Y is for Y2K

In December 1999 I got a call from a newspaper reporter. They were calling pastors and religious leaders in our city to see what they were telling their people about Y2K. Y-Y2K

When the article came out I was the only pastor who was telling their people not to worry and that the real fear was people panicking and doing stuff like pulling all of their money out of the banks.
This was especially odd because I was part of a denomination that majored on eschatology and was very end-times focused.
I had multiple friends in that group who made major purchases (like extra freezers) in preparation. One close friend went in with another family and bought a trailer full of food and supplies and had it parked in a remote location … but then they had to worry about guns in order to protect the trailer in case of societal breakdown.

The alarm and drastic measures are telling. There is something about the way that we have been taught to read the Bible that makes us especially susceptible to panic. By calling the Bible ‘the word of god’ and not distinguishing genres we end up creating a tight little system of end-times expectation that repeatedly fails us.

I became a bible-believing christian during the cold-war era. Communist Russia was our biggest threat and christian books and TV shows were filled with very specific projections about how current events lined up with biblical prophecy.
On the latest TNT I told Tripp that we were taught to read the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other – because they lined up!

Not understanding that apocalyptic literature in the Bible is a critique of the present order and a hope of future deliverance makes us vulnerable to panic.

We are taught that apocalyptic elements in the Bible are predictive instead of prophetic critique and this is creating the problem that leaves us so susceptible.

In my short lifetime I have seen so many predictions come and go. I have seen layers and layers of moving onto the next thing a passage means without even acknowledging that 6 months ago we were told it was something different.
There is a sort of amnesia required to stick with this way of reading the Bible for more than a couple of years.

I have seen more than 40 antichrists come and go. Everyone from foreign leaders to Popes to Presidents have been said to be the Antichrist.
This exposes a second problem with eschatological expectation.
Every time I hear the phrase ‘the Antichrist’ I know I am in trouble. The person has not done a close reading of the Bible.
If you read the 4 passages in the New Testament in which this phrase appears you will be left asking why we think that a world leader is this character. The answer is that in eschatological readings there is a great deal of amalgamation.

Amalgamation happens when you take a character like ‘antichrist’ and blend it with an Old Testament character like ‘the prince’ from Daniel 9 or a the bad-guy from Revelation 13. You take all of the villains in all of apocalyptic literature and meld them into one super-baddy.

I just had a talk this weekend with a denomination leader about how end-times expectations have changed in their lifetime. We talked about young leaders and how different their eschatology is from 50 years ago.

My hope is that in the next 3 decades that sincere people of faith get fatigued on this unfulfilling way to read the Bible and this next generation is released and empowered with an understanding of genre that does not leave them susceptible and vulnerable to panic over sensations like y2k and franchises like Left Behind.

The world is in too great a need for really great people to be distracted by thinking that apocalyptic is A) predictive and B) about the 21st century.

Link: previous post about the book of Revelation

Artwork for the series by Jesse Turri

 

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The A B C’s of Theology: A New Series

Family needs and school matters forced me to take a break from blogging for the past several months. I have missed the conversations. My Summer language intensive is almost done and I will be returning to the blog this Friday.

I am also aware that we have picked up a lot of new listeners (this is primarily a podcast after all) and thought it would be good to wade back in via some introductory material. It will be a nice way to orient folks to our unique flavor of christian theology.complexity

Starting this Friday (with A), Callid and I am going to work our way through the alphabet – highlighting each day a different topic and why it matters. I will be asking (as I am prone to do) ask if it might look different in the 21st century.

We will start with ‘Atonement’ on Friday and I am leaning toward ‘Baptism’ on Saturday. I am going to utilize two resources:

 

What topics would you like to see covered? I am open to suggestions.

 

After we go through the alphabet, I am going to circle around and covers theologians/authors who’s work is important to know about.
I will pair 2 each day:

- Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Catherine Keller for K,  - you can hear the podcast with Kim [here] and with Keller [here]

- James Cone and John Cobb for C, etc.

 

This should be a fun Summer Series to get new people involved and oriented to what we do around here!

_____________________________________________

A is for Atonement

B is for Baptism 

C is for Christology 

ABC Podcast (TNT)

D is for Deconstruction 

E is for Empire 

F is for Fideism 

DEF Podcast (TNT)

G is for Genre

H is the Hermeneutics 

I is for Infallible, Inerrant, Impassible, Immutable 

GHI Podcast (TNT)

J is for Justification

K is for Kenosis (and Kingdom) 

L is for Liberation (and Logos) 

Podcast for J K L (TNT)

M is for Metaphor (and metaphysics)

N is for Neoplatonism

O is for Open & Relational 

Podcast for M N O (TNT)

P is for Perichoresis

Q is for Quest for the Historical Jesus 

R is for Revelation and the Book of Revelation

S is for Salvation

T is for Theopoetics 

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TNT: Jesus & Bible Movies

In this throw-down Bo chats with Micky, Callid, Pete Rollins and Tripp about all of the Jesus and Bible themed movies and what they mean to our culture.TNT

Earlier, Bo had blogged some thoughts about this whole issue. Now the gang chimes in.

The Theology Nerd Throwdown is excited to welcome Chalice Press. They are the offical publishing sponsor with lots of great books and resources for theology nerds, preachers, and church planters. They just might become your #1 favorite progressive Christian publisher. So check them out.

*** If you enjoy all the Homebrewed Christianity Podcasts then consider sending us a donation via paypal. We got bandwidth to buy & audiological goodness to dispense. We will also get a percentage of your Amazon purchase through this link OR you can send us a few and get us a pint!***


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HomeGrown Christianity Begins Today

As promised, 2014 has brought a new Eco-Theology series called “HomeBrewed Grown Christianity” all about-earth care and lovin’ God. It has grown into an 8 part series including a TNT follow-up to the initial run of interviews that begin today.HomegrownLogo_green_rev1

Episode 1: Leah Kostamo Planted: A Story of Creation, Calling, and Community   Kindle ($9.99) Paperback ($17.99)

Episode 2: Matthew Sleeth Serve God Save The Planet , The Gospel According to the Earth & 24/6 about Sabbath. (Kindle $2.99)

Episode 3: Jennifer Butler is part of the new Christian Earthkeeping emphasis at George Fox Seminary. She is co-author of the upcoming book On Earth As In Heaven due out in November.

Episode 4: Randy Woodley with  Shalom and the Community of Creation: an Indigenous Vision  

Episode 5: John Cobb rang the alarm bell back in 1972 and has recently returned to the theme with Spiritual Bankruptcy: a prophetic call to action.

Episode 6: is a special surprise from new Elder Micky Jones and friend.

Episode 7: is specifically food related. How do get food on the table? What issues are related to feeding a family? 

Episode 8: at the the end of each episode, we ask our guest the same 5 questions. Tripp and I are dedicating a TNT to interacting with their answers to the those 5 questions. It will be in the same format that we did the Brueggemann-Fretheim Bible Bash.  

 

You may also want to pick up Colonialism, Han, and the Transformative Spirit by Grace Ji-Sun Kim. Her HBC interview with Callid was so good that I sort of wish it had been a part of this series!  I hope to return to Dr. Kim’s thoughts to close this initial run.

I attended part of planning meeting yesterday related to next year’s big Whitehead conference. The theme is “Seizing An Alternative: Toward An Ecological Civilization” based on a new essay by John Cobb.  I am greatly inspired about this HomeGrown series and am very aware of the intensity of the situation we are facing.

I hope that you will join us on this audiological journey and that you will chime in on the blogs as they roll out over the next 40 days. 

I want to thank Jesse Turri for the collection of logos for the series. If you have not heard Jesse’s work on the Unfolded podcast (with collaborator Matt Barlow)  you really need to check it out!

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The 2013 Homebrewed Christianity Podcast Awards!

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3 Books for the Price of 1!

6 week online class w/ Peter Rollins

6 week online class w/ Peter Rollins

2013 was an amazing year on the Homebrewed Christianity Podcast network.  So Bo and I decided that we would do a little year-end review show.  You will get to hear some of our favorite clips, hear what was going through our heads during some of the online scuffles, and find out just who won the coveted Homebrewed Christianity Deacon of the Year!

In the episode we give out awards for Elder of the Year, Episode of the Year, Live Event of Awesomeness, Online Scuffle Spectacular, and Deacon of the Year.

The Theology Nerd Throwdown is excited to welcome Chalice Press.  They are the offical publishing sponsor with lots of great books and resources for theology nerds, preachers, and church planters. They just might become your #1 favorite progressive Christian publisher. So check them out.

Come Join Tripp & Jonnie for the Conference, Live Podcast and Craft Brewery Fun.

Come Join Tripp & Jonnie for the Conference and Craft Brewery Fun.

*** If you enjoy all the Homebrewed Christianity Podcasts then consider sending us a donation via paypal. We got bandwidth to buy & audiological goodness to dispense. We will also get a percentage of your Amazon purchase through this link OR you can send us a few and get us a pint!***


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2nd Reza Aslan Video

SoGo Media is doing an excellent job at editing and publishing the videos of our night with Reza Aslan.IMG_2769

Here is the 2nd (of 10) where he talks about his conversation to Christianity and then back to Islam. Embedded in what he says is a critique of religion as a whole.

Let us know what you think!

You can hear the podcast of the whole interview here. 

You can purchase Reza’s best-selling book as a Christmas present by clicking through our Amazon link.

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12 Years A Slave and the Cross of Christ

by Bo Sanders 

12 Years A Slave is one of the most powerful movies I have ever seen. The cinematic elements compliment the twisted and troubling plot to create a riveting experience for the viewer.  What follows is a theological reflection – for a more formal review of the movie check out Pop Theology by Ryan Parker.  Ryan and I also recorded a podcast that will be released this evening. 12-years-a-slave-poster-405x600

 

Based on a true story, the plight of Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a journey from the good life as a free black man in the North to the hellish existence of a slave in the deep South. Visual artist-turned-director Steve McQueen frames the narrative in stunning cinematography and a unique pacing that reflects the twists and turns in the story.

12 Years A Slave is one of those rare movies that impacts you emotionally and challenges the assumptions you carried into the theatre. The journey of the main character sticks with you and causes you to ask questions that you know deep down need to be examined.

I expect that this movie will be one of those rare films that trigger a much-needed cultural conversation. Issues of race and America’s haunting legacy of slavery and native reservation are never far from our national consciousness. Race is often front and center in the nightly news and on the margins of most national conversations.

While we know that something is amiss, we may not know how to approach the topic. We want to have a conversation but we may be unsure about how to proceed.

From the controversies surrounding the election of President Barack Obama to the George Zimmerman trial to the ongoing ‘stop and frisk’ policy debate in the New York City mayoral election, there is an awareness that race matters (to borrow a sentiment from Cornel West’s book title) but a perpetually unsatisfying confusion about how to access the underlying issues.

For Christians, perhaps the best way to address these issues is via the cross of Christ.  In his newest book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree, famed theologian James Cone equates the cross and the lynching tree: “though both are symbols of death, one represents a message of hope and salvation, while the other signifies the negation of that message by white supremacy.”

This is poignant because Solomon Northup first witnesses and then experiences the lynching tree in 12 Years a Slave. The lynching tree is the ultimate weapon of intimidation employed by the same slave owners who claimed the name of Christ, but who preached from the Christian Bible to their slaves in order to justify their cruelties.

For Cone,

“what is at stake is the credibility and promise of the Christian gospel and the hope that we may heal the wounds of racial violence that continue to divide our churches and our society.”

There are plenty of movies that are as fleeting and significant as the popcorn one eats during it. 12 Years A Slave is a different kind of movie. It has substance and is capable of being a touch-point for a significant cultural conversation.

“Until we can see the cross and the lynching tree together, until we can identify Christ with a ‘recrucified’ black body hanging from a lynching tree, there can be no genuine understanding of Christian identity in America, and no deliverance from the brutal legacy of slavery and white supremacy”.  - Cone

If we can talk about a movie like 12 Years A Slave in light of The Cross and the Lynching Tree, we may be able to begin to have a much-needed constructive and reconciling cultural conversation about race in America.

The election of President Obama was not the end of racism in America. As the 50th anniversary of ‘the March on Washington’ showed, we still live in a deeply divided country where race and the legacy of racist policies and attitudes have a lasting effect and are an ever-present reality.

America is also a deeply religious country and Christianity is the dominant religion. The irony, and the opportunity, resides in that fact that the symbol of the cross is so central to Christian imagery. There is great hope there, if only we would take it seriously and see what the Salvadoran martyr Ignacia Ellacurio called “the crucified peoples of history.”.

 

You can listen to my conversation with Ryan about the film here on the podcast. 

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Reza Aslan LIVE 3D Event!

Reza Aslan, New York Times #1 BestSelling Author of Jesus: The Life And Times Of Jesus Of Nazareth recorded a live Podcast with Tripp and Bo. As you will hear, Reza rolled with our rowdy style of theological zesty-ness.IMG_2879

We want to thank the Loft LA for hosting us and The Young Romans for providing great music for the evening.

Come to the homepage of HomeBrewedChristianity.com to leave us your comments and questions on the Speakpipe (click on the little microphone).

A video will soon be available for those who want to take in all of the 3-D goodness!IMG_2769

 

*** If you enjoy all the Homebrewed Christianity Podcasts then consider sending us a donation via paypal. We got bandwidth to buy & audiological goodness to dispense. We will also get a percentage of your Amazon purchase through this link OR you can send us a few and get us a pint!***


Subscribe on iTunes Here!

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Who Am I To Judge? an honest question

It is no secret that  I am a fan of many of the things (not all)  that the new Pope has been up to. So I was very intrigued when it came out that on his cross-Atlantic flight he took the airplane microphone and addressed reporters. RNS-Pope-Francis-flight-home-Catholic-News-Service

I was also surprised by the reports of the following sentence:

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” — Pope Francis, July 2013

The running joke is of course that if you are the Pope … it’s kinda your job description! You might be the only person who is allowed to judge in some of your followers estimations.

These things have landed Francis on the cover of this month’s Sojourners magazine. They are advertising it this way:

Francis—refreshingly candid and seemingly repelled by the perks of the papacy—offers new hope for the Catholic Church and beyond. From the symbolism of him stooping to wash a Muslim woman’s feet to his harsh lambasts against a culture of greed and consumerism, this Jesuit from Argentina has captured the collective imagination of the world.

This has me thinking over the past week about the topic of judging. When I was an evangelical preacher we were very clear to distinguish between judging – which is defined by its connection to wrath – and evaluating ‘a tree by its fruit’  which christians are also commanded by Jesus to do.

Yes Jesus said ‘Do not judge’ but Jesus also said you can tell a tree by its fruit. The question “who am I to judge” seems to be a rhetorical one.

Even Miley Cyrus knows that Only God Can Judge, as she proclaims in her new video (for which I am sure that she should be judged harshly).

Now I am a pastor at a Mainline church in LA and I can honestly say that it is the least judgmental place I have ever been… but is that a good thing?  Don’t we need to make some moral evaluations?

I was getting ready to ask the HBC crowd how they have learned to navigate this cultural conundrum when my new favorite persons to quote – Brene Brown – came out with this tweet:

“When you judge yourself for asking for help, you are always judging when you give help.” - @BreneBrown

Judging is clearly on people’s minds these day. It is everywhere in our cultural conversation. As we transition out of post-Christendom and cultural revolutions of 1970′s into an information age where everything is available to everyone all of the time … and your mom is your friend of Facebook ….  here is an honest question:

How are your navigating the challenge of “Judge not lest you be judged” ?

 

one favor I ask: let me know if you are even trying to live up to Jesus’ commands or if you have left that behind. I have a feeling it might make a difference in this discussion.  

 

Photo: Pope Francis addresses journalists on his flight from Rio de Janeiro to Rome, July 29. (Paul Haring/Catholic News Service)

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Day 14: Going to College with Christians

I have been waiting for us to arrive at Reed College. While I was fascinated with Albania and appreciate the Horse Brass Pub very much, I love Reed. Neighbors & Wisemen

I first learned about Reed through the book Blue Like Jazz which was written by Tony’s friend named named Don – who he mentions in this chapter.

It rocked me. 

One of the reasons it impacted me so much was that I lived in upstate NY at the time and we had a Reed. Our college was called Skidmore and it had much the same reputation in our town.

When I would go to our area’s pastor breakfast, my fellow ministers would make many of the same disparaging remarks about Skidmore that Tony mentions about Reed.

Evangelicals have an odd relationship with colleges like this. Whether it is the free-thinking, the critical scholarship or the permissive lifestyle of many students – these kind of colleges are seen as something between mission fields and combat zones. They represent a threat.

It was through Blue Like Jazz that I figured out that I had inherited a terrible allergy. My heart was wrong. My attitude was wrong. My approach was wrong.

I instantly changed my perspective and we developed a wonderful relationship with many Skidmore students. I’m not sure how much we changed the campus – but I was changed greatly by my relationship to the campus.

 

When I moved to the Pacific NW for seminary, the town that I lived in and pastored in had a Reed. Evergreen State in Olympia Washington played the same role for us that Reed played for the christian community that Tony represented. We were able to connect with an amazing young man who was a student at Evergreen and I would drive out every Sunday morning and most Wednesdays to pick him up for church.

 I’m blogging my way through Neighbors and Wisemen for Lent. If you want to catch up on the previous entries [click here]

I am fascinated with this pattern. What sits behind it, for me, is an awareness of a massive shift in american Christianity in the 20th century. After the Scopes Money Trial in the 1920’s, conservative Christianity lost much favor in the public arena. In the court of public opinion we had won that trial but lost much respect and influence.

The result was that conservative Christianity retreated into its own self-made institutions. You see the rise of Christian colleges, Christian radio, and eventually even Christian bookstores, Christian TV, and other manifestations of products tailored to those who wanted to consume Christian goods.

In an open capitalist market it is easy to see why this happened. The assault from the outside world led some branches of the family to pull back into their safe bubbles and develop an animosity to the outside world.

Eventually we got what came to be known as The Culture Wars. 

If you want to read a fascinating book, look into The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Here is a spoiler alert: the Evangelical mind was neglected in lieu of the Culture Wars. We are still suffering for it.

 

So when it comes to these radical College expressions, they are something to be resisted and even combated. I think that we are worse for it. The culture is worse for it. Our scholarship (or lack thereof) suffers because of it.

That is why I am so happy that Tony is taking us onto Reed’s campus.

We have some growing to do. We have some repenting to do. We have some bridges to build and we have some lesson to learn.

Ring the bell – school is about to start!  

 

I’m glad that we are on this journey together.
I would love to hear your experiences of this kind of combative mentality
or your what the culture wars look like in your area. 

 

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