Friday, August 28, 2009

Celebrating Curiosity with Jurgen Motlmann

My reading this morning in preparation for my Monday systematic theology exam takes me into Jurgen Moltmann's The Coming of God. He's a theologian with a fascinating story of later conversion. After being drafted into the Germany army of WWII he gave himself up to the first British soldier he saw. A POW chaplain gave him the scriptures and his imagination was captured in a new way.

His primary way of thinking about God is around themes of hope, particularly fascinating given his place in history. Jurgen feels that hope is recaptured best in the way we think about the end things, the future that God accomplished in Jesus on the cross and by raising him from the dead and the implications that has for us here and now. This book published in 1996 follows a dozen or so previous books, the first of which was published in 1969 entitled a Theology of Hope.

What captured my own interest was what I read in the preface regarding his understanding for what is known as theological method, his way for how he engages in God. You might just pick up on why I resonate with his thoughts, not the least of which is that my blog's namesake follows his own thoughts for engaging God. Enjoy these selected quotes.

“What interests me are theological ideas, and their revision and innovation. I have first to discover everything for myself, and understand it, and make it my own. Theology has continued to be for me a tremendous adventure, a journey of discovery into a, for me, unknown country, a voyage without the certainty of a return, a path into the unknown with many surprises and not without disappointments. If I have a theological virtue at all, then it is one that has never hitherto been recognized as such: curiosity."

"I have never done theology in the form of a defense of ancient doctrines or ecclesiastical dogmas. It has always been a journey of exploration. Consequently my way of thinking is experimental – an adventure of ideas – and my style of communication is to suggest. I make suggestions within a community. Theologians also belong to the communion of saints, provided that the true saints are not merely justified sinners but accepted doubters too, thus belonging just as much to the world as to God."

"Theology is a communal affair. Consequently theological truth takes the form of dialogue, and does so essentially, not just for the purposes of entertainment. For me theology is not church dogmatics, and not a doctrine of faith. It is imagination for the kingdom of God in the world, and for the world in God’s kingdom. This means that it is always and everywhere public theology, and never, ever, a religious ideology of civil and political society – not even so-called Christian society."

If you're in the area or interested in listening in on an amazing upcoming conversation with Jurgen Moltmann check out the upcoming 2009 Emergent Village Theological Conversation in Chicago September 9th.

Friday, April 10, 2009

an american passion

This for me was the Good Friday sermon proclaimed to me this morning to hear through NPR and wanted to pass it along. An American Passion "Camilo Jose Vergara has been photographing America's urban neighborhoods for more than 30 years." Watch the photographs and listen to the radio story "Finding Jesus In America's Inner-City Alleyways."

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 is now up and going. Check out here their first video interview and production of Shane Claiborne.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Albuquerque EC Conference: The Nature of Being Church

This last weekend one thousand gathered in Albuquerque for another emerging church conference. But to say this was just another ec conference would be dismissive of a larger movement and initiated beginnings of things to come. I've been to ec gatherings before, but nothing like this, perhaps and primarily because it was an attempt to include EVERYONE at the table, Roman Catholics, Protestants and Evangelicals (even though protestants are evangelical and catholics simultaneously, ah the dreaded language barrier). Under the facilitated leadership of Richard Rohr and Brian McClaren, and in conjunction with Phyllis Tickle, Alexei Torres-Fleming, Shane Claiborne and Karen Sloan, the wisdom of the years was able to make space for a hospitable environment of blessing, sharing, and appreciation for who we are, individually and collectively.

I came with a group of 18 from Lutheran Campus Ministry at Northern Arizona University. Mind you, our own group included yes some Lutherans, but a pentecostal, a menonite, non-denom and baptist students. Our own community of LCM reflects a diverse denominational background that adds to the richness of learning to be church. We had just flown in, leaving VERY | 3:30 a.m. | ungodly early from New Orleans where we spent Spring Break being renewed reconstructing homes and encountering the ambiguous complexities of loss and hope that arise from tragedies such as Katrina. Of the 32 that were with us in New Orleans more than half now joined us for this conference and so for me I was able to experience the event through the fresh eyes of our university students many of whom had never heard of the emerging church.

Katie, a women's studies major, 19, is the most delightful human being you will meet. She is without agenda and embodies pure joy, irrespective and beyond her youth and potential naivete, I have the sense this is her gift. She shared one of her table time conversations with us. McClaren as always initiated the youngest at the table to begin. She was clearly the youngest by at least 30 years. And so reflecting on Alexei's talk she told her group "this is what I feel called to do with my life. I feel called to be with these kind of people." It wasn't as much her inspired sense of call that caught my attention as the response of those gathered around the table. She continued, "they listened to me as though I was the most important one there at the table. Then they began to pour themselves into me and share their wisdom with me in the most honorable way imaginable." Then Katie said that an older, "wiser" I like to say, man in his late 60's grabbed her hand and gave her the sign of the cross on her forehead, blessing her. Tears began to flow as she shared her experience.

Arriving home and on Tuesday attending text study with some colleagues and retired pastors we were asked to recount our time in New Orleans and Albuquerque. One of the retired and somewhat wise clergy asked, "did you come away with something that local congregations can do in their parishes?" It caught me off guard for a moment because directly the answer was no. There was no program we were given, there was no plan of implementation. Sure there were the challenges from Shane and others to be more active in our faith. But the essence of it all grew of the nature of how we were with one another, reflecting the nature of God in our midst, connecting us together as God's people in special and profound ways. It was less about the functional and organizational aspects for church, the nature of the thing itself through our very engagement with one another. You might even say that the conference was less about asserting as it was about attending to the Christianity that's been emerging in each of us and our traditions over time for the sake of discovering, hearing, experiencing something fresh and new. This nature is about listening, blessing, making space in me for you even as you differ from me, and through it all staying at the table because this thing doesn't belong to us but God. The nature of things comes down to the fact that, for me, this weekend embodied the very presence of Christ at work in the church all for the life of the world.

The event was more an experience filled with some of the greatest denominational diversity I'd ever been a part of. Over a decade ago I attended the World Council of Churches in Salvador, Bahia and while there was great diversity there it didn't have the feel of really making space for each other as this event did for me. It was an experience of blessing and integration among generations in these various denominations. And with the "wiser" generation at the table too it added a necessary source of connectedness and life that is frequently missing for me as I attend emergent events. There are so many that dismiss the older folk as irrelevant because of their antiquated theological stances and ways for practicing church. But underneath it all those supposed "old" people share a profound and deep love to passing on, and a sharing in the faith, with young emerging church folks who not only will be the church someday, but are right here and now, even as many of them struggle to figure it all out.

