Sunday, July 15, 2007

I Moved

Check out my new blog at:

Please change your links accordingly. Thanks.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Style before substance

Ok folks. We’re gonna have to compromise.

It is my blog after all.

You want links on my blog. You’ve got em.

You want more than one post on each page. You’ve got it (but only three - and don’t ask for more!).

But one big change is not open for discussion - I’m moving.

I’ve been thinking about a change of venue for quite awhile. I resisted because Blogger has been good to me for two years. However, a couple things at Blogger just drove me nuts. Also, and most importantly, I think Wordpress just looks cleaner and sharper.

So, go check out my new blog. A new address but the rest should stay pretty much the same (less content than I would like, a little controversy every now and then, and boring stuff in between. You gotta love it).

Please change your links (surely you can do at least one thing for me).

Be sure to notice, the link is (not

Don’t tell anyone, but because I am an idiot, I accidently deleted forever That mistake is still hurting. Oh well, will have to do. The blog’s still called “If God is Love” though - I like that a lot. And I’m quite attached to the banner photo.

So go check out the new site.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Coming Soon (hopefully...maybe)

Ok, I hate having an inactive and lame blog. Not many posts. Not much serious content. Oh well, part of being a new parent I guess. Hopefully I'll get a chance to blog more soon. Here are a few things I am wanting to blog about:

1. I watched a great movie the other night. A documentary called Born Into Brothels. Really great. Bump it to the top of your queue. Hopefully I will be blogging about my reaction to the movie soon...

2. I read a good book last week called Leaving Church (mostly while bouncing Ivy in the bouncy seat - trying to get her to go to sleep...). It's written by Barbara Brown Taylor and is about her faith journey - from becoming an Anglican priest to her eventual decision to walk away from church leadership, and to some degree church altogether. The book provoked some good thought and is definitely worthy of discussion.

3. A quote I came across today:

"For Christians, the problem is not how to reconcile homosexuality with scriptural passages that condemn it, but how to reconcile the rejection and punishment of homosexuals with the love of Christ." - William Sloane Coffin

I hope you all are well. More is coming soon...

(what do you think of the latest "rearrangement" of the blog?)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

New Waterdeep

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I am sitting in my living room listening to new music from Waterdeep.

It's kind of a big deal.

This is the first new Waterdeep (non live, non-worship music) since 1999. I remember the day I bought that cd - I was a sophomore in college.

Anyways, I am listening to Heart Attack Time Machine, which you can download here, and remembering the good ole days of going to Waterdeep concerts with Brooke and various other friends. I think I have seen them live about 15 times, with Kansas City being the longest trip (and the best of all).

Here's a song that's on the new album. It's a live recording from a Don Chaffer (the male half of Waterdeep) concert I went to a couple years ago in Austin. You should also check out two other songs from the album at Waterdeep's myspace page. You might also check out The Khrusty Brothers (I haven't had a chance yet).

"The City of Atlantis" - Don Chaffer (of Waterdeep)

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Song for you and me

In an obvious move to steal some traffic from GK's ever-so-popular MP3 of the week segment, I offer you this new song from one of my favorite bands, Over the Rhine. The song will be featured on their new cd Trumpet Child, which comes out in August. Their previous cd, Drunkard's Prayer, is one of my very favorites.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

"Trouble" - Over the Rhine

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Thank you for coming to us

Sometimes when I'm holding Ivy, often while she is sleeping and when there is no one else around, I talk to her. Just a few words here and there. I don't know why and I don't usually think much of it. But just now I was watching Ivy sleep and realized that in these quiet moments I often say to her, "Thank you for coming to us." For some reason this struck me just now. Certainly she had no choice. I don't imagine that she was in some pre-existent place and chose us out of other potential parents (wouldn't that be strange?). I know more appropriately I should be thanking God, and I think indirectly I really am, but for some reason I think I will continue to say these words: "Thank you for coming to us Ivy. We are so glad you are here. We have waited so long for you. We love you so very much."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Unity and diversity

I have been thinking a lot over the past months about the unity of the church. I’m not into drawing lines. I don’t like walls. I think the Church is ONE.

But at the same time, I have specific beliefs I think are important.

How does one balance unity and diversity?

How does one support and promote unity while also acknowledging and even endorsing certain distinctions? Is this possible?

One question that has been asked in the Church throughout the centuries is the question of essentials and non-essentials. What are the essentials for unity? What are the non-essential areas where we can embrace diversity? I struggle with this question because I really do want to err on the side of Church unity. I feel that if someone is willing to fellowship with me, then I am willing to fellowship with him or her.

This is easy to talk about but much more difficult in practice.

Talking about unity amongst diversity is simple. Resisting the pull towards divisions based on distinctions can be quite challenging.

How should this work?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Fear and Love

I thought this was great:

"Fear turns one inward, away from the 'other.' Fear imprisons. Fear resists hope and life. Fear prevents us from knowing and being known deeply. Fear resists interdependency and it closes us to loving and being loved. Fear inhibits creativity and stunts growth. Fear doesn’t see opportunities. Fear risks nothing.

"Love, on the other hand frees, love enlivens. Love holds the other as they are, and lets others hold us as we are. Love is vulnerable and open to others. Love says, 'yes' to God’s desire to love us, and in saying 'yes' we are able in turn to love God, others and ourselves.

"God is love. To 'image' God, we love."

(this was stolen in its entirety from Paul at Podigal Kiwi(s) Blog)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Frederick Buechner (an ordained Presbyterian minister) on church

"I say the best thing that could happen to your church is for it to burn down and for all your fax and e-mail machines to be burned up, and for the minister to be run over by a truck so that you have nothing left except each other and God. And then I say if you want to know what the original church was like, go to an AA meeting where all they have is each other and God, and they say to each other: 'We cannot live whole lives without each other and a higher power.'"

Another similar quote:

"One wonders what will become of the church. Certain branches of it are growing, but in so many parts of the world it's dying, and maybe that's just as well. Maybe it's had its day, and God will never die; God will always make himself known one way or the other -- maybe not in the church at all, but who knows how? I've often said in churches [that] the best thing that could happen is if the church burned down and all the computers were lost and all the bulletins were blown away by the wind, and the minister was run over by a truck, and you've got nothing left except each other and God. That would be the best thing that could happen to you, because that's where it all began, and that's what it's all about. All the rest is window dressing; it is trappings, it is words, words, words, words, words, words, words, which after time become just babble -- God babble."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Picture Share

I think this might be my favorite picture of Ivy so far.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Reflecting on the Monday after my blogiversary

I'm just joking.

Don't worry.

No more silly blogiversary posts.

After this one.

I'm done.


And this one doesn't really count.

So really I only had two.

But the second one was mainly a quote from another blog.

Maybe it doesn't count either.

But now I'm done.

I promise.

Until next year...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Reflecting on my blogiversary

So, I was thinking about blogging and stuff (you know, with today being my big two year blogiversary and all - had you heard?). Anyways, I was thinking about blogging and why I blog and what a blog is for and what I should blog about next and other things, and I came across this great comment by Real Live Preacher about blogging. I think it is appropriate to quote on today my day of days, my blogiversary.

