Archive for November, 2008

Does Anyone Have a ROM?

https://i2.wp.com/sswhsle.com/ROM/002_Front.jpgNo, not ROM Spaceknight, you comics aficionado sillies; ROM as in the über-high-end 4-minute workout machine that just screams Range of Motion (hence the acronym). I found out about it one night whilst venturing into the back pages of my Atlantic Monthly, something I rarely do for fear of being pelted by the conclusions of articles that have already taxed my ADD-addled attention span to the limits, arranged between ads for the Belgian Waffle Pro and custom-crafted leather bookbinding. I know, it’s what I get for subscribing to The Atlantic (and Harpers, and Mother Jones, and other magazines that make me what my friend Gareth calls ‘a certified member of the liberal white guilt intelligentsia’).

So anyway. I was flipping through the mag when I came across this ad, headlined in all caps EXERCISE IN EXACTLY 4 MINUTES PER DAY. I used to be a copywriter for a living (I still maintain some clients, but I mostly do my publishing consulting stuff nowadays), so I’m always a tough critic for ads like this. The sheer audacity of what comes next drew me in:

The typical ROM purchaser goes through several stages:

1.     Total disbelief that the ROM can do all this in only 4 minutes.
2.     Rhetorical (and sometimes hostile) questioning and ridicule.
3.     Reading the ROM literature and reluctantly understanding it.
4.     Taking a leap of faith and renting a ROM for 30 days.
5.     Being highly impressed by the results and purchasing a ROM.
6.     Becoming a ROM enthusiast and trying to persuade friends.
7.     Being ignored and ridiculed by the friends who think you’ve lost your mind.
8.     After a year of using the ROM your friends admiring your good shape.
9.     You telling them (again) that you only exercise those 4 minutes per day.
10.     Those friends reluctantly renting the ROM for a 30 day trial.Then the above cycle repeats from point 5 on down.

Take a look at this thing:

ROM machine

It’s, like, totally Zen. And it carries a $14,615.00 price tag. Holy Guacamole, Batman! And yet they have these 15-year warranties, and I’m adding up gym costs plus gas costs in my head, plus (of course) time costs – which are the biggest one for a certified-ADD father/husband/student/small business owner/author. Their ad concludes:

From 4 minutes on the ROM you get the same results as from 20 to 45 minutes aerobic exercise (jogging, running, etc.) for cardio and respiratory benefits, plus 45 minutes weight training for muscle tone and strength, plus 20 minutes stretching exercise for limberness/flexibility.

O. Really?

Well, I’ve poked around the internets, running keyword searches like “ROM scam” and “ROM ripoff” – nada. Instead, I see testimonials from people who really seem to be losing weight, building muscle, feeling better, and having more time on their hands. For someone who’s never been into sports (or athletics of any kind for that matter), I’ve gotta admit: four minutes a day is appealing.

So here’s what I’m thinking.

I just turned 29 last month. Less than one year from 30, I’ve been taking a lot of inventory of my life. In my Foresight@Regent courses, we learn a mode of personal and organizational learning called Systems Thinking – popularized by Peter Senge of The Fifth Discipline fame. The gist is we’re always creating the life we live; we’re always designing it. The problem is, most of us design it by default, unconsciously, and often in self-sabotaging ways. Bringing life-design to a conscious level is a skill set we humans are just developing. (Hence the rationale for Strategic Foresight, btw) This ‘intelligent design’ happens on societal levels of course, but also personal. These past couple of years I’ve been privileged to have some wonderful people in my life – mentors, life coaches, and even (gasp!) therapists and counselors who are helping me work through my ‘shadow’ sides and interact with reality in a more healthy and whole manner. I guess what I’m seeking is integration, a whole life well-lived for myself and others. Isn’t that what we all want? https://i2.wp.com/www.christianitysite.com/IMG_0292%20fence%20flower%20edit%20a.jpg

