Wednesday, January 30, 2008

in light of the coming super bowl (Shey will appreciate this)

Yay sports!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

getting back on the saddle

Well a new semester of classes is beginning. I've already started a class over at Catholic University in the last few weeks, but as of yesterday, Leland classes are back in session. I'm taking a full load this semester: Hebrew I & II, What is Salvation?, Biblical Exegesis, along with an intensive, Theology and Film, all over at Leland, along with my Hermeneutics and Religion class over at Catholic. It's a full semester, but it looks like I should be graduating on June 14, 2008. I will need to finish up two classes post-graduation or post-end of the semester which is I believe May 15.

It is so hard to believe that I may be finishing up my master's already. I will have finished my degree in only three years at Leland which may be one of the quickest for an M.Div. I have truly enjoyed my time there, and the education and development has been a really beautiful time in my life...hard, and wrenching at times, but beautiful. I've made some great friends there, and am looking forward to another strong semester of learning and growth.

That all being said, starting a new semester is really tough, I usually begin the semester muttering to myself: "There is no possible way that I'm going to be able to get all of this work done." This semester I'm also muttering: "There is no possible way that I'm going to get all of this work done, along with taking the time to enjoy these months with Shey before we have a child, work a full-time job, prepare to be a dad, and be a friend to others....and figure out how we are going to financially make it through Shey no longer working."

Don't get me wrong, I can't wait to see our child, to hold her/him (we find out on February 20 the sex of the baby), to be a parent with Shey...but I usually fall into a panic at the beginning of every semester that lasts about a week as I get going, and try to figure out how in the world all of the busy things in my life are going to work. You add the usual stress to the fact that our lives are beginning to go through a large transition (which I know is good, but still is scary sometimes!) and you get quiet Josh, the one who doesn't talk much, is slow to respond to anything, and who can't stand the inconsistencies in his life. How church makes me feel empty a lot, how I want to buy locally and organically, and never shop at Wal-Mart again, but I need a notebook for a class and don't know where else to buy one that isn't being sold by a major corporation in our town, and I want to really embrace the growth in the youth group, and the changes that I'm seeing in the kids, but am scared that I will fail them as a leader and friend.

Shey and I had a really great talk last night and we worked through some of this, and she is so wonderful at helping me have perspective and believe that this will all work out when I just want to sit and read Harry Potter and pretend that my classes don't exist. The funk that usually lasts for over a week is clearing already, though I'm still scared, still overwhelmed a bit, it is nice to be on the same page with Shey in the midst of my spinning head and thoughts. So I'm getting back on the saddle, with some new music, some great stories (thank you J.K. Rowling), and the excitement of a new beginning and new life. We heard the heartbeat again yesterday of the little one inside Shey, and I was thinking this morning of the strong steady sound that we heard, and how that rhythm, that strong and steady rhythm can be a song of hope in the midst of feeling overwhelmed. That I can keep taking steps with that rhythm going on in my heart and in my mind, and find strength for this new day.

inerrancy and the separation of church and state

In only about a minute's time, Colbert makes a quite clear punch at the logic of the inerrancy of the Bible, and the end of the interview highlights Colbert's support of the unification of church and state. Enjoy: Colbert's interview of Rick Warren.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Stephen amazing

Stephen Colbert is one of the funniest people on television currently, and his brilliance and ability to hit the central nerves in a situation never cease to amaze me. I got his new book for my birthday, (thanks Tim & Kristen!) and I've seen a couple of great videos lately, that frankly are too good not to share. Thanks to Eric for pointing me in the right direction for these two interviews, and to the McCarty's for posting a link to this fantastic video of Colbert from back in the day, probably from when he was on the show Strangers with Candy? (Is that right Seth?)

First interview is too easy. Stephen interviews David Levy who got a PhD for his work and new book discussing how within five years humans will be regularly having sex with robots and how eventually robots will be teaching humans various techniques for love-making. Colbert recognizes the inherent danger in the possibility of "gay-bots." Amazing.

The second interview is with Lou Dobbs over the issue of immigration. The interview is done by Colbert's Spanish-speaking affiliate show Colberto Reporto Gigante, complete with breaking through an immigration fence to get to the interview, a purple suit, and interview conducted in Spanish.

