Thursday, October 22, 2015

"How Buildings Learn: What happens after they're built"

What a great  book tip Scott Singer gave me: "How Buildings Learn: What happens after they're built" by Stewart Brand.
Can't wait.
 Here's some links, and the BBC special based on the book:

Monday, October 19, 2015

"Pope Francis told them that the decentralisation will be imposed from above" and that he has converted to Anglicanism

Wow, that captures the dilemma of every good pastor (:

"[Pope]Francis told them that the decentralisation will be imposed from above."

-Damien Thompson quoted in Artur Rosman's post,  BREAKING–Pope Francis to Announce he Converted to Anglicanism

That U2 hit single "Out of Range"

Just one of the hundreds of songs that we'll never hear...or that morphed into something else?
Snapped from Bono's laptop  (see five min mark in video below)

God Is Not a Christian/the Other Other Side of the Street: Bishop Tutu

"God Is Not a Christian"  by Bishop

This talk comes from a forum in Britain, where Tutu addressed leaders of different faiths during a mission to the city of Birmingham in 1989.

They tell the story of a drunk who crossed the street and accosted a pedestrian, asking him, “I shay, which ish the other shide of the shtreet?” The pedestrian, somewhat nonplussed, replied, “That side, of course!” The drunk said, “Shtrange. When I wash on that shide, they shaid it wash thish shide.” Where the other side of the street is depends on where we are. Our perspective differs with our context, the things that have helped to form us; and religion is one of the most potent of these formative influences, helping to determine how and what we apprehend of reality and how we operate in our own specific context.  {Dave's note: see this for another take on the "other side of the street" issue.)

My first point seems overwhelmingly simple: that the accidents of birth and geography determine to a very large extent to what faith we belong. The chances are very great that if you were born in Pakistan you are a Muslim, or a Hindu if you happened to be born in India, or a Shintoist if it is Japan, and a Christian if you were born in Italy. I don’t know what significant fact can be drawn from this — perhaps that we should not succumb too easily to the temptation to exclusiveness and dogmatic claims to a monopoly of the truth of our particular faith. You could so easily have been an adherent of the faith that you are now denigrating, but for the fact that you were born here rather than there.

My second point is this: not to insult the adherents of other faiths by suggesting, as sometimes has happened, that for instance when you are a Christian the adherents of other faiths are really Christians without knowing it. We must acknowledge them for who they are in all their integrity, with their conscientiously held beliefs; we must welcome them and respect them as who they are and walk reverently on what is their holy ground, taking off our shoes, metaphorically and literally. We must hold to our particular and peculiar beliefs tenaciously, not pretending that all religions are the same, for they are patently not the same. We must be ready to learn from one another, not claiming that we alone possess all truth and that somehow we have a corner on God.

We should in humility and joyfulness acknowledge that the supernatural and divine reality we all worship in some form or other transcends all our particular categories of thought and imagining, and that because the divine — however named, however apprehended or conceived — is infinite and we are forever finite, we shall never comprehend the divine completely. So we should seek to share all insights we can and be ready to learn, for instance, from the techniques of the spiritual life that are available in religions other than our own. It is interesting that most religions have a transcendent reference point, a mysterium tremendum, that comes to be known by deigning to reveal itself, himself, herself, to humanity; that the transcendent reality is compassionate and concerned; that human beings are creatures of this supreme, supra mundane reality in some way, with a high destiny that hopes for an everlasting life lived in close association with the divine, either as absorbed without distinction between creature and creator, between the divine and human, or in a wonderful intimacy which still retains the distinctions between these two orders of reality.

When we read the classics of the various religions in matters of prayer, meditation, and mysticism, we find substantial convergence, and that is something to rejoice at. We have enough that conspires to separate us; let us celebrate that which unites us, that which we share in common.

