Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bono and Edge interview: Off the Record

This is not the only time Bono talked about the dilemma of God writing "crap songs"
  • "As a friend of mine quipped, 'All these Christian artists say, ‘God gave me this song,' and then you listen to it and understand why God gave it away.' -Shane Claiborne 
  • "When those people get up at the Grammys and say, 'I thank God,' I always imagine God going, "Oh, don't--please don't thank me for that one. Please, oh, that's an awful one! Don't thank me for that--that's a piece of  s___!" -Bono

The Multi-site debate

Multiple Sites: Yea or Nay? MarkDever, Mark Driscoll, and James MacDonald Vote 
from Ben Peays on Vimeo.

see also:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"All divine revelation is culturally mediated."

"All divine revelation
 is culturally mediated."
-Leonard Sweet, "Aqua Church 2.0," p.. 67...context

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

the Who's "Naked Eye" and the only One who can move us all

It's a very prophetic song by The Who that you never heard or heard of, even though they did it as the very last song at Woodstock (video here) and some say it basically, singlehandedly (Pete Twonsend's right hand, to be exact) and  presciently inaugurated  punk.

If you have heard of it, it may because it the song that  a substitute drummer (a fan who was at the concert)  got to sit in on once , when Keith Moon passed out...(how would you like to pinch it for Keith Moon?).

Once in a lifetime chance for Scott Halpin, and you can weatch him play it here:

The song, "Naked Eye' was written and recorded during the very early legendary sessions that led to the  masterpiece album, "Who's Next."  It became a concert favorite for awhile, but didn't make the cut for the album. But like many songs from that era of The Who, inevitably connected to the abandened "Lifehooue" project  (read all about that amazing stuff here), quite Godhaunted.

You''ll note that is some live versions, the line that "outed" it as being "about God' (in bold print below)was not sung..
it may have been too direct/evangelical for Daltrey to sing...Gee, it sounds so CCM..

Take a little dope
And walk out in the air
The stars are all connected to the brain.
Find me a woman and lay down on the ground,
Her pleasure comes falling down like rain,
Get myself a car, I feel power as I fly,
Oh now I'm really in control,
It all looks fine to the naked eye,
But it don't really happen that way at all,
Don't happen that way at all.

You sign your own name and I sign mine,
They're both the same but we still get separate rooms,
You can cover up your guts but when you cover up your nuts,
You're admitting that there must be something wrong,
Press any button and milk and honey flows,
The world begins behind your neighbor's wall,
It all looks fine to the naked eye,
But it don't really happen that way at all,
Nah nah no, don't happen that way at all.

You hold the gun and I hold the wound,
And we stand looking in each other's eyes,
Both think we know what's right,
Both know we know what's wrong,
We tell ourselves so many many many lies,
We're not pawns in any game, we're not tools of bigger men,
There's only One who can really move us all,

It all looks fine to the naked eye,
But it don't really happen that way at all

Monday, September 27, 2010

Shadow Boxing with Richard Rohr

"It takes so much energy and effort to suppress what we find unacceptable in ourselves that we can have very little energy left for anything else. This is why some people exist in a stew of aimless anxiety, nameless dread, free-floating fear, generalized anger, & irritated exhaustion - all indications we’ve placed a great portion of our unacceptable self in exile.

We then project our own sick symptoms onto the screen of our outer world and call it reality. We don’t see the world as it is; we see the world through the prism of our anxiety, fear, and other rejected emotions. This is what creates the ...worlds of conspiracy theories, militia movements, and the hateful rantings of radio and TV personalities. People are largely fighting their own fears and denied shadow selves. If there is no real shadow boxing with the self, the boxing ring of life becomes scary indeed. This is much of our world."
- Richard Rohr, "On the Threshold of Transformation:Daily Meditations For Men," devotional for  Sept 7:THE MALE JOURNEY: Shadow Boxing"....HT to amazing resourcer St. Mike Morrell

"I had a dream, but it was ruined by the sun shining in through me"

From an album described by a band member as having
"some dancehall influences, some calypso... It's more diverse and sprawling and ambitious" , and is "A bit more mature than The Unicorns... More of a Neil Young / Brian Wilson vibe running through it"..

