Friday, August 29, 2008

Donald Miller, the politician

This is a video interview done with Donald Miller by Christianity Today a few minutes before he gave the benediction at the Democratic National Convention. He is offering his opinions on the current state of politics, the Democratic party, abortion, and other issues as well.

I largely agree with what he has to say. Your thoughts and responses?

PS: If you want to keep going, here is another interview he did with Christianity today. He covers some of the same ground, but new ground as well.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Donald Miller, Again

You may know that Donald Miller offered the closing prayer at the Democratic National Convention last night. Here is a video of the prayer, followed by the transcript.

"Father God,

This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future.

We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation.

We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy.

Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left.

Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them.

Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions.

Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle.

Help us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education.

Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony.

We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help.

Father, will you restore our moral standing in the world.

A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American.

Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world.

Help us be an example of humility and strength once again.

Lastly, father, unify us.

Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common.

And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments—but in our actions, as we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even greater than the one we have come to cherish.

God we know that you are good.

Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans.

I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice.

Let Him be our example.


Donald Miller's Blog

Donald Miller officially has a blog site now. He had had a website, where you could order his books and he would leave notes and stuff. But this new blog is more interactive, where readers are able to leave comments. His first entry is sharing a series of emails he exchanged with Barrack Obama which is some crazy funny stuff. Check it out.

How did you get my e-mail address? I signed up on a clip board a cute hippie handed me, did you get my address from her? Do you know her? Can you ask her to call me? Anyway, no biggie, just cool that you wrote.

I wanted to talk to you after the rally but the guy with the curly earphones said you were busy. As for your e-mail, I don’t remember saying “the time has come to get beyond the same old tactics that divide and distract us,” but that’s exactly how I feel. I say a lot of things I don’t remember. My roommate Jordan said I said he could eat my leftover calzone from Pizzicatta but I don’t remember saying that and I know I was planning on having it for breakfast the next day.

There is a lot more, and all of Don's responses are in the classic Donald Miller smart aleck form. Quite a way to talk to a presidential candidate.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Podcast #2: Scripture As Art

Well friends, the podcast a friend and I started recording recently is up and can be accessed here. Don't forget to check out the first one as well.

In this episode, Josh and I discuss worship gatherings, the role of art (namely images) in worship gatherings, the nature of scripture, the Ten Commandments and more. Check it out and join the conversation by posting a comment.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Blue Parakeet: A Much Needed Lesson on Reading the Bible

Scot McKnight has written a new book due out in November called The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible. I read an advance copy this week, and let me say this: I can't say it is Scot's best book, but it is definitely the best one that I've read.

The title of the book is a metaphor based on an actual experience that Scot had while bird-watching in his back yard. A "Blue Parakeet" is, in my own words, something that is outside one's bandwidth, outside his or her paradigm or worldview. To be specific, Scot says that there are certain biblical passages that many of us miss because they don't fit within our theological systems. Most of us either ignore them completely ("I never knew THAT was in the Bible") or we dismiss them for another reason ("that verse REALLY means..."). Scot argues that in order to be good students of scripture and faithful readers of the text, we need to examine and deal with the "Blue Parakeet" passages. This is the metaphor that drives the book.

This is such a needed indictment! How many of us claim to purely and objectively read the Bible (yeah right!), when in reality there are entire streams of faith that are clearly addressed in scripture that we do not pay attention to because they are outside of our theological spectrum? On one occasion several years ago, a colleague of mine was asked how a bigger church in our area could do so well while ignoring a certain practice that "our church" stressed. His response was "I guess they just think they can ignore that part of the Bible." It hit me like a ton of bricks. I wanted to shout "We all do that! We all ignore parts! We are just as guilty as they are!" And that is the point, isn't it? We all have blind spots in our theology. Scot's book does a great job of making us see this.

The book starts off by Scot explaining his faith background and spiritual upbringing, followed by the story behind the title (chapters 1 and 2, which serve as introductions). Both are great. He says, "I began to see that Christians read the Bible differently and I began to see that no one group seemed to get it all right." (pg 18). Next, Scot begins to unpack how Christians read the Bible, starting with the wrong ways (inkblot method, puzzle method etc.). He then moves to explaining what the Bible is (a wiki-story). This section, where he is explaining what the Bible is and is not, in my opinion, is the best part of the book. Scot is drawing on his experience of working with college students and diagnosing the inappropriate reading habits of those who read the Bible. As he says, "We need twenty-first-century Christians living out the biblical gospel in twenty-first-century ways" (pg 28).

