Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Paul would roll over in his grave if he knew we were turning his letters into torah."

Decades ago, I remember reading a Joel Green review of commentaries (in the Cayalyst newletter),
and he used the word "indefatigable" to describe F.F. Bruce.
  I confess I had to look the word up to see for sure that it meant what I thought it did.
It did...and that word captured Bruce...and still does (even since he died in 1990).

But one of my favorite Bruce quotes comes not from one of hin 789,004 books and articles,
but from an informal conversation in his living room with Scot McKnight.

McKnight tells the delightful story (there's more to it than this excerpt, see p.207, or this blog post for context) to close off the penultimate (yes, you can look that word up) chapter his amazing book, "The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How We Read the Bible." p, 207:

"I think Paul would roll over in his grave
if he knew we were turning his letters into torah."

year end reports 2010

I'll never forget the stacks of year-end reports I had to do for my former denomination...always reminds me of the hilarious/tragic true story Eugene Peterson tells (see "Sex and Drugs in Church: Peterson on Why the System Can't Care")..

But it's good to get these year-end reports from trusted sources:

A cow don’t make ham

Frank Zappa reminded us "You are what you is"

Good words..even though as often, some cheap sexual jokes in the outro..
shades of Phillipians 3:16. even.

If God's very name (Exodus 3:14) is "I am what I am," why can't we be good with  "I am what I is"?

You Are What You Is :
Do you know what you are?
You are what you is
You is what you am
A cow don’t make ham…

the wa-wa-wa-wa Wanderer

I always kind of assumed the Edge's falsetto "wa-wa"s  in U2's Johnny Cash tribute version of  "The Wanderer"  (3:45ff  below)

 were a  later hyperlinking/trainspotting/intertextuality reference to the similar ones in Del Shannon's "Runaway" (see1:42ff below):

But Beth has found  the original (never recorded) lyrics posted online:
 She comments on the intriguing connection to "Streets."  And I am also noticing the "wa-wa"s  were there from the beginning... though not included in the recorded version:


"i am a university student who follows Jesus"

I'm a Uni Student... from Campus America on Vimeo.

"Year of Living Biblically" by Alan Jacobs: TED video

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"yeah, this is a Christian story...but i know what you're thinking..."

"The Imposter" movie with Kevin Max, Kerry Livgren and Jeff Deyo..see videos below
(BTW, sell everything you have and give to the poor..but save money for the awesome Kevin Max album by the same name..interview here)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes

Video summary:
"Hans Rosling's famous lectures combine enormous quantities of public data with a sport's commentator's style to reveal the story of the world's past, present and future development. Now he explores stats in a way he has never done before - using augmented reality animation. In this spectacular section of 'The Joy of Stats' he tells the story of the world in 200 countries over 200 years using 120,000 numbers - in just four minutes. Plotting life expectancy against income for every country since 1810, Hans shows how the world we live in is radically different from the world most of us imagine."

Campolo: changing the world w/love and authority, not power

filmed by Len

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The machine strikes again

This time re: Paramore.
Click here, so you can learn how to pray and rage against the seemingly inevitable art/empire/industry machine..

The news makes this video  (backstory)  even more haunting:


Friday, December 24, 2010

earth as a subversive village/hamlet of the Kingdom

spy on David Brandon's email to Brian Dodd here.
buy the shirt here

so few women leaders

TED Talk: "Why we have so few women leaders": Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg at TED Women's Conference:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lawrence Lessig video

"provocative manger scene."

David Fitch  writes:
'Here’s a provocative manger scene.. It’s by an artist at our church named Brian Christensen. Don’t know if you can make it out but but all of the characters of the manger scene – Mary, Joseph, Shepherds, Wise Men – are over to the right watching the television. On the left is the baby Jesus all by himself.When we put this display up in front of our church property (it’s displayed in front of a friend’s house in this picture) we got some irate letters and phone calls"
-David Fitch

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

i hope i remember to never forget this song

Photo credit, and article, "Why do songs get stuck in my head?"

