Posts Tagged 'Atlanta'

Losing My Religion

Last month I had the privilege of joining Callid Keefe-Perry, Jules Kennedy, and host Pastor Nar for the Losing My Religion podcast – outdoor edition!

We were at the beautiful campus of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC, at a truly singular event emceed by Steve Knight, communicant extraordinarine at Halogen: TransFORM – East Coast.

This conversation is like a small tasty morsel of the feast that was this ‘conference.’ I use air quotes because, truth be told, I didn’t attend too many of the actual sessions; raging ADD aside, there were just so many people I’ve known for years online, whom I was able to meet in-person for the first time. It was like a “family reunion in heaven” – people whom you’re simultaneously meeting for the first time, but whom you’ve also known forever. (I also had a great time with my Atlanta and Cobb Emergent Cohort peeps, and even a lovely Augusta representative – getting to see them is too long and far-between!) It was a rag-tag conglomeration of emergents and outlaw preachers and missionals and mainliners and meditators and Wild Goosers and Big Tent-makers and organics, all coming from every denomination (or lack thereof) under the sun – lots o’ variety in God’s great big family.

This event was very well-timed for me, personally. I’m at something of a crossroads, both vocationally (great developments, some of which I’ve already shared, as well as some scary-awesome challenges!) and health-wise (I really will get to posting about this in the near-term future); during large swaths of TransFORM I felt quite literally like I was going nuts. And yet the warmth and unconditional presence of the TransFORM folks carried with them the distinct aroma of Jesus. There was a palpable sense of Christ and his Kingdom throughout the weekend, on display in the kindness and dizzying diversity of those present – women and men; black, white, Latino and Asian; Quaker and Wesleyan, Pentecostal and Catholic, Baptist and Reformed.

TransFORM: The Event is but a subset of TransFORM: the Network – a collection of church-planting and pneumatic-community enthusiasts who color outside the lines. If this is you, you should connect with us. As I like to say, there’s more than meets the eye with TransFORM. (Cue groans)

Okay, without further ado, here is the free-flowing conversation, with gentle provocateur Pastor Nar at the helm!

And a little namesake R.E.M. – why not?

Finally – and most significantly – a TransFORM blog-post roundup (If I’m missing some – and I probably am – please put ’em in the comments section below; I’ll list ’em up here):

Adam Moore

Anthony Smith

Brandon Mouser

Callid Keefe-Perry

Chris Rosebrough (note: Chris, from Pirate Christian Radio & Fighting for the Faith, is not a fan. He’s more of a loyal critic, and drove all the way out from Indiana for the main purpose of critiquing. But we love him anyway!)

Darren Rowse (yes, the accliamed ProBlogger was with us via video link from Australia!)

Doug Pagitt

Drew Tatusko

Hugh Hollowell

Jonathan Brink

Joy Lynn- Schroeder

Julie Kennedy

Kathy Escobar

Liz Dyer

Lori Wilson – Part I and Part II (a very thorough recap of the actual sessions!)

Marcus Gibbs

Pete Rollins

Phil Wyman

Shawn Anthony

Sivin Kit (joining us via video from Malaysia!)

– Trans4m in the Twitterverse

Sunday Morning Devotional: Dorothy Day

After Howard Zinn passed away a few days ago, I began thinking about those who have come before, in our recent past, who have told a different story of a better way. Dorothy Day came immediately to mind. Nicely enough, the Open Door Community in Atlanta was sharing these videos on their Facebook page. Herein lies rare television footage of the holistic peace activist and Catholic Worker co-founder. Enjoy!

Where I’ve Been Online Post-Facebook…and Why

Soo…9 days without Facebook. What have I been doing with myself? Mowing the lawn, taking long walks outside, working on projects for work and school; I’ve also been revisiting the various social networks and micro-networks I’ve joined over the last several years…and I’ve joined a coupla more. Presented here, for my benefit and yours, are the places I’m connected to online – and why I’m on a particular network. This doesn’t count email discussion groups I’m part of; I suppose that’d be a whole ‘nother post!

General/Meta

Twitter – @zoecarnate

FriendFeed – FriendFeed is awesome; let’s hope Facebook buying them doesn’t screw it up.

