Monday, May 30, 2005

Reflection on Memorial Day

I read this article today. On this Memorial Day I pray for those who are far from home serving our country, but I continue to struggle with being American, Christian, and a pacifist.

What kind of pacifist? Bonhoeffer and the path of resistance

Christian Century, July 13, 2004 by John W. de Gruchy

STANLEY HAUERWAS and I first met at a conference at Bethel College in Kansas iii the early 1980s. I had spent a semester at Bethel some years before when 1 gave the Menno Simons lectures there (The Church Struggle in South Africa), and I remain indebted to that vibrant Mennonite community for introducing me to the writings of John Howard Yoder, with whom I later became well acquainted. Like Hauerwas, I was deeply influenced by Yoder's Politics of Jesus, one of the seminal theological texts of the 20th century. But unlike Hauerwas, who reads Dietrich Bonhoeffer through the eyes of Yoder and in the context of a North American Christendom imperium, I read Yoder under the influence of Bonhoeffer and in the context of the South African church struggle.

During that first stay at Bethel I gave a series of talks on Bonhoeffer and Anabaptism, having written my dissertation on the ecclesiologies of Barth and Bonhoeffer some years before. I had done something similar when, in 1963, as a student in Chicago I had visited Reba Place Fellowship, an intentional community in suburban Evanston, and discovered among its members a great interest in Bonboeffer's Discipleship, but an equally passionate aversion to his involvement in the conspiracy against Hitler. Such principled pacifism was something new to me. But by the time I gave my talks at Bethel, I virtually espoused that position. What held me back from full commitment was Bonhoeffer's "ethic of free responsibility," that is, his "boundary ethics," what Barth called the Grenzfall.

In later years I had several opportunities, in South Africa and elsewhere, to discuss Bonhoeffer with Yoder. His monograph Karl Barth and the Problem of War had awakened me to the dangers of the Grenzfall "as a tool of ethical thought." His critique of Reinhold Niebuhr, not unlike that of Bonhoeffer's, had also alerted me to the dangers of "political realism." Yet, as Yoder discovered on his visits to South Africa in the late 1970s, his principled pacifism was hotly contested. The main liberation movement, the ANC, long committed to nonviolent resistance under the influence of Gandhi and its Christian roots, had by 1963 decided, after agonizing debate, to engage in an armed struggle. My reading of Bonhoeffer's essay "The Structure of Responsible Life" resonated with the moral arguments put forward by the ANC. Much later I wrote an essay comparing Nelson Mandela's "Speech from the Dock" and Bonhoeffer's essay, pointing out that while the two situations were different, the moral arguments were much the same, and equally compelling.

Back to Hauerwas. Performing the Faith is composed of three sections, only the first of which is directly on Bonhoeffer. Indeed, there is no reference to Bonhoeffer beyond page 67, as Hauerwas himself acknowledges. Chapter one provides a good introduction to Bonhoeffer's life and the development of his theology, and chapter two a helpful and provocative introduction to his political ethics. Well written, these chapters offer a flesh and challenging perspective on Bonhoeffer.

The rest of the book is made up of essays and papers on various topics related to the practice of nonviolence and truth in the political arena, each written with the sharp insight and passion characteristic of Hauerwas's writings. There are chapters engaging Thomas Aquinas, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Victor Preller, Gerard Manley Hopkins and John Milbank; one on penal justice; two, including a sermon, on September 11, 2001; and a postscript on Jeff Stout's Democracy and Tradition. There is also an excellent account of "suffering beauty" that Hauerwas evocatively deals with in relation to "the liturgical formation of Christ's body." This chapter could well be expanded into a book dealing with some of Bonhoeffer's thoughts on "'aesthetic existence." But let me concentrate on Hauerwas's account of Bonhoeffer's approach to politics and especially the question of nonviolence.

Unlike some who notoriously made critical misuse of Bonhoeffer at a time when we were all being "honest to God," Hauerwas has revisited much of the literature pertinent to the issues. But he makes no claim to be a Bonhoeffer scholar, and he expresses the hope that "those who are tell me where I may or may not have gotten Bonhoeffer wrong." At the same time he suggests that his "account of Bonhoeffer offers a different perspective on his work." Indeed, he writes: "I hope my account of Bonhoeffer makes life difficult for my critics who hold Bonhoeffer in high regard but dismiss me as a 'sectarian.' If I am right about Bouhoeffer, then they must equally dismiss Bonhoeffer." But, of course, it is not quite so straightforward and simple as that. We are all "sectarians" in some sense or other, and every, interpretation of Bonhoeffer is precisely that.

