Monday, November 30, 2009

weigh in: Did The Father Forsake Jesus On The Cross?

As you can see by clicking the question below,

"Did The Father Forsake Jesus On The Cross?"

Steve McVey gave a one-word answer (with commentary) to one of the million dollar questions.
Since his opinion is (surprisingly) the minority opinion, it is worth wrestling with.
And in the spirit of Ole Anthony's great article,
Truths I Couldn't Find in Church,
and the classic expose by "The Jersey Girl Among the Georgia Peaches"...

feel free to
question what we learned in USAmerican Sunday School and seminary.

In a book that our churchthing started wrestling with Sunday, Tim Chester suggests
that the other and opposite one-word answer to the same question is inevitable based on the doctrine of the Trinity:

"The abandonment of Jesus by humanity is eclipsed by his abandonment by God..That God should be divided from God only makes sense if God is a trinitarian community. Only if there is some distinction within God could it ever be possible for God to be forsaken by God"
-Chester, "Delighting in the Trinity", p. 61

Hmm, strikes me that that argument could..maybe used for the OTHER answer..
something Larry Mullen helps me think about:see 1:15-2:24 here in this video. The part about "It's been a long relationship, and based on some very deep things, and Bono is probably the only person in the world who could really hurt me, and I'd be able to say 'It's okay, that's fine. I can deal with it" always got me. But though the analogy doesn't quite perfectly work for teh inter-trinitarian relationship, it does enlighten.

So, weigh in with your working answer.
Even if it's a nuanced"yes and no".
Not sure I answered the question myself in my sermon called

"The Lord Be With You..,,.Even When He’s Not!"

...but I like the paradox of the title, anyway.

You always love me too much

Many fans consider "Mercy" the best U2 song on "How to Dismantle.."

But mercilessly, it got cut last minute.

Man, between this song and the other classic that was relegated to a hidden track on the Japanese release("Fast Cars," previously recorded as "Xanax and Wine"), what wild and wonderful prayers.

Yeah, you read that right.

Of course Bono himself in interviews and in song lyrics (in yet another dropped song, "Always", ) invites us to "turn each song into a prayer." Yet this can be done too cheaply and cheesily.
But here it works creatively and counterintuitively..

How so? Experiment.
Test drive it as prayer in progress, and in process.

All prayer is.

The lyric may feel orthodox in an unorthodox way. Or the other way around.

All prayers may be such.

Some lines will be more obvious than others..
but especially the more obtuse and unobvious ones work well, and ring/wring true.

A few clues from the lexicon:

- it has been suggested that the rarely resorted to "Baby" (or "Sugar") often translates to "God" (as in "Ultraviolet") in U2ese. Of course, it doesn't take detective work to realize "Love" reads "God."...

-As often in 'real' prayer, the lines move and morph from the praying one speaking to God speaking... at interesting times.

-capitalize the pronouns if it helps: "We're binary code, a One and a zero/You wanted violins, and You got Nero."

Besides, don't you wonder if anyone has never wailed "what's the use of religion" or complained to/thanked God that "You love me too much" has ever really prayed?

Enjoy. Here's a "devotional" of sorts on the song, if you like...but see how it works and speaks to/speaks for/speaks through you.


I was drinking some wine and it turned to blood
What's the use of religion if you're any good
I know I'm weed killer, honey, and you're sugar
If you're the prosecution I get away with murder
If you were ice, I'm water

And with your telescope I can see further
We're binary code, a one and a zero
You wanted violins and you got Nero
You're gravity searching for the ground
You're silence searching for a sound
Your heart is aching, your heart is my home
It's fascinating, I know Ill never be alone

I'm ripping the stitches
We've got two hands to rub
I'm digging the ditches
Of someone else's love

Love heals when I lie
Love puts the blue back in my eye
Love will come again
I'll be gone again

If you hunger, baby let me feed it
If your heart is full, baby let me bleed it
And happiness is for those who don't really need it
You love me too much
You always love me too much

When I was ripping the stitches
We've got two hands to rub
I'm digging the ditches
Of someone else's luck

