Thursday, October 29, 2009

Colbert on the God Particle

Thanks to St Tim for sending me this article on the theory re: the Collider being sabotaged from the future... check the last three paragraphs! (Also see "Does God Hate the God Particle?".).
And now Colbert covers the story:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Big Bang Theory
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorReligion

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

God as Sound

St Mark of Denver sent me this pic of the Grateful Dead, due to Mickey Hart (on right) 's shirt.

He knew I'd like it as it is partly right...according to string theory, and U2's "No Line."


Of course, Switchfoot was also partly right..

Thanks, Markman.

"Let me in the sound, God.."

currency backed by antimatter

From Good Magazine:

Antimatters of the Art

Jonathon Keats is an artist-philosopher whose conceptual projects have examined everything from the nature of the divine (he tried to engineer God in a petri dish) to the sexuality of plants (he built a pornography theater for them). While Keats’s projects are often both whimsical and beautiful on the outside, at their center are deep questions about the nature of life and the universe. In short, it is conceptual art that actually makes you think about concepts, rather than merely about conceptual art.

His latest piece is the First Bank of Antimatter, a financial institution that will issue a new currency backed not by gold or silver, but by antimatter, in the form of positrons created from the radioactive decay of a block of potassium fluoride. “We’ve confused money, which essentially is a means of transaction, with what is transacted,” says Keats. “Therefore, we have come to place value on money on its own right as if it were one of the things transacted.” The positrons that back the bank’s currency are annihilated when they come into contact with matter, and can only exist in the material world for an instant except under controlled conditions. Since the money could never actually be exchanged for the thing that gives it value, positron notes help to distinguish between our mode of currency and the things we buy with that currency (the blurring of that line led to many of our current financial woes). “It can only really be used for purposes of transaction,” he says. “Think of it as something to be hoarded or think of it as something that is valuable in its own right, and—by the laws of nature—antimatter will refute this idea.”

The First Bank of Antimatter will offer notes in 10,000, 100,000, and 1 million positron denominations, at an initial exchange rate of $10 for 10,000 positrons, starting November 12 at the Modernism Gallery in San Francisco.

-Good Magazine, Fall 2009


Jonathon Keats Derails Econopocalypse With Antimatter Currency

Conceptual artist (and Wired smartypants) Jonathan Keats is back to rescue our cratering currency by pegging it to antimatter. That ought to negate decades of devaluation just fine.

“The anti-economy supported and financed by the First Bank of Antimatter will necessarily be independent of ours,” Keats explained in an e-mail to “And if some analyst ventures too far into that territory, he’ll explode with a force of approximately 2,140,000 kilotons of TNT.”

The First Bank of Antimatter, opening Nov. 12 at San Francisco’s Modernism gallery, fits the 38-year-old artist like an underwater mortgage fits American homeowners. Our hyper-real economy, drunk on rampant debt securitization with little in the way of real value or regulation, has sundered the global marketplace. It has also nearly choked the dollar to death.

While the Great Depression found the world economy severing its connection to the gold standard in search of normalcy. Our economy, Keats argues, should sever its connection to the material world altogether.

“Backed by paper, our economy depends on good faith, which tends to be in short supply,” said Keats. “Since my alternative currency is secured by antimatter positrons, which are finite in quantity, antimatter depository notes avoid that problem. It’s abstract like fiat money, yet accountable like currency backed by precious metals.”

Jonathan Keats' antimatter economy may be volatile, but it's probably less dangerous than our own.

It’s so crazy, it just might work. Wait, isn’t it already? Isn’t fiat money already abstract? We used to trade in livestock, ochre and gold. Isn’t antimatter an openly logical answer to our maddeningly illogical currency?

“I don’t know that there’s anything illogical about our currency,” Keats said, “except that it leads us to behave in irrational ways. People were probably also irrational with their livestock and ochre, but trading that wasn’t leveraged in a way that could do much damage beyond their families or villages.”

Further questions arise. Can you short antimatter? Would antimatter be a safe hedge against the material world, which is getting freakier by the day, and not just when it comes to finance? And then there’s the obvious query: Could this anti-material economy, with “its own antimatter skyscrapers and ocean liners,” as envisioned by Keats, blow Earth into scattered, deleveraged bits?

“Antimatter isn’t dangerous, per se,” Keats said. “The danger is when antimatter comes into contact with matter, resulting in a cataclysmic release of energy. In this sense, it will be an ideal hedge. The reason why our economy nearly self-destructed was that it was too tightly coupled.”

So wait, you can short antimatter as a hedge? Goldman Sachs is probably going to want to know.

“Hedgers could short it,” Keats said, “but that would defeat the purpose of the hedge, since it would be akin to investing in ordinary matter. Of course, antimatter people living in an antimatter world might consider shorting antimatter as a hedge, and the First Bank of Antimatter will be pleased to facilitate such transactions. Alternately, they might consider investing in our world as a hedge against financial calamity in their own.”

