Friday, July 29, 2005

Friday, July 22, 2005

My first ever entry for Photo Friday. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The trailer for the summer blockbuster-to-be The Island seemed eerily reminiscent of another movie to me. Guess I'm not the only one who sees a similarity to a film MST3K riffed on, called familiar to Clonus. Some other people think it's more than coincidence. Parts: The Clonus Horror is one of my favorite MST3K episodes. I liked the storyline. The execution and acting is what stunk.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Mommy Knows Worst is the forthcoming title from James Lileks.

If it's anything like his past two books, The Gallery of Regrettable Food, and Interior Desecrations, you will want to check it out.

Pop culture insights that could only come from a guy born in Fargo.

Friday, July 15, 2005

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan




Neo orthodox


Reformed Evangelical




Classical Liberal




Modern Liberal


Roman Catholic


What's your theological worldview?
created with

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Hockey's Back! and I'm probably one of the few who actually cares about it.

Monday, July 11, 2005

What if teens ran church?

That, kind of, was our topic at bible study tonight. It should be noted there were only two guys (one is in the picture with this post), and another leader type besides me. I want to do a few weeks talking about the church, so I wanted to get the students thinking about what the church is, which is we are the church, and what that looks like. A lot of this is pretty surface-level stuff, but hopefully the discussion can grow in the coming weeks.

What do students like about our church?

The variety of people. We're a big church, so we have a diverse congregation. Students appreciated that everyone’s accepted. They feel our church is welcoming and creates a safe environment for new people.

One thing they really like is the focus on young people in our church. Between high school and middle school youth group, we have a few hundred kids who come every week during the school year, and hundreds of elementary age kids too. We have an active nursury and children's ministries. Students like that young people are included in things. They think the church does a nice job of nuturing young people

On a practical level, they like that there's stuff to do. It’s fun. There's always stuff going on. Youth group has lots of activities. The church has volleyball, roller hockey, even putt putt golf that a lot of men show up for. They think this stuff builds relationships.

They feel the church services go beyond preaching. They say there are opportunities for hands on ministry. They also feel the church encourages them to make relationships, and meet in small groups.

There's a sense the church is willing to try new things. The students say it's important for the church to speak in their technological context. They like that the youth group has an active website, pastors use videos during their sermons, there's good sound and lighting.

Community outreach is something the kids value, and say our church is pretty good at.

There's a focus on missions. This year alone, the church will or has sent teams to Mexico, the Bahamas, Chicago, Germany, and Africa.

One student said they like that the church is not being a closed community - not segregated. Welcomes new people.

Youth group and other ministries are open to everyone, regardless if this is their church home (or if they have a church home).

So what don't they like?

The amount of people. Don’t get to know people. Can’t know everyone. "I don’t know half our church," one said.

You know people from your ministry, but not others. Hard for new people, hard to adjust to big church. This was a common concern.

Music always comes up in these discussions. I got the 'we need more hymns' line that I expected. And the 'we have too many hymns' too.

The preaching is hard to listen too, they said. 20 minute sermons are hard to listen too. They're not interactive enough. It's easier to listen in Sunday school where they bounce ideas around.

The service needs interactivity. It's a very segmented service – too predictable. Everyone knows what's coming next. It would be cool if things were integrated better. And if there were more opportunities to participate during the service.

So what do they value about church?

They value the church's relationship with the community

Students think it's important for staff to know the congregation

Relationships – personal connection between people is important

Prayer is important facet of church life. Something we probably don't think about enough. Students think we get stuck in a rut and don't think about prayer enough.

One guy said he likes it when the pastor leads singing. Having a pastor involved in different things is something they value.

What could we do as a church?