Love heals when I lie
Love puts the blue back in my eye
Love has come again
I am gone again

Love has got to be with the weak
Only then love gets a chance to speak
Love will come again
I'll be gone again

I, I can't escape myself
I'll hear you talk
Fear nothing
I fear nothing
How can someone fear nothing
How can someone fear nothing

Love is come again
I am gone again
Love is the end of history
The enemy of misery

Love is come again
I am gone again
Love is justice, not charity
Love brings with it a clarity
Love is come again
I'm alive again
I am alive
Baby, I'm born again
And again and again and again
And again and again

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Galilee song

I love the Sea of Galilee.
As you can see from my late night walk there (00:23-51), one can even find McDonald's
and pygmie horse rides there
Not quite the pastoral image you had in mind from the gospels?
But as you can see by my early morning walk with my daughter
one can also find a prayer walker, unashamedly singing praises (I don't know in what language..folks from 20o nations were at our conference) to soundtrack and serenade us as we adopt a Hebew-speaking kitten.

That song (don't have much of it here) has ministered to me ever since.
Thank you.

"You saved me when You came alive.." Foo Fighters for Church

Video by Chaplain Tim Barrett


Engaging Orthodoxy

Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace:

Rob Bell on Revelation and Domitian

Finally got the video (previous post, info on Domitian Games here):

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NT Wright on social media/cultural masturbation

Wow, am I impressed. I thought coined the term "cultural masturbation" in this 2006 post..(:

But obviously no one less than NT Wright was reading. (:
He uses the term in this new video about social networking and blogging:

NT Wright on Blogging/Social Media from Bill Kinnon on Vimeo.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Through the River

Some saw my Facebook/Twitter status as a joke, and some interpreted it as a real question.
Of course both were partly right.

It was:

“How do we know
what we know
what we know about epistemology?”

(add your wise answers and wisecracks here)

No, I am not much for
“Woke up and went #1. Good color today.”

Not only am fascinated by epistemology, but that Facebooked question is just the kind I should have asked Paul Hiebert....the late Mr. Epistemology himself, at least in theological anthropology/ missiology circles.

(I spent an amazing, mind-expanding week with Dr. Hiebert once in New Haven, but I don’t think any of us students asked the master that exact question…).

I later came to love Hiebert’s book, “Missiological Implications of Epistemological Shift.
(reviews and links):

This book explores the question of epistemology, or theory of knowledge, and its impact upon how we view and do missions in today's world.

What must a new convert know or believe? How do they know? How can we translate and communicate Christian teachings interculturally without distorting the message? How should we do missions in an anti-colonial, postmodern era characterized by religious relativism and accusations of Christian imperialism?

In struggling with these questions, Paul Hiebert focuses on the epistemological foundations that underlay them. He examines three specific theories of knowledge--positivism, instrumentalism/idealism, and critical realism. In the end he sides with the latter because it avoids the arrogance and colonialism implicit in positivism and the relativism of instrumentalism/idealism.

Critical realism, Hiebert argues, strikes a kind of middle ground between the emphasis upon objective truth and the subjective nature of human knowledge. It allows for a real world that exists independently from human perceptions and opinions of it, restores emotions and moral judgments as essential parts of knowing, and creates the conditions for knowing persons intimately and as fully human--all of the which have important implications for Christian mission in the modern world.

(Back cover)

But I must admit I loved and understood the title more (I am a sucker for every key word there) than I did the deep truths of that somewhat dry, dense academic book. But at least I made a photo-op out of it. I guess the motivation behind this photo was to illustrate that we all have truth lenses/worldviews/lenses through which we read the world , ourselves and others (let alone books)…epistemologically speaking…and sometimes (as illustrated by this hip sleepware/eyewear that El Al Airlines gives you on the way to Israel), such can be blinders.

So I was thrilled to hear, through Viral Bloggers, that a young couple (Jon and Mindy Hirst), cofounders of Generous Mind ("a think tank devoted to helping people be generous with their ideas") had published (with Hiebert's participatation and blessing), a popularized version of the book, intended to reach a broader audience.
Called, “Through the River: Understanding Your Assumptions about Truth,” (preview it here) it weaves around a story, a three-pronged parable .