Sold! The matter economy has so far been mostly a bust, given that the dollar has arguably lost more than 25 percent of its value in the last decade alone. Might as well jump on an antimatter economy and see if it works any better. It’s a pragmatic move for a pragmatic artist.

“It was the most practical solution I could come up with,” Keats said. “And since no one else was prepared to delve into antimatter economics, I had no choice but to become the bank’s treasurer.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

you sure Jesus loves religious folk?

Podcast of KKeltic Ken and I interviewing "Porn Pastor" Craig Gross
and "Cable Guy" Jason Harper
about the "Jesus Loves You This I Know" book

More info, including videos and sample chapter on the book at

It's actually easier to believe Jesus loves porn stars (on chapter) than he loves religious people (last chapter). Watch the guys kick off the book tour at "God Hates Fags" church here:

"morality is nowhere near the heart of the gospel.

Len concludes a post on romantic theology with:

...Lately I hear calls to morality in some of the circles I am in. To me this is deeply wrong-headed, another shadow of the “gospel of sin management” that is so deeply rooted in evangelical circles, a failure to appreciate that morality is nowhere near the heart of the gospel. We are “dead in sin,” and a dead man has no power to change or to do anything. Yet we constantly appeal to “dead men” to be better. As one sage put it, “Jesus did not come to make good men better, he came to give dead men life.” (Don Miller has a great chapter on morality in “Searching for God Knows What,” and his final chapter on Shakespeare and the Gospel is another appeal for “romantic theology.”) We are far better to invest our energy in helping those around us come to an experience of God rather than promoting righteousness by works. When someone falls in love, everything changes.

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

"the most important and least plugged event of the year"

Report from Wolfgang Simson et al
on the Antioch Gathering..I wanted so bad to be there:


Monday, October 26, 2009

"Say 'goodbye' to the postmodern era"

Fascinating comment,
even more intriguing what event the writer sees as largely having facilitated the change:

"Say 'goodbye' to the postmodern era"

What event did it?
Click to read the article..
He may be right for the wrong reason.

"Luckily, we don't believe in luck. Grace abounds!"

"Luckily, we don't believe in luck. Grace abounds!"
-1 hour,15minute mark ff here

4:40ff here:

4:15 mark here (cool fan video):

adventure and inconvenience

"An adventure is only
an inconvenience rightly considered.
An inconvenience is
an adventure wrongly considered."
- G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

interview with Beth Maynard about U2

book link
Keltic Ken and I interviewed Beth Maynard
for KRDU about the U2 /faith connection.
Full of good stuff, of course..
             like the quote:
                                                              "a recipe for distance."

                                                    Click here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"God is a hacker, not an engineer"

"God is a hacker,
not an engineer"
-Francis Crick

illegal poems and unpolished pesher from Bethesda and Main: some rhyme and some don't

Someone once said:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Some poems rhyme
And some don't.

True of my poems.

Actually, they all rhyme.
Like much of Hebrew poetry, the thoughts rhyme.
Or not.
Or not.


stolen by Your song
seduced by Your scroll
stealthed by Your love
skyjacked into control

until my yes was yes
and the cords were cut
i know the cross has crossed me
spared me; snared me, but...

now i lust to live
inside that surrender-dome
till the Dovetail marks my steps
and the temple smells like home

and i
catch Your dreams
catch Your design
dive unafraid
and take terrain and time

Blood it to me, Jesus
Wrestle me into limp and line
Betray my betrayal
Till i eat only from the vine

resting in restlessness
pilgrimmed into place
flooded by templed fire
amazed by illegal grace

i must stay stolen


understudied and reckless fool
spliced heart laments
staccato bravado
Eucharisting torments

still small in grief
Mourning has broken my record of wrongs
tidal wave offering
strange land , banned songs

immersed by the mystic,
simplexity of trust
Sinai volcano
Seeking one justice; not one is just

testation of forty
daze of wilderness retreats
It is written largely
Adonai slyly defeats

i bought faith.


all i want

hating it
baiting it

waiting to be

unfound by anyone but Messiah Man

dying to be
crying to be
not trying to be
consistently insistently persistently
in the place where He is all

all i want
is to walk on water
to break bread for thousands
to touch the hem and hand it to the world

all i need to get there
safe but not sound
is holy impatience
focused fury
to pray with gentle violence,

"Thy Kingdom come

on earth
on Fulton Mall
on time
on me

in Africa
in hell
in droves
in me.

Gethsemane me, Jesus
Moriah me, Messiah

till i bleed and breathe nothing but You"

i won't wait anymore

it is finished

i walk on water
i heal the sick
i do works of Jesus
or i die

-Inspired by this
Bath at Joel's:
sacked by visigoth locustshame
same subtle-evil tries to trip my style
stylusing shame on my stoneheart
hardly makes a dent

don't know why Jireh feeds me
forgets tresspast,
thwarts abaddons i courted,
unruts and leans me into grace's loom.

