Monday, May 28, 2012

George Lindbeck on Church Unity, Ecumenism, and Nazarenes

Just stumbled across this gem of a quote, at least for those of us in the Church of the Nazarene. An encouraging and hopeful word for my denomination, while at the same time a wise word of caution against over identifying with "Nazarene" such that we forsake the better goal - church unity.

"What the good God is doing to the church, it seems to me, is destroying us bit by bit. And I think that God insists God wants us to be united. And destroying each denomination's identity is precisely the way in which eventually we'll have to be united. But, nevertheless, if you are going to be really ecumenical, you are going to have to know your own tradition and love it to its depths. I don't know what that means in Nazarene terms, but for those of you who are Nazarene, I've discovered one wonderful thing about [it] in the last day - namely, that you are trying to keep together internationally. Outside of the Roman Catholics, the Nazarenes are the only ones who are trying to keep together internationally. I hope that you succeed, and I hope that you succeed even if this means that Americans become a minority and have to let newer and newer mission extensions of the Nazarenes be the dominant group. If you succeed in that you will be doing the type of Christian sacrifice that brings us closer to Christ."

- George Lindbeck in Postliberal Theology and the Church Catholic, ed. John Wright, 118ff.

John Wright on Postliberal Theology

The following quote comes from a book edited by one of my college professors, John Wright. In 2007 Nazarene Theological Seminary hosted George Lindbeck, David Burrell, and Stanley Hauerwas for an interview/conversation-type night in order to reflect on the intersection of church unity and something called Postliberal Theology. I was there that night, but I am terrible at taking notes during things like this, so I am thankful for this book. The following quote captures the essence (goal?) of Postliberal Theology, namely that the Christian witness of peace is directly related to the question of unity. And that Christians capable of killing other Christians in the name of some other loyalty, be it the state or otherwise, is a problem.

"This theological program grew out of and developed its ecumenical potential as a response to a divided church whose witness was helplessa church that had even supported the devastation that World War II wrought upon the world. For the postliberals Christian language is not merely verbal, but is encoded within the embodied life and practices of the ecclesiastic body and its individual members. The Christian witness to peace is inextricably bound to the ability of the church to live, speak, and confess in harmony. Postliberal theology addresses concerns for unity of the church within a world devastated by violence and war."

- John Wright, Postliberal Theology and the Church Catholic: Conversations with George Lindbeck, David Burrell, and Stanley Hauerwas, 5.

What do you think?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Around the Horn

So I guess I decided to take a week off of blogging. It was totally an accident. Here's the latest cyber-round up:

- Tim Suttle asks what the chief political concern of the Bible is.

- NPR selects its three-minute fiction winner (via Tony Jones). Wow, this is good. Gotta go hug my kids now.

- Two new TV shows, one I'm really excited to watch and one I am kind of excited/marginally interested in watching. Hatfields and McCoy's and Longmire.

- Katie's book - Whirlybirds and Ordinary Times - came in the mail this week in bound galley form, which is a pretty well edited, but not quite finished version of her book. She is supposed to send these to famous people in order for them to lavish her with praise on her all around general awesomeness. No, she's not asking me to write for the back cover because I will get her nothing in terms of publicity, but as you can see I would be good at it. (I love you).

- Walter Brueggemann shares a few words on the art and goal of preaching.

- Ron Benefiel was guest lecturer at this years H. Orton Wiley Lecture Series in Theology. He gave four lectures around this theme: Mission Ecclesia, Missio Dei: A Wesleyan Perspective on the Church in Mission. As a Nazarene and alumn of PLNU this makes me happy!

(image via flickr, cc)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Around the Horn

Juan Cole lists his own Top 10 Green Energy Good News Stories.

James K. A. Smith offers a minor push-back against studies on why young people are leaving the church.

Bob Hyatt offers a middle-ground on the same-sex marriage debate (via Tony Jones).

I really like this picture of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Andrew Jones is grumpy towards contemporary worship songs.