Surely it is good to know that God (in the Christian tradition) created us all (not just Christians) in his image, thus investing us all with infinite worth, and that it was with all humankind that God entered into a covenant relationship, depicted in the covenant with Noah when God promised he would not destroy his creation again with water.Surely we can rejoice that the eternal word, the Logos of God, enlightens everyone — not just Christians, but everyone who comes into the world; that what we call the Spirit of God is not a Christian preserve, for the Spirit of God existed long before there were Christians, inspiring and nurturing women and men in the ways of holiness, bringing them to fruition, bringing to fruition what was best in all. We do scant justice and honor to our God if we want, for instance, to deny that Mahatma Gandhi was a truly great soul, a holy man who walked closely with God. Our God would be too small if he was not also the God of Gandhi: if God is one, as we believe, then he is the only God of all his people, whether they acknowledge him as such or not. God does not need us to protect him. Many of us perhaps need to have our notion of God deepened and expanded. It is often said, half in jest, that God created man in his own image and man has returned the compliment, saddling God with his own narrow prejudices and exclusivity, foibles and temperamental quirks. God remains God, whether God has worshippers or not.

This mission in Birmingham to which I have been invited is a Christian celebration, and we will make our claims for Christ as unique and as the Savior of the world, hoping that we will live out our beliefs in such a way that they help to commend our faith effectively. Our conduct far too often contradicts our profession, however. We are supposed to proclaim the God of love, but we have been guilty as Christians of sowing hatred and suspicion; we commend the one whom we call the Prince of Peace, and yet as Christians we have fought more wars than we care to remember. We have claimed to be a fellowship of compassion and caring and sharing, but as Christians we often sanctify sociopolitical systems that belie this, where the rich grow ever richer and the poor grow ever poorer, where we seem to sanctify a furious competitiveness, ruthless as can only be appropriate to the jungle.


art and true falsehood

"Art is a lie that makes us realize truth."
- Picasso, context

"Falsehood has no place in fiction"
-Arthur C Danto, context

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Johnny Cash...and an unknown friend who stole his bird


it's not unusual  to find used CDs for a quarter (get to Rasputin's now),  50 cents,  or a dollar nowadays.

So, I was not surprised to find this Johnny Cash CD at the Goodwill store for a few coins.

But I WAS surprised when I opened it up and saw this "half the peace sign" salute on the disc..

Of course, I immediately thought of the  iconic Johnny Cash photo of him giving the same salute
(story here) and thought "Well, that doesn't look like its from the same photo, but I get it."
Then I saw the original famous pic in the CD tray.

By the way, there was no identification of the CD name, or artist name on the disc.
That was not too surprising, but it did give me pause.

I added it to my stash of books and CDs, and headed for checkout.
I was aware that the cashier would sometimes  open the Cds to verify that the case actually held a CD, and the correct CD.  I chuckled in my mind about what a great conversation starter this would be.

But the cashier didn't double check; which I figured was okay, as I had,

I was wrong.

I stuck the CD in the player, the electronic rap vibe, and throwaway profanity... I immediately knew it was not Johnny Cash.

And definitely not my style..

Anyone want to half price..a CD, whose middle-finger photo is just not as Christian and prophetic as Johnny's original...? (:

To borrow from another singer and song, "I won't get fooled again."
And to borrow another, "I got the wrong George, I guess.."

PS: In related news, this headline:
 " pastor plants a church by flipping a double bird (at Jesus' leading)" 
See also:

 Johnny Cash officiating communion for Rick Rubin

the preacher didn't convince me, but Johnny Cash tried -

"He preaches WITH, not TO the damned...and he actually prefers their company"

COFFEE, NOT JESUS/"Sure miss the drugs."

Is there such a thing as Christian music?"


Wednesday, October 07, 2015

I am crazy and so am i. some of us are just better at (not) hiding it

Here I am in 1976 , with a T shirt that reads, 
"Crazy Dave."
It was partly true; still is.

I loved and hated that nickname...but I wore it well, not out.


But here I am a few decades later with a blog title claiming I still am crazy-ish...
                                                         or at least a bit heteroclitic.  
You decide.

At least I'm a holy one now..

