Posts Tagged 'futures'



Heresy Hunters: I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends

You know you’re doing something worthwhile when all the right people are denouncing you.

A couple of weeks ago Herescope denounced Jay Gary, Diana Butler-Bass, Brian McLaren and myself, who will be hanging out at the World Future Society‘s annual conference in D.C. We’ll be talking about “The Future of the Religious Right” and of global Christian faith in general, but the Heroscope team sees our work as promoting “new theologies and practices,” and “disparaging…of biblical prophecy.” Somehow, they suspect that all this winds up “creating an evolutionary convergence” where we all sing Kumbaya and venerate Gaia and Easter bunnies. As if that’s a bad thing!

Moving along: I’ve already told you the kind of flack The Shack has been getting recently with the heresy-hunter websites. Well, as Steve Knight reports at Emergent Village, now our ‘ol pal Mark Driscoll is in on the action too (you can watch his eight-minute YouTube rant on the E.V. link). Apparently he’s mighty uncomfortable with the sacred feminine, anthropomorphic depictions of God, and the idea of the Trinity (and thus, human relatedness) as mutually submissive rather than chain-of-command hierarchical. Sigh. Co-publisher Wayne Jacobsen blogs his response to the question “Is The Shack Heresy?”

Of course Frank Viola has had his share of critique concerning Pagan Christianity–not all from shrill heresy hunters, but certainly enough of it. Well, Tim Dale over at Karis Productions produced this pretty funny spoof response:

I have two observations about all the shelling and attack from this past month: Most of the people above are friends of mine, and for the most part, we can all laugh this off (in the cases of Frank and Team Shack, they can laugh all the way to the bank, as these books have really struck a chord with most readers and have become best-sellers)–even if we don’t know whether to laugh or cry sometimes. Others, though, are not so fortunate–heresy-hunters can cost people their livelihoods.

I don’t have the privilege of knowing Peter Enns, but his story has been all over the blogosphere recently. As Christianity Today reports, Enns has been suspended from his teaching post at Westminster Theological Seminary for writing his 2005 book Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, which takes a hard look at the messy, complex, and human aspects of Scripture from an evangelically-informed text criticism point of view. The Board of Trustees said:

“That for the good of the Seminary (Faculty Manual II.4.C.4) Professor Peter Enns be suspended at the close of this school year, that is May 23, 2008 (Constitution Article III, Section 15), and that the Institutional Personnel Committee (IPC) recommend the appropriate process for the Board to consider whether Professor Enns should be terminated from his employment at the Seminary. Further that the IPC present their recommendations to the Board at its meeting in May 2008.”

I understand that confessionally Christian schools are not as enamored with “freedom of thought at any cost” like their liberal arts counterparts; I get that evangelical higher learning institutions are trying to maintain a precarious balance between intellectual integrity and nurturing creedal faith commitments. All the same, Enns is not Bishop Spong or something–he’s asking questions about Holy Writ that the rest of the Church (and world at large) have been asking since the 19th century. Like it or not, those who read and love the Bible are going to begin pondering its more troubling aspects with greater honesty and ideological flexibility.

Heresy-hunting is far from the world’s worst problem. (Next time, I’m going to blog about sex trafficking. Please try to refrain from throwing yourself off a building.) Nonetheless, it is a downer. As I mused last year, sometimes I wonder why I even bother participating in this kind of ‘dialogue’–it all seems so insular. Sometimes I just want to throw my blog into the ocean (so to speak) and becoming a wandering hermit…with my wife and child, of course. But for now, I suppose I’ll leave everyone with an easily-rebuttable maxim: If you don’t have something kind to blog, don’t blog anything at all.

