Friday, February 28, 2014

Girls going wild in red light district

yes, it's a safe watch:

The infamous Derek Webb interview: faith, music and innovation

Below: the infamous Seth Howard Hurd interview of Derek Webb which lead to this book .
Hurd said of this interview:  "..after 10 years in media (and interviewing everyone from Gerard Butler to Barack Obama)……I think this is the most important interview of my career." Amazon book description:

"Last time I checked, no matter what kind of band you are, no matter how you're gifted, no matter what your calling is, if you don't have a worship song...you will not get played on the radio. So, these bands who have no business writing or recording worship music, because it's not how they are called or gifted, are doing it because they have to have a radio single. 

I never thought I would long for a day when Christian music was just bad and kind of irrelevant. Now it's all that, and offensive too." 

--Derek Webb, 12/21/12

Seth Tower Hurd spent a decade in Christian radio. The final three were pure misery, as the "Christian hits" format, which was originally designed to offer relevant music outside of the typical "soccer mom" stereotype, slowly died. 

After Hurd lost his job for "not appealing to 38 year old women," he released a book entitled "What Becky Didn't Want (Or: A Short Account of the Brief Life of Christian Hit Radio." 

This in turn led to a 90 minute long Google Hangout conversation with renowned singer-songwriter Derek Webb, centering around the tension between faith and commerce in the "Christian" music industry. 

The video took on a life of it's own, and is transcribed as the first section of this book. The remaining sections were submitted by as response essays by a variety of artists, writers and independent thinkers.

"I hope Seth Tower Hurd gets over his bitterness." 
-Christian radio manager 

Christian radio DJ: "Would you have written this book if you were still in the industry?" 

Seth Tower Hurd: "Well, no. I would have been fired. Because, in the industry, you're pressured to keep secrets. Which is pretty much why I wrote the book."  link

gated communities, the pros and cons of being invisible, and the 'arclight' of U2's new song

I’m more than you know
I’m more than you see here
More than you let me be
I’m more than you know
A body in a soul
You don’t see me but you will
I am not invisible..

There is no them
There’s only us



I could never..
would never...
                  live in a gated community.

Yet somehow I live in one.

For years, I quipped, "gated communities are against my religion."

link
God has a sense of humor (revenge?). When we were looking for a house, the only one available that met all our needs was one in a dreaded gated community.  I struggled, but did the husbandly and biblical thing: submitted to the wife and family.   I told myself-- and them-- it would only be temporary....and grumbled to myself that I would be temporarily miserable.

If you're wondering why I struggle so, a simple googling of  "Would Jesus live in a gated community?"
reveals that the obvious, expected answer is 'no.'

And the New York Times:
... gated communities churn a vicious cycle by attracting like-minded residents who seek shelter from outsiders and whose physical seclusion then worsens paranoid groupthink against outsiders link      
I can't wait to get out.

But in the meantime, I aim to learn all I can about
 exclusion and embrace (Volf's phrase),
                 bounded and centered sets
                                         and  the dynamics and dilemma of


  "us" and "them."

(It's that last pair of terms I'm interested in here; note that language is used in the NT Times audio)


I have even learned that one megachurch (Saddleback) has actually planted a church in a gated community; yes, "a church you can't visit".   No comment yet, but  (like Paul W, see link) I need to wrestle with that reality. Uh oh, I just had a terrible  thought: what if I'm called to do the same, while I live in one?

Get me out of here!  Time to change the scene:


The  indefatigable New Testament scholar Joel Green   (Ha!  I have waited years to use the word "indefatigable" for Joel Green, as he is the one who  introduced me to the word;  using it in reference to  F.F. Bruce) was asked to speak to a group of new pastors. I was a member of that group; and I was thrilled that the meeting took place at the church I pastored.  So in preparing the room for the meeting, I wrote on the top of the blackboard (Anyone remember these ancestors of whiteboards?)  "Congratulations Joel Green on 'Dictionary of the Gospels' winning Book of the Year."

After getting to know all of us, Green  promptly and without comment erased the  announcement and drew a large circle, placing the word "us" in its center.

He had our attention.

He then silently drew another circle, labeled "them."

In the silence, the take-home lesson was already hitting us; and the teacher hadn't yet  even said a word.

