Friday, February 24, 2006


I'm not sure what killed MidwestMindset. Could it have been one too many overdoses on Pat Robertson quotes, that time it went to the big city to become a dot com and realized the harsh realities of the real world, or was it that it got too tied of waiting up day and night for the promised post from Ryan Hansen (you know the promise).

No matter what it was that killed MWMS I'm starting to kind of miss it.

If you miss reading thoughtful prose you can go read my freind Josh's first published article over at (there's even a cool drawing of him on the front page of under the God section)

Seriously, take a few seconds to check it out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Righteous Temptation?

It is very clear from James ch. 1 that God does not tempt us. Duh! Satan tempts us!! But have you ever been tempted with thoughts of righteousness? At first pass, it seems that this happens to me every so often. For instance, while I was studying GReek (which doesn't take much to tempt me from focussing on that), my thoughts are averted to my dreams of ministry and effectiveness, and practicall application of what I am learning in Seminary. Teh items that I am thiniking of are not sinful at all. I often get some of my best Ideas and it sonnects very much to the core of my God-given passions. But, I really need to be studying Greek. It can very easily be interpreted as a temptation. So either, what I am thinking of is really in some way sinful, or God is telling me to ditch seminary and get back in full-time ministry (if that wasn;t another temptationin and of itself). Knowing that teh Evil One is very crafty, does he use righteous things to tempt us from other righteous things. Or is it all a wash, since if I fail at GReek, at least I will have some great new ideas about ministry? Please give your thoughts... How do you understand temptation?..

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


my sophomore year in college, Jess Abbott (now Landrigan) and I made Valentines day cards together. They weren't addressed to anybody, and they were retarded. I mean, really really dumb- made with magic marker on white paper, about taking rides on combines and crap. We did a lot of stuff that now doesn't make any sense to me. but at the time, I remember laughing so hard that I felt like my ribs were going to crack and my bowels were going to slide to the floor in her Hardy basement dorm room.

Now Jess is married. And tonight Brian brought me home flowers, and told me he wanted me to be his Valentine.

No boy has ever brought me flowers before, or asked me for anything that even had to do with Valentines. Now all I need is a ride on that combine, and a magic marker, and Hardy Hall.

Coldplay is still humming in the background, and more things are the same than not.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Sick brains. Sick hearts.

I'm not sure how well this applies to MM, since there doesn't seem much to debate about this little find, but it seems there's more than meets the eye concerning Fred Phelps -- ye old creator of the website. The fairly ultra-right conservative FrontPage magazine recently published a bio on Mr. Phelps, in which they made the weird yet completely valid claim that Phelps is actually a crazy leftist. Their evidence? Phelps has, on occasion:
  • Demonstrated against Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and Pat Robertson
  • Spoken in support of Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein
  • Put his weight behind Al Gore's 1988 presidential campaign
  • Ran for the Democratic nomination for Governor in Kansas in '90, '94 & '98
  • Won 30% of the Democratic primary vote in the 1992 U.S. Senate race in Kansas
Go read it. [And thanks to the for the scoop.] Then just agree with me that this is weird, and that nothing makes sense anymore. And that we should all be sick now, together, in unison.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

megachurch city... and I'm definitely not the mayor

Interesting, given Jonny's last post on theology and community (i.e. church) that this happened to be a headline tonight.

Megachurches Growing In Number And Size (courtesy of Yahoo! News)

So, I generally have a huge problem with these sort of church settings. I make assumptions, like, if they have 5000 members, their theology has to be so watered down it's pathetic. Because I guess I also make assumptions about people that go to megachurches, such as (in the Springs) New Life, or Willow Creek, or The Chapel. That people can't be so materialistic and caught up in their Land Rovers and indoor swimming pools and be Christians. Something about that camel and a needle's eye thing. But maybe this has to do with the fact I'm so poor that I have to make decisions between getting my oil changed and buying food. And I have to admit I'd like to have a little more money, and maybe I'm just hypocritical and jealous. Now that I've aired that little bit of moral introspection.....

So, what do you guys think? The article above makes the following comment that I actually grunted/chuckled/hmmmed at out loud:

The growth of megachurches in recent decades has come about because of a common historic cycle in U.S. religion: faith institutions reinventing themselves to meet the consumerlike demands of worshippers, said Paul Harvey, American history professor at the University of Colorado who specializes in U.S. religious history.

That last phrase gets to me. I don't want to be part of U.S. religious history? And are megachurches anything other than that, really?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Thinking about thinking, thinking about writing, writing about thinking about writing, and (maybe) doing theology, too. Plus, actual writing.

I haven't been to church in about two years now. Well, that's not totally true. I haven't regularly attended a local church in about two years. I've been, here and there, from time to time, but I don't attend anywhere at the moment, and I'm not in any particular rush to get myself back into the habit -- at least for the time being.

So I've had a lot of time to step back and look at theology with very different eyes. Not until I moved in with Jake last June did I have any clue as to what was hot or not in theology. And to a certain extant, I still don't. I couldn't tell you much about the New Monasticism or Don Miller or that new Biblical hermeneutic they've got going on over at Princeton U. And until I find a reason to care, I probably won't.

But there is something I've been thinking about for a good while, without making any attempt to articulate it, I guess, until now. And that's the work of the Holy Spirit and the Christian Community in the task of theology.