LinkedIn – my business, my biz-nass.

LibraryThing – my library, cataloged. A super-fun social network for book geeks.

Myspace – because sometimes I’m nostalgic for 2003.

Plaxo – does anyone remember what Plaxo is for?

YouTube – my vids, vids, vids.

Futurist

ShapingTomorrow – a large global community; primarily devoted to environmental scanning and trend analysis

The New Futurists – a younger crop of futurists, centered primarily in the northeast United States.

Faith

TransFORM – there’s more than meets the eye here.

Christiarchy! – Christian anarchists and Anabaptists (is there a difference?)

Christian Mysticism & Contemplative Spirituality – what it says. Contemplate that.

Missional Tribe – this one had a strong start but I think WordPress infrastructure, while great for blogs, isn’t great for supporting social networks.

Recovering Evangelical – hee-hee.

Metro Atlanta Emergent Cohort – my once and future cohort.

The Hyphenateds:

Anglimergent – I’m not Episcopalian, but I’m inspired by ’em…especially St Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco.

Baptimergent – I’m not Baptist, but I used to be! And I’m inspired by New Community Church in Raleigh.

Cathlimergent – A brand new network started by my friend John Sylvest of ChristianNonduality

Emerging Leaders Network – aka Luthermergent. I’m not Lutheran, but…you see where this is going? Mad props to House For All in Denver.

The Common Root – formerly Submergent; an awesome group of Anabaptist-minded peeps.

QuakerQuaker – aka Convergent Friends.

House Church Homies

Simple Church

Organic Church Today

Healing Communities

Bleeding-Edge Creatives

Love Is Concrete – you can actually draw stuff in this network.

Wisefire – a great group of people.

iEvolve: Global Practice Community – Integral peeps.

Fitness & Testing For Nutritional Deficiencies

Testing In ActionThus far in my daily range-of-motion routine I’ve seen a consistent loss in fat and consistent gain in muscle. Consistency is good, but it’s been s-l-o-o-o-w. Slow is undoubtedly good for me.

But! I’ve also been curious as to whether there might be more going on with me, in me – could there be anything blocking a more heightened weight loss? And what about my blood pressure? It’s reduced considerably since I’ve been using the ROM, but it’s still high for someone my age. And finally, there’s this pesky (more than pesky; downright frustrating) generalized anxiety that’s reared its head in recent years (I owe you at least a full blog post on that – remind me sometime) – what’s up with that?

I have questions. My Aunt Sharon has answers.

If not answers, at least responses. Good ones. My Aunt Sharon, whom I called Auntie Ra-Ra as a child, is Dr. Hatch to you. Dr. Hatch operates a wellness center in the West Metro Atlanta area that addresses questions and symptoms such as mine, without the use of pharmecuticals or surgery. She has a three-fold approach to health that includes chiropractic care, NAET allergy testing (& removal!), and nutritional testing; while we were in Atlanta last week I scheduled a couple of appointments with her. I already see a good chiropractor in Raleigh and NAET takes several months to do right, so on this brief of a visit we focused on the latter – nutritional testing.  I think her website (which, true confession, I helped her set up) asks a great question with regards to nutrition in general and vitamin and mineral supplements in particular:

Are you tired of wasting hundreds – perhaps even thousands – of dollars on expensive and seemingly useless nutritional supplements? Wouldn’t it be great to know exactly which nutrients your body needs? At the Wellness Center, we provide precise nutritional testing and counseling that specifically targets what you and your family need. Because nutritional needs change over time, we re-test regularly to ensure that you aren’t taking supplments pointlessly – overdosing on vitamins and minerals your body already produces in abundance can actually be detrimental to your health.

That’s been my experience at least – walking into a supplement store (or browsing a ‘health’ website), eyes glazed over – I mean, the way the labels are written you want to take ’em all – I mean, who doesn’t want increased stamina, better eyesight, and silky hair? But the thing is, if (and I realize this is a big “if” these days) you have a basically healthy diet eating real food, you don’t need most of those supplements. In fact, too much of a good thing can be harmful.

