Monday, February 28, 2005

In the FoxHole - Part IX
Maintaining a Theocentric Mindset

In the FoxHole, part I - Strength before Strength
In the FoxHole, part II - Pain as Teacher

In the FoxHole, part III - Waiting

In the FoxHole, Part IV - Strength in Christ

In the FoxHole, Part V - Learned Optimism
In the FoxHole, Part VI - Abiding in the Vine
In the FoxHole, Part VII - Practising His Presence
In the FoxHole, Part VIII - Avoiding a Monomaniacal Focus

When I was reading Seligman's Learned Optimism, one of what seems to me to be a pervasive biblical truth - that God is good - encouraged me to believe that an orientation of general optimism is consistent with reality. Even the need for a Christian Theodicy is - in my mind - covered by the long-term optimism that's envisioned in Collins' Stockdale Paradox (which is not to suggest that Collins' formulation is a theodicy!).

Recall that Seligman suggests the optimist takes three views about negative events or circumstances:

  • they're not pervasive;
  • they're not permanent;
  • and they're not the optimist's fault.
As we mentioned before, Seligman writes, "Optimism is just a useful adjunct to wisdom. By itself it cannot provide meaning" (p. 291). One biblical concept that does invest optimism with significance is the wisdom of a theocentric perspective. God's goodness is subsumed under such a perspective.

Viewing life's negative circumstances and events with a theocentric perspective means


  • that we set our minds on the Things of the Spirit

    Romans 8:5-8 (all references are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted)

    5
    For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

    • what are the "things of the Spirit"? They include the Spirit's fruit.

      Galatians 5:22,23

      22
      But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.



  • that we set our hearts on where God is

    Matthew 6:19-21

    19"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


  • that we always seek first His Kingdom

    Matthew 6:25-33

    25"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.


  • that we set our minds on things above

    Colossians 3:1-3

    1If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.


  • that we delight in what God says

    Psalm 1

    1Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
    nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
    2but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

    3He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
    that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
    In all that he does, he prospers.
    4The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

    5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
    6for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.

Maintaining a theocentrically oriented paradigm as it's maintained through these focuses helps us to keep life's negative circumstances and events in proper perspective.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

New English Standard Version Site

Crossway launches a new ESV site.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

In the FoxHole, Part VIII
Avoiding a Monomaniacal Focus

In the FoxHole, part I - Strength before StrengthI
In the FoxHole, part II - Pain as Teacher
I
In the FoxHole, part III - Waiting

In the FoxHole, Part IV - Strength in Christ

In the FoxHole, Part V - Learned Optimism
In the FoxHole, Part VI - Abiding in the Vine
In the FoxHole, Part VII - Practising His Presence

For the first two years of my undergrad career, I went to Virginia Tech. I remember once after finishing exams that I realized that there was one thing that I appreciated about exams: When you are in the middle of exams, life becomes very simple. You have to study and take tests. All of your life is organized around those two priorities. Sometimes when I finished Exam Week I would get depressed, and the reason was that as soon as the pressure of exams were off I would have to face the rest of my life.

There's a deceptively great inner convenience in collapsing life down to the resolution of one lifeproblem.

Everything will be all right when...

  • i finally get a girlfriend,
  • i finally get married,
  • i finally defeat this disease,
  • i finally get out of debt,
  • i finally get a job,
  • [fill in your own blank].
This week after blogging on what I see as three Johannine thoughtthreads emphasized in his Abiding in Vine meme, 1) a radical belief in Jesus, 2) accepting his magnificent love for us, and then 3) loving others, I was struck by my need today to do 3). I must be about loving others right now and not just as soon as God gives us deliverance from our current trial.

And I realized I had collapsed life down to this one issue. As large as the issue is, I realized and am realizing that I have let it become too important to me - that I had begun to organize most of thoughts and life around it.

When we do that, we set up the illusion of our independence, our sufficiency, and our importance.

Many years ago I read a chapter from Love Must be Tough called "Love Toughness for Singles" that I both disliked and appreciated. The author advocates the unmarried as taking a stance toward those of the opposite sex of "I'm going somewhere; I'd love to have you come along because my life will be significant and exciting. But if you don't, that's ok - I'm fine; I'm still on my journey."

What I did not like about the chapter was that, whether the author meant it to or not, that stance came across in the book as a strategy to use that might work, rather than the actual attitude that we should have.

We really do need to have significant, dependent, Godconfidence in the midst of all lifechallenges. That doesn't mean that we are not scared or that they don't hurt or that we aren't worried. It does mean that we are not terrified, completely destroyed, or paralyzed in fear. We are enjoined to "pour out our heart before Him" (Psalm 62:8), but - at the same time - "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Cor 4:8,9).

Even in the midst of an intense trial, there is a balance to be struck. Even in seasons of chosen imbalance such as the buying of a house, having a new baby, or trying to get a start-up off the ground and into profitability, or when life seems to impose extra focus on some aspect of life such as health when fighting cancer even then we are not to have a monomaniacal focus on the issue at hand.

