Saturday, April 17, 2010
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
I too was apprehensive on the value of the content when I read the words “Facebook”, “Internet” and “Networks” in the subtitle. However, I understand that the inclusion of these buzzwords may spur some to give the text a chance. After reading, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the content was not a direct critique/defense of social networking nor a handbook for pastors on navigating social networking media to share Christ. What Friesen offers is a thought-provoking spark to how church leaders and members can work together to actualize a networked kingdom of God.
Unlike some of the reviews, I appreciated Friesen’s willingness to admit that this text was neither a comprehensive nor complete treatment of the subject and enjoyed exploring the links and suggested readings at the end of each chapter. It was like a treasure hunt, each turn leading one deeper into the individual points Friesen himself explored to make up the whole of the idea of the networked kingdom and connective leadership. I believe this lends credence to Friesen as a networker in that this is what great networkers do: point those who engage them to dig deeper and share the works of others to continue and deepen dialogue.
That being said, I can see why some would read Thy Kingdom Connected and claim that Friesen fails to offer a complete, comprehensive work . I believe that it must be read in the context of community to be truly appreciated. I found myself continually reading, digging deeper into the suggested readings, and bouncing the ideas and questions off of colleagues and close connections. Therefore it would be a text I would recommend as a small group study or discussion piece for a cohort or house church group rather than to a colleague for individual, personal reading. It is a text that begs connection and in that way, I believe Friesen accomplishes something that others who have written about the benefits/dangers of connective nature of social media networking technology fail to accomplish. Friesen gets us to actually connect.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
this should come to no one's surprise, but for me it all comes back to story.
to clarify, we do acknowledge the story of Santa Claus with our son. we acknowledge that the story of Santa Claus develops historically, finding its roots in Saint Nicholas. we acknowledge that the story of Santa Claus reveals the central idea of sharing all that we have with others. we acknowledge that, for some reason, some of our friends and family feel more comfortable calling themselves "Santa Claus" so that they can have some fun when they give us presents. but we also acknowledge that Santa Claus as a person does not exist. we do not celebrate Santa Claus nor do we display images of or countdown the days to Santa Claus' arrival. instead, we focus upon the arrival of the Christ child. the central story of Christmas for our little family is that we share ourselves, we give gifts to others, and we celebrate Christmas in remembrance of the gift given to the world in Jesus Christ. as the years go by and our son gets older, we are working on helping him understand that Christmas is not some historical once-in-a-lifetime event that happens over 2000 years ago. God breaks into our world in new ways every year and that the celebration is not limited to one day but our entire lives. we are also still working on helping him connect the baby Jesus and the bearded man Jesus as one in the same person.
when we do this not be giant party poopers but b/c we believe that when we include alongside or allow the story of Santa Claus to overtake our celebration, i believe that we tell our children, others, and the world that the story of Christmas, the story of the birth of the Christ child, of God breaking into the world and "moving into the neighborhood" (thanks Eugene Peterson) is not magical, mysterious, majestic, or mystical enough; that we must include some mythical figure with a mysterious backstory and magical abilities to freshen it up. this is simply not true. check it out: angels delivering messages, virgin birth in a stable, stars in the sky, shepherds, angel choirs, wise men, epic journeys, a paranoid king, mass genocide, epic escapes, and on and on. the story of the birth of Christ, of God breaking into the world and sharing human form, is magical, mysterious, majestic, and mystical enough without flying reindeer.
or massive amounts of consumerism for that matter...
i haven't even touched on the fact that the current image of Santa Claus we have is the creation of the Coca Cola company as a part of a marketing campaign to sell more products and is currently used to advertise black Friday sales and perpetuate massive consumerism (and subsequent debt).
what has been so surprising to my wife and i is the resistance we have received from others, from people who believe the story of Christ to be central to their own stories and the stories of the communities they associate with. we are not attempting to ruin Christmas or, more importantly, YOUR Christmas. or maybe we are. maybe we are trying to ruin the idea that Christmas is all about individualized consumerism, where we all get, materially speaking of course, what our little hearts desire so that our Christmas will be "good" and we get through one day to move on back to our regular everyday, individual lives. we are trying to ruin THAT Christmas story. we are attempting to discover a Christmas story about how we help others, how we share what we have with those around us because we are passionate about focusing our entire lives holistically on the love of God and neighbor. we are passionate about informing and focusing our family and community on, what we understand, is the true meaning and story of Christmas. we are passionate about proclaiming the story of Christ as big and beautiful enough without a pudgy, gift-giving mythical figure sneaking into our lives and stealing cookies.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
private conversations occuring in very public places (son and mother
discussing finacial hardship, a marriage ending, a relationship
disintergrating over competing understandings of spirituality, a
friend sharing their deepening depression). Trying not to be a creeper
or eavesdrop, assure you that these situations have literally fallen
in my lap and, in all cases, had to actively work against listening in
b/c of volume and proximity.
