Tag Archives: TheOoze

Soularize 2011

This came from Spencer Burke of TheOoze yesterday.

Soularize 2011 in San Diego, CaliforniaIt’s been almost 10 years from the first Soularize in Seattle, and we’re exciting about hosting another learning party in 2011. As usual, this event will unite both traditional and non-traditional teachers, artists, theologians, thinkers, and social activists.

This year – sunny San Diego!
October 12-14, 2011

Save the date and plan to join us for one of the most unique experiences of your life. If you’ve been to a previous Soularize, don’t miss this 10 year reunion event. If you’ve never been before, you won’t want to miss it.

We’re partnering with an incredible church in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego to put on an incredible event that will cultivate a thought-provoking and spiritual experience while introducing a wide variety of ways to connect and grow with others on the journey.

Didn’t Soularize start a year earlier than that in in Los Angeles?  Whatever the case, San Diego in October looks inviting.  Update: I am planning to be there.

The Christian Book Whore

Bill picks up on my post about bloggers whoring themselves out to the publishers for free books and other products.  First of all, the price is quite small, EA once sent my brother to San Francisco for the launch of Battlefield 2 and game home with a bag full of schwag and more free games than he knew what to do with (his really cool older brother took some off his hands) so he could cover it for a gaming site.

Book Sneeze Bill brings up the idea that we are doing this for free and he’s right but what struck me is the damage we do to our own reputations when we allow ourselves to be bought off by free products.  It’s one of the reasons why I posted a disclosure statement as part of my weblog.  It let’s people know where I am coming from and why I do what I do.  It also allows me to communicate my associations and conflicts of interest.  One of the nice things about TheOoze Viral Blogger and Book Sneeze buttons is that it allows me to see right away that the writer has sold out.

This isn’t the same for all of you but there is a price to be paid for being independent, for the views you have being your views and for your voice being your voice.  It’s also why journalists (should) never accept free gifts, trips, or anything else that influences their stories or coverage of events.  You can see it the coverage of Tiger Woods by the golf media.  Many of them knew something was up but because their livelihood was linked to access to Tiger, they never ran with it.  It was the National Enquirer that broke the story because their bottom line wasn’t dependent at all on Tiger’s career (sadly though it was by his sex life).

Of course many church bloggers gave up that independence years ago (twice this week friends said to me “I agree with theologically but I don’t dare say that in my church”) as it is part of many of your spiritual journeys.  By prescribing to church doctrine and practices you don’t agree with in exchange for a paycheck probably makes giving favorable reviews for free books quite palatable.

The other thing is that with most credible news organizations not run by Rupert Murdoch, there is a large degree of journalistic independence that is completely separate from the business side of the organization.  With bloggers there are not normally is not a wall between your editorial and marketing sides (which is why Google, The Deck, and Federated Media help). 

If you are reading this, you know I am not a journalist.  This site has the reach of a fraction of what even a small daily paper does.  At the same time you mean something to me.  Much to the detriment of my savings account, my independence means something to me.  I don’t know how to measure how much you mean to me but you mean enough that I won’t be bought with free stuff here.  There is no pay to play.  It’s the same reason why I don’t have advertising here.  If that changes, I promise you, you will be the first to know.

Soularize in a Box II

This came via Spencer Burke today.  I got my copy and it is well worth the full asking price and is an incredible deal at 50% off.

Soularize in a Box

This holiday season, give an entire conference in a box!  Use the code, “HOLIDAY08” at checkout and receive
50% OFF Soularize in a Box Vol 2!

Featured in this 2 disc set:

  • N.T. Wright
  • Richard Rohr
  • Brennan Manning
  • Rita Brock
  • Frank Viola
  • Michael Dowd

and many others!

You get 40 hours of both Audio AND Video combined!

Is 4 a.m. the new midnight?

Kyle Martin IM’d me and while we were chatting, asked me what the video was that was shown to kick of Soularize.  I had no idea but after looking and looking I finally found it. 

So what did I find?

“The slam poet/tech artist/paper sculptor Rives does eight minutes of lyrical origami, folding history into a series of coincidences … all » surrounding that most surreal of hours, 4 o’clock in the morning. This elusive hour, both very late and very early, appears often in art in literature as a way to describe the most extreme states of affairs. Rives — aided by a nimble mind and extensive online research — reveals 4 a.m. as an iconic moment, drawing hilarious historical connections.

The shorter version is it is a funny link worth clicking on.

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Why have Soularize in the Bahamas?

Spencer Burke sent this out as a part of TheOozeletter today.