From here, he moves on to sections titled "Listening: What Do I Do With the Bible?" and "Discerning: How Do I Benefit From the Bible?". Here Scot lays out his method for reading, interpreting, and relating to both God and the Bible. "The biblical way is the ongoing adoption of the past and adaptation to new conditions and to do this in a way that is consistent with and faithful to the Bible" (pg 29), he says. That would be, in its simplest form, Scot method: adopt and adapt. He continues later, saying, "We dare not ignore what God has said to the church through the ages...nor dare we fossilize past interpretations into traditionalism" (pg 34). The highlight for me in these sections was chapter 10 titled "Finding the Pattern of Discernment," and, specifically pages 131-144 where Scot gives a number of examples of putting the interpretation into practice, including circumcision, tongues, and divorce.

Scot finishes the book with five chapters of practical application, using the example of women in ministry as way to demonstrate how to appropriately interpret scripture. It is helpful to have this practical example at the end, with significant space alloted to it, even if you have already dealt with and come to terms with the issue he is addressing.

The Blue Parakeet is definitely one to put on your must read list. Whether you know it or not, you have blind spots, and we could all use a friendly diagnosis from Dr. Scot. But as you read, remember that all of our reading and studying is worthless if it does not lead us closer to God and help us live more like Jesus. As Scot says, "Any reading and any interpretation that does not lead to good works, both as the practical application and as the behavioral result, aborts what the Bible is designed to produce" (pg 111).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Brian McLaren and Richard Land in Conversation

This is a great conversation between Brian McLaren, progressive, emergent thinker and writer, and Richard Land, conservative, author, and Southern Baptist leader. I have been a fan of McLaren for a long time. He is one of my favorite authors and thinkers within the Emergent movement. I appreciate the grace he has for those who disagree with him. I have to confess, I was expecting not to like Richard Land. I guess a little prejudice against Southern Baptists was exposed in my heart. But as it turned out, I loved Richard Land. Like McLaren he had the same grace and the same disgust with the system that has pitted liberals and conservatives against each other. So, give it a list, and feel free to comment.

May we continue to dialogue with those who are different than us.

Monday, August 18, 2008

NOOMA Video "She" Available Online for 48 hours

Rob Bell's newest NOOMA video is out. It is titled "She" and is available for preview online for 48 hours (ending Wednesday, 8-20 at noon). The focus of this video is the balance between the male and female images of God in the Bible, as well as the role of women. It really is an amazing episode.

If you have never seen a NOOMA video, do yourself a favor and watch this one. In fact, go to the website and order a few. You won't be sorry. "Rain", "Bullhorn", "Rich", and "Open" are a few of my favorites.


What do you think of "She"?

What are your favorite NOOMA videos?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I am Currently Reading...

...several books that you may be interested in hearing about.

1. The Fire That Consumes is a historic work written in the 1970's dealing with the doctrine of final punishment. I have posted previously about conditionalism and have even communicated with the author, Edward W. Fudge, a bit. This is the mammoth work on conditionalism (the idea that immortality is conditional, the righteous go onto everlasting life, whereas the wicked parish and are no more). This work deal with every passage, Old Testament, New Testament, Apocrypha, Pseudopigrapha, Early Church and more that talks about final punishment. I'm about 200 pages through the 500 page work and loving it.

2. Preaching Re-Imagined is another of Doug Pagitt's books. In it he shares a new vision for what the "word" or simply the communication element in communities of faith. He distinguishes between "speeching", which is one voice doing all the talking, and preaching, which he thinks should involve many voices. I'm not too far into it, but so far it is classic Doug Pagitt: insightful and controversial.

3. A is for Abductive is written as an "A-to-Z" manual on the terms used in postmodern, emerging culture. Really though, it is a book about the transition between modernity and postmodernity, which is perhaps my favorite topic to read about right now. If I was writing a dissertation, that would be central to the topic. i'm about halfway through and already it seems brilliant. It offers great commentary on postmodern terms like abductive (i.e. the form of preaching that is story and narrative based), deconstruction, and others.

4. The Blue Parakeet is the book that put the other three on hold. This is a book that Scot McKnight and Zondervan gave me an advance copy to review for you here on Nick's Musings. When something like that happens, you give it priority. I'm only through the introduction, but so far I'm impressed. You can expect a full review in the next week or so.

So, what are you reading?

A Commission to Students

Tyler Priest of the Priesthood and Emergent Village have posted A Blessing and Commission for Students. I always liked August and September in student ministry. Though the students were always dreading school starting back up and the summer coming to an end, there was great energy that came with the fall. We were always able to launch fun new series'. Our programming was high. Our attendance was high. It was a fun time! It is perhaps unfortunate the the lives of adults can't have more scheduled ups and downs. Anyway, without further ado, for all of the students out there, or any of us adults who have a soft spot in our hearts for students, here is a commission.

as you start this new year of school, we send you out with our blessings. we want you to know that along with God, we are walking with you. you are not alone. you belong to God, and we belong to each other.

when you walk down the halls, remember that we are on mission together with Jesus. in the midst of friendships, classes, games, performances, and events, may you remember that we are sent to bring heaven to earth, to be salt that heals and light that pierces darkness.

