Thursday, December 11, 2003

Summary of our December Gathering

"Is God a Capitalist?" and why it matters

Mike Budde’s main purpose was to explode any presumed congruency between God and Capitalism. He started by connecting God and the Church. Assuming that our theology of God is connected to our ecclesiology (the doctrine/practice of the church), whatever practice we then see the church doing we can imagine what kind of theology of God lies behind it. In other words, whatever the Church looks like, so also does it believes God to be.

So, “What does it mean that the Church is acting like a for-profit corporation?” is Mike’s question for us.

(Now, for those who might not think that the Church is acting like a for-profit corporation, Mike came with a dizzying display of examples: i.e. the Catholic corporate underwriting of events and the marketing of their mascot, the Pope, to soda companies; listening to market research which cautions against the cross during Easter because it is a downer; Anglican Bishops talking about “customers” instead of congregants; to a Catholic Bishop arguing from corporate law, instead of canon law, that the Church is not responsible for the actions of their priests because priests are really “independent contractors”; to the insanely successful Jesus: CEO which tries to figure out how Jesus made the Disciples into lean, mean, strategic marketing machines.)

The assumed answer to this question is that the Church believes God is a Capitalist, or is at least not opposed to the idea. But, as Mike shows, this answer is not consistent with the character of God, nor the portrait of Jesus. Jesus’ labor practices are horrible (pathetic disciples and unproductive followers like prostitutes and leper; but he did have lying/stealing tax-collectors, so that was quick thinking by Jesus!), his location planning was poor (backwater Judea instead of Rome), he didn’t partner with the powerful (made enemies of both the Romans and the Pharisees), and his strategic/long-term planning needed to be thought through better (he just takes off and leaves it all with people who barely understood what was going on). And most of his parables reveal bad capitalistic practices as well. Also, much of the Old Testament reveals that God is a bad businessman: rewarding bad behavior; choosing insignificant business partners (former slaves of Egypt), etc, etc.

Now, of course, just like in a major corporation, after some successes, the founder may go soft and grow a conscience or something. But it is our job, as middle managers to keep this company going at full steam, even it the founder in his old age and idealism would run into the ground. We must give him a dose of reality and practicality. And Mike’s main point is just this. That we as pastor/lay leaders (the Church in general) have looking at God’s vision of the world and said, “Yes, that’s great and perfect and ideal, and certainly You mean well, but we have really problem here (like a budget to balance),” and so we go about business as usual.

Mike ended with a general statement that Capitalism presumes scarcity and needs, while God presumes plentitude and fullness. These are fundamentally different mentalities by which to see the world.

From here our discussion ranged far and wide: from how has a needs orientation effected how we do church, and how has Capitalism effected our time management, and how have we lost our humanity by becoming consumers? to how do we then live in, but not, of Capitalism and what is the “economy of the Church?”

Monday, November 24, 2003

December Gathering
date: Monday, Dec. 1st, 7:00pm-9:30pm
location: Life on the Vine

"Is God a Capitalist? Why It Matters to the Church."

Michael Budde of De Paul University and the Ekklesia Project will guide us in a discussion exploring the ways in which market-driven assumptions have shaped our ideas of who God is, who we are, and how the church sees its mission. After he will offer us a bit of a taste of what an alternative might be.

While we often ask, “How can the church be in the world but not of it?” the question that might take us to the heart of our Western Situation is “How can the Church be in, but not of, Capitalism and all its insinuating paraphernalia?” This gathering, while appealing to those concerned with issues of economics, justice, and globalization, will equally benefit those concerned with discipleship, worship, and evangelism as we seek to be and make disciples of Christ in this emerging context.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Here is the run down of Ed Phillips presentation given at our last up/rooted gathering in November, which in reality was much better than this virtual reproduction.

He began by mentioning that one of his current crusades concerning worship/liturgical thought is to rid the phrase “worship experience” from our lexicon. He pointed out that instead of speaking of a worship service we now talk about the worship experience. (and example of this is the “Passion Experience Tour.”)

To discuss this shift Ed pointed us back toward 19th century revivalism, especially Charles Finney. Finney’s goal was to make converts and he used “novelty” and “technique” to do this. These two concepts changed the face of worship. The first is the desire for “novelty” or the “new.” This really is the modern project, to find something new. Applied to revivalism, it is the desire to wow people with something different, exciting, and outrageous, so as to lead people toward a decision. This directly effects worship through the concurrent rise of the “mimeograph”, a cheap way to create pamphlets, or worship bulletin, which can be changed from service to service. This is a marked change from the past when- before the printing press people had to embody the patterns of worship within the community, and after the printing press books, prayer books, were kept for a lifetime or pasted down- but now worship patterns were constantly changed to create a “novelty” of worship. The second concept was that of using technique to manufacture conversion. And worship became one the most useful, and fashionable, techniques for making conversions. Worship then only becomes instrument of something else (conversion), rather than being an end in it self (participation in/with the eternal worship of God.)

These movements of “novelty” and “technique” place the emphasis of worship on our experiences of worship rather than the reality of God. Our “worship” becomes a copy of real worship, rather than a participation of the original. This shift also makes worship something we make happen, rather than a participation of what is already happening in heaven. By this our worship becomes virtual reality (a copy of reality pretending to be the real thing- like fake flowers). Ed used the example of covering us a stained glass window with a screen, and then projecting the “same” window onto the screen.

This last point was the launching pad into the collaborative portion of our gathering. We steered around the discussion of “should we have experiences in worship,: and talked about the relationship of art and ketch, high/low art, icons, and much more.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

we've started our second year of monthly gatherings.

