Archive for January, 2008

Cowardly Comments Behind the Mask of Anonymity

I leave the Internet alone for a few hours, and look what happens! I go out for a meeting with my life coach, and some drive-by ya-hoo litters my blog with shallow, contradictory, and fight-picking comments. I’ve deleted them. But since you obviously love attention, oh anonymous sir (I’m almost positive you’re male), I’m going to place them all here in one place, so we can get a full dose of them in one sitting.

You call yourself “Me,” email address: And here’s what you have to say:

“Hey, my cousin has Synesthesia…how dare you make fun of this awful disease!”

–On Synesthesia

“Hey, your post makes heaven sound like the mormon heaven, so will we get as many wives as we want, or will it be like Islam where we get 70 virgins?”

–On Living New Heaven & Earth Realities

“I’m all for house churches…I mean, what other church would allow you to worship and smoke wacky tobacky at the same time?”

–On Our Composting God: Making Meaning of the Mess

“So basically, you’re saying that now you’re a lazy out-of-work crazy….but in the future, we’ll all bow down to you because of your immense intelligence…sweet, sign me up!”

–On My Career Now and in the Future

“Wow, I like totally agree. I mean, in 2025, I want to have bionic legs so I can finally dunk the ball. No wait, I don’t want to have legs so I can sit in my recliner all day, and have “An Inconvenient Truth” streamed into my retinas….what a sweet freakin’ life!”

–On A Typical Day in my Life, 2025

I’m so in agreement with you mike. Calvin and Luther and the whole lot of church fathers, all the way back to the first century even, were a bunch of hypocrites. I mean, we live lives that are much more authentic than they ever did. I mean, can we even call those monsters Christians? I mean, they formed the paradigms with which all of us view Christianity, what an atrocity! I say, down with Calvin, down with Luther, with Augustine, and Peter and Paul, and Jesus…oh wait, strike that last one.

— On What to Do About Unrepentant Murderers in the Church?

Ah, the prolific pen of “Me.” How he lacerates with his poison wit, so deftly handling sarcasm and the ideological put-down. Could it really be me? My self-loathing, sophomoric alter-ego, giving myself a well-deserved punch in the you-know-where? Am I going to awaken at the keyboard one night to the stupefied realization that I’m Tyler Durden?

I’m open to the possibility. For now, though, I have a more modest proposal for “Me”: You can say what you want on my blog…within reason. What you’ve said, though absurd and unhelpful, isn’t out of bounds. But you can’t hide behind anonymity…identify yourself. C’mon, fess up: Who are you, Me? If you don’t tell, and you leave further unsigned comments, your IP address is goin’ bye-bye.

Living New Heaven & Earth Realities

My friend Kevin strikes gold again in his unique voice (you can get one of these every week here):

jesus-in-light-large.jpgDrawing from their ancient predecessors, John and Peter — both belonging to the group of Jesus’ original twelve friends — envisioned the arrival of a New Heaven and New Earth. Peter encouraged his original readers to hasten the day, and John believed that the time was at hand.

The New Heaven and New Earth expected by the apostolic witnesses was not a refurbished space-time universe. Instead, they believed that the day of a kosmic transformation had arrived, and a new world order had begun. The first one — glorious in itself — was being surpassed by a new one of exceeding glory. The first one was characterized by law, judgment, and promise while the second one would be filled with righteousness, grace, and fulfillment.

The first world divided people as good and evil, clean and unclean, us and them. The last world order transcended differences and integrated humanity into one new being. It is this new Heaven and New Earth that we dwell in today.

Awakening to New Heaven and New Earth realities transforms everything about us. Our thinking, relationships, and place in the world undergo a transfiguration as we begin to thrive in the all-in-allness of the God who is Love. Thinking in terms of a New Heaven and New Earth created by the power of Love allows us to experience four intersecting dimensions of fulfilled living and to conceptualize life in terms of four three-dimensional spheres.

