The Weekly Town Crier

October 23, 2009 at 7:41 am

alnwicktowncrierWhatever. You know what to do. Uh huh. Keep it real, on the low-down in the skinny, tight, rollin’ bumpin’ and boppin’, y’all. That’s how we roll.

Be my friend on Facebook.

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Read as Christianity Today interviews Francis Chan.

Read as Tim Keller argues “Preacher-Onlys Aren’t Good Preachers.”

Read as Ed Stetzer considers “Ending the Worship War Without A Truce.”

Read about Amazon and WalMart’s price war on hard-cover books, which is just fine with me.

Read as Tim Challies meets Scott Thomas and Acts 29.

Three cheers for idea paint.

Read Barna’s recent research on how different generations read the Bible.

Read as Russell Moore argues that Where the Wild Things Are isn’t scary enough for kids.

Read this post arguing that community helps combat drunkenness.

Read about IFC picking up Arrested Development.

What is “missional ecclessiology“?

Read as Christianity Today interviews Tim Keller.

Download 150 free sermons from Keller.

Read Paste’s review of Where The Wild Things Are.

Read this piece wondering “Which came first, video game addiction or ADD?”

Read about Myspace trying to take a step in the right direction.

Read this interview with John Irving.

Read an interview with Andrew Bird.

Read and read interviews with Sufjan Stevens about his new symphonic piece.

Read David Powlison’s piece “Idols of the Heart and ‘Vanity Fair,’” a piece Tim Keller says was influential in his new book.

Listen as Sinclair Ferguson gives a biblical basis for eternal punishment.

Read as Glide interviews former Soul Coughing frontman Mike Doughty.

Read as PopMatters interviews Ennio Morricone.

Read this interview with Marvin Olasky.

Read Justin Taylor’s post “Propitiation as the Ground for Christus Victor,” which I find quite intriguing.

Music Friday

October 23, 2009 at 7:35 am

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away (Phoenix, AZ), there was a band. That band was called The Corbans. That band made a video. Here is that video. I am somewhere in that video. You might be too:


As long as we’re having a blast from the past, here is a live video of Black Eyed Sceva performing “Mudhouse.” The quality isn’t great, but for those of you who remember this fantastic band it will do:

What If?

October 22, 2009 at 7:40 am

download1Yesterday here at Soma School, we were talking, of all things, about the church. Jeff Vanderstelt was laying out for us how, in most churches, everything, whether it be time, energy, resources, money, people, gifts, all goes “into” the church which is most often personified as a building. All of these resources are then “managed” from the top down by the leadership (whatever leadership model your tradition embraces).

It is in this “inward” model that we most often hear the “80/20″ idea offered up as a complaint. If you haven’t heard of this, it simply means that in many churches, 20% of the people do 80% of the work. Therefore, the call to “get more involved in church” often means donating your time, energy, resources, money and gifts “to the church.” But Jeff challenged us that, “80/20″ might not be a bad thing, provided that other 80% of people is out on mission, serving and reaching their community. The reality is that, even with the “80/20″ principle at work in many churches, many people simply believe that “ministry” is up to the pastors. After all, they’re being paid, right?!

The question that really faces churches, particularly church planting pastors, is how they will define success. Will we develop a mindset that views success as something that might not immediately put “butts in the seats” on a Sunday morning? If so, do we really want all of our time, energy, resources, money, people and gifts going in to a church structure, whatever that might be? What might it look like if we became more outward focused? What if we had churches that didn’t believe that all ministry was simply up to the pastors?

There is, of course, much to work through here but I wanted to share a bit of what I’ve already been wrestling with. What do you think?

The Power of Story

October 21, 2009 at 6:57 am

802324_turn_to_next_pageI am at Soma School in Tacoma, WA right now. Last night we began “storying” the Bible (telling the story of the Bible as just that: a story). This is a process many missionaries use to tell the story of who God is and what He has done in oral cultures (for example, see the IMB’s website on storying here).

As we covered the first five stories in this set (Creation, Garden, Fall, Cain & Abel, Noah), I have been struck once again by the power of story. Not that doctrine is unimportant, but remembering that redemption is a story and telling it as such enables us to focus on the big-picture issues. It also involves us, you become part of a story as you hear it; you become involved and invested. It’s easy to see themes and patterns emerge.