"...this blog is a personal thing. Blogs are intended to be that. They are, we might say, a record of a person's life. An old way of thinking might lead you to say, 'What makes you think anyone wants to read your personal diary, you self-absorbed fool?' A new way of thinking suggests that we are all adding to the collective information network of the blogosphere. Whether or not anyone reads your work isn't the most important question. It's the larger idea that's important. We are reading each other's lives. We are learning about each other and beginning to know each other across previously insurmountable geographical and cultural barriers. I like being part of that." (full text here)

I do too. On to year three. Thanks for joining me.

In honor of two years of deep insight which has certainly changed all of your lives forever

Yes, today is my two year blogiversary.

In honor of this special day, I will be giving free t-shirts to the first ten people who comment on this post and tell me that I have the greatest blog in the universe (or is it blogiverse?).*

Good luck! And have fun!

*By free t-shirts I really mean this is a joke and you should go make your own t-shirt in honor of my two year blogiversary. But you should definitely make sure to have fun doing it! Actually, since this is my second blogiversary, and since that's a huge gigantic deal and all, I really will give a free t-shirt (I'm not lying) to the first person who can remember the content of my very first blog entry ever. Close doesn't count - you have to get it exactly right (no cheating allowed - you can't go back and look).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The prayers of a new father

"Lord, please help Ivy to fall asleep. Please don't let her wake up. Please allow Brooke to sleep for more than one hour at a time."

Alternative version: "OH GOD! Please let us all just get some sleep!"

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Oh My God

Ivy Grace came to us on Mother’s Day at 3:27 am – 7 pounds and 20 inches. See Brooke’s blogs (Reflections and Waiting) for more. I’m sure she/we will share more details soon.


Oh my God
Sweet embrace
A baby girl

Oh my God
How can it be?
She is here!

Oh my God
This love I feel
She is so beautiful

Everything is new
Everything is right
Oh my God

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Magic cookies? Whatever - more like unmagical cookies

I sure hope Rishi's magic spreadsheet works better than Amanda's magic cookies.

But Amanda's cookies definitely tasted better than Rishi's spreadsheet...

Oh well - it would have made a great story...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Believe me, today's the day

Everyone get ready, because today is the day. You've been captivated by Rishi's magic spreadsheet. Now I want to introduce you to Amanda's magic cookies.

Last night Amanda brought us some homemade cookies. According to Amanda, these are the same cookies she made and ate the night before she gave birth to Lily (well, not the same exact cookies, but you know what I mean). The day after making the cookies she had a doctor's appointment and went straight to the hospital from her appointment. Obviously this time around the magic was already working before Amanda made the cookies (you can't stop the magic) because Brooke already had a doctor's appointment scheduled for today! So clearly the baby is coming today. What other conclusion can we come to? Last night Brooke ate the magic cookies (all 10 of them - or was it 15?) and is now letting the magic work.

Ivy will share her birthday, May 9, with J.M. Barrie (of Peter Pan fame), Sophie Scholl (we happened to just watch a movie about her, which I recommend. Coincidence? I don't think so), Billy Joel, and hockey player Steve Yzerman.

I'll see you all on the other side! Go magic cookies, go!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Embracing Ignorance

As it turns out, we are actually going to have a baby.

It’s still quite difficult to believe.

We have wanted this for so long that only in the last couple weeks has the reality been sinking in that a baby is coming. It is our baby. And we will most likely need to take care of it (and the ‘it’ is actually a ‘her’ – yikes). Even as I write those words it is hard to believe. We are having a baby. Wow. I think we are a lot more mentally prepared for this than we were a couple weeks ago, but really, can anyone ever be mentally prepared for a baby? I doubt it. At least for most people. But as for me – I’m prepared. I’ve read Baby 411 and I’m guaranteed to have The Happiest Baby on the Block. So what is there to worry about?

Am I totally freaking out (as GK questioned in the previous comment section)? No way. Why would I freak out when I have Rishi’s magic spreadsheet? What else do I need? Believe me; we’ve got it all taken care of.

Ivy, feel free to come any time. I’m ready. I may not have ever changed a diaper. I may not have spent more than 15 minutes holding a new baby. But believe me, I’m ready. I’ve read the books. I’ve got the magic spreadsheet. I’ll leave the freaking out for other new parents.

Everything is under control. Bring it on.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Will this ever end? No. Ok, maybe.

Alright, after a sudden surge of votes, we are left with the following final tally:

Amy: 3 votes
Angela: 3 votes
Mary: 3 votes

Ok, maybe the sudden surge of votes was a little suspicious...before the surge it must be noted that Amy had 3 votes and was in a commanding lead. So, being the moderator of this here contest, and being able to do whatever I want, I will conclude this contest as follows:

The Grand Winner of All: Amy
First Place: Angela
The Gold Medal: Mary

Alright, maybe this was a giant cop-out by me - I don't care. I thought all three of the entries were incredible (honestly). I wish I could write as creatively and as well as any of you. In my opinion, you all wrote stories worthy of eternal glory.

By the way, I have a sneakin' suspicion that people were afraid to vote because they didn't want to choose between the three. Yet another reason to have three winners. Of course, it's entirely possible that people just think I'm completely ridiculous...and they might be right.

One last thing. Perhaps you are thinking, "how can this be a real contest if there are only winners?" That is a good question. Here's my answer. There are plenty of losers in this contest! Let me name them:

Adam - Last place
Amanduh - Complete lack of participation
Richi - Too afraid to vote
Jack's Son - Total loser
G-off - Infatuated with Brady Quinn
Brook - my wife, and always a winner

The End.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

In an attempt to drive away any readers I might still have, how about another post about some random person's broken arm?

Alright, we have three exceptional entries for "The Great Contest About Some Random Person's Broken Arm, Which Took Place in April 2007 (the contest, not the broken arm)."

Entry Number 1 - Amy
- Blogging Bob

Entry Number 2 - Mary
- Harry and the Mysterious Accident

Entry Number 3 - Angela
- “A kitten’s claw and a country song”

Go and read these three great stories. I was really impressed with each one. How can we judge between them? I don't know. Who do you think should be the winner? Leave your comments.

(are you sick of looking at this picture yet?)

Monday, April 23, 2007

More guns, more safety

I'm still on a blogging break right now. I don't know when it will end...

As for the contest, I am busy going through the many entries. I was simply not prepared for the dozens of participants. It will take me awhile to read them all. But don't worry (I know you all were worrying), the contest will be addressed.

But the real reason for this post is an absurd article I just read in my local paper. I would link to it but linking gives power and I don't want to give power to this ridiculous article. The article is by "Texas Wildman" Ted Nugent (yes, that Ted Nugent), who happens to live in Waco (wonderful...).

