The Searching can now be found at http://www.searchinglife.com

Please update your links

7/29/2003

 

The 2nd Interview

I just finished talking with Joel Kilpatrick, a freelance writer for many 2nd-rate magazines like "Advance" and "Charisma", who called me on my cell to interview me about The Bridge. What a great guy. The interview was great, and it turns out that I already have a link to him on my site. While I was probing to find out who my interviewer was and the context with which he would digest our conversation, I found out that he is the author and creator of LarkNews.com. I was elated and terrified at the same time. LarkNews.com is a great place to get your morning cup of religious satire. But I couldn't help but think, "Is he going to tear up this interview?" I mentioned it, and he laughed--right before he said, "maybe". Maybe?!? Then he laughed again and assured me that, most likely, he probably wouldn't. Besides, not only do I know his email address, but now I know that he lives less than 20 minutes away.

Better watch out Joel. I know where you live. And I know what church you go to.

We also discussed the idea of him placing a Soliton Sessions Banner on his site. He said that he would do that if I figured out a way to give him a break on the registration cost. Jeeeezzz!! You're the accomplished free-lance writer, and you're asking me to give you a break??? Fine.

Suddenly it occurs to me that having an add on a site notorious for religious satire may not produce the greatest response......

 

Michelle Speaks

A few weeks ago, While perusing Technorati for links to my blog, I discovered a blogger that had been visiting for some time but had not yet interacted. Her name is Michelle. This is what she had to say a few weeks ago about my post on the Wouded Healer.
I have been visiting a blog recently that I am myself surprised that I have been visiting. I am often skeptical when reading a religiously driven blog or website, mostly for fear of coming across something condeming or negative in regard to sexuality. I came across The Searching when randomly visiting the most recently published blogs from the main Blogger page. So far I have found his posts to be really interesting and thought provoking. I haven't thoroughly gone through his past posts or links to see what denomination he belongs to or what they represent, but the past posts that I have read have at times appeared just when I have been open to the message. Tonight I went to the blog after not having read posts for a few weeks.
Unfortunately, not only does she not have commenting capability on her blog, but she does not list an email address for contact either. So I have been waiting for her to join the conversation, and luckily for me, she did. This last week, she replied to my post on The Interview. I would link to her blog in this post, but, as she did not leave her blog or email link in the comment she left, I think she may want to keep it that way.

Here's what she had to say:
I actually do not understand your answer completly. I have been visiting this blog for a few months now and have enjoyed the posts immensely, some have really given me pause and opened a door to a new way of thinking, all the while I was wondering about the community's view on homosexuality. Is acceptance unconditional, in that one's sexuality (gay, straight, etc...) is simply a facet of who they are, a facet that does not lead to an assumption of sin?

And I replied:
Michelle--I've been waiting for you to comment...=)
I've been reading your site for some time as well, and as you have no capacity for contact either through a comment engine or email address, I'm glad you've finally commented here. i'm going to post this question if that's ok. But I've learned that I can be a pretty pathetic answer-giver, so you'll have to interact and share your thoughts.


So here goes...

I'm glad that you've found this space to be warm and inviting. And I hope that it will continue to be that way, though my rough reflections and scattered struggles fill this medium. You've asked a great question, and I hope to do it some justice.

Acceptance is unconditional. And it will always be for those like yourself. By that, I refer to those searching, reflecting, hungry for Truth--for Peace, as you defined it on your blog. You alluded to the issue of whether one's sexuality would necessarily infer sin. To be honest, I think that the problem is much greater--I think that one's humanity infers sin. There are many in the religious community (which I hope that you do not consider me a part of) that try to assimilate sin into some sort of formula, assigning variables to everything that breaks religious and moral code so that they can be exonerated by abiding by it. But I don't believe that we can escape our nature by following formulas like this. I believe with all of my heart that the whole of humanity is broken. That there are none that have it all together. And I believe that there is One that bore the brokeness of humanity to offer us truth, love, peace, and a vision of a time when we will no longer be broken. Because of that, I believe that we are all equal at the cross. We are all broken--searching for the essence of this God that we intuitively feel exists--knowing that some sort of reconciliation and healing lies within that essence. And I don't think that it is my job to prescribe rules and regulations to violators of some sort of Divine Dress Code. The Story of God beautifully disgraces the self righteous with lines like: "There is non righteous--not even one" and "He that has fallen at one point of the law has fallen at all of them."