A cognitive scientist says:
"What seems to happen is that a piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that starts playing in our head."

But nowadays, with YouTube, any gaps in the mental movie can be filled in with a literal movie.

As an aftereffect of every overseas trip, I become Godhaaunted with songs from the trip; songs that I couldn't forget if I tried (like this torturous number from the Andes, which you can click and play if you want, as long as you know it tortures me even when YOU play it at  a distance; and this gal's spontaneous prayersong one the shore of Galilee a month later)but this lively worship song below from a meeting of our recovery church in Huancayo, Peru is on the top ten...besides inspiring Ken to fly around the room (as you can see) always reminds me to never  filter the word "church" not through NorthAmerican mega-definitions and what if we could smell sewage?  We danced.

And when I remember, or re-watch the song...well, Bruce Cockburn was right about the bone in my ear/song in my head:

PS On a lighter note (literally), I can never hear (or see)the national anthem the same way again..,after this

Mighty Mikaela and the Nostril Dectet (bootleg rehearsal video)

I had nothing to do with it

Ken Hawes knows what Jesus didn't: On Jesus' return in 2060, 5000..or later

The Rev. Ken Hawes   (chaplain at Cabella's, and author of  the forthcoming "Monty Python Theology")  just invited me to a Facebook Event called
"December 22, 2012: You're attending December 22, because the world is NOT going to end on the 21st!!"

I went ahead and RSVped..I hope to make it (:

But as God wills (I love James 4:13-17  ), and if Jesus doesn't return before the party!

Even though the moon turned red a few hours ago, the stars haven't fallen from the sky..

A few more posts on the end:

1)Frank Tipler   (not a Tim LaHaye kind of Christina, but a PhD physicist), in the amazing "The Physics of Christianity"

Christians claim that Jesus will come again, at the end of human history. Two developments in physics suggest that human history will end in about fifty years: computer experts predict that computers will exceed human intelligence within fifty years, and the de-materialization mechanism can be used to make weapons that are to atomic bombs as atomic bombs are to spitballs. Such weapons and super-human computers would make human survival unlikely, and in his discussion of the Second Coming, Jesus said he would return when human would face a “Great Tribulation” of such magnitude that we would not survive without his direct intervention. We will face such a Great Tribulation within fifty years.  (Tipler)

2)Phyllis Tickle, in The Great Emergence, ends the book with a final footnote:

As many readers may know,  many Medieval mystics like Joachim of Fiore would regard that development as nothing less than prophetic fulfillment, inasmuch as they believed  history to be divided into millenial complete the biblical scheme of seven millenia, the era from 4000 to 5000 CE will be the consumm[ation]..(p. 165, whole chapter here)

3)Nathan Hobby, excerpted from a post called Notes on the Return of Jesus:

  • How long can the church sustain the hope that Jesus will return, that there will be an(other) eschatological intervention by God in history? The clock has reached 2000 years; there are some of us who can still believe it is only a matter of more time. But what about 10,000 years after Jesus? And if 10,000 years is possible, what about one million years? Would there still be believers clinging to this hope? At some point will there be a strong sense: it’s been too long; we can no longer believe in it? (That has been there since the earliest generations of Christians. But it seems to only have afflicted some in each generation. It is perhaps a sustained conviction of many believers in the liberal stream. {Are there any liberals who believe in the literal return of Jesus?})
  • For me, a Christianity without the expectation of Christ’s return has ceased to be one grounded in real hope of God’s will being done on Earth as it is in heaven. If there is no hope for historical intervention – if our faith is only in eschatology after death – our hope seems wishful thinking, so far has it gone from the words of Jesus and the teachings of Paul.
  • It might have been 2000 years so far, but no-one has to wait more than one life-span. Once it’s been 100 years, it might as well be 1000 – in one sense. In another sense, we live in our forebearers’ time too. If Christ returns fifty years after my death, or if I can believe strongly he will, that means something different than he may return sometime in the next million years. -Nathan Hobby, Notes on the Return of Jesus

If all that messes you up, click:

"If Jesus doesn't return for ten thousand years.."

and other posts tagged "apocalyptic" below.