So back to Dr. Hatch. She uses a kinesological approach to test your body’s response to different nutrients – if you’re sufficient in an area, or have an allergy to a certain nutrient, she can tell. And if you’re lacking in something she’s testing you for, she can tell that, too. We discovered that my adrenal system is fine (something that can lead to increased anxiety if its out of whack), but my thyroid is off and my blood pressure, while not astronomical, is too high for someone my age. My body also needs a lot of Vitamin B right now. There were other results, too, but what I really cared about was the bottom line – she recommended to me several supplements that I’ll be taking at fairly high doses over the next 45 days, in conjunction with my normal ROM-ming and chiropractic routine. Then I’ll go in for testing again, to see how my body is responding to this nutrient infusion in areas I’m deficient in. She deals directly with a medical-strength supplement company that ensures high-quality ingredients – another relief, since I never know what I’m getting online, really. I was surprised at how affordable they are.

My aunt thinks that my body should respond positively to these supplements fairly quickly – that I should see positive results within 30 days, including a stronger metabolism and lower blood pressure. Perhaps a weight loss acceleration is coming? I can only hope! Stay tuned…

For my continuing whole-health journey, go here!

Lent 2009 Guide from the Mustard Seed House – and flAsh Wednesday Requiem

So this is kind’ve last minute, but Lent is here, that 40-day period between Ash Wednesday (that’s today) and Easter Sunday. My friend Christine Sine has some thoughts:

During Lent this year I would like to invite you to join us at Mustard Seed Associates on a journey with Jesus towards the Cross, a journey that we hope will change our lives forever. We want to challenge you to set aside time to deepen your relationship with God by entering the brokenness of our world. Allow yourself to encounter Christ as you reflect on all the aspects of your life and of our world that distort your ability to live as effective representatives of God and God’s kingdom.

A couple of years ago, after the 10th person told me they were giving up chocolate for Lent I became extremely frustrated and decided to produce a Lenten guide that encouraged people to make some meaningful sacrifices during this season. Each week we focused on a different aspect of the brokenness of the human condition — with activities from easy to challenging that people could participate in.

That Lenten guide is here – I highly recommend it. Christine is also setting up a Lenten synchroblog, where folks are sharing their journeys this season. It kicks off with this post by Tom Grosh.

I also want to give props to my friends in Atlanta who are orchestrating a flash mob Ash Wednesday requiem in a MARTA bus terminal – easily the most creative expression of grace that I’ve heard of in a long time. Read all about it here, and check out the video.

House Churching: Where I’m at Now

https://i0.wp.com/web.ku.edu/%7Erusscult/visual_index/images/orthodoxy/rublev_trinity.jpgUpdate: I’ve written more, in response to some thoughtful comments below. If you’ve already read my original post, scroll down…

So: I’ve been house-churching for a decade now. I thought I’d share a little bit about how I’ve gone from being an ardent member of the house church’s self-described ‘radical wing’ to something of a house church moderate. I’ll begin with a comment I left on Late Emerger’s blog:

I agree with the Stuart Murray book recommendation. I’d like to see you blog more about Reimagining Church – if the ideas aren’t ‘new’ to you due to your Brethren background, what do you find helpful (or not) about them, regardless of their relative novelty?

As a decade-long house-churcher, I wrestle with these questions a lot. (I blogged about Reimagining a bit here). In light of my recent posts, I should share where I’m headed today, albeit briefly: I still enjoy the house church emphases of the direct leadership of the Trinity in our gatherings (‘direct’ being a rather tricky word; I fully acknowledge the problem with language, immediacy, and analogy that postmodern theologians grapple with) and the priesthood of all believers for the ‘open-sourcing‘ of the Church. That said, I like the anabaptist emphasis on the political and social dimensions of the gospel, and I’ve gotta say, I’m more and more drawn to High Church smells & bells too – what’s a 21st-century friend of Jesus to do? For now, I think ‘what to do’ in my decidely low-church (basement church!) expression is to compost church expressions, give expiring institutional models the dignity to die well, and let something organic grow from its decay; liturgy is ‘the work of the people‘ after all and can work, even thrive, in an open-source setting.

Update Starts Here

Thanks for the feedback, all!

