Tuesday, June 29, 2010

(Another Day) With Randy Clark in Green Lake, Wisconsin

Yesterday (Monday) at Green Lake Lee Spitzer spoike at our morning session.

We had a special 1:30 session with Randy Clark - Holly, Linda, and I led worship. I love that Randy is simply who he is, and is not trying to be like anyone else. He's soft, gentle, very caring and pastoral, + he has a good mind and is a good scholar. He also was an American Baptist pastor for a decade, and shared that with us. He also shared that the spark that, for him, set off the moving of the Holy Spirit in his life began in a small American Baptist church in southern Illinois. Randy gave an altar call - the same kind he gave many years ago in that small Illinois Baptist church - and many came forward for impartation of the Spirit. This was cool for me since I just read, yesterday morning, Romans 1:11, where Paul writes: "I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong." So we see that Paul believed that spiritual gifts can be imparted through people, by the Spirit. If you want to read about the theology of impartation Randy's book There Is More is simpl;y excellent.

Last night Randy showed a video of miraculous healings at a service he was at in Brazil. We had a long, gentle and powerful time of healing prayer.

Randy will speak this morning and evening. We're all doing very well. God is moving here, as he is also moving among our Redeemer family in Monroe!

Monday, June 28, 2010

With Randy Clark in Green Lake, Wisconsin

Linda and I are with many Redeemer people andn hundreds of others from around the nation and world at Green Lake, Wisconsin, about to begin day 2 at our Holy Spirit Renewal Conference. Yesterday morning Ed Owens talked with us about wanting more of the Holy Spirit. Then Clay Ford gave his understnading of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I've traveled on speaking engagments with Clay before and have heard his excellent presenation many times. He does a great job talking about Spirit baptism and gifting!


Last evening Annie Dieselberg shared about NightLight Bangkok. Then Messianic Jew Lee Spitzer gave a bveautiful presentation of how he became a "completed Jew," who has even come to embrace all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Holly Benner is leading worship, along with me, Linda, Luke Jaskowiak, and Trevor Robinson. Josh bentley and a team of Redeemer young adults is leading the many youth who are at this conference.


This morning we hear Lee Spitzer teach once again. Then we're having a session from 1:30-3 with Randy Clark. Tonight at 6:30 Holly will again lead worship, and Randy will speak and minister to us. Our week has begun!.

The things God does in us this week will also bless our wonderful church family!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Holly Benner's "Created to Worship" CD is Available!


We got our copy of Holly Benner's "Created to Worship" live cd yesterday and have been listening to it all day. If you have a heart for worship I think you will be greatly blessed with this production. Holly's songs are unique, and very, very good!

You can purchase and download it here. It should be on Itunes soon.

It will sell for $15 next week at our conference with Randy Clark.

Redeemer people who have prepurchased it can pick up their copies this Sunday.

(Holly is Redeemer's worship leader and teaches in Redeemer Ministry School.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Danger Signs for the Not Yet Married

  1. A general uneasy feeling about the relationship.
  2. Frequent arguments.
  3. No arguments.
  4. Avoiding discussing sensitive subjects because you're afraid of hurting your partner's feelings or starting an argument.
  5. If you find yourself always doing what your partner wants you to do.
  6. If you detect serious emotional disturbances.
  7. If you feel you are staying in the relationship through fear.
  8. If your partner is constantly complaining about unreal aches or pains,a nd going from doctor to doctor.
  9. If your partner constantly makes excuses for not finding a job.
  10. If your partner talks like they are a victim.
  11. If your partner is overly suspicious, jealous, questions your work all the time, and feels that everyone is against him or her.
  12. If your partner is a perfectionist and is constantly critical.
  13. If your partner puts you down, and uses a lot of sarcasm.
  14. If your parents and other significant people are trongly against your marriage.
  15. If there is a lack of spiritual harmony.
  16. If you have few areas of common interest.
  17. The inability to accept constructive criticism.
  18. Your partner cannot live without you and would consider taking their life should you break up with them.

Candy Brown's Coming Book on Divine Healing

It's been my privilege to have communicated a bit over the past few years with Dr. Candy Brown of Indiana University re. her work on divine healing.

Her new book is scheduled to be published in January 2011.

Here's from the Oxford U. Press website:

*****
Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing


Candy Gunther Brown

Paperback, 416 pages

Also available: Hardback

Jan 2011,

Not Yet Published Price:$29.95 (01)

Description

Divine healing is the essential marker of the global phenomenon of Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity. But although we know that healing is central in these movements, we know surprisingly little about how divine healing beliefs and practices reflect the interplay of local and global patterns of cultural development. The essays in this collection seek to discover what is the same and what is different about such beliefs and practices in diverse contexts, trace formal and informal lines of cultural influence across geographic and national boundaries, and ask how healing both reflects and contributes to larger processes of globalization. The collection will not only flesh out a picture of how and why spiritual healing is practiced in diverse cultural contexts and how healing practices reflect and shape the transnational spread of Christianity; it will also provide insight into the nature of globalization. The authors will attend to a wide range of issues, including the theological rationales for divine healing; the symbolic objects and ritual enactments employed; the cultural controversies surrounding these practices; the relationship between Christian healing and local or indigenous healing traditions; whether an emphasis on financial prosperity is always present; and the extent to which Pentecostal and charismatic churches are networked and the role of healing in such networks. All the essays are new to this volume.

