Archive for February, 2004

Is God like Treebeard

Is God like Treebeard?

Sometimes I wonder if God is like Treebeard.  When the hobbits asked Treebeard which side he was on he said  “Side, I’m on no one’s side because no one is on my side.”


Camille Paglia says it best: (Selected quotes on feminism)

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Reflections on the last few days

Reflections on the last few days

The last few days have been troublesome but there is still a lot of hope left.  People did listen to each other.  I know that I’ve learned somethings, or at least been reminded of somethings I might have forgotten. 

I’ve learned to make my best effort to consider all the relevant perspectives surrounding an issue.  We all have a bias.  My bias in the whole Andrew Jones thing stems from my experience.  I could relate far more to Andrew than the others because I’ve had things go sideways on my blog and it is no fun.

I’ve also experienced what it is like to have my comments and my honest questions labeled and disregarded because of my gender.  That is very annoying.

Despite the flareups and the conflict we are learning and we are growing.  It may not feel like it sometimes but we know its true because we keep trying.  A lot of us are in this emerging thing because we gave up on the old and wanted to start over.  Unfortunately the problems just followed us.  No matter what movement we attach ourselves to we can’t avoid the painful process of continually dying to ourselves. 


Losing Faith in Blogs

Losing Faith in Blogging

To understand the following story one needs to understand a minor cultural difference between Canadians and Americans. Canadians take their shoes off when they enter a house and most Americans do not.

An American walks into a Canadian’s house with their shoes on. The room is filled with Americans and Canadians. Some of the Canadians are offended. This particular American was told to take off their shoes once before. The American explains “It’s 85 degrees outside and dry. Why should I take my shoes off?”. (An argument made by many a Canadian child to their parents). Then some of the Canadians are deeply offended. They start accusing the American of being arrogant. Some use inflammatory language. Others go in to a long diatribe about how the wearing of shoes inside a house and the use of a non-Celsius temperature scale is a symbol of the oppression of non-US citizens around the globe by an insensitive imperialist US administration. Then some of the Americans in the room respond. Some defend their fellow citizen by saying it really wasn’t all that wrong to wear shoes inside of the house because the shoes were clean. Others acknowledge the offense but request a more measured response. The Americans are labelled as defensive and regarded as typical unenlightened Americans. Those that asked for a more measured response are rejected by Canadians who say “You don’t understand what we go through. Don’t tell us to play nice and shut up!”. A long silence comes in to the room. The Americans leave together as a unit. Most will never wear their shoes inside a Canadian’s house again. Some will do it again just because they felt they were victimized and want revenge. Some may even make an effort to understand Celsius just to avoid conflict in the future. Most will leave with hard feelings towards Canadians. For some it will reinforce a subtle America first attitude. In the end an opportunity for relationship building, mutual understanding and learning is squandered for what? Because someone didn’t take their shoes off.

It seems we all go through traumatic experiences where we begin to lose faith in our community. It happens with church and it happens with blogs. Anytime we put people together there is the potential for hurtful conflict. In the past few weeks I’ve seen several. A couple of friends had their salvation questioned. People have been attacked and maligned. The issues change, the people are different but the result is so often the same. After watching all this unfold I’ve come to a few conclusions.

The “emerging church” is not substantially different than any other church in history. It’s people and people are messed up.

Some people think verbal violence actually furthers God’s kingdom. It doesn’t. It might further an agenda, even a good agenda but it will never change the human heart. Jesus lived in a country of oppressed people and he told them to do the most radical things. He said when someone (most likely a Roman soldier) tells you to carry his pack, carry it twice as far. He told his people to help their oppressors not kill them. He was completely at odds with those who thought violence was the way to freedom.

Our labels and categorizations hinder dialogue. People can read 20 words and put you in some kind of category. You are being defensive, you liberals are all like this, stop trying to fix their problem etc… It is funny because sometimes I end up in opposite categories depending on the conversation. Some even attempt to do therapy with you. Our categorizations can help guide our interpretation, but that doesn’t mean we can skip the step of research and interpretation. When we skip this step we all lose because the real truth gets lost in the shuffle.

On the Internet we can’t expect people to be cognisant of how their words translate to absolutely everyone because the audience is too diverse. All authors must make an attempt to be clear. However much of the onus must lie with the interpreter because they only need to understand the context of the author. We are called to peace and grace. Far too often people let themselves get offended because of what an authors words meant to them. When our primary grid for interpretation is our own victimization or marginalization we have substantially handicapped our ability to discern truth. The end result is misunderstanding, hurt feelings, anger, mistrust, and no progress is made on any front.

I’m afraid what I’ve seen has sent a cold chill through the Christian blogging world. More and more people have realized a vocal minority of Christians, regardless of their particular agenda, will carelessly and recklessly hurt people. I’ve never been more saddened by the utter disregard for peoples feelings and the abandonment of Kingdom principles.


Andrew Jones under fire

Andrew Jones under fire

Andrew Jones responded to questions about women and the emerging church here.  He further comments on the issue here.  Look in the comments for several critical responses.  Maggi Dawn posts about it here.  Jen Lemen posts here, here, and here.  Phyllis posts here and here.  Christy posts here (Sat 21st post).  Mark Riddle responds here. Coop enters the fray. Dave-the-rave. Emergent Kiwi.

