Friday, April 30, 2010

Catholics with +700 credit scores accepted by Baptists

Pastor Deacon Fred announces that Landover Baptist Church is now accepting Catholics with +700 credit scores to apply for membership and salvation. Video below, press release here.

(Note: this is the same church that once had a court restraining order
keeping non-Christians from a ten mile radius around the church..that story here)

Peter Tork on Celebrate Recovery, willpower, spirituality

part 1:
part 2:


Phyllis Tickle:"Jesus was God? You got a problem with that!?

Game Show Bible Quiz

Even though this is intended to suggest the Bible is ridiculously contradictory (and thus ridiculous),
I may have to show this clip for some of my Bible start a discussion of how it is not:

Martoia's "Transformational Architecture": 3 Texts, 4 Shifts

Transformational Architecture by Ron Martoia, Excerpt

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's 70 AD, and 1517, all over again...maybe The Matrix is Luther this time..

"We are at a time in history of great shift or change, what Thomas Cahill calls a 'hinge in history.'
It is comparable in every way to what happened in 70 A.D."
-Phyllis Tickle, way back in 2003..

Note, this delightful message, given at an Episcopal church as two sermons, lets you in on her developing thinking on the ideas that
became "The Great Emergence, shows that she "got" the huge cultural shift of "The Truman Show" and "The Matrix" movies..and ends:

And I for one have to tell you I like it a whole lot more having that one constant [God] than all that crap...
if you will forgive the French.
And on that inelegant note, thank you."

American Gothic Second Cousins who can talk about death.. in church, even

Here I am (uh, in the second photo, and the I am the one on the right...circa 1974, mind you) with my cousin, posing in

front of the house made famous by the forever-parodied painting "American Gothic."

The house is in our common grandparents' stomping ground of Eldon, Iowa...a town in which I hear there are ironically (inevitably) some young people who connect with the "Goth" or "Gothic" movement.

What that means is debated, but for some it means "we wear black and talk about death."

The "Gothic" of American Gothic was a reference to the house style,and the goth of the current movement is tied to other elements of "Gothic" history..

But my point for today is:

I would love to get

some old school, older people (people who might go to a church like the one pictured here in the painting "American Gothic Church,"often dress in white, and fear talking about death)
in the same room with

some new school, younger people
(people who, if they go to church at all, would avoid churches like the one pictured,who often dress in black, and enjoy talking about death).

Then I would ask both groups what they can learn from one another.

You probably aren't surprised to hear there is quite a movement of Goths who are Christians
Check out a website for Christian Goths, and a funny (but serious article) on
"How to Be Goth at Church" (without offending everyone).

Their emphases may or may not be related to what is classically meant by "Gothic Christianity,"
but we need their voice.

Especially when it scares us.
I thought death was not supposed to scare us anymore, anyway:

Leave it to the church, with the keys to overcoming death, to not even pass them out, or even talk about “the truth.. that human beings are concerned with nothing else but death…though that be seldom realized.” (William Stringfellow, “An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land,” p. 69)

"So, why church? The short answer is because the Holy Spirit formed it to be a colony of heaven in the country of death"
( Eugene Peterson, "Practice Resurrection)

From a website that lists Gothic bands (both) Christian and general market, check out this category (the page lists members of categories related to Goth, and includes names of prophetic types like Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen...)and especially the last band on it:

Second Cousins (bands that aren’t exactly gothic, but are likely to come up in conversations at goth clubs and coffee houses):
Adam and the Ants, Balaam and the Angel, Cocteau Twins, the Cramps, DeadCanDance, Devo, Duran Duran, Erasure, Eurythmics, Legendary Pink Dots, Lydia Lunch, Gene Loves Jezebel, Lords of the New Church, Moby, New Order, Red Lorry/Yellow Lorry, Soft Cell, Tones on Tail, Velvet Underground, XTC, U2.
- link

Hard core Goths, of course, would laugh at that list of "second cousins" as being far more than "twice removed" from Goth. But at least that last band can indeed talk honestly about death, knowing all the time that its " rule has been disproved...and graves are now grooves"/groovy.
(see "U2 Can Overcome the Death Bomb", and watch this classic "death wail" of Bono after the death of his father")

Which is one thing that the American Gothic generation didn't teach us to do.

About death.....Like Rob Bell quipped about sex:
"Where do you WANT people to talk about it? is common in days like this (Len Sweet: "It could be that for the first time in history, God is more active in the church than the world"), God uses, and sometimes sends, bands that open up the conversation, and call the church back to being the church.

