Archive for August, 2003

Jordon talks about web community

Jordon talks about web community
Read it here.

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How am I doing?

How am I doing?
In the last little while a few people have asked me how I am doing.  I recently broke up with my girlfriend and for most people that usually has some emotional distress.  It hasn’t been difficult for me.  I haven’t written much about it because the person I used to go out with reads my blog and I want to be senstive in talking about the situation. 

I am doing fairly well.  In some ways I’m still recovering from last winter.  November and December were particularly brutal.  At that time my whole life was beset with worries and anxiety.  There were a few weeks where I felt nervous from the time I woke up to the time I went to sleep.  Never in my life had I ever encountered such.  It wasn’t until this summer that I started to feel truly normal again.  The cause of my anxiety was a fear of failure.  I had poor evaluations from the students in the 1st semester and I was running out of money.  Both signs of failure. 

The biggest things on my mind these days are the house church and my source of income.  I quit a fairly well paying job to go back to college.  My replacement has just quit in order to devote himself to school.  The company is deciding what they want to do with the position.  If it works out I will be seeing a significant increase in my income.  I would like that because it hasn’t been easy living off what I make now.  My business is growing each month and things are getting better all the time so things are a lot easier than they used to be.  Still I have some old school debt that has been hanging around my neck for years.  I would really like to be free from it.  My ultimate goal has always been to build my business to the point where I could work half time and volunteer the rest. 

A lot of people at the college would rather see me stay.  This last year was the first time they had someone around full time to deal with all the technical glitches and problems.  I’ve been making some web based school management software that has really improved the day to day operations.  I’m very proud of it and so are the people at the school.  I have designed some solutions that I’m sure no other school the size of Bethany has.  It feels good to help out.  In addition to this a couple of people have told me they appreciate my analysis on things.   Positionally I am one of the lowest guys but I’m a pretty big picture thinker. 

I’m thinking a lot about my calling.  I’m not exactly sure what God has called me to but I know that I am a reformer.  There is always this tension in my mind.  The biggest question I ask myself is “Am I really on the right track?”.  It’s easy enough to be brave and explore new things when it is only your own life.  Through this blog and the house church I seem to have more influence than I ever had before.    


Thin Skin

Thin Skin
Recently I’ve encountered my first bit of criticism related to the house church.  The experience has made me realize that I am pretty sensitive to criticism.  I’m pretty firm in my beliefs.  Usually my conclusions are well researched and thoroughly thought out.  That doesn’t mean I think I’m always right, my perspective has changed so many times I’ve realized no opinion is beyond questioning.  I seem to have this silly belief that if I explain things well enough people will see the logic in what I believe and what I’m participating in.  I’m learning that this belief is one that needs some rethinking.

The church plant seems to threaten some people.  Some people seem to think anything new is another crack in the division of the church.  This church plant is a group arrogant people who have given up on improving the church so they want to abandon it and do their own thing.  I guess some of this is true.  In many ways I don’t expect the established institutions to change much.  Institutions are necessary but they aren’t the heart of the church.  To start something new isn’t to give up on the church because the church is people.   


Is correct theology enough?

Is correct theology enough?
How do you know if someone is in harmony with the kingdom of God?  Usually people look to combination of correct theological beliefs, involvement in a Christian institution which was all started off with a decision to “accept Christ”.  Paul seemed to have different ideas.  In his correspondence with the Corinthians I see another main factor.   

In 1Cor 4:19-20 Paul seems to indicate that anyone can have the right words but the kingdom of God is demonstrated in divine power.

4:18 Some have become puffed up, as if I were not coming to you. 4:19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord is willing, and I will find out not only the talk of these arrogant people, but also their power. 4:20 For the kingdom of God is demonstrated not in idle talk but with power. (NT)

The reason why Paul made such a big distinction here is because the Greek culture was saturated with people who used the power of words to elevate their position in society.  With more influence an individual could increase their status.  With increased status came wealth, respect, glory, and the opportunity to indulge in all sorts of desires.  When the Corinthians began following Christ they brought this mindset with them. 

Which mindset do we follow today?  Do our lives demonstrate the supernatural influence and works of God?  Do our lives demonstrate the shallow influence of eloquent speakers? 


Who are the Sophists?

