Saturday, March 31, 2007

Jesus on the couch

I just posted the Emergent video the other day, which I titled "It's not just about couches...," partly because we are one of those churches who prefer couches to pews.

Then Lutherman tipped me off to the "Jesus couch"...the couch of the non-Christian guy who came home one day to find Jesus on his couch. Ssee the photos and video, what else? www.Jesuscouch.com


Then I found, while googling the "Jesus couch," this shirt from cafrepress.com, which in our gatherings, is often true:

Emergent Manifesto of Hope

Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones

"it's more than couches...it's how we view the world"


http://www.anemergentmanifestoofhope.com/

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Friday, March 23, 2007

Down Where The Drunkards Roll

How in the world did I ever miss this song? I knew of Richard Thompson's reputation as brilliant and God-haunted. But I never ownedd any of his music. Hadn't really heard any until I heard Mike Roe's devesatastingly beautiful cover version. Hear it now on his MySpace:

www.myspace.com/micro77s

Here is Thomson performing it live:
Lyrics:
See the boys out walking
The boys they look so fine
Dressed up in green velvet
Their silver buckles shine
Soon they'll be bleary-eyed
Under a keg of wine
Down where the drunkards roll
Down where the drunkards roll

See that lover standing
Staring at the ground
He's looking for the real thing
Lies were all he found
You can get the real thing
It will only cost a pound
Down where the drunkards roll
Down where the drunkards roll
There goes a troubled woman
She dreams a troubled dream
She lives out on the highway
She keeps her money clean
Soon she'll be returning
To the place where she's the queen
Down where the drunkards roll
Down where the drunkards roll
You can be a gambler
Who never drew a hand
You can be a sailor
Who never left dry land
You can be Lord Jesus
All the world will understand
Down where the drunkards roll
Down where the drunkards roll


-Richard Thompson

...and his "God Loves A Drunk":

Temple Tantrum

--

"Temple Tantrum"

building no shibboleths
refusing to recite
betraying dignity-religion,

Paradox only lives to buy your dreams
to honor royal bloodline
compelled he is to gift his dad
Focused fury runs to imago -remnant

you failed entrance exam
language high enough not
Funds insufficient
come in, you 've passed
high fashion illegal in palace
dress code redressed
holocausted
eye-apples den-robbed

walls apart hide
a partheid
Scratch outfoxed
Center my set

Gracing indiscriminate
overturning priority-pews
Lavish anger, ruthless love
Insistent persistent consistent resistant
for all nations a home-house
Architected
To incite romance

for commentary, click here and here


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Urinal Evangelism



read all about it here

"Sermons Suck" by JRR Tolkein


"They are bad, aren’t they! Most of them from any point of view. The answer to the mystery is prob. not simple; but part of it is that ‘rhetoric’ (of which preaching is a dept.) is an art, which requires (a) some native talent and (b) learning and practice. The instrument used is v. much more complex than a piano, yet most performers are in the position of a man who sits down to a piano and expects to move his audience without any knowledge of the notes at all. . . . But preaching is complicated by the fact that we expect in it not only a performance, but truth and sincerity, and also at least no word, tone, or note that suggests the possession of vices (such as hypocrisy, vanity) or defects (such as folly, ignorance) in the preacher.

Good sermons require some art, some virtue, some knowledge. Real sermons require some special grace which does not transcend art but arrives at it by instinct or ‘inspiration’; indeed the Holy Spirit seems sometimes to speak through a human mouth providing art, virtue and insight he does not himself possess: but the occasions are rare. In other times I don’t think an educated person is required to suppress the critical faculty, but it should be kept in order by a constant endeavour to apply the truth (if any), even in cliché form, to oneself exclusively! A difficult exercise . . . ”

- J.R.R. Tolkien in a Letter to his son Christopher, 24 April 1944

"All scientists belive in God. They have to"







“All scientists - including agnostics and atheists - believe in God. They have to in order to do their work "
Source:

http://www.jesuscreed.org/?p=2054

“New churches innovate, and old churches imitate.”



News item:
In an address at Princeton Divinity School, Brian McLaren urged mainline church leaders and seminary professors to start as many new churches as they could, even if many of the new churches had “little chance of success.” Why? Because, he said, “New churches innovate, and old churches imitate.” (source)

Good For Democracy

John Kerry is right: YouTube is good for democracy (And good for church, I might add):


Ironically, it may have cost him the election:


Kathleen Parker, Washington Post blogs here:

,,,, Americans are pretty forgiving of most sins. Gluttony, lust, greed. We forgive them because we're all guilty by degrees. But vanity is of another order, especially -- and perhaps unfairly -- when it comes to men... Women get a pass for indulging their vanity, mostly because men appreciate the effort and applaud the result. But we want men to be unaware of their attractiveness. Fairly or not, vanity is deemed unmanly.

Don't look at me. I didn't write the rules. But I do know them. Women don't trust men who spend more time in the bathroom than they do. And men don't trust men who primp. The YouTube phenomenon has changed forever the nature and tenor of politics. What used to be inadmissible in a civil society is now forever on display. Fair play is obsolete and privacy is a memory. Whether YouTube is the ruin or salvation of democracy remains to be seen, but it's unlikely Edwards will be able to survive the tyranny of his bangs. -Kathleen Parker

Linear/Movable, Separating Form and Content, and Church 2.0

by Micahel Wesch, "The Machine is Us/ing Us":

5 Provocative Truths...Velvet Elvis Style

How are these for starters?:

Christianity was never an adjective in the Bible, and never meant to be one now/

All music is praise.

Everything is sacred.

Jesus never blessed food before he ate.

It is impossible for a Christian to have a secular job.

Click:
5 Provocative Truths...Velvet Elvis Style

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Architects and Prostitutes

Since I am devoting some time to pondering architecture as a model for spiritual leadership...see my thoughts so far here..

And since one of my other front-burner topics has been pastors prostituting their calling..
see especially I Eugene Peterson here, and below:

"American pastors are abandoning their posts, left and right, and at an alarming rate. They are not leaving their churches and getting other jobs. Congregations still pay their salaries. Their names remain on the church stationary and they continue to appear in pulpits on Sundays. But they are abandoning their posts, their calling. They have gone whoring after other gods. What they do with their time under the guise of pastoral ministry hasn't the remotest connection with what the church's pastors have done for most of twenty centuries..."
-Eugene Peterson

...and since I recently started scribling notes comparing/contrasting arhitecture and prostitution as (positive and negative!) paradigms for ministry(hear especially The Violet Burning's "The Song of the Harlot," one of the most moving worship songs of all time:"If I could be anyone at all/Let me be the whore at Your feet")...

I shouldn't have been surprised to find(re-find) this(click title):


Freakonomics @ Church: Prostitutes or Architects?

and this:

“Whenever you see the word “Client” in something to do with building, you know there just has to be an architect involved because no one else in the building game ever refers to anyone as “clients.” It is such a strange word, isn’t it? In a shop you are a customer, on a train you are a passenger, in a hospital you are a patient, in a class you are a student, in the economy at large you’d be a consumer. But client? The only people who have clients are lawyers, architects and prostitutes, all of whom have to live with the reputation that they are simply out to screw you. Only the prostitute is honest about it" (link)

and this..

