Thursday, November 19, 2009

Meeting: Friday, November 20th

This is a reminder about our upcoming get together this Friday:

Meeting time: 7pm, Friday, November 20th
At the usual place: High Point Coffee, 1735 W 7800 S, West Jordan

Come share what books you've been reading, your favorite blog posts and articles that you've read this past month, or just come for the conversation.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Meeting: Friday, October 23rd

This is a reminder about our upcoming get together in a couple of weeks:

Meeting time: 7pm, Friday, October 23rd
At the usual place: High Point Coffee, 1735 W 7800 S, West Jordan

Come share what books you've been reading, your favorite blog posts and articles that you've read this past month, or just come for the conversation.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Meeting: Friday, September 25th

This is a reminder about our upcoming get together next week:

Meeting is at a different time: 7pm, Friday, September 25th
But it remains at the usual place: High Point Coffee, 1735 W 7800 S, West Jordan

Come share what books you've been reading, your favorite blog posts and articles that you've read this past month, or just come for the conversation.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sermon Event: Church in Utah: It's Time for a Revolution

I just learned that John W. Morehead will be preaching at New Beginnings Church at Mountain Vista United Methodist (8931 South 3200 West, West Jordan) on Sunday, Sept. 6th at 4:00 p.m. Sermon title will be Church in Utah: It's Time for a Revolution. The Scripture reference is Matthew 16:1-3. The main points of the message to be followed by a Q&A are:

1. We are living in a new world of challenge and opportunity for the church.
2. The challenges of late modernity, post-Christendom, and Utah culture.
3. The church in Christendom culture.
4. Church in the missional mode.
5. A concluding challenge with the need to cast a vision with strategy for missional church in Utah.

This looks to be an interesting conversation about church planting and missional church in Utah. Please spread the word.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Life of Apostle Paul with Rick Steves

I love watching Rick Steves travel shows on PBS. Here is his show done on the Apostle Paul for the ELCA, of which he is a member. Enjoy.

We are now getting a Catholic radio station in Utah

I noticed in the paper today that we are getting a Catholic radio station. (From the Deseret News)
Catholic radio station to hold launch party

Utah's first Catholic radio station will have a "Station Launch Party" today, 9:30-10 a.m., at the KIHU (AM-1010) radio tower, 6173 W. 2100 South, West Valley City.

The Most Rev. John C. Wester, bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, will bless the station and do a ceremonial flip of the switch to being full-time Catholic broadcasting to Utah.

The station will be part of the Immaculate Heart Radio Network.
The Salt Lake Tribune also had an article that mentioned that a locally produced program may soon be coming.
Eventually, the Salt Lake City Diocese will air an hourlong program five to seven days a week, said Colleen Gudreau, communications director for the diocese.

Wester appointed a steering committee this summer to suggest programs for what is tentatively being called "Utah Catholic Now." A start date has not yet been set for that program, Gudreau said.

"It's got a lot of potential, but it takes a lot of planning to actually make it happen," Gudreau said. "It certainly is historic to have Catholic radio in Utah. It will increase the communication of what is happening in the diocese with Catholics and others interested in what is going on."
That sounds like it will be interesting, especially if it takes on the social issue of immigration.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Event Announcement: Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson visits Utah

The Latino Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah is honored to host Bishop Gene Robinson on Thursday, August 20, 2009 at the ECCU. Bishop Robinson’s address to the Episcopal Diocese of Utah will begin at 4:00 p.m. The theme of his address will be: “The Episcopal Church in the Twenty-First Century.” There will be a book signing and small reception following his address. Please RSVP to Karen Pena (801-322-4131) by Monday, August 17.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

If you’re wondering what that strange writing means in our banner

I felt like spiffing up our site banner a little. Make it unique and a little more Utahish. So I downloaded Mormon Country’s very own Deseret Alphabet and wrote ‘Salt Lake Emergent Cohort’ in Deseret. It’s a phonetic alphabet, so I had to do a little homework to get the characters right, but I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules for the correct spelling of many words, so this is my best impression of things.

The font I used is designed after the one used in the Deseret First Book, published back in 1868. If you’d like to play around with the font for yourself, here’s the ReaderBee font for download.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Next Meeting: August 26th, we’ll be discussing The Great Emergence

News about our upcoming get together:

The usual time: 7pm, August 26th
The usual place: High Point Coffee, 1735 W 7800 S, West Jordan

We decided to discuss as a group the book The Great Emergence, by Phyllis Tickle, so you’ll want to get it and read it before the meeting. Last I looked it appears to be available in most Barnes & Nobles and Border’s Books in the Salt Lake Valley.