Here's the gist of his argument: people should be able to carry guns anywhere they want to. Gun-free zones are only disasters waiting to happen. Look at Columbine, the Amish school in Pennsylvania, and the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech - all gun-free zones. Can't we connect the dots? If only everyone had been carrying guns in those situations - imagine how many lives would have been saved. Oh, and thank God for the concealed handgun law in Texas because "we can now stop evil." Lastly, the only possible conclusion is that "gun-controllers' own policy enabled the unchallenged methodical murder of thirty-two students in that gun-free zone" (at Virginia Tech).

I'm just surprised the New York Times didn't pick up on this article.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Taking A Break From Serious Matters (everbody loves a contest, right?)

I will listen to the demands of my readers. You want a contest, you've got a contest.

In the spirit of "The Great Contest of June 2006," I offer you "The Great Contest About Some Random Person's Broken Arm, Which Took Place in April 2007 (the contest, not the broken arm)."

If you don't know what I am talking about, check out the comments from the previous post.

Here are the rules:

1 - Read the previous post.

2 - Dream up a wonderful story related to the broken arm picture (any length).

3 - Post your wonderful story on your blog (if you don't have a blog, you should start one. Or you can post your story in the comments section of this post).

4 - Post a comment on this post letting us know you have entered the contest.

5 - Post the story and comment by the end of the day on Friday, April 20.

6 - This weekend I will post again about this and we will have an open vote concerning who will win.

7 - If your name is Amy or Mary, you are required to participate.

8 - Know that I can break the rules at any time.

9 - Realize that this is quite serious.

10 - Do not vote in the comments of this post. I will post this weekend to open up the voting.

The winner is guaranteed much glory and honor.

Good luck.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Taking a short break

In case you haven't noticed, I've been taking a little bit of a blogging break the past week or two. I think that's a good thing to do from time to time.

More posts will come - check back later this week or early next week.

(by the way, don't worry, I didn't break my arm)


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

As Sufjan Stevens changes my life...

I can't get enough Sufjan Stevens.

His music is amazing.



I was listening this morning on my drive to work and I wanted to close my eyes, pull over to the side of the road (I know, I should really reverse those), and just bask in the glory of it all.

Lost in the cloud, a voice. Have no fear! We draw near!
Lost in the cloud, a sign. Son of man! Turn your ear.
Lost in the cloud, a voice. Lamb of God! We draw near!
Lost in the cloud, a sign. Son of man! Son of God!

Sufjan Stevens - The Transfiguration (mp3)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Giving Up Christianity, Again

[Warning: I didn’t proofread this very much - it may be completely wacked-out. These are just some thoughts I am working through]

Ok, so in spite of my unusual voting categorizations, the near-unanimous response to my “Giving Up Christianity?” post was, “What are you talking about?”

Allow me to explain a little (or maybe make it even more confusing…you’ll have to decide on that for yourself)

I will start with what I was not saying.

I was not saying that I hate Jesus. In fact, I wasn’t even saying I dislike Jesus a little bit. And actually, if you go back and read the post again, you might just find that I was saying I love Jesus a lot and want to take following him very seriously.

I also was not saying I hate the church. Hopefully, if you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you will have noticed that I love the church with everything in me.

And lastly, I was not saying I am not a Christian - I am.

So what in the world was I saying?

Well, I’m still working it out. I honestly wasn’t trying to make any specific statement. I just found the concept of “giving up Christianity to follow Jesus” to be an interesting thought.

Why would one give up Christianity to follow Jesus? Is there any reason to do that? In the movie the priest had a clear reason (you may see it as good or bad but he certainly had a reason). What would be the reason to give up Christianity?

Here’s my thinking about a potential reasoning for giving up Christianity (I’m sure there are other possible reasons as well). Everything starts with the fact that I believe there is something to Christianity. I really believe Jesus was/is real. I love God. I believe God is working in the world and that he works through people like you and me. He works through us to bring good things to people – to reconnect us with himself and to reconnect us with those around us. This is what God is doing. It is a good thing. And I want to be part of it.

However, I have talked with many people – current Christians, people who have given up on Christianity, and others who have never seen Christianity to be worth anything – who are fed up with all the crap involved with Christianity. They may just be sick of their particular church, but they might also sincerely believe that Christianity is bringing about the demise of our planet (to some this is quite literal). But overall these people have in common that they just find Christianity to be completely, or increasingly, irrelevant to their lives. And as I talk with these people I realize more and more that I agree with them in many ways. Now don’t get me wrong, remember, I love God, I believe in Jesus (if you ever start to wonder about this refer to the previous paragraph). I just think something has gone very wrong in Christianity, it has been wrong for a very long time, it is getting more and more messed up, and I just don’t know if it can be fixed.

So, into this context comes the idea of “giving up Christianity to follow Jesus” (think about this apart from the movie – connecting this with the movie probably just made things confusing). What if some people (not all) felt called by God to give up Christianity to follow Jesus? What if these people decided that for God to live in them and use them in this world they simply must cease to identify with the religion of Christianity? These people would come to the conclusion that there is just too much baggage – there is just too much that is worthless and genuinely damaging to others. They will have realized, “I cannot go on. I cannot love others and love God in the midst of this junk. No more.” And instead of turning their backs on Jesus, they instead decide to follow Jesus all the more – but outside the confines of the Christian religion.

I have thought about things like this before but this is different because it is about actually ceasing to call oneself a Christian. Instead of just agreeing with people that Christianity has problems, these people would completely leave it behind. They wouldn’t bash it – they would just leave it.

Ok, so hopefully that helps some. Again, I’m not suggesting I will do this. I’m sure I won’t. I just wonder if there is a real need for some people to do this.

There is one last thing and it’s very important. I also want to acknowledge that God works through messed up Christianity. I have embraced this more and more over the past couple years. I love the church – all of it. So a question I am still thinking about is how one could leave Christianity behind but also bless Christianity at the same time. I think it must be possible to embrace both - actually, I think it is going to become increasingly essential. Perhaps I’ll write more about this another time. I think this is just as important (see my previous post about reading Christianity for the Rest of Us – this book made me very hopeful for God’s work within the church and is the best book I've read so far this year).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007

Emerging blogs as far as the eye can see...

Brother Maynard has come up with the interesting suggestion of circulating a list of under-rated, under-appreciated, or under-valued emerging/missional blogs to help promote them in the wider blogosphere. Seems like a good idea to me. I particularly enjoy reading "average blogs" but I always have trouble finding good ones. This might help.

The list below is from Prodigal Kiwi(s) Blog - I added the last four.

The Blind Beggar
Emerging Grace
Nathan Colquhoun
John Smulo
Todd Hiestand
Chuck Warnock
John Lunt
Webb Kline
Mark Wilson
Rick Meigs
Brother Maynard
Glenn Hager
Paul Mayers
Jamie Swann
Paul Walker
Jerry Frear
Phil Wyman
Matt Stone
Erika Haub
John Santic
Colin Lamm
Julie Clawson
Phil Johnson
Andii Bowsher
John Moorehead
Paul Fromont & Alan Jamieson
Tom Allen
Karen Ward
Malcolm Chamberlain
Adam Moore
Cheryl Lawrie
Mark Berry
Brushed Blog (Andy)
Emerging in Ludlow (David Bole)
hold : this space
Jim Palmer

To participate, copy this list into a new post on your own blog, and add the names you have to the bottom of the list, and encourage others to do the same. They should be people with under 150 links so we can truly scew the Technorati rankings. When you’ve done that, leave a comment at Brother Maynard’s blog so he can keep track of who ends up participating. Also check out the comments on his initial entry and that will keep you busy a long time!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Giving up Christianity?

