Saturday, June 18, 2005

Changes & New Digs

Just feels right to change things up - moving to a new site and a semi-new layout. If you link here, please change links to my new site: Caffeinated Adventures. Same sappy sarcasm and deep thought, new & improved full-body flavor. Everything will stay right here - book reviews, commentary, archives and stuff. Just moving forward with a new buzz, a fresh pot of coffee...

Thanks for everyone who's taken the time to link here, to read along, to comment and pray. It's appreciated more than I can express.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Review: CRASH

"Almost all of them are still alive at the end, and are better people because of what has happened to them. Not happier, not calmer, not even wiser, but better. Then there are those few who kill or get killed; racism has tragedy built in."
- Roger Ebert, review of Crash
I've read some reviews of this film online, and I think others have done more justice to the film than I could. So I'll "review" my emotions as I watched this film and as I was driving home alone last night.
Graham: Its the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In LA, nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.
Crash (2005, Lion's Gate Films), opens with various people in various situations just living life. The characterizations are over the top for at least the first thirty minutes. I thought the sense of racism looked heavily stereotypical, a la Archie Bunker and Fred Sanford. I know people like that, but that many people in such a confined space of story felt contrived. Saying that, as the movie moved along I found that I'd probably joined in the judgmentalism of the characters, taking my own prejudices and exposing them right alongside the steretypes.
Anthony: Look around! You couldn't find a whiter, safer or better lit part of this city. But this white woman sees two black guys, who look like UCLA students, strolling down the sidewalk and her reaction is blind fear. I mean, look at us! Are we dressed like gangbangers? Do we look threatening? No. Fact, if anybody should be scared, it's us: the only two black faces surrounded by a sea of over-caffeinated white people, patrolled by the triggerhappy LAPD. So, why aren't we scared?
Peter: Because we have guns?
Anthony: You could be right.
As the film moves through the activities of a day, situations and chance encounters among the characters reveal more clearly the levels of hope and/or hopelessness each is bringing to the table. While trying to rise above ethnic expectations, or sinking into excuses and prejudice, each character "crashes" into others at random accidental intervals - their lives are shaken, and what's filling the glass spills out, doesn't it?

I was pulled into each vignette. Even though certain scenes had appeared in trailers and commercials, I didn't know the power within the story to laugh and to cry at the same time - "I'll protect you, Daddy", completely embarrassing, laughing and crying like that - and to be surprised in an explosive moment and in a quiet embrace. I was right there, emotions hanging out all over the place, buying into the whole idea that we're not as good as we seem to ourselves, and others aren't as bad off as we've judged.

I called everyone I could think of as I drove home. "Best movie of the year" - "best spiritual movie since The Big Kahuna" - "Might be in my top five list". I loved the world as I drove home. Traffic was a bear - standstill on the interstate, where three lanes were reduced to one so evening work crews could paint an overpass. And in my sappiness, it was just beautiful - no kidding, the way people let other people merge left was inspiring, and no one tried to be the idiot speeding ahead in the emergency lanes or ahead of everyone to skip further up before merging left. I felt like I had no enemies, no one to turn against, no one I could point fingers at on anything at all. Not only had I been pulled into the movie emotionally, but it had impacted me, been pulled into me to be experienced and lived out as well.

If you can't tell, I liked it. Five plus stars. Not for everyone, and I understand that - probably judgmental on my part, and I'll have to work that out, won't I?


Photo Friday: Sport

Sunny day, before the humidity rolled into Columbia - playing putt-putt @ Frankies. Woo hoo.

Smart Enough

Your IQ Is 135

Your Logical Intelligence is Genius
Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Genius
Your General Knowledge is Exceptional

Thursday, June 16, 2005


this is an audio post - click to play

First impressions from CRASH - saw it tonight, needed to debrief. I'll write something substantive later. Promise.

Really good movie. Go see it. Wait - no, don't. But if you do... it was really good.

Hearing Voices

I'm one of those people who thinks too much - I think deeply about things that matter, but I also think deeply about stuff that isn't worth the effort. My own "time management" skills need to take that into consideration when it's time to leave for work but I still want to see what's on SportsCenter in the morning. This morning I had a little time to think during my commute - driving my wife's car instead of my XM-powered CRV, so I wasn't flipping channels and instead enjoyed the traffic, yeeha. I dropped her car at the auto shop across the street to get new shocks, and waited around for someone to drive me to the office while they did their business.

