The Searching can now be found at http://www.searchinglife.com
Please update your links
Thanks to Rearviewwindow
for this link. Fantastic experiment on the connection between our identities and objects we own/hold close. Check out www.allmylifeforsale.com
1. What do you most want to be remembered for?
A couple things...
The way I love people. I want to be remembered as one that heroicly and sacrificially loved those around him.
I want to be remembered as one that radically subversively changed in the world around him becuase because he dared what others deemed impossible.
I want to be remembered as one that lived without margin or reserve; one that gave everything away.2. What quotation best fits your outlook on life?
"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." Teddy Roosevelt
"Only the mediocre can always be at their best." -- Justin3. What single achievement are you most proud of in the past year?
Not an achievement, but an event i was priviledged to be a part of: The birth of Selah Mikkel--my beautiful daughter. She's taught me more about life and God than just about anyone this last year.4. What about the past ten years?
OOoooooo...tough one. Hmmm...getting taller? Kidding. I would have to say that I'm not really proud of anything I've achieved necessarilly, but instead I'm proud of the memories i've created and the friends i've loved. I guess I'm proud of what I've become, and I'm proud of the pride others have in me.5. If you were asked to give a child a single piece of advice to guide them through life, what would you say?
[searching through every trite one-liner on extraordinary living in my mind]
"If you got run over by a bus today--dying a long, slow, painful death--do you know where you would go?"
Ha ha ha. I dunno. I would have to sum up for the child what I think life boils down to at it's simplest point:
"Learn to love recklessly & completely. Love is leaving your place of safety for the sake of others."
My Lectio Divina
today is on the writings of James
. James is one of my favorite authors--I love his candid style and subversive approach. His thoughts are a great balance of critical/deconstructive and creative/reconstructive. James says,
"If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
and in The Message
"Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world."
While pondering my life and community, something that Doug Pagitt
once said reoccurred to me. He said [paraphrased], "you know, i keep hearing people say that Christian buzz-phrase, 'I'm not religious, I've got a personal relationship...' According to James, Religion that God accepts is caring for the poor and widows. I think maybe we have enough people with 'personal relationships'. Maybe what we need is a couple of really good religious people to show us how to live as the incarnation of Christ in the world."
I think he's got a point. Get past the hyperbole--of course relationship with God is important. God is, in essence, relationship manifest (the tension of his identity as the trinity). But, as i see James already building into the "faith without works is dead" premise, that "relationship" is left wanting if it does not drive us toward giving our daily life for the lives of those around us. As many have said before me, I think maybe we've lost sight of the natural transforming directive to care for people in our pursuit of individual jouneys with God. Our identity as the church has become that of an exclusive group of consumers. Consuming relationships, or whatever we want to call them.
Maybe we should revisit the questions we ask each other. People still ask, "How's your walk?" Among the 367 other reasons i hate that question, I feel this question may betray what IS important in our spiritual quests--individually, communally, gloabally, historically. That is, the understanding that our spiritual health is not limited to our dilligence in keeping with our spiritual disciplines, or the orientation of our faces toward God. It cannot be compartmentalized by our "devotions" or time per day we "give" God. Our spiritual health goes beyond reliquishing schedules and agendas. Maybe a better way to guage(and maybe it cannot be guaged at all) our spiritual health is to analyze the lives around us, looking for how we've interacted genuinely with them as the incarnation of the touchable Christ. How have we shared
life? Who have we clothed, fed, visited, protected, loved?
It is a heartbreaking disparity to walk downtown and see a church on one corner, and a social services building on the other. Not that our loving/caring for others shouldn't be infectious, but because I think we see the latter because of the impotence of the former. And it's my fault.
"John says that the 'Word became flesh'. Why is it that we insist on turning that flesh back into words?"
I really like letting others name it[who/what/why--"we" are], as you suggested. In the story of boaz and ruth, it is the neighbors (press???) who name the new child Obed.
Great thought...and incredible story. thinking of the press as our neighbors--and those that will reflect to us our true identity...hmmmm. It seems to me to be a bit more authentic than arriving at a self-proclaimed title and trying to live up to it. Also mirrors Todd's
thoughts on not having a mission statement...