The weekend produced in me hope for what could be as we move forward as a church. I'm one who hold the opinion that first and foremost what that all means is that this is Christ's church and it will never die. The only question is, will we be a part of it as it moves into the future? If it's going to be anything like we experienced in Albuquerque I'm thrilled to be sharing and living into something new and with a greater diversity for what God is up to in us and the world.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A People's History of Christianity by Diana Butler Bass

I just received my copy of the newest book, A People's History of Christianity, from Diana Butler Bass yesterday and look forward to engaging it soon. I have for quite a while appreciated her contribution to framing our faith since first hearing a couple years ago at a conference in Richmond, VA lecturing and sharing in conversational collaboration with Brian McClaren. You can hear a great half hour lecture on her new book from her recent conversation March 8th at The National Cathedral's "Sunday Forum."

As a side note I've got to say that I especially appreciate her reference to radical hospitality she describes within the early church, a concept that I've been communicating for a long time at the heart of who we are as the people of God in Christ. Listen to the lecture and get this book, it's a necessary re-framing for "a", (how humble is that?!) history of Christianity reflected through a people's loving engagement of and with it.

Thank you so much Diana for this new look at where we've been.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Becoming Homeless: When Language Falls Short

"I've got issues (front), some of which I'm aware of (back)." If I were to have T-Shirt campaign this is the one I'd promote. As a matter of fact, maybe that's what I'll do. Anyone want to order one?

I'm flailing these days about how best to speak of God. I'm an incessant theological thinker, to a fault perhaps. I just can't help it and don't want to apologize (not in the defending sense of the word, but in the feeling bad sort of way) for it either. Many colleagues don't affirm this new grasping for descriptions around God to the point where I often feel like I'm trying to become as irrelevant as possible for the sake of staying alive.

I find myself wanting to listen and ask questions more than speak. Even though I write books in my head (as my CPE supervisor used to say about this introvert) I find myself becoming more and more silent and with-drawn into the dismissive territories of culture where life is lived and engaging in honest, vulnerable and transparent ways and where flaws aren't feared to subvert divine beauty but enhance and drawn attention to it.

I'm at a cross-roads these days wondering where I really fit in. I'm completing a two year interim in a congregation where initially I was going to spend my time cultivating an emerging community. I am looking forward to time away, cave time some would say, to listen to the Spirit deep within bubbling up and in new ways. I've been schizo really, giving language to a traditional community while yearning to speak a new language which takes so much energy to describe to the traditional community that I feel I'm always having to explain or defend myself.

Through it all what I struggle with more than anything is realizing an emptiness to a language that once brought me life within the framework of my faith. There are completely new and different categories by which I embrace my faith in the world. Previously it was enough to talk about God, say words about Jesus to get at some semblance of encounter with God. But for what? To hold on to God as if in any way I actually could? Perhaps this is the challenge, perhaps this is the illusion. I feel homeless to the limited reality of what words can deliver.

I've been drawn deeply to the homeless as a compassionate concern of mine befriending my local homeless shelter. This has been a tug at my heart since college, a deep residing concern for people who aren't treated as people, but objects. Thinking back I find myself sharing some of values for homeless living, not in some romantic, bohemian kind a way, but in the sense of longing for something beyond what it actually is, in search of a community who will embrace me in my ugliness, not for what it could be, but for how it is currently in need of being held, affirmed. It is this in-person-dynamic-engagement where God emerges and is felt beyond the very words that can frequently domesticate God.

No word can ever really solve a homeless person's issue (as if their issue is greater or less than my own) or make them feel any better. And yet, in another radical sense, words are the very thing that validate and encourage human dignity. This is precisely what I'm yearning for, a community of so-called "homeless" people who willingly and openly engage the divine in, with and around all of who we are as if God has already shown up our gathering waiting to be discovered. You see, for me, I know through the conversational forums, listening and making space for me in one another, God is somehow becoming present in ways for which "churchy" language, space and time, has created a vacuum. This is why it is becoming so important for me that the very language we reserve for God be created as safe havens of respectful and fragile engagement that affirms the presence of God in our midst. I wonder, if we can move away from language as words that define to language as art that provides hints and shades, colors and hues, referencing fragmented and blurry images of the One creating and sustaining us, one with another.

Maybe what I'm journeying toward is reflected in this word of encouragement from a FB friend: "as indicated in the early christian letter to Diognetus, for Christians "any foreign country is a motherland, and any motherland is a foreign country." Somehow we are suppose to be a migration rather than territorial movement i think." A people of the WAY? A lot more challenging.

Sunday, February 22, 2009



If we are living in exponential times, and clearly with information overload, what are we to listen for and to whom as our primary source? Facebook? Twitter? As much as technology connects us, and will certainly impact us for years to come, no getting around that, I wonder if it doesn't even more deafen and distract us to A Voice, A Presence that has been and will be there through it all. So where does our attention get to go? I'm just curious...

Transfiguration Sunday: Mark 9:2-10
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.


Mark 4:9 And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”


Friday, February 20, 2009


A couple conversations I was listening to earlier today have me bustling with thoughtful imagination about the Christian meta-narrative that might best perhaps be re-framed as pneuma-narrative. While its frequently a challenge to track one's thought processes I'll try to share the dialogue that was racing through my head this day through some random sharing in hopes that I get the point across for what I'm curious about today.

I woke up early today, like 4:41 a.m. early, because I have another paper due for class on a book I hadn't before today started reading by Judith Butler Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. The book is a critical response to post 9/11 life and our responsibility as a nation to find ways of reflecting on our own actions in partnership to a greater global power structure rather than the framing of events through our own USAmerican eyes.

The first essay of five, "Explanation and Exoneration, or What We Can Hear," highlights what Butler calls the "rise of censorship" and "anti-intellectualism" that occurred in response to challenging and probing questions surrounding how such an events could have happened in the first place but were quickly dismissed as attempts to exonerate "those" terrorists.

Of particular interest to me in her development of this topic surrounds the notion for how the story has been told, who's doing the telling and how it serves to justify war and demonize any who stand against it. While I'm guessing not many will disagree with her critique she puts forth giving it a fair hearing, it is equally interesting to hear some of her quotes through the lens of church as the primary power reference point in place of the Bush administration. Her driving question is this: "Can we find another meaning, and another possibility, for the decentering of the first-person narrative within the global framework?" (7)

Other helpful quotes that frame her argument and at least, give this reflective church person, some curious imagination for how we are missing the point for broadening our discernment of the unfolding story of God at work in the world.

