Street ministry in Seattle
May 31, 2006, 5:47 am
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Yesterday in the alley adjacent to the Purple Door I met Craig. He was assisting a mutual acquaintance. He’s a very humble, quiet man, but with a huge heart. He’s been working with and advocating for the homeless on the streets of Seattle for 19 years. Wow. If you’ve never worked with these folks, you can’t even imagine the enormity of that. He does it because he can’t not do it – it is truly how he follows Jesus. Beautiful. The kind of Kingdom guy I need to learn from.

This morning I did a little snooping around on the web, and found his bio here, and an excerpt from a book he wrote here.

I’m looking forward to more talks with Craig. Hopefully it’ll also lead to some ministry partnerships.


Embarrassed American
May 25, 2006, 9:48 pm
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The more I learn about the role the U.S. plays in economic and cultural imperialism around the world, the more that cheesy Lee Greenwood song, “Proud to be an American,” makes me wince.

But this post isn’t about politics, it’s about pop culture. If ever there was a time for us to make a cultural statement of response to what it means to be American, now would seem to be it. So you’d think that the Dixie Chicks would have good company singing their protest songs. Alas, they don’t. And their little blip on the news screens in the past week was completely overwhelmed by what? A poorly executed film adaptation of a novel, and American Idol.

I’ve already written about the film, so here we go with the Idol thing. For the record, I watched all of 90 minutes of the whole season, 60 of which was the final competetion night. Truthfully, I couldn’t quite make it through the whole 60. Bad, bad, bad, bad music. It seemed like this season was getting hyped all over the place while I sat in ignorance, and so I tuned in. I can now say with confidence that ignorance is, in fact, bliss. I’d like to spout off about how weak the final two contestants were, but then someone might chime in that the shaved head dude from the top four got robbed. Whatever – I saw that dude, and he wasn’t that great either. To make things worse, Idol forced the top two to sing the original songs that will be released as their first singles. Those songs were bad enough to be on Christian radio. Really. These songs were not the contestants’ own, so I don’t hold that against them. And yet I am clearly a minority voice, given the ratings the finale got (which I thankfully spared myself of watching). How is it possible that America’s tastes are this horrendous? How is it possible that I have read the blogs of faithful Idol watchers praising these people, and also claim to be into U2 . . . almost as though they’re on the same level?

I get that there’s a lot more to this show than the music – it’s the dream of going from back woods Alabama honky tonk to the spotlight of a world stage. It’s people fantasizing what it would be like to suddenly be famous and admired by millions. Heck, most of us would feel really good about ourselves if we were admired by a couple dozen.

Maybe I’m just out of touch. Maybe I am actually an elitist. Maybe I’m not getting something. O.k., fine. I’m o.k. with that. Just don’t make me watch that show any more. And by the way, I mean no offense to those of you who enjoy the show. My reaction is more about the collective response of our culture to all this.

Don’t we have better things to be doing? Like flossing our teeth. Like organizing our closets. Like listening to good music.

Planned spontaneity
May 24, 2006, 2:29 pm
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As I mentioned a week or two ago . . .

A Spontaneous Off The Map Event
Brian McLaren
Vineyard Community Church – 17712 15th NE Shoreline WA 98155
June 13th 9:30 -11:30 AM
$20 per person at the door
Coffee/pastries/fruit will be served

Brian will talk about his new book The Secret Message of Jesus, evangelism and take questions on any topic.

On pop culture
May 23, 2006, 11:09 am
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It seems like everywhere I look these days, there’s a lot of hype and noise over this new TV show or that new movie or some new band/artist or some old band/artists’ new CD. If you’ve lived in our culture for the past few decades, it’s all become pretty standard fare for you. And yet I find myself almost entirely bored by it all. Maybe the noise is getting louder lately because we’ve been so inoculated to it over the course of our lifetimes. And yet, not much is happening. I think I’m just itchy for the next breakthrough. I felt that way about the music scene in the late 80s, and thankfully some punk influenced Seattle bands broke through. Of less interest to me, but of an equally churning nature was the whole “Reality TV” thing several years ago. Movies? This summer looks a little better, but not much going on there lately either. Ho hum.

I really am being lulled to sleep here.

Obviously, the explosion of the internet, and especially the social networking that happens around the blogosphere, is disrupting and shaping pop culture. Maybe that’s the shake-up I’m looking for. It just seems like it got domesticated in a hurry.

And maybe, just maybe the answer is that I’m bored with myself. Hmmmmm, could it be? I know that regular readers of this blog may cease that activity if I go around navel gazing all the time. But maybe a few introspective, transparent posts will turn something up. Whadya think? Got any questions for or about me (speaking more specifically to you lurkers out there)? Disagree with me about pop culture? Push back . . . feel free.

Postmodern Negro’s take on the Da Vinci Code
May 21, 2006, 10:02 am
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. . . As it turns out Jesus’ descendants are white Europeans. No surprise there! Racial Constantinianism is a mutha!

Well done. [read more]

Movie Controversy
May 20, 2006, 9:43 am
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So I saw the Da Vinci Code movie with some college students last night. First time I’ve seen any movie on opening night for years and years. Now, I’ve read the book, so none of the controversial stuff was a surprise to me. However, aside from Tom Hanks’ hair, in my opinion, the thing people should complain the most about is that the movie isn’t very good, and not that it says this, that, or the other thing about Jesus or the Catholic church. Another way of saying this is that it’s hard to get offended by stuff when the story doesn’t make you care enough about it. I didn’t think it was a horrible movie. But having read the book, I just thought that it may be one of those stories that just doesn’t translate well to film. Nice try . . .

May 18, 2006, 8:20 am
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Every so often we all end up in a space where we’re tired and overloaded and perhaps feeling a little directionless – kinda not sure if all the stuff we’re working so hard to accomplish is really worth accomplishing in the first place. Every so often it’s good to let the guard down a bit on the blog, too. So here I am saying that yep, I’m in a bit of a funky space right now. Nothing too tragic going on, nothing overwhelming. And because I’m a good Christian, I’m obligated to say this: “I’ll be fine. It’s just a phase. It’s not that bad.”

I actually do feel o.k. about stuff – no false hope there. In a time like this, it’s just a little harder to get out of bed, get to work, and put the smile on.

The trick for me at these times is to slow my mouth down and be careful about how I respond to others. If I don’t, I’m likely to let something slip that is harmful to others, and I may not even mean. I think right about now would be a good time to find me a real, genuine, quiet monastic setting and spend some time in uncomfortable silence and prayer. Heck, if I’m uncomfortable as it is, I might as well be getting some spiritual work done, right? Solitude as discipline – not just as restful empty space. I think it accomplishes both, but it puts the restfulness in the Holy Spirit’s court.

Whether or not I’m able to find this kind of space and time in a prolonged way, I’ll be able to find small chunks of it here and there I’m sure. It just requires more intentionality.

And so I say this to myself, but you can join in:

“Father, on earth as in heaven this day.”

Peace of Christ to you and to me