Archive for February, 2010

Soong Chan Rah: Is the Church Racist?

Does evangelicalism marginalize black, Native American, Latino, and Asian voices? Well, what do you think? Spencer Burke interviews Soong Chan Rah about his controversial book, The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity. Show notes here.

Nanette Sawyer – The Art of Authentic

Nanette Sawyer of Wicker Park Grace interviewed by Spencer Burke. Show notes are here. Check out her book, Hospitality the Sacred Art: Discovering the Hidden Spiritual Power of Invitation and Welcome.

Alexie Torres-Fleming: Joyous Justice in the Heart of the City

Alexie Torres-Fleming of Youth Ministries for Justice and Peace, featured on Think:FWD. Show notes here.

DJ Hapa: Spirituality Remixed

Spencer Burke interviews DJ Hapa. Show notes here.

Claudio Oliver: Turning Grease into Gospel in Brazil

Show notes!

ROM Facts: Portrait of An Artist

Here’s something you probably didn’t know about the ROM: Though manufactured in the united states by the illustrious ROMFAB, it was designed quite literally illustriously, by surrealist artist John Pitre.

A little about Pitre:

Born in 1942 and educated in the fine arts at the prestigious Art Students League in New York City, John Pitre evolved to become a master of fantasy and surrealism. Pitre has been a significant influence in the art world for over thirty years, and carries the distinction of being one of the most widely published artists in modern history.

As a storyteller, Pitre uses his paintbrush to comment on the most profound questions concerning man, and to create a reflection of our times and the world in which we live.

He creates entire imaginary worlds completely from his mind, using artistic expression as a vehicle for powerful social commentary. Well before they became the significant social issues of our times, Pitre’s surrealistic renditions of the threat of overpopulation, the ominous shadow of nuclear war, and the ecological deterioration of our planet became widely popular as poster images, selling in the millions. One image alone, “Restrictions”, sold an estimated seven million copies. Through his art Pitre continues to bring to our attention important aspects of our human condition, and as a result of his visionary talents, his social commentary paintings are now considered twentieth-century classics.

A modern day DaVinci, Pitre holds numerous patents to his name. He is a pioneer in many fields; he explored the depths of the oceans with diving gear he designed himself, long before commercial dive equipment was available. His affinity for the high seas led to designs for generating electricity from ocean waves and currents. Pitre is also an accomplished pilot who has learned to fly every form of aircraft available to him, including a unique, one of a kind configuration that he personally conceived of, engineered, and built. Still an adventuring aviator; he now owns and flies his own helicopter.

Based on his meticulous study of human anatomy in the arts, Pitre has designed some of the world’s most advanced fitness equipment, that can be seen today in many of the world’s finest gyms. His credits in this field include…the ROM (Range of Motion) machine, which was awarded the “Best of What’s New” designation in 1993 by Popular Science Magazine…He also developed and patented a new proprietary formulation for artist’s paint based on space age polymers, that is now sold worldwide. (Genesis Paint)

For more on Pitre, see his website and his Wikipedia entry.

Brian McLaren: ‘I enthusiastically affirm the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. I’m a wholehearted Trinitarian.’

I mentioned recently that Brian has taken all kinds of heat from certain corners of the blogosphere for putting fingers to keypad on A New Kind of Christianity. This trend, sadly, has continued, with Calvinist blogger Tim Challies ranting “It’s as if McLaren is screaming “I hate God!” at the top of his lungs” and then going into scary 1984 allusions, Dr Mike Wittmer finally comes clean in opining the Brian isn’t even a Christian (something sounding more and more like a compliment every day on the ‘Christian’ blogosphere), and Some Guy (I don’t mean to be rude, but in interacting with this fellow for about a month, I still have no idea who he is behind the pseudonym) feels that Lucifer is being cheated by Brian being called ‘a son of Lucifer.’

Ah, Christians. Can you feel the love? Beyond the acerbic words, the latest route of attack on A New Kind of Christianity seems to be: Who does Brian say that Jesus is?

Is his careful language regarding the Christ-like God who is a nonviolent Liberating King masking an evil liberal agenda? Is having certain friends in scholarly circles who don’t believe in Jesus’ literal resurrection tantamount to Brian denying the same? Can Brian, with a straight face, affirm historic consensus Christian understandings of Jesus’ ontological identity? Well apparently, yes he can. Indeed he’s taken the time to respond to critiques – from everything to ‘Brian’s shamelessly pimping himself and shutting down disagreement with his fundamentalism quiz’ to ‘Brian denies Jesus’ divinity’ – with a ton of grace and class. You should read these three posts in their entirety:

A New Kind of Christianity: response to Morrell and McKnight

A new Kind of Christianity: cont’d

A New Kind of Christianity: cont’d 2

Some money quotes:

My paraphrase of Seth Godin didn’t capture the real point he was trying to make very well at all, and Seth’s point itself could probably have been nuanced and adapted with good effect rather than passing it on as-is.

