Tuesday, March 31, 2009

relational thin place spotted on horizon

"Heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places that distance is even smaller.' -Celtic saying

If you're not familiar with the phrase, "thin place,"

check this out.
Or borrow this book,
or talk to Keltic Ken or Liminal Len..

But see Beth's insightful comment under Mark's post:

"I definitely think there’s a relational thin place in this album
[U2's 'No Line on the Horizon.']."

photo link




Radiohead liturgy

"Radiohead: Together in the Alone"

Through their music, Radiohead communes with everyone who's ever been tempted to despair in a world where God seems absent"

by John Murphy

making plan's for Nigel's art

Friday, March 27, 2009

fractured or networked?

Jonny Baker:

fractured or networked - depends on the lens you look through!

one of the most thoughtful mission thinkers out there in the blogosphere in relation to mission and the emerging culture is mark sayers who i really enjoyed meeting last year. he has just posted a piece that i have been thinking about for the last 24 hours:

 initially i thought he was writing as though this was a problem but on re-read i'm not exactly sure. maybe he is just trying to map something...

here's my thought on this. if you look at this through an old lens - denominational or tribal - it looks like a problem. but if you look at it through a network lens it's exactly what we should both expect and hope for (though i wouldn't use the word fractured as that sounds very negative). i blogged previously about small world theory which i don't want to go over at length again. but to recap a couple of points. people can only hold a certain number of meaningful relationships, most people are locally focused (in their small world), it only needs one or two people in any small world to be connectors to other small worlds and suddenly the insights across the various small worlds (or movements as mark calls them) can flow around the network.

the key point therefore for any movement is having a particular edge and practice, connecting with others but then encouraging some to focus externally so that that movement isn't insular

"Not evangelical" and "average age over 50"

Who was there?

Those who were "not evangelical"  and "average age over 50."

Two signs that Jonathan Brink may well be right:

"I truly believe this was one of the more important moments in the history of the church..the next chapter in the reformation."
Quite ironic in that years ago we/I would have said those were two signs that a conference was a washout.
And honestly, the change of heart has hardly anything to do with me being over 50 myself (as of today).
It's just the way it is.

PS. And now I can officially belong to this group (:

offended by life after life after death

"Some people are always going to be offended when you actually teach them what's in the Bible as opposed to what they assume is in the Bible. The preacher can try to say it a number of ways, and sometimes people just won't get it. They will continue to hear what they want to hear. But if you soft-peddle matters, they will think, Oh, he's taking us down the old familiar paths. There is a time for walking in and just saying what needs to be said. Sometimes you just need to find a good line. The line I often use—which makes people laugh—is: "Heaven is important, but it's not the end of the world." In other words, resurrection means the new earth continues after people have gone to heaven.

I put it this way for my audiences: "There is life after life after death." People are very puzzled by that, so I begin to explain it to them. There's life after death. That was Jesus between Good Friday and Easter. He was dead, but he was in whatever life after death is—in paradise without his resurrected body. But that wasn't his final destination. Here I introduce the idea of a two-stage postmortem reality. Most Western Christians have only heard about a two-stage postmortem reality in the Catholic idea of purgatory. That's wrong! A person goes to heaven first and then to the new heavens and new earth. People stare at you like you've just invented some odd heresy, but sorry—this is what the New Testament teaches. The New Testament doesn't have much to say about what happens to people immediately after they die. It's much more interested in the anticipation of the ultimate new world within this one. If you concentrate on preaching life after death, you devalue the present world. Life after life after death, however, reaffirms the value of this present world.

..This Easter, surprise them!

..When we put the Gospels together like that, then we are really in business! But that's tough. We're not often trained to think like that."
-NT Wright

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

i dont wanna talk about God...not right now, not on the sabbath

I think next time I take the sabbath elevator in Jerusalem,
instead of getting frustrated with the lack of speed and efficiency,
I will enjoy the leisurely (the whole point of sabbath) and timeless (another whole point of sabbath) ride;
get out on every floor of the hotel,
and wonder/wander around.

That might just be the main point of sabbathing.

There seems to be a significant sub-theme to U2's "No Line on the Horizon,"
something like "The whole world doesn't rest on your shoulders, so let yourself loosen up once in awhile."

That may be a message Bono embedded to himself through the characters he takes on on the album.


-"I don't want to talk about wars between nations...not right now" ("Get on Your Boots").

-"I'm a traffic cop..siren's wailing, but it's me that wants to get away" (title track)

-"I know I'll go crazy if I don't go crazy tonight!" ("I'll Go Crazy..")

Whatsup with all this?

Doesn't the narrator of the first quote realize he is Bono..who lives to talk about wars between nations?
Doesn't the narrator of the second quote grasp that he can't bail on responsibility of a public servant..at least while on his shift?
Doesn't the singer of the third quote's chorus know that the verses of this same song are a call to "change the world"?

Maybe Bono the activist, though he is busier than ever promoting the new record, has allowed himself a sabbath from being Bono/Messiah. He's even been saying things in recent interviews that he's not focusing on Africa or world debt right now; he's just enjoying being in the band.

Those in public activism know that they can easily escape their calling under the guise of keeping it. Of course, we pastors never do this!(:
There is at least one character on "No Line," who falls into this trap: the war correspondent in Lebanon in "Cedars of Lebanon," who admits "I'm here because I don't want to go home."

Reminds of "The Wanderer" character Bono hired Johnny Cash to sing as years ago.

Many of us are "here" in ministry to avoid going home where we belong, and ministry begins.

The haunting counter-voice of the chorus goes unheeded: "Return the call to home."

We can also use the trappings and culture and busyness/business of our calling to escape the call.
And not make the call to home; even if it is collect.

The best bet to keep balance and stoke passion is not to throw ourselves into more ministry,
but into less. We need to wholly succumb to a holy waste of time.

