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PoMo Pirate

In our crazy Post-(Modern, Colonial, Christendom, Evangelical, Liberal, Reformation, Enlightenment) World we need a new form of piracy, theological swashbuckling, ecclesiastical rum-running, and maybe even a Luther or Rauschenbusch with an eye patch. Wel

Updated: 2014-10-02T21:56:21.503-07:00


Are you still here?


Well a handful of you have yet to turn off this RSS feed and go to my new website. You should go to it here and enjoy the newest podcast with John Dominic Crossan.

NEW WEBSITE - New Podcast


I have a new website and if you haven't gone there you should, but more than a new website my friend chad and I started a podcast. The episode up now is our attempt to figure out what we were doing, but in the next few weeks there will be come cool interviews with tony jones and brian mclaren. check it out here:



I now have a new blog\webiste.
If you have this blog bookmarked or on a reader please change it. I am going to try to not suck and do more AND hopefully learn how to use technology more efficiently. On the new site I have a list of ideas or things i am gonna try. Feel free to give me some advice over there.

Elgin Wants to be an 80's Rock Star


This was my favorite part of Christmas and now that I have figure out how to post videos I thought I would share Elgin rockin' it out at only three weeks.

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Prayer for Patient Power


You know who you are
You made every living thing and are the source of
all that is beautiful
all that breaths
all that grows
all that comes into being
be it through a Womb or a Word

You know who we are
You know we like to convince ourselves we know and instead our enlightenment creates
all the anxiety over death
all the pride over truth
all the desire over people
all the fear that keeps us stuck
as victim and thief

Disturb us to hope
Convict us to listen to the power of the living that came to know death with us

patient power is the power of love
patient power is beautiful
patient power breaths
patient power grows
patient power makes a way
and leaves a trail of life in its wake


"Frequently" is being gracious


I am lecturing in place of Dr. Tupper in the Systematic Theology class tomorrow at Wake Forest University's Divinity School and his absence lined up with a lecture on sin. I think I am going to use this quote to point out the inevitability of sin for social beings such as ourselves and the relationship of sin and evil within the world's social ills, but the last sentence is real zinger.

Social sin consists in an arrangement of a society or culture in which one or more groups of people are systematically excluded, oppressed, or violated in their humanity. Such a situation is evil because it diminishes or destroys human beings as measured against the intrinsic value of the human person. It is sin because we know that ultimately the arrangement of society depends on human freedom and can be changed. In other words, human beings are responsible for this situation. But this responsibility is precisely social and not individual. The paradox consists in sharing some measure of responsibility for a social situation as a member of a society, while not having any controlling individual freedom or power relative to the same situation. Frequently this intrinsic tension is either not experiences or simply denied in highly individualistic cultures. - Roger Haight "Human Freedom and a Christian Understanding of Salvation"

"Biblical," older than "change" and "hope"


