Friday, February 29, 2008
The undeniably indefatigable
and incredibly hip
(who by the way, recognizes the prophetic role of "loud farts" and was prankster enough to discover "Sex and Drugs in Church: Peterson on Why the System Can't Care")...
in a section of "Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination" ..
one of the most astounding and truly prophetic books about the Book of Revelation:
thankfully doesn't get caught up in end times chartolatry and "evangelical porongraphy"
and "couldn't hit a bull on the ass with a banjo" (Douglas Wilson's delightful line) of Left Behindism..
..in speaking of the horsemen of the apocalypse, radically "gets" this hugely misunderstood chapter; rightly reoriented it from framejacking, and making it hugely practical and wholly terrifying in the appropriate way (for once):
..each of these evils (war, sickness, and famine) is common, but each is also disguised so that we culturally accept its presence as something normal, even good. War is disguised as patriotism and a glorious struggle for freedom. Famine is disguised as a higher standard of living. Sickness is disguised by technology. Evil introduces by turns, conflict, greed, and deceit into social and personal existence and undoes creation, subverting its purpose and contradicting its design of redemption. These evils present such a benign appearance in their disguises that the world unthinkingly accepts them as the forces of history, to which Christ is a lovely but essentially ineffective minority protest.
War is dressed up in the Sunday best of "competition". We are trained from an early age to get what we want not in cooperation with others but in competition against them. The means are essentially violent, whether physical or psychological, weapons or propaganda..
..Famine is nature out of balance...We put millions of people to work at idiot jobs to make machines that pollute the air we breathe so that we can move rapidly from one place to another in projectiles at lethal speeds (killing and maiming other millions - more than have died in all the wars ever fought on the earth) so that we have more time to sit before outrageously priced electronic devices that flicker with forms of flesh fantasies that attempt to convince us (usually successfully) that we must have oil and wine luxuries for which we must go back to idiot jobs to make the lethal machines...
Sickness is disguised by technology....Our bodies are systematically abused so that they no linger function easily and naturally as temples of the Holy Spirit...
-"Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination", pp76-70
-Robert Farrar Capon, The Astonished Heart
Whatever you think about Starbucks/St. Arbuck's...
...see for example:
- Starbucks vs McDonald's=MegaChurch vs Emerging?
The McLatte? McDonald's Tries to Tackle Starbucks
No major leaks, but the baristas I quickly queried were jazzed. One even said, "I bet we even gained instead of lost money in the long run...we have had new customers intrigued by the idea of 'Why would a whole chain care enough to close?"
What would people think if every "branch office" of the Christian church in America "closed" for one (gasp!) Sunday morning for a mandatory meeting of employees to...
I don't want to say "quality control," or "customer satisfaction"..
How about to ask the Capon questions; and follow the Capon model:
My program would be this. Whoever is in command over the dying institution at the next highest level of corporate church-the diocese, the presbytery, whatever-would take the bull by the horns and kill it: close the church, dissolve its bard, sequester its endowments, and sell off its property, putting the proceeds in escrow just in case the corpse ever rises and finds a use for them. Then the managers would explain to the remaining members of those churches that they were free to do anything they could think of (or nothing at all, if they so chose). A suggestion would be made, however, that they might think about holding a kind of wake the next Sunday, perhaps in one of their homes, or in a restaurant or bowling alley that didn't open till 1:00 p.m. And if they took that suggestion...
Well, they might sit and stare blankly at each other to begin with. But with any luck,, some free spirit (young or old) among them would break the ice with the questions they had never been able to ask-namely, "Who are we?" "Why on earth are we here?" And most importantly, "What do we think we'd actually LIKE to do?" Having no model at all to meet the upkeep on and no known shape to whip themselves into, they would for the first time be open to looking for radically new answers--honest answers that could range anywhere from "We haven't the foggiest notion, but let's get together again next Sunday and see if anything occurred an the meantime" to "We're here to be the church, I suppose-whatever that means"", to "How about for openers we just try to stick with fellowship, breaking bread, and the prayers--maybe God will take care of the rest, if He wants any."