See you at the way or another.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Adam and Eve, Bono and Ali

I really enjoy Catanzarite's  Achtung Baby: Meditations on Love in the Shadow of the Fall (see the  U2 sermons review, several links related to the book here, and "a little leitmotif lite")

He takes a risk and offers an intriguing interpretive grid through which to view the narrative flow and arc of the "Achtung Baby" album: the  story of a man and woman, expelled from Eden after the fall (I particularly love his description of the couple getting off the train from Eden at Zoo Station..)

Then, more recently, a poster bu the username OnlineOnTheHorizon 
posted a fan video  (below)for the newer U2 song, "Mercy," explaining:

... I do not consider myself a very religious person, but the idea to take it in that direction sort of appealed to me.

The footage of Bono and his wife Ali is taken from an advertisement for fashion designer Louis Vuitton (check the link below) and they talk a bit about their own clothing line Edun as well. Then it occured to me; imagine Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, a place were everything is perfect and it all
makes sense and all they have or need is each other's company.
What we then have is quite the opposite, Bono in the rain, away from his beloved, and it's cold and wet whereas Africa is warm and nice - I thought of it sort of as a metaphor for being expelled from paradise.
I find a beauty in that idea of lasting love, friendship, trust and faith in one another and I wanted to somehow honour and reflect that with this piece of video. In the end, this is a tribute to Bono and Ali, my role models for what I think a relationship should be like  -Link:

See the video excerpt from "The Heart of Africa"viewable at
I love the way Bono smiles appreciatively/romantically  as his wife as she talks about their call to serve Africa,
That the couple were filmed leaning on a tree was no accident.

Outtake from the same day:

new book by Dallas Elder, "The Value Giver"

"The Value Giver: the HeArt of Receiving and Giving True Worth" by Dallas Elder:
Book website and excerpts here; endorsements below (the last one shouldn't really count..but it's true!)

"We are broken, inadequate and filled with guilt and shame.  That is the human condition, and as a result, we are tempted to see the world and, more importantly, our own selves as bereft of worth.  It is this debilitating tendency that Dallas Elder addresses in The ValueGiver.  Through the use of story, textual examination, and personal vulnerability, Elder weaves a narrative of hope and help.  The result is a well-written, life-giving book that will uplift the spirit of all who read it.”" 
-JP Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, and author of The God Question 

"“Here is a book that is well-written, engaging, filled with real-life stories and practical examples.  There is much sage advice here growing out of Dallas Elder’'s seasoned experience in ministry.  The ValueGiver will both enable you to see others more clearly through the eyes of Christ and equip you as you seek to call forth the divine dignity in them.  Read it and be inspired and blessed to be a blessing to others.”" 
-Steve Seamands, Professor of Christian Doctrine, Asbury Theological Seminary and author of Ministry in the Image of God

“"Drawing from a deep wellspring of personal pain and pastoral experience, Dallas Elder has given us a beautiful book. The ValueGiver shows how the redeeming work of Christ is much more than an afterlife oriented "ticket to heaven." Instead we learn to see salvation as the recovery of the Imago Dei.  It is in the redemption of our identity as beloved creatures who bear the image of God that we learn our true value and how to bestow this inestimable value upon others. I heartily recommend this book and hope it will be read far and wide."” 
-Brian Zahnd, Lead Pastor, Word of Life Church, St. Joseph, Missouri and author of Unconditional?: The Call of Jesus to Radical Forgiveness

"I am glad to see how The Value Giver tranmits so much of the heart and mind of my dear friend, Dallas Elder.  He is a wise, gentle and powerful friend of God who has a grasp on sound truths and a commitment and zeal to patiently and faithfully practice what he has learned.  Moreover, he is a skilled and compassionate spiritual leader and guide who creates healthy and life-giving relational contexts all over the world so that many others can also become great friends with Jesus Christ.  The ValueGiver is laced with compelling stories, revealing personal experiences, relevant Scriptures, witty word pictures and great quotes that will stick with you.  Please read this will see the Lord in fresh ways and be empowered to love him more fully and follow him more freely.”"
-Michael Sullivant: Conference Speaker, Author of Prophetic Etiquette and leader of the ministry Radius.