So far, I have concluded I want to be an architect/whore. Put that on your business card, Scott?

I have mentioned needing to interview Arc-architect Scott to see what I can learn and glean about pastoring. Now I need to...seriously..interview some literal prostitutes as well..

!!

??
---

"Song of the Harlot"
(c)by Mchael Pritzl
Recorded by the Violet Burning
www.thevioletburning.com

In the night, the harlot moves across the floor
She turns the handle on the door
One hundred eyes
seem to look right through her
Why she's there, they're not sure

Behind her love she falls down to her knees
Without a word she begins to weep
And her tears they fall down upon his feet
And she smothers them with kisses
She dries them with her hair

In my life, sorrow has kissed my lonely heart
Fear of man tears me apart
And I've tried, but many times I've loved the world
Many times I've been the whore
I've cried a million tears, maybe more
So many times I have been the whore
I will fall down on my knees I will sing, "I love, my love.."
I will weep, "I love, my love.."
I will sing cause I love, my love

And my tears will fall down upon Your feet
Let me smother them with kisses
Let me dry them with my hair
If I could be anyone at all
If I could be anyone at all
Let me be the whore at Your feet

My tears will fall down upon Your feet Let me smother them with kisses Let me dry them with my hair If I could be anyone at all If I could be anyone at all Let me be the whore at Your feet ............

Let Your mercy triumph over judgement
over me

i love You,Lord
My God
My Strength
in weakness

-Michael J.Pritzl

Q. "How do you drink new wine?" A. "Fast!"



A couple years ago, I asked the question(s) below on our forum. I am still intriguinated by the question, and the answers so far. Click at bottom to see the anwers and articles that came in.
_______

Re: wineskins

There is obviously a key connection between fasting/mourning and new wineskins..in all 3 synoptic gospels, when Jesus is asked about why his disciples don't fast, he answers by
1)substitting the word mourn for fast (at leastn is some of the gospels)
2)immediately moving into wineskins discussion
3)following by an intersting connection to the above theme:

In Matthew, the healing/raising of two women follows. In Mark and Luke,
the episode about picking grain illegally on the sabbath folllows

So, my questions to y'all, especially #2:

1)connect fasting and mourning? (John Piper: "Fasting is not technically a commandment...it is a prediction of what will seem normal for thsoe who mi
ss the Bridegroom..fasting is the exclamation point on a 'maranatha' prayer")
2)what is the connection about fasting/wineskins?
3) what is key about the context immediately following these sections that illumine fasting/wineskin?

Click this to see Matthew Mark and Luke passages on the same page to compare:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%209:14-26;Mark%202:19-28;Luke%205:33-6:5;&version=49;

This is not a 'set up" , contest or test..where i have an answer in mind..i don't know the answer(s) to this new question for me..

---

CLICK BELOW FOR ANSWERS AND DISCUSSION:

Q. "How do you drink new wine?" A. "Fast!"

Monday, March 19, 2007

Time Travel: Sabbath Novels, Clockless Monasteries,Toyota Corollas and the Gospel of the Kingdom




I travelled in time for a couple hours this morning.

But don't worry; I'm back in one piece, and took a shower. I'm back.

And besides, it's my day off; what was I supposed to do?

My "day off," as with most "preacher-types," is Monday ("the day after"); and that makes it a "recovery day." And that, in turn, qualifies it as a sabbath of sorts.

Man is made for the sabbath; and Sabbaths are made for travel.

Or something like that.

Before you write me off as so "loco" as to need many more "days off," or enforced "sabbathical," hear me out on the time travel reference. After all, my time travelling jaunt was in part encouraged by the sage advice of a theologian most readers of a site such this would recognize as no slouch: Abraham Heschel. In his classic, "The Sabbath," this wonderful Jewish thimker suggests that the sabbath is "holiness in time," a "palace" in time. His thesis is that Judaism (and by extension, Christianity) is fundamentally a religion of time; not space. Any ultimate "travelling" a pilgim does; is essentially in time (which of course, is no small insight for a religion often hallmarked...wrongly, Heschel would say...by "holy" sites, places; and "holy land.") The shabbat, then, as a timely visitation of the Eternal, is the sanctification; the holy-izing of time. "Sabbaths are our grand cathedrals." Heschel scholars reading this, forgive my translations: I am currently reading Heschel...who thought in Hebrew and wrote in English...in Spanish. It's a deep, dizzying; confusing and enlightening cross-cultural experience...

...Kind of like..uh, time travel.

Please, wrestle with Heschel (in any language); here is a place to start; or try on this article, excerpted from the "Sabbath" book: "Shabbat as a Sanctuary in Time: The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals, the Jewish equivalent of sacred architecture". But back to my time travel. Don't call my wife; or the men in the white coats.

All I did this morning was read a novel.

But that in itself is time travel:

"At the moment when art is experienced, time comes to standstill; At least it becomes experientially elastic......That is what art is for. Each attempt at art is an effort to reach into the flow of time and to cup it, or dam it, or otherwise capture it at a certain point in its course. Never mind 'great art, ' any photograph will do to illustate..Art is a harbinger..if not of an experience of eternity, than at least an experience of beauty......In writing these lines I experienced a little of that Presence: while writing, I was humming along to a recording of Bach's music. And I lost a little time, and it was good.
-David Wang, "Art in a Tick-Tock World." Mars Hill Review, issue 24, p.9-14.

Sabbath is time travel (or time-stopping).
All art...including novel novels like the one I just read... is inevitably the same.
I have already written here on the revelation that "Music is time travel. " And I'm not (too) nuts on that post, either" I am just agreeing with two geniuses: Albert Einstein and (!) Neil Young.

The novel that froze time for me? Ironically (and inevitably?) , it was a novel about time travel.

Stephen Baxter's "Manifold: Time" is no ordinary novel, by an untypical novelist. Baxter's mathematics degree from Cambridge, and doctorate in aereoengineering research, speak to that.

I know some of you are feeling relief right now. Those who know me well were more worried about me (uncharacteristically) reading a novel than my claiming to travel in time ("What else is new with Dave?". They know I am usually reading...at stoplights....theology or physics.

This novel was both. Suffice to say it's not "Left Behind" (one wag reveals what Jesus might say to LaHaye and Jenkins). This is a novel with plenty of theology and physics....and action and romance ("I give it a 9, you can dance to it!"). "Baxter joins the exclusive ranks of Clarke, Asimov and Heinlein..writing science fiction in which the science is right" (New Scientist).

I just returned from dropping the kids at school. I parked the car, and intuitively grabbed one of the many books in the front seat (I know!); the aforementioned, my latest 50 cent purchase from the thrift store....and began reading.

Two hours later..

I emerged. You know how it goes. It felt as if time had been standing still....better yet; travelling. After all, this is the novel the New York Times had recommended with an "If you don't feel both exhausted and exhilirated when you're done, you haven't been working hard enough."

I needed to work hard on my day off.

So in my New York Times- prophesied exhiliraustion, I entered the house to scribble and blog a bit.

I bought the novel because the price was right, and the topic intriguing.



Of course, I have long been taken by the implications of time travel for life and theologizing. Whether we as humanity every experoence it literally or not, is not the points. It is the principles that emerge from pondering and reseraching it that are uniquely germane to theology and life. Read my postings, or the wikipedia article on time travel here.

