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Thanksgiving

Emily and I spent thanksgiving with our friends Jeremy and Jenn Seifert, their newborn baby Finn, and a couple guys who were neighbors. Here are some photos from the day. It was really nice to be with friends for the day and we ate some really great food. It was a lot of fun to hang out with Finn too, I guess he likes to spread his arms like an eagle something fun to get caught on camera.

I also got an email from Birmingham this week concerning my application and proposal. Ben, the professor who will most likely be overseeing my research emailed me after having read my proposal and said that it looked “very good” and that he can’t imagine me not getting into the program there. This of course is not anything official but still its good news of sorts, and fun to think about. Emily and I have been excited all weekend talking about how we could afford it, what we will do if we go and who might we stay with. We think it would be a lot of fun to try and find Quaker family who would host us for the year, maybe Emily could Aupair for work, and I could find some 5-10 hour a week job in the library or something. Living in England could be a whole lot of fun, and a really great experience for the two of us, but we also like the possibility of staying here in southern california for a couple more years and me working with Ryan for my PhD. Either way we are pretty excited and nervous about the future. These are things to be thankful for, the possibilities, and dreams of people who long to know and be known by Lord and his people.

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A Thought On Relient K

This past friday we spent the evening with our good friends Relient K. They played at the Henry Fonda theatre to a sell out crowd of bloodthirsty teenagers, screaming “I Love you Matt” and similar silhouettes of previous times when young rock n’rollers were seen as gods for the masses. This is not to say that the Matt Thiessen, Matt Hoopes, Dave Douglas, and the Johns see themselves as gods, in fact it is just the opposite, so far as I can tell. Having had the priviledge of being their friend “before” their stardom, I was moved on Friday evening when Emily and I were hanging around with them behind stage and on the bus – just chatting about life, wives, and what’s going on in our neck of the woods. I would be easy to let popularity go to the head, I know I’ve wished I had the opportunity to be a famous filmmaker, or folk singer – only the whisper of popularity and one is energized with an uncanny adrenaline. But for being the makers of two gold albums, which are on their way to platinum, they sure are intentionally trying to maintain a modest and humble persona. And for this they are examples to all people, especially the powerful, megachurches of the world – that see fame as the only way to usher in the kingdom. One almost gets the sense that all this happened accidentally, not because they aren’t good because their music is both moving and well orchestrated, but because of the way they feel about it. There was no sense of “deserving it” or entitlement on that bus last Friday, from this we can star crazy Americans can take our cue, some of our stars are more modest than we.

And has anyone, even their skeptics really thought much about the stuff they sing about? I mean really, they have done well at being innovative, creative, and subversive. They may sound like other bands, every band has its influences, but they are really doing music that hasn’t been done. They are an example for Christians who think the only way to create is to knock something off from the general market. Relient K is no knockoff – in fact their ingenuity is well appreciated from someone who considers himself an skeptic and artist of sorts. I am happy that they can’t be pinned into any label. They are good guys, guys who are trying to live Christ-like in all they do. They struggle, just like all of us, but they also keep returning to the Lord for help and forgiveness. They have an even harder ride, living in front of so many people, crammed up on stage or in a road bus as a full-time job. How would that no be difficult. Yet somehow they have maintained artistry, creativity and Christ-likeness.

I think its great that their music is subverting the kinds of things we normally hear on the radio. The stuff they sing of, and the stuff so many teenagers are singing along with and don’t even know it, is pointing in a completely different direction. For most music, at least the stuff geared for teenagers the direction of music is either toward hopelessness, individualism, anger, drugs, violence or sexual love. In a word they are all pointing toward destruction. Now I am not saying that these lyrics have nothing redeemable in them, I think many do, and I think many songs are telling of what is going on in the minds of America’s younger and quite possibly the old as well. But to be pointed in this direction, is to be pointed away from God and toward self – this is what will never help anything. Relient K’s music, turns the direction right around – pointing teens toward hope, optimism, laughter, and Jesus. Whether implicitly or explicitly they process life, real life with all its ills and screw ups, and move toward a hope that can be found outside ourselves. This is what good art, and music does. It moves outward toward the Creator, from the created, any art that is obsessed with self, will go no further than toward the self and offer no real content for life to be interpreted by. Relient K aids in the interpretation of life, through difficulty and triumph. The fact that I saw 1,500 teens shouting along with Thiessen and the others “No I don’t hate you, Don’t want to fight you…” struck me as both odd and beautiful, these are the words of Jesus. At any other concert these words would survey the violence, pride and hatred that is breed within so much of American media and culture. And for these things I think Relient K is showing the church how to be the church without being either/or. So much of the world wants us to either be a Christian or not a Christian. For them the constant question is whether they are a “Christian Band” or not, for them they have broke the mold of the either/or problem – now its just getting this across to the rest of the Christian world. Let’s show the world who we follow by how we live, or sing, and in that they will know Christ better – they will be pointed toward hope away from self.

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getting back to things

I have taken a bit of a hiatus from the world of blogging, primarily beacuse I have been recovering from writing the Barclay Press entries.

I was asked to review Ryan Bolger’s new book “Emerging Churches” for Barclay Press’s book review in February. I am really excited about this prospect, as I really respect Ryan’s work not only in this area but in the other area’s of academia that he pursues. For those who are unaware I am his teaching assistant this Quarter at Fuller. So not only do I get to know him from what he has written about in his book but have spent time learning from him. I am also in the process of writing a proposal for my PhD application to study with him Fuller, as well as the University of Birmingham (UK).

