Friday, August 28, 2009

Tickling the Hyphenated-Church and the 18-month window

Read about Phyllis Tickle's 18-month window here; video on the Hyphenateds below:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Parker Palmer on the undivided life & the Rosa Parks decision

Parker Palmer:

“What I know about living a divided life starts with my training as an academic. I was taught to keep things in airtight compartments: to keep my ideas apart from my feelings, because ideas were reliable but feelings were not; to keep my theories apart from my actions, because the theory can be pure, but the action is always sullied.

For the teachers I meet around the country, the decision to live divided-no-more means teaching in a way that corresponds to the truth that they know, rather than according to the latest pedagogical fad or to whatever pressures the institution may be putting on them. These are teachers, for example, who are integrating emotional work with cognitive work in the classroom.”

At a certain juncture, some people find they must choose between allowing selfhood to die or claiming their identity and integrity. What I mean by divided-no-more is living on the outside the truth you know on the inside...

...In political/social terms, I call this the Rosa Parks decision. She essentially said, ‘I'm no longer going to behave on the outside as if I were less than the full person I know myself to be on the inside.’

How do people find the courage to bring inner convictions into harmony with outer acts, knowing the risks involved?

I think in Rosa Parks' story there's a clue: When the police came to Rosa Parks on the bus and informed her that they would have to put her in jail if she did not move, she replied, ‘You may do that.’ It was a very polite way of saying, ‘How could your jail begin to compare with the jail Ihave had myself in all these years by collaborating with this racist system?'

When you realize that you can no longer collaborate in something that violates your ownintegrity, your understanding of punishment is suddenly transformed...

...The first purpose of these communities is mutual reassurance; people help each other to understand that the ‘normal’ behavior expected by the institutions they are part of can be crazy, but that seeking integrity is always sane.

..In the movement sparked by Rosa Parks, the Black churches provided gathering places for people who needed to know that they were not alone in choosing an integral life...

I am a teacher at heart, and I am not naturally drawn to political activism. But I've found that there is no essential conflict between loving to teach and working to reform education. An authentic movement is not a play for power – it is teaching and learning writ large. Now the world becomes our classroom, and the potential to teach and learn is found everywhere. We need only be in the world as our true selves, with open hearts and minds."
-Parker Palmer interview
Ht: Geoff

Thursday, August 20, 2009

First "Christian"song (or something like that) to include the d-word and s-word

"What Matters Most" by Derek Webb..lyrics and video excerpt below..

If you just wanted the d-word mentioned in prayer, click here, Sixpence has covered that.

But here's the back-story on Derek Webb (formerly of Caedmon's Call) 's song:

"What Matters Most"
by Derek Webb:
You say you always treat people like you like to be
I guess you love being hated for your sexuality
You love when people put words in your mouth
'Bout what you believe, make you sound like a freak

'Cause if you really believe what you say you believe
You wouldn't be so damn reckless with the words you speak
Wouldn't silently conceal when the liars speak
Denyin' all the dyin' of the remedy

Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

If I can tell what's in your heart by what comes out of your mouth
Then it sure looks to me like being straight is all it's about
It looks like being hated for all the wrong things
Like chasin' the wind while the pendulum swings

'Cause we can talk and debate until we're blue in the face
About the language and tradition that he's comin' to save
Meanwhile we sit just like we don't give a shit
About 50,000 people who are dyin' today

Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

Gabe Lyons :Learning from Those Unlike You

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Econophysics: A New Paradigm

"Econophysics: A New Paradigm'

by Michael Mannino:

Adam Smith was deeply influenced by the principles of Newtonian and classical physics and firmly believed that this system was a model for all social and economic phenomena. The principles of classical physics depicted the inner workings of the natural world so eloquently and were, after all, so widely believed. Newtonian physics described the world as deterministic, mechanistic, absolute and certain. The universe was often portrayed by the familiar metaphor of a clock, which could be analyzed by simply explaining its parts and how they move. According to Smith, similarly objective laws could describe human behavior – particularly economic behavior. His most familiar example is the invisible hand...

...The neoclassical economic zeitgeist has turned out to be a catastrophe. Rampant consumerism, the ever-widening gap between rich and poor, demoralization, depersonalization and environmental neglect are just a few of the problems of modern capitalism. Given this state of affairs, we must ask these critical questions: How did it get to be this way? What can we do to escape or amend these problems? The deep-seated answer to these questions lies in the foundations of physics.

