Monday, March 17, 2008

Pub Theology #2

For more info on the tomorrow's Pub Theology check out The Gathering's Blog.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

SynchroBlog on Neo-Monasticism

I am not a neo-monastic. I do not have much experience with neo-monasticism. I've been to Taize and thought it was powerful, and cool. I've spent a little time with Karen Sloan and some of the Presbymergent gang which includes a few neo-monastics. I know Beth (our guest blogger on this subject) who has her little community which some consider a neo-monastic community, but I really don't know much about neo-monasticism. I do think that it is a great concept, at least what I know, or perceive of it.

I perceive it as a community of mission minded Christians, who live and worship together, and find ways to impact their neighborhoods - a simple definition. I wonder - Need it be more?

Beyond that, I wonder if my evangelical/Pentecostal background has neglected this potential for too long. Is it possible that there are people who currently appear to be strange in the eyes of many Christians, who would be powerful expressions of the faith if they were placed in devoted communities of the faith, and given the potential for living in radical mission to their cities?

Links to SynchroBlog on Neo-Monasticism

Here is the list of those Blogging on the subject of Neo-Monasticism for this month's SynchroBlog. Welcome to March: the month of Dewi San (Saint David of Wales), and Saint Patrick. Neo-Monasticism seemed like a great subject when suggested by Steve Hayes in South Africa. Our special guest Beth at Until Translucent has specific and direct knowledge of this topic - check out her post when it comes up, and the others as well. Release date is Thursday the 13th, but here in the Americas I suggesting the posts be posted tonight - Wednesday night March 12th.

Phil Wyman at Phil Wyman's Square No More
Beth at Until Translucent
Adam Gonnerman at Igneous Quill
Steve Hayes at Notes from the Underground
Jonathan Brink at

Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes
Bryan Riley at at Charis Shalom"
Cobus van Wyngaard at My Contemplations
Mike Bursell at Mike's Musings
David Fisher at Cosmic Collisions
Alan Knox at The Assembling of the Church
Sam Norton at Elizaphanian
Erin Word at Decompressing Faith
Sonja Andrews at Calacirian

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Repent America Street Preacher Found Guilty in Salem

Each of the last four years (actually it seems like more, but that's what the paper says) Michael Marcavage and his friends come to Salem to hold big signs, and preach through bullhorns on and just before Halloween. In the Salem News today there is story about Michael being found guilty.

Our church has a little history with Michael. He had some things to say about us in a recent article in Salem's other paper The Salem Gazette.

Here is Repent America's video taken during the arrest on Halloween:

Now, I have some distinct feelings about this issue, and will simply say a few things related the subject, which might help shed some light on the subject from a local pastor's point of view.

1. Repent America is not supported by any of the local churches in their activities here in Salem. I am not even aware of a local church which appreciates their activities (I suppose there may be one, but I am not aware of any.)

2. Over the last number of years I have known street performers, and people barking for events who have been asked to stop using amplification, and even stop working prior to the 10pm curfew set against such noise. Noise ordinances, public complaints, and crowd unruliness during Halloween night have all been reasons for the police request to stop. Preachers have NOT been the only individuals requested to stop.

3. Every year our church is the single largest Christian presence on the street during the month long Halloween season. We obey every request of the police, and if something unique pops up, we resolve the situation with the help of city officials before we resume our activities. Despite working with the police in this manner, we find that people stand in line for up to an hour to experience our events, and despite the fact that we do not emphasize making a decision to receive Jesus, we see between 30 and 40 people make that decision each year, because they ask how to get closer to God. (This is not information I have shared at any time before, because we are sensitive to the fact that Evangelical Christianity looks like it is FORCING conversion upon people, and we never want to be guilty of that heinous crime against nature - even though we are evangelical.)

4. Our people have been asked by the Pagan community to be protected from these same street preachers, and we went out to bring peace on the streets.

So, what do you think? Does taking away a bullhorn amount to restricting free speech?

Monday, March 10, 2008

UK Radio Interview Online Now

The radio show Premier Drive, which I was asked to speak on a couple weeks ago sent me the audio file of the interview. The show was an interview about the Witches in Salem, and the Christian community living here. I've downloaded the file onto The Gathering at Salem Website.

You'll find a link to the podcast of the show on the front page of our church website.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Upcoming SynchroBlog on Neo-Monasticism - Thursday, March 13th

If you want to join the March edition of the SynchroBlog please inform me. This month the topic is Neo-Monasticism, and we will have Beth joining in on this one. Steve Hayes from South Africa suggested the topic - thanks Steve.

The above link to the SynchroBlog will give you an idea of how it works. I intiated this idea a little over a year ago to find friends who loved the same wacky topics as myself, and to take over the world with our ideas! Okay so much for taking over the world, but at least we can debate, argue, and throw beer bottles across the oceans at each other in fun. The release date for the blog is this coming Thursday, March 13th. I encourage all on the American continent to release it by Wednesday evening so that we can keep up with our friends from around the globe.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Tilting the Balance of Darkness and Light

Since Good Friday and Easter are almost upon us, and since they coincide with the Vernal Equinox, I decided it would be good to create a Good Friday liturgy based around the idea of the change in balance from darkness to light mirroring the movement of the season.

So here's my little icon to commemorate the concept. Does this speak to you in any way?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Tony Jones Honorable Mention? Holy Laughter!?

Tony Jones new book New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier includes a reference to our conference last May: "God for People Who Hate Church." In the forward of the book he says that he visited some extremes in respect to his Emergent church experiences while writing the book. We are listed as one extreme.

The fact that we practice dream interpretation believing that God still speaks to people in their dreams today like He did throughout the scriptures, and that we are from Pentecostal origins are the reason for this mention.

Here's the quote: ""As I was working on this manuscript, I was also on the road, speaking about this content to a variety of groups. In May 2007, I visited these five events in a whirlwind of travel..."

"A Pentecostal church in Massachusetts, where I participated in a conference titled 'God for People Who Hate Church' and shared the stage with witches and druids as they reflected on how they've been treated by Christians.

The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., where I spoke about the challenge that emergent Christianity poses to the Episcopal Church at a conference called 'Church in the Twenty-First Century'"

"Within a week, I'd gone from sitting with Pentecostals who interpret one another's dreams and break out in 'Holy Spirit laughter' to addressing collared Episcopal priests in the second largest cathedral on the continent. That's theological whiplash."

So we get the honorable mention in the forward. Or was it honorable? Maybe it was just a mention, but here's my response: Holy Laughter!? What's up with that? There may have been a few people at the conference who were into that, but as a church The Gathering does not practice that, and never has.

I suppose on one hand we are considered to be on the Frontiers of church life. That's cool. I want to live on the front edge of Christian experience as it pertains to touching our needy world, but I'd like to be accurately defined. Laughter - good. Learning to laugh in a holy manner - even better. Holy Laughter as practiced and defined by some Pentecostal Revivalists - uhm, a bit weird for me.

So Tony - Thanks for the mention, but we'll be expecting a minor retraction in the second printing bro. ;-)

Some of you will remember that I specifically asked Tony how the Emergent Conversation could better embrace the Charismatics and Pentecostals who were identifying with its values. You may also remember that I thought his answer was fair, but insufficient. Does this Holy Laughter comment perhaps hint why? Perhaps there is an assumption that all Pentecostals are whacked, and practice Holy Laughter? Perhaps there is fear of embracing emotional forms of worship expression? But wouldn't Pentecostal emotional expression be a positive move away from the post-enlightenment reliance in a solely intellectual pursuit of God? Just a thought which quite frankly I owe to some of Jeff Gentry's thoughts in his sermon today at The Gathering.