Monday, June 28, 2010

Peter Gabriel: "Come Talk To Me"

A classic God-haunted Peter Gabriel song and performance.
This song, on this tour, always brings up U2 connections for me:

-A la U2: phone connections...
MacPhisto's phone calls; the more recent "Honey, I'm home!" calls..

-A la U2's "Achtung Baby," much of the content of this album is tied to the failed relationship of a prominent band member..

-A la U2:Most songs that seem to be about relationships with girls are ultimately/also/inevitably about relationship with God; and rabbinically elevating one relationship toward the other
(Note : "Come on, come talk to me" becomes "Come down, come talk to me.." etc)

-A la U2 (2009-10): in the round...

-A la U2: Prophetic props and theatrics..

Plus, check out the the drums at the 5 minute mark:


Girls or God

"Soccer Explains the World...and Seduces the Church

"How soccer explains the world:

an unlikely theory of globalization"

is a classic 2004 (may need an update since the economic downturn) book by Franklin Foer.

How helpful it often is
to view the world (or life or church) through different (even random) metaphors,
and creative lenses...
especially if they create "holy synesthesia") and get us rewired to thinking parabolically.

The book is worth the price of admission for the delightful (!?) and helpful phrase that shows up:

"the soft porn of sects".

?? Whatsup with that?

When we are overly sectarian, and bound to our bounded sets,
we almost inevitably cave in to the temptation to sexualize/seduce
(and thus "thingify"/ reduce) others.

(related: T.Bone Burnett can explain everything...even without soccer.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Church is the dating service

"The church is supposed to be the dating service.
Sometimes she thinks she is the date.”
-Richard Rohr, HT: Len

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Review: "Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions"

Dan Brennan's splendidly readable, and charitably subversive,

"Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions:

Engaging the Mystery of Friendship Between Men and Women"

definitely came along at the right time for me. Brennan's unique, straightforward, and engaging way of tackling the topic; and his unique, straightforward, and engaging way of tackling the topic connected dots for me among three growing convictions:
  • A reductionist view of sexuality almost inevitably becomes seductionist. We are (g)not gnostic. By obsessing with rules, we end up being ruled by obsexxing. Ironically, that's when we may be most vulnerable. We in the Protestant tradition can all these (5oo!!)years later still define ourselves primarily by what we are against, and not by what/Who we are for. We desperately need to incorporate insights from Catholic and Eastern streams to keep center, and steer away from gnostic ditches.
  • The Trinitarian nature of life, relationships, church/ecclesiology....of, well, everything...has profound ( and profoundly untapped) implications for....well, everything.
  • The promise of the rabbinic tradition of "elevation" (which Bono of course has prophetically endorsed/sung about/prayed about) is uniquely applicable our current juncture in postmodernity and church history.

Bottom line: The books is on cross-sex friendships, and a defense of how they can work.

That no other evangelical Christian-oriented book has even been dedicated to this topic at all..

...let alone challenged the deeply-embedded conservagelical party line (which ironically sounds like the folks Paul is poking fun at in the "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!" of Colossians 2:21)....

in our lifetime (part of the point, earlier writers, many of them...gasp!...Catholic, have done well here) is enough to recommend it.

But the way he traces church history (I recently learned a lot about church teaching it! That the "holy kiss" commanded in the New Testament was counterinuitively on the lips, even when cross-gender, nailed me...but not as much as the profound reason for that, see this link) and interweaves solid biblical exegesis, and knows just the right quote from hugely helpful thinkers as Leanne Payne, Rob Bell, Scot McKnight, Marva Dawn, Rodney Clapp, catapults this to a five-star review.

I am about to confess:

I have been known to occasionally meet publicly with women at Starbuck's.


I am not sure I would be comfortable with doing so at a full-blown restuarant, indoors, as a meal. (Except, say, with a pastor friend and colleague in our network.....who just happens to be named Nancy......... and female).
Right or wrong, I still generally keep the Saddleback/Billy Graham guidelines (which the book weighs).
Though I am certain the Holy Spirit will lead me to break them a bit more (biblically, even though I am not a binitarian this).