This year Soularize is a counter intuitive relational learning party

There are three important reasons why we chose the Bahamas;

  1. This is the first international venue for the missional / emerging conversation. I am surprised how many people in the USA are unaware of how difficult and expensive it is for our international friends to come to US. It is only 60 miles off of our coast but it makes a world of difference for many desiring to engage on neutral ground.
  2. We are always connected to a local ministry and spend a year or more working with them on the event to ensure this is not a “road show”. All of the creativity and experiences are in collaboration with Clint, Tim, Kelly, Gillian, Christian (New Providence Community Church) and local artists, musicians and families. You should check out all of the spaces we are using to create the conversation and learning experiences Soularize, (no hotels or conference centers).
  3. It is hard to fight the perception of the Bahamas – cost was one of the factors (although it is cheaper to fly from NYC, Minneapolis, Seattle and Canada, stay in our host hotel and pay the registration fee for Soularize than it is to fly to a San Diego conference). Soularize has been the one safe place for those who have left the comfort of the established church and their conference budgets. Many have to take time off of work as well. But this has become more than a conference, for some, it is a family gathering. It is always great to see the friendships pick up from last year and new ones begin. The key to Soularize is relationships. Online 24/7, in person Oct. 25-27, 2007.

Below is some Soularize Resources, please pass the word on and I hope to see you on the sand with the rest of my friends Frank Viola, Becky Garrison, Karen Ward, Mark Scandrette, Kristyn Komarnicki, Michael Dowd, Barry Taylor, Dwight Friesen, Jim Palmer, Gareth Higgins, Ron Martoia and more being added weekly.

Spencer’s Description of Soularize 2007 on YouTube

Passport Application Required for travel to the Bahamas!

Regular (today) – $249
Late (after Sept 1) – $299

Register Today

Myth Busters
Myth #1 – The Bahamas is too Expensive
Fact – October is the Off Season with great deals on airfare and hotels

Myth #2 – The Emerging conversation is limited to the USA
Fact – We chose the Bahamas because it is an International venue, it may be a short flight from Miami, but it is a huge leap towards our friends

Myth #3 – Conventions are talking heads in stuffy rooms
Fact – Soularize includes a Private Island, Art Studios, Swimming w/Sharks, Social Networking website, Beach Reclamation Project

Myth #4 – Big name speakers equal big impersonal crowds Fact – We limited the event to 500 attendees, with a key note line up of the decade (N.T. Wright, Brennan Manning, Rita Nakashima Brock, and Fr. Richard Rohr)

There will also be some Canadians there. We will be the ones playing road hockey on the private island while swimming with the man eating sharks.

Contextless Links

  • Good summary of what is happening with the sub-prime meltdown at Wikipedia. The New York Times has a good summary about how the safeguards haven’t worked and finally over in the comments of Metafilter is a comment that has almost become legendary for its description of what is going on.
  • Church cancels service over gay Navy vet: While I don’t agree with the church’s decision, what really bothers me are the accusations that they lied when confronted by the press. via
  • Whatever happened to “faux” WHA trophy? Bonus question. If you can name the trophy without clicking on the link, leave it in the comments and you will have my eternal respect.
  • Wendy, if you love me, you will give this to me for Christmas. Update: That’s a lot of money for a low quality replica.
  • Speaking of Wendy, she pans Shrek the Third. Although she may just be bitter after spilling her drink all over her feet.
  • Change your shirt before you get arrested
  • Some studies show that diversity hurts community :: People don’t trust people different than they are sadly.
  • Guy Kawasaki has the Seven Sins of Solutions :: Leaping to solutions in an instinctive way or intuitive way—i.e. the “blink” method of problem-solving—seldom leads to an elegant solution because deeper, hidden causes don’t get addressed. Watch CSI and House: first they collect the evidence, then diagnose, and then solve. It’s never the guy or the disease you initially suspect.
  • The New York Times on the Silicon Valley :: Mr. Steger, 51, a self-described geek, has banked more than $2 million. The $1.3 million house he and his wife own on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean is paid off. The couple’s net worth of roughly $3.5 million places them in the top 2 percent of families in the United States. Yet each day Mr. Steger continues to toil in what a colleague calls “the Silicon Valley salt mines,” working as a marketing executive for a technology start-up company, still striving for his big strike. Most mornings, he can be found at his desk by 7. He typically works 12 hours a day and logs an extra 10 hours over the weekend. “I know people looking in from the outside will ask why someone like me keeps working so hard,” Mr. Steger says. “But a few million doesn’t go as far as it used to. Maybe in the ’70s, a few million bucks meant ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,’ or Richie Rich living in a big house with a butler. But not anymore.”
  • Time is on your side
  • Spencer Burke has a new book coming out. Out of TheOoze (pre-order on Amazon)
  • Lance Armstrong’s racing team with dispand :: Apparently because of the shame brought to it because some of it’s racers were not doping.
  • VIP concert going :: This is a bad thing why? As if rock and roll hadn’t sold out long before you did.
  • The cost of catching Barry Bond’s tainted baseball :: How about a $200,000 tax bill.
  • Worst jobs in America
  • The Economist shows why blacks and hispanics aren’t getting along :: Last year Pew, a pollster, found that one-third of blacks believe immigrants take jobs from Americans—more than any other group. Yet in some ways their views were benign. Blacks are less likely than whites or even Hispanics to believe that immigrants end up on welfare or commit crimes. Latinos, on the other hand, appear to make no such concessions. One survey of Durham, in North Carolina, found that 59% of Latinos believed few or almost no blacks were hard-working, and a similar proportion reckoned few or almost none could be trusted. Fewer than one in ten whites felt the same way.
  • The contents of The Homeless Guy‘s backpack

Signs of Emergence is now available in North America

Sings of Emergence is now out in Canada and the United States. I reviewed the U.K. version of the book on my blog but with the American release of the book, I thought it was worth a repost. I also submitted a review into TheOoze for the book but I think it is still in the publishing backlog.

