Archive for February, 2008

I’ve Been ‘Sliced! (or, when heresy-hunters attack)

Glory be, my day of infamy has arrived–the biggest heresy-hunting ‘blog this side of Ken Silva has targeted little ‘ol me for witchery! Ingrid Schlueter of Slice O’ Laodecia sez that my main website, zoecarnate.com, advocates “cool new “Christianity”, including an ad for an emerging conference, and links to all the emerging sites of Dan Kimball, Doug Pagitt, and a host of others listed under the category, “Dispatches from the Great Emergence”.

Guilty! Of everything except being cool. (My wife will tell you that I’m a big nerd, and I still dress funny if she doesn’t have any input.) Continue reading ‘I’ve Been ‘Sliced! (or, when heresy-hunters attack)’

Good Commentaries on Esther?

My wife and the other wimminfolk in our house church community are going to be reading Esther together. Jasmin asked me if I was aware of any high-caliber commentary on Esther; I reached for my mammoth Brueggemann tome Theology of the Old Testament only to find that, alas and alack, Bruggie Baby skips right over the godless book! The only thing I could think of was to commend her to Richard Elliot Friedman’s magisterial The Hidden Face of God (which deals quite deftly with why a theologian of Brueggemann’s caliber, or any person seeking to speak meaningfully about God, would omit a book like Esther from consideration), but this isn’t nearly to the point of focus on Esther itself.

And so I turn to you, my dear readers: Can you recommend me any exegesis, narrative, sacred geometry or slam poetry dealing with Esther from the Hebrew Bible? Lemme know in the comments below!

Just Remember – Only God Can Sleep With Everyone

So says one of my favorite contemporary spirituality writers, Rolheiser, as reported by Carl McColman who is faithfully redacting Chris Hooten.

A sampling:

“To understand our sexuality and to live with its unfulfilled tensions, it can be most helpful simply to understand this. In loving, the ultimate wound is not to be able to marry everyone. The greatest human hunger, felt in every cell in our being, is that we cannot be completely united with everyone and everything.”

Can I get an ‘amen’ in the comments section? No? 🙂 What, is it too close to Valentine’s Day? Well by all means, read it in context before casting thy stones of moral indignation. Rolheiser‘s original writing (and the courageous bloggers willing to wrestle with his subversive orthodoxy) challenge me to be a better author, husband, friend, and lover of God as a result. Bravo, all.

Related: Dan Brennan maintains and entire blog devoted to spirituality, sexuality, and cross-gendered friendships.

Serj Tankian – Empty Walls

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a music video on the ‘ol blog. It’s the weekend, so what the hey. I like Serj–I wish I could sing like him.

Whaddaya think? Empty flamboyance or prophetic action-art?

Pete Rollins Site-ing

Pete Rollins has a new website up and running, courtesy the way-cool-I-hope-to-work-with-them-sometime folks at Paraclete Press.

(HT: TJ)

I’m looking forward to The Fidelity of Betrayal, Pete!

Gareth, when are you gonna get a redesigned site? 🙂

PeterRollins.net

How Does Social Change Occur?

Recently for my LMSF 602 Survey of Futures Studies course I was asked to reflect on my own ‘theory of social change’–that is, how does change occur? Some base their guiding narratives on power, others on progress, still others on ideas. As a friend and follower of Jesus, as well as a futurist-in-training, I offer some rough thoughts:

 


Being thoroughly postmodern and suspicious of neat meta-narratives, I don’t have much confidence in the Story of Progress as was propounded through the Enlightenment era. On the other hand, looking at the broad sweep of history, I cannot come to the nihilistic conclusions that some of my secular and religious friends have come to, that the universe is essentially meaningless or that we’ve all going to hell in a handbasket. There has been real change over the past several thousand years, and it is generally (sometimes very generally) positive. But there is no invisible hand guiding us to some inexorable destiny. I suppose I believe in a realized eschatological world, where emergent nested creativity (which I see as a Triune God with real personality and kosmic-and-personal dreams) abounds, ready for humanity and creation to tap into. I am a realist. History has, in many cases, been guided by self-interest of a powerful few, hell-bent on maintaining and expanding their privilege. But in the midst of this, we’ve maintained humble, celebratory wisdom traditions that give dignity to individuals and communities—thus the spirit of innovation and adaptability continues.

I think social change happens when individuals and communities generate and tap into powerful new ideas rooted in the old. Taking from our store-houses treasures old and new, we can become truly conservative and progressive, preserving the best of the past while reimagining life together into the future. This will happen through humility, foresight, and imagination. It is a good time to be alive.

Hegalian Nonsense & The Inward-Outward Dance

Today I was talking to a friend who felt like sometimes emerging/ent folk can emphasize the teachings and ethics of Jesus to the exclusion of the indwelling mystical presence and empowerment of Jesus’ person. And I can totally see this. I hope we can move from Hegalian pendulum-swinging to some holism and balance here: Jesus is way as well as life, and the latter empowers us to travel along the former.