Lastly, here's a link to a video demonstrating the dancing and singing skills of Mr. Colbert.

(HT: Eric and McCarty's)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Baptists and Post-Modernity

During a worship class last year which my friend April helped teach/inform the readings, we read a book called The Great Giveaway, Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from: Big Business, Parachurch Organizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism, and Other Modern Maladies by David E. Fitch. The book is really good, not because I agreed with every jot and tittle, but because it brought so much deep and thorough thought to ecclesiology and mission (and thus also evangelism) in a post-modern context. I loved the book and have recommended it to a few people since, including a guy who is pretty anti-postmodernism (as he's understood it in the modern apologetic books he's read) in my church that ended up really liking the book and it sparked some great conversation between us.

That all being said, Fitch has a great post up today that is an interview done by some of his PhD students at Northern Seminary with some local Baptist pastors who are very interested and invested in the postmodern discussion and ecclesiology. Chicago is cold and far away, but I'd be interested in PhD work like this, with a clear and open eye towards what is actually happening in churches, with the other eye deeply rooted in theology and philosophy. The interview isn't real long, but it is really good, be sure to check it may be a good discussion starter for some of us Baptist folks in our own congregations locally.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

corporations and spirit of liberty

So I've been pretty sick this week, which sucks because it is the last week before one of my classes starts at Catholic University next week (but thankfully I have a few more weeks until classes at Leland start). And in the spirit of being sick, I've been watching lots of depressing movies, Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, and I watched The Corporation yesterday. The Corporation is a documentary/movie discussing the power and roles of corporations in our country and the political, economic, and even religious power that they wield in our nation and around the world. It was a hard movie to watch. It's hard like reading Wendell Berry is hard; it's just so hard to know where to begin how to change my life. It seems overwhelming and like there is no hope to buy products that aren't tainted by blood of marginalized and oppressed people in third-world countries, or that aren't environmentally sustainable. I mean, one of the worst scenarios from the movie was that when Coke realized that it couldn't keep its product brand name in Nazi Germany and not lose credibility and face in the States, that it created a new brand name Fanta, which in the states, we most often think of as the orange soda, that is made by Coke...they simply changed the name brand, even though Coca-Cola owned and created the product, so that it would be less likely to be traced back and associated with the Coke name. I mean, Nazi's need Coca-Cola too right? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. It's just so hard to know what do with the accessibility to all this information about the ways corporations have used the system to make a profit and damage people and the world. Any suggestions with ways we can do something?

On a completely separate note, I met with my spiritual director again this week, and I have to say, it was just what I needed. I felt like crap after that night of meetings, and sort of paid for it the last couple of days, but that conversation was great. We talked about how I was able to see God in the midst of Advent, and the routine of keeping the hours, and that even when things changed when I visited family, and my routines became different...I didn't struggle with the ol' evangelical guilt of not "spending enough time for my 'quiet times'" or praying enough. Rather, in the midst of not being in routine, I prayed short prayers, tried to listen more to my family and to my wife, and try to put the interests of others above my own, and I saw God in new ways over break. Not in the emotional or spiritual high kind of way, but in the centered, balanced kind of way. My spiritual director said that this is what St. Francis de Sales called a "spirit of liberty" when life with Christ was balanced and centered. Traditionally I think I've lived in the extremes of trying to be rigorous and ultra-disciplined, never missing certain prayer times, journaling, reading the Bible, etc. or I've been on the other extreme of being undisciplined, intentionally against reading the Bible or praying because of the evangelical guilt or pressure. But this time, and I sensed God in it, I didn't freak when I missed praying the hours on vacation, or wasn't spending much time alone or in silence, instead I prayed the short prayers from Traveling Mercies, "God, help me" or "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you." And in those times, God was near, and I heard the still small voice. I felt it in a conversation with my brother on the last night I was there, I felt it when Shey told me that I had loved her well over vacation, I felt it when my mom spent time sewing on new buttons for the baby's gift that she passed on to us. And I have to say, I like that spirit of liberty, of being centered and balanced. I know I don't live there often, and I know when school starts up, it will probably be gone. But I want to enjoy it now, and say "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you" as this new year begins. Meeting with Father Lou has been wonderful thus far and a real blessing...they say that finding a spiritual director that is a good match is like one in a far so good. Amen, Amen.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

one last YL post

This is a little more info and another realm of the issue that I didn't even know about. An insightful post by Tony Jones. If these non-negotiables really do carry over to Capernaeum stuff, that is a bit crazy to me.

