February 29, 2004

postChristian culture II

Bumper sticker spotted today on the way home from lunch at Earl's:

"I found Jesus - He was behind the couch the whole time"

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postChristian culture

"Life was charmed but without politics or religion. It was the life of children of the children of the pioneers - life after God - a life of earthy salvation on the edge of heaven. Perhaps this is the finest thing to which we may aspire, the life of peace, the blurring between dream life and real life - and yet I find myself speaking these words with a sense of doubt.

I think there was a trade-off somewhere along the line. I think the price we paid for our golden life was an inability to fully believe in love; instead we gained an irony that scorched everything it touched. And I wonder if this irony is the price we paid for the loss of God.

But then I must remind myself that we are living creatures - we have religious impulses - we must - and yet into what cracks do these impulses flow in a world without religion? It is something I think about every day. Sometimes I think it is the only thing I should be thinking about."

Douglas Coupland
Life After God

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hope springs eternal

Yesterday was a construction day, and during lunch I spent a few minutes with my camera. There are a few more shots over on my fotopage.

God's canvas

What a day.

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February 27, 2004

processing

Our friend Leslie has sat down and processed her thoughts on her viewing of The Passion.

I've read all kinds of posts on this in the past two days - from people who loved it, hated it, haven't seen it, won't see it, will see it again. Check out Leslie's views. It's a very balanced position, and get this - she even mentions the Bible!

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jawbone II

I find it interesting that "spirituality" is such a hot topic these days, what with the movie and all.

This morning I opened my First Impression eMail from Fast Company and, lo and behold, there's Kenny Moore again telling his story.

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February 26, 2004

jawbone

"When I went to the monastery, one of the first classes I had to take was in the Bible. The old monk who was teaching it said, in the old testament, Samson slew the Philistines using the jawbone of an ass. Imagine what God could do with a complete ass."
Kenny Moore

I've just finished reading an interview with Kenny Moore, who went from being a monk into the corporate world (and wrote about it in The CEO and the Monk). Admittedly, these days my interest is in reading about people who have done the opposite, but this is a fascinating interview. Kenny is now one of Tom Peter's Cool Friends.

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roadshow

Speaking of off-the-map...

I'm still digesting, but Justin Baeder has some great notes over at his place (and some photos too). There's also a board set up for discussion.

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growth vs. change

Eugene and I were riding the exercise bike together again this morning.

"When we grow, in contrast to merely change, we venture into new territory and include more people in our lives - serve more and love more. Our culture is filled with change; it's poor in growth. New things, models, developments, opportunities are announced, breathlessly, every hour. But instead of becoming ingredients in a long and wise growth, they simply replace. The previous is discarded and the immediate is stuck in - until, bored by the novelty, we run after the next fad. Men and women drawn always to the new never grow up. God's way is growth, not change. Organic is a key image. Nothing from our past is thrown out with the garbage; it's all composted and assimilated into a growing life. And nothing - no "moral," no "principle" - is tacked on from the outside." p. 136

That passage reminded me of something Todd Hunter said Tuesday night at Off-The-Map (and he quoted Eugene, come to think of it.) In the introduction to Matthew in The Message, Jesus is described as unique, but not odd. In the organic growth of the story, He fit right in. Todd then admonished us to "make friends with the past", so that our "innovation" and contribution will be "unique, but not odd."

I like that.

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the passion

I haven't seen it yet, but others have, and want to talk about it... so here's your space.

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February 25, 2004

lent

Rachelle's crew over at ThursdayPM have some great lent meditations online. I'll be tuning in daily. Fantastic.

UPDATE: Grace will be hosting a daily Lent blog as well.

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February 24, 2004

robert on pancake tuesday

Our friend Robert has a question that I'm opening up for answers and interpretations:

As you know, I am not a religious type myself but am interested in the various customs and mores of people of faith. So what is the deal with Pancake Tuesday?

A guy in the office just showed up, stinking of bacon. I asked him where he's been and he said: "Church. It's Pancake Tuesday."

I was raised in a Catholic household and this day has always been the most mysterious on the calendar. Growing up, once a year half the kids in class would show up late, smelling like sausages. I never dared ask where they'd been. At our church, there were no pancakes, waffles or Danish. Just a kindly old priest and a deacon that smelled like moth balls.

I have read the Bible, not studied it, mind you, but read it. I can't recall any mention of pancakes. No maple syrup, no hash browns.

Mike, please enlighten me. When exactly did Jesus hit the IHOP?

For most of my life The Salvation Army was my church. I don't remember ever observing Lent - we did Self Denial, which meant sticking an extra box on the offering envelope. All that to say I don't have a good answer for Robert.

Who would like to share their thoughts on this day?


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February 23, 2004

ziklag

I know I've been going on about Leap Over a Wall by Eugene Peterson ad nauseum lately. Well, it's not going to stop anytime soon.

Check this out (the reference is 1 Samuel 27):

Serving Achish as he was, David asked for his own town to live in and operate from. Achish gave him Ziklag. Ziklag became David's base, his "church," if you will, for his family and his soldiers.