Features

- offers important theoretical insights about the interrelatedness of globalization, pentecostalism, and healing

- first edited volume that brings together essays focused on divine healing as it is practiced by Pentecostal and charismatic Christians in diverse cultural and geographic contexts

About the Author

Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Indiana University

***

Table of Contents


Contributors

Foreword, by Harvey Cox

Introduction: Pentecostalism and the Globalization of Illness and Healing, by Candy Gunther Brown

Part I. Europe and North America

1. The Global Character of Nineteenth-Century Divine Healing, by Heather D. Curtis

2. Why Health and Wealth?: Dimensions of Prosperity among Swedish Charismatics, by Simon Coleman

3. Material Salvation: Healing, Deliverance, and nullBreakthroughnull in African Migrant Churches in Germany, by Claudia Wahrisch-Oblau

4. Blessed Bodies: Healing within the African American Faith Movement, by Catherine Bowler

5. Jesus as the nullGreat Physiciannull: Pentecostal Native North Americans within the Assemblies of God and New Understandings of Pentecostal Healing, by Angela Tarango

Part II. Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Borderlands

6. Latino Pentecostal Healing in the North American Borderlands, by Gaston Espinosa

7. Santidad, Salvacion, Sanidad, Liberacion: The Word of Faith Movement among Twenty-First Century Latin@ Pentecostals, by Arlene Sanchez Walsh

8. Exorcising the Demons of Deprivation: Divine Healing and Conversion in Brazilian Pentecostalism, by R. Andrew Chesnut

9. The Salve of Divine Healing: Essential Rituals for Survival among Working-Class Pentecostals in Bogota, Colombia, by Rebecca Pierce Bomann

10. Learning from the Master: Carlos Annacondia and the Standardization of Pentecostal Practices in and beyond Argentina, by Matthew Marostica

Part III. Africa and Asia

11. New Wine in an Old Wine Bottle?: Charismatic Healing in the Mainline Churches in Ghana, by Cephas N. Omenyo

12. Healing in African Pentecostalism: The nullVictorious Livingnull of David Oyedepo, by Paul Gifford

13. Re-enchanted: Divine Healing in Korean Protestantism, by Sean C. Kim

14. Miracle Healing and Exorcism in South Indian Pentecostalism, by Michael Bergunder

15. Divine Healing and the Growth of Practical Christianity in China, by Gotthard Oblau

Part IV. Global Crossings

16. Catholic Charismatic Healing in Global Perspective: The Cases of India, Brazil, and Nigeria, by Thomas J. Csordas

17. Global Awakenings: Divine Healing Networks and Global Community in North America, Brazil, Mozambique, and Beyond, by Candy Gunther Brown

Afterword, by Candy Gunther Brown

With Randy Clark Next Week

Beginning this Sunday Linda and I. Josh & Beth, Holly & our worship team, and many Redeemer people will be with Randy Clark at our HSRM conference in Green Lake, Wisconsin.

Randy will speak Mon afternoon & evening, Tues morning and evening, Wed morning and evening, Thursday morning, and I'll speak Thursday evening.

I love what God is doing through our HSRM movement - it's going to be a great, God-filled week of spiritual impartation and blessing!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Our New Bike Trail From My House to Lake Erie

On Monday I rode my bike on the new "River Raisin Trail" to the Lake Erie shoreline. It's 5-6 miles one way.

The new trail ends with a 1.5 mile ride through woods, past ponds, to the lake. It's beautiful. And, yes, we have a number of bald eagles nesting in those woods.

The trail will eventually and officially extend to Munson Park (we live across the street from it), the the Navarre-Anderson Trading Post and the oldest house in the state of Michigan, and then to Monroe County Community College.

There's a nice article on this project in today's Toledo Blade.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Toy Story 3

Linda, Josh, and I went to see Toy Story 3 tonight. The Pixar people are amazingly creative. In TS3 can be found:
  • great attention to detail
  • strong, consistent characters that we care about
  • the incredible voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen
  • actual wit and humor
  • and a story line that has messages of: 1) sacrificial rescue and redemption; 2) the terror of abandonment; 3) the need to be wanted; 4) issues of death and everlasting life; 5) and the idea that going forward in life always entails leaving beloved things behind. I had tears in my eyes at the movie's end, and wanted to go into my attic and rescue our old toys.
It's a great movie! There's even a baby that will, I think, give some kids nightmares.

When Words Translate Into Deeds

(Our Bangkok work crew, Nov. 2009)

Our lives will always speak louder than our words. James 2:18 says: "But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do." Intentions minus actions = nothing. (Thank you J.H. for that.)