God i love kiwis. Hairy on the outside, sweet on the inside.
Calling all Critics 2.0
Thanks to all 10 of you that chose to tell me where to go and how to get there after my last redesign attempt. I've recently made another attempt, with a totally different template. The idea is more for sport than anything, but if i design one i like, i'll probably keep it. Check it out and let me know what you think.
(you've created a monster Jon
The [potentially] New Searching Blog
You are Neo, from "The Matrix." You
display a perfect fusion of heroism and
Things are looking up. Which Matrix Character are You?
confusing metaphor day
People in glass houses are worth two in the bush.
Saw "The Boondock Saints" last night. Interesting.
Hey Andrew, I was wondering...
I've used the phrase "church planting" for several years now to denote my life-long passion to offer my gifts to shape and form messy little communities of faith. Practically everything about the way i think/process/communicate has been challenged and revisited over the past few years. But i'm a bit paralyzed by connotation avoidance right now--not to mention the tension in my soul that wonders silently whether... I was wondering--what do you think about the phrase "church planting"? Everytime i find myself using that phrase, i feel like i need to escape it, like i''m referencing some contrived connotation. It's really the word "planting" that i'm struggling with. When i think of/talk about church planting, i kind of grimace, hating to admit that the natural missionality of my life and those around me has an agenda to it. Especially one that presumes to occupy a space that the 'church' doesn't already exist in. But i know that the concept of "church planting" DOES hold water at some level! I guess the question is, so you think we should have a word or phrase denoting the act of "church planting"? If so, what would it be? What do you use right now? How exactly does one "plant" something? Is that notion even too contrived or ambitious?
I think I know the tension. "Planting" is an organic gardening word, which makes it sound better than "Implementing" or "Establishing" which sound more instititutional.
Some years ago, the focus of church ministry moved from evangelism to discipleship and then from discipleship to church planting. It was further strengthened by C. Peter Wagner's famous sentence: "Church Planting is the most effective form of evangelism under heaven". Wagner's phrase was so profound that the American church was stunned into a dumbfounded silence. Angels in heaven starting bickering over why they did not think it up before humans. The living creatures stopped saying "Halellujah" and instead began chanting Wagner's mantra. And a new term was accepted among men. Still, when people today hear "planting", they often see it in insitutional terms. "Theres a problem, lets make an institution to deal with it". It can also be a step away from holistic ministry that deals with the whole person towards a numbers oriented, strategy based, merciless missions strategy that says "new churches planted at any cost". [Some groups] have been criticized for telling their medical doctors to start planting churches or return home. There is also the temptation of ecclesiocentrism, which reduces the goal of mission and its measurement of success purely on the number of new churches planted--without recourse to whether those churches are life-giving or impacting the wider arena of the city and its structures. Anyway, there may be other reasons why you respond negatively to the "planting" term. Maybe you are just a lousy garderner??? What do I use right now? In missions circles, I still use "plant" or "start" but I try to move the focus from individual churches to movements ("ignite" is a cool word) and from institution-starting to the holistic impact that comes when the Kingdom of God is downloaded (reloaded?) into a space. You will be happy to know that Spencer Burkes new book ("Making Sense of Church", released this September) will have a chapter on moving from the warrior metaphor to that of the gardener.
Ha ha ha. And Wagner's mantra still captivates the dominant mind of evangelical Christendom. As if there should be such a thing. You hit the tension right on the head. Still don't exactly know how to digest this casserole of conflict, except to (by default) build a life that doesn't require validation through rhetoric. You're quite right that i've felt an inextricable institutional association with the term "planting". I feel like I'm constantly battling with deconstructing and reforming others' perceptions of who I am, what I do, etc. Plainly, I am known by my name and specific details of love and failure by those i have existing relationship with. But with new relationships--like those I meet on planes--I feel like I'm constantly avoiding WHAT i do and HOW, if for no other reason than the amount of time i feel it would take to give them an intelligible understanding of my heart.
