Friday, June 11, 2010

The May 8s :: Blogs

The May 8s :: Blogs - The most thought-provoking and world-opening blog posts I've stumbled on in the month of May

1) "25 Years and Still Lovin' It" (Tall Skinny Kiwi / May 24, 2010)
What's the secret to sticking with one of the world's most poorly paid and most despised professions?
[Why? Are you thinking of becoming a missionary also???]
Well. I would say that for me, its being sure that this is God's path for me and finding joy and energy in that knowledge. I love a challenge and I get bored easily. I try to challenge myself continually to prevent boredom. For example, I never preach the same message, ever, but always create unique situations for God to speak and act in each unique setting.
2) "Our Fix-It Faith and the Oil Spill" (Elisabeth Rosenthal, The New York Times / May 28, 2010)
Americans have long had an unswerving belief that technology will save us — it is the cavalry coming over the hill, just as we are about to lose the battle. And yet, as Americans watched scientists struggle to plug the undersea well over the past month, it became apparent that our great belief in technology was perhaps misplaced.
3) "House Churches Have No Sex Appeal" (Tall Skinny Kiwi / July 02, 2004)
For most of the world, starting new churches means cleaning up before the living room fills up with people. Millions of churches around the word are starting this way and millions more are needed.
. . . But the following gripes are actual real-life insufficiencies that need to be addressed if house church evangelists are to offer a viable alternative to people leaving the Pyramids Of Egypt for The Good Land Flowing With Milk And Coffee.
. . . 1. Name is Misleading.
The label needs to change from house church to something that better describes it.
. . . 2. Authentication is Delayed.
House churches are not yet recognised by the mainstream. Sometimes they are reactionary to the establishment and find identity in the chasm. Other times they are not respected.
. . . 3. Orientation is Backwards.
The focus needs to change from "our house" to "their house."
. . . 4. Support is Minimal
House churches are the cookie dough of the new ecclesiology. They are tasty and soft and very tempting. But they have not yet hardened into something permanent. We might be 5 years away from seeing a complete ecosystem of organic ministries that work together to enable a healthy, reproducing, movement of house churches.
. . . 5. Integration is Absent.
House Church Utopia is still painted as being pure and contaminant-free. As if you leave one model of church and adopt another with no reference to what you came out of. The truth is that there is compromise. There is modularity in our new forms. There is re:mixing, compositing.
4) "Holy Spirit Movement: We need a miracle" (Tall Skinny Kiwi / April 26, 2010)
Question: How do you know the Holy Spirit is at work and not just your own adrenaline, or the timely implentation of your ministry plan.
In a word, a miracle.
. . . In my experience, the most successful church plants could all point to a moment in time when something beyond the church planter's control happened - a miracle of sorts - and that gave them the confidence that God was at work, that what they were building was part of a Holy Spirit movement, and more than just a great idea.
5) "War as the New Normal: an Interview with Andrew Bacevich" (Chris Keller, The Other Journal / May 11, 2010)
AB: The effect on our psyche puzzles me. Americans have all but accepted perpetual war as the new norm. They are numb to its significance.
TOJ: So how is this numbness new compared to, say, the Vietnam War era or World War II?

AB: It’s quite different. Americans in World War II didn’t see war as perpetual—their aim was to win as quickly as possible in order to return things to normal. Many Americans during the Vietnam War feared that war might be becoming perpetual—and they protested mightily against that prospect.

TOJ: In The Limits of Power, you mention that war during the ’80s and ’90s was remarketed as “more precise, more discriminating, and potentially more humane.” How is such an illusion preserved by the U.S. government, and how are U.S. citizens complicit in this illusion?

AB: The vision of war as precise, discriminating, and humane grew out of the way people in Washington chose to interpret events such as Operation Desert Storm and the 1999 Kosovo War. The whole thing was bogus, as we learned to our sadness in Iraq and continue to learn in Afghanistan.
6) "Posts on the Church, Apocalyptic, and Mission" (Inhabitatio Dei / May 19, 2010)

(This is an area I'm incredibly interested. A good introduction to the subject is Nathan Kerr's Christ, History, and Apocalyptic.)

7) "The Emerging Church Brand: the Good, the Bad, and the Messy" (Shane Claiborne, God's Politics / April 13, 2010)
A decade or so ago, a bunch of young, mostly white evangelicals started seeing similar conversations beginning to spark all over the place about the reshaping of evangelicalism, the rethinking of missions, and reimagining what it really means to be the church. Language of “the emerging church” connected many of the dots, which remained primarily white evangelical men, many of whom had great ideas and led vibrant communities and organizations. Nonetheless it has always been evident that this is not the whole conversation or renewal happening in the church — and the fact that the dozens of books and cover stories done on the “emerging church” hailed mostly faces of white men shows the many forces of colonialism, privilege, and all the other principalities and powers that still threaten to hold our faith captive. Entire movements of hip-hop church and missional communities overseas and indigenous movements of first nation Christians have also been stirring up all
over the world, though they do not get the same air time or book deals.

Eventually, books and brands began identifying as “emerging church” or “emergent.” So it got a little messy. In my opinion, “the movement” became a bit narcissistic, and often became little more than theological masturbation: feels good but doesn’t give birth to much. It’s one thing to talk about theology. It’s another thing to talk about talking about theology. There is some sloppy theology out there. Some “emerging church” folks have repeated some of the mistakes of fundamentalism (only with more tattoos), and others have repeated the mistakes of liberalism (only with more wit). Meanwhile, there are many folks who seem to know exactly what “emerging church” is and think it is the anti-Christ. However, neither of these, I am convinced, represents the silent majority of young evangelicals of all colors of skin who love Jesus with all that they are and are not willing to use our faith as simply a ticket to heaven and ignore the hells of the world around us. There is a new evangelicalism that loves Jesus and wants to change the world.
8) "Emerging or Converging" (Julie Clawson, God's Politics / April 19, 2010)
Our globalized world has forced a new understanding of how we conceive of our emerging faith. It is harder to deliberately ignore the diversity of voices speaking into this thing we call Christianity. While some might still proclaim the other to be wrong simply for being other, it is impossible to deny that the other exists. This isn’t about being open-minded or being politically correct; it is simply a necessary reaction to the nature of the world we live in. Other theologies, other voices, other ways of reading scripture exist (other always being relative to one’s vantage point). We are too interconnected to ignore them or pretend they don’t matter. They are simply part of the air we breathe as Christians which is becoming increasingly impossible to not acknowledge.
. . . The world has been blatantly thrust in front of our eyes, and even the church can no longer resist this emerging consciousness. What stories get told and whose theology gets privileged can no longer be determined out of ignorance. In our interconnected world, the voices of womanist and feminist theologians, the cries of the liberation and postcolonial theologies, and the narrative understandings of scripture that focus on exile, family, and oppression are accessible to even the average Christian. The church is far bigger than some of us might have once believed, we just had to be forced to open our eyes and see it.

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