So this is more of a confession, but today is the third day in a row I unintentionally got in a conversation only to find out it was actually an opportunity for me to informed on my deviance from 'biblical' truth. I have found I can talk to almost anyone about most things except for conservative Christians. Atheist, Jewish, Agnostic, Hindu, and Muslim friends don't make me agree with their presuppositions when we talk, but for three days three different conservative Christians did not know how to have a conversation without me agreeing to their assumptions about the Bible. They couldn't figure out if I was one of them or a non-believer, as if the only legitimate opinion a Christian could have was their own. Not because they are arrogant, but because it is Biblical. So below is my observation and then I am going to ask for some advice if you have any. Everyone knows the fights among conservative evangelicals over the Bible.  There are all kinds of theories of inspiration and fights over language.  Is the Bible innerrant, infallible, God's answer book, unquestionable Truth, and so on.  While those are important discussions for some, I don't feel tempted to deify the Bible, make the text itself sacred, or come up with some unnecessary and presumptuous compliment about that Bible that then makes me squeamish when I read the terrifying and outlandish texts.  Basically I am saying that there is enough in the Bible I don't want to claim for God that making the text itself the point isn't even attractive to me. For example, the Bible has plenty of slave owners who get good face time and there is ample material for at least 15 good pro-slavery sermons in there.  Believe me I took Baptist history where famous expositors of scripture come to conclusions like, "the holding of slaves is justifiable by thedoctrine and example contained in Holy writ; and is; thereforeconsistent with Christian uprightness, both in sentiment and conduct" (Richard Furman ).  There is just no one 'biblical' interpretation of most things.  In fact, the word 'biblical' is a word that unnerves me.  I actually read (or think about reading) the Bible every day with the expectation to commune with the Spirit and be engaged in spiritual transformation - hopefully towards the pattern of Christ - BUT when I hear 'biblical' it usually serves as a conversation stopper.  When someone says "belief or action X is biblical" they mean "my belief or action X is one that I find in scripture (or my religious authority said was in scripture) and since these 66 books all agree on everything, X is God's opinion.  So on behalf of God I can no longer talk to you without rolling my eyes in holy indignation unless you yield to my opinion.  To be charitable and sympathetic would be to compromise X which, while being my opinion, is really - thank God - God's. Believe X or get the X!"  Maybe if the word biblical meant "belief or action X is one sensible and legitimate interpretation of the diversity of witnesses within scripture that could apply to this situation, issue, or idea," but it doesn't function this way in conversation.  Furman makes some wonderfully 'biblical' points about the sacred support of slavery.  Abolitionists made some equally 'biblical' points against slavery, though they had a smaller total number of biblical footnotes.  Hopefully one can see why something being 'biblical' does not necessarily make it wonderful.  Despite the 'biblical' status of slavery I think it is horrible and thoroughly unchristian. There are other more contentious issues in our contemporary setting than this one, though slavery remains a cloaked part of our economic reality, such as issues of gender, sexuality, and violence for which the 'biblical' phrase gets thrown around and I just want to say that is not how I want the Christian community to c[...]

Ricoeur on Parables and Imagination


Parables, paradoxes, hyperboles, and extreme commandments all disorient only to reorient us. But what is reoriented in us? and in what direction? I would say that what is reoriented by these extreme sayings is less our will than imagination. Our will is our capacity to follow without hesitation that once-chosen way, to obey without resistance the once-known law. Our imagination is the power to open us to new possibilities, to discover another way of seeing, or acceding to a new rule in receiving the instruction of the exception.
- Paul Ricoeur "The Logic of Jesus, the Logic of God" in Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative, and Imagination (281)

Fretheim on God's Relationality


In his ground-breaking study of God and Creation throughout the Hebrew scriptures Terence Fretheim makes an important insight on God's relationality:

God is present and active in the world, enters into a relationship of integrity with the world, and both world and God are affected by that interaction. In this relationship, God has chosen not to stay aloof but to get caught up with the creatures in moving toward the divine purposes for creation, and in such a way that God is deeply affected by such engagement.

-Terence Fretheim, God and the World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005) 109.

Great Free Theology Audio and Articles


I love finding good theology stuff online and I recently ran into a bunch that were interesting so I thought I would share them.

1. Jon Sobrino's interview from sojourners. It is a great little article about his theological conflict with Rome, working among the poor, and how suffering influences his reflection on the Cross.

2. Leron Shults shared three articles online and they are all worth reading. "Nothing More Lovely" demonstrates how theology can be both rigorous reflection and inspiring doxology.

3. John Cobb and his process friends had a one day blogging outburst that was great and hopefully it will continue. There is also audio here of his lecture "Why Faith Needs Process Philosophy," which includes commentary on 9-11, Karl Barth, Thomists, and a good intro to process thought.

4. A blog with a giant list of links to major works of continental philosophy in pdf format.

Sobrino on the West's only unquestioned dogma of the Christmas season


"The unquestioned dogma of profit...We are speaking of those fundamentalisms - individualism, comfort, or pleasure (so soft in appearance, but with grave consequences) - that are accepted without justification and unquestionably prized and promoted. We are speaking also of the simplistic and infantile attitudes that may express themselves in very pretentious language, sometimes in the political sphere and very frequently in the religious."

What will we do to uphold this orthodoxy?

"Accept as normal the arrogance and dominance of some human beings with respect to others. And it accepts obedience to the empire's directives as necessary, or at least comprehensible, if we want to be assured of a 'good living,' 'success,' and 'security,' or whatever passes for definitive salvific goods."

What is the practice of this gospel?