YL cont'd

The last year I was on student staff with YL and the last year I formally led (and was training freshman leaders with Shey) I was most involved with work with middle school students. I thoroughly enjoyed their energy, their questions, and their perspectives on faith issues. The other leaders on my team and I realized that the sort of formula of talks that we had been working with wasn't reaching kids in the way we hoped and the kids who had been with us for a while had heard similar talks for two years now, and more than that, the changes we saw in a lot of the kids wasn't lasting as long or going as deep as we liked. Now I'll be the first to say that we weren't a perfect team, or that the results were a direct result of YL formulas for talks or anything trite like that. I realize that life is never that black and white.

But in our third year of working with students we felt this overwhelming sense in our prayers and in our conversations as leaders and with some other leaders from other schools, and my conversations with the area director who I worked with at the time (who was going to seminary), that we may try to explore more of the story of God's over-arching narrative. That we would begin where the Bible begins and tell the story of God's activity and redemption, and creative reconciliation over the period of a year beginning with talks about God the Father and creation, then stories of sin, promises/covenants, brokenness, the birth of Christ, the life of Christ, the death and resurrection, the life of the church, the mystery of the Spirit...we were still all relatively conservative on most theological matters, but felt compelled to tell these other parts of the story.

The three of us who were leading did not come into a relationship with Christ through YL, though we all strongly identified with the mission, and the relational connections that YL espoused and lived, but we struggled with the club talks aspect and the formulaic approach to the talk schedule that didn't always fit in with where our kids were at, and in our thoughts didn't express the fullness of the story that we felt like beginning in the OT helped to accomplish.

We had some really positive results with the kids, but more than that, we felt like we were able to help kids to take a step back and look at more of the picture of how God has worked throughout the ages, especially in Christ, but also through the Spirit and in people. To expound on my first comment in the previous post on this stuff, I think the main crux of the issue is that McSwain wanted to present the gospel story in a different order: person of Christ, love of God, repentance (possibly here), cross, (repentance possibly here), resurrection (repentance possibly here), sin (repentance possibly here). YL is advocating: person of Christ (which may include love of God, but is different than what McSwain is arguing for in his understanding of covenental theology), man's need, sin, cross, resurrection, repentance. I may be a little out of order with man's need/sin, I can't remember which goes first for YL, but with McSwain, his issue seemed to be that the presentation of the gospel had to follow the YL outline when theologically it didn't mesh with his reformed and covenantal theology.

I have two issues with this situation mainly: first is the whole formulaic approach to the gospel presentation/non-negotiables. Where do you draw the line on the non-negotiables? If the non-negotiables are the essential matters of the faith, what does that do to the rest of the story of God in Scripture in terms of fitting in with the gospel presentation?

Second, is how the document is being used from the top-down as a litmus test of theological priorities for staff who are all over the board theologically. I am not trying to say YL is out to get people, I don't know Denny from anybody else, but it stinks that it has come to firing folks over disagreements over the methods of sharing the gospel in YL club talks.

boo-yah baby!

And by that I mean the Hayden's are having a baby!

Ushering in the new life Shey and I are blogging together over at The Family Hayden Blog and hope that you'll join us there if you are into that kind of stuff. There will be baby talk (inexpressible sounds that make no sense but sound amazing), heartbeats (we recorded the first time we heard the heart beat), pics (we got the baby's first pic up already), ramblings from Shey and I, and other general family news that we deem appropriate, fun, or irritating to Seth.

Many of you have already heard the good news, but we wanted to wait until the end of the first trimester to go totally public.

