Thursday, January 31, 2008

Red Noise Revolting Style

In rediscovering the gospel of salvation by faith and grace alone, Luther started to reform the Church through a reformation of theology. In the 18th century through movements like the Moravians there was a recovery of a new intimacy with God, which led to a reformation of spirituality, the Second Reformation. Now God is touching the wineskins themselves, initiating a Third Reformation, a reformation of structure.

People who have not grown up in a healthy family are at a disadvantage. Rather than sensing an unhealthy group leadership style they will frequently be misled by slogans such as "we really value relationship here" or "diversity is one of our greatest values." Instead of listening to the talk, watch the walk! Learn to look beyond what leaders say to how they relate and to the feeling climate of the group.

The mirrors on my eyes are always focused in surprise,
My mouth is covered by a smile
you’ll never know what lies behind these public alibis,
I’ve turned my revolt into style
-Bill Nelson lyrics "Revolt into Style"

In 1980, I was clueless...(no surprise, you say)....that i was about to be met by the Kingdom (in two years)n, let alone could i intuit then that i would be an interim pastor in six years...

..but i think i DID somehow know that the jarring punk-laced nervous tick of Bill Nelson/Red Noise CD (uh, record!) was prophetic (Nelson was a Pentecostal around that era, I later learned) on a number of levels.

Just today I felt like part of the fulfillment of that came to me in prayer...

..through the lyric "I'm turning my revolt into style." By default, we emerging provocateurs in the church do the opposite. But if the style/form/structure concerns that are in one sense so neutral and nontheological , yet in another sense profound and profoundly theological (like how you set up a room for a Christian gathering) are so key to us..

then let them flow naturally, organically and Spiritaneously out of our revolt/deconstruction/new reormationing, and not be the motive or motivator of all we are wanting to be and see.

Otherwise we become smug heroes who refuse to ride the downward-mobility incarnational "model" we preach..

or at least the Luther-wannabes in this current Reformation; the next reformation that's already here

But we don't need Luther this time.

As Nelson said (prayed) in another song on that record:

The old world is burning, there’s ice in my veins

Your breath it inflames me, it fills me with flames

It’s a brave new world for young moderns

It’s a zero hero euro lifestyle.

More on the Nelson record here.

And this is the guy who wrote "Blazing Apostles" in 1976:

Just keep up with the payments and we'll make your misery whole
We've got albums of redemption and confessions on cassettes
All on easy hire from the following address
All on easy hire from the following address
Blazing Apostles Flat 99, South Revelation Row City of Lost Souls, Land of the Blind
It's a wonderful place to go... A wonderful place to go...

Blazing apostles thieves in the night Messengers of the fall...
If you are needing an angel of light Why don't you give us a call?
Why don't you give us a call? Why don't you give us a call?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Moltmann on Chaos/ Trinity..bonus links to SpongeBob et al summarizes a paper by the amazing Moltmann (one of the most voital theologians/thinkers the emerging church needs to wrestle with

...of course the list includes Margaret Wheatley, Wolfgang Simson, Fr. Robert Farrar Capon, Frank Zappa, Annie Dillard, Joao Magueijo, Bono, Frost/Hirsch , Radiohead, Malcolm Gladwell , and SpongeBob...):

Moltmann, Jurgen. “Reflections on Chaos and God’s Interaction with the World from a Trinitarian Perspective.”

In his paper, Jurgen Moltmann first describes five models of the God-world relation: (1) According to the Thomistic model, God is the causa prima of the world. God also acts through the causae secundae which serve as God’s instruments. (2) The interaction model postulates a degree of reciprocal influence between God and the world. This model can include the Thomistic model, but not vice versa. (3) The whole-part model, taken from biological systems theory, emphasizes that the whole is more than and different from its parts. In complex and chaotic systems this difference shows up in the form of top-down causality. The whole-part model is more inclusive than the previous models and sheds light on God’s indirect effect upon the world as a whole. (4) The model of life processes emphasizes the open character of biological systems. The present state of a living system is constituted by its fixed past and its open future or, more generally, by what can be called tradition and innovation. Here the world process is open to God as its transcendental future. (5) Finally, Moltmann considers two central theological models: creation and incarnation. Here God creates by a process of self-limitation (or tzitzum). The limitation on God’s omnipresence creates a habitation for the world; the limitation on God’s omniscience provides the world with an open future. God’s self-limitation allows God to be present within the world without destroying it. Moltmann believes this model is the most inclusive of the five.

Moltmann next offers three comments on how these models function in current theological discussions about chaotic, complex and evolutionary systems.

(1) He is critical of the interaction model, seeing it as a theistic model in which God is the absolute Subject who may intervene at will in nature. In the modern period it was replaced by two even more problematic models: deism and pantheism. In their place Moltmann commends to us a trinitarian model in which “God the Father creates through the Logos/Wisdom in the power of the Holy Spirit. . . . God not only transcends the world but is also immanent in the world.” According to this model God acts upon the world through God’s presence in and perichoresis with all things.