If the case is that we are all broken, then maybe we better spend our time loving each other, and creating space in conversation, art and silence for the essence of God to interact with us and lead us to back to the center, than we do making value judgements about whose brokeness is greater or less. It seems to me that regarless of whether or not homosexuality is a sin, the humanity that exists around it is broken. In the same way, humanity that exists around the community of heterosexuals is broken. And I think that this leads us to a few premises. First, we share equal footing before God, as the humanity united in brokeness and separation from God. Second, God exists (for something to be broken, its inverse must exist)and is not, by nature, the Divine Disciplinarian. Rather he is an infinte creator; a mother estranged from her children, calling to them, inviting them back home. And third, those that hear that call to come home will no doubt be transformed by the company of this Divine Lover on the journey of return.

I hope that makes some sense. Let me just say--those that I think most resemble the heart of the God that I believe in are not those that have attempted to sanitize their every action in accordance with a religious social code, preserving their personal "record" of rights and wrongs. Rather, it is those that are increasing in their reflection of his character, his love, his empathy, his devotion, and his sacrifice.

I look forward to continuing our conversations in this space. Is there anything you'd like to add, disagree with, question?

7/25/2003

 

Hard Questions


Alot of dust is getting kicked up by great questions in Mike Todd's discussion on traditional giving. I just posted a couple of thoughts there that I wanted to record in my blog, as I think they ask some tough questions--ones that I currently struggle with.

Thought #1
Interesting...What a great discussion!

To tithe or not to is certainly one issue. And regardless of whether or not a fixed percentage of giving is agreed upon, it's nice to hear the statement "all of what we have belongs to God" resonating in this conversation. I'd like to submit that, though most of us no longer box God in as merely the "divine need-meeter", it seems to me in my situation that God supplies me according to the needs I create(obviously those he desires that I create, not the 42 inch plasma tv I've been looking at). Many times, rather than giving mechanically, I give to whatever needs I am surroundded by in the given month. And it seems on the back end of things that God always supplies me according to how much I needed. It's a slightly different way of looking at things. Rather than asking myself "how much can I afford to give?", my seed is multiplied by God for the task I've taken on of sowing it. Again--not that God is some sort of cosmic reimburser, but i think our role as stewards is not only to manage what we have, but to see in faith of the future of what we will have, and act accordingly.

But I think that there is also a question of context that we need to consider. If we are indeed living communally with other believers, in any organizational sense, then maybe it is our role to share all that we have with them. And if, in those commmunities, stewardship is an issue, then maybe it is our responsibility to get involved in the financial oversight. Financial accountability is not the priviledge of the tenured elite in our communities, it is the responisbility of every cell in the organism.

So maybe the real question is, who are we sharing life in common with? Church or no church--maybe church is what you make it. So for those of us venturing away from institutional gatherings, what network of progressive spiritual relationships are you contriubting to and helping to sustain, and how are you sharing all that you have with them?
Thought#2
Here's a thought: How did the apostles in the new testament manage all of the commonwealth that was brought before them for the benefit of all? That must've been tough. Wonder if they had moochers? you know, one guy sells his house and brings the proceeds forward for the common good, and another guy sells his crippled donkey and does the same. Then he tries to "share the wealth" of eveyone else. I wonder...

Seriously though: What if you got together with five families that you absolutley adored, and agreed as a group to share all that you had, without comparison or qualification? and what if, as a "community", you began going around your geographical area, finding those in need and inviting them into this commonwealth arrangement? All we have is yours...all you have is ours... I have a feeling that the community would grow exponentially. But I don't know if the community would be viable, or if it would go belly up... Though socialism typically destroys economic progress--because it kills work ethic (people get alot lazier when there's no personal gain advantage to their efforts)--I wonder if the church could turn whole econmies upside down.

hmmm..."Revolutionary Economics" You don't even have to buy a copy of the book...you can look over my shoulder while I read.
=)


Thoughts? Fears?


7/24/2003

 

Referral Post



Go read and interact with this post. Mike and John are exploring a scary topic and coming up with some great thoughts.

What do you think? What is the storehouse?

 

The Grace of God


I don't usually post on God's graciousness to me existing in the trivialities of life, because, though I realize He is interested in my well being, I wonder how often he is disappointed in my request for his intervention in mundane circumstances.

Anyways, about 2 months ago, a Highway Patrol Officer had the nerve to cite me for not wearing my seatbelt during 5:00pm rush hour traffic on the highway. To make matters worse, rather than reading the reverse side of the citation, I assumed that it would be my responsibility to pay the ticket at my leisure, rather than the normal protocol for a traffic citation, which would require me to show up in court or pay the citation by a certain date.

