Many of you may already be familiar with cocorosie (pronounced Coco-Rosie), the sister’s hip-hop/ Bjork at the Opera band rated as one of the 20 most influential artists of the last decade.  However, if you’re not…consider their music.  it’s evocative, emotive, and chalk full of insightful and intuitive lyrics.  This one, Werewolf, deals with much of their past, an abusive father, etc…  I think it’s brilliant. I can’t stop listening to it.

Check it:

Language City

Really digging this song today for some reason!

Evangelical Positivism

Positivism: a delusion that imagines we can know the past or participate in the present without any interference from your own personal and social situation as knower.

Evangelical Positivism is the same thought as above; the idea that we can look into a clear glassy pool of water and not also see our own reflection…but now add to it the Holy Spirit, as if He were some great trump card that erases our experience, our biases, our predispositions, and enables us to be detached and purely spontaneous creatures.

Portland…New York but with nice people

“I visited Portland in May and I fell in love with the city. It’s everything great about New York, but the people are very nice and approachable. Also there’s the mountains. I’m very interested in what seems to be a thriving community of Christians. It seems like the community has and gives a lot of respect to and from the city.”

I loved this quote…it’s great to hear that someone perceives what’s happening here in the Portland area this way.  I trust that it is true…I’m praying it is.

Relevant or Peculiar?

If we are to become wombs of the divine, then what we give birth to will not only take a great deal of careful nurturing but will also be very specific to the culture and the place where it is born.  In order to reach humanity, God had to re-emerge and be reborn into human form.  In the same way; we need to re-emerge and be reborn into specific places and cultures in order to be truly incarnate to them and so to reach them.  God came all the way to us–yet we now expect people to come so far toward us in the church.  Far away from their music, far away from their vernacular, far away from their visual language, their codes and symbols.  God was born again–became nothing and re-emerged–in order to reach us in our own language, to live and grow among us.  As the body of Christ, we must do likewise and, just as for Christ, this re-emerging will take immense courage.  Kester Brewin “Signs of Emergence” pg 68


But…what we bring them to is Holy! It is true! When we force them to abandon their culture we invite them to lay down earthy and embrace spiritual…right?

Well…maybe not…maybe our sacrosanct hymns and jesus-my-boyfriend chorus’, our insular and exclusive terminologies, our detached rituals…maybe they are simply our sub-culture…created and kept by us for us.

Maybe the how is never as important as the Him.  It’s about His Life breaking through and into this world…and He always seems to do so by incarnating himself…coming to others as the other.

The tension of being relevant versus peculiar is found held in Christ…fully human and fully divine…totally relevant and relatable and yet completely beyond and intangible.

This is incarnation–this is His History and our story…

What shall this man do?

Taking A Time Out-Part 2

The last fifty years have changed our society and it has changed the church too.

Songs have replaced sermons as the central focus of the Christian meeting. Why? This is because they are more entertaining in general and because they are can be spat out faster. The songs themselves have changed…they too are shorter…their language is more emotional…more invocative…more Jesus-my-boyfriend rather than God, Great King Almighty with seven lengthy verses.

Light shows. Smoke machines. Banners. “The Rock and Roll Worship Circus”.

Back in the late 90’s when praise and worship music was just beginning to be infused with performance styled attributes, my Bible School Praise Band, named after the U2 Song, “Endless Deep”, played U2 rifts during prayers, used wind sounding effects while singing, “There’s a wind a blowing all across the land” and managed to do what our bass player hailed as “manufacturing the Holy Spirit”. The result? One girl in the audience said she wanted to come onto the platform and “smash my face in”. I remember thinking that she might be over reacting a tad. But today I doubt she would have the same response, as those gimmicks are pretty commonplace. The “best and brightest” of today’s mega-churches employ similar methods in their once-edgy now ordinary services. I guess my band was ahead of its time. Clearly we were misunderstood geniuses.

Hyped up and hopped up, we have little tolerance for long explanations. In fact that’s why we have professional pastors isn’t it? Let them consume, digest, and then regurgitate theological thoughts into bite size nuggets of truth. One professor I had called the popular devotional, “Our Daily Bread”, “our daily crumb” because of its distinct tid-bit formula.

Ok.ok.ok. We get it.

But is there anything wrong with all that? So we like to be entertained. So longer is boring and lengthy is deflating. Sermons are out…nobody needs to be preached at. Engaging music is cool (and it has gotten a lot better in the past twenty years)…And frankly our vocabulary isn’t really what it used to be…so we need short and simple sentences sparsely populated with the right mixture of verbs, nouns, and adjectives that will stir and give hope not depress and demoralize. Old way versus new way. The End…Fin…

Well, maybe nothing is wrong with those things and the whole hyper active way of thinking…but I wonder if it might go further than our practices and thought life and extend into how we relate to God. I wonder if we have inadvertently contracted attention deficit disorder of the spirit. When we pray we do so impatiently. We want answers now and up to the minute signs assuring us that God is listening. The apostle Paul prayed three times that a thorn be removed from his side…I doubt we would ask once without becoming fidgety, demanding that a positive answer be given immediately. He also mentioned prayer without ceasing…but we seem to have isolated conversation with God into a few canned liturgies said once a week… Our Christian fellowship meetings must each be high octane. There is little room for silence or “waiting upon the Lord”; a habit that the Quaker’s used to call “soaking”. My mind begins to shriek when there is a pause in the production, “What happened? Who missed their cue?” And so we speak when not Spoken to. We insert words when the Word is not there. We plow ahead without His presence. Since we have no time to hesitate for His overdue answers we keep talking, talking, talking…placing duct tape over God’s mouth, making Him to be our captive audience, listening constantly, unable to get a word in edgewise.

My two year old son, Ransom, gets incredibly excited when there are guests. The more keyed up he becomes the more animated and wild his behavior gets. His environment, his context that he is in doesn’t justify any such conduct. So, we say, “Ransom, use you’re inside voice.” Which he does…but it doesn’t last… Then comes the ultimate and intimidating, “TIME OUT!” He hates that. More than physical repercussions, more than loud or angry words, he cannot stand to be taken out of the action… I’m the same way.

Like my two year old, my Christian activity seems to get more and more frenetic until my environment no longer resembles my actions. I guess it’s not just me…its Christian culture at large. I…We…are in need of a time out…

We need to breathe. We need to rest…we need to normalize. Turn down the amps. Turn up the lights. Put away the banners and the slogans and the blips and the bleeps…and just pause…for just a minute.

I’m doing it now…breathing…just breathing…slowly, steadily and satisfied. Then I hear those words from Him, “At last…I was wondering when you’d take the ear buds out…and plug into my speaking…just me…”