Recently received a couple of different emails related to this ongoing discussion a number of us are having about the nature of online relationships. If you haven't been tracking this, see
online and facetime relationships
I sent a note to AKMA yesterday.
Dan Brennan has been giving this some thought as well and has been reading Patricia Wallace's The Psychology of the Internet and offered these thoughts recently in the faithmaps discussion group.
In response to my post of 26 July - babeltower or community, John Edmiston sent a sobering caution to the faithmaps group. Interestingly, JV provided a similar caution in his comments on the post. Surely the heightened optionality of online relationships is something with which we must take care to be consistently Christian.
Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Monday, July 29, 2002
the rehabilitation of the evangelical mind?
If you've been keeping up at all with the perceived state of the evangelical mind as expressed in her literature around this subject in the last 7 years or so, you've probably run across at least one quotation of the first line of Mark Noll's The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind:
"The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind."
(Noll is Wheaton College's McManis Professor of Christian Thought.)
It's my understanding that Books & Culture was started in response to Noll's 1995 jeremiad.
Tonight I read a marvelously informative piece that provides deep background on what many are viewing what could be called a rehabilitation of the evangelical mind.
Hamilton and Yngvason's article was reminscent of Noll's January 2001 First Things footnote to his earlier book. There Noll paid homage to Alan Wolfe's far more expansive October 2000 Atlantic Journal article "The Opening of the Evangelical Mind" in which he details some of the activity in this particular thoughtspace.
(Alan Wolfe is the Boston College's Director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life).
It will be interesting to see if this trend will continue and far, far more interesting to see how and if this scholarship translates itself into a church that more passionately and effectively loves God and others in our emerging culture.
Those interested in pursuing this further can check out two faithmaps sections of linked articles that treat the current state of evangelicalism and her recent history and another section that deals with evangelicalism and postmodernism.
Posted by Stephen at 7/29/2002 10:21:00 PM
Debi Warford had some interesting comments on blogging, comparing them to first century activities! Yesterday, my pastor began a series on the psalms and it struck me how similar these public journalesque expressions of private thoughts are like blogs!
Posted by Stephen at 7/29/2002 08:53:00 AM
Sunday, July 28, 2002
modernism and postmodernism
On Saturday 27 July, Fred Peatross asked:
"How did we get to this point? I do believe that postmodernism is the ultimate end of human arrogance (unless you challenge and convince me otherwise); but perhaps the real reason is greater and more complicated. Could the cultural pain and confusion be God's doing? Perhaps postmodernism is the judgment of God for modernity. What say you?"
Fred, I'll suggest the following is one helpful way of wrapping our brains around modernity and postmodernity without suggesting that what follows is an actual analysis of the current state of philosophical discussion!
Let's consider that the heart of modernity is to make things systematic, programmable, definable, definite, etc. Or, more colloquially, to "figure things out."
Further, let's say that the heart of postmodernity is the awareness that there is reality beyond our knowing, that in this world we will ever see antinomies (apparent contradictions that aren't), or that we will always have mystery
Call that the x axis with modernity all the way on the left at one end and pomo all the way on the right at the other.
Now, consider the y axis is a continuum where theocentric is all the way at the bottom on one end and anthropocentric is at the other end.
These two axes therefore create a nexus of four quadrants. (You can view a simple graph in this article if you scroll down a bit.)
"I can figure it all out with no stone unturned! I'm in charge!
"I can't figure anything out. Language is just a language game and what I think is real is only an arbitrary paradigm my mind created. It's all a mystery. No one can therefore tell me what to do! I'm in charge!"
God has given me a mind! "...the things revealed belong to us and our sons forever" (Dt. 29:29b). It is "glory of kings to search out a matter" (Pro 25:2b). I can learn some things and figure some things out! God's given me the ability to do this! He's in charge!
"The secret things belong to the Lord our God" (Dt. 29:29a)! "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter"(Proverbs 25:2a)! He is mysterious. Sure I can know some things, but the fact that He is infinite and I am finite means I cannot know all! He's amazing and beyond my understanding! I must stay humble! Glory to Him! He's in charge!
So I'm suggesting that a mere binary analysis of modern/postmodern in many discussions can be simplistic unless there's an overlay consideration of the direction of the heart.
Posted by Stephen at 7/28/2002 12:40:00 AM
Friday, July 26, 2002
babeltower or community
i've only been blogging for ab a month now and though I've been an enthusiastic and heavy internet user for some time now, this blogging thing - writing one, exploring others - has added yet another nuance to my online experience. pre-blogging I had gotten to know some great folks thru faithmaps.org, the faithmaps discussion group, and some of the other faithstory groups. In these forums I've gotten to meet and become friends with John O'Keefe, jordon cooper, david hopkins and many other webmasters and online leaders. I recently even had the pleasure of facetime with daniel miller, which was just delightful and also nuanced my sense of who he was. And I can mention other friends I've met online who've become very dear to me, such as Lorna Forrester, an Irish lost somewhere in England, Dan Brennan, who has amazing insight and learning, and Jon Gold, who has taught me and befriended me so much. Even tomorrow morning, I'm having breakfast with one of the 'mappers to talk about his interest in becoming a better leader. And I could mention others who have enriched me so.
