Friday, February 27, 2009

Visitor Sunday - March 1st

This Sunday we will have a guest visiting us. His name is Karl Mueller. Joy and I met him while we were attending Word of Grace church in Mesa. He was pastor of Missions there for many years.

He is going to talk to us about the following two statements:
  • Every church a Mother Theresa.
  • The church should be the greatest threat to injustice in the world today.

The implications of those two statements in light of the AIDS pandemic and what God is doing in Africa through the body of Christ. How we can walk alongside African Christians on the frontline in the battle against AIDS and for transformed communities.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Recap 2.22.09

Well, the recap is late.  Can you believe it?  Yeah, me too.

      At our little gathering, we foraged through a thoughtful discussion of the Lenten Season (not to be confused those little soup beans). 

     Tara kicked it off with an inspiring inaugural post, after which there was a ball that I was apparently not invited to.  We discussed some of the traditional forms of celebrating Lent, which of course included the 'giving up' of anything that could be put in the 'fun' category.  You know meat, red meat, swearing, alcohol, hitting people, beanie babies....sailor's activities basically. 
     Digging a little deeper, we found that this may not be a time to simply try and shed bad habits, or even start good ones.  This time is about Christ's sacrfice, and us connecting to that sacrifice through one of our own.  Naturally, one person's sacrifice will look quite different than another's.  In fact, some may not look sacrificial at all.  It may be setting aside specific time for discipline, practicing a discipline that would cause us to reflect, refraining from activities that hinder spiritual progress (such as excessive time on Facebook, blogging, etc.)  **I think a new thread should be started to discuss further the narcissistic discussion we were having regarding these online activities as there is much more depth here that won't make it into this recap, but that I think was going somewhere good** 
     Our specific lives are far too different to go through these motions in the same manner, lest it become more about the motions themselves.  So, we discussed what these motions were going to be personally for each one of us.  We touched on the subject of not publicizing our mournful efforts, for a variety of reasons.  To contrast this, however, there seemed to be an element of community that would be severely missed if we do not share our efforts with one another in this time. 
     So, I won't oust anybody - but I'll start with mine.  I'm going to try and not become full for 40 days.  I guess it's a fast in a very sissy sort of way.  The idea here has to do with respecting those who are hungry, recognizing Jesus' hunger through this time, and not stuffing myself silly just because it's available.  So, I would love to hear from anybody/everybody willing to share on this fatty of a Tuesday. 

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dangerous songs...


Claiborne & Haw, 58.

Monday, February 16, 2009


[Tap tap tap... is this thing on? I always enjoy reading this blog, but have yet to actually post something! Here goes...]

Like others in the group, I grew up in an Evangelical church. I never observed Lent, and really had no clue what it was until I was in college. Even then, I still didn't really "get it," nor did I put much effort into exploring it. All I really knew was that some of the girls in my dorm decided to not hit the dessert table in the cafeteria for 40 days. How enticing!

It wasn't until last year that Adam and I decided to learn a little more about Lent and to subsequently observe it. It was a challenging time (we gave up meat), and while it was beneficial in that it forced me to deny myself, I feel like I could have taken more away from it. So, here I sit, reading about Lent and contemplating how I might observe it in a more meaningful way this year.

From what I have learned (and I'm sure there are some of you who are much more educated on the subject, so feel free to add/interject), the word "Lent" comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lengten, which means spring. It is a season of pruning, of giving and of giving up, of reflection, penitence, simplicity, and growth-- a season leading up to the celebration of Christ's resurrection.

Now, I'm not "about" performing perfunctory rituals based solely on longstanding traditions, but since Lent has never held that place in my life, I think it could be a very beneficial season. It is not in my nature to readily pause and reflect or to deny myself, so I think a dedicated period of time to do so will probably do me good.

Yesterday's conversation (well, the parts that I was there for, at least) got me thinking about these digital mediums, communities, networks, whatever you want to call them. I wasn't left thinking that they are necessarily detrimental, but rather that I should take some time to reflect on WHY I use them. And while I know that some of you don't use networks like Facebook, I must confess that I am one of the people who spend too much time on it. So perhaps this upcoming Lenten season will be a good time for me to take a break from it, to instead use my time reflecting, investing in relationships face-to-face, and opening myself up to more ways that I can love God and love my neighbor. Lent is also a time for prayer-- another subject on which I am "fuzzy." After our conversation on prayer a few weeks ago, I picked up Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's Becoming the Answer to our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals-- I'm hoping it will glean some insight into my confused head.

I'm curious to hear your thoughts about Lent. Past experiences (or lack thereof) are welcomed. I'm sure there are EmDes-ers out there with more insight on the subject, so please share away! Is anyone else interested in observing it this year? Ash Wednesday is February 25th..

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Recap - 2.15.09

Hey everybody,

Good discussion tonight even though we missed a number of the regulars (even the Macs couldn't make it due to Jacob's hefty school workload [Jake, I can't decide between a "dweeb" joke or a "geek" joke here. Boom! Roasted.)

In line with our agreed-upon meeting rhythm, this week was centered on another one of our "free-flow" conversations. We mixed things up a bit by starting off with a collective listening of a recent Third Way Faith Podcast by Shane Hipps & Zach Lind entitled, The iGeneration (Archive Episode #7 1.6.09). This particular podcast explores the rise of narcissism [excessive interest in oneself] in our popular culture, especially as it relates to our digital-lives. Shane Hipps generally proposes that the wide-spread crazes of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogging, etc. have serious implications on how we as individuals view ourselves, as well as how we as Christians live humbly and relationally.

