Wednesday, June 30, 2010

please note

the inconsistent adopted has moved. five people can now move their bookmarks to

thanks for reading! and thanks for blogger for being a mostly reliable platform for six years.

Monday, June 28, 2010

all questions considered

today i had lunch with tim hawkins, a good friend who leads sojourn collegiate ministry in boston. i have always respected tim's commitment to relational ministry, ability to wrestle with the hard questions and decision to remain rooted in christian church, church of Christ tradition we both claim as home.

during our meeting tim dropped a couple of keepers on me including a statement that "the church is the local expression of the neighborly love of God." he also told me a short story about the sacredness of questions that he graciously agreed to post here. thanks tim!
My second year in campus ministry, one comment changed my ministry.

A friend of mine, Nate, a guy who had been struggling with his faith, had been coming to our on-campus gatherings for a few months.

Eventually, he felt like this might be a good place to bring his agnostic girl-friend.

She came with full-guard up. I put on my best peppy, inclusive, welcoming campus minister voice and pulled out my arsenal of conversational questions.

“What year are you?”

“Where do you live?”

“Where is home?”

“What is your major?"

“What do you want to do with that?”

Each question was met with a short return. One word answers.

I went to the well one more time, trying to make her feel welcome.

“Hey, I’m glad you’re here. I don’t mean to put you on the spot by asking a lot of questions. I hope you enjoy just being here tonight.”

To which she responded with a sentence that has forever changed my ministry.

“Well, maybe if you would ask me better questions, I might talk more.”


I have led with better questions (I hope) ever since.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


if you've heard me talk about it once, you've heard me talk about it ten times (if you're lucky).

i have two degrees that don't pay

i am a part of a church tradition that doesn't seem to want much to do with me

"i can't wait until i work for a real company." "this can't be the way a real non-profit gets it done." "someday i'll be the resident theologian or preacher in a local church."

so i surrender to myopia and refuse to see that i am:

surrounded by the kind of community that is the figment of many dreams (and the subject of not a few sermons)

work beside people whose confidence in my abilities is slowly strengthening my sense of self

called by a God who is teaching me to hope, pray and occasionally participate in the redemption of all things

i'll probably never be a half-full kind of guy, but i need to start recognizing these blessings so that i can be a more whole and holy blessing to the world.

Monday, June 14, 2010

memorandum from captain random

it's 10 pm, i just finished a run and i'm drinking a 'gansett because it tastes best after a mile or two. rest assured that i'll drink in moderation and will cleanse the palette with a cup of coffee before bed.

i went to a retirement party for a special education teacher who spent 35 years working in the boston public schools last week and it was one of the most inspiring evenings i can remember. mr. r's career was a testimony to pouring your life out for others, staying rooted in one community and tunneling through morian mountains of institutional bullshit in hopes of seeing a life or two transformed. i hope that at the end of my career people have half as many meaningful things to say about my efforts. if they have to lie a bit on that day to make that happen, so be it.

tonight i shirked my chores for a half hour to read this remarkable interview with ira glass. if you love stories, preaching the gospel of great reversal or remembering the horrors of adolescent pda, you must read this.

almost hesitate to admit it, but i've become a bigger fan of the national than i am of arcade fire. i am glad that i have tickets to see the latter in august and am devastated that i missed the former on june 1st and 2nd at the house of blues.

i'm starting to realize that effective christian discipleship differs little from healthy friendship. neal windham and a few others have taught me that discipleship is more about mutuality than hierarchy and more focused on intentional embodiment of the gospel than the transmission of theological content.

i'm almost embarrassed to admit how emotionally dependent i am upon the ups and downs of the cardinals. almost.

the boston and north shore cohorts are getting together on tuesday, july sixth to cookout at cindy bauer's place on chewbacco lake and hear a little bit about her work with kupenda. getting to know cindy and becoming involved in kupenda is one of the main reasons - and there are many - that i am grateful for the emergent conversation.

ok, this 'gansett is almost gone. gotta get some coffee.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

cataloging the evidence

yesterday a spring drenched tree stood in breathtaking contrast with a soot grey sky.

today a volunteer who i have grown to treasure hugged me like a friend and forever sundered the transactional nature of our relationship.

this evening lydian wasn't struggling with colic, but struggling not to laugh as i ruffled her hair, thumbed her nose and delighted in her smile time and again.

every day threatens an open and shut case for entropy. for that reason we have to be careful to listen for, observe and record the small signs of the redemption accomplished and the redemption promised that are colliding upon the earth.

