Saturday, May 31, 2008

[LIF] Anticipation

Today I had my first appletini, it was soo good. (1 part apple vodka, 2/3 part Sourz apple, 1/3 butterscotch schnapps - shake with ice and strain into martini glass, garnish with apple slice.) I had to figure out how to make it for my party tonight. Sorry if you didn't get invited. We are just playing poker and we have quite a few coming, so we had to stop inviting folks. Sharon has some sort of prize lined up (something chocolate I bet) and I think she is getting me a cake!

My birthday isn't until the 3rd, but this was the best time we could find to do something.

I've been experimenting with blind structures that allow us to finish an evening at a decent time, but are also fun for everyone. Tonight we are doing 20 minute blinds and each person starts with $40K in chips. With this progression:

100/200/0 (ante)

Should wrap the game up in the third hour. We might do a break midway for appletinis and other fancy drinks. For those of you worrying, there is no real money involved, just food, friends and lots of fun! As you can imagine, I just can't wait!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

[THO]I Want to Believe...

[EDIT] Some are claiming that this video is false, edited from longer talks to make false claims about Bentley's violence. I know it is edited, but I wasn't aware that it was edited in a malicious way. I certainly hope this is the case. However, it is disturbingly not far off of what I've seen in other feeds from Bentley's "revival". I have a hard time watching too much of Bentley because his fake accent drives me around the bend - that might be more about my own issues with my Pentecostal roots where literally you adopt that southern accent if you want to be taken as seriously "annointed".

Chris posted this video and I know it is edited, likely to put Todd Bentley in a worse context, but seriously Todd, get a fricking grip. I can see that you are emulating Wigglesworth in actions, but did Wigglesworth boast about his wackier actions in healing? I know others wrote about some of them, but Wigglesworth was a humble man of God. Seriously, can you picture Jesus behaving like you? "Yeah, I rubbed spit and crap in that guys eyes, you should have seen it dudes. Then he got healed." From what I've read Jesus was 100 times the healer you'll ever be, so you might want to take some notes.

The thing is I want to believe God does unexpected things, heck I've seen many amazing and unexplainable things! But you can't make light of this. And if you are just bullshitting us, then grow up already.

The other thing that bugs me is that for some reason Todd thinks that claiming God told you to live out your WWF fantasies at church is good enough explaination. If God told you, then obey. But you better be sure God told you or else have a good team of lawyers. Consider that a prophetic message, I call it common sense. If you did that kind of crap to me and then turned me into the story of the week, I'd definitely not be impressed. In fact I might just fight back (or run away as I don't wear biker boots!) Think about what kind of an example are you setting for those who want to emulate your ministry. I want to see more Jesus and less Todd Bentley.

[EDIT] RobbyMac has some excellent posts on this. My favourite.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

[LIF] No Comment Wimps

Yeah, you know I'm talking to you. You post an item on your blog but leave no room for interaction. Come on. What are you afraid of? I know there are lots of wankers out there just waiting to crap on your ideas. Most of them will be Anonymous. But seriously. The day of talking heads telling us what they think and not having to face the questions is fading fast. So bring it on. Bring on the comments. Tell me I'm full of crap. But lets run with this thing. What are we afraid of? If we really love truth then we will risk all in the pursuit of truth, otherwise we just love our houses of cards.

I say bring it on baby, bring it on.

comments anyone?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

[REV] Practitioners

Ok, I have read quite a few books from the emerging church conversation, after all that is my area of expertise. But I just finished what has to be the best book from the emerging church. Of course the best book on the emerging church is still Gibbs and Bolgers classic Emerging Churches, but that is more an exploration of what is the emerging church. This book is a diving into the conversation. And it is really well done. The book is called Practitioners: Voices within the Emerging Church.

The editors are Greg Russinger and Alex Field. The book has Joyce Heron (she married recently, what's her name now?) and David Ruis in there. Oh yeah, and Doug Pagitt who is rapidly becoming my emerging church hero! But it isn't the articles that make this book so good. In fact I think some of them are fairly weak, considering. What makes this book rock is that it is really a blog in print form.

At first this quirkiness bothered me. I wasn't getting it. Then it clicked, this is how a blogging generation interacts. And this book is interactive. How many books tell you to stop reading and do something, and have a splash page of options! That won my heart right there.

Truth be told they already had me at page 34. This book explores culture from the inside out. It isn't a reflection on culture so much as an expression of what the mutual encounter of gospel and culture can be. This book opens up conversations. This book opens up potential!

OK. I'm taking a deep breath. Ahhh, that's better.

I hope this isn't the only project like this. In fact this book came out in 2005, so the web component is already dead and buried. So sad. But don't like that deter you. This book is like a blog that won't go away. Robert Webber, in Listening to the Beliefs of the Emerging Church, recognized that the voices in the emerging church conversation are not academic theologians, but practitioners seeking understanding of what they are discovering as new ways of being and doing church. Practitioners is a great case in point. I have to agree with McLaren's comment on the back cover, I too am greatly encouraged.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

[REV] From Eden to Exile

I was tickled pink to get a review copy of Eric Cline's From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible. Those who know me know that I'm not usually drawn to Biblical studies as a field, but I do like to know what is going on in a field that is important to any Christian theology. Cline did not let me down. This is an engaging read.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was Cline's project. He is not trying to shoulder up some agenda of proving or disproving the historicity of the Bible, rather he provides a frank look at the Biblical, extra-biblical and archeological evidence (or lack thereof) for several fascinating Biblical mysteries. These mysteries include such favourites as the location of Eden and Noah's ark, as well as finding the lost tribes of Israel. If you are looking for someone to tell you that there are clear answers for any of these mysteries you probably want a different book.

While the whole book is quite engaging and accessible, it was his concluding chapter that really shined. Here Cline urges us not to give up our various positions on the historicity of the various early Biblical accounts, but rather to take seriously all the data. To avoid speculating and going beyond the evidence. But remember that the Biblical narratives are about something more important than a verifiable history. "People read the Bible to find themselves in it, and many people don't just read the story, they live it." (p.185)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

[LIF] CanGames

This was CanGames weekend! Lots of fun, but very tiring. You know you are getting old when... I usually run three events, two Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures (DDM) tournaments and an Injurius Games tournament. Because DDM has changed rules, and I am really too invested in the original rules to migrate, I ended up cancelling the first game and only one player showed up for the second DDM event. We played Sword and Skull, a really good Avalon Hill game that is much like the classic game Talisman. We played two player and it went very well. Lots of board games really suffer with just two players. After we played a game of Star Munchkin, but that is a game that really needs more than two players.

The Injurius tournament was really well attended. Lots of fun and we found a new player to join our IG League nights. I also played D12 Fantasy, another Red Shirt game, today and was part of the customized DDM Monster Mash game Saturday night. As you can imagine, I'm dog tired! BTW we have a facebook group for announcing local IG and D12 fantasy games in the area. If you want to join a growing community playing this home grown game, just let me know.

It was nice to see old friends and make a few new ones too. Gamers can be a really strange bunch. The highlight though had to be the shirt that a gamer girl was wearing. It simply said: "This is what a feminist geek looks like." Nice. Oh, some of you will appreciate the obligatory Jesus shirt, on one side it says, "Jesus saves" On the back is a stylized picture of Buddy Jesus and the words, "but everyone else takes full damage!" Such fun.

Well it is back to the grindstone.

Friday, May 16, 2008

[LIF] Dexter

Yeah, I know it is really screwed up. But what an awesome series. It has the suspense of Prison Break, but is also an incredibly twisted character study. For those of you who haven't seen it, Dexter is a serial killer who also happens to work for the police helping them catch serial killers. Dexter is a self confessed neat monster and the show explores both the making of this particular monster and the inner life of a serial killer.

Now this is fiction. In real life serial killers tend to not be the masterminds we like to see brought down in movies. In real life serial killers are often the most pathetic of individuals. But that sort of villian is not very appealing to the masses. This is an interesting commentary on our perceptions about those things that are well beyond our control, that is the evil in our world. We like to think that evil is incredibly intelligent because that makes us feel a little better about our inability to conquer evil in our society. Just like we have convinced ourselves that terrorists are fine tuned organizations masterminding our destruction. We love a conspiracy.

The making of Dexter is incredibly interesting. Early on in the series we learn about the Code of Harry, Dexter's adoptive father. A cop who felt he could channel Dexter's murderous instincts into a force for good. Yup, it is good and twisted. The series really challenges notions we have about good and evil as well as moral responsibility. Plus it is just so darn creepy.

Just a bit of warning, I watched the Showcase episodes online so they have course language and occasional brief nudity. But to be honest, the gore is much worse. Watch at your own risk.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

[LIF] China

As I heard the reports on CBC of how the death toll is climbing, the thought of entire towns being reduced to rubble and schools collapsing essentially wiping out an entire generation saddens me deeply. My thoughts, tears and prayers are with the Chinese today.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

[THO] Building a Church?

I have come to realize something: I don't really want to build a church. Now that sounds like an odd statement, even dead wrong if you know how passionate I am about church planting. But what I realized is that I am less concerned with building a church than I am with building THE CHURCH.

Now I'm not saying that Freedom is THE CHURCH, but I sure do believe that we are a part of THE CHURCH.

But where this really makes sense for me is in the fact that I'm not really that passionate about my church being any more or less than what God wants. I'm really quite happy with doing what we did tonight (we had an awesome service, tonnes of prayer and just a sweet presence of God's Spirit) if that is what it is that is our gift to THE CHURCH.

Building a church only makes sense if we are building THE CHURCH. I think that this is a key issue for pastors today. We have this sort of success mentality that says building a church proves I'm useful and valuable. Really it only proves we have the ability to make a church. I can't help thinking of Wimber hearing God say, "I've seen your ministry John, meh. Now let me show you mine." I wonder how many of us would hear that same thing if we stopped long enough to listen.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Montreal was a lot of fun. My main objective was to just see what is expected in presenting a paper at an academic conference. I'm quite confident that I can do a great job of this. I think my strategy will be to write for print and prepare a presentation, rather than write to read. This will work when the papers do not need to be submitted before hand and will facilitate the process of prepping the papers for subsequent publication. Something I am hoping to do a fair bit of.

I met quite a few really helpful and friendly scholars. They seemed genuinely interested in my work. Of note Scott Kline was a real treat to meet. I actually hung out with his better half, Megan Shore, who is great friends with my partner in crime for the weekend, Jessica Fraser (her work on consummerism is something to keep an eye out for.) I skipped one session to sneak off with Jessica to the bookstore. We were a bit dissappointed that the bookstore with the good discount was more general than we had hoped, but I did find a few books. I actually bought a few books for my girls, but I'm sure the Mole Sisters isn't what you want to read about.

I picked up Vanier's collection of letters, Our Life Together. I couldn't resist this massive hardcover at $5.99! But related to my research I picked up Jim Wallis' God's Politics for a mere $4.99. And I took advantage of the 20% off to pick up Heidegger's Poetry, Language, Thought. Overall I was hoping to score more bookage, but it is probably a good thing. What they had for cheap was academic journals from McGill and Concordia. I picked up about five of these, anything really that had an article that was relevant to my research.

At the closing BBQ I was told that I'm no longer an AAR virgin. But then that was retracted with the notion that I still have to present. Next time for sure. Now I can't wait for Chicago.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

[THO] AAR Newbie

Tomorrow I hop in my Vue with my friend Jessica (we have the same research director) and drive to Montreal. It will be my first experience of the American Academy of Religion. Of course this is a regional event, the full meal deal is in Chicago in November. But I'm really looking forward to it.

I was too overwhelmed with courses this year to respond to the call for papers. Too bad, I understand it is easier to break in through the regionals. My attempt to find a place to present in Chicago was not even acknowledged? Oh well, it was a bit close to the first deadline. What I need to do is a bit of networking and figure out where I fit into this wacky world of academic theology.

I was able to find at least one interesting session in each time slot, hopefully I'll make some new friends. I really don't know too much what to expect. Tomorrow evening I am staying with some dear friends in the city, so if it is too crazy, I have at least that refuge.

I return Saturday, just in time to compose myself for preaching on Sunday. I'm guest speaker at another local Vineyard. I'm planning on talking about being a missional community. We'll see.

I'll be sure to let you know my book finds at the conference.