Wednesday, May 31, 2006

JOY FALLS IN FRESNO: A Citywide House of Prayer

my article distributed at our first meeting of 247 Prayer in Fresno:

JOY FALLS IN FRESNO: A Citywide House of Prayer
The phrase “Joy Falls” sounds vaguely familiar, I know.

No, it’s not what you’re thinking; it’s not the name of that third cousin of yours (twice removed) in Arkansas.

And even though it IS the name of a 70 foot high waterfall in Big South Fork, Tennessee;
that’s not exactly what we have in mind, either.

“Joy Falls” is a motto for, and summary of, what is about to happen in Fresno, California…. and touch the world from there: a 24/7 (twenty four hours a day, seven days a week) “intentionally international,” and deeply joyful , “house of prayer. “ A place from which joy and blessing will fall upon those praying; and fall in turn and in time upon the city which we will pray for; a city which, by the way, God has sovereignly, specifically, and strategically planted us in (some of us against our will!) . “God has chosen the exact times and precise places where everyone should live”, as Acts 10:26 would have it…

As far as inaugurating a 24/7 citywide, “house” of joy and prayer for all nationalities: That precise place is Fresno, and the exact time is now.

Contrary to what most folks think; and even against what we were taught in Sunday School!), Jesus’ “temple tantrum” against the moneychangers and dovesellers was not primarily motivated by those scoundrels; “selling stuff in church.” Note that Jesus did not say “Thou shalt stop selling stuff in church!,” but “My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations…” (Mark 11:17)

His casting out of the moneychangers and dovesellers was not because they were changing money and selling doves; but because they were doing so precisely on the only spot in the temple area where non-Jews could worship. They had the nerve to set up shop right on the “pews “ of the people who most needed to be there: “all nations.” Bluntly stated, Jesus’ “righteous anger” was about racism
far more than commercialism. It was more to do with securing a safe place for all people to pray; than a
place where no “secular” business transacted.

The “joy” connection to this intentionally international house of prayer?

“Joy,” C. S. Lewis offered, “ is the serious business of heaven. ” Even more foundationally, it’s the very keynote, signpost, and evidence of any valid “ houses of prayer” business on earth; Jesus Himself said so! There is no doubt that his biblical text for his famed “temple tantrum” sermon was Isaiah 56:6-8: “Let all people and races come, and to these I will give the one thing that validates a house of prayer for all nations:


(more on the “temple tantrum “:

That joy is about to finally fall in Fresno; and you intuitively know that you….we… inevitably
have a huge part to pray, and a holy part to play, in that prayer/joy falling according to God’s will and timetable.

Many have felt the stirrings; you have participated, prophesied and paved the way in building expectancy.

When Christianity Today magazine asked publicly from its cover on March 6 2000, “What is God Doing in Fresno?” (, it was because God had energized and synergized many remarkable vessels (Pastors Sprayer Summit, plans for the 2001 Billy Graham Crusade, No Name Fellowship, One by One, etc etc) for unity and revival.

However optimistic that cover question was, the eventual answer at the end of the article was tentative:
“The church in Fresno is all over the map, literally and figuratively. It's premature to say that what's happening in Fresno will make a lasting difference.”

Here’s what I am not saying, not by a long shot: that the 24/7 prayer center is THE key piece of the revival God is desiring to birth; THE lasting difference. But it will be a catalyst, facilitator and blesser of every ministry with the city’s joy on its heart ; and a blesser of everyone in our city.

“God's view of Fresno does not have the church in the middle," began a very provocative quote by one Fresno leader in that article (Richard Kriegbaum…full disclosure: my father-in-law). “He has the people of Fresno in the middle." A people who are “all nations.” Who crave joy. And need prayer.

"A lot of people are thoroughly enjoying the challenge and the work," (then) Mayor Patterson concluded in the article. "There's a joy rising in Fresno."

Whether you picture the joy rising or falling; it’s coming.

And we are the only people who can kickstart and pray it into being.

“The church is the only group large enough to affect a community…. There is nothing that can't be done by the church, ” our own Alan Doswald wrote in a more recent (January 2005, Christianity Today article. But he warns: “ Our vital role is not realized, however, until we are mobilized.”

Sound like a big challenge? Of course it is.

“But no one has ever done this before; it’s impossible!,” Trinity said to Neo in the film “The Matrix.”

“I know,” Neo calmly but firmly responded. “That’s why it’s going to work.”

Yes, city-wide houses of prayer have been pulled off around the world, from Jerusalem ( to Kansas City (I.H.O.P.); and many models are available to draw and learn from.

But no one has done it in Fresno; and none has been established that will have our unique flavor.
And it may be impossible.

Which is precisely why it is possible; and “going to work”!

The critical mass has amassed ; the Tipping Point is tipping in our favor; there is holy restlessness driving it; partly because crime rates, gang activity and concentrated poverty has intensified. .

In a startling and relevant analysis, one leader suggests that there are typically two events that happen in a city that can falsely convince us that we have arrived (or are beginning to) spiritually: a Pastor’s Prayer Summit, and a Billy Graham Crusade. This leader does not at all suggest these two signs are bad things; indeed they have both been amazingly God-breathings in our city. But they both serve to facilitate our even better days are ahead.

The goal and vision:

Especially in light of Mark 11: 17 and Isaiah 56:6-8..

To establish a citywide 24-7 Christian city prayer center, one that is postured to be “intentionally international,” and positioned to let God’s joy, salvation and blessing fall upon our beloved Fresno. It will be at a neutral location (i.e., not at a local church facility, as that would send the wrong message)

It will be:

a)a safe place for individuals and groups to come and pray; either ‘alone,’ or with someone there who is available to pray for/with them.

b)a place from which to pray for our city (churches, government leaders, businesses, etc etc), as well as state, nation and world.
c)A center and encourager for anything to do with connecting and “cross-pollinating” the various prayer networks/ groups, ministries/ streams of our city (citywide prayer website, encouraging all such streams to continue meeting and dreaming together…such as is happening at the Roundtable for Prayer Ministries., etc.)

In an alternative outline, the values will be:

1. Bridging Church, Community and City (Luke 10:27)
2. Working the Net (John 21:6 and Internet) and Networking Networks
3. Fasting When We MissJesus (Mark 2:20)
4. Forming Forerunners and Enfolding the Fivefold (Ephesians 2:20; 4:11)
5. Seeing the Kingdom Manifest in Fresno and Beyond (Matthew 4:17; 11:12; Hebrews 6:5)

One obvious potential location, as it is squarely in the marketplace, not “churchy”, and in fact in the tallest building between Los Angeles and San Francisco….is the currently available 6th floor of the historic 1924 skyscraper that is “not only the center of Fresno; but also Fresno’s icon representing their home” ; The 1060 Fulton Mall “Security Bank” building; now officially named Fresno Pacific Towers.