So: A friend of mine, Drew, was recently reading Integral Life Practice, edited by Ken Wilber and published out of the Integral Institute. The Integral folks are always fascinating, what with their map-making theories of everything and all. It turns out they have a great programme for ‘whole-life cross-training’ involving our physical, mental, and spiritual selves. Taking a cue from ILP (I’m still reading my own copy of the book), I’ve decided: I want to develop a doable life-rhthym, one that incorporates Centering Prayer, maybe some Yoga or DoxaSoma, and – of course – physical training. True, the apostle Paul said (in perfect Elizabethan English) “bodily exercise profiteth little,” but hey: that guy built low-cost dwelling for a living. I’d like to see him sit behind a computer all day and tell me that! (Plus at four minutes a day, I’d like to think even Paul would approve.)

In short, by the time I’m 30 I’d like to:

  • Engage in centering prayer daily – ’cause we can all use more of the conscious fellowship of the Godhead in our lives.
  • Practice Yoga – seeing as I have the grace and flexibility and in-touch-with-my-body-ness of a dried-up turnip
  • Exercise my body – because I need cardiovascular health; I want to keep up with my little girl; I like natural endorphin highs; I like to concentrate on my work; I need to lose 50 pounds this year

…and I want to do all this in about an hour a day. Because I want to delve more deeply into my studies, love my family more, spend more time with my neighbors, and hang out more with my friend Hugh Hollowell and his homeless friends downtown. Stuff I think I could do with some whole-life cross-training.

What If…

What if I could somehow procure a ROM? (I have my ways) Would any of you, dear readers, be interested in charting my progress with me? I’m thinking I’d blog about what it’s like for a time-management-challenged guy like me to engage in some ‘intelligent life design,’ how it feels to make positive, healthy, & consistent changes, and if this ROM thing really does what it says. Since workouts are ostensibly only four minutes long, I’m thinking that once a week I’d actually record my entire workout and put it on YouTube or Vimeo or something. It might not be as funny as Will It Blend?, but I’m thinking a pasty white guy like me working out could provide some of you with catharsis or comic relief.

Please comment if…

  • You have experience with the ROM or some kinda similar exercise equipment
  • You’d get a laugh out of seeing some ‘before’ and ‘after’ pics and workout vids along The Countdown to 30
  • You have stories of your own whole-life rhythms and lifestyle design you’d like to share
  • You want to make fun of me.

Update 12/10: I’m getting a ROM!

Church: Safe Place or Jonestown Massacre?

https://i0.wp.com/img.photobucket.com/albums/v622/crayon666/AbsolutJonestown.jpgSo apparently today is the 30th anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre. I don’t normally post press releases to my blog. In fact, I don’t think I ever have. But something struck me about this one – I guess my sick sense of humor more than anything, contrasting the Jonestown Massacre with ‘Church as a Safe Place’ (which I’ve heard is, in fact, an excellent book). Like “Hey, honey, why don’t we check out that People’s Temple this Sunday? That Reverend Jones is such a powerful speaker!” Safe Church FAIL!

ANYway, here’s the press release…some good thoughts for today…

Church as a Safe Place authors comment on the 30th Anniversary of Jonestown Massacre

Today, November 18, 2008, marks the 30th Anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre. Religious leader Jim Jones, founder of the Peoples Temple, promised his followers a safe place, a utopia in the jungles of Guyana. However, soon after their settlement was established, rumors of human rights abuse made their way back to California, where many of the almost 1000 inhabitants had migrated from in order to escape media scrutiny of their group.

During a visit by a delegation led by California Congressman Leo Ryan, Jones and members of the group felt threatened by the investigation along with the fact that some of the members had requested the delegation’s help to leave the camp. As Ryan’s delegation and the defecting members were boarding planes on an air strip preparing to leave, a group from the Temple’s security forces gunned down and killed several of the passengers, including Ryan. Following the air strip shootings, Jones led over 900 members of his group in a mass suicide.