I once met a pastor who claimed it was a sin to take a day off.
He's now found another profession where he can justify what his previous required.

Sometimes sabbatical and vacation are the same.
It's important to take a break from our job;
not from Jesus.

U2 have been talking about their follow-up CD being called "Songs of Ascent," and about pilgrimmage.
Sometimes the holiest pilgrimmage is heading to the pub for a pint.
Or if that's not spiritual enough, follow David Hansen's lead in what he calls "long wandering prayer."

The point might not be "do something secular," but to something aimless.

I can't help but notice the U2 imagery connection in this quote from Eugene Peterson:
"If that's all we do (reduce everything to a problem to be solved, and fix and figure),
we become myopic, managers and mechanics of what is immediately before us, with no peripheral vision and no horizons. We miss most of life."
-"The Unnecessary Pastor," quoted in Seamands, "Ministry in the Image of God," p. 104

That quoted is leaded with U2: Obviously, the "horizon" reference. But Bono has also suggested the album is all about "peripheral vision," and "vision over visibility."

But we don't see all that in life, or hear it in the Sacred Sound,
unless we are free-spirited enough to let our hair and guard down.
and, as Heschel has suggested, perceive "Sabbath as a Sanctuary in Time."

The need does not always necessitate the call.
At times it necessitates and legislates a sabbath slacking,
and a celebration of our useful inutility:

"the modern church simply is not cut out for the unprofitable servant role. But the question remains whether any group not in that role can claim to be the church of Jesus Christ.
-Eller on Ellul

Hmm, might as well wander around on every floor this sabbath.
I might even find what I'm not looking for.


"shout for joy if you have the chance": Where are U2/Pink Floyd in the Cedars of Lebanon?

How many U2 themes can we find here?

On the themes of:

"let me in the sound,"


subverting violence and dismantling death via a representative group of the "sons of Abraham" coexisting musically and bringing joy to others Sufi-style, and with David Gilmouresque solos in Fez and Lebanon,--

we of course turn to U2..

...by way of an amazing book, "Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam," by Mark Levine (a musician who has recorded with Mick Hagger et al, and is a professor of Middle eastern history).

It all started with a concert among the cedars of Lebanon:

(It was) a big thrill (that) joining us was Salmon Ahmed, founder and lead guitarist of Junoon. Labeled by fans and music critics around the world as 'the U2 of Asia'-Bono is in fact a fan of the band-Junoon is unquestionably the biggest rock band of history east of Berlin (millions of albums sold, but, sadly for band members, mose of them pirated). Organizing and impromptu all-star jam session is always a risky proposition. Luckily, our potentially discordant group of musicians-Lebanese, Moroccan, Pakistani and American; Muslim,Christian and Jewish--clicked from the moment we took out our instruments and began to play. 'Isn't this what msic is supposed to be about?,' Salman asked rhetorically after the show, as audience members lingered around to meet the band.

Salman's happiness at playing a good set was overshadowed by the news that several members of his family were missing and presumed dead in a massive earthquake that had struck Pakistan earlier that day..'My uncle is digging for them right now, but it is probably too late,' Salman expressed with a calmness that caught me by surprise. 'What am I supposed to do? I'm a Sufi, so I have to believe that whatever happens does so for a reason, and all we can do is remember our loved ones and honor them by bringing joy to others. Let's play some music. '

We hit the stage...He explained to the crowd what had happened to his family earlier in the day. With that, he called out U2's 'With or Without You,' and started strumming the chords. I am not sure any of the rest of us had performed this song live before, but by the second verse, it had taken a life of it's own.

By the time the second chorus was over, much of the audience, and the musicians as well, were in tears. It remains one of the most intense and meaningful performances I've ever been a part of. Yet it was only a prelude to what was for me the most important moment of the night, The Kordz's Arab-metal version of Pink Floyd's 'Another Brick in the Wall.'

As I tried to play an Arab-sounding yet funky rhythym under guitarist Nadim Sioufi's Arabesque version of David Gilmour's famous guitar solo, it suddenly hit me that one of the most hopeful visions of the future of the Middle East I would ever come across was standing-well, headbanging--before my eyes. As I watched the reation of an audience full of Lebanese, and foreigners of various persuasions to the somg, the idea of rock n roll helping to move a country away from violence and authoritarianism and toward greater tolerance, peace and democracy, seemed not just plausible but natural.

It also became clear that the anger exploding from the lyrics to 'Brick' was never intended to indict merely the stifling conformity of post-World War II Britain. It was equally relevant to the post-Civil War Lebanese political system. In post-Cedar Revolution Beirut- a city that Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters holds close to is heart, and has named a song after ('Leaving Beirut')-the wall evoked by the song is the one that has long closed various Lebanese communities off from each other, denied Lebanon and independent future, and sealed the Arab/Muslim world off from the rest of the world. As Moe pointed out a few hours later as we stood outside an all-night hummus-and-chicken shack ordering food, when the crowd pumped their fists in unison with 'All in all, you're just another brick in the wall,' they were declaring their refusal to continue , as cogs in the machine of the occupations, violence, corruption and repression that for so long defined Lebanon."
-p. 146-147

Flyleaf worships in public

Hervict Jacobs tipped us off:

"You MUST watch this incredible video. I get goose bumps every time I watch it.
The lead singer of Flyleaf is at a secular concert - the massive Austin Festival - and at the end of the band's set - she does a worship song and worships God ... in front more than 20 thousand non-Christians. "
-Hervict Jacobs, link

It's a medley of David Crowder Band's "You Are My Joy, "and Hillsong United's "From the Inside Out." Notice she even made it explicit and added the word "Jesus" when it wasn't in the original lyric of second song.

And He set me on fire, and I am burning alive.
With His breath in my lungs I am coming undone.
And He set me on fire and I am burning alive.
With his breath in my lungs I am coming undone.
And I cannot hold it in
Remain composed.
Love's taken over me
So I propose the letting myself go.
I am letting myself go.