The building’s website (, from which the previous quote was located) remembers that:

“Originally, there was a flagpole with a huge revolving light 315 feet above the sidewalk. The beacon was intended to warn farmers within a thirty mile radius of frost and storm warnings and to guide airplanes to the airport. This flagpole has since been replaced with a sturdy steel antenna which houses communication equipment along with the still present airplane beacon.”

One cannot miss the potentially prophetic symbolism; the “bank” may again be a warning; a beacon; a blessing. Not to mention that lighted windows formed a huge cross across this landmark building during Easter week not that many years ago.

Thanks to ‘church and state’ issues; those days of a lighted cross on such a public building the building may not come again.

But the equivalent; the Cross, and its Joy , will in the near future fall upon our city in an unprecedented way; perhaps from this historic building; which just might be…in part…a house of prayer for all nations.

Saundra King, a woman of prayer and a visionary, now owns the building. Every day, she and her staff “give the building to God.” She would like to rent the 6th floor as a whole for perhaps $7000 a month.

That would of course be too much of a stretch for any one church …or even ten churches…to score.

But what if there were only one church in Fresno, with 400-plus branch offices; and suddenly there are sources and resources to make the impossible happen. (For example: Twenty four congregations offering $292 a month does it, not to factor in inevitable grants and individual and corporate donations)

Right, Neo?

Yes, “Joy Falls” actually is a 70 foot waterfall in Big South Fork, Tennessee.

But the one church of Fresno, California is called and chosen to…via its current fork in the road…
establish a citywide, intentionally international, house of prayer where Joy Falls . It might even be from the panoramic view of the 6th floor of a “secular” building that is 242 feet high.

There are practical steps that could make it happen.

There are prophetic people who can take those steps.

There are powerful yet gentle intercessors, entrepreneurs, pastors, leaders; and most importantly “everyday” followers of the Jesus who desires nothing more than that Joy might fall upon a city
through the prayers of his church.

It’s time for a sequel to “What is God Doing in Fresno?”. Many of you will be part of that story. Fresno’s City House of Prayer will be part of that sequel.

It’s impossible.

Which is why it will happen.

Dave Wainscott
1060 Fulton Mall, Suite 711
Fresno 93726

Monday, May 29, 2006

Kiwi: Missional or Traditional

See the Tall Skinny Kiwi post here for the scoop..

Evocative, ethereal, beyond words

George Fulp talks about a place "beyond faith."
I like music that is "beyond words"...even if it has words.

Evoactive, ethereal, often instrumental music. Start here, maybe:

1)Boards of Canada
".. if we're spiritual at all it's purely in the sense of caring about art and inspiring people with ideas."

2)Caspian "What if the listener were the conductor?"

3)Sigur Ros They sound like God weeping tears of gold in heaven. --Melody Maker

Geoffredy Edwards on Sigur Ros: 1. If you can imagine the mix-tape Jesus makes every Christmas for Buddha, you might approximate half the overall impact of Ágætis Byrjun. 2. Lead singer, Jonsi sounds as though he's (having himelf) reorganized by seraphim wielding sold platinum vise-grips. 3. This album shimmers--Stars are going to have to find another word for whatever it is that they do. 4. If the Mormon Tabernacle Choir teamed up with Handel to record the collected liturgical music of the Hare Krishnas, the result could not be so transcendent as Ágætis Byrjun. 5. . . .like God using Radiohead as hand-puppets. 6. How perversely ironic that only Icelanders have found a way to pack a winters' worth of radiant warmth onto five inches of plastic. 7. The lyrics, written in a combination of Icelandic and an imaginary language called "Hopelandic," sound startlingly like retarded Cherubs placing an order in a Korean restaurant. 8. . . . like freebasing Mercury Rev through a unicorn horn. 9. Ágætis Byrjun on the car stereo turns rolling through the Burger King drive-thru into a cinematic slo-mo transaction with sublime eternities. 10. A big bunch of (wimps) making such exquisite sounds, you barely want to (kick 'em around)

"If Radiohead and Sigur Ros had a baby and it played a harp, it might sound a little like this when it grew up. Ethereal mix of romantic classical and modern minimalism..."


Concepts create idols

"Concepts create idols...only wonder understands anything."
-Gregory of Nyssa

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Naked Picture of Dave Wainscott :updated random cloud

Sorry to disappoint (: you all who got here via an internet search for "naked pictures of Dave Wainscott." At great risk, I decided to google my name and the word "naked" (Thank God there were no photos of me, or anyone else, but I knew I would find something interesting.. the point:

Here's an updated random word cloud from this blog. I need a random x-ray of my soul once in awhile. Sorry you ahd to see me naked..

Here's the earlier version and info on how to do it on yourself. Let me know if you also have "stripey cultural coffee" on your cloud..

The book Random Designer is a great stretching read;
we don't usuusally see God as "random," He seems pretty intentional kind of Guy...but...maybe He is Spiritaneous on purpose..

Tohu Bohu; Carpe Manana!

No comment needed #314 and #789b

#314: From
Measure Crowd Participation with the T-Qualizer
Are you a youth pastor or children’s minister that is looking to stir up a crowd?
Gadget-Box is selling the T-Qualizer, a t-shirt with a sound sensitive graphic equalizer panel embedded into the cotton fabric. Simply make some noise and watch the green, yellow, and red lights respond.

....and...#789b: It's so wrong...but I still am tempted to order one:

(and the subject of this second shirt is sure to want the first one)

Friday, May 26, 2006

"Open Source Wikichurch"..Penguin Pastors?

Read a cousin to my last post:

"Open Source Wikichurch"
And google up "open source church"

If penguins are "open source," when will we sheep catch up?

Google God

Google is one of the most crucial and historic technological breakthroughs of all time; and a wake-up to call from teh culture to church...The world at your fingertips; the great "the world is flat" equalizer of access to info; seemingly omniscient, etc etc. See "Google as God, but for how long?" Visit the Universal Church of Google!; or the Google Church here; Then dare to find out what google thinks of you here..

Alan Cohen, a V.P. of Airespace, a new Wi-Fi provider: 'If I can operate Google, I can find anything. And with wireless, it means I will be able to find anything, anywhere, anytime. Which is why I say that Google, combined with Wi-Fi, is a little bit like God. God is wireless, God is everywhere and God sees and knows everything. Throughout history, people connected to God without wires. Now, for many questions in the world, you ask Google, and increasingly, you can do it without wires, too.'"-- Thomas L. Friedman, Is Google God? (New York Times), June 29, 2003

"Google: Beyond Good and Evil"

Centered sets are not an optical illusion

In true "centered set" fashion (read all about it here), focus on the center long enough, and the peripheral dots disappear ...

compared to this illusion, in which if you move your focus away from the center, the outside circle/boundart starts to move:

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Art n Soul podcasts

"The sons of Issachar understood the times; knew what God's people should do...and all their brothers submitted to them." (1 Chronicles 12:32).

The most pressing need of our times may well be Jesus-followers in the tribe and spirit of Issacahar. To understand the times...our posttmodern times or whatver you choose to call it (I like David Dark's "this weird moment in history"); to discern what the church should do. I would indeed submit to these wise brothers and sisters. But I don't know enough yet.