In chapter five of How (Not) to Speak of God, Pete Rollins writes about a movie called Amen. The movie takes place during World War II in Germany and centers on two religious figures – one a Protestant youth worker and the other a Catholic priest. Both individuals try to tell their religious leaders about the genocide occurring, but the churches resist, keeping their eyes closed to the atrocities. Rollins looks in particular at the Catholic priest who in the movie wonders if it would be possible for all the Christians in Germany to convert to Judaism – hoping the Nazis could not resist such a large and influential number of people. Of course this large-scale conversion does not happen but the priest “in complete frustration, and with a crushing sense of obligation towards the persecuted…takes his own advice. In tears he turns from that which he loves more than life itself – his own faith tradition – and becomes a Jew. By taking on the Jewish identity he suffers with the persecuted, voluntarily taking his place on the trains that run to Auschwitz.” Rollins points out, “It was his very tradition (or rather his interpretation of that tradition) that demanded that he should give up that tradition.” In other words, the priest believed his faith called for him to give up his religion and become one of the persecuted. Rollins asks, “would you be prepared to give up your religious tradition in order to affirm that tradition?”

This really got me thinking.

What if some Christians were called to give up Christianity in order to follow Jesus? What if it was their strong faith and trust in Jesus that compelled them to give up Christianity?

I don’t mean this in a symbolic way. I mean what if I (for example) stopped calling myself a Christian. If someone directly asked me, “Are you a Christian?,” I would simply respond, with full honesty, “no.” What if I (remember, I’m just using myself as an example) stopped doing “Christian” things? No more Easter or Christmas holidays. No more church (ok, I’ve already done that one). Simply no more Christian religious traditions. Not because I don’t like these traditions – I may even love some of them – but rather, so that I could live as a follower of Jesus, obeying him and pursuing his purposes, more than ever.

I certainly don’t think this is for everyone (or maybe even anyone). And I am not trying to make a statement here. It wouldn’t be an “anti-Christian” kind of thing. Just like the priest in the movie, I would be giving up what I love in order to better follow and live what I love. Again, this isn’t for everyone but what if some Christians decided to give up Christianity to follow Jesus? Not as an evangelistic scheme but simply out of a compulsion to follow Jesus all the more, and in a way that would not be possible within the confines of the Christian religion.

I know this is bizarre. It really is. I really can’t imagine saying to someone “I’m not a Christian.” And I’m certainly not saying I am going to start doing this. Nonetheless, I have really been thinking about this a lot ever since reading this part of Rollins’ book.

So what do you think? Completely ridiculous? Unnecessary? An abomination to God? Or is there maybe something to it…? Cast your vote in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

(By the way, is anyone interested in watching the movie with me?)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

How (Not) to Speak of God – Chapter 5: The Third Mile

Chapter five concludes the first half of Rollins’ book, the theologically focused portion of the book. The second part of the book will address how the ideas discussed in the first half are made visible in Rollins’ own faith community.

Chapter five is probably the most important chapter of the first half of the book. In this chapter Rollins begins by discussing Truth and Reality. Rollins states: “Truth is God and having knowledge of the Truth is evidenced, not in a doctrinal system, but in allowing that Truth to be incarnated in one’s life.” A “theoretical system will [not] bring life” but rather “to know the truth is thus to be known and transformed by the Truth.”

For Rollins, the transformative power of Truth is found in Love. Much of the rest of the chapter is dedicated to examining God’s “prejudice towards love.” In summary, Rollins sees love as the central message of God/Jesus. Jesus did not come to provide us with a better/new ethical system. He also did not come to simply abolish the Law. Rather, he brings us a new way of viewing the law/ethics – we are to view it with a prejudice of love. Rather than focusing on the letter of the law we are to interpret the law through the lens of love. Rollins relates this to how we read scripture. Rollins believes “Jesus taught us not merely to read the scriptures, but to enter into a dialogue with them: a dialogue that is saturated and directed by love.” And later, “our reading of the Bible must be re-examined and wrestled with repeatedly as we encounter the situations that present themselves to us.”

In concluding the chapter, Rollins reminds us that “we cannot force this radical, Christ-like love, we cannot work it up or commit to living in this way.” Rather, this love “is gained only as we give up. To be born of God is to be born of love. Here we come into contact with Meister Eckhart, who claims that we must let go of ourselves in such a manner that we can become a dwelling-place in which God can reside and from which God can flow. Our own works and beliefs are dethroned by the enthronement of God. What is important for Eckhart is not to think correctly, or to work hard, but rather to engage in a type of concrete ego-death by which the divine is invited to enter the place which we have laid down. The hope is that in so doing, love will flow from us.”

And lastly, “in so doing, we will not merely sit around describing the world, but rather, we will become the iconic spaces in which God is made manifest in the world.”

There’s a little more I want to discuss about this chapter but this is probably enough for now. As for the second half of the book, I am not planning to blog through it. I will probably read through the rest and put together a concluding entry about what we can take away from this book. Anyways, more on this will come later.

Others in this series:
- Introduction
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Irresistible Revolution

(Don't miss the great discussion going on with this post. It's not too late to join in. Check it out.)

I've been reading Shane Claiborne's The Irresistible Revolution.

It's really great. You should read it. I mean it. I don't say this too often but I think this is a book everyone should read.

But unfortunately, I can't read it anymore.

I can't take anymore.

Shane is this incredible guy with an incredible story who is not very incredible at all. He's just an ordinary guy who wants to follow Jesus. Shane lives with the poor in Philadelphia and has given his life to follow Jesus in the margins of society - kind of like Jesus actually.

I like Shane's message. I like Shane. I highly recommend his book. But I just can't read it anymore.

Basically I just don't know what to do with it. I am really affected by Shane's story in this book. I think he is right. I think Jesus asks us to give up everything and to truly love our neighbor. But at the same time I don't know what that should look like for me. Are we all called to sell everything and live with the poor? I kind of think not but I also tend to agree with Shane that Jesus wasn't just speaking metaphorically when he talked about possessions, serving, loving others, etc. Part of me really thinks we (the church) should be living just like Shane. Why wouldn't we? Oh yeah, it does take a lot of sacrifice. And quite frankly, whether right or wrong, I'd rather do one of two things. One, say how nice the book is, praise Shane (and others like him), but make sure to point out that Jesus didn't really mean for everyone to live like Shane is living. Or two, decide to do some nice community service. Some nice community service where I get to feel better about myself but then go back to my nice smelling house.

Believe me, I'm not making any statements here. Don't be offended or anything. I really just don't know how to take this kind of message. I've heard it quite a bit before, it's affected me before, and I've ignored it before. I'm just going to stop the process now before it repeats itself again.