Standing outside, light breeze, blue sky, humidity not turned on quite yet - it was very very nice. And I started thinking: "My idea of what salvation is, what living for God means, how God judges us in the light of everything - making it easier doesn't make it better for anyone else but me." I don't have any idea where that came from, whether it was a burst of sunshine-induced inspiration, or the caffeine still working through my system this morning.

I think the gist of where that's going is that I'd rather "make it harder" when I talk to people about God and living the Christian life - that way, you know up front what the ordeal might hold, and you'll probably discover that grace is really cool in empowering us to do it in the midst of the trouble. In other words, if it's hard, you find that it's oh so worth it. On the other hand, if I somehow "make it sound easy" - without the benefit of maturing through pain and longsuffering, where I'm finding that it's not that hard, but it is, but it isn't, you know? - and a person finds that this "easy path" is really more difficult and treacherous than it seemed, it'll be easier to say, "no thanks" and walk away.

My next thoughts are on whether that's disingenous or not - where's the integrity if I think God's got one thing in mind but I talk about it in a different light? I think that's the question I'm sitting on right now, because more than obeying God, and more than following Him, and more than "accepting Christ into your heart" - this Christian life is BOTH easy and difficult. His yoke is easy and His burden is light - but letting Him carry ours is the hard part, isn't it? Living life, day to day and year to year, in real relationship with Christ - that's the hard and the easy part of salvation, as I'm discovering right now.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Flick Week

When the rest of my family heads to the beach in the summer, I normally stay behind, take care of the pets and the house, and see a few movies that are in my I'm-just-weird-and-no-one-else-likes-my-movies list. This week I've mostly got DVDs lined up, but I do hope to go to one theater flick tomorrow night if I can.

  • SIDEWAYS - Watched it Monday evening, and while I can see why the principals were nominated for their roles for various awards, I just didn't like it all that much. The guys were very shallow, given every opportunity to show themselves less so, and didn't. Best redeeming thing: really good ending, leaving enough hanging to make it nice.
  • KEEPING THE FAITH - y'all were right. Really liked this movie, even though the ending was way too sappy for my tastes. Alot like The Monk Downstairs, novel of a monk who finds love alongside rediscovering love in God. Anyway, I even liked Stiller, and he's not one of my favorites out there now.
  • CRASH - Really good. I don't have anything left tonight to post a review, but it needs its own post. Audio debriefing here, and I'll review it later this weekend, promise.
  • SNATCH - Lots of folks have this on their "favorite movies list", and it looked like one I'd at least "get". I liked it ok, and it had its moments, but not all that.

  • Midweak

    I need coffee this morning. Yesterday was such a long day - very enjoyable, very productive, very connecting with new friends and very old friends. Wouldn't trade it for the world. But it was so long, and this morning my right eye is still feeling dry and burning on the lid, like a sty without a sty, or not tearing up right - I don't know. And the headache from sleeping hard after yesterday's festivities - popping Tylenol and heading into work a little late, getting my bearings and doing my thing.

    I need coffee. Thermal pot just finished brewing, so I'm tanking up before heading out the door.

    Monday, June 13, 2005

    "Note from Home"

    this is an audio post - click to play

    [quoting from Confessions of a Caffeinated Christian, John Fischer, p. 16]

    Beat It!

    Michael Jackson cleared of all charges. Whew. Now when do they start prosecuting parents who let the kids go to Neverland?

    Too Much Piper?

    John Piper has let me down. Following him from the moment I discovered the whole group from Passion/268, I've been so challenged and so stretched over the years. I consider his sermon, "Did Christ Die for Us or for God?", to be one of the turning points of my life.

    But then I received this sermon in an email last week: "For Whom Did Jesus Taste Death?" I was hoping it would be a reminder of that previous message, maybe building on the idea that Jesus' real work was fulfilling the will of the Father. But it wasn't like that at all, instead focusing on who did Jesus die for: everyone or just the elect? I don't see the logic that says Jesus' death was anything less than universally meaningful, but that's where Piper goes. In John 3:16, Jesus died to save the "whosoever believes in Him", and not necessarily for thosesoever who don't. But doesn't that sell short the sacrifice of Christ on the cross? I'd rather err on the side that everyone has access to God through Jesus' work on the cross, that the relationship is open to more than "just the elect". If Jesus died only for those who were predestined to be saved, then there are people Jesus did not die for - and I don't like making that assumption either.

    So at least on this cound I part ways with Dr. Piper. I still own a few CDs and books, and will still receive the email that challenges me and from time to time disagrees with me. There's nothing wrong with a little disagreement - his ministry has made so many positive changes in my life, I can allow him to be wrong once in a while.

    Sunday, June 12, 2005


    I've enjoyed getting to know Margaret Feinberg through her writing, her new books, her website, and her blog. And having Twentysomething (2004, W. Publishing Group) as a testimony of her formative young adult pre-marriage years, pitfalls and all, has been fun - makes me wish she were older, writing these things fifteen years ago when I probably really needed it.

    For me, the book has been centered around this realization:
    "All the realities that caught me by surprise can be summed up in one statement: The real world isn't anything like The Real World on MTV." (p. 24)
    Now that I am in my late thirties and looking back on so much of this period in my own life, I can only add, "you ain't kiddin'" to that thought. The "rude awakenings" she surfs through in chapter one, from "1. You have to work" to "4. Life is expensive" to "10. I know less than I thought I did (and I didn't know much" were spot on for what I felt I went through in that awkward post-college pre-rest-of-my-life stage.

    Chapter two, dealing with the twentysomething "quarterlife crisis" reads well for whatever age or timeframe the reader might actually be going through such an ordeal. Much of life is asking "is this all there is?" (p. 29), and she's able to give some reasonable and thoughtful advice on moving through these periods productively. Another spot where the book sums things up for me as a thirtysomething is in the opening of three "question-based" chapters:
    "I think I had one too many late-night philosophical discussions while I was in school. You know, the conversations where you struggle with the deeper issues of life and expose your soul until around 4 a.m. or so when either you or the person you're talking to falls asleep on the lumpy and slighly smelly couch." (p. 55)
    That's me today more than back in my early 20s, but one of those lessons I wish more people would learn is that it's okay to ask the tough questions and to wrestle with the tough answers.

    I think the thing I've found in her writing is an ability to make it personal from her own life, and the sense to ask others about their own trials and circumstances - filling in the gaps with interviews and other authors gives the book a feeling of, not completeness, but of fullness - you might have more to experience, but this work will work in the midst of it. There's a great deal of depth to this book, and there's a great deal of practicality as well. Thoughts on the significance of life in the universe with the Loving Creator are balanced with the notion that you're going to have to be creative to pay your rent sometimes. And her approach to the 20s will work well as she heads into her 30s and marriage and whatever lies ahead. And now that I've finished her book, I've got a handful of twentysomethings that I'm thinking would benefit from her experience and prose as well.

    Saturday, June 11, 2005

    So Right

    Mr. Incredible
    Which Incredibles Character Are You?

    brought to you by Quizilla

    Family & Mountains

    We're leaving in a few moments for Asheville to see Vicki's father & grandmother. It's a long trip, but not so long that we can't do up and back in a day. It also tends to be an uncomfortable trip, with different family dynamics working against trying to really connect. The kids are old enough to entertain themselves in the car, and when we get there we'll take some games and books in for them, too. Meanwhile, we'll field questions about not coming up more often, why can't we stay longer, wish we didn't have to leave so soon.

    It's not a bad day, just exasperating - anxiety building before we leave, tediously long but scenic drive through the foothills into the mountains, and then just sitting and eating lunch and talking before packing back into the car for the return trip. I wish it could be more, and I know that it can be - if other family members come to visit while we're there it livens up a bit, and if there's opportunity to talk about more than why we don't come up more often, then we can usually sorta kinda enjoy our brief stay. In those moments, we start to ask ourselves: why don't we come up more often?

    Pray for us today: safe trip, loving & productive time together, and relief & release on the way home this evening. Thanks.

    UPDATE: Twelve hours later and we're home safe. It was an okay trip, a little stressful with all the drama her dad's going through. But my sweetie is a trooper - firm and honest, wanting the best for her dad, for him to get well from M.S. and from his addictions. And our kids were SUPER. All in all, could've been way worse, and we survived for the better.

    Friday, June 10, 2005


    Photo Friday - Nerdy

    I don't know if this is "nerdy" or not, but it's definitely a bit sappy, and it won some points last night. Leftover lasagna on the fine china, and the kids' happy meals on their trays so they could watch Nickelodeon while the Missus and I could enjoy candlelight and light jazz.

    Manly Man

    "Put most bluntly, I believe that God means for a man to be civilized, directed, and stimulated toward marital faithfulness by the fact that his wife will freely give herself to him sexually only when he presents himself as worthy of her attention and desire."
    - Dr. Al Mohler - "Pornography and the Integrity of Marriage, Part Two", June 9, 2005
    There's much in what Dr. Mohler writes that strikes me a bit off-kilter - mostly from the phrasing and dogmatism (even in this excerpted post). But this statement jumped off the page and smacked me with a question and a challenge: Am I living life in such a way that my wife considers me "worthy of her attention and desire"?

    Thursday, June 09, 2005

    Java Flood

    Well, I think everyone's where they need to be. My wife is taking a certification exam this morning, so it was up to me to get the kids up and fed and dressed and out the door to day camp. Our daughter's morning disposition is usually floppy, like she could go back to bed if that's necessary, or slowly wake up to snuggle and watch TV. Our son, on the other hand, has two morning modes: "Good morning, may I play gamecube?" or "nooooooooooooooo, ten more minutes?". We got the second one this morning. But things settled down, and after losing his cool the at first, he did calm down after going back upstairs to lay down and try that again. Breakfast and cartoons, and then we drove to the church. I think they were dropped off a little earlier than normal, and might've been a little more clingy than normal, but they're really good kids, looking forward to a good day playing and learning and craft-ing.

    After dropping them off, I decided to drive straight to work and not detour through Starbucks. Bad move, I think - settling for office coffee is hardly ever the right decision. My lovely wife started the coffeepot before starting shower, but learned (as I did a couple of months ago - I felt her pain) that if you don't push the pot far enough back in the machine, then the coffee will fill the whole counter. Not pretty, messy to clean, but really adds a wonderful aroma to the whole house. A mixed blessing, to be sure - but I'm not complaining. I hope she does well on her tests, feels like she's done her best when it's over, and is able to find a nap before picking up the children this afternoon.

    Wednesday, June 08, 2005

    Just a-Swingin'

    Balance is something I swing through on my way to the other extreme.
    - Kara Powell, EC05 Learning Community - Humanity (mp3 available @ Conversatio Fide - quoting a friend)

    Chewing On This

    Our knowledge of God has less to do with the capacity of our minds than with the obedience of our lives.
    - Alistair Begg, Truth For Life

    Christianity is not a 'trying' model, it is a 'training' model.
    - Dieter Zander (bio, neat interview)

    But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams."
    - 1 Samuel 15:22

    Tuesday, June 07, 2005


    One of the sidebar statements that came out this morning at the men's meeting was the importance of "raising adults", training our kids to be good adults, good parents, good Christians later on in life. My wife posted a list of things that she wants to teach our kids, and I wanted to add a little to that from "daddy's point of view" (just a bit more "wordy", maybe):
    • Sense of Humor - Teach them what's funny, what's not funny, how to avoid what's hurtful and exploitive and gross so that they've got a real deep (if somewhat sarcastic) sense of humor.
    • Be Well-read - Love to read, read all you can, find magazines or newspapers or sites that give information that's worth having and retaining.
    • Ask Questions - Anyone who knows me knows that I think a good question is usually more meaningful than a good answer anytime. I want to instill in them the idea that "I don't know" and "What if?" are viable ways of processing what's going on, and to test it all within the context of scripture, church community and family. And don't be afraid to disagree, or to ask the question you think needs to be addressed.
    • Heroism - There's something so beyond ourselves, so beyond what we think we're capable of, and it starts by doing the right thing because it's the right thing, no matter what the cost.
    • Wonder & Imagination - Never get bigger than your world or your worldview, but read books and stories, see movies, listen to music that will stretch your horizons.
    • Choose Wisely - "Train up a child in the way he should go" means more than teaching them right and wrong. Teach them to know God, and to know Him well. Instill in them with the ability to choose wisely in the grey areas, to see what's worthwhile and beneficial versus what's allowable or not.
    • Right & Wrong - Okay, there is right and there is wrong in this world, and there is good and there is evil. In choosing wisely, it's important to build upon and to hold strongly those values that have been handed down. While sometimes "choosing wisely" means letting them go, this should be the result of real struggle and internal turmoil - it shouldn't be that easy to let go of what's important, what really matters.
    • Optimistic Cynicism - Give people the benefit-of-the-doubt, and look for the good ar at least the that's-not-so-bad in all the junk life will throw at you. While questioning things or ideas, believe that the best will come through - replace whining with a mindset to move past the problem to what lies ahead.
    • Replicate - Be someone worth imitating, and then pour yourself into someone else. Work yourself out of a job; teach people to do what you do; disciple others and allow yourself to be discipled back.
    Hmmmmm. Maybe I better work on how well I'm processing this list, too, while we're at it...

    Morning Meeting

    Actually got up on time this morning, getting a shower and even making coffee before snapping a photo of my snaggle-toothed child and driving to this morning's meeting. Getting involved with a new group of guys, reading Eldredge's Wild At Heart together - I'm looking forward to the experience, mostly getting to know some new folks from church. The honey wheat bagel and grande caramel macchiato do not hurt, by the way, as we all congregate at Atlanta Bread Co. this morning. I'll update after - right now, guys are settling in and the coffee's flowing.

    Post-Meeting Update: Here's the text I just emailed to Pastor Jeff - "Thanks for this morning. I'm the guy who's going in thinking, 'I don't need this - I've dealt with this', and am looking to get shot down at any moment! I'm not a big Eldredge fan, and I will be disagreeing in spots - but I look forward to the spaces where I know he hits home, and where the guys around the table will speak to me more than the pages of the book."

    Monday, June 06, 2005


    She pulled it on her own, taking her time this week and working that rascal of a tooth. Such a big girl.

    "Full Speed"

    Against Hesitating - Dag Hammarskjöld

    Thanks to your "success," you now have something to lose. Because of this - as if suddenly aware of the risks - you ask whether you, or anyone, can "succeed." If you go on in this way, thoughtlessly mirroring yourself in an obituary, you will soon be writing your epitaph - in two senses.

    When the morning's freshness has been replaced by the weariness of midday, when the leg muscles quiver under the strain, the climb seems endless, and, suddenly, nothing will go quite as you wish - it is then that you must not hesitate.

    [Source: "Markings" by Dag Hammarskjöld - Daily Dig]
    An old friend shared a story. As a defensive back, he kept missing his man in the offense's backfield, kept aiming for the wrong offensive player. His coach pulled him aside, trying to talk some sense into him: "If you're going to miss your guy, at least hit somebody and knock him down. If you make a mistake, make it at full speed."

    Sunday, June 05, 2005


    Two summers ago, still one of my favorite pictures of the kids. We're looking forward to warm temperatures again, a couple of trips to the beach house and a few days at Stone Mountain this summer, as they just keep getting bigger, smarter and funnier.

    Answer With Questions?

    Here's a link to this week's Men's Devotional @ "When Asking Beats Telling". Just an FYI in case you're interested in finding other ways to witness than the typical presentations. I'm all about questions, and find myself wanting to "answer" with questions more and more. I think Jesus did it that way alot, giving things to think about rather than straight up opinions. Anyway, I'm going to be looking through this week's devotionals at this site, might be posting a bit here and there. We'll see.

    A question for those stopping by this afternoon, in light of this topic: How would you feel if you were the man in Mark 10:17-18, asking a serious question - "Good Teacher, what should I do to get eternal life?" - and getting Jesus' question in response - "Why do you call me good?"... Thanks for playing.

    ALLLL-righty Then

    It's been a Jim Carrey weekend at our house. That's a big deal, considering how much my wife dislikes him as an actor. Since most of his roles go way too far off the deep end in grossness, it's hard to see him on a "good light" in some of his other performances. But we did it this time, watching a couple of films with strong performances and strong messages.

    Friday night it was Bruce Almighty, having our small group over for lasagna, coffee & the movie. During our study on PRAYER, we remembered the Post-It Notes and Prayer-Answering scenes, as Bruce finds out being God isn't all it's cracked up to be. The movie is a bit more universal in its theology than I'm usually comfortable with, but the message of being a blessing to others because it's the right thing to do is rich.

    Then last night, we watched Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events with the kids. All of us but Vicki had seen it. I think we enjoyed the evening of terrible events and imaginative escapes, and Carrey plays his role as an evil, greedy & untalented megalomaniac perfectly. I really like the "message" that bad things do happen, but the we still love each other, we don't panic, and we make the best with what we've got. That's life-giving, not depressing.

    No Jim Carrey sightings in the forecast today, unless I can pop in The Truman Show video later on this afternoon.

    Saturday, June 04, 2005


    It's Saturday morning, and the aroma of the new coffee (Starbucks' Fortymile Blend - mmm) is working it's way through the house. I got up about 6:15am, having about an hour and a half before the kids woke up, and another hour to myself while they started playing games upstairs instead of coming down. I appreciated the time with my quiet XM before they came down to eat cereal and watch Looney Tunes - nothing against Bugs and Daffy, but the quiet and peace was very nice.

    "It is more blessed to give than to receive" - and yet, we are more apt to participate in this Christian life if we know there is some return on our "investment". If a chore is easy, we might participate; if it's made to bring some desireable end, we might help out. If all of the former barriers are removed and the time is adjusted for convenience, and if in the process you find that you actually enjoy the task, then we consider it a joy to continue on. We get feisty when the work gets hard, though; we find excuses to stay home when we feel we've done "enough", or when the return-on-investment isn't meeting our core expectations.

