Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Rob Bell, Economies of Desire, and a Megachurch as a Site of Resistance."

James Wellman posted this.  Hope there will be a video:
For those interested, I'm giving the Presidential Plenary for PNWAAR this Friday, May 3rd, at 6:30 pm. at Seattle University. "Rob Bell, Economies of Desire, and a Megachurch as a Site of Resistance."

Here is the gyst:

The Megachurch for most of us is a logical extension of the marketization of religion in a culture suffused by an economy of consumer desire. As they say, “We are all capitalists now.” And so, Christianity must do its best to fit into that model and mode of desire, and it does–it gives us what we need: salvation; hope; heaven; ecstasy; peak performance; a marriage market; religious entertainment, and an outlet for charity. In the midst of our culture of consumption, we consume a religion that fills the needs of our desires. And megachurches are expert at that task. However, Bell’s megachurch, I will argue, reversed that trend; he built in his short tenure at Mars Hill Bible Church, an economy of desire oriented toward community, a way of descent, solidarity with the poor and independence from state loyalties. The question is how did he do it? I would argue this experiment was a kind of sociological miracle. Capitalism absorbs most critics, and in the end, it seems to have absorbed Bell as well. Or, at least, that is one of the questions for this talk.  link

praying Neruda

Bono has said more than once all U2 songs are prayers or can be turned into prayers.
The Naked Theologian turned Neruda's poem into a prayer:

Take this stanza from “Ode to the Table” by the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. The words in bold are Neruda’s originals; I added the italicized text to turn Neruda’s stanza into a prayer.
Oh God,
You made the world a table

engulfed in honey and smoke,
smothered by apples and blood.
The table is already set,
and we know the truth
as soon as we are called:
whether we’re called to war or to dinner
we will have to choose sides,
have to know
how we’ll dress
to sit
at the long table,
whether we’ll wear the pants of hate
or the shirt of love, freshly laundered.
It’s time to decide,
they’re calling

Help us make the right choice, oh God.

Sixpence has recorded a song to a Neruda text (lyrics here; video here ).  Time to tackle that one and pray it; maybe the smokng God will receive it as an offering ..

"Understanding How the Brain Speaks Two Languages"

"Understanding How the Brain Speaks Two Languages

Getty Images
Learning to speak was the most remarkable thing you ever did. It wasn’t just the 50,000 words you had to master to..

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2013/04/23/bilingualism/#ixzz2RzkKCdWT

rock's joyful "badass" band from the future on new single: "a call to arms, to forgive and to forget, a desire to want to be saved".

In yet another reminder that the band  (The Joy Formidable) of whom no one less than Rolling Stone said:

"We’ve seen rock’s future, 
and it’s Welsh, blonde and has a drummer so badass he makes Keith Moon sound like your mom playing Rock Band.(Ghost of Keith Moon, please don't haunt us)."  Link and  videos

..is not just any other band...

Lead singer Ritzy unpacks their new single in her Huffington Post column

We've just released our second album, it's called Wolf's Law. It's a record that enjoys a breadth of themes and colour that are symptomatic of being conceived on the road. We're a band that has barely left the touring circuit since our formation, so it's very natural that the seeds of songs find themselves being planted in hotel rooms, bus lounges and the backstages of venues across the globe. This records talks about friendship, love, grief, it ponders change, it celebrates the life of Wangari Matthai, pays homage to family members that we've lost and earnestly clings to a moment of sublimity that it accepts is fleeting. It's diverse, but it chronicles a moment in time, charters the abundance of thoughts, inspirations and ideas that you get from an ever-changing landscape.
One of the tracks from the album sessions, A Minute's Silence, is a consequence of what I was reading on the road. A good book is a much enjoyed refuge for me on tour; I read a lot and what I've been reading often seeps into the songs that I write. In this instance though, the connection was much more glaring, less inadvertent, this novel made me want to write a song.
If we put the story aside for a moment, it was the craft of Jonathan Franzen's novel The Correctionsthat at first heightened my affinity for his work. It's a very descriptive book, but it's beautifully subtle too. I felt straight away like this was a book that would separate the skim readers from the invested, and I found that very alluring, especially because the writing is accessible. There's no fluff, there's no forced intellectualism, and you don't feel like Jonathan Franzen is fighting for his metaphors, in the same way, that good music sounds simple even with the strangest of structures or time signatures. That craft of being able to say a lot without horrid elaboration.
I write a lot about family, the failings, joys and nuances of that unique unit.
The Corrections revolves around the Lamberts, a troubled Midwestern family as it traces their past, their relationships with each other and the problems of each individual family member. The parents, Enid and Alfred are old, they're frustrated by the onset of time, by each other, a sense of anxiety and regret hangs in the air as they realise their inescapable combined fate.
... In A Minutes Silence, a brief gesture of mourning has turned into something far more morose, a death like sentence in itself engulfing everything. But there's a call to arms, to forgive and to forget, a desire to want to be saved.
By the end of The Corrections each character has been through an experience that changes their condition. Alfred refuses to eat and dies, the only thing he can control with the onset of dementia and Enid recovers some freedom, and agrees that "something has to change". The human mistake and the human ability or inability to learn from experience is shown in all its forms. It's an epic tale, far more intricate and reaching than a four minute song, but the insight and the inspiration share the same grains. Thank you Mr Franzen for opening a door on modern life, on a scene that rings a chord and moving me to write my own brief soundtrack to it....link