Any thoughts? I'm really interested to hear what any of you might have to share. Anyone else screwed up like me?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Faces (one year later)

One year ago today is when it all started to happen. I remember having lunch with Brooke that day, a year ago. It's strange to think about it.

Tomorrow we will mark the day with friends and family and a memorial at the cemetery. I think it will be a good thing. A way to look back, remember, and continue to move forward.

As I was looking for another post to recycle this week (by the way, look forward to new posts next week), I knew this was the one. It is fitting.


I was greatly affected by the faces of the people I encountered on March 9 and 10. I remember them clearly.

The first face I remember is Brooke. Sitting on our couch and looking into her eyes, I could tell she was worried. She told me something had changed – “could this be a problem?” I remember Amy’s worried face as she and Aaron were right beside us.

Later, I spoke with Amanda on the phone. I couldn't see her face but her words pierced me. I can still hear her saying, “oh, Adam,” after I told her our concerns. Her emotion revealed to me her unspoken reaction, “this can’t be true.”

We went to the hospital and our fears were soon confirmed. We were losing our baby. It was only a matter of time. When Dr. Becker arrived at the hospital I could see his face change as he realized who we were and immediately remembered our story. I had spoken with him on the phone earlier but I don’t think he had connected our names with our faces. It didn’t take him long when he walked into our room. By his facial expression I could tell he recalled our situation and remembered this was a much longed for baby. Our doctor was hurting for us – his face gave it away.

Soon after, Brooke’s parents arrived at the hospital. I can still see Jan running to her precious daughter’s side. There were tears and I knew both Jan and Richard were aching for this loss. Their faces were full of tears and heartbreak. They were hurting for the loss of their first grandchild and for the pain they knew their own first-born child was going through.

After an initial sonogram we learned it would likely be a long day. I decided to go and see our friends who had come to the hospital and were in the waiting room supporting us. I was having a hard time holding myself together. I needed to let them know what was going on and that they should probably leave until more happened. I remember seeing another group in the waiting room – presumably there to rejoice over the birth of a new grandchild, niece, cousin, etc. Their faces were excited. I almost lost it when I looked over and saw Amy, Amanda, Jeff, and Nan. Amy’s face was red and full of tears. So was Amanda’s. Jeff and Nan’s faces revealed hurt as well - but also a look of experience. They had been here before in their own lives, not this particular experience, but others like it. Their faces showed it – in some small way, they understood the pain. The faces of these four probably affected me more than any other (besides Brooke). I knew they were hurting for us and with us. Suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly I knew we were not alone.

Our expectation of a long day of labor quickly proved incorrect. Soon after a second sonogram, Brooke unpredictably began to experience some intense labor pains. At the time neither of us really knew what was going on – even the nurse and our doctor were quite surprised that this was it – the baby was coming, now. Closing my eyes right now, I can see Brooke in more pain than she had ever experienced before. Her face revealed physical pain, emotional shock, and much fear of what was happening. My beloved was going through something terrible and there was little I could do. While looking into her face and trying to be present for her, I was hurting for my beautiful wife. Our baby was about to be born without any life in him.

Later, after the birth, and after Brooke was doing much better physically, I walked outside our room and saw Kim. She gave me a much-needed hug as she spoke words of disbelief through her own tears. This dear friend’s face revealed the same confusion and shock I was experiencing. I remember going back into our room and feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the love and care I had seen in her face and felt in her arms. Again, I knew we were not alone. Even in the midst of my own complete shock, searing pain, and overwhelming fear, in that brief moment, as in the other similar moments of this terrible day, I was strengthened in a way I desperately needed.

There were many other encounters with loved-ones during the rest of that day, and in the following days and weeks, but the other one that significantly impacted me that particular morning was seeing my dearest friend, Rishi. Rishi is an emotional person. I am typically not. When I saw Rishi I could tell he was trying not too look into my face. I knew if he did, he would completely lose it. His face showed that he was trying his very best to hold back the tears that were wanting to come. It didn’t take long before we were both crying. This brother was not just hurting for me. He did not just feel bad about this situation. He was truly hurting with me in a way I will never forget.

In each of the situations I have described, the faces of these individuals communicated to me A Great Love that somehow sustained me during this torturous day. I do not know how I (we) made it through that day or the weeks that have followed (and I'm not real sure how we are going to continue to make it), but I do know that looking into those precious faces is something I hope to never forget.

I (we) still need these faces. We have a long way to go. I am still hurting. I am still afraid. I need to see faces that remind me I am not alone. Faces that remind me I am loved.

(original entry - March 29, 2006)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sharing Life

I came across a great Henri Nouwen quote over at Jordon Cooper's blog. It hit me right in the gut - very simple but profound (I had forgotten how wonderful Nouwen is). In fact, I liked it so much that I did a little research, found out where the quote was from (Gracias: A Latin American Journal), and ended up typing out the entire journal entry. The bold part is the original quote - you might read this first, and if you like it, you can read the rest. I hope some of you find this beneficial (by the way, go ahead and consider this another kind of blog recycling - using a post from someone else's blog).

Oh, one more thing, this reminded me a lot of something I posted awhile back by George Macdonald - some of his crazy thoughts on church (an excerpt from Robert Falconer).


After more than a month in Pamplona Alta, I have come to believe strongly that a “pastoral presence” is more important than any plan or project. This conviction has grown out of the observation that, more than anything else, people want you to share their lives. This afternoon I simply walked to where I heard music. About six blocks from where I live, I soon saw people dancing around a tree and cutting it down bit by bit. It proved to be a carnival celebration that is popular in the jungle of Peru, and that some emigrants had transported to Pamplona Alta.

Although nobody knew me, it didn’t take long for people to offer me a drink and to make me part of their fiesta. One member of the band told me without blinking an eye that he was a drug dealer and had just imported a kilo of “cocaine pasta” from Colombia. He said: “I look simple and poor, but I have a good business and make enough money to go to the World Cup games in Spain.” When I told him that I had met a lot of drug buyers and drug dealers in the Lurigancho prison, he was hardly impressed. It seemed that he worked for the drug underworld, and that he was so well protected that his frankness about his business was not any real risk for him.

Besides this drug dealer, there were many others who wanted to tell me their stories, some jokingly, others seriously, some heavily inebriated, others with a clear mind. What struck me most of all was the easy way in which these Peruvians received me and let me be one of them.

More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time and the freedom to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and to drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.

If I ever decide to live in Peru for a long time, I think I should stay in one place and spend the first year doing little more than participating in the daily Peruvian life. A ministry of word and sacrament has to grow from a deep solidarity with the people. Contemplation is essential to ministry, and listening to people’s lives and receiving them in a prayerful heart is true contemplation. I have little doubt that out of this contemplation it will become clear how the good news of the Gospel has to be announced, and how the healing presence of God needs to be made manifest among his people.

The greatest news of all is that God is with his people, that he is truly present. What greater ministry, then, can be practiced than a ministry that reflects this divine presence? And why worry? If God is with his own, his own will show me the way.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Recycling is good, right?

