April 30, 2009

This is my Public Service for the Day

You are welcome.


And the man was very happy

For the Ooze Viral Bloggers, I am reviewing "Enough: Contentment in an Age of Excess" by Will Samson. Though only 1/3 of the way through (I just began it yesterday), the parts that have stuck out the most to me is Samson's introductions to the each chapter with a midrash-like paragraph on Jesus and the "rich young ruler." I'll be posting my review in the days to come, but here's a few of the said paragraphs:
One day Jesus was walking down Main Street on his way out of town, and a rich and influential lawyer came up to hima nd asked: "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
And Jesus replied, "Give what you can to the synagogue. Ten percent is a good rule of thumb, but whatever you do, don't be a legalist about it. And make sure you have enough left over to contribute to the economy. You know, 'Give to Caesar...'"
And the man went away very happy, because that was exactly what he was already doing..

..."what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
And Jesus replied, "Become a better you. Awaken to your life's purpose. Be a good person. Eat what I eat. And vote right."
And the man went away very happy, because that sounded exactly like the kind of life he had been seeking.

And Jesus replied, "Great question! I've never thought of that before. Give me time to get back to you on that one."
And the man was pleased, because he really wasn't ready for any big changes at thi point in his life.

And Jesus replied, "Don't marry someone of the same gender, and don't allow someone you have gotten pregnant to have an abortion."
And the man went away very hapy, because he was already doing these things.

April 28, 2009

Homebrewed Christianity

Last week I got one of my teeth drilled out, otherwise known as a root canal. For me, the worst part of the dentist are the sounds. Naturally I popped in my headphones and was taken to a different place, a place of "religionless Christianity."

For some time now I've been enjoying what I believe to be one of the best podcasts out there coming from one of my ole' friends from undergrad, Chad Crawford and his bud Tripp Fuller, a Phd. candidate at Claremont Graduate U. Both of them are graduates of Wake Forest Divinity School.

Between the witty banter and pedantic sarcasm, these two brewers gather together some amazing voices in theology and the church today and talk brew. While getting my tooth drilled hollow, I enjoyed the episode about Bonhoeffer's religionless Christianity and the interview with Jeffrey Pugh who has recently published a new book on the aforementioned material. They also let the likes of emerging heretic Tony Jones interview New Testament scholar turned atheist heretic Bart Erhmam on his new book, Jesus Interrupted.

But of course the depth of only 51 episodes provide so much more than those two gems with interviews with great thinkers like Diana Butler Bass, Brian McLaren, Richard Rohr, John Cobb, John Dominic Crossan, Phyllis Tyckle, Walter Brueggemann, Mark Scandrette, and many more.

As if anything else needs to be said: GO CHECK IT OUT! These guys will have you thinking each week about important theological issues for the church.

April 24, 2009

Yearning and Discipleship

"If you want to build a ship, don't summon people to buy wood, prepare tools, distribute jobs, and organize the work, rather teach people the yearning for the wide, boundless sea."
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

April 23, 2009

The Proper Role of Anger in Love

"The opposite of love is not anger, the opposite of love is apathy."

-Roger Paynter, pastor of First Baptist Church Austin (my community of faith)

Reading Log

Back on the book shelf
Consuming Faith: Integrating who we are with what we buy by Tom Beaudoin
Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord
Beyond Homelessness: Christian faith in a culture of displacement by Bouma-Prediger & Walsh
Body Politics: Five practices of the Christian community before the watching world by John Howard Yoder
The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sitting in the just finished stack:
Becoming a Thinking Christian by John Cobb
The Way of a Pilgrim
The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the ways Jesus is the Way by Eugene Peterson
Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

In my backpack, on the table, on my nightstand, and on my Iphone's Kindle:
The God of Hope and the End of the World by John Polkinghorne
The Way of Jesus Christ by Jurgen Moltmann
Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
Everything Must Change by Brian McLaren

In the soon to be read stack:
Original Sin by Alan Jacob
Subverting Global Myths by Vinoth Ramachandra

April 20, 2009

The Reality of the Poor

The question posed by the reality of the poor is no rhetorical question. It is a reality that calls on men and women not only to recognize and acknowledge it, but to take a primary, basic position regarding it. Outwardly, this reality demands that it be stated for what it is, and denounced. This is the stage of prophetic denunciation.

But inwardly, this same reality is a question for human beings as themselves participants in this sin of humankind. It is the call for their first great conversion. Men and women are being served notice here. They are being warned that the poor of this world are not the casual products of history. No, poverty results from the actions of other human beings.

from Getting the Poor Down From the Cross: Christology of Liberation, Jon Sobrino

April 18, 2009

The Slow Church & Spirit Time

RealLivePreacher has written a wonderful post about Slow Church. He opens with the Carthusian monks at the Grande Chartreuse monastery in France who allowed themselves to be filmed for the documentary: Into Great Silence. Of course, it only took them 16 years to get an answer back to the director.

I can remember in seminary that I was frustrated, frustrated beyond belief. The world was changing and the church was dragging its feet to catch up. Everyone knows that the culture, technology, ideology of the church is at least ten years behind if not a few centuries. Change couldn't come soon enough. Shortfalls are the easiest to spot in almost every scenario and belief, thus I wanted to change all things that I didn't like about the church. Certainly some of things were more noble than others. Certainly the church does need to change. But at the same time, I can't help but wonder if there is something right about slow change.

It could be that my frustration grew out of my own postmodern expediencies for instant change and the unsatiable desire for the new. Of course who wouldn't living in a culture full of instant meals, coffee, community (internet), and artificial desires created by marketing geniuses to trick us into simpy wanting the new car, house, phone, book series, shoes, etc)

I wonder if the many friends I have who are in that same place of frustration with the church are there because of the culture we live in. Certainly I believe they, as I did and still do, had good if not the best intentions for the church, the gospel, and engaging the world, but often our best intentions go awry due to the impervious nature of being honest and truthful with ourselves.

