Thursday, May 31, 2007

.. and then there's

Coalition and cleanliness

Read an article today in Christian Century (see link above) reporting that Rick Warren (purpose-driven pastor of Saddleback Church, among other achievements) is being criticized by the Christian Accountability Network, among others, for failing to publicly reprimand media giant Rupert Murdoch (Fox TV, et nauseum) for his holdings of porn channels. The attack is based on Warren's claim that he is Murdoch's pastor.

The article quotes Warren as saying: "I don't have to agree with 100 percent of what another person does in order to work with them on the 20 percent that we do agree on." Murdoch was credited with donating $2m to Warren's PEACE plan almost immediately, and one of his publishing companies puts out some of Warren's books.

There are lots of good reasons to like and dislike Rick Warren, and even more reason to dislike Rupert Murdoch. But Warren is the only major evangelical I've seen come out very strongly against poverty, corruption, illiteracy, and other ills abroad and at home.
If Murdoch is helping him do that, good for him.

As a Christian, publicly calling someone out is one's last resort. (See Mt. 18 for our dispute process). If Warren is indeed Murdoch's pastor, the last thing he should be doing is publicly disciplining or reprimanding him. Ecclesiastically and practically, it's the wrong thing to do.

There is also a tone to the criticism that leans toward levitical purity: Rick Warren should walk through the streets shouting "unclean" until he chides (and, presumably rejects the money of) Murdoch. How Jesus-like.

I pray we continue to find ways to work together when we can, and find others to work with when we can't. The kingdom is just too important.

(A small BTW -- the Christian Accountability Network was "founded in early 2007 to provide balanced Biblical accountability to America’s prominent pastors and teachers regarding their teaching and life." This is, apparently, its first foray into ethical discernment and teaching, though founder Rosebrough seems to live out loud in many places in the blogosphere. He has now achieved some of the notoriety he clearly desires.)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Word cloud

The Mollinator used this cool widget in her blog. It's a word cloud from the good people at Snapshirts. It looked for the words of this blog and made them pretty. As long as no one ever does this with the monologue in my head, I'm good.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Drenched faith

One more thing: in his nooma Trees (which I saw last night as the devotional for our 2s & 3s potluck), Rob Bell describes the world as "drenched in God" (I think that's right -- I'll correct it later if it's not).

I love that description. I know that the basis for my goofy foolish hope, even in the face of horrific abuse and anti-christ politics, is that from time to time I am awash, drenched, in the presence of God, right here, right now.

So, Rob, I'm stealing it. Drenched in God. Drenchedfaith. Let it rain.

Africa emerging

Last night I dreamed about Rwanda. It wasn't a dream about Rwanda; it was a dream about passing a car wreck on 280 north just above Saratoga Ave. But as we were passing the multi-car wreck, someone whispered "Rwanda". Like a ghostly movie narrator.

Africa isn't a regular dream topic for me. I'm more of a water girl. A few weeks ago my husband and I did discuss a trip to Rwanda to visit the gorillas, but I haven't thought about it since then.

This morning, I received the new Emergent/C in my inbox, and there was Brian McLaren writing about his trip to Africa. Evocative.

I don't like to think I can make a connection between a dreamed car wreck, a whispered name, and a blog posting. But I do like to think the the Holy Spirit can.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Blogging the meeting

I would have written sooner but the internet provider that Asilomar uses died mid-download yesterday. The good part about that is that I spent my time outside and at the beach and with the folks.

It's wonderful to be here with people who are excitedly figuring out how to follow Jesus -- for whom that's a living question. Yesterday we got into discernment/discussion about what it means for us right now in Silicon Valley to be church with each other. Our church family is economically very diverse; historically that has been left unremarked upon. I know that reticence comes from a fear of moneytalk coupled with pride/embarrassment on the part of both the struggling and the secure. But that means that those who are actively struggling "can't" talk about it (and get help and support) and those who could pitch in don't know.

The fear-of-moneytalk also serves as a community divider: it reinforces the sense of isolation, of nuclearfamily-ism, that pervades our culture. And that is acute in our area, where working 70 hours a week is a point of pride (for techies) and of need (for laborers), and the housing median is over $800k. If any society needed a counter-culture, it's ours.

If we had any guts, we'd choose to reconstruct our relationships: we'd invest in co-housing, rear our kids together, create shared child care -- we'd be sub-urban monastics. Minimally, our people would assume that we would take care of each other, openly, rather than wait for a whispered secret to inspire.

Anyway, so last night we were talking about finding a way to offer health insurance to those in our congregation who can't afford it. I'm thinking about investing in a CSA as a church. It's not Acts 2, but it's a start.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Vacation to vocation

My wonderful husband and I spent the last few days in Las Vegas with his mother. It was her first time there in 35 years, so we were the "experts". We enjoy Vegas because a) no planning is required to purchase an air/hotel package (and vacation=no planning), b) people will bring you food if you want them to, and c) we can take very long walks or sit by the pool and "b" will still apply. We weren't sure how she would like it (she's a pretty refined and academically-cultural person) and so were nervous going into it. We planned a trip to Quark's Bar (a piece of the huge Star Trek Adventure) as a silliness midway, and because we'd never been. Turns out that was her favorite part: Klingons and Ferengis with her lunch.

Vegas is a funny place for pastors to go: it's like a retailer visiting its major supplier. But it's also this incredible cross-section of humanity: all classes, all races, all ages, many countries. People in saris and shorts and sarongs. Between napping and walking, I remember how similar we all are -- how much we're all looking for hope. And sometimes even tiny conversations in elevators or cabs turn to where my own hope lies.

Today I head to the annual meeting of our local UCC churches, known as "asilomar" because that's where it's been held for a long time. There too no planning is required, food is made for you, and I can take very long walks. But it's not vacation, because I am representing my church and have some duties. I love being with the folks from our church, and am a fan of God's ocean (especially when it's foggy, which it often is there), but I often feel more like a follower of Jesus in Vegas than at Asilomar. In the meetings (not at the beach or with our folks) I feel like a piece of a certain kind of machinery (a very loose machine, of course), rather than of the living body of Christ. I know it's about me -- it's not annual meeting's "fault" -- but the contrast is striking. There I am a paid professional church leader and have to work at following Jesus; on vacation I am a follower among God's people.

Vocation can be found in vacation: in Sin City I remember my source. This time at annual meeting, may Jesus yank me out of profession and back into the joy of discipleship and fellowship.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Thanking the God of the Irish

Today, Northern Ireland instituted a united, independent government. I cannot express how happy and hopeful this makes me.

It's been nearly four hundred years since the British colonized Ulster in the north, seizing Irish land.

It's been over two hundred years since the Kingdom of Ireland was overtaken by Great Britain, and brought entirely under British rule.

It's been nearly a hundred years since the Irish Protestant minority rejected home rule -- the rule of Ireland by Irish -- and 93 years since the country was cut into two, with 26 counties in the Republic, and 6 counties under British rule.

It's been 91 years since the uprising on Easter Monday, when rebels in the southern Republic fought for reunification under Irish home rule.

It's been nearly forty years since the worst of the Troubles began. And it's been 26 years since Bobby Sands was elected to Parliament, and died in a hunger strike in the Maze prison.

Over the years, the Irish Republican Army has earned and born the brunt of the blame for violence, the media ignoring the Ulster Volunteer Force and other terrorists of British-Irish descent. Over the years, Christian religion has born the brunt of the blame for the troubles, the hatred, and the separation, though religion was just the tangible marker of the results of colonialism and discrimination.

I give great thanks today that, after hundreds of years of pain and sorrow, there is hope in Northern Ireland. And I give great thanks that there is hope for other post-colonial countries, including my own, and for all those we continue to colonize and fight in name of the modern nation-state.

26+6 might not ever equal 1. But it might finally = 2.