Each sphere represents an aspect of your own garden that God has entrusted into your hands to tend and keep. As you nurture each sphere in love, you’ll find the healing fruit of the Spirit blossoming year-round. The first sphere is the Inner-Sphere. This includes your individual head and heart space. This is the single-most important sphere to cultivate because this houses our core self. Jesus affirmed that out of our heart comes the fruit of our lives. An Inner-Sphere overgrown with anger, frustration, and bitterness results in physical and emotional suffering. However, planting the small seeds of love, compassion, and kindness brings forth a harvest of self-care that reaches into the other spheres.

The Second Sphere, the Inter-Sphere, involves your interpersonal relationships, your dealings with others. Bringing conscious love into your family and friendships opens the way to deepening integrity and intimacy. Ignoring your closest relationships brings about inner turmoil and separation. However, filling the Inter-Sphere with love causes the New Heaven and Earth of your relationships with other people to bring about feelings and actions that promote healing and growth.

The Trans-Sphere cuts across the various organizational, national, and cultural boundaries you participate in. This sphere allows you to gain a global perspective, recognizing that nearly 7 billion people currently inhabit spaceship earth. In the Trans-Sphere, we share a common space regardless of our apparent differences and acknowledge the interconnected Presence of God look into one another’s eyes. It is the way to recognize the collective all-in-allness of God.

Finally, the Supra-Sphere transcends time and place in order to develop a link with the all-in-all across the ages. All people of all time, the entirety of the kosmos, the environment we inhabit, the fullness of God, and the blessed spiritual unfolding constitutes the Supra-Sphere. David wrote sacred script for a “generation not yet born.” He sensed his own place in the Supra-Sphere and consciously contributed his unique loving gifts to it.

Focusing solely on one or two of these Spheres leaves the others empty, but balanced living attends to all four of these spheres. As you discover the fullness of God’s love pervading all of four spheres, you’ll find the New Heaven and New Earth expanding to include and embrace the continual emerging perfection of God’s graceful dwelling. J. Krishnamurti observes, “To transform the world, we must begin with ourselves. However small may be the world we live in, if we can transform ourselves, bring about a radically different point of view in our daily existence, then perhaps we shall affect the world at large, the extended relationship with others.”

Stephanie Dorwick notes, “The goals of self-discovery are attuned to life.” So begin attuning to your life by asking yourself, “What would my Inner-Sphere look like with love? How will love for myself transform my head space and heart space?” Stay with that for a while and revisit it often, becoming aware of the answers you find emerging. Then, do the same for the other three spheres. As you consciously tend and keep your worlds in love, you’ll discover the ever-increasing blooming from the tree of life.

Our Composting God: Making Meaning of the Mess

My ever-thoughtful wife has written a post comparing house church practice with Communism. I suggest you read it, then come back to my comment here below…

Well, wife-o-mine, a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ was pretty tough to implement–it had never been done before! For years, Marxist thinkers and revolutionaries had fine-tuned their critique of capitalism, and it was largely quite valid. I think had they spent as much energy articulating what they were for, the transition from Russian czardom to a distributed system could have worked better and with less bloodshed.


As you no doubt know, I think that many of the critiques that we house-churchers have against more institutionally-driven expressions of Church are grounded in some solid intuition and research. And I also think that some of our positive visions of what a more egalitarian, ‘organic’ way of being under the guidance of the Spirit (or headship of Christ, as you put it) have beauty and merit too. BUT I’m thinking that maybe evolution is a better metaphor for what we’re seeking to embody than revolution. Lasting change tends to be gradual, and only then punctuated by a time of cataclysmic upheaval. We’ve been riding the wave of upheaval for awhile, but it might well be that greater humility toward established expressions are called for.

These days, instead of anticipating a remnant ‘torch of the testimony,’ I see Church History (and indeed, all history) as compost. At one point something was alive (and probably still is alive, in some manifestation), but then it died. After this, it begins to decompose-it might even stink a good deal. But that decomposing stew releases very helpful nutrients back into the soil–indeed, the soil itself is the product of eons of compost.

