The Weekly Town Crier

May 28, 2010 at 11:24 am

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Be my friend on Facebook.

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Subscribe to our occasional music/interview podcast The Habañero Hour in iTunes.

Follow the Habañero Hour on Twitter for regular music/arts news updates, podcast and Phoenix house show announcements.

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R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio.

R.I.P. Hank Jones.

R.I.P. Art Linkletter.

R.I.P. Gary Coleman.

R.I.P. Willie Nelson’s pony tails.

Read as the Episcopal church ordains its second openly gay bishop.

Read about the man who legally changed his name to “Lord Jesus Christ” being run over in a crosswalk.

Read about the growing group of people committing to quit Facebook on May 31.

Read as Donald Miller wonders about asking people to leave the church.

Read about doing mercy in the suburbs.

Read Thom Rainer’s recent research on why church guests return: doctrinal integrity, passion and relevance.

Browse Preaching‘s list of the 25 most influential preachers of the past 25 years, featuring Mark Driscoll at number 17.

See and compare the new Seattle’s Best logo.

Read the free e-book Preaching and the Emergent Church.

See the guys who re-enacted the Ghostbusters in the New York Public library.

Read about the Yemeni cleric calling for the murder of U.S. civilians.

Read as Douglas Wilson considers the idea of who should speak at what conference.

Read Seth Godin’s “Simple five step plan for just about everyone and everything.”

Read about Bono’s emergency surgery.

Read an explanation of LOST’s ending purportedly from a staff writer. Who knows if it’s legitimate or not but hey, why not post it anyway, right?!

Read Joe Day’s thoughts on “privacy” and Facebook.

See LOST in 3 minutes on sticky notes.

Consider a lot of unanswered LOST questions.

Read as “Relevant” considers give questions about LOST.

See what you get when you combine the iPad with velcro.

Why LOST Didn’t Owe You Any Answers

May 24, 2010 at 6:07 am

lost-logoBy now, many of you have watched the series finale of LOST and many have developed sharp perspectives of the ending. Some of you like it, some of you don’t and many of you were, in fact, quite frustrated by it, whether you felt that you were owed more answers, or you didn’t like the answers you were given.

I personally ove that many of us were so frustrated by the ending of LOST. Sure, it ultimately undermined a Christian worldview, but at the same time, it also, (perhaps unwittingly) supported many Christian beliefs. Many of us were left unsatisfied because we wanted clear-cut answers. Answers, which, I’m not so sure we ever should have expected in the first place. Walt was not the point so why does it matter where he went? The Man in Black didn’t need a name. The “flash-sideways” perspective was the result of the bomb, what do you need beyond that?

In the end, LOST owed no one any clear answers because life gives us no clear answers. God often gives us no clear answers (at least from our perspective). Why should we expect a piece of fiction to do what life does not? Is that part of the role of fiction? Do we expect fiction to do what life does not and we’re upset when it somehow doesn’t? Isn’t part of the role of art actually to hold up a mirror to life? If LOST got us, even for a moment, wrapped up in a story greater than ourselves and thinking of deeper things, isn’t that enough? You may not like the way it ended, but it owed us no more answers that it gave. It was never about the answers but about the questions.

And yet, the show did provide many more answers than we may initially realize: There are rules. There is good and there is evil. We cannot live without faith. We are each called individually to a purpose that is best fulfilled in community. Community thrives best, as Alan Hirsch might say, when it becomes communitas. Sometimes we need to ask for help. There is a purpose greater than us. We are each called to lay down a piece of ourselves for the benefit of others and there is one who not only shows us how but does it for us. “Free Will” is rarely as free as we think it is. Truth will set you free. Purposes beyond ourselves often require sacrifice. Our choices have consequences. Everyone needs redemption and we cannot earn ultimate redemption (perhaps the “Shephard” lays down his life?). Deep down, we are all lost and long to be found. And, love wins.