What he did next nailed it:  he re-drew the two circles so the "us" circle encompassed and included the "them" circle.


Twenty one years later, U2 releases the song "Invisible," in which the line Bono has used for years (see  my 2008 post here) in conversation and in concert finally becomes official.

"there's no 'them,' there's only 'us.'"



I love that in an early use of this phrase, Bono made it clear who the "them" was; the song was performed at the Dublin Paralympics (Special Olympics).  I dare you to watch who dances (4:15 to 4:51) to the lyric at hand, and not get it.
.


Steve Stockman:


that lingering anthemic “fade out” nails the prophetic protest,“There is no them... There’s only us..” It is simple, profound and powerful.

The humanising is a recurring theme in U2Original Of The Speciesfrom How To Dismantle and Atomic Bomb was about revealing to someone their specialness and Get Your Boots On from Line On The Horizon took on the same aim, “You don't know how beautiful you are...” Invisible seems to throw a wider arclight. This could be about the dalits of India, the forgotten refugees of Syria or Sudan or the disappeared of any war.  link
And to cast an even wider (narrower?) arclight, it could be about anyone who has ever felt themselves a "them," and thus invisible. Tim Neufeld, in a two-part series  (part one,  part two)
on U2's Invisible, offers this helpful connection:



It’s not just albums that I think of when I listen to “Invisible.” A little-known movie that Bono co-wrote in 2000 also deals with similar themes. The Million Dollar Hotel, directed by Wim Wenders, is set on skid row in downtown Los Angeles and follows a number of mentally ill people who live in a rundown hotel. (I know the area well and annually take college students into this environment.) In the movie, Tom Tom (Jeremy Davies) becomes the self-appointed protector of Eloise (Milla Jovovich), a young, vulnerable and withdrawn tenant, resistant to any friendships. The villain, Geronimo (Jimmy Smits), delights in subjugating Eloise which causes great distress for Tom Tom. At a key moment in the film, Geronimo brazenly confesses his conquest of Eloise to Tom Tom. “I fucked nothing!” he brags. "She's not NOTHING!" Tom Tom protests. At this we are confronted with one of the main points of the movie: to all but Tom Tom, (and not unlike most of the homeless and disabled in our society), Eloise is invisible; she is nothing. It’s a heartbreaking moment. Eloise could be writing the lyrics for “Invisible.” “I’m more than you know, I’m more than you see, I’m not invisible.”  link

I am fascinated that, in an amazing book, chemist P.W. Atkins makes the case for the "hidden potency" of things invisible.  He even argues that "invisibility does not mean uselessness" (p. 11).  He's speaking of  oxygen and nitrogen, but this applies to Eloise, and to me, and to any in seasons of invisibility and "them"-ness.

Someone who has been abused/raped/trafficked  often articulates the paradox of invisibility:  due to the need for safety (Dear Lord, here he comes again, please make me invisible!")  and the sense of shame, they want to be/feel they should  invisible/disappear into nothingness (see Frank Lake) and also more than anything need to be validated, believed and believed in... heard and seen.   
 As U2 has sung, some things/people "need to be believed to be seen."    Elsewhere in the U2 canon, we find "I'm in the black, can't see or be seen."

Or to intertext to The Who:  consider Tommy's plea/prayer "See me, feel me, touch me, heal me.." 
It all starts with being seen.
 Or the devastating, determined "Can you see the real me, preacher?"
As a preacher, I must see like Jesus sees, and see what and who  he sees.

Jesus sees those outside the gate...

                 and even those inside.


I am not invisible
I am here!





Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Marlena Dietrich meets the Beatles with a trace of King Crimson"


"Marlena Dietrich meets the Beatles with a trace of King Crimson"
-one reviewer's take on Sam Phillips' "Omnipop:


rest of album here

Friday, February 21, 2014

chaos/improv/jamming is not linear..U2 and the songwriting process

From Forbes article:
..."The thing about U2 songs,” guitarist The Edge told Rolling Stone about the making of their forthcoming album, “is there is no set way they come into being. A couple of songs on the album have literally been like, ‘We’re all together, here’s some chords, let’s see what happens.’ And suddenly, an hour later, there is a song, an arrangement and a recording. Other things, you know there is something great in there, how to make it really count.”