Last month Dave Fitch (Pastor of Life on the Vine) led us in a discussion concerning the problem of catechesis in the evangelical post-Christian church. Can a person leave the pagan formation of the world ... to live in Christ... without some preparation, formation, initiation?"

and just last week Dr. Wayne Johnson of Trinity helped us think abut the failed modern and postmodern attempts at the church engaging culture, offering us a third way--embodying the story. Part of his presentation was based on a paper he recently gave called "Jesus Is Lord: Embodying the Hermeneutical Precedence of Church and Cross in a Postmodern World" which he has graciously allowed us to post on our site.

In November Ed Philips (professor of church history) will help us think through the relationship of liturgy/worship and theology from an early church prespective. see our site for more info.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

A recent conversation/collaboration about the "foundation" of postmodern thought started by andy m. from up/rooted's yahoo group.- geoff holsclaw

Ravi Zacharias tells the following story that addresses postmodernism

A few weeks ago, I did a lectureship at Ohio State University. As I was
being driven to the lecture, we passed the new Wexner Art Center. The driver
said, "This is a new art building for the university. It is a fascinating
building designed in the post-modernist view of reality."

The building has no pattern. Staircases go nowhere. Pillars support nothing.
The architect designed the building to reflect life. It went nowhere and was
mindless and senseless.

I turned to the man describing it and asked, "Did they do the same thing
with the foundation?" He laughed. You can't do that with a foundation.

You can get away with the infrastructure. You can get away with random
thoughts that sound good in defense of a world view that ultimately doesn't
make sense. Once you start tampering with the foundations, you begin to see
the serious effects.

(a) this is incredibly insightful
(b) this is completely bogus
(c) wait... the Simpsons is on...


Sorry to be pedantic, but that metaphor has been a bane for me for a while.

My knee-jerk reaction:

That sounds like a typical anecdotal response to post-modernism by evangelical
apologists. (Not that there is anything wrong with being an "evangelical" or an
"apologist".) I have read numerous stories like that in Schaeffer and have heard this
architectural metaphor a few times to argue against post-modernism.

But the architectural metaphor never really seems to work. It seems to bely a
fundamental misunderstanding of the Great Post-Modern Conversation. In fact, it
sounds like the assessment of someone who has come in on the middle of the
discussion and is never really aware of the whole story. In most post-modern
architecture (and most of what we think of as post-modern architecture is actually
late-modern as all good Chicagoans know) we have the conscious melange of
historical styles and tendencies as a conscious reaction to the material formalism
and economy of modernism (capitalism and architecture are very related). Post-
modern architecture is the conscious recognition that what our living and working
spaces look like "mean" something. Materials and forms have a "language" of their
own. Such structures as the Wexner are conscious of meaning through material and
form. The foundation itself is part of this network of meaning. It is a building. A
building itself is a place of meaning relative to its function. Buildings have
foundations. It couldn't be a BUILDING if it didn't have a foundation. It would be a
teetering socially pointless sculpture, not a building. Post-modernism is typically a
non-foundational enterprise (granted, this is the only way the silly metaphor works).
But non-foundationalism does not imply incoherence within a given system of
meaning. Ravi has it just the opposite. Because the building has a foundation, the
building has meaning. It becomes a building.

Ravi seems not to be able to graft himself into different language games and
coordinate his theology likewise. His concern is that Post-modernism is a
groundless enterprise. In light of D. Steven Long's comments about Post-
modernism being the broken record player of Modernism, this appears incorrect.
Post-modern architecture uses the forms of modern and (rarely) pre-modern
architecture to create forms of new and socially deeper forms meaning.

Sorry to be pedantic, but that metaphor has been a bane for me for a while.

M. Leary
Bindery Supervisor/Book Artist
Rolfing Memorial Library

"What's a book? Everything or nothing. The eye that sees it all."
(R. W. Emerson)

(Thanks Mike L for your comments on pomo architecture. I'm going the epistemology route.)

It seems that Ravi is taking some what of a cheap shot here, even though it seems persuasive to many b/c it taps into so called common sense. One main aspect of the postmodern critique of the modern is to bring to the fore that our thinking is mainly metaphoric. What makes a "foundation" a better metaphor than a "web" when it comes to knowledge? To say that postmodern doesn't have a firm foundation ignores the previously critique.

To move from a physical structure to the "structure" of thinking is not valid necessarily. People just as often speak of "ways" of thinking as if one were walking down a path (it is interesting that people generally pace while thinking, they don't build a foundation while thinking). Or why do people ask "Where did that great idea come from?" as if thinking were spatial? Maybe we need maps instead of foundations to track ideas?

So, while Christ is the foundation of the church, he is also the Great Shepherd, and the Gate, and the Way, and the Life, and he is the High Priest. In one sense it is difficult for me to take abut foundations b/c buildings stuck in one place but we are a pilgrim people, nomads, wanders in exile, or we might say uprooted.

enough for now...
geoff holsclaw

Or if we want to take the metaphor for what it is, then Ravi's right. We can't do that with the foundation. But our foundation is not of concrete, or of stone or of wood. It is of life, of love, a living breathing foundation that cannot be nailed down so that we might build a building upon it. Any attempt to turn God into concrete is going to leave us with a really big mess to clean up - and I am reminded of the story of the people who tried to build a wall to keep God in - and they ended up walling him out.


Although I do not find Ravi's statement "(a) incredibly insightful," I am not so certain that Ravi is all that far off. We need to take his comment in context maybe even give him the benefit of doubt thinking he was simply trying to open up a discussion with the driver creating an opportunity to explain salvation and Jesus as a foundation for life (may be reaching here).

