Friday, August 31, 2007
That is the inversion, the story of what the missional organic church does. Instead of the experience and group being an institutional thing and where people went off to an isolated place to "have a spiritual time" we would bring Camp to the Community. It is still a work in progress. We will look for ways to provide here some of the things missed by not getting off on retreat in a pretty wilderness area, with climbing the camp hill, fishing, etc. But we can develop that nature creation part of God's blessing as we develop up the experience year to year--we have our great Turley Hill, and we are going to be able to do things like service projects that we didn't do off at camp run by other people.
This Saturday is "Camp Turley" at our "a third place" center. Begins with potluck lunch at noon, 1-3 p.m. tye-dye tshirts lessons provided and group games, 3-4 p.m. community service projects, 4-5 p.m. workshop on meditating the Lords Prayer, 5-6 p.m. ecumenical communion service, 6:30 to ? backyard hot dog roast (or what you want to bring) at 6302 N. Quincy Ave. just a few blocks away from the Center.
Lots of possibilities for creating community, reconnecting community, healing, working with other faith communities. A good start. It begins with the mission and grows organically. Stay tuned (or come on by if you are in our area). End.
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Thursday, August 30, 2007
One of the best chapters, applicable not only to local churches and organizations but also to denominations, is the one on growth and the difference between "large-lump vs. piecemeal growth." Our cultural seduction for large-lump, Myers says, often leaves groups bankrupt. "Our culture has taught us that growth is an expectation...Choosing a large-lump path toward growth over a piece-meal way forward provides outward evidence of growth sooner. The enormous house, the number of active small groups, the increased attendance in our church services--all demonstrate that growth has occurred. In truth, however, large-lump models rob us of what we are hoping to achieve. One reason this is true is because most--sometimes all--resources are marshalled to build the large-lump plan. Once the large-lump plan is in place, the resources are so depleted that the only possible way to maintain any growth at all is through incremental patterns. The patterns have little momentum, and often bankruptcy results.
In a piecemeal growth pattern, growth may not be evident until later in the process, but the growth is sustanable and leads to a healthy, generative whole. The piecemeal patterns are implemented fromt he outset, momentum builds, and sustainable growth results.
"Consider these questions before you launch your next initiative: How much of our future will this one thing control? Will this one thing that I'm planning deplete all or most of our resources? Will this one thing that I'm planning consume all or most of the community's life? if what I'm planning fails, will it devastate the whole? If what I'm planning succeeds, will it devastate the whole?
The overall idea is to move community activists, i.e. church leaders, toward becoming environmentalists instead of planners. One of the deadly questions that we often fall prey to is the "how" question: how can we do X? Myers shows how that question itself grows out of a scarcity model and propels us down the path of master plans. And how and what we "measure" as the bottom line often ends up controlling our mission. He writes: we measure that which we perceive to be important, that which we measure will become important and will guide our process, that which we do not measure will become less important. "We must understand what we are measuring. We are talking about measuring life--community, relationships, health. We are talking about measuring inanimate entities. Reducing living organisms to a census count demeans the way we were created...Story is the universal measurement of life. Story is the measure of community. Story emerges from life."
When was the last time we counted how many, and what kind of, stories were the most important to our communities? And helped people tell those stories (the real meaning of sermons)? And incorporated them into the Board meetings? Story and prayer are the bottom line.
He tells a good story about stories. How Cincinnati's Vineyard Community Church does its servant evangelism on Saturday mornings (what we call random acts of kindness days) and then comes back to share stories about what happened with one another. That is church. People are drawn toward and want to be a part of Story, and through it to the Great Story.
Monday, August 20, 2007
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Please Check out the books for sale listed as this post continues--click below to read the full list--all just for $5; almost all purchased new and since I was graduated from seminary in 2000). Most have authors listed at least by last name so it should be easy to check them out online to learn more about them, or ask me about the ones you are interested in.
Plus you can order by email. Books For Sale taken from my Theological Library---All Sales Benefit “a third place” community center in Turley, OK.
The sale itself will take place at Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa, on N. Mingo Ave. between I-244 and Pine, on Tuesday through Thursday Sept. 4-6, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the commons by the student mailboxes. also see www.ptstulsa.edu. See more on the center at www.turleyok.blogspot.com or in posts below here on my blog. Get great bargains on books and be a part of a great mission here. Contact me at RevRonRobinson@aol.com or 918-691-3223. If you need the list sent by email as an attachment just let me know.
If you would like to order through the mail, contact me re: postage
If you would like to get first chance and come by the community center to buy pre-sale, contact me to arrange time. We are located at 6514 N. Peoria Ave.
Books are in the following categories (but check them all out because the categories are fuzzy and some were tough to slot, figure that :) )--- 1. Emergent/Organic Church; 2. Liberal/Progressive Christianity; 3. Biblical; 4. History; 5. Transformational Church; 6. Theology; 7. of perhaps special value to Unitarian Universalists or those interested in UUism in American Religion; 8. General Church, Religious, and Spiritual.