Tonight I was reading Australian Martin Roth's tribute to Bene Diction, a Canadian who's been helping Martin keep up with his impressive blogroll which will soon be separately located at Blogs4God (right now it points you back to Martin's site). His tribute is worth reading. That motivated me to check out Bene Diction's own site. There you can read about how in creating Blogs4God, Bene (who wishes to remain anonymous) has partnered with New Zealander Rachel Cunliffe, Dean Peters in Rockville, MD, and with Joshua Claybourn in Indiana.
There is an online community developing here that is as strong or stronger than many facetime faith communities I've seen! I find this very, very exciting.
A few of us are in another online small group discussing the church and the web. There Jordon Cooper asked,
"I have brought up the point that we come online to connect with people. Does that align itself with how you see the net? If it doesn't, what draws us online in your opinion? "
"...I must also say I'm fascinated with the depth of richness that's possible with online relationships. Lately I've been struck by how [an online group I'm in] has proven such a helpful forum for [x] and how he's opened up in such a large group of folks. And that has precipitated others opening up in a way usually only seen in our faithstories. This has been beautiful.
And then some of you who've been in the faithstories have personally seen some of the incredible things that happen in there. No one will *ever* convince me that online rels can't be significant after what I've seen and personally experienced." (Also see an earlier post on facetime and online rels)
Yet we must never get so psyched by this wonderful medium that we make it a babeltower. Rather it's value to us is directly proportional to the extent that we let it take us - as Lewis beautifully expressed - "farther up and deeper in" and to the degree that it moves us toward one another.
As God allows us to traverse great distances through this new medium, may we never forget that which enriches it: our connection with Him and others.
I'm excited at the possibilities.
Posted by Stephen at 7/26/2002 10:47:00 PM
added a new emergesque section tonight called "reads" that's a collection of online journals featuring
books and culture
small voices journal
This joins sections
Posted by Stephen at 7/26/2002 08:37:00 PM
Thursday, July 25, 2002
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
Tuesday, July 23, 2002
an experiment in community
Bethany and I are going to propose to a couple of friends - and then look for a couple more - a new kind of small group. This group (I want to call it "the ungroup" but my wife won't let me) will have four elements: story, mission, breathing, fun.
We meet 4x a month.
First week of the month: Story
We will spend every month's first week telling our respective stories - the stories of our lives and our spiritual pilgrimages. I've been in several facetime and online groups that have done this and it's always fascinating and can be quite healing. I'm thinking we'll give each person two hours to tell their story in one meeting. As the months go on after we have all finished out stories, we'll spend first week of the month meeting focusing on our story now. We'll simply do an around the room and honestly answer the question: how are you doing? If we don't make it completely around the room every first week, that's fine.
Second week of the month: Mission
This may or may not occur on our designated meeting night. Weekends might be better for this. During the second week of the month we do some kind of service together, like serve food to the homeless, paint an elderly lady's house, clean up someone's house who's in a stressful life season - something like that. Maybe we'll find something through VolunteerMatch.
Third week of the month: Breathing
This meeting will look most like the traditional small group. Each month we will read one book or a book of the Bible and during this meeting we will discuss it. And we will also spend some time in group prayer.
Fourth week of the month: Fun
Movie, a party, dancing, concert, whatever.
We'll probably covenant to meet for six months like this and then reconsider.
I'll let you know how it goes. I'm kinda psyched ab it.
Posted by Stephen at 7/23/2002 01:25:00 PM
Monday, July 22, 2002
Many, many weeks - maybe even months - ago, with all the 'mappers talk about transpropositionality, I began to become increasingly dissatisfied with what felt to me to be the largely propositional modality of my religious life. Always talking, reading, writing.
I've been involved professionally in the technology field for many years (I did recently make the switch to marketing, though even there I'm essentially operating as an analyst and project manager), so I thought it would be neat to train people who are trying to extend their vocational reach how to use basic computer programs. And so on a few occasions I've intrepidly marched out into the world wide web and searched for an outlet for my desire to get transpropositional with very little result. I would make some critical observation about how hard it is to find good opportunties via the web if it weren't for my suspicion that folks are spending their time actually helping other folks rather than crafting great websites to convince other folks to volunteer. Well tonight I feel that I've found what I've been looking for: VolunteerMatch. When I punched in my zip code 21043 here just south of Baltimore I was given no less than 390 different opportunities, including just the type of computer training opportunities for which I have been looking.
Now the ball is in my side of the court!
Posted by Stephen at 7/22/2002 10:14:00 PM
Sunday, July 21, 2002
The 'mappers have gotten back into discussing epistemology again. This has been prompted by an atheist interested in irenic debate who recently joined the faithmappers discussion group. We've also been moved in this direction by a graduate student working through some epistemological issues who - fortunately for us - segued himself out of lurker mode. These gentlemen have led us to rejoin our erstwhile discussion about what it means to know God. While I realize it's easy to get bogged down into mind-numbing distinctions when discussing what I'm sure to some appears to be just so much philosophical esoterica and sophistry, I nevertheless believe that it's an important conversation. We've been able to see some in our group who through our exploration into this field have come to the point where they feel like they are able to breathe for the first time as they break out of a stultifying, two-dimensional, anthropocentric, time-bound, Cartesian, modern truncated epistemology into a more holistic perspective.