No surprise members of Arcade Fire guest on it..

And that mastermind Nick Diamonds was found reading "Wise  Blood' by Flannery O' Connor
   (a book that is in part, an "unusual case study of heresy and redemption... featuring 'The Church Without Christ'...O'Connor says the lead character 's integrity "lies in his trying with such vigor to get rid of the ragged figure who moves from tree to tree in the back of his mind..but but for me his integrity lies in his not being able to... as a Christian  in spite of himself".) when this interview came out..

...And that the NY Times says of a concert on  the tour behind this album:

'Disaster turns merry in the songs of Islands, a band from Montreal. At the Bowery Ballroom on Monday night, Nick Diamonds sang about car crashes, wild-dog attacks, volcanic eruptions and the aftermath of nuclear war.
But the music bounced along, looking back to upbeat 1960’s folk-rock and psychedelia. Mr. Diamonds usually strummed an acoustic guitar; two violinists sawed away at hoedown riffs or plucked pizzicatos; a keyboardist tootled the sounds of analog synthesizers; a bass clarinet underlined some oompahs. 

The music wasn’t strictly revivalist; one new song veered suddenly into another peppy style, Congolese soukous, with an Afro-Latin beat and gleaming guitar lines. But Islands’ arrangements kept the transparency of 1960’s pop, a world away from power chords or beatboxes, and audience members happily clapped along. The musicians were all dressed in white, as if proclaiming innocence and purity.."

Band: Islands
Album: "Return to the Sea"
Song:  "Rough Edge"

The song will take on new levels upon realizing the songwriter/singer's last name is Diamonds..

"Rough Edge":
the world beat you for the something nice
you worked hard, died more
you mined what you died for

You can whistle my name
It's the mines, in Africa
That are to blame
You can scoop

out my brain
Shape it into an ear and then tell me your pain

I've been awake from the first day
Stayed awake, stayed awake
The rabbit was removed the whole moon
Long bird, short road

Dig deep but don't dig too deep
When it's late you'll see the hole is empty and oh so deadly
They want me raw and smooth like glass
They want it fast but they don't want flaws
I'm a girl's best friend
Can you cut, I can cut, 'cause I'm a rough gem

Who lives in those lights in the distance?
watered down, the rain will help you out
I had a dream, it was all a dream
but it was ruined by the sun shining in through me

Sunday, September 26, 2010

St Francis, renewal and “romantic tosh"

I love the Classic St. Francis "Repair my church" story (3rd paragraph here)

Dick Bayard tells about receiving an impression that the Lord was saying, "I am rebuilding my church, from the bottom up, and the top down." He talks about telling that story publicly at a conference, and sensing the Lord strongly correcting him because he left out the "top down" part.

So here's a reminder that it is "equally valid to change something from the outside and the inside."
From an interview with the author of Chasing Francis :
Mike Morrell: What about Francis and the institutional church? One would think he would have abandoned it.
Ian Cron: One of the things that makes Francis very interesting compared to a lot of what we’re seeing in the Post Modern Emergent conversations is that he was not anti-institutional. He actually honored the institution of The Church even in it’s screwed up state. He critiqued it with his life, not his words, and he wasn’t leaving it. He really felt like you could change it from the inside out. I recently read something by Jonny Baker about this very thing. Did you read that article?
MM: Yeah – the one in response to Kester Brewin’s series on Has What Emerged Retreated?romantic tosh”. Jonny says the idea of leaving institutions is, in his British parlance, ““romantic tosh”.
IC: Heh – Yeah, he says it’s equally valid to change something from the outside and the inside. I agree..
IC: This raises a really interesting point, too. One problem I’ve seen in the postmodern/emergent church conversation is you tend to have one of two different kinds of things going on: one is the emphasis on social justice. That’s a great thing unless you over-privilege social action and have no contemplative life. Someone who over-privileges social justice runs the risk of becoming an angry, disillusioned and very often, a smug activist. On the other hand, there are people who ignore social justice and only care about the contemplative life and this leads to a sort of saccharine piety. They start watching EWTN and saying the Rosary without any interest in the fact that so much of the world is starving to death.
MM: Yeah, I spent about a decade in a church movement that was very contemplative, and I feel like a lot of times we did veer into that danger where we really, at the end of the day, didn’t give a rip about what was happening in the outside world. I transitioned from that into this sort of Anabaptist, Anarchist, hardcore social justice world, and it was like a breath of fresh air to see people who really cared about what’s happening around the world, but, I did begin to encounter sort of an intolerance and almost a mocking of sincere expressions of love for God or spirituality that didn’t into the plight of the Post Modern world and things like that.
IC: Yes, you need both in tension. The commitment to social Justice should correct the excesses of the contemplative life and vice versa. That balance is very Franciscan.
MM: I can see that – there’s the deep impatience of the prophetic tradition, but then there’s the sense of “all will be well” in the mystical tradition; I think you need both to fuel the other.
IC: That’s right. And this is the beautiful polarity that Francis embodies so well.

