Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thank You...

(in no particular order)


...Jesus for loving me even though you know me.


...God for being an artist who creates beautiful masterpieces even in lives that look hopeless.


...Kent Curry for tirelessly dedicating yourself to a ministry where nobody pays you, and everyone gripes at you for something, and for being a good friend and a great editor.


...Mom and Dad for believing in me even more than I believe in myself and for loving me so much.


...Denelle and Ron for being faithful and having plenty of posts when my creative well runs dry (as it so frequently does).


...Dr. James Littles for teaching me so much through lectures and example.


...Dr. James and Steven Beadsley for opening up your lives to me.


...Pastor Abraham lavoi for giving me a church where I can be me (as scary as that is!).


...everyone who reads these blog posts and my articles at 90 & 9 even when my writing is not the best.


I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


josh r

Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper's Lost Tool Bag, Small Remainder Of Alphabet Unused By Name, Visible From Space

By now the chances are you've been at least a latecoming specator to this:

Now it looks like the astronomically vicarious can actually see the bag floating in orbit:

Last week astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper lost her toolbag during a repair mission on the International Space Station (ISS) as she became the first woman to lead a space walk.

Nasa officials had expected the bag to burn up on reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Instead it has been stuck in orbit. And for the rest of this month and into the first days of December the bag should be visible, although it will look like a tiny and faint star.

Not sure if I'm actually going to venture this one myself, as I always seem to miscalculate the arrival of things far bigger. But if you do, make sure you at least have a wonderbar pair of binoculars.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

UN Celebrates Israel's Upcoming Birthday

By calling for their destruction:

NEW YORK - The President of the UN General Assembly has launched an unprecedented attack on a UN member state from the Assembly podium. Going beyond even existing UN resolutions, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua accused Israel of apartheid and called for "a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions" against it. Reminiscent of a classic antisemitic slur, Brockmann (himself a Roman Catholic priest and one-time official of the World Council of Churches) also claimed our Palestinian "brothers and sisters are being crucified" by Israel.

These remarks, made yesterday, underscore a biblical principle that may play itself out very soon ("I will bless those that bless Israel"). If America joins the rest of the haters diplomatically, then the jig is up for us. I fear that the only thread preventing America's plummet into the raging antimsemitic chasm--and ultimately our demise-- is about to be cut.


Monday, November 24, 2008

The Coming Economic Monolith

Usually, I'd dilute this kind of news with the following joke:

"Economists have predicted ten out of the last three recessions."

But this guy's really, really sure of himself when he says all financials will be owned by the government within a year:

It's not preferable, but all major U.S. financial companies will eventually be under government control because the alternative is so much worse, Hugh Hendry, chief investment officer at hedge fund Eclectica Asset Management, said Friday.

"All financials will be owned by the U.S. government in a year," Hendry said. "I bet you."

Nationalizations take dramatic losses from the private sector and places them on the larger balance sheet of the public sector, he said.

"It's not good," but society is vulnerable and society is going to have to intervene, Hendry said.

And when smart guys with hair that sticks up all over make these kinds of pronouncements, I tend to take notice. Not a good thing. At. all.

Video of Mr. Hendry's full comments can be viewed here.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Burmese Comic Jailed For 45 Years

And all for poking a verbal stick in the government's war wound:

A popular comedian active in Burma's democracy movement has been sentenced to 45 years in jail by a Burmese court.

Zarganar was found to have violated the Electronics Act, which regulates electronic communications. He is the latest in a string of opposition activists to be given long jail terms by the military government.

He was detained earlier this year for criticising the government's slow response to Cyclone Nargis in interviews with foreign news groups.

I love the way "democracy" makes it into the descriptive abstract. Anyway, be thankful we don't live under a system that decides to regulate critique of our leaders. At least, not yet. Although, I do believe some in the next congressional session are considering this legislative action, which is suitably named with the same, rope-a-dope glibness that'll fly by those with a Larry King-like grip on the Bill of Rights*. (To his credit, Mr. Obama has lightly opposed this proposal).

