Friday, May 30, 2008

Review: "The Sacred Echo"

Yes, I am an unrepentant bibliophile.

I have even been known to read on the toilet (as have you; confess!)
But I have also been know to read in the car...
...usually at stoplights.

But sometimes, like this time, I read while..

....on the freeway!

Yes, I was that stupid.

And yes, the book was that hard to put down.

Sometimes you just know that you have read a line that will echo for the rest of your life.
(And in this case, maybe even beyond).

You can underline it, circle it, draw three stars by it...whatever your preferred mode.
(Preferably not while driving).

I was tempted to do all three, but I didn't have to.
I will still have this sentence memorized in twenty years, and will still be quoting it, and drawing from it:

"Some prayers you don't need to write down to remember, and others you don't write down lest you remember."


With that kind of raw and passionate honesty/confession, Margaret Feinberg laces her book "The Sacred Echo."

One more.
I warn/promise that you have never said this, but you have felt it. THAT is a sign of a great writer; she is gifted with giving expression and outlet to something already in you:

"Though I pray repetitively, vehemently, I hear the thick silence, like that which follows the dropping of a heavy, leather-bound book onto a hard, wooden library floor."

If you have every truly and vulnerably prayed and listened prayerfully and carefully;
I make the case you have truly heard that silence.

Jesus did.

But by God's sacralizing grace; even (especially?) the silence is sacred echo.

The book's title deals with the way our prayer is a repeated/resonating offering; as is God's voice/Word to us. The "real beauty of prayer is not just in the request but in the repetition...
try to hear the echo--those moments when God speaks the same message again and again."

She addresses all the questions you are now asking (How about vain repetition? Why should we keep on praying when God knows all and has heard the first time?). What I love about Margaret is she doesn't always answer these least in tidy formula.

And the way she does submit a possible answer to the classic "Why does God repeat himself?" moves beyond the cliche and stereotyped answers you have heard (as true as the may be), and alone is worth the price of the book.

Just don't drive off the road.

Another quote such as "Surrender is not an exploit---something we do--as much as renovation---something done in us.

I knew that before I read the book.

Or did I?

I guess I really needed an echo. And that quote is part and parcel of an amazing story about Steve Saint (son of Nate) that will stretch you.

Repetition? Wouldn't that bug or bore God? Not if God is as "nudnik" as the bothersome nudnik widow in Jesus' parable who teaches us to pray.

Uh, read the book.


Feinberg's writing style is delightful and dovetails in and out of Scriptures and stories masterfully. In microcosm, she even unassumingly models and beautifully embeds her book with the same sacred pattern she detects in God's "repetitive" way with us; once she even begins a chapter in the exact same way she began an earlier chapter. It punched home the point like no other method could have; and was a huge hearing aid for me.

It came to me that God's loving repetitions, like Feinberg's chapters, are repetitive in a helical (helix-like) and concatenatory way; each repetition reverberates with new tones and nuances; all the while building on the original Voiceprint.

The chapters are so effectively titled by very short phrases that after one reading, I can recall and rejoice in most of the content merely by reading the table of contents page! (Such will greatly assist my freeway reading's safety factor).

How about more healing honesty:
"After years of prayer (for James), things only seem to get worse."

Can one say that...on an evangelical publishing house's paper and dime?

Thank God for Zondervan.

And she can be downright prophetic without an ounce of bitterness or namecalling:

"It saddens me that at times, this rich, powerful commission (The Great Commission) is reduced to nothing more than convincing someone to sign a prayer card, dunking them in water, and handing them a stack of self-help books."


Thank God for Zondervan,
and Margaret Feinberg, who is...

Honest without hubris;
real without being rude...or really fake;
transparent without being see-through;
vulnerable without being voyeuristic and tacky.

Perhaps her chapter "How Long?" was most moving.
In reading it, I think I recognized the full impact of the juxtaposition of that same biblical phrase into U2's song "40". The song begins with Psalm 40:1, "I waited patiently for the Lord.."; yet the chorus ineserts an ironic and sacred impatience: "How long to sing this song?" Anyone who has been to a U2 concert can testify to the sacred and literal echoes of fans singing/praying/echoing this question long after the band has left the stage.

Hear Bono's comments on this phenomenon is his "Introduction to the Psalms"
excerpted below. I had forgotten he even used 'echo' language and calls attention to the power of repetition. How Feinbergian(:

I hear echoes of the holy row...and Psalm
40 became the closing song at U2 shows and on hundreds of occasions, literally hundreds of thousands of people of every size and shape t-shirt have shouted back the refrain, pinched from Psalm 6: "'How long' (to sing this song)". I had thought of it as a nagging question - pulling at the hem of an invisible deity whose presence we glimpse only when we act in love. How long ... hunger? How long ... hatred? How long until creation grows up at the chaos of its precocious, hell-bent adolescence has been discarded? I thought it odd that the vocalising of such questions could bring such comfort; to me too.