Here are some additional resources you may want to check out: Here are some videos related to the book and a study guide available to download. Also you might want to check out some of the other videos available online of Phyllis Tickle discussing The Great Emergence.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Meeting: This Wednesday, July 22nd

This is a reminder about our upcoming get together this week:

The usual time: 7pm, July 22nd
The usual place: High Point Coffee, 1735 W 7800 S, West Jordan

Maybe we can read and discuss some of the faith jarring stories found in Peter Rollins new book The Orthodox Heretic.

And we might also discuss the current wallet jarring economic crisis and it's "theology". Here are a few articles worth checking out:
  • Praying for a revolution in economics,
  • Is the Economic Crisis a Sin?, Newsweek
  • The Market as God, by Harvey Cox
  • Vaticanomics: The Holy Father Tackles Globalization, The Wall Street Journal
  • Saturday, July 18, 2009

    The Episcopal General Convention and Utah

    From today's Salt Lake Tribune there's a brief article on some of Utah's roll in the recent General Convention in Anaheim, CA.
    Utah's Episcopal representatives joined the majority at this week's Episcopal General Convention in backing a measure to allow individual dioceses the option of choosing a gay or lesbian bishop.

    "We want everything in our church to be open to all people," Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish said in a phone interview from Anaheim, ... "Our diocese has always been progressive on social issues, mainly because the state is so conservative."
    Hmm.... Since our Bishop is retiring here soon, I wonder if this decision will play any roll in the Bishop selection process now going on?

    Friday, July 10, 2009

    Happy Birthday, John Calvin!

    It's a happy 500th today for theologian John Calvin, a whole half a millennium old. Check out some of the souvenir idols they've made of him for the celebrations this year (above), and a bobblehead (below). I wonder if John Calvin would approve. Hmmm.

    Man, I need to find a way to collect these kinds of trinkets, maybe ebay or something. I need this kind of comedy classic junk for show and tell.

    Here's some more to get into the spirit of things here.

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    Our Salt Lake Emergent Cohort is now on Goodreads

    I started a group on Goodreads for us to maybe have another avenue to network with other like minded readers and to see what each others is reading, what we hope to read, book recommendations, etc. So sign on up and check it out.

    Tuesday, July 7, 2009

    Review: The Great Emergence, by Phyllis Tickle

    The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why (emersion: Emergent Village resources for communities of faith) The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why by Phyllis Tickle

    My review

    rating: 4 of 5 stars
    The first part of the book about Christianity having a reformation every 500 years or so is a bit contrived. I don't think history really shows that pattern. But her thoughts on what is happening right now, that we are going through a kind of new Reformation, as she calls it 'The Great Emergence', I think she makes some really good points here. A book worth meditating on.

    View all my reviews.

    Wednesday, July 1, 2009

    Last night’s interfaith lament over SB81

    SB81 goes into effect today. Here is some of the press coverage on last night’s interfaith service/lament. The Salt Lake Tribune had an article, and KSL had a report (video below). Representatives from the Lutheran, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Episcopal churches spoke at the service. Also, Aaron Petterborg of the new Missionaries for Compassion toward Immigrants (Salt Lake Tribune article, facebook and web) showed up, it was good to finally meet him.

    Video Courtesy of

    Monday, June 29, 2009

    Utah faith leaders unite to lament SB81

    There will be an interfaith service:
    When: Tuesday, June 30th, at 7:30 p.m.
    Where: Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1070 S. Foothill Drive
    More information: 801-582-2321

    I plan to go.

    Comment from Pastor Steve Klemz's press release:
    A Service of Lament
    On the eve of the implementation of SB81, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church hosts an interfaith service of lament. SB81, an omnibus anti-immigration bill, is symptomatic of a broken community and serves as a call to prayer among people of faith. Public lament is a way people of faith confess their trust in God above all else, especially as this bill further creates a climate of fear and diminish the fullness of life in Utah.
    Here's the article from the Salt Lake Tribune:
    Utah faith leaders unite to lament SB81
    By Peggy Fletcher Stack

    The Rev. Steve Klemz felt an overwhelming sadness at the passage of Utah's new immigration law, SB81, due to take effect Wednesday.

    He mourned for all Utahns who live in the shadows, he said, without documents for themselves or a loved one. He agonized for those whose families will be severed by the law.

    Klemz, pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Salt Lake City, sought solace in his faith, where he found numerous biblical passages that lament the world's injustice.

    He then organized an interfaith service, scheduled for the eve before the bill is implemented, where people from every faith can read passages from the Psalms and other Bible verses. Catholic, Episcopal and Muslim leaders already have accepted his invitation.