And besides, we don't jail our comedians. We incarcerate ourselves by electing them to Minnesota governmental offices.

*In the 1990's, Larry King was debating a potential resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine, under the argument "I don't see how anyone can oppose fairness." Sort of like erasing the thirteenth amendment and calling it "Civil Rights Legislation.

Happy Hour Moratorium In Britain

Most will simply and reflexively turf this off for what it is: the nanny state doing its dead-level best to au pair the populace into sobriety:

Ministers are set to ban happy hours in pubs and clubs as part of a crackdown on binge drinking, it was claimed today.

A new Code of Conduct will outlaw promotions that encourage drinking at speed and in large quantities, it was reported.

It follows long-term concern about the costs of alcohol misuse, estimated to run to up to £25 billion a year.

Sadly, all the presumed civil-libertarian barristers that are likely to converge for epic legal struggles for inebriated Helms Deep are likely to pass on the cause while defending the symptoms. That being, that binge-drinking and excesses of consciousness-altering stem from the spiritual vacancies a nanny-state naturally cultivates, as one's needs and hopes are fulfilled by something other than the One who asks us to trust him as our Father. Centuries of humanistically-hatched chickens are coming home to roost.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Bridging the Gap


As a theologian, I believe that science and the Bible do not have to be at war .  I believe that both reveal truth, and that all truth ultimately comes from God.  So I was thrilled to read this article about a scientist proudly and publically declaring the same thing.  In the interview, Karl W. Giberson does a good job of avoiding landmines on either side of the battlefield.  He insists that many Christians read Genesis in a way that "robs it of everything that is interesting."  On the other hand, he refuses to give up his faith in God.  "You're stepping off the page of science," the interviewer says refering to his tenacious faith.   "Absolutely," Giberson agrees with no qualms whatsoever.  Let's just hope that in trying to find a middle way, Giberson doesn't get caught in a crossfire.


josh r

E Harmony Now E Dissonant

Thousands of dating and personals sites, of every stripe, creed, affiliation, catering to every conceivable turn, fetish, lust and perversion. Not good enough for some, apparently.

Nope. Why ski the alps of Sodom, when Canaan's ski park is so . . . packed with powder?

Online dating service eHarmony has agreed to create a new Web site — "Compatible Partners" — for gay and lesbian users, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General announced.

Created as part of a settlement with Eric McKinley, a gay man from New Jersey, theWeb site will provide services for users seeking same-sex partners by March 31, New Jersey Division on Civil Rights Director J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo said.

eHarmony, which was founded by Dr. Neil Clark Warren in 2000, said the settlement was triggered by a Law Against Discrimination complaint filed by McKinley against the online service on March 14, 2005. As part of the agreement, eHarmony will pay McKinley $5,000 and will provide him a one-year complimentary membership.

Assuming the role of prognisticator for a moment, one can reasonably assume that any residual absoluteness of convictions will ultimately result in the business' demise, as the moral basis on which the site was predicated will hopefully trump any peanance-linked need to aid and abet the promulgation of such things. I feel for Mr. Warren, who has who-knows-how-many people under his employ--as he reels from a decision as rabidly perverse as what he's being forced to allow. But something tells me a few sleepless nights about this could change the business trajectory--especially after he writes a $5,000 check to a man that could have googled "gay" and found a million sites a million theological miles from without ever having to hire a lawyer to do it.

Something also tells me that any attempt to make a silent and seamless transition into an "inclusive" site will simply drive away nearly all the primary clientele, simply making them bad at marketing the remaining sedimentary ruin already mastered by the other 99% of hookup sites, ultimately ruining them anyway. Shut it down and call it a day. Lot didn't turn over the angels in his house, and neither should Mr. Warren.

Credit Where Credit is Due Department

While there are legitimate fears that a Democratic controlled Congress will begin shoving seriously off-balance legislation and judges onto the American people once the Obama presidency begins, let’s pause and give them some credit.
The Big 3 automakers came via private jet, pretending it was hat in hand, begging for a $25 billion bailout, and the Democrats said, “Sorry, ya need a plan first before we’re going to be spend with the taxpayer’s money like this.”

