Thursday, July 31, 2008

Two Naked Pastors

If I could only learn to pray naked (St. Mike blazed the way, see story halfway down here, along with fully clothed video of the song by that name), preach naked, be naked.

It's all I have got to offer.

In the league of Chris Erdman on what we can learn about preaching from U2
(this lesson, and a classic "trialogue" with Bono and Assayas that wound up in Chris' book);

now consider Naked Pastor's post on recently "ordained" minister (!) Alanis Morissette:

Alanis Morissette & Improv Preaching

Posted in art, thought by nakedpastor on the June 19th, 2008

image.jpegLisa turned me on to an article Saturday in Saint John’s Telegraph Journal called “Alanis, raw”… about a Canadian musician and artist, Alanis Morissette. I love her music anyway and have always been intrigued by her. Her latest album, Flavors of Entanglement, is just incredible. Pick it up.

What intrigues me about her is how she writes her songs and records her albums. I heard years ago that she doesn’t write any lyrics until she’s actually in the studio with the record button on. It’s all spontaneous and impromptu, giving her songs a real and immediate quality:

Typically I go in the studio and whatever I’m contemplating that day will wind up being a song. I don’t come in with lyrics… I just go in and let it happen… I don’t change anything once we’re done. I put all my energy – and this also shows up in other areas of my life – my energy goes into being ready… With songwriting I spend a lot of time living life, accruing all these experiences, journaling, and then by the time I get to the studio, I’m teeming with the drive to write.

Sigsworth (who’s worked with Imogen Heap of Frou Frou), worked with Alanis in the studio and says:

So many of my ideas about songwriting have been changed by working with her, because she works so fast as a writer and gets the raw statement of the song so precisely so quickly… She seems to just centre on that focal point, the crisis issue at the heart of the song, and she gets it immediately… There were songs where I would listen and be almost in tears and think, ‘Where did this come from? There was nothing here this morning.’

Alanis’ approach to the creative art of songwriting and singing has encouraged me over the years in my approach to the sermon or preaching event. If you’ve been following my blog, you can read a post I wrote last April called Preaching Improv that talks about this. I remember when I first started pastoring churches and preaching I followed the recommended formula of one hour’s preparation for each minute of preaching (which, in the Presbyterian Church, was precisely 20 minutes. Do the math.). Over the years I found this increasingly clinical, artificial, impersonal and therefore frustrating. I began to approach teaching less as presenting a carefully formulated bottle of water to giving living water (if there was any) from the well that I had hopefully nourished in my personal life. My preaching became impromptu. Seldom any notes. Often plenty of nerves. But usually always engagement between everyone in the room. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t any study, writing, contemplation or decision. In fact, the opposite is true. When I used to prepare sermons, it was necessary for me to isolate (insulate?) myself from people and life. Now, I feel more fully engaged with people and with life, documenting my discoveries, revelations and conclusions in concrete experiences, journals, blogs, art, songs and occasional teaching moments.

-Naked Pastor, link

Some of that reminded me of "How can I be a spokemen when all I've got to say is 'Help!'"

Naked Pastor's post is even better than the brilliant Naked Alanis music video/song/psalm/prayer:

What's really naked and vulnerable in this song is Alanis' soul.
I want to be like that.
Or not.

Guess you'll have to settle for a "naked picture of Dave Wainscott"..

"Thank U"
by (Rev.) Alanis Morisette

how bout getting off these antibiotics
how bout stopping eating when I'm full up
how bout them transparent dangling carrots
how bout that ever elusive kudo

thank you india
thank you terror
thank you disillusionment
thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you thank you silence

how bout me not blaming you for everything
how bout me enjoying the moment for once
how bout how good it feels to finally forgive you
how bout grieving
it all one at a time

thank you india
thank you terror
thank you disillusionment
thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you thank you silence

the moment I let go of it was the moment
I got more than I could handle
the moment I jumped off of it
was the moment I touched down

how bout no longer being masochistic
how bout remembering your divinity
how bout unabashedly bawling your eyes out
how bout not equating death with stopping

thank you india
thank you providence
thank you disillusionment
thank you nothingness
thank you clarity
thank you thank you silence


Of course a spoof of the video was inevitable; see it here,
but the new line there, "wash me," is prayer as well..

Don't forget:

shameless plug for Cliff Pickover

I am shamelessly taking up Cliff Pickover's challenge. Here's the link that explains that; but if any of you win and I don't; I will have to be delivered of jealousy and unforgiveness.