Full interview..Great job, Mike:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Know That You Don’t Know.. by Erwin McManus


Know That You Don’t Know

“I’m afraid,” he confessed, as Maven stood with him in the place where his quest would begin.
“Of what?” Maven asked in his calming voice.
“For this journey, have I learned all I need to know?”
“Ayden,” he replied, “you know all you need to learn.”
“What should I take with me?” Ayden continued.
“Leave all you have and take all you are.”
Ayden persisted, “And the path, is it safe to travel?”
Maven looked at him sternly for the first time he could remember and scolded him, “It is not safe to remain!”
“It is not the place but the Presence that upholds you! This is your only certainty.”
“Go! Walk where no man has walked yet you find footprints.”

Friday, September 24, 2010

the 'real' Colbert preaches to Congress on Matthew 25

The 'real' Colbert (not in character).in a clip David Dark calls

"The Redeeming Witness of Stephen Colbert" speaks at a Congressional Hearing on migrant farmworkers,

preaching from Matthew  25, no less.
Transcript here; video below..
(hope to post an earlier section when i find it, it was pretty explosive, see this)
Later note, found more...see below

Here was the first part of his testimony, in character:

Complete  Q and A, see (Colbert at 0: 07: 47ff , 0:49:00ff and 0::53:00ff):

there is no private "conversation between me and the echo": Lessons from The Edge on kenotic communitas

It appears to be for real that The Edge is not proud of his humility.
Sometimes he is even self-effacing about

his self-effacing.

(Even Bono's much more obvious ego and  self-confessed "messianic complex" is largely misunderstood as pure pride, but a careful reading of his interviews, and his life, will suggest that he has humbled himself in the sight of the Lord, and of his own potential for pride).

I think with The Edge it is  largely due to the fact that early on, Lypton Village, The Monday Night House Church, the Shalom Community, and  (especially) U2
(watch 12:30ff in the Beth Maynard video at bottom for that important backstory) allowed Edge to taste and see that communitas is good and is of God.

He certainly seems to be a naturally humble and modest person, but being formed and forged in that rarest of environments and crucibles--community with grows a 'tas'--has gently and powerfully set such as his very core and course.

In the language of Lord of the Rings, he has been endlessly intrigued by that "" that creative community creates...and that necessarily leaves one at a loss for words.

Thus the need for a guitar..or two.

Or two in one...

In this video interview/demonstration of his guitar technique, Edge notes (00:35ff) that "the
 two  (playing and echo effect) work off each other totally ...I discovered early on that playing rthymically with echo gives you opportunity  to almost play off a second musician,  its almost like a conversation... the conversation in this case is between me and the echo."

Note that he has discovered..ironically while being alone..that  the best introverted alone work/art happens when one creates and facilitates conversation/community.  Matthew Fox talks of "extroverted monasticism."
Edge sets it to music, and on fire.  What happens between Edge and his guitar is so holy and hushed that it might seem wrong and exhibitionist to yank it out of the (prayer and practice) closet.  But it is in essence a relationship; a relational essence that emerges when Edge plays (prays) his guitar.  That may sound like the ultimate in narcissism, but I think he "gets" that with any inhouse conversation/intra-relationship that one has created, one is responsible to missionally move that relationship outward, inviting others in.