And yes, I am aware that even the Starbuck's level meetings can be risky
(see "Uncle Ernie at Uncle Harry's" and
"God, beach and breasts"),

and that we men (in particular) risk over-sexualizing.

But since that infamous Scripture that nine out of ten evangelicals would swear (well, promise) on stack of Bibles was in the Bible ("Avoid the appearance of evil") is nowhere in the Bible (and the one Scripture we confuse for that one actually makes basically the opposite point, please read this link from Tia Lynn)..

..the risk I am worried about should not be "what will people think."

The risk I may be indeed taking is that I won't grow as a disciple of Jesus, unless I do occasionally partake in such "sacred order" encounters.

Well. for the two readers that are left, I continue (:

I don't intend to write a review that is a summary of the content, or even one that fully divulges where he lands, but one that references and quotes the book briefly, through the grid of the three topics I laid out above (and copied below).

I sincerely hope you are already sold on the book, and my comments will intrigue you into cutting the deal.

I highly recommend reading chapter one (or watching this video interview with the author) if you have any doubt; then I would double dare you not to finish the book in one setting.


1)A reductionist view of sexuality almost inevitably becomes seductionist. We are (g)not gnostic. By obsessing with rules, we end up being ruled by obsexxing. Ironically, that's when we may be most vulnerable....

Rob Bell, who is quoted wisely throughout the book, asserts that
"our sexuality is all the ways we strive to reconnect with our world, with each other, and with God."

If that is so (and the Bible backs it, see Brennan's studies of Genesis, for example), how can we avoid (or why should we) what the author calls "embodied relationships" that are inevitably sexual, but not romantic or erotic?

Such is what the amazing "cloud of witnesses" throughout church history that Brennan invokes and quotes attest to (Why have we never seen these quotes elsewhere?)

As I wrote about it in The Reduction of Seduction posts (here and here) I do get how we in leadership cannot help but complicate relationships with "parishoners" or others who view us in a pastoral/God-figure role. The "woman in the 22nd pew" has permanently messed up my life, thank God.

And there is need to always remember the names we'd like to forget (from Swaggart to Haggard).

But it is precisely we as leaders, with our drive to control, that hinders the Spirit's work in our communities. In the name of carefulness, we abdicate prayerfulness. We inadvertently (??) bless legalism, sell gnosticism, and endorse immorality.


What if I simply quoted two of the most acceptable standards among evangelical writers here
These are the killer quotes (if read thrice and pondered) that Brennan brilliantly introduces us to:

"It is therefore easy to see why Authority frowns on friendship.
Every real friendship is a sort of secession, even a rebellion." (C.S. Lewis, p. 145)

"[Seeking intimacy, at any level} is not a venture that gets the support of many people.
It is inefficient." (Eugene Peterson, p. 150).

No wonder we (I) hijack our sermons and framejack our pastoral counsel;
we feed (our) power, and fear (the peoples) freedom.

Much better to be found faithful and inefficient
(Read Ellul, well as the Marva Dawn "I cast you out, foul spirit of effectiveness" article here).

Thus, our sermons on "thou must" create musterbation.
We "should" on people.

Also, that this author (like hardly anyone else you read today, save the Godsend N.T. Wright) radically gets what Scripture means by "New Creation" is worth the price of the book. Any serious study of 2 Corinthians will reveal that the only way it cannot be translated is the way we pastors have always preached it (and likely the only way you have ever heard it: "If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation," When a straightforward reading of the Greek is "If anyone is in Christ, there the new creation is [in part].

New Creation is Kingdom Community. How ridiculous to downsize such a term so it implies one re-created person is "all that."

Every pastor worth his or her salt knows that's what it says, but who preaches it?
"New Creation" throughout the Bible is a corporate manifestation of the Kingdom of God; the Kingdom of the future partly and partially consummated in the present life,and on earth.

Yes, I see that hand. I know all the dangers of an overly "realized eschatology." Yes, I know the Corinthian church bough it hook line and sinker, and it led to sexual (and other) immorality.
But I also know the danger of not realizing the fourth petition of the Lord's Prayer
(Read Ladd, Wright, et al...or how about the Bible in context for a change and get back to me!)

And check Brennan's quotes below.