You might explore Saviour Machine, or (seriously) "Christian death metal."
(I googled it to see if it existed...of course it does!)
You might want to read Mike Furches' interview with Rob Zombie ( here).
You might want to accept that some are calling post-conversion Anne Rice a Christian Goth hero.
You might want to read Ernst Becker's "Denial of Death."
For a bit of a "safer" venture, try out the Gothic "second cousins" list.

So, looking back at that photo of my first cousin and me,
and listening to the second cousins of Goth music, I am thinking:

Hmmm, folks who "wear black and talk about death" are either at a funeral..


I am willing to talk about death...even if I do ocassinally where white to a funeral:

"If you meditate on life you start with death.” -Bono

Related, see:

Join me on another prophetic Iowa trip

empire and telephone company

machine economy

"The machine economy has set afire the household of the human soul and all
creatures are burning within it."
-Wendell Berry, HT, Brian Zahnd


"God takes our s#!@"

Meeting with a friend going through the AA devotional, I found this.
It's titled "Solace For Confusion," but I would call it, more colorfully, "God takes our s#!@":

The concept of God was one that I struggled with during my early years of sobriety. The images that came to me, conjured from my past, were heavy with fear, rejection and condemnation. Then I heard my friend Ed’s image of a Higher Power: As a boy he had been allowed a litter of puppies, provided that he assume responsibility for their care. Each morning he would find the unavoidable “byproducts” of the puppies on the kitchen floor. Despite frustration, Ed said he couldn’t get angry because “that’s the nature of puppies.” Ed felt that God viewed our defects and shortcomings with a similar understanding and warmth. I’ve often found solace from my personal confusion in Ed’s calming concept of God.
-link, Daily Reflections, 10/20

Video: Sproul, Zacharias, Mohler on Postmodernism

No comment

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Colbert preaches to Zimbardo re: Lucifer Effect

Quite an amazing Colbert episode..Blogger "Living dangerously" says

In the interview below, Colbert talks with Philip Zimbardo, a professor at Stanford ..about his book The Lucifer Effect. To make a long story short, Colbert seems to slip out of character towards the end of the interview and gives Zimbardo quite the theological lecture. While he uses a rather unfortunate selection of words at the end, the preceding 30 seconds provide an interesting dose of Arminian theology…not exactly standard fare on the late night talk show circuit. The reaction of the audience to his outburst is also intriguing. My interest in what is actually going on in Stephen Colbert’s head has been further piqued.


Zimbardo himself posted:

I knew Colbert was a practicing Catholic, as I used to be, so knew I could push his button by declaring Lucifer was right and God was wrong in the confrontation over Lucifer’s alleged disobedience to authority– and It worked!

In a 5 min segment, I did not pretend to debate deep theological issues with him or anyone, the purpose was to make it an interesting interview and to have people remember to associate Zimbardo with The Lucifer Effect and buy my book.

PS, we will soon be selling those T shirts that I gifted to Colbert, on my web site, with all profits going for site maintenance. The reverse side is even more interesting than the front– which I designed.

Phil Zimbardo, link

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Philip Zimbardo
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

Justin of Rome: 4 areas of spiritual oppression

Re: the Wolfgang Simson/Justin of Rome quote below..
What is we actually saw these four areas as spiritual warfare?
We have done well with labeling the first two as "demonic" (especially with the first category, we have been far too fundagelical, and obsexxed), but dare we tackle the idolatry/warfare of the other two?

Regarding the last of the 4th, Eugene Peterson, in an amazing section of "Christ Plays in ten Thousand Places," ties Jesus temple tantrum (which of c0urse is abo0ut racism/xenophobia, see "temple tantrum" labels at bottom of this post).

Thanks, St. Wolf:
Catechist Justin of Rome, writing about 150, described how Christians helped other people almost systematically to renounce demons and see thembeing liberated from spiritual oppression mainly in four key areas:

  • unlawful sex,
  • the secret and magic arts,
  • escalating private wealth,
  • and violent xenophobia, the hate of foreigners.

The early Christians would have seen
  • people practicing illicit sex outside of marriage;
  • somebody involved in occultism,
  • someone accumulating material wealth just for his personal gain;
  • and those being rough and violent to foreigners and strangers

as demonically bound, persons who needs the help of Jesus to be released from those overpowering spiritual forces beyond any known human control. As the church stopped focusing on these ministries in later centuries, they left a gaping vacuum, which might need to be filled again by the only organism on earth called and gifted to do so, the church.
-Wolfgang Simson, Houses That Change the World,
p. 50

Emerging: Between Worlds, help from C.S. Lewis

Tia Lynn, a vital blogger, posts:

What is Emerging? A Wood Between Worlds

"No, I don't believe this wood is a world at all. It's just a sort of in between place..Think of our tunnel under the slates at home. It isn't a room in any of the houses. In a way, it really isn't a part of any of the houses. But once you are in the tunnel, you can go along it and come out into any of the houses in the row. Mightn't this wood be the same?--a place that isn't in any of the worlds, but once you've found that place you can get into them all."--Digory, The Magician's Nephew.