“The Jonestown massacre is one of the worst cases of abuse in any religious setting in the 20th century. What is particularly tragic is that trust was breached on a huge scale, allowing one dying man to abuse 900 by taking their lives with him,” states Peter Holmes, author of Church as a Safe Place.

Church as a Safe Place cover for emailIn their new book, Church as a Safe Place, authors Peter R. Holmes and Susan B. Williams expose the truth about abuse in the church, challenging churches to be the safe places God has created them to be. People come to church looking for a haven from this abuse. Unfortunately, they often discover that the church isn’t so different from the rest of the world, after all.

Many ask what exactly does abuse in the church look like? Holmes and Williams contend that “abuse” includes the many different ways people mistreat each other and create an environment that makes people feel unsafe and uncomfortable. It can happen when church leaders become “Messiah figures” and misuse their power or when a church member lashes out at someone else in anger—even when portions of Scripture or the use of the phrase “It’s God’s will” are used to inflict additional pain on someone who is already suffering.

“Many aspects of the Jonestown massacre, continue to be tragic. What is still unclear is what drove these 900 people to follow their leader, to suicide. Of all things the most unthinkable is that some of these people believed in what they were doing,” co-author Dr. Susan B. Williams explains. “When people become unsafe they create unsafe environments, and before long the shared dynamic they create builds a self-perpetuating deception with the power to gently entrap many.”

Holmes adds, “Many people thought they had found paradise, following their leader to Guyana. What proved most tragic was that not all found it was paradise, so when they tried to leave found themselves trapped in a deadly cult. Human need remains the same, for us to be safe people so we can create safe places.”

Church as a Safe Place (Authentic Media) takes a comprehensive approach to confronting, resolving, and minimizing abuse in the church. Drawing from both Scripture and their many years in therapeutic church ministry, the authors have set up a framework for dealing with complaints of abuse in the church and taking steps to prevent abuse from occurring in the first place. The handbook includes many specific suggestions for handling difficult situations and covers topics ranging from the proper protocol for individual counseling sessions to the correct use of confidentiality. The authors also devote a chapter to resisting the blame culture, a natural response many feel when they begin to recognize that they have been mistreated.

* * *

Of course, it could all be a massive conspiracy.

Lazarus wrote John’s Gospel?

https://i1.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/215JuPcKlEL._SL500_.jpgSo says Ben Witherington III in Making a Meal of It. In under 20 pages, he makes an almost-airtight case that Jesus’ resurrected friend is the ‘Beloved Disciple.’ BWIII does so in a way that makes sense of the vastly different setting & stories of Jesus told in this gospel (versus the Synoptics), and second-century disputes about authorship. The first act of John culminates in the transformation of Lazarus, Witherington writes. The second act culminates – of course – with the transformation of Jesus. Jesus is at his most cosmic, powerful, and otherworldly, precisely because his story is told here by a friend who’d been raised from the dead – Lazarus proved to be a capable writer but one unable to have the mystery and under-statedness of, say, Mark’s gospel in its ambiguities regarding Jesus’ Messiahship. John of Patmos (not the same as John of Zebedee in the gospels) is then the editor of this work, adding the postscript about the Beloved Disciple’s death – a death that wouldn’t be expected to happen to a man raised from the dead ‘until Jesus comes.’

Showing Lazarus’ authorship of John isn’t why Dr. Ben writes Making a Meal of It, nor is it why I’m reading it. Nonetheless, its a segue that is alone worth the price of the book. Check it out!

PS: Though I haven’t read it yet, I can only imagine that this idea is the central plot device of Ben and Ann Witherington’s recently-released novel The Lazarus Effect, which Anne Rice describes as “Set against the intense, exotic, and vivid backdrop of modern Israel, yet delving into the deepest mysteries of the time of Christ, The Lazarus Effect won’t fail to entertain and inform. Highly recommended.”

