Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Pop Culture Christian Books

I just must take a moment to reflectively vent some feelings about the genre of pop culture, Christian, non-fiction books out there in Christian Family Bookstore Land. I have come to the sad conclusion that on any given topic ... they are pretty much all repeats of themselves with the Evangelical culture of writing. Take books on leadership, for example. Once you've read one by Robert Clinton, one by Malphers and one by (fill in the blank yourself), you've pretty much read them all! Nothing new is being said out there in "modernity land" on leadership and yet the new titles just keep pumping out.

I was on track to take a leadership course this fall that is a core required class for a graduate level program that I have starte. 17 pop culture books are on the required reading list and they all are authored by the same gender and ethnicity person (I'll let you fill in the specifics) and they all say the same thing! Even the reviews on Amazon make note of the repetition specifically between these authors. Are Christians so gullible that they don't notice that they are reading the same stuff!

I'm noticing the same thing now among the postmodern evangelicals ... lots of repeat of ideas and everyone getting in on the popularity ride! I wonder if God feels like I do when having to thumb through this stuff for the upteenth time ... like eating at Taco Bell every night for six months! GAG!

I think it's time for a new line of "Christian Bookstores" to emerge that will offer some diversity for the postmodern, gender and ethnically diverse, theologically diverse reader! The C.F.B.L. (see above) needs a little competition! :-)

Fresh Readings of The Old, Old Story

Reading the Bible with the Damned by Bob Ekblad is an example of how a communicator of the Word and Grace can bring a fresh new reading of the biblical narrative to those who feel left out. He starts with Genesis 1:1-2 and illustrates how fresh and hopeful these simple but profound two verses can be to those who are imprisoned, to those who are trapped in our too often unfair and unjust cultural systems or to anyone who finds themselves in the midst of chaos in life.

This book combines a scholarly working of selected Biblical texts with a raw and honest recording of voices from the depth of society's margins. Published in 2005, it couldn't speak in a more timely fashion to the current immigration discussion.

I highly recommend this book for those wanting to hear, see, taste, smell and feel what empassioned ministry to the marginalized is all about. Hearing Bob's voice has pushed me one step close to writing that book that is lurking somewhere in my heart to write.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Blogging - Postmodern Spiritual Formation

I've just spent several hours clicking and cross-linking in the Blog world! It's amazing! People are using this method to communicate about EVERYTHING! To underscore their importance in Christiandom, I just read an article on a Blog site that gave credit to 'blogging' as the major reason for a more moderate person having been elected as President of the Southern Baptist Conf. vs. a usual hardline conservative!

The Blog sites are endless and can be very 'addicting!' One can get caught up in reading from site to site for quite a while.I must admit ... I like them! Of course, why else would I have one! Being in contact with people from around the globe and being able to engage in conversations of similar interests is really cool. Some Blogs are like reading people's daily journals, others are like notepads that are open for different people to contribute, etc.

A new Blog site on which I am participating is It's just been up for a month or so and already many women have joined a lively discussion on all sorts of topics. Many have posted a short autobiography of themselves, which is always fascinating and helps to personalize our Blog conversation.

Relationships through the internet ... I wonder how this will ultimately reform and transform Christian evangelism of this next century? I can only imagine ...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Women of Azusa Street

It's the 100th celebration of the Azusa Street Revival that birthed the Pentacostal Revival which has now touched the lives of over 500 million people worldwide. For anyone, especially young women, looking to be inspired by stories of awesome women who led as pastors, evangelists, prophets, apostles and missionaries...this is a must read! Author Estrelda Alexander has done a wonderful job of recapturing history and preserving women's stories for us to admire.

Women's voices and actions have always been part of God's Action in Spirit. This book testifies to the need (and real possibility) for women and men of all ethnicities to encourage each other and work together in all ministry offices for the miraculous spreading of the Gospel. This text must be read by Christian women of the 21st Century. We need to know and hear about feminine role models, such as these women, who the Lord has used without bias to heal the sick, bind up the brokenhearted, set captives free and to proclaim the Good News of the risen Redeemer.

Put it on your gift list for friends!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Generous Orthodoxy

I consider the Christian community of faith, to which I contribute as a pastor, to be an emerging, postmodern church. We call ourselves Generations Quest.

What makes our faith community emergent? What makes it postmodern? I am asked these two questions frequently and giving an answer to either one isn't always easy especially since I cannot lead them to denominational website for all the usual checked boxes of information! But this book, a Generous Orthodoxy published in 2004 by Brian McClaren, is definitely a resource that I point people to if they are interested in reading a thoughtful presentation of the emerging conversation in our postmodern culture. McClaren takes his readers through various conversations that take on traditionally polar orthodoxies of Christianity: e.g. liberal/conservative, charismatic/contemplative, calvinist/anglican and suggests these various viewpoints may not need to polarize, but each supplies something of value to the maturing Christian community. The final chapter is an excellent summary of why McClaren identifies himself as emergent.

As a result of reading a Generous Orthodoxy, my current understanding of the newly surfacing conversation among Christians called 'emergent' is: the 'emerging' conversation defines a particular theological conversation taking place among groups of Christian people who acknowledge the unstoppable influence that a postmodern culture shift is having globally on people of the 21st century and how this in turn influences our Christian witness and conversation with our neighbors and each other.

I recommend this book to those who want to engage in the 'emerging' Christian conversation, for the first time or in the context of continuing education on the subject.

It's especially great that an orthodoxy is emerging from conversations ... now that's something we women can hook-up with! CONVERSATIONS ... WE'RE ALL ABOUT IT!


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Mary of Magdala

This woman has created quite a stir ... in the 21st Century! I find that a little humorous considering that there has routinely been such a concerted effort to marginalize women. Seems like this makes a good case for the power of voices being heard even from the margins of society! That being said ...

At this month's Kavura in Va Beach, I think Mary of Magdala will love being part of our conversation! She is certainly a fabulous disciple, the famous first witness to the resurrection in all four Gospels, mentioned as one of the women 'of means' who supported Jesus' traveling ministry, and often confused with at least six other Mary's recorded in the NT text.

Considering she was the very first witness, no doubt about that from all four Gospel writers, isn't it interesting that Paul leaves her out of the line-up when he mentions those that bore witness to the resurrection, making mention of even the order and still leaving her out! "Paul, how could you?" :-) It definitely bears credence to the fact that a woman's testimony in his culture bore no value or credibility, at least in the official court system.

Mary, being given the honor of being the first witness, was no fluke! So, what was God's Purpose in Divinely orchestrating her role as a legitimate disciple? Talk about a "Purpose Driven Life" ... way to go, Mary!

Is the 21st century woman's voice/testimony still struggling to be heard? How many women feel they still need someone's "covering", "permission", or "validation" in order to be prophetically heard in the Christian community of faith? Who's permission did Mary have? Do we need more than Mary had?