Build an addition for youth and kids

Newer technology. Podcasting, online community, stuff like that is stuff the students say they'd connect with if we had it

The open field by the church should be used for something

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I got to spend some time with Allan Aguirre and his family at Cornerstone. Make sure to check out his podcasts. They're really amazing. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Ok, so I shot like 300 pictures of Mute Math in 15 minutes. It's not that I really, really like the band. In fact, this was the first time I'd seen them. Problem is, my buddy Brian didn't want to shoot another band, so he handed me his brand new digital SLR, a Nikon D70, and I went crazy. 300 pictures in 15 minutes crazy. Posted by Picasa

Ah yes, two mainstays at Cornerstone. The punk nun, and the drum circle. They came together Sunday afternoon. The pink nun handed me her camera and asked me to shoot some pictures of it :) Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Covered Main stage tonight, which was fun. I was up there briefly the other day for Andy Hunter, but this was my first full fledged main stage duty. It's cool being up there with the big boys, especially since I got to borrow a Nikon D70, so I really did feel like a big boy.

I'm not familiar with Jeremy Camp, but he was ok. I hadn't seen Jars of Clay forever, so that was nice to be up there shooting them. A pic of them I took several years ago was actually on the splash page to their website for a loooong time, which was always cool. Then I had to go off the stage, because Audio Adrenaline wouldn't let anyone on the stage. But that's ok, I shot some stuff in front of the barricade, and the lead singer leaped into the crowd anyway.

The highlight of the night was when Ashley Cleveland joined Jars for a few songs. I have to post some pics now, so I'll have more later!
Beyond Absolutism, Pluralism, and Relativism: Brian McLaren 7/03/05

I. Jane Goodall story

She loved Tarzan novels, wanted to live in the jungle, but didn't; go to college. She was a secretary. But this guy game to her, looking for someone with no education, a woman, to go and observe chimps.

Why someone with no education? Because what you focus on determines what you miss. She didn't know what to look for. She just looked and took notes.

She named the chimps. Got used to the chimps. One day, David Greybeard held her hand. It went from observation to a relationship.

Goodall ended up not only studying, but serving the chimps.

II. The Shift
Jane represents the shift from modern to postmodern. In the modern era, you had to label, dissect, take things to the lab, study them on our terms. That was "objectivity".

Goodall wasn't like that. She met them on their terms.

So the question is, how do we engage others? Conquest and control? Or understand on their terms?

McLaren says it's a shift that takes us closer to the way God sees things.

God is personal. Nothing is objective, because it's all his. God sees and knows everything and cares about it all. It's all relevant to God. We've been formed to the modern world. But we should be nonconformists.

If we think of everything as God's, it should change our perspective.

Don't treat people as objects, but as family.

We need to live in the universe God created.

III. Other stuff people asked at the talk's end...
(By the way, I'm putting these notes into an outline format. That's not how McLaren did it, but I did it to break it up for those not having the benefit of hearing these talks.)

What about going out into the world? What if I want to go into bars and minister, but friends are afraid I'll get drunk?

McLaren responds there are a lot of dangers in the world, and drinking and all that stuff are bad. But so is consumerism. Having the biggest CCM collection can be bad too.

The thing is to overcome evil with good -- go into the world with a sense of mission.

The factor worker doesn't go to work saying 'I hope I don't cuss today', but instead says, 'I hope serve somebody', etc.

Then McLaren touched on the difference between acceptance and approval, and how accepting people doesn't mean we approve of their choices and lifestyles.

McLaren was asked to talk about consumerism. He says commerce is good, even says money is ok.

The love of it is bad.

The idea of commerce he says, is that we use money as a token, to show I'm exchanging my strength for your strength. In that sense economics is a beautiful thing.

Part of the postmodern transition is that postmodernism is post-national. The nation has less important than it was.

When government exists to serve economy it doesn't represent justice.

And that's about all I took notes on, so enjoy!

Watched some of Switchfoot's set Saturday night. Clearly the biggest name and biggest night of the fest. I didn't stick around for the whole thing though, because they weren't allowing any pictures by the stage, and were even asking people to put their video cameras away. Management seems pretty sensitive, probably in light of a new album coming out soon. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Apologetix, complete with the "Vote for Petra" shirt. Posted by Picasa

Beyond Absolutism, Pluralism, and Relativism: Brian McLaren 7/02/05

I. Why do Christians want to destroy other cultures?

Remember when the Taliban destroyed those Buddhist statues in Afghanistan?

What if the U.S. ran Afghanistan, and not the Taliban at that time. Brian McLaren says suppose Franklin Graham was VP and Tim LaHae was Secretary of State, just to throw some names out there. Would it have been ok for them to destroy Buddhist art? Is it morally permissible?