Sin Boldly! Free Audio Download

https://i0.wp.com/www.sinboldly.com/sincover.jpgI had a great dinner the other night here in Raleigh (at Bogarts, mmm) with my friend Mark from Zondervan/Symtio, a new audio/eBook hybrid platform launching to serve the Big Z and several other houses. We had a great conversation about Foresight@Regent, ministry, and the future of publishing in all its technological and authorially-empowered glory.

One cool thing I learned about is a little-publicized full audiobook giveaway of Cathleen Falsani’s incendiary tome Sin BoldlyFalsani is a Wheaton grad and religion Chicago Sun Times, Huffington Post, and Religion News Service. I haven’t read (or listened) to the book yet, but with a dual background in evangelicalism’s heartland and those godless liberal media (grin), I’m sure it’s interesting.

In case you take umbrage at the title (and it’s not the book on the left, by the way), here’s the back story: Martin Luther said it. Here it is in some kind of context, from a 1521 letter from Luther to Melanchthon:

If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy.  If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin.  God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners.  Be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. (Source)

https://i1.wp.com/images.barnesandnoble.com/images/27760000/27769491.JPGAh, Lutherans – such a way with words! Because I’m kinda New Perspective-y, I wrestle somewhat with Luther’s late Medieval psychologized reading of Paul and texts discussing grace. I think Luther equated 1st century Jewish folk with his contemporary Catholics, and Hebrew Law with Canon Law and his own conscience, and well…things got complicated. But! Let me be the first to sing Amazing grace, how sweet the sound! We interpret the meaning and scope of grace differently from age to age, but I think any person of faith, hope, and love rejoices in God’s compassionate grace revealed in the face of Jesus.

So back to Lutherans for a sec. From Nadia Bolz-Weber (whose own book, Salvation on the Small Screen, is just delightful) to Robert Farrar Capon – who isn’t technically Lutheran but I’d like to say Episco-Lutheran in a way that’d make Karen Ward proud – some of favorite grace theology, practice and storytelling comes from Lutherans. I have no idea if Falsani is a Lutheran.

And on that note, please, download the audio book here while it’s still available (and then go buy a truckload if you like it – its the only way publishers will have their fears assuaged and keep trying these nu-media experiments). And check out this short YouTube interview with Falsani.

Grace & Peace…

Cross-Gender Friendships – Too Hot for Christians?

https://i1.wp.com/www.marianuniversity.edu/uploadedImages/Eating_Lunch_MaleFemale05.jpgMy friend Dan Brennan has written provocative and paradigm-shifting book on healthy, intimate female-male friendships in the Body of Christ. It’s kinda controversial; he actually thinks, contra to When Harry Met Sally, that men and women, single and married, can enjoy deep, abiding friendships that not only don’t hinder marriages (for any parties that happen to be married), but they actually help marriage. And further, that cross-gender-friendships are a core part of redemption and God’s New Covenant. And that Jesus wants us to have friends of the opposite sex. His wife agrees. (He’s blogged through a lot of the material here; I highly recommend going through his cross-gender friendship archives and giving ’em a read)

So Dan just got picked up by agent extraordinaire Chip MacGregor, and they’ll be shopping this manuscript around to the right publishers.

Today on his blog Dan asks the question, “Is this book too edgy for even emerging church crowds?”

Our fears of sexuality may not fall into neat categories of emerging or something else. Is it a story of risk?  You betcha.  Does it involve compelling mystery?  Yeah, no formulas or six easy steps.  Does it bring up strong emotional reactions?  Sure it does.  Is it a way of love and healing?  Well, yes it is.  Love and healing.  That’s pretty edgy anytime.

I concur. Read more here.

Metavista: Navigating the Age of Imagination

I wanted to share some thoughts from Metavista, an impressive new offering from Colin Greene, Martin Robinson and Authentic/Paternoster publishing: https://i0.wp.com/www.meta-vista.org/images/book-cover-large.jpg

A global world means a multicultural, pluralist, interdependent and interconnected world in which we will all be constantly and profoundly affected by new developments in information and communication technology, by the continued democratization of knowledge, practical skills and generally available know-how, and by internationally operative business, managerial and organizational techniques.