This is the same response they gave Secretary of the Treasurer Henry Paulson when he determined $700 billion would save the economy, but didn’t have a plan.

In stark contrast to the Republican (supposedly conservative) Congress that approved every crazy spending motion made by the pre-9/11 White House from the (supposedly fiscal conservative) President, they are insisting on accountability during desperate times. Let’s give them some props for their maturity in crisis.

Let’s pray that it continues because there’s a lot of big decisions to be made in our near future.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thomas Kinkade: Pop Culture Icon? Not So Much

In a bid to expand his artistic influence, Thomas Kinkade has recently forayed into the medium of cinema with his upcoming release Home for Christmas .  Kinkade is well known for his dramatic use of light in creating idyllic paintings.  His techniques produce a dramatic effect in oil on canvas, and he is hoping to carry that effect into film.  To do so he gave his staff a list of Sixteen Guidelines for Creating "The Thomas Kinkade Look." 


Unfortunately, his Sixteen Guidelines added up to a direct-to-DVD release.  The movie appears to be targeted only at Kinkade's fans and not the wider culture according to a statement from Lion's Gate, the film's production company.  Good thing too, because those writing for and representing American pop culture seem to be less than whelmed.  Kinkade's fans are the only ones likely to be enjoying this particular cinematic masterpiece.


The complaints against AP art apply equally well in the larger Evangelical realm.  But so do the solutions.  If we want more respected artists, we need more APs (Evangelicals, Christians) dedicated to putting in the hard work necessary to create quality art.  We need more APs (Evangelicals, Christians) who see creating art as a form of worship to God.  And we need more APs who desire to create something new and beautiful instead of trying to imitate and "clean up" something "worldly."  Until this is the case, we will continue to see movies on the level of Home for Christmas representing the peak of Christian film  making.


josh r

Al Franken To Vindicate Zeigler And Zogby?

Even I, someone who continually fights to rise above my own inherent cynical vortexes, could not have believed that this was possible. I was even holding out a faint hope that John Zogby's scientific polling was a statistical aberration--that people leaving the voting booths could not identify Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, or even draw a contemporary relational arc to William Ayers--even when presented with the names beforehand. But they could instantly tell you by name, which candidate wore a $150,000 dress, has a pregnant teenage daughter, and got herself kicked off of Team Feminism by allowing her downs baby to take up space on the Terra Firma.

Nope. I wanted to disbelieve the notion that our country is so historically illiterate. I really did.

I was also hoping there was a civic-minded disconnect between those that believe Al Franken borrows his comedic timing from some acerbic, Dionysian muse and those he believes to be his solid constituents. Well, apparently not.

For those not tuned into the balance of power struggle in Minnesota, it comes down to this. Republican Norm Coleman leads former Saturday Night Live alum Al Franken by 215 votes. The gap was much larger for Coleman, until ballots supposedly left unattended overnight in a poll-worker's car magically helped reduce this unjust chasm.

So now, the tally certified, a recount has ensued. Okay, that's natural, right? Right. It's not the recount or even the razor-thin margins in the ballot process that feed the monster I mentioned above. It's the Franken campaign's absolute assuredness that idiots and dullards will tip the balance for him. Take a look at who his attorney, Bill Starr, puts into these categories:

"People who voted for Coleman are more likely to have taken the SAT in their lifetime," he said. "They've filled in circles. Franken voters are probably not college-educated. They're new voters and immigrants. They've been brought in by groups like ACORN, from the inner cities. They're more likely to make mistakes. I've bounced this off of minority people, and they agree with me."
Put aside for a moment the sheer lunacy of this assessment for a moment, and just do a transposition for a moment. If Coleman's lawyer had made a statement like this, the Minnesota Supreme Court would declare the statement a rhetorical hate crime and hand Franken the vote by default.

Like I said, I wanted to see the sunny side. We'll see.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Israel On Deck To Deal With Iran

Not to overplay this theme here, but the UN should be all worked up in a lather very shortly as Israel, whose non-4th Century mentality enrages their neighbors, get ready to engage in that most abominable of endeavors: Self preservation:

"We are ready to do whatever is demanded of us" in order to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, IAF commander Maj. -Gen. Ido Nehushtan told German magazineDer Spiegel in an interview published Tuesday.