In his book Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, the late economist E.F. Shumacher addressed the fact that the current economic paradigm functions not only without incorporating the sustainability of the natural environment but also without recognition of the very people it so clearly depends on. Now that people matter again in physics, and since economics endeavors to be modeled after physics, we ought to matter again in economics as well.

-Michael Mannino, Adbusters, link

the 7 basic blog posts

I thought I only had one sermon...maybe I have seven:

SURVEY SAYS: Why Pastors Leave the Ministry

Why Pastors Leave the Ministry

by Fuller Institute, George Barna and Pastoral Care Inc.

* 90% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week.
* 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. Many pastor's children do not attend church now because of what the church has done to their parents.
* 33% state that being in the ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
* 75% report significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry.
* 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
* 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
* 70% say they have a lower self-image now than when they first started.
* 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
* 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
* 33% confess having involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with someone in the church .
* 50% have considered leaving the ministry in the last months.
* 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
* 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
* 94% of clergy families feel the pressures of the pastor's ministry.
* 66% of church members expect a minister and family to live at a higher moral standard than themselves.
* Moral values of a Christian is no different than those who consider themselves as non-Christians.
* The average American will tell 23 lies a day.
* The profession of "pastor" is near the bottom of a survey of the most-respected professions, just above "car salesman".
* Over 4,000 churches closed in America last year.
* Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
* Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month , many without cause.
* Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.
* Many denominations report an "empty pulpit crisis". They cannot find pastors willing to fill positions.

#1 reason pastors leave the ministry - Church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change.

-The Fuller Institute, George Barna, and Pastoral Care Inc.

"When you're in Narnia, you cannot talk about Jesus."

"When you're in Narnia, you cannot talk about Jesus."
-Phil Vischer,

The U2 liturgical plot

Having taught last night in preaching class on Eugene Lowry's "homiletical plot,"

1) Oops!--conflict--upsetting the equilibrium;
2) Ugh!--complication--analysing the discrepancy;
3) Aha!--sudden shift--disclosing the clue to resolution;
4) Whee!--good news--experiencing the gospel; (this is climax, not #5)
5) Yeah!--unfolding--anticipating the consequences. (coda)

and looking forward to Beth's presentation on "U2 Live: Where Leitourgia Has No Name,"

Neil McCormick's inside scoop from Bono about the flow of the current show/liturgy was intriguing. It tracks with Lowry's suggested flow of the sermon. It helps us grasp ythe point of two of teh most baffling placements in the set list: the liturgical sense of the "sudden shift" of the "Crazy Remix" (maybe plays the part of the album's midpoint ("Fez-Being Born'); and the choice of "Surrender" as concert closer/downbeat coda:
...Bono revealed that he carries a two act structure in his mind which guides his performance (which he readily admitted would not be apparent to anyone else). The first half of the show features “more personal songs” (which usually features Breathe, No Line On The Horizon, Get On Your Boots, Magnificent, Beautiful Day, New Year’s Day, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Unknown Caller, Unforgettable Fire, City Of Blinding Lights and Vertigo plus a changing selection of back catalogue classics) in which Bono envisages himself as a young man, struggling to find his feet in life and in search of some kind of personal epiphany. The turning point of the set is a mind-blasting techno remix version of the new song ‘I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight’, with the Claw on full acid house lighting effect turning the stadium into a spinning mirrorball. Given that the audience is not particularly familiar with the song (let alone a dance remix), it is actually intended to create a moment of disorientation and discomfort, ending with Bono on his knees, repeatedly singing the coda “It’s not a hill, it’s a mountain”. If I’ve got this right (it was 3 am when we were having this conversation, and many Marguerites had been consumed) from that point on his protagonist has been taken out of himself, and the second act begins in which he moves from the personal to the political, wrestling with the problems of the wider world in a string of songs that includes Sunday Bloody Sunday (recast to acknowledge the protesters of Iran), Pride, Walk On and Where The Streets Have No Name. There is then a coda (not a third act) which represents U2 at their most raw and vulnerable, stripped to the metaphorical bone, when we have all been exhausted by the outpouring of collective emotion and ready just to get down to the dirty truth. This is a hugely effective if counter-intuitive downbeat encore trilogy from the underbelly of love, featuring ‘Ultraviolet’, ‘With Or Without You’ and ‘Moment Of Surrender’.
So now you know. But whether that makes sense to anyone else or not is not really the point (it is really a performance tool). Stadium gigs are not about subtle pleasures, it is not for laser pin point music and understated expression. It is rarely about the subtext. It’s about big ideas and broad emotions, and it suits band with epic sounds and massive choruses. It is made to be heard and felt by tens of thousands, and unite them in one moment of mass togetherness. Every fan brings something of themselves to the music, and embarks on their own personal journey but (on a good night, with a band we already love, and songs that already mean something to us) we can be taken outside of ourselves, so that we suddenly find ourselves united with a mass of humanity, singing together, all on the same hymn sheet, even if the hymn is a pop song, and the chorus reminds us “we are one, but we’re not the same.” U2 remain the absolute masters of stadium dynamics. Sometimes, size really does matter.
-Neil McCormick, link