Monasticism Old & New

https://i2.wp.com/www.geocities.com/tjbd/Waldenser-Wappen.jpgKevin, you’re absolutely right. Had I written A Somewhat Less Brief Post on House Churching: Where I’m at Now, (Oops! It looks like I am!) I would have certainly included the insights from both monasticism and the new monasticism as key influencers in my sensibilities-shift. One thing I like about the ‘wing’ of the house church movement we come from is the attempt to locate ourselves historically beyond ‘the first century church.’ Through the influence of books like The Torch of the Testimony and The Pilgrim Church, hagiographies though they may be, we were  able to see (an amusing little essay I wrote ages ago) lines of spiritual continuity with many minority movements that went before us, some of them heterodox. These included Montanists, Donatists, Waldensians, Lollards, Anabaptists, Quakers, and ‘post-Brethren’ movements like the Little Flock in China. Similarly, the New Monastic folks, coming from more ‘mainstream’ evangelical backgrounds, took a look at our equally-neglected heritage of the Desert Mothers and Fathers, Catholic mystics and activists (including Oscar Romero, Liberation theologians, African and Latin American base communities, Catholic Worker houses), the rich tapestry of monastic movements, and again the Anabaptists – our two streams share them in common inspiration! So they take all of these groups and personalities for inspiration, but also feel free to retain the best of their evangelical backgrounds too, remix, and stir with a sensitivity to contemporary culture – both where it needs to be affirmed and prophetically critiqued. Hence they move the monastery back to the city, ‘relocating to the abandoned places of empire.’ I love it.

Ten-Year Itch

Marion, I understand where you’re coming from. Why, in you perception, exchange the Substance for mere types and shadows? I get it. First off, a question: How long have you been actively involved in house-churching? I only ask because a wise older brother, who had been living in an intentional house church community that I began gathering with early on, said to me – a young buck house church zealot – “Before you commit to anything for life, give it ten years. Let’s talk in ten years.” At the time I thought he was trying to be a downer, but you know what? It’s been ten years. And my perspective has changed.

Leadership: What Is It?

As to your thoughts on hierarchical leadership: I’m no fan of hierarchy per se. And in case I was unclear, what I meant by

I still enjoy the house church emphases of the direct leadership of the Trinity in our gatherings and the priesthood of all believers for the ‘open-sourcing‘ of the Church

sermons

…is that I’m still a huge supporter of participatory gatherings open to all to share. But I’ve also come to realize that leadership is not a dirty word. It’s certainly been misused and abused in some bricks-and-mortar church settings, but I think we house church folk can sometimes romanticize what ‘the headship of Jesus Christ in our midst’ means in actual practice. To be specific: I think we’ve sometimes sold ourselves a bill of goods in the idea that New Testament churches just kind of magically got together without direction or leadership, and their gatherings just ‘came together,’ magically and marvelously. In my experience, some people are just naturally more gifted at motivating the rest of us to practice our own priesthood in a variety of ways. These people either arise after awhile in a house church setting, or the overall house church experience ends up being pretty sub-par. Don’t get me wrong: I still bristle when I visit house churches that are trying to re-create Big Church Sunday Morning Worship in a living room; they’re just getting started and they seem to already have a Pastor, Worship Leader, and Greeter all picked out! It’s annoying. At the same time, I can’t throw stones. I’m way less judgmental as to how that occurs in each particular group, fellowship, or congregation.