Hipps points to a study that was conducted across multiple university campuses that tracks the levels of narcissism among our culture over time. The study reportedly saw a remarkable rise in narcissism beginning with the generation that was born in 1982 and thereafter. The correlation is then made between these generations' adolescent years and the launch of these wildly popular social networking Web realities that are now woven into the fabric of everyday life for millions around the globe. During the podcast, Zach offered the observation that "... everybody has that [self-focus] whether you're aware of it or not, and the blogs that I like the least are those that don't know that shadow's there."

The range of our ensuing discussion went something like this:

- Various folks shared their own encounters/experiences with the rise of narcissism among some of those around us who are heavily engaged in these online mediums (another example was even raised regarding pastors whose pious Twittering seems to clash against their role of being a humble leader)

- A number of folks provided countering views that described the many benefits that have been made possible by these Web 2.0 forums. (Take the emerging church movement for example, which has been sustained, promoted, and catalyzed largely in this digital realm)

- The point was made that while Hipps did make strong statements regarding the downsides of these digital mediums, he did not contend that they are categorically harmful. Rather, he is arguing for believers to be mindful of the subconscious effects these mediums carry so that we can be intentional in how we approach them.

- Another point was made about "intentions"... that examining our intentions for engaging in these forums is helpful in tempering our involvement and/or adjusting how we view our participation.

- All agreed that these digital mediums are no substitution for face-to-face interaction, and that by acknowledging this, we are called to be doubly focused on fostering in-person relationships as a community of believers.

- The conversation later shifted to applying the concept of narcissism to the emerging church, which is apparently a common critique from social conservatives. (Parallels were made to the social-gospel adherents...)

- We wrestled with the question, "Can narcissism extend beyond the individual and exist among a collective body of people?", i.e., is their a distinction between "I" and "we" views? [I missed a good portion of this part of the talk, and I'd love to hear more from somebody on this].

I know I've left out A LOT of points that were raised (sorry!). Please jump in the comments, and fill in the gaps that I've left open...

- It's not too late to register for the Emerging Church Conference being held in Albuquerque, NM in late March. If you want to jump in at the group rate, you need to let Debbie know by this coming Wed.

- Next week, we're back with Jesus for President. Our discussion will be based on the remainder of Section 1.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

emerging parents blog restarted

Hey folks! A blogger in Austin named Julie Clawson just posted that Emerging Parents is starting up again. Thought many of you would appreciate the link!
"Emerging Parents is a safe place for those involved in the emerging church conversation to explore holistic parenting ideas. We seek to discuss how we can follow Christ as parents, integrating our emerging faith and practices in with how we raise our kids. This is a place to explore, to suggest, to share, to question, and to support. All are welcome (non-parents included!) to join the conversation here."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Recap - 2.8.09

Tonight, we dove into our first discussion of Mr. Claiborne's Jesus for President.  Props to Tom for sporting the logo on a shirt.  Actually, what's the next highest honor beyond props?  Anyway, I have already digressed.

So we read through page 44, which is about halfway through the first section of the book.  Some logistics here - we will be going through half of one section of the book, every other week.  So on 2/22/09 we should have read through the first section.  We'll watch Nooma's, bring some guest speakers, and condone other shenanigans on the "off" weeks.  I'll update our group calendar (see below, to the right), so if things change or you forget, just check back here.

We discussed the layout of the book.  Some said that it was distracting, (which part do I look at first!?!?), and some said that it bred a creative approach to reading and/or understanding.  The parties that disagreed on this issue created factions and then settled it over violent thumb wars.  Let's just say the creative people won, with the cheating "Russian Attack" move.  Second digression...damn.   

We discussed how the OT has seemingly been positive or promoting towards entities of government.  With all the laws, judges, kings, kingdoms, and governments, found within it, one could assume that God has sanctioned all of these as his instruments.  And yet Shane seems to paint a picture slighted to the contrary. 

We all seemed to agree that the manner in which Shane does this is very refreshing.  He takes a very large and multi-dimensional story (that is the OT) and pares it down into synthesis with Jesus' story in less than 60 multi-colored pages. 

This naturally led to the discussion of how we interact with our own political systems.  We talked about our different upbringings and influence, what we've believed in the past, some of what we believe now.  The overall sentiment was that the dialogue that comes from political discussions can be rich and rewarding, and yet most of the time their outcome is the opposite.  We talked about how facebook jabs, blog attacks, and media blitzes all represent the low road. 

We talked a little about retreating from politics and nationalism due to the above issues.  Wendy brought some hope in how she facilitates progressive and productive political discussions.  Adam said that he'd share a link to some of what Shane Hipps has been up to that addresses this.  Sorry to give you an action item in these meeting minutes Dr. Bamford. 

Well, that does it.  Please feel free to add more or tell me to stop putting words in your mouth.  I'm finding that it's an interesting challenge to publish our discussion without disturbing our group's chi.  You know, the chi.  Let me know if you have thoughts about this.  Yard out. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Emerging Church Conference in Albuquerque

In case you haven't heard, there is an Emerging Church conf happening March 20-22 (
Some of the speakers are:
  • Brian McLaren
  • Phyllis Tickle
  • Richard Rohr
  • Alexi Torres-Fleming
  • Shane Claiborne
I just noticed the deadline for group registration is approaching very quickly.
To get the group rate ($135) we have to have at least 10 peoople register and need to have these registrations in mail before Feb 19. After that, the rate goes up to $165 if you register by Feb 22nd and $195 if you register after Feb 22nd after that.
So, that leaves this weekend and next weekend to get the forms filled out and turned in.
I'm wondering if we can get a head count or some idea of peoples plans to give us time to catch the early registration if we don't have enough to get the group rate.
Joy and I are planning on leaving for Albuquerque early Thur afternoon and heading back late Sunday morning. We would have room for upto 4 other people. Anyone else planning on going?
Can we start collecting registrations this Sunday?