I thought about getting into this yesterday in the note I posted on incarnating truth. I really do see that discussion on the necessity of a right-brained approach to spiritual formation as of a piece with a more holistic approach to knowing God. And a more robust epistemology has definite implications for evangelism. But I thought it would make that post too busy and waited until today.
This morning at Grace's Sunday AM service the speaker showed one of my favorite clips from Zemeckis' 1997 movie Contact. Dr. Arroway (played by Jodie Foster) is at a Washington, DC party with former priest turned spiritual celeb Palmer Joss (played by Matthew McConaughey). Together, they step out onto the balcony with the Washington monument rising in the background against the evening sky. Arroway asks Joss,
"So what's more likely? That a mysterious, all-powerful God created the universe, and then decided not to leave a single evidence of his existence? Or that He simply doesn't exist at all, and that we created Him, so that we wouldn't have to feel so small and lonely?"
Joss responds with a question, "Did you love your father?"
Arroway (taken aback - her dad died when she was nine): Yes....very much.
Joss: Prove it.
And then Arroway is saved by her ringing cell phone.
The point being, of course, is that some of the most compelling facts of our lives are not subject to independent, empirical verification.
Similarly, the 'mappers have been discussing how a complete understanding of our knowledge of God cannot be arbitrarily separated from our experience of Him. The discussion of knowing God simply cannot be fully discussed apart from this relational reality. It's a critical part of the equation.
Our discussion also reminded me of an email discussion I had with Brian McLaren on this topic in May and June of 2001. I reposted that discussion here.
Posted by Stephen at 7/21/2002 01:33:00 PM
Saturday, July 20, 2002
One of the reasons that I think God gave me three girls is that years before I had any kids thru an experience I had that I won't get into now God granted me some insight into how to raise girls: they must know that daddy absolutely adores them. You can always tell a woman who knows she's adored by her dad from a woman who does not have that gift. The former is quietly confident and acts and speaks from strength. The latter has to play catch up with their self-esteem and, sadly, some never do.
Because of this, I regularly go out on "dates" with Michaela Siobhan (6), Skye Teresa (4) and have just started this with Alia Noelle (2).
Today Skye-Baby and I were having what we call "special time" with ice cream, merry-go-round, pet store and a walk around the mall when we stumbled onto a wonderful store I'd never heard of: Build-a-Bear Workshop. It was a very cool place. I need to spend some time on their site to get the whole 411 but the gist seems to be you buy a fairly inexpensive bear-without-the-guts and then you work with an employee using a wonderful machine to add love-stuffing, kindness-stuffing, etc. until it becomes a bear. Then the child test hugs the bear and advises the employee as to the new toy's suitability. Absolutely fantastic concept. And then you can spend a zillion dollars on clothes for your bear, backpacks for your bear, skates for your bear, etc.
The store reminded me of the American Girl phenomenon (in fact, I bet Build-a-Bear girls graduate to be American Girl-girls) and Joseph Pine and James Gilmore's The Experience Economy (by the way, I don't recommend you read the book. I did read the book and, though their primary thesis is great, felt that it was a good article that they forced to book length. Instead, plop down your digital six bucks and download the Harvard Business Review article instead.
Pine and Gilmore talk about how the American economy has changed such that people today purchase experiences rather than commodities, goods or services. They give the compelling example of how for their kid's birthday in the 50's moms bought flour, sugar, eggs, etc to make a cake. Then in later years they paid more to buy a cake mix. Later they paid even more to pick up a cake from the grocery story. Today they purchase an experience at McDonalds or Chucky Cheese.
After seeing Build-a-Bear, it occurred to me that there is an analogy to how the church can be more of a change agent in lives of those it touches. Just as by providing experiences, businesses today can more compellingly capture their customers' imaginations and credit cards, so also by giving those around us (in and out of our faith communities) an experience of Jesus Christ thru us, the church can effect spiritual transformation. And this is not just some trendy application to the church of the newest rage in business thought; there is biblical warrant for this line of thinking. Peter writes,
"As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewarts of God's varied grace"
1 Peter 4:10 (English Standard Version)
And when we serve one another with our gifts, we are acting as Christ's body on earth (see 1 Corinthians 12:27.)
Jesus Himself was forever giving those around him an experience of God's grace and mercy as He also gave them life-changing information. In the modern church, as we've written before, we tend to rely on information transfer as the omnicompetent modality of spiritual transformation. But something else is needed as well.
The concept of presence has been helpful to me in this connection. When I first began working with all the small groups while on staff at Cedar Ridge Community Church I put a lot of focus on policies, procedures, infrastructure, strategy, etc. By the end of my time there I had come to the point where I felt that the most important thing I did was simply have lunch with one of my small group leader coaches. I came to the point where I felt that one of the best ways I could leverage my time was by modeling for my coaches what I wanted them to do for their leaders and what I wanted the group leaders to do with their participants. I was striving to model being present, listening, believing in them, and giving advice when it was requested. In this way, I was trying to give them an experience of God's love.