Ravi was responding to a comment "designed in the post-modernist view of reality" (staircases that lead nowhere, pillars that support nothing). If the post-moderist perspective on life is that it goes nowhere, like the staircase in the building, then I would have to say "Why build the building?," Unless only to find out where it ends up, kind of like completing a thought. Certainly, if we are honest, they could not do the same thing without the foundation or the nothingness above couldn't exist.

I think that Ravi was speaking of the foundation for thought. Foundation is something you build upon whether it is a building, a thought, knowledge, a belief system (modern or post-modern), etc you cannot build anything without a foundation. How can you have a thought without some form of foundation for that thought, even if it is based on a post-modern foundation? If the thought leads nowhere maybe one might need to reconsider previous thoughts and the basic foundations they stand on.

Geoff - "One main aspect of the postmodern critique of the modern is to bring to the fore that our thinking is mainly metaphoric."

How can one create a metaphor without referring it to something substantial, factual, foundational? Simply by definition a metaphor is anchored to a more solid, definable example. There is a foundation for a metaphor in order to gain perspective on another thought. How would we understand the comparison.

Geoff - "What makes a "foundation" a better metaphor than a "web" when it comes to knowledge?"

Nothing BUT even a WEB NEEDS to be anchored to something solid or else it floats away in the wind.

Geoff- " In one sense it is difficult for me to take abut foundations b/c buildings stuck in one place but we are a pilgrim people, nomads, wanders in exile, or we might say uprooted."

One can be nomadic and still have a solid foundation in their faith or the way they view the world. We are only pilgrims in this world solely because our foundation is in Christ. We know we are only visiting because we know we have a home prepared for us else where and that knowledge can only come with a firm foundation on the promises of God fulfilled though Christ. By the way, I like the way you worked in uprooted!

Andy - "Any attempt to turn God into concrete is going to leave us with a really big mess to clean up "

I think that “turn God into concrete” is a bit more far reaching metaphorically than comparing the foundation of a building to the stability of one’s thought process or world perspective. The scriptures speak specifically to foundations. The wise man built his house upon a rock, Jesus is the rock, God never changes; He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, Jesus is the cornerstone (foundational metaphor), etc…

"How about this...we are modeling after a man who walked on water! Water is fluid, moving, changing, full of living organisms...but Christ stood on it. That gives me a different picture of what qualifies as a "foundation".

I am not certain how this changes the qualifying elements of “foundation” as a foundation is something we build upon. The miracles of Christ would support a basis for him as our foundation not disprove what a foundation is. Try to build anything on water. First you need to create a base, a foundation, be it floating or drilled into the bedrock. I think the biggest issue here is that we need to define what our “foundation” metaphor would refer to and then keep within those parameters.

Growing with you,


Is the postmodernist perspective on life really that "it goes nowhere?" Is that the only meaning we can see in this image? Are we so linear in our metaphors as to miss the process, the experience? This is the same type of thinking that makes us focus more on conversions than conversations (to use an abused play on words).

Staircases that go nowhere. I remember many many times in my life, and my college journal attests to this fact as well, that many of the 'staircases' in my life have really gone, well, nowhere. I have tried this or that, and ended up have to backtrack and try again. I have pursued many a destination, tried many difficult endeavors, and pressed forward and upward only to realize that I have come to a brick wall. I realize that my muscles have been worked, oxygen has traveled through my body and the experience has made me stronger, and so I cannot completely say that the trip was a waste of time, or that I leave unchanged - so in a way I truly haven't arrived at "nowhere" and had to 'start over'. But I still have to return to some places to which I have already been, with that eerie feeling of deja vu tinted with a feeling of both exhaustion and renewed determination.

I haven't even been to this building, but I am sure that being there would help me understand this even more, feel it even deeper, and maybe even see it from a different perspective. Already I have gained insight into my past "nowheres" and seen how they make up a part of me, so that (in a rough paraphrase of M. L'Engle) I am 25 years old, but also 20, and 14, and 4.


I feel like your statement only helps support my previous comments. There can be many different meanings to this image and Ravi proposes one. I thought we were discussing whether or not this metaphor worked. Some said yes, some said no but we have to stay within that framework of reasoning. If one receives something else from the image it should be stated as such.

Our endeavours and life courses should never be considered a waste of time. God shapes us all differently and only he knows what we need or need to go through. I don't think that we ever really end up "nowhere" or at a dead end if we have Christ. It either brings us back to him (we all stray at times) or it grows us closer to him. But without Christ we do end up nowhere, unless, in the end, it all brings us to Him.


Hello, folks.
I've been watching this discussion for the past week (haven't read every
post, so I may be open to corrections from those who have already spoken). I
am a member of Ravi's generation---I think the way he does and have never
been much impressed with the whole post-modern discussion---I've seen
philosophical trends come and go---and try to stay fixed on Christian truth
(as distilled over the past 2000 years).
However, the current trend in Western thought is radically relativistic and
profoundly anti-Christian. (See Tammy Bruce---The Death of Right and Wrong:
Exposing the Left's Assault on Our Culture and Values). Today's college
students, when asked whether Hitler was an evil man for his part in the
death of millions of Jews, simply shrug and say they don't know---they
haven't walked in his shoes. Post-modern folks in the streets equate
President Bush with Hitler---or say that Saddam may be "bad" but Bush is
Christianity cannot make peace with relativism. (as Francis Schaeffer used
to say---Nature always eats up Grace.)
We either live in a world that was created, or we don't.
Our names are either written in the Lamb's Book of Life, or they aren't.
I am either born again, or I'm not.
Unbelievers are either damned, or they aren't.
Such Christian facts (and hundreds more like them) are not a matter of "how
you look at it" or whether you are a linear thinker or not.
If the issue is "How do we communicate the timeless gospel in this
relativistic age?"---well and good. Every generation must answer that
question. The challenge is to answer the question without losing the Gospel.
The Gospel has not changed---Christ is still building His Church---our task
is to follow Him as He does so.
Yours for training Christian leaders for the next generation,
Dave Holsclaw

