Pete, his Problem, and the “Lack” of Emergent Leadership


Once again, Bo Sanders from Homebrewed Christianity has got me going… This time it came in the form of his post "The Problem: with Peter Rollins," particularly the following bit:

So when I was listening to Pete the other night make some astoundingly insightful points about televangelist and revival preachers I realized the importance of the medium and the message. Here was one guy, standing up front, we were all facing him and listening to him – and he was a little bit smarter/further ahead than we were. It’s still the problem of the one person at the front of the room with all the ideas/answers.

Now, that is not Pete’s fault. He is utilizing the medium to get out the message. But it did convict me that the architecture, furniture, and facilitation need to be different so that the medium matches the message if what I am concerned about is community and authenticity.

From there I went off on a wild ride, hitting on McLuhan, my Made as Makers film project, and some thoughts I have about leadership in the Emergent Church (Movement). As usual, the vid is below. In it I mention the following:

Oh, and please forgive me on two counts in this vid: 

(a) my hyperbolic categorization of "didactic lectureship"  as a tool for oppression and patriarchy. I mean, come on… that's over the top. 

(b) the self-indulgent weirdness of me wearing my conference-friendly "The Image of Fish" shirt to record a TIoF video. I forgot I had it on and how meta it would get.




Interview with “The Church Creative” Author John O’Keefe



Author John C. O'Keefe (no direct relation) releases his new book, The Church Creative on July, 31, 2012, and as he got ready for the launch we talked a bit about the text and his hopes for it. My Google+ video wasn't working though, so I'll have to get that taken care of before I do any more of these interviews I have planned for the fall…

A Critique of Fitch’s Use of Master-Signifier (kinda)



This week I spent some time over at North Eastern Seminary's event "Ministry Conference on The Radical Future of the Church: Forming Congregations for Mission with Dr. David Fitch." I'd previously reviewed Fitch's book here on TIoF and was amped up by the kind of work that he was doing, so I decided to head over and catch his lectures and learn about the Missio Alliance (which – by the way – has made me more hopeful and excited than I have been in quite some time). During a Q+A something came up between Fitch and I and this is a further fleshing out of that idea.

This video is primarily here for Dave and folks that have either read his book, The End of Evangelicalism? and/or were part of his Northeastern Seminary Seminar. If you fit into any of those categories, I'd love to hear what you think. Am I missing something? Have I misread? Misthought?

Wild Goose Festival Reflection

This post is part of the july synchroblog – an eclectic bunch of bloggers writing on the same topic.  This month is centered on the wild goose festival, a justice-arts-spirituality festival held the last week of june in North Carolina.  This synchroblog will include stories from the gathering as well as from those who couldn’t go, centered on what the wild goose (the celtic image of the Holy Spirit) is stirring up for us.  The links so far are at the bottom of this post, with more to come as they get posted. 



My family recently came back from the first ever Wild Goose Festival in NC and I've got some thoughts about it. Rather than type them all out, I'll deep link to each topic of my reflection. If you don't have the time or care to watch the whole thing, clicking any of the below will open up the specific point. And if you are only going to listen to one, I guess it would be number five, on gatekeeping. That, or listen to Kristina in the second one.

First Topic: Thanks to Shay, The Anarchist Reverend, for his faithful (and tough) work to call us to acknowledge the lack of holistic inclusion of trans* and Queer folk at The Festival.

Second Topic: Families, nursing moms, and babies

Third Topic: Speakers vs. Workshops; Heirarchies; and Celebrity-less, Ground-Up design.

Fourth Topic: Time for reflection, silence, contemplation, and prayer

Fifth Topic: Gatekeeping

Sixth Topic: My intense gratitude for the Festival and all who were a part, in any way, shape, or form.