“"We are always enthused when an author’s experience establishes the premise for his work. Yet, it is not merely inspiration that you the reader, will obtain from these pages. The ValueGiver expounds on the Creator’s value system, and the restoration process for fallen mankind. Dallas Elder develops passion for living out life’s purpose in the heart of the reader. It is exciting to think how this book will have eternal impact on many lives.”" 
-Jonathan Carey, Founder and President of the CTC Network and author of Building Your Vision.


"Dallas Elder, a pastor with a storyteller's heart, possesses an amazing gift of  articulating profoundly simple, and simply profound truths.  I have been waiting years for this book; I dare you to read this life-changer, and  tap into your destiny of receiving and giving value."
-Dave Wainscott, pastor of Third Day Fresno and adjunct professor of Bible for Fresno Pacific University and Latin American Bible Institute-Sanger, CA

How Should We Read the Bible? The Perils of Greeklish: Gordon Fee video

Gordon Fee video, especially on "How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions"  (by Gordon Fee and mark Strauss)...

Revelation resources that shouldn't be left behind

Below are some new (some new to me) resources on Revelation.
McKnight quotes the first... “Nearly all interpreters … recognize that the entire book is a critique and parody of the Roman Empire and of the cult of the emperor…” (40)...for which, of course he takes some flack!

Noise is destiny

"To God, all is signal..
The universe emits noise..
Daylight is noise..
Noise is destiny because the universe will end in noise"

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Evil encroaches in tiny footsteps on every great idea"

"Evil encroaches in tiny footsteps on every great idea.

 And evil can almost outrun most great ideas, but fïnally, in the end, there is light in the world.

 I accept God chooses to work with some pretty poor material. 

But I’m much more amazed by what people are capable of

      than I am by what they’re not capable of, 

which is to say evil doesn’t surprise me...

Just because I often find a way around the darkness doesn't mean that I don't know it's there. 

 I just try to make the light brighter."

-quote by

B. Vox,  who once sent a Phillip Yancey book to Noel Gallagher of Oasis

Friday, December 17, 2010

de Caussade on God's method

"God teaches the soul by pains and obstacles;
photo story
not by ideas."

"God teaches the heart not by ideas,
but by pain and contradiction."

-de Caussade, "Abandonment to Divine Providence  (PDF)

Dave Schmelzer @ MIT: Peck's stage theory, centered sets and faith


What is Stage 4 Faith?

"you can still call it the Lord's prayer...if the point is not to pray it"

cursing God's staff and revisionist U2 history

It seems in the 2000s, Bono has revised lyrics that could be misunderstood by Christians as being anti-faith, so that the meaning is far more straight-up and clear.

"The First Time" is of course the classic example
(see Beth's comments here to really grasp the whole shift, also my "Well-Ended Stories That Don't End Well." Video examples in "Preaching Ecclesiastes and Throwing Away the Key".)

Though it is amazing to have so many CCMish moments in the U2 set nowadays,
I also miss the old days...of the more ironic honesty and wrestled, not nestled, faith.

Now, the other night,  the plot thickens.

Or became thin and baptized.

In Sydney, Bono updated "Love Rescue Me"   (see 9:15ff below) from:

"I have cursed Thy rod and staff/They no longer comfort me"


"I have cursed my rod and staff/They no longer comfort me"

Good point, it's all about which rod/staff we trust in (God's or ours).
But could it also be that until we admit that we have  all "gone too far" and cursed God's rod/staff,
we don't grasp how great and blessed is our Rescue.

And what would Bob Dylan say (co-writer of these lyrics)?

