Sunday, May 27, 2012

2 optical the PhD category

Many online opicial illusions are cheap and cheesy..but many are profound..

1)I found this one  (created by Aude Oliva , PhD of Massachssets Institute of Technology) in Brian Greene (PhD)'s "The Hidden Reality."  The idea is that from up close, it looks like Einstein, but from a distance, it morphs into Marilyn Monroe.  Greene uses it to illustrate : "The morphing from Einstein to Monroe is amazing.  The morphing of one string theory into another is transformative...Calculations that are impossibly difficult from one perspective become perfectly doable from another."  (p.111)
2)The illusion below was created by Jordan Suchow, a Harvard University graduate student, and George Alvarez, an assistant professor in Harvard's psychology department,  and is called "Silencing awareness of change by background motion."  From the papper, Suchow, J.W. & Alvarez, G.A. (2011). Motion silences awareness of visual change. Current Biology, 21, 140–143:
 blog from Scientific American helps to explain what's going on. If you focus on the white dot in the center of the screen, the rotating dots appear to stop changing color. But, in reality, the dots continue to change during the video. "Their spinning motion somehow suppresses the viewer's ability to detect those changes."  link
That will preach!!

This connected for me to my posts, with plenty of examples of "centered sets with moving center" (centered sets with moving center,   moving center part 2 ,  

moving center part 3, and 

Centered sets are not an optical illusion)

See also some

liminal space


Friday, May 25, 2012

the godly idolatry of systematic theology... in 5 easy "R"s

Since all theologizing is



demonically infused..

                ... it's a tough  but necessary minefield to (circum)navigate.

In a way, it's our only job (we can't NOT theologize).
In  a way it's eventually ( inevitably?) idolatry.

It's a  Catch 22
(Numbers 22, perhaps...remember something in that chapter about talking asses?)

And if  theology is in essence  translation..

                                   then like translation, it can be messianic and betrayal.

Or worse: messianic betrayal.


 if all theology is written by Judas anyway...

                       ...we might as well prayerfully and carefully take a stab at officially doing it.

But in what form/format?
How to do so in way that serves the present age...and  betrays it?

At risk of sounding like an annoying and alliterating preacherman...

If we had to write a systematic theology textbook..

How about starting with a chapter entitled one of the following:

  •  Radiohead
  •  Revelation
  •  Redemption
  •  Random
  • Relevant

Heck, those might even be the only five chapter titles you  need!
(Sorry for the alliteration..but at least I didn't do three points...and a poem.
Scott the  Spy  noticed that even Mr. Emergent himself tends to write in threes..see here.
(I hadn't caught that..we need more spies in the Kingdom...who pro-phetically see what no one else sees).

Oops,  let's back up. It's all still too systematic...we need first and foremost to think systemic.

It's something we all naturally do, but we have been trained/brainwashed that systematic is the only way to fly.

Of course, systemic thinking can also lead  and breed to idolatry, but it is more innate, intuitive...and like life and like  Theos himself.
(Of course it opens a door to it anyway!)

I DO love teaching "Systematic Theology"..had a great time with these tribesters at Latin American Bible Institute, for example.
We walked through the required systematic theology textbook..

But we walked  and talked in a way that was

\                                       networked,
                                                                                            and Venned.

As our churchthing family has  been  recently praying for our  Chilean member , the poeta Happy Lee,  who has started a seminary systematic theology course,  I thought to take these two photos to tease her a bit..

First photo came with the comment "Here's my systematic theology  bookshelf (look how it's literally so heavy, it's weighed down) If you need to borrow anything, I 'll be glad to email a book or three to you."

Then I caught the book title in the second photo.

Ideally it could replace and render obsolete all the more "theological" titles behind it.
(Though you'll notice it was written by Jerry Jenkins, so inevitably it must be left behind)

Of the making of books there is no end,
but if our end was to make ONE book on systemic theology

We must mess with the mold.


Pick a lyric/line anywhere in their canon/cannon.
Or stick to one album..or one "Airbag""

  • "Like a jackknifed juggernaut, I am born  agaaaaaaaaaaaaaain" (salvation)
  • "In an interstellar burst, I'm back to save the uuuuuuuuuuuuuuniverse"  (Second Coming).