We are really excited, scared, and thrilled for the new adventure, and look forward to sharing more with you over on the blog.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

non-negotiables and Young Life

Well, there are some interesting articles coming out about Young Life and The Non-Negotiables of Young Life's Gospel Presentation. As I graduated college and was coming off a stint of student staff with YL, I honestly was wondering when this type of document would come out and try to establish from the top down, certain criteria by which the gospel was to be shared and told within the organization. The Non-Negotiables act as a sort of litmus test for staff members, though YL has said they will not make all staff members sign the document yet YL has already fired an area director and accepted the resignation or has fired 9 others related to the area director in North Carolina.

I come from a pretty strong YL background and have a lot of friends in those circles, many of which have or do read this blog. I'd be interested to hear your reactions to the articles one in Christianity Today and another in Christian Century, or even the Non-Negotiables. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I have had some problems with the formulaic approach of club talks and what it means to "share the gospel" for some time now, and that the non-negotiables worry me a bit. Specifically the often emotional manipulation that can come in focusing on sin first rather than the love of God, resulting in students wanting to be saved from hell rather than being motivated by love or the story of God's action in the world and our invitation to join God. Also here are some blogs talking about stuff:

Tony Jones- Something is Wrong at Young Life
Rick Lawrence- Heartbreak and Controversy
Mark Van Steenwyk- The Gospel According to Young Life

This isn't a specific critique of YL in our area because it has been some time since I've been involved in the actual work of YL in our area, and I'm not trying to say that they are all bad people at the top of the organization or anything. But I do have some serious questions, and am a bit disappointed in the top-down approach of forcing staff to work under a document, besides the point that theological training is not a necessity from the organization's standpoint. So how can staff who've not necessarily had the theological training to know whether or not such a form is helpful or detrimental deal with some of the nuances of the argument? That is not to say that theological training is necessary, but certainly would be helpful in this discussion.

I've said this to others before, but I think that YL and Crusade, etc. and other organizations that focus on a certain aspect of the Christian life, i.e. evangelism, and are not linked to specific churches or denominations, have a lot to reckon with in light of post-modernism. The critique of the enlightenment and its inherent epistemological presuppositions and the claim of the Bible being the authority without acknowledging the various interpretations and methods of interpretations will pose problems in the future for organizations the are sort of battering down the hatches and creating non-negotiables.

I was pleasantly surprised in the non-negotiables document to see a plurality of viewpoints being expressed about soteriological issues, while the Scripture piece seemed to say that the OT pretty much existed only to point to the NT and Jesus, as though the OT is not good in and of itself and important in the story of God's salvific work in the world.

That's enough for now, I look forward to hearing what some of you might think about this recent activity in YL...peace!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

favorite albums of 2007

I feel like I say this every year, but dang, 2007 had some great music. Armed with a subscription to eMusic for the last few months, and a healthy does of some great iTunes gift cards, I've been able to get some great music this year. I'm going to do a top 10 of sorts, with some honorable mentions, b/c honestly there is just too much good music to try to cram it into 10 little slots. And further, I'm not David Letterman, I'm not that funny, and there were more than 10 great albums this year. So here goes:

Tied for #1. The National- Boxer. Big thanks to Seth for introducing me to this band out of NYC via Cincinnati. I can't stop listening to this album. And it's hard to pick just one great song, I feel like you have to listen to this album all the way through every time.

Tied for #1. Arcade Fire- Neon Bible. Arcade Fire is one of the most innovative bands around. I anxiously awaited this album perhaps more than any other this year, and it didn't disappoint. A little darker at points, with a beautiful tapestry of instruments in layers. A must have along with The National's Boxer.

3. Wilco- Sky Blue Sky. This is a fantastic album all the way through. The song writing is a bit more direct, without becoming shallow, and the music is also more clear without seeming trite. This album is one that I can just put on and let run the gamut.

4. Ryan Adams- Easy Tiger. I love Ryan Adams, and I really love Ryan Adams with The Cardinals. I am enjoying the musical direction of his last couple of works, and his songwriting is amazing.

5. The New Pornographers- Challengers. I've said it already, so I'll quote myself: "A softer side of this star-studded band. This is a fantastic album, well-composed and thoughtful." Neko Case is amazing.

