January 31, 2007

gut reactions to day 2

Disclaimer - I tend to be a little cynical. I tend to complain. What follows might look like these two aspects of my character, and they are, but it should not be seen as dissapointment on my part with the events of the last two days. I am still uber-stoked about the new thing God is doing here at Mainline Emergent/s, and hope to be a big part of this conversation in the years to come.

All that being said, what follows are gut reactions to day 2.

1 - I wish baby-boomers had a mute button. You people have defined the conversation for 60 years now. Even before you were capable of speech, your parents, in an effort to forget the atrocities of WWII turned their full attention to you. You have been the center of the conversation for 60 years now, and I'm tired of it. I want the chance to speak. I am a borderline E/I, with a healthy IQ, and 27 years of life experience and I have something to say. You came to this event to hear what I, we, the Emergent folk have to say, and you still want to define what gets talked about. I wish you could be muted for 2 or 3 years to those who follow in your wake could be heard just long enough to change the tenor of discourse.

Perhaps an example will help. In the afternoon breakout sessions, Karen Ward led a group of 6 of us in what was supposed to be a discussion on the Emergent possibilities for eccumanism. What it became was some jackass boomer from North Cakilaki doing his best to learn everything they do at COTA so he could lift it and place it at 5:30 on Sundays for his Campus Minister to copy verbatim. Damn it! How many times are you going to lift someone else's program and watch it fail in your context before you realize life is not one size fits all. As Diana Butler Bass said today, "how can we implement one-size fits all programs in a world where we have 82,000 options for our morning cup of joe at Starbucks?"

I also don't care about your theology of open communion (which you are convinced is the only right theology of communion) because it doesn't matter. What matters is the intentional conversation about communion. You asserting your rightness only works to make me wish you would shut up, because whether or not you are right or wrong isn't yours or mine to say, and God, I'm fairly certain, won't give a shit one way or the other.

2 - We should expect pastors to be theologians, not just the distribution center for someone else's theological work. Doug Pagitt said this today, and for the first time I feel ok with this. Not that I think the 3 hour discussion my homiletics class had on Barth's homiletical theology was worth while, but to be able to engage in theological reflection with our communities is of much importance.

3 - A big part of this "emergent" thing comes from my #1 above; a deep longing to escape the modernist conversation of some baby-boomers. Can both of these groups (Emergent and Modernist) exist within the walls of one congregation? I wonder what this will look like. I want to be a part of this. I want you to be a part of it with me. As long as we can agree to share the power system, share the podium, and work together.

4 - From Karen Ward to Bishop Epting and the others at 815 - there are enough pockets of interest in Emergent Christianity in TEC to make this an initiative for the National Church. The fact that Bishop Epting sent me to this conference means there are people paying attention. I'm willing to work to make this National Church involvement happen. A conference at Kanuga, or perhaps at COTA, whatever. Let's invite these brilliant theologians to help us escape our modernist box of denominationalism and learn the bit of truth they hold about the kingdom of God. They, by working on this conference here, obviously want to learn what bit of truth we hold. Let's do this. Let's get a group of interested people together to plan this before the next General Convention. Comment and let me know if you'd be interested.

Phew, that was a lot of emotion to put to type, but I think I feel ok with it. Day 2 was an equally beneficial day as yesterday, and day 3 promises more good stuff. Grace and peace to you from God our Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, and our continual sanctifier the Holy Spirit. Talk to you tomorrow.

January 30, 2007

the brick store pub

While I thought I might post more broadly on the presentations from today, I really feel the need to instead write about tonight's meeting of the Atlanta Emergent Cohort at the Brick Store Pub. You may recall from yesterday that I had dinner at the Brick Store last night. Well, I returned there this evening in all my borderline E/I to attend a "theology on tap". (Note - I think the Roman Catholic's own the copyright on "theology on tap" so I'm sure it wasn't called that. It was however theology with beer, two of my favorites, so I was most certainly in.) I have several thoughts on this evening so I'll list them below with brief explanations.

1 - Religious celebrity does not a pompous person make. I was fortunate enough this evening to be invited into a conversation of 8 by Doug Pagitt of Solomon's Porch and to walk into a one on one conversation with Karen Ward of Church of the Apostles. While they were both on hand to be "experts" they were equally gracious and eager to share the stage with those of us who, for whatever reason, find themselves looking up to them as gurus. I was really blessed by the conversations I had this evening; which leads me to the following

2 - Reformation is the "worst possible term" for the Emergent movement. Better, according to Doug Pagitt, are revolution, evolution, and convection. More about that at his presentation tomorrow.

3 - The key question for mainliners looking to empower lay leadership is, "what is your ministry going to be at St. Swithens?" Fantastic, Finally the freakin' language to speak. My passion, for those of you who don't know, is empowering others to exercise their passions. What a great question I now have. New members, or those who are new to me, will probably all get a variation on this theme; what can you do based on your spiritual gifts to enthrone the kingdom of God here today.

4 - My generation, while not into long-term requirements, will, without a doubt, sign up for time limited commitments. We need a core group to plan for our Lenten programming, won't you join us? Advent is fast approaching, would you like to help out for 6 weeks? Yes, yes, and yes. Now, how does this translate to a vestry term of 2 to 3 years?

