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State of the Union January 31, 2006

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Bush begins with honoring Coretta Scott King. Good move.

Bush says “hishtry” when he means history.

“The state of the union is good.” oh good. Whew.

Lots and lots of clapping.

“We seek to end tyranny in this world.”

9-11 referenced in first 5 minutes.

John McCain has a sourpuss face.

122 democracies in the world.

Half of all people live in democratic nations.

Syria, Iran etc – the non-democratic naitons. Better than axis of evil.

Islam is a noble faith.

Bush does not like Bin Laden.

Bush positions Iraq as the epicenter of terror. or did he help make it the epicenter of terror?

Supreme court judges don’t clap.

We will never surrender to evil.

Charlie Rangle, who the heck is he talking to?

We liberated Europe.

We are on the offensive against terror. Afghanistan. Iraq with a clear plan. Clear plan?

The guy with the funny moustance looks French.

Impressive progressive statement about Iraq’s advance from tyrrany to elections. That was a good one.

“We are winning” Lots of clapping.

“We have benefitted from criticism”

“Second guessing is not a strategy.”

John Kerry is sleeping.

Republicans stand more quickly than Democrats.

Bush’s eyes go one way and his mouth goes the other.

Laura Bush shakes dead soldier’s family’s hands. Lots of clapping.

Wife of soldier is very sad.

How do they know when to all stop clapping at the same time?

Bush sips clear beverage – possibly water or Vodka.

Palestinian people have voted, now here is how to run your “country”.

Some people are not gifted clappers. Woodblock hands.

“Liberty is the right and hope of all humanity.”

“Iran is held hostage…” Good one.

“Nookcewlehr”

Bush speaks to Iranians. Do they speak English? Bush wants a free and democratic Iran.

Did he just say we are wanting to spread disease?

Why show Rumsfeld when talking about AIDS?

Bush just celebrated the policies Bono would like.

OK, Bono wouldn’t like this next part.

Women wear color and men don’t.

1 Democrat likes the Patriot Act.

Bush wears a purple tie. I guess that is a good blue and red mix.

Hillary smiles big, but she’s not happy.

Bush did a brief lower lip bite a la Slick Willie.

OK, enough of the war crap. Get on with it.

Ooops, missed that part, had to pee.

I think that one guy is using checking his e-mail on Blackberry.

I don’t think taxes are going to go up.

“Make the tax cuts permanent.”

“We reduced the growth of non-security spending.” Huh? What about the massive increases in that other stuff?

3 people clapped on earmark reform.

Hillary is not amused by Bush’s humor about her husband.

Democrats clap at their won non action.

Volley. The problem is not going away.

We need to put aside partisan politics. geez, what the, cripes

Lady in pink – must I keep clapping?

Frist likes Medical Liability Reform.

“America is addicted to oil.”

Advanced Energy Initiative – clean coal, water & wind, clean & safe nuclear energy for the home.

Better batteries for hybrid cars. Ethanol from corn woodchips and switchgrass within 6 years. ethanol from woodchips?

Reduce oil important 75% by 2025.

No more petroleum based economy.

Did those two guys just do paper, scissors, rock?

American Competitive Initiative.

The Cheyne kid nearly bought it.

R & D tax credit gets a boost.

No new initiative left behind.

Good highway jobs? Oh, high wage, got it.

We are a more hopeful nation.

Drug use down. Fewer abortions in America than in a decade.

“A revolution of conscience.” Good one.

Oops brief black out.

Abramoff gets a little something.

Katrina gets a nod.

Alito smirk was classic.

More vodka.

“Hopeful Society.”

Human cloning ban, human/animal hybrids – hybrids? Cripes. George, please, Narnia was only a movie.

Helping America’s Youth Initiative. Laura Bush heads that one up.

$85,000,000,000 to the gulf already.

Bush addresses poverty pre-Katrina.

Juhn Kerry is still using Botox.

Obama taking notes.

Bush’s last facial expression before his last sip of Vodka = “Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.”

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Unity 2.0 – Age January 31, 2006

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Begin Unity 2.0 here
—————————-
I am 36 years old. I am young enough to be in the senior portion of the emerging church demographic (if there is such a thing), and old enough to to realize that my body is not agile, my hair is slowly graying, and that I can point to things in history books that happened in my lifetime. Age is a curious thing. I don’t feel much different than when I could steal 2nd base, but I know that I could never steal 2nd base.

