Sunday, January 31, 2010

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the Red Rain of Jesus

No matter what Peter Gabriel says below , everyone knows "Red Rain" is also/ultimately/thematically and rhematically about the blood of Jesus (Right, Scott?):


Gabriel, Natalie Merchand and REM version:

1994 on Letterman:

9/11 Tribute (not an official version):


2009 WOMAD:

Remake (with a twist):

I wouldn't be surprised if Christian bands covered it ..I prefer see especially David Ruis, who snippets it Bono-style; heweaves and namechecks the title into "By Your Blood".
(From a great album)

Of course, there is (inevitably) a Christian band called "Red Rain"

Gregory of Nyssa and Green Day: death/birth of the concept of the concept album

(photo credit)

It may not yet be the death of the album, or the concept album.

Not yet time for "incredulity toward the concept album"..
..though maybe time to bury the concept of the concept album.
"Concepts create idols, " Gregory of Nyssa offered, "only wonder understands."

It IS a very timely time for TCAAWI (The Concept Album As We Know It) so the concept album can be(re)born and remixed...or maybe killed are re-surrected.
No accident this parallels what Wolfgang Simson has coined CAWKI (Church As We Know It) and the appearance of CAGWI (don't dare read this Simson book unless you soundtrack it to one of the albums mentioned).

Fidelity of betrayal does not betray fidelity.
Or hi fidelity.

The album is dead; long live the album.

Expect it too look different.
Expect more ellipses in any story may be so that you can wiki-participate, maybe even create your own ending.
Expect some "new" ways of conceptualizing, and some holy synesthesia about precisely what is conceptualized.

This is all sounding much more like art.

Consider recent offerings:

U2's "No Line" (of course...could the album title itself...and selected lyrics..and music... be a clue that the concept is a non-linear linearity), Coldplay's "Viva La Vida," David Crowder's "Church Music' (here the concept is musical and historical more than lyrical narrative) and Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown...maybe even Switchoot's "Hello Hurricane" (note the band has been opening concerts by playing the entire album straight through..hmmm)

Some early poineers of a new breed of concept album would include The Violet Burning's
self titled album and its sequel (chronologically) and prequel (logically and thematically) prequel"Demonstrates Plastic and Elastic."

Here's an article a bit critical of the Green Day way of doing this, though the argument could also be made from the same evidence that they actually "get" the new way. No wonder these guys "love Jesus and thank God for church," even though one (or more) members may claim to be "optimistic agnostics":

From a conceptual standpoint, 21st Century Breakdown doesn’t differ from American Idiot‘s template at all: much like Idiot‘s heroes St. Jimmy and Whatsername, we are again following another boy/girl couple through the charred political landscape of post-millennial America: the confused, hedonistic Christian and the affected, lonely Gloria..

The Christian/Gloria storyline proves frightfully hard to follow, feeling almost abandoned by the time we get to “American Eulogy” (unless you really want to dig into it and claim it’s the same eulogy Christian is singing prior to his operation in “Before the Lobotomy”), and then, the group’s master statement is revealed: “I don’t want to live in the modern world” (repeated ad nauseum).

...Yet when you begin taking Armstrong’s lyrics at face value and stop trying to tie them into Breakdown‘s supposed three-act format, we get some of the best (and most venomous) lines of Armstrong’s career. On the scathing “East Jesus Nowhere”, Armstrong calls out those running on blind faith and tactical imperialism..
he’s taken very careful consideration in crafting his lyrics. Such quality care is evident throughout most of Breakdown, and, as such, individual moments positively glisten, even if the widescreen view of Breakdown feels a bit muddled and confused, the whole actually being less than the sum of its parts..

Though Armstrong’s declaration of not wanting to live in the modern age is undoubtedly a central theme of the album (he repeats it enough times), perhaps the most telling statement about 21st Century Breakdown‘s intentions rests simply in its last line: “I need to know what’s worth the fight”. After listening to the admirable, powerful, frustrating, confusing, and fiery Breakdown straight through, it’s hard not to wish that he actually followed that sentiment and picked something worth fighting for, instead of tackling everything at once.

-Pop Matters

You know, to be " again following another boy/girl couple through the charred political landscape of post-millennial America: the confused, hedonistic Christian and the affected, lonely Gloria" may not be a bad thing.

It may be the only thing. The only concept/metametanarrative we have,

Might even be the micronarrative storyline of U2's "Magnificent," and the album from whence it came.

The song's lyrics can be subjectively interpreted by the listener though Bono specifically "noted that the lyrics were influenced by both Cole Porter and Bach, and that the song is about "two lovers holding on to each other and trying to turn their life into worship"
Now, that's not only a concept..or better yet,a concept-free concept that Gregory might even approve of....and you can dance to it.