We must deal with it appropriately in the context of a relationship with a Father Who loves us and a Lord Who has work for us to do in His kingdom. We must avoid setting up our own kingdom that's focused on one matter alone.

There's more in the world than my FoxHole.

Brian McLaren Book Recommendations

Brian posts some new recommendations in the areas of

History-Culture-Thought

and

Theology/Ministry/Biblical Studies.

Friday, February 25, 2005

In the FoxHole, part VII
Practising God's Presence

In the FoxHole, part I - Strength before StrengthI
In the FoxHole, part II - Pain as Teacher
I
In the FoxHole, part III - Waiting

In the FoxHole, Part IV - Strength in Christ

In the FoxHole, Part V - Learned Optimism
In the FoxHole, Part VI - Abiding in the Vine

I discovered more evidence that my preoccupation with transpropostionality is part of my effort to challenge my very own stringent propositionality. Longtime readers of emergesque know that I frequently harken back to the Abiding in the Vine theme, of which I blogged again yesterday. Some days ago, I realized that I think more about the concept of Abiding in the Vine than I do about the Vine Himself. This led me to think about God's actual presence with me and to realize that God is with me in the moment. God is present with me, but it's up to me if I, as Brother Lawrence wrote, practice the presence of God. I do this sometimes, but not nearly enough. It's critical to do so, especially when in stressful times.

There are a few passages I turn to to remind me of this importance of this spiritual discipline:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Because God is with us, we can be confident and calm.

Psalm 16:8 (all passages ESV)

8I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Because God is with us, even as we struggle with pain and worry, we can have a deeper joy that sustains us.

Psalm 16:11

11You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

He is with us at all times - past, present, and future. He directs his thoughts toward us.

Psalm 139:1-18,23,24

1O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
5You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

7Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,"
12even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.


13For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there were none of them.


17How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

...

23Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

He is with us always and is the fulfillment of our greatest desire.

Psalm 73:23-28

23Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.
24You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength
of my heart and my portion forever.

27For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
28But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

Psalm 23

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures.He leads me beside still waters.
3He restores my soul.He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Lord is as close to us as our shadow. He is our ever-present Protector and Deliverer.

Psalm 121

1I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

3He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

5The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. 6The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

7The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Because He is ever with us, we can be content.

Hebrews 13:5,

5Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

We strive to remember His presence; He is with us; He is actually with us this very moment. This brings focus to all our activities. It prioritizes in real time. It balances all our concerns. It gives strength in the battle, perspective in loss, and humility in victory.

Brian McLaren and an Irenic Critic

-- I think this is a really legitimate critique. I wish I had done a better job of being charitable in that section.

Brian interacts with a theologian.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Waxing of the Self and the Waning of the Commons
Revision of In the FoxHole, Part V, Summary of Learned Optimism

After I posted this summary, one of the 'mappers who hadn't read Seligman noted that such a strategy of transforming explanatory style doesn't work outside of the concept of community. I realized that even though Seligman does address this - and quite profoundly - I hadn't mentioned it in the summary.

I've revised the summary to remedy this oversight.


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Unbelievable!


courtesy of Andrew Jones

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

In the FoxHole, Part V:
Learned Optimism

In the FoxHole, part I - Strength before StrengthI
In the FoxHole, part II - Pain as Teacher
I
In the FoxHole, part III - Waiting

In the FoxHole, Part IV - Strength in Christ


a summary of Learned Optimism by Dr. Martin Seligman.

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

ee cummings
"love is a place"
No Thanks (1935)

Just a couple of nights ago I finished this book by Dr. Seligman , former President of the American Psychological Association and currently the Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Seligman begins his book with cummings wonderful poem above.

I found the book to be enormously helpful. Seligman details how optimism effects health, academic performance, sports performance, politics, relationships, etc. by referring to a variety of studies performed by himself and others. I thought it might serve some if I hit briefly some of Seligman's main points.


**Explanatory Style and Learned Helplessness**

Seligman is not merely advocating what is popularly known as Positive Thinking. He does not mean "Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better" kind of thinking (p. 221). Rather, what Seligman focuses on is the way that we think about the negative events or circumstances of our lives - how we think about, and then how we respond. He writes, "Learned optimism works not through an unjustified positivity about the world but through the power of 'non-negative' thinking" (p. 221).

Seligman calls the way we talk to ourselves about negatives of our lives our explanatory style. The explanatory style of pessimists reveals learned helplessness. By the way that they think about negative events, pessimists show that they view the situation as hopeless and view themselves as being powerless to find any positive in or change the situation.

Seligman explains how the pessimist can actually change their explanatory style and therefore stop the resulting behaviors that can often lead to self-fulfilling prophecies. Recovering pessimists can do this by challenging and then changing their explanatory style.


**How Pessimists View and Create Reality**

Seligman is very specific about how they do this which I've summarized with this chart (which also includes the way that optimists and pessimists consider positive events)

Learned Optimism Chart

Optimists view negative events or circumstances in three aspects:

1 - What is the permanence of the negative event or circumstance?

