Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pastor Ed and 7 Days of Sex

"art as a tool for propogating"

The Frames: "People Get Ready"

Ruthless and unposed passion,
consistent honesty,
self-effacing humor,
artistic integrity, skill and creativity..

Sound like church, so far?

I wish...

it sounds more like the Frames.

Glen Hansard's The Frames never cease to amaze me.
But I just heard the sweeping live version of
"People Get Ready"
(no, not the Curtis Mayfield gospel song that U2 often cover).

Hansard often speaks, acts, sings like a pastor to the audience.
The spoken intro to "Fitzcarraldo" is a classic here.
But the comments leading up to this performance of "People Get Ready"
...laced with the F-word, so don't say you weren't warned; he's Irish..
is fascinating..
Talk about honesty, I'll bet that for many that he's speaking to about picking up a Gideon Bible in a motel room to absolve yourself of the guilt after watching porn is something they can relate to...

And his reference to the temple tantrum;
(noting the other gospels picture more of a "floating Yoda" than an angry revolutionary)
suggest he has been sneaking peaks at the Bible more than many official Christians.
No surprise he once did a straight-up cover of "The Blood of Jesus Never Failed Me Yet"
a song which itself has a checkered and gospeled past)

Well, listen for yourself;

audio here.

But what may hit you is the epic emotion of the music.
Of course, the lyric subverts the message we expect from the title,
who else is singing "we've got all the time in the world."?
But note how the song ends.

The official video of the studio version/lyrics below.
Interview of Hansard by (Pastor) Steve Stockman here.

People all get ready
'Cos we're tearing down the stand
Rebuild what's gone unsteady
And see it through with newer hands
And what has gone between us
Is a lot, is a lot
And who'll be there to clean us
If you're not, if you're not

People all get ready
'Cos we're breaking down again
Rebuild what's gone unsteady
And see it through with wiser hands

And what has gone between us
Is a lot, is a lot
And who'll be there to ignore us
When you're not, when you're not

We have all the time in the world
To get it right, to get it right
We have all the time in the world
To set alight, to set alight

People all get ready
'Cos we're breaking down the band
Rewrite what's gone already
And see it through with wiser hands
And what has gone between us
Is a lot, is a lot
And who'll be there to ignore us
When you're not, when you're not

And we have all the time in the world
To get it right, to get it right
And we have all the love in the world
To set alight, to set alight
Just look up, just look up

We have all the time in the world
To get it right, to get it right
And we have all the love in the world
To set alight, to set alight
Just look up, just look up

We have all the time in the world
To get it right, to get it right
And we have all the love in the world
To set alight, to set alight

People all get ready
'Cause we're coming to a stop

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why almost everyone used to have the same birthday in France

Rod Brayfindley,
while wearing an unmatched pair of shoes,
preaches a wild (as usual)
and honest (as usual)
sermon on
"How good and pleasant it is
when brothers and sisters live together in unity"
(Psalm 133),
commenting on:

  • stand up comedy in the Bible
  • The Hebrew word: "Duh"
  • Why almost everyone used to have the same birthday in France
  • how we who are different love/irritate one another
  • when you have to use the bathroom during a church service
Audio here
(starts about 3/4 way through),
recorded when Rod returned to a church he formerly pastored for the church's 50th anniversary

He's now at "Church of the Joyful Healer":

Pastor Rod envisions a church where anyone at any point of their journey of faith will find acceptance and food for their soul. He brings a unique ministry to the North Coast, laughter. Rod believes laughter is a wonderful gift from God that can heal wounded hearts and minds. Along with his pastoral work, Rod currently teaches classes in Shorin Ryu karate. He holds a Masters degree from Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology, where he received the B'nai B'rith Harold M. Kaufman Memorial Award for academic excellence and social activism.

Gender Analyzer analyzes blogs, and offers an educated guess as to whether a man or a woman has written it.
After seeing Tall Skinny Kiwi (a man)'s results (51% sure it's written by a man), and that he is secure in his masculinity..

At some risk, I submitted this blog, and found:

We guess
written by a woman (53%), however it's quite gender neutral.

No comment.
But you can, below (:

‘Look what the world has come to'

“The early Christians did not say
in dismay:
‘Look what the world has come to,’
but in delight,
‘Look what has come to the world.”
-E Stanley Jones

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"you/You walked in the room"

I had never seen the 77's
classic and quirky (and Kinks-ish),
Mark Tootle-penned
"You Walked in the Room"
as a commentary on Big-Box Church gatherings,
and midrash on Matthew 23:3

until just now.