The term "church planter" carries with it the expectation that something official will be started. Relationships are then secondary to the planting. Maybe its not the term, but the focus of what your ministry is really about, and the end result. Maybe the end result should be more about city transformation and less about 50 butts on seats every Sunday? But still, we are trapped inside our vocabularies and need to make them work as much as possible.
True true...well put. it is that expectation that battles the natural transformation of relationships. It seems to me that your phrase "ignition of movement" better positions us toward those relationships, whereas "church planting" seems to suggest establishing an official identity through regular gatherings intended to reflect those relationships.
The tension for me is constantly trying to disconnect from the associations the culture around me has of church, while not losing their attention/understanding in long descriptions of nuetral/creative language. For those of us that are fighting to protect any language from becoming the next pop lexicon of the church, it may be better to step back and not define [who/what/why] we are through language at all, and instead allow people around us to describe what they see.
I AM a lousy gardener--but at least i'm not a lofty undernourished kiwi.
Well, my new site design idea
got the axe. It was apparently not tasty enough for my critics. Oh well--at least i had fun designing it for three hours. I guess i'll continue to blog on the cookie-cutter template you see now. Don't worry about me, I found a support group to deal with my HTML impotence.
1. What brand of toothpaste do you use?
2. What brand of toilet paper do you prefer?
(stay tuned. must consult with the wife.)
3. What brand(s) of shoes do you wear?
. For just about everything.
4. What brand of soda do you drink?
. Does that count?
5. What brand of gum do you chew?
calling all critics
I've been using another blogpage to experiment with different designs for the searching
is one of those pages...check it out, and let me know whether you think i should go with it or stick to what i've got.
The Merovingian 7.0?
was kind enough to let me into some of his thoughts on the matrix, including the potential origin of the name The Merovingian. Wow. Check out his blog
and then click through to the Matrix Essays
today on Mark 1
. John's in jail, and Christ picks up teaching where he left off. "Time's up! God's kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message."
I don't want to use the words and story of Christ to make or support a point, because i'm not sure he likes that, but this short passage seems to give away much in the way we look at life and the recent evolution of church thought. Christ tells that the kingdom is here, and that people were to make decision's to change their lives and believe THE message. What Message?!? According to the ways i was shaped, the message (or gospel, or good news) was that Christ came as the incarnate son of God, lived perfectly, was crucified, buried, rose again, and has now released us as ambassadors and carriers of truth, to devote our lives to telling other people about this event and its eternal implications.
Not that any of those premises are wrong, intrisically...
But what was that message?!? It could not have been what i wrote above, as He was inviting people to experience and believe the message before he did any of those things. Again as he is responding to the disciples of John, he tells them to go back and tell their master that, among other things, the poor have the good news preached to them. How can this be? All this to say that God has led me over the past couple years to question more than just the methods of presentation of the gospel. I've been led to question the message. Do i really understand what the kingdom is? Do in understand the message? I think i'm getting closer, but i've by no means arrived.
The message must be a message of life lived right now...a message where there's more to life than distributing knowledge, waiting for eternity's free gift. While I'm still working through the nature of that Kingdom and message in the here and now, here's a great story I've found to illustrate this struggle.
As he went out into the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, "Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?"
Jesus said, "Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don't murder, don't commit adultery, don't steal, don't lie, don't cheat, honor your father and mother." He said, "Teacher, I have--from my youth--kept them all!" Jesus looked him hard in the eye--and loved him! He said, "There's one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me." The man's face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.
I love a few things from this story. The most impressive is that Jesus looked at him and loved him. The original language really gives me a sense of the individaully distinctive love. Wow. Second, it appears to me that this young man totally misses it by running up to Christ and asking him about eternal life. I mean, that's our current discussion, right? Questioning how we've become so wrapped up in eternity in heaven while missing eternity here on earth?
Jesus' answer is more profound than i think i can even unravel. I love the progression. First, he quotes the young man what he already knows--the law/sytem. Then Jesus offers the door to the kingdom of God (kingdom living here on earth)--give away everything, come and follow me. I believe that the story of Jesus as it fulfills the law before him, is summed up in that short dialogue. Kingdom living is living with an open hand (freely give, freely receive), and following Christ here on earth. To that extent we enter into the eternal here and now. Maybe that's the message, or at least part of it.