HAUERWAS IS RIGHT: the world must be allowed to remain the world, to be secular: the church must seek to be the church, always in the world -while struggling not to be of it, and always a visible community committed to the truth. Hauerwas's reading of Bonhoeffer's ecclesiology, essentially a "free church" one, resonates with my own, but is not entirely faithful to all the data. But there can be no doubt about the intrinsic connection between "telling the truth" and acting nonviolently. "I argue," Hauerwas writes, "that the church gives no gift to the world in which it finds itself more politically important than the formation of a people constituted by the virtues necessary to endure the struggle to hear and speak truthfully to one another." Yet, as Bonhoeffer recognized, what it means to "tell the truth" is by no means always obvious. Is it sometimes better for a good man to tell a lie than for a liar to tell the truth, as Bonhoeffer suggests? Read Hauerwas to find out how a Yoder reading would resolve that conundrum.

The sharpest point of disagreement concerns the question whether Bonhoeffer's involvement in the conspiracy against Hitler signaled a shift away from his earlier pacifist commitment. This raises an important question, namely, what ]rind of pacifist was Bonhoeffer?
Given that his ethic was not an "ethic of principles," it is difficult to conceive of' him as a "principled pacifist" in Yoder's sense. There was no doubt in the minds of Anabaptist scholars such as Guy Hershberger that this was the case, and it was certainly the opinion of' Eberhard Bethge. It is also the opinion of" most other students of Bonhoeffer, including Larry Rasmussen, whose work Hauerwas rightly holds in high regard (though I am not sure he is acquainted with Rasmussen's most recent discussion of the issues). Hauerwas is inclined differently. Let us not underestimate the difference, but let us also not allow that difference to cloud the issues that now face us in a world hell-bent on "war on terror."

If we take the Sermon on the Mount seriously, are we not mandated to a life of nonviolence? Should we not be engaged in peacemaking as our Christian vocation? Should not the church be a visible alternative to the world and its ways? On this we must surely agree. But there remains the nagging question that never seems to go away when you are faced, as Bonhoeffer was, with a tyrant in your own backyard (not thousands of miles away) intent on destroying the world and annihilating all those who stand in his way. In this regard I am sorry that Hauerwas did not give us his perspective on Bonhoeffer's "Structure of Responsible Life," a text that, as far as I can tell, did not inform his discussion very much--for reasons that are not clear to me.

Bonhoeffer's reluctant involvement in the conspiracy against Hitler certainly does not provide unambiguous Christian justification for resorting to violence and war. He knew only too well that even a "just war" is still war with all its awful consequences. Rather, Bonhoeffer confronts us as someone who, in following Christ, made a personally costly decision that doing nothing to rid the world of Hitler was worse than doing what he did, however ambiguous the moral issues. That is what peacemaking demanded of him at that time and place. In making that decision he could only "sin boldly" and cast himself on the grace of Cod.

John W. de Gruchy is professor of Christian studies at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

COPYRIGHT 2004 The Christian Century Foundation
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Prayer Practice of Silence- a Journaling exercise

Here's what I did with my youth tonight at UMYF and I thought that I'd pass the idea to anyone else who might enjoy using it- for personal use or groups. I actually used it this morning with a fifth and sixth grade sunday school class and then this evening with 7th-12th graders. Both experiences went well. It is a reflection on Psalm 46, which is the lectionary psalm for today. Also, for music to go along with the prayer experience check out: "Blessed are the Peacemakers", an ambient song that I composed for tonight's experience. You are welcome to use that too if you like.

"Step out of the traffic! Take a long loving look at me, your High God”

Silence and solitude seems foreign to most of us, but it can be a gift from God. It is a chance to step of traffic- the traffic of our busy lives that has us constantly on the move. When practiced regularly- silence and solitude becomes a powerful means to experiencing the presence of God. During the next 10-20 mintues you are invited to STEP OUT OF THE TRAFFIC of your life and simply sit in the presence of God and to “take a long loving look.”


Find a quiet place where you can be by yourself. Think about all the activities that have gone on through the week- think of the good and not so good, the stressful and relaxing, the hard and easy things. As you see each of these things, begin to put your mind at rest. Try and relax and begin to try and center your self.

Allow a couple of minutes to simply
BE in God's presence, clearing your mind, relaxing your body, and opening your heart.

If there are things that continue to come into your thoughts simply write them out here and know that you can come back to them later:


“Attention, all! See the marvels of GOD! God plants flowers and trees all over the earth, bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee.”

Have you noticed God in God's creation lately? Who has been “Jesus” for you recently? In what ways have you been “Jesus” for someone else recently?
PERSPECTIVE: seeing Christ work in the world through the actions of others is a matter of perspective. The more you look for the love of Jesus through the actions of others- the more you will clearly see God's love in the world. The more “you” are the hands and heart of Jesus for someone else- the more you will experience God's blessings.
What can do you need to do in order to see the presence of God more clearly in the world today? What are some things you can do to be the heart and hands of Jesus for others?

“God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake, before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains.”

