October 30, 2006

I pride myself in how infrequently I get sick. But when I get a cold, it almost always goes into my lungs and becomes bronchitis. I tend to take it easy when I start getting sick, because I don’t have health insurance and I’m afraid of getting bad bronchitis or even pneumonia.

So, while I sit here, blowing my nose and coughing, I offer you the following worthy links for your perusal:

Evangelical votes to determine the fate of America. I remember getting royally cussed-out after Bush was re-elected. Upon hearing what I “do” for a living, the distraught young man said “Damn you Christians. Because of you, an evil man is once again the most powerful f****** man in the world.”

Scot McKnight rejects the stereotype that emerging folk “talk like Lutherans (cuss)…theologize and evangelize like Reformed (which means they do lots of the former and little of the latter)….confess like mainliners (say things they don?t actually believe), drink like Episcopalians….worship like charismatics (with their whole bodies, including tattoos….vote liberal (which is to say, they?re Democrats)….deny truth (Derida in their backpacks).”

Muslim taxi-drivers in Minneapolis can reject passengers carrying alcohol. This is huge story that has gotten little coverage.

St. Louis is the most dangerous city in America. Just in time for Urbana 06.

Yay! I’m not a heretic

October 29, 2006

  You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you’re not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant

Are you a heretic?
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Resistance: An Update

October 27, 2006

I got back from regional training with InterVarsity this afternoon. I had a massive amount of email to cut through, and while most of it was junk, there was one gem waiting for me in my inbox. Wipf & Stock has accepted my book proposal and are eagerly awaiting a completed manuscript. I hope to have one for them by February. More on the book later…

aka “Lost”

October 26, 2006

I just finished reading Jim Henderson’s (he’s from Off the Map) Aka “Lost.”

I really wanted to like this book. I did. I have lots of beefs with conventional evangelism, and this book promised to demystify evangelism and make it part of the natural flow of life. Unfortunately, it achieves this by reducing evangelism to almost any activity that expresses kindness. According to Henderson, even “walking around a lake and praying” is evangelism (p. 95).

I believe that Henderson is right in his effort to deconstruct evangelism as it is currently understood. But his reconstructive proposal doesn?t go far enough. This may be because he never really defines “evangelism” or even “gospel.” In his desire to make evangelism more accessible and less intimidating, he tears it down to much, in my opinion.

Under the surface of Henderson?s writing, I sensed that he was defining “evangelism” as “sharing our life with non-Christians” (who Henderson refers to as “the Missing” instead of “the Lost.” I think that this is a great starting point. But Henderson falls into the common trap of playing to the lowest-common-denominator that is prevalent within the emerging church. For example, the emerging church is quick to challenge the clergy/laity distinction. This unfortunately results in a church filled with lay people instead of a church filled with clergy. This plays out in the sphere of evangelism by making evangelism about authentic attempts at showing kindness, without much concern for content. So instead of talking about how we can foster a deeper understanding and experience of faith among Christians and then encourage them to authentically share all of their life with others as they build open friendships, Henderson plays to the lowest common denominator and says that any authentic sharing of life with others is evangelism.

In spite of my criticism, the book has some great insights. It is a great book to help someone break the ice, to begin to start noticing people, or to help them grow authentically in their friendships with “the missing.” Many Christians are paralyzed by fear when it comes to evangelism because they have been duped into thinking evangelism is about making a sales pitch, winning an argument, or articulating arcane mystical truths. This book takes the pressure off and helps Christians to simply begin to be more open and generous in their interactions with others.

In short, the book offers much in terms of style, but precious little in terms of content. In its effort to take the pressure off, it takes the pressure completely away. To compensate for this book?s weaknesses, I?d recommend that it should be read alongside a book like Brian McLaren?s More Ready Than You Realize-which offers helpful content but shares some of the same sensibilities as a.k.a. Lost.

Misc. Blog Fodder

October 25, 2006

I started a myspace page this week. Hopefully, it will help me connect with likeminded folk with which I wouldn’t have otherwise connected.

Today I leave for a three day training stint with InterVarsity. I’ve been getting more cozy in my new InterVarsity position over the past month or so, as I get opportunities to speak at chapters, and as I get to know a handful of students. Good times. Fund-development is picking up lately too.

Still haven’t heard back from Wipf and Stock about my book proposal. I realized that waiting for a response as prevented me from writing more. I suppose I shouldn’t get my hopes up with the one and only publisher I’ve approached thus far.

A word about my day

October 19, 2006

I had an enjoyable day today. Amy and I slept in, which we get to do, since our days are usually backloaded with activity rather than frontloaded.

After doing some quick emailing and writing, I had lunch with ten other people at the Twin Cities Emergent Cohort. This was our first meeting for a while and we met in a great new location: the Acadia Cafe off Franklin and Nicollette. They are one of those special places with both a full coffee bar AND 15 selections of beer on tap. The conversation was lively and thoughtful–what an Emergent Cohort meeting should be. The best part of the cohort meeting was that my friend Jeff Gauss made the trip down from middle-of-nowhere Cushing to be a part of the meeting.

After spending some additional quality time with Jeff, I went home and finished writing a sermon and cooked a gigantic batch of Pad Thai (I cook the evening meal for everyone at the house and try to make enough for people to take to work the next day).