U2’s songwriting started out chaotic because they were four teenagers who didn’t know what they were doing. Nearly four decades later, and despite becoming accomplished musicians, they have held on to their chaotic method of songwriting.

Most bands have one or two primary songwriters who bring semi-completed songs to the rest of the band, who polish them and stamp the band’s sound onto them. U2 is one of the rare bands that initiates the songwriting process with skeletal ideas that they jam, or improvise on, until a song emerges. Or doesn’t. It’s an ambiguous, long, and frustrating process with many false starts and dead ends. It takes patience, commitment and faith.

Which U2 has. They’ve been through enough transitions as a band – for example from the soulful Joshua Tree to the edgy Achtung Baby and back – to know that as a creative unit, they are most likely to grow by maintaining this improvisational working method. Because it’s worked for them in the past, U2 has resisted the temptation to adopt a more formulaic approach.

Research shows that in other creative domains, significant work comes from a chaotic rather than a structured linear process....continued

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Brian Williams : "Rapper's Delight"

video of Pope Francis addressing Kenneth Copeland conference...no, not kidding

Video below (backstory:" A Pentecostal, a pope and an iPhone for Christian unity").
The pope starts at  31:30:
 
Related:

Video: Ed Hird asks Luis Palau if Pope Francis is a "brother in Christ"

"You've got to be a hypocrite for awhile, so that the reality can be shown"

With the cameras in hot pursuit, Derren faces his toughest project yet, going in search of an unsuspecting member of the British public prepared to adopt the guise of a pastor and miracle worker.
His chosen one then has six months to learn the trade and flourish across the pond as a convincing pastor.
The final phase of the volunteer’s extraordinary challenge sees them attempt to perform faith healing miracles live in Texas, but will Derren’s new recruit be accepted as a faith healer or cast away as fake healer?

34:40 in video: "You've got to be a hypocrite for awhile, so that the reality can be shown"-Ole Anthony


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Brian Zahnd's Problem With the Bible

My Problem With the Bible
Brian Zahnd
I have a problem with the Bible. Here’s my problem… continued

The Secret Jewish History of Don Quixote

The Secret Jewish History of Don Quixote

NY Times Travel article on thin places

NY Times Travel article on thin places:


TRAVEL, like life, is best understood backward but must be experienced forward, to paraphrase Kierkegaard. After decades of wandering, only now does a pattern emerge. I’m drawn to places that beguile and inspire, sedate and stir, places where, for a few blissful moments I loosen my death grip on life, and can breathe again. It turns out these destinations have a name: thin places.

Travel to thin places does not necessarily lead to anything as grandiose as a “spiritual breakthrough,” whatever that means, but it does disorient. It confuses. We lose our bearings, and find new ones. Or not. Either way, we are jolted out of old ways of seeing the world, and therein lies the transformative magic of travel.

It’s not clear who first uttered the term “thin places,” but they almost certainly spoke with an Irish brogue. The ancient pagan Celts, and later, Christians, used the term to describe mesmerizing places like the wind-swept isle of Iona (now part of Scotland) or the rocky peaks of Croagh Patrick. Heaven and earth, the Celtic saying goes, are only three feet apart, but in thin places that distance is even shorter.

So what exactly makes a place thin? It’s easier to say what a thin place is not. A thin place is not necessarily a tranquil place, or a fun one, or even a beautiful one, though it may be all of those things too. Disney World is not a thin place. Nor is Cancún. Thin places relax us, yes, but they also transform us — or, more accurately, unmask us. In thin places, we become our more essential selves.
Thin places are often sacred ones ... 

but they need not be, at least not conventionally so. A park or even a city square can be a thin place. So can an airport. I love airports. I love their self-contained, hermetic quality, and the way they make me feel that I am floating, suspended between coming and going. One of my favorites is Hong Kong International, a marvel of aesthetics and efficiency. I could spend hours — days! — perched on its mezzanine deck, watching life unfold below. Kennedy Airport, on the other hand, is, for the most part, a thick place. Spread out over eight terminals,  there is no center of gravity, nothing to hold on to. (Nor is there anything the least bit transcendent about a T.S.A. security line.) 


....A bar can be a thin place, too...


....Bookstores are thin places, too..