It is Bono's/Feinberg's /God's subversive daringness to "vocalize the questions" that was "oddly (and deeply) comforting" to me. The bottom line message/echo for me in "The Sacred Echo" is:

"When you find your mind awakened by a Scripture that won't let your heart go, know there's a good chance God is speaking to you."

Without a hint of suggesting or selling a formula; but by the conversational laying bare her life, soul, and prayer journal; Margaret Feinberg was able to let God affirm the parallel but different ways I experience that awakening Echo.

That is sacred indeed.

So much so that I may hear God saying...again...that no matter how great a book is, I shouldn't read while driving.
Since I am still bibliophiliac, and always "pushing towards the unobvious,"
here are two other great books ...and very different from each other;
as well as from "The Sacred Echo,"

that also in some way deal with the Voice/Echo.

They re-sonate:

The Divine Voice: Christian Proclamation and the Theology of Sound
The Divine Voice: Christian Proclamation and the Theology of Sound by Stephen Webb

Summoned to Lead
Summoned to Lead by Leonard Sweet

"impossible to listen to and impossible to abandon"

Something about a Bible and religious scholar who can also talk good music.

His academic blog, "Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean" is here ,
and his music blog "Phil's Vinyl Addiction" is here.

Both rock a lot.

Both are Philip Harland.

He winks in the music blog:
" If you’re looking for the academic Phil, go to the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean blog."

That's not a split personality; that's just integration.

Doesn't every biblical scholar "get" Genesis and recommend Radiohead?
That would be a great world.

Wouldn't anyone (: realize that this incredibly insightful comment about RobertFripp's "Exposure" captures what we (should) feel reading the Bible?:

"both impossible to listen to and impossible to abandon, despite the torture"

That's just life.

Vote for Phil.

His PhD dissertation was:
"Claiming a Place in Polis and Empire: The Significance of Imperial Cults and Connections among Associations, Synagogues and Christian Groups in Roman Asia”..

...AND he knows that CCR's version of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" is the best.

That alone qualifies him.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Inside the Architecture of Authority

Since architecture, authority, buildings and seduction are themes of this blog
(aren't they every blog's keynotes?),
this new book
reviewed and sampled in WIRED
caught my attention.

Click for photos.
Inside the Architecture of Authority
By Keith Axline
05.29.08 | 12:00 AM

A new book by photographer Richard Ross, Architecture of Authority, examines the way institutional buildings exert power over people. Ross managed to gain impressive access to all kinds of secretive or high-security buildings, from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, to the supermax high-security Pelican Bay prison in California. Ross credits his unprecedented access to a combination of persistence and sincere curiosity. "Many of these people want to show you these places once they know that you're interested in their world," he says.

To question the pervasiveness of intimidating, "disgusting" architecture, the images in Ross' book are both striking and inviting. Ross intentionally makes the photos of oppressive structures look seductive. "You can convince people a lot easier by whispering in their ear rather than hitting them over the head," says Ross....

One picture description sounds like church:

Left: Pictured is the prison's lethal injection chamber. "Ninety percent of inmates who enter never leave," Ross says. Inmates work on the prison farm and are not allowed to eat the cows they raise because the quality of the meat is too high. Meals at Angola can cost as little as 17 cents per person since so much of the food is grown on site. Twice a year, inmates enjoy a rodeo on the prison grounds with barbecues and bull riding.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Moving From Postfundamentalist Masturbation to Holy Foolishness: Missing Jesus

"9/11 was an act that had clearly been designed for television."
-Karen Armstrong, "The Battle for God" p vii

"Sometimes (the new fundamentalists) have been driven to acts that are deliberately is difficult to imagine a more nihilistic act than... the Muslim suicide bomber...and the bizzare antics of the Bakers and Jimmy Swaggart represented a nihilistic revolt against teh more sober fundamentalism of Jerry Falwell."

If annihilating nihilism "by cultural masturbation" is not the best approach ( a "good movie or two" would be better),

then annihilating nihilism by nihilism itself, is probably not the best approach either.

We might even talk ourselves into the false belief that this approach is incarnational and redemptive. But this is not what Bruggeman means by"embodying the thing dismantled." (see part 14 here).

Karen Armstrong notes a "postfundamentalist" strand in all three monotheistic religions which would spiritualize sin, completely embrace nihilism, and thus violence and sexualization. Is it
ironic or inevitable that the most fundamentalist fundies will betray their fundamentalism while ostensibly claiming to drink carefully from its wineskin? :

Reconstructionism and the Christan Identity have left Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority far behind. These are a form of post-fundamentalism, which is more frightening, intransigent, and extreme... In the same way, the9/11 hijackers seem to represent some sinister new development in Islamic fundamentalism...Mohammet Atta drinking vodka before he entered teh aircraft..The idea that a Muslim martyr could go to meet God with vodka on his breath is as bizarre a thought as that of Baruch Goldsten, the Jewush fundamemtalist who gunned down twenty nine Muslims...enjoying a bereakfast of bacon and eggs before carrying out the attack...

