December 31, 2011

Books Read in 2011

At the end of the year for the last few years, I've recapped the books I've read in the past year. Mostly this is one way for me to keep track of what I've read. This may be the most fiction (I know, it's embarrassing) I've read in a year, which was one of my goals. Not only did I finish the Harry Potter series before the final movie came out I also really enjoyed the Hunger Games. I'd really love to create a youth ministry curriculum exploring empire, consumerism, and faith utilizing the Hunger Games.

This past year in theology was really a discovering and delving into process and weak theology which has been very intriguing and helpful for me. I kept putting off reading Barth's Dogmatics, one of my resolutions from last year, until I didn't read them at all. I may find a resource to read the more important and interesting parts.

Anyways here's my list of books that I finished in 2011. If you have any recommendations or comments I'd love to hear them.

1. Sustainable Youth Ministry- Mark Devries. 1/1
2. Practicing Passion: Youth & the Quest for a Passionate Church - Kenda Creasy Dean 1/6
3. Out Of Babylon - Walter Brueggemann 1/19
4. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream - David Platt 1/23
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling 1/25
6. The Next Christians- Gabe Lyons
7. The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation- Jurgen Moltmann 2/2
8. Fall to Grace- Jay Bakker 2/9
9. When Helping Hurts- Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert 2/17
10. The Nature of Love: A Theology- Thomas Jay Oord- 3/22
11. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince- Rowling 3/27
12. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Rowling 4/6
13. Velvet Elvis- Rob Bell 4/11
14. The New Christians- Tony Jones 4/12
15. Transforming Christian Theology - Phillip Clayton 4/25
16. Ishmael- Daniel Quinn 4/28
17. After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters- NT Wright 5/15
18. One Fine Potion- The Literary Magic of Harry Potter- Greg Garrett 5/25
19. The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event- John Caputo 5/24
20. Almost Christian: What the Faith of our Teenagers is Telling the American Church- Kenda Creasy Dean 5/25
21. Christ of the Celts: the Healing of Creation - Philip Newell 5/25
22. The Knight & The Gardener: Worldview makes worlds- Cassidy Dale 5/26
23. Welcoming Justice: God's Movement Toward Beloved community - John Perkins 5/30
24. Quantum Physics and Theology - John Polkinghorne 6/10
25. Presence Centered Youth Ministry: Guiding Students into Spiritual Formation- Mike King 6/17
26. The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing and Practicing the Primitive Christianity of The Ancient Didache Community - Tony Jones 6/22
27. Gilead. Marilynn Robinson 6/22
28. Migrations of the Holy: God, State, and the Political meaning of the church- William T. Cavanaugh 7/5
29. Cat's Cradle- Kurt Vonnegut 7/15
30. On the Mystery: Discerning God in Process- Catherine Keller 8/29
31. Invitation to the Great Experiment: Exploring the possibility that God cam be known- Thomas E. Powers 9/2
32. Christ the Key - Kathryn Tanner 10/17
33. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke 10/17
34. missional youth ministry: moving from gathering teenagers to scattering disciples - Brian Kirk & Jacob Thorne 10/30/11
35. Love Wins- Rob Bell 11/07/11
36. King Jesus Gospel: The Original Gospel Revisited- Scot McKinght 11/10/11
37. Difference Heaven Makes: Rehearing the Gospel as News- Christopher Morse 11/16/11
38. Disgrace: A Novel- J.M. Coetzee 11/17/11
39. Hunger Games- Suzann Collins 11/26/11
40. Catching Fire- Suzanne Collins 11/29/11
41. Mockingjay- Suzanne Collins 12/05/11
42. The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture- Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove 12/23/11
43. Exiles:Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture- Michael Frost 12/27/11
44. Insurrection: To Believe is Human, To Doubt is Divine- Peter Rollins 12/31/11

December 7, 2011

Advent and Zombies

What do you call it when a person dies right before they become a zombie? You know, that part right after they've breathed their last (human) breath and before they resuscitate and you have to take a pitch fork or shot gun to them. For one brief moment the (bitten or scratched) pre-zombie corpse is allowed rest, to die, and be dead. Is there a word for that moment?

Strange question for a post about Advent? We'll see.

Zombies are all the rage. If you have a Netflix account you can stream limitless hours of zombie movies and shows, many of which are made in garages but others made with esteemed actors or networks known for good writing.

If you're a Jane Austen fan you may be completely dissatisfied or (maybe) elated to know that Pride and Prejudice was given new life (pun intended) when in 2009 Seth Grahame-Smith interwove zombies into the Bennett family's story. Continuing with the Lit nerd theme, maybe you'd enjoy a zombie Haiku:

My rigor mortis
is mainly why I'm slower
and the severed foot.

Needless to say, the zombie craze is an epidemic (so punny) of vast proportions, but mostly in 1st world countries like the USA, Europe, & Japan. Why?

Like all monsters, zombies reveal our culture's deepest fears. And what do 1st world countries have to be afraid of? Do you think it's a coincidence that people often hide out in malls in zombie movies and throngs of zombies push through the glass doors to wade through merchandise to get to their prey?

On the-day-after-the-day we celebrate being thankful and content with what we have, Thanksgiving, we celebrate another holiday known as Black Friday. Of course Thanksgiving is a holiday, while Black Friday more akin to a religious experience.

Religion comes from a word that originally meant "binding" which brings to mind practices of discipline. Like all religions, a good "Black Fridayist" must have disciplines which shape people's imaginations (thus making them spiritual disciplines akin). Beginning weeks in advance as well throughout the evening of Thanksgiving (I'm thinking we should rename this day to Black Friday Eve), families spend hours reading the holy scripture: ads. Then they must expose themselves to the bitter cold elements, stand in long lines, and prioritize possessions more than people (sometimes to the point of pepper spraying or stepping on someone's face).

Of course there are other people, who turn a smug nose to those that participate in the holy feast day that pushes the market into the black. But they (me?) are no different than the shoppers. Sure one is up at the crack of dawn (or midnight) shopping while the other remains in the warmth of their bed, nevertheless they/we are the same. We are all trapped (possessed?) in this economic system of consumption. No one's more guilty then another, it's just some have the comfort of being able to afford what they want with or without Black Friday sales.

Much like a zombie stuck in a catatonic state of unquenchable hunger for flesh, we are raised by our televisions and omnipresent ad agencies to consume mindlessly with a never ending hunger for more: more stuff, more bandwidth, more entertainment, more gadgets, more cars, more houses, more decorations and lights, more of just about everything.

I'm as guilty as the person who slept outside Best Buy for 30 hours to get a deal. We all are for no one can escape the ubiquity of consumer culture.

Advent is a reminder that our hope in God's-coming-to-us isn't hope simply for the afterlife, an escape to heaven. Advent hope recognizes that in Jesus heaven is breaking into earth. In God's incarnation these two realities, heaven and earth coalesce or collide.

These two infinitely-apart spaces are being intimately intertwined. Never the same, never separate.

hand, but not in hand.

The good news of Jesus is more than "getting to heaven when we die," it's "getting heaven into us" before we die...heaven, the place where God's will is done on earth and in us. With God's reign or will or heaven breaking into our midst, the "schemas/forms' of the world are passing away" as Paul states in 1 Cor. 7:31. Passing away. Fading.

Maybe this is what that moment in zombie movies is called when one moves or passes or fades into the walking dead. But in Jesus we find the exact inverse, so that it is us who is awakening from our media induced sleep (another word used for death) into life lived in the fullness.

May we find in this Advent season our stress fading and our hunger for more passing while we ourselves become signs of heaven on earth.