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to eat any of my yummy Pad Thai, because I had a speaking engagement with InterVarsity East Bank (I am planting a chapter on the West Bank). Even though the meeting didn’t start until 8, I left around 7pm because I wanted to walk the whole way so that I had time to think and pray. Plus, I’m trying to walk more so that I can become a slimmer me.

Things went well with the folks at InterVarsity East Bank. I talked about living within the tension between embracing culture and subverting culture at the University. I focused on how Jesus lived within this tension as he ministered Incarnationally. Afterwards, I got a ride home. After hugging and kissing my wife, I heated up a plate of Pad Thai and felt so content that I thought I would write about it on my blog. End post.

Trimming the Fat

October 18, 2006

Amy and I parked our car on Saturday for an indefinite period of time. Since Amy quit her FT teaching job with St. Paul Public Schools to get part time work teaching english on the West Bank, and since I am in fundraising limbo, our income has shrivelled. We’ve decided that driving a car and paying for insurance are non-essentials. We’ve also cut back on lots of other things like going out to eat, our blockbuster online subscription, casually going to movies, etc. Since we’ve been pooling our resources as a household to buy groceries and I’ve been making meals for folks on most nights, our grocery budget has gotten smaller too.

We’re not quite living within our means yet, but we’re almost there. Our hope and prayer is that when I’ve raised funds we can still live within the budget we set for ourselves now.

Twin Cities Emergent Cohort Reborn

October 17, 2006

The Twin Cities Emergent Cohort has been reborn. After a summerlong hiatus, we’re making the move to a lunchtime meeting on the 3rd Thursday of the month. We’ve also switched locations from O’Gara’s Bar in St. Paul to the Acadia Cafe in Minneapolis. So, here’s the details:

WHERE: Acadia Cafe, 1931 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403

WHEN: Thursday, October 19th at noon (that’s this Thursday)

TOPIC FOR DISCUSSION: “The Future of the Emerging Church” Where are things headed for this de-centralized, fluid, nonconformist movement?

Resistance: Table of Contents

October 4, 2006

I submitted a proposal for my new book to a publisher yesterday. We’ll see if they bite. I decided to start with Wipf & Stock, because I appreciate the books they publish, the community (Church of the Servant King) that they’re connected with, and in particular because they published 12 Marks of the New Monasticism.

Here’s the proposed contents of my book, which I’m tentatively calling Resistance: Allegiance to Christ in the American Empire. I’ll include a brief description of what exactly I’m picking on within American culture for each chapter.

Introduction: Against the world, for the world (If you’ve read Hauerwas, you know where I’m going with the introduction. If you haven’t, then read some of the comments here to get an idea).

Chapter 1: The Kingdom of God and the American Dream (This basically challenges the way in which Christians understand their identity within America. Nationalism, patriotism, and partisanship are enemies to living as citizens of the Kingdom. I know that some of you may disagreee with that statement, and indeed it depends upon how one defines these words.)

Chapter 2: Rugged Individuals Need a Hug (The critique against individualism has been pretty well developed. However, developing practices which resist individualism haven’t).

Chapter 3: The Consumption of Faith and the Faith of Consumption (If you’ve read my blog for very long, you know I have alot to say about this. Here’s one of my posts about the subject).

Chapter 4: Why Pragmatism Doesn?t Work (Americans are results oriented. We measure success quantitatively. We tend to justify our means through our ends. This can be seen everywhere from the seeker megachurch movement to our justification for bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

Chapter 5: Going to War with Militarism (We live in a violent world in which America is the the most powerful nation. Christians must not buy into the myth that violence brings peace. We know that peace comes from Christ. So instead of partaking of the cycle of violence, we must resist violence, in all of its forms, with our peaceful presence.)

Conclusion: A Call to Resistance

My intention with this book is decidedly NOT to simply “bitch and moan.” While I certainly want to name some of the things that have erroded the counter-cultural nature of the Church in America, my goal is to move from critique to resistance. That is, I want to point out communities that are doing something about these systemic forces which errode the church and offer some ways that we can fight back, spiritually. Our struggle is NOT against flesh and blood. Our warfare is spiritual and requires spiritual, non-violent, resistance. We must live as a counter cultural community.

So, readers, can you think of communities that embody resistance against these systemic forces–these “powers?” Your imput will help me in my research. I’d prefer it if you share communties that you KNOW about rather than have READ about.

Hope in Generica

October 3, 2006

A while back I posted about the crisis in “Generica” (my tongue-in-cheek name for suburbia). Some folks do paint-by-number church out in Generica. But Generica is one of the most desperately needy contexts in America. Generica requires thoughtful, creative, theologically-deep, missional practitioners to re-imagine what Church ought to be in that cookie-cutter landscape. Our most missionally minded folks often go overseas or to the urban core, but Generical needs missionaries too. Missionaries with a prophetic edge.

Two books promise to help in that endeavor. One is already out, the other should come out soon:

The Suburban Christian

Justice in the Burbs

It is good to see emergence of a truly suburban missional movement. Sure some folks have been already at it, but I think the wave is building into something that will get noticed by the larger Church.