Moralism is death on spirituality. Moralism is the approach that puts all the emphasis on our performance. It operates out of a conviction that there's a clear-cut right that we're capable of discerning, choosing, and carrying out in every and all circumstances. It puts the entire burden of our spirituality on what we do. God is marginalized. And it crushes our spirits. There's no mercy in it.

Secularism is also death on spirituality. Secularism is the approach that the world as it is establishes the primary context for our daily living and the better we understand and accommodate ourselves to the world the better off we'll be. We can then use whatever advantages accrue to us - money, position, reputation - to "serve the Lord." It operates out of the conviction that spirituality is basically otherworldly and irrelevant regarding basic living. Spirituality is an extra that's added on to a secular base of economic savvy, career know-how, and social smarts. God is trivialized.. Secularism is contemptuous of our spirit. There's no salvation in it.

Ziklag, for me, is the premier biblical location for realizing that when we get serious about the Christian life we eventually end up in a place and among people decidedly uncongenial to what we had expected. That place and people is often called a church. It's hard to get over the disappointment that God, having made an exception in my case, doesn's call nice people to repentance.

The Christian life is never just my story; it's a community of stories. I learn my story in company with others. Each story affects and is affected by each of the others. Most of these others are distressed, in debt, and discontent. This complicates things enormously, but there's no getting around it. We're a company. We're looking for a central meaning to our lives. We catch a thread of the plot and begin to follow it, receiving the good news that God is gracious, receiving the sacraments of God's action in our actual lives. And then we bump into another story and are thrown off balance; distracted, we stumble. Safe, we think, in the company of God's people, we're tripped by a moralist and sent sprawling; we're seduced by a secularist and defrauded. We're in Ziklag.

Disillusioned, we go off on our own and cultivate a pure spirituality uncontaminated by religious hucksters and hypocrites. But eventually, if we're honest and reading our Bibles honestly, we find we can't do it. We can't survive in the wilderness alone. We need others, and we need a leader. And then we begin to get it: God's purposes are being worked out most profoundly when we're least aware of them. Spirituality most of the time doesn't look like spirituality, or at least what the moralists and secularists told us it was supposed to look like. Sometimes all we can see is David serving Achish of Gath, and leading a company of moral and social ragamuffins in Ziklag.

Every time I move to a new community, I find a church close by and join it - committing myself to worship and work with that company of God's people. I've never been anything other than disappointed: Every one turns out to be biblical, through and through: murmerers, complainers, the faithless, the inconstant, those plagued with doubt and riddled with sin, boring moralizers, glamorous secularizers. Every once in a while a shaft of blazing beauty seems to break out of nowhere and illuminate these companies, and then I see what my sin-dulled eyes had missed: word of God-shaped, Holy Spirit-created lives of sacrificial humility, incredible courage, heroic virtue, holy praise, joyful suffering, constant prayer, persevering obedience. I see "Christ - for Christ plays in ten thousand places,/ lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his/ To the Father through the features of men's faces."

And in Ziklag, of all places.

Anyone recognize any of the cast of characters in this drama? I think I'm working my way through the entire list, to be honest. I'm still choking on some of this, but it's stopped me in my tracks and given me cause to rethink some issues I thought I'd already closed the book on.

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February 22, 2004

the point

Well, I finally put my foot in it in a comment over at LT's place, and somebody called me on it.

To make it easy on you, here's what I said. In response to the debate that continues to rage, I took exception to the direction of the conversation in LT's post & comments. What I said was:

You
all
miss
the
point.

Which I guess is the point.
Peace.

I wasn't mad, just sad. But either way I shouldn't have said it. Here's the response I've just scribbled down at the beach, knowing that I would be called on it. And I was! Robby Mac nailed me in a comment here.

Anyway, here's where I'm at.

The point is, I think, that we seek a gospel of other-centeredness. And as someone so eloquently put it recently in the very act of seeking we find ourselves in that Gospel.

Other-centeredness...

Dismissing an issue because we don't understand why someone is hurt by it is an act of self-centeredness. (And surrounding ourselves with others who also don't understand doesn't change that. The "rule of other-centeredness" does not diminish with higher numbers. It's a constant. )

It seems to me that to embrace an issue precisely because we don't understand it is the ultimate act of other-centeredness. To do that is to give the offended party an incredible gift of immeasurable value. Respect.

And, after all, isn't that how this issue arose in the first place?

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february

Don't you just HATE winter?

(I was going to put shorts on, but figured that would be mean. And a little frightening.)

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tng II

As is often the case, someone has taken one of my "bad acid trip" posts and cut through to the heart of the matter with a surgeon's precision. Given all the crap flying around right now I didn't want anyone to miss Jocelyn's comment from The Emerging Church - TNG, so here it is:

"My dad used to work at Wang when I was a kid. We had all sorts of old solid-state computer parts at our house.

When I have kids, I don't want them to say that their mom used to work with emerging church stuff, and wasn't that quaint that she wrote about it in a blog too, ha ha ha. When I have kids, I want them to say in my eulogy that me and my friends went looking for a naked, unashamed gospel, and found ourselves in it. In fact, I want them to say that we trashed the cliches and just started reading our Bibles more, watching TV less, and dared to care - that we looked around ourselves and noticed that there were other people out there who lived like they were sponges, dry for God's love and grace... and that we might be able to help with that somehow..."