This is not a world to be feared; it is simply one that will be continually reimagined – and  it is time for the Christian church also to look afresh to its internal culture, its construal of the biblical narrative, and its supposedly gospel-oriented prophetic role in the contemporary world. Only by doing that can the Christian church move out beyond the decaying and collapsed structures of Christendom, forestall its persistent fefusal to indwell the biblical story, and overcome its loack of polical and ecumenical capital and cogency in a fast-changing world. Only in this way will the church become suitably skilled and equipped to negotiate a new role for itself in the new metaspace, or metavista, that is opening up before us.

Offical Metavista blog (quite under-exposed and worth reading)

MetaVista video interview on Allelon: Part One & Part Two & Part Three (I wish these were embeddable)

Bill Colburn’s review of Metavista

Andrew Perriman on Metavista

Prodigal Kiwis on Metavista

If anyone wants to weigh in…

…there’s a discussion going on over at the Derek Webb discussion boards about Searching for a Better God by Wade Bradshaw. When I brought up why our images of God matter someone replied:

I hope [your view of God] has room for domination and terror, as well as love. It’s all there. We are under God’s dominion. It is right for God to dominate us. Dominus is the Latin word for “Lord” or “Master,” and what would be more appropriate for a Christian to confess than that “Jesus is Lord?”

Needless to say, I’ve been somewhat at a loss as to how to respond.

Comments for this post are closed; if you’d like to share, please do, on the thread. Joining the Derek Webb board is easy and free.

https://i1.wp.com/languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/myl/llog/duty_calls.png

If God Disappears

Today, many people are succumbing to waves of negative circumstances and the accompanying and crushing hopelessness that follows. Sometimes it may seem as if God has totally checked out. Has God disappeared? What if God disappears? Can God disappear? Those are very big questions. They are the questions that loom large on the horizons of many people’s skies in this atmosphere of harsh individualism. “Is God gone?” is a very serious question being asked by many, many sincere people today. It’s a question that can find a catalyst in a million different real-time life scenarios; it can be asked in a number of different ways; it can take on hundreds of different forms. The question, regardless of the manner asked or the form taken, often results in a crippled or totally discarded faith. That’s unfortunate, if not straight up counterproductive. Where else will we look for answers or meaning to life’s most potent circumstances or events?

I’ve known David Sanford for a couple of years now. Not like “BFF” or anything, but we’ve worked together both on business and creatively. And David Sanford is a living paradox. On the one hand, he seems like a voice from another era. He takes things like sin, heart attitudes, and a decision to give one’s life to Jesus seriously – in tones that sometimes seem more like Billy than Brian. And yet, he also describes himself as a ‘new kind of Christian,’ and has the love to back it up. Perhaps this is why indie Christian voices like Dan Kimball and Sally Morganthaler and Jim Palmer rave about If God Disappears, even as sports luminaries Paul Byrd and Pat Williams also weigh in acclamations. What Sanford touches on touches all of us – finding God, losing God, and What Happens Next. https://i1.wp.com/files.tyndale.com/thpdata/images--covers/500%20h/978-1-4143-1617-8.jpg

If God Disappears might not appeal to wizened New Atheist-reading philosopher-wannabes, but then again, it doesn’t have to. It clears a broader path, touching on stories of faith – both encouraging stories and ‘faith wreckers,’ as Sanford calls them – that reach the other 95% of the human population. In true narrative fashion, David tells story after another of friends, family, co-workers and loved ones who have lost faith in God amid the weariness of life, for all sorts of reasons…and how, in some cases, they rediscover God afresh. What I appreciate about this book is that Sanford doesn’t force his stories to resolve – when they do, they do, but he’s not afraid to leave a story hanging. What he seems most interested in exploring is the subtle ways in which we can all lose faith, seeing loss of faith along a continuum, not just the ‘true believer’ and the ‘atheist.’ At times, we all live our lives like we’re agnostic, but Sanford encourages us to move beyond this ground, in some surprising ways (see page 91 for instance).