I could say so much about what the Emerging Movement is and probably even more about what it is not (since misconceptions bug me). But instead, I'd like to focus on why the Emerging Movement has been invaluable to my own faith journey. The Emerging Movement has been the catalyst to going deeper with the scriptures, asking harder questions of myself, my community, and my God, and rethinking many of my own perspectives, assumptions, and understandings of the bible, faith, and what it means to be a follower of Christ.

In one of C.S. Lewis's classic Chronicles of Narnia books, The Magician's Nephew, Digory and Polly stumble upon "The Wood Between Worlds," a heavily forested place with an abundance of pools. The trees go so far up that they create a huge canopy that blocks their view of the sky and sun, yet a strange and warm light seeps through the cracks between branches and leaves to illuminate this strange place. They soon discover that each of the seemingly shallow pools of water are actually portals into other worlds.

For me, The Emerging Movement is a sort of Wood Between Worlds. It's not just another church or another denomination, but a place that connects us to something bigger, and by experiencing the other worlds through this place, our own world will never be the same. It's a humble place where we admit our limited view and yet walk boldly within the light that does shine through. A safe place to explore and seek honestly, fearlessly, and even brokenly. A welcoming place that attempts bringing together the vast "worlds" within the church.....
-Tia Lynn, continued, link

Phyllis Tickle complete "New Rose" video..and her heckler

picture link
(click photo to enlarge)

Here is Phyllis Tickle's complete NYWC talk on The Rose of The Reformation on one Gooogle video
(same as the 4 YouTube videos previously posted, but with delightful intro comments included here).

Mark Oestreicher blogs on what happened after the camera went off. Amazing:

...anyhow, phyllis turned the whole thing in the last few minutes to a point that had me in tears (and i looked to tic, and he was in tears also), as she talked about the role that we all (in the room) play in this; the precious gift we’re being given, the responsibility we have to the next 500 years. wow.
the audience gave her a standing ovation, which was beautiful. she stepped down off the stage, and tic went up to say a few transition things and introduce chris tomlin. in the moment, as i was waiting to walk her back to the green room, a few people started coming up to her to say something. the very first guy was a large and loud guy who started blasting her: i mean, really, as chris’ music started, he was yelling at her (some volume on his part was necessary due to the music in the room — but he was filled with anger, so it came out as yelling, not loud talking). his first accusation was that she didn’t stand for the authority of scripture. phyllis politely responded, “oh, if you didn’t hear me talk about the authority of scripture, then i really miscommunicated” (i noticed how she took it on herself, instead of merely correcting him). i stepped in and tried to remind the guy about a point where she had specifically talked about the authority of scripture. but he really didn’t want to hear answers or responses; he was ticked. and he was so completely out of line and inappropriate in how he yelled at her. after a minute (maybe less), i stepped in, and tony myles (who blogged about this here) was my wingman, engaging phyllis, then the guy. in that moment, i told him how completely out of line he was. he pushed back (angrily) with a question about scripture, and i told him his questions were fine, ask away, but that yelling at a 74 year-old woman after she’s just finished speaking to us from her heart is what was so inappropriate. i think i said, “didn’t your mom ever teach you anything?”..
-Mark Oestreicher, link


Monday, April 26, 2010

no caption needed

(Church of All Nations, Gethsemane, of my favorite places on earth)

Is Scripture a Strange Loop/Mobius Strip?

Since the Word is ...

  • "living
  • active
  • sharper than any double-edged sword"

... of course in some sense it is both
  • Loop .............and
  • Mobius,

and bigger than both..

..but they can't be as perfectly looped/Mobiused as God (such would be bibliolatry).

AND it just hit me that a double-edged sword would by defintion looped and Mobiused.

If you need some info on the terms in my post title:

  • See this on Strange Loop,
(and this on theological implications thereof).

(and this on theological implications thereof),


"Even though the senses of the Scriptures are indefinite, none of them annuls the others, each increasingly enriching this immense storage of meanings...perhaps a Mobius Ring"
-"Semiotics and The Philosophy of Language" p. 150

Maybe chiastic-matrix a better term...
is that loopy enough?

St James Bond Church, post-denom, and a confusing steak house

Ever hear of churches with ridiculous-sounding names?
Names often created when two churches merged..this the famous merger of St. James and Bond United that became "St. James-Bond United'....but inevitably no one prounces the dash!!.