So, last friday, I strolled into the county clerk's office to pay my $22.10 fine. No big deal right? Wrong. There was now a warrant out for my arrest, and the citation had been increased almost 20 fold. The bill was now $385.00, or face the potential of getting arrested if pulled over before the issue is straightened out. So I waited about a week =), and then decided it was time to go to court to take care of this.

I must say, after watching a half dozen of my cohorts get pummeled by the unmerciful judge, my heart began to sink a bit. This guy was unrelentless. No matter what the excuse, he rigidly stuck to distributing the penalties of the law. Finally, after a 2.5 hour wait, he called my name.

"Guilty, Not Guilty, No Contest. What would you like to do?"

"I'd like to plead guilty your honor, and throw myself on the mercy of the court."

He didn't even crack a smile. Instead he immediately offered the $22.10 fine, and a reduced fine of $100.00.

"Your honor?" I asked. "Yes?" He replied. "If I gave you a good excuse as to why I did not appear in court on the date I was scheduled, and why I allowed this citation to go to warrant, will you consider lowering the fine even more?" He sat back in his chair, ominously towering over me from his bench, and took off his glasses as if preparing to be entertained. "Sure, I'll consider it." he retorted. So I told him the truth--that I was out of the country, on a anniversary trip with my wife. I told him that by the time I returned, it had already gone to warrant, and that had I known that, I would have surely paid it before I left.

He leaned forward and stared at me for a second. "Alright. I'll take your word for it." And that was it. No struggling, no explaining, no bargaining. I was elated. And after the lashing I saw everyone else in very similar situations take, I am sure that this is a miracle. Nothing like saving $359.90 to make you thank God.

7/23/2003

 

The Interview




I have been unbelievably busy these last couple of days, and I feel like I've accomplished little. I hate that feeling.

On the other hand, this morning I was interviewed by a reporter from the Santa Barbara Newspress, who plans on running an article on The Bridge Communities this saturday. What an interesting conversation. She came to a gathering last Sunday evening, and had quite a few questions. Though I loved the conversation, it was very challenging. On one hand, I had the responsibility of transcending and disabling the grid by which she was filtering the information I was giving her, and on the other hand the responsibility of enabling her to process what she was hearing in a new way.

She made every textbook association that we want to escape--it looks relevant, "nightclubby"(actual word she used), youth oriented, etc. But as I turned the interview table around and began to investigate her experience, I found what I was looking for. "I really enjoyed it" she said, "I loved how free it was. I felt embraced, and sensed that there is a large value placed on community." "Interesting" I replied. "What gave you that sense?" I asked. "Well, it just seemed like my voice mattered. I felt important--I was given a place to contribute, and I did. The community's expression of worship was diverse--so it seemed like there were many valid ways to participate...." I smiled. "Maybe you should write about that. It sounds like a good article."

I'd write a play-by-play breakdown of the conversation, but I don't really have the time. Two questions she asked were noteable. The first was, "Why do so many people travel from Santa Barbara to Ventura (30 minute drive) to come to The Bridge? It seems like there are plenty of alternative youth oriented services here in town..."

Ouch. [grimacing] "First of all, I don't consider The Bridge to be an 'alternative youth oriented service'. We are a community--truly. The gathering you attended was only a small part of the Bridge Community's interaction in a given week. We share life together each and every day. We are very diverse--sure we've got teenagers with colorful tattoos and holes in their bodies, but we've got many retirees, families, middle aged men and women. It's easy to see the design of our gathering space and think that it is a mechanism of advertising, meant to attract the odds and ends of society. But people in all walks of life embrace The Bridge. Now to get back to your question. From my experience, people travel to see The Bridge for two main reasons:

1. Authenticity. Not that we are perfect by any means, but there is a sense of common brokeness. People don't have to hide their lives from the socio-political environment they've come to expect in many communities of faith.
2. Movement. Many people come from all around to experience The Bridge because it's not a group of people marketing Christ to the marginalized and disenfranchised in a fresh new way--it's a group of people that truly share life together, whose interaction has spawned a movement of people that view their faith and disposition towards God in a new way. If I may be so bold--The Bridge is not a relevant service, it is a community pioneering the future of how followers of Chirst relate to themselves and others. Is this making any sense?"

"Oh--definitely. I think I am following you. "

And my favorite question....

"[Long pause] Let me ask you, is The Bridge Community a place where, say those who are homosexual, would be welcome--or would they be welcomed to a point and told to then change, or what?"