Mark Deraud, artist and culture-watcher is a forerunner among them. He is an artist and painter; he also has a calling to engage the church in listening prayer; and to embrace the arts and creatives. He attends our weekly citywide pastors/leaders prayer meeting,and often thanks us for "putting up with him," and "letting him come."

The truth is he might need us; but we need him more.

Mark pioneered a group called Art N Soul, which is, well, I'd better let him tell you in a minute. He even does it in fifty words or less at the top of the interview.

To introduce you, here is a very valuable podcast/inteverview with Mark by Keltic Ken of KRDU, as well as an actual recording of an Art N Soul gathering at our church.

Enjoy! Wrestle!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

water under the bridge this time

sequel photo to the earlier bridge photos:
This will preach!

4 Arguments for the elimination of TV....and/or church as usual

"Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television" the 4 arguments work for "church as usual," too?

The four arguments are:
1)The mediation of awareness
2)the colonization of experience
3)[negative]effects on the human being
4)its inherent biases

Wrestle with that here.

Nikes, Ipods, Popes and Bodies

Alvin Toffler and Marshall McLuhan prepared us long ago (the's that for long ago?)
for the days we have entered: thechnology morphing into all aspects of daily life; especially into our bodies. (see my "Bluetooth Church").

Many implications as technology merges

into our church bodies...and The Body.

I just heard about the IPOD-Nike Sport kit; it's a shoe? it's an IPOd? It choreographs songs on your IPOD playlist to your running movements. Read all about it here and here.

Since the pope has an IPOD (likely not the IPOD-Nike...yet), that alone cliches that all this is a sign of the times.

Tillich on Art and Architecture

In my classic evangelical training, I was dutifully "warned" about Paul Tillich..he was a "liberal," heretic, whatever. (I especially appreciate my professor Larry Wood's insights into how Tillich's home life lead him to believe in a God who is not "personal; " and kudos for not being afraid to assign Tillich books in a "conservative" seminary).

But I was not "warned" (other than by Dr. Wood)about how, though Tillich may get some things wrong, he can get some things startlingly right...even if he has a different dictionary (some even say a different god). He was prophetically proleptic and presciently postmodern-sensitive; ahead of his time and peers in several areas...

On issues revolving around emerging church, culture, media, wineskins, etc., I find the compilation of all his writings on Art and Architecture fruitful. Thanks to St. Mark the Artist for handing me this book from the back of his, you can't have it back!).

Mark himself has written insightfully on the Reformation and images here , here here and here, (polific, eh?), so after you read all that, consider some startlingly relevant Tillich soundbites below.

I love and use the concept and construct of "cultural architect" for a pastor, thanks to Mushroom Erwin. So when Tillich talks "architecture" of buildings, churches, etc.;I yank open the curtain of the semantic domain to include cultural architecture.

In my classic evangelical training, I was dutifully "warned" about Paul Tillich..he was a "liberal," heretic, whatever. (I especially appreciate my professor Larry Wood's insights into how Tillich's home life lead him to believe in a God who is not "personal, " and for not being afraid to assign Tillich books in a "conservative" seminary). But I was not "warned" (other than by Dr. Wood)about how, though Tillich may get some things wrong, he can get some things startlingly right...even if he has a different dictionary (some even say a different god). He was propheticly proleptic and presciently postmodern-sensitive; ahead of his time and peers in several areas...On issues revolving around emerging church, wineskins, etc., I find the compilation of all hiss writings on Art and Architecture fruitful. Thanks to St. Mark for handing me this book from the back of his, you can't have it back!). Mark himself has written insightfully on the Reformation and images here , here here and here, (polific, eh?), so after you read all that, consider some startlingly relevant Tillich soundbites below.

I love and use the concept and construct of "cultural architect" for a pastor, thanks to Mushroom Erwin. So when Tillich talks "architecture" of buildings, churches, etc, I yank open the curtain of the semantic domain to include cultural architecture.

I keep interfacing his quotes below with Wolf Simson, Marshall McLuhan and Len Hjalmarson, Buhro and Cooke...

Anyway, if you get past the first two quotes without being overloaded with implications for the current scene, email me:

"Literature contains too much philosophy to be...honest" (5)

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

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

"Sacred emptiness should remain the prediominant attitide for the next forseeable time.. God has ' withdrawn' in order to show us that our religious forms in all dimensions were largely lacking in both honesty and consecration" (278)

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

"It isthe human predicament, the universal estrangement of man from his true being, which demands CHURCH in every s ense of the word.....we must communicate through new stylistic forms but never relapse to the dishonest" (226)

"style itself is revelatory....In all human creativity, whether cultural or spiritual, the form is that what makes a creation what it is...the subject matter is formed by the form" (126)

"Whenever a new period is conceived in the womb of the preceding period, a new image of man pushes toward the surfcce and finally breaks through to find its artists and philosophers." (241)

That last quote is from 1959, the year of my birth, and find fulfillment in our day (to come full
circle in the stripe of tribes that Mark Deraud belong to; and beckon us into.

That quote is also chillingly parallel to Graham Cooke's "When the old wineskin is dying, the new wineskin is created by people who are not afraid to be vulnerable. " Which in turn may eb based on the line by Rudolph Bahro, the secular (? as far as I know) ecologist: "When the forms of an old culture are dying, the new culture is created by a few people who are not afraid to be insecure."

Here we are..

Carpe manana, baby!

Better than Communist Manifesto..& it rocks!

I've learned a lot about church from Cush. Read:
Better than Communist Manifesto..& it rocks!

Maybe these guys are planting a church,a nd don't know it!

a pastor of a church that meets in a bar who can't pray for kind of guy

If you don't know about Bob Hyatt yet, start anywhere on his blog, or maybe with this post.
Maybe you'll get a taste why he's on my short list of heroes..

besides, their church meets in a bar (gee, we only meet on the 6th floor of a bank; at least we can trickle on the carpet ; though we have our eye on Fagan's Irish cool is that?) called the Lucky Lab Pub..

Bob, forgive me for not telling you earlier what an incredible encouragement you've been.
Thank you.

by the way, folks..

"I Can't Pray for You"

Bad Day For Jesus on the Upper West Side

Blondie (does she realize her brilliance, or that she's an emerging church blogger?) blogs:

Monday, May 08, 2006

Bad Day For Jesus on the Upper
West Side

Today in Lincoln Center, magic dude, David Blane is on his 7th day of
sitting in a bubble of water. I went to go see, mostly for my sister who is a
fan, so I could send her a picture. It wasn't really that cool. He just looked
all pruney and white. The line to go up to the bubble and get a closer look
was quite long. It wrapped around the Center and was not moving fast,
still the crowd was eager to get a close up look and the soggy magician.

Around the corner, it is the first day of Bible Reading Week. This
is where people take turns reading passages from scripture over a
microphone and speakers. Two people were standing there listening. Sorry
(link; you might also enjoy her "Why I am Independent, Not Republican or Democrat")

Friday, May 12, 2006

organic church with paid pastor?