What did Mike Roe call this song in the
brilliant liner notes to this
brilliant song
on a brilliant CD
(There's a reason it's $125 on Amazon today, guess I won't resort to that for duplicate set of liner notes)?
"Psychedelic music and pyscho-spiritual lyrics?"
(Help me, Mike, I play it all the time, but lost the notes).

The song is only one reason "Sticks and Stones" is $125 on Amazon today:
(guess I won't resort to that for duplicate set of liner notes)?

And I don't think Tootle was (at least primarily)referring to church gatherings..

but rhema and reason take us there.

As does the first verse..

Here we are
A floor and a ceiling
One two three four walls
And an empty feeling
Even when the bodies are everywhere
Even when the talk's so loud you have to shout
Loneliness is staring me in the face
Trying to get out of being in has left me inside out

...This all paints what so many feel but can't articulate/admit about the unwritten rules/ethos of some megachurch "services." At times, it can feel like nothing more than Hanneh Arendt's "organized loneliness" ( The Origins of Totalitarianism.. p.478, link and context).

So when the next lines hit:

(And if it weren't for you
I'm sure that I'd be
A pessimistic man
In search and lonely
Wondering what to do
And why to do it)
...I see the "you" as "You."
Ultimately, the You is God/Jesus.
Granted, there are those amazing people who when they walk in the room, their presence changes teh atmosphere. I always to Keltic Ken and wife that church parties don't begin till they get there; they are the life of the party (Maybe you can see it on some of our videos).
Kevin Klancey is kinda like that, too...maybe it's a K thing(:
I would love to hear Tootle's take if he had in mind a both/and here in the "you/You."
This song came out long before Bono talked so much about "God walking through the room" (77s came first!). His most recent quote added a twist:

"Moment" was played just one time — the band improvised the version on
the album from thin air. "This kind of spirit blows through every now
and then," Bono says. "It's a very strange feeling. We're waiting for
God to walk into the room — and God, it turns out, is very unreliable.
So you don't have the right to imagine you can make a great album. But
what you can do is create the conditions where it might happen."

We live in the unpredictable paradox and unreliable reality
of sometimes finding we can "create the conditions" for God to actually walk into a church meeting....

......and more often knowing that the Visitor has his own timing and timetable.
Completely reliable in his unnrepentant unreliability.

But maybe he is likely to initiate his initiative precisely when he "shouldn't": when our boxed and organized loneliness is "staring us in the face" and facade;
perhaps when he overhears from the other side of the door our stupid, shallow sinful and "spiritualized" small talk, often dressed up as "prayer requests":

Lousy jokes
And out & out lying
'Bout somebody else's bad luck
Bad taste
Bad timing
Somebody always tries to get a laugh
From losers in this system of give and take
Can't decide what this party's all about
Is it a celebration
Or just some kind of personal wake?
Every time he shows up unannounced it is Emmaus Road all over again; even if we are late and latent in finally recognizing him in the way he breaks the bread.. least he's here to break bread, and not us, as we deserve.

That he has mercy at all(and not just judgement on us), and shows up at all..

You walked in the room
(And people seem to get a retrospective look in their eye)
You walked in the room
(Like if only they had known, they would've prepared a disguise)
You walked in the room
(Ain't it funny how your presence always comments on our secret lives)
You walked in the room
You walked in the room
... changes everything.
How could his presence NOT comment on our secret lives?
Which is why I am hugely humbled that he condescends to walk in any church-room at all;
let alone those rooms we attempt to lock up and throw away the key
(oops..another amazing 77s-related it is).

"The God who could fry you alive," John Oswalt says, "loves you."
And he walks in the room, anyway.
Not with a sword,
but with a knowing smile (smirk?)
that almost immediately melts our masks and smelts our simulacra(p).
Even down to the 22nd pew.

Be it big box church, or the most relational organic church..even XXXChurch or Strip Church... that he enters the room at all is no small gift and miracle. More often than not, if he showed up at a random time before or after the official service, he would eavesdrop on some pretty serious

"out & out lying."

Which of course happens quite a bit in our worship songs, too!!
(see "CCM makes you lie," "Is there such a thing as Christian music?"
and "prayer that shreds".
Maybe this is why

God himself has been spotted ditching church at the Nine Inch Nails gig with Bono:


Gee, maybe we should draft more 77s songs into our Sunday mornings.
Such might even coax God out of heaven and bring him down the earth.
Even into our humble little room and remnant.