"If we are to come to understand ourselves as global actors, and acting within a historically established field, and one that has other actions in play, we will need to emerge from the narrative perspective of US unilateralism and, as it were, its defensive structures, to consider the ways in which our lives are profoundly implicated in the lives of others." (7)

"My sense is that being open to the explanations...that might help us take stock of how the world has come to take this form will involve us in a different order of responsibility. The ability to narrate ourselves not from the first person alone, but from say, the position of the third, or to receive an account delivered in the second, can actually work to expand our understandings of the forms that global power has taken." (8)

In closing her first chapter Butler suggests the solution lies in "hearing beyond what we are able to hear. And it means as well being open to narration that decenters us from our supremacy, in both its right-and left wing forms." (18)

Secondly and shortly following my reading of this first chapter I checked my twitters to find that Phyllis Tickle was lecturing at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and that iamjoshfrank (thanks Josh, btw, nice to meet you) was twittering it (or is it tweeting it? not sure the lingo on this quite yet). One of the tweets he wrote from a comment of Phyllis was this question "how are we becoming literate in the 21st century? how does the church become literate?"

While I wasn't in attendance at this event, though I was present for The Great Emergence in Memphis, I believe I understand some context of where she is speaking from and I replied with the following comment: "perhaps literacy comes in the space we make for reading, or hearing, in new ways that allows church to b decentered." You may begin to see that Butler's thoughts on deconstructing power in allowing others to help generate a greater narrative is the back drop for my response. And so my thoughts continue...

What if literacy, as asked by Tickle, also wonders who gets to help tell and discern the story? How broad can the story be told and by whom, without and in any way, diluting the story that has been gifted to the world through the story of Jesus? Maybe we need to move away from the idea that there is a meta-narrative as a story already completed and accomplished, but one that is still being written and in need of continuing discernment. It seems to me, especially if we start probing the question of authority, i.e. sola scriptura, we need to wonder who's the authority behind the narrative?

If the location of authority is the church, then in many ways, we loose the ability to keep an open ended listening and dynamic perspective for what God is up to in the world and how God is calling us to be on board. If the church is the authority it sets up a dualistic sense for defining and defending instead of discerning. There is a massive distinction between these concepts. Don't we also acknowledge this authority to exist primarily with God, i.e. Matt. 28? So it would make sense then that the church isn't the one and only body that holds authority but perhaps is the body calling the world to discern a greater pneuma-narrative. We call others to the table to wonder with us a story larger than ourselves.

What if we aren't the primary story tellers as much as the story-reflectors, and like the incarnation, it is God's story taking hold of us and being told through us? What then? I suppose we could enter a little more freely and non-anxiously into this story as curious adventures waiting to discover how and in what way God's presence is emerging in the world. Maybe our function as church is to convene the space and open the conversation for where we are to discern (sift) through the global partnership trusting that as life unfolds God's very Spirit is what is being lived through us. It is a shift from defining to being, from epistemology to communally discerning existentiality, a shift from objective knowing to knowing "in, with and under," radical subjectivity.

Even our practices have different implications when we don't hold the narrative as belonging primarily to us rather than to the One who claims us first. Even our prayers could be understood not as our own, per se, but God's praying through us for the life of the world. Thus Paul suggests that "the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words." And what of worship, reading Scripture, hospitality and generosity? Again perhaps the very breath of God's Spirit making its way through us for the life and common good of the world.

So here it is, some initial theological meanderings in and around how church could be engaging God's pneuma-narrative. What do you think? What are your thoughts?

Monday, February 16, 2009

don't define me, just love me DAMMIT!!!

Don't define me, love me DAMMIT!

I found these from the tweets I follow on twitter through emergent village. These are helpful frames for wondering through the emergent conversation. First is this interview video of Peter Rollins done from Calvin College, a few weeks back, when he visited and held lecture/conversations with several others. Click below to hear some classic Rollins framing on emergent Christianity as only he so amazingly can do.

Peter Rollins Explaining Emergent Churches

Secondly, a couple videos offering a thoughtful and interesting montage from several emergent voices who help provide a larger vision, beyond one voice, for what this emergent thing is up to. Notice it isn't completely about destroying what is known as the "inherited church." Rather this expression could perhaps best be described in terms Mirslav Volf refers to as "differentiated unity." Or as I so graciously say, "this frickin' thing isn't an ecclesiastical beauty contest!" Enjoy.

part 1

One of the pieces I especially appreciate is the challenge for pinning this emergent thing down. People often ask me about this too and I feel their desire for information just falls within our sound bite culture of reductionism. One of the pieces that I find particularly dangerous at this attempt to define lies in the very concept of objectification. For it is this objectifying that leads too easily to dismissive and arrogant knowall attitudes. I realize that in the best sense these questions are motivated by a curiosity (which I'm all for) for achieving some semblance of understanding so as to know the other, to learn about the other, in this case the other as a fresh expression of church known as emergent, all in order for the sake of loving and appreciating this her/him, not IT, in a new formative relationship to oneself. However, rarely if ever do I sense this is the motivation behind the questions. It is instead asked through the a functional lens of getting at the next, latest, greatest and sexy trend for "getting people" back into church.

I often feel this very question asked about emergent is an attempt to domesticate it within a previous frame pre-determined by the location from which one is coming from, i.e. Luther, Calvin, etc. (Obviously and after all how could we think otherwise?) But this comes from a closed rather than open approach to knowing and engaging. If it can't be explained or understood in a short period of time, sadly enough, it is often and frequently dismissed by those within the walls. For me, it is precisely the same trouble we have when truly describing, what was mentioned in this viedo, what it means to be Christian in general. Many have come to hold Christianity with particular definitions such that this has become the standard for identifying it and we have done so without understanding the assumptions or philosophical evolution that has brought us to the place we've arrived at. If we are really going to explain this thing known as Christianity to someone who had never heard of it many would find it difficult to explain logically. I suppose you could do it with words and images but they would just be that and not the very thing itself. In the end the very essence for being church is inherently incarnational in the sense that it must be embodied before one comes to articulate what this actually is all about.