I was scared of what his answer might be; I am a paid pastor trying to do organic church...(or something like that)

The zillion dollar question: "Can organic church work with a paid pastor?"

The ever-articulate apostolic Len Hjalmarson's answer is here:

Explosive, risky, risquee question for Len
(that link also has a very helpful
comparison of how some folks..pastors even..."do" church

trickling on church carpet

A few items from our forum that you can't NOT click:

"Don't trickle on the church carpet..."

"Dear Infidel: The Real Letter From Iran"

"Christians should be Gay"

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Virgin Sacrifices...That's "postmodern" worship!

I love lots of things about this church their sense of humor!

Though they may not be kidding about some the...uh, virgin sacrifices!


The below pasted from their wonderful website ( here):


University Christian Fellowship order of worship:

Most churches have an order of worship where they tell you in advance everything you are to expect from the service. We're too cheap to print out a bunch of flimsy handouts to get trampled on the floor of our church and turned into paper airplanes, so this is what you get instead.

The disclaimer:
Order of worship is subject to change without notice. All rights reserved. Your mileage may vary. Subject to availability. Void where prohibited. Subject to restrictions. Contents under pressure. Some settling may occur in transport. We incur no responsibility for any spontaneous combustions that may occur during our worship time. No guarantees or warranties express or otherwise are made.

Coffee and bagel time
Coffee and bagels are available for the early birds who show up before the service starts. That would be most of us. We ask for a donation in the paper cup centrally located on the table. No pushing or shoving. No running. Fisticuffs are to take place outside on the sidewalk or out back in the parking lot, with sleeves rolled. No flailing and hair-pulling or knock-down drag-out fights in the art/trophy area, where the bagels and coffee are located. Please try to avoid bringing coffee into the sanctuary no matter how desperately you may need it. Despite how smart and conscientious you may be, there will always be at least two people less caring and civilized than you, usually with one chasing the other, who will more likely than not knock it over and leave a big nasty stain which won't get cleaned up until Saturday. We hate cleaning the carpet. Please don't make us do it more than we absolutely have to.

The call to worship.

Once your coffee is almost cool enough to drink, and you're about halfway done with your bagel, someone will get on the microphone and begin yelling for people to please come sit down so we can get started. Usually this will be Andy or Mary, but other people have been known to take part on occasion as well. Once the shrieking and hollering starts and your friends begin disappearing, it's usually a good time to follow them into the sanctuary. Don't make us turn the lights on and off.


Once all of us have drifted in like sheep, and chair disputes have ended, worship begins. Usually there are about five or six songs. Please, no stage diving. One of the people authorized to sign our checks is likely to get crushed and then nobody will pay your bail. You'll notice that our drummer is in a Plexiglas cage. Most sound guys will tell you that that is to balance out the sound so he can play loudly without our getting sued for eardrum damage. Don't listen to them. The real reason, as all of us who have seen Spinal Tap know, is because drummers are prone to spontaneously combust. (Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year. It's just not really widely reported.) So to protect our hefty equipment investment, and our fellow worshipers, we have installed a durable Plexiglas blast shield for your protection.

During our worship time, near the end, you'll notice pairs of people coming up and standing in front. These are the virgin sacrifices. Actually that is a blatant flat-out lie. We apologize. They are actually our prayer teams. If you want prayer for something, go up to them and they'll agree with you in prayer. All prayer requests shared are kept strictly confidential, so feel free to cut loose.

* Greeting time when we pass the stripey hat.

Once we're all tuckered out from worship, someone, usually Andy, will come up and put a swift end to it. The star indicates that most of us feel compelled to stand and wander about once we've been told to greet each other. You'll notice that most of our chain-smokers will make a mad dash for the front door at this time. As we do not allow smoking inside of the church, they have found that this is the only time in our liturgy when grabbing a mid-service nicotine fix is convenient, and it's also the easiest time to bum a match off of someone.

Often we'll have some pressing question we're to ask each other to break the ice. Otherwise it turns out kind of like a junior high dance, with people standing in neat rows daring each other to take the stripey hat, but not talking or looking at anyone they don't already know. By now you're probably dying to know what the stripey hat is. Excellent. The stripey hat is actually how we receive our offering. It looks like a dr seuss cat-in-the-hat hat, so it's hard to miss. YOU CAN NOT TAKE IT HOME WITH YOU. The idea of the hat is that you take it and then pass it to someone else. You do not have to have money in order to hold the hat, but if you don't pass it to someone else, you're hoarding our offering and we won't be able to pay rent. There is no shame in taking or passing the hat. Drop your checks, cash, jewelry, watches, or money orders into it joyfully, as unto the Lord.

Some of us take communion during this time as well. There is a chair with some shiny gold saucers on it. On those saucers are the extra revelations of our angel Leroy. No. Again we are lying to you. How do you stand it? They actually contain the elements of communion. The idea, which the bible gives instructions on, is you grab a piece of unleavened bread, which looks suspiciously like a piece of a cracker, and a little plastic cup of watered down wine, and eat the bread and drink the wine, the body and blood of Christ, in rememberence of Him

Once we've all run around and let out our extra energy, and the hat has circulated at least once around the congregation, and the chairs are mostly pushed out of place, someone, usually Andy but not always, will come up to the microphone and begin the impassioned plea for people to return to their seats. Oftentimes the lights will flicker on and off for dramatic effect. Please return to your seats when asked. There will be plenty of time for milling around and lolly-gagging after the church service. Now is the time to get down to the business of preaching. The time for tom-foolery and officially-sanctioned small talk has come to an end. Don't delay the inevitable or rock the boat.

The five minute teaching from amongst the masses.

We like to share the wealth. Seeing as most of our ministers with bible school training got it via mail order, we don't feel that hearing from God is something only one of them can do. Everyone in our church could potentially be sitting on a great sermon, so we like to let everyone get a chance to speak. So we have a five minute slot. Occasionally we get some weird discourse on helicopters and UFO's, but 99.9% of the time or more it is a good message. Sometimes this happens before greeting time, so if it does, don't freak out like you're losing your memory or something.

The message.

This is our full feature-length sermon, usually 30-60 minutes in length, complete with altar call at the end. Very chic. Usually Andy gets stuck doing it, but sometimes other people do it. Nobody does a good preacher voice, so we just talk like normal people when we do it. We'd do a responsive reading as part of it too, except that a lot of people don't read English good like we do. If you happen to fall asleep, like an idiot, or if you like the sermon, but don't have the photographic memory you once had as a young lad/lass, and would like a copy of the sermon for home listening, you can get one for an unprecedented low price of $3.50. See Lou for details. You will not find anyone in our church who will offer you a CD for less than that, which is the cost of production. We'll even write your name on it in black felt-tip marker for that personal touch that'll impress your family and wow your friends. Very rarely are the sermons boring. And if they are, the seats are padded, unlike traditional church pews, so you won't be sore for having waited it out.

* Grub.