I mean, whatever we can do to get The Man into The Room/
That's what we all want, right?

Temple tantrums, excluded..

Monday, January 26, 2009

There IS a line on the horizon

I can't believe I never caught the second pun (I am no Keltic Ken) on the cover of U2's upcoming"No Line on the Horizon"
(the first being that there is a line on the horizon on the photo; the second
is a "visual pun," being that neither of the two lines of the superimposed equals sign are on the horizon, they teasingly straddle it)

until reading Beth's comments on her blog post quoted below.

That same post is hugely helpful:

Theologian Steve Harmon, author of
U2: Unexpected Prophets, makes some points about the cover of No Line that I think deserve to be pulled out for everyone to see. I was completely delighted, for exactly the reasoning Harmon articulates so well here, that the Sugimoto image with no line (the photo rumored to be the album cover) turned out to be passed over for an image with a line:

The equals sign, with one bar in the "heaven" portion and one bar in the "earth" portion, suggests something like "your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." But in this particular Sugimoto image, there IS still a line on the horizon. Earth is not yet heaven, yet we pray and work for the day when things will fully be on earth as they are in heaven -- when heaven and earth will be indistinguishable, and there will be no line on the horizon. Once again, an "already"/"not yet" eschatology, with the emphasis on the "not yet."

I understood the attraction of the image of the sea blurring into the sky, because I know so much of U2's work is about the longing for and celebration of foretastes of that experience of transcendence. (One of the earliest articles I read about U2 in the 80s, which I have never been able to trace, characterized them with the phrase "blood lust for the infinite," which has always stuck with me.) But it struck me as lacking complete honesty for a U2 image to represent the blending of already/not yet as accomplished. Upon seeing the real cover, I immediately found the image we've ended up with far preferable, and more faithful to the band's consistently eschatologically-shaped vision of reality, and I'm grateful for Steve's putting the reasons why into words here.
-Beth, U2 Sermons

Also, here are the artist's comments on one of the original photos:

Water and air. So very commonplace are these substances, they hardly attract attention―and yet they vouchsafe our very existence. The beginnings of life are shrouded in myth: Let there water and air. Living phenomena spontaneously generated from water and air in the presence of light, though that could just as easily suggest random coincidence as a Deity. Let's just say that there happened to be a planet with water and air in our solar system, and moreover at precisely the right distance from the sun for the temperatures required to coax forth life. While hardly inconceivable that at least one such planet should exist in the vast reaches of universe, we search in vain for another similar example. Mystery of mysteries, water and air are right there before us in the sea. Every time I view the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a voyage of seeing. - Hiroshi Sugimoto

Strip Church Video

Video of
Strip Church, (The Strip Church - Sin City's Little Church House)
Las Vegas..

planted by Craig Gross of XXX Church:

they are on Nightline..

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

simulacra-kklesia (part 13): If your church HAS to have a stage, put the Geek Squad on it

Some people may think my friend Andy is an antichrist.

That means he is to blame for covering up the organ,
introducing U2 songs into services,
and changing the name of First Baptist Church
to New Vintage

That's not only no antichrist,
it sounds pretty Christ to me.

But one feels for traditionalists from the church, whose motto was "oldest Church in California."

Note the new name, New Vintage, brilliantly reflects and names the best of both old and new.
See: "Rockin' the Gospel":

A new pastor and a wild new approach to the same
old gospel have revitalized a dying church into
'The church for people who don't like church'


Now that they have grown from 78 to 1000, they find it necessary to move to the Wells Fargo Center (see video interview of Andy here).

Even though I think our style is closer to planting a church in an bar when we reach 78(:

....Andy is the real deal.
And among a rare breed who can keep a megachurch real,
when , inevitably,

simulacra sneaks in.

It is subverted and stopped in the bathrooms and kitchens. Andy gets it:

The more serious praying, church members say, comes during the week in small group Bible studies that church leaders encourage all members to attend.

VomSteeg calls those sessions where members meet in groups of eight to discuss life problems and faith "the kitchen" because, "life changes happen in the kitchen," he said.

On vacation, we stooped in for a noon service at Valley Bible Fellowship, Bakersfield, one of the fastest growing churches in the county, recently in the news for being home to new convert Brian Head Welch, formerly of the bank KORN...and a really real guy (video interview here and Sept 25. 2008 blog here).