I have many of his books, but not this one...yet. But I will win because I am confessing right here that he is a genius.

Dr. Pickover, to save you the time, my address is 539 W. Celeste; Frsno, Calif 93704.

I'm intrigued by Dr. Cliff Pickover's books. His books explore topics ranging from computers and creativity to art, mathematics, parallel universes, Einstein, time travel, alien life, religion, dimethyltryptamine elves, and the nature of human genius. His main web page is here. (Call me a little crazy, but one reason I've placed this text on my web page is that I hope he will discover it and give me one of his books as a gift. In fact, like a mindless zombie, I copied these very words from Cliff.)

I'm intrigued by Dr. Cliff Pickover's books. His books explore topics ranging from computers and creativity to art, mathematics, parallel universes, Einstein, time travel, alien life, religion, dimethyltryptamine elves, and the nature of human genius. His main web page is here. (Call me a little crazy, but one reason I've placed this text on my web page is that I hope he will discover it and give me one of his books as a gift. In fact, like a mindless zombie, I copied these very words from Cliff.)

I'm intrigued by Dr. Cliff Pickover's books. His books explore topics ranging from computers and creativity to art, mathematics, parallel universes, Einstein, time travel, alien life, religion, dimethyltryptamine elves, and the nature of human genius. His main web page is here. (Call me a little crazy, but one reason I've placed this text on my web page is that I hope he will discover it and give me one of his books as a gift. In fact, like a mindless zombie, I copied these very words from Cliff.)
I'm intrigued by Dr. Cliff Pickover's books. His books explore topics ranging from computers and creativity to art, mathematics, parallel universes, Einstein, time travel, alien life, religion, dimethyltryptamine elves, and the nature of human genius. His main web page is here. (Call me a little crazy, but one reason I've placed this text on my web page is that I hope he will discover it and give me one of his books as a gift. In fact, like a mindless zombie, I copied these very words from Cliff.)
I'm intrigued by Dr. Cliff Pickover's books. His books explore topics ranging from computers and creativity to art, mathematics, parallel universes, Einstein, time travel, alien life, religion, dimethyltryptamine elves, and the nature of human genius. His main web page is here. (Call me a little crazy, but one reason I've placed this text on my web page is that I hope he will discover it and give me one of his books as a gift. In fact, like a mindless zombie, I copied these very words from Cliff.)

"The real difference between men and women"

From Cliff Pickover's amazing site...

"The real difference between men and women":

Friday, July 25, 2008

"...Missionaries in a foreign field"

"be my mirror; my sword and shield/
my missionaries in a foreign field."
-"Viva La Vida" Coldplay

My son, 14, is just back from a youth mission trip to Dominican Republic.

He blogged a bit on his trip at this link; and posted this video above, soundtracked to (of course) Coldplay:

Coldplay Lyrics
Viva La Vida Lyrics

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dancing into Time Travel

I knew it!

Dancing around a rotating cylinder yields time travel.

Power Ponting the Full Meal

"A person reads an ad in the newpaper about a church that offers the full meal of Christ in their services. By meal, I mean it's promised to be filling and satisfiying in every way. To meet all their needs. They arrive and are greeted in a friendly manner, taken to a place where they see slides advertising the meal, and they hear people talk about the meal, then we powerpoint the meal and send them on their way. Unfulfilled, still hungry for the real thing. Another analogy would be the wine and wineskin. We have great looking skins, ornate in their appearance and beautiful to the eye, but the wine inside is not sweet and does not taste as wine should. And people know when it doesn't. Is the wine in the Church the true wine of Jesus.

All the things in the Bible are important, but we would agree that the things that Jesus said are most important. He boiled all the commandments and the law down to loving God and loving others. Then He gave us a single command, in the spirit of the Shamah, whatever you are doing, wherever you are going, make disciples. This is the irreducible core of the faith. You can do more than this and follow Jesus, but not less. Our churches can vary the wineskin. But this is the wine. It has to be there. "

-Howard Snyder, "The Problem of Wineskins"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

part of the community without belonging to it

"[church attendance in America] is just a convenient way to be part of one's community without necessarily belonging to it."

-A fascinating observation by a Brit who has lived in the U.S. for twenty six years;
 see first comment underneath the article, "Americans don't do atheism"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Low" by The Violet Burning

One of the most amazing, honest, gutwrenching psalms ever:

"Low" by The Violet Burning

I could die here tonight
Your beautiful words in my soul
I could die here tonight
And ou wouldn't even notice
You wouldn't even protest

We could lie here together
Pulling the stars from the sky
Maybe things will get better
Maybe not, I don't know why

Do you feel scared like I do?
Do you feel lower than angels?
Do you feel scared like I do?
Do you feel love so high?

