Friday, March 28, 2008

Moving...

Wezlo's Musings was an experiment in using an external blog site, rather than doing it on my own. For the most part, it worked. Because I use google's tools so much I decided to try out blogger, and it was good - until I wanted to use tools that other folks were using in other blogs, then it didn't work. Between Christdot shutting down and conversations that have taken part here in it's wake, I want a new start - wrestling with blogger is no longer "fun" for me. So, I'm moving to wordpress. My new blog is called "Painfully Hopeful," which kinda reflects my current emotional and mental state (why I didn't just take vacation this week is beyond me).

Here's to a fresh start. Who knows, maybe I'll even install wordpress for myself as some point.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What I did today...

If anyone keeps up with my twitter, you know that I've been wondering why I do the things to myself that I do. This has nothing to do with self-mutilation (except in the metaphorical sense), it has to do with how I go about accomplishing the calling which has been given to me.

I have some folks who want to get baptized - this is a good thing. They are folks who have been here for a while, and are trying to follow Jesus with varying levels of success, and want to make this step. I'm glad for it, really I am. When many pastors need to do something like a baptism class they'll either look for some pre-packaged materials or get a list of Scriptures together and try to put something together on the fly. For my first couple of baptism classes, the latter was my general methodology - we'd read Scripture, I'd talk.

I always hated doing baptism classes - until I did a one on one session this past summer and got to deal with some other issues, it made me want to re-write the class to be more (grin) "immersive." It was a good goal, and then life happened and I never got to it this fall like I wanted to. The luxury of waiting, however, was taken away from me - I've got folks who want to be baptized and I need to offer them something other than me talking at them for several 45 minute sessions. So what did I do - I rewrote the class, in a day and a half.

Not only that, but I decided that a booklet was a great way to make sure people hang on to the materials, so I created the booklet as I rewrote the class. On software I'd never used for a booklet like this before.

Actually, it's probably not even done yet. Why do I do these things to myself?

Anyway, here's the class order:
  • 2 sessions on the nature and symbolism of baptism (including a look at baptism in other traditions).
  • 3 sessions on the nature of the Apostles' Creed
  • 2 Sessions on "experiencing the narrative" (Prayer and Worship)
  • 1 Pizza party.
Yes, I could do much more, but I don't want to fry people's brains at the start of their journey. The good news is the the bulk of this material can be re-used for a membership class.

There are days when I think I'm just nuts. I mean, I even put a creative commons license on the title page.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Horton Hears a Who...

Today we tried to go to the Franklin Institute with the kids. We have a membership and they are off for the week. Unfortunately, I think everyone else who was off for the week also tried to go to Franklin Institute today. After doing three laps around portions of center city, looking for a parking spot (even the garages near the museum were full), we decided to "bag" it and head back over the river (I'll get back in that model heart one day soon!).

So, instead of heading home, we drove to the local theater and saw "Horton Hears a Who." It's a cute film, and I love how they faithfully transposed the "feel" of the artwork to the world of 3d computer animation. The little touches helped.

One of the things I appreciated in "Horton" was how, for once, it was the people who had "faith" that were the creative and open-minded folks - stretching their world so that they could take in a new reality and yet interact with it within an existing ethical framework ("a person's a person, no matter how small"). As a pastor, I appreciate that. Granted, there's been some positive depictions of film all throughout Hollywood's history (and some that aren't) - but I can't think of any where the people of faith are depicted as the "artsy types." If know of any others, let me know - I'd like to see those films.

The best line of the movie refers to "pouch-schooling." I smiled.

Friday, March 21, 2008

OK, so I'm weird...

I was working on some things for my upcoming series preview and I thought, "You know, I need a rating screen." So, I made one. Yes, I'm odd, but it looks cool!

Jeremiah Wright's Context

I've got to say, he sermon tracked very closely to the one I preached the sunday after 9/11.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kingdom Collision Trailer

Opening
Black background, thunder rumbles in the distance. Text fades-in with time-lapse of clouds forming it’s picture - the text reads “In the days of Caesar Augustus.”

