Saturday, December 16, 2006

What are your Sacred Pathways?

As you read Sacred Pathways, what ones (2 or 3) do you identify with most strongly? Can you share an example of how you've experienced each of these in the past?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Responding to Questions

Hey all,

I'd like for us to have at least a little bit of conversation about Adventures in Missing the Point before moving on. If you would be so kind, please respond to at least one of the following questions in the next week. And then, if you can, please try to respond to at least one person's response. Thanks.

Here are the questions for discussion:

1. In the "Theology" chapter Campolo talks about how different cultures do theology differently. They have different questions, different assumptions, etc. Often, from our American/European cultural perspective we can tend to think that our theologies are the standard and every other culture's theology is true or false, good or bad in relation to ours. But this is clearly not true. My question is how does our own "Western" culture influence our theology? How do our particular questions, concerns, and assumptions get reflected in our theology?

2. In the "End Times" chapter Campolo contrasted theologies that see the world as on a downward moral spiral headed towards disaster and judgment, with theologies that see it as being guided towards God's ultimately good purposes (i.e. the kingdom) and thus gradually improving. What signs do you see in the world that supports either the pessimistic view or the optimistic view and which way do you personally tend to lean (and why)?

3. In the "Evangelism" chapter McLaren talks about five kinds of questions non-Christians commonly ask. Which, if any, of these questions have you encountered from non-Christians? What other kinds of questions have you been asked by them?

4. In the "Culture" chapter Campolo states that he thinks much of contemporary entertainment is a "cesspool" and "worthless". What do you think? Is his basically right or are there redeeming aspects to contemporary entertainment that Tony is missing? Also, are you personally more at risk of isolating yourself from the culture or of adopting its harmful values, such as consumerism?

5. In the "Leadership" chapter Campolo responds that he think Dorothy isn't the kind of leader he'd want in a crisis. What would you want in a leader during a crisis?

6. From the "Homosexuality" chapter, how do you respond to this statement: "Homosexual orientations are not chosen" (p. 203)? What are the practical implications of your view?

7. From the "Worship" chapter: what else should worship include in addition to music? What do you think about including historic Christian spirituality into worship?

8. Other: choose your own question from the discussion guides at the end of each chapter and then answer it for us.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Adventures in Missing the Point

Please continue to interact on some of the previous topics if you haven't already. Howevver, I wanted to move our conversation towards the next book Adventures in Missing the Point. (Remember, we'll be discussing this book this coming Thursday at 7pm. If you haven't started it yet, then at least read the first five chapters, and then pick at least 4-5 others that intrigue you and try to read those too before Thursday.

Here's my first question: for those of you who have started reading it, which chapter has been the most intriguing and/or provocative for you so far, and why? Have you seen any places yet in your own thinking where you may have been missing the point?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What's Stopping You?

Okay, one last question related to Dangerous Wonder: We've talked about having a childlike sense of abandon and living dangerously, pursuing your passions. So my question now is "What's stopping you? What keeps you from living dangerously and pursuing your passion?"

BTW, let's not assume that everything that holds us back is necessarily bad. Some are, but sometimes we're held back by things that are good in themselves - like responsibilities to spouses and children and communities. So let's just share whatever it is that holds you back, good or bad.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Obstacle Of The Banal

I liked what Mike Y had to say here (pgs 29-30) about living life instead of making a living. However as I continue growing the family this seems to move farther out of reach. Although I do have to say that our recent (last 4 years) changes to our financial position counter-balanced this with the exception of buying the new house.

Of course this also plays into my comments here.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dangerous Living

And another question: Mike Yaconelli writes, "I long for a life that explodes with meaning and is filled with adventure, wonder, risk, and danger."

Do you think life should be lived dangerously? What would a dangerous life look like for you?

If you could do something today that would epitomize that sense of wild abandon, what would it be? Would you quit your job? Plan a mission trip with friends? Get involved in inner city ministry? Take a weekend getaway with someone special? What would it be for you?

Childlike Wonder

By now you should all be making your way through Mike Yaconelli's book Dangerous Wonder (we'll be talking about it at our next mentoring meetings). In the early chapters Mike talks a lot about having a childlike faith, a sense of wonder, adventure, playful abandon, irresponsible passion, etc. He also talks about that moment when each of us lose that childlike wonder. It happens at different times and in different ways for each of us.

Personally, I stopped being a child when my parents moved from my childhood home of Toledo, Ohio to rural Michigan when I was in the 5th grade. It didn't happen all at once, but gradually I started to lose the sense of intense imagination that I had possessed all through childhood. As a kid I was constantly creating imaginary worlds in my head: building castles and kingdoms, fighting World War III in my backyard, going on long journeys of exploration in my neighborhood.

Shortly after we moved I got hit with the onset of puberty, and a year later I skipped a grade, which effectively meant that all my classmates were suddenly already a whole year further into adolescence. Both of those factors combined to squelch my ability to create these worlds in the same way.

I remember there was one day in 7th Grade (I was still only 12) when a friend and I went out to the woods to play army and right away I knew something was different. It just wasn't the same anymore. The "reality" of it was gone. It just seemed silly and childish. I don't know why it happened right then, but I never went out to play army anymore after that.