They have a sense of humor, see this this clip of President Bush At Valley Bible Fellowship,
or this tour of their bathroom.
Listening to Ron Vietti (founding and lead pastor) speak on the radio, you think he's maybe 25.

He's been married for 38 years, and started the church in 1974!
Has 10,000 members.
And really real.
I even heard him say (on the radio) the church does not have a budget.
He does not know what's in the checkbook.
But when they feel they are called to do something, the team gets together and prays/discerns.


I almost drove off the road when I heard that
(as Bono did when he heard Moya).

Check out this video from Valley Bible, and see if you can guess my main issue with it,
and join me after.

I love that the guy is really real.
And I don't necessarily have a problem with the car stunt...

But I heard this beloved pastor use the "S" word:


What the ^%$# are we doing with stages in our church buildings?
You can have the dedicated area, but call it a stage?

Rememember one of the E-Bay atheist's observations after visiting churches of all styles and .

They all had stages, no matter how small the church was.
Whatsup with that, he wondered.

I am not sure churches like ours are immune; it's just the stage is de-centered.
James Gilmore:

As a business guy, I'm always cautious about taking any business thinking and applying it to the church. Don't take this stuff about the experience economy and make worship a staged experience. Consumerism has come to dominate contemporary evangelicalism. We're becoming a reflection of the world, instead of standing apart from the world. The church has moved to "spectacalism," which can become a false gospel.

All of life is being commodified. The church should be the one place that stands apart and says, We have nothing for sale. We only offer a free gift. The church ought to be the place where people see that there's something different about this place and this people from anything one experiences elsewhere in the commercial marketplace.

To me, the church should not aim to be "real" as an end. The church is there to proclaim truth. Trying to be hip and cool and real does a disservice to the church. We're not called to be successful. We're called to be obedient, even if they don't come. Ministry leaders should think more like Noah, of being part of a remnant that is faithful. If somebody doesn't find you objectionable, I wonder if you're preaching the full counsel of God.

To some extent, if people view the church as being fake, they will never enter. But the extent to which the church has become a business, with food courts, skate parks, basketball courts, etc.–I think people look at it and say, That's not really a church. That's fake.

If you truly see people, that comes off as real. If you love, you will automatically come off as real. You don't need to strive to be real. Do what the Bible says you should be doing: giving, serving, loving. Nowhere, nowhere, do we find the modern-day sense of authenticity in Scripture. But Scripture is replete with references to true and false. Real is telling people about their sin and their need for repentance and their need for a Savior. The church's function is to proclaim that which is unchanging.

But if there is a technique; a "take-home" and "how to" from Gilmore's article, it's this line below.

Fill in the blank, and then scroll down to see if you filled it with the way he did.

"I am convinced that_______ is a good way of engendering authenticity."

The blank?

"juxtaposition of opposites."

I love it.
That's what I have been saying all along this series:

That's really real.
That's pushing toward the unobvious.
That's translation as messianic and betrayal.
His example actually reminds me of some of the subversive "holy fool" means of simulacra we have discussed: Zoo TV, Adbusters, etc. But this time, it's The Geek Squad:

I am convinced that a juxtaposition of opposites is a good way of engendering authenticity. [Best Buy's] Geek Squad is one of my favorite examples. The Geek Squad works because they are cool geeks. Working with that tension comes across as real. The church has got it's own great set of polarities: belief and unbelief; salvation and damnation. We need to point them out and preach them explicitly, in tension.

Read my book to understand the culture that you're preaching to, not as an operating model for your church. I don't want a church or a pastor who doesn't care about culture. But at the same time, I don't want them to be so steeped in the culture that we lose the point of why are we really doing this.

I am going to go meet some of our local Geek Squadders, and see what I can learn about God and gospel.
I might even hire them to make an appearance on our church stage.

simulacra-kklesia (part 12): a rowboat of crabby idiots smelling like smoke?

audio here

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

new U2 song: The Sound of Watchman Nee's Girly Boots From the Future

Of course, many want to know what I think about the new single by

The answer, as always, has to be a combination of

1)I love it (I mean, it's U2. There's only one song of theirs I really don't do)
2)I don't know yet (I am just now beginning to appreciate the first single from the last album in a new way!!)