When we are able to sit in God's presence and simply quiet our souls and selves then we become open to receiving God's comfort and peace- even during the hardest storms we face.
During this time, sit and say this prayer over and over to yourself for a few minutes:
(breath in): “God is a safe place”
(breathe out): “Ready to help when I need him”
After you have done the breath prayer write down joys and concerns that you'd like to lift up to God. You can write them like you're writing a letter to God or you can simply write them out.



Read Psalm 46- 2 times through
Pick a word or phrase that stands out to you- and write in the space below. After you have your word/phrase ask God- how are you calling me to apply this word or phrase into my life this week?


Friday, May 27, 2005

TreeFinger and Alt.Worship

So one thing that I've really been into for the last few years, along with Gavin, is alt.worship. The idea behind alt.worship is to recover God as Holy Mystery through creative and experiential expressions of worship. For us it is usually done with a mixture of ambient music, interactive prayer stations, darkness, candles, high level of liturgy, and periods of silent prayer.

Gavin and I work well together because he is very talented on the use of visuals in worship. I complement it with my passion to create "soundtracks" for worship- usually ambient and instrumental in nature. These songs tend to feel more like a background to what's really going on- participants (hopefully) experiencing the presence of God through creativity and liturgy. Gavin and I actually have a ministry, "InSearchOf... Worship" that goes out and does this for groups- and we each do this at our home churches.

In an effort to really pursue the musical side of this I am collaborating with a wonderful composer and good friend of mine- Brandon Brooks. He and I are working on a project that I am calling "TreeFinger" which will be "soundtracks" for worship gatherings. The music is best used for times of silence or creative prayer/meditation. It ranges from pretty intense techno to extremely "chilled out" downtempo.

Check the first song, Homeward Bound at TreeFinger's MySpace Site.

You are obviously free to download the song, and please feel free to use anything I post in your worship experiences if you are into contemplative expressions of worship. Be warned this is NOT for the contemporary worship service scene.

Oh yeah, and I need some friends, so if you are a "myspacer" then look me up and hook me up!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Don't Call Us, We'll Call You!!!

Leave my child alone!

according to Sojourner Magazine:

"In the small print of the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind Act, there is a clause that requires public high schools to provide the names, addresses, and home phone numbers of their students to the military. Unless families know about and are able to opt out of this clause, their children's personal information will be provided to recruiters. Last week, military recruiting was suspended for a day as recruiters received a much-needed ethics training. This followed allegations that recruiters have used deceptive and intimidating tactics - in one case, threatening a potential enlistee with arrest for backing out when he had the legal right to do so. But who will provide an ethics training for our lawmakers?"

WAR ON TERROR? Maybe we need one here at home and it'll go something like this, "Oh hi Mr./Ms. Recruiter. Please take my child off your list and don't call back- we'll call you if we're interested. Or perhaps, "Oh hi Mr/Ms Congressman. I don't like the thought of my family's name going on a list for the military, or any other government agency for that matter, without my knowledge. Will you support a bill that blocks this from happening? Oh pretty please...?"

Here's an interesting part of the No Child Left Behind policy:
(c) EXCEPTION- The requirements of this section do not apply to a private secondary school that maintains a religious objection to service in the Armed Forces if the objection is verifiable through the corporate or other organizational documents or materials of that school.

Want to take action? click here.

check out the actual clause.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Emergent goes Afmo next year

Anthony asked, "How would Emo look wit a fro'?"

After their workshop on the Embracing Church- Jay Voorhees and Brian McLaren made the comment that the makeup of next year's convention will look more like the kingdom of God, or in other words- Afmo Gordon (formerly Emo Gordon)- the new poster child for Emergent.

I think this pic signifies a trend that we will see at next year's Emerging Convention. I hear that Gavin is volunteering me to lead a CCC on Emergent Fashion. Well here we go folks!

Afro + Emo= AFMO

An Interview with Theologian James K. A. Smith

An interview with James K. A. Smith, author of 'Introducing Radical Orthodoxy- Mapping a Post-Secular Theology'

I was able to catch up with professor and theologian James K. A. Smith for a quick online interview. James is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Director of the Seminars in Christian Scholarship Program at Calvin College.

As most know who read my blog I'm taking a Radical Orthodoxy class right now- and it's friggin' blowing my mind! Last week I attended the Emergent convention here in Nashville and night classes in RO (radical orthodoxy). So both were engaging me and I've been on hyperdrive (reference to star wars) since. So the questions that I asked James had to do with RO and the practices of the Church.

"Radical Orthodoxy is a theological movement--or better, sensibility--operating across many Christian traditions, in dialogue with other non-Christian traditions, and working alongside other academic disciplines such as politics, economics, the natural sciences, social and cultural theory. An outline of central themes can be found in Radical Orthodoxy: A New Theology, eds. John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock, and Graham Ward" (Routledge, 1998).

Jonathon: What made you interested in the conversation and work that's going on in Radical Orthodoxy?