I’m wondering if any of you have used this technique in your local ministry context and what has the response been? If you’re the primary teacher in a church setting, how do you try to balance story with more doctrinal elements, or is this something you even consider? How might we recapture some of the magic of story in our churches? How might this technique be used for outreach locally? Why have we tried to make everything so analytical? How can we reincorporate doctrine into story? After all, isn’t that the way God revealed it to us in the first place?

John Shelby Spong Thinks Your Opinion Is Not Even Worth Talking About. He’s Taking His Exegetical Ball And He’s Going Home.

October 20, 2009 at 7:17 am

r172739_651644It must be nice to simply declare that the traditional interpretation of Scripture as it pertains to homosexuality simply doesn’t apply any longer. It must be nice to know that you’re above the consensus and that you can simply say that you’ll no long speak with anyone who holds that interpretation because you’re now beyond them. It must be nice to be so advanced. Apparently, John Shelby Spong is just that advanced. He recently released a “manifesto” declaring:

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is “an abomination to God,” about how homosexuality is a “chosen lifestyle,” or about how through prayer and “spiritual counseling” homosexual persons can be “cured.” Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy.

The “manifesto” continues for some length in much the same manner.

Is this any way to handle biblical debate? Are there positions which we can simply “cut off”? What should we make of Spong’s “manifesto”?

  • Read Spong’s “Manifesto” for yourself
  • Listen as Al Mohler discusses Spong’s Manifesto on his radio program

Where The Wild Things Are

October 19, 2009 at 7:33 am

yvmIn many ways, Where the Wild Things Are is a movie about being a child that you have to be an adult to grasp. Spike Jonze could have gone any number of directions with a screenplay. After all, the book is only ten lines and it couldn’t translate to the big screen without some liberties being taken. And Jonze has taken some liberties even though Maurice Sendak himself had final script approval. What’s so amazing is that the liberties Jonze, and co-writer Dave Eggers have taken add a depth to those original ten lines that will simply further endear the book to many.

Young Max is the product of a divorce. His Mother tries but is struggling to put her life back together after a divorce, holding her family together and pursuing a career. His older sister is outgrowing him and Max is struggling to make sense of his world and emotions. They seem too big for him, scary, like he can’t control them. After an outburst that bewilders his Mom and frightens himself, Max finds himself on an island with large beasts. Though they could eat him at any time, Max is left trying to make sense of the monsters and even reconcile them.

Speaking about the movie to Pitchfork, Jonze says:

Well, cinematic terms. I knew I wanted it to be live action; I wanted to build the wild things for real. I wanted to be on location. I wanted it to be a real boy with real creatures, in a dangerous, unpredictable environment, where you’re with wild animals. But that wasn’t enough to make a movie. It was more the idea that gave me confidence that there was a movie there was that the wild creatures were wild emotions, and Max was trying to understand things that were confusing and frightening, and made him anxious– things being out of control, and him being sort of emotionally wild himself.

What unfolds is a beautiful character study of a boy trying to make sense of love, fear, rejection, loneliness and everything in between, finding, in the words of one of the beasts, “It’s hard to be a family.” Max finds that even in his so-called “safe places,” life and all of its complications, finds a way of creeping in.

From a Christian viewpoint, there are many things we could take away from a story like this. For example, we could talk about the King who will never let us down. We could talk about the pervasive spread of the Fall. But, we could also talk about how love covers a multitude of wrongs (1 Peter 4:8). But sometimes it’s enough to recognize that some stories resonate with us all.

I hadn’t looked forward to a movie as much as this one in a long time. And it didn’t disappoint.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

(It’s Fall Somewhere) Music Saturday

October 17, 2009 at 9:33 am

I’ve heard this rumor that there’s a season called Fall that happens in other parts of the country. I vaguely remember it from when we lived in Louisville. At the time I remember thinking it would be my favorite season if I continued to live in a part of the country where it existed.

But, alas, that was not God’s plan for me. From Louisville we moved to TX and from TX back to AZ, farther and farther away from that mythical season. Now all I have are vague feelings and sentiments sometimes aroused by certain music:

R.E.M. performing “Nightswimming:”


Here is The Samples (at least the version of the band that most mattered) with a music video of sorts to their song “Little Silver Ring:”


Here is a brand-newly rekindled Vigilantes of Love performing a personal favorite “Nothing Like A Train:”


Here is Joe Pug with a full-band version of “Speak Plainly, Diana”


Perhaps you actually have this mythical season where you live. Perhaps, like to us in Phoenix, it is but a rumor. Is there music that reminds you of Fall? What is it?