What’s Cookin’? 108

Sinbad: “You’re in Sinbad’s House. Rob Thomas. Matchbox 20. Sing something. Shut up.”

(-It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: “Dennis Reynolds: An Exotic Life”)

Highlight(s) of the week: (1) the Emergent Mid-Atlantic Conference (#emergentma08) was a great time. More than anything, I enjoyed hanging with all my friends – Todd, Thom, and Tim – over some beers and meeting Peter Rollins [author of How (Not) to Speak of God] for the first time and spending various times over 1 1/2 days talking with him. Also, I spent time on Saturday with Derek Cooper (a good friend of mine) and John Franke from Biblical Seminary. Great guys. (2) During the conference, I met some new people from other Emergent cohorts. It’s always nice to meet new people who are in the same “conversation” as you. I actually accompanied Charlie from Princeton to 30th Street Station since we were both picking up trains there. (3) Throughout all the curve-balls my life has been throwing me, Amanda has been incredibly supportive, and I love her more than ever because of it [plus, I think she said something in our vows about supporting me no matter what]. (4) Giselle says “Da-da” but not in reference to me. So, all I have to do is make that connection. “Da-da” is beating out “ma-ma” right now. (5) Amanda and I had a good laugh with Giselle the other day when she smacked her head really hard on the mirror from her dressing table – I thought she would cry, but, instead, she cracked up laughing. Kids always keep us laughing, don’t they?

What I’m reading: Hey! I finally finished Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw and The Historical Books by Richard D. Nelson. Two books in one week, woo-hoo! Currently, reading Relevant Magazine’s November-December issue. Also, my friend Derek’s book So You Thinking About Going to Seminary: An Insider’s Guide and The Art of Reading Scripture edited by Ellen Davis and Richard Hays.   

Listenin’ and lovin’:

  • Podcasts: As always – Mars Hills podcast every week. Emergent Village which announced that it is making some changes for the better (i.e., Tony Jones is no longer the head of Emergent Village. He didn’t do anything wrong, but they are attempting to break down hierarchy). But besides that, not much.
  • Music: I listened to part of Oh Sleeper’s When I Am God. Underoath’s newest CD – Lost in the Sound of Separation

What I’ve been vegetating in front of: (1) A&E’s Biography on Barack Obama helped me understand more of who our President-elect is as a person. (2) I set up my Xbox and played EA Sports’ UEFA Euro 2008 for some time. I want to buy FIFA 09, but I don’t have a job to make money to buy it. (3) I’m all caught up on Heroes, which has gotten a little weird for me, but I still like it. (4) It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The Office put some humor into my life.

Something(s) that blew my mind: (1) Not sure if this blew my mind, but it is mind-blowing – Barack Obama is the President of the United States of America. He is our first black president, and I don’t think that can be overstated. Todd had a great post in reflection about the election (whoa, that rhymes). I’m really interested in seeing how things play out. (2) Barack Obama becoming the President-elect brought about a lot of hate, but even more love. I was really surprised by staunch McCain supporters who said that they will be supporting and praying for Obama – very cool. 

Job update: I haven’t really made much progress in this area. I’m not sure where I want to go with all of this. I’ve been looking though, but I’m confident that God will provide.

Seminary update: last assignment (take-home final exam) for Gary Schnittjer’s class on the historical books of the Hebrew Scriptures is due tomorrow. Also, starting tomorrow is my class with David Lamb on the poetic books of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Looking forward to: (1) What God has in store for me. (2) How Barack Obama’s presidency will go. (3) If “Barack” and “Obama” will stop coming up as an incorrect spelling in spell-check (e.g., for “Obama” spell-check offers “Abeam”). (3) Finding a new place for our family to live. We’ve been living at my in-laws, but we’re looking to move on. (4) Exit-interview with Great Valley Presbyterian, which should provide some closure.


What’s Cookin’? 107

Highlight(s) of the week: (1) The Phillies won the World Series! (2) Partying at Five Points in NE Philadelphia. (3) Parade with Amanda and Giselle. (4) Amanda has been incredibly supportive of me, and I really appreciate it (see “Ministry Update/Something(s) that broke my heart” for reason why). (5) Sunday – I got to go to The Well, and I actually was able to go to church with my family without having to do a million things (again, see below). (6) Amanda made waffles for breakfast yesterday. That was really cool.

What I’m reading: still reading Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw and The Historical Books by Richard D. Nelson; Relevant Magazine‘s November-December issue. 

Listenin’ and lovin’:


  • Podcasts: Listen to Mars Hills podcasts every week. The most recent one was called “Beware the dogs,” which I blogged about; and the Emergent Village Podcast; Everyday Liturgy started a podcast. I had to give a shout-out to my boy, Thom Turner.
  • Music: Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song” which I listen to, to make me happy. It’s just peppy, good fun. The Fall of Troy’s Doppelganger


Something(s) that blew my mind: How much fun it is when your team wins the World Series! Yeah!

Ministry update/Something(s) that broke my heart: I lost my job as a youth pastor because the economy is going down the tubes. The church had to make budget cuts. I was one of them. They’re paying me until the end of December so that helps (but doesn’t). What killed me is hearing from some of the kids about how much they’ll miss me. Talk about a heartbreaker.

So, I don’t know what to do next. I’m just praying and keeping my head up. 

Seminary update: still reading like crazy for our class on the historical books of the Old Testament with Gary Schnittjer. Almost done. 

Looking forward to: (1) What God has in store for me. (2) Trying to go to the Emergent conference on Sunday. We’ll see.

What’s Cookin’? 106

Highlight(s) of the week: (1) The Phillies are up 3-1 in the World Series. Could it really happen? (2) Giselle laughed at me yesterday when I made a face at her. That’s the first time she did that without me tickling her. (3) Amanda is adjusting well to her new job. Apparently, she kicks kids out of class! If you know my wife, that would seem uncanny to you, but I’m glad she is asking kids to respect her.

Book(s) I’m reading: still reading Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw and The Historical Books by Richard D. Nelson 

Listenin’ and lovin‘: Listen to Mars Hills podcasts every week; APM: Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett – most recently I’ve been listening to one of the podcasts called “Being Autistic and Being Human” (it has exposed me to some of the ‘human-ness’ of people with autism, which I suppose was the purpose), and I also listened to an interview with Rod Dreher, author of Crunchy Cons: The New Conservative Counterculture and Its Return to Roots, talk about his care for environmental issues but how he is still Republican. That’s pretty cool. Also, I’ve fallen in love with listening to interviews by Emergent Village with Phyllis Tickle, what a wonderful and wise person. Music-wise: I created a “Genius” playlist on my iPhone with worship music so that included Delirious?, Hillsong, Hillsong United, Phil Wickham, and Jason Morant. 

Something(s) that blew my mind: (1) Did I mention that the Phillies are up 3-1 in the World Series? 

Something(s) that broke my heart: (1) I never thought Dobson would stoop so low as he did in his letter from Obama’s America in 2012. I hope to write about this later. Thanks to Thom for pointing this out. (2) Obama’s thoughts that America is the last great hope of the world still breaks my heart from a Christian perspective. This isn’t recent, but it still bothers me.

Ministry update: last night we had a combined youth group with our friends from Grace Valley Fellowship. We had a scavenger hunt, pizza, hayride, and bonfire. It was a lot of fun. Tucker (their youth pastor) and I really tried to promote interaction between both groups. I think it worked out well.

Seminary update: still reading like crazy for our class on the historical books of the Old Testament with Gary Schnittjer. I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around all of what we are talking about, specifically, Nelson’s (above book) view on the historical books. We read Esther in the Septuagint with all the additions, which I told my friend Ben who is Eastern Orthodox, and he responded, “In other words, you read the complete Esther.” That’s a seminary joke, but a funny one if you get it. I won’t tell you why. Look it up! Also, reading Genesis 22 (the near-sacrifice of Isaac) and its interpretation from the Jewish, Muslim, Samaritan, and Christian perspectives.

Looking forward to: (1) the Phillies winning the World Series! I’m really looking forward to my mom’s reaction, if my reaction will result in my getting arrested (kidding!), and a parade!

Emergence and the Struggle for Power

I had a chance to listen to Phyllis Tickle give a sermon titled “Ancient Disciplines for the Church” at Mars Hill Bible Church (i.e., Rob Bell’s church). She reflected upon that about every 500 years there is a major change in the Christian Church. 500 years ago, we experienced the Protestant Reformation. 500 years before that, the Great Schism (East and West Church split). 500 years earlier, the Council of Chalcedon. 500 years before that, what she calls “the Great Transformation” — Jesus comes on the scene, followers of Judaism transform to followers of Jesus (which is obviously where this all started for the Christian Church). I think you get the picture. Phyllis Tickle continues to talk about how today we are experiencing the “Great Emergence.” Whenever a 500 year period passes and a new one comes on the scene, the old is not done away with, but the new is tacked on and removes some of the old skin (so to speak). For instance, Roman Catholicism was not done away with by the Protestant Reformation, but the Reformation removed some of the old skin that layered Christianity (such as the rethinking of the priesthood to “all Christians are priests,” etc.).

As I personally reflect on our past 500 years and look at the Great Emergence, I see that the Emergence is simply saying, “Let’s keep the good of the old, but we’ve gone too far with this, this, and this.” For instance, good ol’ Protestantism does not die here, but we say, “The emphasis of personal, spiritual growth is good, but we’ve gone too far in getting rid of anything we perceive to be ‘Roman’ such as images of any kind in church (some Protestants even have removed the image of the cross…yikes!).”

The question arises in my own mind, then why are people so afraid of the Emergence? Then it hit me – it ultimately comes down to power. Subconsciously, people are afraid that if the emerging church (or the emergents) get their way, we will no longer be in power, and they will be. Now, we all want control. Even emergents speak the same way about whatever has gone before them, “Well, if we fix this, this, and this, and we do such and such, and if we are leading the way, it will all get better.” Unfortunately, this all boils down to the “Us vs. Them” fiasco. Those who dislike the Emergence, deny its influence and condemn it, why?…because it’s a power struggle. Those who are part of the Emergence, poke fun at the old regime and deny its influence, why?…because it’s a power struggle. “If they are out and we are in, it will be perfect.”

The solution then is, I believe, to accept the good and the bad from both. Build off of the past 500 years, remove the bad, and add some good to it. We should not deny the influence of the Great Emergence (or that it exists…which it does). The Reformation brought a lot of good, right? And a lot of bad, too. But no Protestant is sitting there saying, “I wish that Reformation never happened because it has brought about a lot of baggage.” They are saying, “The Reformation brought some baggage, but also some good. Let’s get started!” Or now one is saying, “That pesky John Calvin! I wish he never existed.” They don’t because in many ways what we deem “bad” has made us a better, stronger church. For instance, particularly in the past 100 years, conservative Protestantism (if I may use that term) has fallen short by emphasizing the rescuing of “souls” so much that they neglected the social aspects of the gospel. On the other side of the spectrum, Emergence reminds us that one’s physical condition is important, but it must at times remember that so are “souls” (I don’t believe either would deny this things in word but often can by implication in deed). If we do so, we can become a stronger church.

Therefore, I conclude: we must put behind our “us vs. them” struggles–our power struggles–and we must accept the new Emergence as a chance to remove some of the old skin. Simultaneously, we must remember our past and the influence it has had on the world. Thus, by looking back, we can create a greater future for the Christian Church and its mission for the world.

You can listen to Phyllis Tickle’s talk on Mars Hills’ website here.