.Lyrics video:

Parables, Figs and Manure

This below  is such a helpful sermon for several reasons.  First, it's honest (It's by The Sarcastic Lutheran herself).
I need to try that more often.
But we need reminders that parables are, among other things:

-"a loud fart in the salon of spirituality" -Eugene Peterson

-not allegories

-"sizzle in the mind...telling you 'Your attitude is the opposite of God's" (Kraybill, Upside Down Kingdom)
- To conceal teachings from those on the outsideTo reveal/ illustrate teachings – both inside” and “outside” (Mark 12:12);To disarm listeners. Thus, a “backdoor” teaching device; the zinger element of effective parables; a sudden shift in identity or plot-change which turns the story on its ear.  -Klein, Link, this helpful article 
          -sometimes characterized by surprising, subversive...even shifting God-characters /Jesus-figures

Sermon: One More Year for Figs and Manure  by Nadia Bolz-Weber, the Sarcastic Lutheran
Audio of this complete sermon

Well, it’s parable day again boys and girls. And boy do we have a weird one. Today we hear the parable of the Fig tree. In this parable the Vineyard owner is frustrated that in 3 years his fig tree has not produced any fruit.  So the vineyard owner is ready to just chop it down.  To hell with it.  It’s a waste of good soil. The tree had it’s chance and will never be anything but useless so the guy might as well cut his losses.  But then the gardener steps in and pleads to give the tree one more year – a year when he can upturn the soil add some literal crap to it and see what happens.

Parables like this one are like Jesus’ subversive little stories of an alternate universe. But the alternate universe of Jesus’ parables is comprised not of alternate things but of ordinary things: coins and trees and wheat and sons and Fathers and widows. Yet it is in these ordinary things that parables allow us to see how the nature of God is revealed in surprising, even shocking or scandalous ways within the very ordinary.

Jesus’ parables tend to be deeply engaging and really frustrating at the same time: you can meditate on them, struggle with them, enter into them, speak of them but you just can not solve them. The best way to suck the life out of a parable is by attempting to figure out the so-called moral of the story.  Parables aren’t about morals they are about truth – hidden, unyielding, disruptive truth. The kind of truth that simply can’t be contained.

Ok, that stuff about parables is all well and good, but I have a confession to make:
Every once in awhile, on Tuesday mornings when I read the Gospel text assigned for the upcoming Sunday – the passage sounds so totally unfamiliar to me that I think Oh my Gosh…is that like, a new, recently added part of the Bible?  It’s like there are new parts that people just sneak in occasionally when we’re not looking just to mess with the preachers.

I honestly have zero familiarity with the parable we just heard – which is weird since you’d think that I’d totally remember a parable where poop is mentioned...

...I think the reason I couldn’t find anything to say about this parable is because I assumed in this parable, that God is the vineyard owner. Capricious and impatient and angry and ready to judge our pathetic fruitlessness and destroy us for our shortcomings.
There are not really assigned parts in parables, which is why we can always close one eye, tilt our heads and look a them other ways, so isn’t it weird how we tend to assume that in Jesus parables God is always the wealthy one?  The king, the land owner, the vineyard owner.  It’s not like that’s wrong it’s just not the whole truth of who God is.  And this week it seemed to me that the vineyard owner doesn’t sound like the God I know, the God revealed in Jesus Christ.  The God who came to dwell with us full of grace and truth, the God who doles out forgiveness like candy and eats with sinners and invites all to God’s table.  No, the vineyard owner who was angry and impatient and wanting results doesn’t sound like God.  The vineyard owner just sounds like me.   I’m the one who judges myself and others wondering why I can never seem to pull off the things I say I want