Nehushtan told the magazine that whether a military strike is eventually decided upon is a political question and not an issue of Israel's military capabilities.

That last part could either be a reference to politics on the home front, and the related arguments about timetables and semantics. Or, it could simply mean that Iran will find themselves in a developmental quagmire sometime before January 2oth, when the new Oval Office may be far more disinclined to see any military action as anything other than antagonistic.

Either way, one should expect boiling condemnation from Turtle Bay.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Desire for God Creates Civilization

For years archaeologists have worked with the idea that the domestication of plants and animals such as wheat and sheep allowed humans to begin constructing and settling in cities.  Humanity moved from a hunter-gatherer society to an agricultural society giving birth to cities and civilization.  A find currently being explored suggests it was the other way around. 

Gobekli Tepe


Klaus Schmidt, a German archaeologist exploring Gobekli Tepe has found what appears to be the world's oldest temple in southeastern Turkey.  But curiously, there is no evidence of a permanent settlement at the site.  Everything points to a hunter-gatherer society constructing this temple, even though it consists of massive pillars and huge megaliths weighing many tons each.  To support such a large construction project the hunter-gatherers would have had to stick around for a while and learn how to live in one place.  The domestication of wild sheep and wheat in the area would have this easier.  So it was the construction of a temple and a city that lead to agriculture instead of vice versa. 

Gobekli Tepe


But this was not just a desire to build something big.  It was a desire to build a temple--an early attempt to connect with God that lead this early society to change their very way of life.  Carvings on the megaliths, which date to around 9,000 B.C., are of animals such as lions, scorpions, spiders, and vultures.  The nature of the animals possibly points to a desire for a powerful and mystical God (or more likely gods) with the ability to defend against the constantly-threatening forces of chaos.  Whether or not they actually did connect with God, it was their desire to do so that gave birth to civilization.


Although culture has changed dramatically in 11,000 years, the desire that produced civilization still exists.  Ours is a predominantly secular culture looking to science and technology for protection from the forces of chaos.  But science and technology have fallen short of providing the spiritual connection that every human being yearns for.  That connection, however, is available through Jesus Christ, and those who know Him should be examples of hope in the midst of a threatening and chaotic world.  If those who were seeking God created civilization, how much more should those who are in relationship with Him be creating culture today?


(photos are from a photo gallery at the article linked above)


Josh R

Sunday, November 16, 2008

60 Minutes Interview With Obama

Presidential candidates give very few specifics in campaigns. Just the way it goes. The idea is, is that sufficient ideological vetting is performed prior to an election. This time around, we are finally getting some specifics from the new President-elect; in a slightly-lengthy interview done by CBS' Steve Kroft. Worth reading if you'd like to triangulate our upcoming leader's vision for the country. Particularly notable is this:

Kroft: There's been talk on Capitol Hill and a number of Democratic congressmen have proposed programs that are part of sort of a new New Deal. The possibility of reviving agencies like the Home Ownership Loan Corporation.

Mr. Obama: Two points I'd make on this. Number one, although there are some parallels to the problems that we're seeing now and what we say back in the '30s, no period is exactly the same. For us to simply recreate what existed back in the '30s in the 21st century, I think would be missing the boat. We've gotta come up with solutions that are true to our times and true to this moment. And that's gonna be our job.

I think the basic principle that government has a role to play in kick starting an economy that has ground to a halt is sound. I think our basic principle that this is a free market system and that that has worked for us, that it creates innovation and risk taking, I think that's a principle that we've gotta hold to as well. But what I don't wanna do is get bottled up in a lot of ideology and is this conservative or liberal. My interest is finding something that works.

And whether it's coming from FDR or it's coming from Ronald Reagan, if the idea is right for the times then we're gonna apply it. And things that don't work we're gonna get rid of.