Most fundamentalists live strictyly orthodox lives....(but) the ignorant barbarism that (the new fundamentalists) have the (brand) they have vowed not only to abjure but also to eliminate. The hijackers seem to have gone out of their way not only to disobey the basic laws of the religion they have vowed to defend but to trample on the principles that motivate the traditional fundamentalist..

One Messiah figure advocated a form of "holy sin". The times were so desperate that something entirely new was required. Old values no longer applied; there had to be a new law, and a new freedom that could only be achieved by a flagrant disavowal of the old norms.
Karen Armstrong, "The Battle for God" p ix-x

In a sense, these last two sentences are accurately applied to what Jesus instituted in Mark 2:
New wine and wineskins. He was not deconstructing Judaism/Phariseeism/ entirely; even though "something entirely new was required." In a nutshell, the "new law and freedom" was the "new wine of new fasting." Jesus even flatly announced that literally NO ONE would be dumb enough/fundamentalist enough /post-fundamentalist enough to even try to cram new wine into old wineskins and fast the "old" (postfundamentalist) way.

But in the words of DC Talk, "what have we become"? Who have we become? The "no one" that Jesus spoke about. Why is Trucker Frank kicked out of a Christian bookstore and not the most blasphemous book title one can imagine:

"How to Put New Wine into Old Wineskins."


How about that, a "How to Do What Jesus Said Can't Be Done...And No One Tries."

What would Tyndale ("couldn't hit a bull on the ass with a banjo") do?

Was the whole structure of Jewish ceremonial, fasting naturally included, indeed consonant with the new spirit of the followers of the Messiah?

A new spirit must find new forms of expression.
(Alan Cole, Tyndale Commentary on Mark)

"Fasting is not a commandment," John Piper insists, "but a prediction of what will seem normal for those who miss the Bridegroom." But violent sexuality of annihilating nihilism cannot produce "the sorrow which find expresion in fasting" (Cole, 72)

I grieve not grieving.

"Why would you want a superannuated, impotent octagenarian?"

That's what my 83-year old friend (whose wife died several years ago) says he asks those well- meaning widows at church who ask him out.

"But more importantly, I am still in love with my wife;
and I don't miss you."

If we are still in love with our Bridegroom; and miss him---which leads to the new wine of new fasting, we won't cave into temptations to sleep around with other church members, other gods, or other wines...

..especially those "frightening, intransigent, and extreme" postfundamentalist ones.

We live in "desperate times" again; where postfundamentalism is still alive in our ecclesiology and missiology...and as such subverts our subversion and hijacks us into forsaking the necessary "holy fool" approach for the "holy sins" that are
"designed for television."

We can't get there without fasting.

I grieve not grieving.


Q. "How do you drink new wine?" A. "Fast!"

The Other Crowder and Deconstructing Pentecostalism

Whatever we believe about the Lakeland/Todd Bentley move/"outpouring",
from it being a historic revival
to being "a curse from God aimed at your destruction"
to something in between...

Whatever your experience with experience junkies..

Even if you are a fullblown Binitarian or Bibliolater..

or Chuck Colson himself.. has to at least ASK of the movement connected to the "other" Crowder (John, not David)

"..what if
this is actually the Holy Spirit deconstructing Pentecostalism?!" (Mike Morrell)

Read Mike Morrell's post; grab a twinkie, and pray and ponder it.

Can't wait for John McArthur to get wind of this.
...Maybe he's busy in Lakeland..

...with Chuck.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Four DVDS you should already own

Four DVDS you should already own:


Violet Burning:

U2 Go Home:

Peter Gabriel "Secret World":

Entire DVD online on youtube here

Blog Cuss-O-Meter

Here are my (damn) results...gee, I wonder how Real Live Preacher rates?

"Around 5.9% of the pages on your website contain cussing. This is 34% LESS than other websites who took this test"

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?

.Get your own graphic

Destabilizing Copyright & Fetishizing of Answers

Both books David Dark has written;
as well as his articles,
and blog,
are amazing.

Nice hair, too.

Here is a CT piece of his called "God With Us (and Them)," and here is a Door interview w/Dark by Becky Garrison.

Here are some previews of his upcoming book; quotes from Dark at the
Nashville Emergent Cohort.

"We need community that is always destabilizing our sense of copyright on Jesus..

... In the asking of questions, there are also pitfalls that demand caution, ways that we can make The Answer more important than anything else. There is a fetishizing of answers that gets away from loving others."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

"Falling at Your Feet" in the hospital

I have linked this song and video before, as I love the song,
but must link to the wonderful new reflection on it here by Shelly Lawrence.