I think most of us grew up with a gospel of self-referential, watered-down churchianity, where our version of the good news was to get involved in some rather banal, self-serving, institutional-maintenance programs. By contrast, the gospel of the inward/contemplative journey of intimacy with Jesus and the gospel of the outward/active journey of following Jesus are each, on their own, better than the ‘gospel’ of churchianity. But oh, wouldn’t it be great to have both the inward and outward, the active and contemplative, together? I think this is the heart of the gospel–sense and substance, beauty and vocation. We need a whole God revealed in a whole Jesus for all of life.

What spurred this on? My buddy Bob, who’s still ralin‘ on my buddy Frank (sigh)…

Further Thoughts on “The Homeless”: Systemic Social Change through God’s Beneficent Reign

Interestingly, my blog stats reveal over 20 people coming to the blog today via the search term ‘homeless’–this is fascinating because the post in question is nearly three months old.

But a recent comment by my friend Chris (plus this flurry of interest) brings me to some fresh thinking: How do we as friends and followers of Jesus see social change as happening? Do we even desire it?

Chris writes,

“Unless we can deal with the heart of the problem the most we can offer is love in simple ways (like you described above). I commend people for their acts of kindness, it is good and proper religion. For me, if I really want to do something about the problem I need to work on the solution which is the kingdom of God on earth, the only environment whereby the nations can be healed and provide homes for all of God’s creation. Alone I can do very little but a people together under Christ the head can make visible the environment our Father always intended for mankind to live in. Without community we are all homeless in some form or another.”

But what is “the heart of the problem”? I respond,

Hi Chris, I agree with you…I think. In general, I think American evangelicalism has been pretty entrenched in individualism, which has serious repercussions for both church life and our most pressing social needs. As a Deep Shift newsletter I received this morning states,“If all of our songs say, ‘Jesus, hold me; Jesus, forgive me; Jesus, bless me,’ that does a great job of deepening our personal connection to Jesus on one level, but it can make us pretty self-centered. In the words of a friend of mine, we find ourselves congratulating God on what a great job God is doing at meeting our personal needs.”

Which is a great moment to plug Songs For A Revolution of Hope, which is the best worship album I’ve heard in years and years.

So anyway…my ambivalence toward your statement largely stems from my not being sure how to unpack it. If by “the Kingdom of God on earth” you mean God’s beloved community spreading like yeast through the dough of every level of existence, from ideas to business to public policy to our spending habits and choices, than I whole-heartedly agree. But if you mean a form of “we need to save individual souls (or help individuals recognize God’s love for them, union with them, etc…) I’m afraid I have to say that this is only part of the good news I’m (re)discovering in Jesus. Certainly, my relationship with God in Christ is personal and in the context of the church; but (to paraphrase Jim Wallis) it’s never private. My own conceptions of what ‘church’ is and can mean have, admittedly, been expanding exponentially.

Archbishop of Canterbury Revealed to Be Cat Stevens in Disguise

Yusuf Islam

Hee-hee-hee. Courtesy of The Wittenburg Door. Serious commentary on Archbishop Rowan Williams, Islam, and sharia law in Europe from Alan Jamieson and Maggi Dawn.

Coming Out of the “Pagan Christianity” Closet

pagan1.jpg

Update: Brother Maynard at Subversive Influence has completed a good three-part interview with Frank; check it out here, here and here.

Also: P.C. has been breaking into Amazon best-seller territory.

So: My buddy Frank Viola‘s book Pagan Christianity? has been causing quite the stir. Many responses have been positive, but some clearly have taken issue with matters both of tone or content. I’ve sort of just realized that I’ve largely been sitting on the sidelines of the debate raging through the blogosphere, even though many of the participants are my friends and I care deeply about what’s being discussed. Why?

Because I suck at time management. It’s tough being a new daddy, husband, have 2.5 businesses, and take graduate-level courses. I’m seeing a life coach friend. I’m getting better–slowly but surely. So here’s my belated entry into the fray.

I feel deeply ambivalent about the talk going ’round, like the kid with a lot of friends whose friends are really really different from each other. One day the kid has a birthday party, and the friends are all under the same roof for the first time…and they ain’t getting along so well. My journey of knowing Jesus led me into house church waters in 1998, and into the pre-emergent discussion in 2001 (back when it was just PoMo Christianity, baby! Who remembers Stranger Things?). I have since felt like the bastard child of both, a hopeful amphibian breathing the air and water of two similar yet distinct movements/phenomena. Of course emerging saints are waaaay more media saavy (new media, old media, all of it) and so have made far more headway into the popular religious imagination and discourse. But now that me pal Frank has graduated from guerilla publishing to real, live publishers, our subterranean wares are being offered in the marketplace of ideas for the first time and eeesh! We’re like that odd gypsy family offering homemade trinkets to snobby European connoisseurs. What to do?

Continue reading ‘Coming Out of the “Pagan Christianity” Closet’


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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

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