Make a promise and not fulfill it, mutatis mutandis, and you are a hypocrite, a mask-wearer.

Paul wrote that "The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power." (1 Corinthians 4:20; οὐ γὰρ ἐν λόγῳ ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ ἀλλ' ἐν δυνάμει.) That last work, dunamei, is all about action. Where there is dunamei, stuff happens ("dynamic"). Talk without power is im-potent, non-dynanic.

Following after Jesus means taking up the cross, not theorizing about what it would be like to take up the cross. Here is where faith become reality, in the moment where the words of Jesus empower to action. The words "empower to action" are redundant, tautological, since there is no real empowering without action. When the words of Jesus move a person things are set in motion. That motion is always redemptive. Spirit-powered redemptive activity is impressive; words without redemptive activity are not only are worthless but turn people off to Jesus. The famous words "For God so loved the world" do not conclude with "that he sat in his heavenly place and had thoughts and feelings of love for us." Were that true it would mean nothing to us.

The person who only thinks and talks and "dreams" about engaging in redemptive activity without actually doing it in faith is all about their own self. It makes them look good to others without benefitting others. The love of God is an active, for-others love, and never gets perverted into something like: "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his friends for his life."

When the real God-thing of redemptive love hits words translate into deeds. Things shake and move and demons tremble and prison doors unlock.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Some of My Summer Reading

Here are some books I am reading this summer.

Spiritual Direction, by Henri Nouwen. I'm going through this book slowly. It's vintage Nouwen. Few people write better stuff on our core identity as loved and beloved children of God. This book is a slow-cooker, with much to meditate on and take in.

Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now, by Greg Boyd. On the need to rest, abide, and dwell in God's presence now, since "now" is the only thing that is real, the past and the future being unreal.

Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light - The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta, by Mother Teresa and Brian Kolodiejchuk. Those familiar with the mystical idea of "dark knowledge" and "unknowing" will understand Teresa's journals and letters that relate to her life quest.

Rufus Jones: Essential Writings. Jones is the Quaker mystic who deeply influenced Howard Thurman. Jones was ahead of his time in his thoughts about the relationship (or lack thereof) between th physical brain and the mind or soul.

Jesus and the Disinherited, by Howard Thurman. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand Martin Luther King, and the Real Jesus as the One who descends to the level of the oppressed peoples of the world.

HERE ARE SOME RECOMMENDATIONS for other books to read this summer.

Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster. God used this book to revolutionize my spiritual life.

Power Healing, by John Wimber. This remains the best book I have ever read on healing. For all interested in the question "Does God still heal today?"

The Shack, by William P. Young. A beautiful read on these long summer's nights about entering into the Trinitarian perichoretic union (abiding in Christ).

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard. No one writes more brilliantly than Dillard. This is one of my top-ten books ever read. A mystical reflection on the microcosmos.

Till We Have Faces, by C.S. Lewis. I've read this book three times. I'm thinking I need to read it again!

The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom, by Henri Nouwen. Maybe my favorite Nouwen book of all time? (Which is saying a lot!)

The Importance of Being Foolish: How to Think Like Jesus, Brennan Manning.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Internet Multitaskers as Suckers for Irrelevancy

I just read Nicholas Carr's "Chaos Theory" in this month's Wired. It's based on his highly reviewed new book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. And what, exactly, does the Internet do to our brains? Here's the bullet points.

  • The neural pathways of experienced Web users develop because of their Internet use. This development is not all good. Using the Internet regularly changes brain activity dramatically.
  • "More brain activity is not necessarily better brain activity."
  • Digital technology "is rapidly and profoundly altering our brains."
  • Internet use shapes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. "Even as the Internet grants us easy access to vast amounts of information, it is turning us into shallower thinkers, literally changing the structure of our brain."
  • Concentration is disrupted and comprehension is weakened.
  • "Research continues to show that people who read linear text comprehend more, remember more, and learn more than those who read text peppered with links."
  • Internet use results in severe cognitive penalties.
  • The Web is not making us smarter.
  • "We’re exercising the neural circuits devoted to skimming and multitasking while ignoring those used for reading and thinking deeply."
  • Intensive multitaskers are “suckers for irrelevancy.” "Everything distracts them."
Reverse the deep-rooted fruits of contemplative and meditative people and behold the Internet Multitaskers.

Carr's work is important. See the blurbs below, from amazon.com.