I got the North American release of the book the other day and I was blown away to see an endorsement by me for the book. It wasn’t shocking that I endorsed it but for the first time in print, my name was spelled correctly 🙂

If you don’t own the book, go out and get it.

A couple of years ago when The Complex Christ came out, I plopped down some puny Canadian dollars, exchanged them for British pounds and bought the book from Amazon UK and eagerly waited for it to be shipped across the Atlantic. When it did arrive in Canada, I had to plop down some more Canadian dollars, this time to the Canadian Borders Services Agency to free it from them. After paying three times what the book cost in shipping and duties, I sat down and started reading. The book was worth the cost and the wait.

The good news is that the book is being released in North America by Baker Publishing under the name Signs of Emergence with the easy to remember subtitle, A Vision for Church That Is Always Organic/Networked/Decentralized/Bottom-Up/Communal/Flexible/Always Evolving which means no more British pounds, no more voyages across the Atlantic, and no more donations to the Canadian treasury. The author, Kester Brewin is blogging at the official Signs of Emergence weblog so you can get a feel for his thinking and writing while you are waiting for your book to arrive (it doesn’t ship in North America until July 1st). Since my copy is still The Complex Christ, I am going to refer to it as Signs of Emergence in this review but when I quote from it, it will be from The Complex Christ and use those page numbers.

The book is as complex as the topic he covers and each time I have read the book, different things have hit me. Because of my context of involvement with Resonate and Church of the Exiles right now, I’ll concentrate on the ideas that from those perspectives.

Revolution vs. Evolution

What I was younger, I loved the idea of the revolution. One of my favorite books still is Rules for Revolutionaries by Guy Kawasaki and Gary Hamel‘s book Leading the Revolution had an early impact on me (for good and for bad). My own neighborhood has seen church closings and no new church plants coming in to replace them so it seems like a perfect time for a revolution to me. However Signs of Emergence reminds me that there is a different way to go and that is the path of evolution. It reminds me that we need to take a closer look at what kind of change we are asking for. Revolution brings about change but they also seed havoc, pain, and suffering as well. Is that the kind of change that the church needs to be looking at? Brewin says no and starting on page 25, he makes a powerful cause for evolution.

Our history, both ancient and modern, has been transfixed by the idea of revolution, of radical change precipitated quickly, requiring an uprising, an insurgence, a head of pressure and a focusing of force; demonstrations, coups d’etat, armed struggles, wars and regime changes. Warriors, dictators and their critics have been clear about it for centuries. Chairman Mao Zedong wrote that ‘a revolution is not a dinner party. It cannot be so leisurely and gentle… It is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another’; Paul Virilio in Speed and Politics that ‘revolution will soon be entirely reduced to a permanent assault on time. The man on the battlefield has no safety other than in suicidal entrance into the very trajectory of the speed of [the guns]’; and Napoleon that ‘the strength of a revolutionary army should be evaluated as in mechanics, by its mass multiplied by its speed’. Through all their blood and violence many of our politicians seem to believe that these revolutions bring genuine transformation. Yet it is abundantly clear that materially, politically, psychologically and spiritually, violent change tends to shear, to break the whole as one surface part moves and leaves the rest of the body behind unaltered.

In his seminal work Future Shock, Alvin Toffler describes the psychological damage that occurs to people when they are overwhelmed by intense change. He talks about ‘future shock’ being a disease of change, a sickness that people suffer that not so much about the direction of change as the rate of it. Future shock, he says, ‘grows out of the increasing lag between … the pace of environmental change and limited pace of human response’. In other words, for our own health, we need change to occur not at revolutionary speeds demanded by power-wielding dictators or company board rooms, but at the evolutionary speeds of the empowered human body.

Party in response to Toffler’s concerns, people have begun to see that the nature of change has been itself been required to change. If we are to transform the whole, and truly alter the very nature of things for good, then the mode of change cannot be revolution but evolution. A gradual development over a long period of time. As Robert Warren notes, ‘A good case can be made for evolution being the best single word summary of an Anglican approach to change. It suggests creativity [and] responsiveness to present environment’.

