Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

You are the Dance

Some days, I want to be a poet or songwriter, or at least good storyteller – because I know that if I’m going to influence our culture’s core sense of who we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going, then nonfiction, essay-style is about the worst way to seep deeply into the bones of people! But mostly, I want to be able to give voice to the stirrings in my own heart.

Sometimes, I take some faltering steps in a verse-writing direction. This is one of those times. I imagine the song below sounding something like Kevin Prosch‘s song ‘The Wheel of God‘ (sorry, I couldn’t find any audio online). The lyrics are inspired by some delving I’ve been doing into what Phyllis Ticklecalls one of the deepest mysteries the Christian faith has been called to steward – the revelation of God-as-community, the perfect Relationship: the Trinity. My own sense of the fellowship of Godhead was nurtured in my ‘church life‘ (aka house/organic/simple church) days by voices like Frank Viola in From Eternity to Here or Milt Rodriguez in The Community Life of God. This haunting sense of the significance of Trinity as the prime metaphor for God was deepened in my emerging church engagement via Ian Mobsby‘s TheBecoming of G-D, among other sources. And of course, there’s that little book that Iendorsed, Paul Young’s The Shack, with its marvelous and subversive portrait of a God who defers in love to each portion of Godself, and wishes to make their “especially fond” fellowship planetary in scope.

Most recently, I’ve been experiencing a veritable Trinitarian renaissance while doing the dishes, which is happening a bit morefrequently these days as my wife recovers from some minor surgery. This is thanks to both Baxter Kruger‘s amazing teaching – in book form in The Great Dance, & in MP3 form via Grace Communion International‘s free seriesDancing with the Trinity – and two awesome teaching series from Richard Rohr (on the latter joined by Cynthia Bourgeault): The Divine Dance and The Shape of God. I’ve begun to see both Trinity-as-Relationship and Trinity-as-Process as holding both the promise and the delivery of transformative change of most significant spiritual, political, and ecological crises of our time. We get to enter into the shared life of God and creation, and from this three-fold perspective break out of our dead-end, binary thinking into true metanoia, a renewed frame of mind and living.

Enough prose already! Let’s get into the poetry.

Yours is the flow

That created kindness

You are the Dance

That ignites all Light

You are the Three

Who contain all Oneness

In You we gaze

With Single sight

Abba

You ground all things eternal

And kiss the earth with glad embrace

Christ the Son

In a world of sorrows

Transfigures pain with healing grace

Spirit of Love

Sows new creation

In every soil weak or strong

Your beloved

Mirrors every gesture

In this our wild,

Reconciling song!

God alone

There is no other

Apart from You what can take form?

You are the play in every atom

Trinity

In You we’re born

This hour brings sorrow and challenge

Never before have we faced so much;

Upon Your goodness we’ll incarnate

Release our hands for Your healing touch

Bound to You

We’re Your wounded healers

Binding earth

With heaven’s balm

Boundless here in realms unscripted

Tree of Life

Is your free-verse psalm

And so today we dance Your circle

Rhythm of life Your cadence grows;

Let the circle be unbroken

Drawing all in

To Your radiant flow.

It’s a work in progress. It reminds me of Jesus & Paul’s own probable spiritual practice of meditation on Ezekiel’s Chariot…eh?

Feel free recommend revisions and additional stanzas (not to mention maybe a chorus) in the comments below. If it gets polished, I’d like to introduce it to my home church – (appropriately enough)Trinity’s Place.

Further recommended reading:

This Blog Has Moved!

Hi all – after several years on ye olde free wordpress site, I’ve upgraded to blogging at MikeMorrell.org! Please update your RSS feeds & bookmarks – subscribe now here.

I’m still on the ‘pre-release’ of MikeMorrell.org; better design and much more consistent posting are both in the near future. I look forward to continuing the conversation with you there! Thank you!

Hurts So Good

So it had been awhile since I’d been in for my last Rolfing session. This didn’t necessarily surprise my Rolfer, Jason Sager, who might’ve wondered if I was coming back at all. It turns out that people dropping out of a Ten Series after session three is not-too-uncommon; even if people get alot out of the initial three, it’s session four where the real deep tissue magic begins. The chasm between sessions three and four are what often separate the men from the boys. (Er…pick your gender-inclusive metaphor here.)