Thanks goes out to Kathy Escobar, a fellow Synchro Blogger, from whom I copied this list: 


The Emerge-ish Church


As usual, I've said most of the things I think are important above in the video, but the basic gist is this:

This is a post for two separate sets of people. The first is the world of the general internet community and the second is a group of students in the Thurman/King School and Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School for Christian Leadership. It has come about because I'm teaching a one-time evening seminar to this group on the topic of "The Emerging/Emergent" church and was asked to address the issue for folks that were interested in but didn't have any personal ties. Ok, so now onto the point(s).

If you are NOT in that class, the favor I'd ask is that if you've got another perspective and/or resource that you want to pass along to those students, please post it in the comments and I'll make sure folks get to see it. I'd love for this post to become a living document, so please post away:  personal narrative, resource to read, or otherwise. I'd love to have as many voices as possible on this doc.

If you ARE in that class, please watch the video above and then look at some of these links below and the comments section. Try to read and/or watch at least two from the "Insider Perspectives" section and at least one from each other section. It would be great if you checked them all out, but getting to at least one each should give us grist for the mill. If you have any questions please be in touch and I'll see you in April!


Insider Perspectives

Outsider(ish) Perspectives
Shane Clawson: Sojouner Blog Post "On the Sloppiness of Naming"

More Critical Perspectives
On The Difference between Emergent/Emerging
Miscellaneous Things I Mentioned in the Video

The Holy Spirit and Us


Patheos blog article on the Holy Spirit.

Phil Wyman's Four Square No More Blog post.

The Transform Gathering East Coast page.

Informational films I've made (with Kristina) about Quakerism are here.

Tony Jones' post about Pentecostalism and the Emergent Church is here.

Sam Laurent's profile (almost to the bottom of the page) from Drew is here.

Sarah Walker-Cleaveland is currently working on some pneumatology stuff and her home page is here.

Theology After Google Presentations

This first video is my presentation on the first night of the Theology after Google conference.


This is Barry Taylor's (whose blog is here) on the last day, and for me, it felt like what he added was in a beautiful resonance with my thoughts.


I'm still trying to figure out exactly why, but after Barry finished I commented that I felt like I had met a theological brother.  

TAG Reflections

First, I'm sorry for such poor (and poorly aimed) video quality.  If it helps, just ignore the visual and listen like a podcast.  That will fix the problem and you won't have to be exposed to my ridiculously expressive eyebrows.


I have a more formal, written reflection about the event, here, on a spot that the Emergent Village folk asked me to do.

Bob Cornwall's TAG thoughts are here on his blog, Ponderings on a Faith Journey.

Ken Silva's thoughts on my presentation are here, on his blog Apprising Ministires.


Jonathan Brink's post referenced is here.

Joshua Case's (of the Nick and Josh Podcast) reflections, though not identical to his closing remarks, are here.

And Brian Shope wrote about Missio Dei after TAG in a way that was clarifying for me here, at his blog, Pacing the Cage.


And yes, I am aware that all these links go to work by men.  And yes, that makes me sad.  

Top Ten Myths about Emerging Church

Short list (for posterity’s sake) of Tony Jones‘ list of Top Ten Myths about the Emerging Church, delivered at Emergence Now at Columbia Theological Seminary January 27, 2010, and reported real time via Bruce Reyes-Chow (who is there as well) through Twitter with @breyeschow.

#1 “Emergence is just about theological debates and publishing contracts.”

#2 “Emergence only appeals to younger people.”

#3 “Emergence is a reformation of evangelicalism.”

#4 “Emergence does not believe in authority.”

#5 “Emergence is confined to the American church and white guys.”

#6 “Emergence doesn’t appreciate church history.”

#7 “Emergence has a spokesperson.”

#8 “Emergence is a new way to ‘do church’.”

#8.5 “Pomomusings is the official blog of the emergent church.”

#9 “Emergence is anti-denominational”

#10 “Emergence is trying to put the conventional church out of business.”

UPDATE 1/27 : Tony posted the slides from yesterday’s talk here.