The text fades out - and is replace with a series of words and voice-overs.

Violence
“When I die you will kill those rabbis - there will be weeping at my passing.”

Oppression
“If the Romans take all the best - they grow fat off of our work!”

Rebellion
“The only good Roman, is a dead Roman! Through their deaths we will bring the Kingdom of God!”

Corruption
“If you pay the right tributes, the high-priest will most certainly stay in your family.”

Hatred
“You’re a traitor, tax collector - you’ve betrayed your own people for profit!”

Longing
“One day, the Messiah will come - and then we will be free.”

Hope
“This is my beloved Son, with him I am well-pleased.”

Background fades-in gradually as the voice-overs happen - it is an image of the crucifixion. It says up for a moment and then fades to black. Text fades in saying, “Kingdoms Collide: September 08.” Fade to black.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Boggles the Mind...

I get all sorts of "churchy" catalogs in my mailbox. Often I'll just toss them in the trash, but occasionally I'll take the time to page through them. Once in a while, I get a good idea. More often then not I'll just end up being utterly confused. Such is the case in the last catalog I paged through.

Surprisingly, what left me scratching my head was not the two page spread emblazoned with the title "Celebrate God and Country!" I guess I'm just desensitized, I've come to expect that from catalogs like this. I mean, what's a little idolatry between Christians, right?

No, what really boggled my mind in this catalog was something that had never occurred to me in my wildest dreams. As I was flipping through the pages of the catalog I was suddenly thrust into the realm of church member parking permits. I guess I've never had to deal with the logistics of a church where parking permits seem like a good idea - but this just strikes me as way odd. I mean, is that how you know you've arrived? You don't have to park in the "visitor's" lot any more because you've got a permit for "member parking?" Are you only allowed to park in certain areas depending on your permit number? Do you get ticketed if you park in the wrong section? Is this the updated version of getting offering envelopes?

I don't know - but it does boggle my mind.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Designed in Mission is Over

This past Saturday we completed our Designed in Mission journey. Fittingly, we ended on a high note - this week's conversation between Lee Spitzer and Jonathan Malone was one of the best yet (and I'm not saying that just because Lee is pretty much my bishop). It was interesting to see how Lee and Jonathan are using similar themes to my own to help congregations be renewed. Lee's model of spiritual journey and the idea that congregations frequently replace "faithfulness" with "busyness" tracks very well with what I've been working on at Central. Lee's major point was when this shift happens mission is no longer the focus of the Church, "What I want" becomes the only criteria - which is dead on and describes Central beautifully. Jonathan set up a multi-focused approach of over-lapping circles: Discipleship, Worship, and Outreach (if I remember correctly). His circles (which he deliberately drew to form the Trinity Symbol) match up nicely to my three aspect approach that I formed with our three devotional studies that covered Evangelism, Pilgrimage, and Hospitality.

Now that the conversations are over I'll finish rendering and unloading the video I've taken. Once everything is on the web I'll work on getting the DVD's set-up. As Central Baptist moves forward with restructuring this is going to be mandatory material for the process. Here's a few thoughts as I move into the "post-production" era of DiM:
  • Traditional ways of passing on information are absolutely dead. People will tell you constantly that they want to have information passed to them in announcement, bulletins, brochures, and what-not - and perhaps they do. The problem is, they won't listen to it. We had brochures out in the church, and mailed to our region with a brief letter, bulletin announcements, and audible announcements. Those who weren't hostile to the concept were still like, "Wait, what's this?" five months into the session. Next time I do something like this I'm going to appoint an advertising leader.
  • A lot of the people I enjoy being in conversation with are from communities I'd never actually be able to be a part of. I can appreciate organic churches and mega-churches from a distance (and enjoy intersecting with them and working with them and everything in-between) - but my Ancient-Future leanings lead me to a much more connectional point of ministry. On a personal level, DiM helped confirm that for me in an environment where I was in genuine conversation.
  • Central isn't aware of the danger it's in institutionally (no, I don't think that's a bad word). There's still a lot of people who either think they'll wait people out until the 1950's return, and a lot of people who say, "I already know what I want" and therefor are unwilling to be stretched. This lack of urgency lead to low attendance.
  • I think I'm done trying to be the "front-man" to get people on-board with any new initiatives. Frankly, if I open my mouth people just sigh, "What now?" So, I'm going to tackle some folks who have truly disappointed me with their lack of courage in standing up to their peers and challenge them to step up to the plate. If only one of these people would actually stand up and say, "You know, we're being schmucks" this church would change at it's very core. It's time they took some responsibility for the mess we've been in for 30 years.
  • There's some good work being done out there for the Kingdom. I really don't want to copy any of these conversation partners - but I hope this material challenges/encourages me for years to come.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Blast from the Past...