Monday, June 07, 2010

a shaky confession

the first time was awkward. she didn't have the silhouette you speak about furtively with your friends and her intellect was crammed in some damn shoebox, assuming it was there at all. she was also from decatur, home to firestone, futile jesse jackson crusades and general squalor. so i dropped her at the first opportunity. other girls made the starbucks at o'hare. she wasn't so lucky.

the next girl was sexy. she sold authenticity, traded musty maranatha for dave matthews and, during that first song especially, her ass sure could swing. she was the party, bringing energy that could not help but compel. though she played it straight, i swear one time she almost offered me a drink. this girl wasn't cloistered but offered agnostics, reversed fundamentalists and strangely warmed ska kids the same mass appeal. as for me, she didn't flinch at mixed intentions or lapsed probation, but spoke lovingly, carefully crafting phrases, pointing me up in hopes that i would go out. but for all that, i never got comfortable. after a couple of years the cracks started to appear and the sounds became too saccharine and failed to cut where they should. though she only said it once, and then obliquely, she demanded that i reflect, never shape, her calculated barnes & noble charm.

so i left. but it was far more difficult. she was a life to live, an agenda to reckon, a what if resides.

now i'm with the girl who, with a question, called my game and who strangely intrigues like the lone saab on the lot. she isn't a hole to fill or a brick that'll build, but a woman simultaneously essential and stable as a water. at times we connect and current hums true, but more often it alternates between belief and betrayal. i can't possess her, can't seem to leave her and often fret this will end in a terminal fail.

some days my eyes still linger on that carefully crafted ingenue with her soft colors, wide eyes and, yes, ass unlike any in decatur. with her calculated authenticity and airbrush appeal, i cannot call her anything other than my porn.

so i'm fighting a battle that's broken better men, tangling with intrigue in hopes of escaping debasement by enhanced object.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

mary, full of grace

for the past three years i have wanted to hear more female voices from the pulpit at the gathering. for that reason i challenged, cajoled and manipulated several women to take a slot on the preaching schedule or at least speak more often.

to no avail.

fortunately, a couple of months ago, mary agreed to preach occasionally. mary is a graduate of harvard divinity school, dedicated incarnational minister in the goth community and aspiring novelist and poet. after setting her feet in her first couple of sermons, mary has started an amazing series on the beatitudes.

today, as mary wound her way through the passage about hungering and thirsting for righteousness you could almost sense the congregations' growing desperation for the living water of God. by the time mary concluded with the admonition to "hunger and thirst for God and he will pour blessings into your life and through you bless others," i was famished for the sustenance of the eucharist and desperate to seek God and participate in his transformational work in the world.

it is such a blessing to be a part of a collaborative church community where proclamation is a shared burden, worship is open source and the eucharist sustains and strings us, in all of our wackness, together.

thanks be to God for the grace he has given Mary to preach the Word and build up the church.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

screw the purpose statement

over the past couple of years i have researched foundation grants by looking up their purpose statements on their website and on sites like guidestar and then pulling the foundation's 990 records to determine the organizations and projects the foundations funded.

this afternoon, i finally had the opportunity to get my hands on the foundation center's* database, which is the fort knox of philanthropy, and a librarian gave me a short tutorial. instead of toying with the foundation's purpose statement, she encouraged me to pull the records of the foundation's awards in the past five years and then utilize foundation center's amazing distribution map to see where the dollars really went. unsurprisingly, i found that the actual giving patterns of many foundations deviates significantly from their stated giving patterns. 

although i hate to admit it, i see a similar pattern in many of our churches. we say that we are a missional people, but 90% of our dollars go to content deliverers and the context within which the content is delivered. we profess our longing for God, but we give short shrift to prayer in corporate and, i fear, in private. we proclaim the Kingdom while passionately buttressing the country we incorrectly believe was specially inspired by God.

from now on i'm going to define each foundation's purpose in strict accordance with their giving patterns. i think that many define our churches in the same way and we would do well to pay more attention to our actions than we do the pretty, stylized purpose statements we hang on our deep mustard and mocha creme walls.

