somber and sober

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Oct 312005
 

One of my blog readers has now passed on, due to a freak accident. Kyle Lake, pastor of University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, had emailed a few weeks ago about his new book, (Re)understanding Prayer, and I was going to read it after these crazy few weeks pass (with my overdrive attempt at event planning while away on business in Dallas right now) b/c I sure could use help with some semblence of a prayer life. Now, I’ll never get to meet him in person, and he’s leaving behind a young family. I can’t imagine what would happen if a freak accident hit me, and what kind of impression or legacy I’d leave. [ht: Dan Kimball]

[update 11/01] and tons of sympathies are going out to the Lake and UBC families out on the blogosphere

[update 11/03] Prayed with some friends while in Dallas, for the Lake family and their church; even Drudge Report linked to this tragic news; found some heartful reflections by el mol, Brian McLaren, Chris Seay (who startedup UBC Waco), InternetMonk: Laughter in the waters of death, and UBC Waco – holder page provides audio to funeral service for Kyle Lake, has verbatim excerpt from his last sermon, and info to express love via donation and sharing loving memories; CT acknowledges the tragedy and reprints excerpt: Does Electrocution Happen for a Reason? What young church leader Kyle Lake might have said about his own death.

the last passenger

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Oct 292005
 

Thursday was a full day, full of adventure. Rudy Carrasco was in town for an one-day trip, and he was antsy after a half-day of conferencing, dropped me a line, and we met up and hung out. I first found him huddled up in the corner, savoring an Internet connection at a Starbucks hotspot. We drove from Howard University up to Chez Lemen, hung out there for a few hours, got a ganga food for lunch.

Then drove Rudy back downtown near the White House for some evening reception he had lined up; my 1998 Dodge Caravan was struggling with shifting gears on the way back. I suspected it was Rudy using his car adapter to recharge his cell phone, sucking the juice out of my engine. After I dropped him off, the problem didn’t go away. I’d get up to about 25 mph, then the engine would rev louder and louder, but it wasn’t finding the next gear, nor the gear it was in. I don’t know much about cars, but the transmission was slipping.

I got to Silver Springs by about 4:40pm, amidst mounting traffic, and my engine stalls halfway up the hill from the DC line to Silver Spring. Cars are beeping behind me, rightly irate. I turn off my engine, pop the hood. A police car shows up a minute later, asks me to call someone to get me towed or something. I try one more time, and was able to drive a little further, off to a side parking lot. I wave the police car off. Wondering what to do, I scan the road side of stores. Lo and behold, there’s an Aamco transmission shop just a half block away! God really provided in my time of need, or this was sheer luck, depending on your spiritual perspective.

I eventually get home, I’ll spare you the details. Next day the diagnosis was that the transmission needed rebuilding or replacing. I look up the blue book value. By the book, in insurance speak, my car was totaled. It’d cost more to get the car back up and running, than to get it fixed. We decided to dispose it and sell. So, the last passenger in my Dodge Caravan was not a member of my family. It was Rudy Carrasco.

In June 1999, when I had just started blogging, was the other time a car died on me, en route to a national denominational conference. That was a Mitsubishi. The common theme: both of these cars that died on me were white in color.

Oct 252005
 

Some great recent conversations in the blogosphere about church diversity, or the lack thereof. Don’t have the time to add my own thoughts and comments, but I’m tired of holding back all these links in my draft folder. Here’s some I’ve found, in no particular order:

…what about some other brothers and sisters?

“Every emergent gathering I’ve been to in recent years is extremely white concerning skin tones. What possibilities of inter-racial and ethnic working together are being talked about…and actually done…within the Emerging Church…especially in North America?”

Postmodernegro in The Church, Embracing Grace, and Racism links to Jesus Creed’s Church, Embracing Grace, and Racism Part 1 and Part 2, who used tapas, salad, and other foods to describe diversity models, whereas I had used ice cream flavors to describe multiethnic churches, similiarly.

Quite a thread going at funkateer74′s xanga about the lack of diversity in the “church that is emerging” conversation.

“I really don’t see real racial reconciliation coming out of the emerging church just yet. It really seems like a largely white movement here in the states.”

One Voice podcast is finally online with Mark La Roi, who had previously noted that God is not colorblind!

