Monday, January 30, 2012

church is not "called out ones," but "something tangible you can live in"

Frank Viola ( see "Frank Viola impersonates Dirty Harry/talks community"), from the book on the left in this photo:
“Our English word church is translated from the 
Greek word ekklesia. When we hear the word church, one of the following images usually pops into our heads: a building with a steeple on it; a Sunday morning service; a denomination; a pastor; a pulpit; pews; a worship team (or choir); and a sermon. Or we think of all the Christians in the entire world

Like ‘nice’ and ‘pagan,’ the word ekklesia has morphed since the first century. Back then, it did not mean “called out ones” as is sometimes taught. Consistently, the word meant a local community of people who assemble together regularly.

The word was used for the Greek assembly whereby those in the community were “called forth” from their private lives to meet (assemble) in the town forum to make decisions for their city. Consequently, the word also carries the flavor of every-member participation in decision-making. According to the New Testament, the church of Jesus Christ is not a place where one buries the dead and marries the living. It’s a community of people who gather together and who possess a shared life in Christ. As such, the ekklesia is visible, touchable, locatable, and tangible. You can visit it. You can observe it. And you can live in it.” -Frank Viola, “From Eternity to Here”, pp. 280-281

"the laws of remorse are restored..Vengeance belongs to the bored/Lord"

Leonard Cohen, "Amen":

Tell me again when I've been to the river
And I've taken the edge off my thirst
Tell me again when we're alone and I'm listening Listening so hard that it hurts
Tell me again when I'm clean and
Tell me again when I've been to the river
And I've taken the edge off my thirst
Tell me again when we're alone and I'm listening Listening so hard that it hurts
Tell me again when I'm clean and sober
Tell me again when I've seen through the horror Tell me again, tell me over and over
Tell me that you want me then
Amen, Amen, Amen... Amen

Tell me again when the victims are singing
And the laws of remorse are restored
Tell me again that you know what I'm thinking 
But vengeance belongs to the lord
Tell me again when I'm clean and I'm sober
Tell me again when I've seen through the horror Tell me again, tell me over and over
Tell me that you love me then
Amen, Amen, Amen... Amen

Tell me again when the day has been ransomed And the night has no right to begin
Try me again when the angels are panting
And scratching at the door to come in
Tell me again when I'm clean and I'm sober
Tell me again when I've seen through the horror Tell me again, tell me over and over
Tell me again that you need me then
Amen, Amen, Amen... Amen

Tell me again when the filth of the butcher
Is washed in the blood of the lamb
Tell me again when the rest of the culture
Has passed through the eye of the cam
Tell me again when I'm clean and I'm sober
Tell me again when I've seen through the horror Tell me again, tell me over and over
Tell me that you love me then
Amen, Amen, Amen... Amen

Pretty hilarious: there's an online debate about whether the line is
"Vengeance belongs to the Lord"
"Vengeance belongs to the bored"

Thank God for the Evil Empire (Google)

Google might indeed be partly evil...(like any system, or any big "brothr")..

....but for whatever reason they did this, celebrate!

" awarding grants of $8 million to two International Justice Mission [a Christian -based organization] -led coalitions in India to fight human trafficking.   Most of IJM's funding comes from private donations; less than 1 percent of its $446 million budget in 2010 came from major corporations or their foundations"- Christianity Today, 2/12

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Don't seek first the Kingdom, and don't make God your top priority!

If you think about it,  and look at context, it's obvious that "seek first the Kingdom" cannot be what Jesus means.

I know, I know, you have it memorized that way,
your Bible says it that way..
.............and so does the song.


"First" implies one would seek something second, third, etc.  But he says "seek...the Kingdom, and all these things [food, clothes etc] will be added to you."  Not: "seek the Kingdom, and then you can seek food , clothes."  No, "all these things" are given you, without you seeking them at all.
                               They are a by-product of seeking the one thing.

To seek them..even sincerely; even secondly... would be idolatry.
      "Purity of heart," Kierkegaard said, "is to will one thing."
                   Christianity is seeking one thing: the Kingdom thing.

