Mar 312005

Bob Carlton at The Corner is inviting bloggers to dialogue in an online book group around God’s Politics : Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It. Bob’s hoping to launch this on Monday April 4, with the chapter-by-chapter discussions starting the week of April 11. They’d have a central coordinating blog, but the majority of “action” would rotate through your individual blogs, with bloggers cross commenting [and trackbacking].

It’s an aggressive reading schedule, and my plates too full to participate myself, but I love the idea of being able to talk about religion and politics in a civil manner. I got the green light for me and you to spread the word on the blogosphere.

Bob’s disclaimer: this book group is not connected in any fashion to Jim Wallis, HarperSanFrancisco (publisher of the book,) or Sojourners – the reign of God does need another fawning fan club for a book or magazine, nor does the Internet need any more rock star hero worshipping (except for Babylon 5, of course). Instead, this discussion would use the book as a starting point to foster discussion around how faith, politics and culture intersect, particularly in the amped-up world of partisan steroids we seem to find ourselves in. There are countless folks in pews, pulpits and on the street who are eager to transcend the red/blue or right/left polarities that have tended to hold our country captive, reducing us to stereotypes and prejudices in false “debate”. In some small, geeky way, this book group would try to prayerfully and lovingly dive into the muck and be a guide on the side for others who yearn to learn how to challenge the Left, the Right, government, and our religious communities to work for change in America and the world through a renewed sense of “prophetic politics.”

To participate, please email Bob at [email protected], with the following info:

(1) if you need a copy of the book (with your mailing address)
(2) which of the chapters below you’d like to post a discussion at your blog

Tentative Schedule:

Week of April 4
Introduction : why can’t we talk about religion and politics?

Week of April 11
Chapter 1 Take back the faith 3 April 11
Chapter 2 A lack of vision 20 April 13
Chapter 3 Is there a politics of God? 31 April 15

Week of April 18
Chapter 4 Protest is good; alternatives are better 43 April 18
Chapter 5 How should your faith influence your politics? 56 April 20
Chapter 6 Prophetic politics 72 April 22

Week of April 25
Chapter 7 Be not afraid 87 April 25
Chapter 8 Not a just war 108 April 27
Chapter 9 Dangerous religion 137 April 29

Week of May 2
Chapter 10 Blessed are the peacemakers 159 May 2
Chapter 11 Against impossible odds 172 May 4
Chapter 12 Micah’s vision for national and global security 187 May 6

Week of May 9
Chapter 13 The poor you will always have with you? 209 May 9
Chapter 14 Poor people are trapped – in the debate about poverty 221 May 11
Chapter 15 Isaiah’s platform 241 May 13

Week of May 16
Chapter 16 Amos and Enron 259 May 16
Chapter 17 The tipping point 270 May 18
Chapter 18 A consistent ethic of life 297 May 20

Week of May 23
Chapter 19 Truth telling about race 307 May 23
Chapter 20 The ties that bond 321 May 25
Chapter 21 The critical choice 343 May 27

Week of May 30
Epilogue : we are the ones we’ve been waiting for 373

Please spread the word, participate, and let’s open up a place to dialogue about faith and diverse political opinions.

all day long

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Mar 282005

Stranded at Terminal A of Reagan National airport all day today, because they cancelled my 6:30am flight to Atlanta. Yes, that meant I got up at 4:30am so that I could save a few dollars and metro’d in. The o-dark-thirty started with a foreboding misty drizzle, and it’s stay dreary for hours.
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Mar 242005

While I’ve been a proponent for multiracial churches for years at this website and during my time in the pastoral profession, it’s not the same as getting a cover story in Christianity Today. Or having a book published (granted, excellently researched, from a sociological perspective). Their current web strategy is to post select articles online for a limited period of time, after the print edition has rolled out. I happen to have a print edition of the magazine at hand (and I would scan it into PDF format for you to see, but I don’t want to create ill will.)

