I wasn’t invited to the National Pastors Convention in order to meet with old friends or even to meet new ones. Nope, Zondervan asked me to speak and I was involved in not a little speaking … Monday evening and Tuesday morning and Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon. Some thoughts …
The Monday evening and Tuesday morning events were “hot button” topics discussed in a panel format by four of us: Phyllis Tickle, Tony Jones, Andy Crouch and McKnight. What hot button topics? Our views of Scripture, our views on political involvement, our views of homosexuality and our views on world religions. Hot enough? Indeed.

On Scripture, I was asked to lead us off with a brief survey of issues and how we approach Scripture, which gave me the opportunity to use some stuff from Blue Parakeet. I think some of us approach Scripture “in spite” of tradition, some “through” Tradition, and some “with” Tradition. (Intentional upper and lower case.) We had a good discussion, but there wasn’t all that much difference between us. On politics, after we excused Ms. Tickle because — as is well known — she has a heart condition (she claims to be over 70 but she has the energy of a fifty year old and the wit of all wits), Tony got us going with his defense of realism. I suffered the heat of Andy and Tony wailing away on this Anabaptist perspective — Tony used the term “utopian” a few times. (Don’t feel sorry for me; I’m exaggerating.) On homosexuality, we all advocated pastoral and ecclesial sensitivity; Andy Crouch gave a splendid introduction that involved his reading a piece he wrote for CT. And on world religions we didn’t seem to find any wedges of disagreement … over all, a good set of sessions.
Tuesday afternoon I got to share the stage with Phyllis on prayer; I gave a brief on the biblical reasons and history of set prayers at set times (using my Praying with the Church). Then we all sat back and listened to Phyllis do what she is known for: resurrecting fixed hour prayer in the USA for so many of us. Not only does Phyllis practice fixed hour prayer and not only does she know the history of it all, she’s a magnificent speaker. Kris envied me getting to be with Phyllis.
Wednesday afternoon was my highlight — other than meeting up with friends: getting to bring out some of the new stuff from Blue Parakeet. I gave a fuller version of what I did at the session Monday night on the Three Approaches to the Bible and then I went through “shortcuts” and weaved in and out of some stories and some biblical texts that are right there in front of us and we have somehow discerned “not to do” them. That’s the burden of Blue Parakeet: how do we discern what to do and what not to do. Unfortunately, my flight was backed up against the session and I had to skee-daddle as soon as it was over.
Did I mention the weather? I got home about 11:30pm to 15 degrees and well over two feet of snow in the backyard.
Once again … as I was speaking I saw many names on name tags that I recognized who’ve jotted down comments on this blog. What a great blog community we have!

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