Thursday, February 22, 2007

Henry (HT), my favorite barn, and Ash Wednesday

Well, i'm back in Warrenton after the trip to San Diego...upon which i returned to the week of ice, i'm finally back to writing again (though I'm sure school will take over my blog again soon). First, i wanted to introduce you to my latest friend Henry (Hermit Thrush). Shey has a funny and fun habit of naming everything, staplers, animals, cars, etc. and I beat her to the punch in naming one of the most fun birds that has come to the house yet. I first met Henry in the forest behind our place. He followed me around the forest, curious, and trying to communicate...shrugging his wings and flapping his tail at me. This was over a month ago, and yet with all the ice we got last week, the birds have been struggling to find some food and so I think Henry came all the way to the house for the first time in search of food. He's been hanging out by our front door, has followed me down the driveway, and comes pretty close...he's one of the most curious birds i've been around. so, i thought i'd share a picture of my latest favorite bird...

below is my favorite barn from the drive to our house from town. the sun came out for the first time in forever yesterday, and i just absolutely love the way the sun hits buildings and trees in the winter. and finally, the sun was hitting the barn in cool manner yesterday and i got to snap a few pictures. the farm estate is up for sale where this barn sits and Shey and i dream about living there one day. it is a wonderful piece of land.

Lastly, for the first time in my life i am participating in Lent or as the Orthodox call it "Bright Sadness." something had been stirring in my spirit to participate this year and to try to understand a bit better what it means to join the church in this season. the youth talked about it last night for about an hour and they really seemed to catch on with the spirit of Lent. they were willing to fast and be disciplined with some areas of their life that i don't think that i'd have the desire to hold to. i am really proud of them. as baptists, many of them have never done anything even remotely close to this, and yet they seemed to understand the significance immediately. i had them (if they chose to participate) write down what they would like to fast and be disciplined about on a piece of paper of which we then burned and i used to mark their heads and bless them. it was pretty neat. after we had finished, one of the students asked if i would like to be marked as that i too could be included. and two of the students made the mark on my head and blessed me...i can't imagine a better first time of beginning Lent.

i am fasting from all soda and upon Shey's recommendation, not purchasing any new music. i'm looking forward to this time, and hope that this practice may become a more regular one for me in the coming years...
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Friday, February 09, 2007

Mr. Deity and Mr. Pagitt

Two great things happened today, both of which are related to Doug Pagitt actually. First...I went to a seminar led by Doug today called A Theology-Shaped Church: Ministry Beyond the Pragmatic that was really good. Doug raised a lot of interesting questions about the methods and hopes of many faith communities today that are simply trying to become "authorized re-tellers" of the gospel story rather than theologically imaginative communities in the way of Jesus. Central to this distinction is the missiological hope that seeks to include those who have questions by inviting and including them into the community (which implies a say in the life, direction, hopes, and aspirations of the community) through relationship rather than orthodoxy or orthopraxis as prerequisites for inclusion or a voice in the community. (Think Ortho-centric or boundary sets of community living in contrast to relational connection.) Doug pointed out that although churches and faith communities are trying to say that "spiritual" or "faith" conversations aren't happening, they are right in that those conversations aren't happening in the very place you'd expect they should be happening, that is within the church, but that they are happening very well and very intelligently outside of the church. Which brings me to Mr. Deity. Whatever you're doing, stop now and both go to the website (click on Mr. Deity.). And then using whatever podcatcher you have, subscribe to the Mr. Deity podcast and download the 5-6 video casts. Hot dang they are funny and poignant. Seriously, don't walk away from your computer until you download at least the first video-cast "Mr. Deity and The Evil."

I'd love to hear what you think of these videos, they are hilarious and really quite brilliant. Doug showed a couple in the above seminar and they stirred up a lot of laughs and great conversation about the theological task ahead of the church.

After the seminar I got to sit down with Doug and Todd and Brady (Todd's son) for about an hour and a half today to talk about church planting, new expressions of theologically imaginative communities, my paper discussing how our eschatology affects and informs the spiritual formation of our communities of faith, we shared stories, laughed, talked about Todd's (and Lisa's!) church restart Convergence, and more. Doug is a really great guy, and is awesome for taking some time to hang out and chat. If you're ever in the Minneapolis area you should visit and check out the community he is a part of called Solomon's Porch. This includes my brothers who freakin' live so close by...go check it out.