Bring the stars from the mountains
How far down can we go?
By the floors of the ocean
Are we falling like stones?
Am I your sinking star?

Do you feel scared like I do?
Do you feel lower than angels?
I am reaching high
Do you feel... oh... so high?

I feel Your fire
I feel it
Breathe on me
Come on, breathe
Breathe on me, River that fills my soul

I could die here tonight
Your beautiful words in my soul
Maybe things will get better
Maybe I am the liar
Maybe I am the liar

Maybe I am the lie

But, I feel Your fire
Near my soul
Near my heart
I feel it, breathe on me
Come on, breathe
Come on, breathe on me

Do you feel scared?
Do you feel lower?
Do you feel scared like I do?
It's Your love that keeps me here
It's my heart that's caving in
You are gone and I am broken
Do you feel love so high?
Love, so high
I feel high
Near the ocean floor

Near the floors of the ocean
How far down can we go?

A few more from this classic CD (which I have reviewed here, under the title,"the most listenable "unlistenable" album ever made") below:

If you prefer more upbeat Violet Psalms:

We Feel Fine

"A feeling's so much stronger than a thought..

You give me something I can feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel!"

-U2, "Vertigo"

"Feelings are much stronger than thoughts. We are all led by instinct, and our intellect catches up later."

-- Bono, 2004

"We Feel Fine" is a site; an "artwork authored by everyone" that every few minutes automatically gathers/harvests any blog posting around the world that includes the phrase "I feel" or "I am feeling."

The results are a self-organizing particle system around six "movements":
Results are broken down demographically according to emotion.

"I feel, therefore I am."

Enjoy WeFeelFine.Org

Ellul: "know the world more profundly"

“Day after day the wind blows away the pages of our calendars, our newspapers, and our political regimes, and we glide along the stream of time without any spiritual framework, without a memory, without a judgment, carried about by ‘all winds of doctrine’ on the current of history. Now we ought to react vigorously against this slackness — this tendency to drift. If we are to live in this world we need to know it far more profoundly; we need to rediscover the meaning of events, and the spiritual framework which our contemporaries have lost.

This will be a difficult enterprise, for it is new and humble. But "all things are ours," that is, for us as Christians, and we are able to undertake this new work....

The Bible tells us that the Christian is in the world, and that there he or she must remain. Christians have not been created in order to separate themselves from, or to live aloof from, the world. When this separation is effected, it will be God's own doing, not man's.

...If this, then, is the Christian's situation, what part should he play in the life of the world? It is only too easy to reply: to "witness," to "evangelize," or "to lead a Christian life," or again "to act according to the will of God." All this is true, of course, but so long as it is not really understood, so long as each answer is only a traditional formula, it leads us nowhere.

...What the church ought to do is to try to place all people in an economic, intellectual - yes, and also in a psychological and physical - situation, which is such that they can actually hear this gospel - that they can be sufficiently responsible to say yes or no, that they can be sufficiently alive for these words to have some meaning for them. The secret of their choice belongs to God, but they should be able to make a decision; it is up to the church to see to it that they are not placed in such conditions that they cannot react otherwise than as swine, to whom pearls have been thrown. "Cast not your pearls before swine" - but men must cease to be swine, and this is not the work of grace, it is a human work, which man is quite able to achieve, though it is terribly difficult to do; Christians in particular are called to this work, because it is possible for them to see the true situation of man better than other people, and because they can see, better than others, where all this ought to lead, and what is its aim.

When we seek to discover effective action for the church, owing to the necessity for its intervention in the world, it seems as though its first objective should be the creation of a style of life."

- Jacques Ellul, "The Presence of the Kingdom"

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tongues at One Tree Hill, 12/26/89: Normal Church

"Joy in our group comes out of vowels, words with very few consonants, words that form when you're singing."
Finally found audio of one of the most amazing performances
of one of the most amazing U2 songs: One Tree Hill, 12/26/89.

The video below is a remix of a concert a few years later (the song was rarely down live, as it was so personal, about the death of a friend), but the accompanying audio is the classic 1989 version. And it's a great example of Bono's peculiar passionate glossolalia/Bongolese...

actually it feels like Edge (3:10ff) plays in tongues (like some other God-haunted glossoguitarristas) before Bono (3:56ff) prays in tongues.
(In a similar way, after Bono preached his sermon in the Rattle n Hum version of "Silver and Gold," he hands the mantle/pulpit over to the Edge with "OK, the blues!" Ellis Reed always said the ensuing guitar solo was unlike any blues he had ever heard, but also Edge's wordless version of the same sermon ..We could use more wordless sermons in our day and age!)

But back to the clip of "One Tree Hill" you are about to hear.
Beth once commented:

Probably the best performance of that song ever, and it closes with about 20 seconds of glossolalia (mixed with some English I think) in very impassioned, public, declaratory mode. (One half-expects Edge to offer the interpretation.)

-"U2 debates: How long must we sing this song?"

Maybe Edge DID give the interp; he just gave it beforehand.

Sounds like normal church to me.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Better Parties

"I am learning that the church has nothing to say to the world until it throws better parties. By this I don’t necessarily mean balloons and confetti and clowns who paint faces. I mean backyards and basements and porches. It is in the flow of real life, in the places we live and move with the people we’re on the journey with, that we are reminded it is God’s world.."

-Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis

Maybe if we just became flexidox...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

missional monastix

Some recent blogs of note on missional monasticism:

"visceral dislocation and perseverance"

Of all the bonus tracks on the re-releases of the first three U2 albums. I recommend starting the test-drive with the God-haunted live versions on  the deluxe "October" below.
(Quick, they are only streaming for week)

Hat tip to Beth, who comments:

the live performance of "I Fall Down," track 12 on the bonus disc for October, is probably my favorite ever live version of that song, with copious heartfelt lyric changes that by the end almost verge on a sort of prophecy. If you want to get a visceral sense of the dislocation, anger, yet determination to persevere in faith that this band were going through during the October period, just listen to this performance.

another early version

U2 - October Deluxe Edition

Time Running Backwards

It makes perfect sense, doesn't it?:

"The only places where time seems to run 'backward' are enormously far back in our past--long before the big bang."
-Sean M. Carrroll, "The Cosmic Origins of Time's Arrow" Scientific Ameri
can, June 2008
(see also his
"Does Time Run Backward in Other Universes?")

I wish the timeless George Ladd was still here to comment.
Have to settle for one of the Luthers of Physics to shed some light
(literally...and pushing us past the lightspeed limit),

and these whacky posts from lad a lot less timely:

Do Names Reflect or Evoke? YES

"We create and maintain our worlds with language."
-St. Len of BC

"Even if we don't recognize Jesus at first,
his voice naming us
involuntarily moves us into our heart
and heart language,
and inevitably invokes to us/
evocatively evokes from us
a one-word confession
of who we believe he is."

This was a thesis we considered at our gathering this week as we read from John 20:

Thinking he was the gardener, she said,

"Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."

Jesus said to her,


She immediately turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic,


Then yesterday I caught Jason's post at Open Source Theology:
What Do Names Do? Do They Reflect or Do They Evoke?

The opening words of Martin Buber’s magnum opus, I and Thou, begin: “Basic words do not state something that might exist outside them; by being spoken they establish a mode of existence.”

When Buber says that “Basic words do not state something that might exist outside them,” he is gesturing toward a fundamental divide between two very different ways of understanding the status of language...

What do words do? I’ve argued that by speaking words we evoke worlds into meaningful existence. Our words don’t accurately reflect features of the surrounding environment; rather, they demarcate those features and make them significant to us and our way of life. A cow is a cow not because it is a cow, but because we name it “cow” and make it so, as God allowed us to do. This entails that doctrines and denominational platforms, for instance, that take up reams of paper and righteous effort are words that do not reflect any necessary feature of God or His Way, they do not name any essential features of our spiritual environment. Rather, doctrines are officially accepted names and stories that demarcate one segment of believers who follow the word and way of God in their own idiosyncratic fashion from other segments of believers who follow God differently. This is both a freeing notion and a frightening notion. It entails that what words we use, in whose name we act, and with whose story we align ourselves, we are in some sense evoking a world into existence and supporting and sustaining the kingdom of heaven on earth, or we aren‘t. Discerning what words to use and when to use the appropriate name and tell the appropriate story is part of the difficult task of the disciple trying to walk through the narrow gate.
full post

Be sure to reflect/reflect on that article, as it interacts creatively with Buber and Bruggeman around these issues.

Maybe naming our missiology creates and names/frames our ecclesiology.
But that's another post:

Chicken, Eggs, Carts, Horses

Monday, July 14, 2008

God's so damn hard to find

Sixpence is back ..

with some refreshing honesty (CCM makes you lie) ..

..and a refreshing "pay what you want" download/prayer

called "Amazing Grace (Bring it Back)":

"You’re everywhere in every time /
and yet You’re so damn hard to find

I knew a song that played in me
It seems I've lost the melody
So please, Lord, give it back to me
Yeah please, Lord, give it back to me
Years in the desert with no drink
Strike the rock, make it bleed
And please Lord, give it back to me
Yeah please Lord, give it back to me

If you'll blow on the embers
The light will shine on my face
The streams will run in the desert
And sing amazing grace

You're everywhere in every time
And yet you're so damn hard to find
So please, Lord, I need a sign
No please Lord, I want a sign

 I need Your breath on the embers
I need the light on my face
I need the streams in the desert
That sing amazing grace
That sing amazing grace

Amazing; psalmic.
Ready for church.

Later edit: No surprise when the album came out, this song had the "d" word removed:

More from the new project:

and this classic:
Letterman Lusts; Thinks Gospel is "Beautiful"

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Picasso Prophesies...

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it." - Pablo Picasso

Friday, July 11, 2008

Knowing where you're going is overrrated

Life is false to formula.. In our world, planning is worse than a mistake-it's an evil.. Ever try to steer a cat or a puppy? No one steers a living thing, it moves forward one step at a time. No living enterprise moves forward by 'planning'.. When you come to a pothole, you don't need a strategic plan to get by. You improvise. After a brief pause, you ad lib your zig zags until you regain your bearings. " -Leonard Sweet

"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going'
Tomas Merton

I have been waiting for years for someone to write a "praise song" incorporating the wonderful, terrifying, heretically orthodox gospel of Abraham in Hebrews:

"Abraham left home..

 not knowing where he was going..."
(Heb. 11:8)

The father of our faith, the ultimate patriarch....was absolutely clueless.

Why haven't we been brave and Abrahamic  enough to admit the same?

Because we have to lie.

Erwin McManus  ("Unstoppable Force" )comments that pastors like their people to think they know where they're going...

"In other words,

 we lie."

He concludes that folks can deal with not knowing where they're going if they know why they're going.

How about a few more songs in our soundtrack/jukebox/gatherings that tell the truth.

In these days of shift in church and culture,
the only leaders who know what they're doing
are those who know they don't know what they're doing..

or where they are going.
-Norm Stretch

On to the song:

I was hoping I didn't have to do it.

Thank God Jason Upton did it.

We heard it here in Fresno recently.

It was exhilirating.

It must be a new and unreleased song, as the only place I was able to google it was here, 
where someone who likely was at the same concert I was, heard the song, and was inspired by it  to make a painting.

The lyrics I were able to scribble down were:

"I don't know where I'm going
I've been blinded by the truth..

Between the graveyard and the garden
There's a road that leads to You."

Two U2 songs dovetail here:


"And I have no purpose/
And I have no map


And I have no reasons
No reasons to go back."

And Pastor Isaac is a true son of Abraham to also slice the lost-but-found longing of "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"   to the unsettled stangers of 

Is this the ecclesia? A people always called out? A people never arriving, never fixed or settled; rather, always to come—a provisional people, nomads living in tents, worshiping in tabernacles. The church: a people hastening to the edge of history’s collapse, and waiting for the city of promise to come down from heaven; a wandering people, marching (in circles?) in this chaotic wilderness at the border of the promised land, the heavenly city. The temptation in our wilderness is to build lasting houses, comfortable accommodations filled with the comforts of accommodation, which promise to shield permanently the desert winds—structures of order that promise reasonable and responsible defenses against the relentless bombardment of violent sand-storms, anarchic whirlwinds
(Read his full post at "wandering church: U2 and hebrews")

Celebrate clueless faith.
Build nothing, or sand will prevail.

"The oppposite of faith is not doubt,

but certainty..

.Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and the discomfort and letting it be there until some light returns."
-Anne Lammott.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Lindsay, Britney and Amy go into a bar ...

In the strip joints, in the church
On a desperate lost child search
On the airplanes and the backroads and the rails
On the blacktops, on the beach
Down a sewer and up a creek
In the penthouses, the gulags and the jails
To the criminal with no one left to con
To the movie star whose day has come and gone

..Pray where you are.
-Lost Dogs, "Pray Where You Are"

Evolutionists, creationists, perverts, slum lords
Dead-beats, athletes, Protestants and Catholics
Housewives, neophytes, pro-choice, pro-life
Misogynists, monogamists, philanthropists, blacks and whites

Police, obese, lawyers, and government
Sex offenders, tax collectors, war vets, rejects
Atheists, Scientists, racists, sadists
Photographers, biographers, artists, pornographers

Gays and lesbians, demagogues and thespians
The disabled, preachers, doctors and teachers
Meat eaters, wife beaters, judges and juries
Long hair, no hair, everybody everywhere!
...Breathe deep
Breathe deep the breath of God.
-Lost Dogs, "Breathe Deep"

I don't really want or need to see Taylor Swift nude.

And I don't usually pray least in church.

I do admit I like provocative titles and catchphrases in my posts.

But when I installed the Feedjit on this blog (see "Who just surfed on in?" on the right hand sidebar), so one can now see what page folks were on last that linked them here...

I was unprepared for how many people would be finding me by a google search for "Taylor Swift nude" (based on this post), "God, beach and breasts," or or "xxx" (based on my posts about XXX Church: The #1 Christian Porn Site), etc.

So far I don't think anyone has taken the "Naked picture of Dave Wainscott" bait ! (:


I do meet U2 fans, physics professors, and emerging/missional thinkers who google something up my alley; or find me via a friend's link....usually something I mentioned with keywords like "missional," "epistemology", "holy profanity" etc...

For some reason my postings on "temple tantrum" are hugely popular.
You would be amazed...or how many folks search for the same Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue that I quoted Rev. Tschetter about.
I almost became manager of The Whigs when no one else was posting their lyrics.
And eveybody seems to be after the viral video of the emergency plane landing on the beach!

But today's "FROM THE HIVE" column in the Fresno Bee gave me an idea/temptation I can't resist. Ryan T will tease me about this.

But he sure will get a kick out of the results I get by simply quoting the column below(:

I am not after numbers, sex, our blogstardom...
(at least on a good day!!) ...I just am fascinated by the web links and pop culture.

And I wouldn't mind if someone got here looking for porn and found something more Holy Spirited.

Or at least learned to pay where they are.

Here is the article:

Lindsay, Britney and Amy go into a bar ...

Here's a question to ponder. What is it that bloggers and organized crime killers have in common? They are both judged by the number of hits they can accumulate.

It is an interesting concept. If a person writes for a newspaper, they know how many papers are sold. But there is little way to tell if the person who read the newspaper ever stopped on that reporter’s story.

The Internet answers that question in the minds of many. The more people who read the blog, as measured by hits and comments, the better. But, can the number of blog hits be artificially manufactured?

Let’s say I write about Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse all going into a bar. That scenario might not be surprising. But it would get attention from all the Lindsay, Britney and Amy fans out there surfing the Web.

A blog about John McCain and Barack Obama going to see a performance of “Phantom of the Opera” starring Gerard Butler and Julia Roberts followed by dinner at the Legends Diner where they are served by Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe opens up all kinds of possibilities.

It could be as simple as just listing words that sound dirty. My favorite meal is a leg, thigh and breast from KFC. It is fun to eat that meal while watching “Wife Swap” and old reruns of “Laugh-In” staring Dick Martin or a Travel Channel documentary about Intercourse, Pa.

Would a blog with mentions of Pamela Anderson, Madonna, Indiana Jones, Batman, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition, Will Smith, Oprah, Tom Cruise, Dr. Phil, Tyra, the cast of “High School Musical,” child pornography, Hilary Clinton, “Jericho,” The Beatles, Kirk Cobain, Playboy, McDonald’s, Coke, Pepsi, Martha Stewart, Gordon Ramsay, Barry Bonds, the Rolling Stones and WWE get more attention?

That would mean just a list of TV shows such as “Heroes,” “Lost,” “House,” “24,” “Bones,” “Reba,” “The Simpsons,” “Scrubs” and “Caveman” would get more hits than a blog about “Transformers,” “The 300,” “Epic Movie,” “Bee Movie,” “Harry Potter,” “Hairspray,’ “Cars,” “Iron Man,” “The Dark Knight” and “Sex and the City.” Thank you Google for those lists. MapQuest was not as handy.

So, the best thing to do is when you see a blog that mentions “American Idol,” “Survivor,” Tom Hanks, silk underwear, Rush Limbaugh, NASCAR, NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball, women’s beach volleyball, “The Wizard of Oz,” Disneyland, Kayne West, melons, Democrats, Republicans, Jesus or Tiger Woods, just know there could be some sly effort to see just how many hits such a blog could get.