The fact that he incorporates the biblical worldview of New Creation in passing; without even defending or commenting on it like I just did, is refreshing and revolutionary, timely and telling:

"in the new creation, men and women are not limited to stark contrasts where we must choose between romantic passion or inappropriate sex/infidelity." (p.. 17)

"rethinking male-female oneness in the new this new age, the New Testament makes clear there are new social intimacies." (71-72)

"in the beginning of the new creation...with his resurrection, Jesus met Mary Madgalene, an unmarried woman, alone in a garden.." (99)

How tragic that those who preach the most on "not being of the world," don't often preach on "being in the Kingdom."

As Len Sweet says, "We are in the world, and not of it...but not out of it yet, either."
In this world we will have troubles...but also delightful marital sex, and delightful non-romantic cross-sex relationships! If that word "Delight" trips you up, do NOT read one of the strongest section in "Sacred Passions' on that D-word!

2)The Trinitarian nature of life, relationships, church/ecclesiology....of, well, everything...has profound ( and profoundly untapped) implications for....well, everything:

I was thrilled to find extensive coverage of the practical ramifications of a Trinitarian worldview, ecclesiology, and sexology. I have often quoted Len Hjalmarson and Jurgen Moltmann on this lens (see labels marked "trinity" below), so found these additional quotes confirmational:

"our trust in the Trinity's embrace frees us to love more fully with triune types of love--fostering deep relationships that involve solid friendships without sexual innuendo"
(Marva Dawn, p. 77)

"It is precisely the one triune God in whose image all human beings are created who holds the promise of peace between men and women with irreducible but changing identities."
(Miraslov Volf, p. 146)

"Like the Trinity, we are called to understand who we are not as isolated individuals who have to make contracts to protect ourselves, but as persons with faces turned towards God and each other." (Edith Humphrey, p. 169)

If you are thinking this all sounds like theological gobbledygook, or a "sloppy agape" "free-love" orgy, you are far from the point. We cannot theologize, or make practical decisions without the Bedrock doctrine (and lifesource) of the Triune God who is intrinsically relationship ( liminally and missionally).

3)The promise of the rabbinic tradition of "elevation" (which Bono of course has prophetically endorsed/sung about/prayed about) is uniquely applicable our current juncture in postmodernity and church history.

On this final point/thesis of mine....maybe one related quote from Brennan which radically re-paints a category such as "chastity" as positive will suffice:

"Chastity, then, becomes the relational skill of choosing freedom to dance with personal beauty, goodness and truth in embodied relationships (138).

On this point, I can do no better than point you to rabbis...and Bono:.

We start with Rabbi Cohen (not quoted in the book):

For the chasid, prayer is not something one recites, it is rather an exercise that one performs, or an
experience that one enters into.... There is no room for inhibition...singing and dancing are essential means by which ...he expresses his emotional cleaving to God….but
that desire for God has to be so overwhelming that any extraneous thoughts are excluded…If distractions are erotic in nature…and (one) faces up to the predominance of the sexual urge at both conscious and subconscious levels, and
its capacity to intrude even during prayer...then he has learned to take measures…Chasidism dealt with this by introducing the doctrine of the "elevation of strange
thoughts." This...technique not of sublimation, but of thought conversion, whereby the beauty or desirability of the woman is latched upon and used not as a sexual but rather as a mental and spiritual stimulus.... taught to "elevate" these thoughts by substituting the beauty of God for the
physical beauty that is currently bewitching us. (The pray-er) has learned to immediately contrast the pale reflection of beauty that humans are endowed with, on the one hand, and the supreme Divine source of authentic and enduring beauty,
on the other…

Any U2 fan will immediately and clearly connect all this to the U2 song, "Elevation."
(Read more, and exegete and watch the song here...ideally it's a soundtrack to this great book)

So please, buy the book.

Read Starbucks...with a friend.

New webisode: because that's the kind of pastor I am!!

"Sometimes one needs to literally throw the Bible at a sinning brother!!"

This new webisode below of "1130 AM," which I was privileged to guest-star in,
was pure type-casting (unlike this one) for me (:
Which is why I
tagged it "role of the pastor."


I better be careful,or I'll turn out like some nameless others:

Watch more, including the pilot episode out this great series at:
From the "Bonus reel/gag reel/deleted scenes" file:

Look what happened last time I came to confront this same sinning brother:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Slaughter: Taking the Shift (Attractional >Missional)

"Hel-LO!!?," he says,
"That's why you don't see an American flag in this church!
This church is not American!!":

Paul Tripp: Can I say the S-word in way that builds you up?

Arthur C. Clarke Video: Mandelbrot Set, Fractals, Colors of Infinity.. and God

Video description:

"Arthur C. Clarke presents this unusual documentary on the mathematical discovery of the Mandelbrot Set (M-Set) in the visually spectacular world of fractal geometry. This show relates the science of the M-Set to nature in a way that seems to identify the hand of God in the design of the universe itself. Dr. Mandelbrot in 1980 discovered the infinitely complex geometrical shape called the Mandelbrot Set using a very simple equation with computers and graphics."

to watch the rest

a sideways look at time

Excerpt from Jay Griffiths' book, "A Sideways Look at Time":

Clocks: caging time. The watch: the manacle on the wrist. Deadlines like barbed wire. Coercive, cruel, crushing speed. Punctuality next to godliness. The work ethic. Efficiency über alles . Western Christian time, linear, dry, masculine and ripped away from nature, exemplified in the clock, tediously ticking you off, count, count, count.

By contrast, picture this. A gibbet, a drawbridge, flags, turrets and oil drums. Made of scrap metal, wit an anarchy; place of white cider and Attitude. Welcome to Fort Trollheim, built by eco-activists who lived in their Fort, and up in treehouses in the nearby trees, opposing a road in Devon, in the mid ‘90s. And they had their manifesto: ‘This is the Independent Free State of Trollheim... we have no allegiance to the UK government... We do not recognize history, patriarchy, matriarchy, politics, communists, fascists or lollipop men/ladies... We have a hierarchy based on dog worship... Our currency is to be based on the quag barter system . We do not recognize the Gregorian calendar: by doing so this day shall be known as One ... Be afraid, be afraid, all ye that hear. Respect this State'

Time is a political subject. It is a crucial part of the language of power , between nations, and classes, between men and women, between humankind and nature. Stealthily, nastily, one type of time has grown horribly dominant: clock-dominated, work-oriented, coercive, capitalist and anti-natural: Hegemonic Time .

The Benedictine monasteries first began scheduling time, controlling and ordering time according to Christian dictat. With the sixth century Rule of Saint Benedict, idleness, that impish spirit, was decreed ‘the enemy of the soul.' Crucially, bells would be rung not only through the day but through the night too, for the night was the time when even the most well-behaved monks could slope off, free in their dream times. By ringing bells through the day, the monasteries commanded the bodies of the monks; by ringing bells through the night, the order of Christian time would get into their very minds.

The Industrial Revolution radically altered the sense of time experienced by the common people, and it created time-owners; the capitalist factory-owners, erecting clock-bound fences of work-time and the sense that employers owned the time of their employees, enslaving their time, enclosing time. This time, and all the time-values which go with it, has been imposed on numerous cultures across the world in a widespread and unacknowledged piece of cultural imperialism.

What's the time? Dishonest question. A political question. There are thousands of times, not one. But this one mono-time has worldwide dominance. Greenwich Mean Time comes reeking with the language of imperialism and smug with the knowledge that time is power: the chief clock at Greenwich in 1852 was called the ‘master' clock; it sent out signals to ‘slave' clocks at London Bridge. All the history of time-keeping and the discovery of longitude enabled Britons to rule the oceans and then build its empires of land. Having built its empires of land, it set about building empires of time, enslaving people's lives and enclosing other cultures' times (plural) with the One Hegemonic Time. When missionaries arrived amongst the Algonquin people of North America, the Algonquin, outraged, called clock-time ‘Captain Clock' because it seemed to command every act for the Christians.....


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Waffly Wedded Laughing Wife

HT: Keltic Ken

Longer version, see especially 1:15-2:11


Two posts on Bloody Sunday

1)A great piece by Warwick McFadyen, It begins:

  • Few songs take their title from that of a historical event, the occasional mining disaster aside. Even fewer can draw a line directly to that event and yet resonate in the wider world. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2 is a child of its time, yet its themes enabled it to survive, indeed grow stronger, in the years...
-Read all here
2)A great piece by Bono in NY Times:

PS That second piece includes a footnote, a comment on the shapeshifting (sans framejacking) of the lyric:
"Over time, the lyric will change and grow."
Cool to see a comment on this from the man himself. We have seen some good thoughts on the adaptability/Shift in Sitz Im Leben in U2 music..( see "Sampling and Reframing: The evolving live concert performances of 'Bullet the Blue Sky'" by Steve Taylor)

"Over time, the lyric will change and grow" calls to mind Bono's comment to Rolling Stone on "rhema":
"It changes in the moment" (love Beth's comments on this).

A footnote (some light relief), November 1983:
U2 is in a studio in Dublin, playing its new song, “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” to the record company. The melody is a good one but the lyric is, in hindsight, an inarticulate speech of the heart. It’s a small song that tries but fails to contrast big ideas ... atonement with forgiveness ... “Bloody Sunday” with Easter Sunday. The song will be sung wherever there are rock fans with mullets and rage, from Sarajevo to Tehran. Over time, the lyric will change and grow. But here, with the Cockneyed record company boss at the song’s birth, the maternity ward goes quiet when the man announces that the baby is “a hit”... with one caveat: “Drop the ‘bloody.’ ‘Bloody’ won’t bloody work on the radio.”

(note: Beth noted Bono got the year wrong! He's time-traveled with the song too much)

"Unsaved People Suck" Bumper Sticker

Available only at Landover Baptist Church here.. (of course you ae not surprised; this is the church with a

Church Restraining Order on Unsaved)

Complete line of bumper stickers here.


Liminality, Communitas and Worship in Korea


Billboard Liberation Front

The Billboard Liberation Front's most recent project/ subversion

Here's a history of the BLF

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mark DeRaud video interview: Reformation, art/images, and the convergence of Pentecostalism/Orthodoxy

In these short videos below, I interview Mark DeRaud, founder of Art n Soul
(here you see some of his art); he

discusses the Reformation, art/images, and the convergence of Pentecostalism/Orthodoxy.
We used these clips as part of Church History B for Latin American Bible Institute-Sanger..
Mark DeRaud is a full time artist and muralist living and working in Fresno, California. He completed massive murals for Holy Spirit Catholic Church in the same city (18’ X 37’and 7’-14’ X 100’). He has a degree in Biblical Studies from Westmont College where he emphasized early church doctrinal development. He has studied art in Germany, and theology at Fuller Seminary. Mark has served as a professor of art at Fresno Pacific University. He and his wife Wendy developed the seminar Art n’ Soul to bring together Christian spirituality and creativity.

Note:Here is the piece ("Ecstasy of St. Therese") he talks about in the 3rd video.

Here is Mark talking through the vision behind one of his paintings:

Related, see Mark's blogs on:

Sacred Space: Part One: The Spiritual Language of Beauty

Sacred Space Part Two: If These Walls Could Talk

Sacred Space Part Three:The Barren Cross

More? Click his name in the "tags" below:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Video: What's in a City's Name?

This video from GOOD Magazine (a good magazine, by the way)....

..connects me to the "spiritual mapping" of Rev. Bono..


U2 can pastor the city

Trinity in chiasm, time, and pericherosis

Any dissertation with all those terms, let alone quoting Moltmann, has got my attention (as you can see by my "labels" on those terms at bottom)..Excerpt:

Moltmann also pushes the idea of movement within
the divine. He argues that movement is absolutely necessary for God’s redemptive acts in history. To deny movement in the Trinity is to reject the Trinity and the entirety of the Christian faith: “Anyone who denies movement in the divine nature also denies the divine Trinity. And to deny this is really to deny the whole Christian faith. . . the lack of any creative movement would mean an imperfection in the Absolute.”

An integrative and symmetrical model requires dynamism. Static notions of God
make integrating trinitarian perichoresis and the revelation of Jesus Christ impossible.