Just as their is something profound and confounding when male and female "create" the corporate image of God...when Edge talks and listens to his guitar and echo, it is at heart a marriage , and a tri-une relationship.
Which saves everything from inexorable entropy and default setting of spiritual ,  musical,  cultural and social masturbation (that last phrase is N.T. Wright's!)

The Trinity of course is the primary paradigm here: Three Persons whom the Scripture takes pains and pages to show have relationships with each other.  But since God is also One, he cannot be content to just talk to himself.  Inevitably, the missio dei kicks in,  the dance of pericherosis is in motion...and elevation happens.

You too (and U2) have been invited to overhear the conversation God is having with himself.
"I feel like a lot of our songs are overheard conversations," Bono offers, "sometimes they are not my stories."

When one plays/prays through guitar and voice,  within a context of community and conversation (communisation),one begins telling  (even instrumentally/glossolaically) the stories of others...and The Other.

"Here's where we've got to be/Love and community
Laughter is eternity/if Joy is real."
(U2, "Get on Your Boots").

For most folks, that's a big "IF."  But to be discovered by real joy is to create community that can't
create koinonitis, only community; that won't wind up myopic,  but mystic.

All of life is "playing rhythmically with echo."
Which calls to mind the Divine Echo of prayer that Margaret Feinberg has (over)heard.

I love this vintage 1984  article about  Edge  that  atU2 recently hauled out of the vault:

Bob Dylan once called Robbie Robertson "a mathematical guitar genius," a description which also seems to fit the Edge's goldcrested style. I hope it won't damage his modesty. Most times I asked the Edge about himself, he kept pulling back to "we," the community of the band. He seems to huddle aside from fame. "I cannot ever really comprehend what our fans see me as," he says, "I can only observe it from the eye of the storm."  
"Probably the people who buy our records or go to our shows are far more aware of the Edge as the public person than I am. I happen to be more aware of his private side." Thus the Edge: the semi-detached guitar hero. 

But do you see tihis gifted guitarists' dilemma.  He indeed might still be tempted to play "just for himself,"
and surely the energy that is created/recreated when he is alone in his room doing what only he can do on guitar is rewarding.  When you are that good, one might also be tempted to "shoot your wad and  name yourself God.":

 "As a guitar player, I've always done the work of two. One of the reasons Dik left was because two guitar players never worked. I never had that discipline. I was always filling up every spare moment with guitar." 

..Yet its not truly a dilemma but a trilemma that he is on the horns of:
One choice: play for yourself.  Another choice: play for others.
Third, and only choice: The above is not only  false dichotomy and dilemma,  but misses that
 life, faith, conversation and community are inherently  incarnational,  Trinitarian in unity,  fissional and missional.

Beth Maynard  (Beth's blog here) gave a delightful talk at Gordon College on U2 and Community..

(Note: the embedded video has some blips...until they fix it, best place to watch the complete video is
here, mp3 here).  Excerpts below are  from 22:07ff on the embedded video:

"Shane Claiborne has paraphrased Dietrich Bonhoeffer as saying, 'Love community and you will kill it'..
It's just way too ingrown in a Christian worldview for the raison d'être  of a community to be nothing more than 'having a community''s much more healthy and much more biblical for a mission to generate its community..
there are no [monastic] orders whose call is 
just to be an order.  Classically, that question of vocation comes before the question of community.'

Ah...does missiology precede ecclesiolgy after all?  (See "chickens and eggs"
and "Ontology of Missional Community").

You might be surprised that early on U2 articulated their vocation with a founding Scripture, which shaped  them  early on, and for the long term "not as onstage evangelists, but as way-clearers, as obstacle removers, as objection-raisers ...thirty years of...asking thorny qiestions that only turn out to ultimately make sense if Jesus is Lord."  (Maynard)

But that Lordship leads to giving oneself "first to the Lord, and then to others."
Beth quotes Edge:

"In the long run, I suspect that other people will wind up doing far more than us...and that's an exciting idea.