Jon Arbuckle is fascinated with his hand.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

5 Important Factors to Consider When Voting

Barna recently released a study (here and here) suggesting the five most important factors voters will consider in the upcoming November election.

You might be surprised to learn that of a dozen or so high profile factors, gay marriage came in tenth place. 31% said this issue would affect their voting "a lot," says Barna. "In terms of faith segments, while evangelical voters are more concerned about the issue than are most other voters, it is not likely to turn many evangelicals against Mr. Obama since few of them (less than one out of every five) expected to vote for him anyway."

So, what are the top five?

   1. Health care
   2. Tax policy
   3. Jobs/economy
   4. Foreign oil
   5. Terrorism

Here's the rest:

   6. Education
   7. Middle East wars
   8. Domestic violence
   9. Immigration
   10. Gay marriage
   11. Environment
   12. Abortion

What do you think? How would you change it?

One other thing I thought much more striking, but not surprising, about this study was that when asked which group will have the greatest influence on people's votes, 1st and 2nd place went to the media and wealthy donors (i.e. big business corporations). See this image and this image (via Paperback Theology).

It seems, now, that we are actually aware of what the dominant influences are in our culture. I wonder if we will do anything about it. Does a vote really matter? In terms of the church, to what extend should policy/legislation be our concern? Shouldn't we be living into the kingdom in any case? Can they work together? Or not?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

RAIN FOR ROOTS out today!

I've been listening to the Rain for Roots sampler for a week, or so, now. It's just a great album. I enjoy the music, the lyrics, and the vibe. The full album is now available here. I think it works beyond the kid level, which is partly what makes it good, but certainly if you are a parent and are raising your kids to love and to know Jesus, this is the album for you.

Check out one of their songs called God Makes Everything. I am now singing this often to my kids.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Quote by Kurt Vonnegut

Yes! I have been looking for this quote for FOREVER! I can't tell you how many times I've thought about it as I let music push out the bad for awhile.

"The wonderful writer Albert Murray, who is a jazz historian and a friend of mine among other things, told me that during the era of slavery in this country - an atrocity from which we can never fully recover - the suicide rate per capita among slave owners was higher than the suicide rate among slaves. Murry says he thinks this was because slaves had a way of dealing with depression, which their white owners did not: They could shoo away Old Man Suicide by playing and singing the Blues. He says something else which also sounds right to me. He says the blues can't drive depression clear out of a house, but can drive it into the corners of any room where it is being played. So please remember that." - Kurt Vonnegut

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Around the Horn - Homosexuality

As I watched the internet catch fire with the news that North Carolina voted to pass an amendment banning same-sex marriage, I thought it might be helpful to try and gather a number of perspectives for this weeks Around the Horn.

- Al Mohler is mad at Andy Stanley for not outright condemning homosexuality in his last sermon. Andrew Marvin and Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra have the take.

- Listen to Andy Stanley's sermon here. Listen from minutes 24-41. It's kind of long, but still an interesting way for a conservative to navigate the issue.

- Justin Lee, the Executive Director of the Gay Christian Network, responds to the North Carolina vote.

- So does Rachel Held Evens.

- Barak Obama supports same-sex marriage.

- Mohler responds to Obama, opposed.

- Daniel Kirk on marriage, sex, and procreation.

- Kevin DeYoung offers Five Reasons why Christians should continue to oppose gay marriage.

- Out to Dinner w/ Zach Wahls. A short video. (via Doug Harrison)

- Ed Stetzer on homosexuality and future of the Evangelical response (he's opposed).

- Debra Dean Murphy talks about reading Scripture poorly. (via Matt Cromwell)

- Rick Warren opposes gay marriage.

- Doug Harrison on North Carolina's Ammendment.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

10+ Things That Need to Change (and Remain) About the Church

Should it stay or should it go? Or better, what should stay and what should go?