It leaves me wondering how much of our lives we spend not noticing the
lives of those around us b/c they fail to invade our own in some way?
Friday, November 06, 2009
one, this beer company has supposedly found "the most interesting man in the world" without accepting nominations or suggestions from others. i would elect a certain someone else to hold this office and i am not speaking of chuck norris. that person would be Jesus Christ, who btw HAS actually raised someone from the dead and been raised from the dead as well.
two, the tagline for this campaign is stay thirsty. the tagline for the other nominee i would like to offer up is come to me, those who thirst, and I will offer living water and those who drink it will thirst no more. the idea being that those who drive marketing to popular culture desire us to thirst, desire in fact that we STAY thirsty so that they can continue to sell more product, to prosper off our desire to remain in line with what they are selling. Christ offers us rest from this, offers us more than a product or brand name. Christ offers himself as living water to quench our thirst and transcend the desires of the world.
three, i found out that the guy that plays this supposed most interesting man in the world is an actor and fakes his spanish/latino accent to sound more exotic and remain in line with the product identity. also, the product in question is about as spanish/latino as the actor, being that it is brewed in white plains, new york. and lastly, the product in question does not even quench thirst but in fact keeps one thirsty. he and the product he promotes are not even genuine.
four, in thinking about story and storytelling, the existence of this ad campaign is doubly disheartening in that it tells the story of a fictional character in a quasi-factual manner. it tells the story that the most interesting man in our world is some larger than life character that we know doesn't even exist in reality. the story it tells is that our world is not interesting enough, not great enough to hold a person that could do some of the things he is reported having done. it is completely contrary to the story that Christianity has to tell: a true story of a man that is completely human and completely divine who really does these amazing things (we call them miracles) that he is reported having done. it pushes a counterfeit story when a real, authentic (and i tend to believe a better) story exists largely ignored.
and i think that's what my whole problem is with this campaign: it offers a life-draining fantasy alternative when a perfectly good life-giving reality exists.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
last night (10/26/09) as i was watching a documentary on the decline of the newspaper on PBS it hit me that we have a more low-tech example. a newspaper exec was being interviewed about the failure of the newspaper to make the leap to becoming an online presence, which subsequently has led to its decline as a information medium and news source. the exec remarked that often the project to make that leap was given to newspaper execs who simply took the printed newspaper they were producing, scanned it, and posted it online; vainly failing to seek outside input from others on how to innovate and make it more accessible to an online community. he said that the responsibility for the failure lies in the hands of newspaper execs and identified their fatal flaw: they continued to operate under the assumption that there was no way to innovate on the form and function of the newspaper, that people liked the newspaper the way it was. they operated under the assumption that the newspaper in and of itself was impenetrable; much like the mindset of the USAmerican automobile industry towards the product they were producing. they had every opportunity to keep themselves from becoming obsolete but pridefully and vainly dug in their heels, believing that the newspaper, like the USAmerican automobile, would never die.
this is much more in line with what we are dealing with in mainline Protesant Christianity. there are those who are pushing against leaving it in its current form and function are desperately trying to update it and keep it relevant, keep it from becoming obsolete. there are others who seem to vainly sit back and operate like those in the newspaper and automobile industry, with an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy (while their definition of "broke" accomodates for more and more slippage down the slope to obscurity and antiquity each day). the main problem being; as it is in the story of the newspaper and auto industries, that those who take the latter view tend to be those holding the most power.
will the church become completely obsolete? no, we are told that the even the gates of hell will not prevail against it. i do, however, believe that the most sinister force moving through any organization, including the church, is apathy. when we allow ourselves to vainly believe that the world cannot function without us, we offer the world very little outside of a challenge to show us that it can.
Monday, October 26, 2009
pioneers: (ala Walt Whitman & western US expansion) moving out into an unfamiliar area with little professional expertise but a boat load of common sense, the church could reclaim its pioneering spirit of not only reaching out into new areas to establish community but also rediscover the value of relying upon natural or readily available resources in a respectful and renewable manner to thrive. could also breed creativity and innovation as we are asked to rely on the gifts and expertise we bring rather than going out and hiring one/some.
tribes: (ala Indigenous/Native Americans and, more recently, Seth Godin) playing off of the innate human need to group itself into communities or tribes, the church could rediscover what it means to live in a self-sustaining community where each member has a unique role and brings unique gifts to the table. tribes need leaders; sometimes that's one person, sometimes it's many people.
movement: (ala history) working out of a metaphor that in and of itself is a verb, the church envisions itself as a community on the move/in action. a movement often involves a greater number of people and employs decentralized leadership as a survival mechanism: having one leader centralizes power and possibly redefines its ideals as one person's philosophy and also risks that the movement will live or die with that leader. decentralized leadership doesn't mean the community is "leaderless", it means that leadership is spread throughout the community making its survival and growth reliant upon the many rather than the few. also, movements have traditionally been perceived as counter-cultural and if we cannot claim Christianity as counter or at least transformational to popular culture we may be in more trouble than we realize.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
it got me to thinking that in this digital age, when all that we share/post/contribute online outlives us, who do we trust with our story after we are gone?