(2) Next Moltmann discusses eschatology, the new creation of all things. For Moltmann the future is not a state of completion but a process of continuing openness, in which all finite creatures will participate in God’s unending and open eternity even as God participates in their temporality. The openness of chaotic, complex, and evolutionary systems is suggestive of this vision, and seems inconsistent with a future conceived of as completed. “The future of the world can only be imagined as the openness of all finite life systems to the abundance of eternal life. In this way they can participate in the inexhaustible sources of life and in the divine creative ground of being.”

(3) Finally Moltmann asks whether the universe as a whole should be thought of as an open system. The growth of possibilities for such systems, their undetermined character, and their dependence on an influx of energy suggest that the universe itself might be open to energy. “In this case the world would be a ‘system open to God’ and God a ‘Being open to the world.’”


Friday, January 25, 2008

pastor gives benediction

The pastor blesses the congregation with the biblical (Phillipians 4:7) benediction: "peace that passes all understanding"...what else is new? Oh, this isn't church...or is it:

watch from 4:18:

stolen pictures

I borrowed my son's computer, and found...and stole.. these pictures from it. They each tell a story, baby!

Yes, I am in three of them.

But everyone had hair like that in the class of '77, OK?

Video and Write-Up: Reversing the Curse in Peru

Nevado de Huaytapallana/Glacier, Perú


A written and video report on the November 2005 Grace Covenant trip to Huancayo, Peru
By Dave Wainscott, ThirdDayFresno

From Grace Covenant Newsletter

Pastor Pedro was apparently pleased to be asked by the city government of Huancayo, Peru,
to bless the city’s water supply. As a regional representative of his Costa Rica-based, non-denominational but well-connected network of churches; and a local radio minister, this was an opportunity that came within the scope of his vocation. So he ventured up to the top of the Andes to the lake which is

Nevado de Huaytapallana/Glacier, 

Huancayo’s water source, and invoked a blessing . Surely, the city leaders thought, that can only help the city’s long-troubled water problems: many citizens contract typhoid and other diseases triggered by the sometimes inexplicably contaminated water.

So why did the health of the water supply take a turn for the worse after
Pedro ’s blessing? I neglected to mention that Pedro is a witch; his network of churches Satanic. Oops! That “blessing” was in essence a curse. And with the number of residents of Huancayo increasingly threatened by, even killed, by contaminated water..including the entire family of our own Grace-Covenant sponsored Pastor Olvidio Zavallos! would think the government would have the sense and sensibility to at least ask a clergy member of the Christian persuasion for help. But such is the syncretism and confusion of life and government in Latin America; where priests and witch doctors often stand side-by-side serving communion in cathedrals.

Our ten-day team; prophetically-gifted Pastors Jeff and Brenda Hurst of Bloomington, Illinois and myself were scheduled to arrive in
Peru at..get this.. midnight on Halloween. I am not one to see signs from God everywhere, or demons behind every bush...but perhaps that timing was a sign of the significant spiritual warfare to come (as was the fifteen hours I spent on what was to have been a six and a half hour flight from Houston, complicated by a bizarre sudden lightning storm, and the temporary closing of the Lima international airport, which forced us to fly to Cusco!) We immediately made sure the specialized North American childrens vitamins sent with us from our church , Third Day Fellowship of Fresno, were taxied to Pastor Olvidio’s two precious little girls, and found that indeed God used them; the children were almost immediately better!

But our approach to reversing the curse over the city’s water, and seeing that the afflicted were healed, was not limited to vitamins. The problem is multiplex: for example, much of the poisoning of the water comes from the government outsourcing water purification to corrupt companies, and perhaps due to the church world’s slowness to repentance. (Some evil spiritual principalities are embedded in gubernatorial principalities and parishes). So we and our resident GC missionaries Ken and Cathie Metz (members of Third Day, I am proud to add!) prayed and

approached the water problem in a holistic way…talking with/praying with government representatives, offering deep prayer and good vitamins…

…And launching a direct assault on the forces of darkness that Witch
Pedro unleashed at the fountainhead of the water supply. Yes, to our awe, our Sovereign God had calendared our trip to coincide with a previously scheduled Saturday trip by several pastors and intercessors up to the snow-capped mountains of 16,000 feet where, at the lake and the dam from which flow drinking water down to Huancayo where

Pedro has been known to hide in a cave, perhaps continuing to “bless“ the water.. Lingering in praise, engaging intercession, anointing the water with oil sent down with the Hursts, we felt honored and humbled to be used by God in such front-lines warfare on

