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Tag Archives: Brian McLaren

whew, what a technological cluster…. and random musings

Computer and social media this past week have both been the bane of my existence but also one form of allowing me to breathe through connectivity to the wider world via my fingertips.

My issues this week:

– My pc was out of commission for a week – it got old, fast, to view the web on my iPhone. I also had to work on the Theology on the Rock discussion the old fashion way – pen and paper. Crazy!

– I was de-friended by a “friend” I had never met and I know why he de-friended me. I kinda wanted it to happen by pushing the envelope by commenting on his facebook posts and seeing how far I could go with what I said (not disrespectful; always truthful) and in his eyes I’m sure he thought I was a universalist – he was a hard-core fundamentalist.

– my twitter account was hacked and I guess I was sending out some pretty kinky offers to all of my followers. It ended up being funny but damn I had a good password and ended up having to change it. The result of the hack was by stupidity on my part.

So this next week is going to be pretty busy…well the weekend is pretty laid back but next Thursday Tracy and I are heading to Colorado for some skiing! I’ve been skiing nearly every year since I was 4 and I absolutely love it. Tracy has never been skiing before in her life…this should be interesting. I’m a coach for 16 year old boys in soccer but I can yell at them if need be…that might not go over so well with my better half.

I’m slowly diving into McLaren’s new book, “A New Kind of Christianity”.  I say slowly only because the past week, or so, has been a bit busy but I anticipating it being a theological thrill a minute book…for me…if only I could find a way for my de-friending friend to read it with an open mind…but I know that would never happen. He’s probably the one who put up the sign on I-30 that reads, “Warning: Prepare to Meet God.” (jk…kinda…not really, but yeah really)

Also, I’ll be working on a new theme for my blog…actually I’ll be working on picking a new theme, not creating a theme. It’s bugging me that I don’t have Tad, Ryan, John, Kimberly, Todd, McLaren, etc on my blogroll anymore for your easy clicking pleasure.

I’m also becoming very excited…although it’s still a ways off, for our business trip to Cozumel.  My company’s owners are rewarding us, the sales reps, for hitting our 2009 goal by flying us all to Cozumel and putting us up at an all-inclusive resort. During that week you’ll find me on the beach smoking cigars and drinking beer and not much else besides jumping into the ocean/sea. All I will be packing is my swimsuit, a cigar cutter and matches. It’ll be glorious!  Plus if TSA frisks me it won’t take long. In all honesty I will be blogging during that week and will supply pictures via twitter about God’s beautiful creation.

Ok, that’s all for now. Try to keep up as I will be blogging more regular now that I have my pc back and it’s going to be a fast ride into summer! But a great one! Cheers!

Two beer recommendations: both are made by Choc Beer Company (@ChocBeerCo). Their pale ale is my second overall favorite (behind Schlafly Pale Ale @Schlafly).  It’s nice and hoppy but not overly hoppy and has the right amount of bitter to make it extra tasty. Their flagship beer (the box says 1919 on it) is also a very tasty beer. It’s a typical lager and a cross between a wheat beer and a hefeweizen. Very smooth and very tasty.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2010 in culture, theology

 

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Christians…They’re Silly and Sometimes Embarrassing

I found this link on Brian McLaren’s blog.  Ummm…this article reflects that it’s amazing how we think Truth can only be found in what we deem appropriate – for some, it’s not only the Bible, but certain translations of the Bible!  I feel God’s Truth is everywhere out there and it just depends on whether we feel secure enough to take our Christian-ghetto sunglasses off.

Burnt Offernings from WSJ.com

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2009 in culture, theology

 

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blogroll…officially gone…durnit

In changing themes it seems I have lost my blogroll option; I’d love to be able to pimp your blog but I guess I can’t.  Hopefully I’ll find a way to get them back on my blog but for now my apologies go to:

Ryan

Tad

John

Eikon Church

Brian McLaren

Cigar Blog

Cigar Aficionado

Clapham Institute

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2009 in politics, theology

 

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100% correct?…well, I’m screwed…

Here’s a great post by McLaren.  I also love the poem at the end which is written by C.S. Lewis. great stuff….