    "The bill is symptomatic of a broken community and serves as a call to prayer among people of faith," he said. "Public lament is a way people of faith confess their trust in God above all else, especially as this bill further creates a climate of fear and diminishes the fullness of life in Utah."

    For Klemz, immigration is a moral issue -- and a personal one.

    In 2002, he married Norma Gonzalez, who had come to the United States from Mexico to care for her ailing father and stayed -- without permission.

    He joined her in the bureaucratic black hole that was her effort to become a legal resident. The couple prepared a petition to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, now part of Homeland Security. The federal government wanted to know if theirs was a marriage of convenience or a real union. They assembled scores of photos showing their family life and hundreds of letters from friends attesting to the genuineness of their marriage.

    Finally, last November, supporters filled the immigration courtroom as the couple faced their future.

    "They put us on administrative hold and encouraged us to go to Juarez [Mexico] and get Norma a visa," Klemz said, "but they are not actively pursuing us."

    Though not conclusive, it was a relief.

    "You have no idea how good it feels not to have a court date hanging over our heads as we did for five years," he said. "Now we are basically waiting and praying for immigration reform."

    It's the feast day for Sts. Peter and Paul

    A couple of interesting things. Did you hear that the Vatican may have exhumed the bones of the actual St. Paul. That would be kind of cool... if it's true. You can read a little more about it here, here, and here.

    And here's an interesting thought I found surfing today: "Peter and Paul were of course not always the best of friends (at least from Paul’s perspective!). But celebrating them together is important: in many ways, they are the Catholic apostle and the Protestant apostle. (Ecumenical) hope springs eternal." (From Cross Talk)

    Monday, June 22, 2009

    Meeting: This Wednesday, June 24th

    This is a reminder about our upcoming get together this week:

    The usual time: 7pm, June 24th
    The usual place: High Point Coffee, 1735 W 7800 S, West Jordan

    I thought we might be able to discuss the idea of pilgrimage. I’ve been seeing the topic all over the place lately, and going on one seems to be making a comeback… even in evangelical circles. Here’s is an article in the recent Christianity Today on the topic, He Talked to Us on the Road; more information and articles here. Religion & Ethics Newsweekly had a spot on young conservative Catholics revitalizing the ancient practice, Pilgrimage to Chartres (video and transcript). And not all pilgrimages are ancient, here’s one being made with more post-modern views in mind, The Abraham Path (lots of interesting things to see here).

    Saturday, June 13, 2009

    In the Salt Lake Tribune - Transitions: The Mormon Migration from Religion to Relationship

    What looks to be an interesting new program is mentioned in a Salt Lake Tribune article this morning, produced by WIIS (who appear to be inheriting the legacy of the now defunct Salt Lake Theological Seminary).

    I commented on the article:

    I just finished watching their 14-minute infomercial. This looks to be a good program. The fact is there are a lot of people immigrating out of Mormonism and this looks like it will be good resource to help them adjust to the transition, and with a lot less of the bitterness that generally goes along with that transition.

    And I noted that this film isn't so much about trying to convert Mormons to Evangelicalism, but rather trying to help those already moving out of Mormonism (for whatever of various reasons) to adjust to their new Christian setting, if that is the route they choose. The makers of this film are taking advantage of a fact that has recently been given some press lately and that is that many people do not stay with the same religion, or religious institutions, they grew up with; Catholics are becoming Protestant, Evangelicals are joining the Catholic or Orthodox Churches, some Christians are converting to Islam, and Mormons are also a part of this fluidity in our culture. I myself have been a part of this journey, having been raised a Mormon I am now an Episcopalian.

    Here's the infomercial:

    Thursday, June 11, 2009

    Just wanted to encourage you all - St Barnabas' tomb in Cyprus

    Since it’s the feast day of St Barnabas (June 11th) I thought I’d post the one relic I have of his. This is a picture of me at his tomb (purported) in Cyprus, back in 1998, when I was working to plant a church in Nicosia. Wow! That was over ten years ago. I’ll have to scan the very few pictures I have of my time out there and post them somewhere one of these days.

    Sunday, May 24, 2009

    Meeting: May 27th

    This is a reminder about our upcoming get together this week:

    The usual time: 7pm, May 27th
    The usual place: High Point Coffee, 1735 W 7800 S, West Jordan

    Come share and discuss what books you've been reading and some of your favorite blog posts, and/or articles, you've read this past month.

    And for all the Calvinists we love, here's some...

    (found in my reader at Glocal Christianity)

    Monday, May 11, 2009

    The American Patriot’s Bible

    Well, they’ve finally did it! Patriotic cheese! They’ve released a niche market Bible for the Religious Right, The American Patriot’s Bible (the comments on Amazon make for some interesting reading).