Photo: Cathie Metz, Pastor Jesús, my cold self, Brenda Hurst, and Jeff Hurst, ridiculously high atop the Andes, at a prayer meeting at Lake Huaytapallana, the water supply for Huancayo.
behalf of a city God loves. But even the seasoned intercessors were surprised to encounter two freshly constructed satanic altars (which Jeff Hurst emotionally and forcefully smashed, under Ken‘s leading). Upon that sacred smashing, two avalanches occurred near Pedro’s cave. ..even as one intercessor prayed Isaiah 2:10: “ Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust from the terror of the Lord!” I was stunned enough to only capture the last moments of the last blast of avalanche on video (watch the whole prayer meeting right here; the avalanche is found at the 7:15 mark)

But it is footage I will treasure forever, for it chillingly invokes Revelation 8 where the incensed prayers of the saints directly resulted in lightning and quakes hurled down onto the earth. God’s powerful and immediate answer to prayer was unveiled to us in a tangible and dramatic way. It seemed as if a window of heaven had opened as an amen and answer to our passionate prayers.

On the way home, Ken narrated and summarized our for a possible "Transformations" type video (see the above clip at 8:17ff). And to top off our day, and because what is a
trip like this without the car breaking down in the middle of nowhere (!)...that's what the car chose to do. This was also captured on the video below; you'll see that we met (in a classic moment) some lonely llamas and (in a chilling horror-movie moment) the (remains of) the last person to break down in this remote spot! Also, note that once we get the car running, we met an amazing sherdess(ette) ...and the closing scene (in which the name of our new driver is revealed) is....well. watch it!

We returned home the next day to (of course) find Pastor Olvidio’s family some better. But halfway through the worship service that morning, after a timely teaching on persevering prayer by Jeff, we found that Olvidio astor had been so humble that he had not even told his congregation about the family’s typhoid (Our congregation in California had prayed our hearts out for the situation the week before, unaware that the affected congregation had not even officially the news). But he graciously allowed Ken to announce the diagnosis to the hushed flock: “How many of you have been blessed by this family ?” (All hands went up). How many know they all have typhoid..which can kill?” (Only one hand).. The congregation as one body dropped to its kneesas we lavished love and prayer on the four servants of Christ; all within earshot of some men stumbling out of the brothel across the street. Another window of heaven had opened.

Oh, the actual events of that last paragraph? On video right here:

The Hursts and I offered individual prayer for hundreds of Peruvians, as we ministered night after night in

church after church…including one multi-church gathering of Ketchuans (indigenous peoples with their own language) who were interested in spiritual connection with Grace Covenant. In this service, Ken witnessed something he had not seen in all his years; a paralytic he was praying over literally rise up and walk!

Healings were flowing in each venue..including the outdoor worship outreach that we just happened onto, which allowed both Jeff and I to speak and sparkplug the gathered believers seeking to make a difference and dent in their beautiful but beleaguered city.

On many nights a sheet would be set up on the wall of a storefront church and the startling story of God visiting the Innuit people of Arctic Canada, as told on the Transformations II video, was projected. Each showing was followed by us praying one by one over the Huancayoans the impartation to participate in a similar revival and transformation in their city.

I cannot express what favor the Metzes have found with the government leaders. From the weekly prayer meeting Ken has with the mayor (which the day we were there also included a beer vendor who just happened to be in the lobby, was moved as we prayed over him as well!) to the Christian presidential candidate that Ken was humbled to pray over at a prominent public meting. Not to mention, God-ordained encounters with elected leaders right in the streets, where we “accidentally” ran into them and they received our prayers and prophecies with tears and wide-eyed thanksgiving. Huancayo is hungry for help, as their suicide capital of
Peruis becoming the abundant life epicenter of the nation.

Thanks in large part to the Metzes apostolic authority, and pastoral encouragement, there is critical mass for sustained revival and awakening. Through a freshly united and ignited Central
Peru Pastor’s Fraternity, the Lord is stirring his saints. Our team was also present for the installation of the new officers of the fraternity (no small event and celebration in Latin America!); and to our amazement we were asked to lay hands on and commission the new leaders. The international scope of the impartation was not lost on us, as the heart cries of these pastors mingled with ours.

The Metzes have established Amor Transforamador as a vehicle and wineskin for unifying churches and ministries, reaching Huancayo for Christ, and planting securing a beachhead for the imminent and inevitable national revival. Foremost among these ministries are: Amor Eterno, coordinated by GC Pastor Justo, who though living in heatless veritable cave with a leaking roof, offer huge hope and healing to those recovering from addictions; congregations alive and afire such as Freddie (who survived a terrorrist’s gun to his face) and Hilda Sunnamanu‘s church; Fernando and Suzie’s Christian children’s camp, Pastor Pedro Torres’s Casa de Oracion Sion where we prayed over several young people who were called to ministry in the marketplace, some even saying “yes” to becoming pastors after I preached on catching God’s timing, and as they prayed selflessly with us.