When the optimist is not hired into a much-hoped for new job after her interview, she does not then think, "I will never get a better job." She views not getting the job as a distinct event that doesn't intrinsically predict her future success. She continues seeking and taking interviews until she gets a new job.

2 - What is the pervasiveness of the negative event or circumstance?

In the above example, the optimist doesn't assume that now every interview with every company will result in her not getting a new job.

Similarly, when an optimist's son is caught using marijuana, the optimist father does not automatically assume that the son is therefore engaging in all kinds of self-destructive behavior. He's certainly realistic about the possibility of other negative behaviors (more on appropriate pessimism below), but he doesn't absolutize his son as a complete moral disaster.

3 - Shall the negative event or circumstance be personalized?

In the first example, the optimist doesn't say to herself, "I might as well face it; I'm simply not smart enough to move to the next level. I'm stuck in my current job and if I'm not careful I might even lose that. Why didn't I go to college instead of marrying young? I'll never amount to anything. I might as well accept that."

The optimist does not negatively self-define in an unrealistic way. She doesn't catastrophize the situation or negatively absolutize herself.

**How to Change Explanatory Style**

For the pessimist and the optimist, explanatory style creates reality in tandem with negative events and circumstances. One can analyze three steps in which this occurs.

1 - Adversity - The interviewee doesn't get the job.

2 - Belief - "I'll never be smart enough to make more money than what I'm making right now."

3 - Consequence - The potential hiree spends more time watching TV than working her personal network for job leads.

It's important to see here that not only the adversity but the belief itself informs the long term consequence

Consequently, changing explanatory style focuses on challenging the pessmistic belief.

Seligman details how the pessimists can transform themselves into optimists. They do it by challenging their own explanatory style and thereby creating a new one. In this way, they begin to develop a new paradigm of reality.

He suggests a number of ways in which to conduct such an argument. He encourages the entrenched pessimist to consider

the evidence - What is the specific evidence that the above pessimistic belief is true? Why does it necessary follow that since you didn't get the job, you lack the necessary intelligence?

alternative explanations - Are there otherreasons or causes for the negative event that may be true other than this catastrophic one? Is it possible you didn't get the job because the HR department requires the boss to interview three candidate when he's already decided he's going to hire his son-in-law irrespective of your brilliance?

the implications - Seligman writes, "But the way things go in this world, the facts won't always be on your side. The negative belief you hold about yourself may be correct. In this situation, the technique to use is decatastophizing" (p. 222). Perhaps it is true that you are not meant to be an electrical engineer. So what? There are many kinds of intelligences; perhaps you're barking up the wrong tree for a way to move up socioeconomically.

the usefulness of your negative belief - In her wonderful book No Ordinary Time, Doris Kearns Goodwin reports Eleanor Roosevelt's belief about how her husband, World War II President Franklin Roosevelt, avoided negative ruminations. Before WWII's Operation Overlord, in which the Allies finally invaded Europe to defeat Hitler, Goodwin writes, "...Roosevelt remained calm.... In Eleanor's judgment, her husband was better able to meet the tension than many of the others, "because he'd learned from polio that if there was nothing you could do about a situation, then you'd better try to put it out of your mind and go on with your work at hand" (pp. 507,508, emphasis mine).

The psychologist Larry Crabb used to teach about using your emotions as a barometer. When the pessimist is upset about a negative situation or event, she should use her emotional response as an internal indicator that she needs to begin arguing with her catastrophizing beliefs. By stringing together these kinds of intentional choices event after event, situation after situation, and day by day, the pessimist will eventually morph into an optimist.

**Flexible Optimism or The Stockdale Paradox**

Seligman explores the fact that sometimes we must employ a nuanced optimism - what he calls flexible optimism. He talks about choosing not to select optimism when the situation calls for such a choice.

But I'd like to suggest that Jim Collins' concept of the Stockdale Paradox, which he details in his excellent Good to Great, might be an even more robust, nuanced and holistic approach to optimism. This concept is named after Admiral Jim Stockdale, the celebrated former Vietnam POW. When Collins asked Stockdale who died in POW camp, Stockdale replied (as Collins reports),

"Oh, that’s easy,'" he said. "The optimists.”

“The optimists? I don’t understand,” I said, now completely confused, given what he’d said a hundred meters earlier.

“The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say,‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Another long pause, and more walking. Then he turned to me and said, “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” (from Good to Great, pp 83ff).

Jim Collins sets forth the principle that I believe fills out a more balanced view of optimism:

Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties

AND at the same time

Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

What is variable, then, is not the optimism, but merely whether it's short-term or long-term.


**The Limits of Learned Optimism**

In addition to flexible optimism, Seligman offers another proviso to his concept of Learned Optimism:

"Optimism is no panacea."

Seligman continues:

"I do not believe learned optimism alone will stem the tide of depression on a society-wide basis. Optimism is just a useful adjunct to wisdom. By itself it cannot provide meaning" (p. 291). Optimism must be informed by wisdom and values.

**The Waxing of the Self and the Waning of the Commons**

Seligman suggests that challenging ones own explanatory style occurs best in the dual contexts of community and relationship.