I think it was either in Safest Place on Earth or Connecting that Larry Crabb said that spiritual transformation does not occur outside of the context of relationship. When we model God's love for others, we provide them with a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, God loves them too and provide just such a context. When this relational context is combined with life-transforming biblical information and the work of the Holy Spirit, the stage is set for spiritual transformation.
Posted by Stephen at 7/20/2002 06:21:00 PM
Wednesday, July 17, 2002
Joshua Sargent has brought to our attention that it appears that the successor to the influential Martin Roth's "Semi-Definitive List of Christian Blogs" is about to be unveiled: blogs4God. And it appears that Rachel Cunliff will be the moderating it. The site she's put together has some nice features. Surely, more's to come!
Posted by Stephen at 7/17/2002 01:36:00 PM
Monday, July 15, 2002
Rabbi Vallins makes a change
Martin Roth blogs about Rabbi Vallins:
"Recently I sat down for a chat about this with my friend Rabbi Harold Vallins. Several years ago, at the age of 57, he committed his life to Jesus, a pretty unusual occurrence for a practising rabbi."
See Roth's Tuesday 16 July 2002 installment for the whole scoop. The Rabbi's site is here.
Posted by Stephen at 7/15/2002 10:10:00 PM
leading from depth
I've been thinking more about Bailey's Petersen interview. A couple of things that Petersen said jumped out at me, particularly in relation to the emerging church movement.
Petersen mentioned that he read and studied a lot when he was a pastor. Bailey then asked him,
"Did you have anyone to tutor you in this, or was it intuitive?"
"I remember going out and asking somebody who was the best pastoral theologian he knew of, and he gave me a suggested name. So I went and bought all of his books. I was going to learn from him all about pastoral formation, I thought. But after reading the third book I realized that not once was prayer ever mentioned. “Something’s wrong here,” I thought. So I literally threw them all into a trash can."
A little later in the interview, Petersen talked about how today there is more material available on "the vocation of the pastor and the spirituality of the pastoral life" than when he first started, but
"...most of the books being sold have to do with technique and sociology and leadership, and it is totally secular."
Bailey then asked,
"How would you suggest pastors today go about thinking through their vocational identity?"
Petersen responded with,
"Basically, we simply have to get our identity from the Bible, from this Biblical story. And Americans are not very good at that. We assume we are living in a Christian country, and everybody’s on our side. So we let the culture shape what we’re doing because it seems so benign, and then we think, “We can Christianize it.” But we can’t. The church is a totally counter-cultural movement. We are a marginal people. There is no way we can be a success in this culture on their terms" (emphasis mine).
Petersen's countercultural note reminded me of Hauerwas. But what really struck me about his comments was his emphasis on what I call spiritual breathing as a primary means of maintaining effective spiritual leadership. Spiritual Breathing is taking in what God has to say to us - by His Spirit and thru His Word - and speaking to God - thru prayer. This impacts the character of the spiritual leader. In fact, Petersen notes,
"I think the most important thing a pastor does is who he or she is. We do a lot more by the way we live than by the way we are conducting ministry. This means that people are watching us..." (emphasis mine).
I was thinking of this regarding the emerging church movement because Spiritual Breathing can certainly be approached in a very modern way: "The secret to the Christian life is 30 mins a day of Bible reading and study and 30 minutes of prayer." And, when these activities are merely programmatic means by which spiritual maturity is supposedly acquired, the charge of "modern" could be a fair critique. But listening to God and speaking to him can be formative to spiritual character when those activities are genuine expressions of love-relationship with God. Certainly towards the beginning of the spiritual journey - and surely at times throughout - there can be an awkwardness - or sometimes even a mundacity - to these activites, just as there is in any relationship. But what can be approached with a superficial, modern, check-off list mentality doesn't have to be approached that way. These activities can be expressions of love and commitment.
When a genuine Godseeker opens herself up to the Spirit-breathed Scriptures as the Spirit breathes the words into her soul, propositions achieve results in her heart. The Spirit works to make mere propositions performative in the life of the sincere Godseeker. Consider,
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
(Isaiah 55:11, NASB)
One reason Petersen's article stimulated my thinking along these lines is that sometimes in emerging church circles (and maybe this is just me) I feel a little sheepish about quoting Scripture! As if the response would be, "Oh, listen to that! He's become debilitated to a truncated view of spiritual reality that considers mere proposition transfer to be the primary modality of spiritual transformation! How shallow!" Now - again - maybe I'm just paranoid, but if that's our automatic reaction whenever we hear someone quote the Bible, then I'm concerned that we've thrown some baby out with bathwater. Communication is the stuff of relationship: who we are is molded by what we hear from God, what we say to Him, what He does for us, and what we do for Him. When the Lover speaks to the Beloved, the impassioned context of their relationship segues what is merely propositional on paper to the transpropositional.