I was looking over my google videos today as I waited for another Designed in Mission video to process, it's hard to believe this was only a year ago. Let me give some background info for folks who weren't reading my blog before last January.

About 2 years ago I realized that programs weren't going to help Central all that much. The strength and vibrancy of the congregation had atrophied so much that all the big programs were doing was reinforcing that they weren't where they wanted to be. I had identified some areas that Central needed some exercise in, so I wrote three Devotional Studies which were designed to get Central exercising some much needed spiritual muscles. They were: Biblical Evangelism (Evangelism), Stop and Smell the Coffee (Pilgrimage), and Making Space (Hospitality). The first two are actually on-line over at CrossPointings.org - why I've never got Making Space up it beyond me, I guess I'll have to work on that.

Anyway, being a geek who loves stories, I thought that the plug for these studies needed to be in narrative form, something epic. Something like, say, Star Wars. So, I created an "opening crawl" for BE - and then the successive studies (I'll have to dig these up and get them on youtube), and we created an arch-villain to tell the story - "Darth Nohope."

Below is how I want Darth Nohope to be treated when he shows up at Central.


New Script...

Central recently went to using "registration/friendship books" to track attendance and give guests a chance to let us know who they are. Well, people aren't really "getting" the books - and after two tutorials that no one listened to the deacons wondered how we could get the message out. I thought a tutorial film would be good - as even people who don't like the screen remember what's put on the screen.

The catch is that the tutorial film is going to be filmed like a cheesy 1950's "public awareness" video (everyone who saw the posture short on MST3K raise your hands). So, cue the cheesy music, bad acting, and over-the-top narration. Here's the first draft of the script:

[Fade from black - the picture is black and white and grainy, like an old film. Scene is a church sanctuary with a few people in the pews. A young man in a suit and tie walks down the aisle - the camera zooms in on him as the narrator begins]

This is Johnny.

[Cut to Johnny sitting in the middle of a pew]

Johnny is visiting a new church for the first time today and is feeling a bit uneasy. How will get to know people? Will anyone ask even him his name?

[Cut to an older man, similarly dressed, walking down the aisle. Narrator continues]

He doesn’t need to be worried, because there are people like this fine Gentleman named Billy. He knows how to the church’s friendship pad to meet visitors in the pews.

[Cut to Billy sitting in the same pew as Johnny]

When Billy sits down, the first thing he does is fill out the friendship book on the page for that Sunday. Then, with a smile, he passed the book on to Johnny and encourages him to fill out the form as well. The form tells Johnny that he can request a visit from someone, or that he’s looking to join a new church. He’s glad for the opportunity to tell people how he’d like to connect with them - and because Billy’s name is already on the sheet, Johnny decides to take a moment to introduce himself - returning smile he received earlier.

[“Properly Dressed” girl enters in, stage left, and takes a seat near Johnny]

When Sally comes and sits next to him in the pew, Johnny knows just what to do - he hands her the friendship book and she gratefully accepts it with a warm smile. Then, she passes the book on down the row as people gather for worship.

[Cut to close-up shot of the end of a pew, a hand places the friendship book near the end and is pulled back off camera]

When the book reaches the end of the row - it gets set down until the end of worship, when the church ushers come and collect the sheets at the end of worship. That way, the church can see if anyone was missing, or new to worship that Sunday.

