Posts Tagged 'Vineyard'

Anguish and Grace: I Interview Kevin Prosch

From my mid-teens on, I grew up on the music of Kevin Prosch. I discovered him during that odd time of my life when I was attending a Presbyterian church but dating a Vineyard gal and avidly reading the Morninstar Journal out of Charlotte; it was as though I was trying to preserve the ecstatic fruit of my Assemblies of God past amid my rationalist Reformed church-going. Kevin’s music helped keep me sane – or was it insane with a visceral longing for friendship with God and real-world emotional vulnerability? Either way, I kept listening to Kevin even after I outgrew certain aspects of charismatic Christian culture, even as I departed the PCA.

Then…Kevin disappeared from the scene, amid rumors of scandal. Years later, as suddenly as he had dissappeared, he was back! It looked like he began a new life, one of transparency, integrity, and grace. To top it off, he’d cut one of the most moving albums of his artistic career to that point, Palanquin. Listen to this song from that album:

The words are worth meditating on in their entirety:

There’s a harp in my heart,
and only you can play it
There’s a song in my broken soul,
and only you can sing it
You’re so unpredictable, God,
just like the rhythm, the rhythm of weeping
And my life is so upside down
But you keep on coming, coming around
You keep on loving, I still let you down

There’s a harp in my heart,
and only you can play it
There’s a song in my broken soul,
and only you can sing it
I hear those curfew bells are ringing,
but I just can’t stop my singing
I’ve got to tell just one more person,
Never give up, keep on dreaming
Quieter than rain, He knows all your pain

There’s a cry I have had
that I could love my brother
And not look at that race,
That religion or That color
You love those Presbyterians, God
you love the gays and the lesbians
You love the Buddhists and the prostitutes
You’re not like us, we always change
You see through our sin, and You love us anyway

Oh, I wish you would put those words in my mouth, God
To tell the world what you’re realy like
Not some dead God who lives in some building
But a Father of kindness, a son of forgiveness,
a Spirit who helps me
Yeah that who you are

After all these years of enjoying Kevin’s music, we were finally introduced via a mutual friend, Don Milam. Thanks to Don, I was able to connect with Kevin via phone to interview him for the mega-esteemed Homebrewed Christianity podcast! Ohh yeah. We talked; it’s an absolutely riveting hour as Kevin pours out his heart and soul.

As they wrote on the Homebrewed hub,

His story is incredibly fascinating — from his troubled relationship with his abusive father as a child, to stockpiling arms and being held captive by gold miners — with music being an important source of comfort throughout his early life. His conversion to Christian faith and involvement in the early Vineyard movement led to his career as a musician, both in recording Christian worship albums, and in the mainstream with his band The Black Peppercorns. But later he sold all of his equipment, feeling too broken and unworthy to continue, only to reemerge later restored to ministry at More Church in Amarillo, Texas, and visionary of the Music Coope Festival (June 9-11), where artists are coming together to create music in the context of community.

So there you have it! Listen here. You’ll be glad you did.

And be sure to check out the Music Coope artists’ collective, their upcoming Festival, and More Church in Amarillo.

Guzzling Some Godka – Altered States & Permanent Traits of Spiritual Consciousness

GodkaIntegral musician, actor and all-around hilarious guy Stuart Davis has just filmed a short commercial hawking the latest in potable ancient-future altered states of (higher) consciousness – Godka, or psilocybin-infused vodka.

!!!

StuartAbsinthe what?

I wonder if he’s met our pals John Crowder and Benjamin Dunn – or John Scotland and Emerge Wales and Red Letters crew, for that matter?

Have you missed John since my interview with him last year? He’s YouTubing up a storm…here’s one of the latest, on ‘spiritual exercises’…

In a perfect world, John Crowder and Stuart Davis would get along like gangbusters. Stuart does for sex – on his bleeding-edge Sex, God, and Rock & Roll – what John does for drug culture. Crowder Baby Jesus Toke

If you missed it last year, here’s my six-parter looking at the Pentecostal/charismatic avant-garde, kicking off with Charismatic Chaos or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction?

…and leading into a five-parter dialogue with Mr. John Crowder himself:

Part I Crowder Blue

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Good times.