Who are the Sophists?
Sophists are class of philosphers which get their name from the Greek word for wisdom. (The Sophists). They were in general intellectual descendants of the Presocratic philosophers. Sophists moved from the theory of natural science to more practical affairs of human life. (Philosophical Background of the 5th Century)

Sophism emerged in the 5th century BC as a group of philosophers who were paid to use rhetoric. Using their intelligence they made a living off of teaching and speaking. (Sophism) They were the first ones to ever charge for instruction in the liberal arts. (The Philosophy of the Sophists) Eventually their fees became very high. (The Sophists)

Each Sophist may have had a specialized area of excellence. It could be in things as mundane as carpentry or poetry. (The Sophists) Regardless of their specialized area they were best at public speaking. They turned persuasion in to an art form. (The Sophists)

Although the Sophists taught just about everything in the arts and sciences, they were best known as teachers of rhetoric, especially the rhetoric of law and politics, the means to power and upward mobility.” (Sophism)

They traveled from city to city to find new opporunities and new disciples. Sophism wasn’t a formally organized school, but a trend among individuals. (The Sophists) They eventually gained a reputation for deceiving people with hollow arguments that would confuse their opponents. (The Neo Sophists)

Sophists were known for teaching someone how to win an argument regardless if the position they held was the stronger one. Sophists believed in the power of rhetoric. In contrast to modern epistemology they were decided antifoundational. With today’s labels they would be regarded as more postmodern than modern. For the Sophist, language was a poor tool to communicate meaning, because words were mere symbols of reality influenced by the bias of individual perception.

Protagoras was the first well known Sophist and we would label him a relativist. He lived from 490 to 420 BC. His most famous idea is man is the measure of all things.” (The Sophists) Protagoras believed that one can only truly know things in their own mind. Therefore no one can make a definitively true statement about anything outside their own mind. Truth is merely what it appears to be to the perceiver. This eventually becomes a self serving pragmatism. If a given course of action works and it’s advantageous then one should do it regardless of the moral consequences. Despite the seemingly logical progression of these ideas Protagoras objected to the license people took by following his principles. (Philosophical Background of the 5th Century)

Sophist thought moved from Protagoras’ relativism to Georgias’ Skepticism. Georgias said Nothing exists, if something does exist, we cannot know it, if we know it we cannot teach it to others”. (The Philosophy of the Sophists) This logic is essentially the same as the antifoundational logic of today. There is no such thing as absolute truth. If there is absolute truth we wouldn’t be able to know it and we certainly wouldn’t able to communicate it.

If nothing truly exists then the only thing that truly matters in life is the use of words. The use of words meant influence. Georgias affirmed that all things can appear true and just, if oratorical power is capable of revealing things as true and just, beyond every pretension of reality of content.” (The Philosophy of the Sophists). For Georgias language wasn’t useful for conveying truth, but a tool for persuading and manipulating others. (The Sophists) Power is not rooted in reality, it is rooted in influence. Both Protagoras and Georgias are often cited as the forerunners of pragmatism. (Infoplease Sophists)

The Sophists saw man himself as a product of nature, but society and civilization as artificial human products. On one hand, man is a natural creature subject to certain laws of nature which he cannot help but obey. On the other hand, he lives in a society, the rules and structure of which have no roots in nature and are based only on custom. The distinction here apparent is one between nature (physis) and custom or convention (nomos)…” (Philosophical Background of the 5th Century)

One of the great controversies in early Sophism was whether the distinctions in society like Greek and Barbarian or slave and free were the result of nature or custom. (Philosophical Background of the 5th Century) Some felt as though all human beings were similar in nature and all distinctions should be erased. Others thought that the societal custom held back the animal nature of man and thus was a necessity. (Philosophical Background of the 5th Century)

All people were not considered equal in Sophist thought. Some people were strong and some people were weak. The strong were to lead and the weak were to follow. (The Philosophy of the Sophists)

The democratic culture of Athens gave rise to Sophistry. Citizens of democratic cities could achieve a higher level of status in society by getting elected in civic politics. Persuasion and influence were valuable commodities in a society where one could elevate themselves by gaining a following. The Sophists molded people in such a way that maximized their ability to improve their personal status in society (The Philosophy of the Sophists) and become effective citizens. (The Origins of Western Thought).

The word disciple comes to us from Greek culture. The students of Sophists were called disciples. Disciples were learners that would pattern their lives after their teachers. Imitation was a major part the discipleship process. This imitation moved beyond the use of rhetoric to the casual affairs of daily life like dressing and speaking. (After Paul Left Corinth,33) Wealthy parents sought out Sophists to train and educate their sons. (After Paul Left Corinth,35). Any good parent would want to see their children succeed in this world, and the Sophists provided the kind of education that would maximize leadership potential. There was no shortage of Sophists and they competed fiercely for new students. (After Paul Left Corinth,36)

Sophism had some prominent critics. Plato didn’t like the Sophists. He thought that the Sophists were selling their minds for the sake of financial gain. His disdain for this group of philosophers carried forward to this day. Aristotle described the sophist as one who makes money by sham-wisdom” (Edwards, 496 ).