Seligman recommends one method of challenging a pessimistic explanatory style is by asking a trust friend or family member to argue against the pessimist using the worst-case tendencies of the pessimist. In this way, the pessimist learns to argue against themselves.

But perhaps more significantly is Seligman's passage in the last chapter of the book dealing with what he calls "The Waxing of the Self and the Waning of the Commons." It alone is worth the price of the book.

In this fascinating section, Seligman opines that two of the reasons depression is 10x more common today than it was half a century ago are

- The Exaltation of the Self.

"The society we live in exalts the self. It takes the pleasures and pains, the successes and failures of the individual with unprecendented seriousness. ...The self is expanded to such a point that individual helplessness is deemed something to remedy, rather than our expected lot in life" (p, 282).

Seligman believes that the ascension of the self occurred because of several factors including:

  • expanded consumer choice through industrialization,
  • the increasing income power of the those in America.
-The Descent of the Commons

The author writes, "The life commiteed to nothing larger than itself is a meager life indeed. Human beings require a context of meaning and hope. We used to have ample context, and when we encountered failure, we could pause and take our rest in that setting -- our spiritual furniture - and revive our sense of who we are. I call the larger setting the commons. It consists of a belief in the nation, in God, in one's family, or in a purpse that transcends our lives." (p. 284).

Seligman sees several factors that have precipitated this decline:
  • The assasinations in the late 60's of Kennedy, Kennedy, King, and Malcolm X.
  • Vietnam
  • Watergate
  • The increase of divorce
  • a decline in belief in God
"So put together the lack of belief.... Where can one now turn for identity, for purpose, and for hope? When we need spiritual furniture, we look around and see that all the comfortable leather sofas and stuffed chairs have been removed and all that's left to sit on is small, frail folding chair: the self" (p. 285).

Seligman then wraps up how these two converge to precipitate a more negative explanatory style:

"...Our epidemic of depression is not merely a matter of the paltry comfort we get from society at large. In many ways extreme individualism tends to maximize pessimistic explanatory style, prompting people to explanin commonplace failures with permanent, pervasive, and personal causes. The growth of the indivdual, for example, means that failure is probably my fault - because who else is there but me? The decline of the commons means that failure is permanent and pervasive. To the extnet that larger, benevolent institutions (God, nation, family) no longer matter, personal failures seem catastrophic. ... To the extent that larger institutions command belief, any personal failure seems less external and less pervasively undermining" (p. 286, emphasis mine)

He suggests two remedies:

1) moral jogging in which the volunteers in some good cause or gives money to these causes.

2) and applying the technique of learned optimism that can help the experimenter to learnthe value of subordinating one's personal to that the larger commons context

He suggesst this will enhance the commons and help cure the depressed or stave it off completely!

**A Biblical Case for Learned Optimism**

Finally I wish to simply suggest that there is some biblical basis for at least some of what Seligman proposes. I see, for example, Philippians 4:4-9 as an informing basis for Learned Optimism:

4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

(English Standard Version)

Paul, who wrote these profound words in his letter to the the church in Philippi while in prison, encourages the reader anxious about a negative event or circumstance to bring that concern to God. He directs the reader to remember the current blessings of God (thanksgiving) and to focus his thoughts on the what is positive in his life.

I have found these thoughts helpful as I have argued with myself that I will not always be living in a FoxHole.

Brian McLaren: Local Coverage

One of our local weeklies, the Laurel Leader, ran a piece on Brian and Cedar Ridge Community Church. It has some brief interviews with Cedar Ridgers and some history of Cedar Ridge (I was attending CRCC from 1988 until 2001).

I recently had the chance to have lunch with Keith Matthews, Cedar Ridge's Executive Pastor and was sad for CRCC to read that he's leaving that community to become Associate Professor of Theology and Ministry in the Graduate School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University. Cedar Ridge is looking for a Senior Pastor and Brian is going to be a Teaching Pastor. The Cedar Ridge Community has long had the perspective that they share Brian with the rest of the church.

Monday, February 21, 2005

In the FoxHole (interlude) - A Transpropostional Insight

One of the reasons I'm talking and writing about transpropositionality all the time, I think, is because I'm so propositional. This war I'm in will be won or lost contingent on the decision of someone my family loves. The area in which I wish to exercise control is in the area of teaching this person the right thing to do. I've realized that I'm too anxious to do this - have been too anxious to do this - and that I need to back off.

Today, I was trying to fix my vacuum cleaner and couldn't find a Philips head screwdriver. When Beth finally found one and I was easily able to fix the machine, I reflected on the need for the right tool.

I realized that mere information transfer (duh) is probably not enough to change the mind of this person we love.

And then I remembered my own story. For the first 8 years of following Jesus I was a way messed up basketcase. One of my presenting symptoms was forever doubting ... everything - my salvation, Divinity of Christ, inspiration of the Scriptures, etc. I studied like crazy. Then - in my mid 20's - I finally came to believe that God really love me and all these academic concerns just drifted away on top of a sea of security. Yes, it was the acquisition of information that helped me, but it was more than this. Through others who loved me, through wise counsel, through the experience of being loved in a tightknow community, I came to believe in His love. It was both propositional and transpropositional.