* (unfortunately) foundation center did not compensate me for nor sponsor this post.

Monday, May 31, 2010

unexpected emergent provocateurs

last night kellie and i watched crazy heart which, somewhat sadly, reminded kellie of the life of bill mallonee. this morning i've been listening to tripp fuller's excellent podcast with uncle bill at homebrewed christianity and thinking about the unexpected provocateurs who prepared me for the emergent conversation.

here are a few of these provocateurs and truncated summaries of their influence. please share snippets of your list:

first, unsurprisingly, is bill mallonee. bill taught me, more effectively than any theologian short of st. paul, could, that sanctification is a struggle and all the scaffolds we scramble to build will never help us escape from the tomb. only the Spirit can do that.

second, philip yancey. in the Jesus i never knew and what's so amazing about grace philip showed me that God is big enough to handle my questions. he also introduced me to uncle henri and uncle freddy both of whom have shaped my faith and understanding of vocation in innumerable ways.

third, gary burlington. gary was a missions prof at soybean bible college. i never actually had a class with him, but in the few times we spoke i was inspired by his inquisitiveness and commitment to christian mission. in retrospect, gary was teaching me that deconstruction is not a threat, but an essential component of christian mission. due to unfortunate choices on all sides, gary left soybean some years ago. i need to catch up with him at some point.

fourth, rich mullins. sure, i was instructed and inspired by the music, but rich's musings left the deepest impression. according to some accounts, at one of his final concerts he stopped in mid-song to confess a sexual sin that he had to repent of before continuing. that simple act - even if it is shaded by mythology - has influenced my preaching at least as much as haddon's biblical preaching. he also taught me that being disregarded by your own tradition is not the end of the world and he helped fuel my love of st. frank.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

on vocation

on wednesday night i had the opportunity to hang with andrew at the pickled onion. since we couldn't see the celtics game because of endicott students with their popped tops (jesse - you were so right about the unfortunate shift in pickled clientele) our conversation turned to our vocations.

i've beat this topic to death on the blog and in personal conversation with many of you, so i won't bore you again. however, during the conversation i started to realize that my calling is not to a narrow practice or position in Christ's church, but rather, my calling (as i currently conceive of it anyway) is to be faithful to the health and the mission of the various networks and communities in which i am currently embedded.

by God's grace, i hope to be a blessing to the family/gathering/beverly/emergent/ccoc/triangle/kupenda/cardinals cluster of which i am a part. i still wish that my calling was less complex, but i trust (most of the time anyway) that God knows what he is doing and the Spirit has shaped me for such a time as this.

Friday, May 28, 2010

on the new name

as a bible college senior, i prepared a final paper and preached a subsequent sermon on romans 7:7-25 - that tricky bit where the apostle paul both acknowledges our existential angst and orients us towards our ultimate, gracious adoption as sons and daughters of God.

although i would like to report otherwise, that text has framed my understanding of the Christian life from that point forward. the fidelity towards God, other and creation that i desire is usually eclipsed by narcissistic actions that i don't desire. though i have been buried with Christ and want to wait in that tomb for the resurrection that i do not deserve and cannot comprehend, i constantly scrape, struggle and scramble to escape the burial that unexpectedly brings new life.

in a mostly forgotten book i read some years ago the author talked about flannery o'connor's "Christ haunted south." as i've mentioned to several people in the past couple of weeks, i often feel haunted by the gospel which i simultaneously find attractive and repulsive as well as my calling which i cling to with a cocktail of dogged fidelity and detached irony.

