Monday, April 19, 2010

Christian conferences...

I was reading a blog today that had just put up a brilliant post on Christian conferences. Parts of it are totally satirical and outrageously hilarious if you are familiar with emerging forms of church (ie, both postmodern forms and Reformed forms). I was gonna link it, but posting the full article seems more appropriate. You can check out the entire blog here: Cheaper Than Therapy.

PS- The best line is "Why We believe in Depravity of Man and the Sovereignty of God but Are Still Right about Everything." har har har! I love this. I laughed out loud multiple times while reading it. It is sheer genius. Truly brilliant...

Here's the post:

"Taking cues from other conference directors and creators, I am going into the business of creating and managing events. It should work well for me. I have put together multiple events during my life and used to be a concert promoter. In fact, I am partnering with a friend in Tampa Bay to put on next week’s Sustainable Faith conference in St. Pete featuring Shane Claiborne, Doug Pagitt and Danielle Shroyer. It should be a great event.

As I try to create my own brand of conferences I have decided to move towards absolute perfection. Too many of these conferences are trying for absolute diversity but failing miserably. Last year, friends put on such a conference in which all the speakers were women. This year, the main conference happening in a few weeks is diverse, but still over populated by men with beards (I called it the Beards of Theology event). I just received an email concerning an event in Atlanta this fall that attempts diversity. The main speakers are an African American woman, a Native American man and a white guy. This is good, but don’t women hold a higher percentage in the USA? Not, 100% like that conference I mentioned, but something like 51%-49% (I am not actually looking it up).

So, here are 2 conference ideas. The first is for progressive, emerging, Social Justice Christians. It takes a lot of work and will get me very little money since they demand everything be free or discounted (each wants an insider deal and is a poor Democrat). To make up for it, I will put on the perfect Reformed Evangelical Christian conference. I can charge a lot of money (the advantage of high salaries, big church budgets and Republicanism) with very little work.


Cost: $9.99
Location: still looking at UCC churches and seminaries in mid-major cities

21 speakers:
11 female/ 10 male
8 White
4 African American
4 Latino (representing Mexican, Caribbean, Central and South American ethnicities)
3 Asian (representing Korean and Chinese, along w/ another)
1 multi-ethnic (hopefully Jewish or Arab in there- preferable both)
1 Native American
5 will be Gay or Lesbian
10 former Evangelicals (at least 2 former Baptists, 2 former Charismatics, 3 former fundies from Liberty or a Bible college)
5 mainliners
2 Catholics
4 other faith traditions

Presently, as I try to determine speakers, I realize that I need some people to play multiple parts with the coupe de grace being someone representative of 3 groupings. This is harder than trying to make the seedings for the NCAA tournament.
Music will be led by a good natured bearded folk singer with “edgy” lyrics about doubt and never-ending crescendos… and his girlfriend.

Each talk will be 18 minutes because TED is 20 and we want to be even better than TED. Topics include "How to Be Liked by Everyone that is not a Closed Minded Fundamentalist," "What churches can learn from the spirituality and community building in dolphin communities in a pluralistic age," "Why Christianity is not really superior to other religions, but kinda is," "Post-Colonialism is not just a catchphrase--it actually means something," "Social Media: a Force for Good or a force for Great," "Open Source Theology Using a Closed Source Technology," "Life After Jesus and Why Everything we Ever Learned in Church is Wrong and the TV show LOST is Right," along with a discussion of "Why Shane Claiborne, Rob Bell and anyone too successful aren’t really in our camp."

Since I will undoubtedly lose money on this, unless I can get everyone to come for free and get some suckers to sponsor it. I still need to make some bank. For that, here is the perfect Conservative, Reformed Conference:

Conference #2
Our Gospel is Bigger than Yours
Cost $599.99
Location: Nashville with telecasts in Louisville, Dallas, Seattle, LA and Orlando

Speakers are 10 White Men, 5 of which wear suits and 5 of which cuss and wear Ed Hardy shirts.

Music will be led by a good natured bearded folk singer with “edgy” lyrics about sovereignty and reworkings of really old hymns of proper theological content all with never ending crescendos … and his pregnant wife.

Each sermon will be 45-50 minutes long, unless more time is desired. Topics will include "The Primacy of Sovereignty in Theology," "The Primacy of the Word Primacy in Preaching," "The Primacy of Men in Relationships," "The Primacy of Church Discipline," "The Primacy of the Pastor’s will being done as an indication of His role as God’s Appointed," "The Primacy of the Heresy of Emerging Christianity," "A Discussion of the Heresy of Brian McLaren by the 10 speakers in which no one is allowed to dissent from the norm," "Why Our Bible is better than yours," "Why the Atonement is Not a Rose, but is a Tulip" and "Why We believe in Depravity of Man and the Sovereignty of God but Are Still Right about Everything."

At Conference #2 these words will be banned from use unless used disparagingly or in a mocking tone: contextual, justice, equality, emerge (and variations), process, doubt, pluralism, LOST (the TV show), conversation/ dialogue/ discussion and Brian McLaren.

At conference #2, these words must be used by all speakers. If unused contract is rendered null and void: Primacy (at least 4X per talk), sovereign, penal substitution, discipline, Gospel (as defined by us/ and as a hammer), orthodox, lost (people), sin, preaching, elder.

At conference #1 all these word usages will be reversed."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Uh oh...

Brittany started a blog tonight. Its still a work in progress, but do yourself a favor and add it to your blogroll/blog feed/RSS feed/Google reader.

check it here: Eco Boutique

I love my wife.

Monday, April 12, 2010

As a follow-up...

I just finished Chuck Palahniuk's "Haunted" last week. There was something in one of the later chapters that jumped out at me. It reminded me of what I wrote last week--perhaps it explains a lot about some of the things I've said and written over the past few years:

"...consciousness raising is rooted in complaint. What so many people call a bitch session. In communist China, in the years after Mao's revolution, an important part of building a new culture was allowing people to complain about their past. At first, the more they complained, the worse the past would seem. But by venting, people could start to resolve the past. By bitching and bitching and bitching, they could exhaust the drama of their own horror stories. Grow bored. Only then could they accept a new story for their lives. Move forward."

I want to tell a better story.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Salsa, Redefined:

Do yourself a favor--go get a jar. Now. And tortilla chips.

Its salsa... redefined.

Monday, April 5, 2010


The blog posts aren't coming as regularly lately. I don't know why. I just don't feel like writing as much. Forgive me.

However, I've been tossing around this idea of writing about "Christian Humanism" for a few months. Here's the long and short of it:

When I was attending church in high school/college, I heard the phrase "secular humanism" a lot. (Granted, I attended a very fundamental, conservative Baptist church at the time.) Needless to say, the "secular humanists" were not looked upon in a positive light. Apparently, them and the Democrats were largely to blame for the state of our country. I didn't really know what "secular humanist" meant (much less know an actual "secular humanist") and didn't want to ask. I never really bothered looking into it for a while. When I did, I was surprised.

Humanism, in itself, isn't such a bad philosophical mindset. Sure, it finds itself at odds with organized religion most of the time, but I don't find that to be a major problem. The thought that we, as humans, should uphold reason, ethics, and justice should be foundational in all of our lives. But here's what it boils down to: a lot of (re: most) humanists reject organized religion. So Christians don't seem to pay it much attention. I, however, feel differently.

I think you can boil humanism's main view down to this: we are all to be the best humans we can be. We should live lives to our fullest potential and keep reason, ethics, and justice at the forefront of everything we do.

As someone who believes in libertarian free will, this idea merges perfectly in my head with the thoughts that are already there. I think God put us here with the ability to choose great good and great bad. (I wrote a post of the philosophical necessity of this a while back and about Process theology, you can read that here if you'd like.) God didn't make robots. God didn't lay everything out for us. We have to make a lot of decisions. And, unfortunately, people make a lot of bad decisions. But, if you were to merge the teachings of Jesus with the idea that we are here on this earth to live to our fullest potential, then I think you have some dynamite. For this reason, I don't mind calling myself a Christian Humanist.

That's it. I was going to write more, but I'm not. I want to keep it simple. I'm tired. Tired of fighting. Tired of having to explain myself. I've realized that I've attached lots of labels to myself. I've been trying to explain myself to people. I've been trying to deal with all the pain that "friends" and other Christians caused me. I wanted to write about labels I put on myself so I could explain things... hoping people would understand. Hoping people would see that there is reason and logic and faith and hope behind the changes that have happened in my life. Hoping people would see that it was okay and normal for me to be different from them. But here I am, three or three and a half years later, still trying to explain myself.

And I'm tired of it.

These labels, these boxes, just don't make sense anymore. They're not enough. I'm a Christian Humanist, but not really a Humanist. I believe Creationism has its merits but not without science and its thoughts, viewpoints, and discoveries. I'm an exclusivist with inclusivist leanings, so does that make me an inclusivist? I'm an annihilationist that doesn't believe Heaven or Hell (as physical locations) even exists yet. I believe in libertarian free will, think Calvinism is a joke, and Arminianism doesn't answer all the questions surrounding the matter of salvation. I think a literalist reading of the Bible is naive and a total metaphorical reading misses the point. I work for a church but have a lot of issues with the way institutional church does things. I am anti-war, anti-violence, and anti-militarism, but don't know if I could call myself a pacifist. I'm opposed to most Republican politics, but sure don't buy into enough of what the Democrats put out there to say I'm one of them. I'm a guitarist but really don't know enough about music to call myself a musician.

Life is complicated. We're complicated. Too complicated to put labels on ourselves all the time. The things I call myself, they are not who I am. I've tried to use them to describe myself, explain myself, hoping people would understand. But most of those people still don't understand because they haven't taken the time to get to know me.


For this reason, and more, I'm going to be more intentional about staying away from labels. They aren't helping me. And the people I was using them for, I honestly don't care about anymore.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A bright post for a Monday morning...

The older I get, the more I open my eyes, the more I see that the truths, values, progress and path of America are at odds with the way and teachings of Jesus.

People have forgotten. They don't remember what it means to "love your neighbor," much less "love your enemy." People would rather pursue the protection of our rights to own handguns than pursue peace in our neighborhoods. People would rather spend half the American budget on supporting the military, its bombs, its development of new weapons, and America's colonialization of half the world than on making sure that everyone, everywhere had access to clean water, food, and proper medications.

You can read the full story here that inspired this post. There was a video that accompanied it, but its been taken down.