When did it happen to you? When did you lose your childlike attributes? Are there any that you think it was good to lose? Which would you try to get back if you could?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Addl Reading - Blue Like Jazz

I'm finding this book easier to get through than Traveling Mercies. Maybe part of it is being set in Oregon and I am very familiar with many of the places he references.

Chapter 7 is on Grace. It makes me wonder if many of us don't need to go through more of a legalistic doing it ourselves phase to really understand grace. For some this may be longer than for others. How can we help each other to struggle and try to do it personally? And yet we also need to push against them so they are keeping it personal and not imposing it on the others around them.

Any thoughts?

Addl Reading - Traveling Mercies

I tried to read this book but was unable to get very far in it. The introduction or Overture as she calls it is pretty long and I couldn't get through it. Has anyone else read this and willing to share some thoughts?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Provocative Ideas

As you guys read A New Kind of Christian, what has been the most provocative idea that you've encountered so far (whether in a "Wow! I never thought of it like that before." sense or in a "That seems way out there. Are you sure this guy isn't a heretic?" kind of sense.)?

What has challenged your thinking? What has helped you begin to see things in a new way?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The need for a new kind of Christian

I hope you've all at least begun reading McLaren's book A New Kind of Christian, and I hope it's provoking some interesting questions and thoughts for you. I'm hoping that you all will email me with some of your thoughts and questions about it soon (if you haven't already). As for this blog conversation, I'd like for us to discuss the whole premise of the book, i.e. that we need a new kind of Christian in the first place. In the Introduction (specifically pages xii-xv) Brian gives a list of experiences he's had that have led him to believe a new kind of Christian is necessary, and in the rest of the book we see Pastor Dan's struggle as he becomes increasingly disillusioned with the theology and culture of traditional Christianity.

My question is this: what experiences have you had that leave you disillusioned with traditional Christianity and desirous of something new and fresh? What makes you feel restless with your faith? What questions have occurred to you that the typical Christian responses fail to adequately answer?

My point is not for us to just start complaining and griping about the things we don't like. But I do think that unless we do feel a little bit of restlessness and discontent with Christianity-as-usual, then we really aren't going to understand why there is any need for a new kind of Christian in the first place. So at least for this post, let's just be free and honest with our discontent, with our longings that our faith could be different, better, than it often is.

Of course, if you are not discontent, if you haven't ever really felt dissatisfied with your approach to faith, that's okay too. Feel free to be honest about that too. However, I would encourage you to listen then. Keep an open mind with those of us who are less than satisfied, and really try to understand where our restlessness is coming from. Try to look at it from a fresh perspective and try to empathize with angst and frustrations that others do feel.

Discontent is not a stopping point, we won't just stay in a negative vein, but it is a good starting point for a journey of rediscovery and reformation.

Let's hear your experiences...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Longing to Long

After talking with a few of you, some common themes are emerging. As I was re-reading part of The Sacred Romance I came across this quote that I thought really speaks to the struggles that several of you have expressed to me. What do you think?

"Inviting Jesus into the "aching abyss" of our heart, perhaps has more to do with holding our heart hopefully in partial emptiness in a way that allows desire to be rekindled "Disipline imposed from the outside eventually defeats when it is not matched by desire from within," said Dawson Trotman. There comes a place on our spiritual journey where renewed religious activity is of no use whatsoever. It is the place where God holds out his hand and asks us to give up our lovers and come and live with him in a much more personal way... We are both drawn to it and fear it. Part of us would rather return to Scripture memorization, or Bible study, or service - anything that would save us from the unknowns of walking with God...

The desire God has placed within us is wild in its longing to pursue the One who is unknown. Its capacity and drive is so powerful that it can only be captured momentarily in moments of deep soul communion or sexual ecstasy. And when the moment has passed, we can only hold it as an ache, a haunting of quicksilver that flashes a remembrance of innocence known and lost and, if we have begun to pass into the life of the Beloved, a hope of ecstasies yet to come."

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Your Life as a Movie

In chapter 4 of The Sacred Romance, the authors talk about our need for a story. They say:

Life is not a list of propositions, it is a series of dramatic scenes. As Eugene Peterson said, "We live in narrative, we live in story. Existence has a story shape to it. We have a beginning and end, we have a plot, we have characters." Story is the language of the heart. Our souls speak not in the naked facts of mathematics or the abstract propostions of systematic theology; they speak the images and emotions of story.

And Daniel Taylor, in his book, The Healing Power of Stories, says "You are your stories. You are the product of all the stories you have heard and lived... They shape how you see yourself, the world, and your place in it."

Here are my questions:

If your life could become a great story, if you could live in one of your favorite movies, which would you choose? Why?

How close to your present life does that movie feel? Do you think you'll ever get there? Is there another movie your life does feel like right now?

Imagine your life really was a movie...

Who are the characters? What role are you playing? How do you see your part? What Hollywood actor or actress would you cast to play your part?

What is the plot of your life's movie? What is it about? Is it a tragedy, a comedy, an adventure, a sports movie, a mystery, etc.?

I look forward to hearing your answers!


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Leadership Training

This blog will be for discussing together online the readings for our Via Christus Leadership Training Course, as well as any other topics you all wish to bring up. I will try to post a discussion question here a couple times per week. Please make an effort to interact here as much as possible.