    Here’s the cover blurb:
    THE ONE BIBLE THAT SHOWS HOW 'A LIGHT FROM ABOVE' SHAPED OUR NATION. Never has a version of the Bible targeted the spiritual needs of those who love our country more than The American Patriot's Bible. This extremely unique Bible shows how the history of the United States connects the people and events of the Bible to our lives in a modern world. The story of the United States is wonderfully woven into the teachings of the Bible and includes a beautiful full-color family record section, memorable images from our nation's history and hundreds of enlightening articles which complement the New King James Version Bible text.
    I’m looking forward to reviewing some of the articles and other features at a local bookstore (I bet Lifeway has a copy). I wonder if they’ll have anything in there on how American politicians and pastors often manipulate the Bible for less than savory political purposes, and how the Bible has been used to justify quite a few nasty little things in our history. But I doubt it.

    Check out Greg Boyd's review on Out of Ur (Part 1) (Part 2)

    Check out the infomercial.

    Thursday, April 30, 2009

    The more church, the more torture

    This was a little shocking to read. A survey was recently done which found that “the more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists”. That's got to make you think... I wonder what Jesus thinks of that? I mean considering since he was tortured and all, and in spite of that, told us to "love our enemies", "turn the other cheek", etc.

    One thing the survey found that I appreciated: “The religious group most likely to say torture is never justified was Protestant denominations -- such as Episcopalians, [...] -- categorized as "mainline" Protestants, in contrast to evangelicals.” Yet another good reason to be Episcopalian.

    Friday, April 24, 2009

    Theology in the Letters to the Editor

    Here are polar opposite Letters to the Editor from today’s papers for your meditation. First from the Salt Lake Tribune:
    I don't begrudge The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for asking $2 million for a condo in its rising City Creek Center ("Million dollar view," Tribune , April 16). Why should it, out of human kindness, price it for less, when the buyer can turn around and resell it for a lot more?

    City Creek Center is an expensive urban project, and to make it financially successful the LDS Church should get what the market will bear. After all, the project is a hard-headed business investment as well as generous act to revive downtown Salt Lake. And who can fault the church for not wanting its world headquarters to be surrounded by urban decay?

    While I don't fault the church for its business acumen, let's be clear: Jesus would not live in a $2 million condo, and he would condemn those who do. "Give me the simple, communitarian life," was the song he sang and lived. Being a true Christian requires more than proudly increasing the point size of "Jesus Christ" in a logo.

    Anthony Edward Samuel
    Salt Lake City
    And now one from the Deseret News:
    I saw the signs in London saying "Down with Capitalism." I also read where the majority of Europe is now atheist.

    I suggest something like a prisoner swap. We ship all of our atheists and socialists to Europe in exchange for their Christians and capitalists. I know we may have to do a two for one, but I'm willing to bet on which country would be the greatest place to live now or 10 years from now.

    Mark Arrington
    Heber City
    So… what’d ya think?

    Sunday, April 19, 2009

    Meeting: April 22nd

    This is a reminder about our upcoming get together this week:

    The usual time: 7pm, April 22nd
    The usual place: High Point Coffee, 1735 W 7800 S, West Jordan

    Come share and discuss what books you've been reading and some of your favorite blog posts, and/or articles, you've read this past month.

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Christ crucified electrocuted

    A sculpture of Christ in an electric chair by artist Paul Fryer, titled Pietà, is generating a lot of discussion in France ever since it was propped up in the cathedral of Gap by its bishop.

    From The Mirror:
    The life-like sculpture depicting Christ sitting in an electric chair was displayed in the city's cathedral at the suggestion of the bishop of Gap, Jean-Michel di Falco.

    He defended the choice saying: "The scandal is not where one believes it to be.

    "I wanted the provoked shock to make us once again conscious of the scandal of someone being nailed to a cross.

    "Usually, one does not feel any real emotions in front of something really scandalous: the Crucifixion.

    "If Jesus had been sentenced today, he would have to reckon with the electric chair or other barbaric methods of execution. Scandalous is therefore not Jesus in the electric chair, but the indifference to his crucifixion."
    The Bishop makes a very good point here, the real scandal is not in the artwork, but in the indifference to his crucifixion.

    More on Bitemybible and Arcadja.

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    “Tea Party” protesters and theology

    I’ve been skimming some of the pictures of these tax day “tea party” protest things, and the single most striking thing about the pictures I saw was that the protesters are not at all ethnically diverse; they appear to be mostly just a crowd of ticked off white people.

