle for consideration.
I've been giving this issue a lot of thought today, and I'm starting to think that Grace trumps truth everytime.
Let me be clear - I think Truth is personified in Jesus Christ. And yes, I do believe there is absolute truth... I just don't think any of us know what it is. Or, more to the point, what it is not.
I think Grace is a God-thing. It's kind of fuzzy. It's hard to put your hands around. Truth, on the other hand, is mostly a human-thing. It's yes or no, a 1 or a 0. We like things that are easy to understand... to quantify. I think God is bigger than that. To one, Christ said, "Follow me." To another, He said, "Go and sin no more." To another, "Sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor." To another, "Go home and tell no one what happened." To yet another, Go home and tell everyone what happened."
Truth is whatever God decides it is. Grace is whatever covers us as we stumble around trying to put Him in a box.
The point is proven by the fact that I could very well be wrong about this... (finish the sentence yourself.)
Jesus came to raise the dead.
The only qualification for the gift of the Gospel is to be dead.
You don't have to be smart.
You don't have to be good.
You don't have to be wise.
You don't have to be wonderful.
You don't have to be anything...
You just have to be dead
Robert Farrar Capon
(Quote taken from Ikon, which you should check out.)
Here's an update on the reading list. My parents are in town for a visit, and my Dad is a bigger book junkie than I am (I come by it honestly), so you know that spells trouble. They brought us out a copy of Rumours of Another World (Philip Yancey) as a gift, and we both picked up a copy of Jesus Drives Me Crazy (Len Sweet) while we were trolling through the book store out at Trinity Western University last weekend.
Oh yeah - I also finished An Unstoppable Force (Erwin McManus)... even though it wasn't supposed to be on the reading list yet. So sue me.
I'm getting a little caught up this morning on my blog reading. We've been up at our ministry house for a couple of days with my parents, who are visiting from Toronto.
As I've said before we've been spending a little time thinking about a ministry statement on the issue of women in ministry. The finished product will be on our web site - which is still in development - but let me give you a sneak preview:
There is NO issue as far as we are concerned. Any scripture used to justify an "inferior" role for women in ministry, leadership, etc., loses it's sting when viewed within the cultural context. There. I've said it.
I know there's been some talk of this in the blog world of late, so let me recommend an excellent article, "The Cultural Context of Ephesians 5:18-6:9", by Gordon Fee.
Have a look.