Let me say I like it on several levels..AND it also met some of my low expectations and fears.

But overall, I think it will be a helpful and practical volume for my teaching.

Having watched students reach those life-changing “aha” moments when I teach Leonard Sweet’s model of EPIC shift, or Paul Hiebert’s take on centered sets, or his famous “excluded middle” (which I believe Hiebert himself expressed concern that the model took on a life of its own, and used in ways it was never intended or equipped to do) , I can see potential for using the story of the book in class.

The book weaves a parable, or better yet allegory (even more dangerous) about River Town, in ordere Rock Dwellers (representing positivism), the Island Dwellers (instrumentalism), and the Valley Dwellers (critical realism). Hugely helpful in a way, but ultimately much too simplistic, and not enough nuance around the categories. And they also attempt to equate tje first with modernit, the second with postmodernity. That doesn't/ can't always work.
There is also potential contradiction over whether the second category is inevitably relativistic (72 ,187). Relativity is not relativism......relatively speaking (:

I also share with Steve Heyduck some concerns about (ironic but maybe inevitable) a simplistic overview of philosophy, and the predicatability of the “this model is bad, this one is good" felt a little cheesy.

All this philosophizing may sound meaningless to you, but if you are not familiar with these categories, this book is a good and readable introduction...though one must be aware of the oversimplifications ...which to their credit, the authors seem to admit. Such is the risk of allegory. I applaud the Hirsts for tackling it.

Here's the bottom line, and intended thesis:

Critical realist epistemology {truth lens} strikes a middle ground between positivism, with its emphasis on objective truth, and instrumentalism with its stress on the subjective nature of human knowledge...It affirms the presence of an objective truth but recognizes that this is subjectivelu apprehended"
(p 78, quoting Hiebert)

I do appreciate the discussion of critical realism, with it's emphasis on "the truth we know and the truth we are learning " , intention over letter of the law (170)...and the example of E. Stanley Jones as critical realist (179) was insightful. Nice job translating to laypeople's language. The case study on how the three Dwellers tackle divorce also opens windows to understanding.

Recommended, with the concerns and limitations noted. And for me, it will serve as a springboard back into the source. Now I can really read and respond to Hiebert's book.
That means the Hirsts goal has been reached. Kudos.

My fear about his book is that Hiebert himself operated partly out of a positivist approach (while claiming critical realist view)
and unnecessarily demonized an instrumentalized approach. I will be intrigued to reread and comment on all that.

I might even find my Facebook status question will be addressed in his volume.
But how will I know when I know that it is answered? (:

But first it's off to watch Colbert lecture on truthiness...That might answer all my questions.

Or question all my answers.

David Crowder and Todd Rundgren Do Church Music

By the way,

David Crowder is a friend of mine...

Yes, I agree with many reviewers that David Crowder Band's new "Church Music" is amazing, and a keeper...whether it will keep as long as "A Colission" remains to be seen.

What I long for on it is more creative, and not as predictable, lyrics. I know he can do it, but I am not sure my complaint is valid..he likely is doing straight up worship lyrics because he is supposed to. Of course, the negative spin on this is, as Patrol magazine was brave enough to say, the band is “wedded to the humdrum contemporary-worship form.”

But who am I to want a Michael Knott twist in every other song, when Ryan (who has opened up for Michael Knott and knows his good music) likes it...and when songs like this below transport me into the heavenlies, even if (because?) I can predict the next line:

The electronica on the album works well, as does the non step seguing of songs. Those two elements recall for me another candidate in some peoples books as one of the best abums of all time, Todd Rundgren's 1973 "A Wizard, A True Star,"....though of course that disc is not "Christian," and carries an explicit lyrics warning.

Which is perhaps precisely why I would love it if Crowder had thrown in a bit of a Rundgren wrench into the worship mix!

But do I really want:
"Earthquake in New York City
The Chrysler building fell in my yard
But when the s*^# hits the fan,
I've got to find my way back t0 Sunset Boulevard

on a Crowder worship album?

