12.28.2006

Library Thing

So i recently found a new on-line social networking toy. It's called Library Thing, and as you can see I have two of their widgets in the right hand column of this blog, "Recent books from my library" and "my tag cloud" which is the various labels I have asighned to my books. Library Thing allows you to tag and manage your books in a similar way that delicious allows you to manage your web bookmarks. You can find other people with similar interests when it comes to books, talk about them, trade them and many other things.

After three or four days I finally finished entering my library into the system. No longer do I have to figure out what section to shelve a particular book under. Now they can be tagged under multiple labels, and then shelved alphabetically by author. (For instance, Blue Like Jazz is tagged under emerging church, culture, ministry, and spirituality.) Do I have a certain book? I don't have to look, I just search my library on-line. What book do I want to read next? What topic do I want to read about next? I just click that tag and see all my books in that section.

How does this matter to you? If you live around here, you can see what's on my shelf and ask to borrow it... if you have three forms of ID, a personal reference, and a $100 deposit. : )

12.24.2006

What Matters (2)

Luke 9:27
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.

So here is the other side of the coin on that last post. Theology, philosophy, biblical studies, they matter… a lot. How much is “a lot” is the question. One of the things I appreciated about the profs at Fuller is that they would take the “out there” the philosophical, and the like, and make it relevant. They would connect the dots between the seemingly irrelevant, and the deeply personal.

For instance, the question “how many angels can dance on the head of a needle?”, is a question that mattered a great deal to theologians of the middle ages, and is a question often held up as the height of inconsequential theological musing. The actual question behind the one just stated is, “are angels physical beings?”, things we could in some way get our hands on, beings that have a place in our scientific world, or are they purely spiritual, very real dreams if you will, things that though significant and real, are not real.

This may seem like an inconsequential question… until you have a dream in which angels speak to you.

The original question about dancing angels also raises question about the entire physical world and it’s relationship to the spiritual world. How do these things interact? What may seem initially irrelevant becomes paramount for the person terribly in need of a miracle.

This is all just one example of making the philosophical, personal. Taking the irrelevant and bringing it home, illustrating its significance to our larger web of beliefs. Concerning the previous post, what I am finding is that this is best done with the help of the Holy Spirit, and with Jesus Christ at the fore.

12.22.2006

What Matters

1 Corinthians 2:1-3
1When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.

One should not take this verse too far, and one should not base much of anything on one passage, but it non-the-less represents very succinctly one of the directions I'm moving in, focusing more and more on Jesus Christ, and not on the minutia of theology, biblical interpretation, and the like. Though these things should not be set against one another, in practice, they often seem to be.

What am I getting at?

What I'm trying to say is that it appears to me, that the things that the Bible says a great deal about and the things Christians disagree about are not similar. We go to great lengths to discern the profound and the deep, while what Christ and the Bible seem to say most, we do rather poorly. I say this without hesitation because It seems most true in my life. I know something of the details of theology and the like, and do too little about what seems to be the more important things.

Everything I've just said has been said before and said better, (and please please don't here some type of fake holiness in this statement or anything earlier) However what might be mildly novel is that I find all of this very disconcerting. I wonder at times if the evangelical church/culture isn't more like the pharisees than we would like to admit. Maybe most of what we do is incredibly irrelevant. Naturally this begs the question, "what is relevant" and by "relevant" I don't mean "hip" or "cool", I mean relevant in a deep way, the things that cut to the core of who we are and what matters. Unfortunately on this matter I don't have an answer either. Some thoughts yes, but unfortunately, no answers.

12.17.2006

Mission Midwest

So as regulars to this site know, one of my primary goals in attending seminary was to learn to live a missional life style in the midst of Western culture. Now I’m residing in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and trying to put some of what I’ve learned into action. I’m not doing to well.


Why? Part of the answer is time, with a new son and long work hours, there isn’t much time left for being involved with the community. Another is a lack of discipline. With all the new stuff in my life, I forgot, or actually I should say chose, (not purposefully) to set aside the more important things, the spiritual disciplines, worship, acts of service, Bible reading, fasting, and the like. That's changing now, but I’m still struggling to get my arms around the “culture” of the Midwest, and specifically La Crosse. I’ve met some interesting people so that’s good. And I’ve gotten my co-workers to start recycling so that’s cool, but on the whole, I’m behind the learning curve.

One of the things that is important to living a missional life style and is important to me, are those in need and the relationship between rich and poor. Part of what I’m trying to understand is the relationship between rich and poor in La Crosse. One thing that is true, is that compared to Los Angles, and large cities in general, the distance between the two is smaller in La Crosse. Generally speaking, the poor around here are not as poor as they are in the city, and the rich are not as rich as they are in Los Angles or other cities. Another angle on this question is: what is the relationship between those in La Crosse and those in the nearby large cities, Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Chicago. What I’m getting at is the fact that we are all part of the larger American culture. If the poor aren’t in my neighborhood, as they were for me in Los Angles, or in my county as they are even for the rich in LA, than what is my responsibility to them and they to me? I’m back on track now in terms of the spiritual disciplines, but I’m just beginning to get my arms around the local culture.

So with all of that being said, I'm wondering what you think. Do you have any ideas about missional living in the Midwest and small towns in general? If you do I would love to hear from you.