Suffice to say at this point, the Kingdom of God; the "arrow of time," and a classically Jewish and George Ladd-influnced eschatology are all elements of time travel. We have, the writer of Hebrews summarizes--almost in passing!... "already in our time and age tasted the powers of the future time and age to come."

As a pusher of buttons, and stretcher of norms/forms in my teaching, I recently challenged a class to finish the sentence "The gospel message is..."

Of course, as card-carrying evangelicals, most responded with the "obvious" right answer: "Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins, so that iIcan go to heaven when I die."

I'm not saying that is the wrong answer.

But Jesus is.

Of course, as a statement, it is fact and true; and essential.

But as Dallas Willard reads the Bible, he finds:

"..the Gospel is not that Jesus died on the cross for your sins so you can go to heaven when you die, but that the Gospel that Jesus preached was the Gospel of the Kingdom. When you say this to people they look at you like you’re insane. ‘Of course the Gospel is that you can go to heaven when you die’, they say. But the Gospel isn’t a one-time event, it’s a daily participation with Christ in the Kingdom life.”
Interview with Dallas Willard in RELEVANT Magazine
(read it all here)







Christ himself clarified taht it was the "gospel of the Kingdom" (Matt.) that is to be preached; and "The Kingdom is at hand" is his own definitive mission (Matt 4:17) . Note well that Willard, highly relevant to the time travel topic at hand, says the gospel is decidedly "not a one time event". If it's not one-time, it's mult-time. It's trans-time, it's multiple time; so, heck, it is by definition, design and default:

Time Travel.

That's the only way one can be two places at once.

Like I was this morning, in unkowing time machine of a 1999 Toyota Corolla, transported and trainspotted by a novel (remeber; Wang is correct: all art..including novels that are and aren't "about" time travel...are time-travel) .

Once in awhile, I get a kick perusing the headlines of websites devoted to the topic of, and forum-posting about, time travel. One posting "Hi, I am Jesus Christ from the year 0 B.C."
Of course, the dead-giveaway that this was a phony was the '0 B.C.' time stamp. I didn't click to read his message (Hope I was right (:.....) But it got me thinking: Jesus is, in a sense, always traveling across time (whether you perceive it as travelling forward in time from his earthly human years; or "backwards" in time in Hebews 6
"visiting from the future heavenly Kingdom" mode), to give

us in our time a message. He mujs be a Time Traveller; he claimed "Before Abraham was, I am."

So his message/gospel/timeless news must be the same as it always was and will be:

As he travels from eterenity into time, time to time..

"The gospel is not a one time event. It's a dynamic Kingdom."

RELEVANTmagazine.com:
"Why did you write The Secret Message of Jesus?"

Brian McLaren: "About 15 years ago I was having lunch with a very well-known Christian leader and author and he said to me, "You know Brian, most evangelicals don't really know what the gospel is." And I remember thinking, "Well that's a provocative statement," and I just sat staring into my hot and sour soup, trying to dodge his question. Then he continued, "For example, what do you think the gospel is?" And I gave him my best answer ... I talked about justification by grace through faith and the atoning work of Christ on the cross ... Then he said, "Well that's exactly what most evangelicals think." I came back with, "Well, what do you say the gospel is?" and immediately he answered, "Shouldn't we let Jesus define the gospel for us? For Jesus, the gospel is 'the kingdom of God is at hand.'"

And I remember thinking that he's probably a heretic. But it just stayed in my mind for all these years ... that for Jesus the gospel is that the kingdom of God is at hand. And in the last few years it's just become clearer and clearer to me that it's something that we should be paying attention to.



The Gospel is The Kingdom. The Kingdom is, at heart, time travel.



The "paradigm shift" that many of us in church are finding ourselves in (defining, and living, the gospel as far bigger and broader than the individual salvation transaction; but as a "Kingdom thing" was called to mind in a powerful parallel in this morning's novel. As the main character, Reid Melenfant, calls a stakeholders meeting of his company to defend and sell his vision...perceived as quixotic by some...of colonizing space, he 'preaches'/'evamgelizes' (not just to the board; but on a whole nother level, to himself):



"If we start NOW, we may just make it. If we leave it any longer. we may not have a planet to launch our spaceship from."

"And," he said, "in the end, have faith."

"In who? You?"

Melenfant smiled.

His speech was well-rehearsed, and it almost convinced him. But Corelius's stuff nagged at the back of his head. Was all this stuff, he exploitation of the solar system for profit, really to be his destiny? Or--something else, something he couldn't yet glimpse (the saving of the human race)?

He felt his pulse race at the prospect.
(63)


You have likely seen the parallel. Melefant is "us": pastors and leaders in this curent shift. Cornelius (interesting choice of a ...biblical...name) is the Dallas Willards.,the Brian McLarens; (and more importantly, Jesus!) who call us to a grander, more cosmic, more altruistic and truer gospel message. As opposed to the one we all learned in Sunday School and seminray; the evangelical "right answer." Which is true, but not the whole Kingdom . In our accidental (?) edificationolatry; we have gotten the point (or one of them), but missed and dissed the bigger picture.

Like Reid Malefant, "our speech ("The gospel is that Jesus died for your sins, so you can go to heaven when you die, yada yada") has been well-rehearsed; and we've almost convinced ourselves. "

This revelation from a "secular" novel is devastating.

The author, in a minor but intriguing plot twist, quotes the journal of an unnmaed future citizen, dated 2198 A.D.:

"It seems we are a generation doomed to live in the end time... And where is the relevance of the Christian mythos for us, whom God has abandoned?


The relevance is in the character of Mary, Mother of Jesus.

...The Son abandoned His Mother.

...So today, we rehect the grandiose and selfish ambitions of the Son ...For we, too have been abandoned. We draw strength from Mary's dignity in betrayal. We are no longer Christians.
We are Marians. Let us pray.
(p. 459)


Thank God for excellent books in recent years, most recently Scot McKnight's wonderful, "The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus"
...ht, that call e

But what they are not saying is "Jesus let his mother, and all of us down." Or "We are Marians." Unless that means taking hold of Mary's primary advice:
"Whatever Jesus tells you to do, do it!" (John 2)

That is the gospel/Kingdom/Trans-time message.The future has invaded the present time, as George Ladd and John Wimber often phrased it.

That's time travel.

We have already received the long awaited "Feyman radio transmission from the future." In answer to Jesus' prayer, the Kingdom is now proleptically and prophetically "come...on earth as it is in heaven"; in the present as it already is in the future.

Several other parts of teh book are worth mentioning. Tellingly, Cornelius, the visionary genius (apostle-prophet) who encourages (Pastor) Reid Malefant to preach and incarnate this more dynamic and eternal gospel, is on staff at a company named "Eschatology" On a lighter note, the reigning sodapop product of the future is unflichingly called in the book , as a brand name....well, the four-letter "S" word that it already is in our day! A great jab at "pop" culture (literal "pop" culture as well...groan!)

