God bless you…

I found the following printed on a card I ran across while cleaning out my computer bag.  No source was listed.  It may be someone who reads my ramblings here on the blog (if so, let me know).  I thought it was worth posting…

“For the eyes of the Lord rage throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

Are we the kid of people who are lighting up the radar screens of heaven by being fully yielded?  As we trust steadily in God, may we live out this blessing: (comment…the writer almost lost me with the “radar screens” comment…but check out the blessing):

MAY GOD BLESS YOU WITH DISCOMFORT at easy answers, half truths and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart.

MAY GOD BLESS YOU WITH ANGER at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

MAY GOD BLESS YOU WITH TEARS to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU WITH ENOUGH FOOLISHNESS to believe that you can make a difference in the world so that you can do what others claim cannot be done to bring justice and kindness to all children and the poor.

Peace on earth…


Reality? Let’s live Peace/Shalom…


“Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.”

–from the play  The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life In the Universe

I first heard this line in Tabitha Bryant’s theater louisiana college performance of Jane Wagner’s play back in the late 90’s.  (Tab’s performance was fantastic by the way.)  I’ve thought about “reality” some lately…and it has proven to be a stressful undertaking.  What is reality these days…financial collapse, bailouts, unemployment, wars, AIDS (and other diseases), rampant poverty, terrorism, cynicism, shoes being thrown at the President of the United States…weird and challenging times.  (I’m still trying to figure out how 2 shoes were thrown before a Secret Service agent comes into the frame…not good…but I digress.)

The subject of “being real” came up as well in a conversation with a friend the other day about church…church in the general sense.  A comment was made to the effect of, “[church] would be so much more meaningful if [people] were real.”  The observation was being made that actual day to day issues, doubts, fears, relational struggles, etc. were seemingly out of bounds.  Kids are to be perfect.  Careers are to be meaningful.  Marriages are to “work”.  Pastors are to mold all of this perfection into a perfect little church in which all members believe the same things and never have to hear anything that might challenge any of those perfect beliefs.

Where is the reality in that?  We live in a culture of denial.  It hit me last night as I spoke with a good friend of mine and the subject of the shoe throwing incident arose.  He really could not understand why an Iraqi journalist might want to throw a pair of shoes at President Bush.  (the answer of course is “because those were the only projectiles readily available at the time”…but again, I digress).  His reasoning was that Bush represented the United States which had liberated Iraq from the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein, had spent hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq, thousands of United States military personnel have been wounded and over 3,000 United States military personnel had given the ultimate sacrifice on Iraqi soil.  All of those statements are extremely real.

What’s reality to the Iraqi journalist? 90 to 100 thousand civilian deaths in Iraq as a result of the destabilization.  Constant unrest.  Occupation of his nation by a foreign power.  This power represents many things that directly conflict with strongly held religious beliefs.  There are MANY more perceptions that could be added to this list.  This is merely quick thoughts compiled by an American sitting safely at a distance typing on a blog.  All of this, again, very real to the people experiencing it on a day to day basis.

“Stress” does not sufficiently describe what we feel when we really turn toward these issues and stare them down.  Daunting.  Overwhelming.  Hopeless.  ____________ (fill in the blank).   But there is another aspect of reality that must not be pushed aside by all of the real problems we are facing: PEACE.

Call me a neo-hippy if you like, but I believe a rediscovery of PeaceShalom…can provide an alternate narrative for our world.  Nicholas Wolterstorff says this about the state of shalom:

“The state of shalom is the state of flourishing in all dimensions of one’s existence: in one’s relation to God, in one’s relation to one’s fellow human beings, in one’s relation to nature, and in one’s relation to oneself….An ever-beckoning temptation for the [American] evangelical is to assume that all God really cares about for human beings here on earth is that they be born again and thus destined for salvation….[However], what God desires for human beings is that comprehensive mode of flourishing which the Bible calls shalom….God’s love of justice is grounded in God’s longing for the shalom of God’s creatures and in God’s sorrow over its absence.”
-Nicholas Wolterstorff

Rather than medicating ourselves from the realities we find ourselves negotiating, lets live into a different narrative.  Let’s live into a narrative of shalom.  Peace.  If we look for it, we can see peace breaking out all over the place…be an instrument of peace this Advent season.


Question, – by Son Volt

Just for the fun of it…a friend posted this little Facebook game…it was fun.  Try it.  Post your answers below if you feel like it. I’d love to see the songs that pop up.

1. Put your media player on Shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. You must write down the name of the song no matter how silly it sounds!
4. Put any comments after the song name.


If someone says, “Is this okay?” You say?
Gone, Daughtry (a little embarrassing, but…YES, I HAVE DAUGHTRY ON MY IPOD!!! there…I said it…no David Archuleta however!)

How would you describe yourself?
Bach(JS): Cello Suite #5 In C Minor, BWV11011-2. Allemande, Yo-yo Ma (got that)

What do you like in a guy/girl
Communication, The Call (Michael Been’s Call)

How do you feel today?
Horse to Water, R.E.M.

What is your life’s purpose?
The Trawlerman’s Song, Mark Knopfler

What is your motto?
Cry from the Street, David Gilmour

What do your friends think of you?
Vivaldi Concerto In C: Allegro Non Molto, Malcom Messiter

What do you think of your parents?
Down Home with Homey, Wynton Marsalis

What do you think about very often?
Last Dance, Sarah McLauchlan

What is 2 + 2?
The First Noel/What is this Fragrance, Windham Hill Artists

What do you think of your best friend?
Moses-Journey, Yo-yo Ma

What do you think of the person you like?
Melting Alone, Sixpence None the Richer

What is your life story?
Armor and Sword, Rush

What do you want to be when you grow up?
The Hole, Glen Phillips

What do you think of when you see the person you like?
Kid Things, Counting Crows

What will you dance to at your wedding?
I Can’t Stand It, Eric Clapton

What will they play at your funeral?
Closer To The Light, Bruce Cockburn (spooky!  good choice!)

What is your hobby/interest?
Angel, Fleetwood Mac

What is your biggest fear?
Comfortably Numb, Dar Williams

What is your biggest secret?
Dirty Little Girl, Elton John

What do you think of your friends?
gods’ dice, Pearl Jam (sort of fatalistic.)

What will you put as the title?
Question, Son Volt

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the great emergence…so, uh…, what now?…

I have attended four emergent village events in the last 4 to 5 years.  Two of these events were “National emergent Conferences” held in conjunction with the Youth Specialties National Pastor’s Conference.  One was A Theological Conversation with Walter Brueggemann. And then, this past week, I attended an event based on Phyllis Tickle’s book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why.

I read this book pretty soon after its release and quickly became a fan.  It is a thin book (literally…only about 160 pages) that sums up the history of the Christian church, submits a framework that maps the various expressions of Christianity we find in North America at this moment, and begins to suggest where we might be going in the future. (obviously ambitious goals for a 160 page book).  Tickle’s assertion is that every 500 years, the church specifically, and the culture more generally, cleans out its attic…has a “rummage sale”.  (Rome, Gregory the Great, Great Schism, Great Reformation, etc.)   Tickle submits that we are in another rummage sale…the Great Emergence.  If you read the book as an academic treatise, you’ll be disappointed.  However, it is an observation of the western church from the perspective of a person whose job it has been to observe the western church. I think Tickle has been observant indeed and we need to wrestle with the frameworks she presents.

Some impressions of the event:

Overall, it was a really good meeting for me personally.  I felt totally at home among the “emergents” gathered, regardless of their tribe (there were Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, a couple of Baptists and some others that were not identified)…I would estimate 300 or so people in all.  The common ground was a group of people who gladly identify themselves as followers of Jesus and who have in common an ethos that’s been tagged “emergent”.

At the same time, the whole meeting felt somewhat pretentious.  Several statements claiming the significance of the meeting rang rather hollow to me.  While I would totally agree that there is something to the whole idea of a Great Emergence, I hardly believe the event I attended could be compared with Luther’s post on a door at Wittenberg.  (in fairness, it was never billed as that).   Whether it will hold such significance or not will depend on the movement inspired by this ethos.

At it’s worst, “emergent, et.al.” is merely a cooler, more hip form of western consumer Christianity.  However at it’s best, it is a community of people re-engaging a way of life formed by following Jesus into our broken world…tackling the biggest, most daunting problems our world is currently facing.  It might turn out to be a quixotic endeavor…or it might be prophetic!  My cynicism rests in the former.  My hope rests in the latter.

“We have no other problems…”

I found this video via a blog somewhere (I’ve read several today and don’t remember where I ran across this link). It was a link/post in response to World AIDS Day.  It is a collection of photos taken with disposable cameras given to the children in the piece.  The following quote from one of the Shange family was simply incredible:

“When our parents died, life was very difficult.  We felt alone, like nobody was going to support us.  We had to change our lives.  Our only problem is food.  This is the only life we know.  We have no other problems.  The hardest problem is getting enough food to eat.”

–Shange family: 2 girls and 4 boys.  Dad died in 2001, Mom in 2003.  Mandla, age 14; Nothando, age 15; Siphiwe, age 19; Thulani, age 17; Sithembiso, age 10; Mahlatsi, age 8

I just wanted to post this. Check out the video and also check out what Oxfam is doing around the world.


World AIDS Day

aids-ribbonToday is World AIDS Day…  take a little time and surf around.  Get aware, get involved, find out where you might volunteer in your community, Comment below on what you find out.

If not today, when are you going to do this?

Here are a couple of sites that I know about to get you started.  Post some that you know (or discover) in the comments…

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