You are my joy.
You are my joy.
You are my joy.
You are my joy.

Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart is to bring You praise
From the inside out Lord, my soul cries out

Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart is to bring Jesus praise
From the inside out Lord, my soul cries out.


More? "All Around Me":
(if you are not convinced what/Who this song is about/to,
play the concert video version below it, and hear her unsubtle intro..)

If ya feel better seeing them at a Christian festival, knock your socks off below.
She's not afraid to preach to the choir (she even sings with Third Day on Christian radio)
as you will witness right here:

Band is also not afraid to tour with groups like Megadeath (as they should. Maybe they can even open for the Gaithers on Crack)

Song for Christian matryr, Cassie Bernal..Here the crowd at a decidedly secular venue sings/asks themselves: "Do you believe in God?":

Frank Viola impersonates Dirty Harry/talks community

more than human=less than

"I don't know what spiritual leadership involves, but it suggests trying to be more than human. And I suspect that in trying to be more than human, you are apt to end up being less than human."
-H. Kemelman, The Day the Rabbi Resigned, Severn House, Wallington, UK, 1992, p. 6)
(quoted by Tony Maude)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


"Few people can see genius in someone who has offended them."
- Robertson Davies

Ignatius: youth speaker: HUH?

These two clips got me scratching my head at first..

And does he know he (twice) lysdexically asked them to "close their heads and bow their eyes"?":

Watch this:

For those wondering if the guy is for real, do watch this:

Ignatius from travis hawkins on Vimeo.

The rest of the story here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

“diachronic historical enquiry" and the world in me

The Exile posted a helpful piece on the new U2 and its place in future history:

The Embarrassment of Premature Evaluation

[Yes, the innuendo is intentional.]

When I was a student pursuing my Masters degree, one of my history professors used to warn us against what he called “diachronic historical enquiry,” by which he meant comparing the thoughts of a prominent figure in one period with those of another who lived many years earlier. The reason for this danger, he insisted, was that when a few centuries separate the men under consideration, it’s very difficult to compare them with any objectivity due to their different time periods.

The same is true with U2 (to a much smaller degree, of course). The desire to compare and contrast NLOTH with The Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby is almost impossible while NLOTH is still so new. The reason for this, I think, is that not enough time has elapsed for the new songs to take on the iconic, even mythical qualities that surround the tracks on JT and AB. In other words, many of the same criticisms that people are leveling upon NLOTH (especially when comparing it with U2’s two masterpieces) could have, and probably were, made about all their albums when they were brand new...
It hit me that as much as I love "No Line," and agree with Beth that "it's an album -- which almost makes me want to say, 'If U2 were to quit after this, it would be all right,

I am not sure it does/will rank with JT and AB as a masterpiece.
It just might.

But what helped me grasp it was a line from "Rejoice": "I can't change the world; but I can change the world in me."

"No Line" may not change the world the way JT did ("Still Haven't Found," "Streets, etc"),
but it already has, and will, change the world in me. And maybe that's what matters most.
Beth says of the album, particularly of "Breathe":

"But all this is not just easy triumphalism; it's rooted in the 'every day' task of getting up and doing what needs to be done in a world that is as crazy as those verses."

"Be the change you want to be in the world," Ghandi once said and Bono often quotes.
Somehow I intuitively know that NLOTH is taking me there.
Whether it takes anyone else there would be fantastic, but must also be irrelevant to me.

Even though they are poor souls for not getting that this is a classic, world-changing album(:

Friday, March 20, 2009

"get outta my face...in Jesus' name"

Jesus died naked..but not in Christian art and movies

I am not here to offend anyone unnecessarily.
But I believe Corrie Ten Boom was right and right on:

Jesus died naked.

Even the (very conservative)Dallas Theological commentaries assume this, so this is not just some "liberal" agenda:

"That Jesus died naked was part of the shame which He bore for our sins. " -link

Which means this picture
(found on a blog with no credit)
is likely wrong(Jesus looks too white).

...and largely right (What Jesus is wearing).

I answered a question about this a few years ago, I would write it a bit differently know, but here it is:

First of all, it is probable that (again, contrary to nearly all artwork and movies), Jesus hung on the cross absolutely naked. This was a typical way of crucifixion, to increase the shame factor. Romans might occasionally add a loincloth type of garment as a token concession and nod to Jewish sensitivity; but not very often, it would seem. Of course, once we get past the emotive and cultural shock of imagining Jesus naked, we realize that if He indeed die naked, the symbolism is profound and prophetic: In Scripture, Jesus is called the "Second Adam". As such, it would make sense that He died "naked and unashamed." We are also told that "cursed is he who dies on a tree." The nakedness was a sign and enfolding of shame and token of curse. And the wonderful story of Corrie ten Boom and family, told in the book and movie "The Hiding Place," relates. One of the turning points of her ability to endure the Ravensbruck concentration camp, particularly the shame of walking naked past the male guards, was her conviction that Jesus too was shamed and stripped naked before guards. "Finally, it dawned on me," she preached once," that this (shaming through nakedness) happened to Jesus too..., and Jesus is my example, and now it is happening to me, then I am simply doing what Jesus did." She concluded, "I know that Jesus gave me that thought and it gave me peace. It gave me comfort and I could bear the shame and cruel treatment."



U2's "No Line" part 5: a sound epistemology of faith in God, not in certainty

“It is not the place but the Presence that upholds you; This is your only certainty.”
-Erwin McManus

REM's Michael Stipe, who in this delightful video clip, finds music
--his own and U2's--
  • "epiphanal,"
  • a way out of "stasis"
  • and catalyzer of a quest to "keep learning...and not know everything" (his words in this clip) ,

seems to intuitively trust and know what it's like to be
be "borne of sound," "find grace within a sound," and to pray "let me in the sound"
(all Bono's words from "No Line" CD lyrics);

Of course, this is still the same message as the vintage:
"You know I believe it, but I still haven't found what I'm looking for."