China Continues To Confuse Many

I remember when our American spy plane was intercepted in China, setting off what looked like it could become a standoff. We eventually negotiated the return of people and things, but not without the oddest of stories returning with our pilots. The one that sticks out in my mind the most is the story of our pilots being interrogated about everything including Eagles music--particularly the lyrics to Hotel California.

Me? I thought it was the execption to the rule with regard to the Chinese government. But behold, a new law that threatens the very core of Guitar Hero's inertia:

Miming at live performances could be banned from next year, China's ministry of culture has announced.Singers who lip-synch or musicians who pretend to play their instruments twice or more in a two-year period, face having their business licences revoked.

Only professional performers will be covered, which will presumably mean the country's most celebrated case of faking it - at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics - would be exempt.

Granted. We did force the world to contend with Milli Vanilli before we came to our senses. But man. I just don't get the whole riff.


Sleep With The Devil . . .

I was never Bill Clinton's biggest fan during the nineties, but I did manage to admire him on a few counts. One of which was his refusal to commit to anything other than a symbolic assent to the appalling Kyoto Treaty--a treaty that basically said the United Nations could dictate environmental policy. And by that I mean the environmental policies of nations that feed the rest of the nations who get to dictate environmental policy.

I remember the cacophonous screeching that ensued shortly after the senate ensured it was a non-binding action. But even Bill Clinton understood the free markets enough to know that the UN was more concerned with killing Jews that to really grapple with an understanding that perhaps the countries that feed their tin-horn dictatorships should perhaps be allowed to pollute more than others.

Still, this didn't stop others, Europe and Japan included--from indexing their checkbooks to the whims of that giant hotbed of anti-semic enono-ignorance. And now it's come home to roost:

Twenty nations including Japan, Italy and Australia may be releasing more greenhouse-gas pollution than they agreed to under the Kyoto treaty to curb global warming.

They're failing to rein in carbon-dioxide output enough to meet their pledges signed in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, according to reports by individual countries. As a penalty for missing their goals under the treaty, the nations are required to buy permits for every excess ton of the heat-trapping gas released through 2012. That will total 2.3 billion permits for 20 nations, New Carbon Finance, a research firm in London, has estimated.

Does this sound familiar? Such as in the recently-floated "carbon offsets"--a sort of ecological shell game championed by Al Gore that basically says that you can pay someone else to not pollute as much in order to accommodate your private jet emissions accrued during private screenings of An Inconvenient Truth. The price tag for their recalcitrance? 46 Billion. To. The. UN.

If I remember correctly, Martin Luther hammered his parchment to the door of an equally-corrupt organization, objecting to the exact same thing: Indulgences.

Besides, I doubt the UN will be concerned with environmental impact studies when Ahmendinejad detonates a dirty bomb at the Dome of the Rock.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Officers Also Think The Suspect May Be Involved With The Fannie Mae Bailout

All I'm going to say is this: This man represents a larger block of the nation than it appears:

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - A 31-year-old Veradale man was arrested Sunday night after he purchased an $11 hammer and used it to steal a $9 bottle of wine.
His residual costs after the matter? 300 dollars. A windfall profit in his ledger, I assume.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Final Symposium Thoughts (Chantell's Version)

I was not as fantastic of a liveblogger as I'd hoped, either, Josh. Don't feel too badly. It happens to the best of us. I had this vision of myself as a roving reporter, updating every hour on the hour, and getting exclusive interviews with the best and brightest of our movement, but alas, it wasn't to be.

I will share a few pictures from Day Two but before I do . . . it's time for a Top Ten.

Top Ten Things I Learned at UGST Symposium

10. The Septuagint is not a seven-member band.

9. Having a life-changing experience? Good. Trying to exegete it? Not so good.

8. The Gateway Chapel's stained glass windows are resplendent to the eye, but the pews are punishing to the derrière.

7. The trajectory of a sermon in the African-American tradtion: "Help him, Lord"-->"Come on, now"-->"Amen"-->"Yes, sir!"-->"Glory, hallelujah!"