"We are dehumanized by our selfishness...Such dehumanization is assumed with an attitude of impotence and naturalness ("that's the way things are!), and it is hardly noticeable since, in contrast to the evils that produced physical death or move people toward it, the evils of the spirit are not so obviously calculable. But they are harmful."

- Jon Sobrino, No Salvation Outside the Poor: Prophetic-Utopian Essays (40-41)

This book just came out so you should get it while it's hot.

Deep Shift Excitment in NC


I am very pumped about the upcoming Deep Shift event here in NC. Brian McLaren is bringing an interactive experience with music, art, discussion, just coffee, and Brian speaking around the content of his newest and best book yet.

If you haven't read the book you should, but to tempt you I will point you to three appetite inducers.

- The Other Journal has a great, revealing, and down right fun interview to read. So go read it.
- The Emergent Village Podcast has an interview with Brian and Tony Jones. So go listen to it.
-Finally, if you haven't checked out Brian blogging at Table For One.....go blogger-read it.

My brother-in-law Cory, Steven (the bio-brother), and I are going to the event. It will be my first night of not going to bed at 7pm with the new baby so if you thinking about going, GO and I promise to go out until the early morning and discuss theology while we smoke fine cigars.

So if you are going to be there or are interested check out the Charlotte Deep Shift blog. If you haven't paid yet there is a discount code from our friends in the Emergent Village cohort in Charlotte.

Caputo on Radical Orthodoxy


I found this comment as an end note in John Caputo's The Weakness of God: A Theology of Event:

Radical Orthodoxy is a movement that turns the quaint and (self-)comforting idea that everything is either a Christian metaphysics of participation (that is, Radical Orthodoxy) or nihilism, by which they seem to mean variants of their version of Nietzsche or Derrida, which for them means that human existence is awash in an irrational flux. So Radical Orthodoxy, which gives us a choice between being Cambridge Thomists or nihilists, needs to expan its horizons. (310)

McLaren talking with secular fundies


I had three friends email me about Brian McLaren blogging this week at Table For One and so I checked it out. If you haven't read Brian's new book you will see him summarize himself well. Most importantly are the comments under each blog. If you want to see how to engage in religious dialog with a secular fundamentalist check it out. Brian always tells people that at his heart he is an evangelist and here I think we can see how an evangelist who
counts conversations and not conversions shares, listens, and responds. For all three of you who shared thanks.

My New Son has Arrived



Here is Elgin Thomas Fuller. He arrived at 4:51 am yesterday. He is doing great. Now back to see him and mommy.

"Theologies of the Two-Thirds World: Three-Thirds Important for the Western Church"


Table Talk, a Wake Forest University Divinity School student group I helped to start, had Dr. Rob Sellers come to give a super lecture and now you can hear it. Dr. Sellers spent 25 years living in Indonesia and the Philippines and has committed his life and academic pursuits to inter-faith dialogue and trying to help fellow Westerners understand the theologies coming out of Asia, Africa, Latin and South America. He's spent about two months preparing a presentation for Table Talk specifically and its brilliance is here for you to enjoy. Download and Listen Here!

Emerging Left


The emergent conversation is full of honest and courageous conservative evangelicals who take the risk to say just what they are emerging from and why. When I talk with them or read things they write it is always refreshing to see such an honest and forward person reflecting and transforming their understanding of faith in light of their questions and journey. What has been less visible or audible in the conversation are those of us who are not emerging from the theological right, but the left. I think of myself as a member of the emerging left. Before entering the conversation you would have had trouble getting me to say much of anything with confidence theologically past Schleiermacher's 'Feeling of Absolute Dependence' or Tillich's 'Ground of Being or Being-Itself' or how like Borg I had seen Jesus again 'for the first time.' I still read and love those three (and I think Schleiermacher is more identifiably Christian than many enemies give him credit for). What I am going to attempt to do is articulate what it was like to theologically emerge from the left. Not that you can generalize my journey that is still in process for all the emerging left, but I am sure it will be easy enough to see how it differs and highlights different transformations than my sisters and brothers on the right.