More?  See all my posts on Radiohead. or start here: my character said to Ken's character in the award-winning "Gaithers on Crack" film embedded below: "Radiohead!!  Any questions?"


Why do most books follow the nice and neat narrative:
God>humans> Jesus> end times  etc

And why can't the chapters be





                                      walled off..
There are no chapter divisions in the Bible, so why book them for  a theology book?

I love how folks like Rob Bell and Len Sweet have put table of contents in the back, for example.
It helps us think from right to left...which is the right way, by the way.

I love how McLaren took on the Greco-Roman narrative that had held us captive.

(see "A New Kind of Christianity" McLaren  and holy heteroclite:: "A New Kind of Christianity" review part 2:).
His alternative flow is excellent and exhilirating..but also just as much a grid or system as any other!  (as is mine..or anyone's...How do we put a lock in grids..and gridlock? Awareness is half the battle..) great risk...why not start  at the beginning.
By that I mean with the book of  Revelation.. and work backwards (forwards and forewords) from there.
Not in the Left Behind way.
But in a way that gets the flow of Kingdom  and eschatology.
And that goes with that flow....and flows with the "go":

Try these links for starters (enders):


Okay, I chose the R word, only to be consistent.
I mean atonement.

Rethink/dethink/atone for all atonement theories.

Abandon all atonement theories...theoretically.

There are no theories of atonement.
That's a good theory of atonement.

Or at least draw/systematize all such theories from Jesus' life as much as his death.

That includes his life before his life (preincarnate)
and his current life.

Ask 10 out of 10 Christians to fill in the blank:

"The Bible says we are saved by the ________ of Jesus."

11 out of 11 will say "death" (or resurrection.)
Romans 5:10 says...


 I sometimes draw this chart to suggest that atonement theories
shouldn't just deal only with  Jesus' death and resurrection,  but also branch out to draw  from  his  birth, life and teaching on one end...

...and include  ascenscion and Pentecosting on the other end.
NT Wright has recently reminded us of the   ridicubulous lapses in the creeds:

The creeds were drafted in order to highlight points on which the church resolved major difficulties. But when the creeds began to be used as a teaching syllabus (as they often are to this day), then the problem begins, because of course the creeds jump straight from Jesus’ birth to his death … and I have a mental image at that point, of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John standing there saying ‘Excuse me, we spent a lot of time and effort telling you about all that stuff in between, and you just skip over it?  What’s that about?’
Now, I have nothing against the great creeds.  I love them, and I say them or sing them ex animo.  But they have accidentally encouraged—or the way they have been used has accidentally encouraged—a reading of the New Testament in which the main body of the four Gospels is not theologically load-bearing.  For many Christians, it would have been quite sufficient if Jesus of Nazareth had been born of a virgin, died on a cross, and never done anything in between except, perhaps, lived a sinless life.
The four Gospels then, function for many as the dispensible back story for the Gospel as preached by Paul … this is the de facto position of many Protestants and many Evangelicals—many conservativeEvangelicals—the irony being, of course, that it’s the exact same position as that of Rudolph Bultman, with the only difference being that Bultman thought most of the stories were pious fictions.  But the reason why most Evangelicals would differ is not that the stories are doing anything theologically, in themselves, but simply to shore up a view of the inspiration of Scripture.  Not for the only time, swaths of Evangelicals are more anxious to protect a theory of Scripture, than to hear what Scripture actually says.  LINk


Write that book.


Subvert the dominant Greco-Roman narrative.

Start somewhere random...
as nothing is random...........and there is a  wholly and holy randomnity.

Heck, there may even be a  "Random Designer":reigning  randomly in  an ordered heaven.

How random is that?


I hate that word.

Let's go with practical..