And just days after we left for the States, history was made. The Metzes and the Amor Transformador team managed to fill the local soccer stadium with thousands of

young people in an unprecedented worship/out reach event that will ripple the River of Revival into the future.

I can’t wait to return to Huancayo next time. Yet I must couch and context this plan on two contingencies: first, that it is God’s will (James 4:13); and secondly that some of you reading (yes, you!) come with me! And maybe even have a drink of what will then be pure local water. For the Living Water of Jesus Christ is already available and being poured out there, as you have been hearing. It is kairos time for the literal water to follow and flow. “We have won the battle in the air,“ Ken Metz has said of

the amazing work already accomplished over Huancayo. “Now it’s time to win it on the land.” Some of you are likely destined to land on that land with me next trip. It will be an adventure never forget, and it will be a few years farther along in its amazing God-curve towards true transformation that can only be explained as an act of God.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pastor Katie Couric "Nags Me to be Interested"

I have slept through a revolution or two.

That's one reason I have pencil-marked several. sections of Caitlin Flannagan's Atlantic Monthly (Jan/Feb 08) article on Katie Couric. All the other reasons are insights/implications into church and culture shift (the topic on this blog's front-burner).

Tellingly, these are not the first insights from the Katie Couric story that have inspired us; see

"Watch Katie Couruc Preach About Modesty"
temporary is down


The Body of Christ Needs a Colon
temporary is down

And look what I just googled up:

Pastor Katie Couric Takes on Joel Osteen

(no, the apparently??unPhotoshooped photo at top is not from that ocassion)

Onto the Atlantic piece:

Can you guess which sections I underlined in the print edition?

Largely the ones I have graced with bold print below. But wiki it, and underline your own.

The entire article is here; excerpt to whet you below:

Katie's fond memories of watching Walter Cronkite every night with her father surely drew her to the job. Despite her liberal politics, Katie has a reactionary approach to television, as manifested in her worshipful interviews of first ladies (Nancy Reagan in particular) and boosterish embrace of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which she used to host for NBC. And at CBS, she has embraced the Cronkite myth, inviting him to record the show's introduction that plays at the beginning of each broadcast.

Of course, the show has been a turkey since the night a year and a half ago when that sound bite first played. Sexism was the obvious, first choice for culprit, and in a way, that's probably what it was. The president of CBS News, Sean McManus, said that the network had perhaps underestimated that response: "There is a percentage of people out there that probably prefers not to get their news from a woman." As everyone acknowledges, the old folks and aging Boomers who tune in at 6:30 for a half hour of headlines and human-interest stories aren't looking for the news, but a performance of the news. (Bob Schieffer was more successful than Katie, not in spite of looking like one of the old guys down at the VA, but because of it.) Choosing an anchor isn't a journalistic decision; it's a casting choice. And this one was abysmal. Flop sweat and panic surrounded the broadcast almost immediately. In a move typical of television, the first things the bosses tried to change about Katie were the very things that had led them to hire her: the bubbly personality, the killer clothes, the playfulness. Now she had to sit quietly at her desk like a girl being punished. She acquired a passel of one-color blazers that looked like rejects from last year's Thrifty Rent-a-Car collection. By now, she has all but disappeared. When Les Moonves, the head of the network, adamantly denies any talk of replacing Katie -- "This is a long-term commitment" -- what he means is that he thinks of little else. Furthermore -- and this is how the big boys play the game -- no matter how poor Katie's ratings become, CBS has still deprived NBC of her talent, which it had used richly and well, on everything from Olympic coverage to Dateline NBC. Perhaps Katie could swallow her pride and move to the CBS morning show? Think again: that program is hosted by a forgettable little beauty named Julie Chen, who happens to be married to...Les Moonves.

Moonves brought you not only CSI but Survivor. In other words, he creates franchises, not stars. And he hired Katie based on the assumption that she had a huge and adoring fan base that would follow her anywhere. But by definition, the kind of person who has time on her hands in the morning -- who has nothing but time, time that must be filled, endured, killed -- is the kind of person who is in a race against the clock by early evening. At nine o'clock in the morning, Katie was the personification of the Today show in its perfected form: not just a television program, but a cheery marker of time, a blessed imposition of structure and order on the disquieting entropy of life at home with children. But at 6:30 in the evening, she's a drag. She's just one more person who wants something from you. You stand in the kitchen and your 9-year-old tells you he needs an egg carton for a school project, and your 6-year-old is upending the cat's bowl, and your husband timidly asks when dinner might be ready, and from somewhere by the blender, Katie is nagging you to be interested -- really, really interested -- in Anbar province. You'd think only a man would enter a scene as tense and overwrought as the dinner rush and decide that his best contribution to the woman at the heart of it would be to offer a relaxed assessment of the Iraqi civil war.