So even us ‘organic churches’ are planted in the soil of rich compost, of all that’s come before. We don’t need to eat from the Tree of Judgment, and determine what was good, bad, and ugly in the beliefs and actions of our forbears. Quaker, Anabaptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, Orthodox–and yes, even house church…it’s all our compost. It’s all our soil. And we have one big God–disclosed in Christ–who transcends and includes all of this, helping us discern what was most good, true and beautiful about these past (and continuing) expressions, to celebrate and wisely use today. And of course, we have our sacred text, contemporary context, and Holy Spirit subtext to help us weave new meanings and trajectories for today and tomorrow.

God is at work, fermenting God’s good creation. Let’s compost church today!

Recommended Reading:

The Seeker’s Way by Dave Fleming

Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster

A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren

What Time Is This Place?

As I stroll through Glenwood Avenue in my adopted hometown of Raleigh, I realize that there are about five decades of history in a several-block radius. Like many healthy historical downtowns, there is a mix of old, new, and anticipatory. Let’s take a walk down the street.

Walker’s Drugs looks like it was built in the 1930s; it remains a functioning drug store, with architecture intact. Beside it is NoFos, a trendy restaurant converted from a Piggly-Wiggly grocery store from the 1940s. Inside, classic meets contemporary in the trim-carpeted floor and art nouveau lighting that itself hearkens back to a bygone year, reimagined in Fifth Element-like cyberpunk yearning. Beside this is a bank. Wachovia. All banks, unless they try really hard, seem stuck in the 1970s—all brick and beige. (As an aside, my time in the Bahamas last October for a conference were like being in an alternate-reality 1980s. The hotels, the fonts used on signs—everything was 80s! It was surreal.)

Moving down the street a little bit, there are a series of building that look as though they were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s. They retain much of their charm and are now cafés, dessert parlors, or clubs. The gym where I work out, Peak Fitness, looks like the 1990s, in the best aesthetic sense (at least according to my palate), all industrial with pipes and wires showing in the roof and concrete floors. Now if only they’d play more ‘90s music. There are condos going up in three places across Glenwood, no doubt drawing from the urban chic that already emanates from this street, and hopefully adding something of a forward-looking element.

Nofo At The Pig


But what? Why is it that what we find most pleasing in architecture is rarely right now? Quite possibly it is because we live in a tumultuous time nationally and globally, and the same cultural impetus that gives rise to an increased appetite for fantasy fare in entertainment propels us to want to transport us to another time in our buildings. As the disconnect between our nation’s actions and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves increases, cynicism will increase as well as our desire to “escape” right now. Just as art in this era is largely derivative—whether satirical or in homage—so is our architecture. Positive, credible images of future in every quadrant of the human endeavor could go a long way toward redeeming our cultural milieu. Hopefully we’ll be able to be progressives and conservatives simultaneously, transcending our pasts but including them. Even in our buildings.

Intelligent Paper

So the other night I had a dream that there was a new commodity on the market called Intelligent Paper, an invention that did for books what Director’s Cut DVDs do for film. It was for all intents and purposes regular paper, except when you tapped a sentence–any sentence–twice with your finger, all kinds of little multicolored errata would pop up, like those old VH1 Pop-Up Videos, or the Comments feature in Microsoft Word. What would these “extras” say? Definitions of words, author’s commentary, you name it.

Upon waking, I was at first stunned at what a revolutionary invention Intelligent Paper would be. But then I realized that the new crop of electronic paper eBooks, and indeed the Web page probably trump Intelligent Paper in terms of functionality–it’s as fruitless as a visionary dream of 8 Tracks 2.0

In my dream I was passing a newsstand at an airport, and there were several paperbacks and comic books, available in two editions–regular, and Intelligent Paper! Was that a nerdy dream or what?


…sounds like the coolest disorder ever.

Second Anniversary, With Love

Two years ago today, my life-long friend & love Jasmin and I tied the knot. It was a grand affair: Around 180 friends, family, and raconteurs. Our ceremony was eclectic, blending the best from our open and participatory house church tradition with certain timeless elements for accessibility’s sake. Our wedding was co-officiated by Destiny Image Publishers‘ Vice President Don Milam, and international man of mystery Patrick Burke. Music was provided by the late, lamented Josh Irby Band, and his brother (my best friend and Best Man) Seth Irby, as well as his sister Bethany (…sense a trend here?) We had zillions of friends ushering, bartending, catering, and the whole nine yards. We ate a sumptuous feast in the same space, as friends toasted. We danced, we laughed, we photographed…a good time was had by all. The wedding had a real DIY feel to it, and as a result it had a lot of heart.

