Sunday, June 30, 2002

Philosophies and Fairy-Tales

Somehow the intrepid Jennifer Ould found this April 1973 article and posted it to the faithmapper's discussion group. Jen suggested that the article pulled together some of the threads that the 'mappers have been discussing the last year. I agree and found the article highly stimulating. I wrote a few comments on the piece.

Saturday, June 29, 2002

Der Krieger und die Kaiserin

Some movies do a great job of raising questions. Others give hints as to answers. Some do both.

The Princess and the Warrior is a German film, directed by Tom Tykwer staring Franka Potente (of the entertaining Bourne Identity [though not to be compared to the the Ludlum novel on which the movie is based] and the wonderfully engaging Run Lola Run - also a Tykwer vehicle).

Bodo: "It's all meaningless anyway."

Simone: "Nothing's meaningless."

These two lines, spoken in a ward for the mentally disturbed, capture the tension explored throughout Tykwer's second film with the talented Potente (Simone). A truck hits Simone - a nurse in that ward - and Bodo (Benno Furmann) saves her life. Bodo has been devastated by a tragic loss. Simone seeks out Bodo and the rest of the movie explores her quest to have a redemptive relationship with him.


"I had a dream.


We were brother and sister.

mother and father,

wife and husband.

And...both of us were both."

Bodo: "You're crazy.

Simone: Yes, of course."

The plot is multifaceted without being overbearing. A small but interesting use of special effects serves to highlight Bodo's inner tension over responding to Simone. And with uncharacteristic understatement, Potente delicately portrays the quiet Simone. Well worth seeing.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

john entwistle 1944-2002

just a few days ago, I listened to all of quadrophenia.

In fact, I was just insisting to a friend of mine at work that he *had* to listen to this album. I told him that it captured teenage longing which is, of course, the longing inside all of us....

Love Reign O'er Me

"(Pete's theme) Only love
Can make it rain
The way the beach is kissed by the sea.
Only love
Can make it rain
Like the sweat of lovers'
Laying in the fields.

Love, Reign o'er me.
Love, Reign o'er me, rain on me.

Only love
Can bring the rain
That makes you yearn to the sky.
Only love
Can bring the rain
That falls like tears from on high.

Love Reign O'er me.

On the dry and dusty road
The nights we spend apart alone
I need to get back home to cool cool rain.
The nights are hot and black as ink
I can't sleep and I lay and I think
Oh God, I need a drink of cool cool rain. "

Thank you John.

the John Entwistle Home Page

another brief thought on transpropositionality

I thought of this while walking up to my office this AM:

information achieves transpropositionality when it becomes incarnate through either horizontal relationalization with others or vertical relationalization with God.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002


I've mentioned this a couple of times in blogposts. This morning I respond to a question on faithconnect asking me to describe briefly what this term means. Here's what I said:


John W asked:

[in simple terms] can you explain this transpropositional thing, like what it means, im not really sure about it right now, seen it used alot lately.


Ok. Transpropositionality is an aspect of reality that we've discussed on faithmaps. It's not a new concept but perhaps we've suggested a bit of a new formulation of it.

In a nutshell, you're a dad, right? When you hug your child, you are communicating with her in transpropositional ways. When you say, "I love you" you are communicating in propositional ways. But your hug serves *and* communicates in ways that words cannot. You are accessing her right brain and not primarily her left by your hug. God does the same with us. We must do the same with others.

We have suggested that evangelicalism is addicted to the proposition and addicted to information as the omnicompetent modality of spiritual formation. When Mark 3:14 records,

And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach,

(emphasis mine)

we see that Jesus service to His disciples was transpropositional. i.e. they gained from His words, certainly, but they also gained **simply from His being *with* them**. He conveyed truth and love to them in ways that transcended mere words and sentences.

Much more can be found @

Hope this helps!

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

bio and context

It occurred to me that a bit of bio and context might be in order.

I am the founder of, the moderator of the faithmaps discussion group, and assorted other online discussion groups, mostly small private ones, in association with faithmaps. Most of these are faithstories which are the equivalent of online small groups of no more than 12 people. We do nothing more than share our stories and interact over them.

I also co-lead the Learning Community Leadership Team which leads the Learning Community ministry at Grace Community Church in Columbia, MD. Learning Community is a spiritual formation ministry that looks like adult education meets small group and where the facilitator becomes a short-term (usually) spiritual consultant to the participants. The facilitators help participants figure out what the next step is in their spiritual journey. I'm very excited, quite honestly, with LC because we are trying to incorporate the insights of postmodern critiques of a modernized evangelicalism by putting together a transpropositional approach to spiritual formation that does not view spiritual growth as being the exclusive result of information transfer.

God has blessed me with a wife, Bethany Jones Shields, and three beautiful daughters: Michaela Siobhan (6), Skye Teresa (4), and Alia Noelle (2). We live in Ellicott City, MD, which is located in beautiful Howard County, MD just south of Baltimore.

I work for USA TODAY as a marketing manager and have been with the company since 1989 in a number of capacities. They have been very good to me and I look forward to going to work almost every day. I work in McLean, VA, just outside of Washington, DC.

While at Virginia Tech, I decided that I wanted to become a professor of NT or Theology and transferred to Bryan College where I majored in Classical Greek and Bible. After graduating I went to Grace Theological Seminary to get my Masters. Midway through seminary I decided that seminary didn't train people to be spiritual leaders and, though I loved and love academics (and think it's a legitimate field!), I did not think my chosen career was the most optimal utilization of my skillset. (actual professor quote: "We do not train you how to be pastors; we train you to answer Bible questions.") I almost dropped out, but instead decided that if I were to ever have a part in developing a better spiritual leadership training method the Masters would help give me credibility. Plus I wanted to finish what I started. So I graduated from Seminary and promptly took a job as a Spot Welder in a local factory and continued teaching in my local church. After my girlfriend broke up with me 'cause I couldn't get a grip on the whole committment thing, one day on the line my head jerked up and I said to myself, "Why are you in Warsaw, Indiana?" So I contacted Bruce McNicol and asked him to tell me about the best churches in the United States in metropolitan areas. He listed a number of churches in Chicago, LA, Detroit and DC. I contacted them all and visited a couple. I decided in the summer of 1988 that I wanted to work with Brian McLaren at Cedar Ridge Ridge Community Church and moved here with no jobs and no friends, renting from Brian's parents. Brian was wonderful to me and very empowering. I ended up teaching, preaching, leading small groups, administrating small groups, singing, writing drama, acting, etc. From July of 1999 until Feb of 2001 I was on staff part-time working with all the small groups and the adult education of CRCC but being diabetic, having a full-time job and three little kids (and a very, very, very tired wife!!!) wasn't really sustainable and I quit the CRCC gig after getting physically sick. and the online communities I started came during the period of my recovery and here we are today.

Maybe later I'll share a bit more about my spiritual journey, but above hits a lot of the big stuff.

Thank you for sharing in my story.

Monday, June 24, 2002

giving up the day

I don't like to go to bed. I don't like to give up the day. This is a bad thing.

I work in N. VA 35 miles from my home just south of Baltimore. If I don't leave at 6 AM I won't get to work in less than an hour and - more importantly - I won't be able to leave early enough in the afternoon to beat most of the traffic. It has taken me up to 2.5 hours to get home.

To do any intentional spiritual breathing before I start my day, I have to rise at 5 or 5:15 AM. That means I have to retire at 10-10:30 PM. It's now 11:12 PM and I've missed my mark.

Now tonight I feel like I have a good excuse. Beth and I just had kind of an intense (but good) talk and I need to wind down before I retire. But I think I've figured out why I hate to go to bed generally.

I want to be like God (not in a good way).

I think I want to have more day, more resources, more money, more information, more friends, more prestige.

I think I want to be like God.

I consider this fundamentally anthropocentric.

Instead I must acknowledget that I am weak.

I am limited.

I must give up the day and trust Him with what cannot be done today.

I must honor what I've learned the Quakers called "Quaker midnight."


spiritual friendship

In the faithmaps discussion group we've spent a lot of time discussing how the postmodernism-influenced criticism of an inordinately modernized evangelicalism effects spiritual formation. Many now see that mere information transfer is not the exclusive, omnicompetent modality of spiritual formation. I addressed this a bit in an article Next-Wave published some months ago. Lately I've been thinking that perhaps part of our challenge in spiritual formation (whether it be described as "discipleship" or as a mentor/protege relationship) is that we've lost some of foundational skills of mere spiritual friendship. In other words, the art of spiritual relationship is a prerequisite of discipleship. I started to ask the 'mappers about what they would consider to be "core behaviors" of spiritual friendship when it occurred to me to review the reflexive pronoun translated "one another" in the NT. And so I surfed to the Bible Gateway and did a search on all instances of the phrase "one another" that appears in the NT. I put the results in this little chart.

A few of these injunctions jumped out at me as possible candidates for "core behaviors."

accept one another - Romans 15:7

As I mentioned in the spiritual friendship article mentioned above, Christ's command that we love one another as ourselves is predicated on our loving ourselves. We help others to do this by accepting them as we are accepted by Christ. When we model this for others, we help them to believe that maybe God accepts them too. This security enables altruism.

Serve one another - Gal 5:13

In this way, the spiritual friendship directly models God's love towards the other in transpropositional mode.

encourage one another - 1 Thess. 5:11

The spiritual friend believes in the other sometimes more than they believe in themselves. In fact, the spiritual friend is believing in the Spirit's work in the other. It is a belief in God. (See also Phil. 1:6; 2:13; and 1 Thess. 5:23,24)

fervantly love one another - 1 Peter 4:8

The spiritual friendship is a passionate relationship. It is motivated by the intense love we have for the Lover Who gave his all for us. We are constrained to love others because God loved us. (2 Cor 5:14, Darby)

pray for one another - James 5:16

The Holy Spirit is the One who teaches (1 John 2:27). If He does not teach in the spiritual friendship, no learning occurs.

Prayer is necessary for spiritual change, though God can do anything he wishes

confess your sins to one another - James 5:16

Surely, vulnerability is critical to a natural spiritual friendship; teachability is also implied.

stimulate one another to love and good deeds - Heb. 10:24

We must be ever encouraging others to be missional in their orientation.

On spiritual formation ministry team I co-lead at Grace church, we are going to spend a lot of time trying to create a culture of spiritual friendship among the facilitators. We'll certainly have procedures and policies, yada yada yada. But I believe that we will only move folks to love God and others in practical ways if we make the capacity of spiritual friendship part of the DNA of everyone in our local church. It needs to be as natural as breathing. This kind of culture will enable us to be effectively missional.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

minority report
**WARNING: Spoiler below to the new movie Minority Report. Do not read this is you haven't seen the movie and plan to!***

Ok, I mentioned yesterday that there are logic/plot problems with Spielberg's otherwise wonderful Minority Report. Johnny doesn't think that one of my concerns is very valid, but I continue to disagree with him. But I think I've come up with some ways that the movie could have been shot that would have defeated these difficulties. Some might legitimately question why I'm spending so much time trying to perfect a movie that's already released. CS Lewis might say that I'm looking for heaven by my desire for perfection, but I liked this movie so much that I want it to be perfect?

Maybe I just have too much time on my hands this weekend.

Anyway, here we go:

Don't PreCogs have RIGHTS???
No way would the PreCogs be treated by the US govt as they are in this movie. Rather I suggest that PreCogs be abundantly available because of the abundance of people abusing whatever drug that was that Anderton was addicted to (don't recall the name - the PreCogs were children of those folks who would have died without medical intervention). So if there are hundreds or thousands of PreCogs running around, the govt merely offers them 8 hour a day jobs with lucrative salaries to be in the PreCog state 8 hours a day. They are also given crafted drugs that make them lose time during that time (like anesthesia does).

How did Anderton find out about Leo Crow??
This is what Johnny and I are arguing about. More specifically: How did Director Burgess manipulate realtime so that Anderton would seek out Crow? In our movie, Anderton seeks him out because he saw the PreCog's vision of him murdering Crow. But that is logically problematic because it's self-referentially incoherent. The movie needed some device whereby Burgess could get Crow on Anderton's "radar screen" so that he would seek him out and, Burgess hoped, kill him.

Biggest Faux Pas: Absolutely No Way that Anderton Could Have Gotten Into the Temple Using His Eye!
- First of all, a disembodied eye works on the scanner? I don't think so. That would be a major security hole easily exploited. But - even more obvious - Anderton's security wasn't changed *after* he's accused of murder and terminated? Not possible. Today access cards are offed out as soon as an employee becomes an ex. No, the movie needed another way Anderton entered The Temple.

Feel free to let me know if you disagree or if I've missed other logic problems!

online and facetime relationships

Not long ago I started a small invitation-only online discussion group that was targeted specifically at considering the church's utilization of the 'net. Over the last couple of days we've had some very interesting discussion about the difference between facetime and online relationships. Some of my observations/initial conclusions:

- ironically, increased intimacy online can be enabled by its very optionality. Because it's so easy to disconnect from a group or individual in online discussion (I don't need to storm out of a room, I can just type a few keys and be done with you) individuals can feel more safety to open up. This ambiguity is bad when it leads to a lack of Christian commitment and good when it "tricks" someone, as it were, to develop a *real* relationship online that leads to Christian mutuality!

- Christian obligation notwithstanding, there does not seem to be a one-to-one correspondence between the significance that one attributes to online rels and one's character or folks' capacity to *have* significant relationships. I noticed a similar thing after I left college/graduate school. I noticed that some great friends would use the telephone and letters to keep up and others would not. And it didn't seem to have anything to do with how close we were in school. Now with online rels this ambiguity can be exacerbated by the fact that the rels *start* with an alternative narrow broadband medium. On the other hand, the immediacy of online interaction is an advantage over previous alternative mediums for friendship.

- I've been trying to evaluate whether there is any legitimacy to any claim of variable significance to online versus realtime relationships. As I've thought about this, it seems to me that it's an issue of sensory bandwidth (and there are probably other aspects about this to consider as well). With online rels, immediacy is enhanced by virtue of convenience and the interactivity inherent in the medium, but the sensory bandwidth is narrow. I am only experiencing you by reading your words. If I were in your presence my experience would be more transpropositional. I would have a fuller experience of you. Yet, if we posit that the significance of relationships is contingent on sensory bandwidth, we would then conclude that seeing disabled people are intrinsically hampered in their ability to have significant relationships, or that a letter I write to my wife is less significant than a kitchen conversation. Since this is obviously not the case, sensory bandwidth is an inadequate criterion by which to evaluate the significance of a relationship and must be discarded.

Saturday, June 22, 2002

the first one!

My first blog ever. Beth, Michaela, Skye and Alia have been in NJ with Beth's sister since Thursday so I've had more discretionary time on my hands. Last night my good friend Johnny Long and I went to see Minority Report. Not as spiritually satisfying as The Matrix but I thought it was more entertaining. Some logic problems. Also, don't pre-cogs have rights?? All in all, however, quite riveting. I put it in my top 5. I'm having a great time at Grace Community Church planning with the Learning Community Leadership Team a new kind of spiritual formation ministry. It will be adult education with a small groupesque ambiance where the facilitator will meet 2,3 times outside of the workshops with each participant in sort of a spiritual consultant capacity. It's meant to be a segue ministry to help folks find what their next step is spiritually. Ideally it will result in their getting involved with some significant spiritual relationship and/or a small group and/or a ministry or - if absolutely necessary - another LC Workshop! I'm very excited about this. We are striving to develop a ministry that will incorporate transpropositional realities.