High Gravity Reading Group w/ Peter Rollins

Rushmore_Poster_rev0Homebrewed Deacons this Thursday is the first session of High Gravity: Radical Theology Edition with Peter Rollins.  That’s right, 6 weeks of online nerdiness begins Thursday @6pm pst.  If you signed up don’t forget to join the group on missionsoulutions,  download the readings, & post your questions for the first session!

You can still join the group if the geeky pressure is overwhelming you.

Here are a few steps all those in the group should follow.

  1. If you signed up and paid via www.missionsoulutions.com,  then go to the ‘Workspace’ area, select ‘groups,’ & then request to join the High Gravity private group.  You will have access to the weekly pdf’s, supplemental videos, online discussions, and audio of each call to listen to again and again. Or, in the event you must miss an online event, you will be able to go back and listen to geek out with what you missed.

  2. If you signed up and paid at a live event, like Subverting the Norm, you will need to head over to www.missionsoulutions.com and join the site – it’s FREE. Set up your profile. We will manually migrate your email to the High Gravity Group. Once this has been handled in the back end of the site, you will have access to the weekly pdf’s, supplemental videos, online discussions, and audio of each call to listen to again and again. Or, in the event you must miss an online event, you will be able to go back and listen to geek out with what you missed.

  3. Each week you will receive an invite from Anymeeting.com. This is not spam. Make sure you clear anymeeting to deliver emails to your Inbox so you will not miss the reminders for the weekly reading group online event.

  4. Each week your questions will be received and may be used during the live event. What do you need to do to participate? Read the pdf for the week. Week one reading is already loaded and prepped for your theo-nerdy eyes. Get ready to Nerd Out with Your Geek Out! Once you have read the pdf, submit your questions & comment on others. Post them in the discussion for that week’s pdf. Tripp and Pete will select the questions for the 30 last 30 minutes of each week’s event’s Question and Response.

  5. There is still time to tell your friends. Point them to www.missionsoulutions.com to sign up and get in on the summer goodness.

  6. “Can I watch with a group of friends?” YES! Just make sure you register separately for the class & use your individual profile when posting questions.  You can totally throw the video on a screen/TV, grab some friends & brews for the weekly meeting.


Revelation of Darkness LIVE Event: Taylor’s F-it Theology, Rollins reaches behind the curtain

PeterThis is the first half of the LIVE event featuring Rob Bell that was held at the Monkish Brewing Company.

Barry Taylor takes us on a whirlwind tour – and even though you can’t see the slides – the message comes through loud and clear! Warning: explicit language.  Then Tripp sits down to talk it through with him.

Peter Rollins does his magic and Bo gets to ask him some practical questions.

If you like these convos then check out the best snippets in the video curriculum developed that night titled ‘The Revelation of Darkness.’

Special thanks to our 3 sponsors for the evening: The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, Fuller Seminary and Claremont School of Theology 





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We are sooooo grateful to our sponsors, Monkish Brewing Company, & Spencer Burke at Missionsoulutions for their help in putting this together. You can get the videos HERE.


This place will turn Bo into Dr. BoDaddy

The Resources of Fuller Theological Seminary for Pastors & the Local Church

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Is the Church a Crack House?

Is your church a crack house?  My buddy Pete argues via video that the church is the place many go looking for their fix.  Like a crack house the same people go week after week going to feel good for a bit only to go back again.  We aren’t going to born our brokenness and move beyond our present situation to something more beautiful or new – we just repeat and repeat the exercise of a momentary divine escape.  While I can think of situations the crack house image may apply, I like the ambiguity Karl Marx had about religion and its institutions.

Marx famously stated that “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”  The ‘sigh-heart-soul’ part of this most infamous quote shouldn’t be skipped over too fast.  It may even resonate with the singer-song-writer or the stand-up comedian Pete references.

Roland Boer, my favorite Communist Calvinist (it’s a small and elect list), clarified Marx’s famous statement about religion being ‘the opium of the people’. He pointed out that “the image is quite ambivalent, for opium was perceived as both a common medicine and source of poetic inspiration, and, especially towards the end of the nineteenth century, as a social curse. It was both vital economically for the British Empire and yet it led to some of the worst elements of colonialism. Marx himself used opium as a medicine for his many ailment.” (you can listen to the interview at the 25 min. mark)

Pete may have his crack and Marx his opium but I will stick with beer.  The church is like a brewery.  It can make some of the most tasty beverages you’ve had to pair with the perfect meal OR it can market chilled piss during the super bowl with iPads and breast implants so you feel cool sippin’ on trash.