Still, I began to see how I was walking better, and had a more stable gravitational ‘center’ – I was hooked. Even though I’m a pretty busy guy, I wanted to go back. So I did. I was not disappointed.

Here’s Jason’s description of what happens in session four:

Session 4 goes back to the legs for a deeper run and focus on lengthening the inner line of the legs from ankle to pelvic floor. This session is often helpful for clients with knee issues and creates stability through the inner line of the legs, allowing clients to stand and walk with less effort. This establishes a line of weight transmission in the lower body that will be continued in the work of Session 5.

That’s what happened; all I know is that it hurt! I can’t stress enough the difference between Rolfing and traditional massage, which I also enjoy. Traditional massage carries its own set of benefits; Rolfing aims for bodily structural change, reinforced by movement and posture changes during and after treatment. I felt like some deep tensions were being released during the pelvic floor work in particular; waves of anxiety came, and went, like waves crashing up on a shore.

My understanding is that these kinds of releases will be more common in the final six sessions of the Ten Series. If that’s the case, I’m looking forward to the final seven.

And what next? Well, I hear that Jason is offering some dance classes…I dunno if I’m ready for that yet!

Rob Bell & Mike Morrell Interviewed on Day1!

…but not on the same episode, alas.

A few weeks ago, Rob was in Atlanta as part of a short tour for his uber-controversial book Love Wins. He stopped by the nationally-syndicated Day1 studio to do this in-depth interview with show host Peter Wallace:

(Note: This interview is WAY better than Martin Bashir’s!)

Then last week, I was in Atlanta:  Seeing family and friends for Easter, and sharing about the Wild Goose Festival with a wide variety of people in the area – Punk TorahMetro Atlanta Emergence (with whom I had entirely too much fun at Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium and La Fonda), and KSU professor Derek Spalla.

While in the ATL, it worked out for me to sit in the studio with the good Mr. Wallace and share why the Goose is so important to me, and why it just might be important to – dahn dahn dahn! – the future shape of North American spirituality. No really. Why? You’ll just have to watch & see! But seriously – I’d love your feedback on what we’re discussing here.

Finally, you see that t-shirt I’m wearing? It’s from the local Raleigh-based Guru Guitar, a kickin’ guitar shop that serves the Triangle area and beyond. I do mean ‘beyond.’ My buddy, Guru co-owner Eugene Reinert, crafts his custom-made Rhino Guitars for musicians the world over. So if you’re in the market for peerless sound, come on by. Then you & I could have coffee next-door at Cup-A-Joe afterward.

Dangerous Meals – Galatians for Lent

I’ve written a post over at Darkwood Brew that could get me in trouble. Here’s how it opens:

“Jesus (peace be upon him) is unambiguously mentioned over 25 times in the Qur’an,” the young Imam explained to us at the Raleigh Islamic Center this week. “This is many more times than even the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).” I was learning this in a very unique context – about 30 Christians and 30 Muslims got together Wednesday night for an unusual act of friendship: Sharing our distinctive understandings on Jesus, and sharing a meal.

Apparently, sharing meals in the manner of Jesus is controversial then as it is now: When I posted, later that night, on my Facebook Wall about what a great time I had, my online ‘friend’ count immediately went down. In the past, when I’d posted a positive story (or even neutral observation) regarding Islam, huge fights would break out on my Wall. Once-civilized Christians would say the most ignorant and hurtful things. I’ve had some painful-but-necessary online connection-purges since the initial e-skirmishes a year or so ago, but judging by the self-selection, it looks like I may have missed a few people…

Continue reading here!

Ian Cron/Chasing Francis Recap

For those who have been enjoying our interview with Ian Cron on Chasing Francis, but might have missed some of the original posts, here’s a recap:

Part One – Why Won’t This Book Go Away?
Part Two – Would Francis be Medicated Today?
Part Three – Mystics and Prophets
Part Four: Does Orthodoxy Have to be Static?
Part Five: Chasing Francis: The Sleeping Giant
Part Six: Influences & Aspirations

You can keep up with Ian on his blog at IanCron.com and on Twitter @iancron. And I suggest you do – he’s just getting warmed up!