Spirited dust repents and is romanced;
Pentecosted frolic.
wet, i sing-dream...
and see.


by the dressed,
i zag towards naked clinging

honesty amens ruthless prayers
commends unsteepled friendship
and shakes a few nations

yank me into my dangerous nest-home
where Dove tails
flags burn
and Kingdom falls


"Temple Tantrum"

building no shibboleths
refusing to recite
betraying dignity-religion,

Paradox only lives to buy your dreams
to honor royal bloodline
compelled he is to gift his dad
Focused fury runs to imago -remnant

you failed entrance exam
language high enough not
Funds insufficient
come in, you 've passed
high fashion illegal in palace
dress code redressed
eye-apples den-robbed

walls apart hide
a partheid
Scratch outfoxed
Center my set

Gracing indiscriminate
overturning priority-pews
Lavish anger, ruthless love
Insistent persistent consistent resistant
for all nations a home-house
To incite romance




pain, and chin shouldered down
delighted and stricken
like a Book, open, bled
torn flesh, torn sky, torn veil

Abba absence, Abba close
forsaken by jailor
justice-lightning; mercy-cloud
romantic sacrifice
as Prince thirsts

holiness tree streched out black
to make holy a clown
naked healing shame
aslan roars
wind pours
swims to farthest seas
no east no west
drowns sin
as i fall down
and live


Finally, with lengua in cheek and in check:

Toma mi corazon, mi querida
Haz esto, y me causa alegria
Toma mi corazon, mi querida
Completo con sangre y arteria.

Friday, October 16, 2009

"Where the hell am I?":What I learned about incarnational ministry from El Monte Slim, Depeche Mode, Joe Walsh and Bono's accidental lie

(Buy the T shirt here, Ironically (as you'll see by the end of the article), one of the companies selling this shirt is owned by Mrs. Bono)

El Monte Slim, the car dealer, was a huckster.

Televangelists...and even pastors who hate televangelism...can also fall into that trap.

Once when El Monte Slim ( a Cheech and Chong character apparently based on Ralph Williams, a SoCal car dealer) was finishing up his commercial, he gave directions to his dealership..which got even him so lost, he ended with "...then get out at the Shell station, and ask the man working there, 'Where the hell am I?!'"

One of our main problems in attempting to be incarnational and contextual is sometimes we don't even know where the hell we are.

It could be that's because the Spirit has blown us where he wills..
But it also could be because we suck at being incarnational.

Or even at being just national.

Itinerant or conference ministry is setup for lying:
"It's good to see you all again."

And when the visiting evangelist does know your name, it might be a Popoff moment; as captured so well by Steve Martin's amazing character in "Leap of Faith"

What I hate most about teaching and retreat speaking, as opposed to pastoring, is not having the ongoing community relationship with the believers who have gathered in your honor.

Even at home, if our home church is larger than a handful, we are vulnerable to what I have called the seduction syndrome (see this), especially regarding sheep in the 22nd pew:

Not long ago, a woman...obviously from a previous (and much larger) church I pastored... came up to me in a store, "Hey, Pastor Dave! Long time, no see! Your sermons absolutely changed my life!"

I was thrilled and honored; but I didn't have the heart to tell her the whole truth:

Not only did I have no idea of who she was; she had no inkling that I would not know.

We both knew we had never had a face-to-face conversation; that was not the issue. But in a larger church (too large for the senior pastor to know everyone's name), there is the "Johnny Carson" syndrome at work. Carson was swamped by people whenever he went out in public who called him by first name; after all he was in their bedroom every night (via "The Tonight Show"). The false intimacy that dogs media stars can be even more damaging in the church context.

I could tell the woman would be crushed if I admitted I had no idea who she was...most likely a quiet there-every-Sunday "22nd pew" saint; but I had no memory of ever seeing her. The default church culture automatically attributes omniscience to the senior pastor (He or she will not
only know my name, but know wne I am in the hospital, etc.) .

Of course this is impossible with thousands, even hundreds of attenders; but as skewed and doomed as this expectation is, it is originally based on a basic biblical truth: shepherds are supposed to know their sheep; even call them by name. Jesus flatly calls any other kind a thief.

Having good friends both in Peru and Chile, I'll never forget the first time I stumbled in the fact that that is one thick border. Just try to enter into a debate about which country makes the best Pisco sours!

So I certainly have compassion on Dave Gahan's gaffe the other's a version of the pastor's nightmare (even down to the level of "calling the sheep by name,"..... but by the wrong name:
Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan slipped up onstage this week, by thanking the wrong country during a recent show in Peru. The band who were playing Peru's capital Lima on Tuesday (October 13) finished the gig with frontman Dave Gahan shouting "Thank you very much, Chile!" to 30,000 screaming fans. The slip was particularly embarrassing since Peru and Chile are historical enemies, with a dispute between the neighbouring countries dating back to a 1879-84 war.