Intersubjectivity: Rene Girard's Vision of Mimetic Desire and Economic Dynamics

 "Intersubjectivity: Rene Girard's Vision of Mimetic Desire and Economic Dynamics" at the Institute for New Economic Thinking's "Changing of the Guard?" conference in Hong Kong. Featured panelists include Edward Fullbrook, Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Mark Anspach, Paul Dumouchel, and André Orléan.link

Monday, April 29, 2013

"incomprehension, bedazzlement, and transformation"

Just like I love Amy Lyon's phrase"palpable holiness"..

I love this phrase:

 "incomprehension, bedazzlement, and transformation"

which Mark Thomas coined (created on the spot?) as he commented on a previous post about worship.

Copyright it quick!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

"Teacher's bond with students lasts long after graduation"

Rabbi David Miller comments on Facebook about the article

WHY CAN'T CHURCHES/SYNAGOGUES BE LIKE THIS TEACHER?CBS Evening News had story about a 8th Grade Bible Teacher at a Christian School who committed himself to writing a hand-written letter to each of his students every year. 30-years later and 2800 students later...he is still writing each student every year on their birthdays! It now takes him about 3 hrs per day! How many times have you gone to a Church/Synagogue for months, years, or even decades and the Pastor doesn't really KNOW you? Is that the proper role of a Shepherd? How many Judeo-Christians drop out of going to Church/Synagogue because they feel as if they are just a number? Is Facebook really a good substitution for actually meeting people? At least at Starbucks...you can meet and talk with neighbors...just as the ancient Romans did at their local bread shop or local restaurant. 21st Century we may be more connected but we are also more lost...than ever.

"Form and Style in the Music of U2": PhD DissertationChristopher James Scott Endrinal


The purpose of this study is to examine the formal designs and stylistic characteristics that U2 employs. It is my contention that, in addition to business savvy and commercial promotion, U2’s sustained success has been a result of stylistic originality and musical complexity.
The research in this dissertation is three-tiered. First, it identifies the salient sonic characteristics that distinguish U2’s music from the music of other bands. Second, using those characteristics, it examines the various formal organizations U2 uses throughout its catalogue. This step requires analysis of each section’s function and relationship to surrounding sections as well as to the song as a whole, which entails detailed examination of several elements including harmony, melody, lyrics, instrumentation, timbre, recording and production techniques, rhythm, meter, and motivic content. Third, I provide detailed analyses of several songs across the band’s career to demonstrate how U2 constructs songs and how each member incorporates his own unique musical perspective into these formal designs.

This study adopts a hybrid outlook on form and formal process, one that combines aspects of several different theories of form with original analytical strategies. I employ both “bottom-up” and “top-down” approaches to formal construction, graphical analysis in the form of electronic waveforms and spectrographs, as well as linear reductive methods, and traditional rhythmic, metric, melodic, and harmonic analysis.  link

Author's blog

Helga Weiss: surviving Holocaust

"Holocaust survivor Helga Weiss, tells her horrific story through the pages of her diary. During World War II, Helga  was sent to four Nazi concentration camps, along with her mother. Miraculously, she was one of the few children to survive. " (click here if video below doesn't work):


 "Helga Weiss: an interview with a holocaust survivor- Helga Weiss was transported to Terezín concentration camp at the age of 12. She tells Nicholas Shakespeare how she came to write – and draw – the most moving child’s-eye testimony since the diary of Anne Frank": (Click here if video below doesn't play) --

Jeremiah 29:11 and "The Bible was written for us, not to us"

Jerry Dodson posted this meme, and message:

Jared Byas quoting his friend Daniel Kirk, Associate Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary: "The Bible was written for us, not to us." And until we understand what it means that the Bible WASN'T written to us, we will always distort how it WAS written for us."  link

(HT: Keltic Ken and Rabbi Adamito)


The Most Misused Verse in the Bible | Jeremiha 29:11; RELEVANT Magazine


One book (link)  lists The 17 Most Misused Verses in the Bible


Friday, April 26, 2013

Brueggemann on Psalms.

