Archive for postmodern
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Since my time on the recent JetSet with Upstream, I have been reflecting on a number of things. One of those key things is the reign of God (a key theme of the second half of Isaiah) and the ways in which that is demonstrated. Frost shared three ways according to Wright in which the reign of God is visible here on earth and added a fourth. The four were:
Now what? Because the gospel is Christ-centered, I have been working through the gospels over the last weeks with these four evidences of the reign of God here on earth as a filter. I have been asking the question where did Jesus effect justice; restore relationships; create or call attention to beauty; and/or display the presence of the supernatural?
A reflective exercise, this is something I need to continue. First because it is vital for me. Really! It is the gospel in me. Second, because it is the clearer formulation for me to “be prepared to give the reason for the hope that [I] have” to the world around me. This is the living story that is changing my life. It is the dynamic story I need to tell well to others. It is the story that is written for all time and is unfolding today in my community.
Reflecting back a bit on the recent JetSet tour, I am posting some of the influences and expressions of the influenced from Paris and France. This post is part of a much larger subset of posts which I will list here soon as well as a smaller follow-on to the London edition of the same.
Paris Picture Collage
- Human beings must be known to be loved; but Divine beings must be loved to be known.
- Imagination decides everything.
- A witty saying proves nothing.
- Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
- Being is. Being is in-itself. Being is what it is.
- Everything has been figured out except how to live.
- God is absence. God is the solitude of man.
In this third installment of interview videos with Michael Frost, he deals with the question of the purpose of the church. Frost proposes a wonderful metaphor of how he believes the church should function.
If you would like to view the previous Frost videos as well as other videos that present ideas important to the church, you may visit or subscribe to the almost an M You Tube channel or feel free to sign on to this blog page for email notifications or the RSS feed.
Aaron, a non-believer, said, “I’d like to say something about Christians trying to convert non-Christians.” This video provided by Jonathan McIntosh is VERY worthwhile.
Hmm. What do you think?
This missional conversation between Ed Stetzer and David Fitch treats the meaning (and growing lack of meaning) of the term missional and what that means for church. Many thanks to Bill Kinnon for making this and other quality videos available.
Produced by Toronto’s mkpl.tv for the blog kinnon.tv and the new social network, Missional Tribe, this video features Ed and Dave in conversation about what missional is, missional vs attractional and missional church & converts. Engaging, funny and yet serious, these two well known writers and missional commentators help expand our understanding of missional.
There is a prosperity gospel and then there is an on your way to prosperity gospel. While, in my opinion, there may not be a big distinction between the two, I offer that we allow for one. A statement such as “God wants to bless you with lots of money” sets off warning bells for a significant percentage of followers of Christ. While a talk on “God’s plan for your success” is a bit more palatable. However, if this is THE message–the only message–then it is not the message of the gospel.
Having had two close relatives in the hospital over the past week, I can vouch for the reality of another aspect of the gospel–suffering. When one is close to death or with a loss of consciousness, what is one to do? Standing there watching while helpless in so many ways, often a person will cry out to God. Lying there on what may be a death bed thinking of the children and spouse that could be without a loved one weighs heavily and may lead one to cast all of their hope on God alone.
Jesus was the great communicator of the BOTH/AND. He shares that he came that we may have life and have it more abundantly. AND he also told his disciples to willingly pick up their crosses daily and carry them around…to carry a symbol and reality of suffering and sacrifice with them always. These two statements are shared on different occasions. Jesus did not leave this to complex hermeneutics to arrive at this conclusion though. He shares the both/and reality with his disciples.
29“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mark 10:29-31
Half of the gospel is not the gospel. The good news is both the abundance that God has for us through Christ and sharing in the suffering of Christ.
Last night I took my lovely wife to the Rob Thomas concert. We have always been intrigued by the significant amounts of truth in his lyrics. As we were called to a “celebration of music and life” by each of the three acts, there were times where the logic just did not follow. For example, early on, Carolina Liar’s singer, Chad Wolf, spoke of this celebration that we had gathered for and then dedicated the song to all the people that hated their jobs and could barely stand to get out of bed. For some reason, I questioned whether or not I was ready to celebrate this particular angst. But all in all, it was an enjoyable night and a very good show.
Each of the three acts had songs that spoke of the search for something that was real and true and worthwhile. Also, themes of love, redemption, and forgiveness were addressed. A few songs that may be worth checking out include Carolina Liar’s Beautiful World and Show Me What I’m Looking For as well as One Republic’s Someone to Save You and Come Home.