And so I realized information transfer - especially delivered under the power of my insecure teaching - is only part of this puzzle. Something else is needed.

I must rest.

I must wait.


In the FoxHole, part IV:
Strength in Christ

In the FoxHole, part I - Strength before Strength
In the FoxHole, part II - Pain as Teacher
In the FoxHole, part III - Waiting

As I wait, I have to find new inner resources. The status quo is challenged and more is being required of me than has ever been required before. My current spiritual chops are woefully insufficient. I need a transcendent strength that will handle the increased load.

For the last several years I've had on my bulletin board, on my home and work laptops, and on my PDA a document called "Strength in Christ" with four passages I've found very helpful. I go back to them again and again. I go to them now:

  • Philippians 4:11-13 (all references English Standard Version and all emphases mine)

    11Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

  • 2 Corinthians 4:7-9

    7But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

  • 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

    16
    So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

  • 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

    7
    So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.



jesus outside the box: jesus people outside the church

  • Between 1991 and 2004, the number of unchurched people increased 92%, from 39 million to 75 million.
  • Fifty-four percent identify themselves as Christians, and 10 million (11%) are "born again" Christians.
rebecca (of jesus outside the box) cites Barna research and she wonders:

So, no, the husband and I are far from alone in running far and fast away from the institutional church. I just wish I could find some of these unchurched Christians. Dechurched people, where are you hiding???

By definition, it might be hard to find them gathering anywhere but they - and comment about them - definitely has a strong presence on the web.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

In the FoxHole, part III
Waiting

note on the FoxHole series:

I realize it might seem passing strange for me to be writing this series in the midst of my war. One reason is that it helps me to objectify the situation. By objectifying the situation and by writing to you about it, it really helps me to more consistently and thoroughly apply all this to myself. I do not mean to imply at all that I've got all this down and flawlessly execute; I don't. But writing this is helping me execute better.

In the FoxHole, Part I - Strength Before Strength

In the FoxHole, Part II - Pain as Teacher

My good friend Joe V. in one of the comments below to my last post mentioned the issue of control. That was spot on. I most definitely want to control this situation. If I could just be in charge of the situation, I could expeditiously direct it to what I see as the best conclusion. I see steps A, B and C. I'm a project manager and I have the whole thing mapped out in my mind.

However, I am not in control.

In my situation - at least from an on-the-ground perspective, I am utterly at the mercy of the vagaries of the human heart.

I am reduced to waiting. And I think that's exactly the position that God has allowed me to be in. I hate waiting.

Today I was reading one of my very favorite passages in Ephesians:

14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV, emphasis mine)

I don't know how many times I've read or taught this passage but today I noticed something I don't recall seeing before. Paul prays for the Jesus followers in Ephesus to have the strength to understand the fullness of Jesus' love, to comprehend the vast reach of Jesus' love.

It takes moral courage or inner strength to apprehend the love that Jesus has for us.

Waiting requires the same moral courage in the context of this love, this transpropositional love, this love that moves Paul to press the bounds of his language in search of an adequate means of expression.

We have to exercise the inner strength to fall quiet, to rest, to wait, to be still. To realize that our Father is aware of this situation and that He is for us.

A couple of days ago I started tracking this meme through the
Scriptures. Here are some the passages that struck me:

  • We wait in the presence of One Who loves us to a great degree.

7Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8You have said, "Seek my face."
My heart says to you,
"Your face, LORD, do I seek."
9Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the LORD will take me in
.

Psalm 27:7-10 (all references are ESV, emphasis mine)

After I became a father for the first time, I discovered a sustained intensity of love I had never known before. As Paul, the Psalmist favorably compares the amazing love of God to these strong parental bonds. God loves us more than even this! We call out to One Who loves us so much.

  • We wait before One Who knows all that we have done, but He's willing to forgive us because of His great love.

11As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain
your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
ever preserve me!
12For evils have encompassed me
beyond number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
my heart fails me.

Psalm 40:11,12 (emphasis mine)

Amazing. Though He is so aware of our many sins, His love and mercy prevail.

  • Because of His great love, we wait in pain, but are not overwhelmed.

1For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
2He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

Psalm 62:1,2 (emphasis mine)

I cannot read this without thinking of the wonderful John Michael Talbot song based on this Psalm. Note it reads "greatly shaken." Surely we shall be shaken, but we are not utterly destroyed. Paul speaks similarly:

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

2 Corinthians 4:7-9

We are certainly touched by the pain that comes our way, but our experience of this pain is in the context of being loved by our All Wise and All Knowing Father.

  • As we wait, He's not unconcerned about how we feel.


8Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.

Psalm 62:8 (emphasis mine)

We can give God what is inside of us. We can be honest and open with Him. We can share our pain with Him. He invites us to do this.