In order to eat, you must leave your seat. About half of the time, we all pack up and head out to a local restaurant together for some fine dining. No pushing and shoving. Please keep your heads and limbs inside of your vehicles. Because we're nice, we announce where it will be and give directions if it's someplace complicated. If you're not sure, ask someone with a big gut hanging over their belt. They'll know. This is called fellowship. Fellowship is actually scriptural, and comes from the Greek word meaning 'to fatten up the turkey'. That's probably a lie too, since none of us are cultured enough to know Greek and those Strong's concordances are very expensive. Anyway, this is our semi-monthly road trip and feeding frenzy. It's like being on a dinner date with Jesus and 70 or so of his unkempt embarrassing pals. Fellowship is a hoot and a good feed.

During the weeks when we're not out on the town, we order in and get pizza in the church, or have a potluck dinner. The same rules go here. No pushing and shoving. If we're ordering out, throw in some money. If it's a pot-luck, only one sweaty fistful of ham or whatever per person until everybody's gotten a chance to eat. We don't offer take-out, so you can only eat-in, so leave your extra napkins and coats with many pockets at home. If you take the last of something, don't taunt the people in line behind you with it. Would Jesus do that? That also goes for drinking out of the 2-liter bottles of soda, and eating out of the dishes people brought the food in. Come on. The ladle is for serving only. Just because you can fit it in your mouth doesn't mean you should have it. Others must eat too. And so on.

If it's a week we're going out for food, and it's your first time out to church, we pay for your meal. If that's not a good enough incentive to be seen in public with us, we don't know what is. If you're lucky, it'll be hot dog week, but sometimes it's Chinese or food court. It's always good. We go other places too, but those are our most common places.

We hope you enjoy our service.

and it's your first time out to church, we pay for your meal. If that's not a good enough incentive to be seen in public with us, we don't know what is. If you're lucky, it'll be hot dog week, but sometimes it's Chinese or food court. It's always good. We go other places too, but those are our most common places. We hope you enjoy our service.

-LINK, University Christian Fellowship,

looks like a church to me!

Tallest building between Los Angeles and San Francisco? What? A church? in this building? Yeah, right!

Well, yeah, that's us..starting Sunday; thanks to Jesus and St. Saundra King..

My office is on 7th

floor ( in "At the Seven-Eleven," and as in Isaiah 7:11);

worship center on 6th floor..come

check it out...(read our dress code and a summary of what a gathering might look like)...

Read all about it at this link

Check out the vault:

Monday, May 08, 2006

A "System" of "Moral Absolutes"?

I keep seeing these armored cars around town with the logo painted on: "The System is the Solution." I argue with them every time! Then after one such encounter, a radio preacher announced over my car radio "We have got to get back to preaching the gospel of moral absolutes!" I argued aloud (and with colorful words...on the way to church!) with that well-meaning brother (see Twinkies/Midrash:Dobson motivated by morality or gospel?)

...Gonna have to go back to reading books and talking on my cell phone while I'm driving; this is getting too dangerous(: !

On those two topics...the "system" and moral absolutes:

Local saintoneer Chris Erdman just send me an encouraging email...thanks...which caused me to re-read his post on "Can the Denomination Be Saved?" amazing article I recommend (guess his answer); and which caused me to update my post called "We've Done Everything We Can to Work with Rev. Wainscott" ; and revisit the report on "Pastor Sends Sodomites to Island; gets stoned."

Enjoy...get uncomfortable..let Chris speak to you as you wrestle...

story of your life? church?

story of your life?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A relocation camp sure ain't a Columba

When I comissioned one of the best photographers in town
(my dad....the other hot one is Skibster...I'll commission you next...and for my kids weddings) to take digital photos of two of the most intriguing signs in town, I sensed intuitively that these two apparently random signs were thematically connected for me.

I know my family had fun guessing what the connection was. But I wasn't sure till now.

The first photo I assigned was a Japanese relocation camp plaque that is beautiful but hugely hidden, blogged about and pictured here.

The other is a church sign for St. Columba Episcopal Church; but it inadvertently (prophetically?) says "Aint Columba." It is blogged on and captured in another winning Wainscott photo here.

So visit those two photo essays, ponder any connections,and come back here.

You may offer better connections, but I link them like this. Especially after reading about St. Columba (here and here) and his passion for "civic injustice," I would guess he wouldn't put up with a relocation camp at all; let alone a plaque on the site of one being so hidden from the public that no one knows it's there (and thus no one knows or remembers the' camp' was there). That kind of situation just "Ain't Columba" at all...

(Note also the photos are both of prophetically misunderstood signs directly next to the #1 and #2 shopping centers in town that draw "people with money." Columba (the pioneer of the anti-copyright movement as well!! Must be kin to St. Lawrence Lessig...someone name a church for that man: Aint Lessig Cathedral...just dont copyright the name!)

Ok, maybe that connection is cheesy.

But it built into me a fresh appreciation of:

St. Columba (the man and the church); and those who were sent to relocation camps (I know some).

I am praying about how to respond.

That's a sign from God.

Sign from God next to Krispy Kreme

One day not long ago, my car was in the shop, and my wife was teaching. So I did something I have hardly ever done (In this country, anyway): take the bus!

Since I had to transfer buses, I had to walk a few blocks (radical!).
Which was the only reason I was able to see something I had never seen before.

This sign.

A sign that no one else in Fresno that I have talked to even knows about.

Too bad it's a sign from God.

The deepest irony is that this historical marker is just down the street from our city's most upscale and visited "place to be seen" shopping center; and within walking distance of In N Out Burger, and Krispy Kreme Donuts (the two undisputed temples of the city)..

But the sign is hidden under an overpass.

How many even know our country had "relocation camps" all?

Thanks to the great photographer (a Mr. Wainscott, btw) who will now challenge us to pray and do some homework.

I'm starting my homework now:..


(later note: more on this sign and it's twin here)

READ THIS IF:Your favorite song about heaven is NOT "I Can Only Imagine"

"People always ask us what our favorite song about heaven is." the contemporary Christian musician said. "Well, 'I Can Only Imagine' has a very special place in our heart; but there's a song we grew up on that talks about heaven being a place where all the glory; all the honor, all the recognition and attention revolves around Christ and Christ alone.."

First comment by many of you:

"Yeah, I can relate to there being other songs about heaven being my favorite on the topic. 'I Can Only Imagine' by Mercy Me is a classic song, but a bit poppy for my
taste. Mercy Me often seems, to me, a bit syrupy. I am curious to hear what song this person nominates...I bet it's not my favorite (U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name"), ...that's too "out of the evangelical box" for a Christian artist to name; and it's not by an officially Christian band. And of course, though it's stirring and worshipful, it never once explicitly mentions Jesus.

Watch this clip, drop a jaw, eat a few words, and continue reading below:

The quote was indeed from Bart Millar, frontman for MercyMe itself! And the song that the very boys known as the "one hit wonders" (and "one trick ponies," ), admit that their sentimental pop anthem "I Can Only Imagine" is overshadowed by U2's "Streets."