That Katie has bombed at CBS is a testament, not to the existence of a glass ceiling, but to the fact that real revolutions are so thoroughgoing that they don't just provide a new answer, they change the very questions being asked. Katie's mandate to lure women and young people to the nightly news was in itself ridiculous and doomed to fail -- and a goal beneath her talent and ambitions. No woman needs to storm the Bastille of nightly news, because the form has become irrelevant: Oprah has immeasurably more cultural, commercial, and political clout than Charles Gibson and Brian Williams, and no young person is ever going to make appointment TV out of a sober-minded 6:30 wrap-up of stories he or she already read online in the afternoon. Because Katie remembered the old world, the one in which the most-respected news was broadcast at the end of the day, she thought that she was taking a more powerful job. But the Today show -- broadcast for four hours a day, a forum for interviews with many of the top newsmakers of the day, as well as for the kind of lifestyle-trend stories it pioneered and that have come to play such a big part in the nightly news -- is a far more culturally significant program. One reason that this huge star didn't have a tell-all biography written about her until now is that while she was at Today, no publisher wanted to antagonize her; a booking on the show was every new author's dream. The release of Klein's splashy book, then, is evidence not of Katie's elevation, but of its opposite. She made the kind of mistake that women a generation younger than hers probably wouldn't have. She spent her time gunning for a position that had been drained of its status and importance long before she got there. And what she has learned, the hard way, is that her climb to the top has been not a triumph but the act of someone who slept through a revolution.


60 Year Old French Fries For Sale

click photo to enlarge and read the amazing text...

My top two favorite accidental jokes printed on restaurant material are the famous "counterfeit detection devices" at Rubio's (photo here)..

...and this classic from In N Out. My question:

If you have been cooking the fries since 1948, aren't they a bit well done?


St Bruce on U2

Transcript: Bruce Springsteen Inducts U2 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

text by Bruce Springsteen

Uno, dos, tres, catorce. That translates as one, two, three, fourteen. That is the correct math for a rock and roll band. For in art and love and rock and roll, the whole had better equal much more than the sum of its parts, or else you're just rubbing two sticks together searching for fire. A great rock band searches for the same kind of combustible force that fueled the expansion of the universe after the big bang. You want the earth to shake and spit fire. You want the sky to split apart and for God to pour out.

It's embarrassing to want so much, and to expect so

much from music, except sometimes it happens -- the Sun Sessions, Highway 61, Sgt. Peppers, the Band, Robert Johnson, Exile on Main Street, Born to Run -- whoops, I meant to leave that one out (laughter) -- the Sex Pistols, Aretha Franklin, the Clash, James Brown...the proud and public enemies it takes a nation of millions to hold back. This is music meant to take on not only the powers that be, but on a good day, the universe and God himself -- if he was listening. It's man's accountability, and U2 belongs on this list.

It was the early '80s. I went with Pete Townshend, who always wanted to catch the first whiff of those about to unseat us, to a club in London. There they were: A young Bono -- single-handedly pioneering the Irish mullet; (laughter) the Edge -- what kind of name was that?; Adam and Larry. I was listening to the last band of whom I would be able to name all of its members. They had an exciting show and a big, beautiful sound. They lifted the roof.

We met afterwards and they were nice young men. They were Irish. Irish! Now, this would play an enormous part in their success in the States. For what the English occasionally have the refined sensibilities to overcome, we Irish and Italians have no such problem. We come through the door fists and hearts first. U2, with the dark, chiming sound of heaven at their command -- which, of course, is the sound of unrequited love and longing, their greatest theme -- their search for God intact. This was a band that wanted to lay claim to not only this world but had their eyes on the next one, too...continued

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Video: Peruvian Witches and Little Llamaherders

An amazing day..captured on film!
Nov 2005, a group of intercessors from Huancayo, Peru...along with the Hursts and meself from the USA...travelled to the top of the Andes to the lake that is the water source for Huancayo.

The water had been cursed by a network of witches. Little did we expect two literal avalanches to ensue (see 7:20) in response to the prayer. Watch to the end to hear Ken Metz explain all this (8:17ff) The story is written up here. and watchable here:

Then , on our way back from the top of the Andes mountains.. our car broke down and we met (in a classic moment) some lonely llamas and (in a chilling horror-movie moment) the (remains of) the last person to break down in this remote spot!

Also, note that once we get the car running, we met an amazing sherdess(ette) whom I learned a lot about pastoring from ...and the closing scene (in which the name of our new driver is revealed) is frightening.

Here it is

No doubt you will want to join us next time!

Heschel: God is absent and thus we are visible

More Heschel below (see also "Time Travel: Sabbath Novels, Clockless Monasteries,Toyota Corollas and the Gospel of the Kingdom" here):

"I say that this world in itself is so fascinatingly mysterious, so challengingly marvelous, that not to realize that there is more than I see, that there is endlessly more than I can express or even conceive, is just being underdeveloped intellectually."