A great example of freedom in interpretation that is faithful to the writers intent...even if he didn't know it. As Bono once said to Rolling Stone, "rhema...changes in the moment."

Tiny is the New Small/Massive is the New Big

by That Tall Skinny Kiwi:

Starfish, Spiders, Crepes for 50

posted by Tall Skinny Kiwi:

The Starfish and the Spider and the Emerging House Churches

"They're [the house churches] based on small-circle organizing, have little to no authoritative control, and rely on the innovation of distributed social movements. It's this same type of organizational structure that is the secret to the success of Wikipedia and craigslist."
-Rob Mackay and Ori Brafman (The Spider and the Starfish) in an article for the Huffington Post called "Small Is the New Big in Progressive Politics" HT: Homebrewed Christianity

I said something very similar a few years ago when i discussed emergent theory and the house church movement in a post called Tiny is the New Small. Speaking of small churches, I just finished cooking a pile of crepes for the 50 people that attend our small church so we can have breakfast together early Sunday morning. Try doing that with a bigger church.

Link: Tall Skinny Kiwi

Friday, May 23, 2008

Old Fart Finally Eats World...and Gets Ghost

I can't live with or without out music..
but I am an old fart, and not as in touch with all the stuff I need to be..
that's why I need resourcers like

Man,if it weren't for Ryan Townsend, I wouldn't have likely have heard of, or pursued:

..let alone Ryan's overdubbing band

And if might not have even met Ryan if it weren't for Facebook.
(And it was the other St. Ryan who got me on Facebook!


One band I have been meaning to check out is:

Jimmy Eat World.

I know you are laughing, Ryan.
Both Ryans.

Yeah, I also finally caught up with Wilco, another "new" band(:
I just got their Ghost..used.

All ghosts are.


I remember that David Crowder mentions Jimmy Eat World as an influence/favorite. A bit of research shows some debate as to whether they are Christians..debate the band intentionally won't definitively solve.

How cool (and C.S.) is that.

How about this song, "A Praise Chorus," which cleverly references ("drawing a fish in the sand"? or tossing a bone to believers?) "Crimson and Clover," which is basically Tommy James' conversion testimony....let alone addressing "Davey" (THAT David?)

And what a resource Fabchannel is, whole concerts on video. Here's a whole Jimmy gig:

Paul didn't preach

For those who continue to believe Paul preached a looong sermon before that dude fell out the window..

"Paul Preached To Them"

"weird ass gospel" and sympathy for Jesus

"We don't get up and tell the story. We just live in the story," says the guitarist.

."I was always in these bands where our gimmick was not having a gimmick. Frankly, that didn't work out so well. I think sometimes people want pomp and circumstance," says one of the drummers.

What's this?
A local newspaper covers a concert by a Christian band
(as if there is such a thing),

and the headline is:

"The Khrusty Brothers
bring their weird-ass
gospel to the stage"


Then there's the profanity:

The Christian market is prone to over-reaction when the lyrics are perceived to be offensive," Chaffer says. He notes that one distributor refused to carry Waterdeep's album What You Don't Know because it used the words hell and damn. (The band later released an edited version jestingly titled What You Don't Know Won't Hurt You.)

"The broader problem with broad swaths of evangelical subculture is dishonesty at an emotional level," Chaffer adds. "I was at a point in my life where I couldn't afford that. I had to get this stuff down."..

As a result, Chaffer freely uses words such as shitty and laid on the Khrusties' debut self-titled album. Released last July on iTunes and more recently on CD, the record offers 13 melodic indie-rock tunes with electronic infusions such as loops, sound effects and drum programming. Points of reference include David Byrne, Grandaddy, Sufjan Stevens and Brian Eno —

The whole shebang is a spiritual affirmation of sorts for Chaffer, who wrote much of the material in the wake of his parents' passing.

"I think my faith was reduced to more critical components," he says. "I cut some of the crap away. It's just real easy to be an American Christian and full of crap.

Tin Keel, pastor of Jacob's Well, says of this band:

To say that it is a "spectacle to behold" is an understatement. The concert is a piece of musical, conceptual performance art that is a freak-show of epic proportions - in the best tradition of Meatloaf/The Flaming Lips/KISS. To say that the music is amazing is...well, exactly what you'd expect from anything Don Chaffer is connected to.

All that's left to do is check out their song,
"Sympathy for Jesus" on the article page linked above.

"Cowboy Jesus/Sympathy for Jesus":

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Sheep and the Goats and the Llamas

While this is my own video of some llama friends of mine in Peru (I learned a lot from the lovely llamaherder in it), it is here mainly to accompany "Churchless Faith"'s post below:

The Sheep and the Goats and the Lamas

Imagine if while Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan he threw in a fourth character who arrives just before the Good Samaritan. We’ll call him the concerned Samaritan. This character sees the injured man, offers him a cup of coffee and a chat and tells him that the registered services who are qualified to help him with his particular issues are currently full and gives him a phone number of somewhere to call the next working day. What would Jesus say about this character?