Jesus was never offended by a sinner

“When we search the Gospel acounts we never find a place where Jesus was offended by a sinful person.

But there are repeated accounts of his being very offended by the self-righteousness of so-called holy people who setthemselves apart from the rest of humanity in their own eyes. For these people he didn’t even have the time of day, except to warn them of the judgment to come, a judgment brought about by their refusal to see themselves as needy as the next guy.”
-John Fischer, "True Believers Don’t Ask Why"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

"The system is now the god that makes us mad"

A thirty-year old book that is quite timely today:

"Our speed is constantly increasing, and it does not matter where we are going. We are caught up in the madness and hubris of the dance of death: the important thing is the dance, the Saturnalia, the Bacchanalia, the Lupercalia. We are no longer worried about what will emerge from it or about the void it points to. We are content to die of dancing. Our generation is not even capable of cynicism, it take a kind of terrible greatness to say, “After me, the deluge.” No one says that today; on the contrary, everyone is glutted with promises and regards the mad dance as a way to authentic renewal. Yet there is no goal, nothing transcendent, no value to light the way; the movement is enough.

The nihilistic revolution has succeeded. Today’s political activists who still claim to be revolutionaries have nothing to put in nihilism’s place. Movement for movement’s sake, thorough study for study’s sake, the revolution for the revolution’s sake: that, they say, is the only way to escape the system. It is a remarkable thing, however, that this system renders mad not only those who are part of it but those who reject it as well. The system is now the god that makes us mad, but it is a god we have created with our won minds...

..Fragmentary theater and deciphered Moliere, poetry without words and music that is sheer noise, destructured language, Lacan, Derrida, and all their second-rate imitators who think that absolute incomprehensibility offers a way out, when in fact we have shut the door on all possibilities and hopes, and have sunk into a resignation that knows no future..

..The West has always claimed to be on the side of David against Goliath, and it continues to make this claim. The difficulty is that the West is now a Goliath, one of the might of the earth, yet it cannot but still judge itself according to its old values"
-Ellul, "The Betrayal of the West"

"O come all ye faithful,joyful and triumphant"

Now he's adding
"O come all ye faithful,joyful and triumphant" to the end of "Crazy Tonight."
What does he think this is, Christmas?

This section often sounds like Pink Floyd's "Run Like Hell" (more on that
worship song here) set to some Pentecostal holy pogo (watch the boys dance): 4:02ff:

Michael Byrd's influences..check this out

Thursday, August 13, 2009

a watershed moment

"I may once again be exercising my spiritual gift of hyperbole, but I suspect that the Bill/Bono exchange will come to be seen as something of a watershed moment."
-St Mike Todd in this post

I agree and amen..see also this.

Excerpts from the watershed

Great followup by Len here

"spiritual surrender of epic proportions"

Thanks to Paul for finding this article by Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol:

"We were sharing something that simply never happens at rock shows anywhere. A collective emotional and spiritual surrender of epic proportions.....
Last night was something I've never seen before and I can't quite fathom it. Not sure I ever will or even want to.'

Friday, August 07, 2009

quote quota

"We're looking for something casual for the Son of God"
-Michael Keaton's character in The Dream Team

"Christianity has nothing to do with morality; absolutely nothing."
-Jacques Ellul

"Yes, U2 uses salty language. Yes, they are Christian. And sometimes our language isn't salty enough"
-Tony Campolo to Ellis and me

"40 Days of WHAT? Never heard of it!"
-Walter Brueggeman , video

"The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty"
-Anne Lammott, Plan B

"Once you label me you negate me...
With God's help, I will become myself."
-Soren Kierkegaard

"You don't have to believe to belong."