[Cut to living room, phone is on the table. As the narrator continues, Johnny comes in and answers the phone - sitting on the sofa]

Two days later, Johnny receives a phone call. Who could it be? Why, it’s the church he just visited, they saw his name in the friendship book and saw he wanted to talk with someone about the Church. Johnny is happy, and grateful for how well the friendship books worked.

[Cut to close up of Johnny. After narrator speaks - he makes an exaggerated wink]

Now he just has to figure out how to sit next to that cute Sally next Sunday!

[Fade to black - cue cheesy music - credits - fade out - end]

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Book Thoughts: Reading Scripture with the Church

I haven't done a book review in a while, so I thought I'd share some thoughts with you about a book I've just finished, Reading Scripture with the Church. The book is a collection of Essays on Biblical Theology by four Different authors: A.K.A. Adam, Stephen E. Fowl, Kevin J. Vanhoozer, and Francis Watson.

I found the each of the essays intriguing, though Vanhoozer's essay on using Philemon as a framework for theological reading takes a good while to eventually get to the point. Here are some things I found appreciative in the book:

  • Adam's idea that Scripture is a "signifying presence" for the Church in worship. Adam's point is that the Scripture reveals the roles our lives should emulate (or avoid, as the case may be).
  • Fowl gave me a new appreciation for Aquinas, and gave me some new insight into why the Catholic traditions are able to deal with a plurality of Biblical interpretations without leading to fracturing the way Protestants do.
  • Despite Vanhoozer's slow beginnings (prolegomena in an essay is OK, just try to keep it brief), I throughly enjoyed the way he used the "theodrama" of Philemon to show that theological reading can be used to make Scripture applicable beyond typical historical-critical questions (like, "Why does Paul seem to support the institution of slavery?")
  • I enjoyed Watson's discussion on the canonical context for the four Gospels. I especially liked the way he used the Eucharist as a point of declination between the canonical and non-canonical Gospels.
I was kind of disappointed with the "responses" at the end of the book, I think it would have worked better to have a transcript of a discussion between the participants after they read each of the essays. On the other hand, there is much to chew on in this book - which I find to be a nice contribution to Biblical Theology.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I'm Twittering....

Someone (you know who you are) suggested that I should explore twitter as a way of passing information through churches. So, I set up a twitter account. The only problem at the moment is that I don't use SMS because I refuse to pay the outrageously high fees for something that takes only a fraction of a cent to send. I've got it set up via IM at the moment.

If you want to follow me around and get insightful updates like, "I can haz mr batre lives?" My twitter name is, of course, wezlo.

For practical use, I'm thinking twitter would rock as an actual prayer-chain. You can't gossip as much with limited characters!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The world's a-changin....get a grip and hang on.

I've been marveling at the way the internet is morphing the way "official" information is passed on to people. It's changed our personal communication for a while now - e-mail, IM, Socal networks, and blogs are just the tip of that particular ice burgh - but now "offical" news outlets are changing the way they handle a story and I find it fascinating.

It actually started a while ago when TV news stations like CNN started posting articles (really, they're pretty much properly formatted on-line copy) on their web-site. Sure, videos were there too, but 10 years ago on-line video was clunky at best (in reality, it just sucked). To compensate for their restricted ability to share video news they became what amounted to an on-line newspaper of sorts. After all, they had to get that information out there, somehow.

Now, it's the print-media that is morphing thanks to the internet. Many newspapers realized long ago that they had to have their content on-line because people weren't reading their printed papers as much any more (and that number continues to drop). They tried porting their subscription model over to the web but that was an utter failure for most sites - so they did what CNN had done before them, their articles were out there on the 'net, no subscriptions needed. Then things got interesting. Local news stations started putting their copy on the 'net as well, only because they were on a TV News cycle the content was updated more frequently than on the newspaper sites. Also, in the last two years video on the web has been a pleasant experience (rather than the root-canal it was 10 years ago) - so video new-feeds began to go with the printed copy. With their faster cycle, and video - newspapers were feeling the crunch.