But it was in the portayal of the future NASA...as an old wineskin/old guard, dream-denying top-heavy hierarchy (read "modern-church"..hello?), as opposed to the dream-freedom of quirky but visionary folks (Reid et al) who saw ways to do "ministry" in a more oraganic, less expensive and far more expansive faithful ways (read "emerging church") that really spoke to me. At one point, a former Apollo astronaut tapes an infomercial defending the apparently crazy and quixotic quest of the "independent, but relationally networked, and accountable to apostolic oversight" Reid to launch missions into space and time; even when at odds with the "denomination"/organization (NASA) that had "always done it a certain way." Part of the transcript of the infomercial is relevant here:

"F0r awhile it looked like something revolutionary would be done.. But then came the assasination attempt, and Cold War issues.

The president left space (and time travel) to other people, who couldn't get it done. NASA won its turf wars. But the dream ..none of that has gone away. Which is why I am fully behind Reid Malenfant's launches from the Mohave.

You just know those federal paper pushers were going to find every way they could to block him . "
(247)


I have seen no more apt and articulate description of what I have seen first hand of denominational executives. It may well be unintentional for most, but they fall into "federal paper pushing. Eugene Peterson tells the most amazing, tragically true, and hilarious tale of "federal paper pushers I have heard. It must be read; yesterday, if possible (time travel, eh?). It's at this link...and is side-splittingly funny, until the punchline lands with Pastor Peterson's casual:

"The institution has its necessary and proper place. I could not function well without it, maybe not at all. But I was quite mistaken to look for spiritual nurture and expect vocational counsel from it."


I must view life, faith, ministry and Kingdom from an organic, caring, Kingdom-future based time-travel kind of paradigm.

Even Shakespeare saw this.

!

Prospero's question in the Tempest:

"What seest thou else in the dark backward and abysm of time?"

The answer: Everything.

It's the only lens I have on the secrets of the Kingdom.


But if Peterson is correct that institutions can't care; even if they have a proper place in God's sovereignty; let's come full circle. We began with a Jewish mystic helping us re-imagine sabbath, even life, as sanctification of time; time (not space or real estate..even Temple Mount, or Protestant sanctuary) as our only and virtual and really virtual, time-travelling "cathedral". Let's now trace the tracks of John Whitehead (a writer I don't follow down all his trails..he can be too reductionist and reactionary for me), as he wonders aloud (or should based on his research) if it is religious institutions (NASA, denomimations, The Matrix, etc) that have been the primary bandit behind our current dilemma: a church that doesn't "get" time; let alone relationship.



Religion may be the most "secularizing force" in all history, Whitehaed boldy allows; particularly the religious instiution that "baptized" clock time; at the great expense of the intended outcome (kairos and Kingdom):

monasteries!

Whitehead, in a section of "The End of Man," captioned: "The Time Machine" :


"A tool or a machine (any form of technology) is a constituent of man's symbolic recreation of his world. Moreover, machines that have been owned and operated by only a few members of a society have often influenced the entire society.

Movable type, for example, completely altered, within a relatively short time, the entire concept of medieval man and socoiety. As McLuhan notes in 'Gutenberg Galaxy.":

Printing from movable types created a quite unexpected new environment-it created the PUBLIC. Manuscript technology did not have the intesnity or power of extension necessary
o create publics on a national scale. What we have called "nations" in recent centuries did not, and could not, precede the advent of Gutenberg technology any more than they
can survive the advent of electric circuitry with its power of totally involving all people in all other people...The unique character of the 'public' created by the printed word was an intense and visually oriented self-consciousness, both of the individual and the group.

There is, however, probably no better illustration of technology altering Western culture (and eventually, the world) than the invention of the clock.

Before the clock, and until darwin's theory of eveoilution began to sink into the stream of commly held ideas, peple knoew that the world about themm--the world of reproducing plants and animals...-has always exisited, and that its fundamental law was eternal periodicitry. Cosmolological time,a s well as the time perceived in daily life, was sort of a complex repeating and echoing of events. Howeber, with the emergence of the clock and its sudden position of dominance dutiong the Industrial revolution, a transformation in man occurred. Instead of merely living in the natural world he became, nautures alleged master.

Lewin Mumford calls the clock, not the printi g press or steam engine 'the key machine of the moerrn industrial age.' In his 'Technics and Civilization,' he desribes how during the Middle Ages the ordred life of monasteries affected life in the communities adjacent to them:

The monastery was the seat of a regular life...The habit of order itself and the earnest regulation
of time-sequences had become al,ost second nature in teh mosatery...The mosareries--at one time there were 40,000 under the Benedictine rule -helped to give human enterprise the regularcollective beat and rhythm of the machine; for the clock is not merely a means of keeping track of the hours, but of synchronizing the actions of men....By the thirteenth century there are definite records of mechanical clocks of mechanical clocks, and by 1370 a well-designed "modern" clock had been built by Heinrich von Wyck at Paris. Meanwhile, bell towers had come into existence, and the new clocks, if they did not have, till the fourteenth century, a dial and a hand that translated the movement of time into a movement through space, at all events struck the hours. The clouds that could paralyze the sundial...were no longer obstacles o time-keeping: summer or winter, day or night, one was aware of the measured clank of the clock. The instrument presently spread outside the monastery; and the regular striking of the bells brought a new regularity into the life of the workman and the merchant. The bells of the clock tower almost defined urban existence. Time-keeping passed into time-serving and time-accounting and time-rationing. As this took place, Eternity ceased gradually to serve as the measure and focus of human actions.



-John W. Whitehead, "The End of Man," pp. 112-13

The very sabbath keepers instititutionalized and secularized sabbath "on their clock," but now it's on ours. I will leave the appropriate analysis of the more recent analog to digital shift in culture, church, and consciousness to great thinkers like Phil Brewer and Jordon Cooper. And I am thrilled we have some budding "sons of Isachar" ("They knew the times; and this what God's people should do," 1 Chron 12:32) in our day: Shane Hipps and others in the line of Sts. McLuhan and Ong. May that tribe increase.

For now, I am thanking God for insights gleaned from a "secular" scientist and novelist who has me wondering if I don't need to spend more time (quality annd kairos time) in my 1999 model time machine...losing track of tme in that Toyota; ignoring it's digital clock;

and keeping the sabbath holy..







Sunday, March 18, 2007

Edificationolatry

"By leading...life to the glory of God, I do not, of course, mean any attempt to make our intellectual inquiries work out...to edifying conclusions. That would be..to offer the Author of Truth the unclean sacrifice of a lie"
-C.S. Lewis, "Life During Wartime"

"The novelist must use every ounce of skill, cunning, humor, even irony, to deliver religion from the merely edifying." Walker Percy, "The Holiness of the Ordinary"

Thursday, March 15, 2007

"The words/IMAGES of the prophets written/PROJECTED on the subway walls"



A man makes a picture/A Moving Picture/Through light projected, he can see himself up close"
-U2, "Lemon" lyrics

Of course, we all long to "feel like we're watching TV"...
. ...especially when we're not watching TV.

When I saw the headline : "Subway Riders 'See' Movie on Tunnel Walls: When trains whiz by a series of posters in a Bay Area subway, an optical illusion makes commuters feel like they're watching TV." (ABC)..

and the companion story from Bay Times:

"Thanks to a high-speed variation of the old "Burma Shave" advertising scheme of successive rhyming highway signs, staring at the walls of one BART tunnel just got a little more interesting. But get your nose out of that book, shut that laptop, pay attention or you'll miss it as you scoot through the eastbound tunnel from Montgomery Street to Embarcadero. If you do see it, you'll see Warhol-esque multiple-screen movies in red, with images of tiny Target department store logos raining onto an attractive young man and woman who appear to be taking showers, kayaking and springing on diving boards."

