Loving the San Francisco Bay Area... Community development, urban ministry, trying to defeat poverty, faith, religion, politics, good music, the quest for the perfect pizza, the Yankees, motorcycles... All in a 'day's life'

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day

Good memorial day yesterday... Went on a M/C ride with Charles from St. Sam up to Alice's on Skyline and down to the coast. Man - we live in great motorcycle country. Redwoods, Bay vistas, the AWESOME Northern California coast. I love the Harley - but I'm ready for something a little faster - been thinking about the Buell. Still a Harley, but a sportbike.

Come home, took a nap and went with Melissa and Samuel to see the new X-Men movie. Good summer flick - don't have to think too much. Great Memorial day...

This week I'm off to the Congress for the New Urbanism conference in Providence, Rhode Island. The conference is about the redevelopment of urban communities. A generous donor picked up the bill so I'm off to see and learn! I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

New Book by David Moore and Jack Hayford

David Moore, a long time friend and mentor or mine just published a new book on the pentacostal movement. He co-authored it with Jack Hayford. I just read the first chapter - it's a great historical piece on the movement. Get the book here.

Guy Kawasaki's blog

I just added this blog to the links - but wanted you to see it. If you're starting something or talking to potential funders, read his book, "The Art of the Start". Guy's blog is cool also.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

UYWI Weekend

Had a great time at Urban Youthworker's Institute last weekend. Larry Acosta and his crew continue to do a fabulous job at what I believe is the premier conference for those working in urban communities. Read about the conference here. Had a great time hanging with Rudy Currasco, Jeremy Del Rio, John Perkins and others. It's always like a family reunion when we go to the conference. A group from St. Samuel came also including Pastor and First Lady Bains. I had a chance to teach a workshop called, "Start Something! The Art of Bringing Your Dreams to Reality" based on my life experiences and informed by a great book by Guy Kawasaki. Amy Kushner from BCM helped me teach the class.

I went down early to have a discussion with a group of 'young' leaders from the Christian Community Development Association. CCDA is the organization founded by John Perkins and others to create a network of folks doing holistic urban ministry. We had an excellent conversation about the future of the organization and some of the challenges facing folks doing urban work in our 'season'. It was a blast to again be with Dr. Perkins for an extended time. A major part of our discussion focused on the concept of 'relocation' (living in the community you minister to) and how it relates to gentrification. I'm thinking a ton on these issues - more thought to come. Thanks to Noel for pulling the meeting together.

On Saturday Samuel flew down with one of the BCM staff. It was great having him around since many times when I go to stuff like this I have to leave him at home. He had a blast - slept all the way home. He LOVES Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. We had the chance to stop by on the way home (my second trip for the conference.) Also - since the YWAM base is right off the 210 freeway we stopped by to show him where I met Melissa. He got a kick seeing the place where I once 'stole' a kiss!

Great trip, good times...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

New Resource by Rudy from Harambee

Check out the book here.

Unique Day Yesterday

Yesterday was my last day working for Bayshore Christian Ministries. It started out very appropriately by having breakfast with Kimberly Marsheck (Li) who I worked with for about 4 and 1/2 of the almost 6 years at BCM. Kimberly was key to helping me transition into the organization. Last Thursday they had a lunch for me. It was great to see old teammates like Susan Martin, Steve Joh, Ben Rodriguez and others.

I had to stop at the end of the BCM driveway for a moment and thank God for allowing me to serve BCM for the last season. It seems like ages ago I was at Youth For Christ in Modesto. I appreciate Andy Hartwell for allowing me to serve. I clearly remember the early September day I drove in from Modesto to start work at BCM. I remember how different EPA was from Modesto, LA, NYC, Tijuana and the other cities I know. I remember how intimidated I was by the BCM staff, they all are so educated, passionate and committed to the cause. As I reflected I also thought of the unique transition moments I've experienced - when I was 18 years old, sitting on the bus from Dallas to Tyler, Texas for my school with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). When Melissa and I were newly married and driving down to the YWAM location in Tijuana to live. When Samuel was a baby and moving to Escalon, CA to work with Joe and Brian at Stepping Stones Christian Fellowship. All of these times proved to be important and key transitions.

Now, looking ahead to NCUDC and serving at St. Samuel. Wow - it's not been easy - but also it's not been boring. I really can't ask for more.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Brian McLaren's Thoughts on the Da Vinci Code

From a Sojourners e-mail blast. Interesting...

Brian McLaren on The Da Vinci Code
An interview by Lisa Ann Cockrel

With The Da Vinci Code poised to go from bestseller list to the big screen on May 19, pastor and writer (and Sojourners board member) Brian McLaren talks about why he thinks there's truth in the controversial book's fiction.

What do you think the popularity of The Da Vinci Code reveals about pop culture attitudes toward Christianity and the church?

