Tuesday, January 31, 2006

State of the Union

Bush begins with honoring Coretta Scott King. Good move.

Bush says "hishtry" when he means history.

"The state of the union is good." oh good. Whew.

Lots and lots of clapping.

"We seek to end tyranny in this world."

9-11 referenced in first 5 minutes.

John McCain has a sourpuss face.

122 democracies in the world.

Half of all people live in democratic nations.

Syria, Iran etc - the non-democratic naitons. Better than axis of evil.

Islam is a noble faith.

Bush does not like Bin Laden.

Bush positions Iraq as the epicenter of terror. or did he help make it the epicenter of terror?

Supreme court judges don't clap.

We will never surrender to evil.

Charlie Rangle, who the heck is he talking to?

We liberated Europe.

We are on the offensive against terror. Afghanistan. Iraq with a clear plan. Clear plan?

The guy with the funny moustance looks French.

Impressive progressive statement about Iraq's advance from tyrrany to elections. That was a good one.

"We are winning" Lots of clapping.

"We have benefitted from criticism"

"Second guessing is not a strategy."

John Kerry is sleeping.

Republicans stand more quickly than Democrats.

Bush's eyes go one way and his mouth goes the other.

Laura Bush shakes dead soldier's family's hands. Lots of clapping.

Wife of soldier is very sad.

How do they know when to all stop clapping at the same time?

Bush sips clear beverage - possibly water or Vodka.

Palestinian people have voted, now here is how to run your "country".

Some people are not gifted clappers. Woodblock hands.

"Liberty is the right and hope of all humanity."

"Iran is held hostage..." Good one.


Bush speaks to Iranians. Do they speak English? Bush wants a free and democratic Iran.

Did he just say we are wanting to spread disease?

Why show Rumsfeld when talking about AIDS?

Bush just celebrated the policies Bono would like.

OK, Bono wouldn't like this next part.

Women wear color and men don't.

1 Democrat likes the Patriot Act.

Bush wears a purple tie. I guess that is a good blue and red mix.

Hillary smiles big, but she's not happy.

Bush did a brief lower lip bite a la Slick Willie.

OK, enough of the war crap. Get on with it.

Ooops, missed that part, had to pee.

I think that one guy is using checking his e-mail on Blackberry.

I don't think taxes are going to go up.

"Make the tax cuts permanent."

"We reduced the growth of non-security spending." Huh? What about the massive increases in that other stuff?

3 people clapped on earmark reform.

Hillary is not amused by Bush's humor about her husband.

Democrats clap at their won non action.

Volley. The problem is not going away.

We need to put aside partisan politics. geez, what the, cripes

Lady in pink - must I keep clapping?

Frist likes Medical Liability Reform.

"America is addicted to oil."

Advanced Energy Initiative - clean coal, water & wind, clean & safe nuclear energy for the home.

Better batteries for hybrid cars. Ethanol from corn woodchips and switchgrass within 6 years. ethanol from woodchips?

Reduce oil important 75% by 2025.

No more petroleum based economy.

Did those two guys just do paper, scissors, rock?

American Competitive Initiative.

The Cheyne kid nearly bought it.

R & D tax credit gets a boost.

No new initiative left behind.

Good highway jobs? Oh, high wage, got it.

We are a more hopeful nation.

Drug use down. Fewer abortions in America than in a decade.

"A revolution of conscience." Good one.

Oops brief black out.

Abramoff gets a little something.

Katrina gets a nod.

Alito smirk was classic.

More vodka.

"Hopeful Society."

Human cloning ban, human/animal hybrids - hybrids? Cripes. George, please, Narnia was only a movie.

Helping America's Youth Initiative. Laura Bush heads that one up.

$85,000,000,000 to the gulf already.

Bush addresses poverty pre-Katrina.

Juhn Kerry is still using Botox.

Obama taking notes.

Bush's last facial expression before his last sip of Vodka = "Yeah, that's what I'm talking about."

Unity 2.0 - Age

Begin Unity 2.0 here
I am 36 years old. I am young enough to be in the senior portion of the emerging church demographic (if there is such a thing), and old enough to to realize that my body is not agile, my hair is slowly graying, and that I can point to things in history books that happened in my lifetime. Age is a curious thing. I don't feel much different than when I could steal 2nd base, but I know that I could never steal 2nd base.

Age is not merely about the number of years a person has lived either. Age is about what the culture was like when the cement turned hard. When you are a kid, the cement is wet, soft, and pliable. It is this way without much effort. Now, please understand that it is not a blank slate, but rather it is we cement. Slowly, as time goes by, the cement hardens. At least it hardens if there is not intentionality about keeping it soft.

When the cultures of the ages differ, our first goal is to fix the problem. There are many ways to fix this problems that do not work. Here are a few:

1. By Force - One generation or the other will use force the make the other generation submit to its culture. This can be seen in churches all thoughtout the country. Much of the worship wars are about generational and cultural force applied from the generation in power (older or younger) upon the generation with less power. This attempted solution breeds resentment, animosity, and peopole typically leave the church and hook up somewhere else or are unjured in the process. Prefernce is usually exalted to the level of "The Biblical Way" in all of the pathetic posturing garbed in theological absolutism. This is so not Jesus.

2. Accommodation - At first glance, this appears to be a better move than force. So, we split up into "developmentally appropriate" segments with age groups for everyone, catering to their every whim and need. We all get a religious IEP (Individualized Education Plan), a canon of favorite worship songs, and all of our limitless prefernces are produced for our religious consumoption. "There, now everybody's happy." Yeah right, just like the family of five that has five TVs on in five different rooms.

These bad attemtped solutions to the problem of our differences generated by age and culture of cementation only casue division. Notice I said it was the attmepted solution that caused the division, not the differences.

The core problem here is that we label differences a problem. That is really the problem. Calling a non-problem a problem is most certainly a problem. Certainly differences are uncomfortable. Sometimes they feel risky to acknowledge as relevant or meaningful. Oh yes, I know that differences require understanding and time to process. Differences are tough to handle.

HOWEVER, we are taking the wimps way out to label differences as problems. If differences are normal, then we have to get along and be loving, kind, patient, humble, sacrificial, gentle, generous, hopeful and whole lot of other tough stuff. Since that is all too ahrd for us, we label differences as problems and get to work eliminating the problem through force or accommodation.

How much energy do you suppose has been wasted in churches trying to fix the non-problem of generational differences through force and accommodation? I bet the number of chruch splits an dwounded souls on the force side and the number of billions of dollars and shallow consumer Christianity on the accommodation side would just make your head spin - and be utterly humilating.