6. Distinguishing "orality" from "aurality" can be a tongue twister.

5. Karl Barth = the ghost of Hamlet's father. Not there, but stirring things up.

4. The KJV isn't the version Jesus used.

3. Old: "Charismatic" New: "Emerging Church"

2. When writing a response paper, it's standard to refer to the author of the original paper by his last name. It's even more fun when said last name has an inherently accusatory ring to it.

1. Yes We Can because I AM!

And now, the pics . . .

Terry Vik as Elijah. Orality is not just about reading texts out loud as they were during biblical times. It's about making the Word come alive.

Bishop Moore speaking on unity among the brethren. The most awesome line from his sermon: "Unity is embodied in truth."

Mike Hall, Patrick Dotson and Jeff Brickle on a panel concerning orality in the Book of Revelation. (Whatever you do, never say "Revelations" in Bro. Brickle's presence!)

Laura Jurek, Betsy Hoffman and Meg Harrington also presenting on orality in Revelation. And I must say that Meg's powerpoint presentation was first rate!

Nate Binion leading worship during the "Standing Together for Truth" service at the World Evangelism Center. I must say that this service was the height of the symposium. It was so beautiful to see people of a variety of cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds rally together around their common Oneness Apostolic faith.

Jared Runck (or, in this instance, simply "Runck") presenting his paper on Orality, Performance and Media.

God is good. I had a wonderful time meeting new people, catching up with friends, and learning more about God's Word. It's so refreshing to have a place to discuss issues openly without fear of judgment. It gives me hope that our movement is going in a postive direction. When I am able to be a part of something like this, I feel that I've found a community where I am welcomed and challenged. And that is nothing less than a godsend for me.

Final Symposium Thoughts

OK, so I'm a lousy live blogger, but I did want to fill you in on the Symposium finale.  Throughout the Symposium there was a track looking at the orality of the Scriptures.  The Bible was written in an oral culture so whenever it was read it was out loud.  People experienced the Scriptures by hearing them.  There were several papers presented detailing what this looked and sounded like. 


At the end of the Symposium there were two dramatic presentations by Terry Vik and Howi Tiller.  One of these was a dramatic reading of Galatians.  Phenomenal!  It brought together all of the academic concepts that had already been discussed, and it showed that hearing the Word of God is still powerful even though we live in a literate culture.  Most importantly, it ministered.  It's easy to read Paul's writings as letters to ancient churches, but hearing the words presented truly made it feel as if Pastor Paul and God were speaking directly to me!  Vik made Paul's frustration, anxiety, and love for his flock come to life in a way that was truly unforgettable.


One final powerful experience was the Apostolic Leadership Summit Service at the World Evangelism Center.  Worship was lead by Nathaniel Binion in a way that ministered to and embraced the diverse assembly.  Bishop James Johnson, former Presiding Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, presented an anointed message.  And the Holy Spirit showed up in a wonderful way as APs from different organizations joined in unity by taking communion together.  It was not an academic session, but it was not something I would have missed for anything.


That about wraps up Symposium commentary for me.  If I can figure out what is wrong with my camera I will try to post a couple of pics tomorrow.  Just one final note--Symposium dates for next year are October 29-30 so mark your calendars and start making plans to see what you have been missing!


Josh R

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Atlanta West UPC Wins!

Verizon Wireless sponsors a national gospel choir contest called "How Sweet the Sound," and Atlanta West Pentecostal Church, pastored by Bro. Darrell Johns, won the "People's Choice Award" among the top three finalists. (This gave them a $5,000 payday that they hope to use toward making a CD.)

They had qualified by winning the Atlanta region, a few weeks back. On their regional win, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said:

"The spirit of the music took the singers and listeners to that rare place religious music strives to find, a state where the curtain between this world and the other gets pulled back for a moment and spirits merge in spontaneous joy.

The sound, the emotion the singers expressed, even the racial mix of black, white and tan faces that is rare for churches, made them something special, Condrey said."

The Finals
On Saturday, November 8, 2008, the Atlanta West Pentecostal Church dueled with 11 of the best choirs in the country, and ended up in the Top 3. Although the Acme Missionary Baptist Church of Chicago ended up tops, Atlanta West won the People's Choice Award.