"We are called upon to be an image of God. You see, God is absent, invisible, and the task of a human being is to represent the Divine, to be a reminder of the presence of God."

link to these quotes here..with lots more articles by the man..

serene cathedrals God has left/pastoral listening to drifters

As Beth knows so well, it is thrilling to find commentators (Christian or otherwise), who"get" U2.
Like this guy who writes for a Christian magazine that isn't Christian, and is a "thinking person's 'Rolling Stone'. Two excerpts that are seminary-level theological education:

"In the video for for the album's lynchpin, 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For,' even the vapid neon whirl of Las Vegas feels like a desert cathedral, serene and awesome--but a day after God left town for points unknown."
-Jeff Leven, Paste Magazine 2/08 p, 72
Amen; our context is always vapid neon cathedrals the day after.

"The revelation in U2's 2oth anniversary reissue of the Joshua Tree slips in through the back door. Tucked into the bonus a 40 odd minute documentary...this short film catches a band in transitionally vulnerable moments. The members of U2 lope around a middle of nowhere bar humming country songs...Bono even makes a polite audience for a dirt-caked drifter in an empty parking lot. Capturing would-be rock starts in a moment of pause that's simultaneously earnest and mournful, this glancing snapshot of the band's self-imposed sojourn in the American hinterlands bleeds a humlity and a sense of pregnant promise that--reflected back into the album itself--is nothing less than glorious."-Jeff Leven, Paste Magazine 2/08 p, 72

That moment of Bono with the "dirt-caked" drifter is haunting: it's a liminal image of every pastoral listening listens to learn; as the drifter is inevitably an angel, America, and/or Jesus in thin disguise. It's viewable in the clip here (as is the aforementioned music video)if you start at about the 24:48.

Seminary indeed.

Pastor Bono has even been know to go bowling with fans after a concert...
Outside, it's America.

More on Joshua Tree idea from Beth, and also in the book accompanying the reissue, especially the piece by the Edge.

divorce, Prozac, entrails, God and lacerating self-examination

Having spun the last two posts on a quixotic

Image link and story
inspired by Happy Lee

quest for honest "Christian" lyrics...

....I'm not asking for much.

Just for a few words like:

divorce, cancer, exhibitonist, rape, drunk, masturbation, Prozac, adultery

to be namechecked in "Christian" songs occassionally.

Am I after windmills...or the Wind?

Can we once in awhile be honest? There are folk in every congregation dealing with the reality of those words who need to sing them out in cathartic incarnated rugged glorious prayer-praise.

I don't want to send them home with a stone, when there's bread in the house.

I might even have to midwife the saints into the required "lacerating self-examination"
that can heal. (Note: This fantastic phrase "lacerating self-examination" comes from Beth Maynard, in the context of U2 music).
I guess I could push Peter Leithart's wonderful challenge to theologians, and ask to incoporate some even more "real" words:

Theology is a "Victorian" enterprise, neoclassically bright and neat and clean, nothing out of place.
Whereas the Bible talks about hair, blood, sweat, entrails, menstruation and genital emissions.

Here's an experiment you can do at any theological library. You even have my permission to try this at home..

Step 1: Check the indexes of any theologian you choose for any of the words mentioned above. (Augustine does not count. Augustines' theology is as big as reality. Or bigger.)

Step 2: Check the Bible concordance for the same words.

Step 3: Ponder these questions: Do theologians talk about the world the same way the Bible does? Do theologians talk about the same world the Bible does?:

But I won't push that far...except for maybe the late, late service.

I don't want to have to rhyme "genital emission." (:

Though it does rhyme well with "great commission"...oh my..

So...heck, I'll settle for any honest lyrics.

I'll settle for "bad hair day."

At least it can't be force-rhymed with "praise."

Sigh, maybe Bono was right...again.

He has dropped Xanax and pornography into what to me is a sort of worship song.

Yet I may live to meet Dulcinea in church, if not on Christian radio...

Artists are in the business of telling truth. God is the great Creator. This may help explain when I often feel God's presence listening to someone sing about life, and feel nothing (sometimes) when they sing about God. Just a thought.
-Mike Todd, link

I realized today that sometimes when two people say two different things, they might actually be saying the same thing.

One person says: “The guitars sounded great and not too harsh.”
Another says: “The overall sound had a little too much ‘edge’ on it…a little harsh.”

That’s when I have to ask myself where each of these people are coming from and then take both comments as compliments.

-Mark Thomas, link

God loves you and has a wonderful plan: to wreck your life

It wasn't even censored, or prettied up.

I heard it this morning; and it was raw.

So I prayed it wholesale.

Of course, that opening line of Sanctus Real song ("Things Like You") tops all the "reality songs" I referenced yesterday.

Every time I catch the opening salvo,

"Loving things like You has wrecked my life.."