Besides, we are so far only quoting a (poor) translation of Matthew's version of this saying
In Luke's version, the word "first" is not any translation.
Don't take my word for it..check it out!:

"But seek his kingdom,
            and these things will be given to you as well." -Luke 12:31.

 "But seek his kingdom,
             and these things will be sought by you as well."

How often have you seen it suggested  (here in the West, of course), that our priority list should follow this order:

  1. God
  2. family
  3. church
  4. work          etc etc

Give it up.  Get your priorities right, and ditch the priority list.

(By the way, sing the song, and recite the Matthew "memory verse" in your head.
Did you saying "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God"?  It doesn't say that. No "of God". Hmm. 
 Check it out).  And  what's actually really helpful about the "ye" of King James, is it is meant to be a plural: a corprate seeking.. so an INDIVIDUAL priority list is already out of the question.  If you succumb to one, at least make it a corporate, churchwide community, open-source one!)

Read Joel Green  (below) prayerfully and carefully; and then check out Matthew 6 all over again:

 When Jesus calls on would-be disciples to "seek first the Kingdom," is he thinking of a list of priorities with "my relationship with God" at the head?  In fact, a closer reading of this part of the Sermon on the Mount may indicate that putting God at the top of our list of priorities is precisely what we must never do.

Some may take offense at this suggestion.  After all, they may say, look at the passage!  Doesn't Matthew 6:25-24 teach just this order of priorities?  Doesn't it say, "Don't put food and drink first; don't put clothing concerns first; rather, put the Kingdom of God first'?"  On the basis of this passage, should we not say that "seeking first God's kingdom" must occupy the top spot on our list of priorities?  Is this not what Jesus is teaching?"

Maybe be can get closer to the meaning of this passage if we paraphrase Matthew 6:33 differently.  Consider these alternatives: "Let the Kingdom of God be at the center of your life...not at the top."
"Let the Kingdom of God set the standards for your life."  "Let the kingdom of God determine how you live, how you work, how you communicate, how you play."  These alternative readings make good on the fact that the Greek word often translated "first" in this context, proton, is used in the gospels not only to denote "the first in a series," but also "that upon which everything hinges."

In other words, do not put the Kingdom of God first on your priority list; rather, let the Kingdom of God determine your priority list! [emphasis mine]

In order to measure our response to Jesus' message in Matthew 6:33, we must ask more than, have I prayed today, or have I read the Bible today?  As important as those spiritual disciplines are, they are not the heart of Jesus' message here.  We must go further, deeper.  We must begin to ask: What had God's kingdom to do with the job I am doing?  The way I drive?  The church I attend?  The friends I have?  How I relate to my next-door neighbor.  And so on. -Joel Green, The Kingdom of God: It's Meaning and Mandate, pp. 68-69 (review and summary here)
 Let me  now (I am editing this post later) add  to this post the picture inspired by Tim Geddert
 (faculty, FPU Seminary) that Tim Neufield (FPU faculty) drew...the pic I mentioned in the comments below, Reminds Katy Kee and I of a centered set that's bounded!

"the impeded stream is the one that sings"

Wendell Berry:
"There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say "It is yet more difficult than you thought." This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings."- Wendell Berry,  "Marriage, Too, May Have Something to Teach Us"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

can pastors also go with the flow....of the ringtone?

Churches sure love/hate how they have to deal with cell phone interruptions of worship services.
Some amazing stories are out there.

Of course my favorite video that one church actually uses to enforce their cell phone policy (with some radical humor) is here.":one church's policy on cell phones in church."
(see also "No Cell Phones During Baptisms!!!"

You can probably guess what our church's policy is after a life may have been saved because a vistor took a call "in church."

There was a recent news story (I sure wish their was video about what the conductor of the NY Philharmonic did when interrupted by a call phone.

here: "Violinist interrupted by Nokia ringtone, plays the ringtone.
."  But the real treat is the video below.

Which style pastor/conductor are you?

Google as jealous lover

"Lay down your treasure
Lay it down now brother
You don't have time
For a jealous lover

As you enter this life
I pray you depart
With a wrinkled face
And a brand new heart"
-U2, "Love and Peace Or Else"

Two good links

Monday, January 23, 2012

Jewish pros and cons: judging a book by its (back) cover as better than the swimsuit issue

There is hardly any greater pleasure in life for an unrepentant bibliophile than to find a great book you didn't even know existed..