To some extent, thinness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Or, to put it another way: One person’s thin place is another’s thick one...
 

...If God (however defined) is everywhere and “everywhen,” as the Australian aboriginals put it so wonderfully, then why are some places thin and others not? Why isn’t the whole world thin?
Maybe it is but we’re too thick to recognize it. Maybe thin places offer glimpses not of heaven but of earth as it really is, unencumbered. Unmasked.  link

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

amerikan arkitecture: even realer than the fake real thing?

image source
My wife, on her first visit to Disneyland (specifically, Tiki Room):  "It's all fake!"
Me: "I think that's the point."


--
Below excerpt from pp 36-38 of   The Experience Economy (updated edition here )

... Note that the Rainforest Cafe, which combines the dining room with a retail shop and bills itself as A Wild Place to Shop and Eat," is not out to simulate the actual experience of being in a rain forest . Rather it aims to stage an authentic-and esthetic-experience of the Rainforest Cafe.

 Another wild place to shop can be found in Owatonna, Minnesota, at Cabela's, a 150,000-square-foot outfitter of hunting, fishing, and other outdoor gear. Rather than add elements of entertainment to the store, Dick and Jim Cabela turned it into an esthetic experience, centered (literally) around a thirty-five-foot-high mountain with a waterfall and featuring more than a hundred stuffed taxidermic animals, many of them shot by the two brothers or other family members. This part of the store represents four different North American ecosystems. Elsewhere, two huge dioramas depict African scenes that include the so-called Big Five big-game targets: the elephant, lion, leopard, rhinoceros, and cape buffalo. Three aquariums hold a number of varieties of prized fish, while almost seven hundred different kinds of animals in total are mounted in and around every department of the store. Truly, as Dick Cabela told the St. Paul Pioneer Press, "We're selling an experience."" So much so that more than 35,000 people visited the refurbished store on the day it opened, and the company expects more than one million visitors every year



The esthetics of an experience may be completely natural, as when touring a national park, primarily man-made, as when dining at the Rainforest Cafe, or somewhere in between, as when shopping at Cabela's. There's no such thing as an artificial experience. Every experience created within the individual is real, whether the stimuli be natural or simulated. Extending this view, renowned architect Michael Benedikt discusses the role he believes architects play in connecting people to a "realness" within their created environments: 

Such experiences, such privileged moments, can be profoundly moving; and precisely from such moments, I believe, we build our best and necessary sense of an independent yet meaningful reality. I should like to call them direct esthetic experiences of the real and to suggest the following: in our media-saturated times it falls to architecture to have the direct esthetic experience of the real at the center of its concerns

 . While architects may lead, it really falls to everyone involved in the staging of esthetic experiences to connect individuals and the (immersive) reality they directly (albeit passively) experience, even when the environment seems less than "real." Benedikt would likely call the Rainforest Cafe and similar venues "non-real," and insist that its architects address "the issue of authenticity by framing [displaying the inauthentic as inauthentic], by making fakery honest, as it were."Z3 To stage compelling esthetic experiences, designers must acknowledge that any environment designed to create an experience is not real (the Rainforest Cafe, for instance, is not the rain forest ). They should not try to fool their guests into believing it's something it is not. 

Architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable makes a similar distinction when she says "it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell the real fake from the fake fake. All fakes are clearly not equal; there are good fakes and bad fakes. The standard is no longer real versus phony, but the relative merits of the imitation. What makes the good ones better is their improvement on reality. " To illustrate the difference, we'll consider two invented envi- ronments Huxtable spends considerable time critiquing: Universal City Walk and just about anyplace Disney.

 City Walk in Los Angeles is a collection of retail shops, restaurants, movie theatres, high-tech rides, and low-tech kiosks, each with a distinctive facade. Controlled exaggeration abounds, as in the four-story guitar adorning the Hard Rock Cafe. Visitors lazily stroll through a water fountain that shoots up at well-timed intervals. Guests pay an There's no such entrance fee for parking (nobody walks to anything in L.A., thing as do but here they pay admission to walk around) that's reim- artificial bursed only if they spend money at a dining or movie experience (purchases of goods merit no reimbursement). Part experience theme park and part public square, City Walk primarily imparts an esthetic experience, Huxtable confirms, as it "is being used for its own sake."" The realness of its fakery evidences itself from the very moment you park your car in the ungarnished lot. The back of the buildings greet arriving guests, who thus see the unadorned undersides of the facades as they walk in. Outside you see the inside of the mask; inside you see its outside. Adjacent buildings, unassociated with City Walk, remain visible through alleys and other off-shoots to the main drag. Its esthetic acknowledges its fakeness. Through framing, it's truly a real fake.