I close with a song with a "king must die/long live the king" reference, which ironically and arguably might even come from a a very early prophetic pioneer of the new bread of concept/reconcept album:

And if my hands are stained forever
And the altar should refuse me
Would you let me in, would you let me in, would you let me in
Should I cry sanctuary

No man's a jester playing Shakespeare
Round your throne room floor
While the juggler's act is danced upon
The crown that you once wore

The king is dead, the king is dead
The king is dead, the king is dead
Long live the king

The Language of Tribes: True Fans and Outsiders

Thanks to Andy Prickett for pointing out this article:

The Language of Tribes: True Fans and Outsiders

No, it's not a Christian article from a Christian source.
It's about the "secular" music business and fans.
Which is why it is so prophetic and helpful. (:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

It was inevitable..a Facebook "fan page" for Bongolese


Promote Your Page Too
It was inevitable..a Facebook "fan page" for Bongolese!

I wonder who was crazy enough to start it (:
How could you NOT be a fan?

Any serious U2 fan has heard what the band calls "Bongolese' or "Bono-ese": when Bono sings in tongues, scat, nonsense/hypersense, glossolalia..whatever you call it

"WTH did he just sing"?

See INFO tab for more

Post favorite examples, vids

Some examples if you're a newbie:
See also:
  • Tongues at One Tree Hill, 12/26/89: Normal Church (Beth comments on this video: "Probably the best performance of that song ever, and it closes with about 20 seconds of glossolalia (mixed with some English I think) in very impassioned, public, declaratory mode. (One half-expects Edge to offer the interpretation.)"

And very relevant comments #1-9 beneath this article:

Live Videocast of Grace Covenant meetings, Kansas City

You won't be able to watch the food fights during meals and the all-nighters at Denny's... amazing is this will be able to watch many of our sessions of our Grace Covenant family reunion/Ministry Conference from Kansas City next week
right here on this handy little screen below (or at this website)!

IF the session I am leading is broadcast, I might just give a shout-out to all of name! (:

Some of you who are not able to go have a theory about what we do every year: we have toga raves or American Idol auditions in Hawaii.
Well, as this live video stream will prove, we are now able to fake a broadcast that makes it look like we are not! Schedule is below, and more info here, all times Central Standard (2 hours later than Calif).

Watch live streaming video from gracecovenant at

Grace Covenant Ministry Conference 2010
February 2-5
“Greater Measures of Faith”
(Event Location: Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel-Kansas City, MO)


Monday, February 1
7:00 pm Conference Praise Band Practice (Led by Spiesses and Tuggles)

Tuesday, February 2
10am-12:30pm Executive Board *Board Room (lobby level)
12:30-2:30 Lunch Break
2:00-4:30 Board of Ministry *Board Room
6:45-7:05 Pre-service Prayer *Board Room
7:15 Praise and Preaching: “Filling a Faith Vacancy” by Dallas Elder

Wednesday, February 3
9:30-10:30am Praise and Prayer Season: Shawn and Maryann Spiess/Dallas Elder
10:30-10:45 Break
10:45-12:00pm Teaching: “Faith to the Fullness of Favor” by Dallas Elder
12:00-2:00 Lunch Break
VisionVestors Fellowship Lunch
2:00-4:00 Inspiration and Equipping-Ballroom
(2:00-2:55) *Intercessors: “Gap Faith” Dave Wainscott/Nancy Boyd
(3:05-4:00) *Vision and Faithfulness: “The Power of a Made-up Mind” Steve Youngblood
2:00-4:00 VisionVestors Forum -Tiffany Room
Young Adult Ministry Connection -Hotel Restaurant

4:00-5:00 Board of Ministry- Board Room
6:15-8:00 GC Banquet Dinner-Golden Corral
*Meet in hotel lobby-Caravan leaves hotel at 6pm sharp
9:00-10:30 “Worship Out Loud” (Young Adult led) *Ballroom

Thursday, February 4
9:30-10:30am Praise/Devotion: Message-Raquens Turenne-Haiti
10:30-10:45 Break
10:45-12:00pm Affirmation of Leadership, GC Vision & Ministry 2009
12:00-2:00 Lunch Break
Missionary Fellowship Lunch
2:00-4:00 Missions Highlights Ballroom
2:00-4:30 Board of Ministry Board Room
4:00-6:30 Young Adult Fellowship Connection
5:00-6:30 Supper break
6:45-7:05 Pre-service Prayer *Board Room
7:15 Praise, Commissioning and Preaching: “Faith Launch” by Kevin Clancey

Friday, February 5
9:30-10:30am Praise/Devotion/Communion: Message and Serving-Nancy and Bert Boyd
10:30-11:30 Closing Remarks and Prayers of Blessings

Note: There will be an Infant Nursery (0-5 years) for morning, afternoon and evening sessions.

The Bible in 3,000 words...or one...(anything but a 140-word tweet)

Mark Meynell was asked to summarize the metanarrative/message of The Bible...He did it in
3, 000 words...But in ONE word, it's about


Here it is in article form; here as ITunes audio, here below is a version of it on video (2 parts):

I would love to see this on a "Visualizing the Bible" chart.