    Maybe it's more than the linearity described in Larry Crabb's The Pressure's Off, where we live life doing A in order the B will come. Maybe it's more rebellious than that, telling God that, "this is the way I'll serve You and others, under these circumstances, for this good feeling, and please don't ask anything else of me while so engaged. And oh yeah, if I feel like it's not panning out, I'll let you know when I feel like I've done my fair share. Please don't change the parameters, because I might actually like it, and changing it will break the contract." I find that I start to idolize and idealize the ministry over the Lord I'm serving, and I find that I am quick to judge His motivations or His seeming lack of enabling grace when something goes contrary to the way I thought was proper.

    Why do we expect positive return? Why do we expect to get paid for our efforts? And most importantly, who do we think we are in negotiating the exchange? Basically, why do we help others best when we think we're gaining something in return?

    Friday, June 03, 2005

    Public Schools

    From, Christian Parents Challenged Regarding "Godless" Schools:
    "[Rev. Grady] Arnold says the vast majority of Christian children (88 percent) who attend public schools leave the church once they graduate. "Southern Baptists have been playing the 'ostrich with its head in the sand' routine long enough," the Texas pastor laments. "The time is way overdue that we acknowledge the devastating effects public school is having on the faith of our children."
    Why not ask if the problem isn't with the churches? Why not ask if the problem isn't with the youth groups inadequately preparing the children spiritually? Why not ask if the parents aren't dropping the ball? Why point judgmentally at the public school system without at least self-addressing internal issues?

    Am I Emergent?

    Long morning post. I probably should've gotten caffeinated first.

    I don't know if you've been following the discussion in the blogosphere over the "emergent church" or not. Of all the voices out there, one of the clearest and least-judgmental is from Andrew Jones. At TallSkinnyKiwi, he's posted a poll of sorts on what the "emergent church" might uphold and how closely an individual may follow it. I've cut/pasted his questions here, and include his conclusion at the bottom. Good stuff - if we could meet at Starbucks over coffee most of these "differences" would fall away, wouldn't they?

    [sidebar: here's a PDF-formatted response to many critics of the EC movement, hosted at Doug Pagitt's blog. Here is a response to the response at the EmergentNo blog. My only hope is that the conversation rises above where it is now on both sides.]

    Common Distinctives of the Emergent Church From Theopedia

    1. Postmodernism.
    As a rule and a philosophy, no - I do not adhere to postmodernism. There are aspects of the deconstruction process that tear down too much, taking alot of the good with it. However, it's openness to story, and the way it has forced us within the church to "know what we know and why we know it" has been a plus, at least in the way it's worked through me. But it's rejection of anything absolute and its tendency to see all things from a vague and relative point-of-view is a real problem.
    Verdict: NO.

    2. Absolute truth is either non-existent or unknowable
    I've written on this one before: why do we need the descriptor "absolute"? Isn't that a bit redundant? I believe truth is absolute, and that in relationship with God it's knowable (He's the only one with that absolute and infinite perspective). My issue is with the tendency to focus so much discussion on "absolute truth", when "meaningful truth" might be a better way to look at things...?
    Verdict: NO.

    3. Narrative Preaching.
    Yes - this is the way to go, teaching and sharing in parables and personal anecdotes. It's the way most of the Bible was written, and the way Jesus taught so many times in the Gospels. C'mon - gotta love a good story!
    Verdict: YES.

    4. Irrelevance of expositional preaching.
    I don't think expositional preaching negates narrative preaching. Most of the expostion needs to come in the way of story and metaphor and imagery. I'm all for a verse by verse, chapter by chapter exposition of what the Bible is saying, who it's saying it to, how it speaks to us now. If anything, a tendency to be too topical apart from the context of what the Bible says and how it is being said has been a shortcoming that's needed correction.
    Verdict: NO

    5. Corporate Inclusivism
    Definition : "Inclusivism posits that even though the work of Christ is the only means of salvation, it does not follow that explicit knowledge of Christ is necessary in order for one to be saved."

    I loved Andrew's response to this one:
    Now this is a sticky one. When I prayed to receive Jesus as a teenager, I didnt have all the facts about Jesus and his pre-existence and attributes. I just knew a little bit . .. enough, I guess, to respond to in God's estimation anyway. Does that make me a Corporate Inclusivist?