So, in a few weeks, stay tuned for the following, in the April 2005 edition of Christianity Today Magazine: All Churches Should Be Multiracial: The biblical case. An Excerpt from United by Faith by Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Michael O. Emerson, George Yancey, and Karen Chai Kim. And, Harder than Anyone Can Imagine: Four working pastors – Latino, Asian, black, and white – respond to the bracing thesis of United by Faith. The pastoral voices are Noel Castellanos (Latino Leadership Foundation), Bill Hybels (Willow Creek), Soong-Chan Rah (Cambridge Community Fellowship Church), and Frank Reid (Bethel AME Church). Also sidebar, Big Dream in Little Rock: what multiracial church looks like in the town formerly infamous for segregation, featuring Mosaic Church, led by Mark & Linda DeYmaz.

Some compelling excerpts:

  • If we define a racially mixed congreatin as one in which no one racial group is 80 percent or more of the congregation, just 7.5 percent of the more than 300,000 religious congregations in the United States are racially mixed. For Christian congregations, which form more than 90 percent of congregations in the United States, the share that is racially mixed drops to 5.5 percent. Of this small percentage, approximately half of the congregations are mixed only temporarily, during the time they are in transition from one group to another. [that is, less than 3% of Christian congregations are racially mixed 80% pro rata]
  • Soong-Chan Rah: If we were to hear of any other institution in the United States that had those kinds of statistics, we would be outraged. If less than 6 percent of universities or government institutions were integrated, we would say there is something seriously wrong.
  • Bill Hybels: A true biblically functioning community must include being multiethnic. My heart beats so fast for that vision today.

[updated 3/31/05] CT cover story posted online, and sidebars too. Also see October 2000 CT article, Color-Blinded: Why 11 o’clock Sunday morning is still a mostly segregated hour. An excerpt from Divided by Faith. By Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith.

Mar 222005

Our Christian body recently mourned the untimely death of noted theologian Stanley Grenz last week, and his memorial service has been honorably placed online courtesy of Mars Hill Graduate School: In Celebration & Thanksgiving for Dr. Stanley James Grenz (in streaming Windows media format).

And see the legacy that Stan left there, in the form of a new M.Div. program. Brian McLaren talked about the program: WindowsMedia Hi-Fi | Low-Fi or RealMedia Hi-Fi | Low-Fi

Also found: Regent Bookstore (of Regent College in Vancouver) featured the following talk by Eugene Peterson, about the writing of The Message (7 parts in MP3 format):

Excerpted from the full CD, titled No More God Talk, a weekend with Eugene Peterson.

Mar 222005

Those of you so inclined, please pray for Rick Warren as he’ll be doing interviews all day Tuesday and Wednesday about the Purpose Driven Life:

TONIGHT (TUESDAY): MSNBC “Scarborough Country,” Fox “Hannity & Colmes,” and CNN “Larry King Live.”

WEDNESDAY AM: CNN “American Morning,” CBS “This Morning,” ABC “Good Morning America,” and NBC “TODAY Show.”

SOMETIME THIS WEEK: MSNBC “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” MSNBC “Dayside,” and CNN “Lou Dobbs.”

(Bookmark this entry for for updates as transcripts and video clips, when/if they get posted online.)

* updates:

Rush transcript of interview with Rick Warren on Larry King Live (Tues 3/22)

* USA Today, A purpose-driven author speaks his piece, excerpt:

[Rick Warren] said he has studied Scripture to learn how to use his new “affluence and influence.” He said he takes no salary from Saddleback, drives a 4-year-old Ford Explorer and commits 90% of his income to three foundations, including the global service program. “God doesn’t give you all this for your own ego.”

* Chicago Sun-Times,
Putting Christianity on a modern footing (3/25/05)

[Rick Warren] ”I’m never going to deny what I believe, but I’ve got to say it in a way that makes sense to the MTV generation in a postmodern world.”

Mar 202005

A while back, I was able to recover a blog entry (through a back channel) that one blogger had to remove because he got too much negative feedback. It was the first time he’s ever had to pull an entry on his blog. Part of me resonated with his post, realizing that perhaps my desire is for not just honesty or authenticity, but something deeper called vulnerability.