...and to find it at a thrift store (where theophanies happen) and thus the price is right.

This time the book that found me  OK, there was more than one, you can stalk my stash here) was "Beyond the Graven Image: a Jewish View."

But this is not yet a review, as all I've read is the back cover and a bit of the index!

And that's what i'd like to comment on.
(By the way, check out this quick  clip  (and quip)  if you hate it when people review books they haven't read!).

Here's what stands out.
It's not many books where I actually underline phrases on the back cover!
Here's the back cover summary:
The proscription against using images in worship sets Judaism, together with Islam, apart from all other religious systems. In Beyond the Graven Image, Lionel Kochan explains the reasons for this prohibition and demonstrates how influential this image-ban has been in determining key aspects of Jewish thinking. Has the Biblical prohibition made the Jews a people of the ear rather than of the eye? The attraction of idols stems from their physical imagery and visual appeal. What distinguishes God from the "other gods," Kochan argues, is God's invisibility. As God communicates directly with people through voice, material entities purporting to transmit divine messages are deemed false. The worship of idols is seen as the ultimate form of disobedience. Such tenets have profound ramifications for Jewish thinking. The denigration of idol worship leads within Judaism to an attempt to devalue the material world. Symbolism is viewed with skepticism, as is representational art. Kochan argues that the Jewish conceptions of holiness and symbolism, our relationship with God, and the role of memory in religion, as well as the preference for non-material arts such as music over visual modes of artistic expression within Judaism, have all been shaped by the prohibition against physical representations of God.  link
So between that, and a brief look, here's my working list of potential pros and cons of a classic Jewish prespective  (not to be confused with Jewish pros, as in professionals ( I do know one.) or Jewish cons (as in convicts or con men.  I don't know any).

A Jewish worldview/hermeneutic may enable a  natural propensity to (the "pro"s)" the following

a)  intuit and "get"...epistemologically, hermeneutically, and midrashically speaking ...the following(the "pro"s):

  • The primacy of sound over sight ("people of the ear rather than the eye..",  "preference for music", Shema etc.see posts below labeled sound theory, synesthesia, string theory, and readd Ong, Webb and Rabbi Jose  Faur)
  • the power of symbol/semiotics/parable ('holiness and symbolism," see posts labeled: metaphor, parable)
  • holistic, Hebraic (of course)  and kairotic view of time, as well as its arrow and arc (chapter 7, see posts labeled "time")
  • sensitivity to what Tschetter might call "the issue of the swimsuit issue"...(see posts labeled: images)
  • primacy of elevation over sublimation  (see  posts labeld: elevation, sexuality, especially this   )

b)be "accidentally attracted to" (the "con"s):

  • gnosticism/dualism/bounede setness ("...denigate the material world")
  • fear of visual art and "image" ("symbolism is viewed with skepticism", see posts labeled "images")
All these tendencies, the author argues, are directly tied and tethered to the thoroughgoing "denigration of idol worship: inevitably built into (hardwired and heartwired) Judaism.

And the author wrestles with Maimonedes, Spinoza and Heschel.

I like it already..

the story of Dave the Just and the Am-Vet Thrift Store Theophany (with stunning non-Photoshopped evidence)

See the shining Shekinah lights in this photo above? 

 Me, too...that's why I took it.  I mean, how do you encounter a theophany and not snap a pic to tell and show?

Okay, kidding, sort of.

Sometimes shekinah-moments are more subtle  (just hanging out eating a banana..ha, great Larry Randolph line) than that.

Actually when I snapped the pic, I  didn't even notice the shining

I think it was more a product of me grabbing a photo before anyone thought I was a stalker, and thus before I worried about how the focus and light would look.

Then I sent it to Facebook mobile to remind me to upload it here.  But on a  whim,  I added the comment:

 "story behind this pic to follow..but feel free to make one up until i post it ."

I love the answer i got already:

Dick Grady Walk to the light.................

Lol..that ATM does look beckoning..but it's a siren..."Welcome to the Machine.."
But that's another post....