Posted by Stephen at 7/15/2002 04:07:00 PM
Sunday, July 14, 2002
more on spiritual leadership development
Got two things from reading Paul Fromont today. One was a reminder of my antipathy toward multi-level marketing (apologies to those of you who may be aficionados!). Another was a great interview of Eugene Peterson by Jeff Bailey in the Spring 2002 issue of Vineyard's Cutting Edge. Until recently, Peterson was Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, BC. Very good advice for pastors or other spiritual leaders. I just wish Bailey had asked him which Puritan works he found most helpful!
Posted by Stephen at 7/14/2002 01:44:00 PM
Saturday, July 13, 2002
spiritual leadership development
jordon cooper brought to my attention a good post by AKMA on the potential limits of academic instruction and e-learning for the development of spiritual leaders. Using e-learning as if it were realtime institutional instruction is a common mistake made whenever new technology is implemented: there is the tendency to utilize new technology using old paradigms of execution. This, of course, fails to take into account the new functionalities and/or flexibilities of the emerging technology.
I've had similar concerns when I've seen org's offer e-learning at institutionalized facetime instruction rates. I see e-learning working best in spiritual leadership development when it cheaply works in tandem with a local facetime-intensive, relationally-oriented spiritual formation strategy. e-learning can augment these local efforts by providing information and by providing both delayed-email and realtime-chat distance interaction opportunities. In some instances, of course, where local relationships are not available, e-learning can take a larger role, but this isn't optimal. And I mention information because while currently deployed strategies for leadership formation seem to regard information transfer as the omnicompetent modality of spiritual transformation, that excess doesn't nullify the critical need for information.
Posted by Stephen at 7/13/2002 07:57:00 PM
prophetic metaphor/alternative worship
As I've mentioned before, I'm currently participating in a small online group of a few folks considering the future of the church and the internet. In our small group of 14, we are taking turns in the "hot seat." When you're in the "hot seat" you first field all questions from the rest of the group, and then you're given the opportunity to ask any question you wish of the rest of the group. Author Tom Hohstadt is currently in the "hot seat" and is leading us thru a discussion of what he calls prophetic metaphor. As we've been interacting over his vision of the term, I've realized that one could consider the alternative worship movement as an expression of prophetic metaphor. Tom has an article on prophetic metaphor that explains what he means by the term.
Posted by Stephen at 7/13/2002 07:03:00 PM
when daniel miller and I lunched and walked around Gannett/USA TODAY's lake and headquarters on Thursday in McLean, VA, he mentioned to me a few sites to check out. I surfed into danielsjourney this am and went to small ritual. From there I found alternativeworship.org. I haven't really been explosed to this before and was checking out some of the articles. One of my first thoughts was that it was paradigm-shifting and a helpful way to get a fresh view of God.
from the site, Steve Collins lists five principals of alternative worship:
1. It's about community not authority.
Alternative worship is created by a group of people, for themselves and anyone else who might be interested. It's not aimed at a target market somewhere else. Leadership emerges from the community, is provisional and by general consent. Anyone can contribute, anyone can take a lead.
2. It's about methods not style.
Change your methods first, and let the style of your worship emerge naturally. It's true that changing style can help you renew your methods. But if you do it this way round you may end up with nothing more than a superficial makeover.
3. It's about relevance not newness.
What's relevant may be very old or very new. It may be traditional or radical. It may be mundane or exotic. Cast your net wide and follow your instincts. Whatever expresses you to God and God to you is relevant.
4. It's about reality not appearances.
Let what you do in church grow from who you really are. Don't put on a different face to go to church - it just gets in the way. Don't fake devotion, or fashion, to impress the public. Give people permission to be themselves before God - don't enforce 'correct' behaviour or beliefs. Make worship that expresses all of your life, not just the presentable parts.
5. It's active not passive.
Worship isn't a spectacle. It shouldn't make an audience out of a congregation. Your worship should give everyone the chance to be involved. It should give the congregation the means to shape their own encounter with God, rather than doing it all for them.
Kevin & Brian Draper list Some Characteristics of Alternative Worship
-a concept of faith as journey
-a renewed exploration of creativity
-less rigid or hierarchical leadership structures
-a holistic understanding of worship - our lives as worship
-affirmation of personal identity
-an emphasis on relationships and community
-a care for the environment and an exploration of our place within creation
-risks taken, unusual things tried
-congregational involvement - interaction encouraged
-an embrace of uncertainty
-a focus on contemplation and meditation
-a search for the transcendent and a sense of mystery and wonder
-an emphasis on small locally based groups not big events
-cultural relevance not technology for its own sake
-use of symbolism that connects with people at different levels
-a combination of ancient and contemporary
-a commitment to change instead of self-preservation
-use of elements that both sides of the brain respond to - ie experiential and intellectual
Finally, Steve Collins offers a more robust intro to alternative worship: Church for a Changing Culture: An Introduction to Alternative Worship.
Posted by Stephen at 7/13/2002 06:46:00 AM
Friday, July 12, 2002
finding blogs of note
Lately since getting into this whole blogging thing, I've been spending some time looking for blogs of interest. I find that I tend to prefer blogs that give great information over blogs that are merely personal journals (of course, many effectively combine both). I began my search by looking at jordon's blogroll, and then have perused a couple of times martin roth's self-proclaimed semi-definitive list. Recently I've been using a 7 Degrees of Separationesque approach: I'm going to blogs I like and looking at their bloglists. (By the way, if anyone is aware of other helpful bloglists like martin roth's, particularly ones that focus on those of us in the emerging church movement, please let me know.)