Though a writer is certainly free to revise and update their own catalog (with Bono and old songs, one must admit this may actually a slip..though I doubt it, as he is the master of changing everything with one word... at some point it also feels like revisionist history and a denial of what the band went through  back then.

On the other (third) hand, I am glad they are where they are now,  and that (in Beth's words), Bono and band need to honor "what can be delivered authentically in the more religiously-assured context" of where they are now.  Beth has elsewhere offered (listen to last few minutes of the our interview with her here) that U2's message might be summarized as "hope with realism."
I really miss the realism, though realistically I need hope...really.

And I  still secretly want the prodigal son to throw away the least at a couple concerts a tour(:

Or at least a photo to prove that Bono is still reading "Paul Celan, Patrick Kavanagh and Soren Kierkegaard"
as well as Nee and Wigglesworth.

I'd really pay to see a shot of him reading, and smiling knowingly, you know he must!

quick test-maybe you'll flunk it, too

Write the letter 'E' on your forehead using your index finger.
Don't read any further, just do it!  Capital 'E' on forehead.

Note how you drew  the 'E'.'  Was it facing right or left?
How many of you wrote it facing your right?
How many of you wrote it facing your left?
  -from Leonard Sweet, "How Beautiful"  p.146 here, or  page 14 here

Now that I have this new quick "sensitivity to others" test to offer to classes/seminars
(I have been using my own :"In England, they drive on the________ side of the road" for years now, see this),

I have to start by confessing that I flunked it.

This  new one is likely more I didn't come up with it myself.
That I love the one I came up with myself is actually the core of the problem.  (:

Professor Adam Galinsky at Northwestern University has discovered that those of you who wrote the “E” facing left are more group-oriented, and those of you who wrote the “E” facing right are more individualistic. The group-oriented among you have a default position that adjusts to another person’s perspective … you made it automatically legible to others, to an alternative perspective. Those of you who wrote facing right tend to be in high-power situations, and are used to having others adjust to your perspective. In fact, those in high-power groups are almost three times as likely to
rawl self-oriented “E’s” as those in low-power groups.   -Sweet, p.146 here, or  page 14 here

How self-centered is that?  I drew my 'E' so I could read it myself!
Well, at least I drive on the right side of the road (:
And I am proud of my humility..


In England, why do they drive on the wrong side of the road ...

 Adam Galinsky: The "E" and "Fan" Experiments





Colbert: Jesus is a Liberal Democrat

‎"If we're going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus is just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition. And then admit that we just don't want to do it." -Colbert

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jesus Is a Liberal Democrat
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>March to Keep Fear Alive

Thursday, December 16, 2010

the peril of "getting technically better, but spiritually farther "

That's a Neil Young quote that summarizes ministry.
From this interview with Daniel Lanois and Neil Young about "LeNoise"...
 theology happens at various places:
"your only responsibility is to take care" of the gift. (18:15ff), etc.


See also:

Neil Young's Joyful Le Noise

Feedback: Self-Sabotage: In 3 Directions

Maybe this won't be as controversial as last year's Derek Webb project, which included his using the  S- word on a "Christian" album....Its "instrumental. electronic. classically composed. based on the Lord's prayer."  It's a CD...and some short films:

Feedback [2.1] from Scott Brignac on Vimeo.
Part [2.1] of Self-Sabotage: In 3 Directions.
A Cycle of Short Films Composed for Derek Webb's Feedback. Get the album:]

Derek Webb:
Worship is a complicated idea.  Arguably, it’s what we all do, 24 hours a day (regardless of what we’re worshipping).  And I’m aware of a lot of “worship product” in the marketplace I sometimes occupy.  So I was cautious when I first started receiving the coordinates that would lead me to make ‘Feedback’.  It was immediately conceptual and ambitious, so much so that I genuinely wasn’t sure
I could do it.  But this seemed to be the perfect posture in which to create something worthy of being called a “worshipful” piece of art.  So I studied, meditated, struggled and prayed my way through this creative process, and it’s easily the most challenging thing I’ve done in my career. But I believe it’s been worth it, even just for the ways it’s stretched both my creative process and my faith
as a follower of the Way.
-Derek Webb, link

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

‘God gave me this song'

  • "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

sermon by Michael Pritzl

Great sermon that Michael Pritzl of

The Violet Burning preached for us in 2005:
Audio here.

