Category Archives: church

Three Things Tuesday – Anne Rice

Best selling novelist, Anne Rice, announced on her Facebook page last week that she was quitting Christianity.

“For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

and in a follow up post:

“I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

The response has been overwhelming…newspaper articles, television interviews, blog posts, podcasts – and has spawned many conversations.

Here are THREE THINGS that I think are worth checking out:

#1 SOME OF US DON’T WANT TO BE THROWN DOWN THE STAIRS BY THE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST.

Mike Morrell’s interview with Anne Rice is available on Homebrewed Christianity Podcast for free.  This is an excellent interview with Anne as she goes into more detail regarding her announcement.

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#2 THE VERY LAST STRAW, WAS THE BISHOP OF PHOENIX, ARIZ. COMING OUT AND PUBLICLY CONDEMNING A NUN FOR AUTHORIZING A LIFE SAVING ABORTION

Mitchell Landsberg of the Los Angeles Times has an excellent written interview with Rice. Anne shares some of the things that gave her the final push.  Although she says that her decision resulted from a sum total of many things, she does state that some papal announcements were last straws.

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#3 Dan Harris’ interview with Anne Rice today on “World News” at 6:30 p.m. and the full story on “Nightline” at 11:35 p.m. ET

Dan Harris’ interview and the Nightline coverage will both be aired this evening (Wed. 8/11/10).  Anne mentioned it on her Facebook page and stated that it was her last scheduled tv  interview pertaining to her break with organized religion and invited comments and discussion.

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Three Things Tuesday – Emergents Retreating?, Christian Women Oppressed and the PCUSA 219th GA

#1 – Has What Emerged Retreated?


I ran across an interesting series that Kester Brewin wrote about participants of the Emergent Movement in the UK returning to the institutional church and organizations.  He addresses this topic to some degree in his book  Other: Loving Self, God and Neighbour in a World of Fractures (which I have now ordered and am looking forward to reading).  The series (and the comments) covered a lot of interesting topics including how spiritual maturation takes place (part 2), how institutions can become damaging and what can be done to counteract that (part 3), some  info about Vaux (a community of artists and city-lovers who sought to explore the Christian faith through the media that came naturally to their hands) and Temporary Autonomous Zones (part 4).  Jonny Baker and Andrew Jones both post responses to the series.  Of course the authors are all from Europe which is some years ahead of the US regarding emerging/emergent Christianity, but there are still many similarities.  What do you think?  Is a retreat taking place?  Is it maturation?  Has the institutional church changed?

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#2 – Happy Christian Women…Really??? and Drinking The Company Kool-Aid

Pam Hogeweide and Kathy Escobar have written posts in response to a recent Barna survey of Christian women requested by Jim Henderson of Off The Map for his latest writing project about how the modern American church treats women.  I believe that this is a very important issue and am disappointed that no woman is authoring the book with Jim on this project (Pam addresses this in her post) but do appreciate that Jim is at least asking women (here) to let him know if their experience matches the survey results from Barna (mine don’t and I let him know).  Check it out and let your voice be heard.

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#3 – Good News and Bad News

The good news is that the PCUSA General Assembly voted in favor of lifting the ban of non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy.  The bad news is that they voted to not even hear or discuss the issue of same sex marriage and so it is tabled for two more years.

Soul Force held a demonstration at the proceedings and some were arrested because they refused to leave.  There seemed to be some differing opinions (check out Shuck and Jive post and comments) about Soul Force being there but I appreciated them being there to represent the voice of the oppressed and excluded.

Where is up now?

One of the major shake-ups in the last reformation of the church was the new knowledge about the earth and sun.   Scripture indicated that the sun moved and the earth stood still and could not be moved. When it was discovered that the earth literally revolved around the sun questions arose about the believability of scripture.   It was also discovered at this time that the world is round. This knowledge led people to ask the question: “If the world is round, where is heaven?”. Heaven had always been UP, but if there is no UP, then where is heaven?  These are the questions that shook up people 500 years ago.

Today we have different questions that are causing major shake-ups.   With scientific, intellectual and technological advances we are led to ask new questions.  One of the questions that tends to keep coming up in conversations these days is the question of authority as discontentment continues to grow over the inadequacy and failure of church authority and sola scriptura.

Some will say that this discontentment comes from those who are resisting authority  and who don’t like what they hear from the church and/or from scripture.  I am sure those people exist, but, at the same time, I know that there are those who are serious in their search for the answer to the question: “Where should our authority come from?”

I’m leaning towards the idea that Christian authority should come from community that is shaped by scripture and tradition.

What do you think?

Survivor, TransFORM and How You Treat People, Matters.

I was in Washington D.C. to attend TransFORM: East Coast Gathering a couple of weeks ago. I have put off writing about it because it was so wonderful that I know my words will not be able to adequately convey my experience … but it was too important not to write about … so, here is the first attempt:

I’m a big Survivor fan and just finished watching the 20th season, “Heroes vs Villians”.  If you are familiar with the show, you know that Russell played two seasons back to back, got to the end in both seasons, but didn’t receive even one vote by any jury member in either of the seasons.  Some believe that Russell should have won Survivor as he played a physically and mentally strong game.  He tends to be able to control who gets voted off, is a convincing liar and a great schemer.  He’s okay when it comes to challenges and has won several immunity challenges, sometimes when it was critical.  But, (that probably should be “BUT”) he treats people poorly and it is difficult to win Survivor when you treat people poorly, since the people you are treating poorly are also the people that get to vote for the winner.  In other words, “how you treat people, matters”.

This got me to thinking about my experience at TransFORM.

Now, to give you a little context, I was a newcomer among the people at TransFORM.  I’ve been in the conversation for less than five years and I pretty much just listened for the first 3 years … so, I was a little worried about how I would fit in at the gathering.  I knew several people online, but had only met one person face to face before. I’m also older than most, not in full-time ministry AND I don’t even have a MAC or an IPhone … I even had the audacity to show up with my HP laptop and my Verizon Blackberry Tour:>)  But, (that probably should be “BUT”) they embraced me anyway, generously included me and made me feel significant, valuable, loved, and even liked.  Was it because of my great personality and wry wit?  My good looks?  Did my charisma blind them so that they couldn’t see past the dazzling light that surrounds me everywhere I go?  No, it wasn’t about any of those things (if you can believe it!!) … it wasn’t really about “me” – it was about them.  It was about this group of people putting a high value relationships with others.  It was about relationships with others being more important to them than anything else.  It was about them believing even if they were the most cool, the most right, the best speaker, the best writer, the best looking, the most fun, the most knowledgeable, the best or most anything, it wouldn’t amount to anything if they weren’t treating others well.  It was about them believing they can’t be winners unless they are loving others.  It was about this group of people believing “how you treat people, matters” – not just intellectually but experientially, not just in theory but in reality.  This is their central message, their main thing.

And that is why ever since I came back home from Washington D.C. I have yearned to be back in the presence of this group of people.  They are good at real community, they are good at loving, they are good at relationships.  They are transparent and vulnerable but not sappy – okay, occasionally they are sappy, but it’s a good kind of sappy:>)  IMO they are courageous when it comes to offering grace and embracing humility.

In the days to come I plan to write about my impressions of some of the TransFORM sessions, but first I just had to say a little something about what I thought was the most important thing about TransFORM  …  which was that I spent a few days with a group of people who were having some significant success at living in the way of Jesus and it was compelling and attractive and inspirational and motivating and comforting and transformational.

It touched me and changed me.

How you treat people, matters!

A Chastened Epistemology

This post is part of a Synchroblog coordinated by Julie Clawson to address the question “What is Emerging In The Church?”

I grew up with phrases like “Absolute Truth”  “Christian Worldview” and “if God said it, I believe it, and that settles it”. What wasn’t considered in my circle was that any understanding of truth outside of our own might have some value or that there really was no such thing as a “Christian Worldview” or that our interpretation of scripture might be flawed. The refusal to consider any of these things became like a thick slab of concrete between “us” and “them” (i.e. anyone who believed differently than we did and put a voice to those beliefs).

A few years ago some real life stuff happened and I began to reexamine my beliefs.  Around the same time, I was introduced to the emerging conversation.  It was such a relief to interact with people that didn’t write me off as spiritually immature if I didn’t believe exactly as they did.  It was so refreshing to hear people say they realized they might be wrong about what they believed.  And contrary to what I had been taught, I discovered that the lack of certainty did not diminish their devotion to being followers of Jesus Christ.  They didn’t have all the answers, in fact; they had more questions than answers, but they were more like Christ than many of the “Absolute Truth” Christians that I had hung out with for so many years.  Don’t get me wrong – these uncertain people had beliefs and convictions, but they didn’t hold on to them as tightly; and they had knowledge but it was a less than certain knowledge.  They called it having a “chastened epistemology.”

It made sense to me.  How could we believe that we had it all figured out? That would be like putting ourselves on the same level as God, himself.  And in recent years Christians had gotten it wrong about other stuff … such as slavery and interracial marriage.  Just because there “is” truth doesn’t mean that we fully grasp it or understand it.

As I began to embrace this new kind of thinking – this new way of being a follower of Jesus Christ – some much needed humility was born in me and out of that a space was created that has allowed me to connect and interact with God and others in a deeper more meaningful way.  I’ve been told that I seem more kind, gentle and compassionate.  I am more at peace and at last my faith is more like a bridge than a barrier.

I admit, it is a struggle living within the tension of believing something and holding that belief loose enough so that God can take it away from you without you feeling like you just got pushed off the edge of a cliff.  I have to consciously strive on a daily basis to remain humble about what I know and believe – and sometimes I fail.  But, it is possible and I believe that it is worth it.

After all …

How can God speak into our lives if we aren’t humble enough to listen and hear?  How will we know if we are mistaken about something if we hold on to our beliefs with unswerving certainty.  Can we be transformed without being humble?

IMHO a chastened epistemology is one of the most valuable characteristics that is emerging in the church today.  I believe humility = teachability.  More than anything else a “chastened epistemology” draws me to the emerging church/conversation.

Check out some of the other synchroblog posts:

Pam Hogeweide compares the emerging church movement to a game of ping pong.

Sarah-Ji comments that the emerging questions people are asking are far bigger than any defined movement.

Sharon Brown writes about using labels as an excuse.

Peter Walker reflects on how the emerging church conversation helped him recognize his power and privlege as a white male.

Dave Huth posts a on new ways to talk about religion.

Kathy Escobar finds hope in seeing a spirit of love in action emerging in the church.

Nadia Bolz-Weber reflects on the the beautiful things she sees emerging in her church community.

Chad Holtz writes on our Our Emerging Jewishness.

MojoJules describes her organic entry into the emerging church and reflects on moving forward with a new public face.

Dave Brown comments on the emerging church and swarm theory.

Danielle Shoyer reflects on the big tent of the emerging church.

Brian Merrit offers his pros and cons of the emerging church.

Julie Clawson is grateful for emerging globalized Christianity.

Liz Dyer believes a chastened epistemology is a valuable characteristic emerging out of the church today.

Sa Say adds her voice to the conversation in The Prick of Doubt.

Three Things Tuesday

It’s Three Things Tuesday (well, it’s actually Wednesday and I’m running late but there’s no cute name to go along with Wednesday, so…it’s Three Things Tuesday) again.

Thing #1  The Real @DaliaLama


Believe it or not the Dalia Lama now has an official twitter account.

You can catch his tweets @DalaiLama.

Thing #2  Criticizing Church, Defending Church


Scott McKnight defends the church against her critics with arguments about the church being made up of a bunch of imperfect people therefore no one should expect her to be perfect…blah, blah, blah.

I think that is a poor defense…just because we (the body of Christ) are all imperfect and prone to make mistakes doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be criticized when we do harm to others or that we should expect people to stick around while we do harm to them or those they care about.

But, in case I missed the point or read something out of context read his post at Jesus Creed (and the comments) for yourself and see what you think.

Thing #3  Billy Coffey


Maybe I’m out of the loop and everyone already knows about Billy Coffey, but I was pleasantly surprised to run across him in the blogosphere recently.  There is something raw and honest about his style – his writing really draws me in and I come away so glad to have read what he wrote.

For instance, check out a recent post he wrote called “What Happened To My Kindness”

Oh, and he has a book called Snow Day coming out later this year.