...it hit me that this is no small development, and so insignificant sign of the times; for church and culture. This invokes implications for good and ill.

For good or ill, I want to focus on the good.

The story caught me on several levels.. I thought of course of Simon and Garfunkle's haunting "the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls" (from "The Sound of Silence.") being "fulfilled in our hearing" (uh, seeing).

Some are calling these ads/projections/prophetic word-pix the new (postmodern, new wineskin version) of the old Burma-Shave ads...

Whether the church grabs hold of this in a cheesy way (a corny evangelistic series of ads)..or in a creative way.. such is a semiotic (and likely erotic) sign of the times: visual technology, new linear thinking, the cathedralness of movies, the marketplace anointing ...

Len Sweet characterizes the current moment in history as EPIC..read that elsewhere on this site....the "I" in that anagram..stands for Images; we have moved from a word-based age to an era that is image-driven.

Thus:

" the WORDS of the prophets ...WRITTEN on subway walls"

becomes/emerges/morphs into:

" the MOVIES of the prophets ...PROJECTED on subway walls"

You can see videos of the ad's "moving" effects by viewing the version of the news article here.
-----------
Prayer-Excursus:

Please...again...God, deliver us from crassly commercial, cheap and cheesy "ads" for Jesus..

But God, please deliver us unto a radical recognizing of the Word/Image shift in culture and how we can creatively and appropriately...not "cash in" on it, but "cache" it.... and find there a Mars Hill Subway Station Stop for relational communication of the gospel of the Kingdom.
-------------------------

"LETTERS BECOME WORDS/ BECOME SENTENCES/ BECOME LIES/BECOME YOU"

.. as U2 once said...uh, once prophetically and proleptically projected (in both senses of that term). Beth Maynard must be read and wrestled with on this U2 connection .

Because:

"America has turned into a pop culture and will not be turning back."

William Zinsser maintained that thesis in his "Pop Goes America" ... ....in 1966!!

Insightful blogger "Crazed Teacups"recalls that "The (Zinseer) book was both stodgy and prophetic" (her great phrase) and "it’s best chapter was about old Burma Shave advertisements that used to be planted along the roadside. ..." Zinseer views the signs as emblematic of, and "part of our American folklore, the collective experience of a nation that invented the Sunday drive... enjoyable because they weren’t force-fed to us and 20 million other TV viewers in one electronic gulp."

Here we are again. Since it's a generation since "we have turned into a pop culture and will not be turning back," it would seem inevitable that in the throes of this turn (see "Christianity and The Postmodern Turn") , signs would be reincarnated in a form that Simon and Grafunkle predicted in...I had to check the year; I had a holy hunch...the same year as Zinseer's book: 1966.

By the way (Hi Beth), I would pay the aforementioned Beth Maynard to pursue a comparison of the text of the Burma Shave Signs, and the U2 projected text; making the case that they are parallelsof the same cultural "pop" and "collective experience"...one difference being that the U2 images were purposely "force-fed to us and 20 million other TV viewers in
one electronic gulp."

All in order to remind us of the Big Gulp we must swallow:

Jesus is the Word of God (John 1)..and also...Image of God (Col. 1:15)..

(...and thus, so are we.....if we are indeed made-imaged in the image of the One who is Word and Image).

On the possibilties and perils of "projected images," let's start with the perils.
As they often do (2112, "The Spirit of Radio", the band RUSH cautions against the commercialization/communization of the music (read:church) system, especially as images domiate and mammon motivates. On a CD tellingly titles "Moving Pictures," they upgrade (in 1980) the Simon/Garfunkle lyric: "The words of the prophets written on the studio walls...echo with the sound of.. (the sarcastic punchline)...salemen!"
We need more more salesmen in the Body; especially those hawking images, eccelsiaporngraphy, and a imagined Jesus.
And catch the important article by John Tschetter, using the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue (and Aphrodite, of course) as conversation starter:

Our culture is deeply committed to images, and is blatantly idolatrous in doing so. The 2001 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue had written on the cover, "The Goddesses of the Mediterranean". This goddess can be none other that the Greek goddess Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, sensuality, and sexual love. Considering that normal speed movie film contains 24 frames per second, try to imagine how many times per hour the image of Aphrodite is presented to be seen and worshiped through the projected world in our culture. Suddenly 1 Corinthians 10:14 and 1 John 5:21 take on great significance for us today! In a similar way, the more deeply we attempt to engage our culture through the projected world, the more vulnerable we are ourselves to idolatry, because the essence of the projected world is made images. Both roots of idolatry are at work in the formation of images for the projected world. Our making of images to present our work in ministry is not invulnerable to idolatry. -John Tschetter, "The Three Worlds"

I just hope Sports Illustrated doesn't use the new subway ads to create a moving "Swimsuit Issue" movie..

They probably will.

And it too will be a sign (literally) of the times, and a wake-up/shake-up call to the church: both (as Tschetter has cautioned) that "making of images..is not invulnerable to idolatry," and (as I am emphasizing here, and in a prior post here) that we as church are not yet "positively exploiting" the postmodern primacy of images over words. In this current hangover from, and hiccup of, modernity (and the Reformation's) word-basedness, our default idolatry might still be word-worship or bibliolatry.
For I need to remember, that as tricky as images are to imagine; and thus make..

Words can be graven (literally graven) images as well.

To suggest that it is a grave sin to not create healthy images , is not "evil postmodernism" , but an embedded-in-culture God-watermark that can work in our favor:

In "The Rise of Image and the Fall of the Word," Mitchell Stevens proffers that we are living in a "communications transformation as fundamental as the introduction of writing 3,500 years ago." Thus, the mileu of the future will increasingly be hallmarked by "the communication of meaning through moving images."

Hmmm, "meaning through moving images."

----
It is precisely here that the battle to be biblically faithful...engaged to Jesus, while engaging culture...must and can be won.

A quote from a Coca-Cola spokesman about the new videowall technology captures it (Of course!). Just be careful how we apply the word "revenue" here (and substitute "church" for "subway"), and the quote articulately adumbarates the message to the church:

"Every major city in the world has a subway system, every subway system needs more revenue, and every subway rider has a boring commute. The potential is go all around the world."

----------- And two quotes to bring us full circle:

'"Above 20 images a second, the mind blends that into constant motion,' the advertising exec said. 'A lot of people think they're TVs.' -"Inside Bay Area" article on the new videowall technology

"But you haven't come all the way out here to watch TV now, have you?"
- Bono of U2 as he threw down the channel surfer to the huge TV screens of their 1990s "Zoo TV" tour; and segued into a song accompanied by prophetic words and image-overload
.
We can't not watch TV . We all want to feel like we're watching TV, even when we're not.

That's where the culture is inevitably and inexorably at. The potential for idolatrous, commercialized, " Aphroditic" images in these days is risky indeed. But I dare to proffer that the risk of not engaging culture where it is, in an appropriately "sneaky as snakes and as docile as doves" (Matt 10:16) mindset, is riskier.