so it is that i've come to think of myself as the inconsistent adopted. since rick and i are not going to appropriate the name for a band anytime soon, renaming the blog will have to do.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


"as long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations and condemnations. we will remain addicted to the need to put people and things in their 'right' place. to the degree that we embrace the truth that our identity is not rooted in our success, power and popularity, but in God's infinite love, to that degree we can let go of our need to judge." -uncle henri, here and now, pg. 62

Sunday, May 23, 2010


every time i am about to hate baseball, the cards grit one out like they are today. today i've woken the baby twice with clapping during key moments and i can't wait to see how this turns out. win or lose, i love games like this!

i'm thinking about watching lost tonight in order to observe my friends' reactions and tweet inane commentary and spoilers. sounds like fun.

lately i've come to the realization that i am a checkers player living in a chess world. over the past three years i have had the privilege of investing most of my hours in social justice, Christian proclamation and various Kingdom related initiatives. since the intended outcomes of my efforts are often quite clear - i.e., help a teen with a disability land their first job, make sure friends and fellow worshipers are well accompanied through tragedy and comedy, let the text win and see what kind of new world God wants to create - i am usually fully invested and engaged in reaching towards the goals i believe that God has set before me.

however, much to my great frustration, life is not two dimensional. as i attempt to measure my life by whether i am moving towards or away from my goals, i am often interrupted by the pressing concerns, valid questions, annoying insecurities, fragile egos, invaluable competencies and divergent opinions of others. my traditional response is to avoid negative interruptions at all costs, subvert those who inspire such interruptions when necessary and rely on chess masters like james wilcox, pastor phil and many other friends and colleagues to successfully navigate any number and kind of sticky wickets.

but, as i grow into leadership in several areas of my life, i am starting to realize that i need to play more chess. a couple of weeks ago a friend told me in the midst of a conflict that "you'll catch more with honey." my immediate response was "honey is not what i bring to the table and it is not something i am interested in bringing. i come at things directly." i still think that reducing the dimensions so that i can directly focus on mission will serve my interests on most occasions. but i'm also going to have to learn to use the rook and employ interpersonal stratagems more often than i would like.

so i'm off to up my e.q. and employ jacob's habits of a highly successful leader.

the cardinals won that grind of a game. so there's that.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

memorandum from captain random

two weeks ago kellie and i welcomed lydian nicole gentry into the world. i need to grow a few more emotions.

a national award-winning television program that is produced by people with disabilities was cursed by a fox news cameraman today at the tea party in boston. another charming gentleman interrupted their interviews with chants of "baby killer. baby killer. baby killer." i am so glad i was not there.

last week pete rollins and his crew were in town to start an insurrection and john franke bore manifold witness about the plurality of truth at the gathering and gcts. i enjoyed the insurrection - especially the hour i begged off to hang with brandon bayne - and i continue to be impressed with franke's proclamation about the plurality of truth that is evident in Christian scripture, located Christian communities and the Godhead itself. maybe it's just me, but franke's thesis just seems like sanctified common sense - that i wish i would have recognized and published myself.

i think brad penny is pitching more effectively because he is living in closer proximity to the ozarks.

kellie and i are headed out to oklahoma and texas may 13 through 21. if you live in close proximity, maybe we can connect (if you're buying).

preston is either memorizing new books within a week or he's reading them. either reality is welcome.

i'm going to see hacksaw jim duggan on april 29th. gotta be psyched about that.

in regards to lydian, kellie is doing almost all the hard work, but i'm still exhausted. don't know quite what to make of that.

less substantial posts to follow.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

callid at theology after google

in this intellectually intriguing, brilliantly delivered talk, callid challenges us to speak boldly about our experience of Christ and revel in the Christ within which we are intertwined.

on this palm sunday, as we acclaim the Christ we do not fully know, let us trust that our acclamation will lead us towards greater revelation.