Let me explain my thoughts a little further...
I hold firmly to the belief that there is unfailing truth. I don't
intend that to be irreconcilable with my analogy (water as a
foundation). Anologies always leave something lacking, they never
fully explain something from every facet.
That said, it is not unfailing truth that I build upon. I must live
with the knowledge of unfailing truth, but it is Christ Himself that
holds me up, He is my foundation. And He is indeed my rock. However,
He also talks about "living water".
So, if I build my faith upon Christ, then that leaves the water
analogy for more the theological side of things. I don't have to feel
like I'm "losing my faith" just because I'm shifting my theology. If
you'll remember the story I shared when I "introduced" myself, you'll
understand why this is important to me.
There is enough that remains consistent about water, yet it is
teeming with, and sustains, life. If I was building a house, I'd
build it on a rock. Since it is a life I'm building...I'll choose
When Peter kept his eyes on Christ he walked on the water, too.
Amy K.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

up/rooted friends,
Last monday (yes during the NCAA championship game) many of us gathered around the issues of the emerging church's need to engage in social justice. Peter Cha, the presenter, was very impressed with the group and our discussion. While talking with him yesterday he mentioned it had been a long time since he had been so challenged and stretched by the group he was speaking at.

We discussed two wrong turns that the Church made in the 20th century: 1) The "Great Betrayal" of the liberal church which lost the gospel amid political/social action; and 2) the "Great Reversal" of the evangelical church that reduced the gospel to merely marking time in this world while waiting from the next. The first focused on high level politics , and the second focused on grassroots conversion, with neither resulting in any real justice for the poor and the oppressed.

The basic issue, for us in the 21st century, is how to make our faith public now that we have realized the bankruptcy of a privatized "gospel" of sin management, disconnected from life here and now. Unfortunately, our discussion never really landed on a third way beyond the liberal and evangelical strategies. Many questions still remain...At what level and for what purpose should Christians engage in politics? What strategy for justice should the church adopted? And while the church should stand up and protect the poor, oppressed, and marginalized in society, we were certainly not in agreement as to what form that would take in-/out-side the Church. Maybe we should have "part two" to this gathering...? (any interested?)

Also, for those interested, there is a lively conversation at the emergent website dealing with economics and poverty.
(up/rooted has partnered with Emergent as a local cohort. Emergent is a national organization for networking and equipping "missional Christian Leaders.)

peace be with you,
Geoff Holsclaw
up/rooted: a collaborative friendship to understand and engage
the emerging Post-Christian culture.
Another month has come and gone, and it is time for another up/rooted gathering. Our next gathering is Monday, April 7th from 7:30-9:30pm (7:00-7:30pm is a time to decompress). Peter Cha from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School will lead us in a discussion entitled, “Being a Prophetic Church: Multiethnic and Social Justice Concerns.”

When the church seeks to integrate diverse cultures as a new people (multiethnic), and helps the marginalized and poor (social justice), then the whole Gospel is displayed through the Church. As a group thinking through how "to live faithfully within this emerging culture, while dwelling within God's story of redemption," we will discuss how the church can be an embodied apologetic of the Gospel instead of having a rational apologetic for the Gospel.

This might sound like a strange requests, but our "collaborative friendship" would be greatly enhanced, especially concerning this topic, with an ethnically diverse group. I say this because a discussion about multiculturalism and social justice will look extremely different, and probably impoverished, is we have mostly caucasians, than if we have a group rich with diversity. Afterall, cultural diverisity is one of up/rooted's values.

I hope to see many of you there, old friends and new faces.

peace be with you,
Geoff Holsclaw
up/rooted: a collaborative friendship to understand and engage
the emerging Post-Christian culture.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

A recent conversation/collaboration about rituals/liturgy and worship from up/rooted's yahoo group.

-rituals- geoff h
"up/rooted friends,

The topic of ritual/liturgy has come up briefly a couple of times. And
last sunday after church a group of us talked about either lent is
important or not. So I want to ask outright what you all think. Eric
Bangeman sent out a little something on lent, and I copied some portions
of it to spur conversation.

What is your history with the Church calendar, rituals, liturgy
(old-timer, new-comer, allergic to them), and what do you think
(accepting, curious, ignorant, don't like them), and are they important
or not. I personally think they are very important, but i want to know
where you all are at.
peace, geoff"

"Time is a very scarce resource for many people today due to
the frantic pace of life and all the distractions. Lent gives us a way of
setting apart time to focus on the cross, and the cross goes to the
heart of what our faith is all about. Reflecting on what Christ did on the
cross, on our salvation - that's so important to take the time to do..."

"I see Lent as a door - an entry way - for people to connect or
reconnect with Jesus," Ashey said. "Our culture is so focused on an
event rather
than a process. Even as evangelicals, I think we've been trapped by the
idea that salvation is a one-time event, like a sale that we've got to
close. But often, it's a process in which people ask questions again and
again and again and approach God again and again and again to consider
faith. We're hoping to use Lent as a way to help people consider Jesus
and take the time they need to process all He's done for us, so they can
discover a faith that's real..."

"Unlike the joyless deprivation some people think of when they think of
Lent, the season can actually be a quite rewarding and exciting time,
said Ashey. "There's a sense of preparation, of anticipation, and a
sense of
savoring what Jesus did for us. The church calendar invites us to take
our time and conform it to Jesus' time. We take a season like Lent and we
enter into Jesus' life and all that He dealt with on Earth, and then we can
better deal with everything in our own lives because we've connected
with Him..."

-rituals..sure- (dave carlson)
"The thing Bunker talked about.. "What does Christianity look like?" has
something to do with ritual. I don't really care if people are bummed out
about stale rituals. I mean, it's too bad they had to experience that and
I can understand how it might confuse a person as to whether or not
rituals are important.

But it's pretty obvious that ritual and liturgy are necessary components
to the practice of Christianity. If it's not obvious then fine... continue
that discussion. But I would think most people here are into it. Or at
least the idea of it. What I'd like to hear is why certain practices are
meaningful to people. What makes a ritual work? How do I know when I've
successfully done the deed?

Because I'm a child of the 60's I'm always looking for a warm fuzzy
feeling. But that happens inconsistently at best. Sometimes I think it's a
matter of fake it till you make it. Most often it's an act of submission,
knowing that I'm too screwed up to have a genuine moment and therefore my
self-forced participation might produce fruit in the long run. Does that
make sense to anyone?

I'd sure like to connect more often than I do. I suppose that has to do
with traditional church rituals... The ones I've experienced that were
made up by a small group of people at metanoia/safe place seemed to have a
lot of potential.

Also, I think Dave Fitch ought to stop eavesdropping on these exchanges
and add something to the conversation.

DC "

-rituals..sure- geoff
"I agree that Dave Fitch should add something, after all he is writing a book with a chapter devoted to worship and liturgy.

but dave- is the point of a ritual to feel/experience something? is that necessarily the point of worship? Yes and No. I think that rituals/ligury/worship music form us into new people as we encounter God, and part of that formation certainly should happen thru a visceral encounter with God (physical-emotional-spiritual). I thinking moving the goal of worship from "expressing/experiencing" or relationship with God, to "forming" a people (forming their doctrine and their expression). and when i say "forming" i'm not talking about style (music- jazz, rock, classical; or atmosphere- candles or not), but rather the general orientation and progression of worship.

there's tons more I could say on that, but i'll stop for now.
peace with you all,
geoff "

-rituals...sure- dave carlson
"I agree with you. The feeling/experience thing is where I come from, not necessarily where I'm headed. I think the word I like most is "immersive" worship. It has an environmental/exterior/cultural component to it. Eric B. and I were discussing MacIntyre's book After Virtue. In light of that book, the question is, "how do we do church in such a way that it inculcates the Aristotelian "acting from inclination" instead of the Kantian, "acting against inclination". We should call worship leaders experience creators. They should be skilled in creating an immersive environment where not only the words point to God but the entire symbolization of the Christian reality is present. A total embodiment. Nightclub/Disco owners would make good candidates as worship leaders. oops I mean experience creators. So would the Ringling Brothers.... or a Soho Art Gallery owner.... (provided they all get saved of course)
Dave C"

-kinds of worship services- mike sage
"My friend Rich, who is the Director of Worship and Arts at North Park did a
class on worship at our church over a year ago. He quotes John Ortberg in
defining worship primarily as a response to God for who He is and what He
has done (I'm kind of paraphrasing, here...) that involves our whole being.
Many of the scriptures where we see the people singing and praising God for
what He has done (like the song of Deborah, the song of Mary) are examples
of this. I've felt in trying to plan worship that often times I was trying
to make it happen, rather than respond to what God was doing, and had been
doing, and perhaps what He will do."

-kinds of worship services- geoff h
" Mike,
I agree with what you said about our need to respond to God. That
article that Eric sent around was a good categorization of worship
styles, but it still had that "marketing" and "audience" understanding
of worship that I'm really trying to get away from. The worship
services at Trinity that we are putting together are very word focused,
so that we don't have to "make it happen" as you said. Just like the
gospel, worship is a response to what God has done and is doing.
peace- geoff"

-kinds of worship services- mike sage
"I happen to prefer the first form of worship method mentioned. It might
have something to do with the fact that I'm a musician, and the response
that most resonates with me is music, not words. Perhaps it can be argued
that this can be the most problematic form of worship, in that it seems so
easy to forget that it's about responding, and not eliciting a feeling that
feels like the presence of God. It also seems easier to sing a song that
perhaps are not words that we feel than to say words that are not congruent
with our beings.

I sometimes feel that the shift from music focused worship to word focused
worship is a shift to avoid trying to "make it happen". While I can
appreciate that there are those that actually prefer this style of worship,
i.e. that their natural response is word, it kind of leaves me out a bit,
in that even if I were to have an authentic response, it would not be in
this form."

-kinds of worship services- eric b.
"I'm a little unclear about how the terminology is used here. By word-focused worship, do you mean worship centered around the proclamation of the Word of God? If so, it seems to me that "music-focused" worship is a subset of word-focused worship.

I also wonder about the necessity of an authentic response. Dave Carlson mentioned something to the effect of the need to "just do it" even when we don't feel it. In a very real way, worship is something we submit ourselves to in order to carry on the work of "divinization" as the Orthodox describe it -- conforming our character ever more to the image of Christ. It's great if we have some authentic emotional response to worhsip, but I think that placing ourselves in the narrative of Word and Sacrament is paramount.