Jenny Lawson, in "Furiously Happy":

"Most of my favorite people are dangerously f____-up, but you'd never guess because we've learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, 'We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.' Except go back and cross out the word 'hiding.'"  link

Maybe we  should also cross out the 'ill' from 'mental illness,'  if we are just have "mental-ness."
We're human, so of course we have issues and are normal in our mental messedupness.

The late Keltic Ken often said...about me!..."I kind of like to know my pastor is only  a little less screwed up than me."
 (You can even hear Ken's audio about God uses screwed up people here) .

BTW, who looks crazier in this pic, Ken or me?

On second thought, don't answer that..

Frank Lake...the genius of the big green theology/psychology book with centerfolds...seemed to think everyone was partly schizoid.  Even though he called it the "schizoid position," maybe it's more of a continuum, and we all live on it somewhere.  As Ian Hunter once said, "You're never alone with a schizophrenic."

Ken even mused that everyone is either exhibitionist or voyeur..
                       even if most peoples' version of either has nothing to do with sex and is not dangerous.

I don't know what my mental illness/disease/dysfunction is...I should ask you who know me.
Oh, I did that once.
  Turns out I am "moody and I have a nice butt" (:

 You can read all about it here, but below is the actual scientific survey sheet.

Well, in the final analysis, you all can be the judge (as the Bible actually commands...seriously, 1 Cor 5:12, look it up and see that I'm not crazy...uh, not wrong)
Here is a photo album of some of my more serious portraits.
Scroll through, and post your verdict in the comments.
(Steve, save your vote.  I already know what you think...and you are partly right.


Bono's new introduction to The Message 100 Bible: review part 1

I see (via Google) that Bono's foreword to a  brand new Bible edition  --"The Message100: The Story of God in Sequence" AKA The Message 100 Devotional Bible
--  is so far nowhere quoted online...except in Google Books, where it can be read in its entirety (here).

Of course, that will all change as soon as I hit 'publish.' (:
How can I resist letting you know that this gem of  a foreword is out there, and including  a significant  preview?

I was asked by the publisher to review this new Bible  at some point in its inaugural month of October.
This is my first of a few posts, and suffice to say it's a positive review already!

As many of you know, this is not the first time Bono has written an introduction to Scripture (see his 1999 introduction to the Psalms at this link).  This new one overlaps a bit with that; fans will also recognize several familiar Bono phrases/mantras from other sources (interviews, lyrics).  BUT do check this out:

We imagine language was invented so we might communicate with each other better. 

Maybe not.

 Language is oft about exclusion—across an ethnic border where we speak differently or across borders we build intentionally, to separate and divide. In language,  we keep the other out. We can only be decoded or deciphered by one who speaks our language, by one who speaks us .

Across class or geography, across disciplines like medicine or economicsjargon and acronyms are given to separate us who must never grasp what we have taken years to learn.

 Human beings love to not be understood. 

 A confusion of tongues.

These texts become sacrosanct, their parsing and exegesis in the hands of lawyers and linguists, high priests and low ones. 

Even our scared scripture has been made to fit our view rather than the other way round. The King James translation of the Bible, now four hundred years young, with its baroque English and oaken sonority, is one of my favorites...but its translation can bear little resemblance to the rough hewn Aramaic and Greek of its original authors.

All of our writing and reading, all our translating of the texts we read, are seen through a prism of our own time and place, our own people and politics..

When the good book connects with our good lives, when the word sings in our hearts, there is a holy spirit busy in the translating.  The  most luminous of all translations of the word was the one into a single and unique life, that of Jesus of Nazareth.  The poetic heart of The Message is that there is no dogma apart from the flesh becoming word.

I discovered Eugene Peterson's The Message  through the Psalms.  In the dressing room before a show, we would read them as a band, then walk out into arenas and stadiums, the words igniting us, inspiring us.  Some nights I would half remember and invoke the psalmist's words directly over the plangent opening fanfare of "Where the Streets Have No Name"--a song which is an invocation itself.  No matter how good or bad a U2 show gets, this is one of those moments where the  unreliable arrival of the divine presence in the house is more, not less, likely.