thanks for the good word callid. i love you brother and am so thankful for the teaching gift you have been given!
on prayer and going postal

a couple of nights ago i had a disturbing dream. i was visiting a local church that has been quite critical of the gathering for some time. after the sermon - which, if memory serves, was filled with theological certainty and strict morality - i sat down with the pastor and, in the guise of questions, offered a trenchant critique.

the pastor immediately threatened to shoot me for incivility, but, assuming he would not follow through, i continued the one-sided conversation. in response the pastor picked up a rifle, rested it upon his knee, and after some discussion, he shot me through the abdomen.

there's not a lot of love lost between this pastor and i, but as i woke up, i couldn't help but think that my critique, which was shaped by my contempt, inspired his violent action.

this dream, as well as emergent village's recommendations concerning the appropriate manners of theological conversation,* has led me to believe that i need to be far more careful about the worlds my critiques and words create.

here is the abbreviated list of emergent village's commitment to church in all its forms, as abbreviated by franke:

1. To be actively and positively involved in a local congregation, while maintaining open definitions of 'church' and 'congregation.'

2. To seek peace among followers of Christ, and to offer critique only prayerfully and when necessary, with grace, and without judgment, avoiding rash statements, and repenting when harsh statements are made.

3. To speak positively of fellow Christians whenever possible, especially those with whom we may disagree.

4. To build sincere friendship with Christians from other traditions.

i am truly sorry and i humbly repent for the times i have neglected charity and poured out contempt upon my brothers and sisters. i believe that gracious, well intentioned questions and critique are vital to the vibrancy of the Christian faith, but these conversations need to be shaped by charity, filled with grace and grounded in prayer.

* which john franke mentions in his excellent new book, manifold witness.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


five years ago i dropped my cell phone while shoveling snow. fortunately kellie found the phone half buried in the driveway, but it made 37 unprovoked calls to dr. james the same day and was pretty much worthless from then on. when i realized my phone was useless i immediately started worrying that i wouldn't be able to replace it with the script i had saved from my call center job. when i mentioned my anxiety to my friend craig he told me not to worry. "we all have more connections than we could ever imagine," craig said. "rely on your network to help you replace it." fortunately, i followed craig's advice, emailed a few friends and had a $5 replacement within 48 hours.

for years i have had a friend who constantly confronts catastrophic problems. as soon as he recovers from a job loss, he's faced with failing health. once the failing health is addressed, his partner pulls out. once he finally secures a stipendiary scholarship, well, you get the drift. i wish i could say differently, but i've often avoided him simply because i cannot solve his problems. recently my friend called with yet another conundrum - the kind that would have once been a clarion call to run - and i simply used my network to point him towards a service that might sustain him in his hour of need.

i'm still learning that although we can't do everything we often can make the connection that will help others or even our fragmented selves. craig's invaluable lesson was echoed by dwight friesen's thy kindgom connected. that's the main reason i'm glad i read the book.

Friday, March 19, 2010


what's that sound? oh my god! that's hacksaw jim duggan's drunken slur!

the south is going to (fail to) rise again on thursday night, april 29 at the irish american in malden. proceeds from this event will support triangle, so dust off your 2 x 4, grow out your mullet and meet me there!

tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. email me for more ridicule and details.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

crazy magnet

one of the
priviledges of pastoral ministry is checking up on friends who are ill. yesterday evening when i was surprised by the following exchange at an assisted living facility in danvers.

unknown elderly gentleman (eg): "you better wear the green tomorrow!"

g13: "i'm not irish,* so why should i?"

eg: "because bad things happen to those who don't!"

g13: "like what?"

eg: "like getting your head chopped off."