Remember that God loves donkeys, sweat, entrails and menstruation:

'Practical' Theology departments at seminaries do not make theology more practical. They ensure that theology, oustide the PT department, will remain practical--that it will remain theology..
..Theology is bad enough, but modern theology is theology cultivated into idolatry. Bowing before science, social science, or philosophy, modern theology has adjusted its distinctive language and insight to conform to the common sense of modernity. Metaphysics or evolutionary science or liberal political theory or whatever determines in advance what can be true of God and His ways. . .
Theology is a specialized, professional language, often employing obscure (Latin and Greek) terms that are never used by anyone but theologians, as if theologians live in and talk about a different world from the one mortals inhabit.
Theology functions sociologically like other professional languages - to keep people out and to help the members of the guild to identify with one another.
Whereas the Bible talks about trees and stars, about donkeys and barren women, about kings and queens and carpenters....
...Theology is a "Victorian" enterprise, neoclassically bright and neat and clean, nothing out of place.Whereas the Bible talks about hair, blood, sweat, entrails, menstruation and genital emissions.
Here's an experiment you can do at any theological library. You even have my permission to try this at home..
Step 1: Check the indexes of any theologian you choose for any of the words mentioned above. (Augustine does not count. Augustines' theology is as big as reality. Or bigger.)
Step 2: Check the Bible concordance for the same words.
Step 2: Ponder these questions: Do theologians talk about the world the same way the Bibke does? Do theologians talk about the same world the Bible does?
Peter J. Leithart, Against Christianity, pp44ff

Of course...on the topic of keeping theology relevant/practical..

everyone should read a book with a terrible title that makes it sound heavy and heady.

It is.

But is also really real, relevant.

It's practical, actual and factual.

And the centerfolds rock.


Anyway, hope that made Happy happy.
Hope that messed up everyone's day, hair, and theology.

I hope we are all inspired to go forth and do what we shouldn't do but do do:


Counter systemic evil with sytemic theology...and Theos.
Just make sure it all connects somewhere with the real world:
Jesus in/on the street corner.

If it stays in Ivory Tower, and never hits (or starts) with the man on the street, or the streetwalker..'s worse than a clanging cymbal/symbol....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2 new U2 clips

No one is sure about what these are, the sources say they're from May.
Discussion ;here
YouTube here

Monday, May 21, 2012

getting spaced out in Fresno is inevitable...literally built into the streets

I am sure some think our fair city of Fresno is stick in a timewarp...and still in the 50s.
That's another post (for another time.

This one's about it's space-orientation in Fresno.

This one is an appendix to my previous post," sideways city-texts and my whenabouts in  a spacetime  drive and dérive.".  That was a it to get the backstory).  But here's the section of Paul Hiebert's Transforming Worldview that inspired it: "Worldviews and The Ordering of Space" (click, and click again to enlarge and read)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

a prayer from Alanis

I can be an asshole (FM version, single version says "nighrmare")  of the grandest kind
I can withhold like it's going out of style
I can be the moodiest baby, and you've never met anyone (who's)
As negative I am sometimes
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I am the wisest woman you've ever met
I am the kindest soul with whom you've got it that
I have the bravest heart that you've ever seen, and you've never met anyone (who's)
As positive as I am sometimes

You see everything
You see every part
You see all my light
And you love my dark
You dig everything
Of which I'm ashamed
There's not anything 
To which you can't relate. And you're still here

I blame everyone else, not my own partaking
My passive aggressiveness can be devastating
I'm the most gorgeous woman that you've ever known, and you've never met anyone (who's) 
As everything as I am sometimes

You see everything
You see every part
You see all my light
And you love my dark
You dig everything
Of which I'm ashamed
There's not anything 
To which you can't relate. And you're still here

What I resist, persists, and speaks louder than I know
What I resist, you love, no matter how low or high I go

You see everything
You see every part
You see all my light
And you love my dark
You dig everything
Of which I'm ashamed
There's not anything 
To which you can't relate.

And you're still here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The download

The Choir is giving away their previous album, in honor of the release of their new one!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Way 2.0

anyone who (like me) grew up in the 60s and 70s remembers a green "the Way" Bible, an edition of the living bible loaded with all kind of hip (for then) pictures and helps for 16-30 year olds.
 Now that the living bible paraphrase has been replaced by the new living translation, i should have know it was inevitaBle that a new version of the way would come out.

do check it out...a different approach this time..