Why not? Isn't that canonical and kosher "church music"?

And how about a hidden track cover of "Is it My Name" with it's prophetic/pathetic line:
"You only love me for my machine"?

That would work well.
Who cares if it sells on CCM?

Hey, one song on "Wizard" even mentions prayer and the Golden's ready for Chrisian radio.

And this:

Another virgin mary, another case is shut
Have another helping, prime cut of baby's butt
A sip of holy water, a shot of saving grace
Another western mystic, the words pore out my face
("Just Another Onionhead"

Oh, it just hit me, too. The lyrics on BOTH albums can seem a bit throwaway.
Maybe they're both profound..underneath the surface.

Maybe both albums are versions of U2's "Pop" both musically and lyrically.

Rundgren's bizarre, campy album ( Patti Smith's (R rated) review is a fascinating read) was perhaps the only way he could follow up to "Something/.Anything," which many consider the definitive pop album of all time.
In light of that juxtaposition, some see "AWATS" as a throwaway/novelty album , some see as sheergenius.. I thought it was a bit of both when I first heard it in the 70s.

My verdict still stands.

No doubt how Barney Hoskyns ( Mojo magazine) feels:

"Sometimes," Todd Rundgren sang, "I don't know what to feel." But sometimes you do know what to feel. And right now I feel like saying what I've contended for many years, which is that Rundgren's A Wizard, A True Star is simply The Greatest Album Ever Made.

You heard me right, pardner. Better than Pet Sounds. Better than OK Computer. Certainly better than Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Farts Dub Band. An album of vaulting ambition - of wizardry and true stardom - released into an unsuspecting world by a contrary, super-precocious wonderboy who should have been the biggest thing to happen in the '70s but who was just too complex and polymorphous for lasting pop success.

A Wizard, A True Star came out 35 years ago but still sounds more bravely futuristic than any ostensibly cutting-edge electro-pop being made in the 21st Century. A dizzying, intoxicating rollercoaster ride of emotions and genre mutations, the album was substantially the work of Rundgren himself, pieced together in late 1972 at his own Secret Sound studio on NYC's West 24th Street.

Barney Hoskyns for Mojo

Here's a helpful review from

Something/Anything? Purists Be Damned,
By Samhot (Star Land) -

I'm sure many fans who know and love Todd Rundgren think that _Something/Anything?_ is his definitive (and best) musical statement. Well, if you worship Rundgren based only on that side of his musical personality, you'll probably want to walk the opposite direction of _A Wizard, A True Star_, which may be considered sheer musical blasphemy. _Something/Anything?_ was mostly an accessible (but diverse) pop/r&b/rock record, with the occasional 'bizarre' tune. However, on this outing, Todd dives head-neck-shoulders-torso-legs (you get the idea) into sheer outrageousness.

Almost everything about _A Wizard, A True Star_ is unconventional. Aside from the malleable genre-plowing and bizarre musical soundscapes, a large percentage of the disc (mainly the first half) contains many 1-minute tracks that flow seamlessly into the other - making this seem like a short 'best of' sampler. But, don't let these rather 'short' time-lengths fool you - this album is a rich, gargantuan slice of audio schizophrenia, which requires 'close' listening - possibly with a good pair of headphones. There are so many subtle complexities buried beneath the hyperactive surface, you can miss out on some aspects that bring out the 'life' of this album - as well as missing out on some truly enriching experiences. However, for the fan of Todd's 'accessible' side, there are a few of those nuggets to be found here...

...A very powerful album - complex, trippy, cerebral, futuristic, original and unexpectedly moving. _A Wizard, A True Star_ may not be what many fans originally wanted from Todd Rundgren, but he made an album that exhibits talent and prophecy, which arguably sounds ageless - given it was released in 1973. Highly recommended to progressive rock fans, as well as those who have a taste for mind-altering, adventurous and/or challenging music.