This is the one of the great gifts of emergent as it calls people, self identified in church or not, to have to deal with people and a growing engagement in God as God seeks to be born in our curiosity and wonder and that is not reduced to mere conceptual agreements. The gift is the thing itself being engaged and being encountered (encountering), not what it describes itself to be. This is the challenge, this is the shift, this is the gift.

In our little and fledgling community people still ask, "now what are we doing again? what is this abbey thing all about?" I LOVE IT!!! How often are people in churches even asking what they are doing anymore? How often are people posing the question of why they even gather and for what purpose? If anything, this provides the very framework for a new form of engagement as church, as listening space(s), for encounter of God in fresh and new ways, through each other and God's ability to wonder into us.

part 2

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Transforming Theology Journey Begins

Today I received the book I am assigned to read from The Claremont School of Theology for the Transforming Theology project. This book, as the pic shows, is titled Mind and Emergence: From Quantum to Consciousness by Philip Clayton. I'm also linking here a brief youtube video from Philip who answers the question "How Can Theology Bring Change?"Is anyone familiar with this book or this topic? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tom Sine from Mustard Seed Associates will be hosting an online conversation that we all need to be paying attention to and participating in. From his new book The New Conspirators he will engage people in missional imagination for creative ways God is calling us to be the people of God given today's political and socio-economic climate. Check this out and follow it! You will NOT be disappointed.

"Cur!ous, a psalm" by nic paton

I've copied this poem verbatim from Nic Paton's blog, an emergent from Cape Town, South Africa. His personal blog is entitled Sound and Silence. After following a link posted today from Emergent Village I found this beautiful poem and, for some reason I'm drawn toward it, read it on another blog he contributes to called Emerging Africa.

Thanks Nic for the a wonderful and encouraging prayer-psalm.

Blessed are the curious
Blessed are the brave
Blessed are the questioners
For they are not afraid

It's sad to be a knowall
It's sad to be bored
To be someone smug at heart
Who has their reward

So much to unlearn
To be like a child
Filled with awe and wonder
And a heart free and wild

There's nothing too embarrasing
No question is too hard
No problem is too vexing
When you talk with God

Blessed are the curious
for they will know the truth
They will drink each day
from the fountain of youth

Ask, it shall be given,
to Him our lives we bring
Blessed are the cur!ous
knock and enter in.

"Barriers to Innovation and Change"

Check out this NASA video from youtube about corporate change and innovation. What do you think? By the way, when I first viewed this there were just over 14,000 views...mmmmmmm.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

epiphany 5 litany

ONE: For those who have not known and for those who have not heard, hear the people of God proclaim the Gospel.

MANY: Praise the Lord! How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting. The Lord builds up and gathers the outcasts. He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.

ONE: For those who have not known and for those who have not heard, hear the people of God proclaim the Gospel.

MANY: He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. The Lord lifts up the downtrodden; he casts the wicked to the ground.

ONE: For those who have not known and for those who have not heard, hear the people of God proclaim the Gospel.

MANY: Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre. He covers the heavens with clouds, prepares rain for the earth, makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the animals their food, and to the young ravens when they cry.

ONE: For those who have not known and for those who have not heard, hear the people of God proclaim the Gospel.

MANY: His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner; but the Lord takes pleasure in those who revere him, in those who hope in his steadfast love. Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

is the shack missional?

I just responded to a question on emergingumc I followed through an emergent village tweet. I really liked my response to the question so I'm posting it here. The Shack is a interesting read as a relates to introducing a trinitarian expression of church. I said:

"i think the shack does begin to invite some new missional imagination. primarily because "missional" for me really could be framed as "trinitarian" in that God is missional in respect to God's complete relationality in and through all of life, penetrating the darkest and deepest of human experiences ensuring God's sustaining presence in and with the world.

i've appreciated this book as an accessible entry point into this trinitarian conversation that is practically demonstrated for what God is up to in the world and how involved in life God actually is.

i was particularly drawn to God's response to Mac as he struggled to make sense of his despairing loss. God responds wishing She could take the pain away but suggesting the only way Mac would heal was through "a little bit of time, and a lot of relationship." THIS could preach!!!

where God promises to dwell with the least of these, with those in most need throughout the world, where the greatest pain and suffering exist comes good news, we are not alone, God is closer to us than we could ever possibly imagine and involved in the messiness of life.

if this isn't missional, the deep indwelling of God's presence in and through all of life, i don't know what is? Great question and wonderful wondering. thanks."

Monday, February 2, 2009

relationally connecting to what?

An interesting struggle is emerging through our community and this last week there was a heated debate, rising anxiety among some, around absolute (T)ruth. It has been a gift to have at our weekly table gathering an assortment of faith backgrounds. This gift, however, comes with its own challenges for the determining ground centering our engagement and very reason for gathering in the first place. The community reflects right and left perspectives, those embracing Jesus as Lord and Savior and those merely listening in with a lot to contribute to the conversation.

Recently Peter Rollins in his blog mentions a significant conversation that arose in a dialogue he participated in at Calvin College. He said this debate centered around "the place and nature of belief in faith." What he is really getting at is that faith is an embodied expression and beyond mere reductionary efforts propositionally framed. In fact these propositions are in no way predictors for the very embodiment they seek to describe, and in fact, are quite alienating and impersonal.

It is precisely this embodied form of faith that I have been particularly intrigued for quite a while. Equally, what does it look like to begin cultivating a community with this as its primary emphasis for being church, the people of God in Jesus through the Spirit for the life of the world?

When and as we go down the road of challenging our propositions, our subjective way for describing God, it raises significant issues for how we are engaging with one another, and quite frankly where the hell God can be found in it all. Often times it escalates into an emotional WWF tag-team match, smashing theological and biblical chairs over each others' heads only to be left with bloodied and bruised bodies. (NOW WASN'T THAT FUN?) There are NO winners and losers in this, we are all losers.

What I believe has happened is that these kinds of conversations, which are secondary discourse engagements, have been misplaced as the primary arena for our God engagement. We have substituted the primary discourse for being the people of God, allowing and reflecting God's grace, reconciliation, peace, mercy, forgiveness and hope for our thoughts about it. Our thoughts about the "it" quickly deteriorates into who can be included as well as the correct procedural requirements for participation. The consequence of which result in heated debates where what is at stake is our concern for defending God no matter who is hurt or alienated in the process.