Thanks for the reminder, J.

We are men and women (of all ages) seeking that naked, unashamed Gospel. Occasionally the seeking is painful. No, often in fact, for I am convinced that in all of life there is no growth without pain, both personally and communally. Painlessness is a symptom of status quo, and none of us would be on this journey if we were content with the way things are. When pain is encountered within the community, we stop, listen and seek to understand. And when, as happens on some occasions with some of us, we may fail to understand, we need to lament our failure, and not dismiss the pain.

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February 21, 2004

the issue

I've been struggling all day to write something... anything about the current controversy making the rounds.

I've been asked a couple of times about it today. I guess because I work in a ministry dealing with the issues of suffering women people expect me to know what I'm talking about. Other than a few comments here and there, I've been unable to really articulate my thoughts on this.

Then I found this post from Christy. (Thanks to Jen Lemen for pointing it out.)

Read it.

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foundations

Len has written a fantastic essay on justification and incarnation - except that he used that "EC" term. This I'm willing to overlook.

While most of us are well informed on justification and the "great exchange," we have paid less attention to the Incarnation itself. Yet "God became man," was one of us, lived among us. The Incarnation is God's ultimate YES to matter and to ordinary life in the world. If this is not true, then Jesus spent thirty wasted years as a carpenter. The very idea is absurd.

What a wonderful point of contact with postmodern theology. Evangelism is not what we do .. it is who we are. Neither is evangelism a set of propositions we recite.. it must grow out of authentic communities that incarnate the message. The word must be seen to be believed.. dwelling among them in grace and truth. "That which we have seen, that which we have touched with our hands.."

Now if he could just do something about those permalinks. Look for the Friday, February 20th post called Theological Foundations for the Emerging Church.


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targums

I've been sitting here this morning with my Bible open to Colossians in one hand, and a copy of Colossian Targums: Reading Paul in a Postmodern Context (download the pdf here) in the other. The Prodigal Kiwi first introduced me to this stuff a few days back., and you can read more about Walsh in his post the day before.

Walsh opens the discussion with a question:

What would happen if a letter like this was written to us today, at the beginning of the new millennium? If we were to take the exact same themes that we find in this epistle and rewrite them for our own context, what would they say?

Reading through each of the 4 targums has been a different experience. Targum #2 in particular resonated. Kind of a beat poetry experience, and, as one of the commenter's to the PK's blog put it, I could hear it being rapped.

Read through them yourselves, but let me leave you with an excerpt from Targum #3 - Captive Imaginations and Late Modern Idolatry: Rehearing Colossians 2:8-3:4.

So don't let the adman tell you what to eat or drink! Don't believe them when they tell you that a new software company is ushering in a new era of rights and liberties. Don't let these disarmed principalities and powers determine for you what "success" is. And don't be sucked into their various idolatrous festivals that are no more than orgies of consumptive greed at Halloween, Christmas and Easter. And don't believe those gospel of wealth stories of economic success that say that God blesses his children with financial abundance; or idolatrous nationalism that would have you believe that America still is, or ever was, a "city on a hill"; or any manly pietism that simply retrenches patriarchy; or any "spirit-filled" experience that leaves them laughing in the aisles but still driving home in their BMW's to their split level in the suburbs. Such religious expressions, and the people who pimp them, seem to have all the answers, they make life so simple, but their fundamental allegiance to market capitalism and the North American way of death should tip you off that their worldview is fundamentally secular - they have minds of flesh, cultural imaginations that bear the fruit of promiscuous copulation with idols. They have been taken captive by this idolatrous worldview and have lost contact with the real Source of life - the true Head of the Church, who is the ultimate Source of our growth and the people of God.

Wow. It reads a little like a really pissed Eugene Peterson, but it's striking a chord with me. No doubt some will find it too radical, subversive, or even "leftist". Personally I think that's the kind of kick in the head we need, but that could just be me.

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February 20, 2004

the emerging church - tng

You'll have to forgive this post; I'm in a strange state of mind tonight.

I've just been channel surfing for about an hour, and it's the first TV I've watched all week. It's been a week of thinking about the emerging church (whatever that is), pondering the life of David, taking some strong medicine from Eugene, expanding my musical tastes and getting the creative juices flowing, etc.

I've been watching a few minutes of Demon Seed (which is an unfortunate title for an otherwise good "bad" movie from 1977). I love "B" movies. I especially love "B" sci-fi movies. (Despite both of these character flaws Sue agreed to marry me just about 12 years ago, and somehow we've made it work.)

You might recall the flick - a thinking computer takes on a decidedly evil personality and does some nasty things in order to recreate itself into something better. The plot isn't really important (although it may be ironic). What I found striking was the unavoidable errors that occur when you make a movie about the future using current thinking and reality. Here's the world's most sophisticated computer, Proteus, operated by 7 inch (was that the dimension?) floppy disks inserted into Wang drives. What a blast from the past! 27 years later it's obvious - media that no longer exists inserted into hardware that no longer exists manufactured by a company that no longer exists.

I wonder. I wonder if in a few years we'll look back and laugh, as we realize we tried to build this emerging church thing (I hate the term) with the floppies of the day, instead of letting it evolve on its own and take it's own course.