***
 Nicholas Carr has written an important and timely book. See if you can stay off the web long enough to read it! (Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change )


Neither a tub-thumpingly alarmist jeremiad nor a breathlessly Panglossian ode to the digital self, Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows is a deeply thoughtful, surprising exploration of our “frenzied” psyches in the age of the Internet. Whether you do it in pixels or pages, read this book. (Tom Vanderbilt, author, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) )

Nicholas Carr carefully examines the most important topic in contemporary culture—the mental and social transformation created by our new electronic environment. Without ever losing sight of the larger questions at stake, he calmly demolishes the clichés that have dominated discussions about the Internet. Witty, ambitious, and immensely readable, The Shallows actually manages to describe the weird, new, artificial world in which we now live. (Dana Gioia, poet and former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts )

The core of education is this: developing the capacity to concentrate. The fruits of this capacity we call civilization. But all that is finished, perhaps. Welcome to the shallows, where the un-educating of homo sapiens begins. Nicholas Carr does a wonderful job synthesizing the recent cognitive research. In doing so, he gently refutes the ideologists of progress, and shows what is really at stake in the daily habits of our wired lives: the re-constitution of our minds. What emerges for the reader, inexorably, is the suspicion that we have well and truly screwed ourselves. (Matthew B. Crawford, author of Shop Class As Soulcraft )

Ultimately, The Shallows is a book about the preservation of the human capacity for contemplation and wisdom, in an epoch where both appear increasingly threatened. Nick Carr provides a thought-provoking and intellectually courageous account of how the medium of the Internet is changing the way we think now and how future generations will or will not think. Few works could be more important. (Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain )

In his new book, The Shallows, Nicholas Carr has written a Silent Spring for the literary mind. (Michael Agger - Slate )

Starred Review. Carr provides a deep, enlightening examination of how the Internet influences the brain and its neural pathways. Carr’s analysis incorporates a wealth of neuroscience and other research, as well as philosophy, science, history and cultural developments ... His fantastic investigation of the effect of the Internet on our neurological selves concludes with a very humanistic petition for balancing our human and computer interactions ... Highly recommended. (Library Journal )

Absorbing [and] disturbing. We all joke about how the Internet is turning us, and especially our kids, into fast-twitch airheads incapable of profound cogitation. It's no joke, Mr. Carr insists, and he has me persuaded. (John Horgan - Wall Street Journal )

The subtitle of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains leads one to expect a polemic in the tradition of those published in the 1950s about how rock ’n’ roll was corrupting the nation’s youth ... But this is no such book. It is a patient and rewarding popularization of some of the research being done at the frontiers of brain science ... Mild-mannered, never polemical, with nothing of the Luddite about him, Carr makes his points with a lot of apt citations and wide-ranging erudition. (Christopher Caldwell - Financial Times )

This is a measured manifesto. Even as Carr bemoans his vanishing attention span, he’s careful to note the usefulness of the Internet, which provides us with access to a near infinitude of information. We might be consigned to the intellectual shallows, but these shallows are as wide as a vast ocean. (Jonah Lehrer - The New York Times Book Review )

You really should read Nicholas Carr's The Shallows . . . Far from offering a series of rants on the dangers of new media, Carr spends chapters walking us through a variety of historical experiments and laymen's explanations on the workings of the brain . . . He makes the research stand on end, punctuating it with pithy conclusions and clever phrasing. (Fritz Nelson - Information Week )

The Shallows certainly isn't the first examination of this subject, but it's more lucid, concise and pertinent than similar works ... An essential, accessible dispatch about how we think now. (Laura Miller - Salon )

If you retain any residual aspirations for literary repartee, prefer the smell of a book to a mouse and, most important, enjoy the quiet meanderings within your own mind that can be triggered by a good bit of prose, you are the person to whom Nicholas Carr has addressed his riveting new book. (Robert Burton - San Francisco Chronicle )

The Shallows isn’t McLuhan’s Understanding Media, but the curiosity rather than trepidation with which Carr reports on the effects of online culture pulls him well into line with his predecessor . . . Carr’s ability to crosscut between cognitive studies involving monkeys and eerily prescient prefigurations of the modern computer opens a line of inquiry into the relationship between human and technology. (Ellen Wernecke, - The Onion A.V. Club )

Persuasive ... A prolific blogger, tech pundit, and author, [Carr] cites enough academic research in The Shallows to give anyone pause about society's full embrace of the Internet as an unadulterated force for progress . . . Carr lays out, in engaging, accessible prose, the science that may explain these results. (Peter Burrows - BusinessWeek )

Another reason for book lovers not to throw in the towel quite yet is The Shallows...a quietly eloquent retort to those who claim that digital culture is harmless—who claim, in fact, that we're getting smarter by the minute just because we can plug in a computer and allow ourselves to get lost in the funhouse of endless hyperlinks. (Julia Keller - Chicago Tribune )

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jeff & Annie Dieselberg at Redeemer in Monroe This Sunday


(Jeff & Annie Dieselberg & Family)

Jeff & Annie Dieselberg will be at Redeemer this Sunday morning and evening, June 20. They just arrived in the states from Bangkok, where Jeff pastors a Thai church and Annie directs NightLight. Annie and NightLight are featured in the movie "Furious Love."

Come this Sunday morning and hear Annie speak - Redeemer Fellowship Church, 10:30 AM.

Come Sunday evening - 6 PM - and hear Jeff and Annie speak, + worship!

ABOUT NIGHTLIGHT

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2


NightLight is an international organization committed to addressing the complex issues surrounding trafficking and prostitution by catalyzing individual and community transformation. NightLight’s vision is to offer intervention to sexually exploited women and children, to enable them to discover their dignity, and to provide a program of holistic transformation, empowering them to live and work in their community.