For me, it is not the ideas of God we are relationally connecting to, although there are deep ceded and strong feelings around them and they do reference helpful convictions and claims for who God is and who God is not. It is our ability to see outside of ourselves or view with a new kind of lens for how we are embodying the very thing we seek to articulate. What is this thing? It is the Trinitarian social community of God in, through and under (absolute)ly everything that we do, say and think. This is why for me there is a great necessity around how we are listening to and discerning (sifting) with one another. It is the "creating space in me for you" reality for where God is acting on me, not just me acting to defend a particular description of God for others to adopt and agree with. I/We become the very ground we are seeking to describe. The space itself becomes the very practice field, or demonstration plot to use Craig Van Gelder's organic metaphor, for what the kingdom of God reality can be like as it breaks into the world and around which we are being caught up in its very own life.

It is this space too that is prophetic in the sense that it becomes a word of challenge pushing back on us and the world through us. We need to pay attention to this very thing in us that resists and gets defensive for this is where God is working to break forth something new and set us free for a greater capacity to love and make space for our neighbor.

So my question comes back: relationally connecting to what? The question really needs to be, relationally connecting to whom? Unfortunately we have taken God, placed God as a cadaver out on a table before us to dissect with any real certainty. God however is not the object before us to examine, but the very subject that has encompassed all of life including us, for us to discern in and around as the very reorienting point for understanding our life as in God, or in Christ as Paul suggests.

For me, in our relationships we are connecting to more than ideas, for our ideas of God will more than frequently say a hell of a lot more about ourselves than about God. Relationally we are connecting to the God being made flesh in my neighbor and in me simultaneously. Together we are discerning this God emergence. It is the community's challenge to see with new eyes and hear with new ears how God is actually acting on us through our discomfort and joy, our disagreement and hopes. Cultivating a community in this fashion is making disciples, it is the substance and kind of disciples God desires us to be, not just getting adherents who agree with us about how we have come to articulate God.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

dangers of familiarity: cultivating a listening church

"Let those who have ears to hear, listen." Mark 4:9

With all this banging around in cyberspace, blogging experts espousing their latest, greatest, sexiest and hippest interpretations for God, church, faith and life is anybody really listening...listening to a voice from God that deeply challenges us, displacing our own agendas and making space for God to break in through new and fresh expressions? It seems that too often we slip into the place of familiarity, the place of hearing the voices we want to hear, those voices that help to legitimize our own cause, those voices, that in the long term, are more like us than different from us.

I have been wondering lately around what God is doing to us when we create space for listening, and deep listening, to the other whom we most immediately dismiss and want to have nothing to do with.

The above verse finds its context in the parable of the sower. Many take as a primary interpretation that of the word, seed, taking root and the call to be good soil. What is of particular interest to me is that it is bracketed between the word "listen." For the word to make its home in good soil, a new awareness for perceiving is necessary. My question is how well am I listening, especially to the ones I want so quickly to dismiss?

The second and related piece is this: who is God using to speak to us? Consider these words from Jesus in Matthew “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” (Mt. 25:45) While the context here is related to the judgment of the nations it is equally apportioned to where God shows up and through whom. I think this is where Nadia in her book, Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television, is going. In the end, as repelled as she is to hear "those missing-the-mark-Christians" she has to face the fact that they are her brothers and sisters in Christ as well. She has learned that they have a place in God's house too and that we, as antithetical types to the conservative movement as many of us are, we can't take the same alienating posture as has been forced on us.

What I want to add to this conversation however is that it is not merely a postulate that we arrive at in our minds. It must be embodied! This notion of "making space in me for you", my definition of hospitality, is about what God is up to through the other for the life of me, for the re-orienting of my life. God is touching and speaking to me through the other, as despised, angry and saddened as I am about this "other" person that is so radically different from me and my perspectives on truth.

Today we proclaimed a text on Jesus' authority as different from the scribes. The difference is how Jesus uses knowledge of God as an instrument for liberation and connection. The man with the unclean spirit cried out "what have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?" This cry could also be translated "what to us and you?" This fragment emphasizes the very thing that under girds Jesus authority, it is his necessary connection the One that is fractured, broken and isolated from God.

We question God's authority all the time through the words we say or don't, through the actions we convey or don't. But God's response is greater, "you matter to me, you cannot be without me, I re-value you and draw you into myself once again connecting you to a greater communal reality you're intended for."

It is my hope that I too resist the dangers of familiarity. It is my hope that I can continue to keep an open spirit to how God is speaking to me through those I want to dismiss. It is my hope that we can embody the very life we desperately seek to articulate here in the blogosphere by learning to re-value and welcome those different from ourselves, no matter their orientation or faith descriptions. Because in the end, it is this other, the "least of these", the minority voice that is God calling as a prophetic voice into us to rupture a new kingdom God reality through us for the life of the world.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

perichoretic rhythm ala wynton marsallis

Have you ever been able to get inside a moment? I mean, when you are aware of two realities: the very event that you are participating in and the subconscious reality of the moment at hand, and all related interactions as if you're outside of the event analyzing it, appreciating it. This double-space reality is one of the gifts of living in God. Words and language never accurately articulates this reality it can only be sensed even as it is happening. This must be the place from which Jazz artists can operate. Once they learn their voice, their notes, their contribution they are able to play, but resting back into a deeper reality of listening to and enjoying all the related voices integrating with their and theirs with the groups.

This is the perichoretic life and this is what its all about. This is the authority, the panentheistic presence around which all of life revolves and penetrates. It is relational, communal, hospitable, humble and constantly concerned with the other, whether we are present to it or not. One of the greatest frames for this life that is always so hard to describe can be found in a book by wynton marsallis Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life

"When I was growing up in Kenner there was a crazy lady on our street named Geraldine. She was an old woman, chewing on no teeth with deep, empty-canyon eyes, but she dressed like a little girl and wore her hair in pigtails. Everybody knew she was crazy. You never knew what she would do: life up her skirt or follow behind people and hit them with switches. As kids, we made fun of her. But my mama used to say: "Don't talk about her like that. She's got a life she's living, too." My mother wanted us to see that she wasn't just Crazy Geraldine; she was a person, with a history and a life that included us." (66)

Monday, January 26, 2009

In Class All Week...

This week I'm with my doctor of ministry cohort down in cave creek, az. On Wednesday we have a missional church conference with Craig Van Gelder and another dude, along with some workshops one of which I get to lead, "The Listening Church" or something like that is what I'll be wondering around. I don't even know this other dude, we'll see and hear soon.