Of course this is the guy who did the something similar with another work of art (lesser, of course...but inspired by the former, as always), U2's "No Line" album

Grace breaks into a sound:

An album in three acts

ACT 1: Private agonies and devoted joys

ACT 2: Itchy feet, bombast and wry smiles

ACT 3: Doubts and grace in the Middle East

Read it here

Related , see Brian Draper's, "Stop Helping God Over the Road – A Meditation Using Lyrics from U2’s New Album, No Line on the Horizon,"
which consists entirely of quotes from the album, in chronological order. THis helps with the (meta)narrative and flow of the disc/
(HT: Beth)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

urgent prayer for pastor of our sister church in Haiti

This just in below.
Pray and watch for updates at this link.
Pastor Raquens called me a few minutes ago with this message: Today Pastor Oseme of Haiti went into Port Au Prince to meet with the American Consulate. While he was there he was kidnapped. He is now being held for ransom. Unless $1500 US is paid in ransom by tomorrow, Pastor Oseme will be killed. It would appear that the logic here is that being Pastor Oseme went to the American Consulate that he has contacts in the US who would pay. Otherwise, Haitians would not kidnap another Haitian. Pastor Raquens and I agreed that right now we need to bath the situation in prayer and pray for his release. Remember Peter was released from prison by the power of prayer. If the Lord shows us something else to do we will do it. But for now we need to generate as much prayer toward pastor Oseme, his captors and his family as possible. We will give updates as we get them. Please seriously pray and get the word out to other intercessors at this hour.


The staff at St. Marc's school from left to right: Associate Pastor Jean, Professor Onel, Madame Dina Oseme, Professor Samuel, unknown professor, and Pastor Desir Oseme.

Rabbi: My real issues are with the Church as an institution...

This qualifier in Rabbi Adam's book may raise enough interest for you to order or download it. Please do, it's a great read..........

then come back and hang out with us...he loves to dialogue and debate....duke it out!
Author’s Note
In going over my manuscript, I realized that – absent an explanation –this book comes off really harsh on Christians. Such is not my intention.
I have no issues with the average Christian in the pew, other than a wish
that they should learn that Torah is for them, which is the point of this
book. My real issues are with the Church as an institution that has
hidden the Truth of Torah for 1800 years, and the pastors and
theologians who have an idea of the Truth and have still taught against
Torah Observance. All such harsh statements are directed at the
institution and the leaders who knowingly block the sheep in the fold
from knowing the Truth.

Prospeity gospel in Africa

The Prosperity Gospel from The Global Conversation on Vimeo.

Jesus, Interrupted and God's Problem

Today I am re-directing you to my post on "Jesus, Interrupted" by Bart Ehrman:

See it here,

as well as on Viral Bloggers, a site you need to be aware of.

"Jesus, Interrupted" will soon be released in paperback (click for info).

I'll have a copy of his new book, "God's Problem" soon, just for posting this stay tuned.

Ehrman is uncomfortable to wrestle with..which is precisely why wrestle we must.

He's a former evangelical, and his new book (on the problem of evil) details why he no longer self-identifies as a Christian.

Maybe that'll get him a guaranteed second appearance on Colbert:
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Bart Ehrman
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorEconomy

pasaporte, Bob Esponja, y Vertigo

Long lost photo just discovered.(: >

When The Rev. Tomas Tarzan and I got off the plane the other day (uh, year),
and through customs, with our "Bob Esponja" gifts and other contraband, we kissed the ground and said (en espanol, of course).

"What a long, strange trip it's been."

Actually, much of the Peru trip was quite curvy, not long.
Hellishly helical. Virtually vertiginous.

But all of it was strange indeed.
Serendipitous...and stunning.

It was all good.

And we have the video and vertigo to prove it.

But for some reason, Tarzan has not been on a plane since,
and I don't settle in as easily as I did BTT (Before That Trip).
(UH...see "Not only was that turbulence not normal, it was 100 times worse than I knew was possible.."_)

Next year, baby.

Besides, Tarzan is a great shepherd, who has promised his sheep (You can actually meet them here below, 00:46-1:00)
that he would return:

We also promised Dallas we would do the hang-gliding over Lima's oceanfront; Dallas did it , so can we..

Here(scroll halfway down this page)'s where will be next trip; it will be a little lower than the angels (only 11,000 feet up in the Andes)...

join us...if you get the call.

Para espanol, oprima el dos.

U2 new album problem finally resolved

Enough, already.

U2's ridiculous trilemma about what to release next is easy.

They have three partly-finished projects:

1)The long hinted-at "Songs of Ascent" CD:
They can still do the more meditative "piligrimmage" themed songs that Bono early on promised it would be..