i have a friend that died years ago but still has a facebook page, which myself and other friends still post on from time to time. even though it was unintentional (no one thought to take it down) it has been really therapeutic for us as we remember her light and energy.
i also think about the fact that i desired greatly to record the stories of both sets of my grandparents before they passed away but never took the time to sit down and collect their stories in one place in a way that i could get their perspective on before they passed. missed opportunity.
who do trust with your story (online or otherwise) after you are gone? how are you contributing to that story with your online presence? do you have a plan on how that persists beyond your life here in this plane of existence?
Friday, October 16, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Here's the other one from this series that uses Whitman's "America" as it's soundtrack...which is good but not one of my most favorite of his poems.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
As I have been delving into creating an open source CMS and continually engaging in social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and others I have begun to ask myself (and be asked by others) about the connective tissue between these and my previous stream of posts on story/storytelling (which I greatly appreciate Jason and Steve's comments upon). My intial observations are these
- we often tell our stories without even being aware of it, in ways we are no longer even conscious of through what we listen to, what we read, what we consume and how we publicize and encourage others to consume. recently, I found that my re-tweeting excerpts from morning and evening prayers from TheUrbanAbbey was inadvertently encouraging others to follow these prayers as well, adding a whole new dimension to their prayer, giving them some indication of my own attitude toward prayer, and creating a new "community" of folks in this geographic area that follow TheUrbanAbbey.
- what some see as passing fads in the areas of social communication, news sharing, and the exchange of ideas are actually deeply held and future/ancient mediums that natives now use for sharing story/storytelling
- that there is an ever-deepening quality in culture to what Marshall McLuhan and Shane Hipps state/maintain: "The medium IS the message."
Thoughts? You have been on some of this journey with me and I'll really like to hear what you have to say....
Sent from my iPhone...one of the many mediums through which I share my story and connect to the stories of those around me.
Monday, October 05, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
his fb profile about the Billy, the most popular mass-produced
bookcase in the world sold by Ikea, I was intrigued and inspired. The
author not only chronicled the design and development of the Billy but
also raised some great questions about the importance of displaying
books and what a collection of books says about the collector. So,
similar to my recent post on the iPod, I ask the question, "What story
do your books (and how you display them) tell?"
As I reflect on this question, two particular items are brought to
mind: church libraries and the bookcase of a mechanic friend of mine.
What do church libraries, how they are set up, where they are set, and
how they are accessed tell you about a church? I believe these
collections, their location in reference to the main flow of the
church, and their contents tell a particular story about that
congregation. It has, however, always been a mystery to me to walk
into relatively new church buildings that have church libraries. Is
their existence a commiment to a previous obligation...like a
memorial? Or coukd their presence serve as an indicator about the
information acquisition of the membership and possibly it's age and
mindset? Could it be a "tell" to visitors about the age/era the church
finds itself most comfortable in? What does the existence of a
resource center/library consisting largely of printed material in a
conference office tell you about the organization and how they see the
On another note, I will never forget the bookshelf of a friend of mine
who happens to be a mechanic. Amongst all the auto repair manuals and
countless volumes regarding the inner workings of particular cars
there is tucked away a book on collecting antique glass paperweights.
Upon further prodding, I found a softer, gentler side to my mechanic
and friend (who often comes across as gruff) and was introduced to a
whole new world of collecting I was previously unaware of. It taught
me that books and how they are displayed can speak volumes to the
story of a person.
What about you?
Monday, September 28, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
As I read this article, wondered what story my iPod tells? What
memories would the music on my iPod ellicit? Do you use your iPod as a
legitimate storytelling device?
Sent from my iPhone...not my iPod or my MacBook.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Admittedly, when I hear the word "pirate" my mind conjours up images of eye patches, hooks, knives btwn teeth, and Jerry's puffy shirt. However, as I came across these two seemingly different (but in retrospect quite closely connected) articles on "pirates" (see links below), I began to think about archetypes (in the Freudian sense) and how our perceptions of archetypes influence the language of our stories. Pirates have played a role in many pillars of literature as villans, revolutionaries, and heroes. It left me with a couple of questions: -What are some of the archetypes/character types that make recurring appearances in your story?
-Are there archetypes/character types beyond redemption? If so, why or why not?
Peter Rollins on pirates: http://bit.ly/zmIJy
Political Pirates in Sweden: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112767746&sc=17&f=1001
theology and theodicy of others by listening to them pray. How is our
story and the story of God (and the way these two unite/connect/
diverge) told through public and private prayer?