Or, imagine if while Jesus was telling the parable of the sheep and the goats he added some lamas. This third group of people saw the homeless and instead of giving them a home gave them a cup of coffee, someone to talk to and the phone number of a service for homeless people with a six month waiting list. What would Jesus say about the Lamas?
-Link, Churchless Faith

Calling all APES...

Alan Hirsch asks "Where Have All the APES gone?" here.
Ben W. comments: "I fear challenging this will be too surmountable a task for many churches."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Amazing video of plane emergency landing on beach

Amazing video of plane making emergency landing on water near a crowded beach.
St. Guiness would love it; this looks even scarier and hairier than our experience.

Drunk on Gilligan's Island, Clay's sermon, Church 2.0

All real church meetings that matter happen in parking lots...

.... after the closing prayer of the official meeting.

Sometimes such meetings are satanically subversive
(see "A Crash of Rhinos...a Committee of Buzzards"):
as in plots to fire a staff member, hijack an agenda etc);

sometimes they are sovereignly subversive;
as folks are free to let their hair and guard down,
and dream out loud...
not worrying what any squeakers or buzzards in the bigger meetings would say.

I am thrilled that in the church world (at least a growing subset and underground alliance of orthopractical freelance wikitribesters) are beginning to wake up from our big bender and at least asking the right questions.

More on the bender in a minute.
Hint: it's largely Gilligan's Island's fault.

It was so refreshing to hear a local ministry leader at the citywide pastors/prayer meeting say something like:

"The day of the one expert standing up front giving a lecture to people sitting down and not participating is long over."

Of course you have guessed by now that this real comment was offered to a small subset group in the parking lot conversation after the real meeting.

So delightfully subversive was this small group that one of them told about how he was inviting people in his congregation to text-message him during the sermon about the sermon (Looks like you can hear the podcast of a sermon where that happened here; also read Creps on "If they are not texting, they are not listening.")

What would have happened if the official indoor conversation had been peppered with versions of these same comments. Would it have been seen as a temple tantrum?

Maybe; maybe not.

Maybe I will send everyone in the larger group a text message of the comments during the next meeting. (:

Maybe we are all unlearning everything we have learned in seminary.

Or unpacking the far deeper theological/epistemological education of watching Gilligan's Island.

Which brings us to this short speech recently given by Clay Shirky (author of
"Here Comes Everybody:The Power of Organizing Without Organizations”),
at the Web 2.o conference.

A transcript is available here;
an outline by Tim Bauer here,
but since media is message/messenger massage
and that is part of the point,
I would recommend watching it first.

Especially for those who think they "don't have the time," 13:00-15:32.

I am thrilled this

clip is being picked up on the web by pioneering Kingdom bloggers like

  • Len, (who wiki-participated in the pioneering wikichurch "book" here)
  • Bill (whose book, "A Networked Conspiracy is downloadable here)
  • Mike, (who has written what should be a book here)

These are heroic and humble dudes who would make a great parking lot group.

Suffice to say any video made by a speaker to a non-church audience which notes that

  • the shift we are in is analagous to the Industrial Revolution..
  • we have been masking out cognitive surplus andfor fifty years.

and even mentions

the "architecture of participation"

let alone

the "physics of participation"

is amenable and amen-able in my book.

Besides, if Tipler is right, and Christianity is becoming a branch of physics,
that is a good thing!
(Should I drop that thesis at the pastor's prayer meeting?)

The video (sermon) is worth watching for the story at the end which ends with the quote
(great sermon style, Clay....and it's fifteeen minutes!):

"Media that's targeted at you, but does not include you may not be worth sitting still for."

My only potential beefs:
  • for all the talk about participatory messages, this is still mostly a talking head...
  • like many preachers, be sure to get the history right (see Ben B's comments here)

Anyway, as a bonus, after watching this I finally have an intelligent answer to folks who say:

"postmodern, emerging church...yada yada's just a fad."

"But isn't this all a fad? Kind of the flagpole sitting of the early 21st century?


"But where do you find the time to do all that stuff online?"

The answer, my friend, as you will find in the clip,
has to do with

Gilligan's Island.

But "it's all asset, not crisis."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

revealed only by intuition

"The mysteries of innermost reality revealed only by intuition."
-The "other" Donald Miller,
p.182, "Heart in Hand"

I have always been glad to be so off-the-scale" N for intuitive:

God's voice took on white flesh

Scot McKnight says (p.44, "A Community Called Atonement") of the following quote:
"A book that troubles me more about my own readings of the Bible than any I've read in my entire life is Brian Blunt's 'Then the Whisper Put on Flesh.' Here are some of his words that sting me deeply..":

"That status of recognition belongs to the conglomeration of Euro-American scholars, ministers and layfolk who have, over the centuries, used their economic, academic, religious and political
dominance to rate the illusion that the Bible, read through their experience, is the Bible read correctly."
(emphasis added by McKnight)

I am aware that some will actually complain that Blount only says that because he's African American. Get over it!

