Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Weekly Meanderings

Good morning to you!
Kudos to Kris this week — she suggested the posts “Jesus Creed does Politics” and the “To Scot from Scot” post. What a fun week it was!
Chicago at night.
An interview with Fred Peatross and New Wineskins.
My interview on Mary at Elmbrook with Mel Lawrenz.
Stanley Fish’s false dichotomy: is it integrity or craft? (Or a leader with integrity who has the craft?)
Good story in sports.
Education today … made me think plenty. (HT: JM)
Did you hear this? (HT: Mel Lawrenz)
Another good item pointed out to us this week: What the church neglects, society provides. (HT: IG)
David Fitch and I had a dustup yesterday on WMBI about Willow Creek, David’s well-known concern about seeker-models as consumerist, and the REVEAL study of Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson. David and I agree about much more than we disagree.
1. Good interview with Philip Pullman, author of “The Golden Compass.”
2. Good book review by Patrick Allitt of Gary Wills’ new book, Head and Heart, in the history of American faith.
3. It’s not “new” news, but just in case you didn’t see the offiical documents and press releases about the San Joaquin Episcopal diocese splitting from the American Episcopal Church and forming an alliance with fellow believes in South America.
4. It’s all in the mind.
5. Here’s a pastor who sees it and gets it.
6. Reasonable piece about Obama and a strong piece about Giuliani. And CT had a good report about Hillary and her faith. And Huckabee too.
7. Good report about teachers.
8. Mark Roberts is a peacemaking scholar who is grounded both in the church and academy, and this new post on the New Perspective is good.
9. Are you a locavore?
10. How do you open those packages?
Here it is: 100 years of losing!
But it’s now over: Fukodome is the answer.
Wrigley, home of the 2008 World Series Champion, the Chicago Cubs…
The season has begun for this guy:

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posted December 15, 2007 at 9:10 am

Donn Johnson?s blog (#5 Here?s a pastor who sees it and gets it.) is interesting. I posted no comment on the EGens thread Tuesday because it perplexed me ? and I couldn’t quite figure out what to say or how to join the conversation in a constructive fashion. But ? now I see a bit more clearly. I think that this trend has been developing for several decades, not so much new as growing in size and significance as a result of social and cultural forces. In fact this “EGen” or “Odyssey Generation” is a good description of my journey/experience, when I was 20 something (18-30 or 32). Church handled it (very) poorly then ? but small numbers belied the significance. We have to adapt and adjust to social realities ? not compromise.

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posted December 15, 2007 at 9:45 am

The Education Today video was interesting. The college students are seeking relationship and privileging relationship over facts, which is what we at J.C. (apparently) are saying Christianity is all about. That seems healthy. How do we get them out of those big classrooms and into relationship with teachers and some information? I went to a college too small to have the big lecture classes (or I luckily missed them) … perhaps it’s time to move away from that model?
The marathon running article … it’s all in the mind … I read it with interest in the quest to answer: how do I cram more into my day. I think those kinds of articles tend to feed our dissatisfaction, our believe we can do more and more if only we hit on the right system and try harder and harder, compete more and more, ignore the sick and wounded along our path, refuse to sabbath … it’s as if we take what is good, our amazing potential, and then somehow get it turned around into having to maximize our personal self-willed potential every second. That’s not what the article was saying, but how I think it gets interpreted in this culture.

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Michelle Van Loon

posted December 15, 2007 at 10:54 am

Didn’t hear the AM conversation on WMBI, but just listened to the Prime Time Chicago discussion. Jesuscreed readers – It’s worth your time to download the cluster of files and listen to these two great guys respond to REVEAL and to one another, particularly if you’ve been following the debate here in the blogosphere.

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posted December 15, 2007 at 11:40 am

And we thank Kris for insisting that you “unwrap” the from Scot to Scot gift before Dec. 26. The suspense would have been too much.

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posted December 15, 2007 at 1:26 pm

On the Reveal discussion with David Fitch…
Outstanding dialogue and much to ponder. I think what Willow and other megachurches is really amazing. BUT, I do not think discipleship occurs per ratio as effectively in the larger “organization” as in the dynamic of shared interpersonal community.
I know we live in a much different time and culture but the only reliable point of reference that I have for a model of discipleship is the pattern of Jesus. He spoke to crowds but it does not appear that the staple of his spade work was done in that context. He did not organize and structure the large crowds. He did the spiritual community work in the dynamic of a group of about 12.
It takes incredible amounts of time, effort and resources to structure, design, administer and develop weekly gatherings of thousands of people. I tend to agree with David that these gatherings predispose people to be consumers of a sort of spiritual infant-feeding and many of them don’t go much further.
The leaders in some of these large congregations have outstanding gifts of communication and inspiration. However, I’m not persuaded that they have any more spiritual depth (and perhaps less) than spiritual leaders who forego size for substance. After all, where would they find the time to do simple spirituality???
Since the pattern in Reveal is indicative of a widespread reality across populist evangelical churches, is it not reasonable to ask the question whether this pattern is a direct result of a focus on size rather than spirit as an indicator of Christian maturity success?
Over the past 4-5 years I have developed a bias that I am testing by looking at the dynamic of size-preoccupation relative to quality and integrity. Government, business and non-profit organizations alike that allow themselves to become very large seem to lose something in the process.
Was the persecution in Jerusalem a means of distributing the Christian community away from largesse because of its inherent dangers? Just wondering. Seems like Babel was a consolidation of mass and the gospel was intended to be distributed. Primarily attractional “Christianity” presupposes something quite different than missional (and attractive) Christ-following.
I’m still weighing these things and appreciate the thoughtful and respectful discussion very much!