Years ago, my friend took me to a Joe Walsh concert. Walsh, known for his sense of humor (and prophetic sarcasm about the life of a celebrity) said with a wink, "We're all from Connecticut; it's good to be home." He knew he could get a huge cheer..but the catch is, people believed him.

I wonder if Bono has a cheat sheet in front of him, so he knows where he is each night. He certainly goes out of his way to speak to the city...and the spiritual principalities of each city..see this..

I can't imagine him thanking the wrong city, or nation.
(But Bono's quote at the end of this moving recent article was a good reminder).

All I remember him saying to contextualize in Sacramento in 2001 (though I hear some powerful "fall on your knees" prophecy to Sacramento embedded in the video of "Beautiful Day" here..a t3:33-4:00 ) was:

"We have not been this way before. How do you like Sacramento, The Edge?"

Edge gave a thumbs up sign, and of course the hometown crowd exploded.

But here's the catch:

They played there..same 1992!
Here's video of the whole concert to prove it.
I bet somewhere in that video he says something like:

"We have not been this way before. How do you like Sacramento, The Edge?"

"Where the hell am I, Jesus?" may be the only prayer we have.
Or need.

No redemption without incarnation.
No incarnation, or nation, without going local.

No clue as to where we are without all the above.

Thanks to Cheech and Chong for teaching me to pray.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Colbert on the Cross

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Symbol-Minded
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore

Fun theory

You've heard of
string theory,
game theory etc..
...the "theory of everything"...

..there's even "theory theory,"
...hmm, that sounds practical, too........
Karl Marx was right (theoretically).

All have great relevance for navigating church and culture shift..

So..How about "fun theory,"
as in the videos below, brought to you by these folks/volks..
More on the theory of the clips here, but I would watch the clips first.
(Steve Sjogren was right again)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Of the world, but not in it"

At 4:00 p.m. on this Friday afternoon , T Bone Burnett met with a crowd of about 100 people in the auditorium of Calvin College's Fine Art Center to discuss the role of the Christian artist in society, and his own music. Burnett made a few brief comments and then fielded questions from the crowd for nearly an hour-and-a-half as he sipped a Pepsi One. In the past, Burnett has gone on record as being very critical of the American church and his opening comments seemed to head in that direction. He talked about a letter Jerry Falwell had written to the Los Angeles Times several months ago criticizing President Clinton for not being genuinely repentant for the recent scandals. T-Bone then read a letter he had written in response to Falwell. It was full of frustration and anger at the faction of the church represented by the likes of Falwell and Pat Robertson.
As he continued to talk, it soon became very evident that T-Bone is not self-righteous in his anger or sarcastic merely for the sake of being sarcastic. This is a man who has a deep love of God and is concerned about the direction the American church, or the E-Church as he called it, is heading in. (The E-Church is the Evangelical Church, The Electronic church, the church that packages Jesus for consumption by the masses.) As he sees it, the E-Church and its media have compromised with evil in their political/publicity campaign and become a fountain of despair. It has twisted Jesus' words around and become and an institution of the world, but not in the world.
The church should instead be a source of grace, hope, mercy, redemption and peace. It is to this aim that T-Bone seeks to live his life. "For the last 20 hears I have been endeavoring to truly be in the world but not of the world. But I'm horribly of the world and I screw up," he admitted, and added later, "We are Christians because we are redeemed." He also commented, "People like myself, Bruce Cockburn, Bono and Bob Dylan have tried to bring love and perspective and Christ to people who can't hear Jerry Falwell."
..A while later he noted, "I don't believe there's such a thing as Christian music. All I know about the Christian music business is that they ask you `Are you doing this for the Lord?'.... which means they don't want to pay you."
...Later, at his concert, he finished with "You Are My Darkness," an answer song to "You Are My Sunshine."*

*"You are my darkness / I crawl through you / feeling my way / to no light." link

Does God Hate the God Particle..

..and does the future invade the present?

See one theory about the Large Hadron Collider

Sunday, October 11, 2009

church as people, not place

About "church" being people, never a place:
Wanted to repost this from the "Ask Dave" page of our church website, but reformatted so easier to follow.
Someone sent in this question several years ago:

You wrote: "The word 'church' is not used in Bible for a building or a Sunday gathering. So to emphasize this, we try not to say 'at church,' for example, because we are the church. "

Do not take this wrong... I am trying to learn all that is possible. You used the above sentence. I am trying to learn why... Yes I know each person is the ultimate church or should be. Yet to have a regular spot such as a "temple" or "building" seems to have been what is being said in the Scriptures below:

1)Yes I understand in the below that Peter IS the rock... but what did Peter do and build?
Matthew 16:18 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 18:15-17 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Acts 5:11-12 1 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. 12 The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade. The outer courts were enclosed by magnificent colonnades. Along the east side of the outer court ran what was called Solomon's Colonnade; it was here that Jesus was seen walking during the Feast of the Dedication (Hanukkah) and teaching the multitudes.