2)They can still resurrect the Rick Rubin songs, and supplement them with the (predictably) rockier songs they have been writing/recording recently:

3)And since "Spiderman" musical is delayed, maybe forever, get permission to release those songs now.



Stop tweaking. Everything is ready to release.
Between the three projects, you have enough for one album.

Well, just add two more songs as bonus/hidden tracks:

- the shelved Johnny Cash tribute song featuring Michael W. Smith..which means you can release this new album to the Christian market and make more mammon (Just put "Michael W. Smith" in large type on front cover).

-the Hope for Haiti telethon song, "Stranded." (This includes vocals by JayZ and Rhiannon, so the disc will sell in different genres!)


that album to be called:

"Jay Z and U2's Stranded Songs of Spiderman , featuring Rick Rubin Ascending Michael W. Smith"


"Let Me in the Sound of 4 Men Chopping Down the Horizon, and caving in to the fear that a sequel of more meditative songs won't produce a hit single"

It will sell...and rock!

It also caters well to the way U2 fans abbreviate album titles; it would be:


(as a serendipitous bonus, that abbreviated title spells out in Greek and Hebrew,
"Bono is not 666"....and against all odds, in some manuscripts, it spells out "And he is not 616 either")

Paul Mc Guiness will approve!

You're welcome.

a strange and intimate relationship: photons and phree will

"Like this song, your life is short, it's the longest thing you''ll ever do/
the worse the curse was that your dreams came true/
God is a mirror in which each man sees himself/
Hell is place where you don't need anyone's help."
-Bono's rap

As a Calviminian, I often joke :"I was predestined to have free will."

But maybe we have free will to choose predestination(:

Following up on the "Electrons Have Free Will" article,

it also seems photons appear to have free will..

at least until one individual dude freely "decides" for an option. Once that happens,
his partners(s) in community appear "predestined" to make the same choice.
Sorta like in entangled Christian community...or is that just the inevitable (uh, predestined) peer pressure?:

"two entangled...photons...have a strange and intimate relationship. While each has a certain probability of spinning one way or another, and while each, when measured, seems to 'choose,'...whatever 'choice' one makes, the other immediately makes, too, regardless of their spatial separation.
-Brian Greene, The Fabric of the Cosmos, p. 442 here


On quantum entanglement, see
"God Effect."

Question: Does Free Willy have free will?

Visualizing the Bible

Chris Harrison and Christoph Römhild came up with this graphic, which I often project in Bible classes when talking about structure, chiasm and inclusio. Often the students have heard about this; having googled it under "Bible lights."

"The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc - the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect. "
LINK (Click to learn more, enlarge, see more examples, or order a copy)

Christianity Today says, "the two became enthralled with elegantly showing the interconnected nature of Scripture.. The graph won an honorable mention in the 2008 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and Science journal.'

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

because it's my job

because it's in my job description:

Temple Tantrum: No fun in church..

"You're not supposed to be having fun in church; you're supposed to be praying and reading your Bibles!!":

Time Travelling with a Toyota and Baba O' Riley:2.2

No one had a time machine (that we know of), or even a cell phone in 1974.

But now that I have a time machine, a trusty but tattered 2000 Toyota (I used it for time travelling only once before...see this journal entry..stardate 2008); and a cell phone camera to capture proof of my visit..

Let me say I am glad to be back.
I have expected Christopher Lloyd to be in the passenger seat, and the numbers to fall off the clockface.

I just found out, and post here photographic evidence from my Toyota Time Machine odometer,
that I grew up 2.2 miles from my current home.

It has been a tricky trajectory that has brought me to  live in Fresno again, but here I am.

Okay, I have some explaining to do.

I had an hour to prayer walk...better yet, "long-wandering-prayer-walk" (Tip of the hat to David Hansen).
So I hopped in my time mach..uh, Toyota...and drove the 2.2 miles from my current home
to my old home. I parked and walked my old haunt for an bour or so, and then returned home.

Now I have some disorganized, long-wandering, crappy, slappy-happy-first-draft, scribbled post-it notes to somehow transform into a timely blog about me revisiting my past. (I am tempted to throw them out, but maybe John Titor has need of them..

I am not Donald Miller, Anne Lammott...and am not even myself.
But I feel the notes are designed for a rambling and messy memoir (the only kind there are) about a few years of life, forty years odd or so.

I will not even blog a final draft...Anne Lammott would never do that, do you know what she calls her first draft?

The random memories that were evoked as I passed points on my pilgrimage and places of my past, were randomly (uh, sovereignly) soundtracked by the songs on my cellphone player. Somehow, the songs I heard in the earpiece juxtaposed and choreographed me.

Best music video I have ever seen, and I got to be in it, to boot.

Of course many of the songs on my "shuffle mode" were by artists who weren't even born when I suddenly moved from Fresno to New York in 1974. But oddly, the last one, "Baba O'Riley" (commonly known as "Teenage Wasteland," from 1971, was indeed. That album was my lifeline back then.