The Emerging Church—Kimball
The Gospel According to Starbucks—Sweet
The Nomadic Church—Easum
**Planting Missional Churches—Seltzer
**The Present Future—Six Tough Questions for the Church, McNeal
Inside the Organic Church—Whitesel
Beyond The Box: innovative churches that work—Easum
Under The Radar: learning from risk-taking churches—Easum
The Secret Message of Jesus, McLaren
**A Generous Orthodoxy, McLaren
**More Ready Than You Realize, McLaren
The Out of Bounds Church, Naylor
**Future Church: ministry in a post-seeker age
**Adventures in Missing the point, McLaren & Compola
**A New Kind of Christian, McLaren
The Church on the Other Side, Mclaren
**A is for Abductive: The Language of the Emerging Church---Sweet
**The Last Word and The Word After That, McLaren
Planting New Churches in a Post-modern age
Planting A Garden: growing the church beyond the traditional methods
**Getting On Message—challenging the Christian Right from the Heart of the Gospel
God’s Politics—Jim Wallis
**The Emerging Christian Way, essays, Borg ed.
Why The Christian Right Is Wrong—Meyers
**Thy Kingdom Come--Balmer
**Red and Blue God, Black and Blue Church
**Christianity in the 21st Century—Wuthnow
**Christianity in the 21st Century—D. Brown
The Left Hand of God—Lerner
**Christianity for the Rest of Us—Bass
The Phoenix Affirmations
**Honest To God—John A.T. Robinson
Perfect Freedom: Why Liberal Christianity Might be the Faith you’re looking for?—Mountford
Why Christianity Must Change or Die—Spong
A New Christianity for a new world—Spong
Saving Jesus from those who are Right--Heyward
New Testament Fundamentals—Davies
Sowing The Gospel: Mark’s World—Mary Ann Tolbert
A History of Prophecy in Israel
A Commentary on Jeremiah—Brueggeman
**Sacred Discontent: Bible and Western Tradition
Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship, Borg
**Moses and Monotheism, Freud
The Prophets: A Liberation-Critical Reading, Carol Dempsey
**The Hidden Book in the Bible
Jesus at 2000, Borg
The Man from Nazareth—Harry Emerson Fosdick
**John: The Maverick Gospel
The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology and The Myth of Israel
Jesus and Buddha, Borg
**Three Gospels—Reynolds Price
Living Buddha/Living Christ—tich nhat hanh
Christology in American Unitarianism—Wintersteen
**The New Testament Introduction--Perrin
**Incarnation: Contemporary Writers on the New Testament
**God: A biography---Miles
**Jesus: Symbol-Maker for the Kingdom---Brandon Scott
**Literary Criticism and the Gospels
**The history of ancient Israel—Grant
**The Book of J—Bloom
Women Like This: New Perspectives on Jewish Women in the Greco-Roman World—Levine
**Communion: Contemporary Writers reveal the Bible in their lives
**Jeremiah: an archaeological companion
**Jeremiah: Interpretation commentary
**Walking on Water: sermons on the miracles of Jesus
The Triumph of Eve and other subversive bible tales
Honest to Jesus---Funk
**Hearing The New Testament
Conflict, Holiness and Politics in the Teachings of Jesus—Borg
Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son: the transformation of child sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity---levinson
**Putting Jesus in His Place: a radical vision of household and kingdom
**Introducing the Uncommon Lectionary—Bandy
Religion in the Bible---A. Powell Davies
**Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul---Hays
**The Theology of the First Letter to the Corinthians
**Final Account: Paul’s letter to the Romans—Stendahl
The Letters of Paul---Spong
**The Paul Quest—Witherington
**Narrative Dynamics in Paul—Longnecker
**Paul and His Letters—Keck
**The Gospel According to Paul—Griffith-Jones
What Have We Learned—Schaller
Dancing with Dinosaurs—Easum
Growing Spiritual Redwoods—Easum
Summons To Lead—Sweet
Out of the Question, Into the Mystery—Sweet
**11 Genetic Gateways To Spiritual Awakening—Sweet
**Discontinuity and Hope—Schaller
**Jesus Drives Me Crazy—Sweet
Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First—Easum
The Very Large Church—Schaller
**Next Church Now
The New Context For Ministry—Schaller
A Mainline Turnaround—Schaller
Small Congregation, Big Potential—Schaller
From Cooperation to Competition---Schaller
The Unlearning Church—Slaughter
Sacred Cows Make Gourmet Burgers—Easum
From Geography to Affinity—Schaller
Leadership on the Other Side—Easum
Christian Chaos: Revolutionizing the congregation—Bandy
Moving Off The Map---Bandy
Antagonists in the Church/Plus Study Guide
Healthy Congregations, Steinke
**Death of the Church
Letting Go: transforming congregations for ministry—Phillips
**The purpose-driven church—warren
Leading Change in the Congregation--Rendle
**Rocking the church membership boat
All Are Chosen: stories of lay ministry and leadership
Making the small church effective
**The Vital Congregation—Miller
The In-Between Church—Mann
Leading Small Groups
12 Keys to an Effective Church—Callahan
**Growing in Authority, Relinquishing control
Conflict Management in Congregations
**Transforming Liberal Congregations
**The Once and Future Church
More Than Numbers: The Ways Churches Grow
**The Empowering Church
Effective Church Leadership built on the 12 keys—Callahan
12 keys Study Guide—Callahan
**Leadership is the Key—Miller
Transforming Church Boards
Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century—Malphurs
Discerning Your Congregation’s Future
**Transforming Congregations for the Future
Hidden Lives of Congregations
How Your Church Family Works—Steinke
When Not to Build
The Multi-Site Church Revolution
Connecting to God—nurturing spirituality through small groups
Theology of the Reformers
**The Age of Reform: 1250-1550
The Story of Christianity
The Transcendentalist Ministers
The Church Before Christianity
**The New England Way and Vatican II
**The De-Secularization of the World—Berger
**Martin Luther: writings
**The Reformed Pastor
**The Next Christendom: the coming of global christianity—Jenkins
History and Literature of Early Christianity
The Puritan Dilemma
A History of God—Armstrong
Jefferson and Religion
The Wayward Puritans
The Congregational Way of Life
Literature and Theology in Colonial New England
**The Antinomian Controversy, 1636-1638
Theodore parker: yankee crusader
The Holy Spirit and Christian Origins
**A History of the English Baptists
**The Puritan Origins of the American Self
**Fire From Heaven—Harvey Cox
**American Congregations—Wind and Lewis
Our Covenant—Alice Blair Wesley
When Jesus Became God—Richardson
Faith Without Certainty—Rasor
**A New Handbook of Christian Theology
Anselm’s Discovery—Charles Hartshorne, process thought
Philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer
Teaching To Transgress—bell hooks
Science and the Search for God, Kowalski
Theology Today Journal Issues
Journals of American Theology and Philosophy
Creativity and God: A Challenge To Process Theology
The Future of Religions—Tillich
Theology and Culture—Tillich
Dynamics of Faith—Tillich
The Essential Tillich
If Grace Is True—Gulley and Mulholland
**If God is Love—Gulley and Mulholland
World as Lover, World as Self—Joanna Macy
**Beyond Tragedy—Reinhold Niebuhr
Narratives of a Vulnerable God—Placher
**Unapologetic Theology: Chritian Voice in a Pluralistic Conversation
The Zero Fallacy—Hartshorne
**The Religious Imagination: A Study in Psychoanalysis and Jewish Theology
Religious Humanism Journal
**The Responsible Self—Richard Niebuhr
**The Sense of a People—Mudge
**Restoring the Center—Fackre
Facing The Abusive God—Blumenthal
Gaia and God—Reuther
An Essay in Theological Method—Kaufman
A theology of liberation--Guiterrez
**At Home in Creativity: Weiman, process---Southworth
The Spirit of Life--Moltmann
I and Thou—Buber
Christ the Center—Bonhoeffer
With the Grain of the Universe—Hauerwas
Voices of Liberalism 2
**Reinhold Niebuhr: Prophet to Politicians
The Theology of Schleiermacher—Barth
Theology, History, Culture—Richard Niebuhr
Church Dogmatics: A Selection---Barth
**On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers---Schleiermacher
A natural theology for our time—Hartshorne
Parables of Kierkegaard
Channing: selected writings
**Christianity and The Social Crisis—Rauschenbusch
On naming the present: god, hermenutics, and church—Tracy
One Jesus, Many Christs
**The Interpretation of Cultures—Geertz
Life in Abundance: A contemporary spirituality
**The Cosmology of Freedom
Dialogue with the other—Tracy
**Good News for Animals: Christian approaches to animal well-being
Models of God—McFague
From Women’s Experience to Feminist Theology
In This Very Moment: a simple guide to Zen Buddhism
Why Jesus Died—Sloyan
Super, Natural Christians—McFague
**Putting Away Childish Things—ranke-heinemann
**Moral Man and Immoral Society—Reinhold Niebuhr
**Boundaries of our Habitation—Delwin Brown
**The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism—Weber
**In Quest of the Ordinary—Cavell
**God and the Nations—Hall and Reuther
**Message and Existence--Gilkey
Experience and nature—Dewey
**Christ and Culture—Richard Niebuhr
**Professing the Faith—Hall
**A Christian Theology of Religions—Hicks
Religion in the American Experience: The Pluralistic Style
**Culture and Imperialism—Said
**The Metaphor of God Incarnate—Hicks
**The Meaning of Revelation—Richard Niebuhr
The Domestication of Transcendence—Placher
**A layman’s introduction to religious existentialism
The Point of Christology—Ogden
Process Theology: An Intro---Cobb and Griffin
**Maker of Heaven and Earth—Gilkey
Essays on Faith and Morals--James
**Thinking The Faith—Hall
**Christianity and Culture—T.S. Eliot
The Nature of Doctrine—Lindbeck
**Trinity and Society—Boff
Of Particular Unitarian Universalist Value
The Almost Church—Durral
UU Christian Journals
Unitarianism in Dallas, 1899-1968
**25 Beacon Street—Greeley
Channing: The Reluctant Radical—Mendolsohn
Thomas Starr King
UUMA Selected Essays
**UUism: A Narrative History
Those Live Tomorrow: UU bios
**UUism and the Quest for Racial Justice
Forward Through the Ages: Greeley
Standing Before Us: UU Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936
The Unitarian Conscience—Howe
American Unitarians, 1805-1865—Wright
**Jones Very, bio
UU History Journals
Interdependence: renewing congregational polity
The Unitarian Controversy—Wright
The use of memory—buehrens
Unitarianism in the antebellum south
Leaping from our spheres: impact of women on UU ministry
Unitarian and Universalist Women Ministers
Black Pioneers in a White Denomination
God and the Commonplace—sermons of john cyrus
Finding Foxes—sermons by Terry Sweetser
The Sense of Life--Patton
**Redeeming Time: (covenant essays)—Hertz
Odysseys: lives of 16 UU ministers—Wesley
Capek—bio by Henry
A Stream of Light: a short history of American Unitarianism—Wright
The beginnings of Unitarianism in America—Wright
Wellsprings: sources in UU feminism
**Moment of Truth—Bartlett
The Devotional Heart: pietism and the renewal of American UUism
General Church and Spirituality
**Communion Services and Sermons
**Scripture on the Silver Screen
**The Three Hardest Words---Sweet
Refuge & Buddhist Meditations
The Hungering Dark—Buechner
The Holy Spirit and Preaching---Jim Forbes
**Letters To Young Churches, foreword by C.S. Lewis
Liturgical Language: Keeping it metaphorical, making it inclusive
**The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life—Thomas Moore
**Religions in America—Rosten
**The Western Canon--Bloom
A Brief History of Everything—Wilbur
Love Meets The Dragons: a field guide for ministry—Owen-Towle
**How Shall We Sing The Lord’s Song? An assessment of the New Century hymnal
**Cure for the Common Life—Lucado
Remembering Well: rituals for celebrating life and mourning death
Ministry and Money—Hotchkiss
People of the Lie—Peck
**A Stay Against confusion: essays on fiction and faith—Ron Hansen
*Celebration of Discipline—Foster
Creating Congregations of Generous People—Durall
To Know as We Are Known—Palmer
**The Celebration of Life—Norman Cousins
**The Great Thanksgiving—Watkins
**A Course in Miracles
Sex in the Parish
**The Prayer of Jabez
Epiphanies: stories for the Christian year
Congregations in Conflict
**Beyond the collection plate: overcoming obstacles to faithful giving
**Baptism, Eucharist, Ministry
An Epidemic of Joy: stories in the spirit of Jesus—Greeley
**White Soul—Tex Sample
**Sharing the Word
**Christian Social Ethics in a Global Era
**The Moral Sense—Wilson
Stages of Faith—Fowler
Fashion Me a People—Harris
The Relational Pulpit
**Models of the Church--Dulles
**The Future of Christianity
Green Mountain Spring and other leaps of faith: meditations
Blessing The Bread: meditations
**Women in Travail and Transitions
**Omens of Millenium—bloom
The Clown in the Belfrey—Buechner
Never Call Them Jerks
Gospel According to the Simpsons
Character Counts: Accountability Groups
Gentle Shepherding: Pastoral Ethics and Leadership--Bush
Thursday, August 16, 2007
The Herald Editor The Rev. Andrew Brown has a good article called "On Understanding The Trinity" in which he quotes British Unitarian minister and scholar Sidney Spenser, whose comments from his 1955 essay "Unitarians and the Trinity" come pretty close to my own. I expect that hearing the Trinity is a hot topic in UU circles might be surprising for my blog visitors from both the UU and other religious circles.