Yet the Trinity is not trapped by a perichoretic egalitarianism that is removed and
unrelated to time and space. The Trinity is also not limited to the revelation of God in creation. The Trinity incorporates both of these notions and exists both within and beyond time and space. The Trinity exists in a dynamic perichoresis that incorporates our life into the divine life. By understanding the dynamic Trinity as the God who enters into the world in creation, redemption and sanctification, we can understand the perichoretic movement of God and the movements of God in human history as one and the same.
-link, The Egalitarian Trinity: A Descriptive Trinitarian Model that is Symmetrical, Integrative, and Dynamic
Steve Dancause



Interview excerpt:

So what would you say were your main findings?

I became convinced of the egalitarian necessity in trinitarian theology. Here I am indebted to numerous theologians, particularly Miroslav Volf, Jürgen Moltmann, Wolfhart Pannenberg, and Robert Jenson. I also was convinced that trinitarian models needed to be symmetrical to avoid Subordinationism. Robert Jenson and Catherine Lowry LaCugna have brilliant trinitarian models that integrate the economic and the immanent trinities (God in and for Godself beyond time and space and God in and for us within human history), yet I found their models to be asymmetrical. LaCugna’s model in God For Us is a wonderful work but it maintains the patriarchal understanding of the Father as absolute God as over and above the Son and the Spirit. Jenson’s model attempts to correct this and he makes a bold move towards symmetry in The Triune Identity, but his reliance on the traditional understanding of the Father ultimately leaves his model asymmetrical as well and therefore not fully egalitarian. What makes my project compelling is that it removes the traditional notion of the Father as the anchor of absolute divinity and instead understands the Trinity as the anchor of absolute divinity. This unconventional move, however, is also what will make the work controversial, and rightfully so I think.

After researching integrative models like those put forward by Jenson and LaCugna, I realized that any model I might imagine also needed to be integrative if it was to understand the Trinity holistically. Basically the egalitarian perichoresis of the three divine persons needed to be integrated with the submission of the Son and the Spirit to the Father within human history. I felt that we essentially needed a model that integrated the immanent and the economic trinities.

I was unable to find any convincing models that were both integrative and symmetrical. Nor was I able to imagine any static trinitarian model that met both criteria. This is where my advisor, Rev. Dr. Dwight J. Friesen, aided me in imagining the trinitarian life as dynamic rather than static. We might think this to be common sense, but I discovered that traditional theology, largely because of it’s close to ties to Hellenistic philosophy, demands static rather than dynamic views of God. In these models the Father is always the fixed and absolute point. We became persuaded that any Trinitarian model needs to be dynamic rather than static in order to achieve a heresy free model that doesn’t create the false notion of two distinct trinities. And this is how I arrived at the title – The Egalitarian Trinity: A Descriptive Trinitarian Model that is Symmetrical, Integrative, and Dynamic. While I offer my own model in the last section of the paper, I mean it to be descriptive, and not prescriptive of the divine community. I hope that anyone who reads it becomes convinced that we must view God as dynamic rather than static, holistic rather than dualistic, and egalitarian rather than subordinationist.

What are the implications of these findings from your perspective for the emerging church?

Being someone who is sympathetic towards egalitarian ecclesiologies, I was surprised to discover that my findings actually legitimate rank and hierarchies within both divine and human community. The key distinction, however, is that rank and hierarchy are entirely contextual and in a dynamic system of mutual submission. No one can look to the Trinity to legitimate any subordination as a static representation of how things are. This simply is not what the Trinity reveals to us. No one can claim that hierarchy in the church is scripturally or ontologically how things are supposed to be. To do so undermines our understanding of the Trinity at a fundamental level. And since it is the Trinity that makes Christianity a faith in its own right, patriarchal and subordinationist systems stand against the foundation of the Christian faith.

A further implication involves the emerging church at a fundamental level. Here I am indebted to my wife, herself a minister familiar with the emerging church, for this observation: The emerging church can idolise the completely organic and egalitarian congregation and it has a tendency to deconstruct anything that is other. At its best this is a holy longing for divine community. At its worst it can be a reveling in chaos that can be unhelpful. The dynamic and egalitarian Trinity certainly removes legitimation for hierarchy and structure, but it certainly does not remove its necessitation. Relationality cannot be used to justify chaos. As the egalitarian Trinity shows us, all relationships have structure, but relational structure is dynamic, reciprocal, mutual, and appropriate to its context. This is trinitarian relationality and the core of what my thesis is about. Similarly, I have seen emerging church leaders use relationality and/or egalitarianism to deny the power, privilege, and position that their context gives them. This is a gross error in my judgment. Abdicating responsibility while enjoying privilege is not what the egalitarian Trinity shows us. Service, leadership, and taking responsibility as appropriate to the context is what the egalitarian Trinity embodies.