(please try singing or praying that in a prayer meeting/worship service/sermon)

I think, "Now that is refreshing, brutal, healing  honesty...and on Christian radio, even."

So why can't/shan't  we sing it in/as church?

It's about as psalmish as you could ask for.
If you haven't already done it, play the first thirteen seconds of the song here, and pause it there until the bottom of this post..

Two testimonies dovetail here. First, Ole Anthony:

I was asked to be a guest on the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship television program, called Good News.   Demos Shakarian, the founder and host of the show, introduced me with great fanfare and subsequent applause from the audience.
He was a short but dynamic man and he reached up and slapped me on the shoulder and said, "And what has the Lord done for you today, Brother Anthony?"
I said, "He has messed up my life today and every day since I have known Him, because He is not interested in my life, He is interested only in the revelation of His Son in me."

There was silence from the audience and Mr. Shakarian. That pretty much ended the program. However, I received hundreds of supportive letters from those in the television audience who, like me, were weak.

And Bruce Cockburn,  from The Other Side interview, ( ..almost the same story:

I guess my Christian experience has been different from a lot of people's. Every now and then, I force myself to watch one of those Christian TV shows like the "PTL Club". Sincere guys come on saying, "I was a drunkard, and I lost my my job. Then I found the Lord, and all of a sudden, my marriage was saved; my job was saved; I don't drink any more; and I'm a millionaire".

I have no reason to doubt those folks' sincerity. I could go on that show and say, "Well, I started out as an agnostic, went through Buddhism and black magic. Then I became a Christian -- and my marriage fell apart". For me, my faith is a whole other thing than those PTL guys' faith. And, although I have to say this with a certain caution, I know that no matter how much I screw up, God is still going to be there. A large part of my faith is trusting that God won't
let me screw up beyond a certain point."

Back to the Sanctus Real salvo;  I often heard that powerful opening snippet:

"Loving things like You has wrecked my life..."

 while in the car (like today), and then neglected to google the lyric.  I am sorry to say that in context the lyric is not addressed to God, but to things the narrator has loved.

But that won't stop our band at church from singing it with a capital Y.

Loving things like You has wrecked my life, made me cry
Loving things like you has made me lose my mind..

Loving things like You has left me bruised, black and blue
Loving things like you has made me so confused

And with an uncensored evangelistic and brokenhearted zeal  that turns every song into a prayer; and all passion into compassion.

Maybe Lifehouse has prayed it best :
you're beautiful
you're confusing
you're illogical
you're amazing

Laments are often the purest forms and formats of praise.

They are the whole truth, so help me God.



The Lord be with you..

   ....even when he is not.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Not Alright

As any reader of this blog might already believe (see posts like No sad songs allowed, Well-Ended Stories That Don't End Well, "Preaching Ecclesiastes and Throwing Away the Key",
and of course
"The Lord Be With You...Even When He’s Not");and as any
church who weaves a bit of Pink Floyd into the "worship set" knows..

it is refreshing and encouraging to sometimes spin and pray tunes that are not...well, refreshing or encouraging,

But are honest about what Ethel called our inevitable "occasional atheism,"
and what the Psalmist called life.

Contemporary Christian music seems to be convinced that everything's always alright.

Well, I know Romans 8:28 as well as the next preacher, but a larger section of Scripture (Psalms, Escclesiastes etc) is downright honest..

..and flirts with the feeling..if not the reality...that at least until the Kingdom fully comes, everything is not yet altogether alright.

Richard Foster
used to tweak the title "I'M ON, YOU'RE OK" to "I'M NOT OK, YOU'RE NOT OK..BUT THAT'S OK!"

Two songs with the shocking but healing lyric "I'm not alright" come to mind. Can we sing them 'in church'?
They might prove themselves redemptive and refreshing.

by King's X

Where are you tonight
I don't seem to know you
No I'm not all right
Where are you tonight
And my heart is nearly gone
There's not much left to offer
If I could somehow know
I could stop the burning down

Where are you tonight
Are you even really out there
I won't put up a fight
Where are you tonight
And the world keeps spinning round
A vicious cycle turning (vicious cycle turning)
Some of them know love
Some of us know the burning down


If weakness is a wound
That no one wants to speak of
Then “cool” is just how far we have to fall
I am not immune
I only want to be loved
But I feel safe behind the firewall
Can I lose my need to impress?
If you want the truth, I need to confess

I’m not alright
I’m broken inside, broken inside
And all I go through
It leads me to you, it leads me to you

Burn away the pride
Bring me to my weakness
Until everything I hide behind is gone
And when I’m open wide
With nothing left to cling to
Only you are there to lead me on
Cause honestly, I’m not that strong

I’m not alright
I’m broken inside, broken inside
And all I go through
It leads me to you, it leads me to you

And I move, and I move, and I move...closer to you
And I move, and I move, and I move...closer to you
And I move, and I move, and I move...closer to you
And I move, and I move, and I move...