As most musicians know, God is reliably unreliable in the matter of being “invoked,” but with more certainty than usual we find He will sometimes walk through the room during the playing of “Streets." Maybe it has something to do with relocating a psalm within a song. The Psalms, of course, were originally sung, and David is the favorite of all musicians —not just because he reminds this scribe of Elvis (check Michelangelo's marble) but because he does the kind of things musicians look up to,  like dancing naked in front of his troops

In fact, for any flawed male who has had his girlfriend's ex killed, David is the one, the life that can be turned around. Peterson too has the heart of a musician, his intellectual rigor and humility saving him from the vicissitudes that have the rest of us banging tambourines as he lats out a feast on the altar.  While a lot of the time we're all still babbling in Babel, in The Message Peterson is often speaking in tongues —a language that decodes and deciphers us, the reader; a language to approach the very subject of God.
-Bono, complete text  here)

The great divine arch of Philippians 2

In a great sermon, Beth Maynard---on a day when her church is celebrating its architecture---picks up on the arch/arc of Philippians 2:5-11, and asks us to imagine where we "got on" it.
See below.



A sermon preached by the Rev. Beth Maynard

If you could go back in time and ask Ralph Adams Cram, the renowned architect of this church, what he meant by Gothic style, I’m sure you would get a very complex answer. I wish I were able to be at Adult Forum today to hear more about how Emmanuel’s building reflects Cram’s ideals. However, I think one part of his answer, and probably the major part of the answer you’d get from most of us amateurs if you asked us to describe Gothic style, would be this: It has arches.

Specifically, arches that soar up and come to a point at the top. Our arches here are in an earlier, less pointy style than some, but as you look around our building you’ll see arches everywhere. Even from the outside. And it’s quite lovely, I think, that the same day we feature Cram, we also have probably the most famous poetic arch in Scripture in our Epistle reading. ....

Except that it’s a reverse arch. It doesn’t start from the bottom and move to a point at the top and down again; it goes from unimaginable heights down to a tragically pointed depth and then back up.

The poetic arch that sits in the middle of today’s text from Philippians, scholars think, is probably a hymn that Paul is quoting, a familiar text everyone would already know. I wish it were printed as poetry in your insert today, but you can hear the reverse arcing movement, the down and then up, as it’s read.

[Christ Jesus], though he was in the form of God, 
    did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 
but emptied himself, 
    taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. 
And being found in human form, 
    he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-- 
       even death on a cross. 
[There’s the bottom point of the arch; and now we move back up.]

Therefore God also highly exalted him 
    and gave him the name that is above every name, 
so that at the name of Jesus 
    every knee should bow,
        in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 

and every tongue should confess 
    that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

You can hear that arcing movement: From the ultimate height, equality with God, all the way down to the depths of human degradation, and back up into God’s life again. 
There are so many things one could say about this extraordinary text, this great reverse arch. But the two that I want to focus on today are first, what it shows us about God himself, and then, what it shows us about how God does business with us. 
Some of you know that I was brought up an atheist. I think continued, link

Jesus' surprising answer to "Where did all of these people go?": More on leaving behind Left Behind

of course Christians will be left behind

Preface (sigh); Don't hear what I'm not saying. I am not
- See more at:

of course Christians will be left behind

Preface (sigh); Don't hear what I'm not saying. I am not
- See more at:

of course Christians will be left behind

Preface (sigh); Don't hear what I'm not saying. I am not
- See more at:
As a followup to the post, "Of course, Christians will be left behind," which looks at  Matthew 24 "left behind" passage with  NT Wright and Barbar Rossig..

of course Christians will be left behind NT Wright and  Barbara Rossing..