NightLight’s mission is to build relationships and provide hope, intervention, rescue and assistance to women and children exploited in the sex industry by offering alternative employment, vocational opportunities, life-skills training and physical, emotional and spiritual development to women seeking freedom. NightLight builds support networks internationally to intervene and assist women, men and children whose lives are negatively impacted by the sex industry.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Paul Moser's "Idolater's Anonymous"

(Beth Bentley & Linda, in Jerusalem)

I've recently read some of the stuff Loyola U. philosopher Paul Moser has written and am much impressed and encouraged!

Today I discovered his "Idolater's Anonymous" page. Moser writes: "Idolatry begins as theft from God, the gift Giver, as we value something or someone in a way that hinders the love and trust we owe to God. Idolatry turns back on us, however, to keep us from having what we need for true, lasting satisfaction in life. In the end, the greatest human tragedy is idolatry. It diminishes and even severs friendship with God, the only Giver of lasting life and satisfaction. Out of the tragedy of idolatry come all other human woes, including addictions, worries, selfish fears, resentments, jealousies, hatreds, and so on."

This is good stuff. Check out the Q&A, plus the WEALTH of primary source writings Moser links us to! Check out, e.g., Moser's "Why Isn't God More Obvious?"

I recently read Moser's "Reorienting Religious Epistemology: Cognitive Grace, Filial Knowledge, and Gethsemane Struggle." He writes: "Filial knowledge of God [the kind Jesus had of the Father] is irreducible to knowledge that a particular object in the universe exists. It is irreducible also to knowledge that the premises of an argument are true." (In James Beilby, ed.; For Faith and Clarity: Philosophical Contributions to Theology, 72) Filial knowledge of God "exceeds intellectual assent to, or acceptance of, a proposition. It demands that we put the true God at the center of our lives... There is no coming to know the true God without resulting personal agape transformation through the reception of God's self-giving, forgiving love." (Ib., 73) Contrarily, if I attune my life to only self-indulgent frequencies, "devoting my life exclusively to what advances my own selfish purposes," I should not be surprised that I would not excperience an all-loving God.

I think Moser is writing some brilliant works, and we'll be following him for a long time.

Laurence BonJour on 'Naturalism' As a Religious Conviction


(Thanks to neuro-philosopher David Chalmers for this cartoon...)

I'm reading University of Washington philosopher Laurence BonJour's "Against Materialism," one of the essays in The Waning of Materialism (Koons & Bealer, eds). One way some philosophers argue for materialism is by appealing the the general idea of "naturalism." BonJour finds such appeal unsuccessful.

First, "naturalism," while paid allegiance to, is hard to pin down in a precise way. "Many recent philosophers seem so eager to commit themelves to naturalism - to fly the naturalist flag, as it were - while showing little agreement as to what exactly such a commitment involves." (7) So naturalism, like materialism, seems to be an "intellectual bandwagon."

Second, naturalism "seems to just amount to materialism, which would make an argument from naturalism to materialism entirely question-begging." (Ib.)

Third, "one version of naturalism is the idea that metaphysical issues - or philosophical issues generally - should be dealt with through the use of the methods of natural science." (Ib.) But there is no good reason to suppose that the methods of science "exhaust the methods of reasonable inquiry."

Fourth, "there is no plausible way in which that claim itself can be arrived at using those methods." (Ib.) That is, using the methods of natural science cannot led one to the discovery that the methods of natural science exhaust the methods of reasonable inquiry.

Fifth, there is no reason to suppose that "applying the methods of natural science to the question of whether materialism is true, assuming that one could figure out some reasonably clear way to do that, would lead to the conclusion that materialism is correct." (Ib.)

It is true that many (but not all) natural scientists assume the truth of materialism. "But the question is whether they have any good reason for such an assumption - a reason that would itself have to transcend their strictly scientific claims and competence." (Ib.)

 BonJour concludes that one cannot, therefore, reasonably use naturalism as a reason in favor of the truth of materialism. BonJour reasons that both materialism and naturalism function like "religious convictions." (Ib., 4)

(In the philosophy of mind "materialism" holds "that mental states are entirely either material or physical in nature, and correlatively that a complete account of the world, one that leaves nothing out, can be given in entirely materialist terms." (Ib., 3)

Monday, June 14, 2010

We Are the Pancake People


Yes, I realize that I am using the Internet to write the following.

The Internet "pulverizes attention, the scarcest of all resources, and stuffs the mind with trivia. Our texting, IM-ing, iPhoning, Twittering, computer-assisted selves—or self-assisted computing networks—are so easily diverted that our very mode of everyday thought has changed, changed utterly, degraded from “calm, focused, undistracted” linearity into “a new kind of mind that wants and needs to take in and dole out information in short, disjointed, often overlapping bursts.” So thinks Nicholas Carr in his new book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, reviewed here by Todd Gitlin. We are the "pancake people" - flat, spread thin by bits of information, with no depth.