The song is a five minute song that has lasted my whole life.

So I found that the lyrics were leaping points to memories.

How boring it would be for you to hear me retell them, and how arrogant I would be to think you should care....but I once learned (Thanks, Andy) that the more particular and personal the memory, the more universal and relateable others will find it.

"Out here in the fields..":

Yeah, there is the field I walked across to school...of course, now it is an office complex (They pave paradise, you know). The one where, on one very foggy day, some older kids condescendingly tried to convince me the school, as it was invisible ahead due to fog, was no longer there. I thought they'd attempt to beat me up..obviously no one could see us...but they left me alone. And here I was, decades later, realizing all I..and called to do is brave the fog, illusion, and bullies...and do the Psalm 119:105 thing.

The Sunday morning when our first child was born, and we were told he might not make it, I preached (to myself) to the congregation from that Psalm: "Turn off the high beams and relax!" (You can laways tell newcomers and visitors to Fresno as they turn on the high beams in the fog, not knowing it makes viewing harder, not easier."  God made the world round, so we don't see too far down the road.

Then the next lyrics!:

I don't need to fight To prove I'm right

Nah, just go to school. Don't return foggy evil for evil; don't fight...even though sometimes the school isn't there. Fight is flight.

Don't cry
Don't raise your eye
It's only teenage wasteland:

Here is the spot where I cried, 1974. No historical marker. But in that same field, the spot where I dropped to me knees and couldn't not cry; as my dad informed us hours earlier we would be moving.

My blood still cries from the ground...

You get the idea. But who told The Who about my time travel? Way too bizarre.

There's the KFC where I had my first cigarette....when the building was still under construction, and my across-the-street-neighbor (who shall not be named or incriminated) found it a safe place to hide.

I didn't smoke again for a few years.
But the cross-continental move moved me into a spiral and disorientation that saw me smoke more than tobacco to medicate me:

Put out the fire
And don't look past my shoulder.

Then the sidewalk..where is it now, where is that spot where we all wrote our name in the cement? Surely this weathered sidewalk hadn't been recast in all these years? And hey, wouldn't the fact that I was here by time-travel take care of that... Nah, no luck.
But I did find this...proof the sidewalk was original...and just maybe a message from the past for me; "I love you -P.M. -6/26/69."

Not much doubt I walked this sidewalk on the way home from school in 1969..but June 26, that would be summer; no school. Maybe that was the day I got caught stealing Hostess Sno-Balls from Gong's Market the store adjacent to the sidewalk. You know, I was such a conscientious kid; the lecture Mr. Gong gave me likely saved me from a life of crime...(:
..though I have stolen a lot since then: time from God, hope from loved ones, tithes from the storehouse, sermons from Andy...

Oh my, I see the sign in the next store that Mr. Gong is still around, and owns the whole complex. I thought how wild it would be to find him and thank him for saving my life, but a voice intervened. I recognized it. It was God, and/or Roger Daltrey:

I don't need to be forgiven. yeah,yeah,yeah,yeah,yeah

This was way too much holy hyper-linking to my past. Though it was holy, it was humorous.
Healing, even. But I felt the tug to turn it practical..I hadn't expected this "Ghost of Christmas Past" guided tour...and the movie unfolding before me..

But first, one more object lesson, very current to what I have been learning back here in the 21C:

Porous boundaries. Liminal space. Thin places. Centered and Fuzzy sets.

That is...

Here was my childhood home; the slightly jagged cement cut-and paste job where we added a room to our house still visible. I wandered if I tried to walk through it, it would be the Pevensies' wardrobe, or a time-machine back to my own zone and time and place (Don't worry, I didn't really consider that possibility...but Donald Miller might say something like that, and much more eloquently).

And Miller's new book, I remembered, was

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life.

That's exactly what I found myself doing this day; this hour...2.2 miles in an bour.

Then I was reminded of the (pen)ultimate reason for this pilgrimage and privilege:


Names came to mind, as I passed the place of my first kiss (nah, I won't tell that name), homes of my school friends, my neighbors and enemies.

I'll even list some of you here, maybe some of you will Google this and reconnect. You were on my heart and in my prayers

The exodus is here
The happy ones are near
Let's get together
Before we get much older.
Just a random:

Denise Heimerdinger England.
Cheryl Beinhorn.
Alan Dale Horde.
Nicky Smalldino.
Melissa Proudian.
Don "Butch" Able (RIP)
Scott Walkingstick.
Steve Malde.
Kathy Back.
Keith Moser...

Incredible, there is still a sign in front of The Mascarenas' home proclaiming they still lived in the same house 39 years after they moved in.

But so do I.
That's my problem.
That's my joy.

Sally, take my hand
We'll travel south cross land
Put out the fire
And don't look past my shoulder.

Its only teenage wasteland

But it's only holy, as well.