James: The claims I heard from folks like Milbank, Ward, and Pickstock--that there is
no "secular," neutral sphere; that confession goes all the way down--resonated
both with my orientation from the Dutch Reformed tradition after Kuyper, as
well as my interest in "postmodern" thinkers like Heidegger, Derrida, and
Foucault, who also seemed to call into question the deep structures of secular
modernity. So Radical Orthodoxy struck me as a smart movement that was
actually trying to show the impact that Christian confession has on every
sphere of theory and practice. (Plus, you know, Milbank and Pickstock's
writing is so crisp, illuminating and witty...NOT! :-)

Jonathon: Can you think of some practical ways that the theology of Radical
Orthodoxy inform and get played out within the context of a local

James: Well, I'd be a little nervous to talk about "the theology of Radical
Orthodoxy," but I'll table such academic quibbles. I'm not sure that Radical
Orthodoxy has made an impact on ecclesial practice, but I certainly think it
_can_ and _should_. (I unpack this in more detail in my next book, _Who's
Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Radical Orthodoxy to Church_, which will be out
next spring with Baker Academic.) Anyway, let me pick just two examples:

a) I think RO should push churches--including "free" or "low" churches--to
rethink the role of tradition in forming our worship practices and spiritual
disciplines. In a way, I think that RO articulates in a robust, theological
way what one finds in Robert Webber's notion of an "ancient-future" faith. For
the sake of the church's future, we need to retrieve a normative relationship
to the church's tradition. At the end of the day, it's a matter of learning to
be postmodern catholics (small _c_, but even small _c_'s have some disciplinary
bite to them).

b) I also think that RO raises the question of just what the churches are
forming us _for_; in other words, if worship is formative, and creates us to be
certain kinds of people (desiring a certain end or telos), then we need to ask:
just what kind of people are being "produced" by the church in America today?
RO--or at least my rendering of RO, which has a heavy dose of Hauerwas--wants
to highlight the antithesis between the formations of "secular" liturgies in
the market and civic religion (which want to create what Foucault calls "docile
subjects": good little producers/consumers who are happy to die for the state),
and what we are called to as Christians. Unfortunately, I don't think
Christian worship in America is doing much to counter these nationalist
liturgies; indeed, there's probably nowhere that solidifies them more than the
churches (and maybe FoxNews). So we've got some work to do.

Jonathon: Does having an emphasis on Trinitarian ontology affect how a church

"practices" its faith together? What might be the practices that would
reflect a more trinitarian idea of church?

James: While of course I want to affirm the centrality of Trinitarian worship, I
confess that sometimes this kind of talk makes it seem like invoking the
Trinity is some kind of "magic" that will save everything. I'm less sanguine
about that. But I think that if, for instance, we think about God's absorption
of violence in the Son along Trinitarian lines, we might rethink our complicity
with so-called "just" war--but that's a bit of a shot in the dark. Sorry.

Jonathon: I know you've been doing some work on Radical Orthodoxy in conversation with the Emerging Church. Can you say a little bit about how these two movements- one being theological and the other being practical might be in
conversation/partnered together?

James: As I hinted above, insofar as the emerging church is opened up to a recovery of
tradition--Webber's "ancient-future" faith--I almost see RO as the theological
articulation of what the emerging church wants. (Webber suggests the same in
_The Younger Evangelicals_.) Both are also deeply critical of the effects of
modernity--one largely on the intellectual level, the other at the level of
practice; but I think they merge and support one another quite well. However,
RO would be critical of the emerging church if it thinks it can just
eclectically (sp?) pick and choose from the tradition and include those parts
which are "cool." That's just the next stage of seeker-sensitive, consumerist
religion, not a _radical_ rethinking of what it means to be the church. I also
think that RO would challenge the emerging church to think harder about its
politics, and I think we're starting to see this happen.

Jonathon: For the American church- how do we respond to social/polital issues in such a polarized time and not alienate one another? (We're so poloarized
even within our congregations)

James: Of course, here at Calvin we just went through this with President Bush's
recent visit to deliver our commencement address. We need much wisdom and
prayer; from-the-hip, juvenile pronouncements don't help. I hope to say more
on this elsewhere (on Fors Clavigera), but I have become convinced that we must
begin with a hermeneutics of charity: I need to begin with a sense that the
Spirit is at work in my conservative brothers and sisters, and then undertake
the long, hard work of discipleship and formation in our congregations. It's a
hearts-and-minds strategy. As Rich Mouw said to me recently, we need fewer
prophets and more teachers.

Jonathon: Who have been your major influences to help inform your theology?