Since the more progressive Christians are as diverse as the conservative ones it may be helpful for you to know that I am a progressive Baptist (yes we do exist), went to an ecumenical seminary, currently am employed at a Disciples of Christ church, have always lived in the Bible belt, am a preacher's kid, have been married 5.5 years to a wonderful female minister who grew up in a fundamentalist home, and have a kid arriving any day now. I guess you could say I am emerging left out of the south land. Well the first thing I am going to look at is the topic that creates the most tension in conversation with those emerging from the right, the Bible. I am thinking ofplayfully entitling it 'the Bible is not a salvage yard or a dead bunny.'

Scot McKnight doesn't smoke Swisher Sweets


Alright, for some reason listening to the AAR audio while I played Star Wars Battle Front lead me to some confusion. A 2.5 hour lecture is tough when you can't see the panel's beautiful faces, so I listened while electronically taking over the Death Star. Any way I thought I heard Scot tell Tony that he had a Swisher Sweet when he was outside smoking and just the mention of the cigar that should not be named bothers me. It is like a divinity student telling you their favorite 'translation' of the Bible is the Living paraphrase. BUT, I guess I did not have ears to hear Scot's true words quoted below. Scot displays just how a true emerging cigar smoker responds to the idea of a Swisher Sweets:
@23:50 into the conversation audio......
Scot is telling a story about reading a book and bird watching and Tony inerrupts with a question.
TOny: "Did you have anything in your right hand?
Scot: "Like a cigar?"
Tony: "yeah"
Scot: "I don't know, a good one. Not a cheap one like a Swisher Sweet,"

Amen Hallelujah.

My APOLOGY: Scot I am sorry for not listening well and questioning your emerging cigar status. It appears that with Blue Jeans, a real cigar, and the best blog out there you could be more emerging than Tony. Clearly you emerge past me who was distracted from listening to your voice well because of a violent video game and my radical othering of Swisher Sweets.

Emergent @ AAR Audio and Why Swisher Sweets are not Emerging....An aside for Scot McKnight


Andy Rowell is my new hero. As some of you know my wife is about to pop out our first child so I couldn't go to AAR this year and I missed the Process \ Radical Orthodoxy showdown and the Emergent Church panel with Tony Jones, Scot McKnight and Diana Butler Bass. Andy is from Duke so he didn't make it to see my favorite living Methodist theologian John Cobb bring the theological ruckus, but he did get the Paul and Empire audio and few other dialogical treasures. Go and listen. I thought Scot's 6 questions were insightful and was proud to hear he rocked out the new Blue Jeans. Tony and DBB's squabble was humorous and I think it brought things out of both of them you wouldn't have seen otherwise. The only thing that really bothered me was Scot McKnight admitting to smoking swisher sweets. Swisher Sweets are for cigars what Boone's Farm is to wine. When he came to NC with Tony Jones he brought a travel humidor with 5 Hoyo De Monterey Excalibur #1s. While he was here we also had Rocky Patel vintage 1990's and Cuban Montecristo #3's(See here). Just how one could take such strides in their wardrobe and take so many steps back in their cigar choice is troublesome. Swisher sweets are processed, chemical infused, pseudo-tobacco. It is difficult to taste the tobacco when you smoke one but each one of them tastes the same. They are dry-cured and made by machines. Real cigars, authentic cigars, organic cigars are those that come from the earth to a craft workers' hand and to your mouth. A real cigar is made by God, the earth, and human beings (Ikons even). It is a piece of organic art. It tastes different depending on the soil, location of the plant, weather from the of growth, aging process and length, size of the cigar, blend of tobaccos, when you smoke it, how you cut it, light it, and who you smoke with. Real handmade cigars are emergent or emerging if you will. Swisher Sweets are what were are emerging from in the cigar world. For those of you who have yet to experience a real cigar or join in an emergent conversation let me know and I will open my humidor of friendship for you and match a perfect cigar with a great cup of coffee and you will hopefully never find yourself smoking Swisher Sweets again. It appears I will need to mail Scot a Christmas gift on behalf of all emerging cigar smokers.For some reason at every Q&A session with academics or church people atonement comes up. I have a theory some other emergent types should test out. If you bring up atonement and they freak out because the idea of a mosaic of atonement theories seems ludicrous then they are probably an evangelical. If on the other hand they look at you like you are Jerry Falwell the moment you act like atonement matters then you are probably talking to a mainliner. On that note everyone should read Scot McKnight's book on atonement and then try out the golf bag metaphor.[...]