Kind of a weak analogy, but hopefully you see where I'm trying to take you with that one.

But I said I was surfing, so on another channel I was watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. It happened to be the final episode of the series, One Last Adventure - "All Good Things..."

I love the penultimate scene with Picard and Q. The bad boy of the Continuum (that's Q, for you non-Trekkies in the crowd) has to grudgingly admit that Picard solved the paradox, thus saving all of humanity.

"We wanted to see if you had the ability to expand your mind and your horizons, and for one brief moment you did. For that one fraction of a second, you were open to options you had never considered. That is the exploration that awaits you. Not mapping stars and studying nebula, but charting the unknown possibilities... of existence."

Those are words worth thinking about.

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rated r

Spencer Burke has taken a different angle in looking at The Passion. More to the point, he's looking at the church's approach to the movie.

As the church wrestles with The Passion of the Christ and its raw depictions of Jesus' last days, I'm curious what will happen after the film. Will we promote other R-rated films from the pulpit or will we go back to our "No R-rated films" stance? Will we say that "Jesus violence" is okay, but reject other hard-to-watch films?

If we do, I think we risk looking hypocritical at best, and bigoted at worst.

Check out the rest of When Passion is Reduced to a Door Hanger. Thoughts?

(Thanks to Adam Cleaveland for the heads-up)

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mclaren interview

DJ Chuang interviews Brian McLaren.
Thanks to Jason Clark for the link.

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legend

Fred Clark writes, as only he can, about urban legends, President Bush, get-well cards, and WMD in this post.

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compassion

But we live in an age that has replaced compassion with sentiment. Sentiment is a feeling disconnected from relationship. Sentiment is spilled compassion. It looks like concern; it could develop into compassion, but it never does. Sentiment is the patriotic catch in your throat as the flag goes by - a feeling that never gets connected with the patriotic act of paying your income tax. Sentiment is the tears that flow in a sad movie - tears that never get connected with visiting your dying friend. We feel sorry for people; we lament the pain and suffering in the world. But having felt the internal motions of pity, wept a few requisite tears of sorrow, and sent off ten dollars to a charitable appeal, we've exhausted our capacity for care. In this callous, dog-eat-dog world, how sensitive we are! We return to our homes and jobs without knowing the names of the people we've shed tears over, without visiting a single prisoner whose fate we lament, without writing one letter to the lonely over whom our hearts break. And of course, we let no strangers into our double-locked homes.

One of the supreme ironies of our age is that the society that has talked and written most about the fulfillment of the self shows the least evidence of it. People obsessed with the cultivation of the self have nothing to show for it but a cult of selfishness. A few generations of economic affluence, political liberation, and religious freedom have flowered into obesity, anxiety, and meanness. Happily, there are numerous exceptions; still, the generalizations are plausible. Our world is splendidly filled with glorious things and a glorious gospel but appallingly diminished in persons who celebrate them with passion and share them with compassion...

One of the reasons that Christians are dispersed in the world is to recover a life for others and practice a priesthood of all believers - connect with others in an earthy, Davidic compassion so thoroughly that no expert or professional can ever again bluff us into passivity or consumerism.

Eugene Peterson
Leap Over a Wall

More strong words from Eugene. Man, this guy tells it like it is. Glorious things and a glorious gospel. I want to celebrate them with passion and share them with compassion...

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yahoo

Let the search wars begin!

Apparently Yahoo! has dumped Google and is launching it's own search engine. One of the neat features is it will search for a site's RSS page... at least that's what they say, but when I did a search on my blog, it didn't!

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February 19, 2004

connexion

My good friend Steve, a frequent commentor here, has got his own blog up and running. Make sure you stop by and say hello.

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February 18, 2004

imagination

Yup - this is cool.

(Link from e~mergent kiwi.)

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exodus

A couple people have asked me about the Andy Hunter album I was raving about earlier (no pun intended).

For those interested here are the Amazon links: Canada and the US. There are a couple of great reviews there to give you a feel for the response, and you can listen to clips at Amazon or on Andy's web site.

Exodus.bmp

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primetime passion III

The Passion.bmp

It never fails - I added the update to the previous post and 3 minutes later Pete called to tell me he found the transcript for the Mel Gibson/Diane Sawyer interview... except it will cost you $20.

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February 17, 2004

primetime passion II

On a normal day I get about 100 hits. Well, here it is lunch time and I'm up to 225. And its not random - everyone is coming here via google looking for the transcript of Mel's interview last night.

Well, if that includes you... I couldn't find the transcript either. Here's a link to ABC's page with the video and a summary article.

Thanks for stopping by!

UPDATE: Well, we finished up with 466 hits yesterday, the majority of them looking for the Mel/Diane transcript. I poked around again today, but I don't think it's out there. On a planet of 6 billion and change I guess I can't say that 466 is a lot, but it is a little more than 4 times the norm. At least the movie has people talking!

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trackback

Here's a good piece on trackback. You learn something new everyday.

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February 16, 2004

lost in translation

Everybody wants to be found

Sue and I watched Lost in Translation last night. I won't spoil it for you if you haven't seen it, but we LOVED it. I've always thought Bill Murray was a genius, and I think this is his best work yet. The cinematography is unbelievable. 4 Oscar nominations, and every one deserved.