James: Wow, how long have you got? I'm a complete theological mutt! I have been
pretty deeply impacted by my formation in Catholic contexts (drawn to towering
figures like Augustine and Aquinas, but also Guitierrez), my participation in
charismatic and Pentecostal communities, and my intellectual debts to the
Reformed tradition (especically Kuyper and Dooyeweerd). Then there's a host of
philosophical influences from the continent--Heidegger, Derrida, Levinas,
Jean-Luc Marion--which mark my work at almost every turn. Finally, over the
last several years I've been deeply impacted by engagements with Hauerwas and
Yoder, which tends to get me in trouble more than the others. But hey: if
Stanley Hauerwas is a sectarian, I want to be one, too!

Jonathon: In your honest opinion- do you think John Milbank indeed looks like
Harry Potter on steroids?

James: You should see the size of his wand... (Forgive me!)

Jonathon: thanks for taking the time Jamie. Shalom.

Check out James' blog Fors Clavigera
for a wonderful engagement of culture and theology.


Sunday, May 22, 2005

being adopted in seminary

A friend recently wrote this as a comment to a blog post of mine- "I find it fascinating how many seminary students adopt the philosophy of pacifism. I wonder if I will be so impacted during my three years coming up soon."

To my dear friend,
Several years ago I felt called into ministry. Part of me felt compelled to pastor a church... part of me felt (and continues to feel called) to be a youth pastor... and even still part of me wants to discern an alternative community that bridges the way we do worship and mission in our neighborhood. All this to say that I have no idea what God's wanting of me, I simply know that I am called to ministry (as are ALL God's children).

While in the process of this, pastor and friends urged me to look into graduate school- Vanderbilt Divinity to be exact. I had lunch with several professors and the head of the United Methodist studies group. He was very up front that he thought I'd be a great addition to the student body at Vandy. I considered it. I was accepted. But then some other friends told me to check out Trevecca Nazarene. So I did. I enrolled, I was accepted and began classes there.

This all happened a year and a half ago. The first day I pulled into Trevecca's parking lot, I thought I had landed in another world. Almost EVERY car in the parking lot had BUSH stickers on it. I thought to myself- wow, this is going to be interesting. It was especially interesting when we began serious ecclessial discussions and many of the authors/scholars are wesleyan but heavily influenced by anabaptist theology and practice. It was also interesting to hear many people including our professors who do not agree with all the positions of anabaptist theology- such as stances on war.


Not because of graduate school (not seminary, my friend, I attend a small liberal arts Christian College that offers graduate level degree in theology)

Not because I go to a liberal institution- it is actually an evangelical college that is open to conversations and committed to Wesleyan theology.

Not because I used to believe that Christians are like everyone else in America and ought to take up arms when his/her country calls- I NEVER HAVE... SORRY THAT'S NOT ME, YOU'VE MISTAKEN ME FOR ANOTHER WET AROUND THE .... YOUNG EVANGELICAL TURNED LIBERAL SEMINARY STUDENT.... (THANKS FOR YOUR CRITIQUE THOUGH FRIEND)

Not because I read the Bible and wresteled with Jesus' words and listened to how the early church dealt with Christians and war (not compatible if you read about it)- oh wait- I did do that... maybe others ought to as well.

MY FAITH INFORMS MY ACTIONS (usually) (correction- sometimes)...


Jesus said love your enemies and i take it seriously

Jesus EMBODIED not through words but ALL his actions (including temple) that he was nonviolent

I have been shaped by scripture, yoder, the early christians witness, tolstoy, hauerwas, benedict, wesley, and others. guess who i didn't know until grad school? none of them!

God calls us to be faithful to God's way to live, even when it doesn't make sense, or creates "a winning side".



Friday, May 20, 2005


I'm interested to know.... is emergent a movement that is partly trying to respond to the American problem of consumerism? Is it a movement that is trying to offer a counter cultural expression of how to be a follower of Jesus Christ?

One might think so if one sits in a learning session such as "Scripture" with Brian McLaren and Brian Walsh and hear Walsh boldly say- the Christian Church is a political culture that is not tied to political parties but to God through Jesus. Or when Brian Walsh read his adaptive poetic reflection on Colossians and indicted empire.

One might even think with a group of Emerging Christian participants hanging together under the heading of "Christians and Consumerism" that this movment is counter to consumer culture.


As I was walking toward the web lounge I pass a table with brochures for the US Army National Reserve. My mind asked me, "Hey Jonathon, why is Jesus holding that M16 asking Emergent Christians to 'Follow Me'? "

Then I remembered and told my mind, "Mind, that's not Jesus, that's American Consumer Jesus." My mind was at rest with that answer but I was troubled that American Consumer Jesus came to Emergent.

Then I walked into the Book Store/Web Lounge area. I saw books from various authors and the many emerging hands that were thumbing through the pages, the wallets that were opened and the transactions that were being made at the registers. Somewhere Mr. and Mrs. Zondervan are so happy that we're having this convention (or the board of directors, at least).

My mind began speaking to me again, "Jonathon, is it me or in some ways does this seem like a big ole' week long commercial?"