My favorite song of the night was Thomas’ opening number–Fire on the Mountain. This is a song written in a post-Christian, immoral world where justice is crying out to be heard. His lyrics can speak, I believe, to the church. What it says to the church will depend on the church itself. For some it may be a call to action. For others it will be a call to change the music ASAP. The lyrics are here for consideration, but I encourage you to give it a listen to get the intensity of the problem and the emotion that the “eyes wide open” church might encounter (Frost, Seeing God in the Ordinary).
Fire on the Mountain by Rob Thomas
Fire on the mountain
Through the fields
There’s evil in the garden
But you don’t see it
I can tell
How do you sleep while the city’s burning
Where do you go when you can’t go home
How do you drink when there’s blood in the water
Where do you turn when the world moves on
When the world moves on
Fire on the mountain
You can feel it
Against your skin
You’re standing by the river
Let the river take you in
I see smoke out on the horizon
Mama get your baby
Take her down to the water
I feel the wind like a promise broken
I see the future but it’s getting farther
If you take the time to give it a listen, consider talking with other believers you walk life with and envision a video that depicts the world about which Thomas sings. Then have a re-listen and redo your story boards with the visual being the church on mission that is living like Christ.
According to data results released with an article–“How Spiritual Are We?“–from Parade Magazine this past weekend, the U.S. population has a strong belief in God, but we are not a religious people. Whether measured by “How important is religion in your life?” or “How often do you attend religious services?” the answer comes out roughly at some 30% or less. While there are many ways the information could be interpreted, this is taking the position that for those that have religion as the most important thing in their life or that attend religious services once or more times a week as being “religious” people.
Belief in God remains high, but the post-Christian surge continues as 38% are less religious than their parents. This move toward a post-Christian society reflects societies that are further along in this move in Australia and Europe according to other results and anecdotal observations (more on this in future posts).
Another key finding is the 71% that do not hold that their religion is exclusive or “closest to the truth.” Once again, signaling a post-Christian U.S. culture, this also is indicative of the relativistic, post-modern aspects of society. With the majority (59%) saying that all religions are equal in validity, it appears that most people in the U.S. would adhere to the tenet that all roads lead to heaven or some other place or state of being or some other closely held non-conviction or some other conviction that is loosely held…. (smile)
Parade Magazine does not provide information on gender, age, socio-economic status, ethnicity, etc. regarding survey respondents. Based on distribution methods for the magazine, I would venture a guess that the data results reflect a high number of middle to upper-middle income level families with more females completing the surveys than males. If this assumption is correct, then it is a reasonable guess that these numbers are possibly skewed toward a more religious sub-set of society than the whole of U.S. culture. My expectation would be that a broader group of respondents may cause the number of those that are religious to drop as well as those that are more religious than their parents, although belief in God would, I am willing to guess, remain constant.
It was my privilege to participate in an international church planting conference in 2007 where Michael Frost was the keynote speaker. Unfortunately his first talk is not recorded here. However, it is important to know that he began the conference with a talk on the post-Christian reality that: had already come about in Australia; was a functioning reality in Europe; and was in the process of becoming reality in North America. (Note: these talks were delivered almost two years ago. During that time, trends have not, in my estimation, slowed or reversed course.)
In this follow-up talk he covers material from a book he coauthored with Hirsch–Exiles. Frost borrows some ideas from Brueggemann about the Hebrews living in Babylon and the resulting exilic literature. This may serve as a roadmap for how we can live a radical faith in our postmodern, post-Christian context.
The content shared here may disturb and disorient some. For others, it may begin or advance a process of reorientation that leads to meaningful change. I would encourage you to invite your spouse, your friend(s), and/or the team with whom you are seeking to share your journey of faith to watch the hour-long video with you. Grab some pastries, doughnuts, bagels, ramen, and/or something else to fit your palate and budget, fix enough coffee or tea to let them know you are serious about this activity as you have prepared in advance in order to honor them. Then view the video and set aside at least another hour to discuss it. Below the video are some possible discussion questions.
BTW – If given serious consideration, this is not easy material. Also, parts of the presentation are NOT APPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN.
Some questions for discussion. (Don’t wimp out and do these solo!)
- In what ways does our context merge with post-Christendom?
- If we were to view ourselves as exiles, how would that change our praxis? How might it change our living out the Great Commission?
- What aspects that Frost shares do we consider implementing now? What does that look like?
- What do we need to revisit in the future? When do we plan to come back to this?
- Would the lost community around us agree with our discussion / conclusions to the above questions? How could we verify this? Is that a conversation we are willing to begin?
- What other questions should we be asking right now?
- How serious about this are we? Honestly?