Featured The Political The Theological

On Disciples: Forgiving George Bush And/Or the Church

I ran across a website yesterday via Good Magazine called “Forgive George.” It’s not really surprising to see something like this, with the inauguration only a few weeks away, the end of Bush’s presidency is on every one’s mind (there are a number of “tribute” sites to Bush like this). This particular site promotes something we all need to consider: forgiveness. And it’s not just forgiveness towards George W. Bush, but towards anyone in your life who might need forgiveness. The site is very simple, click the radio button that states you will forgive Bush, though you don’t have to, and while you’re at it you can also write in someone else you’d like to forgive.

Blog Entries DIY

Newbie’s Guide to Seminary

Over the course of the last couple years I’ve done a number of posts on tips and tricks with regards to studying, using computers more efficiently, and productivity/organization. It’s not a main focus for my blog, but when I am inspired with an idea and I see a connection to the larger topics of this site then I like to post them. A couple of my favorites are:

  1. Moleskine GTD Hack for Students
  2. The post with loads of tips for the first year seminarian
  3. Thoughts on how to survive rigorous studies
  4. And tips on using Delicious for research

The other day I came across a great blog post by a fellow Fuller classmate, and student from one of the classes I just assisted this past quarter, who wrote the “Newbie’s Guide to Seminary.” His post is great, very thoughtful and reflective and gives seven tips dealing with Sabbath, building community, faith, budgeting, organizing, etc. all while doing studies at Seminary. Another nice thing about his is that it’s really timely as he’s just finished his first quarter at Fuller. Here’s an excerpt:

The task of study can often take precedent over intentionally pursuing a relationship with God. The things of God that could otherwise sharpen our persons, enable us to fall deeper in love with Christ, and better assist those around us instead become objects of analysis and study. As an isolated discipline, study can often leave us dry and forgetful of our calling. During my internship at Wesley I became more and more aware of the necessity for the Spirit’s sustenance. My life’s pace hasn’t changed a whole lot since then, so I’ve continued (though imperfectly) those same practices. Schedules don’t always provide huge chunks of space for weekly spiritual gorges, so being intentional with small moments is important. Life simply isn’t meant to be spent doing but connected to God- the vine and the branch as it were.

Trent from We Are Not Strangers

Blog Entries Church in Mission Convergent Friends

MacIntyre And Church Renewal

Cover of

I came across this Alasdair MacIntyre quote not long ago and thought it was a fitting reflection for the much-discussed topic of church renewal. Part of MacIntyre’s point is to say that if a tradition is to overcome its own crisis of knowing, it will be through the revision of its narrative in light of its current cultural setting, together with its criteria for truth, by the hands of insiders to that tradition. This revision will never be final or complete, but always open-ended and ready for new changes. It seems to me that any account Convergent Friends can offer, or any other renewal movement within denominations (like Fresh Expressions, the Missional movement, the Emerging Church, etc) must always see itself as only “a best account so far.” MacIntyre writes:

When an epistemological crisis is resolved, it is by the construction of a new narrative, which enables the agent to understand both how he or she could intelligibly have held his or her original beliefs and how he or she could have been so drastically misled by them. The narrative is itself made into the subject of an enlarged narrative. The agent has come to understand how the criteria of truth and understanding must be reformulated. He had to become epistemologically self-conscious and at a certain point he may have come to acknowledge two conclusions: the first is that his new forms of understanding may themselves in turn come to be put in question at any time; the second is that, because in such crises the criteria of truth, intelligibility, and rationality may always themselves be put in question — as they are in Hamlet — we are never in a position to claim that now we possess the truth or now we are fully rational. The most we can claim is that this is the best account which anyone has been able to give so far, and that our beliefs about what the marks of “a best account so far” will themselves change in what are at present unpredictable ways. (MacIntyre 1980:56-57)

And elsewhere MacIntyre reflects on the importance that this “remix” of a tradition’s narrative within a new setting will have a fluid interplay with the past:

“For it is central to the conception of such a tradition that the past is never something merely to be discarded, but rather that the preset is intelligible only as a commentary upon and response to the past in which the past, if necessary and if possible, is corrected and transcended, yet corrected and transcended in a way that leaves the present open to being in turn corrected and transcended by some yet more adequate future point of view” (MacIntyre 1984:147).

Where have you personally witnessed these kinds of open-ended interactions taking place in today’s church?