Joel 2:17 17 "Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the temple porch and the altar.
2)Question::" Was the 'temple, porch, altar' expressly denied by Jesus.. forbidden by Him?

One last thought. "Church" by it's pure definition means:
[Old English cir(i)ce , from a prehistoric Germanic word that is also the ancestor of German Kirche; ultimately from Greek kuriakon doma “house of the lord,” from kurios “lord”].

A scoffer's reply to some of your statements (about not saying "in church") might be: "Funny, Jesus used that term (church) several times while on planet earth...I thought He liked it."

Dave, just hit me over the head and point me in the right direction.

-(Name not included)

I certainly love you too much to hit you over the head. Actually, I would love it if all disciples had a 'head" like yours to ask just the right, intelligent and necessary questions. You have done so, and I certainly take no offense, only offer thanksgiving that we have a chance to explore these deep things together. Here we go. I could hope every Christian was as deep a thinker and as profound a wrestler after truth!

I do stand by my quote in your first paragraph, though I do recognize that I tend to make blanket statements for shock value sometimes, but that is only intended to "shock" us into how radical are the ways of Jesus, and how radically we have misunderstood terms like 'church." I had no intent of implying there was anything wrong with gathering publicly with other believers in a place.
But, no, in light of your comment in the second paragraph, it is NOT what the Scriptures you cite are suggesting, that "to have a regular spot such as a "temple" or "building" seems to have been what is being said in the Scriptures below." To have such a place and space is not in and of itself a problem (though we can sure trust too much in a "sacred spot"), but every text you quoted actually are the among the choicest texts to evidence the opposite case: that "church" is never defined in Scripture as "place," but always "people."
Let's dive into the Matthew text, with your quote and question to help frame us.

You said:

Matthew 16:18: And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church...").
Yes I understand in the below that Peter IS the rock... but what did Peter do and build?

Short answer: He built people.

But notice, his temptation, like ours, was to build a literal building when he didn't need to.
Remember on the Mount of Transfiguration, he said, "Lord, this is such a great place to be. Let's build a building to worship fact, let's build three." (Mark 9:5) In the very next verse, though, it is revealed that Peter only proposed this "building program" out of fear and an (in Howard Snyder's clever coinage) "edifice complex."
I know the Catholic tradition that Peter probably built some literally buildings later in his life, after becoming pope. Even if it is true that he eventually did so, it cannot be what Jesus was speaking about in this passage. First of all, since "church" is never a building in the Bible, he didn't mean any literal building. And secondly, Jesus said HE would do the actual building. But back to the top: Peter, like his Lord, built people..built them up.
In predicting that He Himself would build His church, Christ didn't mean literally building anything, since he obviously never built a building, and no serious Bible scholar would even imply that He did. He meant building "spiritually" His believing people.
The word "church" Jesus is quoted as using is the Greek "ekklesia" which means literally "called-out ones (people)" and has nothing to do with a literal building or place . No one in their wildest imagination who knew Greek would ever associate the word with a building. This brings up of course, your quoting the Old English, German word for church, translating "house of the Lord". To use an English and German definition for a word that the Bible defines in Greek can be very misleading. The idea of "house" is nowhere in the definition of the biblical word for "church". The European and American church has truly and tragically tripped up using definitions from their own languages, even though we all know the Bible was written in Koine Greek.
Your cited definition also quotes a Greek word "kuriokon doma", "house of the Lord". True, that is in fact Greek, and that is a fair way to translate it, but the point is that word is NOT in any instance the word used for "church" in the Bible. It is always "ekklesia", which again can only mean "called out people."
"Where is a house that You can build for me? There is none, says the Lord." (Note this Scripture is actually an OLD Testament one, Isaiah 66:1..amazing!)
Wolfgang Simson is profoundly articulate and prophetically accurate
(It's nice to be able to quote someone who says what you are trying to say, only says it BETTER) when he issues the following clamant call:

"From the time of the New Testament, there is no such thing as 'a house of God.' At the cost of his life, Stephen reminded us: God does not live in temples made with human hands. The church is the people of God. "
Source: page xvii of "Houses That Change the World", also found here on this website on the "Risky Reading"

And note 1 Cor 3:9: "You, God's people, are God's building."

Of course the church (=people) is called to gather in Solomon's colonnade, in homes(see, for example, Colossians 4:14: "the church that meets at her house"), and in other gatherings; but, on a very important technicality, that place is not "church." That is the church (that is, called-out people) gathering as the church. as in 1 Cor. 14:23 "when the whole church comes together."
As you know, most New Testament letters are addressed to "the church in Ephesus" or "the church in Corinth," or whatever city is involved. Paul obviously didn't write letters to buildings. So Matthew 18:17,"Tell it to the church," obviously means tell it to the church (Christians) when they are gathered as the church (not when they are "in church.").
You said,
"Peter IS the rock."