Related:

Mike Todd’s The Shack Film casting call

John MacArthur launches Nothing Must Change tour

Heretic Hunter video

Brad Cummings and Wayne J have something constructive to say about all of this in their Doctrine Police podcast at The God Journey

HeadSpace Virtual Commute adds Lunar Line

Continuing a series of “What If” futures incasting headlines for the world of 2043…

HeadSpace Virtual Commute adds Lunar Line

Top-Traded Immaterial Office Firm Now Lands on Moon

NEW DEL SOL—Virgin Milky Way avatar Richard Branson (III) announced a landmark deal with virtual holoconference provider Headspace today, a 3.5 year exclusive contract to extend their telecommute line to Virgin’s New Del Sol base on the expanding ‘dark side’ of the moon. This came as welcome news to the sagging HeadSpace, who, after their 2018 near-monopoly on virtual workspace solutions, has sagged behind upstart Virtual Kosmos these past twenty months. “They just couldn’t compete with virtual time uplinks,” an NBC Knowbot told us. “But one thing V.K. has never been able to do is transmit to the moon. That HeadSpace has been able to do this is—if you’ll excuse the pun—a Thoth-send.” [Continued, C.381]

 

 

 

Google Government Launches Today

Kicking off a week of “What If” futures incasting scenarios for the world of 25 years from now; the good, the bad, and the ugly…

 

Google Government Launches Today

EasyGov startup application one of many facets replacing outmoded bureaucracy

Google U.S. GovGENEVA—After passing unanimously in the UN Committees for Better Governance and Clean Tech last year, government.google.com initiated governance interfaces globally this morning at 12:01 GMT. “We are grateful for the trust engendered from the global community,” Google Chancellor David C. Drummond said via YouTube hololink today. “For years we have worked tirelessly to improve the processes of voting, emergency response, law enforcement, and legislation. Today, we are able to bundle all of these services and offer them, without cost, to governments and citizens everywhere.” The efficiency and technological boost was enabled by Google’s acquisition of the Coca-Cola company in 2014, quickly supplanting its trademark drink with Google Gulp, the neuron-organizing, protein-reading potable version of Google Desktop… [Continued, A.428]

How Does Social Change Occur?

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

 


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

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

Foresight in a Nutshell

Well not everyone thinks I’m a “lazy out-of-work crazy” like my self-loathing alter ego, but I do get a lot of questions from friends and family wondering just what it is I’m studying and planning on doing with (an aspect of) my life. Sometimes even strangers get in on it.

https://i1.wp.com/plus.maths.org/issue18/features/hawking/images/nutshell.jpg

Last week I was reading Foundations of Futures Studies in Chapel Hill’s Café Driade, arguably the highest-quality coffee shop I’ve ever been to. While two of us were waiting for our drinks, another patron asked me: “Futures Studies? What is Futures Studies?” As near as I can reconstruct, here is how I responded (so be ye instructed, dear reader):

“Futures Studies the mirror-side of history. It’s using what we know about our past and present, and extrapolating it into possible, probable, and desirable future scenarios for tomorrow.”

“So it’s like consulting?”

“Yes. Futurists help humanity navigate the waters of change and articulate our best futures out of a range of potential futures. We work with non-profit organizations, businesses, churches, and even governments.”

“Wow. Sounds interesting.”

“It is!”

I don’t know if he was just being kind, but it is terribly interesting. A multidisciplinary range of inquiry involving systems thinking, sociology, anthropology, history and even science fiction! (And I’m only in my second semester) A little later this year my mentor Jay and I should be hosting some videocasts unpacking some of the delights of Foresight@Regent. Stay tuned.

Our Composting God: Making Meaning of the Mess

My ever-thoughtful wife has written a post comparing house church practice with Communism. I suggest you read it, then come back to my comment here below…

Well, wife-o-mine, a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ was pretty tough to implement–it had never been done before! For years, Marxist thinkers and revolutionaries had fine-tuned their critique of capitalism, and it was largely quite valid. I think had they spent as much energy articulating what they were for, the transition from Russian czardom to a distributed system could have worked better and with less bloodshed.

Hmm…

As you no doubt know, I think that many of the critiques that we house-churchers have against more institutionally-driven expressions of Church are grounded in some solid intuition and research. And I also think that some of our positive visions of what a more egalitarian, ‘organic’ way of being under the guidance of the Spirit (or headship of Christ, as you put it) have beauty and merit too. BUT I’m thinking that maybe evolution is a better metaphor for what we’re seeking to embody than revolution. Lasting change tends to be gradual, and only then punctuated by a time of cataclysmic upheaval. We’ve been riding the wave of upheaval for awhile, but it might well be that greater humility toward established expressions are called for.