I reassured my mind that althoughs that can be one "hermenuetic" of this event, I don't think it's the "Meta-Hermenuetic".

So no I'm asking myself, what is the future of emergent? Is it a "few" who have some good words to say that "a lot" hear but in the end- we simply leave having consumed some words, consumed some books- made Zondervan extremely happy and maybe have supplied the State with a couple more guys to go and coopt the Gospel for an M16?

I have no answers but I have a few ideas, and a whole lot of dreams.


Emergent- reflections on thur

Ok, yesterday was a good day!

I was going to the morning learning seminary, but at the last minute ended up hanging with the homies in the computer lounge!!! How geeky did we all look- myself, gavin, bill, and eric?

borrowed from bill's blog
Then I went to the Blogger lunch, which was soooo fun!!! I met a lot of new faces and finially met Will Sampson face to face. That was cool.

borrowed from bill's blog
Then the one workshop I did make yesterday was John Franke's- Karl Barthe for the Emerging Church. I wasn't feeling it though. I didn't do much for me. I was hoping to hear more about how his theology could inform the emerging church but instead it was much more biographical. Oh well.

Then I was off to Trevecca for my evening go around with Radical Orthodoxy- yeah- so John Milbank is NO JOKE!!! If you want something that will stimulate, give a headache and leave you bewildered- try and read him. BUT- I'm interested in RO- cause I think there's a connection between what these theologians are doing and what emergent is trying to do. We'll see though.

I'm looking forward to hooking up with my pals...
11:30 meeting of the "Emo"rgents (ha ha)
NeoMonasticism (I really want to see what this workshop has to say)
Being "Tickled" at tonight's general session
Eucharist!!! Yes, I need some blood and body of Christ right now.

Shalom all,

Thursday, May 19, 2005

"Emo"rgent Reflections

The Emergent Conference is in full swing and it's been great so far. Tuesday I crashed a preconference workshop with Brian McLaren and Jay Voorhees on "The Embracing Church". That was pretty good except for the moment when I was plowing my way into a small group and hit gavin's mac with a chair (oops).

Yesterday I hooked up with friendly faces from the blogosphere- Gavin, Kevin Rector, Lynette Davidson, and Bill Lizor. I also saw friendly face- Dixon Kinsor.

Highlights yesterday were- sitting in on last minute addition: Tony Jones' Ancient Spiritual Practices- he took us from Plato/Aristotle/ancient philosophy all the way up to the present and how philosophy and theology have shaped and informed the practices of the Church. It was great!!!

But the funny thing that I noticed was the carbon copy "Emo" Guys. Is this movement an ecclessial movement for the church or a cool trendy movement for emo guys who can't make it in the music biz to have an outlet? More to come.

"9 out of ten Emergent Males look like this guy!!! I PROMISE!!!"

Also, Brian McLaren and Brian Walsh (professor from Toronot University) talking about scripture and how we can use it for violence or peaceful transformation.

Today- I'm looking forward to Will Sampson's Blogger's Lunch.

Shalom all.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


I will be taking a Blogbatical, a holy rest, from the blogdom. Actually I'll just be cutting back how frequently I can respond to friends posts, and write my own, at least for a few weeks.

Next week begins my Radical Orthodoxy class- and from the little I've read so far- the effect it has on me is: I'll read a paragraph and then this strange metaphysical occurence happens- my mouth dries up, my eyes water and I scratch my head in crazed bewilderment.

I do plan to write some from the Emergent Convention which begins Tue. and runs through Saturday.

So don't be offended if I don't come over to your blog to argue or start some kind of tomfoolery- I promise I'm popping in and keeping up with what's going on. And keep checking up on me- cause I will keep posting. Love ya- everyone!!!


Experiencing Pentecost

Acts 2: 1-4
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

I've been feeling really pulled this week- in a million directions. I have a writing project deadline on Sunday, summer events to get nailed down for the youth group, a large mailing to get finished, the usual weekly youth activities, and then summer class starts next week along with the Emergent Convention. I'm running out of breath just typing this.

So needless to say, and unfortunately for me, I have let me daily prayer times go to the wayside this week (and I can tell). But just a few minutes ago, I stopped and read the passage above. And as I listened the phrase that jumped out was "RESTED ON EACH OF THEM". I let it sit and soak into my heart. And I realized in the moment, "I am ONE OF THEM".

This became at first a peaceful moment, an "ahhhh" feeling. Now I'm thinking wow, the Holy Spirit is resting upon me- THAT'S AMAZING!!! I am ministering and serving through God's grace even in these mundane activites. I don' t even have words right now to describe what's going through my heart and mind. But I wanted to share it.

