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.

The Tribal Jesus Is Killing Our World

“Dennis: You cut the sleeves off of all your t-shirts. What, to show off your tats? Those are really original.

Mac: They’re tribal.

Dennis: ‘They’re tribal.’ I’m sorry, what tribe are you from?”

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

The above quote has little to do with anything, but it mentions the word “tribal” and helps us laugh a little before reading something that may anger us (not sure why it would, but just in case it does).

I recently listened to Rob Bell speak about Philippians 3v1-6 (“Beware the dogs” on October 19, 2008). Much of his talk was about “tribal affiliation.” We each are a part of some “tribe.” The tribe sets up boundaries, beliefs, systems, etc. This comes from a natural human instinct.

I’d like to summarize and interpret some of what Rob was saying before I move to my point – There are three parts to human development. First, ego-centrism comes at a very early age. My 6 month old daughter, Giselle, swears the world revolves around her because she doesn’t know any better (or can’t know at this point). You are concerned with your own welfare. Second, ethno-centrism comes about in concern for one’s tribe. You understand the world is bigger than you, but your tribe limits this. You are concerned about the welfare of people in your tribe. Third, world-centrism understands that people are connected, and you are ultimately more concerned about everyone’s welfare versus your own.

The problem is that most of us are stopping at stage two, that is, ethno-centrism. It can be understood as “us vs. them.” My tribe versus your tribe. Me versus you. My beliefs versus your beliefs. Get the picture? What happens is that we begin to think the world is our tribe. For example, if I’m Reformed, that’s my tribe, and everyone else who believes differently than my Reformed theology is outside of my tribe and is incorrect or needs to understand the way I do.

The thing is, as Rob Bell states, “Jesus is always bigger than your tribe.” We desire for Jesus to be our tribe, but the fact is, he’s not. He’s bigger than it.

So, I think about this in light of being critical towards each other as Christians. We follow Jesus Christ. Jesus is world-centric. He is bigger than our tribe. What we often to do is criticize those who are outside of our tribe. Let’s use the above example again. The Reformed tribe criticizes the Pentecostal tribe because the Pentecostal tribe believes that you have ultimate free will in choosing or rejecting the Holy Spirit. So, the Reformed criticize. But remember – Jesus is always bigger than our tribe. On the other hand, we have those who criticize people who view the world in tribes and act like those people are ridiculous. That’s the same problem.

What we like to do is tribal-ize the gospel. We like to make the gospel sound like the language of our tribe. But, if Jesus is bigger than our tribe, and he is world-centric, we need to rethink this. We constantly belittle the efforts of others in other tribes. We constantly see them talking to other people from other religions, and we say, “They’re universalists! They believe all roads lead to heaven!” Or, we say, “They believe we’re all universalists! What idiots!” Paul says, “Beware of those dogs!” (Phil. 3v2). Beware of the Judaizer who thinks circumcision is necessary for salvation. Beware of anyone who tribal-izes Jesus.

Jesus is always bigger than our tribe.

The world needs Jesus. It doesn’t need our tribes. (Sorry to say it, but it’s true.) The world doesn’t need another Pentecostal church, or Reformed systematic theology, or an Anglican liturgy. The world needs Jesus.

Do you wonder why kids go to college and walk away from Christianity? They don’t struggle with Jesus. But they struggle with the tribe’s Jesus. They struggle with, “Well, everything you learn at that liberal, pagan university is a bunch of atheistic, Marxist pish-posh (Christians wouldn’t curse, would they?).” For instance, Galileo didn’t struggle with Jesus, but he sure struggled with the tribal-ized Jesus. He struggled with the tribe’s view that the world is flat – “the Bible says it (Isa. 11v12 – “four corners” can’t be on a globe) so I believe it!”

Is that Jesus? No, that’s a tribal-ized Jesus.

I hate to go here, but another example is this. “God hates gay people! And all those universities are following a homosexual agenda.” Then, a kid meets a gay person for the first time in their life, and the person is actually kind and not evil and doesn’t have an agenda; so what happens? They say, “Well, the Bible must not be true. It’s just a bunch of folktales. So, Jesus isn’t the way for me.” No, Jesus is the way for you, but the tribal-ized Jesus isn’t. You see what I mean? (If you’re angry, which I’m not sure why you would be, just read the above quote again. That should help). The tribal Jesus is killing our world, not helping it.

Jesus is always bigger than your tribe.

What’s Cookin’? 105

Highlight(s) of the week: (1) The Phillies are NL Champs and are in the World Series! Go Phillies! (2) The Red Sox didn’t make it. I’m very happy about that, not for matchup-sake but because I’m tired of “the nation.” (3) Amanda, Giselle, and I spent the weekend in Lancaster with my family. It was very nice to get away for a little while. (3) New addition to the Green-side of the family: Liam Joseph Fleming was born on Friday. He’s huge – almost as long as Giselle is now at 6 months.

Book(s) I’m reading: still reading Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw and now reading The Historical Books by Richard D. Nelson (for class – but talk about a book that is almost everything against what I’ve learned growing up or even believe now – but it’s still a good read. I don’t recommend it for those who are the faint of heart, but I do recommend thus far for those who are into ‘scholarly pursuits.’)

Listenin’ and lovin’: Listen to Mars Hills podcasts every week; APM: Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett – most recently I listened to one that discussed religion in the Democratic party. I will be listening this week to her one on religion in the Republican party, too, but which is normally assumed by many. I recommend Speaking of Faith to get a broad range of thought on religion; also have been enjoying Relevant Magazine’s podcast. It is a weekly podcast with a few people having a good time together and also getting serious at times. It’s very good. Music-wise: I have to say I keep listening to Viva la Vida for whatever reason that only addiction may explain. Also I recently listened to Phil Wickham’s Cannon, and Fear Before the March of Flames’ Always Open Mouth (again, not for the faint of heart).

Something(s) that blew my mind: (1) I taught Jr. Church (1-5th graders) on Sunday morning, and they were respectful. It shows what a few rules will do to hold it together. (2) I posted three things about politics on my blog, which I swore I wouldn’t do so I named the category “Politics (Eww…)” to express my dislike for the subject, but I find it unavoidable around every four-year cycle. (3) Colin Powell is going to vote for Obama – very interesting – I hope this grows into something that will bridge the gap between Republicans and Democrats.

Ministry update: last night we presented to the whole church our New Orleans missions trip from this past summer. We had a video – it was cool – thanks, Jorge! Dan and Tyler who presented the impact the trip had on their lives did exceptionally well. 

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

Looking forward to: (1) game 1 of the World Series; (2) UnderOath and The Devil Wears Prada show on October 22; (3) Giselle will be 6 months tomorrow – wow!

Relevant Magazine interviews Rob Bell on his co-authored book
October 14, 2008, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Interviews | Tags: , , , ,

Relevant Magazine sat down with Rob Bell from Mars Hill church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to talk about his new book Jesus Wants to Save Christians, co-authored with Don Golden. Amanda is reading the book right now, and I hope to read it soon. This interview drew some more interest in me, and I thought it may for others who read my blog (which isn’t many). You can read the interview here. But here’s a small excerpt-


As the title of the book suggests, Jesus Wants To Save Christians. In your opinion, what are the biggest things we need saving from? 

Boredom. Which is really despair in its non-caffeinated form. And boxes. Where we live in fear and where we put those who unsettle us.

What’s Cookin’? 104

Highlight(s) of the week: (1) Phillies are in the NLCS and are actually up in the series. I can smell the World Series. (2) Amanda and I took Giselle pumpkin picking and to Peddler’s Village. We had a great time. (3) My uncle Bob came in from Oregon – we got to talk politics, the emerging church, and other church things

Book(s) I’m reading: still reading Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw

Music I’m diggin’: Jason Morant’s Open; Derek Webb’s The Ringing Bell

Podcast’s I’m lovin‘: Emergent Podcast interviews with (a) Phyllis Tickle and (b) Tim Keel; I usually always listen to Mars Hills’ podcast – last one I listened to was called “Shine Like Stars;” APM: Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett – most recently I listened to an interview she had with Jaroslav Pelikan on the importance of creeds

Something(s) that blew my mind: (1) Brett Myers apparently is the most consistent hitter on the Phillies; (2) the Franke Installation into the Lester and Kay Clemens Professorship in Missional Theology was extraordinarily good (I hope to blog about this later) – particularly enjoyed Scot McKnight and Tim Keel…McLaren is always good

Ministry update: last night we emphasized AIDS/HIV awareness in our youth group program. We had a few technical errors because I forgot my cord to connect my laptop to the projector so I had to transfer everything to another computer, which never goes well for me. But overall I think it went well.

Seminary update: starting a new class tomorrow on the historical books of the Old Testament with Gary Schnittjer

Looking forward to: (1) game 4 of the NLCS; (2) UnderOath and The Devil Wears Prada show on October 22; (3) soccer game tonight

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.