Here's Benjamin Corey, who builds the case from Luke:

Jesus Says Those “Left Behind” Are The Lucky Ones (the most ironic thing the movie won’t tell you) by Benjamin Corey:

In the lead up to the release of the remake of Left Behind hitting theaters in a few weeks, I wanted to take a moment to tell you about the most ironic thing the Left Behind movie (or rapture believers) won’t tell you about getting “left behind.”

The basic premise of the theology is this: the world is going to get progressively worse as “the end” draws near. Before the worst period of time in world history (a seven year period called the “tribulation,” though there’s no verse in the Bible that discusses a seven year tribulation) believers in Jesus are suddenly snatched away during the second coming of Christ (which rapture believers argue is done in secret and without explanation, instead of the public second coming described in scripture).
The entire premise of the theology and the Left Behind movie is based on a passage from Matthew that you’ll see in the official Left Behind image included to your left. The passage states:

“Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left”.

And this is where we get the term “left behind”… Jesus said “one shall be taken and the other left.”
Pretty simple, no? It appears from this passage that Jesus is describing an event where some people actually do “get taken” and the others are “left behind.” It must be a rapture then.

Or maybe not.

As I have explained before, the chapter of Matthew 24 is a chapter where Jesus describes the events that will lead up to the destruction of the temple which occurred in AD 70. That’s not so much my scholarly opinion as it is what Jesus plainly states in the first few verses of Matthew 24; it is a context pretty difficult to explain away since Jesus says “this temple will be destroyed” and his disciples ask, “please, tell us when this will happen.” The rest of the discourse is Jesus prophesying the events that will lead up to the temple’s destruction, which we know historically unfolded as Jesus had predicted. (As I have alluded to in What Jesus Talked About When He Talked About Hell and Don’t Worry The Tribulation Is In The Past, if one does not understand the significance of the destruction of the temple to ancient Judaism, one will have a very hard time understanding what Jesus talks about when he talks about “the end.”)

Anyhow, during the end of this discourse in Matthew we hit the “rapture” verse: “one will be taken and one will be left.” Surely, this part must be about the future, and Jesus MUST be describing a rapture. Since that’s what my childhood pastor taught me, it’s probably a good idea to stick with that.
Just one problem: Matthew 24 isn’t the only place where Jesus talks about “some being taken and some being left behind.” Jesus also discusses this in Luke 17 when he says:
 “I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”
Building a compelling case for the rapture yet? Not quite. Check this out: Jesus’ disciples in the Luke version of the discourse must have been interested in this left behind stuff, because they ask a critical followup question. However, they actually seem more concerned with those who were “taken” than those who were “left behind” and ask Jesus for a little more information on this whole getting taken away stuff.

“Where, Lord?” is the question of the disciples. Where did all of these people go??

If this were a passage about the “rapture” as depicted in the Left Behind movie, one would expect Jesus to answer something to the point of “they were taken to be with me to wait out the tribulation.” But, that’s not what Jesus says. Instead, Jesus gives them a blunt answer about those who were “taken”: “just look for the vultures, and you’ll find their bodies.” (v37)

That’s right. The ones who were “taken” were killed. Not exactly the blessed rapture.

The Roman occupation was brutal, and when they finally sacked the city and destroyed the temple in AD70, things got impressively bloody. To be “taken” as Jesus prophesied, was to be killed by the invading army. This is precisely why, in this passage and the Matthew version, Jesus gives all sorts of other advice that makes no sense if this is a verse about the rapture. Jesus warns that when this moment comes one should flee quickly– to not even go back into their house to gather their belongings– and laments that it will be an especially difficult event for pregnant and nursing mothers. He even goes on to warn them that if they respond to the army with resistance (the very thing that causes the mess in the lead-up to AD70), they’ll just get killed (“whoever seeks to save his life will lose it”). Jesus, it seems, wants his disciples to get it: when the Roman army comes, flee quickly or else you might not be left behind!

Surely, Jesus is not talking about a rapture. He’s not warning people to avoid missing the rapture because they went home to get their possessions… he’s talking about fleeing an advancing army and not doing anything stupid that will get them killed (v 30-34).