Read the full report. (Picture borrowed from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)

Watch the choir in action on the official site or via YouTube.

If you have pictures or any other information, send them to us now!

Congratulations to choir leader Brandon Frazier and everyone in the Atlanta West choir!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Picture Of The Day

Not sure who actually designates these things, but:

A puppy sleeps under a US soldier’s hat and rifles in Baquba, in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad

(Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)


Day One in Pictures

Ay, I have been so lax in my blogging duties. It's just that the Symposium is so action packed, there's very little down time. So instead of trying to fully elaborate on each session, I'll post some pictures and comment on each one so that at least you'll have an idea of what went down today. I just want to say that I LOVE being here. It's so nice to be in an Apostolic academic environment. The things that I have learned about the Word of God and about the history and context of the Word of God are amazing. The opportunity to hear a variety of viewpoints and engage with others about theological issues is just refreshing. So here we go, Day One in a nutshell:

Steven Beardsley presenting his paper on recognizing both the human and divine elements of the Word of God.

Sarah Wise presenting her paper entitled "Yes We Can Because I Am." It was an extremely timely and moving piece that spoke of the optimism in the recent election results and how it can affect our faith and uplift our movement.

Our very own regular Collideoscope contributor, Josh Remington (2nd from left) presenting his paper on interpreting Genesis outside of the science polemic. Read the paper he presented in its entirety here.

Nate Binion presenting "Understanding the Emergent Church and the Implications for Apostolics." It's usually a good idea for the church to understand what's current and have conversations about it for the purpose of awareness even though it may not endorse it.

Jeff Brickle leading a panel titled "Orality, Performance and Media: The Book of Acts." Reading text and letters out loud before an audience was an integral part of transmitting information in the early church.

Fellowship during the reception

More fellowship during the ending reception

More to come!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Symposium Day One (cont)

I am reminded why I love UGST so much. Having been away for three years, it's easy to forget, but it is such a wonderful place. And Symposium is like an entire semester crammed into two days. Here's the crazy thing: as wonderful as the sessions are, the best part about it is the in-between. What I mean is during lunch, during breaks, during dinner, and at any down time there is discussion and dialogue seeking to apply the academic topics being presented in a real-life context. Everyone is talking with everyone else. "Ok, that was an interesting idea, but could it work in the church I'm a part of?" and "How could I utilize these tools to better reach my community?"

Theology simply cannot be theology if it only remains in the ivory tower. Even the deepest of concepts must have application. But at Symposium, the focus is not on hearing an expert tell you how to utilize an idea in your ministry context. Rather, the focus is on presenting an idea and inviting you to explore in community how that might look in your ministry context. I mentioned earlier the presentation on the KJV. If you are the senior pastor of a 70 year old church that has used KJV since it was founded you might apply the ideas in one way. But if you are a youth pastor in a church of new converts you will be dealing with entirely different issues. But both voices are allowed to explore together. As iron sharpens iron, so attending UGST Syposium with so many wonderful and smart people sharpens the mind.

Josh R

Uh Oh. Reality May Have To Trump All Of That Utopian, Marxist Idealism

First of all, I gaffed the opportunity to toss in on the election with M.I.T.L. I'll admit it. I'm terrible at communications lately, and I'll admit something else: The advent of this last election was debilitatingly worrisome for me. And yes, that statistical "90% of the things we worry about never happens anyway" bromide I hear so much became a statistical outlier for me with the election of a one Barack Obama to the office of President of the United States..

So what to do now? He's here, and duly elected. Well . . . I guess I already started election night. It was my night to conduct Tuesday evening children's church, and as it began here, Virginia, Indiana, and Ohio were still in flux even as New Mexico was going blue. So I took my Blackberry in with me and promised the kids I would let them know something as soon as I knew anything. I kept refreshing the news screen every few minutes. As soon as the electoral call was official, I announced it to the kids, letting them know that Barack Obama was elected to be our nation's 44th President.

Needless to say, this did not receive the rousing approbation it perhaps received over there at Trinity United Church in Chicago, and the already rowdy class was supplemented with the predictable booing.