  • More pictures from that day here
  • The Violet Burning: support 'em here
  • Preview their three new releases  here
  • Click their name below for more posts

2 Reasons Christians are Jerks Online

photo credit, from another cool blogger on same topic
Jonathan Acuff, author of the vital book and blog, "Stuff Christians Like,"
was given a column on CNN to address that topic.
And the article starts with:

Bono is a born again Christian.
Or he’s not.
It’s one of those two.
-full article

"metanoia is not an act of the will": Rosenstock-Huessy

Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, from "I Am an Impure Thinker"an amazing book:

..........................This then was the turning
point of my life. I learned what “Hebrews” meant by metanoia from
dead works. If the vehicles of the Spirit are sullied, it’s no use disobeying
the verdict of history over them. I did probably not advance much
in personal virtue by this about-face towards the future, away from
any visible institution. I did not become a saint. All I received was
life. From then on, I had not to say anything which did not originate
in my heart. In the process I rediscovered the meaning of original
sin. Under original sin the offices which we hold in society force us
to think one way and act in another. This chain I had broken. The
term “repentance” is absolute nonsense for this decision. The Salvation
Army type of repentance confesses one’s private and usually
perfectly unimportant sins. These private sins occur when we have
nothing big to live for.

I emphatically decline to admit that I repented on that November
8, 1918, and in the following period, for my private sins. Perhaps I
should, but I did not repent, and I had nothing to repent. I was called
into a new, dangerous form of existence which did not yet exist. One
cannot stress strongly enough the difference between this situation
and the sinning against the ten commandments. I was in danger of
falling into the sin against the Holy Ghost by doing the dead works of
scholarship, state, church. The urgency of the catastrophe challenged
me to do repentance not for my sins but for the sin against the Holy
Spirit committed and perpetrated by these institutions. The crime
or sin against the Holy Spirit always is committed as a social and
collective action. And we repent for it by dissociating ourselves from
the profession or institution which is God-forsaken.

This dissociation, however, is more easily formulated than
achieved. Because no social space or field exists outside the powers
that be, and the existing institutions are all there is at the moment of
one’s metanoia, of one’s giving up their dead works. On November 8,
1918, nothing existed except the church, politics, science by which to
express one’s faith. It takes a lifetime and longer to extricate oneself
from the established institutions and to find new ways of establishing
some less corrupt forms of expression for the living faith.

Metanoia is not an act of the will. It is the unwillingness to continue.
This unwillingness is not an act but an experience. The words
make no sense, the atmosphere is stifled. One chokes. One has no
choice but to leave. But one does not know what is going to happen,
one has no blue-print for action. The “decision” literally means what
it means in Latin, the being cut-off from one’s own routines in a paid
and honored position. And the trust that this sub-zero situation is
bound to create new ways of life is our faith.

It seems necessary to remind people that this is the way of salvation
experienced by any new-born souls and that God seems to care
little for the problem of smoking or drinking or similar secondary
matters. Because the sins against the Holy Ghost are the only ones
which cannot be forgiven. The others are important for the immature.
This one alone counts in the course of God’s history of salvation for
grown-up people.

I have never written down the story of my “metanoia” before as all
my later life grew out of this and has kept me pretty busy. But since
you have asked me point blank, I seemed to owe you an answer. And
now I have looked back upon that moment at the railroad junction
of Wabern and reflected that it draws attention to the original sense
of the decision a Christian was asked to make in the old days: to
distinguish the spirits of death and life, and to turn away from dead
works although they might be sanctified by the highest authority.
Because God is a God of the living and His judgements may be expected
any day. 
-Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy,  link