Showing posts from October, 2011

Flat Churches? Tony Jones talks to Steve Knight

This morning I had a lengthy Skype conversation with Steve Knight, a friend and a consultant working with Hope Partnership a newly forming Disciples of Christ church planting/transformation entity.  Our conversation is a followup to a conversation that Steve had with Tony Jones, author of The Church is Flat,  which is Tony's Princeton Ph.D. dissertation in Practical Theology.  They talked about that book, Tony's work with the Emergent Church movement, and his analysis of the movement.  I want to show that video as a prelude to my conversation with Steve covering similar areas, but from a related by different perspective.
Let me set this conversation up.  Tony writes about the Emergent Movement within the Christian community from within the movement.  He's a founder of the movement and served as executive director of Emergent Village for several years.  He is part of one of the leading Emergent churches, Solomon's Porch, which is pastored by/led by Doug Pagitt.   I fi…

It's a Global World Out There

Maybe you're like me.  You check the stock market each day.  Perhaps you watch a couple of stocks.  You notice that they go up and down.   September was a really bad month for stocks, but October was one of the best in years, maybe the best in more than 20 years.  In fact, last I had heard we were in the black for the year -- stock market wise.  We'd gained some and lost a lot and now we're at least back where we started.
There is an interesting dynamic going on that we might want to take into account.  Tom Friedman has been making much ado about the world being flat, that we're in this global economy, so that what happens in one place affects another place.  It's one of the reasons why even the President of the United States can't influence all the economic or even political variables.  
If you've been watching the stock market you will have noticed that one of those variables has been the debt crisis in Europe.  The stock market ebbs and flows depending …

Saints Living Generously -- A sermon

1 Corinthians 16:1-4 Although many churches are observing All Saints Day today, we’re going to observe it next Sunday with a special litany of remembrance of “all the saints, who from their labors rest.”   Even though we’re launching our annual stewardship campaign instead, it’s not too early to start remembering the people who have influenced our lives and have shown themselves worthy of being imitated.  These people could  be parents or teachers, preachers or friends, long time church members or the other saints of history, whose stories continue to inspire.  As the hymn “For All the Saints” declares, this is a “blest communion, company divine!”  And together, we form the one body in Christ and the communion of saints.  
Although there are saints who have rested from their labors, there are also living saints. In fact, according to Paul, we all could be among the hagious or saints of God.  So, do you feel like you’re one of God’s saints?  And what does it mean to be a living saint? Do…

Breath of Life -- A Review

BREATH OF LIFE:  God as Spirit in Judaism. By Rabbi Rachel Timoner.  Brewster, MA, 2011.  Xxv + 145 pages. 
            It’s true that the Spirit is present in the Hebrew Bible, sometimes seemingly incognito, but many Christians have this sense that the Spirit really wasn’t very active until Pentecost.  I’ve found myself, in some of my own writings on the Holy Spirit, making that claim.  But, perhaps there is more to the story than many Christians have realized.  Having a Jewish guide to this topic would be helpful, and help has arrived.  I will confess that I’ve never really read anything specifically Jewish on this topic until I took up Rabbi Rachel Timoner’s new book from Paraclete Press -- Breath of Life.  And what a breath of fresh air this book is. 
I’ve read a lot of books on the Holy Spirit, including another recent contribution on the Holy Spirit published by Paraclete Press, Amos Yong’s excellent Who Is the Holy Spirit?(2011).   While many of these books are helpful and cont…

Zombie Sightings -- Sightings

With Halloween around the corner, zombie movies on the screen, and Occupy Movement folks dressed as zombies, I suppose it would be a good time for us to post a piece on zombies that calls for some theological reflection.  Although I've not done much thinking about zombies, Jessica DeCou, a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago Divinity School, has and so in this posting she takes us into the world of the Undead and asks some important questions about community and relationship.  Have a read and offer your thoughts on the Zombie Pandemic. **********************

Zombie Sightings -- Jessica DeCou
You may have seen them around—more and more lately—and they will soon swarm the streets in a three day Zombie Apocalypse scheduled to begin October 29 in more than 400 cities. Zombies are everywhere. Books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and The Zombie Survival Guide have become perennial entries on the New York TimesBest Sellers list. And, last Sunday, the seco…

The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh -- A Lectionary Meditation

Joshua 3:7-17
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
Matthew 23:1-12

The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh
In Luke’s Magnificat Mary celebrates God’s prerogative of humbling the proud and lifting up the humble. Such a sentiment is, of course, not uncommon in the biblical story.  God is often at work leveling the playing field, attending to the needs of the poor and marginalized, while bringing the rich, the proud, and the powerful to account.  We may wonder how this actually happens in real life.  The high and mighty continue to get higher and mightier (Bernie Madoff being the exception to the rule), while the poor and the middle class continue to struggle.   News came out this week that suggests that over the past thirty-plus years the income of the top 1% of earners increased by 275% while the rest of us stumble along with growth rates around 10% to 20% (all in 2011 dollars).  We may be wondering what God is doing, but the message remains clear – God is on the side of the poor and the marginalized.  So, …

Why Christianity Needs Celtic Spirituality? -- Bruce Epperly

Today Bruce Epperly begins a new series of postings that are based on his recently published book on Celtic spirituality.  In this first posting he suggests that we would benefit greatly from attending to Celtic spirituality and theology.  Because much of our western Christianity has been influenced by St. Augustine of Hippo, he asks the question -- what if Pelegius, one of Augustine's arch-nemeses, had either been declared the orthodox one or Pelegius had at the very least been acknowledged as offering his own unique take on the faith?  Well, stay tuned for Bruce's ponderings.


Why Christianity Needs Celtic Spirituality? Bruce G. Epperly
Christian faith is multi-faceted and complex.Although the life and teachings of Jesus are at the heart of Christianity, over the past two thousand years Christians have articulated scores of “orthodox” understandings of God’s purposes and the focus of Jesus’ mission, many of which claim to accurately – or most accurate…

Finding Our Religious Voices

I have been involved in interfaith work for much of the past 15 years.  I am currently in a leadership position with a local interfaith group, and have done so for other groups.  I believe that conversation and work among people of different religious traditions builds relationships and overcomes fear and anxiety about the other.  At our base we are all human beings with similar desires and needs.  I think we all want to live in peace and have at least some sense of prosperity in our lives.  At the religious level there are elements that overlap and are held in common.  In my house and in my office are posters that were developed by the student group at the University Religious Center at UCSB.  These posters offer a concept and then quotations from different religious traditions.  In doing this the students wanted share that we do have much in common.
I believe that we do have much in common, but we also have differences.  Sometimes we want interfaith relationships to be based on sam…

American Baptists -- Sightings

The connection between religion and politics continues to be in the news.  Whether it's Catholicism, Mormonism, Islam, or some other group, the connections are there.  People of faith speak out one issues of public importance.  There are those who would argue that the church should be the locus of political engagement, by that I mean, Christians should confine their public work of the kingdom to the church.  I'm not of that persuasion, but there is a fine line that must be observed.  In A Public Faith Miroslav Volf helpfully points out the twin dangers of an idling faith and a coercive faith.  Being aware of these dangers is helpful. All of this leads me to Martin Marty's reflections on the role of the Baptists in public life.  Once Baptists were the chief opponents of church-state entanglements, but in recent years, especially in the South, those lines have gotten crossed, and with increased frequency.  But when it comes to Baptists, the matter of definition is rather comp…