Well, we need to park there a minute, and closely examine that assumption. Bear with me. Peter the rock? Maybe that's what Jesus meant. But not necessarily. Jesus did not say, as He could have, "Peter, you are the rock." He said instead, "You are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church." When Jesus spoke here, he was using a pun and play on words: "Peter" in the biblical language is "Petros", the word for "small rock or pebble." The word he used for "Rock" is almost identical ("petra"0, but this definition is decidedly different; it's the term for a large rock. So He says, "You are a little rock, and on this big Rock I will build my church."
He did not say, "on you, Peter(Petros)," because He used the other word for rock(petra).
It is not dogmatically clear what Jesus was referring to when he said "on this rock".
Here are the main options/interpretation:

1)by 'on this rock', He meant Peter (this is the Catholic position: that thereby Peter is the first pope).
2)by "on this rock" he meant the confession of faith that Peter just proclaimed ("You are the Christ".(verse16) that the "rock" to build the church on is the rock-solid confession that" Jesus is the Christ."
3)a combination of 1 and 2
4) when He said "this Rock" , He meant Himself and maybe literally pointed to Himself. In other words, "I tell you, Peter, that you are a small rock. But on this Big Rock (Me, Jesus), I will build.."
5) a completely different interpretation, which I'll work on explaining later (just don't want to get too far off the main point at hand).

Working against interpretation #1 is the fact that no individual..Peter or any individual is the rock/cornerstone. only Jesus(1 Pet 2:4-8 and Eph 2:20).

"What did Peter do and build?", you ask.
Note, Jesus said that HE (Jesus) not Peter or anyone else would build the church. But Peter was a leader..who, along with other leaders, allowed Jesus through them to build up His people, the church.
In the New Testament,. the "temple" is now us:
1 Cor 3:16: "You are God's temple" .
2 Cor 6:16: "We are now the temple of the living God."
Eph 2:21: "The church people rise up to be God's temple."
Acts 17:24: "I, God, no longer dwell in temples made and built by human hands."
The Lord couldn't be more clear. Yes, the early believer still sometimes went to the temple, while it was still standing (Acts 3:1), but if we had asked any one of them what they meant by the word "church," it would not even cross any of their minds to mention a building. There is no such thing as a "church building" built until hundreds of years from this gospel.

Regarding your question #2:

"Was the temple, porch, altar" (quoted from Joel) expressly denied by Jesus...?.

Again, an excellent and vital question. I think in a sense the simple, but too simplistic, answer is "yes, " but a more correct and nuanced answer is that He totally transformed the definition, tenor and application of these terms in the current New Covenant. He Himself has literally and spiritually fulfilled these Scriptures. So their Old Testament pattern being seen as normative for today is quite expressly "denied", though you have noticed I have chosen other more positive terms.

This passage from Joel is obviously an Old Testament command regarding patterns of worship. So yes, it has been quite clearly superceded. That's precisely what the New Testament book of Hebrews is about. It speaks so often of the "new and better way"! We now have a "better hope" (7:19), a "better covenant (7:22), "better promises: (8:6), "better sacrifices than the old ones" (9:23), a 'better word" (12:24).
Now, in the New Testament, we (after and under High and Ultimate Priest, Jesus) are the priests,
(Rev 1:6, Rev 5:10 spell this out), and we no longer need a literal, physical porch and altar to approach God. (Note, I am not saying there is anything inherently wrong with a place where believers meet for worship; of course not. But there is something inherently and tragically wrong in thinking we need a place to reach and worship God).

Hebrews 9:11-14 proclaims boldly that now that Christ has made His sacrifice "once and for all," The temple way of doing worship is abolished forever. "Jesus 'SETS ASIDE' the old way of doing worship to establish and inaugurate the new way" (Heb 9:9). I capitalized "set aside" to dovetail with your question about "expressly forbidding." It sounds like He did indeed in essence forbid it; if No One less than Jesus has "set something aside," I don't want to "go there". King James is stronger than the NIV I have quoted: "He TAKES AWAY the first system." Living Bible: "He CANCELS the first system." Revised Standard: "He ABOLISHES the old system.." Strong, and strongly needed words.

"The law is only a shadow of the good things that have come. not the realities themselves, " according to Hebrews 10:1. Such is "the old way of worship which can never forgive sins." So yes, Jesus did forbid the "temple, porch, altar" way of worship because in God's own words, it is not even "reality."!!
There is no longer in the Old Testament, literal sense, a place between the porch and altar. Remember when the curtain in the literal temple was torn in two when Jesus died? That meant the temple system of worship, of needing a human priest to mediate was over forever. And to revert or backslide into that system as our ultimate means and trust would be what the Bible expressly calls
throughout the book of Hebrews a "danger," "peril." I m not saying, you (the one who asked this fine question) are doing that; just clarifying why the implications of a correct answer are so terribly significant.

Finally, an answer to your scoffer:

"Funny, Jesus used that term ( church) several times while on planet earth...I thought he liked it."