Can't we just accept the fact that everyone is weird, generations are different, cultures shift, and that getting everything I want is the loneliest place on Earth?

Monday, January 30, 2006


Why do evangelical preachers quote scripture at 50 times the rate that Jesus did?

Unity 2.0 - Art

Go to Unity 2.0 Intro

Church art is either really old or really bad or, (and this is the worst option I believe) non-existent.

The only art allowed in the church of my youth was the corporate acappella singing. That means no musical arts (our corporate voices is all God desires), no performing arts (we don't perform), no visual arts (too Catholic), no literary arts (we have the Bible, don't we?), and no architectural arts (since a church building was essential to salvation) - stripped down, bare & fucntional.

The closest thing we had to an artistic outlet was the Bible Bowl, which was the best symbol of all, exposing the deeply entrenched values of my church - content knowledge of scripture.

I learned of performing arts through the dramas (skits) done by the York College skit group, Soul Concern, when they would visit Flaming Pine Youth Camp (Here is a new blog for the camp) and do their thing. They blew me away. Funny, striking, irreverant, and deep. I felt like I was sinning just wathcing them and laughing while "in the assembly" at the Lodge.

Kathy (Bergmann) Osborne at camp would play her guitar and sing what I considered quasi-spiritual songs and I could not believe that she could get away with something like that. Dennie (THE DIRECTOR) would do the same thing. I never told on them because I liked them so much, but there was this guilt that kept after me.

But for these few exceptions outside the hometown church, art was effectively banned. If it wasn't considered sinful, it was certainly considered excessive if not completely unnecessary.

The problem is that there were no outlets whatsoever for artistic people. You ask why so many young people leave the Church of Christ (or many evangelcal churches) after they graduate high school? I bet you will find many of them are artistically gifted with zero outlet for their gifts.

These artistic people are born and raised in a religious context that constantly insults their God-made hardwiring. How long can you last in a context that is perpetually saying how insignificant you are?

Folks, on art, we are divided. Yes, at conferences and special occasions we bring in the Jesus Painter or see Jack and Jill Maxwell work their wonders, but what about art being a normal part of worship? Where are the art galleries in the church building? Where are the chapbooks of pslams being written? Where are the performing arts even given a chance? Where is good architecture (if you must have a building)?

If there is a chance of connecting even within our own people, then art is not merely a neat idea, it is essential for those artistic people to feel at home within their church family.

Ah, but it goes farther than that. We have oodles of people waxing eloquent on the knowledge level, but few poets, mystics, and artists challenging us to utilize our imaginations and plumb the depths of the unspoken and unutterable life of our souls. Knowledge is shallow and can only speak about meaning. Art is meaning.

In 500 years we will be known for our art. Doesn't that frighten you?

Believing Thomas picks up the story here.

Go to Unity 2.0 - Age

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Might as well face it...

You all remember this great song, don't cha? 1989 was a good year. I think Robert Palmer's hit was not as good as Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorns," an absolute classic, but much, much better than 2 Live Crew's, "Me So Horny," an absolute foray into debauchery (sorry no links) :-)

Everything I ever needed to know about addictions I learned from Robert Palmer. That is until Carmen came along (don't google Carmen's image, you won't get this Carmen) with his striking song "Addicted To Jesus." Wow, Carmen, you are so cutting edge.

But this week I have been reading Brennan Manning's new book, The Importance of Being Foolish. He speaks some about addictions and does a great job at making the connections to people who think that they are not addicted. He speaks about hearing from God and getting stuff from Christ.

Getting more and more from God and that stuff having less and less affect is an unhealthy addiction. So, Carmen, your Christ addiction is not something Mr. Manning is all that interested in. And folks, I'm with Brennan.

I have a friend who would literally not leave his living room until God told him to. He would pray and pray until he finally got a "word from the Lord." Then he would go do what God told him - mow the lawn, jog, get an odd job to pay the rent...etc. He called it faith. I am not inclined to go that far. Addiction? Unhealthy dependence? Denial of responsibility?

Needing a word from the Lord so badly and frequently can be like the 40 year old who still lives in his parent's basement and can't hold down a job or keep a relationship alive longer than a month.

Yes, God desires complete dependence on Him, but when we deny what he has supplied and demand He do it for us, then what exactly is that? We can get more interested in that constant reassurance than what that reassurance was meant to accomplish.

When God says, "Love me and love people," do we really need more than that? Sure, if God wants to speak, He will, but has He not sopken enough for most Christians to know what to do?

When we ask for answers, he might give us wisdom. When we ask for signs he might give us a number of optional opportunities. When we ask for reassurance, he might place a risk before us. When we ask for answers he might just be quiet since there is no reason to repeat himself.

I know that I have been and am probably a recovering Godaholic. I always want to know God's will (nothing wrong with that), and I require God to make it clear to me in 10 different ways before my confidence will kick in (smell the addiction?).

God's silence is detox.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

If I never hear from you again...

Dear God,

If I never hear from you again, then I am going to assume that you have said all you ever wanted or needed to say to me. I will assume that you have given me enough to go on for the rest of my life. I will remember what you have said in the past and know that those words, those promptings, those signs were all I ever needed.

I remember that you spoke to me through the waterfall that hot summer day. I remember that you confronted my idolatry that hot summer night. I remember you said YES when I asked you to show me how I don't love you - even though I didn't know what I was getting into. I remember you gave me dreams of clarity when my church blew up.

I know you always speak through the Bible and there is much for me to hear there. I will still read and study. I know that nature is your voice in full color. I will still look and listen and find wonder. I know that every broken, wounded, saddened, hopeless, helpless, hungry, sick, and dying soul is you. I will do my best to love you. I know that everything I have is something you left for me to pick up and use. I will use that stuff with all of my wisdom (and could I get a little more of that wisdom by the way?).

It just seems like I don't hear from you like I used to. That's OK. I believe you know what you're doing. If you've got something to say to me, I doubt you'll keep it from me. I'll keep on talking to you as best as I can. And I am going to keep listening, even if you are quiet the rest of my life. I will trust the Bible, nature, brokeness, and wisdom are your voice when I can't hear it any other way.

I want you to know that today I rest comfortably in your silence. Maybe that comfort is your voice.

I love you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Unity 2.0 - Economic

Begin Unity 2.0 here
I want to speak about this topic on 2 levels - micro and macro.

First of all, on the micro level. I grew up the son of a janitor/newspaper route drive. So, we were not exaclty loaded. I remember feeling guilty as a kid for wanting three pair of JC Penney plain pocket pants at the beginning of the school year. I was only allowed two pair. I know that I didn't feel worse than my mother did that she had to limit me to two pair of pants for school. These two pair of pants needed to last until Christmas when my grandmother would buy me clothes (what a lousy Christmas gift for a kid - but a great one for my parents).

I had a tremendous awareness of who made how much at the church of my youth. I felt second class because we were poor. No, I felt second class because people who had enough money made sure they felt first class. OK, it was a combination. My parents maintained a blue collar resentment for white collar "rich people" and it rubbed off on me. At the same itme, you could tell by what people wore, what they drove, what status positions they were given at church, and where they sat during worship how much money they made. The preacher was the one exception. He was poor, but had some level of power - until they fired him that is.

Within our churches there is an economic divide that does cut deeper than income. There are biases and assumptions the rich have about the poor and vice versa that are divisive and damaging. Each congregation (for the most part) has an acceptable level of income at the lower end and the upper end. Few people within the congregation fall outside this window. The reason is that the assumptions about people outside the window are so strong and so pervasive that words do not even need to be spoken in order to create so much discomfort that people outside the window don't even show up, or show up only once if they do.

Why do homeless people attend the Salvation Army and people with 6 figure incomes show up at my church? We would like to blame it all on geographical location (which is still economic), but it is more than that. It is about comfort. The path of least resistence is a sociological reality, but it is not a theological value. Without even knowing it we let economics determine out friendships and thereby limit our investment in the Kingdom of God.

On the macro level. Everytime I hear about African children dying of Malaria (a totally treatable sickness) and a 5 million dollar Capital Campaign for American Churches to build bigger barns, I can't think about it as justice. Yes, God owns everything!!!!! But He gave a whole bunch of it to us and we refuse to heal the sick and feed the hungry with it. OK, we heal some of he sick and feed some of the hungry. But then we get mad at them if they get hungry or sick again. We say, "give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach him to fish and he eats for a life time." We fail to believe that there are no lakes in the desert. There are some people on this planet who just need a whole bunch of fish served to them. Americans resent anyone who is not self-sufficient. We do little to bring more capable, but challenged, people to a level of self-sufficiency.

I am going to make this statement without reservation: "No one has ever pulled himself up by his own bootstraps." Go ahead, try to lift yourelf up off the ground pulling only your bootstraps. Folks, who even has bootstraps theses days?

No one, no matter how successful in any way of measuring success, did it themselves? Everyone relies heavily on a context for success. The "self made man" who created such and such business only capped on a context that made it possible for this or that to happen. For some people it is easy and for others it is impossible. Amount of efort put into saomething is not as big a factor as we individualistic Americans would like to believe it is. It's important, but not the biggest piece, buy far.

Unity 2.0 is the kind of unity that intentioally recognizes economic barriers and then rips them to shreds. Without intentionality, division is inevitible.

Go to Unity 2.0 - Art

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Pilgrim of Worship #7: The Dangers of Playing It Safe

If you've been following Unity 2.0, don't worry, there is more to come. I neglected, however, to finish my pilgrim of worship series.

After the church explosion in Abilene and the rampant abuse that followed, my joy in worship was sapped. There were songs I could not sing because of the memories. I spent two more years in Abilene trying to figure out how to live and worship.

Finally, I graduated and we moved about as far from Abilene as you can get - Minnesota. We went from dangerous to safe, to put it mildly. If the church I was at in Abilene had been cutting edge before the melt down, then the church I went to was the epicenter of mainstream don't-step-on-anyone's-toes-ism. Please, very good people and I have close frineds there, but the church was governed by a mentaility of maintenence. Thus the worship reflected that posture.

The ban on female participation, the mandatory hymns, and skepticism that "camp songs" during worship ignited really brought me back to a place once upon a time. But none of that bothered me initially because at least I knew what I was getting into. There weren't going to be any Pentecostal Powerplays here, and that is just what I wanted, at first.

As I healed, I grew restless once again. The worship really was dead, from my perspective. Yes, it is about what I bring to it. I did my best. At the same time, what I had to wade through to get there for corporate worship left me looking for Saturday night services at the local community churches. My wife and I went to an unforgettable Sonicflood concert that was surprisingly very worshipful. That was in 2000 and talk about it still.

You know, there is no safe. The dangers of familiarity and comfort are potentially more threatening than the dangers of progress and adventure. This is not the usual common sense through. In fact, I recently heard a church person say that he was glad to live in the box because living outside the box leaves you vulnerable to Satan's attacks. Inside the box is safe. Well, since I know the context of the comment, I willl get him pass on it.

However, this statement cannot be generalized. How many people are lulled into spiritual complacency resembling The Matrix where they are fat and happy that all is well in the world and in their church because they wear the same clothes and sing the same songs and have the right theology? That, my friends, scares the crap out of me. The more I learn of the priorities of my spiritual history, the more I fear I am deeply damaged - or my system is corrulpted.

I have been safe for the past 7 years. I am sick and tired of being safe. I am ready for some danger.

I do not know where my pilgrimage of worship will take me. All I know is that safe is not something I can afford to be anymore.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Unity 2.0 - In the newspaper

Go to Unity 2.0 - Intro

Below is the article that will appear inthe Jonesboro Sun Saturday.

…one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. You might look at the world around you and set that reality next to these famous words from the Pledge of Allegiance and say something like, “What a crock! Are we really one nation? Are we really indivisible? Are we really under God? Is liberty and justice for all or for the privileged few?”

On the other hand you might look at the world around you and compare it to these words in the Pledge and take comfort that this country enjoys more diverse unity that any other nation on Earth.

How could it be that some people see unity in the same places others see division? Well, you’ll be glad to know that I have the answer to this question. There are different kinds of unity, different layers and depths to unity. If you are looking at one kind of unity, viola, there is it – here, there, and everywhere. However, if you are looking for a different kind of unity, you would have more luck finding an igloo in the Sahara.

When people in America celebrate the kind of unity that is here, there and everywhere, they are recognizing what I call Unity 1.0. Unity 1.0 is the first kind of unity. It is the kind of unity that makes America great. It rests in the ideals and vision of the fathers (and mothers) of this great nation. “All men are created equal…,” “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…,” “Give me liberty or give me death,” and so forth. We are a country that has made progress toward these lofty ideals through its government and churches. Children of all races, male and female, attend school together. Women can be CEO’s, MD’s, and the Secretary of State. There is enough anecdotal evidence to proclaim unity in America towards the vision set out by the founders.

However, the kind of unity America enjoys right now is only step one. We have yet to fully enjoy or even comprehend Unity 2.0. This kind of unity takes the ideals and vision of the founders beyond anecdotal evidence and legislative constructs and launches it into the hearts of people. It deeply impacts the way people experience real life. Unity 2.0 melts latent prejudices and biases that rely on the societal and systemic processes of division to be prejudice for them and replaces them with a generous and forgiving compassion that refuses for differences to be synonymous with division. In short, Unity 1.0 has had a good run, but its days for laying the foundation are over. Running a country on Unity 1.0 any longer is going to corrupt the system.

Unity 1.0 operates with dreams and visions, platitudes and politics being sufficient to satisfy the agenda. So long as the laws are right and the rhetoric is inspiring, and there is an anecdotal piece of evidence to parade in public, what really happens is not relevant. Colin, Clarence, and Condoleeza are excellent examples of how far Unity 1.0 can go, but do not reflect the national heart at its core. Certainly we need dreams and visions, platitudes and politics to help lay the foundation for unity, but stopping there is a mistake. Unity 2.0 means individuals, communities, and organizations intentionally live in such a way that the visionary dreams of the past are just descriptions of normal everyday life.

So long as we still live in a nation where a man can get pulled over by police for being Black and a mayor of a major metropolitan city can declare God’s desire for a city to be monochromatic, we remain largely in Unity 1.0.

We are moving, I believe, off of the old system and on to the new one. Unity 2.0 is now in Beta testing. Some churches are emerging from denominational strongholds and calling other churches brother and sister rather than Hellbound sinner. Some neighborhoods are clearly multicultural. In some places, women are regarded as equals with men. Some corporations use their power to influence good in the world rather than merely their pocketbooks. New housing developments with intentionally mixed income units are being constructed in major metropolitan cities.

Yes, Unity 2.0 is currently in Beta testing. It might not be where you live yet, but you can bring it there if you want to. You can test out the depth of love that powers Unity 2.0 without having to get permission from anyone.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Fantastic Bore

I am in the middle of watching The Fantastic Four, and it stinks - baaaaaaad. It starts slow, is pathetically predictable, and tries waaaaaaaaay too hard. I wanted this

but I got this weak little Darth Vader wannabe.

What a sad show. I am so glad I didn't go to the theater to see it. Man, after two nights of this

this just doesn't cut it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Truth Has A Way of Asserting Itself

When I am in therapy with clients, one of my mantras is that in one way or another, "Truth Asserts Itself." Well, right here is a story that proves me to be a reliable prophet.

Great post

Over at Communion of the Arts, there is a great post about the slow and painful process of emerging. Read it right here.

Unity 2.0 - Gender

Go to Unity 2.0 intro

Identifying gender as a topic of division might make some men and even some women confused. "There aren't male churches and female churches, so what gives?"

Oh really? There aren't? Male church life and female church life are very, very different. Sure, these male and female humans arrive at the very same building and call themselves by the same name I belong to the Such and Such Church, but that is where the similarities end.

In most churches, the more perceived power and prestige a position holds, the less available it is to women. I really mean perceived because, for example, in my tradition there appears to be some kind of power and prestige attached to passing communion trays. If I hadn't grown up with it, it would look weird.

Go ahead and look around your church gathering and its operations some Sunday morning and look at who is doing what and you will know what the gender assumptions are.

Men preach to adults while women hold babies.
Men lead worship; women follow in worship.
Men pray while women listen to prayers.
Men teach classes while women attend classes or teach children.
At meals, women cook and men eat.
Women clean up while men talk about the game.
Men attend important meetings while women wait to hear a report about the meeting, if they are lucky.
Men have input while women have response after the fact.

I stand guilty of these practice stereotypes in many ways, so this soapbox is crumbling beneath me.

The problem is systemic and so saturated with poor theology that change is next to impossible. The problem is not the Bible, but rather IMHO, the way the Bible is interpretted. I am no theologian or hermenueticist (word?), but I believe that we interpret the Bible so badly sometimes that we come to the oppostie conclusions about women than were intended in many ways.

Here is my main theory of the errors of Biblical interpretation so frequently made . When the Bible is interpretted for content, we will merely copy what the Apostles conluded about this or that. Now, you might be thinking that this is not so bad. Why not conclude what they conluded? In fact, isn't that the right way? Chris, geez! You're nuts.

Oh, but am I? I contend that I am not nuts (as all crazy people do). I think that if we use similar processes that the Apostles used and Biblical writer's used and most importantly, Jesus used, we will not come to the same conclusions as they did! Huh?

I knew might be confused. The problem with a stictly content interpretation of the Bible is that the changing of the social context changes the meaning of the content. A process hermeneutic, however, will tap into the meaning and intention of the writer or person in that context.

For example, if Jesus and Paul were about liberating and redeeming women and freeing them from the curse, they might have come to the conclusions they came to in their day (oppressive, perhaps, in our context). Now suppose we are called to the same direction as they were as it relates to women - liberation and redempotion? If that is true and we follow their process, then the content of our conclusions will be very different than theirs. In fact, the only way to be true to the Bible would be to do something differen than the Bible shows as the context has changed.

Merely copying the content of their deicsions would be step into the opposite direction that they sent us in when they made the declarations they did about women in the first place. Content obedience might actually be process rebellion.

This is really important because the Pharisees were doing this with the Law. The Law was never meant to be a tool of oppression. Good grief! The Law was such good news to Israel so many times. The Pharisees made it into something oppressive by a mere content interpretation. The process never made their awareness.

Most of Christianity's conclusions about women, I believe, are produced from Biblical interpreation that is surface and content laden with no regard for the process or the true intentions of the Biblical writers.

Go to Unity 2.0 - Economic

Monday, January 16, 2006

Jack Jack Attack

This is the reason I am not going to miss Monday Night Football this Spring. Jack Bauer, thank you.

Unity 2.0 - Race

Go to Unity 2.0 intro

I went to a Black church for the first time when I was in 6th grade. I knew it was a Black church because the people there had really dark skin. But I would have known it if I were blind. There was so much emotion, energy, and excitement at this church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I loved it.

I compared their energy with the drab, dull, and subdues White church I went to and there was no comparison. The Black church was better.

What never crossed my mind was, "Why are there Black churches?" I mean, shouldn't there just be churches? The fact that there were Black churches, and therefore White churches was so much a given and so normal that it didn't strike me as division. I mean really, we let the Black church come to the annual area-wide worship service and we even let them sing their way for a few songs - we were united, right?

The fact the "we" let "them" should have tipped me off that something was amuck. When "we" let "them" do anything it understood that "we" have the power and "they" do not. "We" are the norm and "they" are an anomoly. "We" are normal and "they" are tolerated.

I should have known that, but the thought never crossed my mind. I assumed we were open-minded "fellowshipping" with them. We were brothers and sisters, well, so long as they stay way over there and do their "Black" things and we continue in our "white" (normal) things.

This division became more and more into my awareness when I attended a couple Urban Ministery Conferences (Memphis, Dallas, Houston) back in the early 1990's. I realized that there were differences and divisions that ran deep. The history of it all I never knew. It was never told to me. It was treated as if this division were mutual and acceptable - the wya things were.

These conferences were great. They had a feel of a mutual cultural appreciation, but still there was the sense of difference and division. One comical time was when one of the Black choirs performed and the choir leader was directing the swinging and swaying choir, with the audience joining in. It was beautiful. However, a time came for some clapping to go along with the song. No lie all the whites were clapping on one beat and all the Blacks were clapping on the "off-beat" (or was it the other way around?). The director turned to the audience and tried hard to get us all to clap on his beat (he was the director for crying out loud) and the whites just couldn't do it.

I remember Charlie Middlebrook of the Impact Church in Houston talking about bringing many sons and daughters home, not just some of them. Powerful.

After one of the conferences, I spoke with a friend of mine, Lester, who is Black. We talked about race and the church and the culture for hours that night. He, of course, had a much clearer view of the racial divide - the minority group always notices and the majority group almost never does.

He asserted that Whites muct make the first step toward reconciliatio, and if Black s do not respond, that Whites should not quit. At that time I had a strange sense of fairness that said, "Why do whites have to go first?" This really messed him up since I am more Mexican than I feel and less Mexican than he thought I was. "Because they are the majority," he replied, "you of all people should understand that." I, of all people, did not understand it. He was just irritating me.

But that conversation stuck somewhere in my heart and simmered. The more I thought about it the more I realized that he was right. It is the responsibility of the majority group to be committed to the minority group as equals. When the minority group imposes equality, it smacks of reverse racism and usually is resisted. If the majority group treats the minortiy as equals, it is better.

Because racism has gotten so systemic and sociological and geographical and economic, there is no easy fix. This will not be fixed with a program, but rather a dream or a vision. It will take mystics and visionaries, artists and performers, orators and lovers.

We will never be united on race until we are more fully converted to Christ.

Go to Unity 2.0 - Gender

Labor Pains

36 years ago my mother did a wonderful thing for me. She drove with my father in below zero weather to Fairview Southdale Hospital and set me free. My memories of the event are skethcy at best, but she remembers much better.

I was supposed to be a New Year's Baby, but I didn't want to enter the below zero Minnesota Winter from my cozy spot in the womb, reports say. But there is only so long you can procrastinate birth, so January 16th, 1970, there I was.

Helpless, fragile, and needy I was (unbeknownst to me) placed into a world torn a part by Viet Nam, seduced into a sexual revolution, and where racial tensions were still very sore as a nation was still trying to figure out how MLK could be assassinated.

Babies are little people who force you to think the future when you see them - they have no past on Earth. With children come hope. "Maybe this child will take the torch and keep going with it, maybe to places the previous generation enver thought possible."

I know that my parents had hope when I was born. And in many ways, I know that I have not disappointed them. I know that one of their hopes was that I would make my own decisions, even if they were not the same decisions that they would make. WOW!!! If anything captures faith it is that.

They have given me many tools for the journey and I have learned how to use many of them. Some of those tools, however, sit in the shed unused. I have also gone out and got some tools of my own - strange and unfamiliar tools. Newfangled tools that don't make sense to them.

I know that I have wandered outside some of the preferences of my parents, and it must feel to them at times like the labors pains are never going to end. It is one thing to let the baby out of the womb, but it is another thing to let the baby out into the world making decision for himself. I am grateful that my parents that they give advice as they should (I need it), give me the freedom to make my own choices and, experience my own consequences, and are guaranteed there when I blow it - no questions asked. I've got a no lose deal going on here.

God, thank-you for using my parents to bring into this world, bring me up in this world, to release me into this world, and to love me in this world.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Unity 2.0 - Intro

Unity 2.0 is the name of my next series. I am inspired by three things to move ahead with this series:

1. New Wineskins is tackling this topic.
2. My buddy Joes James , who needs to keep on blogging, asked me about writing more on Post Restoration Hope.
3. Once again, Switchfoot, We Are One Tonight.

Although I am of the Churches of Christ and the American Restoration Movement, this series will not merely address internal family issues. Why? Most of the problems of divcisionn in the Churches of Christ are not unique to our fellowship. In fact, the most important divisions experienced in the CHurches of Christ have run amuck on most churches.

Here's a taste:

I am going to deal with power, art, and economics - and a whole lot more. Can't wait to get into this series. Hope you'll be here.

Go to Unity 2.0 - Race

Fatal Wound Interpretted

On Friday I asked you what the song, The Fatal Wound by Switchfoot meant.

OK, this could a little cumbersome, but Iwill give my interpretation of the song next to the lyrics. The lyrics are bold and my interpretation is italics.

I take this song to be an invitation song, really. Let me know what you think of my interpretation.
I am the crisis This is Jesus saying that he is coming and he is not messing around. It is the incarnational love Jesus has that moves him not only to be near us, but to be one of us.
I am the bitter end "I am the alpha and the omega."
I'm gonna gun this down Jesus is not going to leave the job undone. "I will make everything new."
I am divided The pain of what the incarnation requires is immense and Jesus knows it. "Let this cup pass. Not my will, but your will."
I am the razor edge I am the one having to make the hard call here. But there is no choice. It mst be done.
There is no easing out Incarnation is not easy. The cup cannot be passed. He must drink this cup to make redemption real and eternal.

Son of sorrow Jesus is the son of sorrow. "He was a man of sorrows."
Staring down forever Jesus is eternal and has always seen the mess that his friends, his brothers and sisters, the ones he loves are in.
With an aching view Our pain is his pain.
Disenchanted, This world is not worth worth investing in. It is ful of lies and disillusionment.
Let's go down together Jesus says come follow me, into death. It's almost like an invitation into a suicide pact. Jesus' suicide was the cross, ours is realized in the waters of baptism. In pabtism, we fulfill out end of the suicide pact.
With the fatal wound When this pact is fulfilled, there is no going back. Following Jesus is fatal.

This is the real thing This is not pre-season. And this is it.
No rubber bullets now I think this is a reference to The Law. What The Law could only hope to do, redeem humanity, Jesus does, in the crucifixion.
This is the final bow Jesus is the last sacrifice.
My breath avoids me Description of the crucifixion.
My chest is in my head
My stomach's upside down

Son of sorrow Same as before.
Staring down forever
With an aching view
Disenchanted, lets go down together
With the fatal wound
With the fatal wound
With the fatal wound

Rebelutions Likes Me

Rebelution liked my mid life crisis blog post. Read about it here.

2005 BlogCoC Winners Announced

Thanks to all of you who nominated and voted in the 2005 BlogCoCs. There were some terrific nominations. Here are the results:

1. In the category of Best Series for a blog, the winner is...Wade Hodges with Emerging Church of Christ.

2. In the category of best blog topic, the winner is..."Church of Christ bloggers help remove Anne Coulter from Harding University's Speaker Series."

Congrats to Wade Hodges and you Anne Coulter bloggers. As promised, Wade Hodges is the recipient of a free book of mine. Man, these things are flying off the shelves (because I keep giving them away).

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Fatal Wound

I am still listening to Switchfoot. Can't get enough of it. Nothing Is Sound Rcoks!!!!! The song I am trying to figure out now is, "The Fatal Wound." I have an idea, but I want to get your take on it. The lyrics are below.

I am the crisis
I am the bitter end
I'm gonna gun this town
I am divided
I am the razor edge
there is no easy now

son of sorrow
staring down forever
with an aching view
lets go down together
with the fatal wound

this is the real thing
no rubber bullets now
this is the final bow
my breath avoids me
my chest is in my head
my stomach's upside down

son of sorrow
staring down forever
with an aching view
lets go down together
with the fatal wound
with the fatal wound
with the fatal wound

Last day for BlogCoC Voting

If you ahve not voted already, feel free to cast your vote for the Best Series and the Best Topic over on the left sidebar. Results will be posted over the weekend.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Special lunch

I usually go home for lunch. I did the same today. However, when I arrived home for lunch today, I was greeted with a fire in the fireplace, the nice glassware, and a nice meal. My wife was honoring me. It was a gesture of love and appreciation.

What happened to deserve this great honor? Oh, I am so pumped to share this with you all. I just got word that I am accepted to the University of Minnesota's doctoral program in Family Science. This has been a dream of mine for almost 7 years. September of 2006, that dream comes true.

Yes, I'll be poor and the work will be hard, but I love learning. This is the chance of a lifetime and I am praising God that I get this very special opportunity.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Big Promises From Wineskins

New Wineskins, a terrific and smart e-mag, is making some promises for the upcoming issue, promised on Friday.

This is important for the people of the Restoration Movement and Churches of Christ, but more importantly, it is important for people who do not know Christ or all they know about Jesus are a bunch of lies from a disconnected collection of self-righteous grumps.

This week's release of the articles promised from New Wineskins are on Christian unity. I have the feeling that they are going to be much more inclusive and open than some of the other stuff that has been pumped out of this fellowship recently.

This is important because it marks, with no shame and no hesitation, the redirectioning of this movement. I do not believe that this is overstated. There have been hints and glimpses of this kind of thing here and there for a couple decades, but this issue of New Wineskins is going to be remebered as the time when the Church of Christ began looking outside itself.

This is important for pre-christians and non-believers because it will mark, small as it is, a change from endless church disunity, division, and religious strife to a more redemptive and reconciling group of people - something that they might actually want to be a part of. When the church looks like Jesus, people love it. When the church looks like anything else it is hidieous and is easy to avoid.

Keep with this is issue of New Wineskins coming out Friday the 13th (oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about) and you will notice that this isn't your grandmother's Church of Christ.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Fight Poverty

Please vote on the sidebar for your favorite Blog SERIES and TOPIC

World Vision spells out why you need ot be involved in caring for the poor. Right here they give the top 10 reasons to care about poverty.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Voting!!!!!!!!!!!!! 2005 BlogCoCs

Welcome to the 2005 BlogCoCs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You will notice that "ballots" have been placed in the sidebar. Feel free to vote for a SERIES and a TOPIC and then look at the totals.

Please vote only once for each category: SERIES and TOPIC. If you try to vote more than once, an ugly virus will ravage your hapless computer. Forget your antivirus and firewall, they are useless. Actually, the poll does not let you vote more than once. It knows who you are.

Trying to lobby people to vote for a certain series or topic is crazy. Encouraging people to vote in general is good. In fact, feel free to link here in your blog posts this week inviting people to come and vote.

Voting is open all week and will close Friday evening at 7:00 PM.

Do you need to take a look at the nomination again? Click here and do it.

Happy voitng and good luck.

And oh, the winner of the coveted BlogCoCs Series category will win a copy of my book.

2005 BlogCoCs Voting begins 10 Jan 2006

Voting will begin 10 Jan 2006 for the 2006 Blog CoC's. Click here to review the nominations.

The Bloggies, another blog award show (show?) is going on here. Go to that site to see well done awards for blogs. Actually, don't go there because you'll notice how ridiculous the BlogCoCs are.

I thought about the winner of the BlogCoCs getting an automatic nomination for he Bloggies, but tomorrow is the deadline. Nuts!

Look forward to your voting.
I just nominated Mark Elrod for a Bloggie. Best New Weblog and best political blog.
Mike Cope is nominated for best topical blog.
Messy Christian is nominated for best Asian Blog.
Tall Skinny Kiwi for Best British Blog
Nominations for the bloggies end today. Go nominate your favorite blogs.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Pilgrim of Worship #6: What goes up must come down

Pilgrim of worship series begins here.
During my third (and thankfully final) year in Houston, I decided to quit teaching at the end of the school year and go to grad school at ACU to pursue a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy - a very good idea. I had also been hearing about this very strange and exciting church in Abilene that was not just doing things differently, but that they were busting out of the box big time.

When I arrived on the scene, I was introduced to a cell church, a full blown worship team for the Sunday getherings, total freedom of worship expression, an openness to the Holy Spirit unlike anything I had ever experienced, genuine outreach to the poor and needy in Abilene - an actual mission church. I drank deeply of the intimacy in the house church, I dove into the worship times passionately, I took risks and borrowed the same boldness and courage that was modeled to me by the leaders of the congregation. I was swept away into the kind of chruch that was contagious. For that enntire year, I had never felt more at home in my worhsip with God and my church family.

I had finally found the perfect church.

And then it split.

Yes, it did, thus quickly disqualifying it from being the perfect church. This was a complicated split, too. Not that there are any simple church splits, but this one was really complicated, confusing, and rife with betrayal, deception, and what I like to call pentecostal power plays. Actually, split is too clean a word to use, it exploded and debris and carnage spread in every direction.

One of the ministers confessed a sin, an extra-marital relationship had gone too far - not all the way, but too far. He confessed in contrition. Needless to say, learning that one of the ministers in my church had sinned like this was disturbing, but not devastating. The following Sunday was the best Sunday of worship ever - bar none. As a body of 500 people, we celebrated, danced (on Sunday morning), worshipped, and cheered for the confession of this minister. He was welcomed with open arms of love and forgiveness and concern and generous doses of compassion. I never thought that forgiveness could be so sweet. I really loved my church. It was like , "See, church can be this good!"

And then the bomb dropped. Something happened, something sinister happened between redemption Sunday and the next Sunday - the Sunday from Hell. The minister was not at the worship gathering the next Sunday. Whispers had been churning about something run amuck during the week. When we arrived at the Sunday morning worship gathering, the anticipation was about ready to explode. We just knew that our leaders, whom we had learned to trust with all of our hearts, would straighten out everything for us. We knew that they would provide the clarity and relief we all needed.

Well, what happened was we got a vague and ambiguous word from the rest of the ministers and elders. The only thing that was clearly told to us was that the minister and his wife and children were disfellowshipped and we were not to speak to any of them under any circumstances without specific permission from the leadership - and there was this tone in their voices that said permission was not going to be given. Violating this order was equated with unfaithfulness to God and would show disrespect to the minister who was disfellowshipped (huh?). We wanted clarity that day. It's been 9 years and I still can't get a straight answer from some people - seriously.

The very same people who I had grown to trust more than anyone in the world, the people from whom I had learned courage and boldness, the same people who I had learned were full of God's Spirit and love were the same people who said things like:

"Don't question your leaders."
"God demands blind faith in your leaders."
"God is placing a new head on the church." (yes, be very confused)

My wife and I met many times with various leaders, elders, ministers and so forth. Everytime we did, we were not only more confused, we left feeling a sense of guilt for even having questions. We felt condescended to and pitied for our crappy little particles of faith.

We spent two more Sunday in worship there, mostly in shock. The unbelievable was crushed by the undeniable. The worship, though with all the same songs and energy, was bitter and felt wicked. I looked around the room of 500 worshipping people I used to trust now wondering, "Who's on my side?" "What are they thinking of me?" "Am I faithful?"

My best friend, as I learned only after a couple of conversations, was clearly on the polar opposite side. He was suddenly aloof and mysterious, evasive with my questions and frankly, arrogant. This is a friend I had born my soul to on more than a couple occasions. Now, I could not trust him. Nothing was as it seemed. Everyone was suspect.

The joy, the excitement, the thrill, the mission, the hope - all of it was choked out of me. I couldn't sleep at night. I couldn't talk to the people who used to give me comfort because they were the ones killing me. Eventually, I was "blessed to go elsewhere." That is a quote. Well, that's kind of like getting a joyful divorce. How could I mean so little to these poeple to be blessed to go elsewhere. I couldn't even use the word "blessed" for a year after that one with out it sounding like "screw you."

The next two years were the worst desert of worship of my life up to that point. I struggled to pray and to sing. I had really weird dreams that were eerily accuarate to what was happening and revealed people's motives to me, and gave me some comfort.

Just for the record, here is what helped:

1. The discipline of singing worship songs (many lament types of songs) when I felt like staying in bed or killing someone.

2. Mike Cope's voice on my answering machine asking if I needed a coke.

3. Diving into school work - it probably helped my GPA.

4. Knowing I could trust my wife.

5. Realizing that as much as it hurt, at least I was not the one causing the pain.

6. Finally meeting with the minster and his wife and seeing the relief on their faces when we convinced them that we really did love them and held nothing against them.

7. Meeting a second time with the minister and his wife, playing Boggle and eating home made doughnuts.

8. Learning that my faith was not my church, my leaders, of even my mission.

9. Learning that church worship is idolatry.

10. Learning that pain is an effective educator.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Happy Is A Yuppie Word

I am listening to Switchfoot's latest (Nothing Is Sound). It is deep, it is dark, it is hopeful. My favorite song right now is called, "Happy Is A Yuppie Word." Classic Switchfoot.

Their criticism of society is penetrating at times and pretty much disturbing. It would be depressing if it weren't so redemptive. I love these guys.

Their critique on happiness is excellent. The song begins with this light-hearted and encouraging line - "Everyone dies." But wait, hold on before you rush to buy the CD, there is more. "I'm running down a life that won't cash out." Ah, the madness behind their method actually has some sense to it. Then, in a classic Jesus-like twist of common sense, they bust out with "blessed is the man who's lost it all."

Hey, there is relief from the abundance of our endless and failed pursuits of happiness through things. The irony of the song is that happiness has been co-opted by yuppie-ness, the things that are completely incapable of providing it.

Losing all of the accumulated stuff is relief. That relief will be experienced as happiness.

Now I ma going to examine my yuppie-ness and see whatthere is to see. Thanks Switchfoot.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Pain & Acceptance

Last day for 2005 BlogCoC nominations. Click here.
Pain is the measure of the distance between expectation and experience.

I meet a lot of people who experience pain because their experience does not match their expectation. This kind of failure to accept reality is tantamount to a willingness to self-destruct. When there is pain of this kind, blame is never, ever far behind. It has to be someone's fault that the expectation was not experienced.

The problem with blame is that it is like a drug. You get a little sumthin-sumthin from it, but the problem is left unresolved. And though blame brings with it temporary relief and a pseudo-absolved feeling, it doesn't have any wheels and actually perpetuates the experience of pain and further prevents any chance that the expectation could actually be met.

Acceptance is the cure to this pain. I'm not saying roll over and die and I'm not saying don't have dreams, desires, and goals. What I mean is that you can't have it all. Life does not work out how you want it to all the time. The freaking world does not orbit our ever-so-fragile expectations!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Acceptance makes you the kind of person people want to be around.

A Much Needed Mid Life Crisis

You can’t fake it forever. Every part of you so deeply hidden, so franticly avoided, so fiercely ignored will emerge into the light of day for everyone to see. Maybe it comes during adolescence, or perhaps it comes out in marriage. Some have this experience when the kids arrive. However, a great many people experience it during mid life.

Ah yes, you can see him in your mind right now. He’s the stereotyipical 40-something, baseball cap-wearing, head-balding, convertbile-driving, gotee-sporting, Mount Kilaminjaro-climbing, affair-having, I-can-do-what-I-want-because-I’m-mad-as-hell-and-I’m-not-going-to-take-it-anymore male. Mid life sneaks up on this guy, possesses him like a demon, and makes him act out his latent teenager fantasies that have been festering since Jenny Sizemore dumped him in the 10th grade.

Mid life is a curious stage. With mid life comes deeper insight into age. With mid life comes the awareness of one’s own mortality. The knees crack, the back is sore, and there is a faint ringing in the ears. Hair that once grew on the head now grows on the ears; an unusual follicle migration has occured. People grow heavier, but not taller. They can remember 30 years ago, but not yesterday. The adolescent sprint has become a middle aged long-distance run. Words like arthritis and old suddenly mean something and can be applied to oneself. People in mid life start to wonder if there is enough time to do everything they want to get done. The road behind is longer than the road ahead. The kids (now bigger, stronger, faster, and smarter than they are) are ready to vacate the nest, or might even be gone. The choices of the past have narrowed the options for the future. Weeks fly by faster than single days used to and is it already 2006?

In short, with mid life comes the realization that everyone dies and you are closing in on it.

So, mid life comes in with its awareness and realization and drives people into a neo-adolescent pattern of crazed self-destruction. Or does it? Does the onset of mid life produce this apparent temporary insanity? Could it be that there was a pre-existing, ever-present, and ongoing insanity that has finally found an outlet for itself in mid life?

Rather than mid life causing this lunacy, maybe it only expopses it. Think about it. Mid life moves a person into undeniable truths about life, aging, and death. Can a shallow person maintain his ruse with such wisdom, depth, and meaning pressing itself into his aura? How long can a person trifle along in life and get away with it?

For the person of depth, on the other hand, mid life is a welcome stage. Rather than trying to be not old, these solid and grounded people embrace the opportunities that age brings with it. A generous and benevolent spirit grows within them, realzing that the self-indulgent and superficial life they were never comfortable with anyway was a waste of time, just like they always thought it ways. So, in response to the realization that the clock is ticking, they use their position and resources to pass on wisdom and values to the next generation.

What is really happening with these deep people is the same thing that happens with the shallow people – their true self is revealed. So, mid life is only a crisis for the people who have accumulated a pile of life experiences that have shaped their character into something regrettable. Mid life is a meaningful and eagerly anticipated transition for the people who have accumulated a pile of life experiences that have shaped their character into somehing honorable.

Like I said, you can’t fake it forever. So, when the big reveal comes, make sure you’ve lived a life you don’t mind the world seeing.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Do you believe in miracles?


Click here to see more about miracle abuse - hat tip Mark Elrod
The first word was that 12 miners were alive and one dead. "Miracles happen in West Virginia!" was the mantra after hearing about the survivors.

A few hours later, it turned out to be just the opposite - one alive (barely) and 12 dead. Certainly a miracle that anyone survived, but not quite the miracle that was trumpeted. No miracle at all for the 12 families who thought they had a miracle on their hands.

I cannot imagine the rollercoaster these people have been on. May God be with the families who lost loved one in this tragedy.

Pondering on this tragic event, I thought about how Christians sometimes report miracles. Do we not sometimes get too excited and miscommunicate? Aren't we sometimes so hard up to prove God that we embellish the truth? We sometimes get so wrapped up in our agenda that we do whatever it takes to advance the agenda, though sometimes without integrity?

What happens when we overdo our story is that innoculate people against it. Our evangelism can become the anti-christ.

When we speak for or about God, we must be honest. I believe in miracles, but I am also very sensitive to how I communicate them. A miracle is not meant to force someone into love with God and never to advance a human agenda. Miracles for the sake of fund-raising is crazy.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Lies About Sex

My Pilgrim of Worship series is poised to re-up soon. In the meantime I have launched "Lies About Sex" over at Christian Parenting.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Update: 2005 BlogCoC Awards

Nominations are still rolling in for the 2005 Blog series or topic from Church of Christ bloggers or about Churches of Christ. Now, just so everyone knows, the prestige involved with winning or even being nominated for a 2005 BlogCoC is on par with the award I once won at Flaming Pine Youth Camp which was the "Fastest Thing on Four Feet" award - Black Shaprie on White paper plate. Apparently I won this award before I was recognized as a human. I believe it was camp policy that everyone got an award.

So, if you have been nominated and feel a welling sense of pride for your blogging skills or e-notoriety, please consider calling Dr. Laura or appearing on Dr. Phil and tell them about your past. That ought to settle down your overactive sense of self-importance :-)

This post is up to date, so far as I know, on nominations sent my way. Nominations will close at midnight, Jan 6th, 2006 Central Standard Time. Voting will being shortly thereafter. I am still working out a "how-to" on voting. I want it to be easy and intuitive.

If you have a nomination, please make it in the comments section or e-mail me.

You may or may not be familiar with the series or topics nominated. I have linked Series as best I can and to the main pages of the bloggers. For the Topics I linked no one since they were created by the blogging of many.

Here are the current Nominations:

1. Emerging Church of Christ - Wade Hodges
2. Smells Like Church Spirit - Chris Gonzalez
3. The Influence of Creation and Eschatology on Worldview and Mission. - Adam Ellis
4. The Poetry of the Trinity - Phil Wilson
5. The Little Box - Bobby Cahoon
6. The Seamy underbelly of preahcing (and blogging?) - Bren Hughes
7. David - John Alan Turner
8. Liberation from Family Pain - Thomas Stewart
9. Katrina and Church Ordeals - John Dobbs
10. There Goes Jesus, Messing With Traditions Again - Rusty Peterman
11. Imperfect Churches - Rusty Peterman

1. "Church of Christ bloggers help remove Anne Coulter from Harding University Speakers Series"

2. Bloggers wrestle with "Christian Affirmation"

3. "Youth In Action youth rally goes to Hattiesburg, MS for Katrina relief."

A quick note: Hoot Musings bemoans a C of C only award for blogging. I concur, but not enough to change the mo here. One of the reasons I picked a C of C blog award was partly self-depricating (don't we have a history of taking ourselves just a little too seriously?) and partly because there are enough other kinds of blog awards out there.

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Not Sophisticated

I am not sophisticated and I can prove it.

1. The difference between opera and angry yelling is completely lost on me.

2. Pepperoni pizza or lobster? Crap, what do I do?

3. Josh Groban? Who's Josh Groban?

4. Wrangler jeans is casual while khakis is dressed to the nines.

5. Does it really matter that my hair is combed? It's not in my eyes for crying out loud!

6. If it were not for Wal-Mart and Target, I would not know where to buy clothes.

7. $100 is too much to pay for a suit.

8. What side of the plate does the fork go on?

9. I think my plain, thin wedding band is bling.

10. I think I'm smart for not getting tricked into buying a vehicle with a Hemi.