You just saw the perform it...I am sure at the expense of some CCM "friends."

Que paso?

Not only that, but MercyMe's new CD is truly their first "rock" record (as opposed to pop); and is so edgy that it's being called their "Jesus Freak" (DC Talk's disc that radically switched genre from previous rap/r and b to raw rock!). The band is interviewed about this shift in this Christianity Today article.

Now, readers who know me (and my CD collection) well are perhaps worried that I have gotten old. I have in fact gotten old, but I have not backsildden..uh, forgive me, changed my musical preferences..enough to claim I really love, love the Mercy Me version of "Streets," or even intend to but the new Mercy Me Cd. I am sure they are great guys, and I'm thrilled and intrigued about their new direction, but...yadayada
(Now that that qualifier is out of the way, I won't have to beg that readers stop sending me Carman videos...)

Ah, "Streets," that U2 concert staple that even on an off night, "achieves liftoff," as Bono would have it. Bono himself admits, ironically, that the lyrics are half-baked and well, more "MercyMe"-like than classic U2. But it's a song with deep stark soul. And such soul is not for sale; the band nixed $23 million for its use in a commercial.Bono said elsewhere: “'Streets' the one song we can guarantee God will walk through the room as soon as we play it”.

To which Al Rogers quips: "It sounds like U2 did not want to risk God’s arrival at a gig being confused with a product which the song might have been used to advertise."

By the way, regarding "Streets" being "about heaven," Bono has made pretty clear that is not a radical misread; even changing lyrics in concert to "Where the streets have no shame..." and tagging on endings like "Then there will be no time for sorrow/Then there will be no time for shame/Then there will be no time! (lyrics borrowed from "The Playboy Mansion"...but that's another story!)
But it is too simplistic to say it is "just" about heaven; though it starts and ends there. The last thing we want to do is celebrate U2's "evangelical faith" and baptize them as CCM heroes. God deliver us. As always, Beth Maynard has some of the most penetrating thoughts about U2. She suggests:

To say "Streets" is about "heaven" in that very limited and popular-piety sense sells a spacious song way short. But it's a very different matter to view that song as expounding Jesus' much richer, more complex, and more paradoxical proclamation of the Kingdom of God.

The "room God walks through" on streets is decidedly on earth; not heaven. There ARE no streets in heaven...there is ONE street; that's precisely the point (I know you were taught in well-meaning Sunday School classes about "streets of gold," but a quick Bible check will correct us). It's Kingdom come on earth (partly and propleptically)as it is (perfectly) in heaven; but the streets are in Dublin; Ethiopia; New Orleans, and most recently Africa (watch this and weep!)
So in a delightful irony, a song that many believers intuitively knew was about the Kingdom of heaven invading earth, has been critcized by conservatives for lacking its previous "spiritual context" in its current tour version. Why? Because the opening prayer is about Africa; not a biblical Psalm as usual. Give me a break, please. What does the Kingdom have to do with Africa?! What does a question like that have to do with Christianity!

A poem i once crafted:

"Thy Kingdom come

on earth
on Fulton Mall
on time
on me

in Africa
in hell
in droves
in me.."

Or has Beth Maynard concludes:

That ("Streets" as expounding Jesus' much richer, more complex, and more paradoxical proclamation of the Kingdom of God) has room for both what people loved about the song on the Elevation tour (the manifestation/ecstatic experience of the Kingdom now), and for what concertgoers are wrestling with about the Africa version (the not-yet demand that the Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.)

.... speaking from my personal perspective as a believer, "Streets" is the opposite of "utopian"; it's reality therapy. Which is why I cringe to see its vision relegated to pie in the sky when you die.

For another good time on the streets, here below is the video of U2, at SuperBowl 2002 halftime, offering up "Streets," to God in a secular arena, just two months after 9/11.
(Why wasn't THIS the most famous halftime appearance ever? There was no wardrobe malfunction...)

The names projected on the screen are those claimed by the hijackers (making the heaven/eternity connection chilling); the intro to the song this day is Bono gently praying aloud...twice even...Psalm 51:15: "O Lord, open up my lips, that I might show forth Thy praise." Then after a Pentecostal "glory run" by Bono, the song moves explosively and reverently into a song that is... well, what Bart Millard of Mercy Me has called "our band's favorite song about heaven"

Imagine that!

Even if it's not "just" about heaven; it's all gospel.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Marva Dawn and the Powers Part II

Marva Dawn and the Powers Part II

More random notes…though I hope it’s a “holy randmonity”…
Part 1 is here..

"Does email contribute or take away from your ministry?"

My unsoken answer to Marva Dawn was "yes."

She has decided that for her the answer would lean too far into a "take away" that she does not use it.

"I don’t have a problem with email; I have a problem with us not thinking about it.”
Email and cell phones, she continued, “have taught us not to be present with the people with whom we are present…Multitasking is impossible....this has even been proven neurologically.”

“Nothing wrong with tools; I am not opposed to the church using them; I am opposed to the church relying on them instead of God.”

Her case: Internet and email can be a healthy tools; but also tools for the powers in that; in the name of providing information; provide far more information than we can handle (She stressed often that this is the very nature of the powers: they overstep the boundaries of their purpose and calling….as perhaps all systems do…what Gautam Chatterjee
might call the “stylized narration of masks” ). This almost inevitably leads us to doing one thing:


Dawn even trapped one of the pastors present (St. Bryan Martin of St. Patrick's Community Church) into saying (rightly or wrongly):

“We are doing nothing for Darfur.”

This pastor, shepherd of a wonderful church very intentional about positively using the tools of culture, stood up at question/answer time to say how troubling the presentation had been.
She responded: "Good."

He gave an example: he had reccently seen a helpful episode of “Oprah” which enlightened him on the issues in Darfur. He thought this might have been a case of God using the tool of television.

She pressed him: “What did you do about it?”

He responded that he had sent email to the congregation enlightening them as to the
situation, and urging them to become involved in specific ways.”

She challenged him again: “What are you doing for Darfur?”

He stated simply; “We are doing nothing for Dafur.”

And sat down.

The trap worked; the argument reached its intended effect.

She did at the conclusion, back up a little; reminding that she wasn’t against technology; she was emphasizing that because the powers behind it are so vulnerable that we often wind up thinking we have done something practical, physical and Christian; when all we have done is communicated impersonally and technologically; overloading our people into overload, inertia and entropy.

I am sure she came on too strong on my friend.

I am also sure she had a terribly worthy point to wrestle with.

(And I fear most of us might feel like this blogger, "I like the mix of shows that Oprah has. I wouldn't be able to handle a Dafur every day for example, so it's nice to have little frivolous shows like fashion..")

And I agree with her that more “Christmas” worship services ought to include dung.


To remind us of how real, human, lowly and personal Christ was in incarnation.

For God so loved the world; he didn’t send a mass email. He came personally, and he smelled not like incense, but like..


And he remained human, personal….and he suffered….throughout his earthly life.