Age is not merely about the number of years a person has lived either. Age is about what the culture was like when the cement turned hard. When you are a kid, the cement is wet, soft, and pliable. It is this way without much effort. Now, please understand that it is not a blank slate, but rather it is we cement. Slowly, as time goes by, the cement hardens. At least it hardens if there is not intentionality about keeping it soft.

When the cultures of the ages differ, our first goal is to fix the problem. There are many ways to fix this problems that do not work. Here are a few:

1. By Force – One generation or the other will use force the make the other generation submit to its culture. This can be seen in churches all thoughtout the country. Much of the worship wars are about generational and cultural force applied from the generation in power (older or younger) upon the generation with less power. This attempted solution breeds resentment, animosity, and peopole typically leave the church and hook up somewhere else or are unjured in the process. Prefernce is usually exalted to the level of “The Biblical Way” in all of the pathetic posturing garbed in theological absolutism. This is so not Jesus.

2. Accommodation – At first glance, this appears to be a better move than force. So, we split up into “developmentally appropriate” segments with age groups for everyone, catering to their every whim and need. We all get a religious IEP (Individualized Education Plan), a canon of favorite worship songs, and all of our limitless prefernces are produced for our religious consumoption. “There, now everybody’s happy.” Yeah right, just like the family of five that has five TVs on in five different rooms.

These bad attemtped solutions to the problem of our differences generated by age and culture of cementation only casue division. Notice I said it was the attmepted solution that caused the division, not the differences.

The core problem here is that we label differences a problem. That is really the problem. Calling a non-problem a problem is most certainly a problem. Certainly differences are uncomfortable. Sometimes they feel risky to acknowledge as relevant or meaningful. Oh yes, I know that differences require understanding and time to process. Differences are tough to handle.

HOWEVER, we are taking the wimps way out to label differences as problems. If differences are normal, then we have to get along and be loving, kind, patient, humble, sacrificial, gentle, generous, hopeful and whole lot of other tough stuff. Since that is all too ahrd for us, we label differences as problems and get to work eliminating the problem through force or accommodation.

How much energy do you suppose has been wasted in churches trying to fix the non-problem of generational differences through force and accommodation? I bet the number of chruch splits an dwounded souls on the force side and the number of billions of dollars and shallow consumer Christianity on the accommodation side would just make your head spin – and be utterly humilating.

Can’t we just accept the fact that everyone is weird, generations are different, cultures shift, and that getting everything I want is the loneliest place on Earth?

Why? January 30, 2006

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.
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Why do evangelical preachers quote scripture at 50 times the rate that Jesus did?

Unity 2.0 – Art January 30, 2006

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Go to Unity 2.0 Intro

Church art is either really old or really bad or, (and this is the worst option I believe) non-existent.

The only art allowed in the church of my youth was the corporate acappella singing. That means no musical arts (our corporate voices is all God desires), no performing arts (we don’t perform), no visual arts (too Catholic), no literary arts (we have the Bible, don’t we?), and no architectural arts (since a church building was essential to salvation) – stripped down, bare & fucntional.

The closest thing we had to an artistic outlet was the Bible Bowl, which was the best symbol of all, exposing the deeply entrenched values of my church – content knowledge of scripture.

I learned of performing arts through the dramas (skits) done by the York College skit group, Soul Concern, when they would visit Flaming Pine Youth Camp (Here is a new blog for the camp) and do their thing. They blew me away. Funny, striking, irreverant, and deep. I felt like I was sinning just wathcing them and laughing while “in the assembly” at the Lodge.

Kathy (Bergmann) Osborne at camp would play her guitar and sing what I considered quasi-spiritual songs and I could not believe that she could get away with something like that. Dennie (THE DIRECTOR) would do the same thing. I never told on them because I liked them so much, but there was this guilt that kept after me.

But for these few exceptions outside the hometown church, art was effectively banned. If it wasn’t considered sinful, it was certainly considered excessive if not completely unnecessary.

The problem is that there were no outlets whatsoever for artistic people. You ask why so many young people leave the Church of Christ (or many evangelcal churches) after they graduate high school? I bet you will find many of them are artistically gifted with zero outlet for their gifts.

These artistic people are born and raised in a religious context that constantly insults their God-made hardwiring. How long can you last in a context that is perpetually saying how insignificant you are?

Folks, on art, we are divided. Yes, at conferences and special occasions we bring in the Jesus Painter or see Jack and Jill Maxwell work their wonders, but what about art being a normal part of worship? Where are the art galleries in the church building? Where are the chapbooks of pslams being written? Where are the performing arts even given a chance? Where is good architecture (if you must have a building)?