"Everybody wants to be found", indeed.

I don't know why exactly, but I've been fascinated lately with the issue of spirituality and the movies. I've started a list of movies with at least some reference to spirituality, or a demonstration of the gospel in them, and I know there are several books on the subject. I've got a growing library of clips that I want to use some time with our community. I completely buy into the notion that God will use whatever means are effective to tell His story, and right now He's using movies.

This morning I was reading more of this book on the exercise bike, and thinking about the movie. And no doubt the fact that I read through some of this other book yesterday (you have to love the "look inside" feature of Amazon!) - before ordering it - has influenced my thinking, but it struck me that Bob Harris, who is Bill Murray's character, came across like David. A man struggling to do the right thing, screwing up left and right, but never losing that sense of what he was supposed to do.

That may be stretching it a little, but it was still neat to think on it.

Now Playing: Exodus - Andy Hunter
(Yes, I'm serious. my metamorphosis continues. The guy in the Armani walking up Bay Street, briefcase in hand, is long gone.

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and the winner is... V

A few posts back I got some agreement (and took some heat) for speaking out against some of the traditional God-talk that is still used in Christian circles without much thought to the possibility that it may, at best, mean nothing to the unchurched.

Well, as happens occasionally, someone has said basically the same thing, but with a lot more grace. Ron Martoia talks about a "re-lexiconning of Christianity" in this Leadership Journal interview.

LW: Why doesn't our usual terminology work?

RM: People outside the church associate many of the well-worn Christian words with all the wrong connotations. We don't want to push those buttons. So we need to use terms that may be totally disorienting. The disorientation is good. That way we all begin a fresh discussion without the connotation baggage.

There are other ways we leverage the lexicon. Our evening worship is called "Encounter." We have "Fusion" on Sunday mornings. We don't talk about "getting saved;" we talk about the allegiance shift from the kingdom of this world to the kingdom of God.

We don't change the message. We change the language we use to communicate the message. It's good missiology, frankly. Are we using words that trigger the connotations we want to trigger?

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robert on being gollum

Our friend Robert reflects on the power of the ring...

I've turned into Gollum.

I have been working on a sizable case for the past 6 months (today) & with its daily twists & turns, green-light, red-light, yellow-light, Go, no-Go, maybe Go status, it has burrowed its way into my brain & become an all-consuming obsession.

It has become My Precious.

And I wants it.

After all, I deserve it. Colleagues, the insurance company & even the client acknowledge I have done a hell of a job getting it to this point. I have pulled strings, called in favours, cajoled, created & dissected endless Excel spreadsheets, demonstrated precise logic, all the while growing more determined to make it - this one, My Precious - happen.

Over the past few weeks, it has slowly taken root in my mind. Thinking about it more and more as I as determined not to let last year repeat itself when a collection of unrelated events combined to have me scrambling for the last quarter to salvage a decent year.

Thought about it all weekend. Couldn't stop it from popping into my head. Watching Emily's skating lesson, thought about My Precious, During Valentine's Dinner, thought about My Precious. At lunch with the in-laws yesterday (where everyone asked Denise if something was wrong with Robert), thought about My Precious.

This morning, I rushed Emily into school because of it. Because Today is the day. D-Day. We dotted all the I's, crossed all the T's on Friday. Nothing more to do, nothing more to say. Now it's up to the clients. I could find out any minute.

As I said, it wasn't supposed to be this way. Last year was the year that taught me the lesson. Won't get sucked in to the vortex again. Perspective. Focus on what matters. Family. Health. Balance. (Besides, My Precious will ensure a good start to the year in the first week.) Well, Valentine's has come & gone and we still don't haves it.

It has come to this. I have actually come to hate the idea of this case. It has taken so long, I have thought about it so much, replayed every meeting in my mind, what I would do differently next time, reviewed every spreadsheet so that I can rattle off every number from memory. I hate the way it has burrowed into my subconscious. And yet, I wants it.

Now I wait.

I wants it.

But it wasn't supposed to be this way.

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February 15, 2004

get up off your knees

From the foreword to Get Up Off Your Knees, by Raewynne J. Whiteley & Beth Maynard:

One of the maddeningly enduring habits of the human race is to insist on domesticating God. We are determined to tame God. We figure out ways to harness God to our projects. We try to reduce God to a size that conveniently fits our plans and ambitions and tastes. We are pleased when we find that there are men and women coming alongside us, offering a rendition of gods or goddesses that give us what we want when we want it and on our own terms. Publicists and propagandists, joined by a surprising number of leading religious figures, are among this company. They cannily manipulate our hunger for meaning and and mystery to sell us their product or enlist us in their cause. They are masters at using some so-called "spirituality" as a ruse for exploiting our anxieties and hormones.

And then a prophet shows up and tells us that we can't do it. We can't fit God into our plans, we must fit into his. We can't use God - God is not a tool or appliance or credit card. Prophets confront us with the sovereign presence of God in our lives. If we won't face up, they grab us by the scruff of our necks and shake us to attention. Amos crafted poems, Jeremiah wept sermons, Isaiah alternatively rebuked and comforted, Ezekiel did street theatre. U2 writes songs and goes on tour, singing them.
Eugene Peterson

Wow - that says a lot. You can't domesticate mystery. First you have to eliminate it, which we, that is to say the Western church, have pretty much done. Mystery is what I want. Mystery is what God is.