Sometimes the vehicle of faith breaks down on the road toward God. David Sanford offers a troubleshooter’s manual and a toolkit for repair, and finally fuel for the journey.

House Church: Ready for Prime Time? Pt. 2

Happy post-election day!

So a couple of weeks ago I posted concerning house churching, an ancient-future ecclesiological habit that just a decade ago seemed relegated to a listserv backwater*, but is now one of the forefronts of consciousness around the world today. In its North American flavor, the people who have done the most to make this a reality are Tony & Felicity Dale, Neil Cole, and Frank Viola. The latter has been especially visible in publishing and online milieus, and is likely most familiar to emerging church folk.

(*nothing against HCDL, the oldest and one of the best house church discussion lists. I am a member!)

Pagan Maelstrom

In July and again in September, Viola had some fascinating exchanges with noted New Testament scholar Ben Witherington III. First Ben reviewed Pagan Christianity (which I blog about in Coming out of the Pagan Christianity Closet):

Pagan Christianity Pt. 1
Pagan Christianity Pt. 2

Pagan Christianity Pt. 3

Pagan Christianity Pt. 4
Pagan Christianity Postlude

I can’t possibly summarize these posts – they’re so flippin’ long! – so you’ll have to read ’em if you want. But I will give you a coupla quotes. I think BW3 has a point when he said (in post 2):

While I understand the complaint about things done by rote, it all depends on the spirit in which such things are done. If they are simply done mindlessly, repeating words without thinking about what one is saying or without focusing on God—well that’s not a good thing. But frankly I’ve seen far too many people who find joy in the recitation of the liturgy, and meaning, and are drawn closer to God by doing so. And there is nothing unBiblical about ritual. Try reading the psalms for example, which as Ephes. 5 makes clear Christians recited and sang. Here’s an important point When one rules out pre-set liturgies and orders of worship, that in itself becomes a ritual by default if one does it over and over again that way.

Here here! I agree. With community intent and understanding, fellowships can worship in whatever way they choose. And as the alt.worship movement in the UK shows us (not to mention St. Gregory’s in San Francisco) it’s possibly to have open-source, participatory liturgy. ‘Liturgy’ after all is ‘the work of the people.’ My house church has personally benefited, at times, from utilizing Phyllis Tickle’s magisterial compilation The Divine Hours.

[ben_frank.jpg] Nonetheless! Dr. Ben loses me utterly when he says “And here we come to an important point- Christ is not the leader of the worship service.” Sorry, I guess I’m just too Quaker or Pentecostal or what have you, but a sense in which the Spirit is directly leading and guiding our activities together is just too precious to relinquish simply because we can (of course) trace some human agency in the process of God’s speaking in our midst.

Overall, Ben Witherington III’s review of Pagan is insightful in that it shows Christians of good will and historical awareness can disagree – it’s not as though there will ever be a cut-and-dried air-tight case for ‘organic’ church meetings based in homes. But I’ve gotta tell ya: Independent scholar Dr. Jon Zens does a devastatingly good (and irenic) job sparring with Dr. Ben’s posts right here. It’s well worth the read.

Reimagining the Dialogue

So they say controversy sells – it certainly does. While BW3’s posts are only the tip of the blogstorm in terms of online response to Pagan, I’ve noticed that Frank’s followup Reimagining Church has received comparatively little online traction. This is really a shame, as Reimagining is the crucial reconstructing to Pagan’s deconstructing, and as such is my favorite of the two. As I said in my inside-cover endorsement of the book:

Reimagining Church is a readable (and livable!) description of organic, New Testament–rooted church life for the twenty-first century. Avoiding the weeds of both wooden fundamentalism and unreflective overcontextualization, Frank Viola paints a winsome and attractive portrait of a gospel people, inhabited by the Holy Spirit with God in Christ as their energetic center. Frank helps us learn from the peculiar genius of Jesus and his earliest followers, planting seeds for authentic, deeply rooted life together.