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
impact of storytelling on a culture that supposedly no longer operates
from a unified metanarrative. What is your story? (share as little or
as much as you feel comfy with). How do you find your story linking to
the stories of others? How do you find your story linking to a
metanarrative (larger stories that tend to shape worldviews)? Thank
you in advance for sharing!
Sent from my iPhone
Monday, September 14, 2009
Monday, August 03, 2009
Friday, July 03, 2009
no matter how long,
but only by a spiritual journey,
a journey of one inch,
very arduous and humbling and joyful,
by which we arrive at the ground at our feet,
and learn to be at home.
-Wendell Berry from The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry, 1957-1982
Friday, June 26, 2009
-Cecile Andrews from The Circle of Simplicity: Return to the Good Life
What is preventing you from living in the moment?
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I find this idea fantastic, that in the earliest days of our species we sought to create music. As I was reading the article, I began thinking about the cave paintings in Altamira, Spain that date back roughly 14,000 years ago. This would mean that the flutes pre-date the paintings as one of the earliest forms of creative work that our species produced (tools and weapons notwithstanding). I began to reflect on my own experience of the arts and music and how both move me (with great emotional force at times). I can imagine that the sound created by the simple flutes were accompanied, as one of the archeologists proposes, by hand claps and chest thumps as well as possibly some form of audible singing. As I wondered what this earliest music sounded like, I began to think that art, though remarkably engaging, cannot produce the kind of solace that sound can. As I stated earlier, I am deeply moved by works of art in all its many mediums but sound offers me considerable more solace. Sound communicates emotion: a fast tempo with high-pitched notes communicates excitement, possibly happiness or joy while a slow tempo with low notes communicates sadness and elicits reflection. All that being said, what moves you? Are you moved by the visual stimulation that the visual arts, in all of its mediums allow? Are you moved by the sounds and intonations of song and instrumentation?
P.S.-Please forgive if my terminology is off, I am neither a trained visual artist or a musician.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
When reconciliation is taking place across cultural lines---between blacks and whites, between rich and poor, between indigenous and those who are new in the community---the quiet revolution is ready to spread."
-John Perkins, from A Quiet Revolution
What realities are you faced with? How are you dealing with reality? Where are your searching for possibilities when you are up against situations that seem to present the impossible?
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
-John Howard Yoder from The Politics of Jesus
Thursday, May 28, 2009
-Elizabeth O'Connor from Servant Leaders, Servant Structures
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
-Barbara Brown Taylor
Saturday, April 25, 2009
A successful life leads not to love, wisdom and maturity; progress and success in our society is instead based on adding more to one's pile of possessions. Our natural course is toward a better job, bigger house and richer lifestyle....
Material goods have become substitutes for faith. It's not that people literally place their cars on the altar; rather, it is the function of these goods in a consumer society. They function as idols, even though most affluent U.S. Christians, like rich Christians throughout history, would deny it."
-Jim Wallis from The Call to Conversion
Friday, April 24, 2009
The world says, Law and order, and Jesus says, Love. The world says, Get, and Jesus says, Give. In terms of the world's sanity, Jesus is crazy as a coot, and anybody who thinks we can follow him without being a little crazy too is laboring less under a cross than under a delusion."
-Frederick Buechner from Listening to Your Life
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Just a thought...
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
-Jacques Ellul, from Money and Power
Friday, April 17, 2009
we really enjoyed our day, though Cordner and Joy could not participate due to health code conditions in the workplace and school, i let my feet free for the entire day. Cordner and i took a barefoot walk around our community and walked on different things to feel how they felt on our feet. then we traced our feet and made "happy feet" to commemorate our day. all in all, we and our bare feet had fun. and for a good cause, no less. thanks to TOMS and to all others who participated in ONE DAY w/o SHOES. don't wait around for another official event to let your feet free. take your shoes off today and let your tootsies roam. when someone asks why you have no shoes, tell them that there are children in some developing countries that walk miles w/o shoes to get clean water, food, and other essential items...
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
TOMS shoes; a small, grassroots start-up that manufactures simple shoes with the notion of one-to-one: for each pair of shoes you buy, a pair goes to a third world citizen who needs shoes, is asking that people go shoe-less for ONE DAY to raise awareness about this ongoing situation and the mission and goal of TOMS. that ONE DAY is tomorrow, April 16th, 2009. i am participating and encouraging all of you to participate as well. i fully realize that some work and commerce in settings where this is not acceptable so i would ask that you go shoe-less at your desk or during lunch and possibly re-consider commerce period but at least commerce at establishments where shoe-less-ness would not be acceptable. let's show our feet to show our support for the shoe-less. for more info, visit www.tomsshoes.com.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
"You begin to do this with everything. Do I really need this? Do I really want to spend time with this person? Do I really want to work for a promotion? You may be wondering if this really simplifies life. Be aware, we're not talking about efficiency or convenience. Sometimes living simply takes longer. We are talking about our quality of life-whether it brings joy and serenity rather than frustration and aggravation. Whether it brings a sense of congruence or fragmentation. But while simplicity may be more complex, it shouldn't be more complicated. Something that is complicated is confusing; something that is complex is challenging. A life of simplicity is complex and challenging."