Finally, while the project may be in line with emergent sensibilities, there is no way that I could have arrived at the finished product without dialogue with other Christian traditions. Emerging churches usually understand contextuality, yet they need to remember that they stand within a larger context of the greater Church. Just as my work would not be nearly as strong without engagement with the saints who have gone before, emerging churches are at their best when they hold in high esteem ancient as well as divergent contemporary traditions.

-link, full interview

New Google Phone Service Whispers Targeted Ads Directly into Users' Ear

New Google Phone Service Whispers Targeted Ads Directly Into Users' Ears

Sunday, June 13, 2010

"Who Put These Fingerprints On My Imagination?"

adapted from an amazing book by St. David Dark:

"Who Put These Fingerprints
On My Imagination?"
Engaging the Matrix
Adapted from Everyday Apocalypse
David Dark

"Propaganda makes up our mind for us, but in such a way that it leaves us the sense of pride and satisfaction of men who have made up their own minds. And in the last analysis, propaganda achieves this effect because we want it to. This is one of the few real pleasures left to modern man: this illusion that he is thinking for himself when, in fact, someone else is doing his thinking for him."

--Thomas Merton

With the latest New York Times in one hand and a Bible (NRSV) in the other, we try to explain ourselves to ourselves. What compels me? How did these clichés manage to hijack my consciousness? What does it profit a person to gain all the homeland security in the world and forfeit his soul? What is the Matrix? Or, to borrow a line from Elvis Costello's "Green Shirt": "Who put these fingerprints on my imagination?" What man, mind, or monster did (is doing) this. When and how did our thoughts get to feeling like they're not entirely our own? And when did we agree to it? Who benefits from our sedation? Who colonized my brain space? How hard it is to prefer the pounding headache of looking hard at the world over the blissful, happy-ending incomprehensibility of Technicolor and the easy answer, simple explanation, sound-bite culture of Fox News Network.

As a high school English teacher in America, ever in desperate need of a difficult-to-contest analogy, I've found a very present help in the metaphorical value, maximum applicability, and effective citation afforded by The Matrix. While very few propositions go unchallenged in a good classroom discussion, the intense relevance of this film to the experience of your average American teenager is something of a no-brainer. My students often accuse me of madness, but they find nothing particularly controversial in my observation that The Matrix powerfully names and describes the forms of captivity into which we're born and within which we live and move and, by all appearances, have our being. They know that worlds have been constructed around them, physically and psychologically, as protection against many a perceived threat, and they understand that it is an effort oftentimes well-intentioned and always in progress. They also understand that they are a target market whose buying power sustains the economy and that enormous amounts of money, mind-power, and resources are expended anticipating and manipulating their desires.

They live with the notion that their speech and their way of looking at the worldthe  little red pill of reality are often the creation of television and market research. They are painfully familiar with the Trumanesque epiphany in which the words "I love you, man," whether spoken or heard, are part-joke, part-sincere, and part-conspiracy. They know what it means to be unsure as to whether your own laughter is genuine. When Lawrence Fishburne's Morpheus describes the Matrix as "a neural-interactive simulation," they don't have to stretch their imaginations to know what he's talking about. They know. It's obvious.

Although most of my students don't know what a metanarrative is, they have a pretty good idea after I suggest that The Matrix might be the most convincing metanarrative on offer in this present age of popular culture. They take personally the apocalyptic significance of films whose protagonists discover themselves in carefully scripted, immersive environments which create the illusion of freedom while using inhabitants to fuel their own death-dealing machinery. They know the joke's on them when a voice says, "Because we value you, our viewers/customers/clients...." And the bright colors, earnest-sounding voices, and lively music only serve to remind that someone (or something) is trying to create demand and move product. They don't like it particularly, but they don't see much in the way of available alternatives. As the popularity of the film suggests, any articulation of a spirit of resistance will have people lining up. As Dostoevsky observed, no one wants to want according to a little table, and the sense that they've been playing roles in a vast formula of market research, while occasionally consoling themselves with a packaged rebellion, isn't a realization anyone can sustain for long without becoming depressed. But there is something powerfully invigorating about imagining, especially in the company of young people, what it might mean to take the red pill of reality on a regular basis or to weather the storm to the limits of one's bubble and to break on through to the other side.

