Relief Efforts

December 30, 2004

Please donate if you can:

World Vision

Amazon Honor System

MissionThink 2006

December 27, 2004

Well, I’m going for it.  I’m going to start working on a conference for the winter/spring of 2006.  If you are interested in being a part of "MissionThink 2006: Navigating Our Mission in a Consumer Culture" then please email me.  The planning is still in its infancy.  I am looking for sponsoring churches, committee members, presenters, etc.  Any help would be greately appreciated. 

Education for $50

December 21, 2004

This will be my last post for about a week.  My wife (Amy) and are going out of town for a few days to celebrate Christmas with her parents.  Since it my last post for a little while, I want to make it count…here goes…

Often, when I am talking to someone about materialism or consumerism or why our present celebration of Christmas must change, I get a sort of frustrated and confused stare in response.  People don’t "get" it.  They think I’m being naive or extreme.  I assure you, I am not some spunky idealistic pup who likes to rage against the machine.  I am a chubby, entertainment-addicted, American who deeply desires to become more like Jesus Christ.

A week ago, my wife and I were talking about how we ought to do Christmas this year.  We agreed that it would be too abrupt and awkward to just not buy presents for people.  Instead, we are trying to limit our spending and begin to prepare people for a non-consumerist Christmas next year.  But I felt that this wasn’t enough–we must do more.  So, though we cannot afford it, we decided that for every dollar we spend on presents, we would give to the global poor.  Not much, but a good start. 

I went to the World Vision website (which is a highly reputable organization).  They have a donation catalog on their site.  The online catalog presents some of the best arguments for why we ought to reconsider our relationship with money. 

We take our money for granted.  We spend thousands of dollars a year on entertainment, travel, recreational eating, and technological gagetry.  And when someone comes along and challenges us to give more to the poor or to spend less money on ourselves, we get upset.  Part of us feels guilty, the other feels angry.  We want to say "bless you for challenging me in this area" while at the same time shouting "damn you for making me feel bad."  But the simple reality seen on World Vision’s Catalog leaves us without a defense. 

For $75–what many people pay for a week’s worth of groceries–you can buy a family a goat, which can provide them with a good supply of milk, or more goats.

For $50–what you might expect to pay for a text book or a handful of mainstream books at Barnes and Noble–you can send a child to school for a year.

For $1850–what you might pay for new laptop–you can provide drinking water by paying for a shallow well.

For $25–the price I pay for a new pair of jeans–you can buy clothing for 5 homeless American kids.

You get the picture.  I don’t want you to feel bad.  I want you to give.  Start giving out of what you can give, even if it is a pathetic amount…and start giving more and more as you re-orient yourlife to maximize the amount of love you share, rather than the amount of fun you can experience.  Merry Christmas.

A Christmas Poem

December 20, 2004

I don’t write much poetry, but I wrote the following as an act of worship to our Lord:

Ode to a Forgotten Babe

When Yuletide bliss


the somber tone of Deity enfleshed,


and when gaiety thick


contemplation of the odorous manger;


when all the world


the numinous to a pine bough,


We will remember you,

We will make room for you.

We will wonder at you.

An Overview of Anabaptism

December 19, 2004

Check out this great summary of anabaptism from Leaving Munster.


December 19, 2004

Some 22 year old Australian gamer recently dropped $26,000 for a virtual island on an MMORPG!  This is consumerism at its most absurd.

Any Suggestions?

December 18, 2004

Do any of you, my readers, know of churches which are intentionally taking a thought-out stand against consumerism or globalism?

Being Church in a Consumer Culture?

December 17, 2004

I’ve been toying with the idea of working with a few Minneapolis churches to put on a conference…(I know it is a bit of a longshot, but hey, it is fun to dream).  I’ve been pondering potential themese for a conference.  To me, a good conference ought to:

  1. Benefit churches (ie, be useful to them).
  2. Stimulate new thinking and new practices.
  3. Be something that responds to a neglected area. 

So, I am pondering putting together a conference on being the Church in a Consumer Culture.  This issue is very near and dear to my heart; too few churches are being prophetic in this area.  I am fairly confident that I could get a local church to host the conference.  If I could secure some basic funds from grants or donors, get at least one well-known speaker (like Marva Dawn, Rodney Clapp, etc.), then I would have a solid foundation for a good conference. 

I was thinking it would be a Thursday - Friday conference…with three plenary sessions, featuring one well-established speaker and two relatively well known authorities on consumerism and religion (like a Vincent Miller).  The rest of the sessions could be led by church practioners who have been attempting to navigate the church in a consumer culture. 

Here is my question: Is this worth doing?  Would you be interested in something like this?

A Couple New Blogs

December 16, 2004

I’ve added a couple new blogs to my blogroll:

Under the Acacias, the Blog of Keith Smith, is a missionary to the Fulani of Burkina Faso.  He brings some global perspectives to missional thinking.

Another blog is that of the quest in Columbus, Ohio.  They are a house church movement that my buddy Chris and I have been in some contact with over the past couple of years.

Check them out.

Tony Campolo is a bit naive

December 15, 2004

Check out this post on House Church Blog.  The post refers to an article by Tony Campolo.

In the article, Tony Campolo describes the emergent movement as a sort of utopian ideal: decisions by concensus, urban engagement, everyone is actively involved, etc.  You can read my fuller response on House Church Blog, but it seems that Mr. Campolo and many others are so enamored by the ideals of the emergent movement that they don’t see  how woefully most emergent churches fall short of the ideal.  I don’t want to tear down the emergent church–that isn’t my goal.  I just want people to be realistic and keep pushing forward, rather than falling into foolish thinking that would claim that the emergent church has emerged and now we can sit back and enjoy it.  If the emergent movement is going to benefit the Church, it must press on, criticize itself, and press on more. 

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