recommend this book highly, also just finished Affluenza, another great book that touches on the cause, effects, and remedies for the world's largest life-draining epidemic whose side effects include rampant consumerism, mindless destruction, and excelling greed. also reading Simple Church by Rainer and Geiger, which I DO NOT recommend, as a part of a staff book study. Geiger and Rainer attempt to tackle the simple v. complicated issue as it pertains to life of the church. someone really needs to come along and do a better job on this subject...could be highly instructive to the church at this time. what Rainer and Geiger offer instead is a numbers-driven "formula" that promises church growth and the elusive (and extremely hard to measure) "vitality" ensconced in conservative theology.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
-Ched Myers, from the Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries, E-News Aug.-Sept. 2008
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
"For more than two years, Jesus had been engaged in a public ministry.... He had learned much. So sensitive had grown his spirit and the living quality of his being that he seemed more and more to stand inside of life, looking out upon it as a man who gazes from a window in a room out into the yard and beyond to the distant hills. He could feel the sparrowness of the sparrow, the leprosy of the leper, the blindness of the blind, the crippleness of the cripple, and the frenzy of the mad. He had become joy, sorrow, hope, anguish, to the joyful, the sorrowful, the hopeful, the anguished. Could he feel his way into the mind and the mood of those who cast the palms and the flowers in his path? I wonder what was at work in the mind of Jesus of Nazareth as he jogged along on the back of the faithful donkey."
-Howard Thurman, from The Inward Journey
this past Sunday night, offered a prayer station to my students i called "the road to Jerusalem". i got the idea from Kimball and Lewin's Sacred Space, recently published by YS. printed thoughts and meditations like this one lined the "road" made with brown butcher paper. i also used the leftover palms from Sunday morning to line the road as well as smooth stones, which students were invited to take with them as a reminder of Jesus' words re: the quieting of the crowds and the fact that the stones themselves would cry out in the absence of the crowd's "Hosanna." Students were also invited to share their own praises, thoughts, concerns, questions, and fears on pre-printed "palms" and leave them along the road with the other palms for Jesus Christ. i set up the road to end at the foot of the cross that was already set up in our worship center. we got some really thought-provoking observations from the palms and i felt that it was a great opportunity for students to quiet themselves and reflect on the event as well as prepare their hearts and minds for Holy Week.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Friday, April 03, 2009
i appreciate the comments regarding this event and earnestly pray that it is a success in reaching its intended goal to combat hunger and reach out with the love of God through Christ to the surrounding community. i also applaud this effort as a means of outreach to the community by a mobilized laity within the local congregation.
i am still left wondering if there was some other way to reach out that did not rely upon traditional stereotypes regarding southern, USAmerican Protestant Christianity as well as the excess, gluttony, and affluenza of USAmerican culture? those outside of the church are looking on (especially in a time when the news and media inform us that the US is in "crisis") to see what the church holds as important and necessary issues to address. hunger is certainly an issue worth addressing but i am still left feeling that the means through which hunger is addressed in this instance reflects an absence of a "flat" worldview, one that is keenly aware that what we say and do no longer exists in a vacuum of geographic and/or social location but is being watched and critiqued by a world that is connected like never before. with the world watching, then, what is it that we are offering?
thanks, in advance, for your reader participation.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
-George Hunsinger from Disruptive Grace
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
my wife says that my posting on this is offensive to those producing or putting on the event and it is not my intent to be offensive or rude, but to simply point out what i perceive from the outside observer looking in. i will take full responsibility for being the debbie downer/wet blanket on this one but i can think of at least a thousand other elements of church tradition we could be celebrating (esp. at this time in the Christian year) that would have an equal or greater unifying and uplifting effect upon the surrounding community. i am simply attempting to utilize this space to share my thoughts and observations in a way that is not only cathartic but also thought-provoking and conversation-starting. i will admit and take responsibility as well for the immediacy of this post, this is all coming from the gut and the back of my brain. as the conversation continues and i have had time to allow this to make its way to the frontal, processing parts of my brain, maybe i will think differently. if so, watch for re-tractions or re-flections on this subject here. i would love to hear comments and thoughts on this, maybe i am being too quick to judge.
all that being said, pass the potato salad mildred.
So, okay. How many times have you heard it? We are the church. So what does that mean for those who continue to struggle in institutional churches, synagogues, mosques where the vast majority do not get the Justice message of Yahweh, Jesus of Nazareth, and the Prophet? What does it all mean for those of us who have expended an unconscionable amount of energy trying to work for reform and Justice from within the institutional church?