Easy enough to say..or is it...but Edge just  believes it...even  (especially) when  he plays alone in a room.  It's humbling to live in kenotic community, but ironically it's the only path to "doing the greater works than Jesus" that Jesus himself promised would be normative for followers...who hear the Echo.

Since, like St. Carla of Delano, he knows he is never alone, and always for others...
Philippians 2-style.

It is not good for humans to be alone, God is quoted as saying in Genesis.
By the time one finishes Revelation, one is convinced it is not good or possible for God to be alone either.

"The Spirit and the Bride say 'Come.'"

I hear (and see....holy synesthesia is often the subversive language of U2...and Scripture) that United Voice every time The Edges' "swirling epiphanies"   talk to themselves..
and thus to me.


P.S.  By the way, that smile of the Edge's, that begins at 1:33 at the instructional video above...and grows with a recognition that "something is up" is priceless, and wordlessly summarizes everything I've tried to say with words.

When you watch the Edge demonstrate "Where The Streets have No Name" played "normally,"   and then after his explanation, with the Echo..
he cannot help but he knows the 'conversation with the echo" makes all the difference....and he knows its not about him.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


"I'm not sure I can be as honest in my life as I can be in my music,
 because with manners comes insincerity.
 Truth is sometimes difficult."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hiebert's Gospel & Culture Exercise (What is essential? What is negotiable)

I love having seminars and classes take this survey.
Do it!

Gospel and Culture
By Paul Hiebert, from “Anthropological Insights for Missionaries”
This exercise is intended to help you test your own theological consistency on a number of issues that Protestants in various denominations have felt important. As a Christian in a cross-cultural setting, you will need to learn the differences between
those elements essential to the church in every culture, and those elements which are not.

Part One
Separate all the items that follow into two categories, based on these definitions:

Essential: These items (commands, practices, customs) are essential to the church in
every age and place. [Mark these. “E” on the list.]
Negotiable. These items (commands, practices, customs) may or may not be valid
for the church in any given place or time. [Mark these “N” on the list.]

1. Greet each other with a holy kiss.
2. Do not go to court to settle issues between Christians.
3. Do not eat meat used in pagan ceremonies.
4. Women in the assembly should be veiled when praying or speaking.
5. Wash feet at the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist).
6. Lay on hands for ordination.
7. Sing without musical accompaniment.
8. Abstain from eating blood.
9. Abstain from fornication.
10. Share the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist).
11. Use only real wine and unleavened bread for your Eucharist meals.
12. Use only grape juice for Eucharist meals.
13. Anoint with oil for healing.
14. Women are not to teach men.
15. Women are not to wear braided hair, gold, or pearls.
16. Men are not to have long hair.
17. Do not drink wine at all.
18. Slavery is permissible if you treat slaves well.
19. Remain single.
20. Seek the gift of tongues.
21. Seek the gift of healing.
22. Lift your hands when you pray.
23. People who don’t work don’t eat.
24. Have a private “devotional time” every day.
25. Say Amen at the end of prayers.
26. Appoint elders and deacons in every congregation.
27. Elect the leaders.
28. Confess sins one to another.
29. Confess sins privately to God.
30. Give at least ten percent of your income/goods/crops to God.
31. Construct a building for worship.
32. Confess Christ publicly by means of baptism.
33. Be baptized by immersion.
34. Be baptized as an adult.
35. Be baptized as a child/infant.
36. Do not be a polygamist.
37. Do not divorce your spouse for any reason.
38. Do not divorce your spouse except for adultery.

Part Two
Reflect on the process by which you distinguished the “essential” from the
“negotiable” items. What principle or principles governed your decision? Write out the
method you used, in a simple, concise statement. Be completely honest with yourself
and accurately describe how you arrived at your decisions. Your principle(s) should
account for every decision.
Part Three
Review your decisions again, and answer the following questions:
Are your “essential” items so important to you that you could not associate with a
group that did not practice all of them?
Are there some “essential” items that are a little more “essential” than others?
Are there any items that have nothing explicitly to do with Scripture at all?