While Craig self identifies as late-modern, which I think is VERY true, he definitely has helped to enlighten me to connect missiology and ecclesiology which for many is not connected. What I mean is this, most understand the sending aspect of the church as one of its many functions. This type of thinking compartmentalizes missionaries as those who go out from the church, usually to foreign land, to convert the masses in dominant, oppressive, arrogant and imperialistic fashion.

What missional church instead suggests is that the very sending aspect is the essence of its primary nature, the very thing that it does all the time. The church is created by God as community to live in the world for the life of the world as called through the Spirit. And so, this is all framed around who God is as a sending God, i.e. God sends the Son who sends the Spirit. And so too, the church engages in this centrifugal mission in partnership with what God is already up to in the world. this preachy? Perhaps. Is it significant? Absolutely. This is no small blog post as an update. The implications for this are enormous for new and innovative ways for being church that already exist, as well as new experiments are emerging.

It has been in conjunction with this entire way of growing to understand who God is that I have come to understand who the church is, and in particular, the emerging, fresh expressions of church, church in a beyond modern culture.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Diana Butler Bass | October 2009 Conference Grand Canyon Synod

Two years ago I attended an Anglican conference in Richmond, Virginia on "Church in the 21st Century", including speakers Phyllis Tickle, Peter Rollins, Karen Ward, Brian McClaren and Diana Butler Bass to name a few. I connected with Diana following one of her sessions and asked if she'd consider coming out to Phoenix sometime to speak. She wasn't available the particular time I wanted but a couple years later she is coming...and thank God. Her's is a helpful perspective, a bridge-voice. She will help to navigate and provide insight for our own wondering around our missional concerns as a synod, individually as congregations and the some emerging perspectives. She will be coming sometime October 2009 to speak to the rostered leaders of the Grand Canyon Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

I asked her what she's immersing herself in as of late to get a sense for what's shaping her own thinking even as she engages congregations. The following is a list she sent me today in a reply email I sent her a couple weeks ago:

"In the following mode, however, I'm re-reading a lot of Niebuhr (Reinhold), Bonhoeffer, and Nouwen at the moment. I'm also reading a host of pilgrimage literature--everything from Egeria to pop stuff (Graceland, etc). Marcus Borg and Dom Crossan have a new book on Paul coming out--and it is brilliant. And Barbara Brown Taylor has a fabulous book on practices coming out, too: "An Altar in the World." I'm also reading two bios on FDR, struggling through a bunch of international political theory, poking around in books on the history of the Social Gospel and the Depression, and reading some novels. See the movie, "Milk." It is an awesome piece on movement-building and leadership. Finally, I just read a new book called "Claiming the Beatitudes" by Anne Sutherland Howard--it has a real emergent spirit and I like it very much. Perfect for a Lenten study in a church.

Other than that, I'm writing--my new book on church history comes out next month--"A People's History of Christianity." You can already pre-order it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble."

Thanks Diana for passing this along.

Hope this is a helpful list to get some insight into where she's probing.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Transforming Theology Theo-Blogger Consortium

I'm looking forward to participating with Home Brewed Christianity in an up and coming blog-dialogue. Of course, if you're a blogger as well and would like to join in, feel free to email Tripp and get on board.

What's this all about? Well click above and read what they're all trying to do. I, for one, am particularly excited that there are those who actually want to think about who we are, what we're doing and saying about God and how it all works its way out practically in new and innovative ways. I'm also excited as one who loves to read, process and integrate theology into what we're all up to as church, working critically where mind and heart converge! It'll be interesting to see where are this engaging takes us.

So my best guess is that soon I'll be given some suggested reading material to critically engaging around through blog posts. I also hope that many of you as well with follow along and give your feedback on what you're thinking and hearing.

btw - Home Brewed Christianity is a great resource for downloadable podcasts. Check it out!

Friday, January 23, 2009

'what is emerging about emergent?'

An interesting way of framing the emerging church is moving away from the notion of "emergent" as an adjective describing church to a way for discerning how the Spirit is being birthed in new and creative ways. Follow this link to Thomas Brackett's blog Church Planting Central for more on how the Episcopal church is navigating this conversation. Thomas is the program officer for Church Planting and Redevelopment for the Episcopal Church. What, he says, if we begin asking: “What of the Spirit’s work is longing to emerge in my life, right now?” Sounds a lot to me like the missional church frame: What is God up to? What is God wanting us to do? This is why the two, emergent and missional church, have a lot in common, more than what I've been hearing. Emergent is a highly contexualized form of missional church that is just unrecognizable to many.

social pulpit | social god

Johny Baker does a great job of framing the importance of technology around the political influence Barak Obama has been able to effectively cultivate. Baker suggests that Obama gets it because Obama is native to the culture of communicative involvement through this technology. You can check out the rest of the article here.

But what is of particular interest to me are some underlying theological connections as it relates to who we are as church as extensions of the very nature for who God is.

The listening church as I'm calling it, the church as "table ministry" or "church in the round" as Letty Russell suggests from the early '90s, is not merely a technique that individuals learn for the potential of membership acquisition within church community itself, nor as the place where people come and just sit passively listening to the expert resident theologian. Rather becoming a listening community as church is learning to form, in a new way, how we engage in the world as church.

What this listening looks like is to engage beyond our familiar denominational tribes in new ways around learning the richness of Christianity over the two thousand years of Church allowing voices to speak like the ancient celtic faith, Eastern Orthodox faith and the monastics. Equally church needs to make space for listening to those who opt out and find no home within our communities. It is these places that will expand our engagement of church through the act of listening. In essence the challenge and change for church life in its very engagement as a people of God will be through the act of listening, and the act of listening as participating in the very life and way of God.

There's a lot of talk these days about the phrase "the world is flat" that Thomas Friedman coined. This flatness is occuring through these emerging online networks as opportunities to have a voice in ways that previously people weren't able to have prior to this form of technology.

And so when we ask the question "what is God up to?" we need to realize that this move may be creating significant openings for us as God's people, to get on board with, not only what God is up to, but equally who God is as a social, holy and divine, community.

For me, the challenge for being church stems from being the presence of God at work in the world through the very way we engage and embody this holy presence with others. The listening church will then learn skills for what it looks like to better engage as God's people making more and more room for more and more voices at the table, discerning together what God is doing in the world and in us too!

I think some of these initial skills are:
*learning to make space for the different opinions of others
*learning to live with ambiguity
* asking ourselves 'who's not at the table who could or should be at the table?'
* learning to listen as community, not merely individuals, and taking that communal practice to the streets to be lived out from our insolated and isolated spaces we've grown accustomed to.