Nothing wasted in the economy of God, as John Wimber used to say.

So I'm done blogging for today. This will not be very polished pesher; I don't have time to perfect this post, and make it more prophetic or prophetic.

As if time travel itself wasn't prophetic enough...
And by the way, for you skeptics, I brought back a couple artifacts from the past. I was able to snag a KYNO playlist from 1972 (click to Keltic Ken will do)...the station I first heard "Baba O'Riley" on, about that time.

And yes, an elementary school class photo. I'll post it here, and on Facebook, and tag my former self, when I finally return to the present.
(yes, I am in the blue striped shirt and sweater, in front row)

And I likely won't have time to time travel for awhile...though if I need to, I've got Google Earth to visit my old land and life.

Besides, I have heard about "The Problem With the Follow-up Memoirs:
and I intend to blog mostly about the future...if not from it.
some of those names are in this phoo
I have read in the Scriptures that's the only sane way to live in the present.

See you in 1969, P. W., whoever (and whenever) you are.
Thanks for the note on the sidewalk along my timewalk.

I get my back into my living.

Half of American Christians can't find earth

Here I am (in this video), along with an African
pastor, baptizing several in the Jordan River, including (I think) someone from Germany.
(Note: for a previous year's life-changing day of baptizing in the Jordan, see this)
There was something so "Kingdom" about the international composition of this particular Israel trip...Our group was 2,000 people from 200 nations, and I was the only pastor from North America. It was a temple tantrum. A re-centering set.

Every day we shared meals with folk from different countries; often from persecuted lands. At one meal, my wife asked a woman from such a nation if she was married. She didn't speak English well, but she got the point of the question:

She made the gesture for death by slit throat.

We got the point of her answer.

This is why I maintain (ironically at some "persecution" for saying it) that "There is no persecution of Christians in America, absolutely none." See also: "Persecution of pastors is far worse in America than anywhere else"?????

But my point today for this post something I learned on one of my previous trips; this one with a group of only North Americans:

Ask a busload of American Christians, while they are in Israel,

"What continent are we on right now?"

You get several wrong answers ("Europe"), and several "deer in the headlights" looks.
Some were sure, but wrong: Africa.

Thanks for playing, anyway.

You know the answer.

But it is still shocking to us.

Which is why I love these two video clips:

1)Wolfgang Simson says "Jesus, being an Asian..."

2)Dan Nainan: "My father is Indian, and my mother is Japanese. And people say, 'How neat, you are half-Asian.' ....Where do they think Asia IS, Antarctica?! ...Half of American schoolchildren can't find Earth...on a map OF Earth!"

Francis Frangipane, when people say, "Francis, what you are talking about doesn't sound like Christianity, but an Eastern religion":

"Uh, Christianity IS an Eastern religion.."

You know, I have yet another story about Israel you would think I am making up.
I remember a North American Christian basically saying within my earshot, "There are no Palestinian Christians; Palestinians are all Muslim terrorists." I couldn't get him to remember when he and I stood in Bethlehem Bible College, where we both met many Palestinian Christians in the flesh...

Guess that means they are Asians, too?

Help, I can't find Earth..

Kingdom @ center

"I don't expect this pie in the sky when you die stuff. My favorite line in the Lord's Prayer is `Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' I want it all, and I want it now. Heaven on earth -- now -- let's have a bit of that."
-the lead singer of the worship band formerly known as The Hype , quote in context here

I enjoyed finding this poster hanging in a church library today: it makes a great point.

The Kingdom is the centripetal center of our centered set, it's the gospel of the Kingdom.
Kingdom @hand.
Such is our message and metarrative, if you will (don't get incredulous on me, now).
All other topics tether to it, and any other Scriptures serve it.

Ask ten Christians what the gospel is.

Why do eleven out of ten seem to answer with something about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins so we can go to heaven when we die?.... When Jesus' own (Matt 4:17)...and Paul's own.. definition was 'the Kingdom.'

And what's more, about the Kingdom coming to earth (not just us going to heaven)
while we are alive (not "when we die"):

"..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)

As a bonus, the poster actually says at the bottom they invite unlimited duplication of it for free..How cool and Lessig-like...and enKingdomed is that?
Here's the company.
(OOPs, clicked the link, and it is dead. Suppose the company went outta business giving stuff away?)

reforming law and deregulating amateur creativity

The parallels between

  • Lessig's suggestions for "reforming law" regarding copyright
  • and what we as church are called to do

is amazing.

We are somewhat in the "reforming law" business in this current Reformation/Re-Formation.
And ask the rabbi about how crucial it is to discern the place of the law (he would say "Torah") as we re-form.

  • Lessig says copyright law should be "changed, not abolished." ("Remix," p, 253; a free download...which is precisely and prophetically the whole point)
  • Jesus of course, came to "fulfill, not abolish" the OT law.
  • Paul calls Jesus the "end of the law" ..but uses the world "telos," which can't mean "end," as far as "it's over in every regard," but as far fulfillment, purpose, and goal. In a "teleological, not temporal/terminal" sense..