-Review by Samhot,

And interestingly...maybe inevitably...Rundgren is currently (2009) on tour, performing the entire AWATS album for the first time ever..
Rundgren explains below how it came about, but part of the answer is renewed interest in the kind of electronic techno vibe that TR helped invent almost forty years ago:

How about a double bill with Crowder and Rundgre, since both band are already on the road?
Surety some Christian promoter will be brave enough to jump on it..


..and besides, it would be worth it to see Rundgren and Crowder singing along to this as the encore:

I still want U2 to open up, playing all of "Pop"..but with the Clawthedral.

Bonus below! Rundgren discussing "Music, Technology and Risk-Taking" , as the 2009 DePauw's Ubben Lecture:

And an interview with (" I'm not a Christian and I am not a materialist")
Rundgren here" (PDF). See also "The Spiritual Journey of Todd Rundgren. Part One"
and Part Two.

"Thank God for Evolution" (MIchaelDowd)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eno on story

"There is now an almost total disconnection between the validity of a story
and its media success.
If it's a good enough--or convenient enough--story,
it will echo eternally around the media universe....
The result is diminished accountability of almost every level of public discourse,
and a burgeoning industry of professional Swiftboaters...
Changing our minds is our hope for the future.”
-Brian Eno (yes, THAT Eno, U2 fans...He's also the one who predicted YouTube in 1991) , from the introduction of the book below, p. xxii

From Google Books:

Book overview

"What Have You Changed Your Mind About?: Today's Leading Minds Rethink Everything"

By John Brockman/Brian Eno

Even geniuses change their minds sometimes.

Edge (, the influential online intellectual salon, recently asked 150 high-powered thinkers to discuss their most telling missteps and reconsiderations: What have you changed your mind about? The answers were brilliant, eye-opening, fascinating, sometimes shocking, and certain to kick-start countless passionate debates.

Monday, November 16, 2009


shimmering, vulnerable, evocative, provocative : my amazon review of The Violet Burning's "Strength"

My amazon review of The Violet Burning's "Strength":

It is absolutely unbelievable that this review of mine is apparently the first and only (so far) Amazon customer review of what is widely recognized as not only a beautiful and seminal classic, but even the first modern worship album (and a decade ahead of its time, to boot).

Since it's a 1992 album that has gone through seasons of being out of print, I can only guess this is a new listing on amazon.

Or..because I belong to it, I guess I forget  how small, select, and underground the collective circle of that "WIDELY recognized" is.

Best kept secret, indeed.

But don't take my word for it (though you are about to hear it)! Just look at some of the references to this CD in reviews of other Violet Burning CDs here on (That it is inevitably hinted at, and referenced, in many of these reviews suggests its watershed status). Read respected critics like Kim Gentes of "one of the best worship albums I had ever heard in my life...delicate, evocative and worshipful genius."

Even those of us who were Violet Burning fans from the first (raw, punk-ish) album were unprepared for the intimate and ethereal, atmosphere..created by this music. The passion of the first album remained: but is somehow dialed down sonically, even as it is amped up in sensitivity. It's all channeled through intimate confession, not through a Marshall amp attack, at least this time.

Songwriter and frontman Michael Pritzl may not have intended this as a worship album, and it can indeed be listened to without that framework and worldview, but I do need to say that no album released before or after has facilitated such renewal, worship, and tears in me than this. Scenes from its soundscape, whether through a literal playing of the disc, or whether through those deep recesses of my brain and soul where this music is forever embedded, have probably blessed my every day for almost twenty years.

That's likely because this is a passionate man pouring out his private broken/overflowing heart in a public place.

The haunting (female) background =vocals of Jamie Eichler, the gamble of a string section that more than payed, what to mention first? It's got to be "The Song of the Harlot," an evocative, provocative, holy and hushed ballad, a retelling of the woman of loose reputation who washed Jesus' feet with her hair. If you never figured the word "whore" could  be appropriately sung in a "Christian" song (a prayer even), but could be the only fitting word, you haven't heard the way the line "If I could be anyone at all, let me be the whore at Your feet" is delivered here.

The only thing offensive here is the truth that "so may times I have been the whore."