Imagine that.
Please.



P.S. St. Sponge Bob and St. Patrick seemed to have figured out the sectret: Imagination (Image-ination) is even better than the real thing (TV)...watch this, theologians..

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Freedom





"Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom" -Kierkegaard
"Laughter is the evidence of freedom" -Bono


"Music is an alarm clock...the only thing that keeps me from falling asleep in the comfort of my freedom" -Bono

"(Freedom is)...singing the free life" -Eugene Peterson

"Freedom is slavery" -1984
"Freedom is slavery" -Jesus

"Slavery is freedom" -Paul


"Freedom means choosing your burden." ~Hephzibah Menuhin
"Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you." -Jean-Paul Sartre

"One of the problems with any authentic pronouncement of the gospel is that it introduces us to freedom. " -Robert Farrar Capon



"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom"
"Freedom has a scent like the top of a newborn baby's head"
"Freedom is forced preganancy" -Scott Lemieux

"Fredom is free" -Unknown
"Freedom is not free" -Unknown


"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose" -Kris Kristofferson
"You have freedom when you're easy in your harness." ~Robert Frost


"All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom." -Einstein

-"Everything really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom. " --Einstein

"Jesus is the One in whom the future of God and of man's freedom became flesh....God's future brings the people freedom" -Moltmann

"Whether reflecting on the praxis of freedom politically, culturally, personally, spiritually, or even economically..discern the angles well." _-a dork



"Freedom is even more fundamental than being" -Berdayev

"Those who would sacrifice freedom for SpongeBob deserve neither freedom nor SpongeBob." Kevin Burton


Mercy is not consistent; Mercy is comic..











"Mercy is not consistent;
 it's like the wind...

Mercy is comic,
and it's the only thing worth  taking seriously."


-T Bone Burnett, "The Wild Truth"..
see
the rest of this great lyric;
great song from an amazing CD
(no wonder Bono thanked this man...in liner notes of "Rattle and Hum"...for "the truth in the dark")

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"MySpace is Evil"








(article copied from our church forum here)
If you opened this article, because the title solicited an "amen," you will soon be tempted to stone me.

But hold your horses..or rocks...and hear me out.

If the title elicited the same response that I gave it when I first heard it ("B.S.!"), it will be easier for you to stay with me for the full answer.

MySpace is only evil if God is evil.

Yet the exact words of my title return more than 11,ooo returns on a Google Search. Wow, People believe lies, and the church buys heresy.

Brace youself.

Here we go.

--------

I mentioned something about MySpace to a youth pastor.

"My Space is evil!"

That’s what he said, flat out.

I understand his concern: stalkers, teens wasting time, half-naked ladies wanting to be your "friend."

But MySpace cannot be evil.

If it is, the biblical God is not God.

Or we are gnostics.

Both are evil options.

Sure, if MySpace visited, it must be used prayerfully/carefully.

Like everything else we touch.

But as cheesy as it sounds, and as surprised as you may be to hear someone so fearful of cheap commercialism and cheesy evangelism say:

I think if Jesus were still here on earth as a human, he would not only "visit" MySpace, but (I can't believe I am saying this, but here goes) have a MySpace account.

!

In fact I think Jesus is on MySpace everyday.

And of course, he would spend most of his time in the "real" world where he could literally interact and touch people.

But as a prophetic person recently said (I'll unpack the quote later): "the physical world has merged with the online world." So we cannot completely say the "online" world-space is not part and parcel the "real" world.

Is telephoning someone "real"? Have you ever prayed with someone over the phone; was it “real” prayer? Wouldn't Jesus ever use the phone if he lived as a human in your town today?

Of course he would.

And he would be "IM " and text message and send MySpace messages to people.

He's more postmodern than you are.

He would probably have to borrow someone’s computer, though, but that’s another story (or is it?)

Again, all of Jesus’s "online" interaction would likely be pre-evanglism and setting up appointments and encounters in the "real" world (Likely in some other "evil" place...like a marketplace or a bar or a public "Samaritan well"...where people "are.")

But I dare to believe MySpace is one of the many and main "places" he would hang out today..

Like the other "evil" places they killed him for hanging out at: places where prostitutes gathered, even homes of "sinners"

And besides, is any "place" inherently evil?..Even porno theatres or satanic church buildings? (And if a place is "evil," wouldnt the "visiting" presence of Jesus un-evil and en-lighten the locale a bit?.
Light only shines in the darkness, a good Book said. The Christmas hymn doesn’t offer “Joy to the CHURCH”.

Isn't God's omniscience...being everywhere at once...preclude any "place" ("real" or online) from being completely intrinsically "evil." No matter what evil or satanic acts take place in that place?

We are not gnostic.

Therefore all places…and spaces are sacred.

Even the most unlikely places.

“If I make my bed in hell, You are there,” in the Psalmist of #139 was convinced

Even hell.

Even the most unlikely of places:

"Church buildings are sacred" Mark Driscoll says, continuing with a wink, "...like everything else in God's creation".



All that to say, I (gasp, a pastor) have a MySpace account. (www.myspace.com/chiefdreamer).

I have connected ‘there” with pastors, church members...and most importantly with those who wouldn't yet darken the door of a sacred church building.

And all youth pastors know the evil potential of youths hanging out too much or too loosely in Myspace. And yes, we need to encourage some kids to be on it less.

But most youth pastors need to be on it more!

If they are not regularly checking their youth MySpace profiles, they are missing out on perhaps the most open window into their kids lives, their public “private” journal; their confessions……and don’t you want to know who their “friends” are?

Get on it today.
,
Yes you;ll be shocked.

You’ll also be solicited; so be prayed up.

Yes, you will be rocked.

But you will pray in a new way.

And be where Jesus cannot not be.

The quote I alluded to earlier:


Quote:
"Police departments realize it's important to have a presence where people live.” The physical world has merged with the online world, he says.



This killer quote from a news article
about police departments with MySpace accounts (Partly to be “friends” with kids and protect them from online evildoers) is a wake-up call to the church. Could it be that there are more police departments with Myspace accounts than churches with MySpace accounts? That would be a shame.

That could be a sin.

I am thrilled the police are now “there” in droves. They, by calling, cannot fear entering “evil” places.

Neither can we.

Their vocation is to protect and bless those officially in their care and jurisdiction., even in risky places.

How much more is ours.

So I am heartened that the police departments are entering MySpace in droves; yet I am heartbroken that chuches are not there yet..even in dribbles.

Yes our church has one: www.myspace.com/thirdday fresno…

But check a few other churches that are very there:



http://www.myspace.com/lifebridge
http://www.myspace.com/elevationchurch
http://www.myspace.com/churchfortherestofus
http://www.myspace.com/elevationchurchcharlotte


Not to mention XXX Church:
http://www.myspace.com/xxxchurch

Don't click that one, you'll be offended.

As you should be. It is one of the most offensive ..in a holy way...church websites out there.

That’s another story (or is it?)


Anyway, two brilliant insights from the police officer:

1)It’s “important to have a
presence where people live.”
2) The online world and physical world have merged.