Here are Lessig's proposed "five shifts in the law." Hopefully it won't take too much imagination to apply all this to church shift. If so, you are on the wrong blog(: But, for example, item #1 may cover my job description as pastor among a congregation of fellow 'amateurs.'

1.Deregulating amateur creativity
2.Clear title
4. Decriminalizing the Copy
5.Decriminalizing File Sharing.
-chapter 9

See "Code is Law"

See Lessig on Colbert related to the topic here:

Lessig on Colbert: Hybrid Economy

If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online

One of my favorite pastors, Matt Troupe, brought this helpful article to our meeting today:

If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online

This line below, though, is amazing; how in the world could that finding have "shocked" them?:

"The study’s findings shocked its authors, who had concluded in 2005 that use (of electronic devices among young people) could not possibly grow further"

Leaders shouldn't attach moral significance to their ideas

"Leaders shouldn't attach moral significance to their ideas: Do that, and you can't compromise."
-(attributed to) Peter Drucker

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wolfgang: imagine a church more like U2, Matrix, a life full of s*#! and an open fridge

From Wolfgang Simson's "Starfish Manifesto":

When the Stones Cry Out

There is a dimension of prophecy that is hardly ever recognized by Christians. It is when God, in absence of a suitable vessel among his own people, chooses to make his voice known by using other means and people. We all have read of the famous donkey of Balaam, which was able to speak the truth and see spiritual reality before the rider, who was supposed to prophesy (Num 22). And Jesus once said: “If these become silent, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40).

And so, in times of prophetic silence, rather than the church prophesying to the world, the world prophesied to itself –
as well as to the church.

In the absence of the church being a prophetic voice to the world, it was often secular people, officially disconnected to God, but sometimes more
in tune with what God thinking than the church itself, who became prophetic voices...

The same is true for the creation of “coolness,” that show of unperturbed hip and emotional distance in the face of “a life full of shit” as any street kid in Harlem would say.

..Today God is using films with prophetic subjects like The Matrix, Braveheart, The Lord of The Rings and others to communicate prophetic messages around the globe. Or books by novelists, known and unknown. And again and again, God speaks through music and arts, most of it - in the absence of more guys like U2 singer and Christian prophet Bono - done by people not yet connected to God.

Yes, it’s not the full gospel; yes it’s not enough for salvation. But it makes folks hungry for more. And hundreds of millions are listening, most of them people who would never darken the
door of a traditional church building. And it puts people into a search mode. Remember: first search, then find. Imagine a church out there, out where the questions are, the teens, the people in the clubs, concert halls, galleries, in the media, in politics, among the 300 million Dalits of India looking for identity, among the 27 million slaves we have today on the globe, in education, arts, sports, interpreting the prophetic dreams and healthy questions that today’s society discusses. And when we finish imagining, let’s do it.

Millions of people have Jesus-shaped questions - and Church-as-God-wants-it (hereinafter CAGWI), the church that he invented, is the vessel to harvest those people. However, most folks only know Church-As-We-Know-It (hereinafter CAWKI) and are perplexed, because they see the difference between Jesus and the classical church system very well, and wonder where to go. So they go back to more concerts, music, arts, and media. So why don’t you also, like a growing number of Christians who begin to see the connection, open your house, open your kitchen, open your fridge, invite folks with questions, forget all churchyness, and let the answers begin to sink in.
-Free download of book here
-Videos based on book viewable here

By the way, on that "open fridge"comment, Wolfgang himself once ended an email to me saying something like: "I had better sign off..We are stocking our refrigerator for a bunch of young people who are coming over to our house."  (:

Politician or goatherder?

I have always loved this cartoon
by David Chien..

"Goatherder" is one of the alternate titles for "pastor" that I put on my business cards..if of course means I am called to shepherd the sheep, as well as goatherd the goats (pre-Christians).

A couple of "loud farting" parables --Matthew 18 and Luke 15 ---come to mind, spliced with the one in Matt 24, of course

The caption captures well that we
are either in ministry for our own popularity (baby-kissing politician/seducer) or to love the kind of people Jesus hung out/hung with.
Goatherding is our true calling...

More alternative titles:

Two Meta-Furs for Old School Dave Wainscott, SSR, BL

"and some He gave to be party planners, some teachers, some evangelists.."