Book Review: Leonard Sweet's "Nudge"

I am a huge Leonard Sweet fan,
so to say his latest book is my favorite of his  is both  officially true and ridiculously false.

It's a bit safer to say my favorite  is whichever one I am reading, re-reading or teaching from at the moment.
I wish some of his lesser-known classics (and the catch is, all his books are classic) were better known ("Summoned to Lead"); and I love it when one of them is off the beaten track of his usual theme (church and culture), like "11."    I hope he never stops cranking them out.

By the way, these are not even all of his books...or even all that I own... here in the picture..

But I put "Nudge" on the top, because in a  sense it tops, and concatenates all those that came before.

I'll never forget Ezra Earl Jones' promo blurb on the back cover of  1994's " Faith Quakes" (my first Sweet book):
"....he reads everything, and remembers what he reads, and quotes widely."
That is actually almost an understatement!!

It is surely still one of his core gifts (I wonder how many more

 books are in his libary these sixteen years later)....and this time out, that gift seems  so  fueled  and focused  that I have no idea what he will do next to top or equal it.

This is his Joshua Tree.
(Which gives me great hope for more Sweet masterpieces, because I think U2 have produced a few more masterpieces.. after that seminal album...even after "chopping down the Joshua Tree.")

He still quotes wonderfully widely, from Polanyi (p, 17) to Julia Child (p.177)...all are theologians (and therefore "signs"..more on that in a minute), but this time the quotes  are even more exceptionally tethered and textured throughout the text.

Perhaps the beauty of the book, which is on evangelism, and Sweet saw it as sort of the third volume of a  trilogy on ecclesiology ("So Beautiful') and Chrostology "Jesus Manifesto," co-written with Frank Viola),
and it just tracks that an evanglism-ology   (aren't you glad there's no easy academic word for it?  Actually, I would suggest there is, but it's "semiotics."  See Sweet's  "Semiotics 101" section, pp. 41-44.  Semiotics is the study of signs...and Sweet suggests  on p. 272 that semiotics is indeed the very "currency of the gospel) would flow next.  And that after several books on culture, particularly those attuning us to EPIC culture, it's now time to spell out a practical theology of culturally-sensitive evangelism.

I love to open classes and seminars by abruptly and abductively asking the group to fill in the blanks in the following two statements with their first instinctive answers:

  • "In England, they drive on the __________ side of the road."
  • "Boy, you can sure tell _________ is at work in the secular world nowadays; all you have to do is look around!
One can debate the validity of several answers, but I maintain that until our first and foremost answers are "left" (as opposed to the worst wrong answer of "wrong"), and "God" (as opposed to "Satan" or "sin"...I mean, who's bigger and who's winning?), we have let Christian culture co-opt us into viewing our own culture as superior, and "secular" culture as inherently evil  (Here's a short magazine article I wrote on the two questions).

So, when it comes to evangelism, it is refreshing to find a volume whose subtitle is "Awakening Each Other To the God  Who's Already There,"... not "How To Share Your Faith with Godless People in a Godforsaken World."

No wonder Sweet makes the heterics list...he speaks vital, Isacharrian truth for our times.

Maybe it's that he comes from a Wesleyan tribe..for some reason, conservagelicalism (and Calvinism) are uncomfortable with what Wesley called "prevenient grace," the grace that precedes salvation.  But the "nudge" of the title suggests that teh very essence of evangelism is nudging pre-Chistians to recognize (or "re-cognize," as Sweet helpfully hyphenates it) where God and grace are already at work and wooing.  I read a Book once that claimed "the whole earth is full of his glory."  Could it be that earthlings are too...even the hellbound and heathen?

"Nudge evangelism" is based on the following three  revolutionary notions:

 ...(okay, some not so much “revolutionary” as hibernating—but when these “notions” cease logging zzz’s, they will have revolutionary consequences). We will explore these more in depth a little later. But let’s lay them out in full now:
-Jesus is alive and active in our world.
-Followers of Jesus “know” Jesus well enough to recognize where he is alive and moving in our day.
-Evangelists nudge the world to wake up to the alive and acting Jesus and nudge others in the ways God is alive and moving (I call these nudges “small saves”).
           -page 34 

As opposed to a review or summary, I'll simply highlight some of my favorite quotes and sections, and let you know that with my "6-star (out of 5)" review that you'll  "carpe manana" and order this timely book yesterday .

