Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2010 at 3:35 pm

unexpected emergent provocateurs

last night kellie and i watched crazy heart which, somewhat sadly, reminded kellie of the life of bill mallonee. this morning i’ve been listening to tripp fuller’s excellent podcast with uncle bill at homebrewed christianity and thinking about the unexpected provocateurs who prepared me for the emergent conversation.

here are a few of these provocateurs and truncated summaries of their influence. please share snippets of your list:

first, unsurprisingly, is bill mallonee. bill taught me, more effectively than any theologian short of st. paul, could, that sanctification is a struggle and all the scaffolds we scramble to build will never help us escape from the tomb. only the Spirit can do that.

second, philip yancey. in the Jesus i never knew and what’s so amazing about grace philip showed me that God is big enough to handle my questions. he also introduced me to uncle henri and uncle freddy both of whom have shaped my faith and understanding of vocation in innumerable ways.

third, gary burlington. gary was a missions prof at soybean bible college. i never actually had a class with him, but in the few times we spoke i was inspired by his inquisitiveness and commitment to christian mission. in retrospect, gary was teaching me that deconstruction is not a threat, but an essential component of christian mission. due to unfortunate choices on all sides, gary left soybean some years ago. i need to catch up with him at some point.

fourth, rich mullins. sure, i was instructed and inspired by the music, but rich’s musings left the deepest impression. according to some accounts, at one of his final concerts he stopped in mid-song to confess a sexual sin that he had to repent of before continuing. that simple act – even if it is shaded by mythology – has influenced my preaching at least as much as haddon’s biblical preaching. he also taught me that being disregarded by your own tradition is not the end of the world and he helped fuel my love of st. frank.


In Uncategorized on May 29, 2010 at 6:36 pm

on vocation

on wednesday night i had the opportunity to hang with andrew at the pickled onion. since we couldn’t see the celtics game because of endicott students with their popped tops (jesse – you were so right about the unfortunate shift in pickled clientele) our conversation turned to our vocations.

i’ve beat this topic to death on the blog and in personal conversation with many of you, so i won’t bore you again. however, during the conversation i started to realize that my calling is not to a narrow practice or position in Christ’s church, but rather, my calling (as i currently conceive of it anyway) is to be faithful to the health and the mission of the various networks and communities in which i am currently embedded.

by God’s grace, i hope to be a blessing to the family/gathering/beverly/emergent/ccoc/triangle/kupenda/cardinals cluster of which i am a part. i still wish that my calling was less complex, but i trust (most of the time anyway) that God knows what he is doing and the Spirit has shaped me for such a time as this.

In Uncategorized on May 28, 2010 at 6:08 pm

on the new name

as a bible college senior, i prepared a final paper and preached a subsequent sermon on romans 7:7-25 – that tricky bit where the apostle paul both acknowledges our existential angst and orients us towards our ultimate, gracious adoption as sons and daughters of God.

although i would like to report otherwise, that text has framed my understanding of the Christian life from that point forward. the fidelity towards God, other and creation that i desire is usually eclipsed by narcissistic actions that i don’t desire. though i have been buried with Christ and want to wait in that tomb for the resurrection that i do not deserve and cannot comprehend, i constantly scrape, struggle and scramble to escape the burial that unexpectedly brings new life.

in a mostly forgotten book i read some years ago the author talked about flannery o’connor’s “Christ haunted south.” as i’ve mentioned to several people in the past couple of weeks, i often feel haunted by the gospel which i simultaneously find attractive and repulsive as well as my calling which i cling to with a cocktail of dogged fidelity and detached irony.

so it is that i’ve come to think of myself as the inconsistent adopted. since rick and i are not going to appropriate the name for a band anytime soon, renaming the blog will have to do.

In Uncategorized on May 27, 2010 at 1:56 am


“as long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations and condemnations. we will remain addicted to the need to put people and things in their ‘right’ place. to the degree that we embrace the truth that our identity is not rooted in our success, power and popularity, but in God’s infinite love, to that degree we can let go of our need to judge.” -uncle henri, here and now, pg. 62

In Uncategorized on May 23, 2010 at 8:59 pm


every time i am about to hate baseball, the cards grit one out like they are today. today i’ve woken the baby twice with clapping during key moments and i can’t wait to see how this turns out. win or lose, i love games like this!

i’m thinking about watching lost tonight in order to observe my friends’ reactions and tweet inane commentary and spoilers. sounds like fun.

lately i’ve come to the realization that i am a checkers player living in a chess world. over the past three years i have had the privilege of investing most of my hours in social justice, Christian proclamation and various Kingdom related initiatives. since the intended outcomes of my efforts are often quite clear – i.e., help a teen with a disability land their first job, make sure friends and fellow worshipers are well accompanied through tragedy and comedy, let the text win and see what kind of new world God wants to create – i am usually fully invested and engaged in reaching towards the goals i believe that God has set before me.

however, much to my great frustration, life is not two dimensional. as i attempt to measure my life by whether i am moving towards or away from my goals, i am often interrupted by the pressing concerns, valid questions, annoying insecurities, fragile egos, invaluable competencies and divergent opinions of others. my traditional response is to avoid negative interruptions at all costs, subvert those who inspire such interruptions when necessary and rely on chess masters like james wilcox, pastor phil and many other friends and colleagues to successfully navigate any number and kind of sticky wickets.

but, as i grow into leadership in several areas of my life, i am starting to realize that i need to play more chess. a couple of weeks ago a friend told me in the midst of a conflict that “you’ll catch more with honey.” my immediate response was “honey is not what i bring to the table and it is not something i am interested in bringing. i come at things directly.” i still think that reducing the dimensions so that i can directly focus on mission will serve my interests on most occasions. but i’m also going to have to learn to use the rook and employ interpersonal stratagems more often than i would like.

so i’m off to up my e.q. and employ jacob’s habits of a highly successful leader.

the cardinals won that grind of a game. so there’s that.

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