Very practical advice for his original audience and would have come in handy for those who wanted to avoid being “raptured” (slaughtered) by the Roman army.

And so my friends, this is the most ironic thing the Left Behind movie won’t tell you: in the original “left behind” story Jesus tells in the Gospels, the ones who are “left behind” are actually the lucky ones.
So the next time folks tell you that they don’t want to be “left behind,” you might want to tell them to be careful what they wish for.  -Benjamin Corey, link


of course Christians will be left behind

Preface (sigh); Don't hear what I'm not saying. I am not
- See more at:

Adam Maarschalk adds some evidence from sources in 1700s and 1800s:

In our study of Matthew 24:36-51, I also proposed that Jesus said it would be better to be “left behind” than to be “taken,” and noted that 2-3 centuries ago this was taught by John Gill (1746-1763) and Albert Barnes (1834). Benjamin Corey does an excellent job showing the revealing connection between what Jesus says in Luke 17 and what He says in the more frequently quoted Matthew 24:40. His article also comes at a good time, less than two weeks before the remake of the Left Behind movie hits the theaters on October 3rd. Hopefully the theology in this film will soon be left behind by many followers of Christ.  link

The Virtuous Samaritan Woman: No Adultress

Excellent argument by Lynn Cohick in Christianity Today that the woman almost everyone calls

 "the sinful woman"

 or "adultress" was 



Also consider this:

Scholars have noted that this story appears to be modelled on a standard betrothal scene from Hebrew scripture, particularly that of Jacob in Genesis 29.[7] This convention, which would have been familiar to Jewish readers, is subverted by presenting Jesus as the Bridegroom of the Jewish people, following on from an earlier scene in which John the Baptist compares his relationship to Jesus with that of the friend of a bridegroom.[2]
This Gospel episode is referred to as "a paradigm for our engagement with truth", in the Roman Curia book A Christian reflection on the New Age, as the dialogue says: "You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know" and offers an example of "Jesus Christ the bearer of the water of life".[8] The passages that comprise John 4:10–26 are sometimes referred to as the Water of Life Discourse, which forms a complement to the Bread of Life Discourse.[9]
In Eastern Orthodox tradition, the woman's name at the time of her meeting Jesus is unknown, though she was later christened "Photini". She is celebrated as a saint of renown. As further recounted in John 4:28-30 and John 4:39-42, she was quick to spread the news of her meeting with Jesus, and through this many came to believe in him. Her continuing witness is said to have brought so many to the Christian faith that she is described as "equal to the apostles". Eventually, having drawn the attention of Emperor Nero, she was brought before him to answer for her faith, suffering many tortures and dying a martyr after being thrown down a dry well. She is remembered on the Sunday four weeks after Pascha, which is known as "the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman".
In Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico, a celebration of the Samaritan woman takes place on the fourth Friday of Lent. The custom of the day involves churches, schools, and businesses giving away fruit drinks to passers-by.[10]  link

A Seder connection in Matrix Reloaded?

 A Passover connection in Matrix Reloaded?:

Morpheus: All of our lives we have fought this war. Tonight I believe we can end it. Tonight is not an accident. There are no accidents. We have not come here by chance. I do not believe in chance... I do not see coincidence, I see providence, I see purpose. I believe it is our fate to be here. It is our destiny. I believe this night holds for each and every one of us the very meaning of our lives... 

Niobe: What if you..and the prophecy.. are wrong?

Morpheus:Then tomorrow we may all be dead, but how would that be different from any other day? This is a war, and we are soldiers. Death can come for us at any time, in any place... Now consider the alternative. What if I am right? What if the prophecy is true? What if tomorrow the war could be over. Isn't that worth fighting for? Isn't that worth dying for?  link


the best-known quote from the Pesach Haggadah is, "why is this night different from all other nights?" This line is usually recited by the youngest person at the table (or at least, the youngest person capable of reciting it). It is meant to express the child's confusion at the difference between a typical every-day or holiday meal and the unusual features of the seder.    link