McLaren\’s blog

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2009 in theology

 

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all cuddly in the ghetto

Here’s a snippet of a couple conversations with good friends on facebook recently and a possible conversation between a ‘christian’ and God. (to clarify, the possible conversation is definitely not a reflection of the people I had the actual conversations with (those friends asked me questions which I further clarified with my comments) but rather about christians in general who are firmly and staunchly planted in the christian ghetto and say repeatedly, I can’t wait to be in heaven and off of this wretched earth.)

status: Just like Christ rebuked the Pharisees, who would Christ rebuke if he were here today?…

me:  The motivation of my original status…I was reading Matthew 23 and verses 13-36 kindof stood out with those who I respect who are challenging peoples’ paradigms (mclaren, pagitt, bell, etc) but get called heretics by other christians. just my four half-pennies for the day. 🙂

friend:  Why is it a big deal that other Christians call them heretics if they bad mouth other Christians themselves?

me:  I think I phrased that poorly. They’re not challenging people directly – they’re (McLaren, Bell, etc) are writing their views on theology and sometimes it indirectly challenges conventional and fundamentalists’ views on theology. In fact, McLaren, and Bell, repeatedly say that if what they write is ‘upsetting’ to them then it’s better for the reader not to read what they write. Plus, name-calling just isn’t the best way to emulate Christ.

So what’s the point of my little rant and my friend’s honest question? Well, here’s another thread from a conversation I had with another friend at nearly the same time.

me: “I think a lot of people up until recently have primarily focused on an after-life faith and ensuring that we have a fire-insurance policy so we don’t burn as sinners in the hands of an angry God. Edwards is just one I picked on, unfairly, b/c of his famous sermon that speaks about sinners going to hell and burning forever (some would disagree with his view of hell let alone the attitude of the sermon). In the south, as you are, primarily what I hear from ‘christians’ is how non-X’s need to turn or burn. Maybe it’s me, but I don’t respond well to threats.

I think we should hold our views of hell and heaven with great respect but in addition God cares about the earth that he created, ‘your kingdom your will be done, ON EARTH as it is in heaven is often forgotten. So we need to align our focus with bringing God’s kingdom to earth. There’s a prominent sign on I-30 that says, “Warning, Prepare to Meet God.” That sign, I believe does more harm than good for God. Chris acted with love. He didn’t chastise the prostitute, nor rebuke many people other than the pharisees…who in my opinion are just like (some) modern day Christians….

yeah, that’s why I was saying I unfairly lumped Edwards in with the comment. I’ve read commentaries on the sermon, but not the actual sermon – it’s actually more that some people I come in contact with here in Little Rock that have misplaced the focus…but that’s a haughty statement for me to make b/c it makes it sound like I have it all figured out’ which I definitely don’t. 🙂 It just discourages me when people pass off culture and the earth as ‘bad’. God created it and us and loves everything in it.”

So now again, what’s the point of all of what I just copied and pasted?  I believe that sometimes we as Christians lie to ourselves (sometimes inadvertently) about what matters and try to advance ourselves to heaven and in doing so we do more to destruct God’s kingdom here on earth.  In essence we’re saying, “To hell with earth!” which could be construed as, “God I don’t give a damn about what you created (the earth) I just want to get away from it all and be all cuddly with you in the Christian ghetto.”

God’s question in response might be: “what about your fellow man?”

you: “to hell with him, I want to be cuddly in the ghetto.”

God: “and hunger?”

you: “to hell with it, I want to be cuddly in the ghetto.”

God: “and poverty?”

you: “to hell with it, I want to be cuddly in the ghetto.”

God: and the Earth which I created?

you: “to hell with it, I want to be cuddly in the ghetto.”

God: “Really? So you’re almost like a gnostic?  Ok.  I need a drink. Jesus get in here; and bring some water with you to make some wine!”

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2009 in theology

 

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Hearsaywhat?

Amongst evangelical christians it seems we are manufacturing consent (amongst fundamentalists)/dissent (against paradigm-pushers).  This is my posting on it.  It is rather lengthy.

Wrongly or rightly I’m a contrarian – I’ve always been that way.  Maybe it’s nature that imbedded it within me, but in having two older sisters I’m thinking it’s more nurture – I was provoking reactions at it’s most enjoyable.  Fast forward to the present and I’m a protesting-Protestant who protests the old tried and not-completely-true ways of the Christianity I grew up learning and living.  The old way was founded in modernity and in the enlightenment, and it’s purpose was to classify every piece of information contained in the Bible so it was all nice and tidy and made perfect sense to the masses.  The ‘correct answers’ were contained in some file box that we could reference when someone had a question.  Ummm…not everything in the Bible makes perfect sense if you ask me.  I feel comfortable with the mystery in the Bible and not understanding every verse.  If we as Christians reclaim the mystery and accept the mystery of the Bible then we can live with more graciousness and humility and not arrogance and pride of know-it-alls. (That’s not the only benefit of reclaiming mystery, but I’ll save that for another blog)  Today I have more questions than answers about Christianity and I’m ok with that.

Labels.

Labels are sometimes frustrating. But they are what they are, so allow me to attempt to muse on: biases affecting information, some common misconceptions about a particular label, and finally what that particular label means to me.  This will not be an all-encompassing dissertation, but just some quick tidbit thoughts to point out.  Maybe it’ll help clear up some ignorance on the topic, maybe it won’t.

The particular label:

Emergent

What a fun, hopeful, controversial, threatening, divisive, and misunderstood word these days in the world of theology.

Nebulous.

As much as I might try to ‘explain’ emergent thoughts and tendencies it won’t be wholly accurate because emergent is a very nebulous label.  Imagine light shining through a prism. You can see countless reflections of beautiful colors shining on a wall that look different when looking at it from different viewpoints.  But there are certain key components which allow the reds, blues, yellows and greens to shine beautifully – the prism and the light.

Biases come into play.

I’ll be explaining why I appreciate emergent from my viewpoint – my bias.

I was in jury duty the other day and the defense attorney started his voir dire (jury selection) by saying, ‘we all have biases’.  This is an absolutely true statement.  As much as we may try to put our biases aside and be objective our biases still come up and cloud our interpretations.

The oh so cheesy statement of, ‘let go and let God’, is meant to say  that God acting is and doing as he pleases separate from our interaction, which is true, but the saying also includes us interpreting his actions of what he’s doing.  Let me try explaining it this way.  Sometimes people say, “Let’s just allow the scripture to speak for itself”. My response would be, “Ok, that’s cool…but we still have to interpret the scripture.” Our biases always come in to play.

All that to say that, our biases will cloud how we view a topic.  I think these biases have played a major part into some of the misconceptions of emergent.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

Say it ain’t so, Joe.

Misconceptions – we are lazily ignorant.

After 9/11 a Viet Nam veteran went to a local Target store and asked if Target would like to support a local Viet Nam war memorial with a monetary donation.  The local store declined and then soon after an email was fired all over the place, by an un-named source, saying that Target is against the military. (you might remember receiving an email about this)  At the time emotions ran high for our military and it looked very bad for Target and was not a beneficial p.r. scenario. The actual situation was that to receive a donation an organization needs to go through their corporate office. Bureaucracy? Yes, but very similar to other corporations. Against the military? Not necessarily.  The point is, is that the email was fired all over the place without people checking the actual facts.  This is similar to what I hear from some of my friends (and from some I’ve been de-friended) about emergent.  Reading one book by one ‘emergent author’ does not give you enough information for what emergent might believe.  There are many different beliefs.

People now side with Martin Luther and even named a denomination after him, but when he was asking his questions and making his public declarations he was viewed as a heretic…so either we’ve figured God out completely (that’s some mighty powerful kool-aid) and have nothing further to add to the painting or we are now no longer allowed to ask questions and proffer statements about God and continue painting our beautiful faith.  I, myself, want to add to the painting.

Don’t dismiss an idea because it is new or unfamiliar to you.  One of my favorite books is, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”, by Thomas Kuhn. Buy it, read it, appreciate it.  This speaks of how we react to paradigm pushers; I’ll just say we don’t react warmly, nor with open arms to people who challenge our worldviews.  We fight the new ideas because we don’t like change, we like to be comfy and be sure of what we know.  The Sun is the center of the universe.  You’re a heretic.  Say it ain’t so, Joe. The world is round. You’re a heretic. Say it ain’t so, Joe.

What concerns me is when people form finite, unchangeable opinions off of hearsay about emergent.  People are obviously free to form their own opinions about different topics.  But what aggravates me (not only about theology, but all areas of life) is when bad information and incorrect information is disseminated as fact. Sometimes people are too lazy to find out all the information.

Another common misconception is that emergent is unbiblical.  I can’t disagree with this more.  I’ve heard Brian McLaren speak in public – he was completely Biblical.  I’ve heard Doug Pagitt speak in public – he was very biblical.  I’ve read Rob Bell’s writings – they are very biblical.  I’ve read Tony Jones’s writings – they are very biblical.  I’ve read Tony Campolo’s writings – they are very biblical.  Part of this references back to our biases.  But just because someone has a different biblical worldview than yours because they interpret the Bible differently does not make it unbiblical.  They just might not completely share the same views on Biblical interpretation as you.

Emergent being beautifully inclusive – and why I want to be included.

With all the authors and innovators in emergent sometimes it’s hard to speak of emergent b/c there are many varying degrees of belief.  Take me for example; I’m a bit of a paradox – I’m a conservative GOP’er but would also label myself as emergent because of the complimentary nature of beliefs within emergent.  For more specific information on why I value complimentary beliefs see my posts titled, “calcio and an open mind”, “playing frogger with a nebulous endline”, and “harmoniously dissident orthodoxy”.

Politically, I have a friend who is as liberal as I am conservative.  I have another friend who is in-between us.  So we’re all on different levels politically and a bit theologically but we’ll sit at Creegan’s enjoying beer and cigars and still revel in the powerful, merciful God we serve.

Verse to ponder on Romans 2: 14, 15

I believe in hell, some within emergent do not, but I’ll be damned if I’m so narrow-focused on my beliefs to not allow C.S. Lewis (if he were alive) to teach at the church I’m attending solely because he’s an inclusivist. (which I think I am an inclusvist if it were not for it being a label)  We need to learn that while we might not particularly agree with someone that we can learn from them and they can help us grow in our faith.

Instead of expounding further since this has been a very long post, (but it was asked for by some people) I will sum things up by saying that I appreciate emergent thoughts because it allows me to say, “I believe in hell and here’s why. I know you don’t believe in hell and you’ve told me why.  We’ve never traveled to hell so we don’t know everything that goes on after death.  We worship God. God loves both of us.  I am an inclusivist (even though I’m not a fan of that label) and here’s why. I know you’re an exclusivist and you’ve told me why.  We’ve never died so we don’t know everything that goes on after death.  We worship God. God loves both of us. Emergent values context in biblical interpretation instead of willy-nilly picking verses out to make us feel good. I value context in biblical interpretation instead of willy-nilly picking verses out to make me feel good.  Emergent values learning from others – including Catholics, Lutherans, Buddhists, etc.  I value learning from others – including Catholics, Lutherans, Buddhists, etc.  Emergent revels in the mystery of God.  I revel in the mystery of God. Emergent recognizes and appreciates grey areas.  I recognize and appreciate grey areas.  Emergent compliments me and I believe I compliment Emergent.

I still don’t like labels, but I love God.

Even though I will probably always be a contrarian I still value the genius of Calvin from ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ when he said, “Provoking a reaction isn’t the same thing as saying something significant”.

Cigar recommendation – I have a Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve staring me in the face that I think I’ll have later tonight.  I’ll check back in and let you know how it is.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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rescued from being saved

Below is my email response (edited and polished up a bit) to a friend of mine regarding a conversation we had about the word ‘saved’.  This snippet of the conversation pretty much stands on it’s own without much context but to give a little bit of context to the conversation, we were talking about how the term ‘saved’ is used in the Christian vernacular today.  I personally believe it would benefit Christians to drop the term altogether because when the word is used in the manner many Christians use it it sets a trajectory for attitudes that are not beneficial to how we live our lives and how we invest in our communities.  There is a much bigger background on this discussion which is a much longer conversation, but I wanted to share some of my brief opinions on this word ‘saved’.  If you want to hear the whole story you can buy me a beer.  I truly value quality conversations.  🙂

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A couple thoughts – my thoughts are not explicitly coming from the ‘emergent church’ – they’re the same thoughts that many of my ‘conservative’ friends share and at the same time they’re thoughts that some emerging friends hold, so I think it’s difficult to lump it into one camp or another.  But I also would push back a bit on your thought that one certain camp is straying from the Word of God.  I see quite the opposite – last week I spent almost an entire day with Brian McLaren; I heard his heart and saw how all of his ideas were explicitly tied to the Bible.  Every thought he posited was backed up by the Bible.  I am still chewing on his thoughts and don’t completely agree but also don’t necessarily disagree with everything he posited but it was most definitely tied to the Bible.

My thought is around how most people interpret and define the word ‘saved’.  The words/terms ‘being saved’, ‘personal savior’, ‘accept Christ as your personal savior” are not found in the Bible (nor is there a ‘sinner’s prayer’).  In the old testament we mis-translate the original Hebrew word into ‘salvation’ when it actually means ‘rescue’, which I would interpret as being able to continue on with your life after being ‘rescued’.  The way many Christians have used ‘saved’ connotes that after saying a magical prayer that you’ve reached a finish line and that you’re done – you’ve achieved what you set out to do and there’s nothing left to do except to wait to get into heaven, pass the popcorn.  When ‘rescue’ is used in the Old Testament it is talking about being rescued against the Egyptians, against King Saul, and against a multitude of other oppressors.  But when modern translations replaced ‘rescue’ with ‘salvation’ it took on a whole new meaning and morphed into being saved from hell (which then can spiral down into the ‘gospel of sin management’ as described by Willard).  Re-read Exodus 15:2, and 2 Samuel 22:3 (and a host of other verses) and replace ‘salvation’ with ‘rescue’, and ‘rescuer’ and see how it gives it a subtle but refreshing twist.

I don’t want to downplay a specific moment when someone might’ve been ‘saved/rescued’ (although paradigm shifts are seldom that easy of a transition to reduce to a specific second in someone’s life – we all know this from personal experience but you can also reference Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions for a great description of how we process paradigm shifts) but as sticky as semantics is and how words can take on a whole life of it’s own (such as this one has when it was blended in with the modern concept of formulaic thought patterns) I think we might be better served in replacing the term ‘saved’ with ‘a decision to follow Christ and being rescued from things that detract us from God’ – which is quite a mouthful  haha 😉  but maybe that will set a more accurate trajectory for us in our present life.

One of the things I appreciate about what you wrote was how you referenced them as YOUR thoughts and beliefs.  That’s the beauty of worldviews and theologies – we’re free to develop our own theologies and bounce them off each other and most importantly the Bible.

And at the same time we’ll always realize that no matter which words we choose it will always be a matter of the heart and intent.

And the true fruit shall follow on the flower.

–Paradiso, XXVII.148

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2009 in theology

 

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