Tuesday, February 27, 2007

This is a sweet picture of Zach and I hanging with Scot McKnight and Tony Jones this weekend at our conversation weekend we put on. The weekend was awesome and I will post some mp3s of the conversations and talk about them then - once I get a new chord that wont' hiss at me. For now I wanted to let you in on a vision of the emergent eschatological banquet. Friends talking about theology and enjoying fantastic Rockey Patel cigars. Scot and I had Vintage 1990 Churchills, which are among the greatest things on God's planet. Zach and Tony had the Rockey Patel 'Edge' series which are a little cheaper than the 90, but still has the complex smoke Rockey's are known for. The best thing about a Rockey, outside of being served at the eschatological banquet, is the fullness of flavor without the gigantic amount of nicotine from similar cigars, say a Comacho. Any way, if you wondered what the emerging heaven looks like here it is. If we ever cross paths and you want to visit this anticipatory reality let me know, I will most likely be packing cigars and can create an 'opt out' situation for you. P.S. The reference to Spencer Burke's eschatology is in no way an endorsement. Save your money and buy Moltmann's eschatology.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Len Sweet @ Kingdom Nexus, April 14th

The Kingdom Nexus is something I am working on in Raleigh and will hopefully work to create space for a local people to develop a Kingdom Imagination. The first event will be in April with Len Sweet and is titled "Remix and Reboot: Becoming Jesus' Church in the 21st Century." If you are within driving distance think about coming. If you can get a group to come we can organize a deal for you.

Prepare Yourself

Soon the audio of Scot McKnight's Interview with Tony Jones will be posted. If you are interested in the Emergent\ing Movement\Church you will want to hear it. Tony does not pull the infamous 'emergent' move and respond to a direct question by talking around it for 10 minutes. I will try to get the first thirty minutes of it up this evening after class.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What Does the Postmodern Negro and PoMo Pirate have in Common?

Tonight I chatted to Anthony Smith (postmodern negro) and it was just flat out energizing. We are both involved in the emergent conversation and so we were talking about random conversations we have gotten in with interested onlookers trying to figure it out and came to two general things that need to be either more emphasized or brought into the conversation. Emergent leader types are so concerned about keeping everyone happy at being in the conversation that sometimes you can’t tell what they think or mean at all. Now I am down with letting anyone who wants to join in do so, but someone’s presence isn’t an excuse for being dishonest or avoiding being truly clear. I have talked to multiple conservative people about the emergent church and basically felt like I was being witnessed to by a representative from true Christianity. Then if I am honest about some random topic (if they are scared of emergent types it is usually God letting too many sinners into heaven, not having enough confidence in Truth to use it as a sword on others, being too loving to the homosexual community, advocating too much feeding of mouths and not sin sick hearts, and being too honest about how the majority of the institutional church in America is not identifiably Christian…now that is an excursus) the conversation ends and it becomes an attack on some straw figure version of my own theological opinion they learned at an apologetics conference. That isn’t a conversation. I vote that people involved in the emergent conversation, when pressed on something, say exactly what they think and then let the other share too. If being in a room with a Jesus follower who thinks that the war in Iraq is a disgusting sin that requires repentance or that believing in truth does not mean a human can know it absolutely, makes the conversation partner unable to keep conversing then so be it. I know not everyone in the conversation agrees on issues, but we should on the value of conversing and that requires honesty. If getting everyone to be honest means some people don’t want in that is their choice. We should always provide room for any voice and be as articulate and honest as those who seek us out to save our theology. Being honest will be perceived by the ‘modern’ conservatives (and liberals) as emergent finally letting their true sub-Christian –insert their favorite category used to label people you demonize and ignore – selves be known. I bet that when, perhaps a smaller group of people get honest about becoming a gospel people in our contemporary setting others will come and join because we will have effectively separated ourselves from being associated with the groups who left the gospel to be the Empire’s chaplain and publicist. (an aside: this may sound political and it is, but not partisan. when we screw the two-thirds world again with our farm bill and subsidize American crops and facilitate the growing debt and starvation of sisters and brothers around the world it will have happened with a democrat congress)

The second thing is the need for real conversation about the American churches role in colonialism. That is another conversation, but it might step on too many toes (including my own) and the upcoming Emergent Manifesto might not sell as many copies to fundies who think our souls can still be saved….then again we might get cult status at Bob Jones and their missions class might buy it.

Well Anthony and I’s conversation was really good and this rambling does not reflect anything other than me being up late and responding to what we talked about. I do think it’s cool that this suspect movement leads to a 24 year old white Baptist dude in Winston Salem becoming friends with an African-American father who is a reformed Pentecostal in Charlotte.

Monday, February 12, 2007

My third or fourth love

After God, Alecia, and maybe Pebbles comes my love for cigars. Here is the shrine I keep in my office.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Pirates and Empire?

This was hilarious. Thanks Chad for sending it. It is like a new school house rock diddy. Peace.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Christian….what does that mean?

Christian….what does that mean? I guess I may have never thought this was a question that needed to be answered, but here is why I ask. I was talking the other day with a longtime friend of mine. He didn’t grow up with ‘religious’ parents, so all he got was a heavy dose of southern civil religion – which may or may not be that friendly to actual transformative encounters with God. Well my friend and I were talking about what you might call global issues or things that matter, but for both of us they are the reasons we lose sleep at night. After sitting there for a while and mourning the breaking point feeling we shared he asked a question, “I know you are bound to have an explanation, but you seem to be too observant and care too much to be a Christian.” Underneath that question is something I think the church in America needs to think about and hopefully respond to in a positive way.