  • As we wait, we remember His past deliverances - past evidences of His lovingkindness for us.


do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6 (emphasis mine)

I find that this is not something that I tend to do naturally. But through this war I have intentionally remembered and thanked God for when He's bailed me out in the past. This theme is prevalent in the Old Testament as well.

  • As we wait, we focus on our current blessings - present evidences of his lovingkindness

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8,9

This helps us to keep balance in our perspective on the present situation. It helps us to decatastrophize our problem.

And so I wait and try to remember these things.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

In the Foxhole, part II:
Pain as Teacher

In the Foxhole, part I

Regular readers of emergesque: You know I generally post on ec stuff and don't get a ton into my personal life. Well, my life's intruding so I do genuinely regret if this isn't the kind of blog with which you resonate. Posting this is helping me to hold myself accountable to what I believe. And perhaps it's of some use to some of you.

There's something about my own spiritual development that I really don't like. I seem to respond best to pain. Right now, as I said yesterday, I'm in the midst of some tough stuff and I find I'm talking to God like crazy, meditating on Scripture, reading the Bible, setting good priorities, etc. What bugs me about me is that I seem to do much better with Him in the foxhole but when things aren't pressuring me I get lost in my busyness with what I believe are the mixed motives behind that. And this has been a pattern.

  • My family focus significantly improved 2 years ago as a result of a family crisis.
  • In 1996 I weighed 203 lbs. and then lost 50 lbs and began exercising and eating better only after the doctor told me that I had Diabetes.
  • At the beginning of 2002 I reluctantly took on a completely new job that was very difficult and stressful and it turned out to be perhaps the best career move I ever made.

Though I fully recognize that pain is a marvelous teacher, I want to move beyond only being taught when I'm pressed. I don't want to just be in sync with God when things are bad. That just seems so immature. I really want to get to the place where I live out the fullness of His love for me.

I want my entire life to be an expression of gratitude.

Today, I'm in the foxhole and I feel in sync, but I want to resonate with Him when the war is over.

Friday, February 18, 2005

In the Foxhole Part I:
Strength before Strength


Life is handing me some tough stuff right now. During worship this past Sunday we sang a song we sing a lot called "The Power of Your Love." There was one line that particularly struck me and I have found helpful all week. It's the last line of this portion of the lyric:

the weaknesses i see in me
will be stripped away
by the power of your love
hold me close!
let your love surround me!
bring me near
draw me to your side
and as i wait, i'll rise up like the eagle!

It was the last line that got me. I loved the image of rising up with the strength of the eagle even before the deliverance of the Lord comes.

I suck at waiting.

So I wanted to go to the Scriptures on which this line seemed to be based. I've been working to memorizing and live in these lines all week:

Isaiah 40:29-31 (English Standard Version)

29He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

We wait in our lives in the midst of struggle for deliverance or the strength to handle what's happening. But there is a strength before strength. A strength that gives us the wisdom, presence, calmness, ability to wait. To turn to Him. To believe in Him when our circumstances hold no immediate promise of resolution. To believe that He loves us and is for us.

I am trying to have strength before strength today.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

What is Emergent?

Andrew Jones adds another explanation in a long list of contributions.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Amazon Prime

Is this a good idea?

Or will it mean I'll continue to buy more books than I can read?

Monday, February 14, 2005

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Willard in Relevant

Bill Bean lets us know about a three-part interview in Relevant.

Time: Top 25 Most Influential Evangelicals &
Larry King: Some of the Top 25

Steve Knight provides us with a nice around the room of emerging church comment.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Horror that was Rwanda

Since it was slow and no one was in line, we spoke a bit and she told me that she was Tutsi, and had been able to escape, but lost over thirty family members, including a brother. She told me how neighbors they'd known their entire lives betrayed her family in the cruelest of ways. One, was that they led them out into fields under the guise of a safe hiding place, only to lead them to an ambush where they were hacked to death with machetes.

Ann Hefley meets someone from Rwanda.

Internet Evangelism for the 21st Century Conference

Steve Knight alerts us to the fact that this site has been upgraded.

A number of emerging church bloggers will be speaking at this conference in S.VA. on 1 and 2 April.

Balance

I've mentioned this quote before:

At almost regular intervals down the centuries someone will hit upon an idea which has some claim to truth. It is then blown up into a system which is thought to be capable of explaining everything. It is hailed as a key to unlock every door….In each case the thinkers concerned were so impressed with their particular insight that they built it into a more or less rigid system which virtually destroyed its original usefulness.…if anything is to be learnt form the history of philosophy, we should be cautious in embracing one set of philosophical ideas to the exclusion of all others, and critical in our evaluation of all of them. Just as no single human being has exhaustive knowledge of the whole of reality, but may have partial and valid insights into this or that field of experience, so no philosophy is all embracing. Its insights and methods are often tentative and provisional. It may have a valid apprehension of this or that. Its methods may be fruitful in exploring certain particular fields. But if we are wise, we shall be on our guard against definitive systems and allegedly omnipotent methods of approach.

I believe that this applies to many things and especially in the church.