I think I'm going to love this book, but the foreword alone is worth twice the price.

UPDATE: @U2 has posted an interview with the editors on the book. Here's the section referring to Peterson and the foreward:

Twenty-four names are listed on the "Contributors" page of Get Up Off Your Knees, with "pastor," "theologian," "professor" and "U2 fan" appearing in various combinations in their bios. One name should be particularly familiar to regular readers of this site: Eugene Peterson, author of The Message translation of the Bible. He's responsible for the first major chunk of writing a reader will encounter when s/he cracks open Get Up Off Your Knees, so let's start by talking about him.

"For obvious reasons, he was our number one choice to write the foreword," says Beth Maynard, speaking for herself and Raewynne J. Whiteley, the co-editors of the book. "I can't even remember anyone else who was on the list. We had some kind help in faxing him from the people at NavPress who publish The Message (all U2 fans, by the way.) And then one day I answered my phone and it was Eugene Peterson. I was completely starstruck, having studied his work in seminary [Maynard is an Episcopal priest] and having been using The Message since about 1997. He said he'd love to do it and could I send him some excerpts from the book to give him a sense of who we were and what we were saying."

In an interview with @U2, Peterson had not come across as much of a U2 expert. Maynard sent him "things that I hoped would help explain it all. But of course, as we found out when we read the essay, he'd done a lot of learning on his own in the meantime and was well prepared to talk about their work. And then the essay itself was a thrill, pure vintage Peterson about language and the freshness of God and how U2 fit in with both."

Peterson's piece keeps referring to U2's "prophetic voice." You might be surprised that a Presbyterian pastor and professor uses a term like prophet for someone other than Isaiah, Micah, Zephaniah and their ilk.

Very cool.

Posted by mike at 04:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

easy gospel

Here's the text of an email I sent out to our community earlier today:

As some of you know, I'm working my way through a book of daily readings based on the work of French theologian and sociologist Jacques Ellul. (For those of you who may be interested, the book is called Resist the Powers with Jacques Ellul, by Charles Ringma, and you can find a very brief biography of Ellul here.)

This morning's reading struck me as pertinent, given our recent discussions on the issues of Believers vs. Followers, Spiritual Transformation, and Our Part vs. God's Part in that transformation.


The New Birth (John 3:5-8)

The new birth starts the journey of faith and obedience. It is never the terminus.

"Many churches in the Western world are full of people who have come to faith through the easy gospel. This gospel proclaims happiness, but fails to speak about obedience. It celebrates joy, but fails to speak about struggle. It speaks of faith, but not of costly service. This gospel accents what God will do for us, but fails to develop how our relationship with Christ draws us into God's concern for a world of righteousness, justice, and peace.

The easy gospel can quickly lead to disillusionment, for faith in Christ does not mean that all our problems are instantly solved and we live happily ever after.

Ellul rightly emphasizes that the opposite takes place. "The new birth leaves us with our difficulties and adds new problems." (The Judgment of Jonah, p. 72) That new problems should arise is inevitable. Faith in Christ turns our life around. It is hardly surprising that this has all sorts of repercussions. And that old problems don't immediately disappear has nothing to do with the weakness of God's power. Instead, it has everything to do with the way God has chosen to transform us.

Rather than miracle solutions without our involvement, God has chosen to change us at the pace that we respond to Him in faith, humility, and obedience."

Posted by mike at 04:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

shenanigans

My friends at World Vision Canada have posted a recent interview with Tony Campolo. As usual, Tony C. tells it like it is...

What is the major problem facing churches today?

The church is prone to identifying itself as a business instead of a suffering servant for Christ. Too often churches get caught up in the shenanigans of raising funds for buildings and sustaining local programs. They don't understand that the real mission of the church is missions. When churches lose that focus, they lose their calling.

You can check out the complete transcript here.

Posted by mike at 01:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

primetime passion

Gibson defends 'Passion of the Christ'

Diane Sawyer interviews Mel Gibson tomorrow night on ABC's Primetime.

Posted by mike at 01:11 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 13, 2004

dvd region codes

"DVD region codes is a provision in the DVD Specification that requires DVD players to be hard-coded to accept DVDs that are only meant to be played within one of six designated world regions. A Code 1 disc cannot be played in a Code 3 DVD player for example. This technique was developed to enable Hollywood companies to release movies at different times in different regions."

Dang. I guess I should have thought of that! My Lemon Jelly "Ducks" DVD just arrived today from Amazon.uk. (It wasn't released in North America). It plays fine on my computer, but not on my DVD player. Apparently its a Code 2 DVD and I'm A Code 1 guy!

I don't suppose anyone knows any way around this?

Posted by mike at 05:31 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

ummm?

My record is 316.7!

Thanks to Scott (who must be having a slow day at the office) for the link.

Posted by mike at 01:16 PM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

whistler while you work

It's all a blur...