"We judge others by their actions, and ourselves by our intentions."
-Rev. Kev Clancey

"Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries."
-Elizabeth Browning

"Gimme a P! Gimme an R! Gimme an A! Gimme a Y" Give me an N! Give me an A Give me a KED! What's that spell?"
-St. Mike Roe

"One of their own truth-tellers has said ' All Cretans are liars'"
-Titus 1:12

""The universe, at base, is music"
-Leonard Sweet

"Context is Everything"
-Rev. Bubba Xavier P. "Leroy" McGuiilcutti III 1/2, Jr., Esq.

"Metaphor is a loud fart on the salon of spirituality"
-Eugene Peterson

"The straight line is godless and immoral."
-Friedensriech Hundertwasserin:

“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.”
-Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk

"It's postmodern! Neocubist! Brilliant use of negative space! Do you know WHY it's a brilliant use of negative space, Ed?.....Because Jesus wants it that way!!"
-Peter Boyle's character in The Dream Team.  See video here

"Become what you already are"
-Paul, Philippians 3:16

"Go and tell that bitch Herod, that today and tomorrow I am casting out demons and healing people, ,and on the third day i will reach my goal."
-Jesus, Luke 13:31

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

my burden is light...and so is this cross

Here ar right, Gavin Friday and Bono ponder the cross made of light
at the "Church of the Light" in Japan,

In spite of its expensive design by architect Tadao Ando, and it's UCC affiliation, some consider it an emerging/organic/missional congregation of's in a residential neighborhood, and the size of a house, for example..
..and it was almost built without a roof!

"At this intersection of light and solid the occupant is meant to become aware of the deep division between the spiritual and the secular within himself or herself.'- Ando

  • Here the Wikipedia article..
  • Here'smore pictures and detail
  • Here's the church website
  • Here's the U2 connection...

Monday, August 03, 2009

"Not only was that turbulence not normal, it was 100 times worse than I knew was possible.."

After watching today's news, I need

a pastor.

I had better call Tom.

I don't know if Tom had to revisit the damaged emotions that I did when the news came out today about all those people hurt in the Continental Airlines "severe turbulence" episode..and to hear that due to it, "Two people have died during that time (since 1990), and about 10 people a year suffer severe injuries such as broken bones."

Our pilot was overheard commenting that our turbulence was "borderline severe."
Felt like a pretty thin border, baby.

Maybe it will help to retell the story:

"Uh..I have been flying for almost forty years, and not only was that turbulence not normal, but it was a hundred times worse than I even knew was possible."

Honestly, it wasn't until later that I told Tom (St. Guinness) that whole truth. We Christians..especially pastor types...just aren't that good at telling the whole, authentic, truth (which is why some sheep, and maybe even God, prefer the Nine Inch Nails gig to church, as Bono once preached in an audio found here.)

St. Guinness and I were seated next to each other on a plane from L.A. To Dallas.
This was not even the flight to Peru, yet; let alone the hours bus ride up the Andes where I lost my lunch and found my faith..(uncensored story told here).

All was smooth. St. Guinness was on the first leg of his first mission trip.

Then it hit.

If you remember the intro narration to "The Six Million Dollar Man," you can recall the frantic voice "She's breaking up, she's breaking up!" as the plane's turbulence did its number.

Here is the actual video of our adventure...uh, sorry, here is that "she's breaking up" TV intro..but as you watch 0:25ff this is pretty much the same thing.

The flight attendants frantically tried to keep everyone in their seats.

Strangely, but as is common in episodes like this, it was deathly quiet as the plane violently shook.

All we heard was a voice in front of us, as a passenger asked his seatmate,
"Is this normal?"

We heard no answer, and had our answer.

Did i mention this was Tom's first time flying?

That we had to coax him into the trip with a faith-promise that the plane trip would be a cinch?

Tom is a white guy, but he turned (in biblical language) "whiter than any launderer on earth could bleach him"

I faked a calm pastoral confidence and convinced him we would be okay.

It's called living by faith.

Lying, i mean.

Strangely, it was also deathly quiet as we filed out of the plane. The flight attendants and pilots were nowhere to be found.

When we caught up with another gal from our group in the airport, we white guys, hair and tattoos still standing on end, asked her, "Man, how did you manage that turbulence??!!"