Brown writes: "The Unitarian minister and scholar of first century Judaism Robert Travers Herford was right when he noted that: The duty of Christians...is not to try and convert each other, but to try and understand each other, so as to be able to see how it is and why it is that they express their belief in different ways.' In this piece I try to do jus this concerning the question of Unitarian and/or Trinitarian conceptions of God. Following Herford's advice, another influential Unitarian minister and scholar, Sidney Spenser came to realize that the disputes over the Unity or Trinity of God were not pointless merely intellectual spats but born out of something very real and meaningful. Spenser observed that the doctrine of the Trinity was "formulated on the basis, not merely of speculation, but of experience.' Turning to those of us who consider ourselves to be Unitarian Christians he went on to say that 'the vital thing for us is not to hold the creed, but to enter into the experience out of which it developed.' Here is what Spenser wrote at the end of his 1955 essay...
"Like the early Christians, we are led to experience God in three different ways. To us, as to them, God is, first, the Source of being, everlasting, transcendent, yet close to our hearts, the universal Father in whom we live and move and have our being. To us, as to Jesus, God is Father in the sense that we share His Life and seek to do His Will. Jesus leads us to see God as the eternal Love who has made us for Himself. But secondly, we see that Love, not only as a besetting Presence above and beyond us; we see it coming to dwell among us, entering into human life, revealing itself in human souls. The Church has emphasized the revelation of God in the life and death of Jesus. And it is true that, because of the fullness of his love, Jesus is the great revealer--the Son in whom we see the Father's glory. Yet that sonship is not a thing apart. Wherever life is enriched and redeemed by the spirit of self-giving love, there we see God dwelling among us, revealing Himself to our eyes. We experience God as Father in His eternal Presence: we experience Him as Son in His revelation in human souls; and, finally, we experience Him as Spirit in His indwelling Life in our hearts---as the sustaining, quickening Energy underlying and inspiring all our efforts after goodness and truth and beauty.
The Trinity has its real value, not as a literal truth, not as a definition of the eternal nature of God, but as a symbol, suggesting the quality--manifold, yet unified--of our experience. The traditional doctrine serves today to darken counsel rather than to bring us light. It implies a clear-cut distinction, which cannot be sustained, between the different aspects of the divine. It is well that we should think of God as transcendant, as incarnate, as indwelling. But it is essential, if we are to lay hold of the vital meaning of these truths, to bring them closely together. It is God, the Father of our spirits, the Height and Depth of being, who is within us, whose glory shines through the life of Christ-like souls. It is the infinite Power and Love of God which is nearer to us than we are to ourselves, ever waiting to penetrate and posess us and to lift us into union with Himself. (Spenser, The Deep Things of God, London, 1955)
Brown goes on to talk about his contemporary interactions over the Trinity. He brings in Gershwin's "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off" song to talk about how Unitarian and Trinitarian Christians are like pajamas and pajahmas, how in the song's words "for we know we need each other" and can learn much by wearing each other's pajamas/pajahamas for a night or two."
For me The Trinity is a powerful way also of experiencing community in the light of God, where "two or three are gathered" there is a power that overturns Empires, and so it is part of the imperative to form communities, to plant them.
It was just great to be with young adults (I was one of the oldest there at 53) drinking Sam Adams' Summer Ale and listening to Eucharist talk. Great questions that came up later to the priest from the emergent Protestants about REAL PRESENCE that showed the old divides are more mischaracterizations--conversation covered how the real presence of Christ is more than the Second Person of the Trinity embodied anew, not talking cannibalism, since a spiritual power is seen as part of that embodied Self, not just Jesus resuscitated in some wafer-way. The priest traced Eucharist back to Jewish Memorial Services for the dead, a way the past is made present. Always good to place the "Lord's supper" in a Jewish context though I prefer the historical work of Tulsan and Phillips Theological Seminary professor Dennis Smith in his book "From Symposium to Eucharist: The Banquet in the Early Christian World."
Anyway, it also showed for me why eucharist/communion is so important for my understanding of Christian community in a different way and why though the church missional plant here in Turley has had weekly communion off and on, it is becoming more on than off again, though still what would be called very low-church (including grape juice). For me it has more to do with Jesus' welcome table while he was alive than it does the "blood sacrifice" of his death to be memorialized; but then the power of the cross is in what led to it in the years of his life as well as in those hours on it, and it is in, as the priest and the convesation did allude to, the Risen Christ and the Spirit beyond the cross and tomb, in the way it gives us a glimpse of the Messianic Banquet or of God's kin-dom. This is why my eucharistic theology is that it doesn't have to be officiated over by a member of the clergy; why the words that are said as part of it are not as important as the spirit of inclusion that it re-enacts, so that no one, no one, is barred from the table, especially not for their political or religious ideas or even sinful behavior. That Christ's Real (but not only) Presence is in fact in such community-forming practice as the eucharist; but if Eucharist leads to exclusive and community-breaking power in the world than it is not Real but False Presence and re-presentation of Christ. I suppose my theology of the eucharist is based on a difference in how I see Christ was present, was incarnated, in and through Jesus.
One of the debts I owe the Roman Catholic Church, among many, is its focus through the centuries on the eucharist itself as part of what marks the Christian community. The eucharist in today's emergent organic church is one place where we can see "ancient/future" revealed. I will try to remember to post in the comments section later the "usual" liturgy for communion used here, though it varies with the occasion. End.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
But this post will allow me to reveal myself as a regular reader of CT and that it helps in my own journey in surprising ways. And I would like to particularly point people in this latest issue to the related artifcles on the "Attack Dogs of Christendom" who over-react (could they do anything else, one wonders?) to the recent spat of atheist arguments, and to John Wilson's top 5 books on Atheism which evangelicals would do better to read than the recently published ones: Lucretius' on the nature of the universe, Sartre's Nausea, James C. Turner's Without God, Without Creed, Timothy Larsen's Crisis of Doubt, and Philosophers Without Gods, ed. by Louise M. Antony. Wouldn't it be great to see the UU World, for example, run various people's lists of their picks of the 5 top books coming from the perspectives of, for lack of better terms, evangelical orthodox Christianity, progressive Christianity, emerging Christianity, theology today, personal memoirs of faith today, Buddhism, neo-paganism, etc. today?
Thursday, August 09, 2007
When we advertise, and structure ourselves, to be "for" the person who is looking for our community it is easy for our communities to turn into places "for" that person and the one after them and so on. When they should be "for" the ones who aren't and maybe probably never will be "in our community." Community belonging and caring and sharing is important as a process of creating leadership for the purpose and toward the end of creating greater community with those who will always in some sense on one level be "other." This kind of community which grows out of a sense of mission (rather than the community coming first and then trying to find a mission to do) is what is known as communitas.
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Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
But what got me thinking about this ad was that it mostly said in its largest type, paraphrasing I think to the effect, UUism--A Place Where You Can Explore Your Beliefs. My first thoughts was that if that is what our churches see as our mission, and I think it might be a fair description indeed, then we are done for. I was thinking looking at the ad that if I want to explore my beliefs, particularly if I am under 60 or 70, going to a church even a UU church is likely to be one of the last places on my mind. I was thinking: I will go instead to the internet, to radio and tv shows, even to print media, to the bar with some of my friends, even to the library, maybe take a class at a local community college. And I am not sure that being around other people who are interested in exploring their religious beliefs is really all that attractive either.
Speaking out of the missional incarnation vs. attraction mode, the problem is that such ads (and such churches where it is reflective of them) accentuates or connotes, to me at least, many things out of step with growing numbers of people hungry for mission and relationship--it emphasizes 1.) a place/organization, 2.) an intellectual mental proposition understanding of faith, and 3.) a kind of community enterprise that seems light on community bonds and heavy on the individual pursuit.
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Hope your summer is bringing you blessings and some rest and deeper connections with life itself. I try to remember as one of my mantras what we say on Sundays here---Today is a day which God has made; let us rejoice and be glad therein. That is from the Psalms. And it is important even though we know there are many many days in which it is difficult or impossible to rejoice. In those times remember that you are a part of a church and that others are with you and also rejoicing for you, and that all our days, underneath the struggles on the surface, are gifts for which we can neither earn them or have them undeserved. What we can do is accept their gracefulness and do our best to give back to life what we have received as gifts.
Tomorrow---or today if you are reading this on Saturday--July 21 is the BIG BENEFIT SUMMER SALE. We need all the hands we can get early on or whenever you can stop by to help us greet, and work the sale from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. proceeds to benefit "a third place" community center. Bring the kids. Bring your Harry Potter books. Come help us serve the community and make the connections that will save lives and transform our neck of the woods.
Sunday, July 22 to Friday, July 27 I will be at the Southwest Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute at Lake Murray State Park, but I will have my cell, 918-691-3223 for emergencies.
Sunday, July 22. Don't Miss this Church Event. We will have a community meal beginning at 4:30 p.m. and then at 5 P.M., repeat 5 p.m. there will be a showing of the wonderful spiritual movie, "Romero" starring Raul Julia, a true life story of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador and his transformation into a liberation priest. After the movie discuss: how did he change and why? where was Christ in the movie? what is the power of Communion and how were the two types of communion portrayed? and how can we be liberation minded here in Turley OK and in northeastern Oklahoma? Who are the "powers' we need to stand against?
The children on Sunday will get into the new book Meet Jesus, published by the Unitarian Universalist Association.
July 6, 2007 Report
O God, whose spirit moves in freedom and justice, stirring all toward acts of compassion and life in Your everlasting heart, it is a blessing to be connected with one another even through this most imperfect of ways. Thank you for the many ways we find ourselves connected with others, with You, and with Your Creation, especially in days when the stresses and pressures of our daily lives seem to keep us from the daily bread of amazing grace all around us, revealed in the little ordinary and strange events and people that continue to surprise us with faith, hope, and love above all else. Thank you for the freedom we so casually neglect to put to use; thank you for our loved ones, present and those gone from us, who have sacrificed much and lived so abundantly no matter how long their days with us, and for those whose public service has enriched all of our lives, all so that we may live fully and seek with you to grow our souls and the soul of our families and communities. Be with those who are suffering in mind, body, and soul, that they may know the healing touch of your spirit and the company of caring souls. Be with those grieving, and with those in fear, and with those struggling to turn away from selfishness and toward the light of forgiveness and mercy and service. Be with us all when we deny you, abandon you, and misrepresent you. Grant us peace and the blessed assurance that there is more to come in our lives and in the world so much with us. Grant us courage to live in that promise and extend it to others. Grant us silence and insight. Grant us speech and song and O God grant us story. Under-stand us even as we come fully to the understanding that we can never understand you. And turn us toward the small, good things at hand where your eternal presence bursts forth. Amen.
Announcements: Church Without Walls Summer
1. Our scheduled speaker and tour guide for this Sunday's July 8 planned gathering to know our community's history better has had to re-schedule. We will have our Turley Tour soon but on a Saturday afternoon. Stay tuned. Instead this Sunday we will have a "Living Room Summer Re-Mix" Happening. For those of you who missed Susan Werner The Gospel of Truth music Sunday, we will have a little of that album; for those of you who missed the "Our Father" sermon, a little of it; for those of you who missed the community mapping of the abandoned and unhealthy buildings, a little of that; for those who missed "Our American Roots" a little of that. And to throw a little new in--I will introduce the new book "The Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Clairborne which we will be doing as a read-and-discuss. For more on Shane, his book, and his community work (you will see some similarities with our place and work here in Turley) go to http://thesimpleway.org/index2.html. Shane and his community have recently suffered a devastating fire in Philadelphia; you can follow that through the www.thesimpleway.org. site. The Living Room children this Sunday will begin weekly lessons from the new Unitarian Universalist Association Skinner House book "Meeting Jesus." Community meal and check-in and planning at 4:30 p.m. followed by gathering activities and ending with prayer, candle-lighting and song.
2. Tuesday, July 10, 7 p.m. Let Turley Bloom gathering, along with Saving Pets of Turley. Mid-summer sharing and service. Last summer was a time of extreme drought in Turley; this summer has been a time of extreme rain and flooding. Gardeners come grieve, come glory in what is blooming, and discuss ways to get our hands dirty again in the spirit of love and hope through community service.
3. Wed. July 11, 6:30 p.m. potluck meal followed by acts of protest, letter-writing, petitioning, follow-up action on our various projects.
4. Saturday July 14 community breakfast at Odd Fellows Lodge, 9 a.m. followed by Random Acts of Kindness at 10 a.m.
5. Sunday July 15 Tahlequah Trip. Carpool or caravan from Turley (leave at 8:30 a.m. and go to the UU Church of Tahlequah 104 N. College Ave. in downtown Tahlequah) for morning worship service at 11 a.m. or meet us there. Lunch together afterwards. You might want to then spend time on the Illinois River or Tenkiller Lake or other sites. I am preaching there on "The Organic Church."
6. Saturday July 21, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Big Benefit Garage Sale Indoor/Outdoor at "a third place" center.
And more to come....
Also we have 100 new shelves to put up for books and things to help us organize the center library and bargain room and back offices; and if anyone wants to become The Living Room Church webmaster, see me; it is easy and fun and I need some assistance updating and improving the www.livingroomchurch.net site. Thanks for all those who have chipped in a little with the summer bills too. We've always been satisfied with our month to month zero budget that helps not only to keep us close with the lives of those around us, but also primarily with putting our resources into mission and not into banks and thus trusting that we can continue to grow by giving ourselves away (I loved hearing a recent quote from someone saying that the most spiritual thing you can do is to die having given all away, all of yourself, for that is where true gain comes from). But still, it is nice to know too that you can start each month at zero and not with a minus, and for that we are grateful for all that have donated what they can and then some.
You can go to www.progressivechurchplanting.blogspot.com to see an almost complete copy of my recent Father's day sermon "Our Father." Click on "read more" at the bottom of the introduction to go to the sermon.
To order an audio CD copy of my workshop on The Organic Church at this year's General Assembly in Portland Oregon, you can go to http://www.softconference.com/270621. The program number is 4053 on that page. You can also order 4016 (communion service) and 5010 (Kathleen Norris lecture). $12 each.
I will be meeting again this week with members of the University of Oklahoma Social Work Department about partnering with us to serve our neighbors through "a third place." Good things are blooming.
The gardens of Turley we have planted to bring a spirit of community and hope are looking great after the rains; such a difference a short time and several good hands in the dirt make. A little weeding is needed (and ain't that a spiritual truth).
I will be meeting this week with a former mayor of Tulsa and state legislator who used to serve this area. The backstory is interesting: I have known him some from my years years ago as a state political writer, but that didn't do it. It was when we were moving the UU Christian Fellowship offices from Massachusetts to Turley and in the files that used to be stored in a storage unit in Mass. I found lots of old correspondence. A couple of letters slid out into my sight and I saw they were from him back in 1963 writing to the UUCF about UUCF campus ministry possibilities while he was a student at the University of Oklahoma with a Liberal Religious Student group. And another letter six months later wondering if they had gotten his first letter since he hadn't received anything (makes me feel a little better, I suppose, since I get these contacts now). The response to him said that the UUCF didn't have much to offer him. (I think he is Episcopalian now, btw). I pulled out the letters and sent them to him along with a semi-joking letter "hoping he had made something of his life regardless" and including a packet of books and materials to make up for what he hadn't received back in his campus days in 1963. Such is the movement of the Spirit. Who knows what will come from our meeting? But it will be another great chance to introduce our "a third place" project and incarnation of our radical missional church experience.
Actually we get those kinds of connections all the time, in stories too numerous to mention. Come hang out and soak up some of the hope.
We will be having a volunteer orientation workshop soon. And stay tuned for A building dedication worship service. And A building work party to keep improving things. And I am staying tuned for your idea, dream, connection waiting to be made.
Just this past week three people who have been regulars at "a third place" have made plans to open up a youth recreation center in Turley. "Who knows what will happen?" they said, meaning if it will get off the ground, if it will be received, if they will be able to make a go of it, etc. "You've already succeeded," I said. "Where it counts."