My Reflection from the last Dogwood Abbey Gathering


This is the reflection that started off the sermonic discussion at the last Abbey gathering. If you are interested go here and find it.

Book of Insight: "Rising from the Ashes: Rethinking Church"


I just finished reading Becky Garrison's newest book 'Rising from the Ashes' and liked it so much I thought I would try to wet your appetite. This is the newest book in an emerging genre I call 'emerging,' where the author has examined a host of emerging communities or people so that they can then offer a synthetic assessment of the movement. I have a number of those such books and I will be honest and say they can't keep my attention, so I put them down to read somePannenberg or Baudrillard . After reading Garrison's book I figured out that while a nice analysis where you can pick up a book and see an organized list of characteristics found in emerging churches is pleasant, it feels synthetic and not so emerging of an approach. The traditional book in the 'emerging' genre ends up eliminating the particularities, the disagreements, the personalities, and relationships that make the movement refreshing, at least to me. Garrison may havetranscended the category because her book preserves the oddities of the divergent emerging voices she interviewed for the book. How did she do that you may ask? Good question, the book is a collection of interviews conducted through a variety of media (phone, AIM, blog, and in person) that are then organized around the themes of the ten chapters. There are interviews with big names like Diana Butler Bass, Tony Jones, NT Wright, and Phyllis Tickle but when you get done you won't remember much of what they said. The stars of the book are the host of people who are lesser known emerging practitioners and thinkers, who when placed beside the big names demonstrate just how much good stuff is missed by most books in the genre. A few things you will notice if you are smart enough to buy and read will be a high concentration of Episcopal voices, many of which sustain my favoriteconversation throughout the book - what do we do with the Book of Common Prayer. I am not Episcopal, Baptist in fact, but this discussion shows the diversity the emerging conversation can have on one issue and after taking it in you will not say this is what an emergent type would do with the Book of Common Prayer. You will also hear arguments over the role and proper function of technology, ritual, tradition, and innovation. You will read a book that is packed full of theology but not more than threesentences of theology that isn't practical and nothing practical in the book isn't treated as theology. The real reason you should get this book is because it has so many great quotes to steal or appropriate. When you read it you will be grateful that Garrison was a good member of the emerging movement and knew that the best way to get to the point is to keep asking good questions. Here are some zinger-of-a-quotes I found."Christianity at its core doesn't explain life, but it brings life.""Like it or not, liberation has to happen for the oppressor, who is acting out of a place of fear and not liberation.""We are political but not partisan. We're value driven but not ideological. We are civil but not soft. And we are involved, but we are not used or co-opted by other forces, be they government or commercial.""Ritual is embodied participatory action.""Ritual is what people consciously and deliberately choose to do again.""The liturgy is our work, the work of the people. Now you get to listen closely to where God is calling us, and to bring that wisdom and insight to light in the worship that we all share.""If you start with pure reason, you'll never[...]

The Cross and the Lynching Tree


Bill Moyers interviewed one of America's greatest theologians, James Cone. The interview was amazing and should be viewed in its entirety by all decent human beings in America. Because most of the world did not have James Dunn for Ethics in grad school and there developed an addiction to Bill Moyers I don't want to ruin the interview with my commentary but I would point you to how the connection of the cross and lynching tree would change Christian theology and practice in America.


Walter Lowe on understanding salvation


"On reflection, it is not self-evident that the best way to present the Christian Gospel - the good news - is to begin with the negative. If one begins by making a pact with the negative, so to speak, will that not color what comes after? Is there not the risk that, despite one's best intentions, the radical good of the Gospel will be endlessly deferred? That it will never stand forth in its own right?"

"Christ and Salvation" in The Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology, ed. by Kevin Vanhoozer (Cambridge University Press, 2003), 236.

The Return of the PoMo Negro "Applause!!"


My favorite theo-blogger is back in the saddle and if you know what is good for your eyes you will go see his newest series on CEO style leadership in faith communities. Anthony, blog author, is a very insightful and astute thinker who I am glad to call friend. Read on.

Advent: Compassion not Consumption


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