It is wonderful to watch Stipe and Chef Mario Batali, with hands raised as to The Magnificent
as they enjoy a stageside view of U2 in the full worship flight section (3:10) of "Beautiful Day."

Stipe's zeal to "keep learning...and not know everything" rings resonant with Ty Tabor(of King's X)' s spoof of certainty:

All plans and knowledge and the reason for the war
Every mark and movement in the crack upon the floor
One day, any day, the time before the dawn
All knowledge brought before scattered on the lawn
I know everything

So, weak and tired and looking for the key?
Well look no further, you've just run into me!
We'll walk beyond that door, we'll love and dance and sing
Last time I looked around, I knew everything
I know everything

And, to the point, also one of the undercurrents of "No Line":

  • "But while I´m getting over certainty/Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady." ("Stand Up Comedy")
  • " Two souls too smart to be in the realm of certainty" ("Moment of Surrender")

Why have we (especially the 'we' still emerging from modernity/fundaconservaagelicalism)
crafted such an idol as "certainty"?

Don't we grasp, like St. David Dark's new book title:
"The Sacredness of Questioning Everything?"


"If you were to die tonight, are you absolutely certain you would go to heaven?"

Is it possible to have complete faith in Jesus, in salvation by grace through faith, and answer with the one word that is everyone's answer if they were ever honest:


Uh, I know that's not the expected answer.

And maybe it's too extreme and subversive..

But doesn't something within you relate to TonyJones' classic quote to Rev. Fundaconservagelical below:

And doesn't something within every evangelical want to agree with Jeff Keuss:
{the album suggests that] liberty is found in faith in God rather than in a certainty about God..
From Bono’s call to “get over certainty” in “Stand Up Comedy” to the acknowledgment in “Moment of Surrender” that we are “too smart to be / In the realm of certainty,” the role that faith should play is clearly contrasted to the modernist (and ultimately failing) search after certainty. In this reminder, which frames much of the album, the fact that we find our fulfillment as human beings in a relationship of faith rather than intractable certainty means that we find our hope not in our limited selves, but in the God who created us...
As Bono continues the verse, he decries choosing knowledge and will power over faith when he sings, “While I’m getting over certainty / Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady.” This double challenge—(1) dropping the search for certainty in favor of faith amid the intelligent design debates and (2) allowing God to, well, be God—becomes the liberating truth for the protagonist of the song.

Anne Lammott nails it: "The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.' This actually unleashes our epistemology to be more of what evangelicals have always claimed they are about: relational (there is a reason the KJV translated "Adam knew Eve"), as well as what we have feared it was all about: risky.

John Wimber even advocated spelling faith "R I S K."

But also it's time to consider approaching epistemology (and faith) as sound-activated, sound-sourced, sound-tracked, and as
connecting our head to our heart and life via a sound theology/experience of sound.

Do the math:

"We walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Cor 5:17):
It's "not by sight," so the "certainty of what we see" is moot (and "mute").

Better to trust and intuit from what/who we HEAR...in the sound:

"Faith comes by hearing...":

It is far too reductionist to equate this with preaching, as some Reformed folks suggest.
It's much deeper, wider; and more nonlinear and quantum than that.
It's not only that we are born/borne of sound, but that we "walk by faith, which is blind, but operates and activates by sound."

We walk by sound, not by sight; and never by certainty.

The Scripture does not/cannot say, "Do you not know; have you not seen?"
Instead, the formula is far more sound:
"Do you not know; have you not heard.."

"Know" and "hear" are here placed in a Hebrew poetic parallelism, suggesting they are largely synonymous.


"I turned to see the voice of Jesus," John wrote of his Patmos experience (Rev. 1:13).
"I will watch to see what the Lord will say, Habakkuk (2:1-3) journals.

I noted from Bono's recent interviews that the "vision over visibility".. line has long been part of his lexicon and life: "It's like Martin Luther King's speech - the moment when you see the place, but you can't see yet how to get there."

But I was recently reminded that the phrase traces as far back as his "Introduction to the Psalms,
where in another parallelism, equates/translates "vision over visibility" as "instinct over intellect":

Explaining belief has always been difficult. How do you explain a love and logic at the heart of the universe when the world is so out of kilter with this? Has free will got us crucified? And what about the dodgy characters who inhabit the tome known as the Bible, who hear the voice of God? Explaining faith is impossible: vision over visibility; instinct over intellect. A songwriter plays a chord with the faith that he will hear the next one in his head.

"Faith that he will hear..."

Faith hears.

It's all about sound.

And instinct over intellect.

Epistemologically, this is certainly not about certainty.

If that's the case, we don't know anything unless we refuse and defuse intellect and sight as we know it, and trust our blinks, The Sound... and synesthesia;

indeed, could it be that we live by, incarnate, and at heart are sound:

By framing the human condition musically (“We are people borne of sound”) rather than imminently (winners of “the DNA lottery”), and by embodying hope, faith, and love rather than purveying some objective doctrine that merely affirms those traits, U2 is calling humanity to a comedic revolution par excellence. As music, we embrace a kenotic release from the fixation of self and are freed from isolation and estrangement. As song, we see ourselves as imminent and transcendent, neither bound to this world nor the world that is yet to come. The protagonist in “Get on Your Boots” kicks at the door of the music (“Let me in the sound”), and this refrain is repeated as a sample in the musical prelude for “FEZ—Being Born,” but as the album begins to close, “Breathe” reminds us that this “sound,” this liminal mystical union with that which never fades and is sustained on the voices of generations, is what we are to the very core. We are beautiful, we are sound, and ultimately, we are loved.
-Jeff Keuss, link
When my brother and I were in college, for a leadership class, he had to navigate a whole day
around campus blindfolded. The intent was empathy for the blind, realizing reliance on others, and...well, "getting over certainty" because he literally needed help crossing the road.
I helped him like a little old lady.