"I am so glad you asked me that. Those of--let's say any alternative lifestyle or worldview--are welcomed unequivocably. There is no mandate for compliance with any image--people are just received and loved. There's a couple of reasons for that. First of all, I doubt that change in any real or sustainable way occurs by manipulating the way a person appears on the outside. All change occurs from the center. And all people are broken. There is no brokeness that is better or worse than anything else. This is how we are able to truly embrace and love one another as community. We don't request conversion from anyone, nor do we offer laundry lists of actions to accomplish in order to be inducted into 'the club'. People don't see true transformation as a result of giving mental ascent to someone's salvific bullet points. Transformation is a function of interaction with the touchable Christ--and we believe that the God of the universe truly interacts with those that seek him. So we create space for that to happen through silence, interaction with people, and creative acts of love and service. We embrace everyone in conversation, and offer them a shared life in community. Should they choose to embrace shared life, transformation and beauty will follow--not only in their lives, but in ours as well. If those that are marginalized by almost every other faction of society don't belong here, among those that admit to being followers of God, then where do they belong? ...Besides, as the Story of God tells of the life of Christ, he didn't spend a whole lot of time hanging out with the religious and their exclusive clubs. He hung out with everyone they excluded--the poor, the prostitutes, the drunk, and the broken. It seems He loves those that know they need Him."

There was a long silence..."Does that make any sense?", I asked. She finally replied, her voice much softer now, "Yeah...I understand completely. Thank you Jared."

I welcomed her to come back as often as she wanted, as we exchanged a few trivialities and went our separate ways. But I couldn't help but wonder what was going through her mind...Where had she been hurt and excluded before? I hope I see her again. Jesus--please pursue her, love on her, speak to her...give her the faith to believe, and lead her to a place where she can be encouraged and loved. Be relentless in your love of this one, as I know you will be.

7/21/2003

 

Morning Dose of...

Early this morning I was channel surfing, looking for news, when I saw paused on a Televangelist. "A little early for satire", I thought. But I hung in there, and was quickly gratified for my unwavering faith in the progress of christendom. Appearing directly beneath this preacher was a banner ad with this caption:

"Learn how to escape the Great Tribulation!--call (800) ***-****!!"

Fantastic. What a great message. Hook people with fear. Great to see some encouraging stuff this morning. I mercilessly changed the channel on this guy in mid-sentence, when it suddenly occurred to me--"I wonder if they sell Oxy-Clean with that stuff."

7/18/2003

 

Blog Plug

Craig Littlejohn is a friend and co-laborer at The Bridge Communities. He just recently began to blog, and he reminded me of what i love most about new bloggers--their pure, uncomplicated, unfiltered, uncensored reflections of heart and life. Craig's got a lot to say through the encouraging window he provides into his own journey. Check him out.

 

Postmodern Theology Blog


John O'Keefe of Ginkworld facilitates a collaborative blog called Postmodern Theology. He's a great thinker and friend, and has offered me the opportunity to blog a bit on the site. Though it has been inactive for the last month, many great thinkers have contributed to this space. Hopefully, the conversation will resume. Here's what I wrote this morning.

 

Doug Pagitt's New Book


Over the last few months I have had the great opportunity of editing(though it needed little) Doug's new book, "A Week in the Life of an Experimental Church". Rather than focus on philosphy, theology, or other intellectual ambiguity, he grounds the book in the experiences of Solomon's Porch, the community he fosters in Minneapolis, MN. The book unravels the mystery of communal life and development through interviews and stories of the praxis of SP. It's a great read and should be on the shelves in the early Fall. Make sure you grab a copy.

7/17/2003

 

The Other Son...Cont'd



Mike Todd sent me his thoughts via email:
Hey Jared:

I keep trying to add this comment, and it keeps blowing up! I think you're
comments are down. Here are my thoughts:

The "other son" is one of those characters in the Bible that I am fascinated
with. You know - the ones we don't really know, but never the less they have
an important role to play. The thief on the cross is another of my
favorites.

When I think of these characters I'm reminded of what C.S. Lewis said
through Aslan the lion in the Chronicles of Narnia.

Us: "What ever happened to..."

Aslan: "I'm not telling their story, I'm telling yours."

We don't need to figure out what happened to them; where they came from or
where they went. The glimpse we have of them is sufficient to contribute to
our story. The challenge is to figure out how.

