Colbert on Atheism

Colbert Report: Richard Dawkins

My guest tonight is a scientist who argues that there is no God. Well you know what? He’ll have an eternity in hell to prove it.

Heather Webb, Small Group Leadership as Spiritual Direction

I picked up this book to help me in my training efforts for the new congregation. Since finishing, major paradigm shifts have helped to form more of these ideas. I also wanted to read a book written by a woman. That’s good for me. Webb doesn’t prescribe a church-wide or church based programmatic approach. Instead, she develops various kinds of groups, models and describes the influences of postmodernity and spiritual direction on small group dynamics.

Here’s some flak for your jacket:

Webb opens with a discussion of a clip from Dogma. I will be using this clip to ramp up the new congregation leadership team. Then she follows with:

p.22 “These characters ask the crucial question, ‘Does the church do anything for us?’ There is a sense that both Bethany and the Angel with the answer were yes.”

p.23/4 “Gen-X-ers can hold two opposite concepts of something with equal validity, not either/or but both/and. Reality needn’t be defined in black and white.”

p.29 “Imagine life in the early church: offering all you’ve earned to the communal pot, living by a code of behavior that defies everything you’ve been taught. Community life demands that we live in ways that go against our human nature.”

p.104 “…there is an increasing need for small groups to expand their reach and become places with no agenda but to draw people closer to God and each other.”

At the conclusion of the book, Webb discusses 3 models of small groups. They are defined by being story, text or prayer centered. Each is different and each has great merits.

Missional Halloween

Bob Hyatt posted some thoughts from someone else that is a more redeeming and less seculsion view of Halloween. This is a great example of what I am talking about in what I see the church (american version) doing that seems to run counter to what I see in Jesus. We change the name to harvest party and run our own mirror event that is much “safer” – I don’t uinderstand why the heck we can’t just call it halloween – do we honestly think that if we change the name it changes anything (note: we can email NBC 750,000 times and get them to bleep out the world “Hall@$%^#n”)?

This really matches me and Heather’s view of the old trick or treat night. We bought a monkey load of candy the first year we were in Albany and had 2 kids come – from next door. And we watched for them – nobody…

In our town everybody gets in the car and drives to the new subdivisions and gets the good candy. I guess I live in the hood? I think that says something sad about my town, also, about how we don’t gather together as a hood and try to live. Instead we get in our cars and go get from the rich….interesting…

Fun Times

This is always a fun little post. Here’s some words from recent searches that have landed at the reOrient:

1. Rob Bell ways to heaven
2. pat kane play ethic
3. having seen how secrets can be traded for celebrity, teenagers are selling their own experiences before
4. total money makeover
5. tim condor
6. publisher sweepstakes

People find out they’re Christians…

Last night the high school group whose numb I break joined with the middle school group from our church to go around in local neighborhoods to pass out fliers for a food drive pick-up happening on Saturday. I was really proud of the kids (obviously I wouldn’t blog here if I wasn’t) for three big reasons.

1. A large number of them showed up. We’ve never done this kind of a “mini-missions” trip on a Wednesday night before, so we weren’t sure who would really be into it. We had a “high” attendance night (which is not our sole indicator of success, but every “number” is a teen we love)! This blessed me and I hope each other – it also furthered my belief that the teens in our group/town are tired of talking about it and being intellectual Christians – they want to put wheels on the car and go somewhere. Our teens are not stupid about theology though, they know the great schism and the 95 thesis and routinely talk eschatology…they are missionary minded theologians.

2. Many of the high schoolers acted very graciously towards middle schoolers. I have two fears: sharks and larage groups of children under 13. Thankfully only one of those was a reality last night. And since we are an hour from the ocean, I have to say that I love seeing high schoolers care for “the least of these”; in their world, this often means a 6th-8th grader.

3. One of the drivers was a teacher from one of the local high schools and he made a point 2 or 3 times to tell me how much he loved these kids and how they were a great group and etc. etc. After a lot of the kids had left I got to engage him in a bit of conversation and ask about his remarks. He told me that the thing he liked most about the Driven (no, he didn’t use the word Driven) high schoolers is that they don’t go around school being bible thumpers. He said they are just kind students who are open to people and show love in ordinary but real ways. He said, then other people find out they are Christians and they are pleasantly surprised. I almost teared up. Not only are Driven students loving others, but they are changing the negative perceptions of Christians. Not bad, not bad.

This needs preached…

My life calling has been the same for a long time, but it seems to be adjusting a bit. Really, it’s the same, just I am expressing it with different words. For a long, long time I have lived like this:

When I die, I hope teenagers cry.

You might think that’s morbid, if so, google the James is wierd club to meet people just like you. For the rest of us it makes sense that if a person invests his life in teens consistently they will cry at your funeral. It reminds me that I want to influence teens for my whole life.

Somehow I need to add:

Break the numb.

I really think that the western world (wealthy) is numb to much of the kingdom of God – and it seems to be the prophetic job of ‘pastors’ to break through this and help people see the kingdom here and coming.

Along that line, I need to preach sometime about how we have taken the statement about being in the world, but not of the world and changed it into being like the world but not as bad as the world. For evidence, look at contemporarty christian music, the christian publishing industry, coffee shops in churches, silly slogans on signs, the way church leaders dress, christian celebrities, church buildings, democratic church leadership, etc. The negative effect of this is an isolationism and elitism that is causing many people to no longer look at Christians as lovers of all – instead they think we love their stuff, ideas, and anything else we can copy; yet we can do without those heathens who negatively influence our market share.

break the numb.

Pragmatic Pope Phishes phor Promulation

The title link goes to a london times article about the pope, Benedict 16, making some changes to the unofficial Roman Catholic doctrines. Specifically, the Catholic church no longer puts unbaptised babies (i.e. stillborn) into the “limbo” zone; now these children will go on to heaven. You can read the article for details on the shift. There are some specific ramifications here that should be thought through. and, I don’t care if you think you are protestant and so the pope doesn’t matter – tell that to the 1 billion catholics on earth – and to your ancestors pre-1500 who would pretty much call you a heretic for not venerating the pope.

Notes of Interest:

  • The pope may be bowing at the altar of pragmatism. In thrid-world, muslim countries, Islam says that babies go straight to heaven, so, they seem like the more loving religion. If your baby died (with high infant-mortality rates in the third world, this has either affected you or a close family memeber or friend) wouldn’t you want a religion with a god that had mercy on your child? So, the pope may be changing doctrine to create a more attractive Christianity. Personally, I hope that he’s right – because that would make me more attracted to God.
  • The Catholic church seems to spend too much time talking about who’s where after they die. This move by B-16 makes it seem like the children are being freed today! This is a perverted form of dispensationalism, if that is the impression. Instead of the pope granting anything, they should be putting out statements that say they were wrong for the last however many years – and now they think they got it right.
  • Lastly, I think it is good to make our religion more attractive, but I don’t think doctrine is always the best way to do that. Perhaps, the pope could increase humanitarian aid to muslim countries. Then there would be no doubt on what the message of the gospel is.

I love the pope. Jesus loves the pope. You should too.