6. Bodies of Water- Ears Will Pop and Eyes Will Blink. This is a Sufjan-sounding gang of singers and musicians that is a lot of fun and helps stretch traditional instruments into new places. This is my first listen to this group, and I'll be coming back for more.

7. Harp 46- Santuarium. This album brings one of my favorite bands into a new realm. The addition of Amanda Lee helps capture with a new instrument (being Amanda's voice) the deep and soulful spirit of this band. Along with the original lyrics and original compositions, this album hit me square in the heart.

8. Patty Griffin- Children Running Through. This acoustic-folk record is my first glimpse into the world of Patty Griffin. I really enjoy her powerful and unique voice, and the sort of genre-challenging quality of this album.

9. Lifesavas- Gutterfly. I can't believe I'm on #9 already and am just now interjecting a hip-hop album, but this is a great indie hip-hop band out of Portland that is combining jazzy beats with clever lyrics. I highly recommend them, and say thanks to Ben for introducing me to this great group.

10. Derek Webb- The Ringing Bell. As usual, Derek's music and lyrics continue to challenge and prod to eventually deconstruct the Christian music label, and provides provocative insights into the world of politics and faith. This is one of the most accessible pop-rock albums thus far in his solo career, and I have certainly enjoyed it.

11. Iron & Wine- The Shepherd's Dog. The latest from Sam Beam has created quite a stir for me. Beam has a more full sound in this album without overwhelming his whispered voice. The songs on this album are good stories put to music.

12. Radiohead- In Rainbows. Besides the magnificent pay-what-you-want aspect of this album, the music was great, and the lyrics haunting at times (in a good way...if that's possible). This album moved in a different direction than Yorke's solo release without losing the best qualities of his solo album and the best of Radiohead's previous work.

13. Kanye West- Graduation. While I hoped for more out of this album lyrically, the music is mesmerizing at times, and is amazing to run to. It's a fun album, that I hope will free Kanye to pursue some other artistic expressions away from the school scene.

14. Spoon- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. A straight up rock album that is really fun to listen to. This is a new band for me, but one that I have really come to enjoy and appreciate. They may help pave the way for rock in the future.

15. Andrew Bird- Armchair Apocrypha. On some days this album was higher up on the list, as it is moody, folky, and beautiful. This album was a first for my by Bird, and I am thoroughly impressed and am looking forward to getting to know more of his music.

16. Common- Finding Forever. Largely produced by Kanye, this album was not quite as good as Be, but was still really good. This album fell a little short lyrically for me, but the music was innovative and powerful.

17. St. Vincent- Marry Me. I have really loved this short album for the time that I've had to listen to it so far this year. Her quirky (in a good way) voice and interesting music to boot has been a great new artist to listen to this year.

And with that, I'll end my list. There are some other artists and albums I've enjoyed, but these have been some of the indispensable albums of the year for me. If you got some recent iTunes gift cards, check some of these bands out, or better yet, try out a subscription to eMusic for an indie-friendly music buying experience. Happy New Year and here's to another great year of music!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

happy new years

so new years is almost over, and I'm finally sitting down to write for a couple of minutes. we had a wonderful new years celebration this year. Our friends Katie Carson and Tommy Webster had a beautiful wedding and kickin' reception last night as they tied the knot, and began a new leg of the journey of life together. It was a thoughtful, liturgical, and meaningful service combined with great poetry, good music, and great friends. Shey and I couldn't be happier for our friends, and we so thankful to be able to witness the great occasion and be a part of it all. Before last night, I can't really think of a single New Years party or event that I've liked, but last night was really a lot of fun, and helped give the night great meaning. i've also found out recently that Katie is a secret reader of the blog...and I hope that she'll start commenting soon, because she is one of the funniest, fun, thoughtful, and intelligent people I hopefully she'll begin to enlighten us all!

on that whole secret/quiet blog readers note, and in the spirit of Anne Lamott, I pray traveling mercies for my good friend Katie Brazzle as she begins this new adventure in NYC. your voice and perspective will be missed here, but i hope that you will be able to experience new things, great things, and God in new ways as you enter through a new doorway. Traveling mercies friend!