Welcome new readers...wife swappers even!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

We are the stories we tell

>"...More importantly, the speculation above provides a sense (not incompatible, for example, with some neuroscientists' theories or even with Hamlet's metaphorical utterance "Within the book and volume of my brain") in which stories become a physical part of us. They become encoded somehow into fragments of
mental routines capable of generating them at will, and, if integrated into our conceptual and emotional maps of the world, they change us forever. We are the stories we tell."
-"Once Upon a Number:The Hidden Mathematical Logoc of Stories" by John Allen Paulos, p.172, emphasis mine...chapter here

>"We become the stories we tell about ourselves."
-Michael Cunningham, A Home at the End of the World).

On light of the above, I'd love to have Mike Rinaldi
..and other Christian/filmmakers/singers/storytellers..
comment on the amazing phenomenon in our day of filmmakers/singers/storytellers
who are not officially Christian
telling great stories...and God-haunted stories.

Some seem to inevitably be becoming the stories/Story they tell.

"Tell better stories" (Motto on Pete Gall's website)

  • "Jesus never opened his mouth without telling a story" (Matt 13:34-35)
  • "Become what you already are." (Philippians 3:16)

Maybe it's ALWAYS about sex and politics

"Our sexuality is all the ways we strive to reconnect with our world, with each other, and with God."
-Rob Bell

"In highly politicized times, prominent activist Shane Claiborne
and artist and theologian Chris Haw are awakening the political imagination of Christians with
Jesus for President (March 2008), redefining 'political' as 'simply how we relate to the world.'
-link, "Jesus for President"

Gladwell at the End of the World

I hadn't so clearly connected Jesus line to Judas in U2's "Until the End of the World"...

"You miss too much these days if you stop to think" Malcolm Gladwell's book "Blink" 
(about "rapid cognition") ,

until I caught this from the "Top Ten U2 One-Line Lyrics" on

"Until the End of the World" illustrates a Biblical conversation between Judas and Jesus, but many of the messages can apply to our modern world — even everyday life among mere mortals. In this line, the voice tells the subject to beware of trickery. We could all take heed of such warnings..
-Tassoula E. Kokkoris.

Friday, July 04, 2008

God Guns and Guts

Something to wrestle with from Scot McKnight :
I came to this conclusion long ago: that God doesn’t want Christians killing others. So, I sold my gun. Do I think owning and using a gun for hunting is fine? Sure. But, I think such guns ought to be stored in some safe, governmentally-based location. No one is following my idea, that I know.
-Scot McNight, full article

Something to wrestle with from Greg Boyd:

...But I don’t feel we have any kind of duty to love or defend our country.
-Greg Boyd, link

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Bruce Cockburn in God's Shack

I finally got around to reading "The Shack."

Every preacher dude is getting asked about The Shack and the "Lakeland Outpuring."

I liked it surprisingly well. I thought it would get cheesy..but it didn't.

Mark Driscoll will call me a harry tick:

Here's an interview with the author:

One of the highlights is hearing that the God character loves Bruce Cockburn:

"I am especially fond of Bruce, you know." (p. 118)

Mack asks God, "I thought You'd be listening to George Beverly Shea, or..something churchier."

"Now see here, Mackenzie. You don't have to look out for me. I listen to everything--and not just to the music itself, but the hearts behind it. Don't you remember your seminary classes? These kids (the band Diatribe) ain't saying anything I haven't heard before; they're just full of vinegar and fizz. Lots of anger, and I must say with some good reason too..." (91)

Heck, the book even quotes Buckminster Fuller; "God is a verb."


"But what about all those miracles? The healings? Raising people from the dead?
Doesn't that prove that Jesus was God?"

"No, it proves that Jesus is human." (99)

"The opposite of faith is...."

"The opposite of faith is...."

Pause and fill in the blank before scrolling down.

Eight Kudos and a Keltic pretzel if your answer is the same as the great mystic St. Anne Lamott..

who said:

"The oppposite of faith is

not doubt,

but certainty...

..Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and the discomfort and letting it be there until some light returns."
"Plan B," p, 256)

Internet Monk is in favor of "Being honest with doubt."

St. Paul (the Irish one)..