I think a church that I previously pastored took the wise choice. St Luke's United Methodist became St. Luke's Community (that story here).
Then (after my time), the church absorbed the former Calvary Presbyterian, and became "St Luke's-Calvary Community Church."
Now they have created a new name and a fresh start with "Palm Avenue Community Church."
It was good to acknowledge former streams...That was the reason for the first two name-changes. But Kudos to to them for avoiding a well-meaning tongue twister with Palm Avenue.

It way beats "Ex-Methodists and Presbyterians Community Church Formerly Known as St. Luke's." And it reminds of the classic joke:

Did you hear about the Methodist and Presbyterian churches that merged?
They got along fine until it came time to recite the Lord's Prayer:
The Methodists traditionally say "Forgive us our tresspasses," and the Presbyterians have always said "Forgive us our debts."
So they called off the merger, and (punchline):

The Methodists went back to their tresspasses,
and the Presbyterians went back to their debts. (:

Phyllis Tickle does an excellent job emphasizing the need to not throw denominational babies (strengths of each tradition) out with bathwater when emergence happens and we become
- post-denominational ...(video below):
-"hyphenated emergents"...(video below):

It is trespass and debt to do otherwise.

Of course, Richard Foster's call (via Renovare) to incorprate the best of five historic streams is helpful, as is Brian McLaren's reminder (in "Generous Orthodoxy" and in "A is For Abductive") that "emergence" implies a helical (helix-like) progression which incorporates the best of former movements (Harold Best suggests helical is not linear (Hello?), and enot circular, but a combination of both)

I sometimes (wrongly) get the credit for the St Luke's-Calvary merger (which was pulled off wonderfully by my successor, Kevin Smith).
I am not sure if Palm Ave's new pastor, Steve Brown, was behind the new name...but whoever is gets extra credit.
I think pastors will be called to navigate these shifts as well as these two brothers.
We need some James Bonds..
It's just part of the Rummage Sale.
Such can keep us from the temptation toward burning down missions unnecessarily, and instead birthing Holy Mashups (how's that for a church name?)

I wondered why "Ruth's Chris Steak House" would choose such a ridiculously confusing name:
Is it Ruth's...or Chris's? I googled the answer:

Ruth's Chris Steak House" is such a tongue-twister that one restaurant critic suggested it be used as a sobriety test: anyone who could say that name three times certainly couldn't be intoxicated...
...{There was} a legal spat with Chris Matulich [previous owner] that led Ruth to append her first name to his, creating the famously tongue-twisting Ruth's Chris Steak House. "Frankly, I've always hated the name," she would later say, "but we've managed to work around it.

"Methdist's Presbyterian Church House?

Phyllis Tickle does an excellent job emphasizing the need to not throw denominational babies out with bathwater when emergence happens (video three here).

Related, in local news:

Joe Levy, one of the family members behind the Gottschalks department store chain, is opening a new retail operation that will be called Gottschalks by Joe Levy, according to a news release issued today. The original Gottschalks dissolved in bankruptcy proceedings last year.

A news conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday to reveal the details of Levy's new retail venture. Levy, 78, was the former Gottschalks chairman and CEO.

Here's a statement from Levy via the news release announcing the news conference:

"The Gottschalk name has always stood for outstanding customer service, value and name brand fashions. We are committed to continuing that tradition," said Levy.

The Fresno-based Gottschalks lasted 105 years before going bankrupt. Gottschalks had operated 58 department stores and three specialty apparel stores in six Western states.

It is unclear so far what kind of operation Levy's plans will bring. But with the economy picking up, it could be a good time to move cautiously back into the retail market. Levy said the new Gottschalks will create hundreds of jobs, according to The Bee's story.

"Burn Down the Mission,"...just don't build a new 2.0 "missional"one

Whether lyricist Bernie Taupin was referring to American Civil War, Spanish Civil War, or Vietnam War....or none of the above, all the above, or more follow the debate here)..

..the lyrics (and music) of Elton John's vintage "Burn Down the Mission" were haunting when I first heard them (1971!) and haunting now on a whole nother level; as accidentally (?) prophetic about the times we are embedded in.

Elton himself said (as he introduced the song in the amphitheatre in Ephesus (how biblical a backdrop can you ask for... see the video below), "It's very much influenced by the gospel side of things." Hmmm..

I read them as about church, as about the shift/Reformation/Reorientation/Rummage Sale we are in the midst of these forty years later. I read them in tandem with Peter Rollins' "The Fidelity of Betrayal." Time to burn down (or sell, as in the Rummage sale reference) the worst of the old school mindset/wineskin. It was sold as a missionary mindset, but it was often the bankrupt attractional model of modernity...which often lead to colonialism, clericallism, ethnocentrism, hierarchicalism, denominationalism...........and just plain schism.