I remember attempting to help him drink the juice during a chapel communion, and our attempt to hold back our laughter as he accidentally slurped a bit. The memory of that sound, and the remembrance of my irreverent (? I wasn't even a Christian yet) quip, "tastes good, huh?," ..but mostly my recall of the poorly suppressed laughter moves me to this day.
Bruce had to rely on sound and others.

So do I.
So do you.
So do U2.

That is a certain statement of faith.

Kierkegaard often gets the last word around here:

Thus everything is assumed to be in order with regard to the Holy Scriptures--what then? has the person who did not believe come a single stop closer to faith? No, not a single step. Faith does not result from straightforward scholarly deliberation, nor does it come directly; on the contrary, in this objectivity one loses that infinite, personal, impassioned interestedness, which is the condition of faith, the ubique et nusquam [everywhere and nowhere] in which faith can come into existence.
Has the person who did believe gained anything with regard to the power and strength of faith? No, not in the least; in this prolix knowledge, in this certainty that lurks at faith's door and craves for it, he is rather in such a precarious position that much effort, much fear and trembling will indeed be needed lest he fall into temptation and confuse knowledge with faith. Where as up to now faith has had a beneficial taskmaster in uncertainty, it would have its worst enemy in this certainty. This is, if passion is taken away, faith no longer exists, and certainty and passion do not hitch up as a team.

-Soren Kierkegaard,
Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments
lifted from Tommy's blog


* U2's "No Line": 5 meta motifs (and a sign from God)-part 1:

o U2's "No Line": 5 meta motifs, part 2: non linear and no yet:

+ U2's "No Line": 5 motifs-part 3: she spoke in tongues in my ear:

# U2's "No Line": 5 motifs-part 4: walk by sound, not by faith:

culturally commuting from who they are

Sarcastic Lutheran not only ventures her definition of "emerging church" on a new post,
but offers this helpful phrase, emphasis mine:

"...this is not saying that there is something wrong with the traditional church. Trad church is often a faithful expression of Christian community. But my friends would have to culturally commute from who they are to who the trad church is."

Why do we ask peoples to do the ridiculous/impossible/what we would never do:
to culturally commute from who they are?
Reminds me of the Gaithers on crack.

theology pub: Emergence/Emergent Science/Church

Following up the earlier videos by Phillip Clayton,
and video responses by Tony Jones

(see An emergence theorist's call to the emergent church),

the two got together for a theology pub on
Emergence Church/Emergent Science:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

does open source invite sexual indiscretion?

Adam asks if open source/emerging leadership invites more sexual indiscretion:

See also my Reduction of Seduction, where I made the case that traditional/top down leadership
can be set up for sexualization and indiscretion:

I would like to hear more from Adele, who comments on Adam's post:

I would like to hear more from Adele, who comments on Adam's post:

i really do not think it matters what kind of leadership model/structure you have as sexual indiscretion happens because of something going on with the individual people. If it’s going to happen, it does not care what leadership model exists. i hope i make sense.
Very true that indiscretion happens because of what's happening with the people. But doesn't context/culture/structure ever play a part in piggy-backing on what's going on in the people.
It may be an overstatement that "context is everything," but I don't see how it could be nothing.

Help me, Adele, I love your brilliant thinking/writing, so help me understand what you mean.

maybe we should plant a US/British virtualchurch

"...As it was 60 years ago, when radio was the new media opening up new possibilities for virtual church, the Americans remain focused on the evangelistic potential of the new media and the Brits are focused on the pastoral potential. Americans want to reach the lost and Brits want to shepherd their extended flock. A generality, perhaps, but its seems to fit."
-Tall Skinny Kiwi

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

did you know?



Parabola: Experiencing Jesus as Reality

"You are a beautiful, parabolic expression of Christ Jesus," she says.

But you knew that already didn't you?

From Wikipedia:
In mathematics, the parabola (pronounced /pəˈræbələ/, from the Greek παραβολή) is a conic section, the intersection of a right circular conical surface and a plane parallel to a generating straight line of that surface. Given a point (the focus) and a line (the directrix) that lie in a plane, the locus of points in that plane that are equidistant to them is a parabola. A particular case arises when the plane is tangent to the conical surface of a circle. In this case, the intersection is a degenerate parabola consisting of a straight line. The parabola is an important concept in abstract mathematics, but it is also seen with considerable frequency in the physical world, and there are many practical applications for the construct in engineering, physics, and other domains.

Did that solve it for you? (:

If not, have I got a book for you.
The author suggests that we are a parabola, 'a manifestation of the unseen by the seen.'
One of the joys of being an OOZE Select blogger
is finding books you might never have know existed,
and letting others in on the secret.

As I am doing now with Kelly Deppen's "Parabola: Experiencing Jesus as Reality,"

which through the lens of parobola "aims to explore the Person of Jesus Christ as
Reality and as The Realm in which His people live..

..and also explore the convergence of recent discoveries in mathematics and quantum theory and the scriptures.."

No wonder she had me from page one..

That's the point, I think; read it from page one.

If you started (or she started) with her vision of Fulton Sheen in his glorified state on page 85, you might not even bother with the rest of the book. (Uh, pretend you didn't hear about that yet!). But by that point, even a cessationist is likely to believe her. (:
(Good thing she didn't recount the whole episode in tongues (: )

If you started with page 112's
"Hello, earth to the scientists: We could have told you that. Could it be that this 'higher dimensional space' is our higher reality we know as 'in Christ Jesus'?," you...and more importantly any skeptic scientists reading...might have unnecessarily not read on, reading her as one of those fanatic fundies in their undies, and a reductionist one to boot. But in context and sweep of the book, she earns her authority by page 112. She has done her homework. And as the back cover suggests, she has a gift of "prophetically provoking."