Emily and I spent sometime at the Huntington Library in Pasadena this weekend. It was a part of us celebrating her birthday which was on November 17, 1980! Huntington is beautiful, the gardens and museums are astounding but I would have to say my favorite part was going to the tea room and drinking tea and eating little savory sandwhiches and other great foods. It was a lot of fun to just do something different. It did cost $15 just to get into the museum (before paying to go to the tea room) and I do think that’s a bit much. Actually I am not so sure its really worth it, unless you are planning to go for the whole day and see everything, otherwise just wait till the one Thursday a month when its free.

It was really nice to celebrate Emily a little, I do feel as though she is an unsung hero around here. She is a very hardworker, very compassionate toward those in need, and has convinctions of a lion. She is always evaluating how we are living, what we eat, how we spend our money, and whether these things are appropriate for followers of Jesus, and point toward the kingdom of God. She has willingly lived in homes that are placed in the city (since we’ve been married) in order to live out the example of Christ in places where most white people are afraid to even drive through. When I tell people that we in the city, they will ask me “how does your wife feel about that” and I with a grin on my face get to say “It was her idea as much as it was mine.” The fact that she chooses to work in the school systems she has, has also proven how huge her heart is and how deep the call of God runs in her. She refuses to take the status quo at face value, instead she questions every aspect of it, and often times subverts it. She truly seeks to live life as one who has been “saved” and is being saved daily. I love the fact that she is stubborn Christ-following Quaker, a feminist, a vegetarian, a pacifist, a prayer, an intellect, a marvolous friend and that she is willing to do things that are culturally not cool (she wears make-up just a couple times a year) like ride bikes to school, drive old used cars (when she could have a nicer one), and shops at secondhand stores all because she takes seriously the call of Jesus. For all these reasons and many more she is a wonderful wife that somehow believes in and loves me. I continue to be challenged by her love and her life, and this is not only cause for celebration but what love and Christianity really should be.

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The leveling of seminary

I just thought of something, seminary has this odd leveling affect for people who are both liberal and conservative according to roles in the household. The standard conservative, patriarchial view on roles is that men support the wives, but the catch 22 of this for conservatives who are married is that if the husband decides to go into the ministry they would go to a seminary that teaches men are the head, the only head, and everything should remain as is – the odd thing is that if these men are full-time in school almost undoubtedly their own wives have to support them with some kind of full-time job. Husbands then have the advantage to find the humility of not being the bread winner, and having to rely on their wives in ways their own culture has told them is distinctly wrong and unbiblical. I love this tragic-irony, or from my perspective theological-humor. God is a divine trickster or jokster after all and loves to shake us up and challenege our human-made ideas. I for one struggled with this concept, even as an out spoken “Jesus following bible-believing feminist.” Its hard to find yourself at the mercy of others, whether it is your husband, wife, friend or foe. And thus the leveling effects of seminary are important in this way.

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a new blog

kevin, emily and I (and others as they want to join) have combined forces to create a new blog that concerns the good, the bad and the ugly in the business world.

for now our title for it is:

The Practice of Business

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Art Walk

A large group of artists, 400 or so, live in an old Brewery in Downtown LA, tonight they had a huge open house party and opened up all their lofts, to show where they live and all the art they do, here are a couple photos from it, the rest are on my flickr site.





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A Common Meal

here is my last link for Barclay Press.

1. A Common Meal for Common People

I almost considered doing a summary on the BP post – but instead I will do it here.

In writing, reflecting, these two weeks about thoughts I realized that much of my focus has been on practices of the church. What we do as people in the church really makes a difference whether for the good or for the bad. If we have the retreatist mentality – we will never change or transform anything. The practices of a person in retreat are self-directed, on the defensive and not usful for Christ. But there are other types of practices that are equally unusful, practices that “stand for nothing” or are not rooted in the person of Christ are also not usful for the Kingdom.

We have the ability to be dogmatic and judgmental pushing people away, we can also be totally non-dogmatic, pull everyone in and have no distinctions between us and them; in this case the church looks like the world. In the first example the church looks like the lady on “trading spouses” insane, afraid and a caricature of itself. Neither are Jesus’ followers – we can’t be either totally exclusivive or totally inclusive but only centered on the person of Christ and how he lived his life. Practices focus on the real-life examples that Christ did, the church can turn many things into practices, practices that not only transform their own people but the world. This was what I meant when I talked about Halloween, telling the truth, the sacrament of birth, and eating common meals together. These are things that can be done by normal people, and find their root in the Gospel. This should be no surprise, for Jesus was for the common people, after all this is who he spent so much of his time with – why are we afraid to do the same? And is it legitimate fear? We can begin growing our faith one practice at a time.

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something is changing

LinkI rode my bike over to the train today – I made it there before it started raining, unfortunately I didn’t make it from the train to the bookstore before it rained – I may need to think about a rainjacket.

But something happened today on the train…I had the opportunity to talk with a hispanic man while we waited for the train and rode it. We just chatted, finding things we held in common and talking about what we do for work, I saw that I really can begin to practice this whole train-riding buisness differently. I didn’t get to read my Ray Anderson book, Judas and Jesus – but hey I think something better happened. Something is changing in the air.

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bike messengers

In another life – I would have gone to college to be a filmaker by night and a bike messenger by day. For now I just get my thrills rocking on my road bike to and from work, but tonight I found a website with some videos of messengers having fun. They are large videos so they take awhile to download but if you are willing to wait then you are in for a treat.

Video One

Video Two

Maybe someday – in another life.

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new BP post.

Here is thursday’s post.

  1. birth

I haven’t had much content to put up here because of time restrictions but I am working on a proposal for the University of Birmingham, I think I want to do my dissertation on Friends’ practices over the years.