Those answers wouldn't sound like much of a start, of course; but then, a bunch of Galileans twiddling their thumbs in Jerusalem for nine days after the Ascension didn't seem like a grand opening, either. The operative fact is that a start can occur only after stop. As Isaiah reminded Israel, the church's strength is to sit still: all the power, all the resources, and all the hope of the defunctly marginal lie hidden in the terrifying reality of their death. Only out of that can they live. The only thing they need to guard against is the temptation to stop being dead. Alive and kicking may be nice, but it's not astonishing. DEAD AND KICKING, though, that's astonishing. That in fact, is resurrection-and its the only thing that can bring the best out in the church..
-Robert Farrar Capon, The Astonished Heart .link
This is in fact what we (are tiny branch office of the fruit tree)are doing this Sunday..
kind of...only, technically, we are "open for business"..
as we do this business.
It will be fun.
There will be no thumbsucking allowed; but coffee and dreams will flow.
Astonish me to death.
Scare me to life.
Maybe next week we'll close to watch a movie or something..
Bono closed down U2 temporarily at the end of the 1990s, announing "We need to go away and dream it all up again."
Maybe we''ll put up a sign "closed for reprayers."
"DESIRE, however we manage it, can always explode into astonishment"
Thursday, February 28, 2008
God sent several (literal) signs as Bruce drove...warning him the bridge was out.
Signs he ignored.
Signs and sermons from the Spirit are everywhere. Without going overboard and overweird
("Oh, I saw a STOP sign, must mean God is closing a door."),
I need to be more sensitive to this..see KKKKen's story here.
Everytime I catch a view of the pamphlet prominently displayed at my wife's favorite French bakery (I called it the underwear store because of the name),
I remember that church should be three things at heart and core. They are in big bold print; a sign from God:
The brochure is from TDWilley Farms, whose website reminds of of the
word from Francis Bacon:
"Natura enim non imperatur, nisi parendo."-- Sir Francis Bacon
Nature cannot be ordered about, except by obeying her.
The dedication page of Lessig's first edition (1999) of "Code" reads:
"FOR CHARLIE NELSON, WHOSE EVERY IDEA SEEMS CRAZY--FOR ABOUT A YEAR."
That is how it is these days with forerunning and foretelling types.
I haven't yet read the second edition of "Code," but it's called "Code v2," and (inevitably),
it is an open source "book," and (inevitably), here it is online.
Another amazing sign of the kairotic times.
From the first edition:
"We stand today just a few years before where Webster stood in 1850. We stand on the bink og being able to say, 'I speak as a citizen of the world," without the ordinary person saying, 'What a nut.'....This misfit will matter." (226) "It is the age of the ostrich. We are excited by what we cannot know. We are proud to leave things to the invisible hand. We make the hand invisible by looking the other way. But it is not a great time, culturally, to come across revolutionary technologies. We are no ore ready for this revolution than the Soviets were ready for theirs. We, like the Soviethave been caught by a revolution. But we, unlike they, have somethig to lose." (234)
No wonder there is a movement (at least on Facebook) to "Draft Lessig for Congress."
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I don't know how many churches have played the music video for Avril Lavigne's "I'm With You".
Probably not too many, as the refrain is:
"It's a damn cold night/
Trying to figure out this life...
But damn, we just had to play it. It was stunning to see
how quickly our folks (Jeannie lead the way!!)caught the God-hunger in this song
("Isn't anyone trying to find me??"). Explore this song more here on our forum; and huge thanks to RevKev for turning me onto the song. Yes, I admit that I cheated by uppercasing the "Y" in the "you" in her lyrics, but that's how I hear it.
It turned out to be a great wikiday; as we collaboratively listed some scriptures that included the phrase or thought "with you".
If I am "with" someone, it means we are an item., for example. If I say "I'm with Scott Jones" at reastaurant, it means he's paying my bill.
"I'm with you" can mean "I'm tracking with you" or "I agree with you."
Of course we noted that Jesus's very name, Immanuel, has "with you" embedded right in it.