I hushed the class down, and engaged them for a minute. I then led the class in prayer for Mr. Obama, praying for both his protection as well as asking God to grant him wisdom. The booing subsided after that.

Here is where I stand: I simply refuse to do to Barack Obama what our media and the rest of the hard left did to George Bush; they did not simply oppose him. They hated him. The effigies, the movies with stream-of-consciousness fantasies about his assassination, the continual, ankle-biting and hellish bloodlust to take the man down and undermine him even before the tower embers died out. I will have none of that. And I believe that is something that fundamentally sets the two polar regions apart: We have no lionized William Ayers' in our camp. We ultimately marginalize our kooks and drive them to Siberia. Too bad Mr. Obama's intelligence did not lead him to do the same, otherwise, I'd be a lot less jumpy about what he plans to do.

That does not mean, however, that the man's ideas are not of limits for high mockery, when the time warrants. And there is nothing unpatriotic about protesting his plans for high taxes and socialized markets. I for one can oppose him loudly and with great passion. But, unlike the hard left, you will never see me with a shirt saying "Mr. Obama is Not My president!" Because he will be my president. And though I oppose nearly every policy he has elaborated, I still find his election as significantly historic as anyone who did vote for him.


Primarily this stems from the fact that Mr. Obama has already learned that the rest of the world will be largely unimpressed with the race factor in our election and expect him to actually lead in some respect. This became evident when Russia started rattling America's atomic cage six hours after the hard results started pouring in. Then, of course we have this little gem from the AP, which contains the following, expectation-lowering bombshell:
WASHINGTON (AP) — As president-elect, Barack Obama faces a tricky task as he begins dealing ever more directly with the economic meltdown, grappling with the worst financial crisis in seven decades but not yet wielding the power to do much about it.

He won't be a participant at President Bush's global summit next week, although the 20 leaders attending are no doubt keenly interested in his views. And he may have to eventually push back against some members of his own party in Congress over details of a new plan to stimulate the economy.

Add to that, ABC News' concern that Mr. Obama's Choice of Rahm Emanuel to be his chief of staff may cause the new president to start running with a wheel in the sand with the Arab world right out of the gate. Mind you, Mr. Emanuel is a hard-left guy. But his middle name is "Israel." Rev. Wright's probably connected to an intraveinous Versed drip over the matter as we speak.

So I truly pray for Mr. Obama. He intends to lead the country that my little girls know to be their home. He has the charisma and poise that sometimes goes with great presidents. I just pray that realities dictate policy, more than the blind idealism that galvanized him early on. I'd like him to be a great leader, and our country the better for it.


Symposium Day One

We're about halfway through day one at the UGST Symposium. What can I say so far? Wow! There have been so many wonderful discussion already I feel my brain is destined to explode before the end! This morning I presented my paper that is featured on the Mother Ship this week. It was well received, but I have gotten out so much more than I have put in.

The session that just wrapped was on the idea of using the King James Version of the Bible. Is it the only valid version? Is it the only truly inspired version? Or can we use other versions in its place, particularly to evangelize a postmodern culture? The great thing about these sessions is that after the presentations there are plenty of opportunities for discussion and dialogue. If there are weak points in the paper, someone will find them. If there are additional strengths that were not considered, they too will be brought out. It is true theological dialogue where everyone has a voice. Hope to be able to fill you in with more details (and pics) later tonight.

Josh R

Symposium Pre-report

Good morning. This is Chantell Smith, reporting live from St. Louis on the UGST Symposium. The first session begins at 9:00 a.m., and right now I am finishing up a lovely breakfast of pancakes. I am very excited and have met some awesome people who are presenting this morning. Details later!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

News & News

Expect liveblogging from the UGST Symposium this week, right here. If you've never attended an academic symposium, this is the world's only oneness symposium. With a host of presenters from around North America, it's a fascinating event. (If you're near St. Louis and have the time, it's worht attending.) Expect reports and pictures starting Thursday.

Also, sister blog Month in the Life is blogging about the election this week, including thoughts from two Apostolics who supported Obama - and those who didn't.