Thursday, April 26, 2007

Looking for Work

As some of my friends know, I'm trying to piece together a living: part-time with EV, part time speaking, and part-time writing. The speaking is what keeps the Joneses liquid, and I happen to love it. But, as I'm figuring out the rhythms of this life, it seems that some times are great for speaking engagements (Sept-Nov, Jan-Mar, May), and other times, well, it's slim pickins. So, I'm trying to figure out a way to pay for our lives while I write my dissertation (which is next in the queue after the current book).

Anyway, I've got some travel scheduled for the summer, and I'd love to speak to your group, preach at your church, or spend time with your staff or volunteer leaders. I've also got a bunch of frequent flier miles, and I'd be willing to fly somewhere for a day or two to get some work. I've listed below some places I'll be for meetings, and I'd love to talk if you're interested in scheduling something else around that time. Or we can talk about another time in another place. You can email me at

Also, I'm looking to land a regular column in a magazine or journal. I've talked to a couple periodicals, but I'm open to suggestions on this, too. Lemme know what you think.

June 2-3: Phoenix
June 10-11: San Francisco
June 24-25: Los Angeles/San Diego
July 8-9: Atlanta
August 11-12: Oregon/Idaho

(This is a bit of a vulnerable post for me, thus the comments are turned off. And if you are considering sending me an email telling me that I'm preaching heresy, etc., you can keep it to yourself.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

An Open Letter to Me

Over at Emerging Anglican, Robert Lancaster has posted an open letter to me regarding my address at Wheaton. He asks more good questions, and I will respond to him next week. In the meantime, you might check it out and drop a comment on him with your own response.

In other news, I have just begun Draft #4 of my book. That's right, Draft #4. Ugh. And yes, it's still due on June 1. I'll be heading into the northwoods for a few days to pound out many words, which is why I can't respond to Robert till next week.

Then, the following weekend starts a harrowing three weeks of travel and speaking (along with many late nights of writing in hotel rooms).

Manifesto of Hope Promo Video

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

More on Wheaton

Well, I'm glad that Al commented on the last post to clarify that the fellow theologians don't consider me a real theologian. I wonder if that has more to do with the powerpoint, or that I haven't finished my dissertation (or that I didn't wear a tie). At least Ken Silva has the cojones to call me an anti-theologian. (In fact, I think I like that title!) My thoughts on academic guilds are well known, and it does not surprise me that they esteem me not.

My "paper" went for a bit over an hour, then there were about 40 minutes worth of questions before Vince Bacote and I finally had to cut it off. I'll likely publish a version of that paper somewhere, sometime, so I'm not ready to give it all away here. But, the gist of it was that I said that orthodoxy doesn't "exist." Instead, orthodoxy is an event, in the Derridean/Caputoean sense. That is, orthodoxy happens when human beings get together and practice it (talk about God, worship God, pray to God, write books about God, etc.). There's no orthodoxy somewhere out there that one can point to and say, "See that? That's orthodoxy. That's what we're trying to get to."

The thrust of the conference was to talk ancient-future, to bring the patristics to bear on the present. I argued that the way we are faithful the Fathers (and Mothers, and the many marginalized voices in the history of the church) is to be conversant with them as we are attempting to be faithful in our time and place. I suggested that the Council of Chalcedon, for instance, was a messy, political event that eventuated in the "orthodox" rendering of Jesus the Christ as two substances, one person. Now, I don't reject that articulation of Christ, but I do want to acknowledge that it was a human and political process that resulted in that event of orthodoxy.

I received some comments during the Q&A time, as well as a couple of emails, all suggesting the same thing: I'm opening the door to liberalism. One emailer has asked if I've not abdicated all realism to the infinite deferral of deconstruction. But, like he said in his email, liberalism and conservativism are two sides of the same coin. They both rest on foundationalist assumptions that I reject. So I see no fear of sliding into some kind of neo-liberalism.

I used the analogy of a baseball umpire who has to call balls and strikes during a game. While the rulebook declares what will constitute a strike, and the umpire can quote that definition verbatim, there is really no such thing as a strike until the ball is thrown and the umpire declares it. I asserted that, though the Major League strike zone does not accord exactly with the rule book, there will not come a time when batters will be required to swing at pitches over their heads. The community of baseball (umps, managers, batters, pitchers, catchers, fans, and MLB officials) all hold the strike zone in a dialectical tension.

Similarly, Christian orthodoxy is held in tension by you, me, the Pope and Benny Hinn -- by all 2.2 billion of us. Plus, we're also listening to the interpretations of those who've gone before us -- the church fathers. (Sadly, we don't have the voices of the mothers and the slaves to guide us, but we're getting better at that.) As such, I do not consider the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed a perfect articulation of the Christian faith. They are remnants of our liturgical past, and, as such, they carry much hermeneutical weight. However, they as limited as all human language is limited.

My best argument that the "strike zone" of orthodoxy will hold is the 2,000 year history of the church. From the Early Church through the Conciliar Age, from the Dark Ages, through the Middle Ages, the Scholastics, the Reformation, the Modern Era, and until now, the worldwide community of faith has adjusted the strike zone, but also guarded it. Now, wrested from the hands of ecclesial elites and placed in the hands of bloggers and "laypersons," the same thing will happen: we will all work out our orthodoxy together.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Thinking Bloggers

I don't often do this, but it might get Blair some readers (which he needs). So, go read Blair, because he tagged me. Do you hear me? Read Blair.

However, I'm not going to take the bait and tag five others.

Initial Thoughts on Wheaton

It's been over a week now since I spoke at the annual Wheaton Theology Conference. Again, let me say that I was honored to be asked -- although Al Hsu reports that several theologians with whom he spoke were disgruntled and felt I had no right to be on the slate of speakers, much less in a keynote role. I guess if they want to maintain the purity of academic conferences, I can understand. But I think that the conference organizers are wary of the internecine battles that often result from academic inbreeding -- not to mention that very few academicians can speak with any credibility on the emergent church. So I gave it my best shot, and I took some criticism -- more on that tomorrow.

Due to Tanner's birthday on one end and the Emergent Theological Philosophical Conversation on the other, I couldn't stay at Wheaton for more than the day on Friday. This was a great disappointment, and it's not the way that I like to be at conferences.

The folks at Wheaton treated me with the utmost hospitality, particularly my friend, Vince Bacote. And I also want to give a shout-out to Karen Sloan, a true phenom in the emergent church. There she was, as she is at every EC event in the States. She reported to me that some of the other speakers were disgruntled because they'd heard that I was using powerpoint. (What's funny is that while my use of this Microsoft product seemed intimidating and out-of-place among academicians, it draws almost universal ridicule from all my Mac-happy co-emergers.) Another speaker reportedly scoffed at the emergent church with some derogatory comment about powerpoint slides. The problems with this assumption that academic discourse should (can?!?) be purely verbal are too numerous to post, so I won't.

John Franke was also there, and he was supportive throughout. I took a long walk with Jason Byassee of the Christian Century. He's an excellent and thoughtful guy who later in the day presented a paper on the emergent church. He was relatively fair, though he took a couple of cheap-shots at Doug; and his deconstruction of Mark Driscoll was devastating.

I ate two lunches: first with Collin Hansen of Christianity Today, who's working on a profile of Driscoll, and then with Andrew Bronson of InterVarsity Press, active in the Chicagoland Emergent Village cohort, up/rooted. Finally, I was graciously invited to the IVP author dinner, even though I'm not an IVP author. Seated amidst members of the Hauerwasian Mafia, it was fight or flight. I chose flight. Fortunately, Karen Sloan loaned me her car, and I got back to Wheaton without broken kneecaps.

Tomorrow: The Speech...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wheaton Week

Back from the beaches of Naples, Florida, we're due for two days of what they call a "rain-snow mix" in Minnesota. That's good for keeping me indoors for my my assignment, which is to finish up (begin?) my presentation to the Wheaton Theology Conference on Friday. It's a daunting task, to be sure. But I think I've got a line on it. The title is "Whence Hermeneutic Authority?", and I'll be attempting to both describe how the emergent church movement approaches hermeneutics and suggest a thoughtful way forward. I'm beginning with an extended analogy (that has to do with baseball), then move to description of the emergent church, then philosophical considerations, then normative theological suggestions, and, finally, practical solutions. So far, I've nailed down part one and moved into part two...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Keeping Ken Honest

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A Cool Event in DC

Looks like I'll be in Washington, DC three times this year. Here's the first event, and it will be a great one, if you can make it:

Church for the 21st Century:

A Gathering to Envision, Encourage and Energize Congregations

Dear Friend:

Join the journey of generous-spirited Christians creating the church for the 21st century. Come join us at Washington National Cathedral to reflect on the direction of the church. Share in creating a time of holy space in worship, music, meals and prayer. Explore key areas including worship, hospitality, discernment, tradition, justice, formation and beauty, drawn from Diana Butler Bass’ latest book Christianity for the Rest of Us.

We are pleased to announce presentations by leading theologians and practitioners including:

  • Diana Butler Bass
  • Michael Battle
  • Marcus Borg
  • Fred Burnham
  • Carmen Guerrero
  • Tony Jones
  • Samuel Lloyd
  • Barbara Brown Taylor
  • Phyllis Tickle

Conference activities also include: best practices sessions with examples from thriving congregations; a wide variety of community conversation circles for networking; shared meals; and roundtable discussions. MoreRegister now

Schedule and Fees: The conference runs from Thursday, May 10 at 2 pm until Saturday, May 12 with the conclusion of the noon Eucharist. The registration fee of $250 includes program costs, Thursday dinner, Friday lunch, Friday “Eucharist meal” and Friday evening reception.

Click “more” for complete descriptions of our activities and participant bios. Or click on Register now” to go directly to our secure online registration page. You will have the option to make hotel reservations at one of two convenient and affordable hotels when you register.

MoreRegister now