This upcoming week is going to be kind of busy for me. Instead of neglecting the blog, I have decided to recycle some previous posts (good for the environment, right?). So here is the first of a few "recycled posts" I will offer this week. Hopefully they will be new to many of you and still worthwhile to the rest of you. Here's one from my Xanga days.

God has been teaching me some about the infinite value of each individual person as a unique creation and expression of God. Of course this is an easy idea to take hold of and support. The problem is actually living one's life with this as a reality.

I have been convicted of some false thinking I easily fall into in this area. The temptation is to believe that I am special and that others just do not, and cannot, understand me. Of course, the problem is not in thinking that I am special or unique (that is certainly true, as it is for everyone), the problem is in thinking (and living like) I am more special than others - more important than others. I am coming to the realization that it is really just pride that causes me to think such things. What I am really thinking (to myself that is) is that I am better than/more important than/more significant than the person I believe "cannot understand me." What I am really saying is that all people should be me - all people should be like me/as good as me/as wonderful as me. This is all just another example of our horrible "self-addiction" (at least I hope I am not the only one!).

I think the reality is that we are indeed all unique and especially significant. And in a sense we really cannot ever completely understand each other. But this is not a deficit in God's creation - this is one of the great wonders of God's creation. We are all different, we are all a different idea/thought/result of God's love in creation. So the hope is that we might/I might embrace the uniqueness of our neighbors (fellow sons and daughters of God) and truly allow our eyes to be opened to see the expression of God in each one - even in those with whom we feel we share no natural similarities.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Leaving Church (Leaving Faith?)

"I will never go back to Christianity. I might visit a church, once in a while. But I will never go back."

This statement concludes the most recent entry on the new website "Letters from Leavers." I have only had a chance to scan through some of the first entries but so far it looks to be a very interesting new site. Here's the opening note from the founders of the site:

"Have you ever left a Christian Church Community?

"If you have moved on from church, we want to hear from you. Speak up and express your thoughts and feelings. Post a letter to this blog about your church experience and why you left. Write your letter with a specific church in mind or address it to the Church as a whole. It's up to you.

"We created this website to be a safe space for those who have left to freely tell their stories. Please tell us yours. "

How intriguing! What a great idea for a blog/website.

I am planning to submit my own story on the site and will post it here as well. However, until then, are any of you "church leavers?" Like I said, my story will be coming soon.

If any of this is interesting to you, be sure to check out Alan Jamieson's book, A Churchless Faith - an excellent read. I blogged about it a little bit here.

(Thanks to TSK for the intial tip. Prodigal Kiwi(s) Blog and Pomomusings have also been talking about it.)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

How (Not) to Speak of God - Chapter 4: Inhabiting the God-shaped hole

In chapter four, Rollins refers to the idea of the “God-shaped hole.” The typical understanding of the God-shaped hole is that each person has something missing in him or her, which leads to a longing for God. While there is certainly something to be said about this statement, Rollins turns the idea upside-down (yes, he likes to do this). Using an example from literature (The Stranger by Albert Camus), Rollins asks how we are to address those who do not express a longing for God? How does Christianity relate to people who see “the religious question” as completely irrelevant?

These questions really resonate with my own experience. Some years ago my perspective was simply to force the religious question – force people to make a decision about Jesus/God. However, experientially (in my own life and in relating to others) I have come to see this as a fruitless and often useless path. How can you tell someone they need God/Jesus if they have no desire for God/Jesus? How can you tell someone they are lacking if they feel no lack? Does it work to tell someone they have a God-shaped hole in their heart if they sense no symptoms of this hole? Perhaps even more importantly, why would you make these demands of someone? This seems to be the height of arrogance. This seems to me just like saying, “You are lacking and the way you can be fixed is to believe things like I do.” To say this to someone who is happy and content with life can be both useless and egotistical.

So instead of the God-shaped hole being “something that exists until being filled,” Rollins proposes that “the God-shaped hole can be understood as precisely that which is left in the aftermath of God.” Rollins continues:

“The believer far from once having a God-shaped hole in his or her being that is now filled, is one who has a God-shaped hole formed in the aftermath of God, a hole that compels them to seek after that which they already have. The Christian religion arises as a space that testifies to God by testifying to a God who created, but who cannot be contained, within the space. The void left by God is not unlike a type of black hole, full of something that cannot be seen and which draws our gaze into the unseen.”

In summary, Rollins is saying that the God-shaped hole is evidence that one has already experienced God – experienced God in a way that has left the person hungry for more, hungry for something they may not even understand to be God.

With this shift in focus, the Christian religion is no longer the answer to what people lack, but instead provides a space to provoke ultimate questions - not only for the unbeliever, but for us all. And along with this, Rollins proposes that God is ultimately found in the seeking. Asking the questions is evidence of the God-shaped hole – the aftermath of an experience of God. Rollins states it much better than me:

“In short, a true spiritual seeking can be understood as the ultimate sign that one already has that which one seeks to grasp. Consequently a genuine seeking after God is evidence of having found. Of course, much desire that appears to seek after God is nothing of the sort…A true seeking after God results from an experience of God which one falls in love with for no reason other than finding God irresistibly lovable. In this way the lovers of God are the ones who are most passionately in search of God.”

Think about this. Read it a couple times perhaps. At first I thought this was the least significant chapter of the book so far. However, after a second read and some reflection, I think this chapter is the most important one so far! And I also realized that it resonates with my experience very deeply. I hope it resonates with a few of you as well.

Others in this series:
- Introduction
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 5

Friday, February 23, 2007

It's Time

I’ve shared before that it has been difficult to really get excited about our current pregnancy. Before twenty weeks I was especially not allowing myself to get excited – there was just too much risk. I think my natural defense mechanisms were working full-time to keep down any excitement. However, since 20 weeks the excitement has been really growing in me. This week I have found myself looking forward to meeting the baby and I’ve been getting excited again about the idea of raising a child. I saw a mother walking across campus the other day with a 3 or 4 year old little girl and it really hit me. It’s hard to imagine having a little one in our home and having a child grow up with us as the parents! Wow! Anyways, I’ve said a couple times that part of me has really been wanting to jump in and be excited about this pregnancy and the idea of having a baby, but I haven’t allowed myself because it was just too scary. Well, I think it’s time. It’s time to get excited. It’s time to jump in. It’s still a little scary (part of me figures by writing this entry I am sealing our eventual doom) but I think it’s worth the risk.

[I know you've probably seen this sonogram picture on Brooke's blog, but I think it's worth posting here too - I think it's wonderful]

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I've been listening to the Pete Rollins talks I mentioned last week and something small stuck out to me as I was listening. I think it is worth mentioning. Rollins briefly points out a thought-provoking difference between Israel and Islam. The word 'Islam' means 'submission' - in particular the idea is submission to God. The word 'Israel' means 'he who wrestles with God.' Rollins simply points this out to address the significance of the meaning of 'Israel.' He finds it intriguing (and so do I) that when God chose a people he identified them as ones who wrestle with God. This is quite different than the idea of submission. Of course the Bible also talks about submitting to God, but I just think it is fascinating that wrestling with God should be a distinction of the people of God. Rather than being merely a god of submission and authority, the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob is a God who allows, and even welcomes, intimate wrestling between God and his people.