That’s a lot of answers. Beyond that, why aren’t we comfortable with tension? Why aren’t we comfortable with unresolved issues? Whether or not it meant to, LOST reminds us that there is an ultimate resolution that is beyond us and we all have a lot of questions about that ultimate resolution. We all long for that resolution even if we don’t fully understand what it means or how to get it. It lies beyond us and yet ultimately and intimately involves us. We are part of something greater than ourselves.

Beyond that, what did you expect?

Disconnected Jumble of Consumerisms

May 18, 2010 at 8:40 am

718uk0ndirl_sl500_aa300_gifI was driving behind a car the other day when I happened to notice the jumble of stickers wallpapering the back of the car. Most of them were your typical heavily-stickered car fare, something about Co-existing (which, I’ll bet, in their mind means saying no one’s wrong, but that’s a post for another day), something witty swallowing up an Icthus fish, all the usual fare. But there was a paring that caught my eye. Right in the center of the back window there was a pair of stickers, perfectly aligned right next to one another and obviously meant to be the centerpiece of the stickering (I tried to get a picture but it didn’t turn out): there was a large Bob Marley sticker, featuring Marley’s image above the words “Peace” and “Love” (I also tried to find an image of the exact sticker but couldn’t, sorry) right next to a sticker for Quentin Tarantino’s movie Reservoir Dogs.

Perhaps it’s just me, but isn’t there a bit of a disconnect between these two concepts? Reservoir Dogs is certainly not the epitome of peace and love. It would seem to me that if someone really liked the ethos of the movie, they wouldn’t be interested in Bob Marley’s beatnik message of rastafied hippy-ism. Or, on the other hand, if someone really did want to live out peace and love, a movie like Tarantino’s would disgust them. But then I remembered, we don’t have to make sense of the different compartments of our lives. They don’t have to align and they certainly don’t have to make sense.

We have come to a point where our beliefs can outright contradict one another and it’s just fine with everyone. We can claim to like ideals that cancel each other out and not see anything wrong. We have forgotten that we are whole people and life lived best is always wholistic. We try to separate our “work life” from our “home life” and the “sacred” from the “secular” with the result that something might be amiss in one area but that doesn’t mean anything for the other areas.

A famous example of occurred when Bill Clinton was being questioned about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky and was later being investigated for perjory. Clinton’s advocates cam rallying to his defense, saying that just because he lied to rst7205_450his wife in his personal life, that didn’t mean he wasn’t a good president and trustworthy in office. Except, yes it does. A liar is a liar.

As much as we might wish it were otherwise, Christians are guilty of the same transgressions. We have come to adopt a version of Christianity in which we are comfortable saying that we believe and living like we don’t and, not only does no one see this as inconsistent, it has become the norm. Statistically, most professing Christians live no differently than anyone else. And, of course, our thoughtful reader will rightly say that simply professing to be a Christian does not make you a Christian, but in our cultural context, that’s all most people see, much less require.

Of course, Scripture reminds us that we cannot live contradictory lives. A salt pond cannot produce fresh water (James 3:12) and a diseased tree cannot produced good fruit (Matthew 7:18). Yet our culture, at every point says that these things are not only possible but expected. I’ve come to think that at least part of the reason Christians accept this nonsense is because, culturally, we are first and foremost consumers. Our society is founded on consumerism and Christians are no different. The reason we don’t see a disconnect between peace, love and Reservoir Dogs is because they are not actually ideals or ideologies but simply products of entertainment. They don’t have to align, they don’t have to match and they don’t have to agree. You can wear Nike shoes and an Adidas top and you can promote peace and violence and you can profess Jesus and live like the world and no one will frown. We might promote “brand loyalty” and we might even like the idea, but most of us are not interested in pursuing it, even when it comes to Jesus.

The Weekly Town Crier

May 14, 2010 at 8:17 am

town-crier-sThis, that and the other. Another week is gone, another week is come. The Weekly Town Crier remains your constant. As the island of this life flips about through time, cling to the Town Crier.

Be my friend on Facebook.

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Subscribe to our occasional music/interview podcast The Habañero Hour in iTunes.

Follow the Habañero Hour on Twitter for regular music/arts news updates, podcast and Phoenix house show announcements.

Become a fan of The Habañero Hour on Facebook for even more goodies and to help spread the love and world domination.