Just this past week some of us were talking about forming a movie group to go watch alternative films at The Circle Cinema in Tulsa. If we get to one now and then it will be great; but the world is already different for the idea being born and spoken and planted. The same with the seeds of spirit of so much that have been started, stalled, and restarted by so few here, with so few resources.
All across the globe in the organic church movement God is emerging in ever-surprising ways simply in the conversations, connections, committments, crises, challenges, contemplations, cooperations, conflicts, and changes. It is exciting to be a part of it here from Turley, Oklahoma.
It was good to be away working and on vacation in Oregon and California and I will have more to report about inspirations there, but it is so good to be back here in the soggy, muggy, stormy, leaky thick of things.
God, we thank you for the rain. We really do. We really really do. Forgive us our impatience last summer amidst the grassfires and dry earth, that we had so little confidence in you and your gift of Creation. Thank you for the ability to "get it." We get it. We pray you turn your attention just slightly away from us now, just ever so slightly, to where we know others are in need of "getting it"; we could think of a certain U.S. Senator who could use the gift of enlightenment when it comes to matters of the climate, but Lord we don't want to test you again not even for that. Take some, but not too much, of my guilt away for enjoying so much the two weeks on the west coast in sunny dry cool weather, and help me forgive American Airlines and DFW, again. I know, God, it was your way of hitting me upside the head again with the blessing of what summer is for--the chance to slow down, to intentionally go into delay mode, to burrow deep into this gift of life and wander down blind alleys and paths untrod, and to give up the notion that I am even a little bit in charge of even a small part of the Mystery of the Universe(s). Help me to turn vacation time into vocation time and to keep it close to heart and at hand all the days to come. And Lord, p.s., remember that rainbow and what you promised Noah. Amen.
Last Saturday we had 40 plus volunteers come out in the pouring down rain and a few hardy souls actually ventured out to pick up trash from the streets as part of part one of Turley Clean-Up Day while the others helped us to do an "extreme makeover" and get close to finishing the creation of "a third place" community center here in our area. What a difference these few hours of dedication made. And it was just a start. The ideas, projects, dreams seemed to multiply even as the work was being done.
Tomorrow, Sat. April 21, from 8 a.m. to Noon it looks like we will finally get the good weather we have been hoping for to really do one of our clean-up litter projects. Come meet at "a third place" (6514 N. Peoria Ave) and join with others to get trash bags, gloves, and places to go transform the landscape of our environment. A great project for this weekend's Earth Day commemoration as we try to do our part to give back to God's creation what we have received. The local Odd Fellows will be providing us a spaghetti noon dinner for all volunteers, at their building 6227 N. Quincy.
I read a story the other day of a church which is also, like ours, making the transition to what is called a mission-driven incarnational church. On Easter Sunday morning, when most churches are hoping to pack the pews with people who come inside their doors one day a year, to dress up, to "hear about" the resurrection, this church decided to "become" the resurrection. They cancelled the usual worship service geared for spectators, put on by a few, put away the fine clothes, and met instead Easter morning at a neighborhood park that had suffered neglect, had become a magnet for crime because of it, as things happen when vacuums are created for the lack of attention and love for neighbors and the earth. All morning long they worked to channel God's resurrecting spirit of life and hope by transforming that park, planting a garden, cleaning it up, painting (much like what happened at 'a third place' last Saturday and what happens during our Random Acts of Kindness events and Let Turley Bloom events and Saving Pets of Turley events with others). When they finished, they all looked around and could truly say "He Lives." They didn't have to read about the resurrection; they witnessed it again. A fearful place became a place of hope. Children and families would venture outside again, community would be built again, torn down again and rebuilt again, and the world wouldn't be the same, in the long run, because of people stepping outside the box one Easter Morning. It has been a year since that last Easter morning in Turley when something similar happened, and look at what has happened, been created, been let loose because of it.
Yes, so much to do, but in this continuing Eastertide it is good to come together and keep working and just celebrating our presence and the movement of God's liberating spirit running through us, into the lives of those we are already meeting and deepening through this just started public community center.
This Sunday, April 22, we will eat together at 4:30 p.m., have a conversation about "The Gospel According to Starbucks", and in our worship time have prayers for all Creation, on this Earth Day weekend, and for the hope that keeps bringing hurting people together, lighting candles and praying as we did this past Wednesday night duirng our gathering, for those 33 lives killed at Virginia Tech (yes, for all 33 lives and families of all affected), and for the many more in number who suffer from evil and violence and die everyday in wars in Iraq and in Sudan's Darfur and in cities and homes all around us.
And we will keep planting, in soil, and in souls.
Spring and Summer is going to be an exciting time around here. So many new things in the works. Don't just stay tuned, as I've said before; but come on in.
A few dates to remember though. Saturday, May 19 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. will be the next Giant Free Giveaway Day, and when we help people discover our everyday giveaway center in "a third place." So plan to bring items to put in our giveaway that day, or in our daily giveaway space. And Friday-Saturday, June 1 and 2 will be our Grand Opening full of fun events here. Our separate Living Room Church spiritual celebration of our new space (also known as a building dedication) will take place later in the summer.
This coming Tuesday April 24 at 7 p.m. we gather with the Turley Community Association, at O'Brien Park Center. This coming Wednesday, April 25, we gather for potluck at 6:30 p.m. for times of sharing, planning, praying, working, and more. We aren't sticklers for time; better to come when you can than not at all.
I close with some words about church from Kathleen Norris and her book, "Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith"
"Church is other people, a worshipping community. The worship, or praise of God, does not take place only when people gather on Sunday morning, but when they gather to pain the house of an elderly shut-in, when they visit someone in the hospital or console the bereaved, when the Sunday School kids sing Christmas carols at the nursing home. If a church has life, its "programs" are not just activity, but worship. And this is helpful, because if the Sunday morning service falls flat, it is the other forms of worship that sustain this life.