Got any other metaphors for the church, religion and the predicament of institutions?

Crack House Church from The Work Of The People on Vimeo.


The Problem: with Peter Rollins

I love Peter Rollins. I have even stuck up for him on several occasions (I like both Peter Rollins).

In fact, there is no author I am more prone to give my nieces and nephews than Peter Rollins. I am a fan and a promoter.

That is why I’m always to intrigued by those who feel the need to criticize, critique and call into question the motives and message of the young Irish poet-philosopher. Here is what I have begun to say:

Its not that there is a problem WITH Peter Rollins. However, there IS a problem and we need to address it with what Peter Rollins provides.

Let me attempt to clear up a couple of critiques that I hear about Pete Rollins – they seem to center on the fact that he is one step ahead of most folks … and that makes it seem like he is up to something.

He’s just trying to sell books: He is an author. He is trying to sell books. But do you think that this little slice of the christian publishing industry that he would appeal to is lucrative? There is far more money to be made outside the faith for a guy this smart and likable. He is a friend of the church and he helps people’s faith. Keep in mind that he speaks at churches! If he wanted to use his considerable smarts to simply sell books – this would not what he wrote about.

He’s importing Post-Modern stuff into the church: in the book ‘The Postmodern God’, Graham Ward was explaining his inclusion of a certain author by outlining the sensibilities that overlapped in four areas:

  • an inescapable recognition of the linguistic role in formation of thought and experience
  • overturning of traditional hierarchies
  • shattering of meta-narratives
  • concern with otherness

These four things seem to me to be vital areas for people of faith and the church to engage in for the 21st century. Pete is not pulling the wool over people’s eyes with this post-modern stuff: he is asking them to consider that they may have pulled the wool over their eyes in some way. That is not being tricky – that is being the best kind of mischievous.

People just like his Accent/Stories/Language: Yes he has a beautiful Irish lilt. Yes he tells amazing stories. Yes he is very engaging. But if you think that this is a personality-package-presentation thing, I am afraid that you are missing the radical nature of his content. Certainly the presentation doesn’t hurt anything – as a delivery system. The drug, however, is potent and I don’t want to confuse the content because of the form.

Here what Rollins bring to the table (as I said yesterday):

Part of what I love about Rollins’ project is that he helps expose the invisible or unstated second sentence so that we, as communities of faith, are not assuming something that should not be assumed – and then allowing us to state it appropriately so that everyone is on the same page and it is not invisible or hidden.

Admittedly, the danger is that it might take some of the magic out of it. I acknowledge that. The tradeoff, however,  is that we can be honest about what is really going on and move forward A) together and B) with integrity. I think that the tradeoff is worth the risk even if we do lose some  of the magic.

Now, having said all of that – I DO think that there is a problem with Peter Rollins, but it has nothing to do with any of those things.

My problem with Peter Rollins has to do with the medium and message. I think that he is all too right all too much of the time when he critiques TV preachers, evangelists and celebrities. I had an epiphany the other night as a I was standing there watching him watching him talk.
We were  in the building where I work, which is getting ready to launch a new gathering this Fall (called the loft). Part of the Bass-Rollins event was to help our folks catch the vision and see the need for such an endeavor. The whole things is being conceived of a conversation: the way the room is designed, the staffing, the facilitation, etc.
So when I was listening to Pete the other night make some astoundingly insightful points about televangelist and revival preachers I realized the importance of the medium and the message. Here was one guy, standing up front, we were all facing him and listening to him – and he was a little bit smarter/further ahead than we were. It’s still the problem of the one person at the front of the room with all the ideas/answers.
Now, that is not Pete’s fault. He is utilizing the medium to get out the message. But it did convict me that the architecture, furniture, and facilitation need to be different so that the medium matches the message if what I am concerned about is community and authenticity.

In the end, I am grateful for Rollins. I appreciate what he brings to the table. I admire his project and think that we need it even more than we know – which is kind of his point.



That damned Second Sentence

I have always been suspicious of that second sentence. Usually it is the obvious second sentence that is preceded by the unstated first sentence.

“We hold these truth to be self-evident”  is a great second sentence.  The problem is that it is often put forward as a first sentence. People just start with “We hold these truths to be self-evident… that all men are created equal.”   It is a wonderful sentence. The problem is that there is something unstated that goes before it. The first sentence there is “After we killed the original inhabitants, stole their land and imported free labor from Africa …. We hold these truths to be self evident…”

 So often what appears to be a first sentence is really a second sentence and the first sentence goes unstated. 

Last week Peter Rollins showed up in LA and talked about why ‘Its not the size of the wand that matters … its the magic that is in it.’  In that talk he pointed out the danger of of a different kind: not understanding the (assumed) second sentence. This is particularly relevant to fundamentalist thinking.

The sentence is ‘We trust God’. The implied second sentence is ‘but we still lock up the church building when we leave and arm the security system.’

Or ‘I trust God’. The second implied sentence is ‘still lock your car doors’.

‘I pray for the headache to go away’ is followed by the implied ‘I take the aspirin to help’

Rollins says (around minute 26) that what is tragic is when somebody believes the first sentence too much and doesn’t pick up on the implied second sentence. Like when a child is sick and the community prays for them to be healed, the dad takes the kid home and doesn’t take them to the hospital or give them medicine and the kid dies.

People are always shocked and horrified that the parent took it too far. Yes, we pray for healing. Yes, we have faith. The implied second sentence is that we also partner with modern medicine – and I would add – even thanking God for the advances is technology and unlocking the potential (often of plants) for medicines.

 The tragedy is when someone doesn’t pick up on the implied second sentence and takes the first sentence way too seriously. It’s that damned second sentence that will get you in trouble.

Part of what I love about Rollins’ project is that he helps expose the invisible or unstated second sentence so that we, as communities of faith, are not assuming something that should not be assumed and then stating it appropriately so that everyone is on the same page and it is not invisible or hidden.

Admittedly, the danger is that it might take some of the magic out of it. I acknowledge that. The tradeoff, however,  is that we can be honest about what is really going on and move forward A) together and B) with integrity. I think that the tradeoff is worth the risk even if we do lose some  of the magic.

- Bo Sanders 


It’s not the size of the Peter Rollins in LA

Peter Rollins showed up at a place called the Loft LA (that will launch this Fall) in order to say “It’s not the size of the wand that matters … but the magic that is in it’. 

Pete is at his best as he outlines the problem of the fundamentalist and the liberal ideal of what really matters. Then Tripp tries to corner him into answering metaphysical questions that Pete appropriately answers in the best way possible – with  story!

Rollins has 4 amazing books:

  1. How (not) to Speak of God 
  2. The Orthodox Heretic: And Other Impossible Tales
  3. The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief
  4. Insurrection: To Believe Is Human To Doubt, Divine
Pete makes his best case for a new way to think about the things that really matter, then Tripp puts him under the spotlight to see if it holds up under the light.

Enjoy the presentation and don’t forget to support the podcast by just getting anything on AMAZON through THIS LINK or you can get some Homespun Craftianity. We really appreciate your assistance in covering all the hosting fees which went up 30 bucks a month due to the growing Deaconate!

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Peter Rollins & Barry Taylor answer THE question “What Would Paul Do?” Ep. 129

“What Would Paul Do?”  That’s the question and Peter Rollins and Barry Taylor are here to answer it Biblically.  This is a seriously fun conversation from the Soularize cconference that I thought would be the perfect to share at the beginning of the year.

For those who don’t read atheist political philosophy…Paul is back, popular, and getting all sorts of attention.  In our conversation we play out a number of these Pauline insights and then tackle a bunch of questions being asked in the church today.  If you are interested in the philosophical discussion there is no better place to begin than St. Paul Among the Philosophers which is introduced and edited by Jack Caputo.  It includes chapters by Zizek and Badiou (philosophers) and then responses form Christian scholars from across the disciplines.

Stuff We Discuss…Paul, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Pete’s new book, Hakim Bey’s temporary autonomous zones, Kester Brewin, Occupy Wall Street condoms and T-Shirts, the Crisis of Capitalism, Red Letter Christianity, the End of History, Identity Politics, Missional Progressive Christianity, why we aren’t ‘making disciples’ in church, and if the church should still gather after the Death of the Big Other God.

Since this was recorded live in a room with a Keg of Dale Brothers Beer there are the occasional bumps from me pumping the keg. I put some soft jams underneath to help cut down the noise from the note taking audience.



The Cross, Resurrection, Blood, and Church of Jesus: TNT Crossed Out

In this hour long conversation Bo and Tripp take up the question “Is too much emphasis placed on the cross?”  Bo thinks that it is both out of proportion and ultimately unhelpful to place so much importance in this one symbol. Tripp think that it can be redeemed from those who have misused and misappropriated it. The debate started with [this post]

In this episode we reference (among others) books by

Also covered are Claremont Lincoln’s involvement in the inter-religious endeavor and their new logo – as well as re-writing some hymns and songs to better reflect what we really believe.

Empty Places and the need for prophets

Last week I spoke in favor of both Peter Rollins. I really am a fan of what he is up to and what people think that he is up to.

But there is also something that concerns me. It only shows up once in a while, but when it pokes through – I really get uncomfortable.

In this latest podcast, it shows up in minute 39.

He is talking about the moment during the the crucifixion story that the curtain in the temple is torn in two. We find out what was in there … nothing.  No ‘god gas’ comes out. It turns out that we are separated from nothing.

This is the moment of discomfort. I am uncomfortable with where he is going. I don’t like this at all.

I have always been led to think that in the rending of the curtain, that the Glory of God came out from containers made by men and came out into the world. This was a foretaste of what was to come in the gift of Pentecost. God’s spirit was poured out on God’s daughters and sons and the glory was no longer located in any one place but had come to the nations. God’s glory was then loose in the world and God’s glory was to be known in every place and in every nation.

I suppose that I don’t actually need the glory behind the veil in order to have that reading of Pentecost. Its just that the two have always been connected for me. The rending of the veil is the moment when God’s presence is no longer contained in one location.

What happens to the narrative if the veil is torn in two and we find out that there was nothing in there after all? Is Pentecost then a replacement of real for what was not? Is it a continuation of the imagery? Is it a succession?  and if so, is it of the same type of emptiness?

Admittedly, I don’t like where this is going. But here is the thing – there is something noticeably absent from the the text of scripture. It does say that the veil was torn in two but noticeably missing is the next sentence. The one that describes the impact or implications of that event. There is no follow up. No ‘and people died’ or ‘and somebody saw this’ or ‘so God’s glory….’.

Just nothing.

So as much as I am made uncomfortable by how comfortable Peter Rollins (in his new book) is pointing this out, I have to struggle with the fact that he has pointed out something I had not seen before. Did I not see it because I already had my replacement explanation ready to plug into the gap.   

This is part of the appeal of a person like Peter Rollins. He says things I have not heard before or don’t want to hear again. Those same things are observations or insights that I probably need to hear – for that very purpose.

It’s the reason that I have not heard them before that bothers me the most: I already had a prepared interpretation in place that allowed me to miss what was right there in the text – or more accurately – what is not in the text.

We need both prophets and priests, both poets and practitioners if we are going to be healthy.


I like both Peter Rollins

Confession: I’m a big fan of Peter Rollins. Actually, I am a big fan of both Peter Rollins.

Maybe I should explain. There seem to be two Peter Rollins

  •  the mesmerizing author and speaker credited with such wondrous works as How (Not) to Speak of God, The Orthodox Heretic, and now  Insurrection, who helps people’s faith by relieving them of their  superfluous religious facades.
  • the suspicious and sinister author and speaker who mystifies critics with his ability to deconstruct (ie. deceive) and entertain (ie. trick) people into asking Slovoj Zizek into their heart – and thus agreeing to go to hell.

As you can see there are two distinct Peter Rollins. And here is the thing, I like them both.

 I like what Peter Rollins is up to and I like what people think that he is up to. 

I buy books for my nephews and nieces. The favorites are Donald Miller, Shane Claiborne and Peter Rollins. These books challenge their hearts, expand their minds, and help their faith. They would have one view of Peter Rollins.

I often listen to MDiv and other students at Christian Colleges and Seminaries go after Peter Rollins like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. They accuse him of masking deceptive A/theistic trickery under the guise of deconstruction and post-structural poetics. The accusation is that he is importing some sort of hollow, empty, nihilistic  slight-of-hand with a sweet & seductive Irish lilt.
Truth is: I like them both.
  • I like the guy who helps the young people in my family and youth group to think through their inherited faith and mean the things they say, even if it is a bit more humbly.
  • I also like the guy who is subverting and undermining the grotesque bloated corpse of Christendom and its related classicist theology.


I like that I can give his book to almost anyone.

I like that educated evangelical christians think he is up to something.

I am a big fan of both Peter Rollins.


the new podcast of his Insurrection is here.