This is the point: the listening church doesn't use listening as technique for some market ploy to get people into church or to bore people to death by mere passivity to listening to the resident expert. Rather the church is the very space of allowing listening to convert the church itself as well as seeing this practice for what it is as the very participatory work for engaging with God as life itself to the world.

Monday, January 19, 2009

missional church | table ministry

I'm starting a new conversation on Facebook with others from my Doctor of Ministry class in Missional Church (congregational mission and leadership, CML) at Luther Seminary.

I'm frankly sick and tired of the title 'emerging church.' Not that I don't share the values and deeply embrace what it stands for, but realize that it comes with too much misunderstanding and freakin frustration to explain it to those not even willing to give the time to try and understand it. There's evidence everywhere that people are wanting to distance themselves from this language from the recent Luthermergent article to a conversation I had recently with Dan Kimball at an Outreach Convention in San Diego back in November when he said "we've grown beyond that term and don't even want to associate ourselves with it anymore." We are at a significant period after ten years of emergent where significant contributors are reflecting on where it all stands today over at Next-Wave Church and Culture online site.

I think everyone is ready for some new language. My hope, in the end, is that we're really all trying to contextualize church within a theological framework grounded in God as we learn to become the people of God faithfully in and for the life of the world.

I'm going to start using the phrase "Table Ministry" as a better descriptor of the particular Missional Church we're cultivating at The Flagstaff Abbey. While we'll always have an emerging ethos because of new DNA and maturing community, the word is slowly falling out of our vocabulary. This idea of Table Ministry is so much richer and clearer, at least for me, and makes helpful relational connections to the very source and ground of its description, that is, it's God's table that becomes an extension into our lives, in and through our discernment to participate with who we are already claimed and called to be in the world.

It's not that I think this will be the new term, but for me this is the metaphor for the very emergent concept we're all trying to gravitate toward: who's not at the table who should be at the table? Who is God calling to nourish for the life of the world? I'll be leading a workshop on this next Wednesday down in Scottsdale for the Missional Leadership Conference at Spirit in the Desert.

When it comes down to it these are the primary convictions around God's banquet table:
1. God is already at work in the world before we even show up, duh?!
2. God is calling us to figure out what that work is.
3. God is calling us to get on board with that work, actually show up together and do something about it.

So, if you're interested in listening, sharing and shaping the conversation, I sure would love to have you with us. You don't even need to be Lutheran, and to God I hope you're not because we need all the help we can get to break this thing open into new territory. The more voices sharing at the table the better.

Again, you can check us out on the FB Group titled "Congregational Mission and Leadership, CML DMin. Program at Luther Seminary."

Living Out Our Callings

Introductory Note: The heart of missional church is collectively discerning an imagination for what God is up to in the world and how God wants the community to respond to God’s discerned presence. I have, however, particular questions regarding a “sending” model that does not also consider the continued formative aspect of the church as well especially when those being sent are contributing to the consequences. Too often, I’ve observed communities that go out with a charity mind sight with no regard for how those to whom we’re sent are used by God to equally challenge us, not too unlike church groups that go to Mexico and build a home without learning about the people or the CEO who attends worship on Sunday only to continue heinous work environments overseas. Therefore, this paper focuses on a reciprocal approach for a missional calling in congregational life as it relates to God’s use of society as lens by which God is calling for the continuing conversion of the church itself.

The missional calling of congregations with God in civil society is the fulfillment of reconciliation realized in service to the world. The missional assumption that underlies this conversation is that God is already at work in the world and that we have been grafted into this work of God and called to reflect this work, reconciliation, by the way we hold and embody the place of this work in civil society.

The heart of this missional calling is the willingness to take seriously the transforming and converting work of the Spirit of God. That is, God is equally doing something in the church as well as through the church. This is a dynamic process of living Spirit, not a static place from which we move from one place of certainty to another. The church is called to live the words of Jesus we hear from Luke, inaugurating God’s Kingdom work in the world.

“He (Jesus) stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down.” (Luke 4:16-20, NRSV)

It would be theologically correct for the church to piggy-back on Jesus’ words for getting out into the world to show the world the love we have received from God. It is also theologically correct that this functionality entails opening eyes to how God is at work in the world, offering opportunities for us serve the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed.

It is an interesting piece to note, however, that Jesus’ response following this reading, as eyes were fixed on him in the synagogue, is this: “today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” This raises a number of questions. What is the relationship between the scattered work of God in the world and Jesus’ statement that this “has been fulfilled in your hearing?” Curiously, and somewhat cynically, I ask, “now how could it be fulfilled? How was life for the blind, oppressed and poor different minutes before Jesus read from Isaiah, a text that had existed for hundreds of years, and now all of a sudden new because Jesus merely reads it?”

I wonder however, if this is a reference to radical incarnation, the place of all those who suffer, now found and located within the place of God-in-flesh reality. If this is true, that the suffering of the world is the place where God is present in the world, what orientation or re-orientation, would that suggest for us as individuals within communities of faith? How would that affect our interactions with suffering? How would we see its place in our own formative activity as “life for the world?” What would it have to say about who we are as being shaped by God simultaneously to the world we are being called and sent to serve?

Cynthia D. Moe-Lobeda makes similar connections when she seeks to articulate starting points for how to move forward as public church. Making moves away from the Lutheran hermeneutic of “two kingdoms”, she instead embraces incarnational theology as determinative for being public church for the life of the world. She says, “I have chosen to relocate the discussion of church in public life in the incarnation of Christ as seen in cross, resurrection, and living presence.” Moe-Lobeda also suggests that the incarnation can be fruitfully located within a couple of Luther’s theological frames including the Living Word of God and the Theology of the Cross.

Consider that the church becomes the demonstrating plot for God’s activity of sharing the struggle in the suffering of the world, and with that collaborative struggle comes the proclamation that there is re-valuing of humanity as reclaimed worth for the life of the world, and being restored as a living hope for the fact that God does not give up on the world. What this move makes theologically is developmental maturity between God’s work on us simultaneous to God’s work through us.

This is primarily what we are up to at the Flagstaff Abbey as listening community for the life of the world. God is restoring us even as God is calling us to be present in the world. This deep interconnected and reciprocal activity moves us out of a privileged place and into God’s continuing work on us. The church is the primary demonstrating plot for those being converted, changing minds for how it views itself in God and in the world, all for greater witness to the world as God’s reconciling community.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Living Out Our Callings

This is the reflection I've put together for my class. Looking at our revised schedule just found out that I'm actually ahead of the new post date!