One would think most churches would at least agree..in principle and on paper.. with #1, It’s simply being incarnational. It’s only basic Christianity (“I do not pray that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one,” Jesus himself prayed and prophesied over us two thousaad years ago. That prayer is only beginning to be answered.) Thank God that Jesus "moved into the neighborhood “(John 1 TMB), and didn’t shun our “hood,” or bypass our “space,” because it was “evil”.

Jesus is not gnostic. If we are in His image, we cannot be.

But regarding the “merger” of #2: Like it or not, the merger has happened. There is no turning back the clock (even your computer’s clock) to a pre-computer age. The merger is done. That is one reason there is now an “emerging church.” So basic and big for the church’s mission is this “secular” (not!) merger , that pastors and youth pastors to be "in the world" (but not “of it”).as Christ commanded, almost inevitably must be in their sheep’s face and space....

We are in the world.

Not of it.

But not out of it yet either.

Which is why we are to be, in Jesus’s terms “sneaky as snakes and docile as doves” (Matt 10:16) as we visit and evangelize all place, spaces and cyberspaces.

Please..as Reggie NcNeal has taught me to say often: "Don't hear what I'm not saying": This is not a plea for more cheesy church websites; Jesus Junk for sale online, and heavy-handed evangelism. Those tactics are far closer to evil than all MySpace profiles combined.

In other words, if all the Christian websites and Christian gadgets from Christian stores were laid end-to-end, you might find more stuff repugnant to Jesus than if all the MySpace profiles ever created were lined up end-to-end...even doubled do the reach the dark side of the moon and back.

There is no dark side of the moon, really...But that's another story...or is it?
(See this and this..even if you didn't get the Pink Floyd reference)


Do hear what I am saying:

The same two things the police officer is saying.


It' s a nobrainer.

Which I sometime fear is precisely the size and shape of brain we lobotomized saints in the church often have.

Thank God then for the police department’s shrewd brains; we can learn from them (a whole nother article on : “What the Church Can Learn From the Police” ismore worldly, church.

Don’t be conformed to the world we are inevitably in.

Are we?

Am I?

Shudder.

And excuse me. I am on my way to Starbucks to meet someone I hang out with on MySpace.

Yes, theoretically he could be a stalker.

But I doubt it, he's an anointed guitar player at our church.

Which means I have actually met him in the real world, as well as on MySpace.

Or could I almost phrase it the other way around?

(:




?

Congrats!You read this far, so I pray you are mature enough to hande these photos. I had to post them here, so I could host them on my blogger account, and not My MySpace account...click here to see why(:




Saturday, March 10, 2007

Poets cannot go mad; chess players have to





Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
Leonard Cohen

"There is a notion adrift everywhere that imagination, especially mystical imagination, is dangerous to man's mental balance. Poets are commonly spoken of as psychologically unreliable; and generally there is a vague association between wreathing laurels in your hair and sticking straws in it. Facts and history utterly contradict this view. Most of the very great poets have been not only sane, but extremely business-like; and if Shakespeare ever really held horses, it was because he was much the safest man to hold them. Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason.
Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination. Artistic paternity is as wholesome as physical paternity. Moreover, it is worthy of remark that when a poet really was morbid it was commonly because he had some weak spot of rationality on his brain. Poe, for instance, really was morbid; not because he was poetical, but because he was specially analytical. Even chess was too poetical for him; he disliked chess because it was full of knights and castles, like a poem. He avowedly preferred the black discs of draughts, because they were more like the mere black dots on a diagram....
Everywhere we see that men do not go mad by dreaming. Critics are much madder than poets. Homer is complete and calm enough; it is his critics who tear him into extravagant tatters. Shakespeare is quite himself; it is only some of his critics who have discovered that he was somebody else. And though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators.
The general fact is simple. Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion, like the physical exhaustion of Mr. Holbein. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits. "


-GK Chesterton, "Orthodoxy "

Thursday, March 08, 2007

My MySpace Profile Photos









www.myspace.com/chiefdreamer

"My Boss is a Jewish architect"


"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."

-Thoreau,
Conclusion to Walden

I am so glad to have an architect on our church.

I need to sit him down, pick his (big) architect-brain, and take copius notes.

Because I just found out that I am an architect, and didn't know it.

In finding/refinding/refining our role as pastors these days, we pastor-types could do well in interviewing folks (whether Christian or not) who represent professions "obviously" parallel in some way to our vocation as pastors.

The most obvious profession of course would be shepherds; as that is what "pastor" literally means. Later this year, on a trip to Israel, I would love to sit down with a shepherd and learn what God has to teach me. We recently had a wonderful guest teacher, who had interviewed a 'secular' horticulturist. The insights for ministry were profound; especially if all this talk of organic church is not (holy) smoke and (mere) mirrors. Other professions come to mind: teachers, CEOs (careful with that one!), police !!! (I actually wrote a whole article on that here), zookeepers(!).

But isn't architect an obvious analogy for what we are called to do?

Through four diverse mentors...Dallas Elder (the only one I have met) , Wolfgang Simson, Buckminster Fuller and Paul Tillich...I have recently been convinced more than ever that such is the case.

Dallas Elder recently taught in his excellent "Life Cycles of a Church Plant" class on the 'architectural authority' of the leader, referencing 1 Tim 4:11-16. This teaching, often misapplied, or framejacked, as allowing autocratic leaders; instead unleashes the freedom of realizing that we accept that we are the primary 'plan-drawer,' . "The common mistake that church planters make," Dallas suggests, " is to form church from the context of the community, rather than from the calling....The calling creates the community; the calling clarifies and defines the 'boundary lines' for the community; the 'calling' forms the foundation upon which the house will be built."

Many churches flirt with being "formless and void," even foundationless (that can be remedied; see the Emerson quote at top of page), simply due to an apostolic architect or pastor abdicating their foundational/architectural role.

I realize some of you are waving red flags; just as some did in Dallas' class. But don't hear what he's not saying; and apply it to the early era of planting a new work (later the builders come in and do what we could never do, but only dreamed of), and an atmosphere of apostolic humility (those two words are not oxymorons; see this excellent piece by Brian Dodd). I would also challenge someone who is exceptionally sensitive to the centrality of community, and the abuses of pastoral/apsotolic authority, to weigh in. I would love to see what form/foundation a church that Len would plant as chief architect. The irony is that it could...and should... look a lot like Len...he is an architect AND humble.


And to suggest it is unbiblical to build on the foundation of a human leader, recall Paul "refusing to build on another man's foundation." He know he had to be free to be the architect.

Those who argue "But JESUS is the foundation of the church, not apostles, prophets.,pastors, leaders" are well-meaning but miss the shocking Ephesians 2:20: "church is founded on the foundation of apostles and prophets"). I have found that asking a room full of card-carrying evangelicals "According to Ephesians 2:20, who is the foumdation of the church?" results in eleven out of ten immediately announcing the (wrong) answer: Jesus.

!

Look it up. But that in your architectural pipe and smoke it.

And I agree: we also need to heed the other side of the message.

“We shape our buildings," Churchill said," and then our buildings shape us.”

Don't hear what I am not saying.

Wolfgang Simson, whose seminal first book "Houses That Change the World," should be read yesterday, will soon release another amazing book claiming that "apostolic architecture and prophetic listening will disciple half the planet." When you read this new book (It will be a free download), underline every occurence of "architect," and you will have a crucial curriculum for leadership in these historic/futuric days.