I’m not alright
I’m broken inside, broken inside
broken inside, broken inside
And all I go through
Leads me to you, leads me to you

I’m not alright, I’m not alright, I’m not alright...that’s why I need you

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Last (?) Photo You'll Ever See of Me in a Clerical Collar

Some of you just choked.

Some thought you landed onto the wrong website.

Yes, that IS a photo of me,,,
in a clerical collar.

Here's the story (excerpted from this post), from a few years ago:

...For some reason, though ( I hope its just nostalgia about the story I am about to tell), I haven’t been able to take my clerical collar off the mirror and into the trash..or onto E-Bay. I’ve already teased about telling about the day (one only) I wore it. Let me say upfront that it’s Harry’s fault! I probably wouldn't have done it for anyone else but Harry! I officiated his wedding, too ( in a suit, thank you very much! He didn't ask me to wear a dress, thank God!) On a more serious note, the story is this: Harry's brother lost his wife suddenly, and though the family were nominally Catholic, and actually had no church; there was the background and vestige of Catholicism so woven into the fabric of the family history that nothing would authenticate a funeral officiant more than a collared clergy. Sigh! I told my mouth to tell Harry “No,” but it came out a God-breathed “Yes.” All things to all people, the Lord reminded me…that some might be saved.
I was honored to be asked to do the funeral, though it was a difficult one; she was too young.

Visiting with the family, and realizing that many of the friends that would be in attendance were not only nominally Catholic, but far from the church and Christ.. Reading the wife's journal, we found heartfelt and desperate prayers to Jesus for salvation, healing and guidance, It was enough for me to preach positively and hopefully about her God-relationship. So I felt better about officiating..collar and all.
(I had to go out and buy one..finding of course the least conspicuous and least clergy-looking style available; connected to a light-blue shirt, of course). And yes, my “in the know” friends smiled (okay, “smirked”)at me as I entered the funeral home. But God worked in amazing ways at that
service. Self-confessed drug-addicted, non-church folks, stood up and gave testimony (Often with colorful but heartfelt words) about what the deceased had meant to them. The Catholic relatives hung on my every word of grace and comfort. Don Secrest still laughs about howI even had everyone in the room unsion, out loud, a prayer of leaning our lives on Jesus. I mean, that's what they were expecting, a "repeat after me " liturgy." And I couldn’t in good faith offer a “Hail Mary,”, so I created a downhowme “Hey, Jesus” prayer. That’s right, I..and hopefully God through me..made one up, an honest one that seekers andsailors; doubters and drunks could say and pray with integrity as they tested and tiptoed their way towards the Christ their departed friend seem to know. Folk who wouldn’t darken the door of a church felt free to express themselves in profanity-laced testimonies to God and even to “accept Jesus”..partly because the officiating shepherd (who actually felt very sheepish in his get-up) wore a clerical collar ( to his conscience a veritable clown suit), and seemed the real deal. Go figure.


Clown suit, huh? But one man’s clown suit is another man’s lifeline. I can’t judge that; I might even preach in a literal clown suit (or worse..a dress! Does E-Bay let you buy back your own stuff!!) if God wills.

My neighbor when I was a teen, once asked his mom to buy him what some called a "gook jacket." It was what the cool ”rowdy” kids wore; a hooded sweatshirt. The funny thing is that my dad had somehow managed to buy and wear one; probably unaware that it was the hippest thing for teens; it was more likely a

functional purchase. My dad was not one to embarrassingly dress “young” just to be hip with the kids, he was and is already just naturally cool.

"No! Never! You cannot have one of those jackets," his mother shot back. "That's what the crooks; the bad kids wear!"

But my swift friend did not relent; he took full advantage of the opportunity. He had a secret, and was about to go for the big guns.

"But Mom!," he protested, armed with his decidedly weighty argument: "But Mr. Wainscott wears one!"
His mom had the shutdown comeback, however: "I don’t care if Mr. Wainscott wears a clown suit!! If Mr. Wainscott wears a clown suit, are you going to want one of those, too? The answer is no!

For me, wearing a "preaching robe" is the equivalent of a clown suit…or the dreaded dress my visiting parishioner mis(?)took it for. Again, I am all for pastors wearing such if God leads and needs. But I'd better be careful; there actually IS a "clown eucharist"s serice! No comment, but here's an actual photo and a live link:

...And I had better be as open and as stripped of preconceived dress codes as was Salvation Army founder William Booth. The story is told that many criticized Booth for dressing in military gear, and banging a drum, to attract attention to his outdoor preaching. He reportedly replied: “I’d stand on my head and bang a drum, if it meant one soul would come to Jesus!” I would like to be like Booth when I grow up! So I try to never say never…

Partly because I am attracted to being a..

Tuesday, January 15, 2008