Well, scoffer, contrary to popular opinion. even the opinions of many non-scoffers...Jesus did not, by a long shot, use the term "church" several times.

He only used it. shock..TWICE during His entire earthly ministry
(Both passages were discussed above: Matt. 16:18 and 18:17, and both clearly show that He never meant a "place" but "people"). Slim pickings! However, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he liked (and loved) the word "church". because the church is His people! "Christ loved the church, and gave Himself completely for the church." (Ephesians 5:25).

Hope this helps. Blessings again for your keen question. It enabled me to focus my own thinking. And I still refuse to hit you over the head! (:


"a man ought to say..."

"A man really ought to say,
‘The resurrection happened 2000 years ago’
in the same spirit in which he says,
‘I saw a crocus yesterday.’"



“A man really ought to say, ‘The Resurrection happened 2000 years ago’ in the same spirit in which he says, ‘I saw a crocus yesterday.’ Because we know what is coming behind the crocus. The spring comes slowly down this way; the great thing is that the corner has been turned. There is, of course, this difference, that in the natural spring the crocus cannot choose whether it will respond or not. We can. We have the power either of withstanding the spring, and sinking back into the cosmic winter, or of going on into those ‘high mid-summer pomps’ in which our leader, the Son of Man, already dwells, and to which he is calling us. It remains with us to follow or not, to die in this winter, or to go into that spring and that summer.”
-P. 208, here

Friday, October 09, 2009

Leitourgia, Leitmotif, Porn Stars and the Drowning Man

nCheck this list, and see if it is "church," or church as it should be, in your book and experience:
  • the sense of any divide between the sacred/secular is demolished and exposed as a psuedo-Christian lie
  • a group of people become something they were not as a mere collection of individuals through a deliberate process evoking a corporate connection
  • a promise of ultimate fulfillment is rendered perceptible to the senses
  • the world is done the way it ought to be done [justice is enacted],
  • and people are engaged in a way that helps them offer up the totality of their uncensored lives and selves -Beth Maynard, link

I love this list for several reasons:
It captures most U2 concerts (which is the point of Beth's post), for one..

But it does beautifully articulate what we of third day fresno hope people encounter among us.
But Beth also makes an excellent point: that "church," while not intrinsically and completely the "wrong word," is not the best word for this experience... even when it happens "in church."

She offers the word leitourgia. Here is a link to the word's history and meaning, but I would love to hear Beth define it. Obviously, you see the word "liturgy" in there..but it's deeper, wider, and more multiplex than that.

[These are the] 5 characteristics of leitourgia as set forth by a cluster of recent liturgical theologians (David Fagerberg, Alexander Schmemann, Aidan Kavanaugh, and Peter Fink)...I did this in deliberate contradistincton to the popular "church" metaphor -- which I don't think is all bad, but has significant potential for misprision and category mistakes.

Though I have not seen the band yet this tour, I have been missing the "homiletical plot"
That word, too, is too evangelical about leitourgical leitmotif? (:
Many have been blogging about this, including those who have seen the show.
I guess I am coming to terms with it (Here is one post of me talking myself into it, anyway).
That some don't see a problem, and see a metamessage to the liturgiconcert...even sensing it is am "opera"...hmm, is that the hermenutical key?) is fine I guess..

But like Beth,
I am holding out some hope:
on some level, I guess I am still hoping that maybe there might still be some developments in this show (future legs?) that can foster the leitourgia experience that is what (unlike many many others, who of course have every right to come for very different reasons) I value most about the band live.
Actually, I'd better
cheat and pray.

Maybe pray that Bono....and our church...reads some
(Gee, I wonder how many of their books are sold at the Christian bookstore).
Or maybe just re-watch The Matrix
with some candles on the TV..

Once a wonderful Presbyterian gentleman visited our Sunday gathering. As we talked afterwards he said, "You know, I am a Presbyterian...but I kind of liked your had no beginning...and it had no end."

I always loved that asessment, and it is helpful..It was a comment on the flow, and the open-endedness of afterglow, after-"benediction" time..the lack of (traditional Presbyterian-style) liturgy..

But it also hits me that we could fall into the trap satirized by this ("Virgin Sacrifices...That's "postmodern" worship!") wonderful "order of worship" from UCF, Syracuse

The call to worship.
Once your coffee is almost cool enough to drink, and you're about halfway done with your bagel, someone will get on the microphone and begin yelling for people to please come sit down so we can get started. Usually this will be Andy or Mary, but other people have been known to take part on occasion as well. Once the shrieking and hollering starts and your friends begin disappearing, it's usually a good time to follow them into the sanctuary. Don't make us turn the lights on and off...
Once all of us have drifted in like sheep, and chair disputes have ended..

The sermon? We'd do a responsive reading as part of it too, except that a lot of people don't read English good like we do.