We are a people who cannot concentrate or think straight. We are the Multi-Taskers. We are the Twittering nerve nodes. Neuroscientist David Meyer writes that multitasking "is learning to be skillful at a superficial level." The "hive mind" of the Internet and its "widespread practice of fragmentary, impersonal communication has demeaned interpersonal interaction." Surely there are socio-cultural ramifications of the pancake life, and Carr presents them to us.

I have banned laptops and texting in my philosophy classes. Since I love teaching, and love seeing students learn, and because Kant's Critique of Pure Reason cannot be tweeted, I confront the pancake people in the hope of morphing one of them into an oak tree. As Gitlin concludes, "The arts of contemplation have been hard to practice for centuries, but that is no reason to make them any harder."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Three Important Perspectival Things


(Linda's dad Del & our son Dan in Ypsilanti)

Henri Nouwen, in Spiritual Direction, writes of three things that were deepened in his heart as a result of his move to L'Arche and caring for handicapped people.

1. Being is more important than doing.

Nouwen writes: "God wants me to be with him and not do all sorts of things to prove I'm valuable." (44) God loves you, not for what you do, but for who you are; viz., his beloved son or daughter. Human loves are often performance-based. God's love is not. The distinction between the two is supremely important. Internalize this. Pray, Nouwen-like, "God, bring this truth that is in my mind into my heart."

2. The heart is more important than the mind.

Nouwen writes: "When you've come from an academic culture, that's hard to learn." (44) Nouwen was an academic who taught for two years at Notre Dame, ten years at Yale, and three years at Harvard. In his work with the mentally handicapped that he "saw that what makes a human being human is the heart with which one can give and received love... People with physical and mental disabilitiies easily can let their hearts speak and this reveal a mystical life unreachable by many intellectually astute people." (45)

Yes, we are to love God with our mind. But when Paul wrote this it was out of a culture that had not yet been Cartesianized. Hebrew culture does not make an absolute metaphysical distinction between "heart" and "mind." Jesus is after the human heart. Human "minds" vary greatly in ability. While God wants us to use whatever mental capacities we have for his glory, God can work through the heart of a mentally handicapped person. Mental assent to Jesus is not enough. But when the heart is captured, one's mental abilities are neither some special asset nor debilitating detriment to God.

3. Doing things together is more important than doing things alone.

At L'Arche Daybreak Nouwen lived ten years with Adam until he died. Nouwen writes: "Adam's story is my story of weakness, vulnerability, and dependency, but also of strength, authenticity, and giftedness." (46) Our non-tribal Western culture values autonomy more than community. Many of us have been trained by our culture to want to do thing by ourselves, even giving us the idea that we will do a better job if we do it alone.But when we work together, more people get to own the results. The more corporate ownership there is, the better "church" will be. Plus, as Nouwen says, there is much to be gained from others as we learn to collaborate. God uses collaborative, tribal activity to teach us things about ourself and others.

I worked at United Cerebral Palsy of Will County, Illinois for three years. The first year was between my Master's degree and the beginning of my Ph.D studies. Sandwiched between hyper-academia was a year of helping the physically and mentally handicapped. We did many things together, and the entire experience deepened in me love, understanding, and needed character development.

"Furious Love" Event at Redeemer in Monroe

The lineup for the Furious Love Event on April 6-9, 2011 is officially set! Rolland & Heidi Baker, Philip Mantofa, Robby Dawkins, Will Hart, JP Moreland, Angela Greenig, "Shanti", Greg Boyd, and Mattheus van der Steen. Wanderlust is producing this event, so you can expect something pretty special and unique. It will be held in Monroe, Michigan (Redeemer Fellowship Church), and space is limited.

Registration available by the end of the month.

(From Darren Wilson's "Furious Love" Facebook site)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Scandalous Jesus-Denying Behavior of Christians

I'm reading through Ron Sider's The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience. He quotes theologian Michael Horton as saying: “Evangelical Christians are as likely to embrace lifestyles every bit as hedonistic, materialistic, self-centered, and sexually immoral as the world in general.” (In Sider, 17)


Sider says, about our behaviors: “The statistics are devastating.” (Ib., 17) George Barna reports that the percentage of born-again Christians who divorce is actually higher than the percentage of non-Christians who divorce. In many parts of the "Bible Belt" the divorce rate is 50% above the national average. Studies show that, generally, the more money Christians make the less they give in proportion to their incomes.

Remember “True Love Waits,” A program sponsiored by the Southern Baptist Convention? The effort was: to reduce premarital sexual activity among our youth. Largely, the program failed. In their study of True Love Waits researchers from Columbia U. and Yale U. found that 88% of those who pledged sexual abstinence reported having sexual intercourse before they got married. Just 12% kept their promise. (In Sider, Scandal, 23)

Sider says: “To say there is a crisis of disobedience in the evangelical world today is to dangerously understate the problem… Our very lifestyle is a ringing practical denial of the miraculous in our lives. Satan must laugh in sneerful derision. God’s people can only weep.” (Scandal, 29)

Sider tells the story of Graham Cyster,a Jesus-follower he knows who lives in South Africa. One night, Cyster was smuggled into an underround Communist cell of young people who were fighting apartheid. They asked Cyster, “Tell us about the gospel of Jesus Christ.” They wondered if there was an alternative to the violent strategy they were embracing.

