Churchlandia (portland)

I am fascinated by the culture clash that seems to be generated mostly out of BIG churches.

I was born in Ohio, raised in Chicago, spent 6 years on the Canadian prairies, married a girl from Montana before moving to NY  and then training for ministry in California.

It was in California that I encountered a kind of church I had not really seen before. Some call them mega-churches but I have developed a different name for them, since not all of the churches I am talking about qualify simply based on attendance figures.

After college I lived on the NY-Vermont border for over a decade before moving out to the Pacific NW. Arriving in Portland that first week was a reintroduction to these types of churches.

I call them Castle Churches. They can usually be identified them by three primary factors: More

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Race and Dr. King

I wrote an article for Ethnic Space and Faith (a  project with my friend and mentor Dr. Randy Woodley).

I give four snapshots of racial issues : technology, PHDs, Biblical Archeology, and America’s Prisons.

Then I reflect on Dr. King’s word that written from a Birmingham jail in 1963.  Here is a quote:

The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will.

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.

Head over to the site this weekend and I hope that you will post a comment as we honor Dr. King and his message this weekend.

Different Kinds of Books

The 100 top selling Christian books of 2010 came out. It is an interesting list.
It triggered some thoughts in me.

When I was a pastor, I used to joke that despite your best intentions and regardless of what you learned in college, much of what comes across your desk and occupies your time is answering two questions:

  1. How do we get more people? and
  2. How do we get those people to give more money?

That may sound cynical but much of the time I was even suspicious of other young pastors who were rabid about doctrine More

Clowns at every Circus

I wrote this as part of another project, but I wanted to post it here in prep for something that I will soon be up to .

I exist in a mixed environment – spiritually speaking. It is progressive (not a capital P) and also includes many people who have  ‘emerged’ (not capital E) from a predominately evangelical-protestant-with charismatic leanings type heritage. I also have many friends and conversation partners who would still identify as conservative, reformed, or some other type of evangelical.

In my circles I have always assumed and heard that when public characters like  Jerry Falwell sounded off on Hurricane Katrina being a punishment from God for the people of New Orleans – that most people rolled their eyes and knew that his was such a marginal expression that he should not be taken seriously.

or when Franklin Graham said that Islam (as if it were one thing) is a terrible religion filled with hate – that people knew he was not a spokesman for  Christians (as if we are just one thing).

or when Mark Driscoll  says that he could never worship a Jesus that he could beat up – that it carried about as much weight as a WWF wrestler mouthing off in order to get pumped up before a match, pulsing with vibrato and testosterone.

But apparently that is not the case. More

Peter Rollins – a prophet?

I get asked a lot of fun questions. Most come in from my podcast and – I love it. Here is one that I got this week and I thought it would be fun to post part of my answer and see what we see.  Peter Rollins is author of How (Not) to Speak of God, the Orthodox Heretic  and the Fidelity of Betrayal [link]. he is also really cool, has a tough Irish accent,  and makes great videos.

Here is the question from my friend: I wanted to get your thoughts on Peter Rollins. I’ve been reading his stuff, and I listened in on his webinar a few nights ago and not sure where I stand yet with it. I know that you are much further along with the post-modern thought. What’s your take with him…Just thought I’d get your thoughts on it…

Here is my answer: Peter Rollins is a poet.  Not a prophet.  Not a priest. Not a professor… and not a theologian. More

Football Jesus

There is an immense amount of football on the TV this month and the ‘God’ or Jesus of Football players continues to perplex me.   But recently I have found some relief!  A month ago something happened that I can not stop thinking about.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson dropped a game-winning touchdown in the end zone Sunday in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That night he used Twitter to say the most honest thing I have ever read!

I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…

I can not tell you how refreshing it is to hear Football Jesus get it trouble! He never gets blamed for anything. He gets all of the credit when things go well and none of the blame when things go wrong. This drives me absolutely crazy. This was like the Twitter version of the Psalms of lament where the psalmist cries out “where are you God?” More