Some thoughts so far on "Get On Your Boots," before debuting (for a few of you) the audio and lyrics at the bottom of the page:

1)Glad for the new vibe..and/or old vibe.
The many comparisons to "Actungopapop" (90s U2),
as well as Dylan's "Subterrannean Homesick Blues," Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up"
and (unfortunately) an old song many are claiming it was lifted from.
are all partly true..

but so are (partly) the comparisons to Talking Heads, Toby Mac (first thing my son said at the "Let me in the sound" outro) and ...(gulp)Brittney Spears..

2)Lyrically, it feels like..
among other things, as always..

prayer or pray-able
(which the last section spells out).

Maybe it's a prayer that we would be open to how God is wanting to use any who desire to be used...

particularly prophetic women....

in this next season of the world/wineskin/economy/emergence to move us beyond culture wars, gender wars and literal wars ("wars between nations)."

On the women leading the way, I amen it
(see "Banning Women/Missional Chicks");
I think the whole song might even be midrash on Bono's speech to the Women's Conference :

...but I do lament that "sexy boots" can sound, well, sexist. I think however, the sexiness is related to Bono's frequent comments about the unsexiness of justice issues and social action...
I guess if one issues a call to war against war ("Sunday Bloody Sunday" as a violent/militant anthem to peace/pacifism, etc etc), the best image/imagery to invoke must be subversive, too:

war boots aren't usually sexy.
On the boots, this post I did was a spoof, but I can't help but wonder of Bono was tracking with the Isaiah 9:6 use of boots.

I am intrigued by the seguing/splicing (Beth is hilarious here: "It's the JEDP theory of U2!")
onto the end of it the whole "Let me in the sound/God, I'm going down/drown" psalm of supplication.

onto the end the whole "Let me in the sound/God, I'm going down/drown" psalm of supplication.
Matt McGee has called attention to the drowning man motif throughout the U2 canon; Beth picks it up here:

I had never seen that article on drowning imagery by Matt, and it's quite interesting. It also brought the line "lookin' for a sound that's gonna drown out the world" to the forefront of my mind -- there's another abstract "sound" like the one in the GOYB chant, and "drown" is right there both times. Whatever that means.

I have a theory, as I think you know, that the title "Drowning Man" is a Watchman Nee reference drawn from a memorable use of drowning as a spiritual image in his "The Normal Christian Life." Would be interesting to see how Matt would factor that one in to his article.

I have to wonder how many U2 songs are still wrestling with his mom ,
Jesus, Shalom, and Watchman Nee.
Maybe as many as all.
The "sound" to me is:

  • the musical sound Bono has often mentioned "looking for a sound to drown out the world."
  • a reference to string theory ("The universe is at base, sound/music" (Len Sweet), and thus:
  • a cry to be let into God's sound/voice/strings at its very creation, core, and chaotic creativity. (see "The Divine Voice,"an amazing theology of sound, and Sweet's seminal "Summoned to Lead"). Perhaps we can only hear/see God's voice/sound when we pray/act in holy synesthesia...some amazing biblical precedence there.
This "sound" prayer may well be the answer to Switchfoot's complaint that in our day and age, "Nothing is Sound."

Satan loves to drop bomb and soundscares here,
but they can't scare godly men and sound women.

In the sound of God's sound,
even in the deep waters of a sound (as in "Long Island Sound") one is drowning in,
everything is sound.

Let me in, too.

By the way that "women of the future" seem to get God's sound/revelation.
of course,
such women are fundamentally FROM the future
(see emotional music from a creative future,

and recall Bono's African prophecy (the only I time I find where Bono specifically claimed to be prophesying) about/from the future:

I'm an artist not a politician. But I prophesy that what was once impossible is possible. I prophesy that I will probably drink one too many red wines this evening. I'm sure, maybe, some people might dance on the tables.

'I prophesy that a day is coming when there will be no HIV.

'I prophesy that this jewel of a kingdom is soon to become a giant.

'Colin Powell once said that the greatest weapon of mass destruction is a virus called HIV. But no WMD could break the spirit I feel in this room. God is in the house, I feel.'

.. 'The future is here. Didn't you feel it?'