    I needed more help on this one so I read on to see who lined up on either side of the fence. According to Theopedia's definition, famous/popular proponents of inclusivism include: C.S. Lewis, Matthew Henry, J.I. Packer, John Stott - Now hold on . .. J.I Packer wrote "Knowing God" which was a staple of my Bible College education. And John Stott was one of the major figures behind shaping the Lausanne Covenant, which is what I suggest ALL emerging church networks read, understand and abide. Now if these guys were corporate inclusivists, then I guess I might be one, if I had to be. Certainly better than being an Exclusivist. which does not describe me.

    Verdict: YES . . But wait - I might be an Exclusivist: "Exclusivism is the belief that only certain religions contain teachings which, if followed or believed, lead to salvation, or eternal bliss in some sense. To say that a sect or religion is exclusivistic is usually to say that it does not believe members of other sects or religions are going to have eternal life, though sometimes it might also allow for salvation in a clearly limited number of other groups."

    Well, I believe that Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. But that is different than saying "Except through my religion". Which religion? Are we saying here that my Pentecostal friends dont have the truth and my Fundamentalist/Dispensational friends do have the truth? Now this is getting weird and I feel myself shifting away from this word "exclusivist" and towards the lesser of two evils.

    Revised Verdict . . I don't really know. I'm sorry. I am trying to wear one of the hats but cant decide - and you know i like HATS!

    Final Verdict: For the sake of the poll, I am going to reluctantly throw my lot in with Packer and Stott. YES
    I'm going to leave my answer at an I DON'T KNOW and count it as a half point. One good line from McLaren's The Last Word... : "I'm not a universalist, but a part of me hopes that God is." I want my view of "who's in and who's out" to be as wide and as welcoming as possible, and I want that perspective to lend a merciful and still grace-giving weight to evangelism in my life. I would lean towards Stott's and Packer's version of "inclusivism" - how's that?
    Verdict: I DON'T KNOW

    6. Open Theism
    Open Theism, Theopedia says is "the teaching that God does not know all things."
    No, I can't buy into that - and that's where the deconstruction does more harm than good. Just because something doesn't fit logically into a scenario doesn't mean that it's not possible. God is infinitely more than we can imagine, and this thinking boxes Him or us into something less.
    Verdict: NO

    7. Apophatic Theology.
    Definition: "this system only defines God negatively in terms of what He is not (i.e. God is not finite, not sinful, etc.)." No, I think God is defined more by His positive qualities than by negating everything.
    Verdict: NO
    Here's Andrew's outcome:
    Right. Lets add them up. The inclusivist one is still confusing, but if John Stott went that direction . . ummm. How about I get half a mark for being a tempered inclusivist. No - I will go for a full mark so i can participate in the poll.

    OK - 2 out of 7. And that is how I (Andrew) voted.


    Either I failed the test and am not a heretic - or even worse - I passed the test and am NOT part of the Emergent Church - or - and I have to ask the question: Is how I am perceived, is how the emergent church perceived ACCURATE or do we have some work to do in mending bridges, communicating a little better (and in the right language)
    Andrew's "2 out of 7" becomes my "1.5 out of 7" because I don't mind leaving the ambiguity on the inclusivism/exclusivism issue. But here's the thing that rubs me wrong: most of the folks speaking out against it have an inaccurate picture of what's going on, where it's going, the value and worth of a movement that's bringing some very good things to the table. I would call myself "emergent", and agree with Andrew that the communication needs to be worked out, along with possibly a change in attitude on all sides of this comversation.


    Photo Friday: Rare

    This set of Shakespeare's plays is from 1901, found in a used bookstore and given to my sweetie many many years ago as an anniversary present. What's "rare" about it? Probably the four plays that are missing.

    Thursday, June 02, 2005

    Summer Flicks Ride Again

    In true summer sequel style, continuing on with my "You're a movie snob" thoughts...

    I think it's important to be picky when it comes to movies, to TV, to music, to books. And I think part of "training up children in the way they should go" is to help them begin to make those value judgments, too. Not just what's wrong and what's right, what's forbidden and what's okay - but I think parents need to be able to help them discern levels of value, and make choices based on more than the endless commercials and McDonald promotions.