When we "burn down the mission," we do it (hopefully) in the name of the "Lord." Or to take the lyrics literally, we pray the Lord himself does the burning down. (And pray we do/pray all this in a nonviolently violent way this time. And what emerges from the ashes is no building (and edifice complex...Howard Snyder term), idololatry of place and fortress mentality, but simply a bunch of people on equal playing field...leveled ground. Holy Ground.

It's too cliche to say we move from "mission" to "missional," but that's partly what I mean.
If we just erect a "missional" building/monument in place of the "mission" one, we are busted.

What can save us from marketing "missional" as the new stategy, the new attraction(al)?
Deep groaning prayer, gentle fearlessness.....and engaging with thinkers like Brad Brisco, Len Hjalmarson, Frost/Hirsch...and uh, Sir Elton John.

As Taupin/Elton sang in another chilling song from this era, "The King Must Die" "The king is dead..long live the King."
(And if my hands are stained forever/And the altar should refuse me/Would you let me in/Should I cry sanctuary
/The king is dead, the king is dead...Long live the king")

Here are some comments on the "Song Meaning" thread, followed several versions of the song and lyrics themselves:

In many areas around the world, the "mission" was a place of residence owned by the Roman Catholic church, where priests could engage in the conversion of heathens to christianity. Many times these missions were protected by soldiers or free men who served a higher power, such as a royal family or the papacy.

Many times these missions were not welcome, especially when poor, starving people would look and see missionaries and priests eating well, and living under good shelter. This was especially true when the hypocrisy became apparent between what the church preached and what it actually did.

I think the song simply reflects an uprising by the people who the missionaries are trying to convert. They are freezing and starving and have had enough. They burn down the mission for warmth and shelter.

At the end.. the high powers come to seek justice and drag the man, who we must assume is the ringleader, away.

You tell me there's an angel in your tree
Did he say he'd come to call on me
For things are getting desperate in our home
Living in the parish of the restless folks I know
Everybody now bring your family down to the riverside
Look to the east to see where the fat stock hide
Behind four walls of stone the rich man sleeps
It's time we put the flame torch to their keep
Burn down the mission
If we're gonna stay alive
Watch the black smoke fly to heaven
See the red flame light the sky
Burn down the mission
Burn it down to stay alive
It's our only chance of living
Take all you need to live inside
Deep in the woods the squirrels are out today
My wife cried when they came to take me away
But what more could I do just to keep her warm
Than burn, burn, burn, burn down the mission walls
Now everybody now bring your family down to the riverside
Look to the east to see where the fat stock hide
Behind four walls of stone the rich man sleeps
It's time we put the flame torch to their keep

Burn down the mission
If we're gonna stay alive
Watch the black smoke fly to heaven
See the red flame light the sky
Burn down the mission, Lord!
Burn it down to stay alive
It's our only chance of living
Take all you need to live inside
Studio version:


From "11-17-70" Live album:

With Royal Orchestra, 1971:

2001 Live from Ephesus:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ana the Baptist and Methodist ReBaptists: Missional Sacraments part 7

This contarian gal pictured here
baptized me.

Picture that.

It felt contarian, subversive, unkosher...and completely right.

It was long after I came to Christ.
But long before she read this book.

But let's piggy back on the book's title. and jump into the deep waters of post #7 on missional sacraments.

"missional churches will do well to realize that baptism is open to all who believe in Christ alone for salvation, is non-denominational in nature and may be administered by any Christian."
-Igneous Quill

You know, I am amazed the only posts I see on "missional sacraments" on Google are mine.
The phrase can't be that oxymoronic..or more timely.

Of course, all of life is sacramental (see Toni's post in the comments here)
And all of life is missional.
So maybe this is all too obvious.

Or obviously not.
Or not obvious yet.

My seminary friend (and a fellow "mom"...uh, ask him about that), Talbot Davis posted a helpful and brave (in his circles) post on....well, his post title explains the controversy:
In the UMC, it is officially unkosher to re-baptize..

Read his post below, and join the conversation (here, on the Facebook mirror... or there on his blog):

by Talbot Davis:

What is a cardinal sin for Methodist preachers?


It's one of the things that can get us in some ecclesiastical trouble. If we knowingly baptize someone who was baptized as an infant or child, we are likely to hear from Methodist higher ups.

The history behind the "rebaptism controversy" is quite long (you can read some
here) and much broader than just the Methodist movement. Yet the driving distinction between those who re-baptize and those who don't revolves around who is the main actor in a baptism. Is baptism something God does or is it the volitional choice of the person being baptized?

Historically, Methodists have believed baptism is what God does -- so we don't "re-do" what God has already done.

Our Baptist friends, among others, contend that the person being baptized is the central figure in the sacrament -- that's why in their view an infant baptism is not valid. What infant can decide from himself or herself to follow Christ? So they will eagerly re-baptized people.