I'm thoroughly convinced that the regenerative work of the Spirit is vital to the theological task. I'm at odds with the old-evangelical/C.F. Henry contention that depravity doesn't extend to the areas of logic and reason. The idea of total depravity, whether it extends to every nook and cranny of human nature or simply just affects every area of human nature, seems to precludes that our capacity to reason is not affected by the Fall. The Spirit's work in the life of the believer, then, is necessary for a proper understanding of God and revelation. [My only problem with this view is that Jewish theologians wouldn't have access to the work of the Spirit in the work of Jewish theology -- at least in eyes of Christian orthodoxy. The writings of Abraham Heschel make, at least in my opinion, a compelling case against everything I just said. But I'm trying my best not to get too far off topic...]

So while I'm sure [well, mostly...] of the vitality of the Spirit to theology, I'm very unsure of the role of the Christian community in theology, at least to the extent of the local church on the thinking of any theologian. I've argued here, long, long ago, that the local church is essential in the fight against social injustice (and by a little bit of theological extension, evangelism as well). But -- and here is where I'm indebted, for good or ill, to the individualism of the Enlightenment -- is the local community absolutely necessary to the work of theology?

I'm not about to say that I do theology in a vacuum, objectively and impartially, without any assistance from the broader Christian community. Mostly because that would be a colossal lie, on so many different levels. But I do do theology apart from the local church, at least in the here and now. In the broader scheme of things, I guess I could argue that I've only been doing theology apart from the local church for something like, 1/12 of my Christian life. And at some point, I intend to do theology as part of the local church again. But for the time being, as I'm not part of a local community, does that mean that what I'm doing shouldn't be considered theology? I don't have my copy of Stan Grenz's Theology for the Community of God lying around, but I'm pretty sure old Stanley would object to my method. And I'm pretty sure my esteemed roommate might, too, considering that the two of them are coming out of the same Anabaptist tradition of theology in the midst of community.

But if the work of the Holy Spirit (or the Comforter) is so tied up in the work of the Church (or the comforted), how is it exactly that I fit in at this point? And is what's going on inside my head/heart really theology? Mostly, I'm just real confused, because it seems like most bad theology since the Enlightenment has come from thinkers who believed they could do their work on an individualistic level, and bypass all the stickiness that comes from doing theology in community. But, to be honest, that's what I want, too.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Brian (emerging church) v Mark (40 year olds who hate emerging church)

So over at Leadership Journal's Blog there has been an old school Christian beatdown taking place, and it's my pleasure to bring you up to date...

LJ published an article by Brian McLaren (one of the most influential evangelicals) that they posted on their blog. Here's some of the highlights from the first round

I hesitate in answering "the homosexual question" not because I'm a cowardly flip-flopper who wants to tickle ears, but because I am a pastor, and pastors have learned from Jesus that there is more to answering a question than being right or even honest: we must also be . . . pastoral. That means understanding the question beneath the question, the need or fear or hope or assumption that motivates the question....

we need a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements. In the meantime, we'll practice prayerful Christian dialogue, listening respectfully, disagreeing agreeably. When decisions need to be made, they'll be admittedly provisional. We'll keep our ears attuned to scholars in biblical studies, theology, ethics, psychology, genetics, sociology, and related fields. Then in five years, if we have clarity, we'll speak; if not, we'll set another five years for ongoing reflection. After all, many important issues in church history took centuries to figure out.

This post, as you would expect, received a ton of the normal responses... Including one that got posted from a pastor who has "struggled" with homosexuality throughout his entire ministry.

And then things got real interesting.

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, director of the ACTS29 church planting network, author and one of America's Top 50 most influential pastors posted what may be the least classy response by a megachurch pastor (as he points out a few times in his post) one could ever imagine. Even if you believe me, you MUST go read what he wrote... Here are some of the most jaw dropping comments, starting from the beginning

Well, it seems that Brian McLaren and the Emergent crowd are emerging into homo-evangelicals...

As the pastor of a church of nearly 5000 in one of America's least churched cities filled with young horny people this really bummed me out. Just this week a young man who claims to be a Christian and knows his Bible pretty well asked if he could have anal sex with lots of young men because he liked the orgasms. Had I known McLaren was issuing a Brokeback injunction I would have scheduled an appointment with him somewhere between 2011-2016.

Lastly, for the next 5-10 years you are hereby required to white out 1 Peter 3:15 which says “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” from your Bible until further notice from McLaren because the religious right forget the gentleness and respect part and the religious left forgot the answer the question part. Subsequently, a task force will be commissioned to have a conversation about all of this at a labyrinth to be named later. Once consensus is reached a finger painting will be commissioned on the Emergent web site as the official doctrinal position.

In conclusion, this is all just gay.

While that may seem like enough, there was also a little bit of a personal attack on Doug Pagitt, which originally made some kind referencence to Doug and beastiality that was later edited out by the guys at LJ.

McLaren wrote a very thoughtful response to all the backlash he was recieiving that was basically an extension of his first post with a gentle rebuke of the sarcastic (or hateful) tone of some of the responses.

I know that some of you get tired of McLaren's insistance on conversation instead of black and white statements, but is it really to much to ask to have a conversation about topics of such great controversy without it turning into a name calling, figer pointing session?

While that question was meant to rhetoricalcal, I know that the answer is a resounding NO! I mean after all WE are RIGHT and THEY are WRONG! And do you know I know they're so WRONG because so and so has sex with goats.

This my friends is the Body of Christ.