When I passed on the video clip, I was thinking of issues like these:
– When questions arose in Copernicus’s and Galileo’s time about the structure of the universe …
– When Foulke, Leidy, Owen, and others raised questions in the 19th century about fossils, dinosaurs, and the age of the earth …
– When Lamarcke, Wallace, and Darwin raised questions on the evolution of living organisms …

Most of us, myself included, would have reacted as many of our ancestors did: to reject and mock those who dared question what “everyone” already “knew” to be the case. Thank God for those whose curiosity was strong enough to ask, “What if?”

Certainly, as Scot says, almost anyone’s first response would be to ask how these ideas would sit with their faith community. Scientists would do the same thing as people of faith, I think: comparing what is proposed with what is already believed to be true among their peers. So probably the issue isn’t what one’s first thought is, as I (and Seth) suggested, but instead whether one stops there and refuses to give a new idea a second thought…. [Even] so – thanks to all who critiqued my little quiz. You were right, I was wrong, and I appreciate your good insights.

When Bill Kinnon quite pointedly asks, “Who do you say Jesus is, Brian?” Brian responds:

Who do I say Jesus is? In answering that question, I would go exactly to the passages you did: Peter’s confession of Jesus at Caesarea Philippi (I wrote about this at some length in EMC), Paul’s beautiful hymns in Colossians and Philippians, and John 14:9. So yes, I enthusiastically affirm the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. Yes, I’m a wholehearted Trinitarian.

…and, he agrees with his friend Tom over his friend Marcus on Jesus’ resurrection.

Finally, in speaking of an email he received from an appreciative college student, Brian says

I should add that when this writer is talking about “cheap shots in the blogosphere,” he shouldn’t be interpreted to be saying that there’s anything wrong with vigorous disagreement or critique. Vigorous but respectful disagreement has more in common with vigorous and respectful agreement than it does with cheap shots, I think. But having said that, I understand that it’s impossible to do anything about the cheap shots, so it’s probably not even worthwhile to complain about them. Better to just move forward and focus humbly and prayerfully on constructive disagreement and agreement, in pursuit of God’s truth and goodness.

I agree; the problem is, I haven’t seen much ‘vigorous disagreement’ unaccompanied by cheap shots (thankfully, there has been some commentary done in a very constructive and reconciling tone – it’s like a breath of fresh air). I really want to see some principled push-backs, as I think – this might come as a shock for anyone who might be reading me as a McLaren sycophant – ANKoC deserves a thorough-going critical discussion, and perhaps (gasp!) deconstruction. F’r instance:

Jack Caputo says ‘We deconstruct what we love.’ Brian’s taken the time to deconstruct conventional (and we’ve gotta be honest, patently harmful) constructions of systematic theology, ‘the fall,’ redemption, Jesus’ raison d’être, sexual discourse, eschatology, ecclesiology and more because he loves God, Jesus, and the Church – as well as the stranger, the outsider, and our fragile, in-peril political and ecological systems. So if we love Brian, and if we love conversations, let’s take him at his word when he says

The responses I offer are not intended as a smash in tennis, delivered forcefully with a lot of topspin, in an effort to win the game and create a loser. Rather, they are offered as a gentle serve or lob; their primary goal is to start the interplay, to get things rolling, to invite your reply. Remember, our goal is not debate and division yielding hate or a new state, but rather questioning that leads to conversation and friendship on the new quest.

If we agree with Brian, fine. Let’s agree with him where we can. But if we disagree with Brian, let’s do that too – with vigor, but thoroughly seasoned with grace. Because – as we all agree – there’s a lot at stake with how we live lives of faith, hope, and love in the 21st century.

With this in mind, this week marks the start of the Brian McLaren Channel on TheOOZE.tv, wherein Brian and Spencer Burke discuss each of the ten questions raised in the book. I hope that if you feel passionately about these questions (in whatever direction), you’ll take advantage of the sweepstakes we’re running right now – you can win a live, Skyped-in group discussion with Brian.

(Discussion questions here.)

Ah – and a couple of audio interactions with Brian & ANKoC:

State of Belief

Jay Bakker


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