My questions for Beth et al:

  • What might an increased awareness of look like for an organic, informal tribe like ours? (I have been a UM pastor...even dressed like one...proof.. so I am not new to liturgy..but how to do it in a way that's us is a worthy challenge.
  • Of the five characteristics, which stand out as reshaping us into a more missional, centered-set mindset and "holy wordliness" worldview...and into a less ethnocentric, commercial and modernity-based place? And how so?
  • Related, what does all this mean as we move (literally) into a more "sacred space in public space" location for meetings? Especially towards a relationship with such nontraditional ministries as XXX Church and Jesus Loves Porn Stars?
  • Does missiology precede ecclesiology?

  • When do we get to see (or hear) Beth's full presentation?
PS: Maybe if U2 finally and actually (as threatened) launched out and inserted "Drowning Man" into the liturgical setlist,
all our problems would be solved overnight,
and the Kingdom would come in fullness ! (:

Come on boys, been soundchecked already:

Maybe Plan B would have them cover the new Mountain Goats CD under the Clawthedral?

"No powers determine our lives more completely than..".

"No powers determine our lives more completely than those we think we have under our control."
--Stanley Hauerwas, "God. Medicine, and Suffering," p. x

Google Wave


Google Wave is "a personal communication and collaboration tool" announced by Google at the Google I/O conference on May 27, 2009.[1][2] It is a web-based service, computing platform, and communications protocol designed to merge e-mail, instant messaging, wikis, and social networking.[3] It has a strong collaborative and real-time[4] focus supported by extensions that can provide, for example, robust spelling/grammar checking, automated translation between 40 languages,[2] and numerous other extensions.[4] Initially released only to developers, a "preview release" of Google Wave has been extended to about 100,000 users on September 30, 2009

Only Bob Hyatt is on so far?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Mountain Goat Midrash: How have I missed these guys?

This is NOT what I was expecting when I saw the clip heading from Colbert:

"The Mountain Goats perform 'Psalms 40:2' from the new album, "'The Life of the World to Come.'"

I was just interested that another group (besides the obvious..hello?) had a song on that Psalm..
But it sounded like it would be  pretty southern gospel/Gaitheresque..

Not quite my cup of crack.

But how about this lyric:

left that place in ruin
drunk on the Spirit and high on fumes
checked into a Red Roof inn
stayed up for several hours and then slept like infants
in the burning fuselage of my days
Let my mouth be ever fresh with praise

That's Psalm 40:2, isn't it?
And note: every song on the current album is titled by just a Scripture reference
(except for the last song, which adds a bit: "Ezekiel 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace") and the lyrics are well..
check this link...pomo midrash.

(Here's a Pitchfork article:
"The Story Behind the Mountain Goats' Biblical New LP"

And if you think this album might be their token Godhaunted album, here's BeliefNet's take on the previous release.

Who ARE these guys?

Well, like the Violet Burning, it turns out to be one guy (John Darnielle) and the latest players who rally around his genius and accompany his prayers.

Here's the psalm:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Mountain Goats - Psalms 40:2
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore

Some great quotes of course, about the Bible etc. in the interview, especially the grand biblical tradition of "cheerful desolation"  and 'shaking your fist at God""

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
John Darnielle
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore

(I can't always get the embed code from Colbert's site to work, but I lifted it from this site.
Full episode
here , interview and song 14:39ff)

By the way, when is Colbert going to have the other Psalm 40 band on his show? It's obvious.

Psalms 40:2
pull off the highway in missouri
although our hearts were heavy laden
made for the chapel with some spray paint for all the things we held in secret
lord life up these lifeless bones
light cascading through the windows
all the rainbows heavy tones
he has fixed his sign in the sky
he has raised me from the pit and set me high

left that place in ruin
drunk on the Spirit and high on fumes
checked into a red roof inn
stayed up for several hours and then slept like infants
in the burning fuselage of my days
let my mouth be ever fresh with praise

he has fixed his sign in the sky
he has raised me from the pit and set me high
each morning new
each day shot through
with all the sharp small shards of shrapnel
that seem to burst out of me and you

head down toward kansas
we will get there when we get there don't your worry
feel bad about the things we do along the way
but not really that bad
we inhaled the frozen air
Lord send me a mechanic
if i'm not beyond repair

he has fixed his sign in the sky
he has raised me from the pit and he will set me high

I like being around it. I like being able to catch some of the energy, whatever I can or can't believe. I think there's something to be said for it. Despite the fact that most Christian denominations, politically, are about twenty million miles from where I want to be. ....If you're into music, you're into religion, somehow or another. Religion, that's the bloodline of music. The whole reason, I'm pretty sure, we have music on notation is to preserve chant-- to transcribe what was going on, which we're singing in order to describe the experience the divine. So there is that connection, which is part of the big appeal, to me, of churches-- that there's always something musical going on in there. That is making what to me is a pretty obvious connection between whatever we want to call divine and music, which seems permanently and inextricably bound.
-John Darnielle