Monday, November 30, 2009

Recovery Mode

Now that exams are done I'm under orders to take a week off. I'm having trouble. I had a bit of legitimate work to do for the Vineyard, but thankfully I got most of that done last night. One of our kinships is cancelled so that the host can practice for his CD release concert - go Kurt go! And it is Sharon's week to go to the other kinship. So that means I have the week off for real. Now if only I could get to sleep at a normal time.

I find that the last few months have taken a toll on the old body. I've done very little yoga and I can really feel it. I'm going to fix that today while Sharon is off to the quilting store. Tomorrow I will try to hit a yoga class around noon time. My neck is super sore all of the time, which is frustrating. I'm not sure if it is bacause I'm doing too much work on it or not enough, shoulder checking in the car is excruciatingly painful. I think it was like that before I did yoga and better when I was doing yoga all the time. The thing is I had a lot of back pain too which the yoga seems to have cleared up. If getting back into an exercise routine doesn't help I'll dig out the referral my doctor gave me for physio.

This weekend I'm flying down to Nova Scotia to meet with the rest of the Thoughtworks reps. I'm pretty excited too. We'll be hanging with Cathy and Rik Berry, Cathy is the Atlantic Thoughtworks rep, and dreaming of a Canadian family of Vineyards that are theologically equipped. I am continually amazed at the depth we have in this movement, and I'm looking forward to tapping into more of that this coming weekend.

We also have an old friend of ours moving back to Ottawa. She's been in Yellowknife for the last few years. We have decided to put her up for the four weeks she needs to get situated here. If you have a room to spare, she'd probably be better off than the futon we are giving her in our semi-finished music studio. Which is one thing I am going to do this week - clean that studio. She comes in on the 11th, and I'm looking forward to it. I'm just not sure she's ready for the chaos that is the Emanuel family.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Intimacy in Worship

Scott has been posting on what troubles him in terms of modern worship music. I've been hesitant to wade into this lest I tip my hat. His latest rant is about lyrics that he feels cross the line between eros and agape. In terms of that particular song I find that it isn't really that well thought through lyrically and I really don't find songs about God that intimate. But I actually don't have the same problem with the wet sloppy kiss, because as a metaphor for the intersection of heaven and earth well I've heard worse (whatever the heck is meant by heaven and earth and some sort of intersection there). Poor theology aside, I do relish an intimate song in worship. But those songs that let my heart sing of my love for God are actually sung to God. They are songs through which I acknowledge my feelings as a legitimate response to God's love and/or presence.

I really feel that there is needed better theological reflection in the creative process of songwriting for worship. I am really glad that folks like Dan Wilt have made this a priority. What we sing actually reflects accurately what we believe (if we don't start out believing it we will eventually believe the words we sing). So the theology of our worship music definitely matters. Personally I love to worship, but I also love to reflect on how the community I lead worships - including the songs we sing. I'm not above pointing out my trouble with a particular phrase or song being used. I'm glad though that for the most part there is a lot of room for well thought out and intimate worship music. It can be done. It needs to be done a lot more.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Passed the Written Exam

Just got the news today. The culmination of a full summer of study, I landed in the room we affectionately call the dungeon and there I sat for four hours typing out my answer. My friend Lauren was waiting for me when I emerged, a gift in hand and took me for lunch. My brain was mush.

I actually had two questions, I had to pick one. The first was hard: Discuss some of the similarities and differences between Kingdom Theologies and Hope Theologies drawing specifically from Moltmann and Pannenberg. I had to include how each dealt with eschatology (which I wove into all of it, how could I not?) and conclude with some of the important concerns, in my judgment, that arose from this comparison. The second question was a lot more open, it had to do with North American Evangelical theologies put into conversation with Hope Theologies. There was more to it, but it seemed like an easier question - so I chose to go hard??? Why do I do that? Anyway, it worked out well, I think I nailed it. After when I was describing my answer Lauren though I was speaking clearly and in a structured manner, trying to encourage me that I probably did awesome. Still, I did feel a great sense of relief when the official notice hit my inbox.

Now I'm given a new question which I will prepare a 45 minute presentation on. Basically I will write a paper to be presented to my committee. Afterward they can grill me on anything from the readings or presentation for an hour. I happen to think my oral presentation skills are better than my written skills (I have a lot more experience putting together and delivering presentations). So I am less anxious about this part. But it is still quite a piece of work. I am throwing a few other books into my box to tackle it - they aren't on my comps list but will prove invaluable.

Unfortunately today my brain was still mush. I actually had one of my daughters home sick today, so I ended up napping all morning and vegging all afternoon. Tonight I have to prepare a status report for the doctoral seminar, I'm not wanting to do it actually. I had all these ideas worked out for it, but had to work on my comps - so it feels like I need to start from scratch. Actually it is not that bad, but I'd just like a bit of a break. No rest for the wicked I suppose.

Monday, November 16, 2009

OK, Book Idea to Throw Out There

I woke up with an idea for a book that I want to put together. But it occurs to me there might be something like this already. Soooo, if you know of anything like this let me know. I think I can do a good take on it so it might not deter me, but I would want to make sure I've read anything that purports to do the same task.

The book would be called An Evangelical's Guide to Surviving University. I'm convinced that we need more evangelicals in our universities, but I've seen the confusion and even devastation that can result in evangelicals entering into mainstream academia. I have some of the chapters mapped out in my mind already. I think this would be a great resource for potential and current students, helping them to get the most out of their university experience. I also think it would be a great aid to pastor's trying to help direct folks to appropriate educational experiences. I am thinking specifically of evangelicals in the soft sciences, hard sciences are a lot easier to navigate - but that is part of the discussion I'd have in the book.

What do you think? Would something like that be helpful in your communities?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Moments of Crisis

One more week until I start my comps! It has been a long and stressful run. It is not so much the material, although there is a lot of it, but it is all the life that constantly gets in the way. I'm sure I'm not the only one who experiences this. It seems that there is always some sort of crisis in my life, either with me or someone I love. But life is like that, if it was smooth sailing then it wouldn't be that interesting. And actually I'm wired for crisis anyway. I tend to excel when faced with considerable challenges and when those challenges are not around I have motivational problems. I'm working on that. In the meantime I'm trying to make it through my notes one more time before I write. If you are the praying type, I'd appreciate prayers for grace with my family - I'm not the easiest of people to live with at the best of times.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Vineyard Days!

I just returned from the Ontario Vineyard Days conference. Daniel Schuster (Calgary) was our keynote speaker - well if you can call it that, cause what happened was way more awesome than some speaker sharing something they found important. Daniel helped lead us through some significant heart work as a region. It was amazing. I came away with renewed hope for our churches, I know a lot of them have been struggling for a long time. But what really got me was I was completely unaware of how much my own heart had been tied up in all that went down in the 90s (that's when the Airport Vineyard was asked to leave). I have done a lot of reflecting on that time, trying to understand what happened. But it really wasn't about understanding, it was about what that did to our hearts. I think what God was doing this past weekend makes it possible for us to find a new center in our identity and I'm extremely hopeful that we'll follow God in this unfolding work of absolute grace. My friend Ahren (Ottawa Valley Vineyard) put it well in our last session - it isn't about having a response at the end of our service - indeed no response is adequate to this - but it is about letting it bug us cause burying it (what we've been doing) hasn't worked.

During the gathering I got to present a Thoughtworks workshop on the theology of grace. Actually I was doing two things: 1) demonstrating how important theology is to us as God's people - you do it anyway, wouldn't it be better to do it well? and 2) showing how working within a methodological framework opens up meaning we might not otherwise see. I used Ventor's proposed threefold approach: Bible, Tradition (and history), and Holy Spirit. I looked at grace three ways drawing us to a richer understanding than the truncated Reformed position that is primarily about personal salvation. Not that the truncated understanding is wrong - it just is not the whole story.

My big concern was if anyone would come to a workshop on theology like that - especially so many other cool options (I really wanted to go to the worship workshops). But I had a pretty big group and they were engaged. Maybe we are asking the right questions after all. I was encouraged. I know that despite Wimber's commitment to lifelong learning, continuing education is not always the easiest sell in our churches. Not the kind of learning that I think is needed - there is always a market for pop psychology and simple teachings. But those things are not adequate to the challenges of our time. One of my biggest passions is that we've created a form of Christianity that can't bear academic inquiry because it is based on weak methods and a lack of trust in the experience of God. In fact lots of Christians have an experience with rhetoric and not an experience with God - so their trust can't bear any kind of challenge to their truth claims. We really need to reclaim an academic excellence that comes out of our quest to understand the faith that our experience of God evokes.

I skipped the AAR. I wanted to go tonight to a session on the origins of Pentecostal identity in Canada. Would have been great. But I needed a day to rest. Tomorrow I'm back at studies, my big exam is on the 18th. If you are the praying type, I can use all the encouragement I can get.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Chirp Chirp

So what do Christians banned for being idiots on Twitter do? Yup they start their own separate twitter wannabe. Thanks for the heads up Jim. Why do such antics make me so sad inside? Curse of being an optimist and always expecting more from my fellow Christians.