Much of the book is corraboratory evidence, midrash even, from scripture and physics, of the reality of being in the Kingdom, in the heavenly realms, and most significantly "in Christ Jesus." In college, one of my professors assigned us a paper around the question, "Based on the Epistle to the Romans, is the phrase 'in Christ,' meant to signify a spiritual, metaphysical reality/ mystical union and relationship, or is it merely a figure of speech?"
I always assumed the expected answer was the latter, but I have hungered for, and find the Scripture itself hungering for us, more of the former.

I got an "A" anyway.

It is risky for a believer with a bare-bones knowledge--"internet-assembled philosophy" (great line from this hilarious video) to plunder an attempt to back the Bible up from math and science, it only makes us look as dumb as we sometimes are.

I usually prefer to read non-Christian PhDs who...without trying to..build beautiful cases for God. Try Pulitzer Prize-winner Douglas Hoftsadter's "Godel Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid." After deeply (and longly: 719 pages) studying math, art and science, he has no better phrase than an awed "eternal braid" for the Godhaunted connectedness and convergence of them all.
He believes in the eternal braid, but not necessarily in the Eternal One as we know him.
Or Frances Collins, an evangelical beliveer in Jesus, PhD and head of the Human Genome Project who wrote the landmark, "The Language of God"
(interestingly also a commentary on a diagram with God-impliations: the double helix)

Suffice to say it is a good and God thing that we also have believers and thinkers like Deppen. She need not be a Pulitzer Prize winner or PhD ("I often say, "You can have more degrees than a summer day in Fresno, and still not know what you're talking about") to speak and write well (in a mere 119 pages) in this area of potential landmine and embarrassment to the cause of Christ. She is charismatic (in both senses of the word)....and if you really need a PhD's recommendation of her, there is a glowing endorsement of the book by one in the intro...so

the book reads like some kind of morphing, parabola even, of:

passionate devotional theology
easy to understand, but not watered down physics.

How cool is that?

So, having said all that I have said about reading her from page one, especially if this is new turf and territory to you, let me lift from the book just a few quotes (in paginated order of course) that I have underlined. This may give you a taste of the vibe and flow. But what you are missing here is the brilliant emergence and progression with which she builds her case.

Religion has historically explained reality dualistically, meaning it has separated spiritual and physical reality, and never the two shall meet. This dichotomy has had many names; 'the spirit and the flesh,' 'heaven and earth,' and my least favorite: 'the church and the world.' That just smacks of judgement, doesn't it?

Einstein reframed our picture of physical reality.. in less than a month in 1905.
-p. 43

(In particle-wave duality....the photon exists in two dimensions...This is what I like to call the proof of the possibility of being in two places at once. (48)... Here is where our parabola serves us well...This is the land of being in two places at once. You are simultaneously in the physical earth realm and in the metaphysical Body of Chist. (61)

I never under any circumstance ask the question 'What denomination are you?' The Lord taught me to refer to denominations as expression of Him. So I am incorporating that into my awareness and the way I speak. (80)

Strangely, the five ...solid, yet separate String Theories remind me of the current state of the fivefold Christian ministries: apostolic, prophetic, evangelical, pastoral, teaching...What the manifold ministries need is a unifying convergence-a singularity. I believe with all of my being that this place of unity is called 'in Christ Jesus.' (p 109)

the only thing that ever has ever changed the world

""Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

- Margaret Mead

Churchburgers and Shakes

Churchburgers and Shakes by Lance Ford:

In the circles I am connected with, everywhere I turn I am hearing folks talk about cutbacks. There is a lot of fearspeak, and although I am usually a glass-is-half-full type of guy, I believe it is warranted. The question I am most interested in knowing the answer to, and am constantly asking others is, “Is God doing this?” My hunch is that He is.

Hebrews 12:26-29 (The Message)
So don't turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn't get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time—he's told us this quite plainly—he'll also rock the heavens: "One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern." The phrase "one last shaking" means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered. Do you see what we've got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He's actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won't quit until it's all cleansed. God himself is Fire!

I really sense that the Lord is taking a hold of systems, structures, institutions, and individuals, and He is purging and cleansing. I am really concerned about leaders that are trying to prop things up, re-arrange the deck chairs, and generally…are just keeping their head in the sand. When you do that, something very tender is left exposed and very kickable. (He that hath ears…). We are living in a significant cultural shift that is changing the mentality of the masses. The social network phenomena, along with open-source expectations regarding all things on the world wide web [THE dominant psycho-paradigm shifter] have set the tone and table for a true priesthood of the believer reformation. Notice the proliferation of newspapers that are shutting down their print operation or shuttling everything altogether. The blogosphere has given voice and capability to anyone that feels they have a message; even if their moms are the only ones that will read it. I suspect that book publishers are very nervous. What with the ability to self publish today and the fact that the Internet will give you all the publicity you need. (Witness The Shack phenomena).

Duct tape and bailing wire will not hold this church thing together. And in my many-times-wrong-but-sometimes-right opinion, there are tons of church guys and gals out there that are drunk on church & leadership addiction while Jesus modeled, proclaimed, and commanded servanthood, followership, and disciple-making. Why don’t we just do what He said to do?! People throughout Western culture are spiritually hungry and we continue to churn out churchburgers instead of giving them Jesus, incarnate in our lives.

-Churchburgers and Shakes by Lance Ford

the new Triple A

Nadia Bolz-Weber,
who blogs so well at and as
The Sarcastic Lutheran,
and is author of
the vital

"Salvation on the Small Screen,"

is speaking at the

Christianity21 gathering

on an important topic.