This is comforting to me. God does not push us into submission with his heel pressed on our neck, but rather he allows us to wrestle with him - even blessing us through the wrestling (Gen 32:22-32).

I will stop here - there is much more that can be said but perhaps leaving it open for thought is best of all.

[Aside: Rollins is not making any statement against Islam here. He is just wanting to bring out the idea that the people of God are those who wrestle with God.]

Sunday, February 18, 2007

How (Not) to Speak of God – Chapter 3: A/theology as icon

One theme running throughout chapter three, and the entire book, is the idea that we should approach “the divine mystery as something to be transformed by rather than solved.” I believe the implications of this statement are vast – perhaps significant enough to change the face of majority-Christianity. I was particularly affected by how this view changes the way we understand the unity of the Church.

Returning to the analogy of a painting he used earlier in the book, Rollins states: “…what unites Christians is not that we somehow grasp the true meaning (another way of saying ‘my meaning’) of the painting, as if it can be reduced to a singular message, but that we are seduced and transformed by it. [We must] find unity not by a type of cloning by which all Christians are encouraged to believe the same thing, thus forming one master denomination, but amidst denominational diversity.”

Do you see the implications for the unity of the church in moving to a view of God as “something to be transformed by rather than solved”? If as Christians we are trying to solve a formula, then it makes sense that our unity would be based on the goal of all holding to the same understanding of the formula. But we are not trying to solve a formula. Rather, our unity should be found in the fact that we all love the same painting (to use Rollins’ analogy). This frees us from the division and discord of working to find one ‘true’ interpretation - instead together we can love and be transformed by God, gaining from the perspectives of those who are transformed in ways unlike ourselves.

This view also leaves room for doubt within the Church. Rollins states: “In contrast to the modern view that religious doubt is something to reject, fear or merely tolerate, doubt not only can be seen as an inevitable aspect of our humanity but also can be celebrated as a vital part of faith.” If God is not a formula to be solved, then there is freedom to doubt. If we realize following Jesus and believing in God is often unclear, then we can acknowledge doubt as a part of faith - we can even embrace faith and doubt as equally valid aspects of the journey, rather than incongruous opposites.

Lastly, I want to leave you with a few (ok, maybe more than a few) final words from chapter three. This was too good to leave out:

“In contrast to the view that evangelism is that which gives an answer for those who are asking, we must have faith to believe that those who seek will find for themselves. If this is true, then the job of the Church is not to provide an answer – for the answer is not a phrase or doctrine – but rather to help encourage the religious question to arise.”

And later:

“In short, the emerging community must endeavour to be a question rather than an answer and an aroma rather than food. It must seek to offer an approach that enables the people of God to become the parable, aroma, and salt of God in the world, helping to form a space where God can give of God. For too long the Church has been seen as an oasis in the desert – offering water to those who are thirsty. In contrast, the emerging community appears more as a desert in the oasis of life, offering silence, space and desolation amidst the sickly nourishment of Western capitalism. It is in this desert, as we wander together as nomads, that God is to be found. For it is here that we are nourished by our hunger.”

Others in this series:
- Introduction
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5

Friday, February 16, 2007

Reading God's Ultimate Passion

I recently finished reading a review copy of God’s Ultimate Passion, a new book by church planter Frank Viola. In short, Viola's book is a re-telling of the three primary tales he finds within scripture. In Viola’s own words:

“The first is the story of a God who is an ageless romantic driven by one consuming pursuit. The second is the tale of a God who has sought for eternity to have a resting place – a habitation – a home. The third is the tale of a God from another realm who visits planet earth to establish a heavenly colony that will give Him visible expression.”

There are a number of positive elements to the book. In particular, there is a strong emphasis on the unconditional love of God. Secondly, and related, Viola expresses a very high regard for the church - the true body of Christ. We are not separate from Christ, we are united and one with Christ. Both of these elements are central to the book and I sincerely appreciate this perspective.

While there is much to praise about this book, I did find myself frustrated at various points. First, I see Viola’s book as a hyper-spiritualized picture of Christianity and church. This isn’t necessarily bad - I just had a hard time bringing the ideas of the book down to earth and relating them to practical living. In addition, at times I felt Viola was proclaiming “the one right way” of seeing things. I’m sure Viola would not say this directly, but for some reason that attitude came across as I read.

In conclusion, there is definitely much to gain from reading God’s Ultimate Passion – it just wasn’t anything new or groundbreaking for me. But for others it may be exactly what they need to hear.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

It's all about the name

Brooke and I are busy discussing a name for our baby girl. Well, not at the moment. At the moment I am taking a lunch break at work and Brooke is probably at work. At least I hope she is. And I'm actually sitting in my office typing words. What I meant is that both Brooke and I have been spending time thinking and discussing names for our little girl who we are expecting in May. And actually, I should say, what if it's not a little girl? What if it's a big girl? Or a medium sized girl? Anyways, you get the idea. It's a girl. We need a name.

So...I haven't brought this up with Brooke yet but I was figuring a good way to name the baby would be to have a blog contest with the winner getting to name our child. Good idea, right? I'm sure Brooke will love it. Look forward to it and start thinking of good names.

Actually, I started writing this entry because I was wondering your thoughts about names. Is a name really that important? What does it say about the parents? And most importantly, what does it say about the child? Would a person turn out exactly the same no matter what her name is? I don't know really...I kind of think the name makes a difference in some way. I think if I had been named Ted I would have turned out much differently. Not that there's anything wrong with the name Ted.

What do you think? Does the name make a difference?

Oh, and by the way, about the contest. I was lying. There will be no contest. Now, I am sure Brooke would have loved it, but I just realized it might work better to sell the naming rights on Ebay. I'm going to look into it...

And don't ask us what names we're thinking of. We won't tell you. We will tell you when we've made a final decision though. You all will be the first to know (or maybe second, or third, or...)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Lazy Blogging

Alright, I admit it - I've been lazy about blogging this past week. As a result, here's a lazy blog entry for you (it's still worth every bit of your time though - believe me).

1. Chapter 3 of How (Not) to Speak of God will have to wait until next Monday (so sorry). But until then, join me in listening to some Pete Rollins mp3 talks available online. And if you haven't read my recent entries about this excellent book, feel free to catch up (Introduction, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2).

12. Speaking of book reviews and online audio talks, do you remember my previous entries regarding Spencer Burke and Barry Taylor's A Heretic's Guide to Eternity (parts 1 and 2)? Well, this weekend I listened to an interesting mp3 interview with Spencer. He talks about the book and some of the conversations it has provoked. It is worth listening to - I think Burke/Taylor have provided a lot of good fodder for conversation.