    Here are some more films we're looking expecting to be just right for summer:
  • WAR OF THE WORLDS - The book and the Orson Welles radio piece are of couse classic, and the first movie wasn't too shabby for its day, either. With Speilberg and Cruise, how can this one miss? Value: don't trust aliens who are shooting at you; family trust; good father doing what good fathers do - protecting children from intergalactic annihilation!
  • CHARLIE & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY - The original was one of the first movies to really scare me as a kid (along with The Poseidon Adventure - go figure). We're going to make sure the kids read the book first, get at the creativity and imagination, and then the movie should follow along nicely. Value: don't judge others; self-esteem is based on your character.
  • SKY HIGH - Another movie that we'll plug into because of the marketing hype, I'm sure, but at least this one looks like it treats the parents as good parents, not as embiciles. Value: heroism, doing the right thing, oeby your parents and don't destroy the city.
  • THE BROTHERS GRIMM - Looks like an interesting take on the real gentlemen who wrote all the stories that meant something when you were growing up. Value: creativity, imagination, storytelling.
  • VALIANT - Looks like it'll be funny and well-made. Value: funny & well-made; heroes doing what must be done.
  • THE ISLAND - Looks like Logan's Run meets Survivor. I'm hoping this suspense thriller will be worth it, finding that stuff is worse than it seems, nothing's for free, etc. Value: looks intelligent, hopefully the story will fall in line.
  • CHRONICLES OF NARNIA - Yes, I know this one isn't coming out 'til much later in the year, but it's a summer blockbuster waiting to happen! Value: allegorical telling of the Biblical story, complete with cool effects and a British accent.

  • Need A Dixtionary?

    Spelling Bee Test - Five out of ten for me, and even more thankful for the invention of spellcheck.

    Wednesday, June 01, 2005

    Summer Flicks

    "You're a movie snob" - that's what one of my co-workers said as we discussed what's out, what's coming out this summer at the theaters. She's right, I am a snob when it comes to who gets my $8+$popcorn+$drink money. I rarely want to see a film as "escapism", because there are cheaper ways to do that with HDtv at home, or with a good book. I tend to be choosey, and want to train our kids up to be the same way, asking questions about a film's value, its message, its artistic merit and its morality (we don't go see every kids' movie that comes out - instead, we research the language and the plot points to see if it's worth seeing or not). And I'm not into every thriller or raunchy comedy that hits the screen.

    All that being said, here's what I'm looking forward to seeing this summer:
  • FANTASTIC FOUR - The FF and Spider-Man were the only Marvel comics I really got into as a kid, and from the trailers this one looks like it's going to be good. Value: Family, teamwork, heroic storyline, good vs. evil, making choices, being heroic and doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do.
  • BATMAN BEGINS - After the debacle named Val Kilmer and the other one named George Clooney (I thought Michael Keaton did a really good job!), I'm looking forward o Christian Bale actually having some depth and some decent dialogue as the Dark Knight. Value: Revenge isn't all it's cracked up to be; higher calling; heroic storyline; doing right thing because it's the right thing to do.
  • CRASH - Such a huge cast, and all of them take second place to the plot, which appears to be telling us that we're connected and disconnected at such levels that we can't begin to judge beyond our own prejudices. Value: Relationships matter; don't rush to judgment; we all bleed, all hurt, all need each other.
  • MR. & MRS. SMITH - I wasn't sold on this one early on, and I'm not a Jolie fan at all. Brad Pitt has his moments when he's not the pretty boy, though, and this might make a nice date night movie later on this season. Value: Lots of guns and stuff, but mostly it looks like the couple gets it right in the end; love is thicker than heavy automatic weapons
  • THE ADVENTURES OF SHARK BOY & LAVA GIRL - Another hero movie, this one for the kids. Looks alot like SpyKids, same director, and we thoroughly enjoyed those movies. Expecting the same from this one. Value: Kids being heroic, doing the right thing; imagination, creavitivity as heroic traits.
  • HERBIE: FULLY LOADED - Probably the one movie we'll see because the kids want to see it. The originals were fun (going to rent a few on DVD before the release!), and I'm hoping this one will make us laugh in spite of the cast. Value: Anytime a Volkswagen can win a NASCAR race, that's a good thing!

    ... to be continued...

  • Moist

    Slow Miracles - Saint Augustine

    We take for granted the slow miracle whereby water in the irrigation of a vineyard becomes wine. It is only when Christ turns water into wine, in a quick motion, as it were, that we stand amazed.

    [Source: A Third Testament, by Malcolm Muggeridge -
    Daily Dig]
    It's raining here in the sunny southland, and it's really cooled things off. It's June, and we've only had one 90+ degree day so far. That'll change soon enough, and as soon as the rain moves off-shore the humidity will fall in behind. But for now, it's nice and peaceful outside, light drizzle and a light breeze and hot fresh coffee.

    "Slow miracles"... I heard from an old friend yesterday afternoon. God is good, usually only from His perspective. And this feels good.