Peace,
Mike


Great thoughts Mike. Both characters have always intrigued me as well. I fully agree--that is the challenge. To figure out how the glimpse we have of their story contributes to ours. Well put. Now where do we begin...

Thoughts?

 

Today's Lectio


Today my Lectio Divina is on John 15:4-8.
"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

So much in this passage. I love the dual relationship of remaining. That it is not merely us that choose to remain in Him, but He chooses to remain in us. I noted that though the language used is passive, there is an active task required of the reader. Phrases that I chose to meditate on were: "Remain in me and I will remain in you"; "Apart from me you can do nothing"; and "...showing yourselves to be my disciples." Finally I had to wonder: do I even understand what it means to "remain in him"? Because I doubt that remaining is referring to consistency of devotions, or abstinence from impurity. Sure, spiritual disciplines may serve to continually condition our rebellious hearts and minds, as well as offer us truth and insight into life and Godliness. And it seems to me that that makes them necessaary. But there's an ongoing orientation to the face of God that I think Jesus was referring to. I wonder if Christ was referring to the bible when he said "if my words remain in you". I don't think so. I think He may have been alluding to a state of relationship, in which the disciple would understand so thoroughly the heart and intentions of God. An unending communion of intimacy. I wonder if perhaps we turn and rely on spiritual disciplines because we mere time spent in day long communion with our Maker seems unfruitful. Maybe we struggle to be in balance with God on a continual basis, so we resort to "devoting" alottments of time everyday to satiating our spiritual appetite for relationship. Or maybe we need to quantify our consumption in order to validate it.

How do I remain? Father, lead me in a life that understands what it is to remain in you. To pray without ceasing. I want desperately for us to have unending communion, an eternal, shared rythm. I want to live as David, one who was so attentive to your moving, that he would watch your eyes glance.

7/15/2003

 

The Church & The Other Son


Been contemplating the discussion at the Bridge Community's gathering Sunday night. Conversation has been ongoing this last couple months on the make-up of true community. It's been a very evocative dialogue, and has primarily reflected on the story of the lost son. Recently, we've begun a journey into understanding the life of the older son, one whom we know little about, other than his reaction to the return of his brother.

I wonder how much the older son has in common with the church today?

 

Speaking of Storytelling (Content as Medium :: 2.1)


I'm reading a great book right now, and I recommend it highly to those studying the art of communicaiton, and the dynamic roles of the artist and the audience. It's called "Interactive Excellence", by Edwin Schlossberg. Here's a couple of excerpts:
"...The lightbulb and the printing press have affected culture more than the content illuminated on the page. Because the lightbulb made it possible to read at all hours of the day, it made reading much more prevalent and, as a result, more important throughout society. Because of the preinting press, ideas and culture and access to understanding became possible for anyone who could read. That too, made reading more attractive and made it a more desirable skill for everyone. These inventions helped blur the distinctions between power and class. Mere content may have never have had this level of an effect."

"...Gertrude Stein said, 'Great art is irritation.' ...Sometimes to challenge the way we think we must develop a new perspective. Irritation mkes us move away from our comfortable way of looking and our comfortable way of creating art. It stimulates us to become part of a new conversation, with others and within ourselves, about who, how, why, where, and when we are. In modern Western culture, art serves a completely different purpose. It is a way to see into parts of our world that most of us cannot or do not look at or see. Western culture has always thought of art as an object that is a focus of harmony and beauty to which we could all aspire; we have resisted the idea of art as irritation. This has created a more passive audience, one that cannot differentiate between voices whose purpose is to hype or sell, and voices that are truly engaging their audiences in meaningful dialogue. We have become an evanescent community of consumers and observers rather than a dynamic audience whose members learn from one another. We have thought of the arts as conveyors of learning, attatching what we have learned to a specific form in order to preserve it for future generations. But the tools with which we present art have changed. When the context changes, the audience must change too. And when that happens, art itself is going to change."


These are just some teasers; the book's actually a fairly quick read. It's not a book on the "how to's" of better content delivery. It attempts to teach artists and communicators how to redefine the context in which the audience participates and learns, and how to reshape that audience in the process. That is a crucial component to how we communicate communally. We must reach beyond striving for more entertaining, precise, or memorable content; we must redevelop the context in which our communities learn and participate together.

