i just came from one of our most amazing up/rooted gatherings ever with Ed Phillips of Garrett.. I’ll be posting a summary on the site soon, but i have to get some thoughts/reflections out while they are still fresh.

concerning worship/liturgy and reality/virtual reality:

he spoke of 19th century revivalism, particularly Charles Finney and how he redefined our understanding of worship through “newness” and “technique.” The search for the new became a revivalistic technique to wow people into conversion. Also, “technique” came into play as a means of manufacturing “conversion.” Worship then only becomes a devise for creating conversion, it is employed for/toward the effect of conversion. Therefore, worship becomes a type of fashion, useful for generating an effect. now, for a while I’ve also thought that there are many parallels to 19th C. revivalism and the contemporary worship movement, but replace the touring “evangelist/preaching” with “worship leader.” a good quote from Ed on the consequences of this is “All liturgical differences are theologically arbitrary b/c they are only evaluated by their anthropological effect.”

but the really heavy hitting stuff concerned reality/virtual reality:

virtual reality pretends to be reality, but is not, like fake flowers in my parents house. They are a faxsimile. True art is not virtual reality, but a participation/representation/invitatin into reality. Bad art, or bland reproduction is virtual realty. we have succumbed to virtual reality b/c rather than having stained glass window, we have projected images of those windows without making them into a new kind of art.

But the really question is, “how often do we fall into virtual worship, instead of the real worship.” tentatively, we fall into virtual worship when we try to make worship happen– through “new”, complelling drama, multi-media presentations, etc.- rather than join what is already happening before the throne of God. Worship is joining into the story of salvation, not merely an experience. Virtual worship is trying to copy/manufacture what is happening in heaven, rather than participating/joining with it.

This leads into a discussion of stained glass and Icons and how they are really real rather than virtual; how worship forms us into the gospel; and how “real” the Eucharist is (are the elements virtually real in light of the what they stand for? or are they really real symbolically????) but i’ll leave these for another time.

praise the lord for conversation partners (b/c none of these thoughts were my own before we all talked about it tonight.)

Here are some compelling quotes from African Theologian. The emerging church in America should listen to them…

The are from either Theology and Identity or Christianity in Africa, both by Kwame Bediako.

“For there are many who feel that the spiritual sickness of the West, which reveals itself in the divorce of the sacred from the secular, of the cerebral from the instinctive, and in the loneliness and homelessness of individualism, may be healed through a recovery of the vision which Africa has not yet thrown away. The world Church awaits something new out of Africa.” (a quote from John Taylor).

“It is utterly scandalour for so many Christian scholars in [the] old Christendom to know so much about heretical movements in the second and third centuries, when so few of them know anything about Christian movements is areas of the younger churches. We feel affronted and wonder whether it is more meaningful theologically to have academic fellowship with heretics long dead than with the living brethren of the Church today in the so-called Third World.” (a quote from John Mbiti)

and a work in progress exploring the us of metaphors in art and the way they interact with nature/natural.

this is a bad reflection of mesa while driving through western NM.


Ancient vestiges, timeless stones_____________They rise from earth,

reveal the terrainial foundations._____________stair by stair

_______________________________________their ancient abode ascend.

Layers cracked long deserted,

rumbled wreckage and ruins,________________Steps immovable,

the primal dwelling remains,_________________imposing grandeur,

collapsing,_______________________________in flawless perfection kept;

and the rest;_____________________________on them mount

a eons fall to the earth._____________________the gods.

things to think about on this blog (so i don’t forget)

after virtue, search for belonging, african theology,

alienation and existentialism, theology and persons (primal situation of theology), narrative theology, postmodern churches, death, metaphor and mesas. and all the stuff i forgot but will add.

yesterday dave whited and i went the Passion Experience Tour here at Trinity. I went two years ago (and used it as a “text” to analyze in a seminary class) and thought that I should check it out to see if things that I said still held true. dave crowder and Charlie hall we there to “lead” us.

positively, it seems (to use Passion as a litmus for the broader contemporary worship movement) that they are moving out of their “historical amnesia” (that’s dave’s term for it). happily we sang several ancient hymn, even spoke one w/o singing, and they talked quite a bit about church history/tradition.

but on the whole, it seems that they have not really reached the liturgical movement toward an embodied worship, nor really seen the debilitating effects flowing from “concernt” worship, nor the perpetuation of consumerism. Should we even pay to worship, should people raise/spend money to go on worship “tour.” anyway…more could be said but I’ve said it elsewhere…(i’ll try to post my longer writings on this topic if i can figure out how.)

I recently just finished joe myers book the search to belong. It has been one of the most helpful books that I have recently finished (besides Alasdair MacIntyre’s after virtue). a little bit ago a couple of us sat down with joe and talked about the application of the ideas present by joe. here are some of my reflections on the spaces of belonging. (i’ll write a short explanation of the book soon.)

but concerning spiritual formation and the spaces of belonging…

why i think it is important to investigate the link b/w spiritual formation and the spaces of belonging…

1) – if we are to take seriously the critique of the modern church as both individualized and privatized, then we must find our way out of a individualized/privatized spirituality. (also a modernity overly “romantic/intimate” creating problem of intimacy w/ God and/or God is my best friend syndrome). Therefore, while we need a renewed knowledge of ancient/holistic spiritual practices, i.e. labyrinth, jesus prayer, praying the hours, fasting, meditation, icons, vigils,… we also need to understand the public/social/person/intimate aspects about them so that we don’t inadvertently made them individualized/privatized. (and i think that this is all too often the problem with the turn toward community, it merely becomes a displaced individualism once removed.) A spiritual formation angle on the “spaces” is important b/c it will transform familiar practices like prayer, confession, worship, and preaching. People who don’t come from a liturgical tradition don’t understand the role of public confession, nor of public prayer read out of a prayer book b/c they have lost those categories outside a spontaneous intimate relationship. well, more could be said…

2) it might be intestesting/useful to consider how or if ancient writers on spiritual formation used or comprehended the spaces. (this type of historical investigation would lend support to your argument, but might make it too long.)

3) it is well documented that evangelicals are leaving their modern tradition and joining liturgically rich traditions. after talking w/ you i’ve been thinking that maybe one reason is that these types of church are much more public in their worship through liturgy; they have space for “public.” i’ll have to do more thinking about this and have a clearer idea about the “spaces”, but an explication of an Anglican/Catholic mass in term of the spaces might be interesting as a continual case study through you book.

brazenly taken from the title of an Annie Dillard book that I just happened across while staying w/ friends in new mexico, “for the time being” conveniently names my interest in “time”, “being” and the provisional nature of thoughts grasping for truth. therefore it is an apt title for this place as I hammer out reflections on the emerging church, whatever I’m reading, and life in general.