That prophecy may well be what "Boots" is all about fulfilling.
On to the song (official lyrics and audio here):

The future needs a big kiss
Winds blows with a twist
Never seen a moon like this
Can you see it too
Night is falling everywhere
Rockets at the fun fair
Satan loves a bomb scare
But he won’t scare you
Hey, sexy boots
Get on your boots, yeah
You free me from the dark dream
Candy floss, ice cream
All our kids are screaming
But the ghosts aren’t real
Here’s where we gotta be
Love and community
Laughter is eternity
If joy is real
You don’t know how beautiful
You don’t know how beautiful you are
You don’t know and you don’t get it, do you
No, you don't know how beautiful
You don't know
You don’t know how beautiful you are
That’s someone’s stuff they’re blowing up
We’re into growing up
Women of the future
Hold the big revelations
I got a submarine
You got gasoline
I don’t want to talk about
Wars between nations
Not right now
Hey sexy boots, yeah
No, no, no
Get on your boots, yeah
Not right now
Bossy boots
You don’t know how beautiful
You don’t know how beautiful you are
You don’t know and you don’t get it, do you
No, you don't know how beautiful
You don't know
You don’t know how beautiful you are
Sexy boots
I don’t want to talk about
The wars between the nations
Sexy boots, yeah
Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound, sound
Let me in the sound, sound
Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound, now
God, I’m going down
I don’t wanna drown now
Meet me in the sound
Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound, sound
Let me in the sound, sound
Meet me in the sound
Get on your boots
Get on your boots
Get on your boots
Yeah hey hey
Get on your boots
Yeah hey hey
Get on your boots
Yeah hey hey
Get on your boots
Yeah hey hey

Warren's invocation

Of course, some feared he would pray
(which I am sure some would amen),

but he prayed

Here he is asked:

"Which is the greatest threat: homosexuality or divorce?":

Rick Warren's slip of tongue

Rick Warren quickly caught his slip of the tongue here at 00:24.
but that it happened at all is quite telling.

"build the road behind us"

So often science is ahead of the curve with insights for apostolic ministry:

"There is no philosophical high road in science with epistemological signposts..

...we build our road behind us as we proceed."
-Scientist  Max Born (1882-1970).  Seed Magazine, Dec 2008. p.2

Also in Seed Magazine, see:

The Holdren Factor:
Today's swearing in of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States marks a potentially important shift in how scientific knowledge informs executive decisions. Incoming adviser John Holdren maintains that none of the great challenges of our time can be solved without turning to science.

Monday, January 19, 2009

23 ways to make your brain grow..and 3 that might work, but you didn't hear about them from me (:

Studies suggest the following activities can  (some literally) make your brain grow,  and make you smarter.

Hmm,  #1  explains Keltic Ken's  secret; #2 explains  Scott Jones. #3 Bono's, #4 Happy Lee Del Canto Sabag...
I'm afraid to guess who claims #5 is their secret

I won't even mention these studies:
(Don't read/believe them!)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

simulacra-kklesia (part 11): Doug Paggitt, two Trinities, & my encounter with St. Paul Newman on the road to Emmaus

At Ashram, The Really Real Rev. St. John McFarland
(who stars in his own music video here) showed us this "really real...really" video of Michael Jackson's facial morph over the years, as a call to really pray for the man:

The I haven't had any tuckings or liftings.

But I

am tempted to dab some permanent marker over the (four) grey hairs on my goatee.

If the Bible has wonderful and commendable things to say about them,
why can't I just let them be?

I want to paint them black.

Because I fear death;
or better yet, being old.

Because I like you to think I am younger than I am;
not older than I like to think I look.

I want you to (virtually) like me.

I forget to remember that you'll like me better if I'm real.
That I might even look younger if I quit putting on the simulacrap.

In college, I wrote a satirical essay on machismo, which got picked up by an independent newspaper; I'll see if I can find it..
It featured a guy who taped on fake chest hair.

I don't do that.

But I virtually do.

Besides, if I cut the goatee altogether, I won't look like other hip emerging church types
(assuming they don't glue theirs on).

Like Doug Paggitt.
I need to hang with him, like Matt Cleaver did:

I have read plenty of blogs and magazine articles about Solomon’s Porch and their lead pastor (not sure what his real title is) Doug Pagitt. I thought this would be a cool opportunity to see in real life all that I had been reading and hearing about, and it was honestly pretty much what I expected: quite anticlimactic and ordinary. And I mean that truly in the best way possible.
Obviously when I say ordinary I don’t mean mainstream. When you walk into the Great Room (think sanctuary) and see it filled with tons of couches all arranged pointing towards a couple of stools sitting in the middle of the room you realize that the environment is anything but typical church fare.
When I say that the Sunday Gathering is ordinary and anticlimactic I mean that the community and leadership embrace a super-flat ecclesiology. Lines between staff and laity seem blurred, and there is no such thing as a celebrity...