I was doing such sleuthing this evening when I was looking at jonny baker's blog and I noticed that he mentioned a Manchester Guardian article on how to get started as a blogger. This is valuable because there is precious little such material available. Yesterday I was astonished when I did an Amazon search on all titles that have a word that starts "b-l-o-g" and then it returned only 8 items! And only two of those were published!!
an idiosyncracy of blogger.com
I was reading CNET Editor's Choice comments on blogger.com and they mentioned, "Both Blogger and Blogger Pro suffer from occasional reliability problems, but we still recommend this Weblog standard." I've noticed that blogger.com never recognizes me when I surf to it even though I've listed it on IE 6 as a "Trusted Site." Additionally - and this has been truly maddening - I have learned the hard way that I have to save my html before I post or I'm in danger of losing everything I've just written/coded. It appears that if you take too long to craft your post that blogger.com logs you out apropos of nothing. Hopefully they'll fix this. Other than that, I must say I'm happy with blogger and considering uping to blogger pro.
Posted by Stephen at 7/12/2002 07:32:00 PM
Thursday, July 11, 2002
just finished lunch with Daniel Miller
Daniel's been a 'mapper for a while and we were in one of the faithstories together but this was our first facetime. I found the wider bandwidth quite pleasing! Somewhere on sevenmagazine, John Wallis wrote about his experience of meeting Daniel but I can't find it. Anyway, be sure to check out danielsjourney.com.
Posted by Stephen at 7/11/2002 02:05:00 PM
just like the Olympics
Marriage and having kids is like the Olympics: just as hard, just as great. We ran a story today with the headline: Unhappily wed? Put off getting that divorce Study finds that waiting, working it out can pay off . Here's a quote:
"Study results contradict what seems to be common sense, says David Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values, a think tank on the family. The institute helped sponsor the research team, based at the University of Chicago. Findings will be presented today in Arlington, Va., at the ''Smart Marriage'' conference, sponsored by the Coalition for Marriage, Families and Couples Education.
'In popular discussion, in scholarly literature, the assumption has always been that if a marriage is unhappy, if you get a divorce, it is likely you will be happier than if you stayed married,' Blankenhorn says. 'This is the first time this has been tested empirically, and there is no evidence to support this assumption.'
About 19% of the divorced had happily remarried within five years.
The most troubled marriages reported the biggest turn-arounds. Of the most discontented, about 80% were happy five years later, says Linda Waite, a University of Chicago sociologist who headed the research team. "
See the story for more.
Posted by Stephen at 7/11/2002 07:52:00 AM
Tuesday, July 09, 2002
looking beyond a facade of modernity
It happened to me again today on the train. Ok I did so something other than email. because of what we are doing in learning community i've been reaching back to some of the "new classics" on discipleship. A week or so ago I finished Robert Coleman's The Master Plan of Evangelism and today on the train I finished Leroy Eims The Lost Art of Discipleship. While working through Coleman's book I had posted this for the 'mappers:
...One of these books has been The Master Plan of
Evangelism by Robert E Coleman, which was first written in 1963.
For those of us who have had our modern evangelical training/spiritual
upbringing challenged by the critiques of the postmodern turn, it's easy to
dismiss such writers as hopelessly modern. Yet I noticed a few years ago
that while one can, I believe, discern the constraints of modernity in
Colement's writing, one cannot dismiss him as consistently locked into that
The two passages that jumped out at me some time ago:
On p. 16 Coleman refers to the Scriptures as our "Textbook on Evangelism."
Yet read a later comment on the same page:
"The boundless dimensions of the Lord of Glory simply can not be confined
within any human interpretation fo His perfection, and the longer one looks
at Him, the more he sees this to be the case." !
And then this morning, I came across another passage like this:
"...Jesus did not urge His disciples to commit their lives to a doctrine,
but to a Person Who was the doctrine [sns: transpropositional commitment!],
and only as they continued in His Word could they know the truth (John
8:31,32)." p. 56
Further, the entire book stands as a critique on standard ecclesial methods
of spiritual formation and leadership training, with its addiction to the
So I commend the book. And the reason that I wished to post this is that we
don't caricature people over 35 or writers who wrote before, say, 1990 as
being "just moderns." The Holy Spirit has shown Himself to be quite capable
of helping his folks transcend the tepid propositionalism of a locked down,
anthropocentric, two-dimensional, Cartesian epistemology!
Well tonight I was reading Eims when I came across this passage:
"...I shared this with a pastor once, and he told me, 'LeRoy, it seems to me like you're some sort of fanatic on getting people into the Word and getting the Word into their lives.'
...I have seen what the Word of God has done in the hearts of hundreds of people through the years and the tremendous effect it has had on their lives."
Sounds like same 'ol, same 'ol yes? The secret to the "dynamic Christian life" is 30 mins in the Bible every day and 30 mins of prayer. Get those propositions in, let those propositions out, and the spirituality just comes gushing forth.