Cyster gave a clear, powerful presentation of the gospel. He showed how personal faith in Jesus transforms persons and creates a new body of believers where there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, rich nor poor, black nor white. The communist youth were listening. Then, one 17-year-old said, “That is wonderful! Show me where I can see that happening.”

Cyster sadly responded that he could not think of anywhere in South Africa where Christians were truly living out the message of the gospel.

The 17-year-old angrily said, “Then the whole thing is a piece of crap.”

Sider writes: “Within a month he left the country to join the armed struggle against apartheid – eventually giving his life for his beliefs.”

Jesus said that those who love him keep his commands. It sure looks like there's not a lot of love out there for the Real Jesus.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Don't Doubt Who You Really Are

(My favorite coffee cup, given to me by one of our MSU students, circa 1982. The handle broke off years ago. Coffee tastes better in this cup than in others!)



I'm sitting on my back porch with a hoodie on over my head and my legs wrapped in a blanket. There's food in my various bird feeders, nectar in my hummingbird feeder, a few snacks, a cup of coffee in my favorite mug, my journal, a pen, James Cone's God of the Oppressed, Henri Nouwen's Spiritual Direction, my Bible, and my laptop. I've got 5 hours to dwell closely in God's presence, listening, praying, writing as God leads me.

Nouwen's book is spectacular. I'm reading what he says about self-rejection, and acceptance of our core identity, which is: I am a son of God, and God finds favor with me. Self-rejection concerns "the darkness of not feeling truly welcome in human existence. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that declares we are loved." (31)

Self-rejection manifests itself as either shame or pride. Either arrogance or low self-esteem. Nouwen writes: "Self-rejection can show itself in either a lack of confidence or a surplus of pride." (31) "The greatest trap in life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection, doubting who we really are." (31)

Like Nouwen, it has taken me a long time to experience this great truth in my heart. I've known it in my mind. But what's needed here is not theory, but experience.

India's Technological Revolution & Increase in Religiosity

There is happening now a revival of piety and religiosity in India, a nation long-renowned for its openness to spiritual things. What is especially interesting is that India is becoming modernized. "The country is already on the verge of overtaking Japan to become the third-largest economy in the world, and, according to CIA estimates, the Indian economy is expected to overtake that of the United States by roughly 2050." (William Dalrymple, "Rush Hour for the Gods") This "modernization within India is also destroying the local and varied flavors of Hinduism, swiftly turning it into a single—ofttimes politicized—religion." Hinduism is losing its localized religious nuances and particularities and becoming standardized.

When Europe was industrially revolutionized one result was that religion was threatened. Not so in India. India's technological revolution is accompanied by an increase in interest in Hinduism, albeit a Hinduism that is for the masses, a "syndicated Hinduism." According to Indian historian Romila Thapar, "this homogenizing process is now accelerating: “The emergence of a powerful middle class,” she believes, has created a desire for a “uniform, monolithic Hinduism, created to serve its new requirements.” This new Hinduism masquerades as the revival of something ancient and traditional, but it is really “a new creation, created to support the claims of [Hindu] majoritarianism.”"

Dalrymple contrasts this with the Industrial Revolution in Europe. "In nineteenth-century Europe, industrialization and the mass migrations from farms and villages to the towns and cities went hand in hand with the death of God: organized religion began to decline and the church and state moved further and further apart. The experience of South Asia has been more or less the reverse of this."

So we find this interesting and intriguing thing of a technological revolution combining with a religious revolution in an already-hyper-"spiritual" nation. Globalization is making India richer and more materialistic, and more religious, with the religiousness becoming more political. Meera Nanda comments:

"As India is liberalising and globalising its economy, the country is experiencing a rising tide of popular Hinduism which is leaving no social segment and no public institution untouched. There is a surge in popular religiosity among the burgeoning and largely Hindu middle classes, as is evident from a boom in pilgrimage and the invention of new, more ostentatious rituals. This religiosity is being cultivated by the emerging state-temple-corporate complex that is replacing the more secular public institutions of the Nehruvian era . . . a new Hindu religiosity is getting more deeply embedded in everyday life, both in the private and public spheres."

One would think, following the example of Europe, that an increase in technology and wealth would lead to a religious downturn. Not only is there no religious downturn in India, there an upturn. But historic Hinduism is waning.

Randy Clark in Wisconsin for 5 Days

I'll be joining Randy Clark at a 5-day conference in Green Lake, Wisconsin, June 27-July 2.

Our worship band led by Holly Benner will be there.

Conference details can be found here.

If you are coming and want to prepare for the event read Randy's excellent book There Is More: Reclaiming the Power of Impartation.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Redeemer Ministry School 2010 Graduates

I am so proud of our RMS 2010 graduates! It's been a great year with them, and it culminated at last evening's graduation ceremony.