The slowness of evolution certainly has a divine beauty about it with its gentle, unseen transformation so hard to plot yet so undeniable in its force. We would like change immediate effect — we want revolution — but God’s ways are not our ways and God’s thoughts are higher than our. Despite this, as we will see in the next chapter, we have projected our revolutionary tendencies onto God, and it is only as revelation has become clearer over time that we have seen that ours is not a God of violent uprising, but of slow, slow evolution. So since forever, and until whenever, those that have sought to change God’s way have had to endure a prefix of…

Waiting [from the Vaux website]

As Sarah waited: Ninety years for a son to fulfill God’s promise.We wait in hope for what we thought had been spoken to us.

As Moses waited: 40 years in the desert, being prepared by God to lead his people.We wait for emptiness and humility; for bravado to wither.

As Israel waited: 40 years of wandering, hungry, depressed, thirsting, unsure.We wait for the right time to act

As the Prophets waited: 1000 years of promises that God would raise up a Saviour.We wait for the signs that God has not forgotten.

As Mary waited: 9 months of her 14 years for the child of God.We feel the birth-pains, yet fear for the child.

As John the Baptist waited: Scanning the crowds for the one whose sandals he would not be worthy to untie.We long for an experience of the Divine

As Jesus waited: 30 years of creeping time.40 days in the desert of temptation.3 years of misunderstanding.3 days in the depths of hell.So we wait for God’s time. Preparing the way.

Our turn to toil on leveling mountains and straightening paths.Our turn to watch the horizon.

Our turn to pass on the hope that He who promised is faithful and will come back.

What do we do as we wait. Signs points us to Walter Brueggemann‘s reminder that the first stage in this is grief which is not often popular in today’s church culture where assurance and vision outweighs the acceptance that society no longer cares what is happening in most churches. Brewin asks and answers the question of where are the Jeremiah’s of today, those to help us confront our grief in today’s church. The answer is those are found on the fringes of the church culture.

Signs asks us another hard question and that is what if God no longer is interested in what we are doing? From pg 35 and 36.

Once we have grieved, our tear-washed eyes can then properly open to the shocking fact that God allowed this to happen. God allowed us to climb this little peak. The denial may be over, and the cover-ups exposed, but a deeper resistance still remains. How could God do this? In the midst of our waiting for the news, we meet this intractable issue: if we are seeking the new, then what we practicing was the old, and therefore God was not in what we were doing any more. God has moved on back down the mountain while we stayed up our comfortable hillock.

Such a divine departure is rightly shocking to us. We see an example of it described in Ezekial 10: God ups and leaves the temple. To a people that had become over-familiar and blase about God’s presence with them in the temple, to a people who had become complacent about their special status as The Chosen, God showed God’s holiness. God got us and left. Bored by our ramblings, navel gazing conversation about internal tinkering, God hung up. God walked off, displacing a true, holy freedom that shouts clearly over its shoulder that no temple, no place, no people, no box, no church, no agenda, no theological position will ever require me to stay where I don’t want, be co-opted into something I only half agree with, be pressed into the service of some cause you made up because I AM who I AM. And SLAM, the door shuts and we left alone to wonder about God’s holiness, God’s transcendence, God’s otherness, God’s separateness, God’s difference.

As we enter this dangerous place of stopping and waiting we must face the possibility of experiencing God’s disinterest. Where we have proclaimed “God is in this” we must be prepared that God can and does leave. One need only consider for a second the other point where God was unable to leave any ministry, any place, any attempt at work, and we see that it would quickly draw us down the same path to the god who, not being allowed to permit suffering, intervened every time a child stepped toward a sharp object.

God will not be co-opted into our programs. And this actually turns out to be the foundation of huge hope. For if God could no leave, then we would be bound and trapped for ever inside structures that God “might just be blessing”.

Power and the City

Power and influence is a huge part of the evangelical church. Robert Webber said in an interview with Vineyard’s Cutting Edge magazine years ago that evangelicalism was about two things. Big buildings and influential pastors. A couple of weeks ago, I read this Washington Post story on Baltimore Raven’s head coach Brian Billick. Here is the quote that stuck out in my mind, “But for generations, the mandate of the NFL coach had remained unchanged: Get as much power as you can and don’t let go.”

Brewin is calling us to do it differently. How do we walk away from power and re-orientate ourselves as the church in the world. On page 45 Kester’s call is for us to become born again.

The Church now seems to stand in the same place as God stood 2500 years ago: misrepresented, accused of bigotry, portrayed as narrow minded and in love with power, only interested in buildings, ready to smite the dirty and sinful, over-occupied with sex, and ready to lend support to unjust wars… And so we must do as God did, as Christ commanded and exemplified: we must be born again. Become nothing, removed of strength and power and voice and means and language…

We must re-emerge and grow up again in the place we are meant to serve. Understand it, learn from it, be in it, love it, listen to it, wait 30 years before speaking to it. We must, like God, discard any thoughts that revolution is going to effect change in the Church or our world, and become dedicated to change by evolution.

Brewin’s advice to the church is to leave power behind and take a different path forward. In that he is calling those in North America anyway, to take the path less followed. How do we do that? According to Kester, one of the ways is to engage in an urban theology. He reminds us that over half of us in the world live in the cities, our theology remains quite rural as it was developed largely before urbanization. My own tradition of Methodism early history was dominated by John Wesley and his horse as they traveled from town to town across England and most of my current tribe’s congregations are located in small cities and towns across Canada (well from Quebec west). It is going to take a major rethinking of what urban theology is going to look like.

In his discussion of how the cities have changed into complex, bottom up systems, Brewin says this (pg 63),

There are still those who cry for revolution, for a revival that will change things in a snap, make everything OK as thousands flock to church… But the days for revolution are over. The cry for revival is too often a cry for abdication: you do it all, God. Well God has done God’s bit, it is the systems that now need to change. This is the faith we have signed up for: the Church as the body of Christ where we have real parts to play, real responsibilities. We must not act rashly–diving in to this or that. We must do as God did. Stop. Wait. Grieve. Strip away power, might, pretence at knowledge, riches… and be born again. As Einstein famously said, “The same consciousness that created a problem can not solve it.”

So will we be the ones to solve the problem? My ego wants me to say yes but deep down I know better. What is the impact of the things like Vaux that have come out of the period of waiting and grieving? Brewin offers an interesting comparison. Punk music. As he says (pg 71), punk was never going to be the future of music but what it did was the give permission to those who did create the future of music. He points out the unsustainable energy needed to create alternative worship (something that I can relate to with the worship.freehouse) but does point out that even if like the Sex Pistols and it does implode and burn out, it has (along with other expressions of the emerging church in the west) clear the way for other things to come along and pick up the torch.

For whatever the future will look like, the book does call us back to the present. For many of us that is in the city. (pg 106).

We must learn to penetrate our communities and penetrate our workplaces. We must learn to penetrate our cities and find God in them, for the cities are our true destiny. They are where it will not be God alone, but god and us and him and her and white and black and rich and poor and illiterate and abused and day and straight and Protestant and Catholic and the whole feast of life. And only in the city can we get that message. It is not an easy message to tune into with so much white noise and hatred and difficulty and screwed up and transport and mugging and division…But with practice, with a commitment to engaging positively with the city and looking to catch it doing good rather than always on the lookout to knock it down, we can begin to see glimpses of why God is committed to the city as our future: because the redeemed city is the final expression of humanity and divinity in co-operation. It is the conjunction of God’s creation with our creativity, where we are building something together.

How do we interact in the city? There are a couple of ways we can interact with others around us. Perhaps the most popular is in a market economy. Just a grocer sells you ice cream and vegetables, churches offer you up religious services and goods for a price (tithe). Before one mocks that idea, I worked on a staff where we articulated it in those terms and so do many other churches across the western world. As Brewin points out, the most pernicious part of the market exchange is that every person needs to justify their existence and contribution to the market economy or in the lingo of the church, be aligned around the purpose/vision/mission… There is another way and that is the idea of the gift. His tie of worship to a gift was breath of fresh air for me. For too long the church growth movement has seen worship as a commodity which was to be traded for attendance and tithe. I remember talking to one worship leader who unabashedly would boast that if you gave people the worship style they wanted, the more money they would give. He was probably right in his analysis of the “transaction” but as Kester reminds us, there is another use for worship other then generating revenue and that is the metaphor and idea of the “gift”.

Looking back at to the reasons why a number of us started Vaux in the first place, it was because the churches we were part of gave no opportunity for us to give. Sitting a huge church full to the brim with about 600 people, mostly in their early twenties, many of them working as actors, writers, directors, graphic artists, and musicians, it seemed extraordinary that unless they were able to preach or play the guitar, their gifts were not welcome. There was no space within the normal weekly services for any of these other talents, yet it was these talents that were talents that were put to use in the marketplace week in, week out. Perhaps it was not less surprising that people were coming to church with an attitude of getting rather than giving, because there was actually no room in the highly structured, highly dictatorial services fortheir gifts to be given.

Speaking more on the idea of gifts and worship, Brewin captures what I think is a lost truth in the emerging church and our existence in a market driven church economy.

“Alternative worship” is not multimedia worship. It is about allowing people to use their gifts so that they can worship with integrity. It would be folly to pretend that by installing PA systems, video projectors and screens, and shipping in tea-lights by the tonne every church would suddenly be “doing alternative worship”. Buying a labyrinth or some ambient music and video loops doesn’t get you any closer to the original spirit of the movement, because what Vaux would call “alternative worship” cannot be bought into; it is not about commodity but gift, and gifts must come from those taking part, not be bussed in from outside.

In the Emergent Church, acts of worship will spring from the economy of gift. They will not be products that can be bought or sold, or commodities to be consumed in exchange for some devotion. However, we must not restrict our thoughts on gift to services. Thinking more widely about cities, they are massively dominated by market exchange – economic beats driven by capital and profit in ways that small villages a not. The Church would be foolish to try to play the city at this game and boost its “market share”, “reposition itself itself in the market” or “rebrand” its message with modern advertising and marketing methods, for the essence of what we have cannot be bought or sold. It is not to be consumed and is not a lifestyle choice. Its truth will not be fully told by glamorous girls with smiley pearly teeth, and eight out of ten people who express a preference will not express its depth and pain with richness or sorrow. In the face of the saturating and all encompassing urban market, which Hyde rightly associates with empty death that leads nowhere, the church must stand as a beacon of generosity, as a hub for gift exchange and all the relational enrichment that brings.

Of course he does cover the topic of dirt which gained notoriety after Steve Collins wrote about it in a 2002 column in Ship of Fools. I never found that much offense in the service (although back in 2002 when I first posted about it many did find a lot of offense with it). While the chapter was something to reflect on it, it does tie back into all of the other themes and ideas of the book and that is that the church finds itself in a different world and place than it has been for 2000 years and that is a missional movement that is often underground and back in amongst the city. Life is not as black and white as it once was (or perhaps as some in the church saw it then) and the nuances to live in the city are many at times contradictory.

I think I have read the book probably 20 times and I will soon retire the book as soon as Signs of Emergence comes out in North America for no other reason to give it’s battered binding a must needed break. If I had a list of the ten most important books for the emerging church and for the church in general, I think this one would definitely be on it. You can pre-order your copy from Amazon.com now, you will be glad you did.

Related Links

52 Weeks, 52 Books, 52 Reviews

I have been working on my State of the Blog and my year in review posts and this will be a part of both of them in different ways but I thought I would post it here.In the past I have had much more time to read and that time came naturally but now time is now in shortage and it is harder and harder to find time to read and learn. The nights of coming home and reading a book are over just because I don’t find the blocks of 4 free hours that often with Mark to read with, Maggi to toss a ball to, and stuff to do.This year the plan is to read a book a week and post a review of it here or at TheOoze or Next-Wave. This year I read the fewest books I have read since high school and that isn’t any good. I will post some books that I am thinking of reading or re-reading here but feel free to add any suggestions you have in the comments.

Soularize 2007

I have been swamped with life lately but have finally found the time to upload my photos from California to Flickr, then I realized I had over processed them in Picassa and they looked horrible that I uploaded the raw images again. Click on the photos to take you to the different photo sets on Flickr.

The point of the trip was to go down and help put together Soularize with some other friends of Spencer Burke’s. It was quite a bit cheaper if I flew down a day earlier which allowed me to spend some time in the greater Los Angeles area and take a meandering trip down through Southern California.


The flight from Saskatoon (YXE) to Los Angeles (LAX) was surprisingly uneventful. I got through United States Customs in under 15 seconds (I timed him) in Calgary which beats a new record for me. When I got into L.A., Rudy had sent me some pretty good instructions on how to get to Pasadena by the Flyaway bus and the Metro Gold Line. While it was uneventful, I was not prepared to see Los Angeles’ Union Station. Built in 1939, it was the last of the United States great train stations. It now serves both Amtrak , Metro and Metrolink trains and is a sight to see. I know it isn’t as impressive as some of the eastern stations but I was impressed.

Once I got to Rudy’s, I got a tour of Harambee and met the rest of his family. I mentioned the high school football game and I had a chance to learn more about Harambee and also talk to Rudy about important things like how big does a dog need to be in a tough neighborhood. Rudy has given me a hard time in the past about the petty crime that we have around my house but I have never considered whether my dog was tough enough for my neighborhood. Although it can’t be that tough of a hood if Hutch is still alive. In case you don’t know, Rudy was one of the first Christian bloggers out there.

Saturday morning the plan was going to take the train back down to L.A. and explore downtown a little more. It only costs $1.25 but the regional kiosk offers no change. My inner cheapskate lead me to explore a bit of Old Pasadena until I found a place to break the bill with a Diet Coke. Luckily King Taco came to my rescue and I was off to downtown

Los Angeles Union Station

Los Angeles Union StationAfter taking the train downtown , I spent some more time exploring Los Angeles’ Union Station which was fun. It opened in May 1939, is known as the “Last of the Great Railway
Stations” built in the United States, but even with its massive and ornate waiting room and adjacent ticket concourse, it is considered small in comparison to other union stations. I put together a photoset here. Living in western Canada, we don’t have a lot of cool train infrastructure between Winnipeg and Vancouver. Saskatoon doesn’t even have a train station (we have a platform) so seeing the famous train station was great.

I couldn’t help but compare the grandness of Union Station with the mess that passes for the international terminal of LAX. Makes me want to take a train to California next time.

Olvera Street

Mariachi guitar band taking a break on Olvera StreetBefore I left, Rudy told me to explore the historic Olvera Street which is the oldest street and area in Los Angeles and is otherwise known as the birthplace of the City of Angels or El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument and is a department within the city. Many Latinos refer to it as ‘La Placita Olvera’. Circa 1911 it was described as Sonora Town. It felt like Mexico and I spent some time snapping some photos and also shopping for Wendy and Mark. I got close to my dream on of one day having my own mariachi guitar band follow me around and be a soundtrack for my life. As for the shopping for Wendy and Mark, I struck out. I wasn’t sure if Mark really needed a Lucha Libre mask.