Nudge is an invitation to move beyond church-centric Christianity to a holistic, omnipresent theology of the signified reign of God. God is, Paul told the Athenians, “not far from any one of us.”37 If God can speak through a burning bush, through plagues of locust, through Balaam’s ass, through Babylon, through blood on doorposts, through Peter, through Judas, through Pilate’s jesting sign hung over the head of our Lord, and through the cross itself, then God can and will speak through art deco architecture, abstract expressionism, classic literature like Virgil’s Aeneid, ass media, disease, Disney, hunger, Twitter, etc. The question is never, “Is God using this?” Rather the question is, “What is my/our invitation upon hearing?”
God meets us everywhere, in a bewildering variety of forms and fashions. Eighteenth-century hymn writer Isaac Watts called John’s book of Revelation “the opera of the apocalypse.” We grow giddy over mystic numbers, signs and seals, heraldic beasts and composite beings, but what about the opera of the everyday? The ordinary and mundane? John Updike believed his only duty as a writer was “to describe reality as it had come … to give the mundane its beautiful due.” Updike was a brilliant semiotician.
Nudge argues for the triangulation of all three: Scripture, Culture, Spirit. But we walk a tonal tightrope: in touch with the world but in tune with the Spirit through highly pitched souls, with heightened sensitivities that connect to the Scriptures and then to the Spirit and then to the culture.
"As we watch for the signs of your kingdom on earth,
we echo the song of the angels in heaven." (Eucharistic Prayer F, Common Worship).
           -From chapter one, free read here, or download here)

I love this section as it says so well what I have tried to say, but not so well.  We have a motto in our church family:"Engaged to Jesus, and Engaging Culture."  We intentionally didn't go for the obvious cautionary connective: "Engaged to Jesus,  BUT Engaging Culture."
I admit, with Sweet, that it is a "tonal tightrope," and sometimes delicate balance..but it is the normative, formative way/place to no "but," only a reminder that Jesus has assumed we have been "in the world" already all this time.  As Sweet often says, "We are in the world, and not of it...but not out of it yet either."

It should go without saying, but because the church has been overreactionary on the other extreme, it is good that Sweet does say it (on p. 55):"The world is not God, of course, but the incarnation goes all the way down, and the Spirit indwells all that exists."
I love to ask, "Who is the Holy Spirit poured out in in our day?"
The (shocking) answer: "Absolutely all flesh.
You want chapter and verse? 
I nudge you to check out  Joel 2:28  and Acts 2:17

I am a great fan of one of Sweet's recurring themes over the years, a "sound theology" (see that tag at bottom of this post for info), so I was thrilled he sounded the theme again.  See especially chapter four, "Pause: Use Your Ears (Do You Give Ear to God?").

  • "To read the Bible, the ears come before the eyes' (p, 148)
  • "Nudge begins with sound"  (153)

Throughout the book, he calls attention to (well, first of all the primacy and discipline of "calling attention" itself , and "giving attention",  noting that "attention is a relational term" [p. 279]).... how often Scriptures, particularly Jesus...and thus hopefully we as  welll begin with "Listen..."

Perhaps my  ultimate recommendation of the book is knowing that deep at heart, most every reader of this post (anyone brave enough to be found on my blog) intuitively knows, and resonates  (a "sound" word, by the way)with this fact:

"Evangelism as we know it hasn't worked."  (35)

And for those who appreciate how vital 

 are for communicating in our EPIC days, the very closing and quite intriguing 
last words (word-pictures) of the entire book are:

"Maybe the dove and rooster are companion birds.  (279)

I dare you to buy the book, and not jump to the end of the book to unpack that statement, which itself can summarize microcosmically the whole book and nudge of "Nudge."

Instead, I humbly nudge you..and double dare you... to read the book in one sitting,
which may well be the only way you'll be able to.

It's that good.

I nudge you to weigh it.