Walter Brueggemann  suggests another helpful way to categorize the Psalms.

o      Creation - in which we consider the world and our place in it
o      Torah - in which we consider the importance of God's revealed will
o      Wisdom - in which we consider the importance of living well
o      Narrative - in which we consider our past and its influence on our present
o      Psalms of Trust - in which we express our trust in God's care and goodness

q        Disorientation:
o      Lament - in which we/I express anger, frustration, confusion about God's (seeming?) absence
§       Communal
§       Individual
o      Penitential - in which we/I express regret and sorrow over wrongs we have done
§       Communal
§       Individual

q        Reorientation
o      Thanksgiving - in which we thank God for what God has done for us/me
§       Communal
§       Individual
o      Hymns of Praise - in which we praise God for who God is
o      Zion Psalms- in which we praise God for our home
o      Royal Psalms - in which we consider the role of political leadership
o      Covenant Renewal - in which we renew our relationship with God
                                          -Bruggeman, source Click here.
For more detail, see this  PDF

Someone suggests this breakdown:
Psalms of OrientationPsalm 1 Psalm 111
These psalms reflect a confidentPsalm 8 Psalm 112
belief that the world is well Psalm 14 Psalm 119
ordered, reliable, and life- Psalm 33 Psalm 131
giving to the person of faith. Psalm 37 Psalm 133
Psalm 104 Psalm 145

Psalms of Disorientation Psalm 13 Psalm 79
These Psalms reflect the Psalm 22 Psalm 81
brokenness of life when it is no Psalm 32 Psalm 86
longer orderly but savage. Psalm 35 Psalm 88
Spoken out of the depths, Psalm 50 Psalm 130
they are still bold acts of Psalm 51 Psalm 137
faith. Psalm 73 Psalm 143
Psalm 74

Psalms of New Orientation Psalm 23 Psalm 100
The pit is not the end of life; Psalm 27 Psalm 103
There is more. New orientation Psalm 30 Psalm 113
Psalms reflect the surprise of Psalm 34 Psalm 117
New possibilities that are Psalm 40 Psalm 124
Experienced as pure gift from Psalm 65 Psalm 135
God. They are full of thanks. Psalm 66 Psalm 138

Psalm 91 Psalm 150  link


Psalmist's Cry: Scripts for Embracing Lament from The House Studio on Vimeo.

Dr. Walter Brueggemann Part 2 "The Counterworld of the Psalms" from The Episcopal Diocese of Texas on Vimeo.

see also:
Brueggemann vids: "Practicing Neighborhood Amid Empire"/"The Counterworld of the Psalms" 

Brueggemann vids: "Practicing Neighborhood Amid Empire"/"The Counterworld of the Psalms"

 Part 1 "Practicing Neighborhood Amid Empire":
Dr. Walter Brueggemann Part 1 "Practicing Neighborhood Amid Empire" from The Episcopal Diocese of Texas on Vimeo.
part 2 The Counterworld of the Psalms"
Dr. Walter Brueggemann Part 2 "The Counterworld of the Psalms" from The Episcopal Diocese of Texas on Vimeo.

see also  Brueggemann on Psalms here

Ephesians 6:10-18 at St Paul's Cathedral

See video below. Articles :"The Texan who stole the show at Margaret Thatcher's funeral"
and "Amanda Thatcher: Iron Lady's granddaughter sparks Twitter frenzy after emotional reading"

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rob Bell Finally Answers (Or Not):" Is Being Gay a Sin? "

Thanks to Brandon for asking so clearly.
It will probably take Keltic Ken to ask the same of  Brian McLaren (He almost did last time here)

There has been a lot of discussion going on in Christianity on the issue of homosexuality. How do you think we as Christians should relate to the gay community?

Is being gay/lesbian a sin?
Some people are gay, and they’re our friends and coworkers and neighbors and aunts and uncles and our brothers and sisters in faith and it’s important that we don’t exclude them from our faith communities because of how we’ve chosen to interpret 3 or 4 verses in the Bible but we accept them as they are and their desire to share their lives with someone.  LINK
Andrew Marin suggests this non answer is a good answer here

Christians and Humor: Thoughts on Making It Work

Great post by Rachel Held Evans, 
Christians and Humor: Thoughts on Making It Work
...See full article here; outline below

1. Humor works when it's directed toward yourself

2. Humor works when it's directed toward your own community or culture

3. Humor works when it’s directed toward the powerful 
4. Humor works when it tears down idols 

"benefit of clergy" and "clergyable crimes"