The layout of



21 Voices,
21 Ideas,
21 Minutes Each
on the topic of faith in century 21.

Some of the other 21 ideas will include:

  • Concentric circles of Christian compassion
  • The past takes us forward
  • Confession: a relief from righteousness
  • Interspiritual/Interfaith Dialogue and Collaboration
  • Treating Women Jesus-Style!
  • Blur: The Cultural Disappearance of Dualism
  • The Boundary Breaking God
  • Jesus' Body is Hot Again
  • Save Your Receipt Right Now!
  • Praying in Color
  • Your story must be told
  • Missional, emergent, monastic, Methodist, newday
  • New Tribalism
  • Coming Out of All Closets
  • A Rummage Sale Every 500 Years
  • HUMBITIOUS - Women & Ambition, Power, Humility
  • Writing saves my life
  • Jesus Is Not Only Anything
  • Theology of the open hand
  • The Power of Small....
  • Seeking justice in the everyday
  • Doubt is the new faith

But Nadia's 21 minutes should pack 'em in, sounds like a great way to learn all that vital stuff they didn't teach you in seminary.....and it deserves 42 minutes.

The title?


Into the Twittersphere

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

one church's policy on cell phones in church

BTW, we actually allow/encourage them to be left on..

we have some great stories..once God called.

See: "If they are not texting, they are not listening."

Yet Marva Dawn makes clear that Jesus would not answer his cell phone if he was ministering to you(Marva Dawn and the Powers part 1).

U2's "No Line": 4 motifs-part 4: walk by sound, not by faith

Bookmark and Share
"The heavenly motions are nothing but a continous song for several voices (perceived by the intellect, not the ear), a music which, through discordant tensions, sincopes an cadenzas as it were (as men employ them in imitation of those natural discords) progresses towards certain pre-designed quasi six-voiced clasuras, and then sets landmarks in the immeasurable flow of time."
-Johannes Kepler, "Harmnice Mundi," 1619

"particles defy time and space..so does music"
-Joseph Ege
"Time is irrelevant, its not linear."
"Let me in the sound, God.."
-U2, "No Line on the Horizon" 2009

The many references to sound on this album have been noticed, here is a great summary from St. Beth:

As has been pointed out already, it seems clear to me that "the sound" is one central metaphor. We have three "let me in the sound" requests, as well as "I found grace inside a/the sound" and "people born of sound," all of which have an essentialist, palpable ring (especially if you want to argue for a vague John 3 echo in the last one.) Along with these, there are more evocations of sound per se as granting some kind of mysterious access to the ultimate: "hear the universe," "roar on the other side of silence," and "the rhythm of my soul... that yearns to be released from control." And don't forget this album's ineffable soundscapes themselves, such as the one that begins "Unknown Caller." Because of all that, I am more inclined to understand "sound" in NLOTH as pointing to mystical communion with God now, rather than as looking forward to songs sung by others in heaven.

While we also get several specific mentions of people themselves vocalizing ("Sing your heart out," "I was born to sing for you," "listen for me, I'll be shouting") it's the sense of sound as sacred essence that intrigues me here, as if Pop's "looking for a sound that's gonna drown out the world" quest has been fulfilled in a sound-baptism by immersion on NLOTH...

Many, including my badself, have connected the dots to Sound Theory/String Theory/God.

"The universe at base," Sweet suggests, "is sound."

"particles defy time and space..so does music"
-Joseph Eger, "Einstein's Violin: A Conductor's Notes on Music, Physics and Social Change,"
p. 39, 214.

This is not just cute Bono-isms, and clever ideas...it is the stuff Nobel Prizes are made of:

"The music of the spheres," is an amazing line from a classic hymn, but also sound physics.
Dazzle yourself with Nobel-Prize winner Frank Wilczek's "Longing for the Harmonies: Themes and Vibrations From Modern Physics. Soundtrack it to U2.


But I want to pick up a line in "Moment of Surrender" that may not be obviously connected to the sound motif.

It's about sight and seeing.
So it must connect synesthesiastically.

How obvious is that.

"We walk by faith, not by sight."

Does that mean we walk by blind faith?
Well, yes.

But robbed of sight, we can call upon an even more fundemantal and "sound" sense:

sound; hearing.

Pure synesthesia to walk by sound.

And watch...I mean, listen, to what Jason Stellman picks up here:

Following Scripture, Reformed theology has always placed great emphasis on the ear over the eye. The gospel is called by Paul "the word of faith," a message that produces belief "by hearing the Word of Christ." The opposite of faith, of course, is not doubt but sight. A person is most faithless, therefore, not when disbelief is mingled with his belief, but when he demands to see, to experience, to feel the truth before he'll believe it. "We walk by faith," says Paul, "and not by sight."

Go ahead and roll your eyes, but I maintain that Bono understands this.

...his theme is prevalent on their new release, No Line on the Horizon, as well. In the song "Moment of Surrender" Bono sings:

At the moment of surrender,
I folded to my knees;
I did not notice the passers-by,
And they did not notice me.

At the moment of surrender,
Of vision over visibility,
I did not notice the passers-by,
And they did not notice me.
True surrender, in other words, can only happen with "visibility" is relinquished.
-Jason Stellman

Bono has discussed the "vision over visibility" line:

"Moment" includes a phrase that's close to sacred for Bono: "vision over visibility". ...Bono: "It's like Martin Luther King's speech - the moment when you see the place, but you can't see yet how to get there."
-Rolling Stone
This is another angle on
"By faith, Abraham left home, completely clueless about where he was going'
. Heb 11.8"

We have "no compass; no map," but "uncertainty can be a guiding light" (As Bono sang in Zooropa). The catch is this holy uncertainty of the faithwalk is caught by pleading with God, the Source of all Sound, to be let into the sound. The Sound of the Spheres, the Sound of Music, the sound we were borne of.

The one who has ears to hear, let them hear.

Or at least read another Pulitzer Prize-winner, Douglas Hofstadter's classic,
"Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."