Read about Will Ferrell posing as a minor league baseball player.

Read Tim Keller on justification and justice.

Download a free mp3 from The Prids.

See the cow stuck on a roof after TN flooding.

R.I.P. Lena Horne.

Read about Gordon Brown’s resignation.

Read as Bono interviews Barack Obama.

Read as Justin Taylor interviews Mark Driscoll on hew latest book Doctrine.

Read as Collide magazine examines the ministry implications of the iPad.

Read as Thom Rainer considers some major trends facing the church.

Read about Apple apparently losing another 4G iPhone.

Watch the confessions of a hipster.

Read as Scott Thomas reminds us that you can preach the Bible without ever mentioning Jesus.

See five of the weirdest hotels on earth.

See the iPulpit.

Read about Live Nation dropping service fees but raising ticket prices.

Read this piece about doing mercy in the suburbs.

Read as Al Mohler considers Catholics, Evangelicals and relics.

Read as Scott Thomas (via Tim Keller) considers the differences between Gospel and religion.

Read and consider “How to Think Of Sermon Preparation and Delivery Like a Three-Course Meal.”

Hear the audio for the Together For The Gospel breakout sessions.

Read as Justin Taylor offers a brief on the Ergun Caner situation. Apparently, Christian bloggers raising questions does not merit investigation, but the involvement of mainstream media does, and apparently, lying is not a theological issue. Who would have thought?

Download the Village Church’s new EP for kids, “Jesus Came To Save Sinners.”

Read/Listen as Morning Edition considers the shutdown of Lala.

Read as Drowned in Sound interviews Zooey Deschanel.

Read as Paste considers ten reasons why singing cats are the future of the music industry.

Contemporvant Growtivation: What It Says About Them, And Us

May 10, 2010 at 8:53 am

picture-4By now I’m sure most of you have seen the “Sunday Morning” video put out by Northpoint Media. I don’t know the context of the video, but one can (I think) safely assume that the folks over at Northpoint are doing a bit of a “wink, wink, nudge nudge, let’s poke a bit of fun at ourselves” type of thing, presenting, what they (probably) think to be an over the top caricature with just enough truth to sting.

The video has made the appropriate interwebs-osphere rounds in its pursuit of “viral” status. Everyone seems to think it reminds them of the church just down the road, but never about themselves. But I wonder if, at least part of the reason it spread so quickly was not just because it reminds us of the church down the road but of ourselves? A friend and I have been having a sporadic e-mail dialogue about some aspects that the video (probably unwittingly) points out.

Though the degree of showiness may vary from church to church, I wonder just how different most of our churches look from one another on any given Sunday morning. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing (or a good thing), but it is something to think about. I am comfortable saying that Church of the Cross, where I pastor, has a very different vision than many of the churches surrounding us in the Northwest Valley of Phoenix. But, truth be told, we don’t always look all that different from most of those same churches. There are intentional differences, but, unless you’re looking for them, they will be subtle.

The video pushes an uncomfortable question for some of us: is it OK to look different on a Sunday morning? What might it look like? Why do we do things the way we do? What would you change if you could and why? But there’s still a more fundamental issue underlying these many questions: what we win them with, we win them to.

Our thoughts about God and church should drive what we do and how we do it. Instead, many of us never stop to think through even basic issues like the order of worship or who speaks from “up-front,” much less more complex things like: is it good that in most of our churches, 97% of the people are passive on a Sunday morning and expect to be entertained/served? Once we start down the “contemporvant” road and people start coming, we can’t turn back because we’ve drawn people with a certain style that they now expect and if we don’t give it to them, someone else will, but chances are, someone else is competing with us using the same style and they’ve got more money for the fancier lights and foggier fog and sparklier lights, so we’d better review our budget and up the ante because this is what we drew people with and it’s what they now expect . . . you see the cycle and the problem, right?