The Work of the People

Regarding liturgy: Believe it or not, there is a growing segment of people who are now ‘doing’ liturgy without hierarchy. Many of them are on your side of the pond, in the UK. (See this section of zoecarnate.com for some extensive links, photos, videos and stories) It’s known as ‘alternative worship’ or ‘fresh expressions.’ For some, it’s following more or less a traditional liturgy, though sometimes simplified for smaller groups or acapella singing – creating a rhythm of regularity around which spontaneity can be supported. For others – like the Ikon community in Belfast, Grace in London, or the late, lamented Vaux (it’s really worth going here and here and here to see all that the Spirit wrought with the Zeitgeist in their day) – it’s a bit more community-created from the ground up, more creative and elaborate…though these groups typically meet on a monthly, rather than weekly, basis, their worship takes so much time and energy. And I don’t think most of ’em wear robes! Though I’ve gotta say, I’ve lightened up on this count too. I’ll never forget earlier this year when Jasmin and I met up with our friend Sara Miles (and Paul Fromberg) at St. Luke’s Episcopal in Atlanta. Sara and Paul were talking about various aspects of their life together at St. Gregory’s in San Francisco, including the food pantry they started from their altar. It was an informal chat with about 40 people present, and lots of interaction. Then came a transition point where they were teaching us St. Gregory’s uniquely homegrown style of alt.worship liturgy, which is a blend of Anglican and Byzantine sensibilities, open-sourced so the whole congregation can genuinely participate. It’s all a capella, with just some hand chimes and a Tibetan prayer bowl for accompaniment. But the part I won’t forget is how I was chatting with Sara and then she nonchalantly said “Excuse me a sec while I slip into something less comfortable,” and voila! Five minutes later, Sara had donned a – I don’t even know what you call it, a robe with some a tie-dyed stole. It’s wasn’t pompous, it was festive! And then we all began dancing around a table, arm in arm, hugging and kissing, and eating holy bread and wine. It was one of the most open, participatory gatherings I had been to in awhile – all in an ornate downtown Atlanta cathedral. While the setting was unfamiliar to me, I sensed the unmistakable aroma of Jesus.

I don’t know if this responds to all of your (very well-stated) concerns. I’m particularly curious to hear others weigh in on what ‘poor and ordinary’ people think of liturgies versus house church gatherings. I’ve heard anecdotal corroboration that both people from more ‘roughneck’ backgrounds appreciate the beauty and poetry of good liturgy, and that sometimes seekers feel more at home in cathedrals than in living rooms. Of course I’ve heard/seen the reverse to be true as well. Jesus was certainly ‘everyday’ in many respects, but he was also seen as a sage. His parables involved everyday objects and concepts, but turned them on their heads. Paul was a master of rhetoric (despite his protests to the contrary) and the prophets, not to mention authors in apocalyptic and Wisdom genres, were skilled poets. So I think we see every level of discourse in the Bible as well as everyday life. I agree with you, though, that sisters and brothers in Christ don’t need to be eloquent or profound to share real spiritual depth. But they also don’t have to not be those things.

Where Do We Go from Here?

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this on my blog before, but Jasmin and I are leaving our beloved house church community here in Raleigh in late March 2009. We’re moving back to the Atlanta area to be closer to family – our little girl’s grandparents in particular. What does this mean for us spiritually, and church-wise? I honestly have no idea.  We’re not quitting ‘house church’ – or as its increasingly referred to nowadays, ‘organic church’ – per se. At the same time, I’m not sure if that’s where we’re headed again immediately when we return. My wife and I are amazed by what we see the Spirit working in the ATL; it really seems like Kingdom movement if afoot in many streams and tributaries of the household of God – ‘house church’ included. I’ve told Jasmin that I’m wide open to whatever – house church, Episcopal Church, Mennonites, Quakers, Vineyard or East Orthodox or one of those start-up emerging churches – Oh my! It might just be the season of life I’m in, looking at age 30 – but I’m more concerned about our rhythms of everyday life than where and how we worship. I’m learning to see my house church heritage, like any other set of cousins in the family of God, as a particular tradition. And insofar as I continue gathering for fellowship, action, and encouragement in homes, I’m committed to seeing her as a living tradition, for her own health and well-being.

Related posts:

Open Gatherings and Life’s Wisdom

I May as Well Admit It…I’m a House-Churcher

House Church: Ready for Prime Time? Pt. 1

House Church: Ready for Prime Time? Pt. 2

You Should Drink & Work at Brainstorm Print Cafe

…if life finds you in Douglasville, Georgia, as it does me from time to time. They feature a Tropical Joes smoothie menu, coffee, and actually encourage you to come and work for hours with cubicle-like setups – free, with free wifi! They also have a conference room for rent, and do a full range of printing and graphic design. There need to be more places like Brainstorm. In the meantime, come here and enjoy doing what you’ve gotta do.

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Brainstorm Print Cafe

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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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