Ironically, the only hand I saw go up when Dawn asked “How many of your churches recite the Apostle’s Creed’?" was the Oprah-watching Brian.

She went on to expose a simple yet costly grammatical misunderstanding in almost every hymnal version of the creed. It usually is printed, and thus recited:

“I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth/
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord/
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary/
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried…”

The only problem here, she argued, is that the original sources are unanimous; it is not “suffered under Pontius Pilate.” There is a comma after “suffered”; and the “Under Pontius Pilate” is connected grammatically to the next clause. In other words:

“Conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
(and) Under Pontius Pilate, (He) was crucified.”

The point being: He suffered. Not just under Pontius Pilate; not just on the cross; but throughout his life!

The implication then: so do (or should) we!

The powers put far too much pressure on pastors to not only lose their focus ("How many times are you asked to do something that has nothing to do with your calling?"); but lead us into number-worship.

And by the way, Dawn impolitely asked “Who in hell told us that numbers equals success?”

Exposing the power-fed lie that church is all about how many people we “have,” she quoted one of the most shocking lines she has overheard at pastor’s conferences; “And how many people do you worship?,” one pastor innocently asked another at break time.

Aside from the fact that “how many” is the wrong question to ask; the unintentional gramamatical idolatry (using “worship” as a verb….though as Robert Webber has well reminded us, it is very appropriately a verb) this question admitted that people are the object of worship.

Which is what the powers are after all along: worship of anyone/anybody but God.

Even though she proffered, “the numbers game is of the principalities and powers”;
indeed there is a place for numbers in exposing the powers.

In an argument she prefaced very carefully (“September 11 was a terrible thing; an evil thing; and we grieve any unnecessary loss of life"):

“What did the endless televsion replyaing of the planes hitting the World Trade Center tell us?”

“That the 3,000 people that died there are more important than the 35, 650 children who died of starvation that same day!”

Yes, the room grew quiet again.

But only for her to break it by suggesting we tithe to the poor; and split our home grocery budget in half between our family and the poor.

She this offered enough information to "whelm" us; but into action; not "over-whelm" us into inaction and paralysis, as the information overload of the power-media seems to do.

This is, she suggested, precisely what Neal Postman predicted would be happening in our current culture, under due to what he called the “Low Information-Action Ratio.” Note the intentional acronym “liar.”

Ironically, she basically called my emailing pastor-friend a “l.i.a.r.” Ironically the only time he may have truly lied is when she cornered him into a confession : “We have done nothing for Dafur.” Isn’t one congregant out of one hundred enlighhtened into cation worth a quick thoughhtful email a good Kingom investment?

I don’t know.


Marva did continue to expose for ours: this time the danger in the phrase “user-friendly.” Nothing wrong in making folks comfortable (Or is there? she asked. Perhaps our job is to pastor them into discomfort them…like with Christmas dung…. that leads to a high information-action ratio), she clarified. But she wanted to call our attention to the origin of the phrase: in the context of …


“Have you yet met a computer that was your friend,” she smiled. “We put the locus of hospitality in the wrong place!"

The she dropped yet another bomb. She claimed that only twice in 28 years of church ‘freelancing,’ visiting churchs all over the nation, did she have someone verbally and physically express hospitality.

Yes, she named names:

“The first was St. John’s in New Orleans; where someone said to me, ‘Let me show you how our worship flows, so you will feel at home.’

The second was St. Paul’s in Ann Arbor, where someone said, “You’re a stranger; sit with me..’”

One last bomb.

A true story which perhaps embodies everthing Marva was desiring to commicate; one true story which the very telling of exposes the entire plan of the powers. If we are not careful, the story’s ending may be the “four last words of the church.

Thanks Marva Dawn for the ministry of exposing and unmasking.

The story:

Visiting slums in Kenya, Canadian pastors were overwhelmed by the conditions. One asked “Where is the hope?”

“Our hope is in Jesus Christ!,” a Kenyan pastor responded.

Ouch! That was enough indictment, right? Keep listening.

A Canadian pastor actually answered:

“But that’s not enough.”

Amish or Apostle?

1)Nice picture, huh?

2)Also, i am not knocking Amish here, though I have been tempted to laugh at this article (which I think my Anabaptist and Amish friends would laugh at, too!)

All that to say:

Great blog below by Brian Enis:

Thursday, October 13, 2005 Blog

Bono - An apostle?
by Brian Ennis

I see Bono as a leading example of what a Christian should be in today's post-modern context. Traditionally Christian leaders have advocated that Christians set themselves apart to a great degree from 'the world' and in doing so we've generally alienated ourselves from our culture and replaced popular culture with our own minority sub-culture. Our idea of evangelism in this context is to yell at the people over there in pop culture and tell them to come over here into our culture. Why would they want to do that? Our culture is so boring and cheesy most of the time.

I heard a speaker recently compare this idea to the Amish. If the only way to be saved was to be Amish most people in our world would rather go to hell. Would you want to be Amish? Me neither. What's the difference between that situation and the general situation at large between the Christian "community" and "the world"? I don't see much difference. That's why I think Bono is such a good example of how a Christian is to interact with culture. He is the culture. He's a professed follower of Jesus, yet he is not identified with the church. He's a pop icon. He doesn't have to take Jesus to the culture, he is the culture. He's a major player in shaping the post-modern culture of the world. He doesn't go to church. He goes all over the world trying to save the poor and oppressed in Africa and the rest of the world. How is that it takes a middle-aged Irish rock star to shame the church into engaging the AIDS crisis in Africa?

I think Jesus is pleased with Bono. Why don't the rest of us become so much a part of our culture that we are the culture? Instead of following the world in culture and arts, why aren't we influencing it on the strength of our creativity, our convictions, and our connective skills? Probably because we spend so much time going to church, attending meetings, maintaining our sub-culture, defending our culture, and tending to the sheep. We're too busy navel gazing to care much about engaging culture. We're lazy. We're self-centered. We're arrogant. We're elitist. We need to change. I need to change. The problem is I've spent my entire life thoroughly enmeshed in an irrelevant Christian sub-culture. I have no idea how to interact or engage pop culture. But, I'm going to figure out a way. For the sake of the gospel, and for my sake, I must.

Brian Enis

Pew Ejection

Monday, May 01, 2006

Marva Dawn and the Powers part 1

This scene, and the one that immediately follows it (where the bone the ape tosses turns into a


, from the film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” was running through my head at breakfast this morning.

“What were you smoking for breakast?,” You might reasonably ask.

To which I might unapologetically answer,
“Some strong, good stuff…I recommend you buy some!”

It’s called:

Marva Dawn.

She did not directly allude to the movie scene I mentioned (a prehistoric ape throws a bone into the air; a bone he had just learned to use as a tool to kill; and the bone shapeshifts into a spaceship in the year 2001); she did in effect throw out the same bone (technology as tool and/or weapon for our consideration that
director Stanley Kubrick threw not only in that particular scene, but all over his multiplex and manic “2001”

It landed hard on our breakfast plates full of pancake crumbs.

