Ten Things I Think I Think
1) Here's the last installment of Lori Brookman's (Part 4 of 4) courageous story of hope and perseverance: http://www.limaohio.com/story.php?IDnum=28366 Aimee talked to her yesterday, and as you might imagine, re-living this in print, at times, has been difficult for Lori and her family. Keep them in your prayers.
2) Just one more week to enter to win a copy of "The Secret Meaning of Jesus", the latest book by Brian McLaren. And, to sweeten the pot, I'll also be adding a Marathon Gas Card with enough money to buy a gallon of gas at it's true cost (and if you think it's $3, then you didn't read "Oil Safari" in last week's Chicago Tribune). Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with 1) your name and address, 2) the reason I should give you this book, and 3) a suggestion for a future blog post. Here's the link to "Oil Safari", which traces the origin of the oil used to make the gasoline sold at a Marathon gas station in Elgin, Illinois: http://www.chicagotribune.com/chi-oilsafari2-htmlstory,0,5759205.special
3) Here's a great article in Newsweek on Billy Graham as he approaches the end of his life. It's definitely worth your time: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14204483/ . Am struck at the difference in outlook between Billy and son, Franklin, on matters of religion and politics. I was also intrigued at Jerry Falwell's description of what he thought about the functional differences between an evangelist and a pastor. I didn't get the impression that Billy Graham agreed, but that might just be an outgrowth of my bias toward Rev. Falwell's ministry (which, despite being directly contacted by phone and sent a copy of the obituary, was still soliciting money from my Grandmother Bucher a decade after she had passed). A fascinating read.
4) We have number of Auburn football fans among the Beeson Pastors and their families. Auburn, for those readers outside of the South who are younger, follow college football, and have never heard of it before, is a university in the state of Alabama. Kids at home, you've never heard of it because the football program hasn't had any national relevance since a player by the name of Bo Jackson won the Heisman there in 1985. Mostly, the program has served as a stepping stone for SEC schools like Florida, Tennessee, and LSU to vie for a national championship.
(Bo knows 21 years of mediocrity)
5) At "The Summit Leadership Conference" we are attending this week, the "exclusive interview with Bono" that they've been touting in their brochure is actually videotaped. The last time I went to this thing President Clinton showed up for an interview with Bill Hybles. Is it a sign of the apocalypse when a church can book a President with "moral issues" to speak on leadership to a bunch of pastors, but can't get worked into a rock star's schedule?
I can't believe I just wrote that last sentence.
6) Saw "Cars" as a family Saturday at a local "second-run" movie theatre. Absolutely excellent. The boys were racing around the Beeson Commune trying to win "The Piston Cup". (Note to my grandmother: Put this one on your "rent" list!)
7) Asked Eli today at church if he wanted to take a nap. He shook his head vigorously, and said plain as day, "No". When I asked if he loved his mommy and brothers, he nodded "yes" both times. Then I got another "no" when I asked again about a nap. Exciting, exciting, exciting!
8) Just went a month without cable or an antenna.... filled most of that extra time looking at motorcycles on Ebay. Needless to say, I am my own worst enemy.
9) Have been intrigued by Walter Brueggeman's description of the "Royal Consciousness" in his book "The Prophetic Imagination" since reading about it last week. Brueggeman's hypothesis, based on his study of the prophetic texts of the Old Testament, is that the role of prophets was to define the "Royal Consciousness" - the socio-political-economic-cultural-spiritual state of the nation as maintained by the succession of Israel's kings. The prophet did this because the "Royal Consciousness" maintained a group that was "in" (i.e. rich with access to power) and "out" (i.e. not "in"), which, over time, resulted in a sense of hopelessness among the "out" crowd, and skewering of priorities among the "in" crowd. Brueggeman says that a succession of bad kings ruined Israel by maintaining this paradigm, which ultimately was bad for everyone (the fall and exile of Israel for everyone, in or out). Brueggeman called the "royal consciousness" a "fictional reality" (which reminded me of Michael Moore's acceptance speech at the Oscars years ago - "We live in fictitious times, led by a fictitious president, elected in a fictitious election, fighting a fictitious war"). A prophet's role was to use evocative language to implore people, in or out, to make a shift to an "Alternate Consciousness" where people would think and act differently about their roles in society, sense of who they were, and how Israel, as a nation, should act and behave.
What role this plays in modern preaching can be tricky. I don't think Michael Moore's approach to challenging the dominant paradigm was really what Brueggeman was talking about (besides, Moore's political alternative doesn't exactly inspire thoughts of an "alternative consciousness" - both Democrats and Republicans took money from Jack Abramoff - money I might add that came from Indian tribes looking to expand the reach of tribal casinos in this country). Breuggeman says that the modern prophet should look at the example set by Isaiah, which encourages people to dig deep into their past using symbols common to all, to help re-awaken a sense of optimism and hope for the future (The genius of Reagan's, "It's morning again in America..."). I wonder if Jim Wallis' work (http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=about_us.display_staff&staff=wallis), which seems to be having a real impact among both liberal and evangelical pastors, is a model for approach for prophets in modern (or post-modern) times? Interesting stuff!
10) Finally, in an update on last week's "Ten Things...", we returned to Southland Christian Church (the site of "the sermon with no scripture" last week) for worship service this morning. We went back cause 1) we wanted to see if not citing scripture was something they were doing weekly and 2) Max and Xavier wanted to go back (which is a powerful testament to the power of a good children's ministry). Anyhow, the sermon today, which was given by someone other than the Senior Pastor (he must have had the week off), was good. You can hear it here: http://www.southlandchristian.org/exec/messages/1/471 A solid message on acting with humility as an agent of grace. I think we'll give it another go next week.
Watch later this week for updates from Willow Creek. Until then, I'm out like a prophet dwelling in the land of the royal consciousness.