“I don’t believe that the different colors of people are “races”. Why? Because if you accept the term “Human Race” as valid, everything else is sub-division. I’m not sub-human, are you?”

More personally and poignantly, Andrew Seely ponders on his own ethnic identity:

Or this just is an ongoing issue between how I see myself, how others see me. … It is my hope that people look beyond the initial appearance that I carry with me and look deep into my character in God’s eyes.

And, this Leadership Journal article slipped through my radar, from Spring 2005: An Army of Ones: Does diversity in the church work? This was a panel discussion of sorts with Craig Keener, Larry Osborne of North Coast Church, and Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church.

[update] Plus, let’s not forget the lively thread over at TheOoze.com: Seeking Diversity in Emergent, with 46 posts to date, and counting.

Just 2 wishes

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Oct 212005
 

I don’t have 3 wishes today, just 2.

1. My Firefox quick search for amazon.com broke recently (aka Firefox Smart Keywords). I used to use the URL http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index=blended&field-keywords=%s and now that is a “400 Bad Request”. Apparently it has been broken since September, according to the mozillaZine support forum >> Quick Search for Amazon not working. Help?

[update: Fixed, thanks to radicalcongruency. I now use this URL for Firefox Quick Search to search amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/external-search?keyword=%s&mode=blended&tag=djchuang]

2. I write comments on other blogs. I’d like to find my way back to those blogs, and to see if the blog author or others have responded or referred to my comments. Several great blog search engines are around for finding blog posts — used to be only Technorati and BlogPulse, then there was IceRocket. Now there’s Google‘s and Yahoo‘s. But, how do I find comments I’ve made elsewhere? (this’d be great to go with my wish for a smarter integrated Web search)

Oct 192005
 

Some conservatives don’t like the quotes on Starbucks cups and Christian group objects to gay-related quote on Starbucks cups. That was earlier this year, but the year’s not over yet.

God and Starbucks

Now, probably some liberals and/or atheists won’t like the purpose-driven quote to come, hinted at in: Starbucks stirs things up with a God quote on cups

“Coffee drinkers could get a spiritual jolt with their java in the spring when Starbucks begins putting a God-filled quote from the Rev. Rick Warren, author of the mega-selling The Purpose-Driven Life, on its cups.”

Good chance the quotes will be selected from the 40 Purpose-Driven Bullet Points.

Rick Warren

Oct 182005
 

From this news release about a fascinating report, College Students’ Spirituality and Religiousness Varies by Race and Gender, New Study Shows: African Americans Most Religious Group, culminating from a survey of 112,232 college students:

Asian Americans were the highest scorers on Religious Skepticism and the lowest on Spirituality, Equanimity, and Religous Commitment. … Asian Americans are the most likely to say that they have no religious preference.

Plus 2 more sound bites from a local newspaper article, The contours of a constituency: Asian American entrepreneurs meet at summit:

Divided, the region’s Asian communities are a patchwork of competing interests, said Sally Sternbach of Rockville Economic Development Inc. United, those same groups represent a powerful constituency. The challenge, Sternbach said, is for Asian American businesses to seize opportunities together.

But when critiquing (different from criticizing, different from being negative, even tho’ some can’t tell the difference), it’s always better when it comes from someone from within:

Asian American communities can be somewhat insular, [John] Lin said. “Each group does its own thing. They don’t usually collaborate.”

Oct 172005
 

Having blogged since 1999, before it was called blogging, I will say this: the volunteer organizers of GodBlogCon were very quick learners, picked up on blogosphere ethos in no time! So here’s to you, Matt “mere-orthodoxy” Anderson, and Curtis “a-sdf” Schweitzer, some link love! :) Plus, some more link love to Aaron “thevoiz” Flores for being my only other emergent companion in evangelical-ville, to organizers John Mark Reynolds + Andy “SmartChristian” Jackson + Hugh Hewitt too (tho’ he probably doesn’t need any link love), to Lores “Just a Woman” for returning my call so quickly, Mark Swanson for being candid, Joel Thomas for sticking out as a mainliner, David “Jollyblogger” Wayne for theologizing on blogs, 33 pages in print at that, Don Bosch for being green.