 

Stories



I love stories, and aspire to be a great storyteller. I've even gone as far as to say that the future belongs to the great storytellers--those that inspire, motivate, sober, and challenge their audiences. Today, I met a great storyteller. A woman from a group known as the Unity Group--a facet of the Unity Church, a group of spiritual practicioners who hold a sort of universalist mentality. Her story was amazing...
"...Long ago, my husband and I were active in our local church. We made the tragic mistake of farming out too much of our parental responsibility to the pastorate of that church. But unfortunately, by the time we realized it, it was too late. My daughter, my eldest, was molested by her youth pastor. It was the single hardest thing I've ever had to live through. I was so angry, so bitter. Throughout her remaining middle school and high school years, her life seemed hopelessly jetisoned into a vicious, downward spiral of self-destruction. She was bent on numbing herself to her emotions of guilt and pain through substances, and gratuitous relationships. Finally one day, I walked past her bedroom door...[pause]...I'll never forget the look on her face as she said to me, 'Mom, I'm pregnant.' It was the one thing I feared more than anything for her, and yet, the one and only thing that I felt might be able to save her life..."

She went on to tell me of her daughter's unwavering committment to a healthy pregnancy, pushing aside not only substances and alcohol--but caffeine and even chocolate. The daughter carried the baby and made the toughest choice of her adolescent life--to put the baby up for adoption. She made the choice that as much as she wanted to keep this beautiful miracle, she wanted for the baby to have a stable home and both a loving mother and father, something she could not yet give. She took on the process--filed the paperwork, took the calls, and interviewed the many applicants. Finally she made her choice, an incredibly loving couple that havce wanted desperately to have children for years. It's an open adoption, which means that the baby girl, Cody, will grow up knowing her "real" mother, as well as her adopted parents.

She told me that her daughter is forever changed by having that baby. I know I am just hearing the story. This woman radiated the most amazing beauty and grace while telling me about her life. She was no longer bitter, no longer hate-filled--even though I would probably justify it if she were. I'm thankful that God places people like this in my path, that He enriches my life and adds to it through the stories of others.

 

Bjork


I saw "Dancer in the Dark" last night. Wow. Riveting. Still gathering my thoughts. Definitely worth renting.

7/14/2003

 

Kiwi Knits Kwilt


Rachel Cunliffe over at Cre8d Design is continuing to weave our virtual community together with yet another beautifully creative idea. Go submit your patch. You don't have to be tech savvy or even have a blog of your own.

Thanks Rachel, for continually looking for ways to use your blog as a catalyst for connection.

 

Morning Inspiration


Put in Lauryn Hill "Unplugged" this morning on the way to work. What an amazing woman. The more I listen to her, the more I love her. She's an inspiration to us all as she composes and delivers what I believe to be the soundtrack to the global church's awakening. She powerfully delivers her take on authenticity, love, and reconciliation to God. Lyrics that hit me between the eyes this morning: Lauryn asks why we protect the curse we've been empowered to escape by covering it up to pretend like we're not affected by it. It seems we'd rather live in pretense of holiness than be honest about the reality of our brokeness. This cd has made me lose it a few times--simply because of her beautiful authenticity and delivery of her journey. Prophet, poet, psalmist. And the worst part of it is, the vast majority of the church won't embrace her because of her past, or maybe more importantly to them, the label she writes music on. Simultaneously, the music world has lost a lot of interest in her, because she now performs alone--just her and her guitar--as a storyteller, rather than as a hyped up performer to be idolized. So she stands alone, in the center, trumpeting a Godward revolution to two cultures that have turned their backs on each other--and God--in the process.

I don't care what kind of music you do or don't like. If you do not own this cd, go buy it. It's not genre specific, and Lauryn's got much to teach us.

7/09/2003

 

The To-Not-Do List


Dr. Winn makes a grand suggestion:
Most likely we have all made a "To Do" list with item that we believed needed to be accomplished. What about a "NOT To Do" list of things we are committed "NOT" to do? Here's the beginning of mine:

1. Not to quote fragments (verses) of Scripture to try and solve complex problems in the lives of others
2. Not quote fragments of Scripture at all
3. Not to pray at specific fixed times every day
4. Not to enable others to continue in bad habits of life
5. Not to sin when I am angry

I love that Winn. Especially the first three. Some habits are tough to break.

 

Poetry for Pruning


Beth Sargent shares a poem:
Have you come to the Red Sea place in your life,
Where in spite of all you can do,
There is no way out, there is no way back, There is no other way but through?
Then wait on the Lord with a trust serene
Till the night of your fear is gone;
He will send the wind, He will heap the floods,
When He says to your soul, "Go on.". . .
In the morning watch, 'neath the lifted cloud,
You shall see but the Lord alone,
When He leads you on from the place of the sea
To a land that you have not known;
And your fears shall pass as your foes have passed,
You shall no more be afraid;
You shall sing His praise in a better place,
A place that His hand has made.