5 - These Emergent folk really are friends. They'd like nothing more than to get together, have a beer (or some coffee) and chat theology. Yet they are amazingly gracious with their time to allow us to pick their brains and ask questions they've been asked over and over again. Still, they need their time. Walking back tonight I happened upon Brian and Diana having coffee at Starbucks, and I wasn't bitter. I was glad the two old friends were taking the time to reconnect. I was glad that they knew their boundary and knew when to say "no". What a good model.

Day 1 has me so pumped it'll be hard to go to bed, but knowing what Day 2 promises, I might rush off to dream land anyway. Thanks for checking in, I'll catch you tomorrow.

gut reactions to day 1

I need to get off to dinner quickly, so I won't write much now, but I do want to say just a couple of things initially. I'm really glad Bishop Epting has allowed me the opportunity to attend this event. The conversation, uncomfortable as it may be, is important for the life of our church. As priests, pastors, ministers, preachers, parsons, whatever we have as our exclusive task making disciples of Jesus Christ. It is increasingly clear that the models used since the Enlightenment for church are no longer working. We have forgotten what our symbols mean. We have forgotten what it means to be loved and judged by God. We have, along with governments, artists, and most of the rest of the known world, abandoned culture on someone else's doorstep, orphaned for our fear of change.

What we heard today was a call to change. A call to new life. A call to the radical following of Jesus Christ in all of its sloppiness and discomfort. Day 1 was only a half day, I can't wait for day 2.

Speaking of the half day thing, the fact that today started at 1 allowed me the opportunity to stay up a little later than usual and catch the Daily Show and Colbert Report. In a blatant attempt to capitalize on Stephen Colbert's following what follows is my version of "tip of the hat, wag of the finger" for today.

TOH - to whoever found the Mclaren tartan at the back of Columbia Presbyterian Church and brought it forward during Brian's introduction.

WOF - to Presbyterian churches with family tartans in their worship space. What's the deal with that?

TOH - tallskinnykiwi.com for their deep ecclesiology concept which basically says this: we acknowledge the church in all of its forms and assume that God has lower standards than we do. God will bless those who we would not bless, and we should follow God's example.

TOH - to Sam Candler, Dean of the Cathedral in Atlanta, for bringing his senior staff to this event as their continuing education event

WOF - to the same for thinking I might be old enough to be on staff at VTS

TOH - to Tony Jones for mocking our collars and vestments, our magic words and magic bread, to help us see what the world sees.

More to come. I'm hungry.

January 29, 2007

I'm here

For those of you that don't know, I'm in Decatur, GA this week on 815 (our national church)'s tab to attend the Emergent/Mainline Conference at Columbia Seminary. While I've been spoiled by private aviation, this particular flying experience wasn't terrible.

Leaving from Reagan National's terminal A is amazing. It's the old terminal, its small, its intimate, its simple, and I love it. After navigating my way through the airtran employee who, I'm fairly certain, loses pay for each word she speaks, I got in the world's shortest security line, got blown by air puffs, and made the metal detector happy.

A couple of beers at the the Sam Adams kiosk and I was ready for the short flight to Atlanta. Aside from a few major bumps along the way the flight went smoothly and I arrived (with luggage) in Atlanta Heartfield something something somethin airport. Avis treated me pretty well with a Chevy Cobalt coupe (very sporty) and I was on my way to the Super 8 on Church St. in Decatur. (warning complaining comes here)

Atlanta is a confusing city. I was looking for exit 91. I started at exit 72 (pretty easy ehhh?). At some point I found myself staring at exit 247... what? Are they serious? After scrambling to have a backup travel plan I reemerged on i-85 at exit 87 and found my way to the Super 8 that could be placed in any metropolitan area in the US. A subcontinent Indian man who had the same compensation plan as the airtran employee got me into my smoking (grrr)-king room and I was golden.

Until that is I tried to find a place to eat. Actually, I can't complain. I had some great food at the Brick Store Pub (once I found a parking space). Leaving the parking garage was a bit of a challenge, but once I found the automatic teller and 3 dollars in my wallet, I was on my way to the Krogers for a bottle of wine.

I know this is a lot more than anyone cared to know, but I'm trying to be faithful on blogging on my experience here at the conference. It will not only be beneficial to me to reflect (and it will help my paper for 815), but I hope that those who check in here will have an opportunity to gain from my experience here.

Check back throughout the next few days, I'll do my best to keep up. Those looking for lectionary blogging will be disappointed, as am I (I'm preaching on 6 Epiphany), but I will return to my practice after the Bears win the Super Bowl.

January 25, 2007

a place in this crazy mixed up world

In what seemed like a 9 hour conversation with my spiritual director yesterday, i think we found a solid footing for me in TEC. I guess I've always had the knowledge that I am called to the Episcopal Church, but felt an underlying fear that I'd be run out for my low liturgy or my understanding of judgment or whatever. Then she, my spiritual director, was drawn to this prayer.

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look
favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred
mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry
out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world
see and know that things which were cast down are being
raised up, and things which had grown old are being made
new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection
by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.

This prayer is found in the services for Good Friday, Holy Saturday, the Easter Vigil, and every ordination and it is fantastic. It is a reminder that while we are a church, we are but a small part of the Church. Our prayer should not be for numbers and growth in our parishes or denominations, but for the will of God to be fulfilled in the lives of all of God's creation. We are first and foremost called to make disciples of Jesus Christ, no matter the denominational affiliation. In the making of disciples and the pursuit of spiritual practices the whole world can come to see the breaking in of the kingdom of God. That's what its all about. That's my place in TEC. This prayer will exist as a mantra for me as I go forward in the pursuit of God's will.

Oh I'm so stoked. For the first time in a while, I was genuinely excited yesterday as I heard my SD read this prayer. Gawsh, it was a cool experience. I hope you'll read this prayer and find similar hope and joy.

January 6, 2007

i'll nap to that

The Psalter has been prayed by Jews and Christians for over two millennia. Yet Psalms like 58 and 59 are full violent and vengeful imagery. How can these Psalms be offered as authentic Christian prayer.

Wait for it... wait for it... BAM!

That is the sound of my head slamming off the back of my cubicle. Are they serious? This is the final GOE question? Do they want me to be praying like the Psalmist that their teeth may be crushed? Honestly.

Whatever. I wrote an answer that is half exegesis paper, half nonsensical apology for angry prayer, and the GOEs are over. I'm done. The readers can do and say what they will, but I am done with the GOEs. 7 canonical areas of fun are complete, and I'm exhausted.

I came home and Cassie, bless her heart, had torn down Christmas and was knee deep in a spring cleaning (it was 72 today). We ran some errands, I ate lunch, and then I slept, hard. Now I'm awake, ready to head back to the seminary to process over drinks with my comrades in typing. Then, I'll sleep some more.

It honestly felt good to be done. The weight I felt lift from my shoulders as I graduated both high school and college lifted again today. No matter what the readers think, I feel good about the answers I wrote, and am thankful for friends and family surrounding me during this time as well as professors who have given me a top notch theological education.

Thanks for the prayers over the past 5 days, please know they were felt and appreciated. God bless you and a happy Feast of the Epiphany!

January 5, 2007

wiped out

doesn't begin to describe how I'm feeling today. when i thought of the worst the goes might have to offer, today is what i thought of. theory and the practice of ministry was a 3 page essay!!! no coffee hour, no half page answers, a 3 page (single space) theology of healing/death/illness/faith and the pastoral implications of said theology. WOW.

then i sat down for a nice social ethics softball goe question and they ask, "is lying ever appropriate?" are you kidding me? three pages on the appropriateness (or lack thereof) of lying!?! wow. i've never flown through so many dictionaries, websites, books, etc. in my life. now i'm tired. but moreso i'm scared shitless of what tomorrow has to offer. open book question on Holy Scripture! after the open book ethics debocle tomorrow could bring forth anything. pray for me.

from the rev. matthew cowden:

Almighty and ever-loving Father in heaven, who has called your senior seminarians thus far, that they may lead your people and shine your light in the darkness, be a light for them this week as they undertake the General Ordination Examination. Lift their spirits and remind them of your nearness in this time of trial. Deliver them from fear and anxiety that may recall all the marvelous deeds you have done and put it into eloquent text. All this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.


January 3, 2007

GOE gooo

The cryptic note at the end of GOE set 3 has me feeling a little better than bad as I end day two. It said, roughly, "historical fact ain't as important as good apologetics." Goo! So I made one glaring error in historical fact, does that mean it'll be over looked if my apologetic argument is sound? Is my apologetic argument sound? Why am I typing this after a combined 9 hours of typing over the past two days? What does venti mean?

Anyway, things are ok after day two. Some say this morning was a softball, but I'm not so sure. This afternoon, was, to say the least a mindbender. Remind me next time I'm looking for the "sheep and goats" story that it is in Matthew's apocalyptic discourse under the heading "Judgment of the Gentiles." That too forever to find.

Whatever I say to myself under my breath, I feel like, aside from a possible 1 this morning, I'm doing fine. I'm still breathing, I'm still thinking, I'm looking at a day off, and I've got fewer sets to take than I've already written.

January 2, 2007

no comment

We're not allowed to talk about today's G(eneral) O(ridination) E(xam) questions because some folk were unable to take it due to unforeseen circumstances. That being said, I can say the following: "I feel ok about today." After tomorrow we will be more than half-way and looking at a day of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation.

Two other comments 1- sitting in a 5x5 jail cell, er study carrel, is not fun and 2- I'm thankful for the GOE hospitality group and their Starbucks runs. To drink refectory coffee all day would, no doubt, cause my stomach to explode. All I need to figure out for tomorrow is what medium is in that fratalian language of the Starbucks menu.

More to comment on tomorrow as we have Christian Theology (including missiology) and Studies in Contemporary Society including Racial and Minority Groups both limited resources - a Bible and the BCP. GOEtastic!

Anyway, thanks for the prayers, catch you all tomorrow!