 The esthetic of most Disney experiences, on the other hand, seeks to hide all things fake: No one gets to see behind the curtain. Parking lots smoothly flow into shuttle buses, welcoming booths, and turnstiles. Facades seamlessly integrate into one another, lest some guest detect the trickery in the dimensional downsizing. Mickey Mouse never takes off his mask, lest we see the pimply faced kid inside. It's the fake fake that Huxtable and other critics decry, not being true to what they deem it really is. 

Or is it real fake fake? Other critics laud Disney for creating wholly immersive environments, consistent and engaging within themselves. One writes "that from whatever angle, nothing looks fake. Fabricated, yes- fake, no. Disneyland isn't the mimicry of a thing; it's a thing.... I'm convinced the genius of Disneyland isn't its fancifulness, but its literalism."" On the subject of Disney theme parks many people (including coauthors) disagree. But one thing remains clear: an esthetic experience must be true to itself and come off as real to its guests.  - pp 36-38 of   The Experience Economy 


A Brief History of The Choir

Part 1: continued here

N.T. Wright on interpreting the 'sinister" parable





here

dreaming>hovering>risking ...and learning from hellbound 'heretics' like Rob Bell on Genesis and Revelation

From  a post by Barrett Owen,

consider

              dreaming>
                          hovering>risking

as the pattern  God used in                                  creation
and the same pattern we use in                            decision-making


Do read the original post.
 Good example that what may seem eisegesis or misusing the text may well be merely midrash or another valid  (yes, always risky) interpretation indeed (Ask the rabbi).

Good reminder that when teaching on/from the two books in which a certain interpretation is often the litmus test of orthodoxy..

                               ..that is, the first and last books of the Bible..

one can draw profound and valid teaching, which need not enter the culture wars or inerrancy wars.

For example, just because  Barrett's prof " wasn’t arguing for a six, twenty-four hour day Creation story,"
doesn't mean he doesn't belief the text is also about creation; maybe even that  "six, twenty-four hour day" version.

If you are not afraid of someone who is already the poster child for heresy in some circles..

Rob Bell (who believes in hell, btw) 's teachings on Genesis  (uh oh) and Revelation  (gasp) may help.

Note that in the Genesis video, he talks on Genesis 1-2 for over an hour and never deals with creation vs. evolution, or the literal days it took (!)

Note that in the Revelation video, he talks on the book everyone has heard is "about" the end times, and never

mentions the end times in the whole hour (!).

It's important when responding to teachings like this to say, "Don't hear what they're NOT saying."
Just because the teacher calls Genesis a "poem," doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't think it is somehow also history.
Just because the teacher talks on Revelation as dealing with the past and present doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't think it is also somehow(somewhen) to do with the future.

And even if he DOES,
see what you can learn from the teacher about the text,
 temporarily becoming

  •  a conscientious objector in the culture wars,
  • and holding out from the heresy hunt for a season...and reason.
Even if...especially if... you think the teacher is off in some areas (I do),
be open to where they may be on..








evangelical protestants with #popecrush


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thomas Cahill video: "The People's Pope"

Transcript here and here (video below)
--------------------
 Part 1 (The People's Pope):
 
Part 2 (about Heroes and Heretics):

easier to describe stasis than movement: the problem of history


Thomas Cahill:

Many historians fail to mention it [the Irish contribution] entirely, and few advert to the breathtaking drama of this cultural cliffhanger. This is probably because it is easier to describe stasis (classical, then medieval) than movement (classical to medieval). It is also true that historians are generally expert in one period or the other, so that analysis of the transition falls outside their--and everyone's?--competence. At all events, I know of no single book now in print that is devoted to the subject of the transition, nor even one in which this subject plays a substantial part.


