Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Theology and Government

I am not supposed to talk about my political leanings because I am a pastor and our church could lose some advantages that it enjoys right now. I am a spiritual leader...not called to be a political leader. So, please note that this blog is not an endorsement of a political party. It is an endorsement of love.

Today, Chavez has gotten pretty much a dictatorship in Venezula. Amid cries of socialism, he is creating an empire based on hate. Much of the social governments of the past 500 years (especially within the last 100 years) have been based on hate. These include Russia, China, Cuba, Venezuela, etc. This has created an understanding of socialism that equates it with hate.

Conversely, much of the world that is trying to live by a Christian standard has tried to base a government on what it is for. I admit the American Revolution was against something, but maybe it was more for freedom than it was against anything. Democratic countries are not innocent; they are not the new heaven and new earth, but if you were a visitor from another country - where would you choose to live? In a just society (at least generally) or next door to a guy like Chavez (or Kim-Jong, Castro, Gueverra, Stalin, etc.)?

Democracy is not Jesus' goal in the Scriptures, but love is. Salvation is!

May we be agents of love no matter the socio-political situation we are in.

Purkiser, Exploring Christian Holiness: The Biblical Foundations

I read this book as a part of my masters class on holiness theology. Purkiser died 15 years ago, so I am not able to write him a letter to ask about some of his decisions in this book. Too bad. He was a pastor in the holiness movement and his publsher assures us that he is well liked.

The book works as a text book, as a resource for papers, but don't expect to be inspired. It is a tedious survey of every scripture that even faintly leans into holiness theology. There are lots of block quotes, making a 230 page book out of a 150-er. However, wordiness is next to godliness when you have to write a ten page paper on holiness.

And now, here are some wonderful quotes and insights from the book:

>p.16 on Bonhoeffer, He "spoke out against any form of 'cheap grace' which promises forgiveness without calling for the living of a new life."

> I think there is something about the way that holiness and fire equally induce a reaction of awe. This needs to be thoughts

>p.26 "He who sanctifies others must himself be holy"
----what are the implications of this statement on holiness and marriage?

Holy Rule Chapter 2 -what kind of man the abbot ought to be

Chapter two is much longer and much more stern as it deals with leaderhsip principles for the abbot of the monastary. He is compared to Jesus within the community and told that his life, actions and teachings must be holy and in accordance with that representation.

This chapter is so essential for youth ministers for a couple of reasons:
1. Youth ministers are looked up to and watched by students
2. Youth ministers must consider their methods in light of the students they are ministering to. What worked for a particular group/generation may not work for the following group/generation.
3. Youth ministers must be kind to those that are receptive and have the wisdom to recognize rebellion and pride in the students they lead. This is a hard thing for sure, as it is not a fun job to be able to confront anyone about their attitude. Church people tend to talk a lot behind the minister's back and when it gets back to the minister it hurts like a knife in the back. This is why I, personally, try to spend my time with Christians and not with church people. In this chapter the Abbot is actually instructed to use physical harm to chastise the proud and disobedient. Could you imagine a youth pastor doing that today? Or even an Abbot?
4. To whom much has been trusted much will be expected. Today's church is being influenced by youth pastors. This is why I think churches are dumb for hiring untrained, unexperienced, unteachable youth pastors - and being surprised when the church is paying for it 10-20 years later. Perhaps the un-whatever pastors should take care of the oldest, most steady, people and eventually be able to move downwards in age-specific ministry. This is part of the reason I think this chapter on the role of the Abbot is for youth ministers more than any other minister (senior, family, associate, music, etc.)

Above all other things, the Abbot is responsible for the souls of those under his care. May God strengthen those souls and lead the Abbot in the most holy ways as the Lord gives an increase in a worthy fold.

Monday, January 29, 2007


So my reading for my masters is killing me. That, combined with being away for denominational meetings for three days last week killed my 5 posts of the week - so I didn't get to post a youtube...wah!

Anyway - it's a kainos week and we'll see new posts shortly!!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Coupland, JPod

I treated myself to a read of Douglas Coupland's Jpod over the weekend. A really great book. You can find the details of the plot online, but the great thing for me was watching the way he moved the morality of the characters around. It is a view of life without a standard of morality, a metanarrative if you will, a Scripture if you won't. I love Coupland's work - his creativity is inspirational to me. Without the book right in front of me, here's some striking things that will surely come up in conversation.

> The largest prime number under 100,000 is 99,991
> You cannot fake creativity or competency. You can try, but those who are creative and/or competent will see through you.
> Douglas Coupland has become the anti-icon in generation x. This is mainly because he gave the non-x a definition of the generation who strongly desires to be defined by a resistance to definition.

(For the canadian readers, he ends the book with an absolutely hillarious little paragraph - it's plain rad. however, the american readers may think he's swearing. So, canucks, check it out. amercians, read more dan brown and wonder who jesus' girlfriend was.....)

Collins, Christian Counselling

I had to read this book for my masters counselling class. It is 595 pages with 100 pages of notes tacked on the end. It is so thorough! Not an easy read, nor a fun read, but such a good tool to have and there was much learning found within its pages. I don't have quotes or anything, but I would reccommend this book to pastors to be on your shelf for practical help in your counselling situations.

There is a new edition out, which I link to in the title slide. My edition came out in the 80's so the information on AIDS is pretty dated. It was a lot like reading a world war II propaganda pamphlet. Funny, but sad.

Anyways - it's a long book, but it's a good book.

Holy Rule Chapter 1 - of the kinds or the life of monks

The first rule outlines four different types of monks.

1. Cenobites - those who live under a rule and an Abbot.
2. Hermits - those who have developed exceptionally well in the Cenobite stages and are ready for individual life of prayer and battle against the devil.
3. Sarabites - no rule, no Abbot. They live in smaller groups and treat holiness like a cafeteria, choosing what they fancy to be good or evil.
4. Landlopers - sensual monks who travel about and live freely with no inhibitions or contribution.

The rule calls the Cenobites the most valiant way, and tracks that way for the rest of the chapters. The Sarabites seem to have descendents today - and more and more appearing in what they claim to be the emerging church. I wonder at what point these people, who deny historical orthodoxy, cease to be a part of the church. It is not for me to judge, but it is a dangerous path when a small group of people make judgements for themselves in isolation from the current and historical Christian commuinty. The Landlopers are probably akin to the modern day evangelistic movement that puffs up statistics in order to gain monetary support. Those who know these organizations, know what it looks like - and it is U-G-L-Y ugly. You can go to Mike Kings' blog (in the roll-out) for a stellar couple of posts on this stuff.

What kind of a monk am I becoming? That is the question this chapter asks me.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Jack Bauer Office Tips

Only 4 hours in and they blow a nuke in north L.A.!! With apologies to people that I mocked in the past I am now a 24 fan...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Youth Ministry in the Emerging Church

There are some who believe that youth ministry will cease to exist in the emerging church. What that statement reveals is a belief that the current expression of youth ministry is the only possible expression. Youths will continue to be ministered to and they will continue to be agents of God's kingdom - whether or not the traditional structures of youth ministry survive (on these structures: there are some I hope survive and some I hope die).

Youth ministry as a profession may cease. But this is a long way off - there will be many churches that hold on to modernistic structures for a very long time, so if your in college getting a degree in youth ministry - don't worry...but focus your training on leadership (hope), Scripture (faith) and loving people (love)...these three are foundational for any ministry.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I forget because I am a genius!

Participants in a new study, all more than 70 years old, were tested up to four times between 1993 and 2000 on their ability to recall 10 common words read aloud to them. Those with more education were found to have a steeper decline over the years in their ability to remember the list, according to a new study detailed in the current issue of the journal Research on Aging.

Terrorism and Justice

It seems that the Pentagon has set up rules for the trials of suspected terrorists. Only the rules are kinda surprising. You can click on the title link and read it. For a long time I have had a problem with holding suspected terrorists (a la Gauntanamo Bay - which I polly can't spell) without a trial. To me, it seems to undermine foundational principles upon which America was founded. I feel the same way about torture. Yet, I am not naive. I understand what a war is and I understand the toll that these kinds of things take on human beings. It is a sad situation all around.

I am against torture, yet I am against terrorism. I am against extended detention without trial, yet I am against freedom through judicial loop-holes.

In any case, we must continue to pray for our leaders because they have to make decisions, sometimes, where there is no right choice...only a choice of which wrong is worse...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Phenomenological Trinitarian Reality

A historically orthodox Christian belief is that God has always been and always will (Psalm 90:2, John 8:58). There is no beginning or ending to God. Our ontology, however, must be limited to our concious observations of God. A modern phenomological approach to God demands an explanation of the observable existence of a creator before the creation existed. How can it be observed that God had being, before there were observers of God to concoiusly experience that existence (Others may say that God is the God without being, an interesting conclusion, but not the only option.)? Thus the neccesity of Trinity. Extrapolating, God being omnipresent ceases to have observable being outside of created order if the Trinitarian view of God is denied.

The Trinity becomes absolutely essential to Christian doctrine because, in the very least from a phenomenal view, God, in order to always exist, must always be experientiable. So when the one God of the Christians exists in three peersonalities, He is given to Himself to experience. God is given to observe Himself because He is multiple. One would argue that God could observe Himself if He was not multiple. However, because God is omnipresent, there is no possibility of oberving Himself outside of Himself or in comparison of Himself beyond the existence of another (a creation of His). So, God can be observed to exist eternally because He is more than one.

Therefore, a short allowance towards phonomenology rationally gives that God must be multiple (and it can likely be brought forth that God must be more than two, but a single blog post can only do so much...).

There are immediate applications of this philosophy in systematic and rationalistic theologies and apologetics. Systematics, if they are willing to allow a larger base of evidence than just the Sricptures, can give base to the necessary existence of the Trinity. Rationalists can pose that God is eternally observable, and, thus, eternally existant. Apologists gain a foothold in a postmodern philosophy that lends itself into God's trinitarian existence. All three of these are quick showings that postmodernity is not the enemy (it is not even an enemy system of thought). Rather, postmodernity will allow for a different set of allowances for Christianity that will causally affect the evangelistic impulse of the church for several centuries to come.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Chris Seay, Faith of my Fathers

Chris Seay is the pastor of Ecclessia in Houston and is the founding pastor of UBC in Waco. This is the first book I've read of his and I have seen a couple of his nooma-ish videos up on the Work of the People pages. The book is a dialogue of his brothers, father and grandfather who have/are in pastoral ministry. It moves along topically and is mostly engaging - just like any conversation - there are parts where I could check out either because I had worked through what they were working through or just because I read it while I was sick (more than likely the latter). The book does not have the throughly edited feel that gives a bunch of great one-liners; it does have the authenticity that makes a glimpse into the inner workings of pastoral ministry a very beautiful sight.

Donald Miller also makes a couple guest appearances - providing a little fuel to the "burn-dobson-at-the-stake fire. I thought it was rather silly how much time was devoted to slamming Dobson. I aggreed with most of it, even, but am surprised that people are paying for a book to hear things that I'll just tell them for free (taking tongue out of check...).

A couple of quotes that struck me and a couple questions I have...

p.64 "To love hurting people is exhausting, and I could not ignore the way Papa's gaze saddened when we talked about his three years of depression. We are frail human beings. Working for God does not make us invincible - it only makes our failures more painful."

>> How do we, as a denomination, as a church, as individuals, care for pastors who have/are painfully failed?

p. 163 "As a pastor, it would be a great thing to be involved in an interracial marriage because you would make so many more connections."

>> This is true, it has happened for me and Heather, especially living in the South for a few years were racism is a bigger issue. What is the history of racism in the pacific northwest? Last night the sandwhich artist at Subway asked me if we were celebrating MLK jr's birthday or death - she had no idea he was murdered...racism here exists, but it is ignorance against hispanics and asians - not from a history of slavery. (At least here we don't call taking advantage of hispanic workers slavery...) So - when will the American chruch get over racism? My best guess will be when a white-run America ceases to be the dominant world power. When America finally has to ask for help, the pride of racism will need to either stop - or it will destroy this country. I know that sounds alarmist, but you can blame Dobson for that... :)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Benedictine Prologe

I am going through the Holy Rule of St. Benedict on the reOrient. I am fascinated by monasticism and love to think about the integration of sacred and secular clergy, neo-monasticism and the theology of the desert Fathers. So, I am going to be using the 1949 Edition translated by Rev. Boniface Verheyen, OSB of St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison, Kansas. My hope through this process is to gain insight into the movements of God through monasticism and see how it can reOrient a person in the postmodern shift. There is a prologue and 73 parts. This is going to take a while.

Prologue: Many would assume that the monastic way is less active - more still and "do-nothing"; in the prologue that is argued against. The monks are to pray in earnest and not waste time away sleeping and "do-nothing-ing". Rather, they seek the Lord and earnestly try to tune into His voice. The rule, then, is not to create a false spirituality through aceticism, but is to guide the monk into the rythyms of the voice of the Lord. May we, more and more, move in the rythyms of the Spirit of God.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

reOrient Royale

In the year 007 I'm going to make some more structure around the reOrient - there will be 5 posts each week that I am posting (obviously I can't post from Mayfield). They will be

1. On the Holy Rule of St. Benedict - in my efforts to better understand and live in a monastic rythym.

2. On my reading - I managed about 23 books last year. Not horrible, but will be increasing.

3. On theology - specifically on emerging theologies and giving my thoughts and learning here. These will be the posts that get no comments.

4. On youth ministry - ours and in general.

5. On youtube - I will limit my youtubia to one a week, a sort of prize to myself for finishing well.

There may also be other posts as I feel like it since it is my blog and I hate the rules!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Back again

Had a full holiday and had the rents in town - much blessing to see my kids loving and being loved by the grandparents. Gonna get some structure here...and try to rid of the pop-ups.