In the last six months or so I've been noticing something on newspaper sites like philly.com - videos. Rather than copying the TV news sites, however, and simply post the video that matches the "print copy" on the page, the newspapers have taken an different track - their videos are almost exclusively supporting content. That is, their print stories have remained the same, but now one or two videos will be shown alongside the article. Sometimes this is just a fuller version of a sources comments, but more and more (especially in the sports section) I'm beginning to see original content. It appears that newspapers as we knew them, no longer exist.

What's this mean for the Church? Well, it means we'd better learn to understand really quick that information doesn't wait to be passed around any more. It's flying out there, and "we'll discuss that next meeting" doesn't cut it any more. Sadly, too many church communities are woefully ill-equipped to function in this context - but we need to try. Heck, if newspapers can post videos, churches ought to be able to get used to a short information-cycle!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Well OK...

Today the kids and I were at my great aunt's birthday party. She's an interesting character, to say the least. My sisters and a some of my cousins were there with their kids as well (I can't believe how much our clan has exploded) and it was so cool seeing them all play together. The highlight of the afternoon came when it was time to cut the cake.

My uncle (also named Wes) made a terrible speech trying to remark on how big our extended family is getting and how it was great that our aunt was able to celebrate that with us (it wasn't a bad idea, but my family has the combined attention span of a gnat so he kinda lost us). Then it was time to cut the cake. My son, however, saw a whole in that logic - no one had prayed! As we often ask the kids to say grace at the table, my son took it upon himself to step forward, tell everyone to fold their hands and bow their heads (I don't teach him that particular posture, but ok). He also commanded, "Now no one talk while I'm praying, OK?"

The prayer started with, and I'm not making this up, "God, thank you that we can be here for [wrong name]'s birthday and that we have this chocolate cake."

This is a completely socialized habit - which I'm perfectly happy with (after all, he's 5) - but it was dang funny and I know that he's seeing this as an important action, so I know we're doing something right. He got lots of high-fives (which I'm not sure was the best way to positively reinforce this behavior, but my family isn't all that religious).

Sadly, everyone said the cake was "blessed." Which my son didn't do. Oh well.

I just might have to read this...

These guys seem to share much of my current misgivings about Emergent. Though they seem to be part of the Evangelical fold-proper while I'm pretty content to be a distant cousin. I had written this book off because it first came to my attention though a snarky, crack-smoking, site that sets up Emergent as a convenient straw-man and I assumed that any book they'd promote wasn't worth my taking a look at. I appear to have been wrong. Once I get some more reading done for my fall sermon series I might just pick it up.

For the record, because I'm not sure I've ever pointed this on my blog, my current misgivings with Emergent are with a noticeable closure of the ancient-future entryway into the conversation. It's hard to be ancient-future in a movement when codifying the Story has largely become anathematized. Once that door shut, I became less and less interested.

Deep Sigh...

I've been reading a lot of stuff on people who have lost their faith lately. The big one was on Christdot - but there's been other blogs I've stumbled into as well. All in all, the stories have made me sigh - the comments on various blogs have made me want to weep. Why is this? It's because the stories all seem to go like this, "I was a conservative Christian/Fundamentalist, I was 'on-fire' for God, I did Evangelism, I went to Church, I started getting restless, I examined the world, my faith told me that the world had to be one way or it was all a lie, the world wasn't that way, I think God is a fable now and I'm so relieved."

This story makes me sad, not only because people have been down a road in which they now find encouragement in the belief that God doesn't exist, but because I'm not even sure that the "either-or" between fundamentalism and atheism is all that different. I've been on the road out of conservative Evangelicalism™ since my seminary days (ever since I went back for a conference and asked a question that freaked people out but was well-within the bounds of historic Christianity). To be honest, I never really was all the happy with conservative Evangelicalism™ - it has to do with the Mennonite Environment in which Jesus socked me on the head - I just went that direction because it "seemed" like that's where the "real Christians" were congregating. Eastern University kinda pulled that rug out from under me and started me on a journey in which I actually am wondering if Fundamentalist Christianity is really Christianity at all. Let's be honsest, we've all got blind-spots. It's part of being human. As I look upon Fundamentalist Christianity (which now, sadly, is Evangelicalism™ almost exclusively) - I wonder if perhaps their blind-spots have gotten so huge that they've fallen off a cliff without even noticing. I wonder if perhaps God's left - and they so internally powerful that no one has noticed! It's not like there isn't precedent for this in Bible, right?