Wiki of "benefit of clergy":
In English law, the benefit of clergy (Law Latin Privilegium clericale) was originally a provision by which clergymen could claim that they were outside the jurisdiction of the secular courts and be tried instead in an ecclesiastical court under canon law. Eventually, the course of history transformed it into a mechanism by which first-time offenders could receive a more lenient sentence for some lesser crimes (the so-called "clergyable" ones).  continued

Saturday, April 20, 2013

"Picking Cotton": amazing book and story

On 60 Minutes:

New York Times Bestseller
enter site View Trailer
Picking Cotton
book jacket quotes


The God Helmet

Pope Francis and "Hitler's Pope"


definition of "full-time ministry" by Joel Miller

"..Full-time ministry (which I think means a clergy bumper-sticker and a love for fundraising)."  - link, Joel Miller (yes, tongue is in cheek, okay?)

Exegetes at Church

See this intriguing post by Tim Gombis (and my response in the comments section)
Exegetes at Church
By timgombis

A few recent conversations have sparked some thoughts about going to church as a critically-engaged exegete.
Biblical exegesis is all about critical analysis of the details of a text and critical scrutiny of other exegetes’ work.  Several times after intense and involved class discussions, someone has commented that it must be tough to go to church.  If you’re analyzing the nitty-gritty of a text so closely, emphasizing each feature as crucial, how do you put up with sloppy preaching?
Good question.
Here are a few scattered thoughts, in no particular order.
First, there’s ...link, full post

the pastor's smoking hot wife

 Read the whole article here: LINK
Of course, the phrase "smoking hot wife" always reminds me of how Ignatius (2.0) uses that line, see this.  (:

Pope Francis and the Surprise and Mystery of Reform

Do check out Greg Metzger's complete post here;
            it includes this quote from the man who would become pope:

Precisely if one remains in the Lord one goes out of oneself. Paradoxically precisely because one remains, precisely if one is faithful one changes. One does not remain faithful, like the traditionalists or the fundamentalists, to the letter. Fidelity is always a change, a blossoming, a growth. The Lord brings about a change in those who are faithful to Him. That is Catholic doctrine. Saint Vincent of Lerins makes the comparison between the biologic development of the person, between the person who grows, and the Tradition which, in handing on the depositum fidei from one age to another, grows and consolidates with the passage of time…
The early theologians said: the soul is a kind of sailing boat, the Holy Spirit is the wind that blows in the sail, to send it on its way, the impulses and the force of the wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Without His drive, without His grace, we don’t go ahead. The Holy Spirit lets us enter the mystery of God and saves us from the danger of a gnostic Church and from the danger of a self-referential Church, leading us to the mission.  LINK

"This old school mediated device is still around today, and it is full of intimacy. It’s called a table"

"This old school mediated device is still around today, and it is full of intimacy. It’s called a table." -link, article by Aimee Byrd

Infant baptism, pro and con: Mark Horne

See these timestamps to navigate to certain questions. 

"The Gospel for Sex Workers" by Celeste Chen

The Gospel for Sex Workers By Celeste Chen

Wired’s Guide to Crafting the Perfect TED Talk (sermon)

Pastor-teacher types can learn a lot from TED talks...(starting with length of sermon!).
See WIRED's list below, translating  "sermon."
Of course, one of the fundamental issues is not addressed,  as TED Talks are (so far) still taking heads  (OK, bodies) of the one "representative" (RRWI) professional.

Anatomy of a Winning TED Talk



Sophisticated Visual Aids

We’re not sure who puts the D in TED—most of the best presentations favor tepid PowerPoint slide shows (sorry, Brené Brown), Pictionary-quality drawings (really, Simon Sinek?), or no props at all.


Opening Joke

Remember the one about the shoe salesmen who went to Africa in the 1900s? That’s how Benjamin Zander opened his talk—which turned out to be about classical music.


Spontaneous Moment

Don’t overprepare. Tease the guy in the front row (“You could light up a village with this guy’s eyes”). Commend the stagehand who handles the human brain you brought.


Statement of Utter Certainty

People come for answers—give ’em what they want, as Shawn Achor did: “By training your brain … we can reverse the formula for happiness and success.”


Snappy Refrain

The TED equivalent of “I have a dream.” Example: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” Repeat 7x.


Personal Failure

Be relatable.We want to know about that nervous breakdown. Or at least the time you didn’t fit in at summer camp.


Contrarian Thesis

Wait a sec—we should be playing morevideogames? The more choices we have, the worse off we are? TED is where conventional wisdom goes to die.  LINK