And while you’re here, would you show the caring power of the blogosphere to a friend of mine? Jim had only started blogging a few months ago. Discovered he had cancer and now going through chemo, blogging to tell about it. He’s a strong man of faith, but your encouragement can help. This is email week — drop him a comment or email if you’ll read his blog regularly.

Al Mohler responds in, The Architecture of Megachurches — What Do These Buildings Mean?, to the Slate.com piece, An Anatomy of Megachurches: The new look for places of worship. While Al prioritizes the theological content over architectural context, and infinitely so, that kind of priority and emphasis works against a more holistic understanding of God’s creation, that the architecture reflects and embodies and communicates a theology, in fact so much so that the cathedrals of old were the theological statement of its time! Just because we can read, and can blog, now, that’s not an excuse to be so infinitely dismissive of architecture’s theology of place.

Recorded one of my occasional audio blogs, my Daily Commute Podcast, today. Then I find out that someone named Mike D, who also happens to be in Maryland, doing a podcast with the same name at My Daily Commute. He’s got a lot more pep, one of the ingredients to being a more enjoyable listen.

McLaren’s next book

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Oct 172005
 

Brian McLaren’s new book is coming in April 2006 -> The Secret Message of Jesus : Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything. You can pre-order it at amazon.com and get it before anyone else, manuscript readers excepted. [ht: Murdock at The A-Team Blog]

update:: another ‘church that is emerging‘ book is coming out, earlier in December 2005 — Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger. Eddie Gibbs rightly assesses the emerging divide in CT’s Emerging Solutions?and Problems: D. A. Carson’s theological analysis of Brian McLaren, et al:

McLaren makes an easy target for a philosophical theologian. He is unsystematic and speculative. He operates in the front-line trenches of church ministry rather than in the world of academia. His strength lies in the questions he is prepared to face with honesty and considerable insight, rather than in his responses. Many emerging church leaders find in McLaren someone who shares their questions and concerns. He has a passion to communicate with those who have discarded the church as irrelevant or no longer credible.

Oct 162005
 

With 10 minutes and counting before they start boarding my flight back cross-country, and enjoying the free WiFi here at Long Beach Airport, I had flirted with the idea of upgrading my WordPress to 1.5.2 (still running 1.5.1.3). But not a good idea to risk my website going down, amidst a short-lived web traffic spike from GodBlogCon attention. GodBlogCon is getting news media buzz, 163 sources at the moment, according to news.google.com, mostly from the AP Wire piece.

A few other thoughts perculating, now that a few more hours and a good night’s sleep has past after GodBlogCon. I’ll share one: it seems to me that most of the attendees I heard in conversations at GodBlogCon see blogging as a publishing tool. So with a purpose to publish in mind, the gravity of inquiry pointed to how to form the message, how to shape culture, how to influence, how to make money, how to defend apologetically, how to develop a niche, how to grow readership.

Many voices in the world, the society, the New England elite, and even among Christians and most of the GodBloggers at GodBlogCon, place a lot of value on leadership and accomplishments and success and purpose. The subtext seems to be this: a disdaining of the unambitious and unfocused. You have to publish, or perish. Fits with a traditional institutional or organizational approach to seeing life, and the role of individuals in that framework. It comes with teeth, as if driving an agenda. It can be easily perceived as a battle of right and wrong.

For others in the blogosphere, blogging can be purposeless, distinguished from meaningless. It’s a place for dialogue, exploration, expression, learning, and growing in understanding. Instead of having an answer to dispense and entice others to buy-in through persuasion, blogging is conducive for sharing thoughts and feelings and ideas, questions and doubts and notions that are not yet well-formed and well-defined. This tone fits some emerging church bloggers much better, at least for me. Takes a little more faith, that if we as followers of Christ, would just be, and share our humanity transparently and vulnerably, that normal people can see how Jesus makes a difference in the way we live and behave, without having to always dispense answers. 1 Peter 3:15 is so often misread – the sequence is supposed to be this: if & when they ask, then we can give answers.

I think here’s the opportunity post-GodBlogCon, in the blogosphere, to explore other ways of blogging, beyond the pressures of publish or perish.

And, great to hang out with Bumble of i12know last night, and enjoyed some Vietnamese pho and warm hospitality. (an idea bookmark here to say more about that; [update: Bumble described the encounter here]) Now boarding flight 307 at Gate 2A…