The blog has been pretty silent the last few days. Part of it is bloggers block (again), and part has been the fact that I spent Wednesday and Thursday working construction in Whistler. Not a cloud in the sky, working in T-shirts for the most part. Unbelievable.

I've updated the fotoblog with a couple of shots from the site, as well as the drive back down to the city.

Posted by mike at 10:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 10, 2004

and the winner is... IV

Confronting Moral Horror
It's a witness even the most jaded find impressive.
By Charles Colson with Anne Morse | posted 02/04/2004

"Why are evangelicals so concerned about AIDS in Africa and sex trafficking and slavery in Sudan? I thought all you cared about was abortion and gay rights."

The reporter from a prestigious journal had been following the Bush administration's foreign policy initiatives and stumbled onto a curious fact: Evangelicals were behind most of them.

The reporter's question gave me a wonderful opportunity to explain that evangelicals believe in the sanctity and dignity of all human life—not just unborn children, but also Sudanese slaves, sex trafficking victims, and Africans with AIDS.

The reporter got it; her subsequent front-page story contained unusual praise for evangelicals. This experience offers an insight on how we can make a powerful witness.

I'm discouraged. Those much more capable than I have taken exception with Chuck Colson's writing in the past, so I'm not trying to do that. Not really.

I'm not even completely sure why this bothers me... but it does. Four "evangelicals" in the first four paragraphs. Why "evangelicals" and not "Christians"? Is the implication that there are multiple kinds of Christians? If so, then is the implication also that the "evangelicals" are a better kind?

As followers of Christ we should be concerned with such moral issues because Christ was... because that is the Gospel. It seems to me that to claim it as a political platform cheapens it.

OK - back to responding to Fred's comment. As always, I'm interested in the feedback. All of it!

Posted by mike at 08:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

and the winner is... III

Just as And The Winner is... slipped into the black hole (archives), Fred left a very thoughtful comment that I wanted to point out. (Not that yours weren't thoughtful too, Brad.)

Posted by mike at 07:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

ouch

Over at ThursdayPM Rachelle has written one of the coolest posts I've read in a long time. Check out Testify:Eden and Jesus Heals Me.

Posted by mike at 07:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

further evidence that...

... God lives in British Columbia.

The Lions

Actually, Let me qualify that statement. I'm pretty sure God lives in BC, but if He doesn't its only because He can't afford a place here.

Posted by mike at 06:05 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

empty hands

From this morning's daily reading...

Jaques Ellul on Prayer:

"We seek to fill our hands with things which we bring in order to hide the fact that we are not bringing our lives and ourselves."

Prayer and the Modern Man, p. 7

Posted by mike at 08:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 09, 2004

swish

Grouse Day - small.jpg

Well, I went skiing today for the first time in 4 years. Only one spectacular wipeout and a couple of minor spills - all in all a good day with good friends.

Posted by mike at 10:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 08, 2004

bruce almighty

OK, I know this one has already been blogged to death. Suffice to say we watched it last night... and loved it.

God: "... and you can't mess with free will."

Bruce: "Uh-huh. Can I ask why?"

God: "Yes! You can! That's the beauty of it!!"

Love it.

Posted by mike at 11:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 07, 2004

hockey hair II

Some posts just live on...

Big Al commented today on Hockey Hair, which is just about 1 year old. (Unfortunately the link to the article has long since gone cold, but you get the idea.) He said it much better than I ever could.

Business up front, party in the back. Right on, Big Al!

Posted by mike at 01:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

emerging, submerging, whatever

Andrew Jones has been holding court on a definition for the emerging church for the past few days (and many others have picked up on the theme).

I've found the discussion helpful right now. As I give more thought into "submerging into the emerging" even more, its been good to keep focused on what's important, and what's not.

If you haven't been keeping up with Andrew's discussion, here's an index for you:

Defining the Emerging Church

Emerging Church Definition 1.0

Emerging Church Definition 2.0

Emerging Church Definition 3.0

Emerging Church Definition 4.0

Emerging Church Definition Additional

Posted by mike at 01:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 05, 2004

a few days late, but...

I love the movie Groundhog Day. That fact alone is a source of tension in our home because Sue hates the movie with a passion.

Your spiritual guide . . . Bill Murray?
NANCY HAUGHT

Before Bill Murray was "Lost in Translation," he was stuck in "Groundhog Day," doomed to relive Feb. 2 over and over in Punxsutawney, Pa., until enlightenment dawned on him as sure as 6 a.m., Sonny and Cher and a few lines of early morning DJ banter:

"OK, campers, rise and shine! And don't forget your booties 'cause it's cold out there."

"It's cold out there every day. What is this, Miami Beach?"

The 1993 movie, directed by Harold Ramis and co-starring Andie MacDowell, recently kicked off "The Hidden God: Film and Faith," the current exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. It turns out, curators say, that religious scholars from many different traditions have used the movie for years to teach fundamental spiritual themes. Who knew?

A great flick. Thanks to U2 Sermons for the link.

Posted by mike at 05:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

God at work

Spirituality & the Workplace:
The Latest Fad?

Saturday, February 7, 2004 @ Regent College
Featuring: Paul Williams, Patti Towler, Harry Robinson

I can't make it, but I put it out there as an FYI for those of you in the area who may be interested.