-kinds of worship services- mike sage
"Well, not to speak for Geoff, but I'm assuming that what he meant, and
perhaps more importantly for your question what I took it to mean was that
the worship he is leading involves more use of the liturgy, and having
people speak words, instead of always singing songs as the form of worship.
I hope that clarifies that portion.

As far as response, I think we have been conditioned to think that
"response" means "emotional response". I think that we can decide in our
minds to respond to something, including the word of god, and have that be
authentic. What form that response takes as a community I think is a
decision that can be made in complete freedom to choose whatever form we
wish it to take (although perhaps not the loincloth clad worship).

That being said, I think God wants our hearts as well as our minds. What
does this mean? I'd sure like some input.


-kinds of worship services- geoff h
" I'm not sure where I miss spoke, but I didn't want to give the impression the people should just speak and listen to the Word of God. What I meant is that we start with God and what he has done and spoken as our departure for worship. I'm all about music/singing. I think we should sing the Word more instead of our silly diddies about romantic love. lets sing through the psalm, and the hymn of the OT and NT.

As Dave C. said "They should be skilled in creating an immersive environment where not only the words point to God but the entire symbolization of the Christian reality is present." and Eric B. said "It's great if we have some authentic emotional response to worhsip, but I think that placing ourselves in the narrative of Word and Sacrament is paramount." i'm right there with this.

so i'll define my words i guess: "word-based" is not proclamation based. the sermon does not run the show in my worship world, rather the gospel does (we need to re-narrate people into the gospel every week). "liturgy" is anything that the Church does intentionally, regularly in its corporate worship. "ritual" is anything that embraces that fact that we are embodied beings -so communion and hand clapping are both ritual (one more meaningful than the other).
maybe we should express ideal worship services rather than defining terms...
peace- geoff h"

Monday, March 10, 2003

What is a post-modern church? What does it look like? What does it contain? Any thoughts, comments or perspectives, I believe, could create a fruitful, informing discussion

Thom Fredericks

I'll start with what a pomo church is not. A pomo church is not just a great use of audio/visual stuff, a creative power point presentation, a hip band, low lights and candles w/ some gimmicky rituals. I'm not against any of those things, but this is many times just a superficial cultural accommodation to MTV or GenX. Having a genx service in not necessarily postmodern. after all, many young people are ditching the evangelical church (and it infatuation with being relevant) and are going to high church with all their ancient ritual. so that's my opening forey...i'll try to think of something constructive soon,

geoff h

I say we call it Squizzy... Forget pomo language, it's too problematic. We need to be squizzy about how we practice our faith. Of course I'm open to other suggestions. Flueberdink anyone?

Dave Carlson


squizzy is too catchy. it should be something like the name of God
you can't say. so we'll call it "pblpblpldbldpldbpdb!" and when
people ask how to say it we'll just say "oh we can't say that it's
too holy" or something. ;-)

peace lucas

i hate to bring this up, but i can say pblpblpldbldpldbpdb.


LOL!!! You're absolutely right. My advertising background sneaks in once again. I'd try to step outside myself again and come up with something else but I fear my psyche will slip again and reveal some other little community I've been a part of. I like your idea of just not saying anything. Why don't we all shut up for a while and just go about the business of being Christlike. And when cornered for an answer we just say "oh we can't say that it's too holy".


Being Christlike. Yea, yea that is the bottom line. BUT instead of saying anything at all how about we just shrug our shoulders? :)

Thom Fredericks

OK, I repent for saying pomo or postmodern too many times. maybe we can ask, "what does a church look like that is trying to be faithful in the postmodern context/culture?" but that is too wordy, so just at Thom asked,
"what is a post-modern church?"
geoff h

No...No...wait...wait...I've got it. How about we just make the "locking the lips" action like turning a key and then throwing it away. Then we could let them know that they need to go look for the key to unlock the answer. Challenging.

Thom Fredericks


I liked this question: "what does a church look like that is trying to be faithful in the postmodern context/culture?" That is closer to what I think the focus should be. Although, I am still not convinced that being "imitators of Christ" would, or should, look any different than in any other era.

Thom Fredericks

Uprooted Family,

It is interesting that we are engaging in an issue of language / linguistics and nomenclature. If anything, the pomo shifts have shown us that language is often much more fluid, porous, and obtuse in its ability to capture meaning. In many ways, missionaries and anthologists have shown us how localized language really is and how easy it is to assume you understand what someone means based on the idea that words contain their meaning. One of the key elements of a pomo church I believe is a real visceral dialogue on a local level about the language of the holy. The import and power of language comes from a communal sense of agreement regarding meaning and knowing. Christians have assumed that truth to someone in Asia is the same as truth to someone in Seattle. Or even more contained, that truth to someone in Berkeley is the same as truth to someone in Boise.
The idea that truth is ultimately objective, floating out there in space only waiting for someone to discover it via the throwing off of prejudice and tradition is what the postmodern church calls into question. As silly as the squizzilies can get, that conundrum of meaning drives us to see dialogue as sacred and community as vital for meaning & truth to go beyond personal ruminations. Why am I not surprised Carlson introduced us to the SQUIZZLIES????


Does this mean we have to talk to one another? I'd be okay with that as long as we code our communications. After all, aren't we living in exile? Why not develop a secret language much like prisoners do or the way slaves communicated with each other throughout the oppression of slavery. How do you think Moderate Muslims feel about Osama Bin Laden running around co-opting their faith language. Why should we let others in on our territory? I say we squizzy our lives together and live boostanfully knowing that that thing we can't say is reigning aardopopitly.


Sounds like Gnosticism is raising its head again.