Debate and argument were favorite tools of Sophists. In order to prove their worth to potential clients or students they would debate with other Sophists in public. Sophists were so well known for raucous debate the word strife was used to describe their arguments. (After Paul Left Corinth,38) They would stop at nothing to order to gain influence over other people. Even bodily presence was important. Some would remove all the hair from their body to appear godlike.(After Paul Left Corinth,34)

They were thought of highly as educators until people began to question what the Sophists were teaching. The practice of Sophism declined until disappearing entirely in the 2nd century AD. (Sophism)

Sophists left their mark on Corinth. It is unclear how the Sophists came to influence the Corinthians. The Corinthians could have slid back to their old ways after Paul left. Only the wealthy families would have been educated by a Sophist due their high fees. I believe that there were Christians who had merged Christian thought with Sophistic thought and practice and came as the super-apostles” referenced in 2nd Corinthians.

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The paper is done. Or is it?

The paper is done. Or is it?
I told my intership surpervisor that I wanted more time to work on my paper.  I have the 40 pages done but I want to write more.  I wanted to compare Paul with the Sophists and finally with two major evangelical leaders.  I also suggested that I post sections of my paper on this site to collaborate and get feedback.  Kind of a net enabled peer review and refining process.  If anybody is interested in evaluating my paper feel free to leave a comment.


I'm single

I’m single
I’m single.  I could post random controversial comments to deflect interest.  Ok here goes.

All bloggers kind of suck!

The emerging church is a bunch of whiners and complainers!

Jordon Cooper doesn’t get the web!

Conservatives are crazy!

Liberals are lame!

Homosexuals, homosexuality, gay, lesbian and bisexuality.  (I don’t need say anything, just use the words)



The best girls in the world

The best girls in the world

As I was drifting off in to slumber in the nice cool basement (forecast high of 35 today) I overheard a conversation in the living room above me. My roommates and some guests were talking about what they really went for in the opposite sex. That prompted another conversation I had today. What do I like? Being 29 and generally a pretty big fan of women I’ve come to know a number that I thought had some really excellent qualities. In no apparent order whatsoever here they are.

Wede and I had a strange relationship. Wede is the only person on this list I actually dated. We weren’t officially dating for very long, but we casually saw each other” for several months. Wede is from west Africa and had a really cool accent. She is well educated, beautiful, smart, and ambitious. She carries herself well and had a sense of confidence and sophistication. I felt privileged to go anywhere with her. A very impressive person.

I knew Lori in my bible college years. An amazingly beautiful person inside and out. Always caring and very kind. She was very nice to me even when she should have been more cautious. She had the amazing ability to make me feel worthy and valued. Lori married a great guy. I still feel honored that I had her for a friend in a difficult time in my life.

My relationship with Linda was very cool. She had the ability to read me very well. She could tell what I was thinking by looking at me. It was spooky at times..

Sonya is one of the sweetest girls a guy could meet. Smart, fun, and beautiful. My conversations with her were always very warm and pleasant. She ended up marrying a great guy, and I’m very glad that she did. Now I get to visit them both when I travel to their city.

Miriam is one of the more recent additions to my list. I didn’t know her that well but I did get to take her and 2 other girls out on a superdate. She was one of the nicest girls a guy could ever meet. Very kind and caring. She wasn’t afraid to be goofy or talk about what she really wanted.

Hallie (aka Sister Hottie)
Hallie was a LDS missionary in my home town. She and her partner would visit regularly. If this girl was evangelical I would have fallen for her so hard. She is very sweet, a great conversationalist, very attractive, deeply committed and deeply spiritual. She was the first Mormon that I met that was seemed more concerned with the spirit of things than the rules.

There isn’t much I could write here.  A wonderful person who I cared about a great deal.


Take me home country road

Take me home country road
Take me home country road,
to the place I belong
Prairie Mama
Take me home country road

It’s been fun at the cabin but I’m getting a huge hankering for some Vernolator.  I really miss my roomates.  Apparently they haven’t had Internet access for the last couple of days.  I guess that would explain why Scotty hasn’t blogged in awhile.   Completing this essay (not quite done) will be the end of one era in my life.  In some ways I’m really glad to see it go.  Looking forward to the new challenges that await me this fall.

“We will win through, no matter the cost.”
Emperor Mengsk (Startcraft)


Dynamic Ekklesia

Dynamic Ekklesia (Church)
More thoughts from a commentary I’m reading.

Another crucial idea of Banks is his stress on the dynamic rather than static character of the ekklesia.  It is a living organism, not an organization that must grow or atrophy.  “Churches” may have organizations, structures, and buildings to further their live and work, but once one identifies the ekklesia with some humanly conceived or constructed organization, structure or building there are already serious problems in understanding the character of the ekklesia.
Witherington III, Conflict and Community in Corinth, pg 90-21.

In these early letters of Paul the term ekklesia consistently refers to actual gatherings of Christians as such, or to Christians in a local area conceived or defined as a regularly assembling community.  This means that “church” has a distinctly dynamic rather than static character.  It is a regular occurrence rather than an ongoing reality.  The word is not used of all the Christians in a particular locality if they do not in fact gather or when they are not in fact gathering.
Banks, Pauls Idea, p. 41.


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