"Christ was crucified on the collision on opposites."
The Soliton Plug
The Soliton Sessions are a time to journey together into what is next, a question that could have us explore the "center" of everything we do, leading us to the future of who we are to become. The sessions are birthed from the Soliton Network--a network of relationship and resource for those that dare to risk chartering the unknown in thought and praxis. Hosting the sessions is The Bridge Community
, in Ventura, California. Facilitators include Erwin McMannis, Dan Kimball, Greg Russinger, David Ruis, Phil Graf, Jeremy and Jamie Wells, Cameron Strang, and Tim Garretty.
Join others for 55 hours where conversaton breathes community, tension leads to truth, and change invites us back to the "center". In our post-Christian context, the "center" is "re-living" of the ancient elements of our faith within our current enviornments. There will be no more than 200 attendees (as we want the sessions to cultivate relationships, which is much more difficult inlarger settings), so register as soon as possible.
For more information, click the picture. Forgive the site, it's still getting up and running. If you have questions, or would like to register, drop me an email.
Great quote from Books and Culture Blog
. Thanks to Andrew
for the link.
The Cathars were sure that the material world was a phantasm created by Satan, and that Jesus of Nazareth—their Neo—had shown mankind a way beyond that matrix by standing outside it and seeing through it. The Cathars were fighting a losing battle, but the interesting thing was that they were fighting at all. It is not unusual to take up a sword and die for a belief. It is unusual to take up a sword to die for the belief that swords do not exist.
"Gorgeous Kinetic Art, with Verbose Chunks of Exposition."
Excited & Disappointed. That farely well sums up my feelings on The Matrix Reloaded
after investing my $30+ dollars to see the flic three times. I really only needed to see it twice, but a friend invited my wife and I to accompany him to see it again last night after the community gathering at The Bridge
. I'm excited for many reasons. I'm excited because a film that could have completely defaulted to green-screen fight scenes and the b-rated love story found within instead took giant risks in exploring age old questions of philosophy--and quite well, i might add. While the movie added a fair share of cheap drama to this cult classic, i believe that they not only measured up in scale to the original matrix in the philosophy department, but took it a few levels deeper. I love their boldness in tackling and further exploring "Why" and "Choice/Freewill vs. Causality". Anyone willing to attempt those towering questions in the format of film(especially a highly anticipated sequel), deserves at least a half-hearted golf clap.
While the movie had its vintage Keanu moments, such as the brilliantly poetic--"I just love you too damn much"--it had some parts that have provoked quite a bit of thought in this dull mind. Trying to avoid "using all the muscles except the one that counts", I've been really been stewing over this movie and both its implications about its reality and creative intent, and the implications that arise as i lay its design over my reality.
The greatest part of the film for me was conversation with the architect. To me this player does not represent any type divine figure, but rather the cosmic antithesis to divinity. Divine in his own right, a man dressed in solid white, behind the door of light....interesting. Constantly manipulating the screens around the hero...offering not truth, beauty, or welcome, but a guilt/fear based mechanism of control. The Matrix Reloaded is worth, in my opinon, watching over and over--simply for that conversation. The Architect so well articulates the philosphy behind the Matrix itself, expressing that free will is, as the Marovingian (sp?) claimed, "an illusion created between those with power, and those without." At the same time, he admitted quite heretically, that the current version of the matrix was implemented because humanity would not accept a version of the matrix in which they did not at least have the illusion of choice. This not only highlights man's inner desire to choose, but accredits the failures of earlier matrices to man's choice not to accept them. I LOVE the dualism. No easy answers here...
