Thursday, May 31, 2007

Six Days to Go - Is this Good? or Something Other?

My son Elijah is having a kidney transplant in six days. People say things like, "That's great!" and then ask, "Are you excited?"

How on earth am I supposed to answer that question? I have been responding like a deer in the headlights. I blink a couple times, and then stare blankly.

It is a very good thing that a friend of his is willing to be a kidney donor. It will be better for Elijah after the transplant than it is now - by far. Is it good that he is even in this position? - heck no. Somehow I can't make a tantalizing meal out of this bitter season of life. Maybe down the road I'll be able to see this kidney disease in a different light. For now I blink, and then stare blankly.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Elijah's Rotten Kidney's Videos

So, as the fundraising continues for Elijah's Kidney Transplant Fund, he and his buddy Dan are making Videos about it. Check it out here.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Elijah's Kidney Fund - Help Needed

My son Elijah will facing a kidney transplant within the next two weeks. It has been a rough road over the last year and a half since he was discovered to have a life threatening, rare kidney disease. Your prayers, words of encouragement, and even financial support through this extremely expensive process are deeply appreciated now. You can donate through The Gathering to Elijah's Kidney Fund.

It is during these times when we discover what it means to have others help us with those burdens which are too great for us to carry on our own. You can visit the donation page HERE.

Blessings on you, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Phil, Bev, Rhonda, Crash, Puppy, Holly, Forrest, and especially Elijah Wyman

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tagged by Igneous Dude

I was tagged by Adam at Igneous Quill - Mr. Lava Pen Himself. So, here are my responses, and I guess I must tag others. I will only tag two to be gentle to the blogosphere: Agent B, and The Prof. Carlos Z. So you'll have to answer these questions dudes.

1. Male or Female: e-male

2. Married or Single (or religious): Married to a real Babe!

3. Dream vacation: Wales by foot - again, and again, and again. Cymru am byth!

4. Birthplace: Pasadena, CA, USA

5. Area I live in currently: The world's coolest city - Salem, MA

6. Someone you wish you could meet: Bryn Terfel

7. Biggest "pet-peeve": Guys who call themselves Apostles.

8. Favorite Religious devotion: Well - here's two: Lectio Divina, and meditation on nature.

9. Favorite Saint (besides the Blessed Mother): This changes from season to season, and is never based upon Catholic cannonization. So any dead person might do. ;-) Currently Petr Chelcicky the Bohemian reformer born in 1390.

10. Favorite sport that you play: Not currently playing - but Waterpolo.

11. Favorite food: sushi

12. Tridentine or Novus Ordo: about a Quaker meeting house? or a Brush Arbor meeting.

13. Would you (or are you) home school or public school: Did both. Christian School for my son, then 1 year home school, then to Public College by his Junior year of HIgh School.

14. How many kids do you have: the one boy mentioned above.

15. Ever been in an auto accident: Yes sirree.

16. Ever seen a pope in person: No, but the Pope was on the cover of Life magazine the day I was born.

17. Languages that you know fluently: I am an American Monoglot trying to learn Welsh.

18. Last movie you saw in theatres: ? What's a theatre? is that some strange french spelling for a movie house?

19. Favorite Blog: Dang - that changes daily.

20. Your thoughts on Barney, the Easter bunny, and Santa Claus: Cabbage. Oh, this wasn't a word association game?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pentecostals, Emergent, Anabaptists and Icons

Once again I will take a moment to dig into the interesting interaction between the Emergent conversation, and Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity.

Mysticism is a serious pursuit among many Emergent thinkers. Ancient practices such as lectio divina, and the ritual worship art of icons are gaining popularity among Emergent Evangelicals whose traditions would at one time have avoided such interests, if not have rejected them altogether. This particular element of mysticism, and its resurgence among Evangelical Emergent thinkers is a piece of the puzzle in the Pentecostal/Emergent interaction which has a strangely twisted plot to it.

Today's Evangelicals, and more specifically Pentecostals have a kinship to the Anabaptists of old with their concern over the issue of icons. In respect for the 2nd commandment, using images as a means of creating a touch point for worship is viewed as idolatrous by many people from Pentecostal traditions. Yet, the Emergent conversation has been asking us to consider ancient mysticism. Along with the emergence of a response to postmodern culture and thought comes this renewal of medieval Christian mysticism, and with it a new appreciation for the purpose of the art of icons with their intellectual, and emotional attachment to prayer and worship.

Orthodox theology allows for an "eikon" as a representation of deity, which becomes a point of reference for access to the graces of heaven. As the Mass is more than a mere representation of the blood and body of the Lord in Orthodox and Catholic traditions, so the icon is more than a representation. It becomes an entrance into the presence of Heaven for prayer, and worship. Thus the Orthodox believer may not worship an icon, but does not struggle with the "veneration" of the icon, even to the point of kissing it.

Contrarily, Pentecostal and Evangelical churches are unadorned, and simple. No icons except that of the cross (usually empty and without the body of Christ) fill the spaces of worship. The place of worship is often deemphasized as a holy location, and the true "eikon" is believed to be the followers themselves who are God's image giving us a deeper glimpse into the redemptive story, and the character of God. Like the medieval Anabaptists, Pentecostal tradition has simplified worship to a direct relationship with no need for mediatorial help apart from that of Christ Himself. Placing anything between the believer and Jesus is viewed as a hindrance, and potentially a false "eikon" or an idol.

Consequently the Emergent conversation's movement toward medieval mysticism through such elements as icons may easily be seen by many Pentecostals as a step toward idolatry. I believe the Emergent conversation correctly asks us to consider evaluating iconography in the Orthodox traditions in a new light. It is not acceptable to judge the prayerfulness of those who utilize icons without considering the actions of the inner life - the thought process, and the theology placed behind the use of icons. It is possible for one person to utilize an icon as a teaching tool, and a reminder of the purposes of Heaven illustrated by the art of icons; and another person might actually venerate an icon to the point of idolatry.

Due to humanity's movement toward idolatry, the early Anabaptists who were drawn to simplicity must be honored for their insistence upon purging their lives from idolatrous activities. Their desire to purge the church of idolatry remains a core value of many Christian traditions. Though the idols change from generation to generation, the necessity for iconoclasts who challenge our idolatries does not.

It is in this clash of systems, the Orthodox worshiper, and the iconoclast, that we find the Emergent/Pentecostal dialogue walking the tightrope of Christian faith.

Yet the challenge of tightrope walking is as difficult for the Emergent thinker who challenges Pentecostal Emergents, as it is for the challenged Pentecostal. The day in which we live Pentecostal traditions have become the laughingstock of the religious world. Our TV preachers are the most ostentatious. Because of the early growth of the movement among the poor and uneducated, leadership has been high on passion and low in learning - much like the early days of Christianity itself. Yet the insistence upon developing an unmediated personal relationship with God marked by passion, and bypassing the human intellect is a story of mysticism which has traveled down the halls of our faith. Quakers, Pentecostals, Baptists, and Congregationalists sit in relatively unadorned churches in celebration of this. Quakers, Pentecostals, and Charismatics wait for the Spirit of the Lord to speak into their hearts and minds, often unmediated by physical items, or persons of position. Despite the over played emotionalism of TV Pentecost, the value of pursuing the ancient mysticism of traditions similar to Anabaptism - some of which reach back into the earliest days of Christianity, and into the record of the Book of Acts itself is as needful to be embraced as is the beauty of the iconography of Orthodoxy.

There are Emergent Pentecostals embracing, or at the least gaining appreciation for the ancient arts of iconography, but I am not sure that an appreciation for the unmediated radical pursuit of the ecstatic which has marked Quaker, Anabaptist, and Pentecostal traditions is receiving equal respect. The ancient practice of waiting on Pentecost for the unmediated movement of the Spirit in power and grace is a discipline I would encourage all Emergent thinkers to investigate without prejudice.

Even as I write this, it is now possible to go online and find a thing never before seen by religious people: Mennonite Icons designed by Orthodox iconographers. The ancient icon makers and the iconoclasts have met, and are working together.

Can the Emergent conversation become a place where both worlds meet, dialogue, and learn to worship and celebrate together?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell Dies

And with his passing perhaps the passing of an era. See story here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Great Quotes from Wild Men - Girolamo Savonarola

"In the primitive church the chalices were of wood, the prelates of gold; in these days the Church hath chalices of gold and prelates of wood."

Savonarola may not be my model for leadership, but I have to admire his radical conviction. His observations about the corruption of religion have rung true throughout the centuries which have followed this 15th century Dominican prist.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pent-emergence and the Poor

I have been considering the issue of the poor, and their identification with the Kingdom of God as it relates to this Emergent/Pentecostal connection.

The Pentecostal church has been perhaps the greatest Christian force among the poor in the 20th century, and still remains a fast growing movement (particularly in poorer nations) today. With the emphasis on global concern, and social justice in the Emergent conversation, it seems to me that a dialogue about the benefits of Pentecostalism to the poor deserves some airtime.

What is it about Pentecostalism that speaks to the hearts of the poor, even though social concern is not as high on the list of it's concerns as it is for some other movements? and even though it is often a movement among local people with few financial resources? Is there something in this simple, yet passionate movement which has something to offer the Emergent Church, yet remains relatively misunderstood, or overlooked?

I suppose one can quickly presume that the poor run to Pentecostal evangelists for false promises of wealth, but can we be so sure that the movement of such a large flock to Pentecostal traditions is as easily explained as that? There is obviously something more significant than false hopes of riches considering the size, and variation within the movement? What lessons can we learn about the power of Pentecostal traditions to draw, and to empower, and to encourage the poor? and how can this become a source of challenge to the Emergent conversation?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I want to be Emergematic, not Pentemergent.

I have decided I'd rather be Emergematic. Emergematic has a sense of hope attached to it. It is ready to wear, quick to move, and self activating. Pentemergent sounds bottled up, filled with struggling emotions, and frustrated. At least that's how the words sound to me.

I also do not hold to a strict view of Tongues as the initial physical evidence of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, so that makes me more Charismatic than Pentecostal anyway. I tend to be laid back, and don't need to shout during a church service to feel like God arrived, so that makes me more Charismatic as well.

I would like to be easily comfortable with my Charismania elements in Emergent settings. I can not say that I am uncomfortable, but then I am not fully confortable either. Fully comfortable would make me Emergematic, but I think there just might be a touch of Pent-in-my-Emergent.

Whay might I and some others of us feel that way?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Emergematic or Pentemergent?

I am wondering where I fit these days. The old denomination didn't want me. Of course, it has been rumored that early in my ministry I sent a letter to the headquarters which had a misspelling of the word "denomination," and that the word was spelled "demonation." I think I did send a letter with that typo. Dang! That's cool. Someone I didn't even know asked me a few months ago if I wrote that letter. That would have been nearly 20 years ago. Wow!

Well, so now we are making new friends, and leaving behind old ways, because the old gang got rid of us. So, who am I now? I wonder. I have a little Emergent in me, and yet I still have the Charismatic/Pentecostal in me. So I am looking to find how these divergent worlds fit together. I guess we'll see if I end up Pentemergent or Emergematic.
Which one rings true to your ears?

For some theological discussion concerning Emergent and Pentecostalism see The Gathering church blogsite.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Live Blogging from God For People Who Hate Church

May 4-6th - yep that only 3 days away! - we will provide some live blogging from our conference. Topics and themes of teachings and panel discussions will be provided by various observers. Carly Menasco, Kevin Menasco, Josh Rivera (see His blog rivera's Blog), and others will take a hand at some live commentary. If you follow the blogging at the blog site for The Gathering, you can send some questions from distant places and get involved.

If you want to find the schedule for the conference, and follow along, go to our church website and follow the link to the conference flyer. Of course, you will need to add or subtract hours to adapt to Eastern Standard Time US.