Saturday, June 30, 2007

Emergent - a Primer

Theoblogy is a good place to go if you want to know a little something about the emerging church.

Click here and then scroll to the bottom for a a paper Tony ones wrote and presented at a lecture series at Wheaton College.

The "Without Autority" series is good too. Start here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Marriage and Spirituality

According to a 2004 study conducted by Peter Larson and David Olson, 81% of couples who have low positive couple agreement on spiritual matter have marriages that are very low in quality. Only 15% of these couples have a terrific marriage.

Conversely, nearly half of high quality marriages have high positive couple agreement on spiritual matters while 32% of these couples have very low quality marriages.

So, positive couple agreement on spiritual matters appears to help marriages have higher quality, but even more so it appears that it buffers against low quality marriages.

It is very important to be on the same page spiritually.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Power To Name

Looking to the early part of the book of Genesis we find an interesting task given to humans. Apparently God created animals and creatures, but they had no names. There was not fox or goat or cow, but ther were four-legged creatures that had distinct differences. God gave humans the task of naming.

Oh, but God also gave humans the task of caring for the animals. Naming the animals was helpful to the task of caring.

The power to name is a great power. When a name sticks, it is the way by which others identify someone or something. When I was in college I was given the name, Fajita. That was 20 years ago. The blog you are reading is part of the legacy of the someone giving me a name.

The power to name is like other powers given to humans: The power of fire, the power of creativity, the power of influence. Each of these powers has positive and negative potentials.

I am of the opinion that the power to name is one of hte most abused powers by humans. People name other people constantly. These names give rank order to people, crowning some as kings and mocking others as meaningless.

You see it on the playground. Kids make decisions about other kids and then assign names to them.

You see it in the office. You don't have to be in the office environment long to know who has what name and what those names mean.

It is in every aspect of life. Names are used to ingroup and outgroup people. Christian denominations have names so you can immediately categorize them and know their beliefs.

The dark side of names is that they create a false knowledge of something and serve as a way to bypass the important work of gaining actual knowledge of something. Lots of people who have been near each other in work settings have never gotten to know each other because there was an assumed knowledge based on the accepted name of the person, and not the person himself.

Have you ever been the victim of receiving a name that lead lots of people to believe something about you that was not true?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Comfort from Psalm 33

A person can get out of whack moving at the speed of culture. Always feeling the need to catch up, which means feeling constantly behind, can put a person on a permanent caffeine and adrenaline binge. The kinds of things that must be give attention these days makes for good head scratching material.

For example, my Yahoo homepage just showed me that Paris Hilton is out of jail and then it offered me 187 photos of her release. I was not interested in 187 photos of her release. Why is something like this important?

Paris, bless her heart, is the symbol of what Solomon talked about long ago - a chasing after the wind. She is here for a little while and then she will be gone. Something else symbolizing meaninglessness will come and replace her. Then her name will be on a trivia card for some fad game people play to pass the time. After that, she'll be gone forever.

What has given me comfort and hope this morning is Psalm 33. Verse 11 says, "

...the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

I really like that God's plans cross the span of generations. The very best of my own plans include fundung my retirement (a plan not being well accomplished at this point) and giving my children the kind of love and nurture that prepares them for living life. It is comforting to know that God has got an eye on the big picture.

However, it could be a little troubling to think of God having such grand plans. Do little people who cover a little time span have a part in the plan? Oh yes, as we pick up in verse 18,

...the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.

God's eyes are able to be big picture and personal at the same time. Today, I will take comfrot in that fact.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Limping back to the blogosphere

This has been a terrible week.

1. For a solid week I have had so much stomach pain that I believed I had an ulcer. I got checked and the doc says nope. It is a nasty gastritis. A creepy and persistent virus. I am going on 8 days and still I am afraid to eat a full meal. I was supposed to be in Nashville at a wedding. Instead, I was taking many trips to the bathroom. Sorry Kiki & Biggie. Here's a tip: buy stock in TUMS, Prilosec, and Tylenol.

2. I can't get into it on the blog, but someone I care very much for is in trouble and his world is tearing at the seams. If you are a praying person, please pray for "Fajita's Friend."

Finally, a ray of hope. I felt good enough to throw a line int he local fishing hole. Out came a four pound bass. It was big and beautiful. I was proud to show my kids and then I let it go.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Blog Fast

On a blog fast until further notice.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The following is extremely disturbing
(HT emergesque, from Darrin Patrick (via Mark Driscoll):


Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.

Fifty percent of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.

Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.

Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.

Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.

Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.

Almost forty percent polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.

Seventy percent said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.

Pastors' Wives
Eighty percent of pastors' spouses feel their spouse is overworked.

Eighty percent of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.

The majority of pastors’ wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.

My commentary:
These numbers are shocking to the point of appearing inflated. Nonetheless, I believe they tell a story, a true story about the church.

It might be easy to say that Satan attacks ministers and pastors more than other people. It might also say that we have made it easy for Satan to make such assaults. Churches may be doing the work of Satan. We have constructed a religious system that makes it next to impossible for ministers to be spiritual.

Pastor burnout is in large measure a church structure problem. Outsourcing spiritual development to pastors like we do in churches these days is crazy.

Essentially we have placed a person in charge of creating spiritual community in an unspiritual and individualistic culture. When spiritual development and community do not happen, we find the pastor an easy scapegoat.

Church is broken and burned-out pastors are the measure of it.

Adolescent Self-Disclosure

The very thing we think adolescents would dread doing is the very thing that keeps them safe. That thing is self-disclosure to their parents.

However, the conditions need to be right. Adolescent self-disclosure is precious flower which will bloom, wants to bloom, but only under the right conditions.

Parents who think they have some sort of right to have their adolescents disclose their lives to them at the parent's whim are very wrong-headed about their relationship with their teen. Controling a teen's self-disclosure is only going to result in the teen feeling controlled - and probably resorting to decpetion or stonewalling.

No, the considitons need to be just right.

My question to you:

What are the conditions under which an adolescent would willingly volunteer sensitive information to his or her parents?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Let's See Where This Gets Me...the rest of the story

I know that thousands of you are waiting on the edge of your seats to hear about my interactions with the St. Paul police department concerning a cheap-skate, no fair P.O.C. parking ticket they gave me. My letter is here.

I never sent to the letter as I learned that the one and only way to appeal this ticket was to go to St. Paul beg face to face with a hearing officer. I bet a lot of people just pay their tickets because who has time to dicker?

Well, although I have no extra time for this kind of thing, I have more time than money, so I made the trip downtown to a very nice justice center. This was eat off the floor nice.

I stood in line for 5 minutes. Not bad, but considering I was the ONLY person in line, the customer service could use a little tune up.

I was made to wait, but not too long, until I could speak with the hearing officeer. This guy was stradling retirement and the cementary, but hey, I hope I am still contributing to society when I am his age.

He had me sit down in his office and said, "So, you have a parking ticket and you have something you'd like to say?"

It was not too intimidating. I felt like I had a good case with the shifty switcharoo on the no parking signs and all. I made my case trying to balance logic with being a sympathetic person. I felt like I was making good progress, but then he said, "Well, I hear what you're saying, but I can't say that the polic officer did anything wrong."

What? I thought, why the Hell does someone have to be wrong? I didn't come here to prove anyone wrong. If anyone is wrong it is the sign changers, not the ticket issuers. When he gave me the condescending, "I hear what you're saying..." bit, I figured I was sunk.

I wanted to grab this jacker by the shirt and say, "Now you listen to me. I've parked in the same spot 200 hundred days in a row. I practically own the spot. I know people. I know Jack Bauer. I AM JACK BAUER. Now are you going to waive the damn ticket or is this going to get ugly?"

But the guy being no less than 80 years old and since I am not actually Jack Bauer, I became even more logical and sympathetic. I plead my case further.

He cut a deal with me. $5 and I was free.

15 years and they're still good

I have a few CDs that are over 15 years old. A few of those I listen to maybe a couple times a year. The songs are powerful, meaningful, and not only take me back, but push me ahead. I think good music does that.

Sometimes I listen to the classic rock station and a song will trigger a memory, but that is not what I am talking about with the following three CDs.

Here are 3 CDs over 15 years old that I am still moved by.

1. Of course, The Joshua Tree, by U2 1987.
Best song: "I Still Haven't found What I'm looking For"

2. The Indigo Girls self titled album from 1989.
Best Song: "Prince of Darkness"

3. Never Picture Perfect, by Rich Mullins 1989.
Best Song: "Bound To Come Some Trouble"

If you know this music, then you know something about the deepest part of me. You know I'm often conflicted, looking for relief and not finding it, defiant, hopeful, like to find light through darkness, and a whole lot more.

What do you still listen to after 15 years?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Free slaves and get free music



Click here for freedom.

Let's See Where This Get Me

Dear St. Paul Police Department,

I am writing regarding a parking ticket that was recently issued to me. I want to contest this ticket.

The citation number is 807055367.

I received this ticket for parking on Como Avenue next to the State Fair Grounds in what was very recently a fully legal parking area. I have parked in this same spot literally hundreds of times.

Only when I received the ticket did I come to know that the place that had been parking ever since I can remember was re-designated as "no parking." There were no warnings or indicators that I was aware of that could have informed me of the change besides the minute changes to the signs that have always been there.

There have always been “No Parking” signs on Como Avenue in that area, but there was small print that said, “during State Fair.” The new signs look exactly like the old signs with the deletion of three words from the very small print.

In my history of parking there for hundreds of times, I have not taken the time to read the small print on the signs every day to make sure that they had not changed. And yet, that is exactly what I would have had to do in order to know that there was a change.

I am not opposed to the change and I understand that at the curve in the road at that point there probably should not be parking. However, I would like to have received a warning ticket rather than a citation charging me a fee.

So, it is my humble request that my citation be relabeled a warning and the fee be waived.


Chris Gonzalez

Reality TV Redeemed

Click here and be amazed.

***UPDATE***McLaren on the Post-Falwell religio-political scene in America


More on the post-Falwell religious right at the Washington Post.


post is here from Out of Ur, but this quote stood out to me.

I hope is that people who are in the Republican Party who are followers of Jesus would use every bit of their energy and power to help the Republican Party reflect more and more the values of Jesus. And that Democrats who follow Jesus would do everything in their power to help the Democratic party do the same thing more and more. Now in that way, you are actually more aligned, you’re a stronger ally, with your fellow Christian in another party than you are with the people in the same party who have no higher allegiance than their partisan agenda.

I figure anything that anyone or any group does in line with the mission of God is good. When we resort to labels, we necessarily bypass the quality of the person or group and attach meaning to them that either does not exist or is inaccurate.

Re-member Yourself

Memories are stories of the past which package meaning. To remember is to re-member your past. To forget is to dis-member your past. To ignore your past is to dis-member it.

You should treat your past with some respect. You should re-member it in story, in storytelling, in art, in writing, in photos (actually going and looking at them), in creation and recreation of the past.

Re-membering is not merely an act of sentiment, it is part of present identity building and faith building.

I am everythig I was. Madeleine l'engle and Ann Lamott have both recently made the stunning claims that we are not merely the age we claim to be today, but we are every age we ahve even been. Right now I am 37, but I am also 17 and and ready to go to college, 13 and attracted to (but afraid of) girls, I am 36 grieving at my father's casket. I am currently every age i am have ever been.

So are you.

To live only in the small slice of you that is contained in the present is to miss out on nearly everything you are.

Re-member your faith. Re-member your family. Re-member yourself.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bare Naked Truth

Bare naked truth sounds like it might be something that might bring about more conviction than anything else. Getting to the "core" or the "root" of truth is the stated goal of many serious religious people.

But when searching for the essentials, the bare naked truth, these serious people find themselves at the nude beach of bare naked truth, and everyone's 80 years old. The idea of the bare naked truth and what you get when you think you have found it might not be the kind of match you are looking for.

When searching for truth, you might want it clothed in something. Finding truth in propositions is one way to go about it, but is raw, unadorned, and frankly quite distracting. Sometimes you just can't look at it.

Truth is better understood in story.

It's not the people who are 80 years old are in any way bad, I just don't want to see them naked. I want them clothed. I can interact with a clothed octogenarian, but not a naked one. I can't handle the truth of their nakedness. I can't get past it. I have to look away. However, I can learn the truth of their life not only when they are dressed, but also by how they dress themselves. Yes, the package containing the truth is part of the truth about the truth.

Story, art, experience, nature, beauty - these are the packages in which truth feels most at home. But the story containing truth is not merely the package, separated from the truth, but it is part of the truth. We contribute to the creation of truth by packaging the unchanging Truth into the dynamic packaging of truth.

Unchanging Truth MUST change its clothes in every culture for every time.

Be wary of anyone who wants only the bare naked truth. That's not the kind of truth you will want to look at.

More on story here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

*****UPDATE****Child Soldiers

7 nations added to human trafficking blacklist. Click here to read story.

Did you know that there are more child soldiers in Arfica than there are American troops in Iraq?

At least 200,000 childre soldiers are in Africa right now. The movie Blood Diamond portrays the horrific practice of how beautiful children are turned into killers with the kind of realism that makes you want to turn away, to deny it, to pretent that there is nothing that can be done about it.

I suggest you rent the DVD, but if you do rent it, be prepared to see violence.

A also suggest you do something about this kind of slavery. Here are two options:

Join the Not For Sale campaign. This is an anti-slavery group fighting against child soldier slavery, sex-trade slavery, and work slavery. 27,000,000 slaves globally.

World Vision is fighting politically and in other ways to end the problem of child soldiers in Nothern Uganda.

Please go and do something, even if it is signing a petition. Help bring an end to this kind of abuse, this kind of hate, this kind of evil. Let's use our American power and privilege to make a difference. Let's join God in freeing slaves.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

3.0 Conversations I like having: Restoration and Emergent

What is similar between how the American Restoration Movement began and how the emerging church is, well, emerging? Here are ten similarities, though there are more:

1. Eschewed denominational allegiance.

2. Sought to understand the Bible free from established interpretations.

3. Anti-institutional (or at least skeptical of institutions).

4. Although there are some loonies attached to each movement, the main movers and shakers are courageous mvers and shakers who put their ministry where their mouth is.

5. Fit the philosophical zeitgeist of the day.

6. Had influence beyond its own circles.

7. No one runs the movements.

8. At their beginnings, very diverse.

9. Resisant to denominationalizing (Resotration churches eventally succombed. What will emerging churches do?)

10. Willing to "reboot" Christianity in order to save it.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Thurthy Pointo

Click here for the beginning of the series.
Is truth collection of select content, a process, a direction, a way, a level of beauty, a potential?


Truth cannot be confined by a single context, a single process, or anything else. Truth is able to assert itself in whatever way it chooses. Truth can assert itself with a wave of beauty that is overwhelming. Truth can emerge in science that cannot be countered. Truth can show up in following a way.

Most important: truth is not subject to its choice of emergence. Each is a tool for truth and not the other way around. truth can be found in science, but just because something is science does not make its findings truth. Truth can use art to show it self, but not all art is truth.

We must learn that truth can appear at any time in any place. We must know that truth is a mystery and wait, and hope, and expect that it will find us. We must not be blind to anything as truth shows up in unexpected places.

Too many people, theologies, denominations, systems, and ideologies have selected which ways truth can and cannot appear. How much truth is missed because we have convinced ourselces that truth could not possibly show up "there?"

Let's get ready to rumbllllllllllllllllllle

Trash Talking. Fist Flying. Dissing on someone's momma.

NBA? No.

NHL? No again.

A couple punks in the hood? Again, you are wrong.

Upper middle aged white men who hold powerful political position? OK, you got me there. See it here.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Looking For Good Podcasts

I have decided to fill my drive time with good podcasts, but I don't really know about very many podcasts.

Tell me what kind of podcasts you subscribe to or that you think might of interest to a bloke like me.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

***UPDATE***Sex and the meaning of sex


Here is a NYTimes article on this early sex and mental health study. This one gives better information baout the study than the U of M link I give below.


When a teen has sex for the first time, how many do you think will suffer from depresion or low self-esteem as a result?

A. 85%
B. 60%
C. 25%
D. 15%
E. less than 5%

According to a new study by Dr. Ann Meier, University of Minnesota Sociologist, the answer is D. 15% The most likely to have problems are females who have sex at a younger age then their peers and are in unstable or uncommitted relationships.

She is also quick to say that she does not report any positive effects from first sex.

So, let's assume Dr. Meier has done excellent work and her report reflects truth.

What do you suppose is the meaning of this?

What are the implications?

2.0 Conversations I am not having

Although it was better at some churches than others, theological conversations were almost exclusively tethered to one of two things:

1. a theology of personal moral behavior, with each prescribed bad behavior jacked up by a verse in the Bible.

2. a theology of corporate moral behavior determined by a preset order of doctrine rooted in an established understanding of Biblical scripture.

The Bible was essentially a moral code by which individuals and groups should follow in order to avoid Hell. Many of these conversations centered on the use of instrumental music in worship, the role of women in the church, the role of elders and deacons, and proper communion practices. There were other side issues about what the church should be named, how the church can meet (small groups was a revolution much resisted), and so forth.

Authority was huge. Women had none. With men there was a hierarchy. Elders wielded the most clout and the elder with the strongest personality ran the church (unofficially of course). Deacons and ministers ranked second behind elders. Young men who toed the line were next.

The person with the authority maintained the moral standard.


I have not had a single conversation on instrumental worship, worship styles, or praise teams in a year.

I have not had a single conversation on women's roles inthe church in a year.

I have not had a single conversation on proper communion practices in a year.

I have not had a single conversation on moral authority in the church.


People do not have to be uniform on morality to be unified on somethng great. This is something I have been coming to believe over the past decade, but now I am seeing played out in real life. In fact, moral uniformity is one of the greatest hindrances to unity.

I am in a place now where I am in a group of people who are looking for answers with no fall back. No restoration movement to fall back on. No pre-established answers to take comfort in if we don't find something new. No comfort in the idea that change won't happen too quickly because change only happens through long debates, extensive teaching, and older opposers attrition or death.

If we do not know the answers to questions, then we just don't know. No denominiation or group or movement came before us wherein we can take comfort. Don't even say, "emergent is your group." Emergent doesn't work that way. It is much less organized than you think and it does not make up rules. There are lots of questions that don't even get asked because they are not relevant. Is it right or appropriate to use the same space for worship and an art gallery? In my context, that is actually a dumb question. However, in other contexts, that would be cause for debate and at some point, scripture would be brought into it.

Anyway, I need to be done with this post. I am not in a perfect place, nor am I in a better place. Instead, I am in a different place that allows me some relief from conversation I was weary of.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

You are a fish

Click here to see why you are a fish and there is a hook in that bait.

ArkALMIGHTY: Craigslist for ministry

This could be something.

Parenting is hard

When children grow up to survive the hypocricies of their parents and religion without repeating them or rebelling against them, they have accomplished a great thing.

Then they are free to create hypocrisies of their own.

Then they must find the wisdom to watch their own children fight to survive and use them to sovle their own problems. Guilt-driven parenting is nothing but selfishness.

When parents own their self-constructed hypocrisies of parenting and faith and find a compassionate and responsible way to deal with themselves, their children are freed to release their parents from condemnation and grow into their own hypocrisies and find compassion and responsibility in dealing with them.

Redemptive parenting is not summed up in perfection, but rather in the response the parent has to his or her own imperfection. Self-condemning parents create self-condemning children.

All that you do as a parent is a lesson plan, packaged and delivered. It is a lesson that cannot go unlearned. Parents fear this reality and become hypocrites. Then there will be a lesson about hypocrisy, about imprefection, about failure. What will that lesson be? Lie? Pretend? Intentional obliviousness? NO!

The lesson must be compassion, forgiveness, and redemption.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Conversations I am not having

Here is an example of a conversation I used to be involved in on a regular basis. I am glad not to be involved in it any longer.

I do not say this smugly, as if I am above this kind of conversation, for I am not. I am not above it; I am simply tired of it. I know that no person or church is above elevating trvia to doctrine. I actually really like how Patrick makes his case and know that what he is saying is by no means trivial, but I am relieved that I am no longer compelled to make a difference in this conversation.
I am glad that other people are having the conversation.
I have spent 20 years having this conversation and still the same conversation is being had. Maybe I am impatient. Perhaps I am disloyal. Maybe I am just a wimp. Whatever the case, I am glad to be, for the first time ever, an outsider to this conversation.
God bless all of you patient enough to engage in this kind of talk. Keep it up and make some progress.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Freedom Writers

If you have not seen Freedom Writers, go and rent it.

Sculpture Garden In Minneapolis

Southern Presidents

2000 - current George W. Bush - Texas
1992-2000 Bill Clinton - Arkansas
1988-1992 George H. W. Bush - Texas
1980-1988 Ronald Reagan - California (Not really south, but very much a cowboy)
1976 - 1980 Jimmy Carter - Georgia

Our last non Southern (or cowboy) president was Gerald Ford of Michigan. Prior to Ford, Nixon was in the Oval office. Nixon was from California.

I was born during Nixon, which means I have almost only experienced Southern presidents. That is quite amazing.

Currently running are a handful of southerners as well.

John Edwards - South Carolina
John McCain - Arizon
Mike Huckabee - Arkansas
Hillary Clinton - "New York"
Fred Thompson - Tennessee

Democrats speak at Christian event

Sojourners is hosting a forum on faith values and poverty with the top three democratic contenders. It will be televised on CNN.

I am sure that it will be informative. I hope that the questions, answers, and discussion go beyond canned rhetoric and partyline politics. I hope that something emerges that is significant and meaningful and useful toward actually solving poverty.

I would be especially interested how each candidate speaks about faith.

I would like sojo to do the same thing with republicans.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Visual echoes of my deceased father

I knew this day was coming. In fact, I am surprised that it took this long.

Tonight, at church of all places, I saw a man who looked remarkably like my father. Sure, he was trimmed down a bit and didn't have the scars from the burns my father endured from a car wreck a decade ago, but his facial structure, his hair, the way he sat, the demeanor. Had my father ever sat on a couch and my church and sang along to a song, he would have done it like this guy.

Since I had to teach the elementary school kids, I had leave the gathering to teach and my mind was into my lesson.

I did not have a sad emotional experience or anything, but I felt like it was more of a treat - like a little surprise to make me know I am being thought of.

I have got to meet this guy next at some point. I've never seen him before so he might have been a visitor, but since he knew the words to a song or two, he was probably a regular I have simply never seen before.

I don't now anything about this man, but I am grateful for the little reminder of my father.