The backstory?

It's told in a post several years back, excerpted below.

But suffice to say that the spot I took the pic on  is hallowed and holy ground.
Jesus met me there.
In the  form fom of a wonderful woman whose name I don't even know.
And that's the point, as you'll see.

We can all locate in our memory, history, and actual geography, places where our life changed unexpectedly.  Where were you on 9/11?   When someone you loved said "I do"

...or "I'm leaving.."

This serendipitous shake-up call began with two words which I hardly hear anymore, as I prefer
to be called "Dave" and not by any title that I may or may not be...well, entitled to (Which is funny, because sometimes when I tell our congregation, or classes and retreats I teach that I am "just Dave," they turn that into a title: "Just (as in "Righteous" Dave."(:

At least it's not "Dave the Just."

On to the two words, and the source of the shekinah at the  Shields Avenue Am-Vets Thrift Store

I should call it Beth-El and build an altar there.

Instead I simply snapped a photo on my cell phone.

Same thing.

Not long ago, a woman...obviously from a previous (and much larger) church I pastored... came up to me in a store, "Hey, Pastor Dave! Long time, no see! Your sermons absolutely changed my life!" I was thrilled and honored; but I didn't have the heart to tell her the whole truth: Not only did I have no idea of who she was; she had no inkling that I would not know. We both knew we had never had a face-to-face conversation; that was not the issue. But in a larger church (too large for the senior pastor to know everyone's name), there is the "Johnny Carson" syndrome at work. Carson was swamped by people whenever he went out in public who called him by first name; after all he was in their bedroom every night (via "The Tonight Show"). The false intimacy that dogs media stars can be even more damaging in the church context. I could tell the woman would be crushed if I admitted I had no idea who she was...most likely a quiet there-every-Sunday "22nd pew" saint; but I had no memory of ever seeing her. The default church culture automatically attributes omniscience to the senior pastor (He or she will not only know my name, but know when/where I am in the hospital, etc.) . Of course this is impossible with thousands, even hundreds of attenders; but as skewed and doomed as this expectation is, it is originally based on a basic biblical truth: shepherds are supposed to know their sheep; even call them by name. Jesus flatly calls any other kind a thief. - Full article here
I can no longer imagine myself pastoring a church larger than...well, the number of names and peeps/sheeps I can truly know.  I am glad when other pastors are called to shepherd larger flocks (and they know the secret is to become a "rancher" and to utilize "undershpherds").

So today and what may well be the tenth anniversary of that thrift store conversation..

I stopped on the way home to feed my addiction (used books, of course!  Did you think I shop for used underwear?).

So thanks to the nameless (to me) vets who benefited from my purchase.
Thanks to the nameless (to my shame) wonderful woman who felt compelled to thank me that day.

Thanks to her I stand on holy ground  which can even include the 22nd pew) at the shiny shekinah thrift store on Shields.

Oh, here is today's stash below, but I took home something far more valuable:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Which would you choose: Jesus or heaven?

Which would you choose? (Parable by Peter Rollins):

You sit in silence contemplating what has just taken place. Only moments ago you were alive and well, relaxing at home with friends. Then there was a deep, crushing pain in your chest that brought you crashing to the floor. The pain has now gone, but you are no longer in your home. Instead, you find yourself standing on the other side of death waiting to stand before the judgment seat and discover where you will spend eternity. As you reflect upon your life your name is called, and you are led down a long corridor into a majestic sanctuary with a throne located in its center. Sitting on this throne is a huge, breathtaking being who looks up at you and begins to speak.
“My name is Lucifer, and I am the angel of light.”
You are immediately filled with fear and trembling as you realize that you are face to face with the enemy of all that is true and good. Then the angel continues: “I have cast God down from his throne and banished Christ to the realm of eternal death. It is I who hold the keys to the kingdom. It is I who am the gatekeeper of paradise, and it is for me alone to decide who shall enter eternal joy and who shall be forsaken.”
After saying these words, he sits up and stretches out his vast arms. “In my right hand I hold eternal life and in my left hand eternal death. Those who would bow down and acknowledge me as their god shall pass through the gates of paradise and experience an eternity of bliss, but all those who refuse will be vanquished to the second death with their Christ.”
After a long pause he bends toward you and speaks, “Which will you choose?”-Peter Rollins, The Orthodox Heretic: And Other Impossible Tales

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"From Eternity To Here" by...huh?