If there is a chance of connecting even within our own people, then art is not merely a neat idea, it is essential for those artistic people to feel at home within their church family.

Ah, but it goes farther than that. We have oodles of people waxing eloquent on the knowledge level, but few poets, mystics, and artists challenging us to utilize our imaginations and plumb the depths of the unspoken and unutterable life of our souls. Knowledge is shallow and can only speak about meaning. Art is meaning.

In 500 years we will be known for our art. Doesn’t that frighten you?

Believing Thomas picks up the story here.

Go to Unity 2.0 – Age

Might as well face it… January 29, 2006

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You all remember this great song, don’t cha? 1989 was a good year. I think Robert Palmer’s hit was not as good as Poison’sEvery Rose Has Its Thorns,” an absolute classic, but much, much better than 2 Live Crew’s, “Me So Horny,” an absolute foray into debauchery (sorry no links) 🙂

Everything I ever needed to know about addictions I learned from Robert Palmer. That is until Carmen came along (don’t google Carmen’s image, you won’t get this Carmen) with his striking song “Addicted To Jesus.” Wow, Carmen, you are so cutting edge.

But this week I have been reading Brennan Manning’s new book, The Importance of Being Foolish. He speaks some about addictions and does a great job at making the connections to people who think that they are not addicted. He speaks about hearing from God and getting stuff from Christ.

Getting more and more from God and that stuff having less and less affect is an unhealthy addiction. So, Carmen, your Christ addiction is not something Mr. Manning is all that interested in. And folks, I’m with Brennan.

I have a friend who would literally not leave his living room until God told him to. He would pray and pray until he finally got a “word from the Lord.” Then he would go do what God told him – mow the lawn, jog, get an odd job to pay the rent…etc. He called it faith. I am not inclined to go that far. Addiction? Unhealthy dependence? Denial of responsibility?

Needing a word from the Lord so badly and frequently can be like the 40 year old who still lives in his parent’s basement and can’t hold down a job or keep a relationship alive longer than a month.

Yes, God desires complete dependence on Him, but when we deny what he has supplied and demand He do it for us, then what exactly is that? We can get more interested in that constant reassurance than what that reassurance was meant to accomplish.

When God says, “Love me and love people,” do we really need more than that? Sure, if God wants to speak, He will, but has He not sopken enough for most Christians to know what to do?

When we ask for answers, he might give us wisdom. When we ask for signs he might give us a number of optional opportunities. When we ask for reassurance, he might place a risk before us. When we ask for answers he might just be quiet since there is no reason to repeat himself.

I know that I have been and am probably a recovering Godaholic. I always want to know God’s will (nothing wrong with that), and I require God to make it clear to me in 10 different ways before my confidence will kick in (smell the addiction?).

God’s silence is detox.

Selah

If I never hear from you again… January 26, 2006

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Dear God,

If I never hear from you again, then I am going to assume that you have said all you ever wanted or needed to say to me. I will assume that you have given me enough to go on for the rest of my life. I will remember what you have said in the past and know that those words, those promptings, those signs were all I ever needed.

I remember that you spoke to me through the waterfall that hot summer day. I remember that you confronted my idolatry that hot summer night. I remember you said YES when I asked you to show me how I don’t love you – even though I didn’t know what I was getting into. I remember you gave me dreams of clarity when my church blew up.

I know you always speak through the Bible and there is much for me to hear there. I will still read and study. I know that nature is your voice in full color. I will still look and listen and find wonder. I know that every broken, wounded, saddened, hopeless, helpless, hungry, sick, and dying soul is you. I will do my best to love you. I know that everything I have is something you left for me to pick up and use. I will use that stuff with all of my wisdom (and could I get a little more of that wisdom by the way?).

It just seems like I don’t hear from you like I used to. That’s OK. I believe you know what you’re doing. If you’ve got something to say to me, I doubt you’ll keep it from me. I’ll keep on talking to you as best as I can. And I am going to keep listening, even if you are quiet the rest of my life. I will trust the Bible, nature, brokeness, and wisdom are your voice when I can’t hear it any other way.

I want you to know that today I rest comfortably in your silence. Maybe that comfort is your voice.

I love you.

Unity 2.0 – Economic January 25, 2006

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Begin Unity 2.0 here
—————————
I want to speak about this topic on 2 levels – micro and macro.