Philosophy & the Christian Faith
by Colin Brown

Erwin McManus

jordon let's us know that erwin has a new personal site.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Emerging Church History as told by its Published Books

Tim Keel writes:

John Raymond from Zondervan sent out an e-mail containing an article from Publisher’s Weekly that demonstrates the conversation’s growing presence in the marketplace of ideas. In fact, the article does a remarkably good job tracing the emerging community’s history, albeit a history interpreted through the lens of the books that have been produced and published.

Thanks to Jason Clark for the heads up and he has the full article on his site.

A Troika of Books for Taking on a New Role

I don't write a lot directly here about my job with USA TODAY, but last year my company decided to expand my role and allowed me and my folks to have our own office much nearer to my home. (So, for the first time in three years, this year I no longer have to commute between Baltimore to McLean, VA every day). I'm deeply grateful to USA TODAY and they've been very good to me. I have learned so much here.

Today I'm meeting with one of my supervisors for our first one-on-one and I thought that emergesque readers might be interested in the questions I ask new employees; these questions can be easily adapted for any mentor/protege relationship.

This list is based on material from two books I recommend highly for anyone who is either in a new role in an organization or who would like to "reboot" their role. The two books are:

The questions are:

  • What are your primary job responsibilities?

  • What do you enjoy most about your job? What do you feel that you do well?

  • Why do you think you’re good at this?

  • What would make this job perfect for you?

  • How do you define success in your current role?

  • How is success measured in your current role?

  • What aspect of your job do you find the most frustrating? How can we work around this?

  • Do you have everything you need to do your job?

  • Tell me about the best time when you were honored or praised for something related to your job.

  • What skills or talents are untapped in your current job?

  • What could I and this organization do to help you get to the next level in your career?

  • How can I help you?

  • How often would you like to meet?

  • Are there any skills you’d like to work on or develop?

  • What’s your dream job?

  • What would you like to be doing in 1 year? In 3 years?

  • Who do you see as a potential protégé? Who could be your backup?

  • If you had complete authority over **** what would you do?

  • Is there anything else about you that you think I need to know?

More specifically, part of what these questions are based on are Buckingham's 12 Questions. These are questions that the Gallup organization has discovered are the keys to the most effective organizations. They are:

The 12 Questions

  • Base Camp: What do I get?

  • Question #1 - Do I know what is expected of me at work?

  • Question #2 - Do have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?


  • Camp 1: “What do I give?”

  • Question #3 - At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

  • Question #4 - In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?

  • Question #5 - Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?

  • Question #6 - Is there someone at work who encourages my development?


  • Camp #2 – “Do I belong here?”

  • Question #7 - At work, do my opinions seem to count?

  • Question #8 - Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?

  • Question #9 - Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

  • Question #10 - Do I have a best friend at work?


  • Camp #3 – “How can we all grow?

  • Question #11 - In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?

  • Question #12 - This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

I am finding that striving to live up these questions is making me a better manager.

A third book that perhaps I should mention in this connection is The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner (find a summary of the book here, this is actually the first article I ever wrote for the next-wave zine). Kouzes and Posner suggest that the best leaders do five critical practices:

  • The Five Practices of Leadership
  • Challenge the Process

    - Search out challenging opportunities to change, grow, innovate, and improve.

    - Experiment, take risks, and learn from the accompanying mistakes.

  • Inspire a Shared Vision

    - Envision an uplifting and ennobling future.

    - Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to their values, interests, hopes and dreams.

  • Enable Others to Act

    - Foster collaboration by promoting cooperative goals and building trust.

    - Strengthen people by giving power away, providing choice, developing competence, assigning critical tasks, and offering visible support.

  • Model the Way

    - Set the example by behaving in ways that are consistent with shared values.

    - Achieve small wins that promote consistent progress and build commitment.

  • Encourage the Heart

    - Recognize individual contributions to the success of every project.

    - Celebrate team accomplishments regularly.

I've striven to use this as a guide in my own leadership these last few years.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Where Can I Find the Best Podcasts?

USA TODAY suggests PodcastAlley.

Is Podcasting the Next Big Thing?

It must be, 'cause we just ran a story blurb ab it on our front page (print version) and some articles today:

More Resources and How to Podcast


The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals

DJ points us to various sources where we can track online conversation about the Time Magazine choice of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Questioning Mormon Orthodoxy

Grant H Palmer joins a growing list of Mormons questioning Mormon teaching.

Ask Jeeves Acquires Bloglines

I just told Rex Miller today on the phone that because of Bloglines, I can review 100 blogs in ab 15 mins.


Brian McLaren in Larry King

McLaren certainly comes across as compassionate, but I wonder if people were thinking “spineless liberal…” as he dodged Larry King’s questions. This is a shame, because Brian is not a spineless liberal by any means, but he only got a little bit of air time to discuss complicated issues, and he spent most of his time talking about how complicated they are. That is exactly what most Christians needed to hear, but also borders on communicating that we don’t really have beliefs on anything - just an appreciation of each issue’s complexity. I thing this is a decent starting place, but we can’t stay there forever. We can’t use “this issue is complex” as an excuse. Complexity should illuminate and nuance truth, not deconstruct it altogether.