so go out, befriend the lonely and hurting, give hope to the hopeless, rise above the popularity contests that have trapped so many. give your best effort in the classroom, always seek the truth, ask hard questions, and never settle for easy answers. take every though captive and make it obedient to the way of Christ.

go and have fun. live lightly and enjoy this year. don’t spend too much time looking forward to next semester or next year or even next week. live in the now. do not worry. because of Christ, you are free to be your true self, the self you were created to be.

when you’re tempted, remember that there is always a way out. don’t crumble to peer pressure. instead, may you find that nothing will satisfy you—absolutely nothing will satisfy you—unless it is a gift from God. so may you have the wisdom to discern that which is from God and that which is not. and may you have the courage to live out that wisdom.

we send you out with the prayer that as you move about campus, you will carry deep in your heart the undying fire for our King and his kingdom. in this school year, may it be the kingdom that you seek first, that you hope for, and work for, above everything else. amen.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Podcast #1: Discussion

Well, it's up! Josh and I recorded and posted our first podcast episode. If you enjoy what you see on this site, I invite you to tune in and check us out. The title of our podcast is Peidalion (pronounced PAY-DOLL-EE-ON) and it is the greek word for rudder, like the rudder of a ship, one of the comparisons used in the book of James for the tongue. But, we explain all of that in the first podcast. We welcome any and all feedback and invite you to join the discussion!

Click here to go to the podcast.

We hope to be in the iTunes store soon, so I will let you know.


UPDATE: We are now officially up on the iTunes store. You can fine us by searching for Peidalion in the iTunes store and subscribe there. Our next podcast should be out in the next week. Shalom!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Dog Days of Summer Mean Few Posts

Blogging has been slow around Nicks Musings as of late. Will you allow me this opportunity to apologize for applying merely a thin coat of the topics that have become regular? Should I offer as a defense the business of the summer months, or a bit of a drop in inspiration as my reading decreases in the summer, or that it appears most blogs, at least the ones I frequent have all seemed to follow the same trend of sporadic posting recently? Of course this does not apply to Scot McKnight, who even in the summer posts 3X a day. But then again, Scot is the Michael Jordan of biblioblogging.

But, regardless of whether you accept my lame excuses, let me give you an update of some of the new things in my life.

1. Community: In June of this year, Angela and I had a friend move into our apartment with us. He is a friend we both went to college with and have remained close friends for years. We started talking about the idea of living in community a few years ago, and then kind of dropped it, but picked it up again earlier this year. So, you must be thinking "Why would a married couple want to have another person live with them?" Good question. We feel that hospitality is a blessing to all (both the guest and the host) and that life in community is a beautiful thing. We enjoy sharing experiences in community. If that does not make sense to you, it's okay. We have certainly gotten a collection of weird looks as we explain this to people. Some seem to treat us as if we are joining a cult or something. But, when we do something that is countercultural and even anti-American (contrary to the American pattern of independence and isolation), we should expect to get some weird looks, yes?

2. Podcast: Josh (the friend living with us) happens to be a student of theology like me, and since we have such great and challenging conversations, the idea came to me a few weeks ago to start doing a podcast. We are in the process of producing a regular podcast that will deal with similar issues as this blog, and are currently wrestling with hosting issues and how much it will cost us. so, if you know much about this or can point me to any good sites with affordable hosting, I'd appreciate it. More on the podcast to come.

3. House Hunt: With the real estate market being in the dumps as it is, it has meant hardship for millions of American families facing foreclosure. As sad as that is, if you wanted to see a silver lining, and there are probably several, one is that it is a great time to buy.. Angela and I started looking at houses seriously a few months ago. We put in an offer a few weeks ago that got shot down, and anther on a different property on which we are waiting to hear back. So, literally any day we could hear that we have had an offer accepted on a house. These are exciting-though sometimes frustrating-times. We will keep you posted.

4. Grad School: I am now only about 6 weeks away from the start of the Masters of Divinity program at Bethel Seminary. It seems it was so long ago that I applied and was accepted, and now it is getting close! It will mean all the joys (and pains) of reading textbooks, writing papers, discussing in class (my favey!), and better managing time. I can't wait!

5. Lost: Josh has gotten me into the show Lost. I had only seen one episode ever, so recently I started from the beginning and am now about a third of the way into season three. I have to say, it is an amazing show. The brilliance comes from the number and depth of the characters. Any other Lost fans out there? If so, feel free to comment, but don't post spoilers!!!

6. Ink: I got another tattoo a few weeks ago. You may remember my first about a year ago. If so, you may know that I am into tattoos having great meaning, rather than just being trendy. This latest one is Numbers 6:26 "May Yahweh lift his face towards you and give you peace" in Hebrew on my left arm. It turned out great!!!

That will do for now. Thanks for tuning in. I hope the posting will get more frequent soon enough.