Note: I am updating the links above as I find them.

I must be missing something.  In a comment on this post Rachelle says “his original post referred to women in the emerging church on the whole as ‘girls’.”  I haven’t found that post. 

The only post I could find is here.

“I am looking over the coming summer at the people who have told me they are going overseas on pilgrimage or mission, and again, i am looking at a large group of GIRLS! Not much equality there. Where are the men?”

The statement could probably have been worded better but it looks like he is referring to a specific group of people.  It isn’t abundantly clear but this group of people could all be female and under the age of 18.  If that is the case then it does seem odd that he would choose the word “men” rather than boys.  To me it looks like a typical kind of mistake I would make.

Later on Andrew writes.

Girls, girls, girls. I will call them girls and not women. No apologies. The movement in China would not be the same without teenage girls. A friend from China told me recently that a teenager started a church in China that has since become hundreds of churches involving tens of thousands of people. I will not call her a woman, since that would let a lot of western Christians with the excuse “God cant use me until i am older or more mature”.
Dang, God has been using girls from the beginning. Mary was young. Esther was young. It should not surprise us.
There is a massive Sunday School movement in China that Wolfgang Simson just informed us about in last weeks Friday Fax. Massive, I tell you. Thanks to the GIRLS behind it. And the older women, of course.

From this quote it really looks like he is talking specifically about teen aged people.  If that is indeed the case then I really don’t understand why people are so upset.  I certainly don’t see any evidence that he has referred to all women in the emerging church as girls.

I’ve checked with people of both genders trying to understand this situation and they are as mystified as I am.  I am not trying to play down issue of language and marginalization.  I’m terribly concerned that people are misinterpreting Andrews words.  I’ve seen this happen a number of times on blogs.   One things get heated it just gets worse. 

Update: Is it offensive to refer to teenagers as girls?


Saskatchewan Rules Hockey

Saskatchewan Rules Hockey

From the CBC

Historically, the Prairie province has produced more NHL players, per capita, than any Canadian province, American state or European country. Before this season, 422 Saskatchewan-born players (395 skaters, 27 goalies) had dressed for at least one NHL game. Not bad, considering the population has hovered around 1 million for the past 25 years.


What your site looks like on a Mac

What your site looks like on a Mac

Microsoft, the evil behemoth that they are, hasn’t updated IE for the Mac in some time.  So many Mac users have turned to Safari as their browser.  I’ve never even seen Safari running but apparently it is quite popular.  Unfortunately Safari renders things differently than Mozilla and IE.  Windows people have a couple of options.  We can design our sites completely ignorant of these rebels and traitors who left the Borg.  We can use this service which will show us how websites look in Safari.  Normally I’d tell the Mac users to suffer but the war against Apple is kind of like the war on drugs.  How do you wage war on your own friends and family?


Another small upgrade

Another small upgrade

The commments can now remember your information so you don’t have to type them in again.

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Nice Debate

Nice Debate

Karl is mucking it up with those unenlightened Protestants again. 🙂  Some people look at these little blog skirmishes and wonder if anything good comes from them.  I like them.  Even if I just lurk I can learn tons.  I like the EO / Protestant debates because the EO challenge them at the very foundation.  EO theology is 1900 years old but it really is a breath of fresh air. 

One concept I picked up in the debate is that  when God changes us He makes us more human.  I’ve always looked at this process as God making us more divine.  Thinking about such things probably seems like a mindless exercise. I think it matters because it boils down to our view of humanity.  Evangelicals tend to follow Paul and strongly link Paul’s idea of the “flesh” with our own nature.  This is legitimate but it doesn’t take in to consideration that God made us in His image. 


Maybe the old guard isn't all wrong

Maybe the old guard isn’t all wrong

A couple of people noticed the following remark I made some time ago. “My opinion of the EC is a it a low point right now”.  I think the Emerging Church is just a label used liberally by any rag tag group or disaffected individual that has issues with established churches.  I think many of us found common ground as long as we talked about what we didn’t like.  When we start talking about what believe we quickly find we aren’t all on the same page. 

My brief experience in a very fluid church left me somewhat disillusioned.  I entered in to the house church without any naïve ideas that we were going to change the world.  I was very convinced that the church wouldn’t last a year but I wanted to do it so I could learn.  I wanted to do it because it sounded better than regular church.  For me it was. 

The house church has stopped meeting.  A large portion of the church ended up moving to other cities.  It was the relationship dynamics that held things together and some of the people in the middle of the relationship chain were gone.  I am somewhat relieved.  As the church progressed it became something I was less and less comfortable with.

I think I’m headed back to work within the framework of the Mennonite Brethren denomination.  Not because I think they have the best theology, but because it is the tribe that has nurtured me and supported me throughout the years.  I’ve always kept a good relationship going with many of the professors and other staff at school.  I feel understood and that has become very important to me.  It’s a denomination but the EC is starting to look and act like one anyways.  The last thing I want to do is start yet another one.

I think the bottom line is people are people.  Regardless of how you structure the church or facilitate worship, sin will always be our main problem.