Ian Cron on Francis: Mystics and Prophets, Institutional and Emerging Church

This is the third part of a multipart interview with Ian Cron about his novel, Chasing Francis, which after three years is getting more buzz than ever. You can keep up with Ian on Twitter @iancron.

Mike Morrell: What about Francis and the institutional church? One would think he would have abandoned it.

Ian Cron: One of the things that makes Francis very interesting compared to a lot of what we’re seeing in the Post Modern Emergent conversations is that he was not anti-institutional. He actually honored the institution of The Church even in it’s screwed up state. He critiqued it with his life, not his words, and he wasn’t leaving it. He really felt like you could change it from the inside out. I recently read something by Jonny Baker about this very thing. Did you read that article?

MM: Yeah – the one in response to Kester Brewin’s series on Has What Emerged Retreated? Jonny says the idea of leaving institutions is, in his British parlance, “romantic tosh”.

IC: Heh – Yeah, he says it’s equally valid to change something from the outside and the inside. I agree.

MM: I think they both have valid points but Jonny’s really did stick out to me, that people who just want to damn “the man” and start their own thing do end up having to become institutions, and when they do, as often as not it can be just like what it replaced, if not more tyrannical, so why not at least try to make a good faith effort of working from within?

IC: This raises a really interesting point, too. One problem I’ve seen in the postmodern/emergent church conversation is you tend to have one of two different kinds of things going on: one is the emphasis on social justice. That’s a great thing unless you over-privilege social action and have no contemplative life. Someone who over-privileges social justice runs the risk of becoming an angry, disillusioned and very often, a smug activist. On the other hand, there are people who ignore social justice and only care about the contemplative life and this leads to a sort of saccharine piety. They start watching EWTN and saying the Rosary without any interest in the fact that so much of the world is starving to death.

MM: Yeah, I spent about a decade in a church movement that was very contemplative, and I feel like a lot of times we did veer into that danger where we really, at the end of the day, didn’t give a rip about what was happening in the outside world. I transitioned from that into this sort of Anabaptist, Anarchist, hardcore social justice world, and it was like a breath of fresh air to see people who really cared about what’s happening around the world, but, I did begin to encounter sort of an intolerance and almost a mocking of sincere expressions of love for God or spirituality that didn’t into the plight of the Post Modern world and things like that.

IC: Yes, you need both in tension. The commitment to social Justice should correct the excesses of the contemplative life and vice versa. That balance is very Franciscan.

MM: I can see that – there’s the deep impatience of the prophetic tradition, but then there’s the sense of “all will be well” in the mystical tradition; I think you need both to fuel the other.

IC: That’s right. And this is the beautiful polarity that Francis embodies so well.

This concludes part three.

Part One – Why Won’t This Book Go Away?
Part Two – Would Francis be Medicated Today?

The Chasing Francis interview is to be continued..!

The Voice of the Psalms: Psalm 65

Here is an excerpt from a Psalm I rendered for The Voice project, Psalm 65:

1 Rapt silence and praise

Sweep through the Sacred City, O God

Competing to give voice(less) voice to Your goodness

Solemn vows uttered to You will now be performed

2You hear us in words and silence;

all humanity comes into Your presence.

3Crookedness and perversion overwhelm us!

But You forgive us and bring us integration,

Restoring as only You can.

4You invite us near, drawing us

Into Your courtyard – what an honor!

We feast ’til we’re full

on the goodness of Your house

Your sacred abode made manifest

Where heaven and earth kiss.

5You leave us breathless

in the wake of Your response;

God of liberation—You are the hope

of all ecologies, from far-flung

continents to life-giving oceans.

6 With creative energy You inaugurated mountains

Wrapped in strength You compelled

7Choppy seas,

Crashing waves

And cacophonous people

To sit in astonished silence.

8Those who inhabit the boundaries of the known

Are awed by Your enfolded clues,

Strong and subtle hints of Your indelible presence.

The portals of night and day gape to sing Your praises.

9You spend time on (Y)our good earth,

Watering and nourishing the networks of living.