Hofstadter video: Analogy as the core of cognition

a messy collection of questioners and quitters, with great beer

“We’re kind of a messy collection of questioners and quitters…but…it’s really not as bad as it probably sounds…and hey, by the way, we always have great home-brewed beer.”
-Joy Schroeder, from article here

The Future of Church is P.O.D., not Jars of Clay

Andy Crouch's classic article is several years old, but even more relevant now.
(Even though Jars of Clay has had a resurgence, and P.O.D. has become less popular, since then..):

The Future is P.O.D. :Multicultural voices have an edge in reaching a rapidly changing America...."
To be sure, we could do worse than to inspire another generation of cultural missionaries like Jars of Clay. But wouldn’t it be a shame not to create more like P.O.D. instead?"
by Andy Crouch.. (click to read)

Versitis, apples and oranges: Len Sweet video

to be nearer heaven, (the pastor) must feel the burden of earth

"Each Tsiddik has a special derekh, a special way of dealing with God and the Hassidim, and this derekh is expressed in prayers, melodies, teaching, everyday behavior...yet, for all his powers, a Tsiddik cannot function be nearer heaven, he must feel the burden of earth, and the earthly element is in the daily life, the tsores and troubles of the Hassidim."
-From :"Life is With People: The Culture of the Shetl"


"Imagine if being a Christian were about life?"

Folyd McClung video: What is Church

lock the church doors

"Despite his insistence on the primacy of the church, Calvin knew the church had its limits. John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress illustrates these limits well. In his classic allegory, Bunyan calls the church "the house built by the Lord of the Hill for the safety and rest of pilgrims." ...Then Bunyan has the keepers of the house send him away, out into the world.

Calvin did the same for his parishioners by locking the church doors after the service...Calvin locked the church doors so the church could be in the world...because he wanted the church to be salt and light in the world that God made and entrusted to us."
-Stephen Nichols, "The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World," pg. 79-82. HT: Matt Troupe

Sunday, January 24, 2010

looking for a way in

This is one of my favorite questions from my "Dear Abby" column. This came in years did the last question..we let it die to be raised up more wiki.

I answered this years ago; I am sure I would say it differently now (As Bono said after speaking at the Prayer Breakfast, "The me of ten years ago can't imagine that I am here now.")...I might start with "centered sets", but here it is:


Question: How can I connect what I feel inside to be true about God with what I hear others saying is true, when they don't match up? Should I deny the understanding & relationship I've developed about God in favor of other concepts which are tightly held by friends & family members, but seem strange & untrue to me? Can I be a Christian by picking & choosing among the ideas that circulate within the various Christ-based religions, assembling something that feels believable 100%, or must I take the totality of the dogma of one sect believing many parts to be untrue? I'm looking for a way in. Any suggestions? Also, how can I deal with the concepts that seem false? Disregard them, or fake belief? Faking belief seems dishonest.

Answer: Wow! Great, thoughtful questions. Ultimately, we have to base everything on Scripture. Since I don't know what particular group or groups you have in mind, I don't know whether everything in their particular doctrine is solid and biblical or not. Either way, God's revealed Word (the Bible that is; be wary of any group offering another book as Scriptural or near-Scriptural) is the only ultimate litmus test for you or your family and friends. I would hesitate to say that one can "pick and choose" among the various branches of Christianity, constructing something which "feels 100% believable." There may well be some things in authentic Christianity that don't seem believable to some, but are in fact essential, such as the physical resurrection of Jesus. The Word says without this foundational belief our entire faith is in vain. However, if what we "find believable" squares with what Scripture emphasizes, that model will work.

Don't believe anything either because loved ones (or even I) believe it, or you tend to believe it , but believe it because, in the words the bumper sticker, "God said it; I believe it; That settles it."

In response to the question about needing to believe the dogma of one sect in totality, I doubt that that is necessary. For example, I see no problem belonging to tradition with a slightly different teaching on communion than your personal view, for example (as long as the tradition offers you latitude in this area).

I am glad you are "looking for a way in." I agree that faking belief seems dishonest. But there is a principle I think is biblical, honest and helpful. Some call it "act as if it were true." My suggestion would be to make a list of the basics of biblical Christianity (go straight to the New Testament, or a book like Paul Little's "Know What you Believe" , John Stott's "Basic Christianity, " or C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity," and whether or not you believe it all, live your life for ten days "as if it were true." I don't know anyone who has taken this challenge who has not eventually agreed that Christ and His Word (not necessarily a particular denomination or expression of Christianity) are "the real thing" and found their "way in" in a way that was honest and didn't violate their own conscience and integrity. Start with an honest prayer something like, "Lord Jesus, I'm not even sure what I believe or if I believe in You the way these books describe, but if You are there, come into my life, and for then next ten days, help me to live and pray as if You were Who You say You are, and I covenant to make an honest decision at the end of that time."

If there are indeed particular doctrines that do seem false,. and they are not core issues such as Jesus being God, The Bible being God's Word, and Christ as the way to the Father, I would say tentatively put them aside and pray for discernment. I am so thankful for your refreshing questions. And know God is in love with you, and wanting to reveal Himself in a new way. I think Truth is self-authenticating. Above all, pray that God the Holy Spirit would show you what is essential and of Him, regardless of what anyone, including I, say. Would you keep in touch?"