What do you think of spirituality and altered states of consciousness? What I’m thinking these days is inspired by and summed up nicely in a piece entitled Mystical Experience or Unitive Seeing? by integral Christian contemplative Cynthia Bourgeault, in Richard Rohr‘s Radical Grace magazine. Money quote (though I could easily take the highlighter of my life and highest aspirations to the entire article):

The word “mystical” is almost always immediately coupled with the word “experience,” and a mystical experience becomes something that you have—or want to have, anyway. It becomes a sign of God’s special favor—a kind of spiritual “peak experience”—and circumstances promising to deliver that experience are eagerly sought after: from sacred chanting and Eucharistic devotion to Sufi whirling, solitude in the desert, or peyote. In the usual way of looking at things, it is an altered state of consciousness, ecstatic, something that takes you far beyond your usual self, a straight shot into divine consciousness.

What’s so bad about that?

Well, nothing, really. [Mike’s note: And I’d want to emphasize that I agree 100% – there’s nothing wrong with ecstasy and spiritual peak experiences! In fact, I could really use one right now…John, if you’re reading this, could you email me a toke of the Holy Ghost? I’d like Jesus on the mainline, please!] But from the point of view of real spiritual growth, it’s an immature state— a “state” rather than a “stage,” in the helpful language of Ken Wilber. A state is a place you go to; a stage is a place you come from: integrated and mature spiritual experience. It’s true that a mystical experience can indeed be a sneak preview of how the universe looks from the point of view of non-dual consciousness. And it’s true that this consciousness does indeed operate at a higher level of vibrational intensity, which at first can overwhelm our normal cognitve systems. But the point is not to squander this infusion of energy on bliss trips, but to learn to contain it within a quiet and spacious consciousness and allow it to permanently bring about a shift in our operating system, so that unitive (or non-dual) perception becomes our ordinary, and completely normal mode of perception.

Amen and amen. I’ll drink to that.

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

Not the Religious Type?

What is faith? Can you catch it, like a disease? Can you lose it like your car keys? And what about God, the object of faith? What can our current post-secular environment offer this conversation? In an unusual combination of developmental theory, secular culture and Pentecostal/charismatic spirituality, Not The Religious Type by Dave Schmelzer crafts an intriguing response.

Let’s look at the charismatic dimension. Jim Marion, interpreting Ken Wilber’s “Integral” developmental theory for Judeo-Christian faith, once opined that Pentecostal and charismatic Christians “appear to be mythic-level Christians who are attempting direct contact with the spiritual realm by means of the psychic level. This is a feat if one can pull it off.” (Marion, Putting on the Mind of Christ, pg. 76) In other words, those in the ‘Spirit-filled’ camp (where I have my roots) are doing a juggling act they’re scarcely aware of: Living a very woodenly-interpreted faith by means of intensely exterior ecstatic experiences, with the purported aim of having a very subtle and sublime fellowship with God…

My review for TheOOZE is continued right here; Brittian Bullock and I got to interview Schmelzer, and the podcast-y audio for this is here!

No US Post-Charismatic? Say It Aint’ So! And, Bentley Sadness

So Rob McAlpine pens this (from my early web-readings) thoughtful book, Post-Charismatic, and I’ve been waiting for a couple of years now to read it in book form in the U.S. I thought my friends at David C Cook USA were gonna pick it up, but apparently they’re not. Do me a favor: If you want to see this book in the US of A, go to Robby Mac’s post and comment up a storm, all of you. Then I’m going to go to Cook with that post and show them the demand of folks who’d like to buy a US version. Personally, I think the charismatic movement is hot, with friends and foes alike looking for substantial writing about it. Rob paints a balanced portrait of this stream, giving an accessible history and credible way forward.

Speaking of the volatility of our Spirit-filled brethren, Boston Vineyard pastor Dave Schmelzer provides a balanced take on the Lakeland revival, and Brother Maynard gives us a good (though difficult) account of the it and the Bentley’s marital separation. Let’s pray for the Bentleys, Lakeland Florida, the unity of the Church, and for all God’s people to cultivate a healthy appreciation for the beautifully subversive and transformative nature of both God’s power and God’s ideas (teaching, Scripture, doctrine…however you want to put it).

