So, I don't want to name drop...but I had lunch with Ben Witherington today! The wonton soup was excellent.
Wide ranging discussion over Vietnamese...where to find good Thai food in Howick and North Carolina, Health system reform in the US, liberal theology, NT Wright v John Piper, (possibly)the worst president in US history, Mexican food, Socialism, the new reformed phenomenon, Cambridge (the NZ version), original sin, grace and a few other random offerings...
Good fun. And the wonton soup really was excellent.
Friday, July 31, 2009
So, I don't want to name drop...but I had lunch with Ben Witherington today! The wonton soup was excellent.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I liked this article. Brave stuff in the environment. At the heart of it:
"Nobody has a right to be ordained: it is always a gift of sheer and unmerited grace. The appeal also seriously misrepresents the notion of justice itself, not just in the Christian tradition of Augustine, Aquinas and others, but in the wider philosophical discussion from Aristotle to John Rawls. Justice never means “treating everybody the same way”, but “treating people appropriately”, which involves making distinctions between different people and situations. Justice has never meant “the right to give active expression to any and every sexual desire”.
The author has written a few books and is quite well-known I believe.
Posted by BJ at 8:18 AM
Sunday, July 26, 2009
"To understand the identity and significance of Jesus, we must tell other stories - stories that interlock and interrelate, setting the context for making sense of the theological puzzle that Jesus himself set his disciples. One of these stories concerns God's creation of the world; another tells of God's calling of Israel; a third tells the age-old human quest for meaning and significance. The story of Jesus intersects all three, ultimately to provide their fulfilment. Jesus is the focal point from which all these other stories are to be seen, and on whom all finally and marvelously converge."
"...is not a revolution attainable by incarnation. Wesley became incarnate among the poor, the labouring artisan, the powerless people."
"Incarnation: the central truth of Christianity and all religion."
"The creation of the world was a very great thing, but not so great as the incarnation of Christ. It was a great thing for God to make the creature, but not so great as for God, as for the Creator himself, to become a creature."
Posted by BJ at 2:24 PM
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Such a busy time we're having here - all good though.
Posted by BJ at 9:02 AM
Thursday, July 16, 2009
It's been a busy time since the Poets, Preachers and Prophets Conference which is still resonating.
Posted by BJ at 1:49 AM
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
So I will miss this weekend's test match at Eden Park - oh that I could be there. The team has a predicatable look about it, but some points of interest, mostly in the reserves:
- Donald gets the nod at 1st V - I think this was likely given the way he was being talked up in the media - plus he gets his chance as the incumbent with a full strength side;
- Cowan keeps Leonard out for the moment;
- Tialata retains his role, but what is interesting is that Afoa doesn't even make the bench. Franks had a very good debut off the bench and perhaps he is seen as the guy for this role longer term;
- Sivivatu replaces cousin Joe, but interestingly Corey Jane is starting - you get the sense that Toeva would have started at wing had he been fit, leaving Jane on the bench - this is a ploy for the Australian kicking game - the back 3 all have experience at full back;
- Eaton is the comeback kid (predicted on this blog) covering lock and I guess the loosies;
- However the loosie mix (including reserves) has an unbalanced feel for me - who will cover McCaw? Obviously Rodney will, a ploy that has not worked before. Read is being rewarded for being the most compelling of the new loose forwards but overall the balance is not assisted;
This is a pretty experienced forward pack with a ton of experience and graft with an injection of newer blood (in Kaino and Ross). It is easily the best we can do (with the exception of Tialata who needs a big one). The backline restores some combinations but the yawning hole remains at 1st V. I would have picked McAlister, simply because I think he shades Donald in all departments - kicking, passing, running and tackling - and has the greater vision. But neither of them are Dan Carter. And that sadly may be the difference.
It will be 3.30am here when the game is on. I don't think I can get it live - I have found a provider who plays it 9 hours later, but I've yet to work out how I can access that! A work in progress!
Posted by BJ at 3:14 PM
Thursday, July 09, 2009
This was a very enjoyable Preaching Conference and quite timely for me. Throughout I was very grateful for the excellent grounding I was fortunate to have in this discipline, initially by osmosis from Melissa and subsequently from Paul Windsor direct. If you want to check out the live blog you can here. I am not going to summarise the content; I will simply note some of the things that stuck out for me.
Bell was superb throughout. He is an excellent communicator live. Uses his body as well as his voice, all without a note in sight (uses powerpoint though). I've often wondered whether it is possible to learn from him because he is just so good - a natural if you like. But he did a great job of breaking down his approach including using previous sessions he had done as examples of his process. It not only reinforced the content but you got drawn into the process as much as the preaching. Some great moments for me:
- The idea of sub-version - the telling of stories that provoke and arrest
- The reinforcement of the importance of the metanarrative and the selection of beginning and end - does the story start in Genesis 1&2 or Genesis 3? A key choice to be made which affects the whole world view of the preacher and pastor
- Building on the beginning of Genesis 1/2 and the ending in Revelation 21 "If you were to remove sin from the Bible, you'd have a pamphlet" - priceless
- Drawing from Genesis, sin can be boiled down to (a) saying to God, "excuse me you're in my seat" or (b) looking to Creation for our wellbeing - elegant
- On heaven coming to earth, "I get concerned that there will be folks who are going up somewhere while God is coming down and they'll miss each other! And it will be like, 'But I read it in the novel'"
- The sermon is the continuing insistence concerning this larger story
- Texts are often built around moments, movements or mystery - knowing which one can help
- Everything in a sermon is related to every other part - name and know the parts
- No rules other than knowing what you're doing
- Tension is your friend - just know how your friend behaves!
- Sermons that help people to find themselves will be focused and yet open, said and yet unsaid, defining and yet imagining, resolute and yet unresolved
- Inviting people into a cathedral of words
- The sermon is always about what it means to be fully human (rather than fully Christian...)
