Worst Camp Sign Ever [humor]

There's just so much wrong with this sign from FAILblog:

(1) Terrible way to shorten "Methodist Bible Campground"
(2) It's a "dead end"?



The Church as Shakespeare...ORLY?

Last week the English language surpassed 1 million words.  While we want to blame the internet, the 1 millionth word was "web 2.0"...which is pretty old term in internet-speak. 

I suspect the 2 millionth word will come much quicker.  In a column in the Tulsa World on June 21st, Michael Overall writes that we now have multiple words or variations of words to describe one specific meaning.  For instance, high English "novice" gets shorted to contemporary English's "newbie" gets shortened to text-friendly "n00b".  There.  Now we have three words to describe one subject, and three different groups (perhaps even generations) which will use them.

Overall's point is that the typical high school dropout recognizes 30,000 words, Rhodes scholars recognize 50,000 words, and the rest of us fall in-between.  But with the growing number of words, when will we get to the point where we are no longer able to communicate with each other because we use completely different vocabularies?

Likewise, the number of Christian denominations grows by an estimated 260 per year, and there are an estimated 40,000 denominations today.  While some lament the body of Christ being sliced up in this way, competing in inter-necine ways for believers, perhaps just as language is diffusing our experience of God is also necessarily diffusing so different groups can experience God in their language and systems of meaning.

But are we growing in understanding of God or dispersing our experience into a million different slices, not all recognizable to the other?  At what point might denominations become completely anathema to each other as their language and systems are unrecognizeable to one another?  Or has it already happened?

No real answer, just a musing.  But there's an important point to be made that Overall missed in his article.  He said that Shakespeare used 31,534 words in his plays and laments, and laments that people do not read them anymore and get the breadth of human language.  But it is more important than just simple breadth: Shakespeare coined his own terms, created his own words, and we are using them today. 

Today perhaps we are Shakespeare 2.0, and we are creating new experiences of God and calling God by new or renewed words that will benefit all of humankind.  Perhaps in an uncoordinated way we are assembling a new work and body of Christ, fragmented as it may be, that is beautiful and evocative in its expression and embodiment. We will use old words and new words, but perhaps together we are creating a body of work and dreams that will inspire people down the road.


NOTE: ORLY is internet-speak for "Oh really?"  You are welcome.


And so it begins... [Road Trip]

Well, it begins.  My spouse, two cats, and I will make a trek across America this week.  We are leaving New England for the Plains as I begin a new position working with children and youth.

My last Sunday at my current parish was bittersweet and emotional.  The congregation doubled in size as we celebrated three years of ministry in my first parish.  As the longtime members told me: Pastors will serve a lot of churches, but they only serve their first parish once.  So, yes, they will forever be a part of my heart.

The receiving parish has already exhibited tremendous hospitality and enthusiasm.   They haven't had an associate pastor of children's and youth before, so they are just excited to have "grown up" enough to merit a dedicated staff person to these ministries.  So the excitement of newness is in my spirit already, inoculating me against despair and stress of packing.  At least...a little bit!  Ha!

So...enough about me, let's move to the Blog.  There's a few blog posts scheduled, but probably very light blogging for the next two weeks.  There, there, don't cry.  There are plenty of twitter updates will be coming.  Give me a follow and you'll get them all!

I'm thankful for your prayers, karma, or well-wishes as we make this three-day trek. Blessings and see you on the other side of the Mississippi!

*No, that's not my truck.  But it was humorous!


Sunday is for Star Wars

Mashup of Star Wars and the Princess Bride. Truly, is there any better combination?



Jesus' Model for Church Growth

As far as Church Growth goes, this is the best model I've seen...although it stops right when things get interesting (and, incidentally, uses Johannine chronology).

LINK: The Naked Pastor

(hat tip: Blake Huggins)


Sunday is for Star Wars

Han Solo, P.I.


Best Google Logo Ever

Celebrating Tetris' 25th anniversary, of course!


The 10 Txt Commandments [humor]

If God had text messaged the 10 Commandments:
  1. no1 b4 me. srsly.
  2. dnt wrshp pix/idols
  3. no omg’s
  4. no wrk on w/end (sat 4 now; sun l8r)
  5. pos ok - ur m&d r cool
  6. dnt kill ppl
  7. :-X only w/ m8
  8. dnt steal
  9. dnt lie re: bf
  10. dnt ogle ur bf’s m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob.
M, pls rite on tabs & giv 2 ppl.
ttyl, JHWH.
ps. wwjd?

(hat tip: McSweeney via ChurchCrunch)


Heads Up: Bible Illuminated on Colbert Tonight

The Bible Illuminated, which I reviewed on this blog and was interviewed about on NPR, is gonna be on The Colbert Report tonight.  Check it out then comment on it here.


Church Committees are Bodies not Machines

While thoroughly enjoying Kester Brewin's Signs of Emergence, I hit on a passage that I'd really really like to implement:

We must reestablish ourselves as the body of Christ, not the machine of Christ.  Bodies are organic, dynamic, sentient, and conscious.  They have hearts.  Machines break down, while bodies evolve.  This metaphorical re-centering from machine to body will require us to rethink our language too, away from the industrial vocabulary of "structure" "drive" "mechanism" "steering" towards more body-centered language: "nourish" "grow" "nurture" "cultivate" and "adapt."
Signs of Emergence, 85-86 
If we are to rethink the church, then perhaps by rethinking and renaming our structure we can slowly move away from mechanistic understandings of the church. 

As you know, I am moving to a new ministry and upon arrival, I like the idea of using body imagery and organic language to describe the church "structure" of the ministries I'm in charge of (Children and Youth).

So, call for creativity here.   How would you rename these committees using organic/growth centered language?
  • Youth Council (youth-led group that plans youth group)
  • Youth Steering Committee (adults that advise youth group)
  • Children's Committee

Any creative thoughts?  I know that simply renaming a current structure doesn't do it, but it's a start.

Thanks in advance.


Jesus the Dot-Communist

One of the commonly posited notions is that the early disciples were socialists: group authority, sharing everything, trading MP3s on Nazareth's Napster.  But can we fit this contemporary political tag onto a first-century system?

I think that perhaps for the first time in history, we can.  Wired's most recent magazine has an article on the Web 2.0 and collaborative online ventures as "The New Socialism."  One of the interesting points that Kevin Kelly makes is that socialism is usually defined as a tension between individual autonomy and the authority of the state.  More authority?  Socialism.  More autonomy?  Free market.  Give and take, zero-sum trades, very little in-between.

Emerging from the web these days is "The New Socialism," which, according to Kelly, is decentralized public coordination to solve problems and create things that neither pure communism nor pure capitalism can:

The largely unarticulated but intuitively understood goal of communitarian technology is this: to maximize both individual autonomy and the power of people working together. (Wired, June 2009, 120)
This articulation of socialism resonates with the biblical notion of socialism in Acts 2, Acts 4 and even echoes back to Exodus 16.  Gone are the antiquainted notions of socialism as centralized authority and controlled information and resources channels, replaced by distributed authority and open transparency.  And wasn't that what the Apostles were doing?  Distributed authority among them all?  Open transparency that replaced the rigidly controlled temple system?

These days we call the US government socialist, and I don't think that definition fits with the Apostles.  But this new socialism, I think, finally describes accurately what the original Apostles considered to be the best way for the creative experience and expression of the Spirit to emerge.



Enough [review]

Consumerism is the antithesis of contentment.  If we wonder why we are not content or happy or satisfied, in his book "Enough: Contentment in the Age of Excess" Will Samson explains that we have only to look at the advertisements and media messages to explain why our houses and cars are never big enough or good enough.

Samson posits further that consumerism has infiltrated our relationship with Jesus Christ in the opposite way.  We see jesus a low-cost, low-commitment counter to culture rather than the truly counterculture that Jesus represents.

Samson makes several damning points in his book that are relevant to even events in the past few months (long since the book's publication).  Today, we worry about Swine Flu and other communicable diseases.  Samson points out that the way we live our life can be a disease on our bodies, minds, and indeed our very souls:

...as nations gain wealth, they increase in the risk of major health problems...perhaps lifestlye disease is communicable.  You catch it through prosperity. (Enough, 101)
Our lifestyle of consumerism affects our theologies by making Jesus into a low-cost alternative and everything else into conspicuous consumption.

But why isn't our church doing more about it?  Why aren't we more involved in opposing this Tower of Babel-Stuff that we create?  Perhaps because the church communities are too enmeshed with the ruptures of its seams.  Samson points to our multi-cultural world that breaks our assumptions of Christian community that the past few centuries have found socially easy.  Community is no longer something we are socially pressured into; it is something we must now earn.  What would it look like?  Samson says:
It seems to me that in order to move from mindless consumers of stuff to fully participating members of eucharistic communities, we must find the actions and language that can bring those communities together and allow them to interpret the power of Jesus to provide broad meaning for our lives here and now. (Enough, 143)
I enjoyed the book and, gold for a pastor, I found several sermon ideas and examples. However, I can't help but wonder what Will would write today about our movement away from the Age of Excess.  His blog is long dormant.  But people are saying the Age of Excess is over, dead.  I disagree; I think it is just taking a breather, waiting on the wings to jump on the bandwagon again.  Will the Church be ready to respond when it does?  Or will we continue to buy more stuff?



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