God’s river, full of water,

All people full on the staff of life without exception—

Poured and mixed, living bread, kneaded by Your very hands.

10You are the gentle equalizer;

smoothing soil’s wrinkles,

Softening unbending earth

Generous showers

making holy the fruit of the ground…

…continued in The Voice of the Psalms!

What is The Voice, you ask? Here’s how I initially described it in a Relevant Magazine news snippet I wrote back in early 2006:

The newly-formed Ecclesia Bible Society is releasing a full-orbed narrative and artistic retelling of the Bible, beginning with the recently-released The Last Eyewitness and Songs from the Voice, Volume One.  The project, which began in April and will continue throughout the next five years, includes work from notable authors such as Phyllis Tickle, Tim Keel, Brian McLaren, Donald Miller, Lauren Winner, Phuc Luu, Allison Smythe, and Dieter Zander, as well as musicians and visual artists including Rob Pepper, Waterdeep, Derek Webb, Sara Groves and the Robbie Seay Band.

Project originator Chris Seay describes The Voice as a serious translation that allows the original biblical authors to speak in all their truth, beauty, and stylistic diversity.

The Ecclesia Bible Society feels like many traditional Bible translation committees have muted the original biblical authors’ unique voices. “The Chronicles of Narnia and Blue Like Jazz might sit as two bookends in my library,” said Seay.  “They’re among my favorite books.  But 100 years from now if a committee of translators tried to make CS Lewis‘s and Don Miller‘s voices sound the same on the page, you wouldn’t want to read either one.”  Even so, they’re still being careful.  “We have scholars on board as a vital part of The Voice project,” Seay said.  “But they’re following the creative lead instead of vice-versa.  They’re helping us navigate the linguistic roads, showing us the terrain so that we can avoid translational pot holes and ditches.”

Ultimately, Seay and The Voice contributors hope to resource the Christian community with “the full narrative force of Scripture, which for too long has been blunted by a ‘propositional’ grid.”

The Ecclesia Bible Society is not-for-profit, and all revenue generated will be dedicated to church planting and humanitarian initiatives.  Their stated goal is to embody God’s kingdom in voice and deed.

“What we long to do is retell the stories of Scripture, not only in truth but in beauty.  We hope that you fall in love with these stories anew.”

Other editions:

The Voice New Testament: Cloth & Leatherbound

The Voice New Testament: With Psalms & Proverbs (coming soon)

The Voice: Gospel of John – free download!

Brian McLaren, Tim King – End-Times & New Beginnings

Spencer Burke and Brian McLaren continue their discussion on A New Kind of Christianityis eschatology catastrophic and in the future? Or might it be fulfilled in an important sense, open-ended for divine-human empowerment? You can see the show notes for this segment and the entire interview here. You can download Brian’s fascinating free bonus chapter on eschatology – dealing with ‘personal eschatology’ and the afterlife – here.

This is a great time to mention an exciting new transition in the life of the Morrell family. I write this perched in the beautiful Black Forest of Colorado Springs, Colorado, where Jasmin, Jubilee and I will be moving soon! (To the Springs, not the Black Forest…I wouldn’t be able to breathe up there!) I’m here with Tim King (whom Spencer also interviewed recently), Doug King, Kevin Beck and families – three-fourths of the all-new Presence team, of which I’ll soon be a full-time member.

I’ve been working with Presence as a consultant since 2006, and beginning this Spring I’ll be with them in a full-time capacity. Presence – along with The David Group and a soon-to-be-announced third counterpart – does amazing work in (what Brian calls) participatory eschatology, personal and communal empowerment, and peace-building work worldwide. I’ll be coming on as a communications jack-of-all trades, assisting in making our social media interaction top-notch as we catalyze further opportunities for collaboration with all people, across class and party lines. Stay tuned!

And…if you’re curious about the core theology and spirituality that animates Presence’s disparate activities, I’d recommend reading two things for starters:

Chapter Eight of Brian’s A New Kind of Christianity

Kevin Beck’s free eBook, This Book Will Change Your World – download it here!

This will be a wild ride…if you’re in Colorado Springs let me know – we should connect!

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