Two great books...but look carefully:

How in the world does this happen without copyright/lawsuit  issues?
 Identical title and color scheme.. Absolutely no accident.  Both books came out about the same time, and are completely unrelated as far as content. Looks like the Christian one (l) came out first, and then the physics one, at least by copyright date and Amazon's listed date of publication. (I was hoping it wasn't the other way around. My fear was the Christian publisher had stolen the cover of the secular one)..

So I really wonder what the story is. It's crazy and must cause confusion., It did for me. When I saw the book on the right in the store, I thought "How funny, someone stuck Viola's Christian book under the science section."  So I'll tag the. authors on Facebook: Frank Viola and Sean M. Carroll and see wbat happens.

Anyone know the story?
Both great books, btw.

Update: Frank Viola responded on Facebook:

Frank Viola Thanks for your inquiry and for copying me in. And more, for the kind words about the book. Yes, you are correct, my book came out first, some 8 or 9 months earlier as I recall. It was on Amazon (with the cover) many months before it releas...ed. I remember when a friend of mine found the other book almost a year later on another site. The publisher and I were amazed by the same title and similar cover. Nevertheless, I don't believe in judging motives and concluded that it was just a coincidence. So I applaud Mr. Carroll for a compelling title. And I do like his cover as well. :-) If the truth be told, James Jones stole our title some 50 years earlier . . . he just reversed two of the words ;-)See More

.Dave Wainscott Frank, thanks so much for filling us in. I love the way you handled know this was no accident, even if it was subconscious. Will be interesting to hear what Sean Carroll or his publisher says. And yes, I do love the book, will post a review soon. Thanks so much for all you do in the Kingdom. Blessings!

"only two things that draw me back from evangelical celebrity"

Rachel Held Evans:

When I feel that pull of evangelical celebrity, there are only two things that draw me back to center:

1) Friends and family who will call me on my crap
2) Structured prayer 

  -full post here

time travel by circling light

"Ronald L. Mallett, PhD, is a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Connecticut. He discovered a possible way to travel in time by applying Einstein's theory of relativity to laser light moving in a circle. The program uses CGI to illustrate his theories. Mallett was one of the first African-Americans to obtain a PhD in theoretical physics. He was inspired to do so because he wished to travel back in time to visit his dead father, who died when Mallett was ten." link


James Jones: why does "no one ever explain" the temple tantrum?

Some revolutionaries from all nations overlooking the Temple Mount, on our 2004 trip
From James Jones:

What came to my mind is that, for some time, I've believed that our exposition of the cleansing of the temple has missed the point. The cleansing of the temple was not a statement against capitalism. The cleansing of the temple was a statement against racism.

What was going on there was they had taken the Court of the Gentiles, the court of the other races, [which] allowed them to draw near to the God of Israel, to worship him, and they had filled that Court of the Gentiles with [commercial] stalls that prevented them from doing that. And Jesus clears the stalls out -- because they've denied the other races their sacred space to draw close to the God of Israel. If you think this is fanciful, then simply go to the two quotations that Jesus used from Jeremiah and Isaiah; the Isaiah quotation is all about the stranger in the land coming to the house of the Lord to worship him with joy.
Jesus says my house of prayer, should be a house of prayer for all races -- you've made it a "den of thieves". Why is it that in 2,000 years of Christian theology we've emphasized the "den of thieves" and not all races? My house should be a house of prayer for every race. And then in Mark's gospel there is a throwaway line which nobody ever explains, which gives the clue to what Jesus did. After having cleansed the temple, he then, we're told, lets nobody move through it. Why is that? Because he restores the sacredness of the space to the other races, so that they might draw near to worship the God of Israel. -LINK,  James Jones , A House of Prayer for All Races

