Archive for January, 2010

In search of the pearl

It is said there is a pearl of great price in Jesus’ parables.  Something so valuable that the seeker would set aside everything to find it.  I wonder what would happen if the people that found that pearl set up organizations, creeds and confessions dedicated to that pearl.  What if the passage of time caused an inevitable drift and  people eventually lost sight of the pearl.  Would the honest seekers ever have to choose between the pearl and the organization, their friends and even their mentors?

My thoughts stray to Jesus’ words:

Mat 10:32  "Whoever, then, acknowledges me before people, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven.
Mat 10:33  But whoever denies me before people, I will deny him also before my Father in heaven.
Mat 10:34  "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword.
Mat 10:35  For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law,
Mat 10:36  and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.
Mat 10:37  "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Mat 10:38  And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Mat 10:39  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life because of me will find it.

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John Bevere affirms the “law of attraction” found in “The Secret”

While they claim "the Secret" is not enough they affirm the central law of attraction in "the secret". Here is a list contributors for the DVD.

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Emerging or submerging

In my little corner of the world there are some folks who think the emerging church is the next best threat to Christianity.  I say the next best threat because there are some people who care far more about what they find wrong in everything else than their own issues. It is funny how so many people are so threatened by this insidious emerging church movement when so many of the people personally familiar with it are discussing its demise.

I stopped using the term “emerging” because it had too much baggage.  Starting about 5 years ago the prominent authors started to receive a lot of criticism.  From what I could tell most of it was unfair and that was unfortunate.  All the garbage criticism from groups that would write off 90% of Christian denominations made it that much more difficult to hear the completely fair criticism.  Some people in the movement took the fair criticism to heart and others just saw one more group picking on their friends.  From my vantage point it was the day when Forge posted their statement that officially acknowledged some legitimate criticisms by one author that the fault lines came in to view.  

It was clear from the beginning I felt some distance between myself and what was come from Emergent.  While they seemed to try to avoid institutionalizing they certainly didn’t avoid commercializing what they were doing with books and conferences.  That isn’t necessarily all bad, but when one book started to sound like another and none of them had a durable enduring quality to them I started to think this whole phenomenon had little substance aside from the critique it presented.  I started to wonder why I would want to listen to some guy with a regular church that has couches instead of pews.  Some prominent figures seemed to scowl at modest criticisms.  The new kind of Christianity purposed seemed to be more of a reaction to a particular brand of American evangelicalism than a careful rethinking of the Christian faith in the 21st century.  As things developed I became less comfortable with the movement.

I think a lot of church leaders that seek to extend their influence beyond their own locality are often tempted to become the big fish in a small pond.  While many the emerging stream have avoided the temptations of institutionalization they haven’t done so well at resisting the temptation of fame and notoriety.  One author told people to fight commercialism by buying copies of his book and give them away.  Another publisher sent me an email saying we had to further the simple church revolution by buying more of a certain book on amazon so it could be ranked higher.   One has to wonder whether these people read their own PR.

Has everything emerged that was going to emerge?  I think the missional church movement has some good points but it isn’t what people are making it out to be.  In the realm of conventional church leadership “missional” truly is the next fad.  Church after church is taking what they already do and branding it as missional and they think they are making a big change.  It seems much easier to change a mission statement than the church.  I’m not saying there aren’t truly missional churches out there, but the kind of changes that the missional church purposes require more than an a reorientation of church, they require a reorientation of the Christian life.  It is a cost most Christians aren’t willing to pay. 

In the end I think the advent of the emerging church will mark the time when we realized something was very wrong in church.  Beyond that the jury is still out.

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I’m sensing a shift in attitude towards the Conservatives

I remember back in the 2004 campaign when I was helping out the Liberals there was a certain point when the press had finally had enough the incoherent blither blather from Paul Martin.  Even the trusty Globe and Mail could barely hold their nose and endorse Martin.  I wasn’t doing any door knocking but I can tell you that there was one week in the campaign where it got ugly for Liberals here in the city.  The only thing that saved Martin in the end was the Conservatives with their Paul Martin supports child porn release.