In looking to remedy this omission, we may as well ask ourselves the big question: How real is history? Is it just an enormous soup, so full of disparate ingredients that it is uncharacterizable? Is it true, as Emil Cioran has remarked, that history proves nothing because it contains everything? Is not the reverse side of this that history can be made to say whatever we wish it to?  (p. 5, context, see excerpt here)



masculinist Mennonite nonviolence?

Intriguing quote, from an article about the sexual abuse allegations against Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder:


..there's always been something oddly masculinist about the way Mennonites teach nonviolence. Mennonite pacifist discourse evolved as a response to the dominant ideal of warrior masculinity, a way for men to justify not going to war; it has never been as fully formed or as celebrated for its challenge to interpersonal violence...link
The Woody Allen Problem: How Do We Read Pacifist Theologian (and Sexual Abuser) John Howard Yoder?

Pope Francis Blesses Porn Star’s Parrot

story

Pope Francis: insult comic/snarky prophet




Excerpt from  The Week's article


Pope Francis, insult comicHailed for striking a gentler tone, the pope is actually the vicar of snark

...The unnoticed part of the "new tone" in the church is that Francis is practically an insult comic. Where Benedict sought to condemn errors in the abstract, Pope Francis makes it personal and attacks tendencies within certain groups of people, usually in highly stylized papal idioms.

He has condemned "airport bishops." Christians who complain too much, he called "Mr. and Mrs. Whiner." Can we even imagine how much crap Pope Benedict would have taken from the media if he told nuns not to become "old maids?" Francis said just that, though.

Sometimes it is not exactly clear whom the pope intends to lampoon. The pope has dumped rhetorical acid on "Christians of words," who "are rigid! This type think that being Christian means being in perpetual mourning." At other times Francis is much too clear, like when he said journalists run the risk of "becoming ill from coprophilia and thus fomenting coprophagia" — that is, journalists turned on by shit might get sick from eating it.
Catholics of a more traditional bent really cause Francis to bring out the stick. He has called them "triumphalists" and "restorationists." He dubs those that send him notes enumerating the number of rosaries they have prayed for him "Pelagians," after the heretic who denied the necessity of divine grace for salvation 
..One Catholic blogger has been commissioned to compile all the Vicar of Christ's invective into The Pope Francis Little Book of Insults.
 Insults aren't foreign to Christianity. Jesus himself was brutal when condemning the "whitened sepulchers" and the "brood of vipers" among the religious leaders of his day.  
.. link.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

the sound of DNA

"We are people born of sound...Let me in the sound, God"  -U2

"We are sung, musically into form. I love this fact. We are all part of a symphony, a choreography of a score.. DNA music exists within every living organism universally and now we have the technology 
to unlock a symphony from within everyone for a better and more aesthetic understanding of life, ourselves and each other" Stuart Mitchell, link below

Links:
Your DNA Song
What Does DNA Sound Like?

TF Translates DNA Into Music Sequence - The Harvard Crimson

Morning Edition - How a Cell Sounds - NPR

"Why I Don’t Go to Church Very Often" by Donald Miller

worth a careful read:

 Why I Don’t Go to Church Very Often"  by Donald Miller

Sample below, Reason #7:
Your church likely looks nothing like the church in the book of Acts, which, was not much of a prescription on how to do church anyway. There are some marching orders in the book, but there aren’t many. Mostly those direct instructions are about choosing elders and deacons and dividing up each others money so that it’s shared. But that’s mostly it.
The modern traditional church sticks to the part about the elders, very loosely nods towards the financial stuff, but is basically a large school system. The modern evangelical church is an adaptation of an ancient institution led by scholars after the invention of the printing press. It is also an evolution of a government-run institution dating back centuries. And it continues to evolve today into something else.

Unless you are Shane Claiborne, your church probably doesn’t look anything like the church in the book of Acts, so lets not get self righteous.

As a side note, many thinkers in America credit the growth of the American church with supply and demand principals. They say the reason the church in England is struggling is because it was so influenced by the government it didn’t adapt with culture, where in America churches had to compete with each other and so adapted, evolved, grew in style, shared best practices at conferences and adopted marketing and branding strategies they learned from business leaders.
The church in America, in other words, is a product of a school-like system mingled with best business practices and is quickly moving toward entertainment-like institutions. And to be honest, that amazing adaptation and evolution has worked fantastically. I think it’s great. These practices reach tons of people who want Jesus, community and wisdom from an ancient trustworthy text. That said, to say traditional church is Biblical is a stretch because of two false presuppositions.