    Here’s one comical picture I liked:

    I love that sign:
    Clinging to
    My God!
    My Money!
    My Guns!
    You just have to wonder what kind of theology that person has.

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Christians in Orissa and Ashok Sahu

    I just saw this BBC report on the ongoing persecution of the Christians in Orissa, India. The visuals bring it closer to home for me what is going on there, but what interested me more was that the reporter takes us to briefly meet face-to-face one of the leaders of the persecution. Like the religious leaders we read of in Acts, who stoned Stephen to death, like the ones who imprisoned the Apostle Paul and beat him to a pulp, like the Pharisees who had Jesus crucified, here is one of those men, his name is Ashok Sahu. What do you think of him? Do you detest him, or do you love him?

    A related article quotes him,
    "I don't justify violence, but there are two types of violence," he explains. "One is planned violence and the other is spontaneous violence."

    "A maximum number of Christians were killed, yes it is a fact, but why? The Hindu sense of dignity has come to the surface in a spontaneous manner and they want to protect that sense of dignity."
    The article mentions that Ashok Sahu “is now facing charges for inciting hatred against Christians in one of his campaign speeches.” This reminds me of someone else I’ve read about, one who held other peoples coats while they picked up rocks to stone another, and then went on a campaign to “spontaneously” root out Christians. He should be more careful how he goes about his business, a blinding light might catch him unawares on one of those dusty roads out there, and who knows... in a couple years he may just be India’s best-known apostle of the cross.

    Here’s to hoping. :)

    Saturday, April 11, 2009

    A couple of Easter thoughts

    From the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams:

    From Real Live Preacher:

    Newsweek & Speaking of Faith

    I thought I'd share a couple of things I've read and listened to this past week that I think are worth passing along. First, Newsweek had a cover story on The End of Christian America. Next, American Public Media's radio program, Speaking of Faith, posted an interesting interview with Armenian Orthodox Theologian Vigen Guroian (with some additional resources as well).

    Finally, just an off topic side note I thought I’d share. I just got back from picking up some milk at Smith’s and you’ll never guess who I saw there – “SuperDell” Schanze, you remember him, he’s the guy who makes Glenn Beck look normal. Yup, I just saw him down at my local Smith’s. I wonder what he was doing grocery shopping at my local Smith’s? … … Noooooooooo!!!

    Wednesday, April 8, 2009

    I think Richard Rohr may become my new favorite author

    Richard Rohr was one of the speakers at the Emergent Church conference in Albuquerque last month. He is a Franciscan priest and his organization, the Center for Action and Contemplation, hosted the event. Although I had not read his books or heard him speak before; I left the conference determined to get some of his books in my collection.

    I have been listening to some of his audio on the web, and I was really drawn to this quote by him:

    "Judgment is not, by and large, a search for Truth. It is certainly not a path toward Love. What it is, is a search for control - a way that the Ego positions itself as better, righter, above, correct, in charge, in control. Once you see that... judgment starts losing its fascination. My great disappointment in so much of institutional religion is that it actually trains us to be judgmental".

    Sunday, April 5, 2009

    Where does the authority come from?

    This was a question that was repeated many times throughout the Emergent conference in Albuquerque a few weekends ago. It was the central question of a talk given by Phyllis Tickle as she shared ideas from her book The Great Emergence. Her basic premise was that every 500 years or so, the church (universal) goes through a rummage sale of sorts because the institutions of Christianity become overly bogged down with themselves. Then "reformations" happen, when everything goes on the table, and the church must look again at where its authority comes from.

    Everyone had thoughts on this throughout the weekend and it was interesting to hear the different perspectives. Most agreed that Luther's assertion of Sola Scriptura had the unintended consequence of forming a myriad of schisms... as different groups took away different priorities and interpretations from said scripture.

    The central problem with schisms, according to Brian McLaren, were not the schisms themselves; but rather that each schism tried de-legitimatize every group above it (or below it).

    The question of authority still remains, but here is my take on it. Any authority other than yourself is always going to be problematic. The minute you start relying on statements like "What my church teaches is...." then you have outsourced your discernment to someone else. You have removed yourself from accountability (or at least tried to). That is why, I believe, Peter set a standard of a priesthood of ALL believers. Hebrews concurs "in the past, God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets... but in these last days, He has spoken to us by his Son."

    In the end, I will stand before God to give an account (Hebrews 4:13). I think the awareness of personal accountability is what is causing house churches and spiritual communities to catch on more. For many Christians, the days of being dependent on a Pastor are growing old. I think there will always be a need for an administrative authority in churches, but the assumption of spiritual authority has developed a generation who's discernment has atrophied. They didn't need it.... the pastor/bishop/priest told them what to think. That era, I believe, is coming to a close. I may harness my carriage to a teacher like McLaren or Claiborne at times, but I will always hold the reigns.