Wow, we’re really doing this…

Since we’ve been married a ton has happened; we’ve learned a lot about life and love and loss and compromise. We moved from our beloved Atlanta to help start something new in Raleigh; we’ve gotten involved in several fascinating business and nonprofit initiatives; we’ve grown as authors; I’ve started grad school, and we’ve had a little girl–Miss Jubilee Grace! Whew.

Thanks everyone who made not only our wedding but our marriage possible–all the friends we’ve left behind, the new ones we’ve made, and the ones we stay in touch with globally. And thank you, Jasmin Elish Morrell, for marrying me. It means a lot to me, it really does. I love you!

Coming tomorrow: My blogging about my as-of-yet über top-secret anniversary plans.

What to Do About Unrepentant Murderers in the Church?

For a few years, I was raised Calvinist. Even today I would consider myself “Reformed,” in certain idiosyncratic senses that pleases no Reformed people I know. But something that always bothered me about “Calvinist theology” was “Calvin the man,” and the fruit his life bore–namely, that he and his theocracy in Geneva killed people with whom they disagreed, over moral and theological matters. Hat-tip to my Presbymergent friend Adam Walker Cleaveland, “Jarrod McKenna has written a very interesting post entitled “Orthodoxy and heretics like Calvin?” which is worth your attention, especially if you claim the Reformed tradition as your tribe.” It is a great article. Whaddaya think?

I have a question for my many Presbyterian (and Reformed Baptist, et al) friends: Would Calvin be allowed to be an elder in one of your churches today? If not, how much (or, I should say “in what ways?”) can we learn from the notoriously, unrepentantly violent in our churches?

Of course Calvin and his followers weren’t the only killers-in-the-name-of-Jesus, and sure there were nuances. But bottom line, Servetus (among others, I’ve heard) was killed. What implications does this (and the contemporary verbally-violent character assassination that often characterizes contemporary Christendom) have for our witness as peace-makers?

Heretic Hunter

A fun song for the weekend. The sad thing is, most of the YouTube videos archived right beside it are bona-fide heresy-hunting extravaganzas.

A Typical Day in my Life, 2025

Ameila Catchpool Imagine 2025

Wow, that’s only 17 years from now. Well for one, I’ll have a 17-18 year old daughter! That’s scary. Presuming we survive the Mayan Earth Changes, that is. : ) (Hey, just because I don’t buy into popular Christian end-times views doesn’t mean I can’t give the Mayans their fair shake at captivating our culture with the doomsday-prediction game!) I’ll be 43 years old. I’m taking the exponential rate of technological change as a given. Just how much will be changed, I’m not able to speculate yet. (I need to read more Ray Kurzweil!) My guess is we’ll begin to have more integration with machines than we do now—I might be in the minority here, but this is an integration I’ll welcome with open arms, if it enables me to read, process, and recall more efficiently. As indicated above, I hope a typical day in 2025 will involve inexpensive, clean, and renewable energy. I hope to eat a meal that was 85% grown within 100 miles of my home. I hope that I’m purchasing less, and that what I am buying comes in either less packaging or more biodegradable packaging. If at least some of these innovations (or returns) are not met in 17 years, I shudder to think what kind of world we’ll be waking up to.

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  • Friend of Emergent Village

    My Writings: Varied and Sundry Pieces Online

    Illumination and Darkness: An Anne Rice Feature from Burnside Writer's Collective
    Shadows & Light: An Anne Rice Interview in MP3 format from Relevant Magazine
    God's Ultimate Passion: A Trinity of Frank Viola interview on Next Wave: Part I, Part II, Part III
    Review: Furious Pursuit by Tim King, from The Ooze
    Church Planting Chat from Next-Wave
    Review: Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola, from Next-Wave