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Scot McKnight

posted December 15, 2007 at 1:46 pm

One of the more interesting features of REVEAL is that 50% of those at Willow were in their top two levels of maturity. I wonder what the percentages are across other churches, but what I’m hearing is that it relatively the same. I don’t have the facts.

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posted December 15, 2007 at 2:40 pm

Thanks for the additional info, Scot.
I wonder what the data comparison between smaller “congregations” and larger ones would indicate relative to the same thing that Willow was surveying. I found that the growth mindset in my experience in a somewhat larger church tended to an increase-in-numbers preoccupation rather than heart-and-life change.
Since Willow appears to be on a slower numerical growth surge in their current cycle, has this given Bill pause to take a closer look at maturity levels or is it that they have always been concerned about spiritual maturity but their typical “answer” historically has been a systems model and now they are questioning that approach?
How do you organize what is fundamentally an organism with evolving changes that arebeyond the capacity of human agents to manage? The Spirit blows where it wills… Modernist thinking was primarily mechanical and structural but we certainly don’t function well in that world anymore.
The world wide web, broadband and related technologies have expanded the knowledge base and upended traditional approaches to systems thinking. In that respect, the Church is being radically flattened (not in a negative sense) and this may be an open door for both the Holy Spirit and other not-so-holy spirits at the same time. How does the Church change to engage meaningfully in that kind of world.
By the way, I sure affirmed your take that discipleship occurs as a community rather than individually and the the Church bears witness of the gospel as much/more than the individual. Now do you see spiritual formation happening in macro-bodies as effectively as in micro-bodies? Just interested in your take on that.

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posted December 15, 2007 at 3:07 pm

Hi Scott,
Thanks for the tip on Roger Cohen’s piece on Obama.
Cohen’s line on the “pax americana” is a very intriguing one. That phrase draws interesting parallels with the age of Rome and the present time. Most of those implied parallels I do not agree with.
Obama commented that he has a grandmother in an african country with no running water and other various problems. His claim was that this qualifies him to speak to leaders in the 2/3rds world.
My reaction to that is: Mr. Obama, you have been able to achieve success in the western world, in the good old US of A. Why haven’t you taken action to get your grandmother’s village running water? Why do you look upon this as an opportunity for enhanced rhetoric instead of a chance to impact poverity?
But on the other hand, why do many of us focus on exploiting the American dream, and gaining personal success without making it a priority to do something significant aobut the issue of food, water, and health care in impoverished countries that are much worse off than our own-self included :(

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posted December 15, 2007 at 3:37 pm

Thanks for the Chicago pics. My oldest daughter, Jessica, is in Chicago this weekend with her grandparents on my husband’s side. They’ve taken her to see the Michigan Ave windows decorated for Christmas. Today they’re going to the planetarium, aquarium, and the field museum, and maybe to Lincoln Park tonight to see the lights. She’s five-and-a-half. It’s her first trip away from us, and Chicago seems a loooong way away from Austin.

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Michael W. Kruse

posted December 15, 2007 at 4:44 pm

Love the first picture, the one of the little fur ball with really big claws! :) What breed is he? Looks like a cougar.

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posted December 15, 2007 at 7:24 pm

The heart-felt phone call by the little guy from the small town outside Houston is a keeper. So touching! A thousand “Sunday School” lessons will never get that experience of truth across.

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Michael W. Kruse

posted December 15, 2007 at 9:17 pm

Also just got around to the “education today” link. Awesome! And from KSU no less. Thanks.

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posted December 16, 2007 at 1:46 pm

Tiger Woods: The guy takes off 2+ months and in his first return he crushes everyone. Is he superhuman??? I’m thinking everyone on the PGA tour hates him about now.
Scot, I have one word for you on the Cubs caption: Denial. 😉

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posted December 16, 2007 at 7:04 pm

Michael #10, I think that looks more like a jaguar…

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Michael W. Kruse

posted December 16, 2007 at 8:25 pm

#14 Peggy, jaguar was my second guess. Sure is cute whatever it is.

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