* though i just might be korean

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

on soybean and subversion

after church last week i was talking to my colleague about my soybean bible experience. in the midst of the conversation i admitted that "15-20% of the faculty and students at soybean seemed to loathe me." menasco quickly noted that 15-20% is a significant number, but it's a figure that i've grown accustomed to and, to be honest, pretty comfortable with. i continued by affirming that i am "thankful for, and humbled by, the insightful professors and friends who revealed a subversive grid within my own tradition."

that grid - which consists of castelein's conception of jacob as a model for ministry, neal's teaching on the ladder of descent, birdie's emphasis on constant prayer & worship & lowery's reticence in regards to inerrancy as well as many other strands - has deeply informed, if not directed, the path of the loyal radical that i am trying to walk.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


in a moving piece in the april atlantic, jonathan rauch recounts the challenges he faced caring for his aging father and argues that since elder care plays such an essential part in most of our lives that "we should all be given time off work at age 40 to take a course on elder care."

i think rauch has pointed out a great unmet need in our society that our faith communities are well positioned to address. maybe a megachurch can start an "enjoying geriatrics" program or something.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

emergent and acts 29: together for the gospel

the church formerly known as sinners & saints has been inactive for some time. in 2007 after four great years together we decided to dissolve the church and start following Christ in new ways.*

for some reason, when we disbanded sinners & saints we did not shut down city on a hill, the legal name under which we operated. over the years we have considered transferring the 501(c)(3) - that we inherited - to the gathering or the church that meets in beverly, but for one reason or another the transition never came to fruition.

about a month ago, blake ferrell, from a new city on a hill church in brookline, contacted me to see if we would be interested in transferring the 501(c)(3). the new church has been planted with support from hope fellowship church in cambridge, the greater boston baptist association (gbba) and the acts 29 network.

after some discussion with blake and bland mason, the senior pastor of city on a hill, the board of directors** of the old city on a hill has decided to transfer the non-profit to our new friends in coolidge corner. this transfer made sense to me because the gbba originally paid for the paperwork, i have always admired the work at hope fellowship and i wanted the acts 29 guys to know that there are friends of emergent who are eager to help them as together we proclaim, await and embody the Kingdom that was and is and is to come.

so tonight, after we broke the bread of prinzis and connected in conversation and prayer, a friend of emergent and two church planters from acts 29 came together for the gospel. it does my heart good to know that the mission that unites us is far greater than the squabbles that threaten to divide us.

* note that i did not say "with new communities." most of us who were involved with sinners & saints are still bound by both the bonds of community and, for six of us anyway, the lintels of the same house. i thank God for that.
** that sounds pretentious until you realize that four of them live at 4 judson.
i can't believe...

that david dark didn't come up with this idea. i might attend one of these gatherings if the gospel according to america is the topic at hand.
more reflections of a loyal radical*

on wednesday i had the opportunity to attend the quarterly "birthday luncheon" hosted by a church planting organization that is a part of the stone-campbell tradition of which i am also a part. during the free form fellowship time at the end of the luncheon the leader of the church planting org encouraged me to touch base with the minister of my home church so that i could suggest a few ways the latter gent could more effectively connect with the older members in that church community.

i like the senior minister in my home church quite a bit. he has provided adequate pastoral care to my family and, through the ordination process, has openly affirmed my ministry. however, i do not have a strong relational connection to the man and i know precious little about his strategy for serving and leading my home church. for that reason, i think it would be awkward at best and wholly inappropriate at worst for me to ring him up and give him the 411 on connecting more effectively with the seniors in my home church. although i like the minister at my home church and we are in some sense bound by mutual affection, my connection to him is more institutional than relational.

fortunately, on the north shore i have connections with a number of ministers like jesse, ben and dave that are far more relational than institutional. within the past couple of weeks, i have had in depth conversations with one of these guys about the ecclesiological structure of his church, even though his church is not a part of my tradition. moreover, i have had more limited conversation with another about pursuing denominational affiliation and ordination in a number of traditions, none of which were my own. these connections with local ministers whom i regularly serve beside are much more important to me than the kind, yet quite tangential connection i have to most of the ministers in my tradition.

the rise of missional networks - from small groups like the origins project to large groups like the willow creek association - seem to suggest i am far from the only minister experiencing a simultaneous distancing from traditional affiliation and deepening of relational connection with local ministers and initiatives. i don't have the time or ability to map out all of the potential implications, but the shift from institutional to relational primacy will probably lead to pronounced shifts in our theology and missiology.

i suppose the primary conclusion of this post is that i need to finish friesen's thy kingdom connected.

