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The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth May 31, 2006

Posted by fajita in Christianity, emerging church/emergent, Philosophy/Religion, Post-restoration/Restoration Movement.
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…the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.

This line is usually reserved for court. I love the honesty, expectation, and optimism in the statement. There is an understanding that truth is something that can and will be arrived at in every situation. And as it turns out, truth is sometimes, perhaps even often, arrived at in court.

Was the driver speeding? Did she kill him? Is ABC corporation liable for damages?

However, let's enter context. Perhpas we do establish that the driver was speeding, but suppose she was speeding because her son was kidnapped and she somehow just found out the place where her son was being held.

Perhaps we do establoish that she killed him, but her reason was self-defense.

Perhaps we do establish that a tobacco company did not intentionally market to kids (yeah, right), but that their product is so unhealthy that it is still liable for health damages.

OK, enough examples, let get to ultimate truth and the emerging church. Emerging church folks are often accused of chunking the baby of truth out with the dirty bath water of modernity. This assertion is troubling. Sadly, it has some wheels in some corners of the EC converwsation, but not nearly as much as so many critics want it to have.

What if there is such a thing a absolute truth, but it is difficult to access, rarely necessary to arrive at, and is not the most important thing?

Or think about this: what if absolute truth is generalized in many ways? Love one another, love God, honor creation, utilize self for the benefit of the world. What if these are absolutes truths?

Or, what if there is absoute truth, but it is rare? What I mean is that there is no absolute truth on many matters where some people want there to be?

Yes, I know that postmodernity and its gravitation towards the abolition of truth can provide a slippery slope that ends in anarchy. But I also know that modernity's slope slips fast as well. When a church can split over the absolute truth of worship style, how to take communion, or the Biblical teachings on whether or not to have steeple (all real examples by the way), then isn't modern lust for absolute truth just as scary as the postmodern denial of it?

I, for one, believe in absolute turth. I also believe that it is much more difficult to access than many people think. I also believe that absolute truth, when learned, discovered, or stumbled upon, is love and beauty and power and humility and grace and courage and peace and hope and fierce and whole bunch of things qualitatively glorious.

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More on Jesus Bucks May 30, 2006

Posted by fajita in Christianity, Media, Philosophy/Religion.
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Mark Driscoll shares about marketing Jesus here.

King Kong: A Movie Review May 30, 2006

Posted by fajita in Movie Reviews.
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I finally got around to watching King Kong. So far as action and special effects, it rivals all movies claiming to be the best. When the giant worm ate the guy head first, that was amazing – and horrific. When the dinosaur stampede went on and on, that was great. Kong's facial expressions were priceless. The way Kong and the woman interacted, it worked for me.

That is the place where my praise ends. The story, the acting (some of it anyway), the ending, were weak at best. The absolute worst part of the movie was Jack Black's closing words. It was unbelievable in a hundred different ways. I know there was an effort to be tru to the original, but good grief, that was weak.

It was too long. I didn't see Kong until the film was an hour old. Come on! An hour into Alien, I've at least seen a little bit of Alien. An hour into Predator, I have seen at least a glimpse of the beast. An hour into Ghostbusters and I am seeing ghosts. Give me King earlier – and don't drag out the movie for 3 hours. That works with LOTR, but not Kong.

I will not watch it again unless it is with my kids when they are old enough to stomach giant worms with a hankering for human heads.  

A Little Something May 30, 2006

Posted by fajita in A Little Something.
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Jesus Creed begins a little something on Romans.

Get your evangelistic tracts right here.

Apparently we need more Carbon Dioxide. (ht: radical congruency)

Postsecret is a curious and interesting blog.

Can't we all get along?

Can we do away with the N word?

40 Days of Fat: Day 30 May 30, 2006

Posted by fajita in 40 Days of Fat, Church Planting, Exercise, Health, Weight Loss.
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Current Stats:

Weight Lost: 8.0 pounds = $80

Miles Run: 64 miles = $64

Totals for my church planting friend = $144

Jesus, The Commodified Christ May 29, 2006

Posted by fajita in Christianity, DaVinci Code, Philosophy/Religion.
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Thanks to Inner Geek for pointing us to this one.