I think I see the same thing again only this time it is with the Conservatives.  When editorialists in the Calgary Herald and National Post start picking on poor old Stephen the mood really has changed.   There is a time when the mildly partisan voter comes to the point where they think “there just isn’t something right about this, the [insert party name here] should be better than this.”  I don’t know how many get so upset that they change their vote, they just might not show up and someone who tends to cheer for another team is more motivated to show up. 

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Why I was at the rally for democracy

Initial estimates say 25 000 Canadians moved their protest from facebook to the streets.  It was the first time I ever took part in a non-partisan political rally.  I felt I should be there because we see the current government sliding away from democratic ideals.  I’ll happily acknowledge that Harper had every legal right to Prorogue.  That isn’t the issue.  I was at the rally because of the reasons behind the suspension of parliament.  The questions about afghan detainees getting tortured were hitting a little too close home.  Tom Flanagan, one of Harper’s former top advisers believes much the same. Instead of allowing parliament to do its work and hold our government accountable Harper puts the government on pause.  I for one don’t want our prime ministers to get in the habit of turning off dissent every time legitimate issues are being raised in the house of commons.  The issue of the day, the torture of afghan detainees, is no small issue for me.  I don’t want Canada to go down the slippery slope of devaluing people just because they are different. 

I am really sick and tired of watching the Canadian government spend more time and energy on derailing or obstructing the opposition than running the country. 

Freedom is something that can slip away easily in a culture of apathy or ignorance.  It happens in nations and I’ve watched it happen in the church.  While small changes here and there might not seem like much they slowly erode the foundations of honesty, transparency and accountability.  Once leaders get so comfortable that they start to bank on voter ignorance and apathy they really need to be sent a wake up call, and if that doesn’t work they need to be sent packing.

I didn’t like the Conservative Party’s response to the facebook group and the planned protests.  Dismissing 200,000 Canadians as the “chattering classes” and irrelevant only cemented my desire to show up at that rally. 

I’ve learned something in the last two years.  Freedom, truth and accountability are something worth fighting for, worth sacrificing for.  I made some decisions in the last year that cost me but I’d make them all again in a heartbeat.  How come? At the end of the day I can look deeply in the mirror and be truly content with what I’ve done and what I’ve stood for. 

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Pro-Democracy Rally in Saskatoon

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The “chattering classes” braved a winter storm warning for a rally in Saskatoon.  Several speakers spoke against the 2nd Prorogation of parliament in just a year.  My favourite part was the Raging Grannies!

 

 

More Raging Grannies

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What he said

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Heard of testamints? How about testagunsights?

Some company is putting bible references on the gun sights used by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Praise God and pass the ammunition!

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The Pink Floyd Experience was great!

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They are on a North American tour.  If you are a Floyd fan, and even if you aren’t check em out!

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ebook Readers will empower independent publishing

I’ve polished off my first two books on the Kindle.  Christless Christianity by Horton and Superfreakonomics.  Horton’s book was tough slugging at first.  I thought it was going to turn in to a diatribe about how the church just isn’t reformed enough.  When he started dissecting Joel Osteen it got better, but  it still seemed like a strained effort to make the same point again and again and again.  Superfreakonomics was a nice little mind snack.  I really enjoyed the story about how some scientists taught monkeys how to use coins as currency to get food.  When they put all the monkeys together it didn’t take long before one monkey paid another monkey a coin and proceeded to have sex.

Anyway, I got thinking about how cool it is and how easy it is to read a book on this thing.  In some ways it is even better than paper.  As I thought about it some more I realized that these books are really just files.  I wonder if just anyone could make one of these files and throw up on Amazon for sale.  The answers are yes and yes. 

Making an ebook file is easy.  There is even free software to convert from HTML or MS Word or whatever.

If you are an American you can even publish your ebook on Amazon.

I can see a real future for authors to cut out many of the people and the organizations between them and their readers.

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