- The chocolate covered turd - death by papercuts - the vulnerability of the preacher
- Your identity cannot be tied up in how you are received
Rob Bell was impressive throughout with his preparedness to be personally transparent and you sensed his pastoral heart for other pastors. They had counsellors available for anyone who needed to unload any burdens they were carrying in pastoral ministry. Nice thought. This was a conference unlike any other. You felt like you were being treated as a person and not just a student.
There is no way to describe this man. He was a force of nature. Maybe it was the Irish accent or the way he scattered his written notes all over the stage while delivering a message on how we should think of knowledge within the Christian worldview (beautifully done). He came across as all over the place, but nothing could have been further from the truth. Brain the size of a planet tied to a heart of real compassion. There is an interview online here which captures the heart of what he was on about. My responses:
- IKON's answer to "Alpha": OMEGA - How to exit Christianity Course (the toxic versions)
- Evangelism group - goes to other religions and asks them to evangelise the group (makes sense if you think about it...)
- Atheism For Lent - will only read the best critics of Christianity for Lent to be transformed by what they might say about (counterfeit) Christianity
- Transformance Art - rupture, provocation, transformation eg. One time they organised people to picket their own gathering - people experienced a sense of mockery and alienation as they entered - some even joined the protestors!
- When he discovered someone was writing a tract against him, he contacted the guy and met with him to help him write it!
- Structures and ministers can do your believing for you - like canned laughter is not there to tell you when to laugh, its to laugh for you...
- Transformation of the social self rather than the "head" self [he used a different term which I missed]
- A failure to engage real transformation leads to the ironic gestures of an anemic Christianity - people who give money to the poor, but make no effort to address those parts of their lives that contribute to poverty, people sitting around Starbucks drinking coffee and talking about the evils of global corporations
- The church needs to find the real site of resistance
- Religious experience is not an experience - God is not an object to be experienced - he is the lense through which we truly experience
- IKON is an equal offence community! We offend everyone to offend no one - I want to offend myself, to rupture myself
- Preaching is not giving water, but giving salt to make people thirsty - preaching is not the bread but the aroma of bread, so that people become hungry
- Christianity as violence - consider Mother Theresa whose pacifism ruptured the caste system - key = violence against systems not people
- God as trauma - God as excess - conversion is radical - the infinite coming into the finite
- Jesus is not a painter, he's an optician
- People's Gods like their dogs, look like them
- God is not the patch on our wound, he is the wound on which we try to stick our patches
- Jacob demands to know God's name while he wrestles and God renames him - God names
- God so loved the world he forsook heaven, he emptied himself - this is our path
He received a standing ovation at the end.
This was an excellent Conference. A really worthwhile investment of time with some good people who I got to know better as well. People from all walks of life. Mainstream contemporary alongside vibrant emerging. Lots of grassroots ministry going on around the place. A great feel to the whole event. 5 stars.
Posted by BJ at 11:57 AM
Sunday, July 05, 2009
Tonight is the opening of Poets, Prophets and Preachers: Reclaiming the Art of the Sermon in Grand Rapids, Michigan and I am going! Its a rare treat to be able to sit in a Conference setting for a couple of days. I'll be very interested to compare what there is to learn to the Kiwi-Made Preaching Conference that I was at earlier this year which was just outstanding for Kiwi preachers.
The keynote is Rob Bell and some of his topics look to be quite compelling:
Rob Bell – The Original Guerilla Theatre
throwing ourselves into this ancient, sacred art form with the absurd, naive, antiquated belief that the world needs inspiring, provocative, comforting, dangerous, healing, great sermons now more than ever
Rob Bell – The Story We're Telling
sin, salvation, business, art, justice and the importance of beginning in the beginning
Rob Bell – The Fig Tree and the Failure of Language
moment, movement, mystery, and the science of homiletical architecture (alternate title: why some sermons work and others don't)
Rob Bell – Fumbling Around with Your Radar
tools, questions, approaches, and everyday 5 minute disciplines that have helped me understand where sermons come from
Rob Bell – The One Thing I've Never Heard Someone Talk About That Has Changed Everything for Me
He's teaming up with Peter Rollins and Shane Hipps.
Peter Rollins is an emerging church Irish guy who is the coordinator of Ikon. Interested in the artsy angles here. Shane Hipps is pastor of Trinity Mennonite Church, an urban, Anabaptist congregation. He just wrote a book Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith - so I'm assuming this will flavour his stuff along the lines of the medium is the message.
Should be a blast and I will blog as I go!
Posted by BJ at 10:24 PM
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Last night I went to work with the CIA. It was a follow up to my mission with them in December 07 This time I was really going to be up to my neck in it.
- This moment of relief has been brought to you by your friends at Lansing Faith
- The seats are much more comfortable at Lansing Faith
- You think you feel better now; imagine how much better you'll feel when you meet Jesus
- Sometimes life stinks; we're trying our best to make it better
To make sure the message got through we handed out 2000 bugs disguised as glo-sticks. Each glo stick was bugged with a lanyard branded with the Lansing Faith's website. They snapped them up.
The lines were long as person after person responded to the honey trap. Oh sweet relief.
The night finished around midnight as we returned the WMD (weapons of mass defecation) to their original status ready for pickup by the contractor. A job well done.
Posted by BJ at 2:11 AM
Friday, July 03, 2009
Posted by BJ at 11:45 AM
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
So today we head away for Traverse City, Michigan - the home of Kristen's Aunt and brother. Rhys and Raegan will enjoy seeing their Christmas cousins again - they have already become great friends in just a short time. We'll also check out Chris' new church - The Journey - and join them in house hunting escapades.
Posted by BJ at 9:05 AM