She genuinely and calmly replied,
"Oh, I just figured if it was my time to go, I'd be with Jesus."

I wanted to punch her.

She was a better pastor than me.

All that to say..

Without giving the devil too much credit (he does work for God, however...see "The Devil is God's Devil"..)
..often when we are called/drafted into a life-changing missional adventure,
we get sifted/tested on the way.

Our dreams and Uzziahs die, we are sent into wilderness and vertigo, but we come out stronger. And faithfully wear our Annie Dillard crash helmets and spiritual armor.
Knowing that if it's indeed our time to go, it's time.

Even though we had to talk Tom out of the Dallas airport mens room with a promise (hoping it wasn't a lie) that nothing remotely similar would happen the next plane..

That means, we did the normal Christian thing, and made a promise in Christ's name that we had no authority to make.

We lied like a cathedral.

We almost had to buy St. Guiness a Guiness or eight.

He would have settled for Ripple and sleeping pill.

Tom passed the sift/shift and the test.

His flying colors were glorious in Peru.
To prove it, I have finally been able to upload a bit of video of Tom giving testimony in Peru.
Note is hair is no longer standing up a few days later after the turbo-turbulence.

You can even see a clip of him toying momentarily with entering a "Sex and Growth" office shop to..uh, share his faith. (Watch it at 6:45 ff in Part 2 below) His hair IS standing on end in this clip.

You will also find that..

continued at "Video: St. Guinness Defies Death to Preach in SexShop in Peru'

anointed and clueless bannermen like me: "Unknown Caller" in Milan

"I speak in these kind of parables so that they ...will not understand and be saved"
-Jesus, Matthew 13

One of the questions I often get when I teach on U2 and the prophetic acts Bono weaves into the lyrics and concerts is "Oh, I see it, but is the audience getting it?"

I guess it's like church: some are and some aren't.

I have played back concert video or audio (even to concerts I attended), and catch new stuff/prayers all the time.

But as the singer once said:"All I've got is a red guitar (some Bongolese glossolalia, a ton of Scripture references, and a multimillion dollar clawcathedral), three chords and the truth...the rest is up to you."

I have played back concert video or audio (even to concerts I attended), and catch new stuff/Scriptures/prayers all the time. I often wished I had "gotten it" at the time.

Most Christian fans know that Bono embeds one of his favorite Scriptures all over the songs, interviews..and even album covers. He calls it "God's phone number," which everyone who grew up in Sunday School knows is Jeremiah 33:3. So it was clear when we first heard that "Unknown Caller" referenced a time on the clockface of 3:33, this was not random, bit a fish in the sand
(as opposed to pearls to the swine).

But check out the video below. I am so glad I caught this on Beth's Facebook, as I hadn't seen it
(it actually come from the official U2 website!). Her comments:

A bunch of U2 fans arrange for thousands of people to stage a massive display of a Bible reference during Unknown Caller in Milan. (The citation appeared some years ago in U2's work and is re-used in the song's lyrics to help hearers identify the "caller.") The European fans clearly don't have any overt Bible-related agenda, but just think it's a cool thing to do -- which demonstrates once again the brilliance of U2's overall strategy (it's U2 themselves that released this video btw). The stunt more or less works, but I think there is a chance somebody may have gone home and looked up Jeremiah 23:3 instead.
Beth Maynard

As David Seamands used to say about emotional healing, "The Holy Spirit sometimes uses a temporary assistant (the pastoral counselors.) Here, thousands of temporary assistants to the Holy Spirit and U2 seek to ensure that the whole Milan audience "gets" the Bible reference.

Who remember's Steve Taylor's "Bannerman"

Let's talk about the new single "Bannerman." Steve Taylor comes along and notices the little guy out in the crowd with the "John 3:16" sign and decides there might be something worth saying about it that isn't just cynical or jaded. As someone who's so concerned with the state of the arts in Christendom, why write a song about that guy?
STEVE TAYLOR:Well, I have to be careful how I say this. Chagall Guevara ended up playing in a lot of dark places, and in retrospect I wonder if there is a tendency to think you get a lot more accomplished than you

