Monday, February 25, 2008

Can't figure out what to do with this

Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve [that HAS to be the weirdest/fakest-sounding legitimate company name] wrote the following:

"Enforcer Brands vs Enlightened Brands" (Feb 11, 2007 - 9:42:00 PM)
which basically states that we are seeing this interesting "battle" between Enforcer & Enlightened brands.
Perfect example:

Viacom going after all the peer-to-peer folks (e.g. Napster), suing like crazy

-- VS. --

Apple (e.g. iTunes store), selling songs using a peer-to-peer feel

Viacom = The Enforcer (boo!) Apple comes along like the Enlightened Savior (yeah!) by simply giving people what they wanted all along at a (seemingly) reasonable price. How . . . enlightened. [Funny side-note, now Amazon is taking on Apple's Enforcer tactics! It's like watching ages happen in the matter of years!]

So I'm thinking this has a great 'lesson' in it for Sunday School teachers, maybe even all pastors. But I don't know if I like the obvious parallel (hands-off, just appeal by being less-direct).

So, sincerely, what is it that this thought from Faith (I can't even type that without giggling!) helps uncover about the Faith Community (puns are funs)?

Dark Days at Hand

For hundreds of years, the People of God (Israel) longed for release from the oppressive cloud that engulfed their lives: personally and as a whole people.

O! Come Immanuel!! Please, our God, send the Messiah NOW!
Can you not hear us? Can you not see?
Why do your children SUFFER -
Why is mourning our breath, and bleeding our bread?

One can hope to imagine what it must have been like to see the first fingers of light at the dawn of The Anointed One. The angel statements/choir. The prophecies fulfilled. The culmination of the genealogy of Abraham, the fulfillment of David's throne.

Then HE came . . . the Spirit of the Almighty, Living God Himself! Not only did He come, He made His very home here - among His people. Nay, IN His people!

What could be more incredible than, in one generation, to have the centuries of oppression lifted and the people of God became God-dwelt! The beginning of the very end of the story. The very point of the saga. And to have God never be far again, but more near than near - inside.

Yet we, His people, have placed ourselves under the oppression that destroyed millions by dethroning the King and asked His Spirit to sit by, quietly, as we live in oppositeness, right in front of Him. How can we choose to want His reign to end?

Is this why the "heavenly hosts" roared? Is this what brought stargazers from so far to see? Is this what 800 years of prophecy were pointing toward? Was the point of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus to simply give us another brand-name we can pick off the shelf, a better market of options? Such dark, dark irony.

How did Christmas become about me? Not the People of God, not the Promises of God, not the Presence of God Himself! Much less the Rule of The King.

[yet He continues as the Right Lord of all who crown Him, a creator of The Kingdom for all who make Him King.]

Monday, February 11, 2008

Going back to college

Ever wish you could take only the courses you WANT to take in school? Goto and watch/listen to a ton of classes (goes back to Fall 2001).

This is not every class U.C. Berkeley has to offer, but there's quite a bit. They are podcast-able (RSS). Some courses are available on Video as well. All have podcast mp3's and download able mp3's. Class outlines/coursework is usually posted as well, if you want to pretend to DO the class.

Just so you know. It's almost like going to school for free, taking the classes you want, and having no homework (unless you want).

Friday, February 08, 2008

Cultural Irony in the U.S.

We want the perfect, the best, the ultimate.

We want bigger and better.


Aren't those mutually exclusive after a while?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

24 Hours of Bad News + Lent

Went to a Lent / Ash Wednesday service yesterday (thanks to the exceptionally kind pastors at Calvary Lutheran Church) and even got my ash-cross on my forehead (see Tara's blog). During the service, there is a lot about confession / sin and then a lot about the poor, the outcast, the less-than. The Lenten prayers are often, then, about confession (Ps. 51) and for the less-than.

What struck me in the confession sections is this: there seems to be a thread in the Scriptures that God is made great ("glorified") by His actions towards/on us that are then seen by "the world" (be that locals, internationals, angels, etc.). In the traditional passages of Lent, this glorifying is done by His forgiving of sins.

I know there is an accidental trend in Western and/or Evangelical thinking that puts the word "forgiveness" all-but solely on the Cross. There is 1 John 1:9 and the like, but we end up doing this:

Past = Forgiveness
Now = Fixing (sanctification, doing the right thing, being good, "growing", etc.)

Irony: we are asking people to accept God's forgiveness but we can't seem to show it to them because we are too busy with God's fixing(up) our lives. Are we hiding God's forgiveness?
Thought: Are we accidentally telling people that forgiveness is good, but God is really interested in the long-haul of changing actions (and maybe character)?

During the service, I couldn't help but think of our brothers and sisters in Kenya right now. Especially when we prayed for those "dying, and those expecting [the death of a loved one]."
Now, over the last 24 hours, I have not had a conversation that doesn't involve someone's significant physical, emotional, relational, and/or spiritual pain & suffering.

My emotional tank is draining quickly. These are some unique and dark days for me. Yet my hope is in Yahweh. More than ever for I have never been so keenly aware of how much I long to wrestle control from His hands and do the good-work myself. My never-ending tendency to play the Spirit in people's lives, in the world.

Somehow, keeping that as equally prominent "on the table" as the issues at hand has let me rest in the solidity of Jesus while feeling the tempest around me and the unpredictability of God's methods.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Wineskins, paradigms, metaphors

"Meta" is a fun prefix to me; it just makes everything Bigger! Mikaela's teacher actually has a section called "meta-cognition" on her report card (that means "thinking about what/how you think").

There is a bizarre combination of sociology and postmodern philosophy (majoring on deconstruction) that sprung-up a while ago called "Cultural Studies"++ that has me thinking about currently used Metaphors but through a different Paradigm (sounds pretty snazzy, eh!).

I was conversing with Tara about the metaphors we have used, quite subconsciously I think, to understand ourselves as a society/nation. It seems that Leader/Follower is quite dominant. This is, by now, clearly seen in the Church and in Business (generally).

tying this together...
One of the three threads that Cultural Studies has identified as "that which creates one's world-view" is Discourse.
** Where my mind wandering into was this: How has "Leader/Follower as dominant paradigm" affected Discourse?

Thought 1: Lately, it has made Discourse the most-used thread of influence. I suspect this comes from how Leaders & Followers are often physically distant from each other (ex. distance from CEO to store-clerk, Federal Government to constituents, principal to students, working parent to young child). This, then, diminishes the other two threads: Relationships and Animation (activities, habits, practices). Does this help (partly)explain all talk and no Love / no Action, respectively?

Thought 2: Discourse-by-Oration has taken a beating making way for Story and Decentralization, as of late (in my opinion). Does this have ramifications for the Sunday Morning Sermon?

Thought 3: What opportunities might this turbulence* create? What other disruptions might this cause?

Thought 4: What are the long-term effects of such a pendulum-swing away from Oration? [More than once I have heard the "death" of oration. Ironically, I have heard this in an oratory format!]

++ the link is a pretty lame introduction, but the best I've found so far

* [by "turbulence" I mean the move away from a given method (oration) of living-out our most foundational metaphor (leader/follower) plus the renewed interest by the less-powerful (followers) in the other 2 branches of living life (relationships & animations)]

** I am most grateful to James Watson of Outreach Canada for elaborating on the work of Ryan Bolger as he (Ryan) synthesized Cultural Studies unto usefulness!