"Over the years if a church is not healthy, this pattern of behavior takes a toll. If the pastors and laypeople who normally exercise proper authority have failed to do so, creating a power vacuum, chaos ensues. And it is not fun. It was not fun. Not long after I had become a member, two perfectly sane women said to me that they had begun to wonder if the church had become possessed by the devil. It makes as much sense as anything, I told them. And then I had to laugh, and at myself. It was perfectly humblling, and a perfect evocation of what Paul, writing to the troubled church at Corinth, called "God [choosing] what is weak to shame the strong" (1 Cor. 1:27)....
"In retrospect, I can say that I joined the church out of basic needs: I was becoming a Christian, and as the religion can't be practiced alone, I needed to try to align myself with a community of faith. And it proved to be the best possible time for me to do this, because I had to do it without illusions....
"From the outside, church congregations can look like remarkably contentious places, full of hypocrites who talk about love while fighting each other tooth and nail. This is the reason many people give for avoiding them. On the inside, however, it is a different matter, a matter of struggling to maintain unity as "the body of Christ" given the fact that we have precious little uniformity. I have only to look at the congregation I know best, the one I belong to. We are not individuals who have come together because we are like-minded. That is not a church, but a political party....
"The church is still a sinful institution," a Benedictine monk wrote to me when I was struggling over whether or not to join a church. "How could it be otherwise?" he asked, and I was startled into a recognition of simple truth. The church is like the Incarnation itself, a shaky proposition. It is a human institution, full of ordinary people, sinners like me, who say and do cruel, stupid things. But it is also a divinely inspired institution, full of good purpose, which partakes of a unity far greater than the sum of its parts. That is why it is called the Body of Christ.
"And that is why when the battles rage, people hold on. They find a sufficient unity, and a rubbed raw but sufficient love, and even the presence of God."
But we are not here to provide programs and to make plans. We are here to develop leaders who will transform lives and the wider community in God's radical loving and liberating spirit of freedom and justice as shown in the guiding spirit of Jesus. That means, as Shane Claiborne writes in his book The Irresistible Revolution, "growing smaller and smaller until we take over the world." Against an era of super-sized consumption and values and mega-churches often seeking to be more like the Empire and Ceasers of the world than the radical rabbi Jesus and those early followers of his, small organic relationship-based communities of faithful activists are popping up all over the place in this new millenium. As another of Shane's chapters says, "We may be crazy but we are not alone."
We will be reading Shane's book together this fall and looking at ways to apply the expereinces and insights here. He quotes Mother Teresa, with whom he worked for a while, who said: "We can do not great things, only small things with great love. It is not how much you do but how much love you put into doing it." His faith steps took him to Iraq to protest as the war started; to Wall Street to protest in a loving, laughing way, to jail for actually living with the homeless, keeping them from being evicted, and for breaking the law by "feeding the homeless" and reminding people that Jesus was a homeless man. He has served in mega-churches and has started a community, a new form of monasticism, in one of the poorer sections of Philadelphia (see http://www.thesimpleway.org/index2.html)
He writes: "Little communities are being born all over--zealots, tax collectors, prostitutes, cowards, all being reborn together. There is a new tribal confederacy of faith communities, a community of communities, emerging and dreaming ancient visions. We are not a neo-denomination, because we are not trying to spread a doctrine or theology. We are not even trying to spread a model of community. We are just trying to discover a new (ancient) kind of Christianity. We are about spreading a way of life that exists organically and relationally and is marked by such a brilliant love and grace that no one could resist it....
"Everywhere I travel I find groups of people dreaming new and ancient dreams of what it means to be the church and to love our global neighbors. Nearly everywhere we speak, young people come up with tears in their eyes, no longer alone in their dreams for another world. Over and over we hear "I knew there was more to Christianity." We are waking up. What seemed impossible is becoming normal.
"Because it is small like the old mustard seed, it is possible to miss the little revolution spreading across our land, cross-pollinted by an ongoing web of relationships and a common vision--of alternatives to existing worldly structures, of bartering economies, of money collectives for emergencies (instead of insurance), or prophetic interruptions to war and theft, of sustainable urban gardening and eco-energy alternatives, of using the trash and wreckage of the old consumptive world to create things that bring life and beauty. We have been deeply polluted by the world, as James would say, so it take incredible creativity and all of us learning together to be faithful to the Way. Meanshile, these little acts of love are taking over the world like mustard spreads through the garden. And Jesus promises that the world will hate us, for we are not of the world. If the world does not hate us, we must wonder whether we are really imagining an alternative."
Come be a part of a re-imagined world, beginning with who you are and where you are, who your neighbors are, become an open window for the Spriit of Life.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Check it out herehttp://www.thesimpleway.org/index2.html and at http://www.amazon.com/Irresistible-Revolution-Living-Ordinary-Radical/dp/0310266300 and at here http://www.zondervan.com/Cultures/en-US/Product/ProductDetail.htm?ProdID=com.zondervan.9780310266303&QueryStringSite=Zondervan.
Dorothy Day re-incarnated. From his travels to Iraq with Christian Peacemakers, to working with Mother Teresa, to his spiritual journey (so far in his still young life), to living with the homeless, to protests on Wall Street. Here are some of the chapter titles after a foreword by Jim Wallis. When Christianity was Still Safe. Resurrecting Church. In Search of a Christian. When Comfort becomes Uncomfortable. Another way of doing life. Economics of Rebirth. Pledging Allegiance When Kingdoms Collide. Jesus Made Me Do it. Jesus is for Losers. Extremists for Love. Making Revolution Irresistible. Growing Smaller and Smaller Until We Take Over the World. Crazy but not Alone. Local Revolutions and ordinary radicals. Marks of a New Monasticism.
We will be reading and discussing it at The Living Room Church here in "a third place" this fall. I will try to post some of my favorite excerpts soon.
Type rest of the post here