We caught the paradoxes:
Sometimes the "with you" presence of God seems to save you from trouble (Acts 18:9-10), and sometimes save you in the trouble
Ken remembered that Mary was promised that the baby would be named "God with us," but then the very angel split (Luke 1:38)
Guess God cant live with or without you.
And yes, we did show that very U2 video at the prayer meeting before the gathering...
noting that the fluid lyrics seem at times Jesus speaking to us, sometimes us speaking to Jesus. We caught the overwhelmed Bono (having just buried his father, and playing to his hometown crowd of 80, 000) at 4:13ff moving into his spontaneous/Spiritaneous prophetic Bonglosealallia (see the comments on this post) utterance.
We also were caught in awe of Jesus' wanting to be "with us" before sending us out into ministry (Mark :13-q4 ), let alone God dancing and singing over the sheer joy of being "with us." (Zeph 3:16-17)
But also we keynoted that being with God, and God with us, is not a passive hanging out.
The very great Commission promised the "With you" will be with us as/if we go and make disciples of all nations." Lo, indeed. (Matt 28:18-20)
But what nailed us is the connection and conjunction of
"I will always be with you".
"The poor will always be with you."
Those words (Matt 26:11) of Jesus about the poor have been used as cop out and opt out. You know, "Jesus himself said there will always be poor people, so there is no need to help them...much.
Let alone any possibility of actually ending extreme and unnecessary poverty.
Sparks and Shekinah flew as we began to corporately connect the dots.
Only then did I remember and quote Bono's sermon:
"God is with us if we are with the poor."
Then I had someone bring Amos 5:14 into the mix; the only Scripture with a condition on the "with-us-ness" of God. Wouldn't every believer love to know that there is apparently one thing we can do that will cause the Omnipresent ever with us Imamnuel to...in a sense...not be with us?
"The Lord will be with you, if...
I actually didn't recall , but was guessing/hoping that the context and definition of "being good" in that passage had something to do with helping the poor. I wanted a prooftext; and because I am a recovering pastor, I pressed in fake confidence; having Scott read deeper into the passage until he found the word "poor."
Thank God it was there.
"God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill. I hope so. He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial like midday and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places. (
stuff. Maybe, maybe not. But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor."
God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them. 'If you remove the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom with become
This is true religion. True religion will not let us fall asleep in the comfort of our freedom. “Love thy neighbor” is not a piece of advice, it’s a command. And that means in the global village we’re going to have to start loving a whole lot more people, that’s what that means. That’s right. “His truth is marching on.” ..Because where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die.
... whatever thoughts we have about God, who He is, or even if God exists, most will agree that God has a special place for the poor. The poor are where God lives. God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is where the opportunity is lost and lives are shattered. God is with the mother who has infected her child with a virus that will take both their lives. God is under the rubble in the cries we hear during wartime. God, my friends is with
the poor. And God is with us if we are with them.
Unless we buy the "new phyics" that Mike Roe satirizes so well in his brilliant song by that name..
that will preach!
The Lord be with you.
Monday, February 25, 2008
dream, and in that fleeting in-between zone, heard(?), seen (?) a phrase that I caused me to think, "Hmmm, interesting, I need to look that up when I wake up."
significant, even prophetic.
I recently woke up with the thought in my head "Nothing is more practical than theory, and nothing is more theoretical than practice" I woke up, and wondered had anyone ever said that before? I googled it, and it turned out to be...
Just a few days ago, a name came to me. It was a bizarre name I had never heard before. I googled it, half-expecting to find nothing and was half-right. Until I thought to translate it into Spanish. My jaw dopped open, and I knew exactly who I was to pray for.
asleep, likely both...
What is the most basic or general function that dreaming is likely to serve. Since dreaming is an activity of the brain, we must first ask what function brain activity serves? And because the most general biological purpose of living organisms is survival, this must also be the most general biological answer to the purpose of brain activity. The brain fosters survival by regulating the organism's transactions with the world and with itself. These latter transactions would perhaps be best achieved in the dream state, when sensory information from the external world is at its minimum.
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I
go back to the South with.
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.