Monday, January 16, 2012

some of the best albums of 2011..including some I haven't heard yet

Yes, I know #1 and #3 are cheating, but it's my list (:
  •  Tim Wainscott: Love Songs (unreleased)
  • The Violet Burning: The Story of Our Lives
  • U2: Achtung Baby Super Deluxe
  • Bill Mallonee: The Power and the Glory
  • Radiohead: The King of Limbs
  • Wilco: The Whole Love
  • Switchfoot: Vice Verses
  • Florence and the Machine:Ceremonials
  • Coldplay:Mylo Xyloto
  • Wilco: The Whole Love
  • David Bazan - Strange Negotiations
  • Passion:  Here for You 
  • Derri Daughtery: Clouds  Echo in Blue
  • Sigur Ros: Inni

--Wish I could count the new David's 2012 by matter of days!:

 Kerosene Halo: Kerosene Halo( "Three Legged Dog" concert video)

 --I have got to get into Bon Iver, it's on the list of every genius I know (especially Ryan..and it's #1 on Paste list)

-I'll bet I'll add The Joy Formiddable: The Big Roar...but haven't heard it yet
            How could this not be on my list when Rolling Stone said of them:
"We've seen rock's future, and it's Welsh, blond and has a drummer so badass he makes Keith Moon sound like your Mom playing Rock Band (Ghost of Keith Moon, pleas don;t haunt us!)"

-These may make my list later..haven't heard yet:

Some great lists by others:

Sean Carroll on Colbert: eternity and time

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Why I hate religion but love Jesus": five responses

Since everyone on the planet has
seen the"Why I hate religion but love Jesus" by  Jefferson Bethke, video already (It went more viral than "The Heat is On"),,,

here are five responses:

Tim Neufeld:

Why I think "Why I hate religion but love Jesus" is dangerous

Tall Skinny:

Religion: Love it and Hate it

Sarcastic Lutheran:

Why I hate Religion, But Love Jesus ]
Brambonius Cools:

part 1
(pt II)

Dave Schmelzer:

Bleed into One

Mike Roe kicks off the new Kickstarter trailer!:
More info here and here
2007 promo:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Shane Claiborne at Asbury: Sermon on the Mount/ Bad Theology Kills

Sermon on the Mount:

Bad Theology Kills (reminds me what Shane once told Ken and me: "Doctrines are hard things to love"):

Living as a Red Letter Christian:

N.T. Wright at Asbury: what is justification and what is at stake?

Turns out justification is far more centered set/temple tantrum related than folks give it credit for:

David Crowder: let me in the sound of light

If you think David Crowder's a heretic, you'll enjoy this link

If you think's he's the Messiah, he's not.

But if you were wondering if the Christianity Today review of his band's new and final

project is hyperbole:

" watching all three Lord of the Rings films in one sitting..a Mount Everest of rock worship albums, never to be topped." -Christianity Today, print edition very early hunch after only a few listens is:

Of course...but maybe not.

It probably tops "Church Music" and it's odd ancestor...combined.

Some  helpful reviews:

I have long loved the liturgy and physics  connections in the Crowder catalog (see more on Crowder and physics here),
but this time around, I pick up some "sound theory."  Likely not a full-blown acoustemology, and decidedly not a commentary on string theory..

But in a way that reminds me of the "sound" theme of U2's No Line ("Let me in the sound sound," "grace inside a sound," etc )..

check out  the new Crowder tracks, "The Sound of Light" (here I especially appreciate the synesthesia reference, and that it's also good physics)..and "There is a Sound."

Is the universe at base music/sound?
Or is it all light?

Perhaps the only  sound answer is yes

Which might facilitate time travel:  breaking the speed of sound or speed of light?


More to come...this project will take awhile to listen up....I mean, sound out.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bill Maher: "I'm a non-Christian, just like most Christians"

Paul Simon on God

Watch Paul Simon on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

Preaching Against Evolution in Evangelical Churches Creates Atheists?

Kurt Willems asks for your help with his homsework...all while making a salad:

Every Presentation Ever

a "public interaction" sculpture: Freedom

"Freedom," By Zenos Frudakis .
GSK World Headquarters,

16th and Vine Streets, Philadelphia, PA


read all about it : click here  (excerpt below)

Zenos’ statement about his vision of the sculpture