While I was there, I wandered into the famous Mission Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles which was founded in 1781 by a group of Mexican pobladeros, consisting of 11 families — 44 men, women and children, led by Don Fernando Rivera y Moncada, Lt. Governor of the Californias — who had set out from the nearby Mission San Gabriel Arcángel to establish an asistencia (“sub-mission”) along the banks of the Porciúncula River. It’s hard to believe that the humble Roman Catholic mission is still there and a vibrant part of the community. When I was there on the Saturday morning, it was packed full of families and children in white dresses and tuxedos which I imagine were being baptized. Anyways there were cameras, churos, tacos, bottles, and all sorts.

Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels

From there I wandered the half dozen or so blocks up Bunker Hill to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels. To help pay for it, it was reported that the Diocese of Los Angeles cut back spending that was to help the poor. In other words the Diocese acted like most churches do when they are in the middle of a building program.

I never got inside of the cathedral this time as there was a wedding going on and the doors were closed. As I was walking around taking photos, wedding attendees and even parts of the wedding party kept asking me for directions and the scary thing is that I was able to help them.

It has been a couple of years since I have seen the Cathedral and I was shocked to see some wear and tear on the building since it is only four years old and was designed to last for five hundred years. I wonder how long of a warranty you get on a building designed to last for 500-1000 years.

I have no idea why I keep being attracted to it. Maybe because it represents the anti-Jordon and personifies a lot of what I no longer believe in and maybe never believed in. Despite my difference in values, I did find some time to get some food at the Cathedral grill.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert HallAfter hanging out at the Cathedral. I made my way to the Frank Gehry designed, Walt Disney Concert Hall which was still under construction the last time I was in Los Angeles. I have heard a lot of people crack that all of Gehry’s buildings lately look alike but despite looking like a “Gehry”, the feel is significantly different than his other great buildings. Originally the plan was to use a stone exterior but soaring costs caused them to use a stainless steel exterior. Of course that had it’s own problems. There was a flaw resulting from the design’s use of polished concave stainless steel surfaces. Residents of the neighboring condominiums suffered significant glare caused by sunlight that was reflected and concentrated in a manner similar to a parabolic mirror. The concentrated light made some rooms of nearby condominiums unbearably hot, caused the air-conditioning costs of these residents to skyrocket, and created hot spots on adjacent sidewalks of as much as 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Employees of the ticket office reported observing melted plastic traffic cones and spontaneous combustion in trash bins. After complaints from neighboring buildings and residents, the county government stepped in and asked Disney to come up with a solution. Their response was a computer analysis of the building’s structure; after the offending surfaces were identified, they were sanded to reduce glare in 2005.

After heading back through Olvera Street and some other parts of the Civic District of Los Angeles (here are my photos ) I still hadn’t gotten a hold of Spencer Burke and Mike DeVries . I decided to get my ticket at Union Station and head south on the Metrolink into Orange County. As the train was leaving, Spencer called me and I made plans with Mike to pick me up at Santa Ana Station.

Apparently the train was faster than Mike expected and I had to wait for a while to get picked up. Not a problem as it was a gorgeous day. I went inside, got a Diet Coke and made myself comfortable in a t-shirt and shorts. Apparently something was wrong with me as EVERYONE else was wearing long pants and jackets. Even downtown, I was the only one wearing shorts and seemed out of place wearing only a t-shirt. Any hotter and I would have bought a thong (there is a mental image that drove a couple of you into therapy).

Mike picked me up and we made our way to Newport Beach. Spencer was still not back from the Emergent Gathering so Mike and I headed to the beach and killed some time shopping for Mark and shared baseball opinions. While we were out walking, we walked by a place on the beach that was $7500.00 a month during the winter and $6500.00 a week during the summer. I pay less than $6500.00 a year for our mortgage.

Soularize 07

We finally connected up with Spencer Burke and had a good discussion about A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity. I didn’t have the same problems that some others have had with the book. Some of the reviews seem to come from a misreading of what Spencer and Barry Taylor have had. I hope to have a review to contribute to the discussion in a week or so.

Later that night as Mark Scandrette, Adam Klein, Dwight Friesen, Tim Parsley, and Todd Littleton all rolled in, we went out for dinner and to start planning Soularize. A little about Soularize ’07. For those of you who don’t know, it is going to be in the Bahamas, we are diving with man eating sharks (I offered to stay on shore to call next of kin) while relaxing on a private island, and we are all going to be there along with Father Richard Rohr, Harvard’s Rita Nakashima Brock, and some other names that we aren’t quite ready to announce yet. All I can say is more details coming soon.