Yet as I have wrestled with the issue, two other items come to mind. First, baptism in the New Testament seems to be an exclusively "after" event: it is observed "after" a person comes to faith in Christ. (Yes, Acts
16:16 and 16:33 suggest "family wide" baptisms, but those references are imprecise at best.)

The bigger argument against a firm "no rebaptism" policy is Acts 19:1-7 which I include below:

1While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?"
They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
3So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?"
"John's baptism," they replied.

4Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." 5On hearing this, they were baptized into[b] the name of the Lord Jesus. 6When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues[c] and prophesied. 7There were about twelve men in all.

What does the story describe?

A re-baptism . . . because the converts did not fully comprehend the nature of their first baptism. Once they had received full teaching about Christ and his Holy Spirit, they received it with joy and were baptized into the faith. A volitional choice made after conversion.

Hmmmm. A biblical second baptism.

Infant baptism is certainly different that "John's baptism" (19:3) . . . yet both involve incomplete or absent knowledge & awareness.

And just like the converts in Acts 19, those who have been baptized as infants need to receive the urgent news of what Christ has done for them so they too can make a volitional choice for faith.

And after that? That's a matter for more prayer. And conversation.


Now, I too have pastored in the UMC, and know that the rule is not well-enforced.
By the way, I was invited out (given the "right foot of fellowship") not for rebaptizing, but for a sin apparently far more unpardonable and cardinal:

suggesting that churches temporarily withhold money from their denomination until the denomination keeps its own rules.

Go figure.
(That story is water under the bridge, but found by clicking : "We've done everything we can to work with Rev, Wainscott ...)

And as one who also swims in an Anabaptist stream, i am obviously open to appropriate re-baptism (the very meaning of the term ana-baptism.) And just ask messianic Rabbi Adam about "re-baptism"...we need the rabbi to weigh in here!..unless we don't really want to be biblical (:

I was not re-baptized, or baptized as a believer, or by immersion, until after leaving the UMC.
Then a "layperson" ...and a female, at that!....baptized me, not long after I baptized her.

I agree that some cases for re-baptism may be all wet. Who fully knows what they are getting into as they get into the water?

As a pastor who has baptized (often re-baptized) folks in the Jordan on every trip (and in this video clip below...and I have another clip from another year, in which Pastor Scott..who drives Toyotas.. roasted me for breaking church rules) I make to Israel....partly because the Jordan water somehow seems holier (There is almost a sign, "Jesus Swam Here"). But largely because there often comes a time when a believer feels its time to get their feet wet (Excellent teaching by Van Der Laan on the Jordan and baptism on DVD, short transcript here)

And if sacraments are intrinsically and inherently missional, who is to say that an infant baptism..or a baptism where we don't fully know what we're getting into (=all cases)...can't "count"?


Church: Lessons from Brand X: Shadow Gold, Risky Wiki, and Wordless Vocals

What can we learn about life and church from Brand X?

The band Brand X, that is.
One of the best bands you never heard of.
(Tons of churches are like it should be?)

No one is completely sure how to classify them: progressive fusion and free jazz come close.

But all agree on one classification:
They are anything but 1970s Genesis.
Which was precisely the point.

Smack in the middle of their run of classic, intricate, theatrical, progressive...quite often prophetic rock, Phil Collins (long before he became........... whatever he is now) of Genesis felt the need to use the other side of his brain, and swim in completely different waters as a side project, so he created Brand X by inviting some other brilliant musicians into a fusion/jazz-ish collaborative.

What then can church/ecclesiology glean from Brand X?

I will draw examples largely from their classic album, "Moroccan Roll"( amazon reviews):

1) To use the mixed metaphor inspired by my preaching professor (the one who had us create fairy tales and collages),"Your gold is in your shadow side."

This is not a Genesis album.. So I guess it makes no sense (or compete sense) that in the 70s i loved both the intricate, classically-inspired progresoive rock of that era's Genesis, and also the loosse fusion of Brand X (which I never would've been introduced to if not for the Genesis connection, fusion didn't sound like my genre). I came to love the shadow side of my taste and preferences, but I had to be indirectly hijacked (how's that for an oxymoronic metaphor?)

Right around this time, Bill Bruford of Yes tried to tour as the second drummer for Genesis...but he found that he inevitably wanted to play free, spontaneously, and play something a little different every night...which didn't work with Genesis' tight, meticulous, intentional and by they note-ness. Genesis' 1970s opuses were unpredictable (for a pop listener) in their twists and turns and time signature morphings, but in a completely predictable, note-by-note way, at least for the players and fans. Not a lot of room for wildly freeform detours and contours.