Some, I am sure, are called to continue to work from within. But for those to whom the "unconscionable" adjective applies ... well, let's grow up. Let's figure out more effective ways to get back to what Yahweh, Jesus, and the Prophet intended. Basically, it's a no-brainer: Truth, Justice, and (only then) Peace.
And we need to find ways to do that TOGETHER.
So, more meetings? No very large meetings; small groups will do it: discern what is likely to be an unconscionable waste of energy on the one hand, and what, on the other, has some prospect of becoming a witness that might, just might, be ... well, a witness.
Henri Nouwen wrote: "If we decide to wait till we have time to touch all our bases, nothing exciting is going to happen."
So who wants to do something exciting? In my view, if we "get it"---the gospel message---it is we. WE are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
We have learned from experience to start small. But let each small group decide on its call and DO that call. God knows where such a thing might lead!"
-Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst, writer and speaker
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I had the incredible opportunity to work with Chane' at SMU while in Residence Life and Student Housing. Chane' brought her energy, excitement, and bright, shining personality to everything she encountered. She was an excellent RA, an authentic life-assistant to the young men and women of McElvaney who were attempting to navigate their first years at SMU. Chane' will be greatly missed by so many people. Please join me in prayer for friends, family, and all those touched by the life of Jessica Chane' Waldron. Please join me in prayer for all those affected by senseless violence. Please join me in prayer for those who take an active role in senseless violence, that their hearts and lives may be transformed and that they may experience the grace, love, and peace of God.
Here is a link to the Dallas Morning News Story, which covers the incident but does not do justice to her amazing witness and life.
Monday, March 30, 2009
-Kayla McClurg, posted on Inward/Outward
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
this was passed along to me from fellow blogger and friend Gavin Richardson, check out his observations on this topic by clicking here.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
"In August, I was invited to pray at the Democratic National Convention. The invitation came as a surprise, considering I'm not famous, not a minister, not a Democrat and have differences with the party on several issues. But the Democrats have been proactively addressing some moral issues that should be of concern to all Christians. I thought, what if more Christians would be willing to cross party battle lines and work through disagreements to champion issues of common good—ones that should be bipartisan anyway? Maybe together we could rise above the political fray and see lasting change happen.
And, after all, I'm a nobody who would probably get the 2 p.m. workshop prayer slot. I'd be no big deal. So, I accepted. Then, a week later, they told me I'd be giving the benediction on the opening night of the convention, as part of the national broadcast. That changed the stakes a bit. What I would have intended as a bridge-building gesture would have been seen by millions as an unequivocal endorsement, which I wasn't comfortable with, considering my differences with the party on issues like abortion legislation.
Nevertheless, I was interested in continuing a positive dialogue behind the scenes and challenging the campaign to address issues of concern to Christians like us. For instance, if we can't agree on abortion legislation, can we at least work together to proactively reduce the number of abortions? You have to be present to have a voice. So, I withdrew from giving the prayer and instead participated in a forum discussing these issues. It was a positive dialogue, and frankly, I wish the Republican convention had done something similar.
You would not believe the firestorm of calls, email and media attention that followed me during that journey. Thousands on the fringe right wing sent me emails ranging from all the reasons I'm going to hell for even talking to Democrats, to actual pictures of aborted children. On the other extreme, after pulling out of the prayer, I was accused by the extreme left for being a coward and representing all that's wrong with Christianity. It was an interesting few weeks, to say the least, and yet another reason I'm glad the hate-filled political season is over four days after this issue hits newsstands.
Some critics used the invitation (and my willingness to initially accept it) to "prove" that RELEVANT has gotten too liberal, that we've chosen a works-driven social gospel over promoting a relationship with God. And while I acknowledge the magazine has begun covering harder-hitting issues over the last year—as well as spotlighting people who are living counterculturally, giving their lives to make a tangible, eternal difference in the world—I strongly disagree that this is a liberal shift. The spiritual foundation of our magazine is unchanged. We believe the Bible is the only complete and infallible written Word of God.
We believe God is moving and still speaks to us today. And we believe Jesus came to provide eternal salvation to a lost and dying world. It is actually a better understanding of our faith in Christ that compels us to care about the social issues we've been covering. If Jesus said it, we believe it. If Jesus modeled it, we want to live it. If Jesus commanded it, we want to obey it. We believe everything Jesus practiced and preached is as relevant for us today as it was at the time of Christ's earthly life.
Jesus stood up for those who could not stand up for themselves. Ultimately, he gave His life to save those who could not save themselves. And we should model the same mindset today. My primary disagreement with the Democratic party, and the source of so much of the controversy I experienced, is my belief that life begins at conception, and it is our moral duty to protect innocent lives. To me, that is not just a matter of faith; it is a matter of objective fact. "Protection of innocent human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction, but a demand of justice," Cardinal Justin Rigali reminded pro-choice Catholic candidate Joe Biden in September.