* i've borrowed the concept of the loyal radical from jonny baker. his description of living in the tension between the center and the margins really resonates with me.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

cut-rate theological provocation

over the next couple of weeks there are a number of low-cost theological conversations/presentations/provocations that are taking place. if figuring out how (not) to speak of God is your thing, here are some opportunities to explore.

gordon college's faith seeking understanding welcomes international ethicist andrew bacevich on tuesday, march 23rd and culture making andy crouch on friday, march 26th. these events are free to the public and complimentary coffee will be served to all attenders cloaked in north face.

on tuesday, april 6th ben folds will be unscrolling his bible belt talmud at the house of blues boston. this event would be almost cut-rate if it wasn't for the nefarious ticket master. baby permitting, i'll be there!

on wednesday, april 7th, peter rollins & co are starting an insurrection in kendall square. pete can is a helluva nice guy who can really cook your noodle, or corned beef if that's what you prefer. suggested cover for this event is $10, but real Christians will donate $20.

on thursday, april 8th, john franke is bearing manifold witness at gordon-conwell. he'll be speaking in dr. vidu's emergent church class, which takes place from 1:15-4:15 in the academic center. i'm not sure which classroom is his, so just look for the one that says - uh, i can't say that here - on it.

if you have additional details about these events or know of other cut-rate theological happenings, feel free to drop a comment.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


when joseph finds out that his future bride is pregnant, he is in quite the predicament. what should he do?

"he has some friends just fresh from the synagogue who say, 'just do what the bible says. you can't go wrong with what the bible says.' what about that for an answer? i've heard that all my life. 'just do what the bible says.' well, i will tell you what it says. from deuteronomy 22: 'she is to be taken out and stoned to death in front of the people.' that is what the bible says.

i get sick and tired of people always thumping the bible as though you can just open it up and turn to a passage that clears everything up. you can quote the bible before killing a person to justify the killing. 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,' the bible says. do you know what the bible says? 'if a man finds something displeasing in his wife, let him give her a divorce and send her out of the house.' it's in the book. do you know what the bible says? 'let the women keep their heads covered and their mouths shut.' do you want me to find it for you? it's in there. i run into so many people who carry around a forty-three-pound bible and say, 'just do what the book says.'

joseph is a good man, and he rises to a point that is absolutely remarkable for his day and time. he loves the bible and he knows his bible and bless his heart for it. but he reads his bible through a certain kind of lens, the lens of the character and nature of a God who is loving and kind. therefore, he says, 'i will not harm her, abuse her, expose her, shame her, ridicule her, or demean her value, her dignity or her worth. i will protect her.' where does it say that joseph? in your bible? i'll tell you where it says that. it says that in the very nature and character of God.

i am absolutely amazed that joseph is the first person in the new testament who learned how to read his bible. like joseph, we are to read it through the spectacles of grace and the goodness and the love of God." -fred craddock, cherry log sermons, pg. 5

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

conclusive proof that i am a communist


"i'm a smudge of excrement on a tissue surging out to sea with a million tons of raw sewage." - miles raymond

a couple of days ago my coworker openly wondered why i could like
the hangover when it's not half the movie that sideways is. i immediately retorted that the two movies aren't even in the same genre, much less in the same league. moreover, while i found the hangover mildly amusing there was at least one comedy in 2009 - i love you man - that i preferred.

i'm getting off track.

anyway, as soon as she mentioned
sideways i started thinking about miles' derivative despair. i think that the thing i find uncomfortably funny about that scene is how true miles' sentiment is. many of my minutes, hours and days - and infinitely more of my words - are little more than surging excrement. i don't even want to think about how much sewage i've spewed into this world and i fear that at the end of my days i will deliver far more shit than benefit.

however, after reflecting on the verbal sewage that i spew, my mind turned towards prayer. it seems to me that prayer, in this instance especially silent prayer to God for others, is one of the most powerful ways that i can intercede for, find solidarity with and truly love others.