Featured Reviews The Cultural

Guest Post: Matthew Hoopes’ Top 5 Albums of the Year

Since he spends so much time immersed in music, I asked my good friend, and fellow Canton, Ohio native Matthew Hoopes of Relient K to share his top 5 Albums of 2008 with the gathering in light community. This is his first guest post here, and it’s a a pleasure to have him. Here’s what he writes:

Blog Entries Featured

Dress-Down Friday | Happy First Birthday L Edition

This is a “Dress-Down Friday” in honor of our daughter L, who’s celebrating her first birthday today. I can’t believe it has been a year since the arrival of this wonderful gift from God. This past year has been incredible! Over the past year we’ve experienced the meaning of love and family in completely new ways, we’ve laughed our heads off, experienced indescribable tiredness, and have marveled at God’s great work as we watched this baby girl grow before our eyes: see the first twelve weeks here.

Blog Entries

New Gathering In Light: 3rd Edition

Three years ago I bought and started hosting my own website and blog. It was an attempt to establish more of a presence online, work on my writing, and try to make connections with other people interested in the same kinds of questions I am. Over the course of the last few years all these things have happened and a lot more. I’ve had a great time writing on this blog; I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to communicate (and how not to), and best of all I’ve meet loads of wonderful people along the way. It’s amazing how much texture a website can add to ones’ life, the community I consider myself a part of has greatly extending through this site. 

This site has had a number of revisions and stylistic changes, but I have remained fairly on target with writing on issues related to the church in mission, especially as it pertains to church traditions like Quakerism. It’s also been a place to share about my journey as a Christian, student and husband/father. Today I’m pretty excited to announce a “3rd edition” of gathering in light, it was put together by two friends of mine who live in town here. Typenerd did the design and Rupert did the code. Last night we put a lot of the finishing touches on the site, and while we have to iron out a few wrinkles, it’s ready to go. All the featured articles will remain in the middle of the page and be more prominent than in a regular blog and other less prominent posts will show up in the right column of the homepage. I hope you enjoy the new look.

Blog Entries Convergent Friends Quaker

Reclaiming the Power of Primitive Quakerism for the 21st Century

Robin, Martin and I are leading a weekend retreat at the Ben Lomond Quaker Retreat Center this coming February on convergent Friends, we’ve humbly titled, Reclaiming the Power of Primitive Quakerism for the 21st Century. I’m looking forward to taking an entire weekend to focus on building community, worshipping together, and listening (to others and the Holy Spirit), discerning and brainstorming “next steps” for convergent Friends. It’s going to be a lot of fun and I already know of some great people signed up for the weekend, so be sure to check out the details and signup if you’re interested. If you have other questions contact any of us or the Quaker center.

Blog Entries Church in Mission Featured The Theological

Finishing Two Quarters with Everett Cattell

Twilight Cruiser
Image by Midnight-digital via Flickr

This past Friday I dropped my paper in an envelope, paid the $2.63 postage and sent it off to Elkhart, IN at 4 pm, an hour before the deadline. Leaving the post-office, I felt much lighter. Not only was a six-month weight off my shoulders, but the fifty-seven pages that resulted from those six months of work was no longer in my bag. Just like every other student during finals week, I had moments of cold sweat, moments when I was sure I wasn’t going to finish, and other moments when I was sure I was going to die; and just like every other student I was still standing on two feet, with head-high at 5:01pm this Friday (albeit a little worse for wear).

Blog Entries The Technological

The Unlikely Hero of Psalm 85:1-2

St. Florian's psalter, XIV/XV c.
Image via Wikipedia

“LORD, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people; you pardoned all their sin.” (Psalms 85:1-2 NRSV)

Jacob wasn’t exactly a hero in the biblical narrative, at least when you look at even a cursory review of his “adventures” leave him to be a pretty suspect character. He refused to give his hungry brother stew unless he could have Esau’s birthright in exchange (is this the birth of capitalism?), he schemed with his mother Rebekah and then lied directly to Isaac so that he could receive his father’s blessing, and I don’t need to mention (though of course that’s what I’m about to do) the tragic instance that took place with his daughter Dinah.   Yet isn’t it this Jacob whose name is repeatedly invoked in the “God of Abraham,  Isaac, and Jacob”? And of course, Jacob is Israel and the Israelites are God’s people. Jacob is an unlikely hero but he isn’t the only one.