Watch more Squint videos on AOL Video

actually do in those situations. I would probably be lying to myself if I said I really believed that now.
Frankly, when I was doing straight Gospel music, if I had seen a guy holding up a banner that said "John 3:16" in the middle of a football game, that might have seemed a little stupid, but because of Chagall I saw it in a new light. It's not very artful, and who knows ultimately what kind of fruit it produces, but I think the idea of a guy standing up and holding this banner that lets the Bible speak for itself is kind of cool.
It reminded me, most of us that come to Christ often come because of very unartistic methods. I don't really have the nerve that these guys do. I don't think I'd have written "Bannerman" five years ago, but it was actually the first song I wrote for this album. In fact, it was the first song I had written on my own in five years. LINK
The Milan U2 event us akin "Bannerman" at the sports events...but in a much more "U2ey" way (as Beth says) in that I am sure many of the signholders don't "get" (or need to) the fulness of what they are doing.

Which may be precisely the point.

And precisely the case with all of us.

I am a partly clueless Signholder..the rest is up to you.

Here's the video, enjoy:

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Of course it opens a door to it anyway!

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

Every so often, one hears the concern that churches with more open-source, participatory sermons
open themselves up to heresy.

Of course they do.

But they also open themselves up to what God is saying through the ministers.

I love University Chrsitian Fellowship; especially their classic tongue(s)-in cheek "order of worship (see "Virgin Sacrifices...That's "postmodern" worship!"):

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

Doug Pagitt, in "Preaching Reimagined," comments on this at least three times:
  • There are those who assume that if more people are allowed to share...then there's a greater risk of the church losing truth. But the history of heresy shows it's most often the abuse of power--not an openness of power--that creates envirins ripe with heresy. The church is at greater risk of losing its message when we limit those who can tell thes story versus when we invite the community to know and refine it. (43)
  • When I've talked with other pastors about progressional preaching, their concerns are almost always about heresy..They're concerned all hell--literally--will beak loose. I understand this concern. As pastors we spend years in theological training...(so) we won't toss out crazy ideas about God to the masses...But I've found this concern to be unfounded. Far from pulling us in the direction of heresy, including collective conversation in our sermon time has in many, many instances led to greater understanding....and actually prevents the heretical thinking so easily found in individuated expressions of faith. When people set their ideas on the table, thoss who might lean towards heresy or idiocy are quickly called out by the group (53-54)
  • We may not agree with the conclusions people draw, but we're better when we're moved to additional ways of seeing the world (137)
And Tony Jones, who attends the church pastored by Paggit, comments that 99 percent of churches don't let just anyone talk...

“..but because anyone, including Trucker Frank, can speak freely in this emergent church, my seminary-trained eyes were opened to find a truth in the Bible that had previously eluded me.” -Tony Jones, The New Christians, p.92
That truth emerged in a discussion of Matthew 18's "treat the unrepentant brother like a tax collector or sinner.":
"And how did Jesus treat tax collectors and pagans?" Frank asked aloud, pausing, "as of for a punchline he'd been waiting all his life to deliver,"....., "He welcomed them!""

More on Trucker Frank here; he can interrupt my sermons anytime..

Parable of the Mountain

Parable of the Mountain
by Howard A. Snyder

In a small mountain village the wind would blow gently, especially in the springtime.

High on a hill behind the village, the wind was much stronger. The people would climb there occasionally to feel the full force of the wind. The wind would blow down from the mountains, mussing their hair, cooling their faces, and taking their breath away. In time, the villagers built a little shrine on the hilltop. They put up four walls and a roof, but left wide open windows so people could still feel the wind.

Over time they built the shrine larger and finer. But some grew concerned about the rain. Occasionally the rain would come, and would blow in through the windows. The water was leaving stains on the walls and floors and seats.

That's why they put glass in the windows. Plain, clear glass, so they could still see out, see the mountains and the valley. They would come and enjoy themselves and watch through the windows as the wind moved the trees and swept the hillside. They could no longer feel the wind, but they liked the view.

But things happen over time. Eventually the villagers, growing more prosperous, decided to decorate the windows with paintings and pictures. Finally fine stained-glass panes replaced the earlier clear glass.

The shrine still remains. It is a beautiful place––well preserved and attended. Many people make their pilgrimage there. They enter the shrine, turn on the lights, bow in prayer, and remember what it used to feel like when the wind blew down from the mountains, mussing their hair, cooling their faces, and taking their breath away.

—From Radical Renewal: The Problem of Wineskins Today, by Howard A. Snyder (Houston, TX: Touch Publications, 1996), 65-66.