so there you go. an increase in prayer is a decrease in excrement. reflections like this lead me to believe that my paperback of personal devotions might just sell after all.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


at soybean bible there was a preacher who constantly wept while proclaiming the word. i listened to him on a number of occasions and usually walked away frustrated by the way his unkempt emotions obscured his ideas.

times have changed.

now, when i read the poetry of isaiah or hear the penitential psalm on the publican's lips my eyes are often filled with tears. in the study the beauty of God's grace overwhelms me in the most unexpected moments and emotions obscure my mind like the clouds that cloaked sinai.

but when i step out of the study for a cup of coffee or lunch with a friend i cannot seem to bring the beauty with me. often i am saddled with sarcasm and cynicism instead.

in these moments i am so jealous of the old man at soybean and i long for the Spirit to spin me into pitcher that can pour out the grace that sustains me upon this journey.


“Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go to next.” –Uncle Freddy

Thursday, March 04, 2010

what is emergent?

that's a good, oft asked question that is being pondered at pastor phil's square no more blog. here's my answer. i'd encourage you to listen to the other answers and offer yours.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


nicholas kristof challenges liberals to set aside "their snobbishness towards faith-based organizations" like world vision and follow evangelicals' lead in sacrificially serving the world.

a truly fascinating article that identifies one of the reasons i'm proud to be an evangelical.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

on emergent

on this week's studio 360 kurt anderson explored tino sehgal's provocative new exhibition at the guggenheim in new york.

as visitors enter the exhibition at the bottom of the frank lloyd wright rotunda a young child asks them a simple question, "what is progress?" the viewers either enter the conversation or they don't and they continue up the ramp. further up the ramp the viewers have the opportunity to dialog about the topic with a teenager, an adult and a senior citizen.

as anderson described the exhibition, i couldn't help but think that sehgal's work reminds me of the emergent conversation at its best. although we often meet in spaces far less inspiring than the guggenheim - uno's in porter square anyone? - we too walk together, explore the significant questions of existence with people who were once strangers and, yes, sometimes find ourselves walking in circles.

over the last couple of days i've told anyone who's interested that i think - to rip-off a current book title - emergent is an orientation. after listening to studio 360 i'm starting to think that emergent can be an exhibition as well.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


this is one of my favorite ablevision pieces ever! don't miss this opportunity to expand your understanding of gimp beyond the boundaries of pulp fiction and be truly inspired.

little p loves this piece as well. he keeps saying "more dancing, daddy."

wise lent suggestions for the "evangelicals discovering liturgy crowd."

ht: mother beth
an invitation to communion

maybe it's just lent, but lately i have felt the urge to pray with people and privately much more often.

the last fourteen years of my life - i can't believe it has been that long since i dedicated my life to following Christ - have been characterized by acquisition, application and proclamation of propositions. although i spent some time in the prayer closet at soybean and occasionally led lunchtime prayer at s.h.i.t., most of the time i was buried in the library discovering propositions or sitting down with others to smash our propositions against each other and see what was left standing.

i don't regret (most of) the time i invested in that process, since these propositions have helped give shape and a semblance of direction to my faith. however, it seems to me that a life primarily dedicated to the promulgation of propositions is unlikely to increase communion between individuals, within communities and between adherents of different faiths.

for this reason, i am trying to invest more of my life in prayer and the spiritual practices. on a practical level, i have found that prayer is one of the primary ways i can serve my extended family. years of experience have taught me that sharing unrequited propositions with loved ones is often a road to conflict and separation. however, there is something about the practice of prayer that binds people - even proponents of adversarial propositions and life practices - together.

so many of my mentors - st. francis, henri nouwen, jean vanier and neal windham* - were brilliant men who are known more for their embodiment than their proclamation of the faith. i long to follow in their footsteps.

* jeez, i need to add a woman to add to that list!

Monday, February 22, 2010

check it out...

a church in the stone-
campbell tradition for sheep like me. i'm encouraged by the work of pub church and will definitely visit at some point in the near future.

i'd also like to note that the dugout is the new gathering place for the boston emergent cohort. for more info about the cohort, join the facebook group or email