he Matrix has you.
What language shall we borrow to describe the length and breadth of our captivity? We can speak of the hegemony of multinational corporations over the human heart and mind, the preponderance of the Borg, or any of the many worlds of Philip K. Dick who never tired of employing fresh, outlandish articulations of how we go about lying to ourselves. But for sheer vastness and a monstrously effective borrowing from any number of available sources, little or nothing compares to The Matrix. Plato's allegory of the cave, for instance, certainly conveys the notion that we often warm ourselves by the fire of a cold delusion. But in The Matrix, we're conceived for the purpose of being plugged in. We're fuel for the prodigious machinery. The commodification knows no end. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Keanu Reeve' Neo is the Daysleeper ProtagonistKeanu Reeves' Neo is the daysleeper protagonist who, like many young (and increasingly not-so-young) people of the western world, has been raised on digital technology. By day, he sits in front of a computer screen in an office cubicle. By night, he's his own man, hacking legendarily into the early morning hours until he collapses at the computer beside his bed. The search is on, and it knows no satisfaction. It is unceasing. And while Neo wouldn't be able to tell you exactly what he's searching for, he has recently nailed it down to a specific, haunting question: "What is the Matrix?"

Something's in the air. Something's happening, and Neo possesses at least the beginnings of wisdom insofar as he knows that he doesn't know what it (the something) is. Everybody's looking for answers, we might say, but in Neo's world, it's perhaps better to admit that we don't even know the proper questions. Most of us are too busy grabbing and accumulating to even pause long enough to wonder or dream harder. We need a wake-up call, probably on a daily basis. Premeditated, protective stupidity or the non-conforming, ongoingly difficult path of being awake and alive. Choose.

"The Matrix has you." This message makes it through Neo by way of his computer. Its meaning will occupy the rest of the film alongside the apocalyptic discovery of what it can and must mean to wake up. When I first saw the film (on an Easter Sunday, appropriately enough), I couldn't help but think that our current, oft-discombobulated generation of Western culture was being given a sampling of language adequate to both its despair and its hope. When Neo is first introduced to Trinity, her words are tailor-made for the lone sojourner constantly found looking for answers (or less-than-edifying images) by way of the computer keyboard:

Please. Just listen. I know why you're here, Neo. I know what you've been doing. I know why you hardly sleep, why you live alone and why, night after night, you sit at the computer; you're looking for him...The answer is out there, Neo. It's looking for you and it will find you, if you want it to.

From here, it's back to the white-collar routine where he'll wait for something, anything, to happen. The Matrix does have him, for the time being, but he's about to be shaken by what is doubtless the fantastic daydream of many an employee in the workaday world of data entry. As he sits in his cubicle, he receives a call from the legendary hacker, Morpheus, who alerts him to the presence of "agents" who've come to take him away. For one glorious moment, Neo's office space is transformed into a playing field of real danger and cosmic significance. The interrogation that follows his capture is too fantastic, in Neo's view, to be accorded the name of reality. But as he will discover, his understanding of reality has been, to say the least, adulterated.

Copyright ©2003 by David Dark. Adapted from Everyday Apocalypse, published by Brazos Press


‘Reverend, why are there only sick people in this church? "

‘Reverend, why are there only sick people in this church"

Clouding gospels

Although this is still my favorite cloud..

Andii Bowsher posted
these two
WORDLE.NET word clouds:
Mark's gospel and John's.
Bible students can go ahead can guess which is which..

I agree with Andii's qualifier about doing theology this way, but also agree with him this has real potential.

Brad has posted clouds for every book of the Bible here.
a PDF version here).. Can you guess these two?:

Here's a (lower tech, as it was 2006) cloud of this blog
(uh, name shows up too prominently)

see also:
Cloud computing