.. You’ll see what I mean in a second.
So, here’s the play-by-play. There are about 12 or so of us from the seminary who decide to go to Solomon’s Porch, and of course we don’t want to be late, so we arrive obscenely early. We walk into the Great Room and walk right past Doug Pagitt, who is sitting on a couch chatting with someone. We all sit down together in a little corner, and are pretty much the only ones in the room besides those who are preparing for some part in the gathering. Yeah, we don’t stand out at all.
Doug finishes his conversation and comes over to us and introduces himself, “Hi, I’m Doug.” I think to myself, Wow, he is really big. He acts like your typical guy and does the whole small talk thing, asking us what brings us there, where we’re from, yada yada yada...

If you ever get a chance to go to Solomon’s Porch, it’s obviously worth your time if you are familiar with the emerging church, if for no other reason that to realize that the heavens do not open when Doug sits on his stool. It’s amazing how anticlimactic innovation appears. Maybe the everyday and the extraordinary are anything but.
Maybe there’s hope for your church after all.

Actually, the heavens DO open
precisely when the heavens DON'T open
when the preacher does his or her thing.
That is precisely the point and paradox.
The Lord Be With You...Even When He’s Not"

Kerry Soper, in his chapter (p. 59) in "U2 and Philosophy," notes of "Even Better Than the Real Thing" that "the song concludes that the lover, rather than fleeting, hyper-real images, is the real thing--or even better than the real thing."

Being the real thing is even better than the real thing.
If there is such a thing.

That's not just blowing smoke;
it's taking Baudrilllard, Bono and the Bible at their (supra-)logical extreme.

I had intuitively felt there was a connection between simulacra and wanderlust.
(painted brilliantly in Johnny Cash/U2's "The Wanderer," and the entire "Zooropa" CD)
Mark Sayers helped me catch the connection . It's easy to see how the simulacra of our culture causes us to desire to be something we're not; but there is also the inevitable extension:
wanting to be somewhere we're not.

This is a cousin of the elusive idolatry of place,
and what Howard Snyder calls the church's edifice complex.
We are more concerned with real estate than our real estate.

Sayer's book about hyperreality is called "The Trouble with Paris."
I am sure he enjoys the fact that most assume the title refers (just) to Paris Hilton.
But she is not mentioned in the book.
The title refers to a nameless young lady the author met, who seemed was consumed (due to simulacra of media) with moving to Paris, France:

"All she had to do was travel and find new friends and a new job to experience life as it was meant to be--exciting, stimulating and meaningful.

Six months later I received an email from this girl. She was now in Ireland. Paris was not all she had expected.".

No place ever can be.

Television, film, movies, church..they all lie; they cannot not.

Especially if church services are televised.

"It's very nearly impossible to tell the truth in television..If I write a novel, signed by my name, I am saying these are my thoughts...and the response of the reader is according. If you set up a camera and take a film, that is not considered anyone's views, that is reality"
-Muggeridge, "Christ in the Media, p. 60

In addressing antitodes to simulacra, Sayers suggests

" we are estranged from the concept of wisdom"(174).

He goes on (175) to offer that
"The medieval spiritual writer Theresa of Avila had a powerful metaphor to describe the effects of choosing sin over wisdom" :

her famous journey through the interior castle.

The catch is this was not a mere metaphor in Teresa's part,
it was a vision, an experience, encounter..

a real reality.

Like visions are.
Like vision is.

"I have a dream; I have a vision..television!!,"
Mac Phisto once preached.

No, not that vision.

The real vision.

Teresa was not just a "medieval spiritual writer,"
she was a mystic visionary who was after something/Someone better than the real.

Sayers also almost suggests that an ancient Christian doctrine, rightly envisioned,
is key to subverting simulacra:


In a a helpful section,
"The Hyperreal Christian Trinity,"
he offers this chart of our counterfeit trinity:

He doesn't explicitly address how a theology of the trinity should and could inform and form almost everything we do, say and pray as church.

So get next to some pioneers who do:


Frank Viola,

The Shack,

and inevitably,


Here's Len:

"is it possible to articulate an enduring missional theology apart from the Trinity?
And the answer to that I believe is"no."
-comments on Tony Jones post, Is the Trinity optional?