Further, I’ve reviewed the book here for TheOOZE. But enough of what I think. While Reimagining hasn’t found as much of a blog traction as I would have liked, BW3 has been a faithful engager. Here’s his (even longer!) series on this one:

Reimagining Church Part One
Reimagining Church Part Two
Reimagining Church Part Three
Reimagining Church Part Four

On these Ben invited Frank to reply directly. So he did:

A Frank Response Part One
A Frank Response Part Two

Ben’s Epilogue

Frank’s Coda

(And Frank also edited his responses together in one handy-dandy PDF document, right here.)

Whew! Their exchange is friendly, and in Frank’s case fairly witty. Ben lets his guard down a little (especially in his Part Three), but in some ways makes Frank’s case for him. When BW3 talks about subordination in the Godhead, or how we might be ‘ontologically’ united with Christ but kinda not really, he comes across as…well, a cautious scholar to Frank’s animated prophet. Which I suppose is all well and good in the grand scheme of things, but makes me feel more clearly that Frank ‘wins’ this round if winning means venturing out and exploring fresh terrain.

There are some other posts in this latter mix that are worth reading:

Bill Heroman Part I II & III (I spent a good 4-5 years with Bill in a house church community)

Neil Carter: (Whom I also spent 4-5 slightly-different-but-overlapping years with in the same community.)

Reimagining Church
Reimagining the Trinity
Out on a Limb

With blogs, books, and – oh yes – more and more house churches being planted – it would seem that ‘house church’ has indeed reached prime time. My friends and my family continue to talk, with helpful interjections by scholar-teachers. We will all be the better for the exchange.

Coming in Some Subsequent Post (I cannot guarantee you when): The Future of ‘House Church’ – Where It’s Going (at least for me). In the meantime, enjoy the first chapter of Reimagining Church.

Narcissism & the True Self: Deliver Us From Me-Ville

Ah, self. Such a wonderful, complicated idea. Does the ‘self’ even exist? Descartes says yes; many postmodern deconstructors say ‘no.’ Even amongst spiritual people, who in the main affirm the idea of ‘self,’ there is much dissonance as to its overall value – is it something to be ‘denied,’ or celebrated, or transcended to reach what Thomas Merton and others call the ‘true self.’
IVP’s Likewise editor Dave Zimmerman pulled a crossover special and published a book with David C. Cook (One way to separate public vocational and personal life, I suppose) addressing this enigma head-on, in what should take the prize as 2008’s funnest title – Deliver Us from Me-Ville.
In it Zimmerman (a heck of a nice guy, by the way) takes a sympathetic look at western culture’s paradoxical obsession with and loathing of Self. As he recently said on his personal blog,
In writing Deliver Us from Me-Ville I took great encouragement from Dietrich Bonhoeffer´s description of Christ as pro-me. It´s a nice foundation on which to build a critique of self-absorption: Jesus is for us enough to become us and join with us, then separate our sin from us and die for us, then resurrect to us and go on ahead of us to prepare a place for us.
Honoring God’s view of human selves as created in the imago dei but in need of maturation puts us at odds with prevailing culture’s praise of the individual, ambivalent virtues like pride and self-esteem.

How are we best supposed to function? Can we peer throough the mystery into God’s heart? Zimmerman takes readers on a guided tour through Scripture to show how God has changed people who thought it was all about them. Throughout the book he shares practical steps to help us take the focus off of our ‘false self’ and onto others, as a lens pointing to God as subtext and context of a grounded self-with-others.

Here’s a great video intro of the book, by Zimmerman. In it he tells the story of how he married his niece – oh my!


Check Out This Free Book Club

Tweetlie-Dee

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Abolish Slavery – Join the Movement Today!

  • 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

    a