These days, instead of anticipating a remnant ‘torch of the testimony,’ I see Church History (and indeed, all history) as compost. At one point something was alive (and probably still is alive, in some manifestation), but then it died. After this, it begins to decompose-it might even stink a good deal. But that decomposing stew releases very helpful nutrients back into the soil–indeed, the soil itself is the product of eons of compost.

So even us ‘organic churches’ are planted in the soil of rich compost, of all that’s come before. We don’t need to eat from the Tree of Judgment, and determine what was good, bad, and ugly in the beliefs and actions of our forbears. Quaker, Anabaptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, Orthodox–and yes, even house church…it’s all our compost. It’s all our soil. And we have one big God–disclosed in Christ–who transcends and includes all of this, helping us discern what was most good, true and beautiful about these past (and continuing) expressions, to celebrate and wisely use today. And of course, we have our sacred text, contemporary context, and Holy Spirit subtext to help us weave new meanings and trajectories for today and tomorrow.

God is at work, fermenting God’s good creation. Let’s compost church today!

Recommended Reading:

The Seeker’s Way by Dave Fleming

Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster

A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren

What Time Is This Place?

As I stroll through Glenwood Avenue in my adopted hometown of Raleigh, I realize that there are about five decades of history in a several-block radius. Like many healthy historical downtowns, there is a mix of old, new, and anticipatory. Let’s take a walk down the street.

Walker’s Drugs looks like it was built in the 1930s; it remains a functioning drug store, with architecture intact. Beside it is NoFos, a trendy restaurant converted from a Piggly-Wiggly grocery store from the 1940s. Inside, classic meets contemporary in the trim-carpeted floor and art nouveau lighting that itself hearkens back to a bygone year, reimagined in Fifth Element-like cyberpunk yearning. Beside this is a bank. Wachovia. All banks, unless they try really hard, seem stuck in the 1970s—all brick and beige. (As an aside, my time in the Bahamas last October for a conference were like being in an alternate-reality 1980s. The hotels, the fonts used on signs—everything was 80s! It was surreal.)

Moving down the street a little bit, there are a series of building that look as though they were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s. They retain much of their charm and are now cafés, dessert parlors, or clubs. The gym where I work out, Peak Fitness, looks like the 1990s, in the best aesthetic sense (at least according to my palate), all industrial with pipes and wires showing in the roof and concrete floors. Now if only they’d play more ‘90s music. There are condos going up in three places across Glenwood, no doubt drawing from the urban chic that already emanates from this street, and hopefully adding something of a forward-looking element.

Nofo At The Pig

 

But what? Why is it that what we find most pleasing in architecture is rarely right now? Quite possibly it is because we live in a tumultuous time nationally and globally, and the same cultural impetus that gives rise to an increased appetite for fantasy fare in entertainment propels us to want to transport us to another time in our buildings. As the disconnect between our nation’s actions and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves increases, cynicism will increase as well as our desire to “escape” right now. Just as art in this era is largely derivative—whether satirical or in homage—so is our architecture. Positive, credible images of future in every quadrant of the human endeavor could go a long way toward redeeming our cultural milieu. Hopefully we’ll be able to be progressives and conservatives simultaneously, transcending our pasts but including them. Even in our buildings.

Intelligent Paper

So the other night I had a dream that there was a new commodity on the market called Intelligent Paper, an invention that did for books what Director’s Cut DVDs do for film. It was for all intents and purposes regular paper, except when you tapped a sentence–any sentence–twice with your finger, all kinds of little multicolored errata would pop up, like those old VH1 Pop-Up Videos, or the Comments feature in Microsoft Word. What would these “extras” say? Definitions of words, author’s commentary, you name it.

Upon waking, I was at first stunned at what a revolutionary invention Intelligent Paper would be. But then I realized that the new crop of electronic paper eBooks, and indeed the Web page probably trump Intelligent Paper in terms of functionality–it’s as fruitless as a visionary dream of 8 Tracks 2.0

In my dream I was passing a newsstand at an airport, and there were several paperbacks and comic books, available in two editions–regular, and Intelligent Paper! Was that a nerdy dream or what?


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