However, and this is where many on the right miss it, the example Jesus set for us to stand up for the defense of the innocent does not end at birth. Just as they do for abortion, Christians should be on the forefront of standing against things that take millions of innocent lives around the world every day—systemic poverty, preventable disease, unnecessary wars, slavery, genocide. The list goes on.
In April 1859, Abraham Lincoln wrote these words in a letter to Henry Pierce: "This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, cannot long retain it." It's simple, folks: Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. Christians shouldn't just be known for being "pro-life," a term which will never be disassociated from 1990's abortion clinic bombers. Instead, we need to embrace a more holistic definition of Christ's love and example. We need to be "whole-life."
Whole-life means standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. It means seeing a need, like Scott Harrison did (pg. 60) and giving your life to serve it. It also means more everyday things, like being conscious consumers and not supporting companies that subject people to illegal, exploitative working conditions, or promote slavery, like our cover story uncovers. Being whole-life means living out Jesus' example in our world today—fighting injustice, promoting life, being good stewards of our natural and financial resources, and showing God's love in a tangible way. A Christian's compulsion to stand for what's right should be far deeper than someone who does not have faith in Jesus.
To dismiss these as liberal issues is to miss the very heart of God. It's only our Western, partisan mentality that has blinded us from this practical application of scriptural living."
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Source: New Seeds of Contemplation
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
recently a friend posted this observation on his status update on Facebook, attributed to Marcus Borg, "Church 50yrs from now: Fewer professional clergy. But intentional groups of Christians will be around. Tents in the wilderness."
not a big believer in predicting the future, much less the future of the body of Christ (b/c i am asked often to do so), but feel that Borg is on to something really revelatory with this observation. if current trends continue and the spending habits of institutions (including the organized religious denominational institutions) continues to be put under a public microscope, the trending towards less professional, specialized clergy staff does not seem like an unlikely possibility. more and more, in discussions and dialogues i am a part of, hearing a downtrend among those seeking to serve the body of Christ away from professional clergy and towards a more bi-vocational ministry approach, a tent-making approach, if you will, where those leading communities work in the public marketplace to provide their salary and benefits while serving the body of Christ in ministry. this is a very liberating approach for some, who believe that b/c they would not rely upon the community for financial means, the pressure to provide leadership would rest less upon them and more upon the entire community, enabling the leader to be more of a partner in vision-casting and creation than the vision-doer. this might allow the body of Christ to become a people-centered community rather than a leader-centered community. though Moses leads the people through the wilderness, he enlists a great deal of people from within the community to do the work of administration. often too, it is the reluctance of the people and not Moses to take a greater role in leadership and administration and it is Moses that has to shake them loose from their preference for doing things the "Egyptian" way, the way things were done when they were under oppression.
which brings us to the Exodus imagery. i also like this "tents in the wilderness" image, casting the people of God not as firmly planted in the promised land but seeking out God's promises while following God by day and night in the wilderness of our current culture. i like the image of the church building, the place of meeting as a tabernacle, a temporary structure that can be unstaked, moved around, and placed in various settings. God moved with the people in the wilderness and it was when they got complacent and comfortable in the promised land that they built (against God's wishes, i might add) a permanent residence for God.
not sure where you fall on this, but would like to hear from those who follow my seldom-updated blog.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I recently read Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life: Rethinking Ministry to the Poor by Dr. Robert Lupton, which was compelling for a number of different reasons: one being that it was succinct and compact handling without being over-simplified and another being that it dealt frankly with the church's approach to ministry with the poor, which one can do with years of real-life experience working in ministry with the poor like Dr. Lupton. This book got me to thinking about what I am seeking to accomplish when I work in ministry with the poor. In my experience working with those in need (which really is all of us isn't it?) I am often the recipient of a request: "I need...fill in the blank" So often, I get caught up on meeting that most immediate need of the person I am working with: food, clothing, bill payment, gas, etc. and lose sight of involving that person in acquiring whatever it is that they may need. So often I hand over money or buy the gas or a bag of food or pay the bill and forget that Christ calls us to much more than this.
Yesterday, I took part in a Faith Community Leadership Summit on mental health organized by Texas Health Resources and involving leaders of faith communities all over Tarrant county. Dr. Len Sweet and Dr. Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner, among others, spoke about the issue of health and spirituality. Dr. Len Sweet is also engaging as a speaker and teacher and yesterday was no exception. He spoke of our need to implant Christ rather than our desire to imitate Christ. Imitation, he maintains, leaves little to no room for innovation or creativity while implantation allows Christ to work through us and become implanted in the lives of those we work in ministry with, including the poor. He also went on to say that as faith community leaders, what we seek to imitate about Christ is incomplete. We try to be great preachers and teachers, while failing to imitate Christ as healer. I do not believe Dr. Sweet was advocating we all become faith-healers but that we acknowledge that what Christ did more often than preach and teach was heal and in acknowledging this truth seek to be healers more than teachers or preachers; that in our relationships with those we minister to and with, we must seek to provide authentic, transformative, healing moments in which Jesus Christ is revealed rather than expounded upon. Dr. Stevenson-Moessner chose the framework of the parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10 for her presentation. She reminded us that as we read the parable and focus on the Samaritan's solitary, self-less act of compassion we not forget that the Samaritan enlists the assistance of the Innkeeper and the donkey to care for the traveler and that the Samaritan views his assistance to the traveler as a long-term project, which would need follow-up and re-visiting rather than simply getting the traveler what he needed, filling his most immediate need. Dr. Stevenson-Moessner also reminded us that the directive is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, which means we must love ourselves, know our limitations, and know when to resource. She pointed out that though Jesus feeds the hungry, heals the sick, and raises the dead that there were still hungry and sick people and that people still died during his ministry here on earth, Christ did not heal and save everyone and Christ did not work alone in feeding and healing those he was able to while he was here.