Posted by mike at 10:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

super size that

Greg Quiring has a great post on the megachurch model, postmodernity and... well, go read it yourself.

Posted by mike at 08:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

nothing

Nothing To Pre-empt
by Ray McGovern

Finally, some honesty. But mounting problems for the White House.

The CIA's chief weapons inspector, David Kay, has driven the final nail into the coffin where rests the Bush administration's policy of pre-emptive war. It turns out that there was nothing to pre-empt.

Which calls into question the real reason why more than 500 U.S. troops have been killed and at least 6,000 severely wounded - and why untold thousands of Iraqi army conscripts and civilians have also been killed. (Precise figures are impossible to come by since U.S. casualties are flown back to the United States in the dead of night, and proconsul Paul Bremer has instructed Iraqi authorities to stop counting civilian casualties.)

Nothing to pre-empt also means that the U.S./U.K. attack on Iraq last March falls into the category of "preventive war" explicitly condemned by international law. Which also means that British Prime Minister Tony Blair's political career is probably finished, as is the political future of other gullible leaders of the "coalition of the willing" - in Australia, for example, and even in Denmark...

(From Sojourners)

Posted by mike at 08:38 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

rich

This puts it in perspective.

Posted by mike at 08:15 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 04, 2004

photos

I've checked out freefoto.com before (when I was looking for images to use on the Global Action site), but never thought much about it beyond that use. I just saw it linked from Maggi Dawn (who has been added to the Fellow Travelers roll, BTW), and suddenly saw the potential.

So there it is for you.

Posted by mike at 04:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

no complaints today

buds_small.jpg

And these little guys weren't alone.

Posted by mike at 04:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

make it stop II

OK, I found a cure for Sarah Brightman. I've been driving around today with Pink (and her explicit lyric warning) shaking the windows. I think she's the Anti-Sarah, actually.

If God is a DJ
Life is a dance floor
Love is the rhythm
You are the music
If God is a DJ
Life is a dance floor
You get what you're given
It's all how you use it

If God Is a DJ... If God
If God is a DJ (life is a dance floor)
Get your ass on the dance floor

I think you could have heard me heading your way from about 3 blocks away.

Posted by mike at 04:06 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

make it stop

Help me...

I'm on my third day in a row of listening to nothing but Sarah Brightman...

Can't seem to

turn...

it...

off...

Posted by mike at 10:16 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 03, 2004

rest in peace IV - the conclusion

Cpl. James Murphy

Family, friends bid farewell to fallen soldier

CONCEPTION HARBOUR, NFLD. - A Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan received a full military funeral on Tuesday in his Newfoundland hometown.

As light snow fell, Cpl. Jamie Murphy's flag-draped coffin was carried from St. Anne's Church in his hometown of Conception Harbour. The funeral party included soldiers from the Royal Canadian Regiment and 1st Battalion, Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

Posted by mike at 05:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

a God-dominated imagination

I've really been enjoying Leap Over a Wall by Eugene Peterson. His writing is so rich, yet down to earth.

Here's a quote I'm going to share with our community tonight(we can't agree on a name for ourselves, so that will have to do for now...) as we continue to look at Spiritual Transformation:

...but David entered the Valley of Elah with a God-dominated, not a Goliath-dominated, imagination. He was incredulous that everyone was cowering before this infidel giant. Weren't these men enlisted in the army of the living God? God was the reality with which David had to do; giants didn't figure largely in David's understanding of the world, the real world.

In the Bethlehem hills and meadows, tending his father's sheep, David was immersed in the largeness and immediacy of God. He had experienced God's strength in protecting the sheep in his fights with lions and bears. He had practiced the presence of God so thoroughly that God's word, which he couldn't literally hear, was far more real to him than the lion's roar, which he could hear. He had worshipped the majesty of God so continuously that God's love, which he couldn't see, was far more real to him than the bear's ferocity, which he could see. His praying and singing, his meditation and adoration had shaped an imagination in him that set each sheep and lamb, bear and lion into something large and vast and robust: God.

His imagination was so thoroughly God-dominated that he couldn't believe what he was seeing and hearing when he walked into Ephesdammim – Goliath terror, Goliath phobia. It was an epidemic worse than cholera, everyone down with Goliath-sickness, a terrible disease of spirit that had Saul and his entire army incapacitated. (p. 40)

That's what I long for. A God-dominated imagination (and reality) that seems naive by the world's standards.

Posted by mike at 03:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 01, 2004

Christ & forgiveness

Jonny Baker points us to 2 different exhibits, completely unrelated, yet connected.

The F Word: Images of Forgiveness is a collection of incredible stories of, well, forgiveness. Most of the stories can be found on their web site.

Presence: Images of Christ for the Third Millenium tackles the issue of representing Christ through art. As Rowan Williams puts it, "It's one thing to say that Jesus changed the world. But how can something so monumental be captured in a work of art?"

Ecce Home - Peter Howson


Posted by mike at 10:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

and the winner is... II

I know at this stage I'm just being critical, but I've got another one.

"Bringing the Word to life".

What does that mean? I don't think anybody or any organization should claim to have that ability. Any "life" the Word has was there before we showed up, and it will be there long after we're gone.

Posted by mike at 09:12 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack