Why are people in church ministry so terrible at asking people for things well? in my latest Out of Ur post, I dig in to the root issue. Oh, and Amanda Palmer shows up, too.
If you lead people, you are constantly choosing to engage with them either as tools to be used or human beings to be empowered.
Go read my new post on “Insider Movements” over on Out of Ur.
It seems that now (as always) Christ’s bride is preparing herself, secretly and smiling, in unexpected places. She is dressing in the temples and mosques of our Hindu and Muslim neighbors. She is even dressing herself in our churches, where some followers of Jesus are called to insider movements of a different kind.
Read the piece and share your thoughts.
“…She saw the streak as a vast swinging bridge extending upward from the earth through a field of living fire. Upon it a vast horde of souls were tumbling toward heaven.
There were whole companies of white trash, clean for the first time in their lives, and bands of black niggers in white robes, and battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs. And bringing up the end of the procession was a tribe of people whom she recognized at once as those who, like herself and Claud, had always had a little of everything and the God-given wit to use it right. Read the rest of this entry »
Over at the award-winning Managing Your Church blog, I share a few thoughts on Dawn of the Dead, the emptying of the American mall, and why some churches are moving into vacant consumer space.
George Romero’s classic 1978 film Dawn of the Dead centers on a tattered group of zombie-plague survivors huddled together in a shopping mall. In the aftermath of society’s collapse, the vast parking lots, brightly lit stores and restaurants hold everything that a small group could possibly need to live indefinitely.
Romero’s images of empty escalators and desolate shopping centers were a powerful social critique in 1978. At the time, the thought of an abandoned shopping mall was a major stretch of the imagination, a picture that stuck with you.
But today, the scene is awfully familiar.
Across America, consumers are abandoning traditional strip or indoor malls in favor of online shopping and newly built “lifestyle centers.” We’re seeing shopping malls slowly drain, leaving what was once premium retail space empty. Though (thankfully) a far cry from a zombie apocalypse, the quiet echoes of pop music in an abandoned shopping mall are no longer fictional. Read the rest of this entry »
Though Andrew Rose Gregory (better known for his role in auto-tuned Youtube hits like “Bed Intruder” and “The Double Rainbow Song“) released The Song of Songs last September, this indie effort’s recent promotion on Noisetrade has brought it much deserved attention in the past week or so.
Gregory’s lush interpretation of the Song of Solomon is a quiet masterpiece, offering a cohesive musical experience while avoiding the thematic claustrophobia that often dogs concept albums. It makes for a gentle Americana opera, wedding ancient lovers’ lyrics to an array of tasteful folk instrumentation and vocal harmony.
You can listen to or purchase the album here. It’s well worth it, as strong as a tower, as lush as En-Gedi, as beautiful as an army with banners.
Just last week, Sparks and Ashes featured musician Jonathan Rundman in the “Sparking Creativity” interview series (you can read his fantastic responses here).
Today, good friend and music aficionado Anthony Ashley reviews Rundman’s recently released 20 song retrospective album.
Whether it be semi-obscure Christian holidays, the human condition, death or theology, Jonathan Rundman’s songs deal with big ideas that matter. Rundman has just released a self-titled, twenty-track, retrospective album drawing from four of his albums released over the last decade and including new works and remixes.
The first song that really stood out to this writer is called Librarian. Being an incorrigible librophile, the song quickly found it’s way into my heart. In this librarian’s autobiography Rundman sings,
“I bring order out of chaos I shine light into the dark
because power comes from knowledge just like fire from a spark
Like Gutenberg and Luther with press and pen in hand
I take the message to the masses in a form they understand”
It’s at this point in the album I realize, this guy is smart and actually has something to say.
This morning over at Christianity Today‘s entertainment blog, I review Bobcat Goldthwait’s recently released film “God Bless America.” It’s a bang, a miss and a hit all at the same time.
Satire is a loaded gun. In the hands of a skilled marksman, it is an effective weapon. When wielded by an amateur, it is dangerous.
When aimed by acclaimed filmmaking iconoclast Bobcat Goldthwait, well, everyone had better dive for cover.
In his new black comedy God Bless America, now playing in limited theaters, Goldthwait wages a vigilante vendetta against the worst elements of the pop-modern American lifestyle. The title is pure irony, twisting the patriotic phrase to highlight the moral and cultural shallowness of our national consciousness. The film is a bleak and bloody fever-dream of suppressed rage. In the middle of the cultural carnage, however, lingers a profound question: What’s a thoughtful person to do when confronted with the banal insanity of a selfish and shallow culture? Read the rest of this entry »
The unexpected juxtaposition of two of my favorite theologians.
via The Rabbit Room
Please enjoy this project from a great group of Portland musicians at the Door of Hope community in SE. Eric Earley (of Blitzen Trapper fame) teamed up with some friends for a “70′s infused worship experience.”
No, seriously – it’s really quite good. Here’s a taste:
Perhaps this is a good time to revisit Derek Webb’s words on the wisdom of free music. Read here.
A thoughtful article from the Internet Monk responds to Doug Wilson’s abysmal blog post on “effeminate worship” and coins a useful term for the old but increasingly virulent strain of churchianity that imposes funky cultural gender roles on our new humanity: “Esau Christianity.”
Just go read this excellent piece here, please.
Then go thou and do better.
Over at faith/culture blog Two Handed Warriors today is an interesting brief piece by Jeff Goins. Responding to a previous blog post discussing the relationship of Christian art to “edgy” themes like sex and violence, Goins advocates for artists to do a bit of soul searching about their motives. Paramount though, is telling the truth through the things that we make. He writes:
Ultimately, we all want our work to matter. We want our creations to count. And the only way to do that is to approach our crafts with honesty and integrity. To write what is true even when it offends.
There’s nothing wrong with writing edgy, and there’s nothing wrong with writing not edgy. What is wrong — especially for a person of faith — is to write something that isn’t true to your deepest convictions and core beliefs. True to who you are and what you stand for. Denying that creative impulse would be a tragedy. . . we all need to write words that are honest.
Rage and Resurrection
The impulse to clean things up when we tell stories about the world is understandable. There is a universal human yearning for things to be different than they are, for the pain and disappointment of life to simply be gone. For the Christian, this yearning has a definite object: what Jesus calls (in the book of Matthew) “the restoration of all things.” We want this, want it desperately. When life cuts us, we rage back, with something inside telling us that there is a possibility of something different. Read the rest of this entry »
While children’s poetry is an unusual form for a Leadership article, this is what emerged after reviewing Andrew Sullivan’s thought provoking article, “The Forgotten Jesus,” in the April 9 edition of Newsweek. I’m glad that the disparity of church behavior with the teachings of Jesus is becoming a prominent national conversation, but it is often framed as a false choice between either Jesus or the church. Still, Sullivan’s piece is an important article on the institutional church and the gospel of Jesus in our current American context.
There once was a writer named Sullivan
who wanted to give Christ a mulligan,
so he said “people, please—ditch the Church so diseased,
and remember what Jesus taught us again!”
His article published in Newsweek,
caused Americans widely to now speak
about clergy corruption, and “Christian” eruptions
of behavior not loving or meek.
My thoughts on the matter? As follows:
his argument’s not at all hollow,
the critique is well taken, “churchianity” shaken,
an indictment we’d do well to swallow . . . Read the rest of this entry »
May Christ’s life be your life,
today and tomorrow and forever.
My friend Devon is currently working as a JET in Kumamoto City, Japan. Her blog is a great snapshot of life as an American in the Japanese culture, and a fun, fresh look at life in a fascinating and beautiful part of the world. Her recent post on observing her students’ practices of ”budō” is especially worth sharing.
“…budō is considered the “way of the warrior” and many students are asked to uphold certain practices that follow this path. Every day, students domokuso. This is a time to clear out one’s mind. It’s a brief moment of silent meditation that is historically practiced by martial artists before a training session. Students will do a brief mokuso as the school day begins, before and after each class, at the beginning and end of cleaning time and again at the end of the school day. With 6 classes in a day, this adds up to 16 points of silent meditation throughout the school day.
Ancient Japanese marital arts have many ties with the Shinto religion. Many pieces of budō and Shintoism go hand in hand. Before eating lunch, students will hold their hands in a prayer pose and say “itadakimasu.” It is difficult to translate this phrase into English but it is basically an acknowledgement of gratitude to the life energy that is the food that sustains us. This is also why every student in my three schools will participate in a hands-on agriculture day and why many Japanese people become farmers after retirement. There is a deep respect for the cycle of harvest and consumption.”
I know little firsthand of Japanese culture, and am sure that they have deep cultural flaws as well as profound cultural strengths. I do know though, that Devon’s observation makes me wish that I and my American neighbors worked as hard to cultivate the positive aspects of a “warrior’s way.” We can use a dose of intentionality in our living.
American culture has historically had a tough time with discipline. Specifically, patience, silence, practice and responsibility are not exactly our strongest virtues. In our context, we have a lot to learn about living on purpose, living actively rather than reactively. The result is that a truly grounded person is rather difficult to find in our culture. We are usually content to trade broad for deep, fast for good, and easy for best. Read the rest of this entry »