If my concerns are true, this makes all these de-conversion stories all the more depressing. People keep saying that God wasn't there (in the Evangelical™ world) and so they lost their faith. I keep wondering if perhaps God's going, "Duh!!?? Of course I wasn't there, those people are whack jobs - they don't look like my Son at all!" Sadly, this isn't a point that can be brought up with many of the folks who have taken that journey out of faith - largely because there are fundamentalists on that side of the aisle as well, and they are just as rabid and snarling as the theist variety.

Having only ever orbitted the Evangelical™ world, I can honestly say that I don't know what it feels like to have the carpet pulled out from under me the way many of these folks have had done. I can say, given that I'm still attached to Evangelicalism™ in that I'm a Trinitarian Theist who's not part of the high catholic traditions, I have to say I understand a bit of their relief. I mean, good grief, Christdot used to have someone on it that really insisted the Sun must go around the earth because "the Bible said so." I can't imagine the types of mental gymnastics needed to keep that world-view intact - no wonder they burn out!

So, if you're struggling with belief, faith, and are want to believe but have no "reason" for it (given that the world-view which propped up your belief have been revealed to be smoke and mirrors), let me encourage you to find one of those "high churches." Not for the comfort, and not for the cool music, and not for the "great programs." Find one, in order to experience something that Evangelicalism™ has utterly forgotten - the mystery of the presence of God. Will it save your faith? I have no idea. For all I know it might only begin faith in you. At least, however, you'll have encountered a Christianity beyond the boundaries that you're finding stifling.

Friday, March 7, 2008

"New"Blog

Q said that I should put a "new" blog I'm writing in my blog-roll. I say "new" because I've been writing it since December 07 and just didn't think to put a link here. The blog is part of my denominational region's site - abcnj.net (which I helped design). As such, the name is exceedingly bland, Ministry and Technology. The content, I hope, is not. Here's what I have on it so far:
  • Syndication
  • IM Calling
  • Ministry, Meet You Tube
  • Web Sites
  • One Laptop Per Child
  • Is MySpace so Yesterday? (Reposted with permission from another site)
  • Podcasting (three parts)
  • Document Sharing
  • Presentation Clicker (my Salling Clicker review)
Coming up I'm going to do reviews of OpenLP.org and OpenOffice.org, and maybe a short plug on using video games to create community (like some freaks who actually did a Wii Bowling Tournament). Actually, I think I'll be doing a post describing how I use the projection screen for my sermon presentations.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

More Larry Norman

With the passing of Larry Norman I've been listening to his music again. I forgot about this Gem, which sounds eerily contemporary for a song released in 1991 on Stranded in Babylon.

Step into the madness of a million city streets
Where dealers sell white powder and children stand and bleed
Where local gangs are vicious and cops are so impure
That schoolboys carry Uzis so they'll feel secure.

Where fathers rape their daughters and beat up on their sons
Until the mother tries to stop him and goes and buys a gun
Where the local church is closed except a couple times a week
And turns its face from all the homeless in the street.

This is America, land of the free
Everyone gets justice and liberty, if you got the money.

Bankers and controllers make deals on foreign shores
And the CIA ships heroin to finance their secret wars
They sell the madmen weapons then send soldiers to their land
And in the name of God we battle for all the oil under the sand.

This is America, land of the free
Everyone gets justice and liberty, if you got the money.

Step into the madness as a thousand points of light
Illuminate the warheads for the final fight.
Step into the madness, say your prayers and drink your tea
Get ready for a kinder, gentler world war three.

This is America, land of the free
Everyone gets justice and liberty, if you got the money.

Orthodox-Mennonite Dialog sounds cool...