(the one who said:

"Gospel musicians...can't sing about their doubt..")
(hear him say it here)

once sang with conviction: "Like a preacher needs pain.....Like faith needs a doubt":

See also:

of course orgasm is partly prayer

"For many, sexuality is simply what happens between two people involving physical pleasure. But that's only a small percentage of what sexuality is. Our sexuality is all the ways we strive to reconnect with our world, with each other, and with God." (Rob Bell, "Sex God," p. 42)

"The Reformation sometimes looks like a case of baby and bathwater. In neglecting the sensual for the explicable we damage our ability to model the Otherness of God.

...To a medieval person the church building gave unparalleled sensual pleasure as an analogy and actual foretaste of heaven. Maybe church was even better than sex, given how little people washed back then. And chocolate hadn't been invented."

-Stephen Shields

Okay, first of all, "Don't hear what I'm not saying," as St. Reggie McNeal taught me to say...

Of course,
the Da Vinci Code is inevitably partly right:

form of prayer

Or a precursor to prayer/call to prayer/means of prayer/avoidance of prayer (and thus prayer).

Maybe all orgasm is prayer;
but not all prayer is orgasm.

Ask someone who would intuitively know--a rabbi:

Prayer is not something the believer just is an
experience he enters into. There is no room for inhibition; singing and dancing
are essential means by which he expresses his emotional cleaving to God….but
such ardor/desire for God has to be so overwhelming that any extraneous thoughts
are excluded…If distractions are erotic in nature…and he faces up to the
predominance of the sexual urge at both conscious and subconscious levels, and
its capacity to intrude even during prayer...then he has learned to take
measures…by introducing the (ancient) doctrine of the "elevation of strange
thoughts." This is a Chasidic Jewish technique not of sublimation, but of
thought conversion, whereby the beauty or desirability of the woman is latched
upon and used not as a sexual but rather as a mental and spiritual stimulus. We
are taught to "elevate" these thoughts by substituting the beauty of God for the
physical beauty that is currently bewitching us. The pray-er has learned to
immediately contrast the pale reflection of beauty that humans are endowed with,
on the one hand, and the supreme Divine source of authentic and enduring beauty,
on the other…This is not sublimation; This is elevation
"Blessed are You: A Comprehensive Guide to Jewish Prayer," by Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen
Elevation Church:Jesus Loves Righteous People

Ask another rabbi:

'Celibacy was utterly rejected by biblical and rabbinic teaching. Those who refused to marry and bear children were regarded not only as having violated the first mitzvah of procreation, but also as if they had shed blood and diminished the image of God from the world, since man is created in his image. And according to the rabbis, they even caused the divine presence to depart from tthe Jewish people. The rabbis taught, 'No man without a wife, neither a woman without a husband, nor both of them without God (Genesis Rabbah 8:9 and Babylonian Talmud, Yev. 62b,63a)...An unmarried high priest was not even allowed to officiate in the temple on the Day of Atonement. Sexuality was seen as a potentially positive drive in rabbinic thought; for without those desires, 'no man wold build a house, marry a wife or have children.' (Gen Rab. 9:7)
-"Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein"
How Firm a Foundation," p.137

Ask someone who is a poet AND scholar (that tribe must increase!)-Eugene Peterson:

Because of the common origin of our creation and redemption, an examination of our sex life leads to an examination of our prayer life and vice versa.

Ask the author of the incredible "On Borrowed Words", Ilian Stavans, who recalls losing his virginity in a Mexican brothel:

"I felt warm and cold at once, and mostly bestial, but truly alive and mystical." (54)

Ask someone who has holy gall--Pete ("Imagine if being a Christian were about life?") Gall:

"Look, if this whole deal with God is at all real, it has to do better than drone on in hypothetical and scholastic debates. It has to apply to premarital nudity, dreams of personal glory, colossal lapses in judgment, family dysfunctions, battles with addiction, and frustration with fools. It must have something to say about tenacity, idolatry, heroes, love, sunsets, demons, prayer, miracles, worms, rivers and hard-won orgasm. Tell me about that stuff. Admit that you’ve somehow come to believe that the sin of the world can hold a candle to the wretchedness of your own heart. Take on questions that are bigger than your answers. Fight to let pain serve its purpose. Let grace shine through if it’s so real and so great and so worth living for. Show me a Jesus who gives a shit about the world I inhabit, and I’ll keep reading."

Doesn't this mean "Global Orgasm For Peace Day" is largely whacky but also partly right?

Don't ask John McArthur.
Sign up for this seminar instead. (:

This also means The a "Zen Presbyterian" partly right:

..which is partly what is bandmate meant on that same night about "God walking through the [bed]room."