Official info here;  see also Jonny Baker's comments (he contributed photoghraphs)  here.

"Thin Places" trailer

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"Divest Yourself of the Outcome" -- Shane Hipps

i am the stranger

"Kid and inorganic material, with the line between being and shell often blurred "

From New Amsterdam Records:
Loving the Chambered Nautilus is William Brittelle’s iconoclastic follow-up to the art rock epic Television Landscape. Unlike it’s predecessor, this album focuses on chamber virtuosity and intimacy. Guitars and vocals (aside from Caleb Burhans brief appearance on the closing title track) are conspicuously absent, recalling Radiohead’s startling OK Computer to Kid A transition. Loving the Chambered Nautilus was written specifically for the players of ACME merging the classical chamber music tradition with electronic retro-futuristic pop gestures. In each of these pieces, complexity and virtuosity coexist alongside visceral impact and surface appeal. The electronic components of these works mainly focus on vintage synthesizers and rudimentary drum machines, while the string playing most often buoyant and propulsive with interspersing moments of tenderness and calm. The pieces in the Future Shock series focus on visceral impact and power, while the prologue Acid Rain on the Mirrordome, the title track, and Loon Birds in Meshed Crystal attempt to capture a sense of catharsis and longing (while still being, at times, joyous). The title of the project is a reference to the Chambered Nautilus, a fascinating marine creature inhabiting a complex and beautiful shell. The inner chambers of the animal’s shell display a nearly perfect equiangular spiral, and it is often captured and killed for it’s beauty. Most uniquely, the Chambered Nautilus is comprised of both organic and inorganic material, with the line between being and shell often blurred to the point of becoming indiscriminate. This fluid duality (if there is such a thing) in effect mirrors the relationship between strings and electronics in this project, with both elements coexisting to the point of becoming one -LINK

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

tell and show: smoking on the seminary roof,romance by the urinal, illegal crosses

One of the classes I teach for

Fresno Pacific University

(called "Jesus and the Christian Community" in the traditional undergrad program, and "Jesus' Life and World" in the Degree Completion program) requires students to become familiar  with what Hauer and Young  (in our textbook, An Introduction to the Bible: A Journey Into Three Worlds)
call  the "Three Worlds""  approach to biblical study.

Here below is how one student  of the book summarized the "three worlds" (she has more detail here):

Literary World--The literary world of the Bible is simply the text itself, apart from anything outside the text.  We mean the world  created by the text; the words on the page, by the stories, songs, letters and the myriad other types of literature that make up the Bible.  All good literature (and the Bible is, among other things, good literature) creates in readers' minds magnificent, mysterious, and often moving worlds that take on a reality of their own, whether or not they represent anything real outside the pages (Hauer and Young ch 2).

Historical World--The historical world of the Bible is the world "behind the text" or "outside the text".  It is the context in which the Bible came to be written, translated, and interpreted over time, until the present.  In studying the historical world of the Bible, we look for evidence outside the text that helps us answer questions such as, who wrote this text, when was it written, to whom was it written, and why was it written.  We also probe the text itself for evidence that links it to historical times, places, situations, and persons (Hauer and Young 2)..

Contemporary World--The contemporary world is the "world in front of the text" or the "world of the reader."  In one sense, there are as many contemporary worlds of the Bible as there are readers, for each of us brings our own particular concerns and questions to the text.  They inevitably shape our reading experience.  We are all interested in answering the questions of whether the Bible in general, or particular texts, have any relevance to our personal lives (Hauer and Young  ch3).

The "historical world" section sounds so boring, and ...well, historical.  But most realize that grasping what the Bible meant to "them" (the original hearers/readers) in their day is often lost on us thousands of years later, as we live in another culture, day...and "world."

Since our class focuses on Matthew's gospel, we talk a lot about the geography,  political/religious climate  of Jesus' day. We deal with the reality that the original readers had the benefit of shared history; shared memory.  This even includes  "memory" of events that happened long before the disciples were born (the  Moses/Exodus motifs throughout Matthew, etc).