But what is a (brilliant) cover of the Beatles "Eleanor Rigby" doing, cueing itself up next on an album that is to me pure "worship"? Believe me, it belongs and segues perfectly in the context.
That "no one was saved" has never hurt more...and never made more sense more.

The sound is largely different than any other Violets album (except the later, "A Stranger in This Place," in which retooled songs from "Strength" and other CDs are included from a "vibe" perspective.) Many of their albums are guitar-driven, fueled by distortion and reminders of The Cure or My Bloody Valentine. "Strength" is quieter (a million degrees more so than its successor, the brooding, grungy self-titled album). To call "Strength" "acoustic" is not quite fair (though the almost-too-personal to listen to album closer, "Through My Tears" largely fits that description): for one, some great electric guitar solos are in the mix "No One Like You". For two, if you need points of comparison, you might think Radiohead, some Depeche Mode...and (though they weren't around yet) Delirious at their most vulnerable and inventive. However. all those points of reference are partly right and dead wrong.
The unique sound must be sampled and experienced.

Those in Christian circles will be blown away at the release date of this disc. Pritzl and team were so pioneering. One hears here hints of the best worship music releases since then (and none of the cookie-cutterness of the worst), but in 1992 the whole genre didn't even exist.

The Violet Burning singlehandedly prefigured and created it.

That alone merits the 5 stars accompanying this review.

The album comes off like reading Pritzl's journal set to the music that existed before it, and was birthed by it. One feels almost voyeuristic, catching him in a confession booth or God-encounter.

I haven't even mentioned the overall lyrical and theological theme, as the sonics are so good they can be enjoyed on their own. But that is impossible for me, as even the instruments draw me to the end of myself and limits of my humanity. Which is precisely the point.

I cannot divorce the album from its own suggested theme: In the liner notes one finds the Scriptural reference ,"the weakness of God is stronger than the strength of man."
Some of the songs, like "The Face of Beauty" celebrate the radical self-emptying of Christ, and the strength-in-weakness motif of much of the New Testament.

I feeler stronger in faith every time I even think of this album.

Thank God for Strength.

Others of my Violet Burning reviews:



Saturday, November 14, 2009

i may stay late at the bar tonight, honey...i have to preach tomorrow

One Saturday night nearly ten years ago,
St.Scotso and I made the quick trip down to L.A. just to go to a bar,
even though I had to preach three times in the morning.

Maybe BECAUSE I had to preach in the morning.

I am so glad we went, as I am still in many senses living off what I picked up there.

No, I didn't say I picked up anyone there.
I picked up SOMETHING..
much like I did in 1983 in New Haven
(see my comment here)
and 1986 at the Wild Blue Bar in Fresno..

No, I never said we went there to drink or drug.

But drink we did.
In the Pentecosted Holy Spiritual sense...of course.
Like it was 9:00 in the morning, even..

The reason for the trip was The Violet Burning concert, in a bar/club about the size of our living room.

But when the band began with the devastating psalm, "Low," with such happy clappy lyrics as:

"I could die here tonight, and You wouldn't even notice "

somehow it felt like church.

Then came"Feel":

Don't let me die here naked
Knowing these lies..

Can I see the light?
Can I see the light?
I can't see the light"

That last line was bold.
CCM doesn't let us/say things like that.

Let alone the last time of this one:

Have I gone too far?
Can you reach me.
Have I gone too far?
I've gone to far,

Way to tidy up loose ends, boys.
Might as well be at the Pink Floyd gig...except the house was filled with holy hope.

And you can dance to it.
Psalm 22 style.

I don't know if Michael, the worship leader...uh, singer...was truly feeling the "occasional atheism"
the lyrics presented that day...But he sure felt the liturgy.

Which is the only way to preach.

And only a Theist can be that honest and holy.

Even in he didn't even want to be there..
like all anointed pastors.

Even if he also does songs like this:

For more on the seminal album...sometimes banned from Christian bookstores... that these songs are from, see my amazon review here.

Listen all night, and see you tomorrow @church.
I'll be ready to preach.
Drunk and sober.

Or not.