Those two false presuppositions are:

1. The Bible has specific, robust and complete instructions on building and running a church community. It doesn’t. As I said earlier, the book of Acts has a few marching orders, but as a writer I assure you, that’s not the authors intent in that book. It’s a history of the early church and an encouragement for us.

2. The church you are attending is a Biblical church. If you mean it’s a church that is centered around Jesus and takes the eucharist, perhaps. But, again, your church likely doesn’t look like the church in Acts. And I think that’s fine. God wanted the orthodox theology to stay the same, but the church can, should and has evolved in style, language, customs and so forth.
It’s a hard thing for some people to get their heads around, but God shares agency with us in creating the church and we get to use our creativity and heart and passion to incorporate these loose instructions. Actually, big business could learn a thing or two from churches. And so could education reformers. Because of the passion pastors have for the gospel, their willingness to share best practices and the economic competition they face with neighboring churches, they often adapt faster than business. When I was a kid, our church looked like a school mixed with an anglican-style high church.

Today, many churches look like night clubs complete with pastors being piped in on video. It’s quite brilliant and I’ve no problem with it, it’s just not my thing. I don’t like night clubs. And I don’t like lectures and I don’t emote to worship music. And I still love Jesus. It’s shocking, but it’s true. That said, lets stop using the word “Biblical” as some sort of ace card when it comes to how church should be done.   link




"The pope, a porn star and a parrot walk into a bar.."

That is one of the best opening lines ever ...
                                     in an article about Pope Francis.
Read it here...you know you want to,

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

holy blending...just do it


"Jesus never opened his mouth without a parable coming out," (Matt 13:34-5)

“The greatest thing by far is to be master of analogy....it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars.”
(Poetics, 1459 a 5-8, "The Basic Works of Aristotle")



"If genius is the ability to see analogy;
certainly madness is the ability to see analogy where none exists." -Mike Nesmith

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One of the most important disciplines for stretching your brain and creating creativity is

...whatever you want to call it:

  • "looking for the unobvious" connections between two things
  • reading, engaging parables that compare/contrast
  • making a song mash-up of two songs
  • seizing synesthesia
  • making metaphors
In light of this photo by Brant Hansen 
(great blogger, hope he starts again), I have a new metaphor for
this whole metaphoring discipline:
holy blending

The look on the blender's face reminds me of the look on the faces of some students who at first think they can't do it/don't want to do it.
Usually, it's more fun than they thought.

Go to it.  Blend two items that you don't think blend well...


If Dr. Hook can make it, why not Pope Francis?



















See the Rolling Stone cover story on Francis
here.

Pope Francis: The Times They AreInteresting article  for many reasons.  One random example: his leadership style is twice compared to Bill Clinton's..



 Related:

U2theology on Interference

Interesting that almost all  the articles listed under a current click of the tab called "U2 Commentary, Essays and Analysis" on the Interference site are explicitly theological.


 Andrew William Smith:


Sacred Stables, Sacred Stadiums: Lifting the Veil on “Zooropa” at Christmas  by Andrew William Smith
...........Something got hidden away in the starry starburst of rising young rockstars. God gets lost in man chasing mammon. God gets lost from man. Like God hiding from Moses in the rocks, this is rock that hides God only to reveal God. Bono recalls, “I wanted to get away from the weight of where I was going. I wanted to fly. . . . And I have no religion, I don’t know what’s what. There is a line in the New Testament [John 3:8] which says that the Spirit moves and no one knows where it comes from or where it is going. It’s like a wind. I have always felt that about my faith. Religion is often the enemy of God because it denies the spontaneity of the Spirit and almost anarchistic nature of the Spirit.”

At its dirty Christmas core, the Christ story is an anarchic breaking through. The veil of colored lights gets lifted, and we get lifeblood. The dirty story of Christmas finds this unmarried teenager and faithful fiancé finding the unfound, unfettered scandalous incarnation of a baby king.
The “Zooropa” narrative of human-techno hybrids in hope and fear throws back a couple of millennia to the divine-human dangerous idea of messianic and revolutionary Jesus. Bono sings, “Let’s go to the overground/Get your head out of the mud baby/Put flowers in the mud baby/Overground.”