We consider questions like:

  • Why was the Sermon on the Mount on a mount?
  • Why did Jesus take his peeps way out of their way to Caesarea Phillipi to pop the question of who he was?
  • What might the disciples thought/felt when they was the Herodian fortress?

As exciting as these lessons are for us who teach, it can be hard for student to catch how crucial historical context is to interpreting the text. faithfully

So to model what it mighty have been like for Jesus the Rabbi and his discioles to walk around the land for teaching moments and intentional backdrops; and to illustrate in an interactive way that places and  memory matter when reading the "historical world" of the text, I take students on a  literal tour of MY "historical world."

Since I myself went to FPU (so long ago it was only an FPC), and even became a Christian due to the influnece of its hallowed grounds and  people, I have lots of stories to tell.

As one hilariously-phrased brochure announced,   "I met Jesus and his wife" while a student..

So I tell stories about events in my past at the places where they happened.
..and the students sometime feel as if  "they were there"  with me as I retell the stories "on location'"..."on sight with insight."

In fact, one of my stories revolves around  fact  that when I took this same class (so last millenium), I wasn't a Christian when I enrolled, but I was soon after the final exam  .  This testimony was featured in the Fresno Pacific magazine article featuring my  beloved professor Leslie Mark.

Here I am in this photo, studying with my brother ( Bruce Wainscott)  for the class.  To borrow John Wesley's phrase, I am "in the pangs of the New Birth" as this photo was taken.  It is a snapshot of me trying not to get converted.

I take them to spots on campus where the conversion process continued.

Every "campus tour" is slightly different.   Sometimes the lessons are in historical order (This happened to me right here, and then the next year, this happened to me in this building) , But more likely, a given  tour is in order of the sidewalks, and thus out of historical order. A  given cluster of stories I tell  is somewhat selective (much like the four gospel accounts)

Sometimes while I am walking around campus with a class, owe run into formner students of mine    I'll ask them  which stories they remember from a year or twoi ago.  This gives us a chance to compare notes on how "rememberers" emphasize or remember different details of the same event/.story..  again, much lkike the four gospel writers.

I show them my old dorm in  what was then  "Module E by the Sea"..even our phone/prayer closet which is still there.

Across the quad, I "tell and show" them Michel and Diane Bucci's  former apartment.

Michel and Diane were a French Canadian married  couple, who were students when I was.  Soon before he came to FPC, Michel was training for the Canadian Olympics, and missed the trampoline because he was showing off for a girl.

He  landed a quadriplegic..
H later  landed  at Fresno Pacific, and shared his riveting tesintiony in many venues.

Here's a photo of Mark Hill, Michael Aguila and I walking by the apartment, to talk abut how we would take turns knocking on the winddw, to see if Diane need d help getting Miche out of bed, or ready for class.

The memories are bittersweet, as Michel died a few years later..

Students tell me that can never walk through that
section of campus without a tear in their eye..even years later ( Mission accomplished, they are now part of my historical world, and share a memory of an event they were not at)

On a lighter note, but just as significant  tot my historical (hysterical) world, and most tours:

I suggest  to students that there out to be a hoistiral marker plaque on the men's room in Sattler Hall..because back in our day ...the most beautiful girl I had ever seen (before we got married or even dated) cleaned that room as part of her on-campus job (the "Sparkle Crew"). I knew that, so  I would often  be out early in the morning. ostensibly for  prayer walk, but in reality as more of a stalk..hoping I'd run intop Sonya.  One day we had a delightful conversation as I helped her clean a toilet.

The rest is history.

Until recently, the story students teased me about most was the time when Sonya uttered those words that no lovesmiiten college student wants to hear:

 "I think we should just be friends."

click to read all about this artwork

Where does a guy go after hearing that?  As a new Christian, how dis I respond/grieve/rebel//"backslide?"

I tell students this particular story at a particular place, so I can  literally point, so they get the point and picture.

What do I do?  (Historical present tense)?  Devastated, I go across the street from campus to the grocery store (I point to the store) and buy a pack of cigarettes (50 cents?), and  walk back to campus to climb to the roof of the seminary  house....  and lie there and smoke!