First of all, on the micro level. I grew up the son of a janitor/newspaper route drive. So, we were not exaclty loaded. I remember feeling guilty as a kid for wanting three pair of JC Penney plain pocket pants at the beginning of the school year. I was only allowed two pair. I know that I didn’t feel worse than my mother did that she had to limit me to two pair of pants for school. These two pair of pants needed to last until Christmas when my grandmother would buy me clothes (what a lousy Christmas gift for a kid – but a great one for my parents).

I had a tremendous awareness of who made how much at the church of my youth. I felt second class because we were poor. No, I felt second class because people who had enough money made sure they felt first class. OK, it was a combination. My parents maintained a blue collar resentment for white collar “rich people” and it rubbed off on me. At the same itme, you could tell by what people wore, what they drove, what status positions they were given at church, and where they sat during worship how much money they made. The preacher was the one exception. He was poor, but had some level of power – until they fired him that is.

Within our churches there is an economic divide that does cut deeper than income. There are biases and assumptions the rich have about the poor and vice versa that are divisive and damaging. Each congregation (for the most part) has an acceptable level of income at the lower end and the upper end. Few people within the congregation fall outside this window. The reason is that the assumptions about people outside the window are so strong and so pervasive that words do not even need to be spoken in order to create so much discomfort that people outside the window don’t even show up, or show up only once if they do.

Why do homeless people attend the Salvation Army and people with 6 figure incomes show up at my church? We would like to blame it all on geographical location (which is still economic), but it is more than that. It is about comfort. The path of least resistence is a sociological reality, but it is not a theological value. Without even knowing it we let economics determine out friendships and thereby limit our investment in the Kingdom of God.

On the macro level. Everytime I hear about African children dying of Malaria (a totally treatable sickness) and a 5 million dollar Capital Campaign for American Churches to build bigger barns, I can’t think about it as justice. Yes, God owns everything!!!!! But He gave a whole bunch of it to us and we refuse to heal the sick and feed the hungry with it. OK, we heal some of he sick and feed some of the hungry. But then we get mad at them if they get hungry or sick again. We say, “give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach him to fish and he eats for a life time.” We fail to believe that there are no lakes in the desert. There are some people on this planet who just need a whole bunch of fish served to them. Americans resent anyone who is not self-sufficient. We do little to bring more capable, but challenged, people to a level of self-sufficiency.

I am going to make this statement without reservation: “No one has ever pulled himself up by his own bootstraps.” Go ahead, try to lift yourelf up off the ground pulling only your bootstraps. Folks, who even has bootstraps theses days?

No one, no matter how successful in any way of measuring success, did it themselves? Everyone relies heavily on a context for success. The “self made man” who created such and such business only capped on a context that made it possible for this or that to happen. For some people it is easy and for others it is impossible. Amount of efort put into saomething is not as big a factor as we individualistic Americans would like to believe it is. It’s important, but not the biggest piece, buy far.

Unity 2.0 is the kind of unity that intentioally recognizes economic barriers and then rips them to shreds. Without intentionality, division is inevitible.

Go to Unity 2.0 – Art

Pilgrim of Worship #7: The Dangers of Playing It Safe January 22, 2006

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If you’ve been following Unity 2.0, don’t worry, there is more to come. I neglected, however, to finish my pilgrim of worship series.

After the church explosion in Abilene and the rampant abuse that followed, my joy in worship was sapped. There were songs I could not sing because of the memories. I spent two more years in Abilene trying to figure out how to live and worship.

Finally, I graduated and we moved about as far from Abilene as you can get – Minnesota. We went from dangerous to safe, to put it mildly. If the church I was at in Abilene had been cutting edge before the melt down, then the church I went to was the epicenter of mainstream don’t-step-on-anyone’s-toes-ism. Please, very good people and I have close frineds there, but the church was governed by a mentaility of maintenence. Thus the worship reflected that posture.

The ban on female participation, the mandatory hymns, and skepticism that “camp songs” during worship ignited really brought me back to a place once upon a time. But none of that bothered me initially because at least I knew what I was getting into. There weren’t going to be any Pentecostal Powerplays here, and that is just what I wanted, at first.

As I healed, I grew restless once again. The worship really was dead, from my perspective. Yes, it is about what I bring to it. I did my best. At the same time, what I had to wade through to get there for corporate worship left me looking for Saturday night services at the local community churches. My wife and I went to an unforgettable Sonicflood concert that was surprisingly very worshipful. That was in 2000 and talk about it still.