Jesus Christ is the flower in the mud, the flower in the gunbarrel of history, saying love still wins. The author of Love Wins, Rob Bell, in his followup treatise What We Talk About When We Talk About God, rips the veil even further.

Referencing Hebrews 10:20, Bell suggests the Christ-event ripped open history and lifted the veil. Bell proclaims, “[T]his ripping was a picture of how, because of Jesus, we can have new, direct access to God. […T]he curtain ripping also means that God comes out, that God is no longer confined to the temple as God was previously. God, of course, was never confined by a building. The point of the story is that our understanding of God was.”

Perhaps Bell and Bono of the post-Zoo period are onto the same thing: ripping away the veils between secular and sacred dualities, human and divine dichotomies. When the veil of lights lifted from the 360-stage to reveal the band again, the new setting set fires in souls..

.Then the next U2 rock show, whether in stadiums or back to arenas, can be again, like Bell writes, a place to say: “You are on holy ground wherever you are, and Jesus comes to let us know that the whole world is a temple because we’re temples, all of life is spiritual, all space sacred, all ground holy.” Even stables of the first century, even stadiums of the 21st century. 


Pastor Jonathan Martin:


U2 & the Holy Ghost iPod Shuffle
...There may well be a rational explanation to the timing and sequencing of those songs on my iPod that day, but even if that were true, it wouldn’t change or diminish the impact of what I heard.  My response was not irrational, but it transcended my capacity for reason.  I wasn’t just hearing U2 play a rock song.  I was hearing an ancient song.  I was hearing the music of God’s love in the same way I believe David heard it in the field as a boy.  It was the wonder that called me back to who I really am, that called me forward to who I am meant to become.  That’s what music does; that’s what wonder does.  God uses these things to remind us of who we really are. Jonathan Martin


Ted Trost:


Transgressing Theology: Locating Jesus in a “F—ed-Up World” by Religious Studies Prof  Ted Trost
In the tradition of Ronald Reagan and Pink Floyd (in very different contexts), U2′s songs amount to the plea: “tear down the wall.”  Within the framework of Christian doctrine, U2 put forward a “transgressive theology.”  In these POP tunes, U2 transgress the borders between spirit and flesh, sacred and profane, high and low.  On this album, the “Popmart” as medium of pop culture in the context of commercial exchange becomes hallowed ground.  To be extreme about it:  God is Pop.....

The POP album opens in the tradition of David.. 

...this pursuit includes the search for “baby Jesus under the trash”—that is, in the midst of the muck and mire of human existence, once again challenging the dividing line between sacred realm and the earth-bound.   Locating Jesus under the trash is not the same thing as positioning him “at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,” to quote a doctrinal formulation.  Indeed (as Bono will sing in a different but related context in the song “If God Will Send His Angels”):  “the High Street never looked so low.”  Still, there’s something hauntingly familiar about this dislocation to “the places where no flowers grow,” to the realm of the discarded, to the barn out back after permission to enter the inn has been withheld.POP becomes a theological assertion.  It claims the commercial realm as God’s realm.  link


Snith


Flamethrower Holiness: Bono, Brueggemann, & the Psalms (Headphone Devotionals, part two)

...Rock music as a daily devotional tool surely gets practiced by runners, walkers, weight-lifters, and coffee-sipping hipsters on the daily, but to theorize such in a theological-liturgical manner means new terrain. Like with the songs “Bad” or “Drowning Man,” like “Vertigo” or “Wake Up Dead Man,” the psalms have an aching rock-bottom blues disposition that’s not pretty or pious. Even ever popular and too readily categorized U2, rock music itself remains a renegade force in culture, still largely undomesticated in its musicological meme. Brueggemann begs us to see past what he calls “equilibrium” to that queasy and uneasy place that the Psalter takes us, liminal “experiences of dislocation and relocation” because it “is experiences of being overwhelmed, nearly destroyed, and surprisingly given life that empower us to pray and sing.” 
Check out the Headphone Devotionals project blog where we can pray the U2 songs together: http://headphonedevotionals.blogspot.com/    link