O Great Spirit,
whose breath gives life to the world, and whose voice is heard in the soft breeze:
We need your strength and wisdom. Cause us to walk in beauty. Give us eyes
ever to behold the red and purple sunset. Make us wise so that we may understand
what you have taught us. Help us learn the lessons you have hidden in
every leaf and rock. Make us always ready to come to you with clean hands
and steady eyes, so when life fades, like the fading sunset, our spirits may come to you without shame. Amen. UMH 329 (Native American Prayer)


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Tongues of Fire (It's Pentecost Sunday!!)

This Sunday the church celebrates Pentecost. This is a wonderful festival day for the life of the church since it kind of marks its beginning. Within the Biblical narrative of Acts 2, Pentecost happens while the apostles are in Jerusalem. They are there celebrating Shauvot, a Jewish festival welcoming the "first fruits" of the spring time harvest. They are among Jews from all over- many cultures and countries are represented.

A strong wind blows in and something that is described like tongues of fire settles in on the apostles. At this point they begin giving witness to the life and resurrection of jesus- but the cool thing is that the disciples are giving witness to jesus and all the pilgrims hear the disciples speaking in each's native language. So the story goes that many new converts came to be followers of Jesus that day and so a movement was begun and on that day The Church came to be.

Here are some interesting things to consider with Pentecost:

1. Pentecost brings a deeper understanding of Jesus. For those of you who've read The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe- this was the first time that Aslan had breathed on them- and with that breath came clarity, strength, and courage to live faithfully their calling.

2. Pentecost brought an empowerment to his followers that they had not experienced before. Just before Jesus' assenscion- he gave the great commision- to go and make disciples of all nations. When the Holy Spirit descended down upon the disciples it allowed them to speak to people of all cultures and nations without any barriers between them.

3. Pentecost brought The Church- the continuing embodiment of Jesus in the ever present moment into existence.

4. Finially, Pentecost looks towards the Kingdom of God- a time when all will be set right and God's vision of Shalom will be fully realized.

Robert Webber says that we are living out the Pentecost experience- an "in between time"- between the Holy Spirit's coming and Jesus' final coming.

I really enjoy Pentecost. Everyone at Blakemore is encouraged to wear red (the liturgical color for Pentecost), our confirmands are baptized ( a Pentecost tradition), and we have a picnic in the park afterward.

Pentecost is also a sign that God is at work in our lives, and is not static. The Church is empowered through continual Pentecost experiences to interpret how to live out its calling to be faithful disciples in the world.

I'm definitely looking forward to Sunday. Too bad it's the last big festival day in the church until Advent rolls around in Nov. Maybe I'll post about common time, though. I kind of like common time- it's sort of a celebration of the ordinary I suppose. Oh well, that's all for now.

Shalom all, Happy Pentecost...


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

8 days, 56 minutes, and 52 seconds

"MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU"- Jedi Jon and Jedi Jonas
Never mind that the pic is for the wrong movie- IT ROCKS ANYWAYS!!!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Gavin's Party WAS The Cat's Meow!!!

Well despite John's, from Locust and Honey, accusation that Gavin is a chronic evangelist of rumors (and the gospel). I have to take up for my buddy and tell you all of the most delightful dinner party Gavo hosted last week.

It all started about 6pm when I arrived at Gav's luxiourious condo on the upper west side of Nashville. I entered his pad to some absoululely wondeful jazz. He had splendid 8 piece band, with full horn section. As I recall they were playing a Miles number off of Kind of Blue.

All of Nashville's most elite Elders and Deacons were at this dinner party. No riff raff here.
I'll tell you what- Gavin Richardson is one CLASS ACT!!!

The party went on throught the wee hours of the night. About midnight Gavin put the wine away and the 'SHINE came out- pure, 100% Roan Mountain Backwoods Moonshine!!! The best I've ever had!!!

And on top of that- something only the most elite of elite in Nashville knows about-


I went home a happy man.

Thanks Gavin for a wonderful party. Thanks John for feeding the rumor mill's fire!!!

Although the story that was just told, was indeed a true story- the characters are figments of my imagination and do not represent the views or opinions of the United Methodist Church, although no one is quite sure what the views and opinions of the United Methodist Church actually are (please see the United Methodist Social Principles for verfication). If you are offended by the story you have read please send all letters of concern to:

The Meow Mix Company
Consumer Affairs
P.O. Box 1594
Secaucus, NJ 07096-1594

Friday, May 06, 2005

Is the Emerging Church Bourgeois?

Bourgeois: a member of the middle class whose interest is to preserve the status quo.

I'm quickly becoming a fan of Jamie Smith. I referred to his blog in my last post and now I'm referencing him again. I came across an article that he wrote entitled: “The Economics of the Emerging Church" This is a great read and he raises some wonderful questions about the Emerging Church movement. I know there has been discussion about the lack of diversity within the movement and this article definitely speaks to the socio-economic factor that plays into it.

In his article Jamie asks the question: "How bourgeois is the emerging church?”

click here to read the entire article

Jim Wallis and Jesus? Jim Wallis and Constantine?