What if, instead of the "least of these" or the good Samaritan we took seriously our directive to be healers (not just triage workers but real HEALERS) and used "Go and make disciples..." from Matthew 28 as the model for how we minister with the poor, the hungry, the homeless/houseless. What if instead of just simply meeting the immediate need (which certainly needs to be met) we established a relationship with those we serve, challenging them to take the blessings that they receive and share them with those around them who may need them just as much or even more?
I cannot recall who originally wrote this story but it was shared in a sermon I heard recently. A pastor was delivering Thanksgiving baskets in an apartment complex with church members. They found that they had a whole basket of items left over, with no particular individual in mind. The pastor approached an older woman whose door was opened and said, in an attempt to cover and appear non-creepy, "Excuse me, we seem to have some leftover, do you know someone that could use this basket?" He fully expected the woman to say yes and accept the basket. Instead, the woman grabbed her coat and led the pastor to another apartment where a single mother and 4-5 children lived. This story tells me that amazing things can happen and our gifts may get into the hands of those in real need when we engage and involve those we are seeking to help as co-conspirators in the ministry of care in the name of Jesus Christ. This is what Dr. Lupton seems to be advocating for in his book, the real involvement of the poor in our ministry and not just targets for our ministry.
I am also reminded of the story in the book of Acts of Peter and John heading to the temple to pray and stumbling upon a man unable to walk who asks for an alm. Peter and John's response is, "Silver and gold, I have none...but what I have, I give you..." and heals the man then and there. This story reminds me that the alm would have been enough to meet the man's immediate need but what Peter shares with him is life-changing. If we are handing out money, filling gas tanks, and filling bellies we do great work but if we share Christ in an authentic, incarnational moment that seeks to form a relationship then we offer something so much more transformative.
What if instead of simply handing someone money, a sack of food, or a sack of clothes we asked them to join us in our work, asked them to be a blessing as we are seeking to be a blessing to those around us? What if with every plate of food you asked the person you were serving it to to pray for someone they knew who was in need? What if the next time someone asked you for gas money that you prayed with them as you put your hand in your pocket to get the money out or asked them to share themselves with someone around them as you are sharing yourself with them? I don't know, maybe I am asking too much but it seems to me that Jesus himself saw the hungry, hurting, and sick, heard the cry of those in need, and acknowledged that we would always have the poor with us. In light of all that he himself experienced, Jesus leaves his church not with the directive to feed, clothe, and alleviate suffering and injustice (which he was certainly interested in and wanted his church to be interested in) but instead left his church with the directive that began "Go, and make disciples..." I am not asking us to stop assisting and ministering to those in need, I am asking us to look at how we can offer much something much more lasting, something much more transformative alongside our assistance: the relational love and grace of God through the life of witness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ by implanting Christ rather than simply imitating Christ, by sharing our work with those we are seeking to serve.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Monday, February 09, 2009
really?!? these are the up-to-the-minute news details that the world needs to know?
this is like posting "socks with sandals deemed by most 'not a good look'" or "many choose not to wear flip flops in the rain because it may cause foot wetness" or "study of junior high aged males shows many find fart sounds comical" or "nation-wide poll reveals some enjoy coffee, others choose tea" or "another baseball player found using steroids" or "many believe our last president is a big dumb-ass" or "study reveals the endless war in Iraq actually claiming the lives of young people on both sides who displayed a great deal of potential and could change the world."
is this what has become news? are we so ill-informed that we don't actually know these things? or have we become so apathetic that we just don't care about what scrolls along the bottom of the programs produced by those who have devoted themselves to reporting the most current news-worthy items to the world?
a month or so ago, a report came out of austin that someone had hacked into one of those signs that dot the major highways around texas and made it read, “The end is near! Caution! Zombies ahead! Run for cold climate!” i wonder how many cars drove by it completely unaware of what it said and how many people actually read it and kept driving? is this a further sign of the apathy with which we handle information or is it a further sign of the impending idiocracy?
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers ... our found fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.
For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it)."
America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.