And while students laugh  with (at!) me as they envison this; , looking up what is now w the "patio" of Tim Neufeld's office),  I can quickly append another story.

Years later, near same spot..

I point at the street  where a girl jumped in my car and.... let's just say, made me an offer I could refuse.

Suffice to say this story affords a great chance/segue  to talk about  Jesus' temptations!

But now the story everyone wants to hear  about is the following.
This story has just entered a second life,  as recently the university finished  a  wonderful new m sign..

The official  FPU Facebook page published this photo of it, comparing it  (right) to the old sign from my day  (left).

The only problem with the caption on the left is that, unlike it assumes, the sign did not look like this from 1962-1989/

That's my fault.

The sign was indeed there all that time.

But the cross you see on it was only on it for a few hours, and very few ever saw it.
Many heard all about it, though...

There's quite a story here.

In 1984,  the college decided the  school sign needed to be replaced..  An exploratory committee was put together to make proposals  about what it should be made of, what it should include, etc

One of the early decisions that was released (leaked?) was that nowhere on any eventual new sign should there be anything "conspicuously Christian."

Now, one can understand  reasons for that (particularly understanding the Mennonite Brethren tradition which sponsored the school has long been more concerned about  quiet, humble, practical and radical  discipleship  and Christian action, rather than just words...and well, signs.

But that phrase tripped up some of  us students..  especially new Christian like me.

We were a Christian school, why not let it be known?
So we came up with a plan.

A subversive one.

And right or wrong, we carried it out.

We would subvert the dominant paradigm...or at least convert the current sign.

I enjoy taking my current students to the scene of the crime, and telling the story.

Without telling anyone, we commissioned two of our number (not to mention  any names: Mark Hill and Randy Richmond) to use their carpenter  gifts and craftily craft  a nice wooden cross.

One night we snuck out (in fatigues and camouflage,  no less), eluded security ,,,and attached the cross to the sign.

In the morning, we posted signs in the cafeteria (Alumni Hall) saying "Have you seen the new sign?  It's the work of the "Cross Committee'.  We wanted to stir up conversation, and hopefully impetus to reverse the "nothing conspicuously Christian" decision.

We soon found ourselves mildly disciplined . and then  brought into/dialogue with the administration.   They seemed  open to our concerns,  and promised to consider them... long as we didn't pull another  prank, no matter how prophetic it was.

Several years later, as the college became a university,  a  new sign was  added  (including a Christian motto)

And then this year,  an even newer and larger ...and conspicuous>..sign was constructed.

Note that at  not one, but two places, a pretty  conspicuous "founded in Christ" appears.

I have no idea if that had  anything with the Cross Committee. of nearly three decades ago.
I's like to think so, but I doubt it.

Yes, I love the new sign!

So I I posted a photo of the new sign on my Facebook,  and soon current and former students of mine..., as well as friends I went to college with, even members of the renegade Cross Committee....began  teasing me afresh in the comments.

Graham Dyck, a member of the committee,  even dug up and posted some photos (see them here)  of our middle of the night adventure..  I had never seen them before, and they had never posted anywhere.

Graham posted:
Graham Dyck Lest anyone think the underground cross committee is a hoax, here is the photographic evidence.

Facebook friends got a holy kick out of that!

But then a few says ago I see on the official FPU Facebook page, the double photo I posted above.
The photo on the left was Graham's photo (someone  official had obviously seen it in their feed  but not gotten that it was part of a rebellion.  They assumed that's how the sign  always looked ...when actually it only looked like that  for a few historic hours..

Graham commented:

That is way too funny. I love that the caption provides the time frame as 1962 to 1989, a whopping 27 years. The cross was on the sign for one day from about 3:00 am until maintenacne showed up at 7:00 am and took it down as their first order of business. Anyway, we "remember the past with gratitude" even though few can actually remember that part of the past.


Mike Lebsock  (went to school with us, and here's a pic of Sonya and i in his apartment back then) thinks Steve Wiest (facilities team back then) may have a picture of his workers taking the mystery cross down that morning.

We'll see..

Just don't tell him I had anything to do with it (:

It was all Mark's idea...