Time for a temple tantrum that actually includes white folk for once.

Even (as white as I am) Christianity Today published " Jeremiah Wright, Evangelicals' Brother in Christ," and this piece by (whiter than I am) Gordon McDonald which connects Wright with (White)Falwell!

I am honored that Steve (pretty white) Porter, in his wonderful but misguided love for me and his mission to expose me as heretic says that I am "just like" Rev. Wright (read this).
Of course Steve has also posted that our church, meassured by our motto (he quotes our "church motto" we have never had or used) "out of vogue" (good) and "dead." (great, if defined as Capon delightfully does here) One member who had read that post said the other day at one of our unvogue gatherings, "Gee, everyone is praying and having a good time, no one leaves for hours, there is more life in the air than I have seen for years...gee, this is the most "alive" dead church I have ever seen").

McKnight (also white) also adds:

And here is Blount's stunning observation: 'The whisper of God's voice took on a white flesh.'
(Blount is the African American president of Union Theological Seminary).

It is easy to contend against sociopragmatic theories of reading the Bible, as Blount's is, and claim that they are biased. All readings, if truth be told, are located in a theological and socioplitical context.
And when McKinght..who has read more books than any white guy alive!...says that Blount's book "troubles me more about my own readings of the Bible than any I've read
in my

..that alone should send us to it.
We do want to be troubled, don't we?


"It's everything I wish I didn't know.." (1:34ff)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Lunimous and and strangely beautiful"

"Thirteen Conversations About One Thing"

Sounds like the wikisermons at our church.

It's also an amazing movie.
The Hollywood Jesus summary and review is here.
I am not a Squeaker, but I think the "one thing" that all thirteen conversations are ultimately about is ..

in a sense..

the blood of Jesus...!

Roger Ebert : "brilliant ... It is philosophy, illustrated through everyday events."
San Francisco Chronicle: "makes a case for cinema as a vehicle for conveying moods and ideas and, hardest of all, the internal movements of a soul."
Rolling Stone: "Fascinating! A real conversation starter! Arkin is flat-out perfection!"
Vanity Fair: "Lunimous and and strangely beautiful

Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (2001) Trailer

"i'm perpetrating this fraud right now"

Check out this post from Wabi Sabi..and see if you on any way relate to his problem/opportunity:


here's my problem. i am a deeply social person. i crave interpersonal interactions and connections more than anything. my unfortunately mobile lifestyle has put vast physical distances between myself, family and friends. i'm unfortunate enough to live in a day and age when we have convinced ourselves that digital communication is a substitute for real, human interactions. i'm perpetrating this fraud right now. keeping in touch with the past is a rose-colored ruse to convince ourselves we aren't alone. but every day that goes by i realize i'm more alone than the day before. the bigger problem is, i really hate people. i genuinely, deeply, truly hate people. i find the vast majority of humankind to be a waste of oxygen. most people are either willfully ignorant, willfully arrogant or willfully disrespectful. some manage to be frightful combinations of two or even all three of these. BUT. my faith demands ... (continued here)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bono and Poetry

"Every poet is a thief.."
-"The Fly," U2

photo: Bono reading Irish poet Seamus Heany to Mrs. Billy Graham

a great article by Angella Pancella about Yeats poems/lines Bono has read/recited/thieved.

She inspired, along with St Mark Thomas, this miscellaneous collection of poetry by Bono and by others he appreciates.

Most fans know that "Until The End of The World" was inspired by Brendan Kenelly's "The Book of Judas," is Bono's review of that book.

"The Crunch" (Excerpt from "Love is a Dog From Hell" by H.C. Bukowski:

"Beautiful Ghost":
(U2 from Joshus Treee Outtakes):

Hear the voice of the Bard
Who present, past, and future, sees
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word
That walk'd among the ancient trees

Calling the lapsed soul
And weeping in the evening dew
That might control
The starry pole
And fallen, fallen light renew

'O Earth, O Earth, return
Arise from out the dewy grass
Night is worn
And the morn
Rises from the slumbrous mass

Turn away no more
Why wilt thou turn away
The starry floor
The watery shore
Is given thee till the break of day
Till the break of day

Till the break of day
Till the break of day
Till the break of day

"MIdnight Mass" by John F. Dean, read on Irish radio:

Merry Christmas. This is Bono the singer with U2.
This is a poem I'd like to, recite for you by another Irishman, John F. Dean
It's about driving to midnight mass in Dublin on Christmas Eve:

Five-thousand million years ago, this earth lay heaving in a mass of rocks and fire
Wasting, burdened with its emptiness
Tonight, when arthropods and worms and sponges have given way to dinosaurs
And dinosaurs to working, wandering apes
Homo erectus have given way to sapiens, and he to
Homo sapiens sapiens (alias Paddy Mack)

Look down on Dublin from the hills around
And lights could be a million Christmas trees
Still firs standing, while in the sky a glow as if of dawn
This day a light shall shine on us
The Lord is born within our city

Look along to the river toward O'Connell Bridge
The lights, the neon signs, all stream on water like breathed-on strips of tinsel
All is still...