Annie Johnson Flint

Reflecting...it is in going through the process that one finds meaning and purpose in it. Thanks Beth.

 

Content as a Medium


Rachel Cunliffe has a great post on the nature and purpose of blog content, taken from Douglas Rushkoff's new book, "We've Got Blog." Here's the excerp:
However vehemently today's web enthusiasts proclaim that "content is king", I suspect very few have stopped to consider just what this stuff called content really is. If it's anything at all.
We think of a medium as the thing that delivers content. But the delivered content is a medium in itself. Content is just a medium for interaction between people. The many forms of content we collect and experience online...are really just...something to have when the conversation goes quiet at work the next day; an excuse to start a discussion...

Think of this the next time you curse that onslaught of email jokes cluttering up your inbox. The senders think they've given you a gift, but all they really want is an excuse to interact with you.

Those of you who think you are creating online content take note: your success will be directly dependent on your ability to create excuses for people to talk to one another. For the real measure of content's quality is its ability to serve as a medium.

Emphasis added.

 

Citizenship Upgrade


What a relief: Peter Jennings is now an American citizen. 'When he was done[delivering a toast at a museum last Thursday], U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told Jennings, "not bad for a Canadian." ' Read the entire article here.

7/08/2003

 

Of Brokeness and Life


I don't know what it is today, but it seems like the Spirit of God is teaching me something about brokeness. I am surrounded by and filled with environments of brokeness--people, family, staff, situations--and every attmept I've made at rising above it and being "productive" has failed miserably. Things feel off--disjointed and disconnected. Even the Comfortor is consoling me in the brokeness, and not out of it. He doesn't seem to interested in helping me escape it. Anita encouraged me to embrace a brokeness and poverty of soul. And my thought was do I really even know what that is?

Henri Nouwen offers encouragement as well...
The Wounded Healer

Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not "How can we hide our wounds?" so we don't have to be embarrassed, but "How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?" When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.

Jesus is God's wounded healer: through his wounds we are healed. Jesus' suffering and death brought joy and life. His humiliation brought glory; his rejection brought a community of love. As followers of Jesus we can also allow our wounds to bring healing to others.

God, teach me what it means to be poor in spirit; and help me to loosen my grip on the life you've given me, so that it doesn't invoke fear in me to ask you that.

 

Leonard Sweet Live


Wednesday, 2:00 p.m. EDT, there will be a live webcast/chat with Leonard Sweet, at Spirituality.com. Sounds like a good time. Wish I could tune in, but I'll be on my way out to Bakerfield (hell), CA. to pick up a close friend that just returned with the Marines from Iraq. But go check it out if you can, Len's always got great stuff to share.

Linked courtesy of Drew.

 

Spotlight 1.2


Anne Galloway's Purse Lip Square Jaw blog maybe the smartest blog in the world. Monday she quotes "Mapping Territory", by Rob van Kranenburg, a very interesting philosophical take on our current age.
Postmodern theory, open source coding and multimedia channeling promised the production of a new, hybrid space, only to deliver the content convergence of media channels. And yet, I claim that we are in the progress of witnessing the realization of such a new space. In places where computational processes disappear into the background - into everyday objects - both my reality and me as subject become contested in concrete daily situations and activities. Buildings, cars, consumer products, and people become information spaces by transmitting all kinds of data through Radio Frequency Tags that are rapidly replacing the barcode. We are entering a land where the environment has become the interface, where we must learn anew how to make sense.

As 'nature' and 'technology' become hybrid spheres, people become 'tags', or ghosts. What is the role and place of design in these information spaces that are mediated with computational processes that generate not data (linked to other data) - the kind of communicative process that we are familiar with - but information (linked to other information)? The design challenge lies in confronting the move from interaction as a key term to resonance as an interpretative framework. Resonance refers most aptly to the way we relate to things, people, ideas in a connected environment. Interaction presupposes an ideal setting, agency and response. But mediation -the core business of interaction - is no longer a relationship. It has become the default position. The role of design lies in making visible what is not visible as such, creating seismographs - ways of reading the flowing surface realities of both digital and analogue data - ways of reading them, as they will surely read us.

 

In the Spotlight


PONDERINGS: A Man and A Woman
The stage is dark.

As two columns of light emerge from the darkness, a man stands in the light on the right side and a woman appears in the other column of light on the left.