It's my last night in San Diego, and it's been a fun day. It's been a lot of fun hanging out with the Cullop's and has been cool getting to know Todd's family better. Not sure what will be going on tonight, but am hoping to check out one of the movies up for picture of the year...we'll see.

Wendell Berry and Theological Turnings...

I probably also should have titled this post: UNC came back and beat Duke last night, boo-ya. Anybody else see the heels come back and beat Duke at Cameron Indoor last night...that was awesome.

Well, there is so much stirring inside of me after reading Wendell Berry's collection of essays titled Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community: Eight Essays that I feel like I could share a little from every essay and it could provide fodder for months of conversation. As I sit out on the balcony in Sand Diego on this cool night, with the palm trees near by and the hills around me, it is still amazing to think how timely and appropriate Berry's collection of essays are for today. One of the most interesting essay's of the bunch was called "Peaceableness Toward Enemies." Let me just quote the second idea, which it is important to note that Berry wrote this in 1991 after/during the Gulf War:

II. "This latest war has been justified on a number of grounds: that it was a war to liberate Kuwait; that it was a war to defend "the civilized world" against a dangerous maniac; that it was a war to preserve peace; that it was a war to inaugurate a "new world order"; that it was a war to defend the American Way of Life; that it was a war to defend our supply of cheap oil. These justifications are not satisfactory, even when one supposes that they are sincerely believed." (pg. 69-70)

and also in part III.: What can we mean by the statement that we were "liberating" Kuwait? Kuwait was not a democratic nation. If it was imperative to "liberate" Kuwait after Saddam's invasion, why was it not equally imperative to "liberate" it before?...

The similarity in language and rhetoric used by both Bush presidents to lead the country into war is kind of scary. Or maybe it is a good thing, I guess the son listened to the father? All this to say, I think Berry raises some interesting points, first in questioning the justifications for going to war and the motivation in timing. I think both justification and motivation are questions that should continue to be asked about the current "liberation" attempts by our government.

Today I went to a seminar led by Brian McLaren called: Theological Turnings: Profound Questions that Younger Leaders are Asking About Theology (that Go Deeper than Candles and Goatees). I always enjoy hearing Brian speak and it was interesting being in a room with a lot of older pastors and church leaders and hearing the questions and comments, and often doubts with the way in which my generation, and young leaders (like me, you know I'm only 24) are beginning to express some theological turns. Which again leads me back to the ideas of what i want to explore in my paper for this conference: How does eschatology and the theological system which it is situated within influence the spiritual formation of the community which holds to that theological vantage point? Brian mentioned that he believed that there are five significant theological shifts taking place with younger leaders, one of which is a change in eschatology which will influence ecclesiology and formation of community. What kind of relationship should take place with eschatology and spiritual formation? How should it change from its current situation (if it needs to change at all)?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

New Monasticism, The Bible, and Pastors

Day #2 has come and gone at the NPC. first and foremost I have to say, that the Critical Concerns Course that Todd and I went to discussing a "Return to The Bible" has been really good. More than that, Brian McLaren is such an awesome guy. His humility and generosity never cease to amaze me...he told a story today that some of you may have heard, he shared it at the annual meeting for our association, and it may be on one of the emergent podcasts. it's the story about the pastor who is excitedly talking about how Jesus and the saints are going to come in with swords and kill those who are not Christians in ushering in the kingdom of God and heaven from Revelation, without taking into account the type of literature Revelation is.

one of the most moving parts of the course this morning was in our discussion of how we might learn to read Revelation missionally:

How to read Revelation missionally? We recall and stand up preaching the word of God, preaching the kingdom of God, believing that Christ is Lord and that though we may be killed today, we will join with God and participate with God in the redemption of creation, and in helping bring the coming New Jerusalem, the New City down to earth. Revelation ends with the New City coming down to earth, not in going to heaven.

secondly, i met Karen Ward today, the abbess of Church of The Apostles, who is a really cool woman who led a seminar called: The New Monks: “Whole-Life” Discipleship for Emerging Churches. as i mentioned before i'm at this conference partially for seminary, and one of the relationships that i have been thinking a lot about and am probably going to write my paper on is the relationship between eschatology and spiritual formation in the church. as both Karen mentioned in the conversation we had after the seminar and in the above example of how to read Revelation missionally, an eschatology that beckons us forward in hopeful redemption and co-creation in the world today, not just hope for a disembodied soul in some heavenly realm of existence, is essential in forming new practices and healthy practices in our churches. our eschatology informs so much of the way the church structures and organizes its spiritual and physical life together. i'm reading Doug Pagitt's Church Re-Imagined along with Andrew Perriman's The Coming of The Son of Man: New Testament Eschatology for The Emerging Church along with Peter Rollin's How (Not) to Speak of God in hopes to fuel this conversation of the influence of philosophy, culture, eschatology and spiritual formation upon one another. i find it to be a fascinating relationship that could influence a lot of the vision and life of churches. any thoughts on this relationship...?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

With So Much Drama in the NPC...