See also

Friday, November 13, 2009

Benny Hinn, Gaithers, TBN and crack

My story about the Gaithers and crack is always helpful when explaining how bizarre, foreign and trippy the whole Gaither or TBN (Paul and Jan Crouch, Benny Hinn et al) "culture" is to many. I usually bring it up (and this) when teaching on cross-cultural issues:

He stroked his goatee
pensively, and offered:
"Hmmm...well,It's kind of like being on crack."

He wasn't trying to offend (he did); he was simply responding to the question,

"What do you think of the Gaithers?"

I'll never forget the look on the Gaither fan's face. She assumed he meant something like it was a downer, or a "bad trip."

But what he meant was:

"That whole culture..the Gaithers and other TBN type music and studio's just so foreign to me that the only analogy I have for entering such a parallel universe is being on crack."

The TBN experince can indeed be addicting in the sense of intriguing.

And some of it can be downright sickening.

('ll guess who in a minute once said,"I reject wolesale the gospel of prosperity, primarily on the grounds that I'm pretty sure it makes Jesus throw up a little but every time he thinks of it").

Some of the memories my wife and I have of catching fleeting glimpses of TBN and other Christian TV include crack-like moments like (Tammy Fae (PTL Club) Bakker interviewing an armless woman...and asking her how she putrs on her makeup; and Robert Tilton (who makes a delightful appearance in this classic Steve Taylor song, "Cash Cow") spouting out "Someone is called to give a million dollars to this ministry;don't think about it, don't pray about it...just call in!"...followed by a long outburst of tongues to confirm the word.

I have a hard time with many of these shows; but I have to dare to believe God is using some (all?) of them, even if the personalities are crazy, sick, fake..

...or on crack.

But if one rumor is true...that in the video below Benny Hinn is passing a crack pipe to his staff...
that might explain a lot about TBN culture.

Maybe they're all on crack on that channel.


I hope so, anyway

Hinn is no stranger to scandal, twice predicting Jesus's coming (the dates have passed),
prophesying babies were designed to be born through the mother's leg...
and onto more serious stuff (drug busts and the mysterious death of Carman's brother). Here are couple links:

Here's the video, and one take on the story behind it.

Whatever the truth is, pray for the man:

"Benny Hinn, Steve Brock: Smokin' the 'Peace Pipe'"

"the substance of things unseen" and reality TV in Middle East

"the substance of things unseen is how reality TV is driving reality"

Cynthia Schneider , cultural diplomacy expert, speaks at TED, discussing how "merit-based, competitive, voter-participation, American Idol-like shows in Afghanistan and United Arab Emirates are changing expectations in those societies:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

big dude on the roof in Jerusalem

One of the big, burly, robed Africans glared at us from the roof of the Jerusalem church.

But I am pretty sure it was only because they weren't keen on someone from our group snapping a photo while they were just trying to fulfill their calling.


Kind of like cheesy urban tourists snapping pics of those curious Amish.

Ever since our first trip to Israel, I have been fascinated by the roof-dwellers on top of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Even though I almost wondered if the big dude would shoot us (I did almost get killed in Jerusalem once (: , but that is the Violet Burning's fault..another story). I sensed they were incredibly peaceful people.

I finally found out who they are and what they are doing there.

What a story, told in HV Morton's delightful 1962-published account of his 1930s trips to Israel , "In the Steps of the Master."
The back cover honors Morton for being "one of the world's greatest travel writers, with a portait of the Holy Land as a physical embodiment of faith."


"Among the many mysteries of Jerusalem is the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Hundreds of books have been written about the inside of the church, but nothing, as far as I know, has been written about the outside. which is almost as interesting. I might never have known this had I not been afflicted by a bad, even dangerous habit of mounting mysterious and sinister flights of steps..."
(read the rest at this link, pp. 58-62).

After you have read that, discovered the secret, and are intrigued, here are some videos taken up there.

Bonus: you may want to start reading the link to Morton's book back at page 53, where he promises, "No building in the world has a stranger history than the Church of the Holy Sepulchre..." He backs that promise up! Rememberm he said the rooftop is "almost as interesting as the story inside."
I have written about the church at this link:

"When the Christians fight, only a Muslim can keep peace"

bigotry of the believer

Uncle Albert apparently (can't verify source) once said:
The bigotry of the nonbeliever is for me nearly as funny as the bigotry of the believer.

..and some He named "travelling salesmen" (on their mother's side)

All Christian leaders must flirt with the reality they are
part seducer,
part deceiver
part liar,
occasionally "about as deep as a wet spot on the pavement,"
and (today's topic) kind of a
travelling salesperson..

As is often the case, "secular sources" can come up with the most intriguing insights re: church questions. Take Mental Floss Magazine (emphasis mine):

Q:Disciples vs. Apostles: What's the Difference?
The Dilemma: You’re vaguely worried about a pop quiz at the Pearly Gates.
People You Can Impress: well, Jesus, obviously
The Quick Trick: Unless Jesus Christ himself has named you an apostle, discipleship is really the best you can hope for.
The Explanation:
The words are often used interchangeably, but they don’t quite share a meaning. All Christians are (or at least ought to be) disciples of Christ, because they follow his teachings. (Disciple comes from the Latin discipulus, which means “pupil.”) But very, very few Christians have ever been full-on apostles, because “apostle” is a title that only Jesus himself could give someone. If a disciple is a pupil, then an apostle is something of a traveling salesman (its Greek
root word technically means “delegate,” but “traveling salesman” is funnier). The 12 disciples officially became Jesus’ delegates when he personally sent them out into the world to preach and heal.
Over the years, many people have claimed that Jesus named them apostles (see, for instance, David Koresh), and many evangelicalChristian groups believe that all their members are apostles who’ve been dispatched by Jesus—which is why they often show up on your doorstep..

-Mental Floss, link

On the travelling salesmen image, couldn't but help connect to the U2 song "Breathe,"
one interpretation of involving Jesus ringing the narrator's doorbell (Rev. 3:20 style), but the narrator has this concern:

16th of June, 9:05, door bell rings
Man at the door says if I want to stay alive a bit longer
There's a few things I need you to know
Coming from a long line of
Traveling salespeople on my mother's side
I wouldn't buy just anyone's cockatoo
So why would I invite a complete stranger into my home
Would you?..

By the end of the song, or by 9:09, he's convinced/converted:

9:09, St. John Divine, on the line, my pulse is fine..
The Roar that lies on the

other side of silence

The forest fire that is fear so deny it..
I've found grace inside a sound
I found grace, it's all that I found
So I can breathe..

Spirit, breathe..

Hope I don't come off like a cockatoo salesman, even if I am.

Oh, Geddy Lee asked it first, in a song which mentions not only the sounds of (on the other side of?) silence, but also "saaaaaaaaalesman"

As they often do (2112, "The Spirit of Radio"), the band RUSH cautions against the commercialization/communization of the music (read:church) system, especially as images dominate and mammon motivates. On a CD tellingly titled "Moving Pictures," they upgrade (in 1980) the Simon/Garfunkel lyric: "The words of the prophets are written on the studio walls..and echo with the sound of.. (the sarcastic punchline)...salesmen!"
Yeah..We need more more salesmen in the Body; especially those hawking images, ecclesiapornography, and an imagined Jesus.

"The call to lead is a call to make your mistakes in.."

Love Steve Younglood's line:

"The call to lead is a call to make your mistakes in public."

For another angle on that truth, take Russell's test:

"The pastor's job is to keep watch over...."

Goldman Sachs Does God's Work

Aricle here

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Goldman Sachs Does God's Work
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

Sachs explains his God bonuses:

Goldman Sachs Not Doing "God's Work," Says Satan

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

future church history

Excited about teaching upcoming Church History class for

LABI- Fresno/Sanger.
Let me know if:

  • -you'd like to (or have to!) take or audit (you don;t have to be in the degree program to take or sit in).
  • -you have any resources to add to the course website

Planning some creative approaches to the course...of course!

Looks like it will be a weekend intensive..
So two days of class, followed by a wrap-up session a month later. Waiting to hear from HQ on the date.

Course website up and running here.