Saturday, December 27, 2008

deconstruction... 1st thoughts

Recently i have begun to tip my toes into the deep, deep ocean that is deconstructive philosiphy. My introduction was the emergent podcasts on the subject and since then i have begun Jack Kaputo's book entitled, "what would Jesus deconstruct". I don't find it universely understandable or applicable but here is the most salient point that i have come upon so far (if i understand it correctly).

Kaputo argues that when MLK preached "I have a Dream" he was doing an act of deconstruction (he also references Lincoln's Gettysburg Address but I don't know that well enough for it to be illustrative for me). By painting a picture of what Justice and freedom really look like (King's daughters going to school with my son, etc.) Kaputo says that King deconstructs every myth of justice and freedom that existed at the time. And when King's dream caught hold of the imagination of the people, then reality as it is was was already on its way out. By stating how things could be King made it so that how things were would never again be ok.

Kaputo argues that Jesus did the same thing, particularly in the sermon on the mount, and that deconstruction is the way of the KOG. Jesus pronouncing the reality that the the poor, the meek, the peacemaker will be blessed, is the carrion call for the way of the world where the rich, the proud and the powerful rule. But (and these are just my thoughts here) if King had spoken to an empty room, or had his message fallen on deaf ears, then nothing at all would have been deconstructed. The question for us is, then, I think, has the image Jesus paints of the KOG caught our imagination enough that we are forced to deconstruct our own realities which are not the KOG?

I don't know that it has.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

thoughts on leadership 1 (or, lost in a forest drawing a map)

For me to write anything about leadership is like a guy lost in a forest drawing a map. It might be interesting to read, but i certainly wouldn't recommend anyone trying to follow it. In fact i would say i have more thoughts on what doesn't work in leadership then on what does and way more questions then answers.

My favorite image for leadership is that of a gardener. As a gardener your job is to create good environments for things to grow on their own. What I like about this image is that it respects the innate ability of things to grow on their own and it carries with it an implicit embrace of a certain amount of chaos (there is no such thing as a perfect garden, or if there is one, no one would want to hang out there because it wouldn't feel like a garden). i think it is both an apt description of what a leader actually does (whether they know it or not) and a good image for a leader to strive for.

Here's my problem. though i like the image of a gardener, its not actually the image i find myself working out of. The image i find myself working out of is of a pizza baker trying to make a ball of doe a round flat pizza crust. i pull here, then stretch there, then need here, only to find the thing retracting back into the center.

The problem with this image is that is sets me (the pizza baker) directly in tension with the people I am trying to lead (the dough).

So the question i am living with right now is how do i change my own image that i work out of from the latter to the former? It isn't just a matter of changing my mental image. For it to be true i actually have to make decisions based on a desire to create better environments and not based on creating something that looks like a pizza (successful church or whatever).

Lost in a forest indeed.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

PoMo quote

This is an awesome quote about post modernity from a Catholic Cardinal (I think) named Martini (though I got it off of Marin E. Marty's publication, "Context" -- love it, btw).

After spelling out the perceived dangers and concerns about postmodern culture and the church he continues with this, enjoy:

I do not wish to say all of this is completely false. What I am saying is that this mentality is everywhere, especially where there are young people, and it needs to be taken into account. And I say something more. Perhaps this situation is better then the one that existed previously. Christianity has an opportunity to show better its character of challenge, of objectivity, of realism, of the exercise of true freedom, of a religion linked to the life of the body and not only of the mind. In a world such as we live today, the mystery of an unavailable and always surprising God acquires greater beauty; faith understood as risk becomes more attractive; a tragic view of existence is strengthened with happy consequences in contrast to a purely evolutionary vision. Christianity appears more beautiful, closer to people, and yet more true. The mystery of the trinity appears as the source of meaning for life and an aid to understanding the mystery of human existence."


Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Bible

A lot of attention is being payed right now (and rightly so) to the Bible as the source for Christian authority, thanks (in part) to Phyllis Tickle's book/conference "The Great Emergence". It's possible, in my mind, that the greatest contribution that Tickle's work will have on current church conversation is her providing a language for and permission to question the reformation insistence on Sola Scriptura, Scriptura Sola (which of course, many people have been doing for a long time).

A very good friend of mine made an offhand comment to me last night that got my mind whirling on this. They said, "it drives me crazy when someone calls themselves a Christian and yet is willing to throw out whole parts of the Bible".

Now, I actually agree with this friend, that sorta bugs me too. I am no biblical inherentest (sp?), but I do believe that the whole Bible is Canon, and that the whole Bible is the cherished book of the community and that the whole Bible is "inspired" -- though what that means is, I think, somewhat up for grabs. And that therefore the whole Bible needs to be read seriously and with attention to what it is trying to say to us.

However, the thing that struck me as odd, though not surprising, is that my friend equates a belief in scripture with being a Christian. And don't we all. But isn't that kinda weird? I mean are we Christians because we believe in the Bible? Or are we Christians because we have had an encounter with the living Christ? And is that the question that is really at the heart of the matter? In what do we believe?

I don't believe in Christ because I believe in the Bible.

I love the Bible, but I love the Bible because I believe in Christ. And because I believe in Christ I cherish the accounts of his life, I am fascinated by the stories of his father/God and I want to absorb the wisdom of those that first believed in him.

I do believe in the Bible, but I believe in it as a source (among others) that points me to the thing in which I truly believe, that is Christ.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I get it now...

I think i finally figured out my problem with Xn radio (well, at least one of my problems).

Because I am a sucker for all things Xmas-ie (Xn, secular, Hanukkah, heck I'd even say Kwanzaa except I know nothing about it at all) I have been listening to the local Xn radio station non stop this last week to get my fill of Xmas music. And knowing that many people (like me) who don't usually listen to their station (wouldn't be caught dead comes to mind) are listening to it during the holidays they are trying everything they can think of to convince us to keep listening after the first of the year.

Their primary tack is to say that i should listen to them because it will improve my life by adjusting my attitude because their station is always "positive" and "uplifting".

And my question is (to myself really since I know there are only 2 people who will read this, "hi, Mikes") where is the connection between Xnty and being "positive" and "uplifting"? Its a serious question. Is this based on anything in Xnty at all? We are a religion centered around a cross for cryin out loud! Even the birth of Jesus is set in a time of infanticide! I mean seriously.

Now there is certainly hope in the Xn message, more than in any other story, I beleive. But that hope means nothing if it is not serious about the reality of the darkness in the world. There is no resurrection without the cross, there is no Xmas without advent.

So I actually think that by being universally "positive" and "uplifting" (if they even are, and if they're not, then they're lying, and that's another problem) contemporary Xn radio is being false to the Gospel. (I'm sure their nice people; I mean no disrespect, just a theological disagreement, that's all.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008


when my son, Ethan, was little he was obsessed with feet. my feet, his mother's feet, the girls at ladies bible study's feet. when he was super tired he would chew on his own feet until they bled.

alas, now at near 2, he's given up his obsession with feet and has replaced it with an obsession for toilets, wiggles, and throwing tantrums. but the phrase "Ethan's Feet" has stuck in my head as a sort of nomenclature for my life, so there it is.

the lady in the photo is my misses, Tara. she's awesome, she works for the government, saving the world or something (its classified).

i spend my time raising a kid, being a male house wife ("house husband" has just never worked for me, so i am experimenting with male house wife, it sounds kinda funny too) and pastoring (that's not a word but it really should be) a small church plant (that means new church -- i like parentheticals, which is also not a word aparently) and thinking about church, church leadership (whatever that means) and theology when it comes up.