You know, there is no safe. The dangers of familiarity and comfort are potentially more threatening than the dangers of progress and adventure. This is not the usual common sense through. In fact, I recently heard a church person say that he was glad to live in the box because living outside the box leaves you vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. Inside the box is safe. Well, since I know the context of the comment, I willl get him pass on it.

However, this statement cannot be generalized. How many people are lulled into spiritual complacency resembling The Matrix where they are fat and happy that all is well in the world and in their church because they wear the same clothes and sing the same songs and have the right theology? That, my friends, scares the crap out of me. The more I learn of the priorities of my spiritual history, the more I fear I am deeply damaged – or my system is corrulpted.

I have been safe for the past 7 years. I am sick and tired of being safe. I am ready for some danger.

I do not know where my pilgrimage of worship will take me. All I know is that safe is not something I can afford to be anymore.

Watch This! January 20, 2006

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Watch This!

Unity 2.0 – In the newspaper January 19, 2006

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Go to Unity 2.0 – Intro

Below is the article that will appear inthe Jonesboro Sun Saturday.

…one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. You might look at the world around you and set that reality next to these famous words from the Pledge of Allegiance and say something like, “What a crock! Are we really one nation? Are we really indivisible? Are we really under God? Is liberty and justice for all or for the privileged few?”

On the other hand you might look at the world around you and compare it to these words in the Pledge and take comfort that this country enjoys more diverse unity that any other nation on Earth.

How could it be that some people see unity in the same places others see division? Well, you’ll be glad to know that I have the answer to this question. There are different kinds of unity, different layers and depths to unity. If you are looking at one kind of unity, viola, there is it – here, there, and everywhere. However, if you are looking for a different kind of unity, you would have more luck finding an igloo in the Sahara.

When people in America celebrate the kind of unity that is here, there and everywhere, they are recognizing what I call Unity 1.0. Unity 1.0 is the first kind of unity. It is the kind of unity that makes America great. It rests in the ideals and vision of the fathers (and mothers) of this great nation. “All men are created equal…,” “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…,” “Give me liberty or give me death,” and so forth. We are a country that has made progress toward these lofty ideals through its government and churches. Children of all races, male and female, attend school together. Women can be CEO’s, MD’s, and the Secretary of State. There is enough anecdotal evidence to proclaim unity in America towards the vision set out by the founders.

However, the kind of unity America enjoys right now is only step one. We have yet to fully enjoy or even comprehend Unity 2.0. This kind of unity takes the ideals and vision of the founders beyond anecdotal evidence and legislative constructs and launches it into the hearts of people. It deeply impacts the way people experience real life. Unity 2.0 melts latent prejudices and biases that rely on the societal and systemic processes of division to be prejudice for them and replaces them with a generous and forgiving compassion that refuses for differences to be synonymous with division. In short, Unity 1.0 has had a good run, but its days for laying the foundation are over. Running a country on Unity 1.0 any longer is going to corrupt the system.

Unity 1.0 operates with dreams and visions, platitudes and politics being sufficient to satisfy the agenda. So long as the laws are right and the rhetoric is inspiring, and there is an anecdotal piece of evidence to parade in public, what really happens is not relevant. Colin, Clarence, and Condoleeza are excellent examples of how far Unity 1.0 can go, but do not reflect the national heart at its core. Certainly we need dreams and visions, platitudes and politics to help lay the foundation for unity, but stopping there is a mistake. Unity 2.0 means individuals, communities, and organizations intentionally live in such a way that the visionary dreams of the past are just descriptions of normal everyday life.

So long as we still live in a nation where a man can get pulled over by police for being Black and a mayor of a major metropolitan city can declare God’s desire for a city to be monochromatic, we remain largely in Unity 1.0.

We are moving, I believe, off of the old system and on to the new one. Unity 2.0 is now in Beta testing. Some churches are emerging from denominational strongholds and calling other churches brother and sister rather than Hellbound sinner. Some neighborhoods are clearly multicultural. In some places, women are regarded as equals with men. Some corporations use their power to influence good in the world rather than merely their pocketbooks. New housing developments with intentionally mixed income units are being constructed in major metropolitan cities.

Yes, Unity 2.0 is currently in Beta testing. It might not be where you live yet, but you can bring it there if you want to. You can test out the depth of love that powers Unity 2.0 without having to get permission from anyone.