Brian McLaren: I think a lot of people have read the book, not just as a popular page-turner but also as an experience in shared frustration with status-quo, male-dominated, power-oriented, cover-up-prone organized Christian religion. We need to ask ourselves why the vision of Jesus hinted at in Dan Brown's book is more interesting, attractive, and intriguing to these people than the standard vision of Jesus they hear about in church. Why would so many people be disappointed to find that Brown's version of Jesus has been largely discredited as fanciful and inaccurate, leaving only the church's conventional version? Is it possible that, even though Brown's fictional version misleads in many ways, it at least serves to open up the possibility that the church's conventional version of Jesus may not do him justice?

So you think The Da Vinci Code taps into dissatisfaction with Jesus as we know him?

McLaren: For all the flaws of Brown's book, I think what he's doing is suggesting that the dominant religious institutions have created their own caricature of Jesus. And I think people have a sense that that's true. It's my honest feeling that anyone trying to share their faith in America today has to realize that the Religious Right has polluted the air. The name "Jesus" and the word "Christianity" are associated with something judgmental, hostile, hypocritical, angry, negative, defensive, anti-homosexual, etc. Many of our churches, even though they feel they represent the truth, actually are upholding something that's distorted and false.

I also think that the whole issue of male domination is huge and that Brown's suggestion that the real Jesus was not as misogynist or anti-woman as the Christian religion often has been is very attractive. Brown's book is about exposing hypocrisy and cover-up in organized religion, and it is exposing organized religion's grasping for power. Again, there's something in that that people resonate with in the age of pedophilia scandals, televangelists, and religious political alliances. As a follower of Jesus I resonate with their concerns as well.

Do you think the book contains any significantly detrimental distortions of the Christian faith?

McLaren: The book is fiction and it's filled with a lot of fiction about a lot of things that a lot of people have already debunked. But frankly, I don't think it has more harmful ideas in it than the Left Behind novels. And in a certain way, what the Left Behind novels do, the way they twist scripture toward a certain theological and political end, I think Brown is twisting scripture, just to other political ends. But at the end of the day, the difference is I don't think Brown really cares that much about theology. He just wanted to write a page-turner and he was very successful at that.

Many Christians are also reading this book and it's rocking their preconceived notions - or lack of preconceived notions - about Christ's life and the early years of the church. So many people don't know how we got the canon, for example. Should this book be a clarion call to the church to say, "Hey, we need to have a body of believers who are much more literate in church history." Is that something the church needs to be thinking about more strategically?

McLaren: Yes! You're exactly right. One of the problems is that the average Christian in the average church who listens to the average Christian broadcasting has such an oversimplified understanding of both the Bible and of church history - it would be deeply disturbing for them to really learn about church history. I think the disturbing would do them good. But a lot of times education is disturbing for people. And so if The Da Vinci Code causes people to ask questions and Christians have to dig deeper, that's a great thing, a great opportunity for growth. And it does show a weakness in the church giving either no understanding of church history or a very stilted, one-sided, sugarcoated version.

On the other hand, it's important for me to say I don't think anyone can learn good church history from Brown. There's been a lot of debunking of what he calls facts. But again, the guy's writing fiction so nobody should be surprised about that. The sad thing is there's an awful lot of us who claim to be telling objective truth and we actually have our own propaganda and our own versions of history as well.

Let me mention one other thing about Brown's book that I think is appealing to people. The church goes through a pendulum swing at times from overemphasizing the deity of Christ to overemphasizing the humanity of Christ. So a book like Brown's that overemphasizes the humanity of Christ can be a mirror to us saying that we might be underemphasizing the humanity of Christ.

In light of The Da Vinci Code movie that is soon to be released, how do you hope churches will engage this story?

McLaren: I would like to see churches teach their people how to have intelligent dialogue that doesn't degenerate into argument. We have to teach people that the Holy Spirit works in the middle of conversation. We see it time and time again - Jesus enters into dialogue with people; Paul and Peter and the apostles enter into dialogue with people. We tend to think that the Holy Spirit can only work in the middle of a monologue where we are doing the speaking.

So if our churches can encourage people to, if you see someone reading the book or you know someone who's gone to the movie, say, "What do you think about Jesus and what do you think about this or that," and to ask questions instead of getting into arguments, that would be wonderful. The more we can keep conversations open and going the more chances we give the Holy Spirit to work. But too often people want to get into an argument right away. And, you know, Jesus has handled 2,000 years of questions, skepticism, and attacks, and he's gonna come through just fine. So we don't have to be worried.

Ultimately, The Da Vinci Code is telling us important things about the image of Jesus that is being portrayed by the dominant Christian voices. [Readers] don't find that satisfactory, genuine, or authentic, so they're looking for something that seems more real and authentic.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

WWJD - What Would Jay-Z Do?

WWJD - What Would Jay-Z Do? A commentary of christianity and youth culture. Read it here.