Well, not really. Not much drama yet at the NPC (National Pastors Conference) which I'm currently attending for class and spiritual growth and training...etc. San Diego is cool, with a spring/fall type weather right now and I'm excited to be in Snoop Dogg's home state and bring some love from the East to the West.

I've nearly been up 24 hours as I write this, and I told a few people that I'd try to share some of the in's and out's and going-on's as I hung out in San Diego and got to be with some emergent type folks for a few days, and figured I better start today posting or the week will slip by.

honestly, with the last month off of school, and having finished a few books in the month off, I feel like i've had a lot i've wanted to share, yet haven't found the words for a lot of it. maybe part of it is that i'm still figuring out what is good for me to share on the blog. maybe part of it is that i've been taking pictures of birds? part of it is that i put a lot of pressure on myself to say something significant that will contribute to "the conversation" but sometimes i have some processing to do before i say anything out loud. and part of it is that i finished a collection of essays by Wendell Berry titled Sex, Economy, Community, and Freedom: Eight Essays that was humbling, convicting and contextually appropriate for much today's issues (war in Iraq, globalization, local economy, sustainability). all i'm saying is that if you haven't read any of Wendell Berry's should start soon.

i'll post more on Berry maybe tomorrow, since i finished that book as the last of my "i'm not in school right now and can read whatever i want list" on the plane this morning. but tonight, i'd like to stir the pot a little with a metaphor from the critical concerns course i went to today and will finish tomorrow led by Brian McLaren and Richard Twiss called "Return to the Bible". Twiss, a Native American of the Sioux people is co-leading the seminar with Brian and the first 5 hours of the course have been great thus far. they started with taking questions and surveying the group to learn about where many of the people at the seminar were coming from and then went on to first describe the need to move out of a foundational epistemological system in a more post-modernist epistemology that constructs a web of knowledge and understanding rather than a wall or foundation.

beyond all that came what i thought was a profound missiological insight and metaphor recalled by Twiss and told by many as a Mission Legend: Bring the gospel as a seed into an indigenous culture, rather than as a potted plant, so that when the gospel which was planted as a seed begins to surface it will be expressed and understood as a manifestation of the indigenous culture. I think that this is a truly beautiful and wonderful metaphor, and offers profound insight into the necessity of preserving the relationship between culture, theology, and the gospel. this is especially true in light of Twiss' heritage and story riddled and tarnished with the story of "Christians" destroying much of his community and chance for redemption of Native American practices, not to mention the need for a contextually appropriate mission amongst the people first occupying the country to its own people without being oppressed. any thoughts?

Monday, February 05, 2007

rock the vote!

Hey friends,

If you haven't already, it is time to vote. Friends of mine from the band Harp 46 who helped lead worship at the last senior high retreat, have been at many of the great emergent conversations/conventions and other events...and are just freakin' cool...have let me know that Nuc's book Understanding Groove is up for some awards in a couple of places. Nuc is the percussionist along with Posido on bass and April on harp to make up Harp 46. If you have had a chance to hear the band, know them at all, or just want to help out some friends of mine...take a minute to vote for Nuc and his book as the best book on drum theory to come out last year.

Here's where to go:

1. DRUM! Magazine Poll: Go here, and then go to question #38- you have to click on the "submit" arrow to get to the next page of questions... but you do not have to answer ANY other of the questions to do this. On Question #38, scroll down to highlight the book titled "Understanding Groove" and then click submit and you're done.

2. Modern Drummer Poll: Go here, and after filling out your information for registering for the poll, be sure to UNCHECK the box if you would not like to be put on their mailing list. Scroll down to "Method Book" and the book title is "Understanding Groove" and the author is "Nucleo Vega."

The deadline to vote is April 15th, but take the time and vote today!

Here's a pic of the band from the fall retreat last year: