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Crash September 30, 2005

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I have the Blockbuster movie by mail thingy because going to the movies feels like getting mugged.

I just saw Crash, the good one, with Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, and Matt Dillon. If you can f—ing handle the language (and a couple sex spots), then you have got a good movie to wrestle with. It is everything White Man’s Burden and Falling Down wish that they could have been, but didn’t have the political or sociological guts to be.

You get a raw feel for the racial tension brewing inside people. Not White people or Black people, or Persian people, but people.

I watched the movie being aware of how people touched each other. Whoa! Try watching with that in mind.

Christians only, but… September 30, 2005

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“Christians only, but not the only Christians”

Strangely enough, this is a Restorationism I never heard growing up. Seriously, I attended three different churches of Christ in the Minneapolis area and never heard this one. It was only after I went to liberal places, like Harding University, that…OK, my Dr. Pepper just blew out my nose. What is funny is not the irony of calling Harding liberal, but rather that it was liberal when compared to my originination point.

Back on topic. When I first heard someone say, “Christians only, but not the only Christians,” I immediately knew, from my childhood training, that this was someone’s erroneous, intentionally erroneous, effort to muddy the waters of true faith. I wondered how these liberal people in the South could have strayed so far. I was the ignorant savage from the vast “mission fields” of Minnesota after all, so my ignorance was excusable, but these were people from the South where everyone goes to a huge Church of Christ with more than one front door and have the Bible memorized inside and out. I was somewhat unnerved that these liberals were not taken to task like my friend Terry, a new Chrisitan, who was thrashed for wearing shorts on Wednesday night in July. Man, when you’re in Minnesota and it is one of those days you can wear shorts, you just do. It’s like that one day in Houston when you can break out the sweater.

So I start hearing this young preacher named Mike Cope who cracked jokes in his sermons and kept me awake as I slouched in the balcony of College Church. He was a good preacher, but kind of dangerous. There was one phrase he said one Sunday during sermon that put me into crisis. Mike was saying that there were many differen kinds of people in this room. “Some people like old hymns while others like newer songs; some people (blah, blah, blah), and in a group this size there are probably some closet-charasmatics.”

What the H-E-double hockey sticks is he talking about? And then he did not, as was the custom, go on to shame people who were charasmatics. No, he went on to affirm faith in its many forms. Christians only, but not he only Christians.

I remember being put into a crisis because I had always viewed those weirdo charasmatics as lost. Now there was this preacher I really believed in affirming them. I needed a crisis.

I really like the fact that there is much chummy conversation going on between Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. But the fact that this dialogue seems so momentous is only testimony to the fact that there is so much farther to go.

This is also what I like about some of the ideas coming out from emergent. The idea of a deep ecclesiology is so important. We are one deep down, though we are diverse on the surface.

Of all Restorationisms, this is my favorite. Christians only, but not the only Christians.

Wake Me Up When September Ends September 29, 2005

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Katrina’s hate destroyed the coast
Copycat Rita gave a toast
Wake me up when september ends

Oral Surgery came to pass
The ache in my jaw just lasts and lasts
Wake me up when september ends

Here comes the strep again
Got it from my son
Think he gave to everyone
Wisdom teeth pulled from my wife
A little dry socket feels like the end of life
Wake me up when september end

Gasoline 3.35
Got stung twice when I found the bee hive
Wake me up when september ends
My son’s new teacher is from Hell
We’ll teach him at home just as well
Wake me up when september ends

Although it’s Fall
It’s been hot as Hell
Been drenched with sweat time and again
Wake me up when september ends

Wake me up when september ends
Wake me up when september ends
Wake me up when september ends

Thanks Green Day

The Death of Death September 29, 2005

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I was 10 years old when Grampa Zoller died. 25 years later, I remember the funeral. I saw his dead body in the casket, we sang The Old Rugged Cross (was amazed that Lutherans knew that song too), I wept with a deep sadness because I knew this meant I would never see my grandfather again. I also knew my trips to Fox Lake to catch crappies had come to an end.

I remember the casket being lowered into the ground. I remember family conversations that happened in the following weeks. His death required us to take the 90 minute drive to grammaís house more than a couple times that winter. I remember watching a lot of Olympic hockey Ė the miracle on ice.

These memories run like powerpoint slides in my mind, each with a sight and a sound, but even more than that, an emotional tone. If I stop and let the slideshow play, I could be moved to tears. In fact, I think I ought to let that happen. That wouldnít be so bad, would it? I mean, itís only been 25 years, itís not like Iíve gotten over his death.

Do you get over the death of someone you love? Perhaps you reconcile with it. Maybe you integrate that reality into your life. Or possibly you now live more humbly and thoughtfully. But get over it? I hope not. I just canít get over the fact that Grampa Zoller is dead. Call me crazy, but I still wish he was alive.

So, that funeral ceremony, the family rituals that went with it, the songs we sang in the church house that day, the viewing of the body, the food, and everything else surrounding the funeral helped me (and help me even now) to begin the process of integrating the death of my grandfather into my life. I canít imagine not having done all of that. It would have robbed my memories. The powerpoint in my mind would be nearly blank.

And yet, this brings to mind the current flow of our American culture as it relates to death. The trend these days is to make less and less of funerals. We think it might cause damage to a child to see a dead body, we might not want to ďput someone through a funeral,Ē or perhaps we are afraid someone might cry, so we avoid it. Cremation is favored over burial in many parts of the country and opting out of a funeral all together is becoming more and more common. We behave in such a way that it would appear as if we deny deathís existence.

The death-denying, grief-avoidant, mourning-absent culture we live in is a product of the illusion of individualism and technological infinity we have become addicted to. If we were all truly autonomous individuals without need of anyone else, I could get over my grandfatherís death. It would be no big deal and I could just move on. It would feel the same as when I squish an ant. If technology could ever advance such that we can escape death, that would be something, but Iím not holding my breath on that one. No matter how far technology advances, dead is dead and thereís no other option.

Although we want to be happy and move rapidly, death reminds us that we need to slow down, grieve internally, mourn externally, and take the time necessary to integrate loss into our lives instead of running it through stages as fast as possible in order to ďget over it.Ē If we donít integrate it, then what we have is a neglected loss which will impose itself on us and demand to be heard. It will scream through the symptoms it invents.

As a people, as families, as friends, as communities of faith, we are connected to each other. When someone in that community dies, part of that community is dead. It is forever changed. This change must be reconciled or it will fester.

We need ways to integrate the death of the dead into the life of the living. We do not have the option of avoiding it.

Inside the minds of Bible Greats September 27, 2005

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Click here to laugh.

“Speak where the Bible Speaks…” September 26, 2005

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“Speak where the Bible Speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.”

I was out for a jog this morning when this quote entered my mind. I have heard this sentence since I was a boy and thought it to be good. This morning, I didn’t like it.

Not liking this mantra that I have been immersed in for many years did not come bring any sense of relief or comfort. In fact, my not liking this quote disrtupted my comfort. I have counted on this one for years. It was sure. It was safe. It was right. And if it wasn’t right, nothing else seemed righter (righter?).However, my discomfort did not lead me back to embracing this quote full on, but rather left me treading water.

OK, let’s take a look at the quote and see what the good and the troubling parts of it are.

Good:
1. Safe Bet. If you want to say that what is in the Bible is God’s Word, then this quote is safe. If that’s all you want to say.
2. Consumable. There is next to no one who cannot understand and digest this simple sentence. Its simplicity is really quite genius. It almost sounds like a Rick Warren slogan.
3. Clear. Its clarity is remarkable. There is no gray area whatsoever. It is so easy to do, at least it is so easy to believe you’re doing it. There is only one variable with which to deal.
4. Comfortable. It provides a very settled feeling. There is no more work or discernment that needs ot be done. All of that struggling and wrestling is taken care of. There is so much that does not even have to be thought about.

I am sure there is other good to it, but we’ll leave it at that.

Trouble:
1. Reductionistic. Even though Jesus said, in the Bible, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” and even though Jesus said, in the Bible, “I will send the Comforter,” and many other things, “Speak where the Bible speaks…” does not allow for the ever present Jesus, the Counselor (Holy Spirit as I understand the passage) to tell us anything besides, “read the Bible.” This quote has effectively muted God for just under 2000 years.
2. Not Biblical. No where in the Bible does it say that the Bible is all there is to God’s Word. Oh sure, someone is going pull out, “do not add or take away…,” but to say that means the Bible is the sum of God’s Word and God does not, will not, and cannot speak in any other way is such a ridiculous stretch of scripture that it would be speaking where the Bible does not speak.
3. Who’s Been Talking To Me? I believe God has spoken to me. I’m not one of those people who gets to hear the audible voice of God. I probably don’t enough faith to hear it an live. However, I have heard God speak in dreams, in “coincidence,” in wise words from friends the people I trust, in circumstance, in emotion, in thought. I have had instance when I spoke words of insight and wisdom to people that I was in no way capable of on my own. I wondered where that came from. Did God speak through me, or am I just that smart? If you know me and heard what I said, it would be easy to understand that it was God and not me. Furthermore, if it is Satan talking to me, why can Satan speak and God can’t?
4. Why pray? If God is done talking, then he’s done answering prayer. There is no need to pray, just read the Bible. If it’s all in there, then what’s the point in praying? God’s just going to point his finger at the Bible anyway.
5. Inhibits Growth. A people without struggle is a people without growth. When making sense of life, the Bible is helpful, but it is not all there is. In a way, the Bible can get in between a person and God. I am not saying it is wrong, but I am saying that God wants us to love Him more than anything else.
6. Promotes idol worship. That got your attention. ūüôā The Bible is one of God’s creations, ranking in the top 5 of all things created, but any created thing getting between a person and God or viewed by a person as being in the place of God is, in fact, an enemy to God. We make an idol of one of God’s creations, the Bible.
7. Return to the Old Law. If we cannot engage with the living God directly, then the Bible isn’t true. Jesus came to “tear down the curtain,” (a thing separating God and humanity) and make the Holy of Holies available to us all. If we have to funnel all interactions, relationship, and everything through the Bible, then the Bible itself becomes the curtain Jesus came to remove. Although Jesus tore the curtain, we got our sewing kits out an repaired it.I’ll stop there, although I could go on.

My point is this: The Bible is some of God’s word. This isn’t pretty and it is isn’t even safe. But “safe, who said anything about safe?”

Church Splits, Division & Disunity September 25, 2005

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Here is something I have heard often: 99% of church splits are not over theology, but over personality.

There was a time in my life when this gave me some comfort. Now I think it is just a thing people say to feel better about themselves.

It is as if personality is some kind of blank check for acting like an idiot. Too often, personality is an excuse for not changing. “Hey, this is just the way I am.” It’s as if personalilty is not a spiritual or weighty issue. Well, we can’t just wiggle off the hook that easily, as if we couldn’t help it since it was a personality issue.

I don’t see Jesus giving us any wiggle room for disunity based upon personality differences. Check out the apostle’s personality profiles and you’ll see that we can’t just play the personality card and allow our guilty consciences to be soothed.

Jesus picked, I think intentionally, a politically diverse group in order to prove that unity is based upon something other than sameness (uniformity).

Sigh of Relief September 25, 2005

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Thanks to all of you who prayed for my brother-in-law. Rita’s northward turn has left my family members in Lake Jackson, Pearland & Houston are all clear without any damage. Very grateful.

At the same time, we’re all feeling sad for those who took damage lost everything in Beaumont and surrougnding areas.

Pray for my Bonehead Brother-in-law September 22, 2005

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Click here for Zoe Conference Blogger Meet
——————————————–
Please pray for the safety of my brother-in-law, Kevin, and his family and employees. They live in Pearland, TX. Pearland is a piece of land wedged between Houston and the Gulf Cost. It is in the center of the crosshairs of Rita.

Kevin and his family and his employees are hunkered down at his house and they intend to ride out Rita.

They have been urged by family members to evcuate, but they are not doing it.

Are you postmodern? September 21, 2005

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For the follwing items, choose either option 1 or option 2 for which one fits you best. Give yourself 1 point everytime you choose option 1 as your answer and give yourself 2 points for everytime you choose option 2 as your answer. Don’t get all cutesy and choose both because it screws everything up for the the scoring. Your final score will range from 26 to 52. Any score outside this range means you did not do the test as I want you to do it. That does not mean what you did is wrong, but it means that you wasted your time taking this test.

Following the test is a scale revealing something about you.

A.
1. I seek truth
2. I seek meaning

B.
1. Most things in life are clear-cut, black and white
2. Most things in life are uncertain and gray

C.
1. Being rational makes sense
2. Being absurd makes sense

D.
1. People should be guided by their thoughts
2. People should be guided by their feelings

E.
1. 1+1=2
2. 1+1= ??? I do not have enough information to give you an answer

F.
1. I should look to authority figures for reliable information
2. I find that wisdom figures help me find my own answers

G.
1. I am supposed to be clearly defined
2. I find myself being intentionally mysterious

H.
1. History is progressive and builds upon itself
2. History is a stirring drama with unpredictable twists

I.
1. Optimism is a virtue
2. Uncertainty is a virtue

J.
1. Uncertainty is faithless
2. Optimism is arrogance

K.
1. I own my destiny
2. We sail or sink together

L.
1. I work, because if I do not, I am lazy and broke
2. I work because it matters, it has meaning

M.
1. Competition creates character
2. Cooperation creates character

N.
1. Being aggressive is effective
2. Being passive is respectful

O.
1. Logic and reason over pragmatics and what works
2. Pragmatics and what works over logic and reason

P.
1. Intolerance is discernment
2. Tolerance is virtuous

Q.
1. I can be persuaded by reason
2. I can be persuaded by wonder

R.
1. Everything in life has a truth to it
2. Few things are universally true

S.
1. Force of will is power
2. Relationship is power

T.
1. You can trust authority, position, and tradition
2. Trust is wise on a case by case basis

U.
1. Linear makes sense A+B=C
2. Random is reality A+ #–> )*L

V.
1. Proof creates belief
2. Story creates belief

W.
1. Life is comprised of a main plot
2. Life is collection of subplots

X.
1. I tend to be an either/or person
2. I tend to be a both/and person

Y.
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck:
1. Itís a duck
2. I can never be completely certain that it is a duck

Z.
1. Absolutism gives me confidence
2. Relativism enlightens me

26 Ultra-modern
27-32 Very modern
33-38 Somewhat Modern
39-40 Transitional
41-46 Somewhat Postmodern
47-51 Very Postmodern
52 Freakishly Postmodern