I also began looking at the film to see Neo as a traveler that runs across many different types of thinkers. This was an interesting experiment. First you have Morpheus, the man that introduced Neo to the Truth. The perpetually hopefull. He is a giant of a man in faith and deed, and is respected and feared by many. He constantly stirs faith and hope in those around him, and is one of the great leaders. Yet, in all of his open-mindedness and wisdom, his worldview is still held by the construct of the matrix. He is only free to an extent. You have the Counseller. I LOVE this guy. His late night conversation with Neo on control divulges his wisdom and important ironies of the freedom of Zion. You have the Oracle. Great twist on her being another mechanism of control to facilitate the guiding of the minority that would choose not to accept the programming! She has great thoughts on choice. "You did not come here to make the choice [to take the candy]. You've already made it. You've come here to find out WHY you made that choice." that's HUGE. "We can never see past the choices we do not understand." Then you've got the Marovingian. As a self proclaimed atheist, he describes his theory on causality. Action & Reaction: the only truth. interesting. He is a trafficker (sp?) of information, full of himself, the height of divinity in his own mind, and pervays absolute moral relativism because causality prevents choice. you've got the Key Maker. He is a simpleton that offers very profound truth--the concept of purpose. "I know because i have to know"; "I am here because i am designed to be here". Finally, the Archetect.
So-- the thoughts now brewing in my head are:
1. Is the Oracle really a mere measure of control of the Matrix? Or did she simply allow Neo to believe that, as she allowed him to belive in the last story that he was not "The One"?
2. Is the Real world REALLY
the real world, or simply the next level of the program, designed to further control those that refused the program to think they've found reality?
3. Even if it is the Real World, are there things in the Matrix that reflect truisms about the Real? "Herego", may Neo's prophetic calling as the One refer to his life outside the Matrix as well as in it?
4. What are the implications of Agent Smith posessing that crew member? How can the digital world of the matrix inhabit the Real, and how is that connected to Neo's electical discharge against the sentinels?
Ahhh there is SO much in this movie worth talking about...but I'd better get back to work. What do you think?
(Although this article
makes some farily trite attempts at explaining the pop lexicon these movies have become, it is well worth the read for some interesting insight.)
While i Relaod
i Can't Believe that Neo Dies in this One!
I was intent on blogging my thoughts on the much anticipated sequel to the Matrix this
morning, after an eventful time of entertainment, dialogue and poor thai food at 2:30am last night. But, the day is now past and my family is calling me home. Work piles still strewn across my desk, eyes heavy and dry, fingers itching for the will to blog. bloggit.
So why don't you--since I've not seen one Matrix Reloaded thought yet--throw up some thoughts on your discoveries and disenchantments?
Maybe I'll find the energy through your thoughts to begin dissecting this thing. BTW, huge thoughts on calling, design, and percieved free will, eh? I loved that.
help God, i'm drowning...
Little competes with a fourteen hour workday like an hour and a half of sleep. Chalk that up to an amazing experience in film last night at the release of the Martix in Hollywood.
Link and article via Jordan
. I would write something, but i'm speechless.
"There are now services that allow churches to telemarket canned messages to a community. You can also purchase church member leads at $50 to $75 a lead. How low can this go. Costs of the services available to churches vary depending on the type of message and the objective of the message.
For instance, calls placed to church members using a church database typically cost between 21 and 25 cents per delivered message, although one company promises to deliver such messages for 5 to 7.5 cents per call.
Calls to the targeted community at large, using a purchased list of numbers and guaranteeing a minimum number of "qualified leads" intended to spur church growth, cost considerably more. One service charges a $200 setup fee and guarantees leads -- people who have identified themselves as interested in church membership -- at a cost of about $50 to $75 each."
I wonder if potential members would be interested in season passes to heaven....
The Tension of the Center
asks the question today whether or not all stories are derived from one story--The Story of the divine redemption of humanity--even if they are only shady replicas. See this post
. While the superhero archetypes may resemble closely, in many ways, the one Superhero, I wonder if God's Story is even broader than (and yet dependent upon) the theme of redemption.
