People I like

old car jpeg

“Speakerguy” is that guy who came to speak at the Christian college where I am on faculty.Because Speakerguy and I are old friends, we spent a lot of time together catching up during his visit to campus.

In the local coffee shop, I asked him about the evangelical leaders he knows: celebrity authors, megachurch pastors, evangelists and non-profit CEOs. I wanted to know what he’d observed doing so much traveling to churches and colleges and religious organizations around the country.

I’m going to try to paraphrase what he told me. This isn’t an exact quote or transcript, I didn’t record our conversation or even think about writing it down. But now a couple weeks later, this is the best I can recall the gist of what he said:

“Dave, people with the theology and commitments like the students you’ve described, people who worship a perfectly loving God who wants them to be radically devoted to making the world a better place, people who aren’t afraid to change their theology to a theology of love and hope – those people are the future of Christianity in the West.”

When I expressed skepticism, because those in power at influential churches and Christian colleges and publishing houses seem devoted to a way of expressing our faith that seems narrow, exclusionary, vengeful, and uncritical of things like empire. He responded by saying,

“The best horse drawn carriages were built after the invention of the automobile. Many people looked at these new cars and laughed them off – they couldn’t possibly represent the future of transportation. But we know how the story goes. You and me and your students are the cars in this story: right now we’re a mess, and we’re loud, and we keep breaking down, and we don’t know where to get gas. But we’re the future, I’m as sure of that as I am that I’m sitting here.”




Was interesting.

Speakerguy, my friend I posted about last time, spoke on campus.

Things were going fine until a student during Q&A asked him what he thought about all the attention devoted to fighting gay marriage in American churches.

Oh dear.

More details after i catch a little rest.

jesus was here

photo from flickr by porkfork6

Baptist minister Chris Seay is one of those spicy young(ish) emerging church pastors who warms the cockles of my heart.

seay and mclaren

I first became aware of Chris Seay when someone pointed me to a Web site where he makes videos for his church. The Web site is extensive, with a lot of video and audio, most of it networked through YouTube and subscribable via iTunes. It looks like he is someone plugged into culture and interested in being engaged rather than withdrawn. Any doubt about this was eliminated when I read the reviews of his book, which argues that the Holy Spirit is at work in the HBO series the Sopranos, revealing Christianity’s deepest and most profound truths.

I love what he says in this Christianity Today interview about a Christian’s relationship to culture:

I still think one of the great fallacies of Christian thinking is this kind of garbage in/garbage out mentality…. Daniel was educated by sorcerers, magicians, pagan priests, and astrologers. It says at the end of chapter one that he became ten times wiser in those things than the people that taught him. And yet, clearly, he wasn’t a pagan priest or a sorcerer. Scripture was his guide through all of the mess of his own pagan culture that I find to be very similar to our culture.

And later he describes how culture spaces can be where Christians meet people and engage their spiritual questions:

I’ve found it as a place where people are longing and asking spiritual questions. In music and movies, you see all of these deep spiritual questions. And the people that are supposed to engage those questions have removed themselves. We pull away from culture to the point where we can no longer affect it. Somewhere right in the middle is a really healthy place, but it’s a difficult one to find.

I realize I don’t have a clear idea of what the Mennonite disposition toward culture is. I have a vague idea that this has historically been an ambivalent relationship, but where are Mennonite churches moving today in relation to culture? What’s the deep Anabaptist theological thinking on this? It’s something I plan to investigate for a while.