"The problem is that this cannot be accomplished wholesale. [ss: Huh?] It cannot be done through a program. [ss: What??] It is attained through individual, personal attention to people in helping them actually do these things and work these priciples into their lives so it is part of them daily. [ss: sounds pretty transpropositional to me!!] (emphasis mine)."
We musn't collapse those who've proceeded us down to a two-dimensional caricature. Sometimes, in fact, we should humbly sit at their feet. (also see a word on theology in postmodernity).
Posted by Stephen at 7/09/2002 10:25:00 PM
I sent a note to AKMA yesterday....
when it was brought to my attention (I think by jordon cooper in a group we're on) that he had posted some comments on the difference between online and facetime rels that were similar to comments I had posted some days ago. Today AKMA mentioned the comparison himself and ironically noted that we likely would not have stumbled into one another if it weren't for our online exploits.
Posted by Stephen at 7/09/2002 09:58:00 PM
two long days...
I'm so crunched at work. 11 hours yesterday. 11 hours today, but 5 hours today was on Amtrak as I went up to Rockleigh, NJ for a work meeting. The great thing ab this was that I got to whittle down to 0 the roughly 170 emails in my inbox. I'm certain many of you feel like I do: your actual job is a continuous movement towards 0 emails in your inbox. Well, I've happily arrived. I have reached nirvana; the place of total contentment.
Now - please understand - it's a total illusion. I only have 0 emails 'cause I had 5 glorious hours of uninterrupted email time while traveling business class and not jacked into the MS Exchange server where I'm quite certain scores of missives are crouching...waiting...getting stronger - longing for the moment when they can violate the pristine nullness of my inbox. And then, it will be back to my real job.
Posted by Stephen at 7/09/2002 09:47:00 PM
Saturday, July 06, 2002
i worry sometimes....
...that those of us who consider ourselves to be part of the emerging church are more into emerging than church.
...that we are more enamored of the cutting edge than Jesus.
...that we actually think that progressiveness is the definitive criterion for spiritual integrity.
Some time ago I wrote:
There are those who could not begin to explain postmodernism, those who are thoroughly enmeshed in modernity, those who believe that theology reached its highest expression in Geneva in the 16th century who cause God every day to throw His head back and shout with joy at their love and obedience. Our subtle understandings of the currents of social and philosophical thought and its application to theological reflection do not impress Him. He’s impressed when we love Him with everything that is within us and our neighbors as ourselves. And our interests in all things modern and postmodern must be driven by our passionate love for the One who woos us. ...In the midst of such exciting discovery, we must never let our enjoyment of exploration and new insight to eclipse the love and gratitude that we have for our Divine Lover, for the One who gave everything to adopt us as His sons, for the God Who created all things, for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is so easy for us to become focused on the new insight rather than on the One Who has given insight.....Let us ever be lost in the magnificence of His beauty and unimpressed with our own intelligence and insight.
from The Scylla and Charybdis of Postmodernity, part 4.
Posted by Stephen at 7/06/2002 12:06:00 AM
Friday, July 05, 2002
Wednesday, July 03, 2002
amazing comments from the former ceo of WorldCom
Clad in blue jeans and a white shirt, Mr. Ebbers continued, "This has been a strange week at best. . . . On Tuesday I received a call telling me what was happening" at WorldCom. "I don't know what the situation is with all that has been reported," he said. "I don't know what all is going to happen or what mistakes have been made. . . . No one will find me to have knowingly committed fraud," he said, teary eyed. "More than anything else, I hope that my witness for Jesus Christ will not" be jeopardized. The congregation erupted in a standing ovation. Mr. Ebbers declined further comment.
See Investigators Focus on Ex-WorldCom CEO Ebbers
Posted by Stephen at 7/03/2002 10:16:00 PM
no one was ever matured in a theatre
With that comment, Australian John Edmiston, one of the 'mappers and the Field Director of Frontier Servants in the Philippines as well as the President of the Asian Internet Bible Institute, begins chapter 10 of his book Biblical EQ on "Learning Community." It's a good read and quite helpful. Made me want to review the rest of his book.
more on minority report
(warning: my comments here are spoiler comments. do not read this paragraph further if you haven't seen minority report or don't wish to have a critical plot fact revealed to you).
ok, I've commented already on some of the problems with minority report. Well today I was blogsurfing and stumbled across kottke.org, who mentioned the same plot problem I had mentioned questioning how Crowe got on Anderton's radar screen to begin with. In triumph, I sent the link to johnny hax, with appropriately triumphant comments. He quickly shot back his riposte:
Someone posted this on a bulletin board I read. It's supposedly a quote from
Scott Frank, the screenwriter of MR, when posed this very question at
"Burgess knew that the only person Anderton would, without hesitation, want
to kill would be the man Anderton believed had taken his son. Therefore, all
Burgess had to do was 'hire' Leo Crow - a lowlife child molester already in
prison - to pretend to be this man with the promise of paying his family a
large sum of money in return. In the backstory, Burgess would then start to
arrange how Anderton might come into contact with him. But he doesn't even
have to go that far, because once Burgess starts his plan in motion, the
precogs will immediately see the END result - the precogs will pick up that
Anderton will confront the man who took his son and kill him. It plays out
differently in the actual room because Anderton, unlike the people he's
arrested the past six years, has actually seen his own future. So he can
change it. And he does. Or tries to."