Not too long ago I came across a series of post at The Church and Postmodern Culture called (Re)thinking Christianity. Here a number of people were asked two questions:

- First, what is one believe, practice or element of Christianity that must die so that Christianity can move forward and truly impact the world in the next 100 years?

- Second, what is one belief, practice or element of Christianity that we must hold onto and live out more fully so that Christianity can move forward and truly impact the world in the next 100 years?

In brief, here's what people said.

Needs to Change:
- Young people don't have a voice within the church
- Pastors as spiritual vendors
- Disunity
- Nostalgia
- Good discipleship to youth
- Potlucks
- Spoken prayers in the worship service
- Therapeutic believing
- Doubting alone
- Centrality of buildings for spiritual formation
- Avoiding surprise
- Institutional Christianity
- Our worship of the bible
- Waging war on women
- Performance

Needs to Stay:
- Hope that God will call competent people
- Repentance
- Corporate confession of sin
- Long periods of silence in the worship service
- Times of testimony
- Doubting in community
- Corporate prayer
- Eucharist
- Loving our enemies
- Freedom in Christ, owning our own faith
- Reconciliation 
- Sense of urgency 

And now some questions:

Do you agree with this? What would you change?

If you've bailed on the church, why? What would you change?

If you've stayed, why? What do you embrace?
Is there anything problematic about the above two questions?

If all of these things need to change, where does it leave us as a church in terms of a place to stand?

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

NEW MUSIC - Rain for Roots: Big Stories for Little Ones

Totally excited about this upcoming album!

Rain for Roots is Sandra McCracken, Ellie Holcomb, Flo Paris, Katy Bower, and Sally Lloyd-Jones (lyrics). They have collaborated to create a collection of ten folk songs for young children. Sandra McCracken (married to Derek Webb) is one of my favorite "Christian" artists, very talented and authentic, so naturally I am eager to hear it.

Thankfully, NoiseTrade released four songs to whet our appetite. The full album is set to release May 15.

Go check it out and then tell your friends, your children's pastor(s) in particular.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Quote by J.R.R. Tolkien

I'm recycling this one from a while ago. I just love it!

Let me set the context. Here is Thorin Oakenshield, King under the Mountain speaking to Bilbo Baggins of Bag-End Under-Hill. Thorin has been fatally wounded and is speaking his last words to Bilbo. They had a bit of a falling out earlier and are now making things right.

“’No!’ said Thorin. ‘There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.’” - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Around the Horn

Just a couple of things from around the horn this week...

A sex trafficing survivors story. A guest post by Stephen Keating over at Homebrewed Christianity.

Faith in American calls for Southern Baptist present, Bryant Wright, to apologize for his incendiary speech against the LGBT community. 

And has anyone seen The Way? What did you think?

If you're in the KC area and want a good art program for your kids, you should check out Little Master's Big Art. Here's a good plug for them.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Which Translation Do You Prefer?

Which translation do you prefer? It actually probably doesn't matter because in either case you're dealing with livestock. Clearly farmers get just as frustrated with their goats as parents do with their kids such that a command was necessary.

- "You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk." Translations: NASB, NIV, NCV, 

- "You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk." Translations: NRSV, The Message, KJV, Jerusalem Bible

Anyone know of another translation to this passage?

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Praying "Suffrages" and "Phos Hilarion"

I'm praying the daily office again. I know, it's a long story. Since I've been back into my old habit, I have found two prayers to be particularly good. The first is called "Suffrages" and it goes like this:

Show us your mercy, O Lord;
   And grant us your salvation.
Clothe your ministers with righteousness;
   Let your people sing with joy.
Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
   For only in you can we live in safety.
Lord, keep this nation under your care;
   And guide us in the way of justice and truth.
Let your way be known upon earth;
   Your saving health among all nations.
Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
   Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
Create in us clean hearts, O God;
   And sustain us with your Holy Spirit.

The second is called "Phos Hilarion" (O Gracious Light) and it goes like this:

O gracious light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!
Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of Life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012