McLaren again brings up complexity when asked about embryonic stem cells:

KING: Brian, yes, didn’t God give us embryonic stem cells?
MCLAREN: Yes, I think this is one of the hugest challenges that we face. The people in the scientific and the people in the faith community need to look at these now powers that human beings are unlocking. And this is a great responsibility. And I hope there’ll be some fruitful discussion. I don’t think it’s helpful when Christians immediately say, shut things down without saying, let’s pay attention. On the other hand, it’s not that helpful when people say, let’s make a lot of money on something without looking at the full ramifications of it.
I think Brian is right to focus on the complexity of these controversial issues, though it does present the emerging church as a bunch of prevaricators who are too busy sipping coffee and waxing philosophical to actually believe in anything. I prefer what Jakes said - we respect the intelligence of our communities, and we will not presume to simplify complex issues into black and white, especially along party lines.

What do you think? Was Brian right to focus on complexity, or should he have said something more gutsy?

Justin Baeder wonders about what Brian shared. (@ presstime his site was down).

I read somewhere that Brian mentioned that his appearance was difficult. I just told Beth that if I were to speak on Larry King I would hyperanalyze every syllable that exited my mouth. I think Brian was in a difficult position, being suddenly thrust in a very short period of time (from Time to Larry King in, what, 2 weeks?) onto a very large stage indeed. In Brian's situation, I don't know for how long I would say to myself, "I wish I had said...."

Monday, February 07, 2005

First Study Bible in the English Standard Version: The Reformation Study Bible

I have mixed feelings. I'll probably buy a copy. I really like the ESV. I think it hits a sweet spot between the formal literal (NASB, KJV, NKJV) and dynamic equivalent (NIV, NLT). And I'm glad that it's coming out in a Study Bible. What's a bummer is that the Reformation Study Bible has been updated with a lot more material now and is called the Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible. I have this Study Bible and it rocks. Trouble is that it's in the NIV! Some have commented that this is somewhat odd since Reformed folks tend not to read the NIV. And though I think that every translation I listed above is a fine translation, I do prefer the ESV.

note on Calvinism: I'm not your typical 5 pointer, but I admire the Calvinist theological system and find it helpful to "play off of it" in my own theological thinking. One of the ways that I've responded to the emerging church is that I tend to think of my own personal theology as being an outline rather than an encyclopedia. (See "What is a Faithmap?") and I find Calvinism, when taken as provisional outline, to be helpful. I'm fully aware of the fact that some Calvinists would take issue with this characterization of their thought.

Moving Beyond "Blogs are Cool"

Brad Hightower has some good thoughts as he encourages us to be more intentional about our blogs. I found his comments motivational.

Maybe 2 years ago I began to work to figure out what I'm supposed to do when I grow up. So far, I've come up with two answers:

1 - To optimize people systems for kingdom impact.

I love organizations. I love to read about them, think about them and swim in them. I'm into leadership, project management, conflict resolution, the limitations of organizations, how to run great meetings, running orgs that balance mission with nurture, etc. I believe I'm here to help people impact the kingdom more efficiently as a group.

2 - A subfocus of this is leadership development. I believe that a new (really an old) modality of leadership formation needs to be developed that's transpropositional and doesn't reflect the evangelical addiction to growth thru mere information transfer.

Hightower encourages me to focus more on these dual focuses with my blog!

The other thing I expect I'll continue to do with my blog is to keep up with what is happening in the emerging church.

A helpful encouragement.

The Practicalities of our Soul

It's now public knowledge that April Stace was the individual with whom Brian McLaren was emailing in More Ready Than You Realize. April is in a band called Harp46 and recently played at the recent Emergent Convention in San Diego.

For reasons I cannot yet fully articulate, I loved her post yesterday about how her own development has been so inextricably tied with her instrument. It just struck me how our spiritual development can be so tied up to the temporalities, to sweat, to things.

TD Jakes: A Modalist?

I was talking with a friend who mentioned that TD Jakes beliefs about the Trinity were not what's typically taught in Evangelical circles. Apparently, Bishop Jakes is a modalist and has close associations with Oneness Pentecostalism. I had never heard this.

The Apologetics Index has extensive material on Jakes and his position on the Trinity.

If in fact Jakes is a Sabellianist, I think the God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the inter-relationship between and within them is a mystery and I would be very hesitant to cast away the accumulated insight and consensus of almost two millennia on this topic. And I don't mean to suggest that the church arriving at this consensus was non-controversial.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

A New Limited Edition Version of the IPod

Proof that USA TODAY is correct in its implication that the IPod is making its way into every corner of US society.

Thanks to Rich Johnson for the heads up.

The Greening of Evangelicals

There is growing evidence -- in polling and in public statements of church leaders -- that evangelicals are beginning to go for the green. Despite wariness toward mainstream environmental groups, a growing number of evangelicals view stewardship of the environment as a responsibility mandated by God in the Bible.

And so goes a front page Washington Post article today on how evangelicals are increasingly aligning themselves with environmentalists.