Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Mars Hill Audio
Another great resource for Inklings types is one I had sort of forgotten about in the digital age. In the early '90s I used to subscribe and had a cassette tape (remember those?) of NPR radio style interviews and analyses delivered every other month. In their own words:

MARS HILL AUDIO is committed to assisting Christians who desire to move from thoughtless consumption of contemporary culture to a vantage point of thoughtful engagement.
The programs are now available on-line by subscription via mp3 for 30.00 a year. However, some selections are available here for no charge. I just listened to host Ken Myers interview Alan Jacobs of Wheaton on "The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis" and I learned a couple of new things. Enjoy, and recommend anything else you find there.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Groothuis Says It Better Again

On a long-ago post, and again sandwiched between a couple of quotes from Dorothy Sayers on my 8/17/06 post, I was trying to express in many words what the Constructive Curmudgeon took care of in a few:

"American Christianity depresses him [Brother Yun]. There is so little seeking after God and so much self-congratulation and hype."

He is, in his 9/16/06 post, reviewing a couple of books dealing with the contemporary church. One of them, The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun sounds like a good read. The Church in China apparently continues to prosper and grow without the luxury of "self-congratulation and hype."

"He writes that the Chinese house-church Christians do not pray for lighter loads, but for stronger backs. His testimony convicts and inspires."

That's what I need to pray for these days...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

An Under-Rated Coffee Beverage

The Cafe Americano, from Starbucks or anywhere else, is now my selection more often than not in the local shops. It's very simple. Just espresso with hot water, it features a rich, mellower than dark-roast flavor with a sort of thin foam on the top.

I've read that the name "Americano" may have been attached condescendingly by European barristas because we tourists couldn't take our coffee quite so strong, so they invented a watered down version just for us. Sounds plausible. But then we're used to the routine. In the peaceful periods between the great, tumultous conflagrations where Americans expend untold treasure and human life to save Europeans from their folly and are welcomed with flowers in the streets, we have come to expect to be despised. And so I lift my Americano to my lips with quiet resignation and a little pride.

Jeepers, you can turn anything into biting political commentary if you work at it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Being a Lightning Rod

This is one of those posts that make no sense to those of you outside the "loop" of people familiar with GCM and Evergreen, so I apologize for its esoteric nature, and would recommend that you click on REALLY SMART GUYS for today's enlightenment and entertainment. Or go somewhere like engrish.com and have some fun.

A friend of mine, who happens to be a pastor at Evergreen, has asked that I remove the portion of my series of posts on The Church that had to do specifically with our reasons for leaving that organization. The content he was already aware of. All of the facts of our journey out of the group and my analysis had been expressed to him before we left. He found it "divisive" and "damaging" I think, by the very fact of its existence in a public space such as a blog.

And so, I suppose I'm torn between two reactions.

On one hand, that post says exactly what I think, and what has needed to be said. I've had lots of corroborating, encouraging responses to it, mostly via email. Several people have thanked me for posting it, some with great passion. I am no longer a part of the group and obviously have no obligation to edit the content of my blog based on their leaders' wishes. I think they know that the message of it still needs to be engaged—hoping to silence the messenger will not be enough. I don't believe members need to be protected from difficult questions about their church. They ought to be free to read, question, debate and discuss ideas and teaching that come from within or without the local congregation—with the Word of God as their final authority. I would encourage Evergreen members to boldly question anything you need to. Hold the organization's feet to the fire on what they think about the nature of human authority in a church, the nature of the Body of Christ, their own history and practices as an organization. Don't settle for pat answers or question-avoidance techniques, or ad hominem dismissal of critics. That is not slander or divisiveness, that is the freedom and duty of the believer in action.

On the other hand, I'm sensitive to the need to "as much as it depends on you, be at peace with all men" and I have no stomach for becoming either a prosecutor of that organization or a perpetual lightning rod for controversy regarding them. It could be argued that ECC leaders know—and most others who know me, probably now know what I think. (The post in question was made in mid-June '06.) And of course I have a number of Evergreen friends (including the afore-mentioned pastor) who feel, understandably I guess, implicated and embarrassed by what I had to say about the group to which they belong. Some of us still see each other and work together in non-church contexts, and those relationships are important.

So what to do? I'm asking God...I'm asking people I trust...I'm asking my readers...what do you think?

My temporary solution is this:

In the interest of peace, and in deference to my friend, I have taken down the ECC/GCM portion of my "Church" posts from this public space while I think, pray and consult more.

In the interest of truth and open debate, anybody who wants to hear or read my perspective can contact me directly.

And thanks to all who have contributed to the discussion thus far for supporting this blog. Some of you are amazingly unafraid of the lightning rod role.