But that’s what we expect from Dawn, the theologian-provocateur(ess? ) that our local seminary featured as speaker for a pastor’s breakfast today. Author of twenty books, and some holy and prophetic mischief as troubler of the church (a la jeremiads of Jeremiah), she is indeed engaging, both theologically and personally.

For example, She has no cell phone; she owns no TV, she does not do email.

No, she’s not Amish (Though she may look it…but it’s only a hair thing). In fact she’s basically Lutheran, so according to a strictly historically perspective, she couldn’t be Amish if she tried! And with book titles like “A Royal Waste of Time,” “The Unnecessary Pastor,” (co-authored with Eugene Peterson, whom she was clear chose the title), “The Hilarity of Community,” “Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down,” and ahem…(no, it’s not a sex manual…not exactly) “Sexual Character: Beyond Technique to Intimacy”..she likely won’t be accused of being Amish by surfers of

A place where all her books are for sale; a “place” she may well have never been.

But we all know is not a place.

Which is precisely her point.

Her presentation responded to the question "How do Christian leaders face the powers?"
She defines “the powers” as human institutions…technology and money were two examples….that because they have fallen, default toward “overstepping their vocation.” Thus if we are not prayerful and careful, we then default into honoring too much something that was created for good, and our good, by worshipping them, giving them first place in priority and perspective.

Tuned-in trainspotters will recognize that Dawn sounds heavily influenced by Jacques Ellul (and indeed is; one of her dissertations revolved around the concept of “the powers” in Ellul’s thought) .

So it is no surprise that like her mentor, she is often accused of implying that all technology is inherently evil and should not be touched.

I already she’s not Amish.
And she’s quick to offer context and corrective. I have learned (from Reggie Neal) that any of us who speak whole truth…especially truth that hasn’t been underemphasized, it is hugely helpful to preface sweeping statements with “
“Here’s what I’m not saying ..”

So when she says Frank Peretti’s books are “awful” in one sense, she is only predicating
that (literally) on an earlier assertion that the books are also “wonderful” in another sense. (Here the “wonderful” applies to the fact that the books remind us “it’s all accomplished in
prayer.” The “awful” has to do with an overly simplistic worldview/reductionist cosmology of angels vs. demons; apparently without much room for broader categories of “principalities
and powers” that are perhaps even more insidious; even more
pervasive in our Western culture.

An example of a more systemic fallen institution that is literally demonic? When I was grabbing the web address of the Amazon page for Dawn’s sexuality book; I noticed on that page a feature that is on most Amazon book-pages; one that asks “What do customers ultimately buy after viewing items like this?”
In other words, most shoppers who have viewed this book’s ad on Amazon may niot have purchased it, but clicked onto another book that was similar, but more what they were looking for.

Right there, under Marva Dawn’s wonderful Christian book “Sexual Character: Beyond Technique to Intimacy” was the hilarious and telling betrayal of what bookshoppers….likely even Christian bookshoppers are “ultimately after.”:

“What do customers ultimately buy after viewing items like this?”
76% buy Sex: A Lover's Guide : The Ultimate Guide to Physical Attraction, Love-making Techniques and Sexual Relationships with over 1000 photographs

What we’re really after is sex photos, not a Christian theology of sexuality. The Powers that be, in fact the literal “powers,” can convince us and co-opt us into adultery…and idolatry. That is not just a lone demon tempting us into a lone act of sin; that is a powerful principality; a fallen system which is seeking our fullblown allegiance and citizenship. That’s what we wrestle with. False gods and governments.

Dawn asks: How can Paul say in 1 Corinthians 8 that “there is no such thing as gods and lords,” yet a few verses later declare straight-faced that there are. He means, she suggests, “they (powers) don’t exist as gods and lords unless we give them power.” By doing something foolish like clicking on a link to sex pictures.

Or worshipping God and Mammon. “Money,” she offers, “is not neutral. It is fallen.” As such, it has inevitably “become a god for all of us.’ Dawn argues convincingly: Whether we have too much money and succumb to greed; or we have too little and covet….or even if we have just the right amount and are inappropriately content…it all adds up to worship of a false god. So we must be radically intentional about divesting the potential god of its power; she quotes Ellul in the helpful reminder that “we cannot de-divinize alone,” but must
fight in the context and corporate armor of community.

So ..genital gratification, money…these are classic examples of powers/systems we inadvertently worship and thus empower as gods. Sometimes it is more subtle; like adopting the dominant ethos of our culture.

Until Marva Dawn comes along and exposes it:

“Nothing in the Kingdom is efficient.”

Efficiency; sound alike a virtue easy enough to baptize…until it is unmasked as a power after our soul. “Bible study is not efficient; prayer is not efficient,” she offered as a litany. “But they do form us to fully accomplish the purposes of God.”

Or on another topic:

“God would not want that,” she said point-blank.

I have already dropped that she does not have a cell phone (Again, not because she thinks they are inherently evil; nor has a problem with you having one).

She continued, “God would not want or will us to answer our cell phones while we are in deep conversation with the person we are (physically) present with.”

“Physically present with” should be a redundancy; a tautology…but in our day and age we have turned it into an oxymoron; and thus twisted the phone (and/or the person calling us on it while we are in deep conversation with another ) into a god. We empower the powers when we dare to suggest that the person pouring out their hear before us should wait for us to take a call that will forever cost us the momentum and presence of the person literally before us.

Since this was the first point (of several) in the lecture where one could hear a pin drop, (not even a quick quiet shamed rush to turn cell phone ringers off)…..and because I am out of time to write (some people in my life need my physical presence)… I’ll take a break here; write more later (I’ll add the link),and make you guess what other bones she threw out…

Part II is up here

Whatever it is, it ain't Columba!

My friend, Fr. Jim Snell, is a marvelous pastor and encourager. He is rector of St. Columba Episcopal Church here in Fresno (A great church; they even showed "Passion of the Christ" on Good Friday; how cool is that?) They just went through quite a remodeling and addition project; theirs is a beautiful set of buildings directly across from our most famous "old money" shopping center.

I'm guessing Jim would say, "'Old money'... yeah, that's the stereotype of who attends Episcopal churches."

What a great location to impact culture. All in the name of Christ,and in the style of St. Columba, who though an oragnizer and monastic; had a passion for Celticly engaging "the real world." What would Columba do? (He'd pray on the church campus, and then wander over to the Starbucks across the street to evangelize...and perhaps overturn some tables of rich folk (and then invite them to worship!)

I am also sure poor Fr. Jim has taken lots of ribbing about the new signs. Just read 'em for yourself. They are exquisite; regal. But they don't say "Saint Columba,"...or do they? The "S" is so fancifully designed that its' hrad to tell it's a letter.

So the signs all appear to say "Ain't Columba"

As in, "What kind of church is that?"

"I dunno, but it ain't Columba!"

Poor Fr. Jim.

Jim, love to get your take on the signs...

(later note: more on this sign and its twin here)