Thom Fredericks

In some ways you are responding to the church's attempt to bring relevance to its message. In one sense, the holy will always be "un" relevant. Modernist attempts to make sure "everyone gets it" often dumb down the holy till it is much like therapeutic language. Josh McDowel's Evidence that Demands a Verdict is one of these attempts to make accessible the holy such that anyone who is reasonable and intelligent will understand that he is a sinner and merely repent as an act of objective, reasoned behavior modification.

There needs to be a re centering of the mysterious. Awe and fear of God are ideas that for the modernist just make God to inaccessible and frightening Well??????? Who do you want to worship? Jerry Falwell's older more gentler brother or a God who is called a HOLY FIRE?


I had forgotten to share this with you all in the recent flurry of list-activity
regarding "defining post-modernity". This quote is taken from a recent talk by
D.S. Long in which he addresses this issue. He may have said something quite
the same when he was at up/rooted, but it is instructive none-the-less.

"But why? What are values? I tell my students: “Don’t have values. Used cars
have values. People should never have values.” Values are a very bad thing to
have because primarily our moral life is understood in terms of preferences, as
if they are choices we have made rather than gifts we have inherited. Values
are posited by human will, because that is all we have left at the end of

Nietzsche recognized this and he identified this problem as the “will to
power,” or as “nihilism.” And I am one of those person who believes that the
modern era ends in nihilism. Nihilism is not merely the negation of everything
that came prior, although it includes that negation. In that sense many people
when they use the term “post-modernity” they misunderstand what it is. Post-
modernity is not this age that comes after the modern. Because there is a sense
in which the end of modernity never comes to an end. The end of modernity is
an endless end of repetition that you can’t get out of because the end of
modernity is that progress becomes our fate. New and improved is simply
something we have to embrace.

The new and improved, it always almost arrives but never quite gets here
which requires the negation of everything that has come before as old, as
obsolescent. The end of modernity is like the skip at the end of what we used
to call an LP, it plays itself over and over and over again. And that is why
post-modernity can’t just be the next stage that overcomes the modern. That
won’t work, that is just one more modern strategy. It is something else."

M. Leary
Bindery Supervisor/Book Artist
Rolfing Memorial Library

nice work, and what is a "book artist"?

i totally agree with this understanding of modernity as always looking for the next new thing (the cool, hip), so most of the post-modern conversation is just that, looking for the next new thing (which usually is retro-, from the past). That's why I said that most so-called postmodern churches are really just modern, b/c they are only looking for something new (but of course they say that they want to minister to genx or something like that, which is certainly a good motivation, it just backfires.)

at the january up/rooted gathering Stephen Long said that post modernity helps us to rightly name modernity (which refers to what Bunker was saying about language), but is unable to move beyond it.
so what does that mean for the church? you guys figure it out.

geoff h

It is interesting to note that we know what a postmodern church is not yet we are not certain, in any specificity, what it is. I think one would also have to say that a church could posses all of the below mentioned practices and still be within the realm of a postmodern church. To say that these are "just a superficial cultural accommodation to MTV or GenX." doesn't seem to address much. The "church" should never BE the building or the technology within no matter how many of these gimmicks one may posses. The church should not also BE the high road of minimalism and art. The church is ìthe bride of Christî and we should live as a bride should live waiting for her groom, in purity!

Young people are always looking for something new. Many young people a generation ago (generation being used loosely) fled the traditional churches for those of the evangelical format. Worship preferences may change but God does not and I am not certain as to how the truth of Christ would change either.

I do not know if I agree to this idea of a post-modern church as much as I think followers of Christ living, in purity and grace, should learn how to be followers of Christ is a postmodern society, which doesnít exist throughout the world.

Ancient rituals. I have heard this mentioned several times in the past regarding the postmodern church and I would like to know - what are the desired ancient rituals and their significance?

Thanks for the dialogue. It is quite interesting.

Thom Fredericks

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously!


"At the january up/rooted gathering Stephen Long said that post modernity
helps us to rightly name modernity (which refers to what Bunker was saying
about language), but is unable to move beyond it. so what does that mean
for the church? you guys figure it out."

I like this statement a lot. This in some sense make post-modernity a heuristic
device wouldn't it? A descriptive way of describing who we are and why rather than a prescriptive means of framing who we are and why properly.

In this light: why do we have to figure this out? What exactly is there to figure out? That is where I keep hitting a brick wall, I simply don't know what the "right" question to ask is.

But I do know what the "necessary" questions for the local church. They simply are like this:
1. This brother has a drinking problem, how can I help him?
2. How can I be a better preacher?
3. This sister is sick, how can we help her?
4. How should we worship?
5. How can we be involved with evangelism?

All very basic practical questions. All questions that have their answers in the
wisdom of scripture and the experience of other leaders. Now here is my question: is the question of post-modernity one of these basic practical questions, or is it something else? Do we make this issue more complicated then it actually is. How fundamental is this question to the life of our local church? From one perspective it is not fundamental at all.

For Long it is one of these practical questions. His answer to your question Geoff is simply the whole communitarian/Amish thing. And he would answer the question: "What does this mean for the church?" By saying: "It means we have to embody a Christian ethic, not a modernist one because these two things have become identical in modern ecclesiology."

It seems that for others, like Lindbeck for example, this question is not simply
practical, it is paradigmatical. This to me seems to be stepping over some
theological boundary.

(p.s. a "Book Artist" is one who treats the creation of books and literary material as one of the Fine Arts rather than what is known as the "Shop Arts" (woodworking, leathercraft, etc...) It is a growing national movement that actually has a lot of leaders in Chicago.