Eleven-thirty, pubs begin to empty
Men stop to argue, sway and say the name of Jesus
For those who have known darkness
Who have now seen a wonderous light
Those who have dwelt on unlit streets
To them the light has come

Tonight, few cars go by
The blocks of flats with windowed-plastic trees
And fairy lights stand, watching for a miracle
Here are no dells where fairies might appear

Out from the dark an ambulance comes speeding
Sickly blue lights search in siren-still
The mystery of the night ticks slowly on
It will pass and leave memories of friends and small, half-welcomed things

In Him was life
In Him, life was the light of man
For neither prehistoric swans nor trilobites, the mesozoic birds
Neanderthal, nor modern man had ever dreamt or seen what was our God

The shops are gay with lights and bright things
All save funeral homes, they dare not advertise their presence
As midnight peels and organs start to play
Two cars meet headlong in a haze of drink
The crash flicks into silence
Pain crawls like a slime through blood and into limbs
God is revealed, a baby naked, crying in a crib

In the church porches and out along the grounds
Teenagers laugh and swear, smokin', watchin' girls
So, once more, Christmas trails away
Its meaning moves back into the mist and the march of time

"God's Laughter" by Brendan Kennelly; Performed By: Bono

Someone had mercy on language
changed it into something else I can touch
I can touch
grow to love, murmured Ace
as he heard the stranger talking
of how laughter comes from God.

Who, hearing words from his own mouth
and from others, can[not]* stop himself
laughing or freezing in terror

at sound bubbling up out of infinite
emptiness? Well fill it up with pride
and let vanity strut along for the ride.

When the ride peters out at the edge
of small daring, then that other sound

This is the sound of God's laughter,
like nothing on earth, it fills
earth from grave to mountain-top,
lingers there a while, then like a great
bird spreading its wings for home or somewhere
like home,
heads out into silence,
gentle and endless, longing to understand

children, killers of children, killers. Mercy. Silence. Sound.
Mercy. Sound. Word. Sound. Change, there must be
change. There is. Say flesh. Say love. Say dust.
Say laughter. Who will call the fled bird back?
Stand. Kneel. Curse. Pray. Give us this day
our daily laughter. Let it show the way.
Thank God someone has mercy

by Bono:

"To the good people of East Timor. On behalf of myself, Bono and the band U2, on behalf of most scribes and poets, most music, film and object makers, both here in Ireland and around the world, please be sure that we know of your strife and that even if we are not allowed to see, you know that we hear of you, and that when we don't hear from you we think of you...all the more.

There is no silence deep enough
No black out dark enough
No corruption thick enough
No business deal big enough
No politicians bent enough
No heart hollow enough
No grave wide enough
To bury your story
And keep it from us.

taking Epistemological Shift: Multiplex Translation

I realize most folk don't get jazzed about a book titled:
"Missiological Implications of Epistemological Shifts"..

But the title alone, let alone the author alone (Paul Hiebert ) would sell me;
as others are drawn in to their own pornography ("Centerfolds in Big Green Theology Books").
even the words "semiotics" make me lust..uh, long to read more.

Honestly, like any other (hu)man, I am vulnerable to "God, beach and breasts,"...
at least I'm not into the Aphrodite centerfold in Sports Illustrated!

Hiebert basically contends for an epistemology of critical realism.

But in his discussion of translation, which I dovetail with Eugene Peterson's amazing dual definitions of translation ("Messianic Betrayal, ") I like this:

Multiplex Translation: "a global perspective requires a new theory of translation...During the colonial era, Bible translation was formal. It was assumed that if one translated the forms, the meanings would follow..but people reinterpret what they hear in terms of their cultures and worldviews.... This lead to dynamic translations that sought to preseve meaning by changing forms. Carried too far, they reduced meanings to subjective perceptions.. The solution offered by a triadic view of signs is a multiplex translation in which we seek to pre-serve both meanings and forms.. Moderns semiotics has also made us aware of the importance of rituals as nondiscursive enactments that speak of realities that cannot be reduced to mere words.. (p. 111, Paul Hiebert, "Missiological Implications of Epistemological Shifts")

Time to shift:

Friday, May 16, 2008

U2 by decade

Here are a few,
oversimplified, grids for looking at the canon of U2's work:

1980s: simplicity
1990s: complexity
2000s: the simplicity on the other side of complexity


1980s: innocence
1990s: innocence lost
2000s: innocence regained..(or wanting it back)


1980s: light
1990s: light viewed from darkness
2000s: light and dark viewed from light
1980s: direct
1990s: indirect
2000s:directly indirect

1980s: rock
1990s: roll
2000s: rock and roll

which is very different that the typical Squeaker-fundy take on the trajectory:

1980s: faith (if they ever really had it)
1990s: apostate (if they ever really had faith)
2000s: faith again (if they really have it)

"Evil encroaches in tiny footsteps on every great idea"

"Evil encroaches in tiny footsteps on every great idea.
 And evil can almost outrun most great ideas, but fïnally, in the end, there is light in the world.
 I accept God chooses to work with some pretty poor material. 
But I’m much more amazed by what people are capable of
      than I am by what they’re not capable of, 
which is to say evil doesn’t surprise me...

Just because I often find a way around the darkness doesn't mean that I don't know it's there. 
 I just try to make the light brighter."

-quote by
who once sent a Phillip Yancey book to Noel Gallagher of Oasis

George Carlin: Religion is BS

Like most George Carlin, it is rated R (full of the F-word etc) , 
sometimes blasphemous/ sometimes prophetic...
especially when the topic is:

 "Religion is B.S."

"Can't we just skip the begging part and go right to submitting to  God's will?"

" church is a special building in which we gather once a week..... to compare clothing"

Ten Commandments:

Bench Outside the Box

"By planting the flag outside the walls and boundaries of the church, so to speak, the church discovers itself by rallying to it---this is mission."

-Hirsch, "The Forgotten Ways," p 236

This beautiful park bench;
and the house behind it,
is the highlight of our neighborhood.

Actually, the saints who live in the house behind the bench are the highlight of the neighborhood,
which is precisely the point.

The bench was placed on the prominent corner lot as a prophetic act/blessing/gift/gatekeeper/mission to the neighborhood. I have seen high-schoolers (clean-cut as well as gangster-looking), and senior citizens sitting on it; taking a break on their walk home; and journey through life.

Even though my family and I walk by it almost daily, I consider it almost too sacred to sit in.

Folks stop for a smoke, a prayer, to people-watch, to drink gin...

The Tongan and I once were pretty sure we caught some angels sitting on it one Sunday morning.

It is a Godsend.

It is surely the most prayed-over bench in our city.

Maybe even the most blessed pew in town.

It might even be the postmodern version of Finney's "anxious bench."
"Tear the curtain down; Pull the altar to the ground.." as St. Mike Roe and the 77s once prayed in a church..uhm bar I was visiting...2:20ff in this clip.

Of course the bench has to be screwed into the ground; the original bench was stolen.

But that didn't deter the mission, or the gatekeeping family.

This is church "as God wants it"; planting the flag outside the walls. Not as a gimmick; not as a sneaky, cheesy, sexy evangelistic strategy to get those butts into pews.

But to get those butts blessed, even if they never enter a "church building."

Which they already have...

PS The mom of the house asked the ginsters to kindly take their empty gin bottle with them as they left...that's not an unreasonable rule for a church that plants its flag and bench outside the boundaries and box.

PPS. Of course this is the same family who did THIS with their house at Eastertime.

PPPS. Some of you are savvy enough to figure out where this holy site is, and go to Google Earth or Microsoft Virtual Earth and see who's sitting in it now.

"When the sun beats down and I lie on the bench...."
-Genesis, "I Know What I Like" ...4:45ff below

The bliss of exclusion is a seduction

"The bliss of exclusion is a seduction that needs to be resisted."
-Catholic writer Mary Gordon

By the way, she spoke these words at an event hosted by a school that "Catholics are not allowed to teach at; neither are members of most other Protestant denominations. Faculty members are required to sign three confessional creeds -- the Heidelberg Confession, the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt -- which include the doctrines of predestination --God has predetermined all events--and election--God has chosen some to be saved from eternal damnation and others not)."

Culture Makers Preview

The intro and first two chapters of Andy Crouch's highly anticipated new book, "Culture Makers, "about "how we can become cultivators and creators of culture, not just critics and consumers of it" is available here.

Kudos to IVP for this unusual step; they will even release three more chapters onine in a few weeks...all this pre=publication.

Andy says:

Read. Enjoy. But there's one other thing I'd like to ask you to do. Find at least one way to share this PDF with others. Post about it on Facebook. Blog about it. Forward the link--or the whole PDF file--to your small group, your pastor, your six best friends. (Yes, you can do this completely legally--see the last page for the details on what you can and cannot do with this PDF.)
Then, if you don't mind, post on the wall at Culture Making (Facebook Page) to tell the rest of us what you thought and what your friends thought of these opening pages.