On March 22 at 1:30 there's going to be a dialog between Mennonites and Orthodox.  This sounds so freaking cool.  Read about it here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I'm a geek...

Why? Well, here's two of many reasons:
  1. I care about the remote clicker I use for speaking.
  2. I am so impressed with the one that I just found that I filmed a demo of it for you tube.
Here it is:

Sadness...

Well, I was just trolling for election coverage and found this on CNN.com. Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons and Dragons, is dead. This makes me sad.

I know that many Christians slam role-playing games as a convenient whipping-post, I'm not one of them. The fact that my parents surrounded me with books growing up (their house continues to resemble a library) and the fact that you had to read to play D&D are really two huge factors in my love of reading. I haven't played in years, and eventually I moved on to the 2nd Edition of Gamma World as my game of choice, but D&D and AD&D and I spent many hours together. The irony of my immersion into AD&D was that the mythology I was later introduced to as a Bible Major already made sense to me - I'd been reading modern versions of those stories for years.

Role-Playing was also one of the big factors my discovery that participating in stories told you a lot about who you were (and then, later, about who God is). I think I would have liked to meet Gygax, now I won't get a chance.

While I did have the Greyhawk game setting, my favorite Campaign setting of all time is Dragonlance. What's yours?

Reading List Started

I've started to gather my books in preparation for the Fall Sermon Series. I think it'll be entitled "Kingdom Collision," and it'll cover the political implications of Jesus' message in First Century Judea. As with a lot of my sermon series and writings, my aim isn't so much to lay out a "program" for people to follow (as you find in Evangelical™ circles). Rather, I want to give people a decent "tool-box" with which they can interact with the content of the Gospels on a deeper level - and then start moving forward to the political climate of our day and age. The goal is really three-fold:
  1. To explore the political implications of Jesus' kingdom preaching in the first century.
  2. To compare the implications of Jesus' preaching in 1st Century to our own in the 21 Century.
  3. To begin the difficult process of asking how our current context may legitimately or illegitimately change the present-day implications of how we proclaim and live out Jesus' kingdom-message.
Points one and two are relatively easy, point three is where the fireworks begin because:
  • People are going to have honest disagreements at that point which we'll have to live with (gasp, perhaps the Holy Spirit isn't making us all clones!)
  • Some sacred cows are going to be slaughtered and cooked (and, if you are thinking of someone else's sacred cow, please understand that the barbecue is being lit for yours as well).
Anyway, here's what I've ordered (or procured) so far:

  • Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church (Zondervan Publishing Company, 2007).
(The above is a good primer for lay-folk. I take issue with some of his forcing of modern political jargon into the world of Jesus [calling the Pharisees "liberals" in order to make it clear that the Sadducees were the "conservatives" who were holding on to their power is a huge stretch]. Yet, there's a lot to chew on in these pages. I won't be drawing from Boyd that much, he's done too much of the work for me, but if you're part of the Central Baptist community, you should pick this book up because there will be some significant resonance)

  • K. C. Hanson and Douglas E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Social Structures and Social Conflicts, Pap/Cdr (Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2002).
  • Bruce J. Malina, The Social World of Jesus and the Gospels, 1 (Routledge, 1996).
  • John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus, 2 Sub (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994).
In addition to these, I've become fascinated by William Wilberforce, who wrestled with these issues in his own day and age - so I've read this biography and will likely pick up others:
  • Kevin Belmonte, William Wilberforce: A Hero for Humanity (Zondervan Publishing Company, 2007).

Monday, March 3, 2008

Tell me what I don't know...

After knowing for years that I've got ADD, I figured I'd do a survey to test out the accuracy of my assumption.  The reason I did this after so many years is quite simple, a friend of mine told me about the medication she takes in order to study and I briefly thought, "Hmmm, I wonder what it would be like to have a 'normal' brain for a while?"  I mean, I guess it would be interesting to briefly experience why I get those blank stares from people every now and again.  Not that I'd want to such an experience permanent, mind you - half the things I do are actually helped by my having ADD.

So I took the survey, and it popped up, "You most likely have ADD."

Well, duh.  Oh look, it's shiny!!!!