A mentor and friend struck up a dialogue on this very idea, not two weeks ago. The discussion provoked many thoughts--all revloving around the nucleus of The Center
. I think that maybe all stories are derived from the story of the center
, of which Redemption is the theme for the last 2000+ years. When you consider the garden of eden, there is a centrality
. God and humanity walking hand in hand through the garden in total harmony. What do we find in the center
of the garden? Two trees, two choice. Man chooses self and is therefore expelled from the center
. From that point forward, man struggles with wanting to return to the center
, but at best is able to make limited amends to that destroyed union--through various rituals and a democratic style relationship through a proxy who was allowed to come to the center
once a year, on behalf of all people.
The figure of Christ is born and Redemption enters, stage center
. Christ was always in the center
of the people. Even when he died he hung in the center
of two thieves (i know--that's bit trite, but consider what the thieves represented). Now we believe he communicates with us from the center
of our being. Fast forward to the end of God's Story. We now find Him in revelations, seated on the throne, circled by the creatures, which are circled by the 24 elders, which are circled by humanity--all crying out Holy, Holy, Holy to the One at the center
. God!! That mental image always gives me chills.
Redemption is a pivotal point in that Journey back to the center
. in that it will always be a part of the DNA of the center
. So maybe the stories of mankind CAN be encapsulated as reflections of one souce. Maybe every story is rooted in living in, leaving from, and returning to, The Center
What do you think?
Can you say the word "center" 17 times in one post?
Good Movie. A solid 8 out of 10. Other than a few token scenes, this steroetypical Con movie does pretty well. It offers a fantastic cast, witty dialogue, and a few twists that may catch you off guard if you fall asleep. No really, it's worth watching. Go see it before the Matrix comes out--which, by the way, I am going to see an early release of at the Chinese Mann Theatre in Hollywood on the 14th. Red carpet, baby.
HTML Suggestion Day
You think you know.......You have no idea. Like a bad replay of MTV "Diaries", I found myself lusting this morning after Joshua and Kristen's blog, Rearviewwindow
. Congrats on the new addition you guys--Mary Judah
looks beautiful. But alas, 35 minutes of cut and paste offered me nothing that i could place my stamp of approval on, so i abandoned the project.
Speaking of which...
Before you all go and help the Ol' Skinny One
, consider throwing a little advice my way. Yes, my blog lacks, but all of ours will be switched to the new blogging platform, called Dano
, supposedly by month end. This is a new platform, and has both its ups and downs.
Ups: template remains open even while you work and save changes, reducing time spent continuing to click "Template". Also, a preview pane is conveniently incorporated into the Template design.
Downs: I don't know a frickin thing about XHTML, and there are currently four backround templates to choose from.
So, whether you have HTML suggestions for now, or XHTML for the site I'm currently experimenting with, I'd appreciate the feedback.
Tall Skinny Kiwi Strikes Back
gives a reference email for those objecting to his blinding new site design. Pretty frickin' funny AJ.
Testing, Testing...one two three
audio blogs a plug for The Searching. Worthless, but fun.
audblog audio post
Laughing Out Loud
"Hi, honey, this is Daddy," .... "Is your Mummy near the phone?"
"No, Daddy. She's upstairs in the bedroom with Uncle Frank."
After a brief pause, Daddy says, "But you haven't got an Uncle Frank, honey!"
"Oh Yes, I do, and he's upstairs in the bedroom with Mummy, right now!"
"Uh, Okay, then, here's what I want you do. Put down the phone, run upstairs, and knock on the bedroom door, and shout to Mummy and Uncle Frank that Daddy's car's just pulled up outside the house."
A few minutes later, the little girl comes back to the phone. "Well, I did what you said, Daddy."
"And what happened?" he asks.
"Well, Mummy got all scared, jumped out of bed with no clothes on and ran around screaming, then she tripped over the rug and went flying out the front window and now she's all dead."
"On, NO!!!!! And what about your Uncle Frank?"
"He jumped out of bed with no clothes on too and he was all scared and he jumped out the back window into the swimming pool ... but he must have forgot that last week you took out all the water to clean it, so he hit the bottom of the swimming pool and now he's all real dead too."
*** long pause ***
Then Daddy says, "Swimming pool???? Is this 01332 309509?"
Thanks to Graham Old
, of Organic Church
, a (now) truly great blog. Thanks guys.
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