One of the things that have drawn me to Jim Wallis, and his stances and writings, is the fact that 1. he claims his evangelical tradition (he knows where he came from), 2. his emphasis on social justice and poverty, and 3. he stands above the "liberal/conservative" political agendas (or does he?).

As a lot of people know- Jim has hit the road making many stops all across the US promoting his book- God's Politics: Why the Right gets it Wrong and Left just doesn't get it. I've been eagerly anticipating his stop in Nashville, May 24, and I still am, however I just read the post, "Constantinianism of the Left?" at Jamie Smith's blog that makes me wonder how much I'm going to agree with Wallis and if he is indeed promiting "God's Politics" and not just more ideology.

I love the way Jamie ends his post about Wallis: "Instead of Wallis' leftish civil theology, I'll continue to believe that our most important political action remains the act of discipleship through worship."

It would seem that Wallis might be selling the Church short for being God's greatest hope for the world and seeing the answer to the world's ills to be- Christians getting out the vote- for liberals.

I've said it many times before and I'll say it again- the Church's mission is to embody the teachings of Jesus, teach others how to live out the teachings of Jesus, and embody the Love of God to the world. In essence the Church is TO BE THE CHURCH. How much more political can that get?

Check out the rest of his article here, it's worth the read and he says it a lot better than I can.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Church in Winnipeg takes on Vatican Stance

Over at Jonny Baker's blog he has posted an amazing picture from the steps of Knox Church, Winnipeg.

Apparently they are openly taking on the Roman Catholics and their stance on birth control.

shalom all

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Ok so I'm really glad- this guy understands the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein! Because I'm basically reading "Wittgenstein for Dummies" and I don't know what the @#$$ is going on.

Maybe I need Wittgenstein for 3 year olds and then Jonas can explain it to me. Geeez!!!

cheers all

Monday, May 02, 2005


For pt. 1: click here

Pt. 2
He was taken up to the highest point of a mountain. As he looked down, he saw villages, cities, landscape and kingdoms.

"You know, Jesus, you could end a lot of suffering real fast... your people are calling out for someone to rise up, call them to arms, and finially rid the land of occupation. your people are calling out- and YOU can be the one to save them"

Obviously Jesus had not travelled alone up the mountain. As he looked down the mountain, aching belly, and pulsating headache, he began to think of people that had been mistreated by the romans- there were family members, neighbors, and even close friends who were now enslaved because of high Roman taxes and the lack of rights that his people were forced to live with.

His mind began to wander, thinking about the men who lived on the outskirts of the village- the men who had taken a vow to stop at nothing until the occupiers were driven out. These men were the local heroes, the providers and voice for the poor... the dispossesed. These were the men that Jesus had looked up to as a young boy, hoping that some day his people would be free.

Jesus' memory raced on as he stared out at the villages, which looked all too much like small specks of dust from the mountain where he stood. He imagined the faces of all the men and women who had lost family members in the struggle for freedom. He imagined the faces of children who had nothing to eat because Herod's son, Phillip, had raised taxes to send to Ceasar for Rome's next big war.

He couldn't stand back any longer and watch his people suffer. From early on he knew that he'd been set apart for something big. He had always admired those militants who stood up for his people, and the passion they had. He had come to the desert to fast, to wait and see what was to come next. Here he was, led to this mountain top- faced with the opportunity to leave the mountain with more power than anyone had ever seen... the power to liberate his people...

"Follow my way Jesus and your people will never suffer again at the hands of foreign invaders and you will rule any kingdom, anywhere, any way that you want."

Jesus looked into the serpent's eyes. His gazed moved to a rock, upon which a silver sword lay, glistening as the mid afternoon sun beat down upon it.

"All you have to do is pick up the sword and follow me... and you can lead your people away from this mess. You can bring an end to this madness, you can bring peace to your people and make sure that all are taken care of. Just take the sword and I'll make sure you see victory"

The heat of the sun was beating down on his temples, sweat filled his brow as Jesus pondered the offer. His head was pulsating again. Maybe this was it, why he had come. Then he remembered the voice he heard the day John had baptized him in the river: "THIS IS MY SON, PRIDE OF MY LIFE- MY BELOVED, WITH WHOM I AM PLEASED."

There was something about that voice- that voice that led him to the wilderness. There was something about THAT voice that was very different from the voice of this serpent. There was something reasurring about THAT voice... that Jesus was the one who would bring peace to his people, but maybe not in the way that people would expect- maybe violence was not going to be the way... there was something in THAT voice that could only be explained as LOVE.

Jesus gave one more look at over the valley intio the villages, the cities that lay ahead... he said a prayer for them- an ancient blessing his grandfather had taught him. And then Jesus turned away from the sword and the serpent and walked down the mountain.

The sun began to set in the west and the cool air began to set in.....