If you say it's ok to keep the art, then you have a post-absolutist view.

The Christians have a mixed history. They destroyed Viking art, but preserved the Greek and Roman culture.

What does the Christian do when encountering other faiths?

What kind of story is the Christian story? Does it want to destroy another story?

Why do we preserve some cultures in the name of Christ, but not others?

McLaren tells the story of a Korean seminary student, who came to Mars Hill, despite already having a divinity degree. In Korean seminary, he had learned Christian culture was good, and everything else bad. And for some reason, Greek, Roman, and European culture needed to be learned, but not his native culture.

It wasn't until this student was in the U.S. that he picked up a book of poetry by a notable Korean. He couldn't put it down. He stayed up all night reading it. He came to appreciate his own culture. That doesn't mean he put this poetry on the same level with the bible, he just understood.

II. Eliminating the other stories?

The problem with meta-narratives, McLaren says, is that they are totalizing. They want to get rid of the other stories.

But McLaren says, it my narrative kills millions, I'm not happy about it.

He makes it clear, "I think relativism is a bad thing. It is a poison."

McLaren is not suggesting what works for you is ok, even if it doesn't work for me.

Instead he suggests...

III. The redeeming story

The Christian story redeems.

Some meta-narratives (big stories) want to bulldoze all other stories -- blow them up. Fundamentalist Islam is like this. Some Christians are too. McLaren doesn't care for that.

Following 9/11 McLaren was afraid there would be retaliation against Muslims. There were four mosques in the area, none of which McLaren had ever visited. He decided to write them a letter, and hand deliver them, expressing his concern for violence against Muslims, reassuring them he did not condone it, and could help any way he could. Mosque after mosque had its gate closed. But the fourth one had it's gate open -- just to let a news crew out. McLaren gunned it, and made it in.

This must have scared the clergy there. But when McLaren talked to one, the man welcomed him inside.

Now the two men are friends. McLaren says it's "not a betrayal of faith, but an expression of faith" to have friendships with non-Christians.

Anyway, they decided to hold a multifaith service, where various clergy, and their congregations were invited. Each clergyman was to answer the same question. What is my duty to my neighbor according to my religion?

It was held in a mosque, women in one room, men in the other. To McLaren's chagrin, some of his church members showed up late... and women included wandered into the men's room, but no one said anything.

IV. Consumerism

Consumerism is the power of the economy based on greed. It's the ultimate meta-narrative, McLaren says. It's very dangerous.

Christians who fall into relativism can fall prey to militaristic consumerism he feels.

It turns everything, faith included, into a commodity. Popularity is all that matters.

It's seen in the popular eschatology of the day (the view of the end times) -- i.e. Left Behind. McLaren fears this fosters a sense that Christians don't fight injustice, because there's no reason to. Just head for the lifeboat.

But McLaren hopes for another solution...

V. Redemption

The solution is to see the Christian faith not as a meta-narrative bent on destroying all other stories, but as a redeeming movement, to redeem those stories.

He points to Handel's Messiah, the Hallelujah chorus.

The kingdom of this world is become
The kingdom of our lord, and of his Christ

Not, we wiped out all the other kingdoms. No, we redeemed them.

It's a radical eschatology. It's a redemptive story.

VI. Redeeming Islam

McLaren had an interesting talk with a well-known Christian, who probably would not want it know that he has the following theory...

Mohammed was born about 600 AD. If we go back to the second century, there was a vibrant Christian church in Syria. They gave, fasted, and refrained from pork to God's glory.

Anyway, the Syrians rebelled against Rome. It was brutal. The Romans had more force, and launched a massive counter attack. So the Syrians fled to Arabia.

Around this time, AD 323 Rome officially embraced Christianity.

Syrians didn't like that, because they weren't in the Roman Empire. So connecting Christianity to Rome made them traitors to Arabians. They isolated themselves from Roman Christians.

This is the world Mohammed entered. This Christian McLaren talked to has this idea... Mohammed started as a polytheist, but embraced one God. In fact, he may have been a Syrian Christian, head of the church, but he didn't claim the Christian title, because he didn't want to be associated with Rome.