Of course Saturday night was a big night for me as peer pressure made me into having my first glass of wine ever. I grew up in holiness traditions. My grandmother was the head of the Saskatchewan Women’s Christian Temperance Union. We actually had the discussion growing up about what would happen if you went into a bar to lead someone to Christ and a Christian saw you and decided to leave the faith because of it.

Mark was quite passionate about picking a great bottle of wine during the weekend with a lot of input from others. Finally I decided to leave the guilt and legalism behind and I tried a fine glass of red wine. There, I said it. Hopefully this doesn’t activate a family curse or something. Then again my mother would have a glass of wine on holidays. Of course she died quite young…

It was weird, outside of talking online a bunch with Todd and knowing Adam from previous Soularizes, I didn’t know any of them outside of reputation. It was unreal how much I learned from all of them during our time together. Soularize 07 is going to feature a lot of online learning from them and you get to choose your facilitator and perspective that we tackle the topics from.

Sleeping arrangements at the (soon to be torn down) Beach shack were a lot of fun. Adam and Mark slept outside on the deck, Dwight and Tim on a bunk bed, Todd on the floor, and me on the sofa. I don’t know if it was the fresh sea air or all the walking but I slept well even knowing that if I fell off the sofa, Todd’s and mine relationship would be way more awkward.

Sunday morning was spent on the sand of Newport Beach. Shayna Metzner joined us Of course I got sunburned. Sunday featured more good food, some different wine and some great discussions about what is going to happen with Soularize. I realized that Resonate has influenced my thinking a little too much. My mantra was “give it all away” to which I was reminded, Soularize does cost a lot of money.

The Soularize website is going to be a really busy place with a lot of new announcements and content over the next couple of days/weeks/months. Hopefully you can join us for the year long sojourn that will lead to the Bahamas.

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How many Scot McKnights are there?

Scot answers my question here.  The question is one that I here myself.  For me it is simple.  Wendy works evenings until 11 many evenings and Mark goes to be around 7:30.  There are a couple of hours to read, write and blog on a quiet night hanging out with the dog.
Last night at work it was completely quiet and uneventful and I was able to give Praying with the Church a third reading and also was able to put together a rough draft of a review.  Look for it here and at TheOoze over the next couple of days.
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Random thoughts

  • Some of you have asked me how my health has been.  Two words.  Autonomic Neuropathy.  It hurts badly both internally and externally now.
  • Ergo keyboards are hard to get used to.  You soon discover your bad typing techniques.
  • I am now running Windows 2000 on my notebook.  I miss the old Windows 98 interface.  I am glad to have it back again.
  • My review of Reallivepreacher.com is online at TheOoze.
  • Maggi has been stalking my every move tonight in a desperate attempt for me to help her find her ball that she lost.
  • Ricky Henderson thinks he can play.  I have never enjoyed watching a player play like when I watched Henderson… or listened to him.

A Heretics Guide to Eternity

My good friend Spencer Burke of TheOoze has a new book coming out, A Heretics Guide to Eternity on June 30th. It looks good and is available for advance order from Amazon.com

It all began with a conversation between Spencer Burke and his five-year-old son about a floatie, specifically, how far Spencer would go to rescue the boy if he were drowning. It got Spencer to thinking: how far would God go to save and redeem human beings? He reveals his quest for answers to that big question in A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity.

The general orthodox Christian view of who gets to heaven and who is doomed to hell is based on the notion that we humans have to choose to “opt in” to God’s plan for our salvation by baptism, repentance, prayer, and a righteous life. But what if it’s the opposite–we are all in, from the moment we are born, no matter when or where we live, and we have to choose to “opt out” in order to be excluded from God’s universal grace?

Not some abstract theological matter, the question of who gets saved and how has preoccupied Christians of every stripe for centuries, beginning with the earliest apostles. Will God damn us to hell? What is hell? What about God’s universal love? Is it really universal–or is it limited? Is there only one way to be saved? In A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity, Spencer Burke wrestles with all these questions and comes up with some surprising answers, answers that are heretical but grounded in sound theological thinking.

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Who needs books anymore?

A couple of years ago I reviewed stuff regularily for TheOoze.  Then life got in the way and I ended up with a job that I hated, I got sick and for months I couldn’t read that much at all.  Tonight I just submitted a short book review into Alan Hartung at TheOoze.  It is the start of what I hope to be two books reviewed a month there.  Some having to do with the church, some with culture, and others with neither.  One of the most discouraging things about being sick last year was that I had all of this time and I wasn’t able to do more reading and reviewing.  Now that I have a lot less time, I have the energy to read and review more stuff.

If you have any ideas on some good books to review, send them my way.  Here is the working list…

  • Naked Conversations by Shel Israel and Robert Scoble
  • Fury’s Hour by Warren Kinsella
  • Collapse by Jared Diamond
  • The Secret Teachings of Jebus by Brian McLaren
  • The Organic Church (didn’t really like it that much)
  • Colossians Remixed by Brian Walsh
  • The Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight

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