    I think the upcoming generation will differ in that, rather than trying to de-legitimatize the paths of others, we will be looking to garner something from their view of life, scripture, and God. We will not feel the need to abandon the traditions we grew up in (though we will have the freedom to do so), rather we can view them as a sanctuary, but no longer the destination.

    Saturday, March 21, 2009

    Emergent Church Conference

    I am down in Albuquerque at the Emergent conference. I am doing this from my phone.... which is tedious. The speakers are challenging and the conversation at my table has been enlightening. I hope this becomes an annual event.

    Friday, March 20, 2009

    Meeting: March 25th

    This is a reminder about our upcoming get together next week:

    The usual time: 7pm, March 25th
    The usual place: High Point Coffee, 1735 W 7800 S, West Jordan

    Andrew will be fresh back from the emergent conference in Albuquerque that started today. I'm sure he will have a lot to share with us.

    Also, there has been a lot of discussion going around the blogosphere as of late as to where things are going with the church. There were so many different articles posted, but here are a few good places to start: the immanent collapse of evangelicalism (imonk, Jesus Creed); the rise of New Calvinists, at least according to Time magazine's 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now; a call for a "theology of church extinction" as the church collapses in some regions, even as it rises in others (also see NYT's article Leaving Iraq: An Iraqi Christian); and thinking of the church rising, just what kind of church is rising in Africa today (some things to consider here and here); and then there is Phyllis Tickle’s The Great Emergence. Maybe we can spend a little time discussing where you think things are going.

    Saturday, February 21, 2009

    Meeting: February 25th

    This is a reminder about our upcoming get together next week:

    The usual time: 7pm, February 25th
    The usual place: High Point Coffee, 1735 W 7800 S, West Jordan

    Check this video of Brian McLaren's presentation, The Episcopal Moment, on faith-sharing and evangelism to the annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington on Saturday, January 31, 2009. (Streaming video in Windows Media Player, just click on the link for the video. Note audio has some complications during the first 15 minutes or so, but it's fine after that.)

    Really! It's worth your time.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    Movie: Fireproof

    I finally saw the “Christian” romance film Fireproof this last weekend for Valentines Day. My wife liked it… so did everyone else I saw it with at the little Valentines Day social that our local church put on (at least as far as I could tell). People were talking about buying it, that it was such a great film.

    Me? Well… I watched the whole thing. But it seemed to me to be more-or-less just a Harlequin romance with an alter call, and a serious ideological bent. What I mean is this – there are several marriages either portrayed or mentioned in the film: there is the main character Kirk Cameron’s marriage, which is on the rocks, and heading for divorce, until he accepts Jesus; there is his parent’s marriage, which was on the rocks at one time, but then they accepted Jesus, and all is bliss; there are the two marriages of Kirk Cameron’s co-worker at the fire station, for the first one, he hadn’t accepted Jesus in time so it ended in divorce, the second was after he accepted Jesus, and was evidently blissful; finally, there is the doctor, who takes a romantic interest in Kirk Cameron’s wife, and who hides his wedding ring in his desk, obviously doesn’t have Jesus, and his marriage is heading for ruin. The message in the film is clear, if you accept Jesus your marriage will be bliss, if you don’t accept Jesus your marriage is destined for ruin and divorce.

    The thing is actual life isn’t quite as idealistic as this film portrays. All marriages have problems. We’re all people, we’re all sinners, and we all make mistakes. But I’ve seen married couples who’ve not “accepted Jesus” that are doing just fine, moving right along with its bumps and occasional potholes, but far from ruin and divorce. More importantly though, I have also seen many couples throughout the years, who have “accepted Jesus” much like the film portrays, and whose marriages have not gone so well. Divorce still happens. And when real life doesn’t match the idealization that is promised, people lose faith.

    But the thing that gets me about the film, it’s not just that we have imperfect married people, who still continue to sin, even after they have accepted Jesus, and they have to continually repent and overcome the effects of that sin that prevent it from being truly bliss. No, that’s not it. It’s that God doesn’t anywhere promise that your marriage will be bliss if you follow Jesus in the first place.

    The film tries to say that if you do things Jesus’ way, if you follow the rules, and stick with it (kind of like the 40-day self-help challenge that Kirk Cameron’s father gives him), and this goes beyond just marriage, that things are going to be great, you are going to be blest. Now go read about Job and his three friends. Yup, that’s the same general message Job’s three friends gave him that God scolded them on at the end of the book. Now go read about Hosea, and how his biblically arranged marriage to that harlot went. Yup, I’d say the message this film is trying to say is the wrong message. God isn’t about the business of blessing your marriage just because you accepted Jesus. No, he has an altogether different idea in mind.