Buckminster Fuller..incredible pioneering architect (of buildings and ideas),who created 4D... Where to begin?

Perhaps anywhere in his "Ideas and Integrites: A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure":

"The utterly revised education of the architect...will fit the graduating architect to take over in due course the functions of yesterday's patron despots and economic dictators...The successful architectural training of that period soon to come will be such as to convert all the subjectively harvested and integrated information into objectively operating, techical advantages for world society in completely tooled up and well-organized comprehensive, anticipatapory livingry systems." (277)

He's not even talking church here...or is he? Simply susbstitute "pastor" for "architect" and see what happens. Note well: He contrasts the "livingry" system that is wanting to be birthed in the current postmodern shift with "Killingry systems" or "weaponry systems" of the old era/wineskin/school. Here is where Len needs to chime in again. And may I say "The System is NOT the Solution" ; and the "System failure" sign flashed toward the end of "The Matrix" should be considered.

Semiotically speaking; eh, Mac?

Paul Tillich? I have already complied some germane quotes of his from "Art and Architecture" here; but let me paste some in below. Consider:


√"
Even today, many congregations and ministers still assume that the choice...is merely a matter of taste and preference. They fail to see that ONLY by the creation of new forms can Protestant churches achieve an honest expression of their faith." (220)

"Today (1962!!!!!), genuine Protestant church architecture is possible, perhaps for the first time in our history. For the early experiments were too swiftly engulfed by eclecticism to act as evolutionary factors in developing a recognizable Protestant architectural language." (220)

"I want organic materials...How can architecture combine the emotion-filled idea of 'home' with the ethics of honesty? How much architectural honesty has the architect to sacrifice in order to build a cozy middle-class home?. How much of the sentimental idea of home must the customer sacrifice to accept the idea of honesty by the architect?...
honesty condemns imitation as well as trimming." (223)


If you can't immediately begin to apply something here to church, you are on the wrong website.
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Here are few other thinkers who have even mentioned the pastor as architect:

Thanks to Erwin McManus, I have sometimes called myself...even business card wise...a "cultural architect." Culture, style,.atmosphere of a church (usually duly listed as "values," an also-ran underneath the obligatory mission and purpose statements) is in our day more "foundational" than ever. There is great freedom in a varierty of style of churches, but as Tillich offers,
"style itself is revelatory....In all human creativity, whether cultural or spiritual, the form is that what makes a creation what it is...the subject matter is formed by the form" (126).

McManus:
"True leadership affects the soul of the organization and the spirit of the people. The irony is that, while secular leadership has become blatantly spiritual, Christian leadership has become blatantly (and blandly) secular. We need to recapture the invisible aspects of leadership. We must focus our attention on the creating and shaping of ethos and then on the structures that best nurture and harness its potential. In the end leadership is nothing less than spiritual. And spiritual leaders are essentially cultural architects.

Spiritual leadership is both art and science, so the pastor must be both artist and engineer. Frank Lloyd Wright’s assertion that form and function are one is nowhere more apparent than in the church. All the material from which God builds his church exists and emerges from the hearts of God’s people. The church is a construct of human talents, gifts, intelligence, passions, skills, disciplines, experiences, and commitments energized by the Holy Spirit.

If true leadership is essentially spiritual, then serving as a pastor is the ultimate leadership challenge-leading as a servant of God. The context is invisible, mystical, of the spirit-both the Holy and the human. The product is real, tangible, transforming both personal and cultural.
The metaphor of a leader as a cultural architect encompasses this dynamic, not on a parallel track in the leadership process but as an integrated component. The cultural architect effects cultural transformation from the wisdom of both disciplines. His work is sacred as he labors to build the house of God, not with brick and cement but through each life that is joined with the community by the transforming power of God’s Spirit" -McManus, "The Leader"


Mark Driscoll, at his best prophetic and humorous; and at worst annoying and nearly misogymist... must be wrestled with: "One of the greatest inhibitors of keeping a church on mission is the erroneous spoken and unspoken expectations people have for church leaders and their families. In a missional church, the lead pastor is the architect who builds the ship more than he is the captain who pilots it, the cook who washes dishes in the galley, or the activities director who coordinates the shuffleboard reservations. The role of architect is incredibly important because most pastors have been trained how to work on a ship instead of how to build a ship" ( "Confessions of a Reformission Rev." , Mark Driscoll, 34).

Also:

"The most difficult and most important task for any pastor is that of cultural architect or culturetech. How do you manage or measure intangibles? The key is identification of values and beliefs--the double-helix of a church's spiritual DNA. And being intentional about keeping them front and center. For example, at NCC we take fun seriously. Call me crazy, but we believe that church should be enjoyable! You ought to walk out feeling better than when you walked in. When we're shooting a video or crafting a sermon or planning a series, we're intentional about incorporating elements that are fun. Like me dressing up in a Mr. Incredible suit and doing on-the-street interviews in downtown DC! That's part of our personality as a church! " -Mark Batterson

"I have never called myself, “Senior Pastor.” Once we get past 40 or 50 people we are no longer really pastoring people – we are leading or something else. For most of my time in Cincinnati I have called myself the "Atmosphere Architect," a term that I coined early on. Others have used that term in their books, but I made it up about 18 years ago (I love it when authors take my terms and use them in their books!) I see myself as Captain Stubbing on the Love Boat, going about 24/7 seeing where the atmosphere of love is being hindered and in the name of the Lord I getting the party back on track!" -Steve Sjogren

Leonard Sweet has written well about "Church Architecture for the twenty First Century," and
Christopher Leersen, an architect and city plammer has written a worthwhile blog, "Urban Planning and His Kingdom."

A quick googling of "spiritual architecture" reveals a poetentially relevant book.

But a half-serious/half- curious googling for "Jesus was an architect" found me one result: that line in a rock song by Ministry (great name for a decidedly nonChristian band):

"Jesus was an architect previous to his career as a prophet.."

That intriguing soundbite is from the song, "Jesus Built My Hotrod"..lyrics here if you dare...heads up that the rest of the lyrics sound terribly throwaway, laced with sexs and drugs; and at the end, even turn obscene...which cause the prophetic Jesus line to stand out all the more.

It hit me that a carpenter is indeed a subset of architect.

Maybe the Masons didn't get it all wrong (leave it to the amazing Wolfgang to write a prophetic piece on what we can learn from freemasonry...here it is) in their name of choice for God:"Great Architect of the Universe"..

If Jesus was(is and always will be?) an architect, how much more do I need to be?
Especially in light of "open source" technology being a wake-up call to the church, with folks dialoguing on "open source theology," I was intrigued by this article on "open source architecture".

All this to say I need to be more like Scott, the archetypical architect-type (and thus inevitably a pastor-type) dude from our church...Who will post a comment below accepting my appointment for an interview.
...After I peruse my new pastor's magazine(Architectural Digest,of course...ironically nownicknamed "A.D."), and the Wikipedia entry on "architect" ("The word 'architect' is derived from the Latin architectus or from the Greek arkhitekton. In the broadest sense an architect is a person who translates the user's needs into the builder's requirements."....Hmmm)