Many of us recognize that there is something wrong with the approach portrayed in the video but I wonder how well we can poinpoint why it’s wrong and what our solution might be. The “Sunday Morning,” perhaps unwittingly, points out all of these issues, but does it in such a way that each of us can pass it along with a “wink, wink, you know that church, right?!,” without ever stopping to think about what it says about us. It reminds us that, not only should our understanding of God and church drive what we do on Sundays, what we already do on Sundays says alot about what we think about God and church, even if we’re not always sure what we’re saying.

What a great opportunity to re-think and dialogue.

And just in case you haven’t seen the video yet:


“Sunday’s Coming” Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

Habañero Hour Episode 10

May 7, 2010 at 6:25 am

Hh 10As some of you know, I do an occasional music/interview podcast with my good friend Mark Whiten. You see, we love music. And we love Jesus. But we don’t love most music about Jesus. In fact, we think most about Jesus doesn’t really reflect Jesus because it’s just not well-done. For some strange reason, Christians, who used to be at the forefront of the arts, have become little more than copycat propagand pushers.

But, there is great music out there. You just won’t find it at your local “Christian” bookstore or radio station. We take great pleasure in searching this music out and passing it on to you. Sometimes we even get to talk to the artists we play and we get their perspective on things.

With featured artist: Matt Haeck, music from Aaron Strumpel, The Word, Doug Burr, They Sang As They Slew and more. Welcome to the feast for the senses that is Episode 10!

Welcome to Episode 10 of the Habañero Hour, where we dissect and rearrange the idea of “Christian” music. We introduce you to artists we know and love and we talk to some of them along the way as well. We hope you enjoy and we’d love to hear from you.

Episode 10 Tracklist:

  1. “Western States” by Matt Haeck
  2. “Courez Courez” by Hermas Zopoula
  3. “One Twenty One” by Aaron Strumpel
  4. “Jesus Will Provide” by Isaiah Owens
  5. “Sola Gratia” by This Beautiful Mess
  6. “Drug Like The Ocean” by Matt Haeck
  7. “Crying Holy Unto The Lord” by Bad Livers
  8. “Red, Red” by Doug Burr
  9. “I Can See With My Eyes Closed” by They Sang As They Slew
  10. “Call Him By His Name” by The Word
  11. “No Delay” by Ohmega Watts
  12. “Captive Train” by Holler, Wild Rose!
  13. “Entropy” by Anathallo

The Weekly Town Crier

May 6, 2010 at 9:00 pm

als-walk-town-cryer-online-londonYou know. The Weekly Town Crier. All that stuff.

Be my friend on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

Subscribe to our occasional music/interview podcast The Habañero Hour in iTunes.

Follow the Habañero Hour on Twitter for regular music/arts news updates, podcast and Phoenix house show announcements.

Become a fan of The Habañero Hour on Facebook for even more goodies and to help spread the love and world domination.

Browse the list of 25 albums Paste is looking forward to in 2010.

Consider 5 reasons why you might not be seeing spiritual growth from The Resurgence.

Read about the naked man on the billboard in Fort Worth.

Read six pieces of advice from Ligon Duncan to young pastors.

Browse Gizmodo’s top ten reasons to quit Facebook.

Read about the street preacher jailed for saying that homosexuality is a sin.

Read about Diaspora, the “anti-Facebook.”

Read about the upcoming Captain America movie.

Read as Jonathan Dodson considers recent attention given to the idea of “Christ and Culture.”

Read about the upcoming album from Antony and the Johnsons. It comes with a book.

Read as Tim Chester reminds us that everyone has a “Gospel Story.”

Read about those longing for the “good ol’ days” of “intellectually serious atheism.”

Read as Michael Horton wonders aloud of what it might really look like if Satan took over.

Read as Mike Cosper, from Sojourn Community Church in Louisville reflects on the next ten years for Sojourn music.

Read about the recent controversy surrounding Franklin Graham being “disinvited” by the Pentagon to the National Day of Prayer because he had the audacity to say that Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God and that all roads will not get you to heaven.

Read about the doctor who aborted the “wrong” baby.

Read as Christianity Today considers Jim Belcher, Francis Chan and N.T. Wright all leaving “official” pastorate positions.

Read as Denny Burk considers Derek Webb’s concert performance for The Gay Christian Network.