So Bruford left, and ironically (or inevitably)his highly successful replacement (to this day) was Chester Thompson (a Christian, btw) of jazz fusion band Weather Report.

Brand X may not have been the opposite of Genesis, but it's shadow...even a close cousin.
Both band did long and extended well...but one was tight and loose...or better yet, loose in its tightness and the other tight in its looseness.

An obvious leap for Phil if he wanted obvious opposite would have been from long and complex to short and simple. But Brand X was often just as long and complex as Genesis, but just from another style. Collins later definitely lept from long to short in his solo career).

Sometimes we are closer to our shadow and our salvation than we realize.
Yet we often don't go there as it doesn't feel like us.

I am so low church that I am high church without wanting to be or trying to be.
Or is it the other way around?

Brand X may not have been completely different waters than Genesis at all, but simply a previously unexplored tributary of the same body of work/water.

Richard Foster was inspired (read all about it here, but soundtrack it to Brand X) in calling the Body to draw from all streams of living water.
I wonder what he has in his CD player right now?

2)Collaboratives/wikis are required but risky...and rarely last in pure form

Brand X was designed to be, and largely was, a democratic experiment of equals...the independent, creative genius of each player was honored and followed...even with an obvious 'star' member. Of course, that this was largely an instrumental band helped...Though Phil was the drummer, he did occasionally "sing,' but never in a traditional way(more on that in the next point) but he was never (literally)the frontman. He hid behind the pulpit/drumkit.
That is the point of paradox.

Many will remember the amazing Cush, The catch it was to be a collaborative with no stars or frontmen...but it was fronted by star Michael Knott..

All churches should read the "Cush Manifesto"..and would do well to adopt it, but it is the harder, if holier way. Especially hard if your vocalist/preacher is charismatic, (in either sense of the term):

Cush is not a band. Not in the conventional way anyhow. Cush is far to hard to define. Certainly, the mystery can breed the legend...but the facts are, Cush isn't a mythical super band...but a gathering of friends. This is not to say Cush doesnÍt have some lofty goals. In the Cush manifesto that circulated shortly before the band debuted, it was proclaimed that Cush was "the new sound for the new decade". But even more so, the hope is for Cush to be unlike any other production the public has seen. "We wanted Cush to be more liquid," explains Eric Campuzano. "Anybody could be the singer, anybody could play the guitar, you know, like there never is really a central figure in the group. Like if we thought Andy could sing a song better than Mike Knott, then Andy should sing it...or vice versa."

Of course, Eric admits such a thing is easier said than done. "Reality is that, if you want to write a record, you have to write the record and you need facilitators to do that." Comprised mainly of members of popular early to mid-nineties modern rock band the Prayer Chain and the prolific alt-rocker Michael Knott, Cush runs the risk of being recognized more for itÍs members than the product itself. "Some people think of it as Mike's new project or our new project...and itÍs nothing like that at all, " Campuzano clarifies. "We had no desire...I really dont want to be a part of something like that. That's why we just listed the performers. No band shots, no credits. At times those...I guess it just takes away from the whole vibe behind it. "

The Cush Manifesto:

In a declaration of Truth and its winding road, members of the Prayer Chain, LSU, Honey, Fold Zandura, Duraluxe, Bloomsday, the Lassie Foundation, and Adam Again, have agreed to document below (the CUSH Manifesto) in which all members will seek the Truth and its Consequences. The result, A New Sound: CUSH.

The CUSH Manifesto

The Foundation of CUSH is: God. Jesus. The Holy Spirit. King David and The Psalms. Love. Celebration. Longing. Giving. Purity. Innocence. Faith. Pain. Gospel. The earliest Rock and Roll. Willing to change and grow with others. Willing to have anybody play any role, whoever is most suited for it at the time. Willing to be anonymous. Willing to be produced. Sharing, being selfless, letting go. Being Honest. The song winning. Soul. Letting your ego get you there, and then sacrificing it when the time comes. Music being able to be performed in any way, by any combination of people, in any setting. Being Free, Creative, Spontaneous. One instrument per part, one player per part. Minimal overlapping of tones. A Groove. A Drone. A Basic Progression. An acoustic guitar. An electric guitar. A bass guitar. A six-string bass guitar. A piano. An organ. A horn section. A cello. A violin. A viola. A voice. A hand-drum. A tambourine. All things that make a sound when you shake them. Washing everything in the dreamiest of reverb-effects until you can't tell what it is, but rather what it feels like.

Doing the thing you always wanted to do but were afraid to. Jumping off the deep end of the peer. Staring Fear in the face and walking right into it with a faithful heart. Turning your life upside-down.