    But besides all that… I guess I could say the film was kinda cute. My wife liked it. And the points in the self-help challenge are good advice. I think I’ll do them.

    Saturday, February 14, 2009


    Rick, over on his blog Cheaper Than Therapy, takes a humorous look at the ever increasing number of hyphen-mergent groups popping up all the time, like Presbymergent, baptimergent, anglimergent (which I joined), more recently inclusivEmergent, and even queermergent. And he speculates on some others that may soon come along. This one I noted with a good laugh:
    Were the teachings of Jospeh Smith meant to be taken literally? Was Moroni a literal angel or a guy in the woods? Should Mormons return to their ancient faith, but with more black people? Should their missionaries dress snazzier and what does Tony Jones have to say when he comes to BYU?
    I look forward to the day! …but thinking about it… we may already have that here… it’s been around for a while, and goes by a different name, called Sunstone.

    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    Happy Darwin Day!

    Evolution is finally beginning to take hold in the churches, and Creationists are diminishing through the process of natural selection, or should I say de-selection in their case. Over the past few days its been good to see more church recognition of Charles Darwin’s achievements in science, and less talk of him “as some kind of anti-theologian”.

  • Happy 200th for Charles Darwin!
    Video and article from
    A site on Darwin by the Church of England
    And from NPR: Darwin Finds Some Followers In The Pulpits

  • And Happy 150th for On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin!
    Selections at the New York Times
  • Friday, February 6, 2009

    NT Wright: What Is Hell Like? Does It Even Exist?

    I'm with NT Wright on this topic, I don't know how many others of you are. What are your thoughts?

    [HT: glocal christianity, also there are more videos in the series available from 100 Huntley Street on YouTube here.]

    Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    Learning from our faith's mistakes

    In an article posted in USA Today, Stephen Prothero makes a point that got me thinking and that I'd like to highlight:
    When I was a professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta, I required my students to read Nazi theology. I wanted them to understand how some Christians bent the words of the Bible into weapons aimed at Jews, and how those weapons found their mark in the concentration camps. My Christian students responded to these disturbing readings with one disturbing voice. The Nazis were not Christians, they said. Jesus was, after all, a Jew. This response was in many respects laudable. But in distancing their religion from the history of the Holocaust, my students absolved themselves of any responsibility for reckoning with how their religious tradition might have contributed to these horrors.
    I think we do this with much of Christian history, not just the Nazi Holocaust. We hide the parts we disagree with, clean out the dark spots, and say to ourselves, "they weren't really Christians". We see only the "good" side of our faith, but not the "bad", and we don't really learn from our faith's mistakes.

    Prothero mentioned to me that it was the book Theologians Under Hitler: Gerhard Kittel, Paul Althaus and Emanuel Hirsch, by Robert P. Ericksen, that he assigned to his students.

    Saturday, January 24, 2009

    Some things for Sunday, January 25th

    There are a couple of events going on tomorrow that some of you maybe interested in. I haven't decided which one, or even if, I'll go to. Let me know if any of you are interested and that may help me decide.

    Most information came from the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune:

    Aquinas lecture on Christians, Muslims

    Sr. Marianne Farina, professor at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley, Calif,, will deliver the Annual Aquinas Lecture on "Is There Common ground for dialogue and interaction between Christians and Muslims?" at 2 p.m. Sunday at St. Catherine of Siena Newman Center, 170 S. University St.

    Farina's lecture, titled "Christian-Muslim Relations: A Peaceable Excellence," will address such questions as whether Christians and Muslims can find common ground for dialog and the extent to which they can work together on peace.

    She will frame her answers around the tradition of social doctrine of the Catholic Church as well as Islamic scriptures' principles of the moral life, the news release said.

    Farina also will compare theological writings of St. Thomas Aquinas and Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali.

    The Aquinas Lecture is free and open to the public.

    Rev. Irish to speak at library in S.L.

    The Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, Tenth Bishop of Utah, Episcopal Diocese of Utah, will speak at 2 p.m. Sunday as part of the 2008-09 "Religion, Culture and Nature" portion of the "Forum for Questioning Minds" series at the Salt Lake City Main Library Auditorium, 210 E. 400 South.

    This lecture is free and open to the public.