Solomon’s Porch : A Review May 29, 2006

Posted by fajita in Christianity, Church Planting, emerging church/emergent, Philosophy/Religion, Post-restoration/Restoration Movement.
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A couple of Sundays ago my wife and I visited Solomon's Porch, a new kind of church located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This church is often referenced when people speak of "the emerging church." My wife and I have this church on our short list of churches to visit and consider for when we move to Minnesota. Doug Pagitt is the pastor there and is often included in the handful of people mentioned when people ask who knows anything about the emerging church. What follows is my experience there.

We got there right on time, fearing we might arrive a touch late. Well, not to worry, 5:00 PM is more of a generalized show up time. Things didn't get moving in any sense of a corporate manner util 5:21 PM accoridng to my watch. That was fine with me. My usual church experience is that things start right on time and people still wander in for 20 minutes.

When things did get moving, it was the band that kind of eased into song and got everyone's attention – kind of. People were very much into their conversations, their coffee, and their comfy couches.

Oh yes, the appearance of the building they meet in was classic. They meet in an older church building, maybe Methodist at one time, and have cleared out all the pews, pulpit, and other clutter (except some pretty tall pipes that go to an organ I never did see or hear). Rather than pews in a row, there were couches, easy chairs, and occasional bistro tables and chairs. Candles here and there, with dim, but not annoyingly dim lighting. These furniture pieces were arranged in a circle around a stool – a stool you would never have noticed had you not known to look for it. Compare that to the pulpit in most churches.

As the music got going, Doug Pagitt made the rounds, shaking hands, conversing with people he knew, meeting people he didn't know. He was amazingly accessible before and after the worship time. I liked that.

There was not a coat or tie in the entire place. Believe me, I would have noticed. Lots of cargo and denim with loose fitting clothes, T-shirts, and the people who wore glasses wore cool glasses. The guy on the Mac commercial in which he holds hands with the PC guy would have fit right in here. The PC guy would have felt a bit uneasy.  

The music was home grown, real, unashamedly Christian, and actually pretty decent. Typically when I think of home grown music I think that "It means a lot to those people, but it really sucks to anyone else." This was pretty good msuic. Some people sang along with the music while other listened. The band did not invite people to sing with them nor did they seem to care if anyone did or didn't. They were just putting it out there for the gathering to do with what they wanted. Frankly, I like a little more participation than was happening, but coming from an all acappella congregational singing tradition, I am always going to be left wanting when I go somewhere else.  

Images and lyrics were available on two large screens on either side of the "auditorium." It was good. They were accessible, but not intrusive. I sat with my wife at a bistro table a couple steps up where the pulpit area used to be once upoon a time in this building and could see just fine.

After the singing, but before the sermon, there was considerable time given to a mother with her 9 year old daughter talking about children and families at Solomon's Porch. This scored big points with us because we have an 8 and 6 year old who are really hoping for friends when we move to Minnesota.

The sermon was kind of like a report of a conversation that had occurred the Tuesday prior. It was quite engaging. On Tuesday a group group (anyone can come I think) gathers to discuss the sermon topic, scripture or whatever will be addressed on the next Sunday. Doug gathers the conversation into an outline (kind of) and presents it to the folks there Sunday evening (which is the main gathering time). So, he presented some interesting and challenging concepts about politics and Christianity. Then, in what has been tried in other settings and always failed badly, he asked us all to gether into little groups and address a couple of questions or anything related to the topic. He set us free for about 10-12 minutes. Do you realize how long that is? The thing is, it worked. My group was pretty conversational, which is something since most of us didn't know each other. This could never have worked with pews.

We took communion. A woman got up and presented a mini message about her work as a massage therapist and how she touches bodies and tied it into the Lord's Supper. That was novel in many ways for me. I am most pleased with the fact that a woman is allowed to do that. Even having to write that last sentence gives me shivers, but I don't know how else to say it. I guess it is the word, "allowed" that really gets to me. She was terrific. It was normal. I want my daughter to see women doing those kinds of things.

There were about half a dozen communion stations scattered around the room. My bread had this surprising and delicious lemon flavor to it. That was a first. There was a wine option and a one cup option available to anyone who wanted to take sommunion that way.

OK, options during communion. Have you ever had options at a communion? I loved it.

But most of all, the communion did justice to the purpose of communion. We, as the body of CHrist, took the body of Christ and broke it and remembered Jesus int he presence of each other. Beautiful.

There was scripture and prayer. They have a few traditions that they do at Solomon's Porch that are theirs, but I never got the feel that these were the right traditions, but rather that they were their traditions. Big difference.

