Some school ramblings
February 25, 2006, 3:25 pm
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I just posted the following in a journal that one of my school classes requires of me. I thought I’d share here as well . . .

The ongoing nature of colonialism has struck me in new ways by reading Philip Jenkins’ “The Next Christianity.” As the months have turned into years, the war in Iraq has demonstrated with increasing clarity how arrogant we in the United States are. It’s not so much a matter of whether or not we should have gone to war in the first place (which, of course, there’s a raging debate over), but that we went into this endeavor with a tragically poor understanding of the real world situations we would face, as well as those we would stir up by doing what we’ve done. That same arrogance/lack of understanding is true of the church. We have taken far too much pride in our financial wealth, our publishing empires, our academic institutions – and the result is a pervasive mentality that we are the be-all, end-all of the church. It doesn’t even occur to us in America that we are a minority of Christians in the world, or that our wealth and power mean nothing in true Kingdom terms.

We arrogantly claim to have exegeted scripture so well that our doctrine is the “right” doctrine. And yet our doctrine has been shaped by our money and our history. Meanwhile, the doctrine we feel a need to correct in the Southern hemisphere has equally been shaped by money (or the lack thereof) and history. Why is that we’ve done any better than they have? Jesus’ pictures of who the Kingdom of heaven belongs to ring ever more true – those without power, those without money, those without social standing.

Power relationships corrupt. They’re dirty. The fact that I make decisions on a daily basis without realizing the degree to which they play into dirty power frightens me.

Sex Pistols prove they’re still punk
February 25, 2006, 9:50 am
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I’ve never been a huge punk rock guy, but always admired the punk ethos from a distance. Well, the legendary British band, the Sex Pistols has just given a thumbs down (or was that a middle finger up?) to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their website says, “We’re not your monkeys, we’re not coming. You’re not paying attention.”

I am quite amused by this, really. I never got the concept of a hall of fame in the first place . . . especially in Cleveland. I will say that if I had a day to kill and I was stuck in Cleveland, I’d probably go – because what else are you gonna do there? But the point of it all escapes me. Especially when it comes to punk rock, where I guess some would say that if you were famous enough to get elected, you know you’ve sold out.

I’d link to the band’s website, but uhhhh, I tried one URL and got a “Don’t enter this site unless you like naked people” warning page. Instead, you can read the BBC article here.

Going to New Orleans
February 24, 2006, 2:31 pm
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Well, I just got off the phone with the airline ticket agent, and got travel booked for our Spring Break trip to do relief work in New Orleans. Originally I thought we might take seven or eight people. Well, word got out a bit . . . so I just bought air travel for 19! Wow. Lots more work this way, but that’s a good problem, right?

Of course, to put things in perspective, tomorrow night the Purple Door will be the temporary home for a group of college students from Louisiana doing their Spring Break mission trip in the Northwest. They’re bringing 24 folks . . . and that’s only a third of their total group. The other 50 or so will be doing some projects over in Bremerton. We’re stoked, though – since they’re from Louisiana, and our normal Tuesday student gathering happens to fall on Fat Tuesday while they’re here . . . we’re gonna have us a big time Mardi Gras party. Mmmmm, the gumbo smells good already! We’ll also be doing an Ash Wednesday observance . . . contextualized for a college crowd. I’ll write more about that action later.

Good times. Tiring times.

Improv Everywhere . . .
February 23, 2006, 9:20 am
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I was listening to an archived audio file from one of my favorite radio shows, This American Life, and they did a story on a New York group called Improv Everywhere. Basically it’s a group of people that do random “missions” in normal places – like a rooftop “U2” concert, right across the street from Madison Square Garden, an hour before the real U2 concert was supposed to begin; or a “cell phone symphony” with 60 cell phones in a book store’s bag check area. They’ve got the written accounts of their adventures, and even some video files on their site. Brilliant creativity, just for the sake of making people smile.

Setting the record straight
February 21, 2006, 5:35 pm
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While I was driving the three hours south to Portland for my class last week, I was thinking about random stuff along the way – including this here blog. It occurred to me that I regularly fire off shots of criticism about my denomination. To be clear, I rarely actually name the denomination to which I belong, and that’s an important point to me – because in talking to people from multiple other denoms, it’s pretty clear to me that my denom is not in a class of its own when it comes to doing silly things. It almost doesn’t matter which denom I belong to – mainly because most denoms are highly dysfunctional.

With all that said, based on the number of negative things I’ve written about my denom, the question could/should rightly be raised, “Sooooo, why are you still in the denomination? Are you a hypocrite for saying these things, but then cashing your monthly paycheck that comes straight from the denom office?” Sometimes the answers to those questions turns out looking like this: “I really can’t figure it out,” and “Yes, it does.” However, most of the time, I’ve got better reasons for staying on board.

First, with all the ways that I’ve been influenced by simple/organic methods of doing and being the church, I have to admit that it is the choice of the planter and not the seed where it gets planted. In my case, I was planted in this denom a long long time ago, and while it is highly frustrating at times, it’s not outright heretical, so staying within this planter bed makes organic sense.

Second, my denom has been a major missionary force in our world for a long time, and continues to have a passion to continue in this. I’ve met dozens of missionaries from my denom that are consistently well prepared and well supported in their fields of service. When I was doing short term missions in Taiwan, I saw the difference between my own support network (which was outside of the denom at the time) and that of some missionaries from my denomination’s missions agency – they were well trained, well funded, and well equipped for their work.

Third, my denom has as one of its primary practices a thing called “autonomy of the local church” – meaning that there’s no top-down hierarchy that tells a church it has to look a certain way. More than a freedom thing, I believe this to be theological in nature – theoretically, it gives each worshipping community the ability to be sensitive and responsive to their region’s culture.

Fourth, every so often, enough people will see how backwards things are that efforts are made toward progress.

Fifth, there’s an amazing disaster relief branch to the denom that is so effective that the American Red Cross basically calls them first when they’re setting up a response team.

Sixth, and most important – people. There are some people in here with really good hearts. Sure there’s some political crap that I have no patience for, but there are people at all levels of leadership I’ve met that are really genuine in their love for Jesus and are committed to helping people. In particular, they are committed to helping younger people go do wacky, dangerous, progressive stuff.

There are some doctrinal items that I guess I could add here . . . but that’s not on my short list.

Well, there it is, an overly long, but overdue love fest for this entity that I work for. I will likely continue to blast it from time to time here, but hopeful I’ll be gracious at the same time. I think it’s healthy to keep things in tension.

A Sweet Weekend in Portland
February 19, 2006, 4:41 pm
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O.k., that title there is downright cheesy, but I’m tired and lack for creativity at the moment. It refers to Leonard Sweet, who taught the class I attended at George Fox Seminary this weekend. Lots of good thoughts coming out of that. Prior to this class, I had only read one of Len’s books. He’s very widely read and brings these things together in interesting ways.

I think one thing I’d say about him is that he writes (and then speaks) good sentences. Reading his stuff and listening to his lectures reminded me of when I used to write music reviews for magazines – basically I would listen to a CD and come up with one or two sentences (sometimes only one or two words), around which I’d write the rest of the review. I got the feeling that that’s how Len works – maybe that has more to do with how I listen than how he writes/speaks, I don’t know.

He gave the class some clues and notes that go along with his new book that will be out in a couple of months, as well as another book that he’s working on. Good stuff.

It was a fun class – good conversations with classmates like Adele and Peter and Adam.

Left Behind . . .
February 17, 2006, 9:47 am
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