Academic update, turning 50 and future videos
How has Covid changed you? What has been the biggest downside and the biggest upside (if any)?
For me there are 3 big negatives and 1 big positive:
I can’t sleep, I don’t want to talk to anyone, and I can’t concentrate … but on the upside I have finally started to bike and I love it as much as I thought I would.
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2019 is off to an frantic start so I wanted to give you an update about some fun I have been having.
At Vermont Hills I am enjoying a new sermon series. Two weeks ago was “God Loves Groups” about how the gospel has to be more than getting one small part of you (as an individual) to a good place after you die. That is too small a gospel.
This past week was about how the concept of ‘Hell’ functions in our psyche and how we need to take the sting out of this hellish idea. (Video below)
Peacing It All Together podcast comes out every Monday. This past week Randy and I talked about being a good ‘ally’ on Ally: Do’s and Don’ts
Progressive Bible Study (now called imBible Study) just finished the book of Ruth so Katie and recorded a Ruth Recap podcast that was a LOT of fun.
Sunday School (no called Brain Storming w/ Bo) is going through the alphabet. D is for Demythologize was a good podcast. E is for Emergence (and ecclesiology) comes out tomorrow. This Sunday is G is for Gay Christians where we are going to unClobber the Bible.
Let me know you thoughts. I would love to hear your comments, concerns, and questions.
A Year with C.S. Lewis was my go-to devotional for about a 5 year window. I just loved his witty takes, his everyday language, and his optimistic outlook.
Once I decided to go to seminary and started reading heady theology, Lewis took a back seat. I tried to pick it up again a couple of years ago but it seemed too folksy and some of his logic seemed questionable.
Lately I have been doing an experiment: taking material that I used to get a lot out of and attempting to update-adapt-translate for my current context and our contemporary era.
Bringing Lewis into the 21st century is a fun experience. I actually think that his ideas hold up for the most part but that his language just needs a little updating.
Here is an example from Mere Christianity:
A live body is not one that never gets hurt, but one that can to some extent repair itself. In the same way, a Christian is not a woman who never goes wrong, but a woman who is enabled to repent and pick herself up and begin over again after each stumble – because the Christ-life is inside her, repairing her all the time, enabling her to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ carried out.
That is why the Christian is in a different position from other people who are trying to be good. They hope, by being good, to please God if there is one; or – if they think that there is not – at least they hope to deserve approval from good people. But the Christian thinks any good she does comes from the Christ-life within her.
She does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because God loves us; just as the roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it.
It is amazing how just a couple of pronoun changes and making God-language gender neutral (as God is) takes away all the distracting antiquated elements and allows the encouraging thought to come through with clarity and insight.
I am encouraged that I will be able to do this same process with some more material that has been so valuable to me over the years.
How about you? Anything that you would like to see updated-adapted-translated for our current context and contemporary era?
Where do you find the divine in your everyday?
Is it possible for the ordinary stuff of life to take on sacred meaning?
We are going to find out!!
After Easter, starting April 8th, my church will begin a 3 month journey that I wanted to let you know about!
Please join us for these conversations about significance and meaning in the everyday.
You might be surprised where you find the divine presence in a normal day.
1 Waking Up April 8
2 Making the Bed April 15
3 Brushing Teeth April 22
4 Losing Keys April 29
5 Eating Leftovers May 6
6 Fighting Well May 13
7 Checking Email May 20
8 Sitting in Traffic May 27
9 Calling a Friend June 3
10 Drinking Tea June 10
11 Sleeping June 17
Practical Divinity June 24
Join us to find meaning every day.
Get the book and follow along – there will be daily reflections posted on the blog
You can order the book here [Link] It is on Audible and is also on Kindle [ Link]
The following reflections will not seem original or even insightful. They are just 4 things that I learned in my year off of social media that I would love to compare notes about.
In July 2016 I found out that I got a 1 year appointment to teach theology at a seminary in Portland. I would be applying for several permanent positions, so I decided to go quiet on social media. This was both to focus and to be safe with any of my possible employers.
Facebook cannot get you a job … but it can cost you a job. This is especially true at Christian schools.
I picked a good year to be off. It was an election year and both my students and my fellow faculty let me know that I was wise to get off when I did.
In August 2017, I returned and I noticed 4 really clear things:
- It is really addictive.
- Things have really changed in the past 3 years.
- Twitter is nearly unrecognizable.
- Volume is at 11.
It is really addictive. I was shocked, that as an adult who knows better and has a good amount of self-control, how often I wanted to log in. I went a whole year without thinking about it or looking at it even once, but now 4-10 times a day I wanted to look.
I’m never on for more than 2 or 3 minutes at a time but I can see how people lose whole hours and evenings to it. It is a rare mix of intoxicating and unsatisfying at the same time.
That being said, I really enjoy seeing pictures of old friends and connecting with people across the miles. I really did miss it.
Things have really changed in the past 3 years. In 2016 I was still a co-host on a popular podcast and website. My online engagement was really extensive and very intense. In 2018 I no longer have a large platform and have really noticed how difficult things can be.
This will seem overly simplistic but it really seems that anything you put out there now is going to get 1 of 3 (and only 3) responses:
- Endless circular debate
Silence, snark, or heated yelling. I understand why people are getting tired, frazzled, and even giving it up. Personally, I love being part of the larger conversation and I really miss the broad appeal of a big platform, but I can understand why some people shrink down their circle to just those they know as friends and family.
The atmosphere has gotten quite contentious – and the intensity has become more amped-up.
Twitter is nearly unrecognizable. Facebook and Twitter have completely switched for me. I used to love Twitter and think that Facebook was too preachy. I now find comfort in Facebook being actual people I know, it is safer. Twitter has become a very aggressive and critical place. It seems uniquely built for outrage.
Now, in fairness, there are many things to be outraged at and critical of. I applaud that. My only point is that Twitter used to be more of a fun and flippant place. It is no longer like that. I actually tell church leaders and seminary students that if you are not already on Twitter, don’t start.
I still like both Twitter and Facebook, my point is that they have flipped functions for me.
The volume is at 11 and surges every 3 or 4 days. You really notice this when you have something thoughtful to share and just as your about to post it there is another:
- Mass shooting
- Police assault
- Bomb attack
- White House scandal
- Trump tweet
- Weather storm
- Famous person exposed or fired
So you decide to wait a couple of days until the frantic calms down. Then 3 or 4 days later something else goes wrong. Repeat this cycle for 3 to 6 weeks and you realize you might be waiting a while. So you just go ahead and post it. It gets 1 like, no shares, and no comments.
A thoughtful, measured, and temperate post struggles to get a hearing when things are this loud and this agitated. I really do wonder if a generous and irenic approach is just invisible in this atmosphere. To be clear: I don’t plan on changing … I might need to adjust my expectations.
I would love to hear about your experience.
Have you ever taken a break from social media?
Do you ‘sabbath’ from time to time?
Have you noticed the same changes I have?
I left LA over a year and a half ago. I left the internet for a year to focus on getting a permanent job. I came back to social media after the year was over but have only recently started blogging and posting videos again.
I am in a new city (Portland), in a new denomination (UMC), and in a new position (solo pastor).
Last year, I taught in 2 evangelical seminaries and attended a different church most weekends. I learned a lot through this process and next week I wanted to share some insights for your consideration. I will post 3 topics next week:
- What I learned about social media.
- What I learned about education.
- What I learned about evangelicals.
Things have really changed in the past 3 years.
Twitter is nearly unrecognizable.
Social media volume is at 11 and surges every 3-4 days.
Money is the lead dog – but technology is dominant.
Education is a product and students are customers.
Professors are nervous.
They are really into the Bible.
They use coded language.
LGBTQ issues both terrify and annoy them.
They can smell danger.
They don’t get Critical Theory even a little bit.
I am really looking forward to this mini-series. Let me know if there are any other topics I should reflect on.
I am so excited that my intense season has passed. I moved to a new city (Portland), got a new job (lead pastor), and transferred my ordination (United Methodist).
I also had the opportunity to update the church’s worship space and introduce elements of conversation and participation into the old-school liturgy. It has been a wonderful season of trying new things and innovating with some established things.
Last week I became official with my new denomination, so I thought this would be a good time to return to the blog. I am chomping at the bit to get back into the larger conversation.
Here is a quick video. Below are some links if you are interested.
Our podcast week includes 3 feeds: [link to the feed here]
- Sunday School
- Bible Study for Progressives [Facebook link here]
The ABCs of Faith is up to ‘U is for Universalism’ [read the PDF here]
I am so excited to be back. Let me know if there are any topics or questions you want me to engage. Can’t wait to begin again.
Here are some fun things that you may be interested in:
My friend Brett has been blogging over at Progressive Bible Study. Today’s post was about flesh and the Spirit. He is doing some deep thinking about bodies as we read through Galatians. https://progressivebiblestudy.com/2017/10/04/in-our-flesh-full-of-the-spirit/
It is a great follow up to his post that says:
“When we read the Bible as gentiles, we are the question – not the answer”
I have also been recording weekly debriefs with Katie. Here is a link to our conversation about Galatians 3: 15-29. https://progressivebiblestudy.com/2017/10/02/galatians-3-15-29/
We talk about the Law, belief, and identity politics. I take exception to quoting “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female” too easily. It has become a Hallmark card if we do not do the hard work first.
Sunday School has been going great with the ABC’s of Faith. The last 2 weeks were C is for Christ and D is for Deconstruct. I have been reworking the older material to facilitate a conversation in my new context.
Lastly, as some of you know, Thomas Jay Oord has written an excellent book called “The Uncontrolling Love of God” and I have written one of the responses in a new book on Uncontrolling Love.
My essay is called ‘Uncontrolling Church Leadership’ where I try to argue for a non-coercive and open-ended approach to ministry.
I am hosting Oord on November 3 and 4 here in Portland, OR. The Friday night event (Nov 3) will be very pastoral as my pastor friends are in dialogue with Tom. The Saturday event (Nov 4) will involve Randy and Edith Woodley as conversation partners. The Woodleys are amazing folks who have Eloheh Farm – and Randy and I have a book coming out later this year. So there will be lots to talk about.
Make sure to look at the Facebook page and the Eventbrite page – the Portland events will be added soon.
Thanks for all the likes, shares, and comments on my Statement of Belief (so far). I am greatly encouraged by all the feedback.