The man looks at the woman and notices her tattered clothing. To save her from embarrassment over her appearance, he quickly turns his back to her. He gracefully moves aside his suit jacket, and then hides his hands in his trouser pockets. He appears to have an internal debate. Then, he turns forward and glances over his right shoulder at the woman.

He says, "Hello. How are you? My name is the Church of Prosperity. What is your name?"

She pulls a ragged shawl over her shoulders to ward off the cold, and turns to face him. "I am the Poor Church," she answers calmly.

His eyes concentrate on the floor in front of him as he begins his accusation, "I know of you. I have been called "Greed Christianity" by the Poor Church."

"I also know of you." she replies. Her soft voice is steady. "I have been called a failure by the Church of Prosperity."

"Well, just look around you. The townspeople point to me as evidence of God's power," the man shifts his feet a little toward her to speak. "They come to my door with television cameras to get my opinion."

"The townspeople use me as a servant. I suffer much, and they repay me little." Her eyes dart as if images are appearing in the dark. For a short minute, she hides her eyes behind a hand, and then wipes them dry.

A droplet of water collects in his eye as his face softens with compassion; he offers his method as a suggestion. "The Church of Prosperity makes bold statements of faith, and names those things we want as we stand before God. See where we are now!"

"The Poor Church is seeking to know God's will rather than our own desires." She looks away. Her eyes cast down, until a smile begins to form on her lips as she whispers, "And we have witnessed miracles."

He straightens his lapels. They are on equal footing until he thinks of something she does not have. "I am pleased to spend my days managing the wealth of Jabez. I wear his crown with glory and receive his honor."

She shakes her head in the negative. "I have earned a crown of thorns. I have received nothing more than Jesus was given. Oh, I have just enough to get by, just barely enough to get by. Sometimes my pastor works without pay. Sometimes I have to walk through the wheat fields and glean what Prosperity left behind for my family’s sake. Sometimes." Her voice becomes a mumble and is no longer distinguishable.

He turns his feet to face her and interrupts. "Well, look! I have the spirit of gain. I have both expanded my territories and I have honored my God."

She straightens her shoulders and smiles softly. "My kingdom is not of this world."

In anger, he extends an arm and grasps a pole. The viewer becomes aware that he has taken hold of his own spotlight. As he wheels the light stand off stage, his column of light moves where he wants to go.

She leaves, making no effort, and the light over her follows.

Written by Moving Godward, Link courtesy of Leading Dying Churches.

7/04/2003

 

home sweet home



Aaaahhhhh...Home at last. It's 1:30, and Gina and I just got home about an hour ago. I--excuse me--my wife just finished unpacking, took a shower, and couldn't resist the urge to blog a bit before heading off into everlasting slumber. Mazatlan was great--fantastic really. It's a consumer-driven, resort based wonderland whose beauty is almost as captivating as the poverty of its people. As you can tell, I've still got a lot to unpack mentally from my "vacation" as well.

Don't get me wrong, it is paradise--in the sense that our 1 bedroom suite overlooked the 78 degree crystal clear ocean; and in that the "resort" we stayed at was much like a small nation, boasting its own zip code and the largest pool in Mexico--but...I don't know. It was difficult to relax. I just kept feeling so--i don't know...american, I guess. And not in any strong, innovative, enterprising, or positive kind of a way. As I was waited on like royalty by people that walked miles daily from their dirt-floor shacks to earn a buck an hour, I didn't feel proud. I didn't reflect on the economic and employment gold mine(or life raft) that tourism must be for that area. I just felt like a shallow consumer, going through the motions of what was expected of an American vacationer. I felt like this pseudo-mirage had been created soley for me; and like maybe my presence was further coercing the native people into bondage of econmic slavery to vacation consumption.

Maybe I'm getting a bit melodramtic; maybe I shouldn't write at 2:00am. Yep, that's it. The pina coladas were great, and the very small portion of my skin that hasn't peeled due to extreme burning is a bit tan. I had a fantastic, romantic time with the two loves of my life. I'm just wondering if it would have been any less relaxing to stay here, at home--with the cell phone and computer off.

Just the thoughts of an exhausted traveller. It is good to be back. Good night, and happy Fourth of July.

Jesus--perhaps while I sleep, you can shed your light on my vacation thoughts? I'd appreciate it. And please marinate my soul in patience and overwhelming love for my beloved. It seems like my thoughts and attitudes have been self-centered and sharp all day long. Thank you for bringing my family home safely.

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