I went to reel.com, but was unable to find this. Can anyone confirm or deny? But, irrespective of the accuracy of the quote, I must admit johnny may be onto something....
Posted by Stephen at 7/03/2002 09:52:00 PM
Tuesday, July 02, 2002
building a learning community
Learning Community is a new learning organization that a few of us are creating at Grace Community Church in Columbia, MD. As I've commented before, it's also a new kind of org- we think. It will have something of the look and feel of traditional adult education with two significant differences: 1) We intend to select facilitators (we are tending to avoid academic nomenclature) that will create a learning environment rather than merely an information download environment. Our workshops will be interactive and communal. They will be small groupesque. 2) The facilitators will provide individual spiritual guidance outside of workshops to each participant. We do not view our org as an end in itself but as a segue to worship, spiritual friendship (aka discipleship) and service. We believe success comes when the phone rings at 3 AM and it's someone saying they really need to talk 'cause they want to go out and score. Success is not defined as a well-run classroom session with great, compelling information and scintillating discussion (though we want that too). Rather our relentless focus will be on what happens outside the workshop, not the workshop itself. In our workshops and by individual, pastoral attention outside of the workshops, we seek to inspire a hunger in our participants for God, community, and for spiritual friendship. As the facilitators interact with their participants individually, he/she keeps two categories in their minds : 1) has the participant recognized their wholeness in Christ? What is the next step in this regard in the participant's spiritual journey? Is there a person to whom they need to be introduced? Is there a small group in which they might fit? And (only if absolutely necessary) do they need to take another workshop? 2) What is their place in the kingdom? What is their vocation? What is their passion? What is their giftedness? Where can they serve? As the facilitator interacts with each participant inside and outside of the workshops, he/she holds these categories in mind, constantly exploring the question of what the next steps are for their participant. We are seeking to convert participants 1) to a renewed (or new!) appreciation of their wholeness in Jesus, 2) to spiritual friendships (in or out of small groups) and #) to a missional focus.
In developing this organization, the Learning Community Leadership Team has been focusing on two questions: 1) What are our non-negotiable core values? and 2) What operational distinctives flow from these core values? (In selecting these two areas of initial focus, we've been influenced by Jim Collins). We've answered question #1 and are at the point now of being ready to answer #2. But we've taken opportunity of the transition to consider a bit how to find our facilitators.
As the Leadership Team, our most important responsibility is the targeted selection of these facilitators and vision casting and nurturing a culture of spiritual friendship in the facilitator community. I believe that our most powerful tool for doing this will be microcasting this vision one-on-one with each facilitator and making sure that we model a healthy spiritual friendship with them.
We've been thinking about how to find these facilitators and have considered casting a wide net. We went to the senior pastor and a couple of staffers and elders, handed them each a church directory and asked them to mark all the names of folks they believed would be effective facilitators. We've also considered vision casting and fishing for facilitators by an announcement during a Sunday morning service, followed by a 12 minute meeting afterwards in which we talk about what we are looking for. Then we would see who is interested and vet them.
This past Wednesday night, however, we started to think that our approach to this was too programmatic. I think the modern/postmodern distinction is sometimes simplistically reductionistic, but if I were to evaluate our org on that basis I would say that we are creating modern structure with postmodern "guts." We will look like standard Sunday School, but what goes inside and outside the workshops will be more transpropositional , relational, and organic. Thusly, it dawned on us that our leadership development strategy must take a similar approach.
In light of that, at our last meeting, the Leadership Team started thinking that maybe we were going about this whole finding facilitators thing all wrong. Maybe each of us should "make one, find one" over the course of the next 6-12 mos and grow our future leaders one-on-one. I do think we will craft a Leadership Training Workshop to showcase some of the great material that's out there (e.g. The Leadership Challenge, The Ascent of a Leader, etc.), but I think that our primary modality will be each Learning Community Leadership Team member and then every facilitator developing an intentional, formative spiritual friendship with potential facilitators. That's the "make one" I mentioned. As far as "find one" goes, I think each of us must also check and re-check our radar screen for those qualified today to create the kind of environment we're trying to craft.
We are quite zealous to build an organization that 1) will do some real good and 2) will outlast us. By God's grace and with the Spirit's empowerment, perhaps we will be able to do #1. But we know that if we don't give intentional focus on leadership development and targeted selection, we are unlikely to accomplish #2.
If you have any thoughts on this, send me an e-mail!
Posted by Stephen at 7/02/2002 09:30:00 PM
Monday, July 01, 2002
those of us in faithstories already knew this, but...
We ran an article today that touts the possible benefits of writing about trauma in emails. Some of us who have participated in the faithstories (the online small groups associated with the faithmaps discussion group) have seen some amazing things along these lines....
Posted by Stephen at 7/01/2002 12:34:00 PM