Call it/them what you will,
but can we dare to believe there is something so inherently relational
that all of life is really relational and intrinsically



Trinity might even be our only model for church..
.(and computers, by the way).

we finally embrace our full humanity.

Like the Second Member of the Trinity did.

Like I do, when I don't black out my gray goatee hairs.

We do indeed bear the image of the Trinity in and through the assumption of our humanity in Christ. The imago trinitatis is always and only the imago Christi.
-link, Inhabitatio Dei

Via our humanity.
Our real rugged, authentic and actual, bathroom-going and glorious human-ness.

Do we have any role models on this quest to just be human?

Many of those mentioned (Doug Paggitt, Bono)
and many not mentioned above(Bruce Cockburn, Mike Yaconelli)
are consistently themselves,
insistently human.

But one final helper.
One who died not long ago,
but bridged Hollywood simulacra and real humanity..

No, I don't mean the equally deserving Johnny Cash,who, like U2 in Zoo TV, brilliantly subverted simulacra on a medium prone to simulacra:

I'm talking someone of whom it was said:

"closest thing we've had in a movie star to a saint—and probably he'd say that was the dumbest thing he'd ever heard, which as far as I'm concerned is more proof."

Paul Newman.


I once went shopping with Paul Newman.


Actually, we were both shopping at a rural outdoor fruit stand/shopping plaza in Connecticut.

There was not a bodyguard in sight.
Just Paul Newman, a real live human being,
about to cross my path
No one else around.

I said hi.
He smiled graciously and said, 'hi."

We walked our separate ways.

His famous blue eyes were haunting.

Of course, they may not have been real; he certainly had enough money to simulacra them up.

But he was, on that road, the real thing.

A delightful memoir from "CBS This Morning":

Paul Newman has died, damn it. He was the closest thing we've had in a movie star to a saint—and probably he'd say that was the dumbest thing he'd ever heard, which as far as I'm concerned is more proof. I'm not just talking about the hundreds of millions he earned for charity with his Newman's Own products, or his persistent but judicious political activism. As an artist, he was self-deprecating, often deeply self-critical; he never assumed we'd love him because he was, you know, Paul Newman. When directors built him pedestals, he worked to earn his place on them. Early in his career, he studied the Method, but he never went in for the fumbly-mumbly self-plumbing that became its hallmark. He always threw his attention onto the other actors—which might be why, opposite him, so many became stars and won awards. Everyone looked brighter in his light.
The light came from those blue eyes, of course—but it wasn't just their color that was hypnotizing. Two of his most vivid performances were in black and white: the self-loathing pool-hall drifter in The Hustler, and the mean-drunk, oversexed sleazeball rancher in Hud (probably his sexiest, most magnetic turn—but who can choose?). Newman didn't use those eyes promiscuously, as jeepers-creepers peepers. He hooded them, slit them, closed them tightly in pain. When open, they were sky blue with a milky haze. You could get lost in them; you could also see that he was sometimes lost behind them. Trim, smooth, chiseled, pretty, Newman was physically our most wide-open movie star, yet on one level he was also our most unfathomable...
...Newman was ambivalent about his prettiness, but he didn't make a show of fighting it: He never slapped on a fake nose or did a Quasimodo turn. (His voice—gruff and increasingly gravelly—balanced out his looks somewhat.) He was good in wounded Adonis parts (as in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), but he was better with a shot of self-satire.

...Great actors and great artists don't have to be role models in life to inspire you with their work. But when they are, they give a special kind of joy. The character of his life is everywhere in his work, in its lack of self-centeredness, in the way it radiated out. In sad days and sunny ones, Paul Newman bathed the world in blue.
Paul Newman's Light

Joan Collins:
I remember once at a party, we played a rather morbid game where we all suggested our own epitaphs.
Beer in hand as always, Paul quipped: 'Here lies Paul Newman, who died a failure because his eyes turned brown.'


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Brueggemann: "4O Days of what? " a tie... hangs with some goateed emergent dudes.
How cool is this guy?
(I am gonna have to tidy up my posts from several years ago on the U2 Bruggemann connection.
He may hate the music..but he and U2 are often on the same page)

Anyway..catch of the day..At 32:00 in the clip below, he actually says, "4o Days of what? Never heard of it!"

mentor to emergings:

McLaren introduces Brueggeman on lament:

Rupturing the Rapture