When the growing segment of the American population with no attachment to the church think a ‘Christian’ they think of a very particular strand of the faith when. ‘Christian’ equals that segment that manages to get huge amount of face time and have even managed to become a cultural stereotype of ignorance, fanatical nationalism, crusader mentality, and compassionless judgment. I’m not sure that the stereotype is accurate to all visible conservative evangelicals, but the crazies do get enough money to stay on TV and radio waves around the nation. In response to my friend I made a case that the gospel not only acknowledged the realities that worried us, but responds to them and calls the followers of Jesus to do the same. He asked why in all the hours of playing drinking games to TV preachers all he knew was the God took his frustration out on Jesus and this gave you ticket to heaven and a means to worldly success if you signed up. “Christianity seems to be a way to avoid the world’s ills and wash your hands of the situation in the name of God,” my friend said “and that is just intolerable.”

After this conversation I decided that there is not one Christian faith, but a multiplicity of Christianities. The one I am committed to and seek after is the one that takes Jesus’ message seriously and proclaims a God who is love for every one.

By the end of the conversation my friend said, “if what you said about Jesus is true then I can understand wanting to follow him and not giving up on God.” So I ask myself again, what does Christian mean? I am not sure, but in the mean time there is fiercely loving Jewish man calling me to follow.

Friday, February 2, 2007

The Wired Parish Weight Loss Plan

Wired Parish is my weight loss plan. You probably have two questions. What is wired parish and how does it lead to weight loss. Well Wired Parish is a super sweet podcast network that I subscribe to. Every week itunes automatically downloads new episodes from a variety cool and relevant shows about the Church, following Jesus, and our postmodern context. The self subscribed tagline they use is “connecting the most challenging and profound voices of the church with people who want to make a difference.” If you fall in the ‘want to make a difference’ category then “Tune In – Turn On – Get Wired.” I know this sounds like a lofty idea, but it is true. They have weekly episodes from big names like Len Sweet, Brian McLaren, and Reggie McNeal, but perhaps the best part is the awesome voices you will discover like the “Practicing Pentecost” crew(with fellow NC emergent fellows Steve Knight and Anthony Smith), “The Parish” (2 Friends who talk candidly about their life and theological reflection), “On the Verge” (Tim Conder and a variety of his friends chating about being a missional people) and “Pop Culture and Philosophy” (2 Christian Philosophy PhDs who want to help the church have intelligent and reflective discourse about real pertinent issues). There are more too, but since this is a post about my new weight loss plan I may save other wired parish reflections for later. Any way, back to the plan.

The Plan:
1- Subscribe to Wired Parish.
2- Download Episodes
3- Listen to Episodes While Exercising
4- Don’t Eat Food Your Body Doesn’t Want
5- Look Sexy and Be a More Reflective Christian

I personally use a treadmill and lift weights in my basement, but since these are podcasts you just need an iPod and you can take the plan anywhere you exercise. The coolest part is that Greg Horton, Jay Kelly, and Len Sweet get to be my personal trainers, inspiring and encouraging me to become a healthier person. Their success far out weighs Karl Barth’s attempt when he went through Church Dogmatics with me on the treadmill.

If you combine two podcast worth of exercise four days a week with a healthy low calorie diet, you too can join the wired parish health revolution. So far I have lost 17 pounds. Of course I started off as a big boy, but by eliminating sugared drinks, fried food, and eating half as much as I use to I have put an end to my emerging gut. On a serious note becoming healthy and lowering consumption is also an ethical issue, as my missionary doctor told me “it’s hard to consume 2000 more calories than you need and large amounts of meat that took even more energy to produce when our sisters and brothers in Christ are starving around the world.” I think he’s right and hopefully with my wired parish cohort of personal trainers I will stay on track for a healthier and more reflective self.

Bill Leonard Makes Me Smile!

Here is an interview Baptist Today did of my divinity school Dean. It kicks metaphorical buttocks. Enjoy.

Sweet Barth Quote

Originally spotted by Ben Myers

God so loved'—not the Christian, but—'the world'. 'I am the light of the world', says the Lord, and by His own self-giving He passes the light on to His disciples: 'Ye are the light of the world!' It is the duty of the real Church to tell and show the world what it does not yet know. This does not mean that the real Church's mission is to take the whole or even half the world to task. It would be the servant of quite a different Master if it were to set itself up as the accuser of its brethren. Its mission is not to say 'No', but to say 'Yes'; a strong 'Yes' to the God who, because there are 'godless' men, has not thought and does not think of becoming a 'manless' God—and a strong 'Yes' to man, for whom, with no exception, Jesus Christ died and rose again. How extraordinary the Church's preaching, teaching, ministry, theology, political guardianship and missions would be, how it would convict itself of unbelief in what it says, if it did not proclaim to all men that God is not against man but for man. It need not concern itself with the 'No' that must be said to human presumption and human sloth. This 'No' will be quite audible enough when as the real Church it concerns itself with the washing of feet and nothing else. This is the obedience which it owes to its Lord in this world.

—Karl Barth, "The Real Church," Against the Stream: Shorter Post-War Writings 1946-52 (London: SCM Press, 1954), 73.