    Her presentation on Religion, Culture, and Nature will begin with some thoughts on the importance of 'questioning minds' to distinguish various elements of religion such as church, faith, and spirituality. In the same spirit of questioning, we'll also consider cultural elements such as politics and economics. We'll then reflect on how all these factors come together in the environmental concerns we face.

    Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    Meeting: January 28th

    This is a reminder about our upcoming get together next week:

    The usual time: 7pm, January 28th
    The usual location: High Point Coffee, at 1735 West 7800 South, in West Jordan

    I thought we might discuss a couple of things. First, since Bill has started going to seminary, we could talk about that. I think at least half of us have at one time or another thought about, or seriously considered, going to seminary or something like it.

    Then there is the man of the hour, our new president, Obama. We can ask ourselves – What does Obama mean? What does he mean for Christianity in America, and in the world today?

    I’ve been reading all sorts of things over the past couple of days that span the entire spectrum, from apocalyptic disaster, to messianic, and a lot in between. One of my conservative Christian facebook friends, who is from what I guess could be called the ‘show no mercy, compromise nothing’ crowd, was posting periodically throughout inauguration day that he… sad to witness this horrific day in U.S. history as B. Hussein Obama who's a friend of terrorists and a baby-killer is unconstitutionally inaugurated! Sad! watching with horror the beginning of communism in the U.S. and the nation's rapid downfall - the nightmare has begun. looking at the continuation of the devastating Obama Crash in the stock market which has already erased trillions of dollars in wealth.

    I most certainly DO NOT respect B. Hussein Obama for anything as his character, words and actions are Anti-God, Anti-American, Anti-Life and Anti-anything we Christians stand for and against the foundations this country (the USA) was founded on. But as we pray for Obama that he may accept the Lord Jesus Christ as His personal Savior which would be phenomenal, we must also understand and recognize that we will never ever respect a man, a group or an organization who has made a conscious decision to promote and legislate policies to destroy the people of God, to destroy innocent life, to destroy God's economic system, and who stands behind anything that's against God. Otherwise, we would need to respect Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin, Stalin, Chavez, Castro, Saddam Hussein and every other evil vessel who yielded by their free will to the workings of Satan.
    You have to blink in astonishment when you read this stuff. Andy over at our local HFTL was kind enough to post the new Christian music video that I guess is making the rounds that expresses a similar point of view, announcing that we as a nation have all committed – Obamacide!

    And one really wacky “Christian” guy I found, who I think has completely lost it, stated on his blog that “I AM NOT praying for Obama to be blessed by God. I hope he dies quickly & another takes the office of the Presidency.”

    Other voices, from a more “open minded” Christian Right, such as Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice, seems to be advocating things, now that Obama is president, that aren’t too dissimilar from what the Matthew 25 Network was advocating before the election, about reducing the number of abortions, rather than just hopelessly continue to pursue an outright ban. [Listen to NPR’s Talk of the Nation: What's Next For The Anti-Abortion Movement?]

    On the other side of the spectrum we have folks with so much hope in Obama that Rev. Gene Robinson, first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, felt compelled to at least mention in his prayer the other day, “Bless us with patience… and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.”

    And then in the midst of all this I find voices like this, which when you think about it, you’ll realize that this is something new. (HT: Burnside Writer's Blog)

    So... What does Obama mean? What does he mean for Christianity in America, and in the world today?

    Saturday, January 17, 2009

    Antony of Egypt Art Appreciation Day

    It’s his feast day today, so I picked up my copy of Athanasius’s The Life of Antony to read up on him (Wikipedia bio). A short book, and well worth reading, of the saint battling the demons in a tomb and out in the desert, overcoming their attempts to break him through his discipline and faith in Christ. But I thought I’d surf the net for some other resources on him that might be interesting, and found some things I had not expected – some classic works of art that I’ve seen several times before but have never fully appreciated.

    First, there is Hieronymus Bosch's triptych painting The Temptation of St. Anthony. Hieronymus Bosch’s artwork has always fascinated me, I used to spend time just looking through books in the library that showed all the weird details, but I never made the connection between this painting and the story of Antony. (I can’t post the painting here without dismembering it considerably so you’ll have to follow the link above for an image.)

    Then there is The Temptation of St. Anthony, by Salvador Dalí. Now I’ve never really appreciated much the stuff by Salvador Dalí, I’ve always kind of found it a little too tripped out for me, but with now reading Athanasius’s book on Antony this painting has taken on a new meaning, and I think in many ways it captures the feeling of what I'm reading.

    So, since it is Antony’s feast day, I think I’ll spend some time feasting and meditating on these paintings in relation to what I've been read from Athanasius. And I think I’ll try to find more detailed pictures of the paintings. Have fun viewing.

    Sunday, January 4, 2009