Any way for those who are interested my paper, Living Out Our Callings.

The books I used for this paper:
Living Out Our Callings in the Community,Gary Simpson, Diane Kaufmann, Raymond Bakke, Published by Centered Life, an initiative of Luther Seminary.
Public Church For the Life of the World, Cynthia D. Moe-Lobeda, Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress.

Oh yea, this photo goes with it, footnote 6, but it was too much information to be placed inside the document itself.

writing way over due...

This morning, with the family away, I'm making my way through reading and papers long over due for my DMin program in missional church. Of course not stalling by writing this post, how dare you think that?

The specific assignment I'm working on is articulating the missional calling of congregations with God in civil society as we enter a new era of mission. The good news and the bad news is that it only has to be a five pager.

So where does one start? Interestingly enough I wonder that most people's experience of congregational life has become too isolated from our neighbor with individualistic tendencies, deeply reminiscent for obvious reasons of our american culture, of narcissistic spiritualism not too unlike the adrenaline that comes with lustful pursuits. Many continue to live out the privileged status as church with no regard for rethinking or teasing out what is of God for us as church, and what has crept in to taint, disrupt, distract and threaten the church's role in the world.

Does the conversation begin with ourselves as church, the imperialist power bringing Truth to the world? Do we begin with the culture, the world? Where is this beginning point of departure for a such a dream?

An interesting question for us to ask and ponder especially this weekend, inaugural weekend, Martin Luther King, Jr. (not to be confused of course with the 16th Century reformer Martin Luther). There is a hopeful spirit in the air. If we are honest that hopeful spirit comes and goes. Our hopes today will be our shattered dreams tomorrow.

But through it all perhaps one of the things that we realize is that we yearn to participate in a reality larger than ourselves, an event, one of a few events many will actually get caught up in through this communal celebration. What is the role of church? What is its place as community for the life of the world? And where is God in all of this?

Enough ruminating for now, something else is calling me. peace to you all this day.

Friday, January 16, 2009

What is the flagstaff abbey?

Words shared last evening describing what our community is seeking to be:

The Flagstaff Abbey is an exploration in alternative church. We welcome the exploration of all streams that have together formed the pool of Christianity. We seek to become listeners in the conversation to one another and the ancient past, not afraid to be critical, and not pinned down to the certainty that their claims define. The real defining is the very work of becoming a Christ follower, as our lives unfold and emerge as a greater oneness of the reflection of God at work in and for the world. The confession of faith then is not merely orthodox doctrine, but orthopraxic transformation, as people being the presence of God, one to another, in the world. Through this listening, we engage as God’s people, together, being formed by God in ways of which we are aware, and yet, many ways for which we don’t have a clue. It is in our gathering, our engagement and sharing, that God is opening us to fresh expressions for becoming the people of God for the life of the world.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Necessary Podcast!

Homebrewed Christainity is a wealth of resources and information. If you haven't followed it, get on it!

One of the great pieces that comes through this site is their podcasting, many of which I've downloaded myself to my ipod and serve as important learning resources for anyone seriously wanting to be church and those leading it. In particular is this lecture from Tom Sine who, for over an hour, speaks about his new book The New Conspirators. This is a must listen for anyone who is going to be taking seriously what it means to be church, what we can expect in the future and how to best begin preparing for it as faithful incarnational embodiments of this church. This podcast by Tom Sine will help to contextualize the emerging movement, that's really just a conversation, for everyone who has been wondering and is still wondering, "what the hell is this thing?" Listen to this, and you'll definitely have a more complete understanding for what is going on here.

Other helpful podcasts can be found here as well.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Blog to Watch: Queermergent

I admire an open voice that takes seriously the struggle toward identity of self and in God, accompanied with the love and acceptance that slowly comes with both. My journey has taken me into the lives of several gay folks that have opened me up to a more expansive vision for how God is at work in the world.

In honor and inspiration of this new blog queermergent I want to share part of my own emerging story for being changed by listening to and shaped by a gay man...the first of many really that have helped me to learn a life of love.

I was 19 years old and serving a summer volunteer position in Holden Village. Words will never describe this place, you've got to visit this quaint little village nestled in the remote woods of Washington's Cascade mountains!!! That summer ('89) I attended an open forum on sexuality. Now you've got to remember Holden has always been more progressive than many other faith communities, even since its inception in the early 60's. During this session I remember watching from the balcony as one of the summer directors shared his own self discovery journey as a gay man. Of particular "wow-factor" for me was his direct invitation to the crowd toward the end of his talk. He said, "don't just judge me when you haven't even gotten to know me. If you want to know who I am, get to know all of me. So come and talk to me."

There it was, the invitation. I was so impressed and honestly very curious. I mean how many opportunities come along like that when someone says, "yea, get to know me I'm gay!" Not many I've known about.

That evening, guess who was standing in line with me waiting for some delicious Holden ice cream? Yep, you guessed it, this forum dude. And so i struck up a conversation saying, "I was listening to you today at the sexuality forum, you said people should just learn to make up their minds by talking to you. Can I talk with you? I'm pretty ignorant of this whole thing, but very curious, and I do want to make up my own mind, that is, by listening to you."

With that we arranged a time and later that week went hiking together. You know, interestingly enough I only can recall a couple things. One, that he never remembered choosing this life but that it was a gift from God. Two, and more than anything else, I remember feeling a shedding away of all preconceived notions for what gay people were like. My comfort level soared to new places that I never thought were possible. I wasn't afraid any more. I'd never really knew any "out" gay people before, but had my first encounter through this amazingly transparent, REAL and refreshing engagement that changed me for life.

This, although a simple story, had profound implications for me and my emerging openness to the struggle of gay people as well as offering a gift to me, the gift of being transformed by another person, learning to make space in me for another, and not to be threatened by it, but to celebrate it.

By the way, when my parents came to visit me a little later that summer, I had them hook up and go on a hike with this guy too. Turns out, this was one of the first encounters they'd ever had also.

To all those queermergents, gay and Christian AND gay and whatever, I welcome you, I celebrate you for the gift God has created you to be.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More Coming...

More coming soon, I promise! I'm brainstorming ways to become a space set apart for interesting resources, lectures, articles, websites, podcasts, etc. I come across things all the time and want to desperately share them with so many of you.