We live in a culture of instant change and insatiable desire for the new. It could be best that the church operates on a different timeline. Communities of faith, theology lived and believed, and transformation are all best served over time.

Here are some quotes from RLP that were beautiful in proving the rightness of the Slow Church:
People tell me that the average stay for a pastor in an American church is 18 months. That astounds me. We might have a stack of rocks on our back porch for 18 months while we talk about what we should do with them. Most of our best stories span 5 or 6 years at least. It takes about a decade just to figure out what’s going on at our church.
If you are thinking we don’t get anything done, nothing could be further from the truth. We do things. We just do them slowly. With time as no burden or constraint, we find we can do a lot with our bare hands. Children built our rock-lined path through the woods. Children working with their hands the last Sunday morning of each month. It took 2 years, but why should that matter? I watched a lot of the construction process. The man who guided them was in no hurry and didn’t mind if they lengthened the path only a few feet a month. The children were laughing. They had fun. And they built something our community loves.
Things are settled into the ground and beautiful. These things exist because we’ve chosen to live our lives slowly and deliberately in this community. We’re living on Spirit time, not clock time.
Don't hear me as swinging the pendulum as if the church doesn't need to change some things, certainly it must to survive and to communicate in the 21st Century. What needs to change along with the church though is our expectations for change. The new life so many of my frustrated friends, including myself, occurs within the slowing moving structures of the established and institutionalized, but it seems to me that too often we pull out of the farming business thinking it a failure long before seasons of harvest arise.

Patience is a virtue my momma always told me. Indeed, patience is essential for meaningful life in the church.

April 16, 2009

This is a Story about a Story: Lazarus & Abraham's Bosom

This is a story about a story.

There once was a special ship designed for a singular purpose. This craft was unlike any previous and any to follow it. In ways, this space craft was irreproducible for never had humankind seen the likes of cooperation and never again would humankind see the likes of cooperation that it took to manufacture such an incredible vessel. All, yes, all of the world’s nations came together to build the ship that would become named Lazarus.

Yet, it was not just the cooperation that afforded the uniqueness of this event. As you'll soon understand, no two Lazarus’ could exist, for that would mean earth’s resources would have been completely depleted. Yes, that’s right. It took half of the world’s natural resources and all of the earth’s human resources to create and build such a thing. It was actually because of the depletion of natural resources that Lazarus was dreamt up. The skies were all fouled up, the water (at least the potable water) had been mixed with death, and the earth injected with venom.

So, all had a dream, a dream of hope. Hope misdirected. Hope nevertheless.

Lazarus was created for a single mission: “Abraham’s Bosom.” Because humanity had become too "rich" in existence on earth, the only way to continue such lifestyles was of course to escape the place humans had called home since the beginning. Abraham’s Bosom is code for Mars' colonization. Lazarus was created for a single journey to Mars. There would be no return trips, for there was not enough fuel or resources.

Although only half of the world’s population (which had become ever shrinking due to the inhospitable planet (due to the richness of life I might add)) were allowed to escape. The journey to “Abraham’s Bosom,” the gathered coalition of a new world consisted mostly of the "have nots." It only seemed most appropriate that it be the poorest of the poor, those who had suffered at the hands of rich who created such a beautiful, full, and dying earth home be the beneficiaries of Lazarus' journey.

Why should those who scourged the earth with their brilliance, comfort, and technological advancement be allowed to leave their own gift: earth uninhabitable? Well, because they are the ones who came together with this plan to escape it all, to leave the poor behind, and create new life somewhere else. Why hope for a better earth when you can create one on a different planet? A reset button. So, as too often is the case, the powerful and rich misdirected the homeless and increasingly earthless.

For you see, Lazarus was hardly created to make it to Mars. Rather, the vessel's design and nature was to launch into the void of space as a giant, sealed casket, leaving enough people on earth to start all ever again. Lazarus would never make it to Mars, yet the earth would never be restored pristine. The latter group whose richness of life had conquered the grass, soil, and sea wailed out for their injustice through the silent voice of depression and loneliness. Life on earth would be lost not to polluted skies or seas, but to polluted hearts and souls. The former group, though the sacrifice of the first, found ill pleasure in this hope away from hope, hope against the odds of the universe. Maybe Lazarus would arrive to its destination.

But, this is a story about a story.

The real story is what happened thousands of years after this most inhumane and dreadful occurrence. Although the Lazarus and Abraham’s Bosom parable was passed around as a reminder to care for the earth initially, although the writer of this tale meant to call people’s minds to justice, creation care, and love, although the point was to never really say that such things had happened, but rather to point to the realities of ecological and economical crises; somehow humans missed the point.

Hope misdirected and hoping against all odds, all began to read the story of Lazarus as history. Some asked if there were records of the enormous ship. Others pondered the realities of life on Mars. Still others couldn’t figure out what ever happened to the people aboard Lazarus. Somehow, all had missed the point and covered their responsibilities of new life and care with befuddling questions and stark facts about what had "actually happened."

Inspired by Luke 16:19-31 (and N.T. Wright's interpretation of it found in Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church).

April 12, 2009

My God, my God why have you forsaken me

Here's a video I created for our Good Friday worship service that centered on the 7 last sayings of Christ from the cross. My text comes from Matthew 27:46. Although it's not necessarily Resurrection appropriate, Happy Easter nevertheless! Maranatha!

April 2, 2009

if Atheists Ruled the World

Jonathan Brink posted this up and I have to follow in step here. You must watch this to the end...it will be offensive for those who don't care for "language."