123. Speaking of podcasts, etc, here's an audio interview with Scot McKnight of Jesus Creed fame.

1234. And lastly, speaking of book reviews and such, I will be reviewing Frank Viola's new book, God's Ultimate Passion, in the next week or so (I've already read it). If you're interested in how Viola sees himself fitting into the emerging church conversation, then you might enjoy his most recent newsletter (I am particularly refering to the part under "Question #1").

12345. And beyond lastly, thanks to all of you who commented on the "Church as Friends and Wayfarers" post. So many good thoughts. If you haven't read them, you should. They're certainly worth reading.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Church as friends and wayfarers"

Paul Fromont (Prodigal Kiwi(s) Blog) recently blogged about a church “outsider” who visited four area churches and came to the conclusion that there was no reason she, or any of her friends, would have any interest in church. I appreciate that rather than becoming defensive, Paul wonders why church is not irrelevant to him as well. He admits that often his own experiences of deep connection with God and others takes place outside of a Sunday church service. He goes on to describe such an experience and I found his comments both encouraging and familiar:

“… gathered with friends around food, wine, conversation that both floats on the surface and dives to depth, laughter, memories and stories of life lived on the edge – creatively and imaginatively. This felt sacramental to me, this felt like church – God present amongst us, conversation as prayer and gratitude; the moon, stillness and changing colours of the evening drawing the “wow” of worship from me. Church with good people whose experience of life and living is honest, rich and deep; church as the arms of welcome and hospitality extended… Church as friends and wayfarers in all their diversity gathered together around food and wine, the telling of stories, and the nurturing and nourishing of the desire to live life out of an alternative script.”

For some reason I went on to connect these thoughts with an entry from moot blog discussing a desire to start a café church. I don’t know exactly what the writer’s ideas of a café church are, but the mention of it provoked some thought for me. I have heard of churches that meet in coffee shops or pubs. And I’ve heard of churches that start coffee shops. But I’m wondering about taking it a step further. What about a coffee shop that is a church? Or a pub that is a church? Is this possible? Is this just plain silly? I don’t know…but it got me thinking…

What do you think? Can a coffee shop be a church? If you have an initial reaction of ‘no,’ try to stop and think beyond the boundaries of our common, and even not-so-common ideas of church. But either way, I’m interested in your thoughts. What do you think?

[Quick confession – I don’t drink coffee.]

Monday, February 05, 2007

How (Not) to Speak of God – Chapter 2: The aftermath of theology

In chapter 2, Rollins charts a new path for theology. Instead of understanding theology as the task of defining God, Rollins challenges us to view theology as a “worshipful response to God.” Theology is “where God speaks into human discourse,” the place where God “overwhelms” us. Rather than being something we “do,” theology is something that acts on us – we are “overcome and transformed by it.” Rollins sums this up in the following:

“If theology comes to be understood as the place where God speaks, then we must seek, not to speak of God, but rather to be that place where God speaks. Through our words and actions we seek to be the site of revelation through which people encounter the life-giving Word of God.”

Rollins explores and expands these thoughts in a number of ways throughout the rest of chapter two. I want to briefly focus on two intriguing (and admittedly somewhat confusing) aspects of the discussion.

God as known and unknown - Rollins contends that “in the same way the sun blinds the one who looks directly at its light, so God’s incoming blinds our intellect.” In this way, God is both transcendent and immanent. Rather than a “poverty of absence” we experience an “excess of presence.” God is “concealed amidst revelation,” therefore the God of Christ is “an un/known God.”

Christianity as theism and atheism - This perspective recognizes we must "affirm our view of God while at the same time realizing that that view is inadequate.” In this way, we hold both “atheism and theism in the cradle of faith.” This a/theistic faith admits to the “oscillation between understanding and unknowing” and comes from a “deep reflection and sustained meditation.” Lastly, this a/theism is not a temporary state, as we move towards a place of certainty. No, this faithful a/theism is “a type of heat-inducing friction that prevents our liquid images of the divine from cooling and solidifying into idolatrous form.”

So what is the purpose of this strange language (God as un/known and Christianity as a/theism)? I think these concepts are helpful as a way to keep us from polarizing seemingly incompatible concepts. Rather than declaring God as known and simply rejecting those who see God as wholly mysterious, we can instead embrace God as un/known. He is “hyper-present,” blinding us in the midst of revelation. Also, instead of becoming rigid and creating an intellectual idol of our God, we can faithfully recognize that our image of God is always lacking and incomplete. All of this occurs within the context of faithfulness - embracing a/theism and acknowledging our God as un/known.

Perhaps Rollins’ concluding words from chapter 2 will provide some help:

“This site of uncertainty and unknowing is often a frightening place to dwell, but while the comfort provided by religion is placed into a certain distress by the idea of doubt, this distress, too, is not without a certain comfort. For while we do not grasp God, faith is born amidst the feeling that God grasps us.”

Others in this series:
- Introduction
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5

Friday, February 02, 2007


In honor of the end of the work-week, here's some of the best and most interesting stuff I've been reading/watching/listening to recently (and a few interesting bits of news thrown in for good measure).

1. Just saw this today - The Screwtape Letters is coming to the big screen. Check out Jeffrey Overstreet's thoughts (thanks to J.O. for the info). Personally, I am very skeptical. I don't know how you would make this into a movie. I don't know how 'they' won't screw it up. Actually, I think they have simply chosen the wrong Lewis book. For a long time, I've thought The Great Divorce (maybe my favorite book) would be the best Lewis book to make into a movie. The images in that book are just made to jump off the screen. Anyways, interesting news nonetheless.

2. I just got the DVD for Frisbee: The life and death of a hippie preacher. I am so excited to watch this! I have been following the news of this documentary for over a year. I am glad it is finally on DVD and I can see it. If any of the following interests you, you should check it out: the Jesus movement, hippie Christians, 60's counter-culture, the charismatic/pentecostal movements, the fallacy of clearly dividing 'sinner' and 'saint,' how God uses people who do not fit the typical mold, and/or the changing of history to remove those who are unwanted.

3. I thought these were valuable reflections (from Odyssey Blog):

"In my experience we are not patient enough, thoughtful enough, or daring enough in our congregations. It's not so much that we lack appreciation for the cultures we find ourselves immersed within. Rather, we largely lack the imaginative power and revolutionary patience to genuinely birth gospel experiments that know the language of faith well enough to give it life within the language of our culture so that creation is recovered for the glory of God." (see the rest of the entry)

I have been particularly thinking about the need for "imaginative power" and creativity in these types of endeavors. Good thoughts.

4. Have you seen Little Miss Sunshine? I saw it last week and thought it was great. I couldn't stop laughing about the horn honking on its own. I don't know why but that was the funniest part for me! It is also profound and touching at moments. Just a good overall movie. I want to see it again.

5. I'm simply loving this cd. I can't stop listening to it. I can't stop (I tried).

6. Just finished reading A Generous Orthodoxy, by Brian McLaren. It is the sixth one of his books I have read, and the first I won't be widely recommending. I didn't have any problems with the book (like some people did), it just never grabbed my attention - nothing very new I guess.

7. We bought a crib. I really think the teddy bear has come alive in the picture. Am I the only one who finds it frightening?

Have a great weekend.