McLuhan, Media, and Ministers

As part of the Transforming Theology Project over at Claremont, Tripp Fuller and Phillip Clayton are teaching a class called “Theology After Google.”  Given the content of the course, Tripp has been interacting with the Twitterverse and Blogosphere as part of the course content and prep.  He recently suggested that I throw a little somethin somethin together around the topic of the medium and message for modern ministers.  This video is that.

“The medium is the message” is probably the most oft-quoted line from Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan.  I bumped into McLuhan’s work years ago in my studies in communications theory and was utterly bowled over by his insight, wit, and bizarre eccentricity.  Heck, the title of this blog is even because of him.  Anywho, the issue (one of them anyway) with McLuhan is that he never wrote “the book” on anything. He never got all of his ideas into one place and came down definitively on anything, instead favoring short questions and comments that he called “probes.”  The fact that he did this intentionally makes it no less frustrating for same.  He said it was because The Print Age and linear, visual-rational, thinking was closing to be replaced with The Electronic Age’s emphasis on connective thought.  Consequently, his writing, even though published in the 50’s and 60’s  reads more like what would happen if you published the results of a 12 hour web-surfing spree, rather than a finely honed theoretically work.  That point of all this is to say that not as many academics have given him the credit I think he deserves because he wasn’t playing by the rules.  This (of course) I love.

Here I’m trying to re-articulate his probes “the medium is the message,” and of “retribalization” in the context of theology, specifically theology after Google.

I may or may not come back here and add to the text of this post, but I think I fairly well said what I needed to in the video, so please let me know if things are unclear, or if you would like a further articulation of something I said.  I am more than willing to clarify if I can.  Happy viewing, and please comment below.

Related Readings

Great read about how Google might be changing the way we think, “I Google, Therefore I Know.”

An interesting essay which has a long section about McLuhan’s retribalization is here.

An interpretation of  “the medium is the message” from a more “pure McLuhan” standpoint is here.

An article connecting McLuhan and hermeneutics is here.

Less related, but also of note:

An article dealing with McLuhan and revisionist theology is here.

Physicality, Absolutes, and Exclusive Coolness

A video inspired by Tripp Fuller from Homebrewed Christianity, who suggested I give a listen to an episode of The Christian Humanist Podcast about the Emergent Church and the Neo-Calvinists.  Well, I gave it a listen, and it was interesting to hear folks from outside the conversation about their sense of Emergent thinking/Church.  I especially appreciated that while they were critical here and there, I felt that they generally (with a noted “coolness” exception I address in the video) engaged the material respectfully and in a way that was thought provoking.  So much so that three things popped up that seemed like they were work considering:

  • To what degree is the “Emergent Church” a movement of actual buildings and congregations? Is it a series of building?  Books? People?
  • When does inclusivity go so far that it is merely an excuse for wishy-washy theology?  Does we have to have a firm theology?  Is it possible to live in intellectual limbo or are we fooling ourselves?
  • When does the attraction to like-minded folks and engaging dialogue lead to demarcation and exclusivity?  Can people be authentic and “cool” at the same time?  What is the relationship between the Emergent Church and culture?

These questions are not particularly new to the theological conversation, so don’t expect anything mind-blowing, but they are what is live for me at the moment, so there we go.

I’d be interested in hearing from other folks out there about their responses to the above questions and my responses in the video.  I would be especially interested in hearing from people that are not directly involved with the Emergent shebang, so if anyone out there has means of sharing this outside the Emergent  blog-o-sphere and can get feedback to share, I would love that.

Postmodernity, Hermeneutics, and the Second Naïveté

This morning, Tony Jones published on his blog the contents of a chapter he wrote for The Justice Project. In it he discusses the utility of some aspects of postmodern thought to the faithful Christian.  His particular consideration of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur and the hermeneutic of humility prompted me to add on to some thoughts I started in my comments of the transforming possibility of text.  I have been engaged by the work of Paul Ricoeur since I first read him, and I imagine I’ll further address some of his thoughts as I proceed.  He has lots to offer.

In this particular video I am mostly concerned with his idea about the Second Naïveté.