Pretty early on in the order of things, several minutes before the sermon, the littlest kids were relased to go do something. Then, just before the sermon, elementary kids up to Middle School (I think) were then released to go do their own thing. High schoolers are adults in this church, I guess, as they remained in the main gethering. I think that, too.

There were pieces of paper and pens scattered here and there on table. Before the thing got going, I asked someone what these were for and she said, "There are a lot of artsy people here and they need this." Later on we were invited from the pulpit stool to write or drama something about Pentecost, if we wanted to, and put it in a basket after the gathering. It might be used in a couple weeks for their special Pentecost art worship thingy (not sure what to call it).

All in all, we really liked the visit. We are interested, of course, what the "missional" means in everyday life these people. We want to be part of a church where something overtly missional is normal, not just for the ministry staff or "Super-Christians. "

When we move to Minnesota, we'll keep Solomon's Porch in mind.

Certain Doom May 29, 2006

Posted by fajita in Christianity, emerging church/emergent, Philosophy/Religion, Post-restoration/Restoration Movement.
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When Christians make certainty a requirement for faith, Biblical interpretation, the church, and ultimately the world suffers.

Biblical interpretation that produces only confidence or hope will be deemed insufficient when certainty is a necessity. The Bible will be degraded into a tool, or worse, a weapon, by which people use to control others into adhering to their form of certainty.

Church practice, tradition, and fellowship will be limited rather than expanded when certainty is a requirement. Creativity necessitates the untested, and therefore the uncertain – thus with certainty creativity ceases. Nothing new will ever emerge.

So, when the lust for certainty supplants all other drives in faith, Biblical interpretation is limited, church fellowship is narrowed and the world suffers because an inbred group of faith people refuse to bless them.  

Two Long Months May 28, 2006

Posted by fajita in family, Grief.
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Two months ago today I stood by my father's hospital bed and watched him pass away. I wept, I prayed, I held his hand.

The years were not kind to my father. He lived t age 59, but he took and emotional and physical beating that aged him quickly.

He left home at age 16 because of intense family turmoil, mainly with his father. The oldest of a dozen, his leaving home gave him some terrific guilt, leaving the rest of his siblings to deal with teh turmoil.

He married and fathered his first child (my older borther) at age 17.  

Bankruptsy before age 30 because of a failed business attempt.

Worked lowly jobs 60-80 hours a week just to keep out of poverty.

Fell two stories off a an unsafe scaffold at his janitorial job onto his neck at age 39. Partially disabled.

Hit by a drunk driver at age 48. Massive 3rd degree burns, some brain damage, and multiple complications.

Terrible infection at age 55. Lost ability to live independently.

Two months ago, it all caught up to him.  

Dad, thank you for hanging on for 59 years. I could have used a few more from you, but I am thankful for the years I got. I am eternally grateful we found a way to reconcile and see eye to eye when I got out of college. I love you.

Critiquing Emergent May 26, 2006

Posted by fajita in Christianity, emerging church/emergent, Philosophy/Religion, Post-restoration/Restoration Movement.
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Let's get one thing straight: Emergent, the emerging church, and postmodern churches (if there is such a thing) are not a denomination. Thus, to critique all things emergent like you might critique things Methodist or things Baptist is kind of like telling a group of kids on the playground equipment they aren't playing basketball by the rules. They aren't even playing basketball! They are not a team and there are no game rules, though there are rules of decency and fairness. Sharing, taking your turn, no hierarchy, etc govern the playground, not what constitutes a violation, stepping out of bounds, and who gets in the game and who sits on the bench.

Emergent needs to be critiqued as a conversation since that is what it claims to be. If emergent critics would look at the dynamics, history, and ways in which conversations are governed (if I can even use that word), not the dynamics, history and way denominations are governed, then these critics might get a little better ear from the emergents and also they might not feel so darned threatened when they hear something they don't like.

If you walk up to a pro basketball game and ask what the rules are, you get a truthful and uniform answer. If you walk up to a playground of kids and ask the same question, you get a bunch of different and truthful and answers. So, if you want to enter the NBA, you follow the rules, while if you want to play on the playground you just play.

Context is everything when trying to communicate. There is too much confusion about what emergent is. So, since people are confused, they go into default mode and decide to treat it like a denomination.

Please, if you are emergent critic, don't stop being critical as a the questions are needed, but also please, do not insult emergent things by denominational presuppositions. When you enter into the conversation with assumptions, then you will exit the conversation with false conclusions.