Revival in an Internet Age – Lakeland Links Roundup

http://jc4jc.files.wordpress.com/2007/05/revival.jpgWhen the Brownsville Florida revival broke out nearly 15 years ago the Internet was barely a glimmer in most people’s eyes. Even then it had some effect on getting the word out about – and critiquing – the happening. Well, lightning has apparently struck twice in Florida – there has been a veritable bit-torrent written about the “Lakeland Outpouring” expressing both unqualified support and what sounds to me like witch-hunting (knocking the guy for getting tattoos? C’mon.) Amid all of this din, I’ve found a handful of pretty insightful pieces on it from across the spectrum. Here they are.

Lakeland, Florida, Barack Obama & Burma: A Call to Respond to The Signs of the Times by Pete Grieg

Rumours of Revival by Billy Kennedy

(Another) Rumours of Revival by David Derbyshire

The Lakeland Outpouring and Todd Bentley By Robert Holmes and Brian Medway in Storm Harvest (Australia)

Leaders Commission Todd Bentley at ‘Lakeland Outpouring’ – from Charisma Magazine

Biblical Reasons To Receive God’s Glory and Give It Away in Power Evangelism by Dr. Gary S. Greig

Rick Joyner on Lakeland (and Question/Response)

Chuck Pierce and C. Peter Wagner on Lakeland

Leaving Lakeland in TheOoze: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three

Lifting Jesus High! Bringing Biblical Light to Your Questions about the Lakeland Outpouring & Todd Bentley by Todd Bentley – the Man Himself speaks out!

So what do I think? I wouldn’t venture to say unless I go to Lakeland. I’ll be in Florida this next week, but alas: here rather than here. But I’ll continue to pray that God’s good dreams find hands, feet, and ecosystem to manifest, in as much diversity as God so delights in. Until next time, friends…

New Wine Party / Chill & Refill

Meet Todd Post. At the height of my interaction with John Crowder, Post & I had a brief exchange of our own. He’s posted many of the videos of Crowder that are on YouTube, including this original music of his:

So when I saw this video, we started corresponding, and it turned out he was passing through Raleigh on a Greyhound, on his way to (or is it from? I can’t quite recall) Virginia where he was hosting an outdoor “Holy Ghost House Party.” We met and he gave me review copies of his two albums, New Wine Party and Chill & Refill.

They’re fascinating albums – electronica overlaid with sampling from the preaching of this fella, John Scotland, a definite “new wine” enthusiast. I think this is how charismatic preaching should be heard all the time – better to be felt than telt.

As best as I can tell, Todd doesn’t have a “day job;” he is in many ways the embodiment of the ‘Spirit-filled’ ideal. He goes to conferences, then goes out onto the streets, evangelizing, passing out shots of Godka, and taping/podcasting the conversions. He doesn’t have a high-profile ‘ministry’ in this world, but faithfully walks out in (as our Quaker brethren would say) the Light he has been given. I have absolutely no idea how he earns a living – could be the life of faith!

Here’s a little about Todd from his website, Signs & Wonders:

“Born in Fargo, North Dakota and raised in the bordering city of Moorhead, Minnesota, Todd Richard Post attended a traditional Lutheran church where he was confirmed at the age of 15. Two years later at a Young Life meeting, T. R. asked Jesus Christ to come into his heart. But an intense love for secular music caused T. R. to back away from Christianity and move to Minneapolis to pursue a career in the recording industry. During that time he supported himself doing disc jockey work in roller rinks, nightclubs and at wedding dances.

In 1991, T. R. had a powerful experience with the Lord while visiting family members in Fargo. He recommitted his life to Jesus and later accepted the call to preach. T. R. was employed at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and also served as an evangelism leader at Living Word Christian Center before stepping out to become a full-time missionary. During that time, the Lord led T. R. to start writing “Signs & Wonders”, a newsletter that is now read by Christians all over the world. Crowder & Post

In 2006, T. R. resumed using his recording and DJ skills by launching the

Signs & Wonders Radio Network. The following year, T. R. produced “New Wine Party”, an album combining electronic music with the preaching of Liverpool, England native John Scotland. A follow-up album “Chill & Refill” was released in March 2008. Samples from both albums may be heard on T. R.’s MySpace page.”

So there you have it! Check out his tunes on his Myspace page.

Of course, speaking of off-the-beaten path Spirit-filled tunage, I’m looking forward to my copy of Toking The Ghost… : )

Toking The Ghost


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    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
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    Review: Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola, from Next-Wave

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