I’ve been described anywheres from a touchy-feely warm-fuzzy person to a hard-to-read poker-faced person. My own self-perception is the former and not the latter, and yet realize how difficult it is for people who want a simple 5-line bio to describe someone. As an exercise, I drew up a little chart titled the “faces of djchuang”, ranging from the “networker djchuang,”, “work djchuang,” to the “cordial djchuang.” The “networker” shows up at conferences and occasional events where the topic of conversation touches on areas of my interest. I’m energized by meeting new people, intense dialogue, trading business cards, and doing power lunches. “Work djchuang” can be task-oriented, and fast to get things done. “Cordial djchuang” can be nice, but not known for being smiley-faced nor good at light small talk. People generally like to be around the “networker,” but only certain settings can bring him out. It can’t be manufactured. He doesn’t show up at family gatherings.

To borrow the language of belonging from Joseph Myers’ book, The Search to Belong: Rethinking Intimacy, Community, and Small Groups, I crave being in the personal and intimate space, where I can talk about emotions, mental health (without having to use an alias to talk about the stigma of mental health and depression), and even sex (good people are beginning to talk about sex more candidly now, like LatinoLiz and Willzhead, better late than never in our sex-crazed world) and salaries (without getting fired for it). I can live there for days and weeks on end.

But most of real life is more about public and social space. Conferences are social events alright, but only occasional and too infrequent, not a part of my everyday life. And, no, I don’t want to live on the conference circuit.

On my “faces of djchuang” chart, I left off the “real djchuang,” who is not really motivated to do something that’s fulfills a dream or feeds a passion or makes him feel alive. Though he works hard at what he does all around. He just wants more personally intimate space and time, and when that is so elusive, nothing else really seems to matter.

Mosaic deconstructed

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Mar 172005

Gerardo Marti is a keen sociologist, who was well-positioned in leadership at Mosaic, while gathering data for his research. His findings got published this year as: A Mosaic of Believers: Diversity and Innovation in a Multiethnic Church.

I’ve visited Mosaic on several occasions myself, having seen it morph from Church on Brady over the years, and heard today that they’re now running 6 worship venues all over greater Los Angeles. Led by Erwin McManus, I’ve also seen his gaining broader exposure. Would’ve loved to hang out with Erwin during his online course running this week, but couldn’t swing the sched. I love how they exemplify creativity as a natural overflow of spirituality. We’re made in the image of the Creator, why wouldn’t churches be the most creative place?

I asked him for an estimate of the ethnic diversity breakdown at Mosaic, and at various levels, and about the book. He promptly responded with:

[Mosaic] is about 1/3 White, 1/3 Hispanic, 1/3 Asian, with a smaller number of African American, Middle Eastern, and others. This ratio is consistent throughout the congregation as I found the same ratio among elders, pastoral staff, leadership, small group members, and ministry
teams. The book provides historical background on this 60+ year old church, nuances of theology developed by its pastor, distinctive leadership roles, and the various experiences created to stimulate the significant degree of ethnic diversity.

Many are aware of Michael Emerson’s (and team’s) study of multiracial churches, and Mosaic was one of the original churches studied for the project. The book provides great depth in understanding how this one congregation became and remains diverse. Pastors who have read it have told me their appreciation for the discussion of race/ethnicity as well as the immersive look at the workings of the church.

Also see this article, Sociologist?s Book Explores Keys to Multiethnic Church Membership (Davidson newsletter, September 2004).

Mar 172005

Found surfing, at The Kojo Nnamdi Show: “For decades, the left has ceded the language of religion to the GOP. Progressive evangelical leader Jim Wallis, the founder of Sojourners Network, tells Kojo why God isn?t a Republican or Democrat, and how the power of spirituality can mobilize political and social change.”
[Listen with Real Player]

Jim Wallis, founder, Sojourners Network; editor, Sojourners Magazine; and author, “God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It“, makes his way around, as an alternative voice to Christian faith and politics. [
Listen with Real Player]