Congratulations to Emily, Patt, Holly, Joy, Derek, Tom, and Al!

Retroactive Causality

(At last night's Redeemer Ministry School graduation event RMS students gave the faculty this gift of a huge rice krispie treat cake, with many symbols on it representing things we taught them this year. E.g., at the bottom we read "p-zombies' = "philosophical zombies," from my presntation of David Chalmers's zombie argument against naturalism.)

William Dembski, in The End of Christianity, argues that the fall of man is responsible for evil that happened prior to the Fall. He does this by showing that present events can have retroactive causality, thus influencing past events.


As wild as this may sound, the idea of retroactive causality is "gaining ground. A succession of quantum experiments confirm its predictions—showing, bafflingly, that measurements performed in the future can influence results that happened before those measurements were ever made." (See Discover Magazine, "Back From the Future," April 2010)

Friday, June 04, 2010

Holly Benner Records Her Worship CD Tonight & Tomorrow Night

(Gabe, Jeff, & Luke Jaskowiak)

Holly and the band worked all day yesterday with Jeff Jaskowiak, Del Bergeson, Charlie Hammill, and Jeremiah Werstein testing sound and recording levels in preparation for the live recordings of Holly's worship cd.

She's written some great songs!

The goal is to bring 1000 cds to our 5-day event with Randy Clark in late June.

Come for live worship, and be part of the recording.

Tonight (6/4) - 7 PM.

Tomorrow night (6/5) - 6 PM.

And Sunday morning.

Big Read Panel Discussion on TV

If you were not able to come to the Big Read Panel Discussion on the question "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People" it's going to be aired on our local cable access TV station this Saturday and Sunday.

MPACT - Sat. at 7 AM; Sun. at either 1 or 2 PM.

Joining me on the panel were a Muslim, Zen Buddhist, Nichiren Buddhist, Roman Catholic philosopher, and an atheist.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Henri Nouwen on Spiritual Direction

(Green Lake, Wisconsin)

I'm reading Henri Nouwen's Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith. Nouwen has been one of my spiritual directors. I did not know him personally. I did write him once with a question. He wrote me back. Nouwen was someone who had time for others.

I've done a lot of spiritual directing and spiritual coaching with pastors, Christian leaders, and Jesus-followers. So it was with great anticipation that I picked up this book by Nouwen. Was there a greater spiritual director in the 20th century? Thomas Merton, maybe. Both had phenomenal spiritual depth, with Nouwen being the gentler of the two.

For Nouwen "a spiritual director simply was someone who talks to you and prays with you about your life... [Spiritual direction] can be defined as a relationship initiated by a spiritual seeker who finds a mature person of faith willing to pay and respond with wisdom and understanding to his or her questions about how to live spiritually in a world of ambiguity and distraction." (ix)

Nouwen writes: "Spiritual direction provides an "address" on the house of your life so that you can be "addressed" by God in prayer. When this happens, your life begins to be transformed in ways you hadn't planned or counted on, for God works in wonderful and surprising ways." (xv)

A spiritual director introduces or re-introduces a spiritual seeker to God. A spiritual director discerns, separating God-things from non-God-things. A spiritual director does not lecture, but creates the space where the seeker can be addressed by God, for only God can do the work of spiritual formation. The spiritual director, then, "directs" rather than shapes or forms. Spiritual direction gets at the roots of the human heart that lie deep below the surface of a person's life.

Nouwen writes: "Teachers can teach only when there are students who want to learn. Spiritual directors can direct only when there are seekers who come with a question. Without a question, an answer is experienced as manipulation or control. without a struggle, the help offered is considered interference. And without the desire to learn, direction is easily felt as oppression." (7) Unasked-for advice is usually felt as criticism. Beware of those who desire to direct your soul without your permission.

Nouwen tells the familiar story of Michelangelo and the "lion in the marble" to illustrate how spiritual formation takes place in the heart.

"There was once a sculptor who worked hard with hammer and chisel on a large block of marble. A little child who was watching him saw nothing more than large and small pieces of stone falling away left and right. He had no idea what was happening. But when the boy returned to the studio a few weeks later, he saw, to his surprise, a large, powerful lion sitting in the place where the marble had stood. With great excitement, the boy ran to the sculptor and said, 'Sir, tell me, how did you know there was a lion in the marble?'" (16)

Nouwen comments: "Spiritual direction is the interaction between the little child, the master sculptor, and the emerging, beautiful marble lion. Any director is really an onlooker who cheers and marvels as the artistry unfolds." (17)

Worship CD Live Recording this Fri & Sat

Our worship leader, Holly Benner, will record her first cd this Friday and Saturday. Holly has written some beautiful worship songs!

It's a live recording with Holly and her band, so we'd love to have you come be part of it.

Redeemer Fellowship Church
5305 Evergreen
Monroe, MI
734-242-5277

Friday, June 4, 7 PM
Saturday, June 5, 6 PM