CUSH is from the core of your relationship with God -- Good, Bad, and Ugly -- and reaching out in Moans and Groans to Him.
CUSH praises like Gospel, and wails like Rock and Roll.
CUSH feels the best, and hurts the most at the same time.
CUSH sounds familiar, like the best songs you've ever heard, but feels new.
CUSH is an Action.
A CUSH song does not have to be 3:30 long.
A CUSH song can be 68 minutes long.
A CUSH song is already a greatest hit. From the slowest, most isolated place, just before God, bowing down, quiet, heavenly noise, swelling, droning, heaving, glowing, flickering, underwater, the true reality, connecting spiritually with God and seeing all of humanity through His eyes. The true nature of Love and everything. Placid but full of colour, vivid life, musical movements, sounds, dreams, asleep but still awake, alive yet dead, dead yet alive. Alone, but not lonely. Haunting sad, painfully beautiful, moving, majestic, heart-wrenching, yet humble meek, and poor in spirit. Drone, Middle Eastern, heavy, rock, epic, magnificent, cross poly-rhythmic, whatever-wherever music, where all heaven and earth are in His command.
CUSH is not about self-loathing.
CUSH is not about editing yourself before giving.
CUSH is not a solo project.
CUSH is not a band.
In CUSH, you win by letting yourself lose.
CUSH is a concept, an ideal, a greater goal, a principle.
CUSH is a beautiful spirit shared by all.
CUSH is like 'the Force', ...But better.


But the magnificent manifesto was hard to live up (or dial down) to. You know, contrary to what you would have guessed by the quotes above, at least on its main album, all songs were sung by the senior pastor (Knott).
They imploded. Brilliantly, I might add.

A church I know launched out with a model of three pastors, team leadership of equals.
That model lasted a little while and imploded... brilliantly, I must add.
Now they have two pastors:
One is technically the lead pastor, but it is still a collaborative, Cush-y fluid church.

Brand X in its original incarnation lasted a few years..though they have reunited without Phil.
(Sometimes the guitar replaces Phil's vocal, hear it later

In a church gatherings, I often comment that I am the man up front claiming it's not about the man up front.

There is no front, even when I am up there.

I may implode....brilliantly would be nice.

3)Wordless vocals can speak louder than words.
On those rare occasions when Brand X songs include vocals, they were never classically vocalized...or hardly ever in English ("Sun in the Night" was subversively in Sanskrit, sample snippet here). By the time they recorded "Streets of Soho" with Phil singing an almost pop lyric in English, I wandered of their days were numbered.

Here some posts on wordless vocals often taking us into realm of glossolalia, or instrumental "playing in tongues":

I love one movement (video, 3:37ff here) of the Brand X Song, "And So To F"....Phil's vocals might be transcribed as a mindless "la-la,"....but are moving beyond words to me..

Martins Smith (of Delirious)'s prayer language (I am in awe that some of his glossolalia moments are not excised from some concert CDs by Christian companies that may even be cessationist!) seems to be loaded with "La la"s that counterintuitively speak volumes.
(But as he once told Ken and I, "only in America," does the church seem not to get it).

Here's two Delirious examples (they must be online somewhere!) of what i mean:

  • From the "Access: D" album, play 4:01-4:17 of "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever." Here, many hear Smith singing ecstatically in tongues. He is actually(also) singing in Spanish (I remember the first time I visited a Spanish-speaking Pentecostal church...i was never sure if they were singing in tongues or in Spanish..or both (:...)
  • From the same album, play 2:07ff of "Access D Part 6: Lord You Have My Heart." Dare you to transcribe it. Better yet, interpret it. Best yet, soak in it.

The Bono "OOOHH" death wail (and nigun rap) are also always chilling beyond words.
Words should chill out and disappear, so they can chill and appear.

How about Phil Collins' "throwaway" or "scat" (or not) vocals on
"Disco Suicide's third (or so) movement:

It may be that the band's only choice when they reunited without Phil, and performed this song was to "replace"...better yet, "translate" or "interpret" (as in interpretation of tongues) his vocals via guitar (video here).

For those called and tempted to preach, I hope I am preaching to the choir in saying:
a) that there should be more preaching BY the choir....and that
b) sometimes one word/no words are enough.

See these wordy links about being less wordy (I may have almost made the Guinness Book of World Records for shortest sermon ever (story in 2nd link), but I do not perfectly practice what I preach):

As St. Bruce once preached,"Those who know don't have the words to tell"
Well, that was 3 points and a preacher-like was that!?
Summary: What can church/preacher-types learn from Brand X?:

Shadow Gold, Risky Wiki, and Wordless Vocals!

Bonus track, "Macrocosm," which one Amazon reviewer calls "apocalyptic" and not (just) because it ends in an explosion: