Wednesday, February 28, 2007

In Praise of Herring

People think pickled herring is gross, but I love it. I eat it whenever possible. I think it's fantastic. I mean, who wouldn't love a raw little fish, soaked in vinegar and placed on a cracker.

All I can hope is that next week in Norway and Denmark, there will be lots of herring.

There was no herring last week in North Carolina, but there was some good BBQ. And much excellent conversation was consumed. The folks at Campbell University were gracious as always, I got ashed at Emmaus Way on Wednesday, followed by some great Hauerwasian debates over beer at a local watering hole with EW folks, and then a couple days at UNC-Greensboro. Finally, a great seafood dinner with Tim and Mimi Conder before I flew home.

Two reflections:

First, something is up in North Carolina. There are, like, three or four strong cohorts in the state. Folks like Zach Roberts are starting new monastic communities, and lots of people are debating the retreatism of Hauerwas :-). And Doug just told me that he'll be in NC four times this year for different meetings and events.

And second, I cannot speak highly enough about Scot McKnight. Honestly, there are few people in the world that I'd rather spend time with. He's funny, humble, and he knows the New Testament. He can handle friendly disagreement, and even some ribbing about the cuffs and pleats in his pants. I get the real sense that he's a man of integrity, and I'll bet that his students at North Park love him. So, book him to speak at your church or event before his schedule gets too full -- you'll have a new friend.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


...Courtney blogs.

Monday, February 26, 2007

I've Posted Again...

...over at God's Politics, in an effort to clarify my position on pluralism and tolerance.

Scot Has Blogged...

...about our time together in NC here.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

In Advance...

...of my bare knuckles brawl this weekend with Scot McKnight (and his Cubbies proxy, Luke):

Cubs 2006 total payroll: $94,424,499

Cubs 2006 W-L record: 66-96

Cubs dollars spent per win: $1,430,674

Twins 2006 total payroll: $63,396,006

Twins 2006 W-L record: 96-66

Twins dollars spent per win: $660,375

That's a 2.1:1 ratio.

And, what does 2007 hold in store? Well, the Cubbies hired the washed-up, peripatetic manager Lou Pinella for $3.25 million, whereas the Twins continue to employ baseball genius and team loyalist Ron Gardenhire for $1.25 million. The Cubbies will pay $12.4 million to keep over-hyped Carlos Zambrano around for one more year, whereas the Twins signed hometown hero Joe Mauer $33 million to stick around for four years. I could go on and on. But one thing is clear: the Cubs haven't gotten the message that throwing money at the problem isn't the answer. Whatever magic Andy McPhail had in Minnesota, he has lost in Chicago.

Read it and weep, McKnights!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I've Blogged about Mitt Romney...

...over at the God's Politics blog, and it's kicking up some good comments. Go over and add your $.02.

Last Night...

...I gave a talk to about 150 Campbell University students. Afterwards, a few students came up and we exchanged the requisite pleasantries. Then, one guy shook my hand and said, "Hi. I've been waiting six or seven months for you to come here, so thanks for coming. I'm really glad you're here. I think most of what you say is full of shit. You know how you said that the people have been duped by the church? Well, I'm pretty sure that's what you are doing. I'm looking forward to hearing you again on Thursday."

That's my kind of college student!

I've Been Interviewed... a couple hosts at Wired Parish. The first, by Jay Kelly is here. We talk primarily about my book, Divine Intervention.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My Week as a Tarheel

I'm sitting here in the MicroTel (not the best name for a hotel) in Lillington, NC, at the beginning of a week here in NC. Tuesday and Thursday, preaching at Campbell University, then DEBATING Scot McKnight at UNC-Greensboro on Friday and Saturday (no wagering, please).

I'm really looking forward to joining Tim Conder's community, Emmaus Way, for their Ash Wednesday gathering tomorrow night. That will be excellent, I'm sure.

I've been asked by another entity to blog about Mitt Romney, and I've asked, in turn, if it's allowable for me to be honest about my deep ambivalence about Mormonism. We'll see what they say...

Friday, February 16, 2007


I only have a few habits when writing:

To write, I need at least 2 hours uninterrupted; any less than that is too frustrating.

Read what I wrote yesterday; ask myself, "Does it suck?"

Avoid the "to be" verb whenever possible. (is, are, were, etc.)

Avoid the passive voice at all times.

Don't avoid contractions.

Vary sentence structure in every paragraph.

Have as few block quotes as possible: if I can't say it in my own words, I shouldn't say it.

Use semicolons, colons, and em-dashes often.

That's it. Not too much to keep in my head as I attempt to conjure up words of brilliance.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Free Event In Greensboro

Want to hear me debate Scot McKnight in what's sure to be a serious smackdown?!? Come to a free event in Greensboro, NC, Feb 23-24.

We'll debate:
  • Are there really five streams that flow into the emerging lake, or six?
  • Who's more EmergenT, Don Miller or Len Sweet?
  • Why does Scot insist on leaving "Church" out of the "Emerging Church Movement"? Doesn't he believe in the Church?!?
  • Which town is more EmergenT, Chicago or Minneapolis?
  • Why are the Twins so much better than the Cubs?
  • Why did the Bears choke?
  • And much, much more!!!

(Seriously, we're part of a very cool event by the combined campus ministries of UNC-Greensboro titled, "Keeping Jesus Revolutionary." We'd love to see you there.)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Solomon's Porch

A nice video from a night at the Porch.

"Leaving Behind Left Behind"

That was the recent sermon/discussion series at one of my favorite churches on the planet: Journey in Dallas.

If you, too, would like to engage in the book of Revelation in a way that goes beyond unbiblical eschatologies, may I commend to you, Painting Revelation, a wonderful DVD with discussion guide by painter and teacher Debby Topliff. It's top notch, and will help you approach this beautiful book of the Bible aesthetically, not propositionally.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Recent Travels

I'm just home from an intense three-week stretch of travel. The most shocking part of the whole trip was taking the red-eye home from LAX: I left 78 degrees and returned home to -19 degrees. However, you won't catch me complaining about the cold, cuz I Love It! Now, some highlights in reverse order:

Last weekend, I was at the incomparably beautiful Pepperdine University in Malibu. I spoke at a Friday morning chapel service, had lunch with some faculty and administrators, and led a prayer retreat for about 40 student leaders. I'm not a big fan of Christian colleges in general, since they too often promote just the kind of Christian enclaving that I dislike, however, Pepperdine gives me hope. While they are attempting to stay true to their Restorationist heritage, they are also desiring to be "radically ecumenical" (to quote one faculty member). This, I think, is just the way to move forward in a pluralistic world. The students were sharp and theologically inquisitive, and the faculty were outstanding -- I was afforded a warm reception.

Prior to that, I was in Decatur, Georgia, at the Mainline Emergent/s event at Columbia Seminary. This was a hybrid event, a meeting-of-the-minds between mainliners and emergers. Many ask, "What is Emergent?" But here, the question was, "What is the mainline?" Of course, the answer is that term is just as squishy as "evangelical" or "emergent." Diana Butler Bass helpfully called it, "Name brand Christianity," but that falls a bit short, too.

Different collections of our two groups came together over a year ago at Princeton Seminary with painful, if not disastrous, effects. This event at Columbia was much better. There was spirit in room -- and Spirit -- thanks in large part to Troy Bronsink and Eugene IV who led us in song and reading. The sessions and break-outs were helpful, but the connections at the Brickstore Pub each night were the high point. As usual, the formalities serve to make way for the relationships.

But the event was not without discomfort, as the blogosphere has told the tale. Where were the people of color? (They were on the stage, but not in the crowd.) Was it another event of "us" vs. "them"? What's the common ground? For my part, I'd say the difficulties all stem from an inability to really hear one another. That is, just because someone (me) challenges someone else to theological justify their practices does not necessarily imply a lack of commonality, or a lack of respect. Surely, emergers have engendered an ethos of sharp, even deconstructive, debate; to other ears, that often sounds harsh and unchristian. But we don't mean it to.

The week before last, I was teaching a week-long intensive class at Olivet Nazarene University. I'll say this: teaching one of those classes is hard work. And this: eating in a college cafeteria all week is not good for the waistline. Again, my hosts, particularly Mark Holcomb, were extraordinarily hospitable. The class went well, I think. The most fun was doing some cultural anthropological exegesis on the Olivet dining hall -- where different kids sat, and what that said about their cultural position. A dinner one night with the Dean of Theology and a historical theology prof cleared up some misconceptions about Emergent, I hope.

And the week prior to that, I was in Boston, meeting with a dozen Episcopal priests engaged in young adult ministry around that city. What a great group! I ran my smack about an Aristotelian understanding of spiritual formation, which I hope they found helpful. Plus, I got to have dinner with my cousin and her boyfriend, and then have a beer with the Boston Cohort -- now that group is crazy! Seriously, they remind me of my friends at Journey in Dallas.

Boston, Illinois, Atlanta, Los Angeles.
Episcopal, Nazarene, Presbyterian, Churches of Christ.
Anglican, Holiness, Reformed, Restorationist.

Honestly, I feel exceedingly blessed to have made friends with such a wide array of Jesus-followers.

Now, two weeks at home to finish the book, be with the family, and do the taxes before the next trip.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

It's a First!

As I've been speaking, I've seen people sweat, and I've seen their blood pressure rise. Heck, I've even had Phil Chalmer's Posse stand up and shout me down.

But never before have I given a talk that has sent a woman into labor.

Congratulations Abby and Jake!