At bare minimum, hear a soundbyte from it
and souncheck and soundtrack it to U2.

Tha author finds nothing less than an "eternal braid" or "strange loop" in Bach's music,
which is both linear and nonlinear, as well as suggests that "time is irrelevant":

"Bach wrote in the margin of his 'Canon por Tonos,'
'As the modulation (sound) rises, so may the King's glory.'
To emphasize this canon's potentially infinite aspect, I like to call this 'The Ever-Rising Canon.'
..And perhaps to experience that sense of wonder and awe is more satisfying than having an answer...at least for awhile."
-p.10, 548

U2's "No Line": 4 motifs-part 3: she spoke in tongues in my ear

(buy the shirt)

It is often an intriguing path to follow:
Who is the "she" in U2's lyrics?
Wife Ali? His mother? Womankind? Wisdom? Holy Spirit?
The answer is often YES..one leads to the other, no matter where Bono starts.

See "Mysterious Ways," "Luminous Times,"
(and "Dancing Barefoot," even though they didn't write the song")..

"All our songs are about girls or God,Bono has quipped,
and sometimes we get the two mixed up."

By the way, one could track and trek a related question surrounding the who the "you" addresses:
Who do these songs address? Cathleen Falsani is surprised that critics read "I was born to sing for you" in "Magnificent" as a boast to Bono's audience. But the "you" in U2 songs has long been ambiguous. The list of suspects grows longer each album: Is "you" God, a woman, the individual listener, the audience en masse, Bono's bandmates, or Edge's guitar?

The very structure of No Line's best songs reinforces the sense that the true answer is "all of the above.
-Angela Pancella

Back to the "she"..

Now we seem to have a new "she," she of the "girl by the sea" reference in the title track of "No Line on the Horizon." I have a hunch "she," as leitmotif, may be all of the above usual suspects,
but also and primarily something other:

the album itself:as a work of art personified..
as it emerged; revealed itself;
took on identity/life/personality/gender,

I know a girl who’s like the sea
I watch her changing every day for me:

It seems that, more than usual on this project, the shape/theme of the music/lyrics/storyline
morphed almost daily (or at least by recording location) as it emerged, but it continued to serve the band, not master or overtake it.

It seems that, more than usual on this project, the shape/theme of the music/lyrics/storyline
morphed/shapeshifted almost daily (or at least by recording location) as she emerged, but she continued to serve the band, not master or overtake it.

When the first album ("Boy") was done, maybe they passed out cigars and cried, "It's a 'Boy!'"

When this latest album was complete, maybe they gasped and said, "Oh, my goodness; it's a girl!....and there is no line on her horizon."

One day she’s still, the next she swells
You can hear the universe in her sea shells:

If that is not an accurate description of the "ebb and flow" of the music and movement on this record, I don't know what is. Adam has spoken of inserting "White as Snow" at a critical juncture "to give the listener a break." Break from what and to what. From swell to still.
I won't even the strangely symbiotic, maybe fractal, interrelationship between "Moment of Surrender" and "Get on Your Boots"..

I know a girl with a hole in her heart
She said infinity’s a great place to start:

The "hole in heart" is pretty obviously a nod to Pascal's classic maxim
("There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every person which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”)
which Bono has paraphrased before ("looking for the fill my God-shaped hole," in "Mofo").
But this project was birthed in awareness of both the hole and its infinite depths,
and the horizon and its infinite potential. That's a great way to start an album.

(She said,)“Time is irrelevant, it’s not linear”
Then she put her tongue in my ear

Of course, as we have discussed in part 2, the first line of this cozy couplet is classic physics,
and darn good Kingdom theology.
It is even more:

It is the interpretive key to interpretation of the album.

And life itself.

As we discussed extensively
last time, the trajectory and arc of the storyline is not linear.
We should not be surprised, she (the album) tipped us off to that in the first song,
which had to be the first song,
so that in a linear way,
she could tell us that the timeline was non linear.
The second line, uh.....I'd better leave to better U2theologians than me:

"It hits me that of course you could immediately invoke the title cut of "No line" as partaking of the standard U2 apophatic spirit: "Time is irrelevant/it's not linear"; the farthest we can imagine, "infinity," is nothing but a "place to start." However, I find it interesting (and very U2ey; let's not over-spiritualize this one! But still...) that we're told the bearer of this message immediately becomes physically intimate with the narrator."
-Beth Maynard

Time is irrelevant, it's not linear / Then she put her tongue in my ear." The "she" in these lyrics could be referring to a woman, a female personified thought, God, etc. Who knows with U2! In any case, Bono
gets his kicks from the sense that time is not linear. In non-linear time, there is no such thing as past and future. There is only continuous flow of "now." The "past" is simply a former "now." The "future" is simply a coming "now." The only time that exists is "now." There is no great origin that we're moving from. There is no final conclusion we're moving toward. There is no coming eschatological time on the horizon. Or said in a different way, "there is no line on the horizon." There is only "now." Living fully in the "now" is ultimately important. Now is the only time we have. Now is life. Now is our home. Now is the time to enjoy life. Now is the time to fall in love. Now is the time to live life to the fullest. Now is when God is. Now is sacred. Now is the moment of eschatological hope. Marty Haugen emphasized the theological importance of "now" in his hymn, "Here In This Place." The lyrics read: "Not in the dark of buildings confining / Not in some heaven, light years away / But here in this place the new light is shining / Now is the Kindom now is the day." When Haugen and U2 agree on something, it must be right! Time is truly irrelevant when the only time that matters is right now. And that is a sexy thought. I can see why it feels sensuous like someone licking your ear.
-Sara and Brian, emphasis mine

It just had to be a "she" speaking in tongues into's Bono's ear.

And as the record/recording process did that, Bono was elevated into new levels of profound and inevitably sexy/sexual
insight about life.

Part 4 (how linear is that?) coming up