If we want to redeem Muslims, we need to tell our stories, and see where they intersect.

Admit that Christians have a problem. We were silly to affiliate with Rome and kill your ancestors. We acknowledge our historical failure.

However, if you want to get out of the problem of violence, Jesus has a lot to say.

That's the story we need to tell...

to be continued...

Sorry! Posted by Picasa

Andy Hunter busted a dope beat. Or something like that. Mainstage didn't know what to make of it, what was left of the crowd, I should say, but it was cool. Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 01, 2005

Fabulous like you Posted by Picasa

Digging for life in Berlin City Posted by Picasa

waving the banner for Cornerstone Posted by Picasa

People of all tribes and flags take part in Cornerstone Posted by Picasa

Beyond Absolutism, Pluralism, and Relativism: Brian McLaren 7/01/05

"Check your fly."

That's the advice Brian McLaren received, after asking his first Cornerstone audience what advice they had for him.

here are my notes from McLaren's first talk:

I. Pre-modernism -- the time before 1500, before Martin Luther. People listened to "the authority", i.e. the church, government, etc. The belief was truth resides in people, and people tell me what's true.

Copernicus, Galileo, and Martin Luther. The first two questioned epistimology on the basis of science (philosophy), with the later did so based on theology. This "unleashed the modern era" that "truth is determined by individual reasoning.

II. Modernism -- All of this lead to all the nastiness between the protestants and Catholics. McLlaren shared the story of a bridge in Prague, where there was a large crucifix. During a battle between the two sides, Jesus was beheaded. This deep sense of unrest in Europe also showed up in places like France, with Rene DesCartes. He was concerned about war. He said the best way to defeat the enemy is with the weapon of the enemy. Defeat doubt using doubt. "I doubt therefore I am."

This lead to the enlightenment project and the age of reason. Knowledge and reason are the foundation.

III. Foundation of Post-moderrnism -- fast-forward to post war Germany. The atrocities of the holocaust came in a country that was once the center of reason. This nation was intellectually brilliant, morally evil. What went wrong?

People questioned this. Not just the holocaust, but Stalin, the decay of colonialism, and other forms of oppression: racism, slavery, economic concerns.

They said something is sick about our culture done in the name of reason. The Jewish intellectuals repented, but McLaren says Christians didn't.

In modernism, there was "excessive certainty" and that lead people to rape, kill, and steal. Overconfidence lead them to do horrible things.

McLaren went on to define meta-narrative. It's not just a "big story", it's a big story that legitmizes those in power to stay in power. Just as propaganda has negative connotations, McLaren says meta-narrative does too. He calls it a "polluted, violent word."

IV. People began to critique excessive certainty. This is post-modernism. Seeing excessive certainty as a cancer. Chemotherapy is dangerous, but sometimes needed. This chemo, McLaren says, has two facets:
a) Pluralism - realizing not everyone sees everything the same way.
b) Relativisim - all are more or less true, more or less false. No one has the upper hand.

V. Where we are now? The world has pre-moderns (most notably the Middle East, maybe Latin American). The moderns are headquartered just down the road from McLaren in Washington, D.C. The postmoderns are in Europe.

McLaren agrees excessive certainty is a cancer, but points out chemo can kill too.

"My belief is the church in America is caught." he says. "How do we proclaim the kingdom of God?"

Do we capitulate to pluralism? No. "I believe the solution is not to go back" to the age of reason he said. "Something unarticulated", in this case, the Kingdom of God is the solution. "I don't believe anybody can save the world but Jesus Christ." We need to see our selves as whole people. John 17:17.

We need to trust in God, not trust in what we think we know about God. Proverbs 3.

Oh, and he doesn't like a lot of this modern worship music. Says it "makes my skin crawl" to know Jesus is feeling him, or whatever the music is saying :)
I ended up walking 13.06 miles yesterday. And probably the same the day before. 25 miles in two days seems like a lot. I'm sure I'll do the same today. I'm assigned to cover the seminars, so that'll be fun. I'll probably sit in and listen while I'm there. I think I'm going to take in the Brian Mclaren talk.

For more photos and thoughts, check out Brian's Blog