Saturday, March 29, 2008

Smart Move Einstein!

I'm just kickin' it watching some o' the History channel's series "The Universe" and they just talked about Einstein's formation of the theory of general relativity. They pointed out that even as he was forming the theory that spoke of space-time being shaped by gravity, he resisted the conclusion that the universe must be dynamic. He wanted to believe in a static, eternal universe so badly that he rejected his own findings that the universe must be finite and dynamic.

As a church planter I see the same things happening in the emerging church. There are people who are re-reading the bible and proposing some great things about how we ought to do church, but they are not ready or willing to accept the logical end of their proposals. So churches and leaders may be speaking the words of the emerging church, but their actions do not reflect their words.

I wonder not if, but to what extent I do that. I know that I'm steeped in my traditions and it is hard for me to shed their bonds in favor of a completely fresh reading of the bible. I hope that I can offer something of worth to the conversation.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Rose City

I'm back from my trip to Memphis. I had a great time and tried to fill every spare moment with friends. There are so many people that I couldn't see everyone that I wanted to see, so I'm sorry if I didn't spend enough/any time with you, it's not for a lack of desire, just a lack of time and resources.

Most of the conversations I had were about what Andrea and I are doing now and how we like living in Portland. Well, we like Portland a lot, a whole lot. But we're not alone in thinking that Portland is an awesome place and I thought I would share just a few of the praises lavished upon my town.

Popular Science called Portland the Greenest City.

Delta Sky magazine ran an article about the city in which they said:
There’s no way to spare you the litany of Portland’s recent “bests.” In the last three years, for example, Grist magazine called us the second-Greenest city in the world, while’s City Guides puts us among the 10 Greenest cities in America. OK, we’ll have to try a little harder. But we grabbed the No. 1 spot on’s 2006 list of America’s most sustainable big cities, Men’s Journal called us the best place to live in the United States, Prevention (and the American Podiatric Medical Association) in 2006 called us the best walking town in America, and Bicycling says we’re the best cycling city in America. I could go on. OK, I will. Outside magazine ranks us as one of the 10 perfect towns that have it all. No less an authority than Reader’s Digest says we’re America’s cleanest city. And Frommer’s Guidebooks listed us as one of the world’s top travel destinations for 2007.

In an article on Northwest Cable News they pile on the accolades:
Add best airport, best festival (the Rose Festival), top honors for travel destination, cooking and restaurants, fitness, bicycling to work, green building practices, livability, independent movie-making, clean air and recently, historic building preservation.
I could continue, but I think this suffices in making my point that . . . Portland Rocks! So you should come and see us.

Friday, March 14, 2008

kernel of wheat

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:24

I have been thinking for some time about the function of the Protestant Reformation and Christian denominations. Especially with Jesus prayer that all believers would be marked with unity, it is troubling that Christianity is scarred by divisions at nearly every level. It occurred to me that perhaps the Protestant Reformation might be akin to what happens when the "kernel of wheat falls to the ground". The Catholic Church was the kernel and it grew and thrived and eventually began to decline (especially morally), but out of their work was birthed the Protestant Reformation, they produced "many seeds."

In the centuries since the Protestant Reformation there have been many denominations that have been vying with one another. But nearly every Christian denomination in the West is in a decline. Now we are seeing church planting movements and emerging church movements arise within and across denominational boundaries. The variety and diversity has increased greatly.

What if all this was what God intended? What if God knew the challenges that the church would face in its first thousand years so he organized the Roman Church to withstand all the troubles that they would face (thanks in no small part to Constantine)? What if God knew that there would be no force in Europe capable of stopping the Islamic invasion without a strong, centrally organized church?

At a family reunion it is nearly impossible to find two people to agree on everything, but you find everyone agreeing on their common connection. What if we find our unity in our common connection and purpose? We are a part of the same family heritage. We can each celebrate the ways in which God has brought the seed of faith from Jesus right down to us.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Heresy Alert

Stop reading right now if you don't want to risk the fires of hell . . .

Still with me? You are brave!

So, who has heard of the trinity? Raise you hands. Ok, that's most of you. Did you also know that the word 'trinity' doesn't show up anywhere in the Bible? The word was invented by one of the early leaders of the church to help describe how Jesus can be God and the Holy Spirit can be God and the Father can be God, but there's only one God.

Not much heresy yet, but hold on. I'm in class right now learning about the gospel of John. It starts off talking about how the Word and God are one in the same and Jesus is the Word. It pretty clearly states that Jesus=Word=God, but the next thing that a good, orthodox trinitarian will point out is that the Son is a different person of the trinity from the Father.

Here’s where I might be a little bit of a heretic: I’m not sure that I can affirm the separate personhood for each member of the trinity. That would make me a modalist or sabellian in some form (and they are all heretics in the classic sense). That means that I see Jesus incarnation as an expression of God and the Holy Spirit as a mode in which God acts, but that there is not necessarily a distinctive person at work in each of these cases.

The main argument against modalism is that Jesus died on the cross, yet the world did not cease to be. How could God be dead and in the grave and still continue to act to raise Jesus from the dead? My response to this: what’s the big deal? If God created the world with a Word, then how is it hard for us to accept that he can be dead? Is this any more difficult to accept than a convoluted explanation of God being three-persons with one essence?

What I like about modalism is that it allows a much easier identification of God’s presence and activity in the Old Testament. The Spirit of the LORD hovers over the waters in Genesis. The Angel (messenger, or word-bearer) of the LORD speaks to his people. We see that God has always interacted with his people in the manner that is best for his people.

Who wants to be a heretic with me?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Salmon Sperm LED's

Yes, you read that correctly. I had to laugh out-loud when reading this story.
See, the problem with bioengineering isn't moral or ethical dilemmas, or even homicidal robo-droids enslaving humanity. It's that if you let researchers go wild, eventually they'll find a way to make LEDs out of salmon sperm, threatening the sanctity (and sperm-free-ness) of your entire gadget-based lifestyle.
What more can I say? Go and read the article if you want a few more chuckles.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Spring Ahead, Fall Back

So some guy wrote a paper about Daylight Saving Time (DST). Recently a bunch of counties in Indiana decided to join the rest of the nation and observe DST. This made it possible to compare the energy usage with and with DST during the summer months. He found that DST "costs Indiana households an additional $8.6 million in electricity bills."

Hey, let this serve as a reminder that DST starts at 2am on Sunday.

Basically (this means if you don't want to read the linked article, you will get the gist), DST was proposed originally by Ben Franklin to save candles in Paris. During WWII the US used DST to save some electricity, and during the oil crisis of the 1970's DST was brought back for the same reason. It has been an institution since. The only difference is the prevalence of air conditioning now. So in the hot summer months people get home to a house that is hotter and therefore use more AC.

It's good to know that the church doesn't have a monopoly on the continuation of anachronistic traditions that end up doing more harm than good.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

OK who's next?

So, Oklahoma Christian University upped the ante on ACU by offering not just a crummy phone, but a macbook as well. Good job, OC! When is this deal coming to Cascade College?

Does Harding feel left out yet?

When are churches going to start to offer this?