M. Leary
Bindery Supervisor/Book Artist
Rolfing Memorial Library

Who do you want to worship? Jerry Falwell's older more gentler brother or a God who is called a HOLY FIRE?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I wish I'd said that.

Get squizzy!

Thom Fredericks wrote:

Being Christlike. Yea, yea that is the bottom line. BUT instead of saying anything at all how about we just shrug our shoulders?

yes, i think being christlike is the goal, and that too often we focus on other things. We strain out the nats of epistemplogy, language, and the culturally chiche, but forget the weightier things like justice, righteousness, and faithfulness.

I liked this question: "what does a church look like that is trying to be faithful in the postmodern context/culture?" That is closer to what I think the focus should be. Although, I am still not convinced that being "imitators of Christ" would, or should, look any different than in any other era.

i agree and disagree. Being imitators of Christ might be similar to other era, and i would say that with some of the pomo corrective to modern Christian, we again are more able to pursue that imitation. (this would be a holistic expression of the gospel and the kingdom of God, an embodied spirituality rather than congitive, and an embracing of diversity) but i disagree because each era has its own strengths and weaknesses, and while there is an eternal Gospel, each era response to that gospel is temporal, fallible (we call this Christianty). As on African theologian said, "the gospel is timeless, but Christiantiy is always a beggar."

Ancient rituals. I have heard this mentioned several times in the past regarding the postmodern church and I would like to know - what are the desired ancient rituals and their significance?

would some else please comment on ritual and their significance?


perhaps when trying to understand what a postmodern church would look
like we are actually asking the wrong question by emphasizing what it
would LOOK like. i would hope that one way this postmodern movement
would reshape the church is to move away from the question being what
should it LOOK like, or what should the worship style or worship
format or structure of the church be. instead i hope we ask what
should the church BE, what will it feel like, who will be invited and
included, what will we do together. then the appearance is secondary
and really of little importance. let's get down to the basics. what
is church?

here i think we have to pause because we have more problematic
language. both the words postmodern and church are pretty loaded. i
don't think we can have such a thing. church is just the english
translation of ekklesia right? if i remember correctly ekklesia
means something quite different from the connotations of church...
getting greek dictionary... ah yes... all of the meanings and uses
seem to involve gathering, assembling or meeting... except the
meaning as in the universal church. so i think the body of Christ
that will hopefully manifest in a postmodern world will be manifest
in many different ways and gatherings, different buildings, different
music, different style. what i think our task and the question
really is is what are the values that should shape the church? for
example... no matter what the church looks like some things are
essential... maybe... like worship and discipleship and fellowship.
what about those things is necessary for a community of faith, for a
gathering of christians, an ekklesia?

maybe everybody already said this because i didn't read all the posts
again.... more to come...

peace lucas


I may have misunderstood your assertion that the church should focus less on what it looks like so bear with me here as I am attempting to address an issue you may have not even desired to be addressed.

We must look like something. That has been the dark underbelly if you will of some of the Enlightenment's tendency to allow faith to be disembodied. However, with that being said, what we look like will not be universally shared as one common symbol system. Local enclaves will "look"different and should. The attempt to find one monolithic ubiquitous "look" is indeed a fruitless search. If you are responding to the over attention to form, aesthetic, and style over against lifestyle, character & virtue, I am with you on that.

i'm giving up posting before i read through all the posts first. ok
so you guys are on the same wavelength.

as far as the question of if postmodernism even matters.... i think
it doesn't matter as long as you don't interact with people or live
in the world. it only matters as much as you have contact with it.
i think churches without "postmodern" thinking kids in it do them a
disservice by reinforcing their modern tendencies and then send them
off to college to have their foundations destroyed.

postmodernism seems to create a multitude of paradoxes which fits
with my understanding of christianity. we recognize through
postmodernism that things are not either/or that things are rather
fluid so in our commuities we may have people who are thoroughly
postmodern, people who are thoroughly modern and many who are
somewhere in between.

some have said we must create separate postmodern churches because we
can't coexist with moderns. i have a lot of trouble with that
thought. and i don't know that it's even possible to create some
purely "postmodern" community. i think it's just a different way of
being the church. trying to create more intentional community
without the barriers of hierarchy and structure for example. i'm not
real comfortable labeling churches postmodern even... once you do
that it seems they probably cease being postmodern. we can't look
for the same categories to define how we do church that modernism
did. i hope it will be more vague... less emphasis on styles and
superficial things and more emphasis on values.

for example... we really value community and sharing our lives
together and are intentional about the way we creat an ekklesia to
make that happen. that doesn't define a whole range of things that
maybe modern people would be uncomfortable with, but i think it
defines the church better than some sort of institutional hierarchy
or structure or style or worship format or trend or "new thing" as
has been said.

i will ponder this further and perhaps have some list of things i
envision as being important or essential to what ekklesia means
(postmodern or otherwise).

peace lucas

i think what i just posted clarified a little better. still
pondering though what these values are that define ekklesia apart
from form and structure.

peace lucas

While pondering you might want to consider the narrative implications of "ekklesia apart from form and structure." I look forward to your thoughts on this.


colorless but not odorless

Thom Fredericks

ok david,

bear with me on this because i'm just thinking out loud. this should
be much mroe rooted in scripture, but right now i'm going with my
head and heart. what i mean by ekklesia apart from frm and structure
is a gathering of christians or people apart from the institutional
trappings and superficial religious church-y things (not that these
things won't be part of it jsut that they won't define it). so
here's my definition of ekklesia (you guys can add or subtract to
them as you see fit and maybe we'll reach some sort of helpful

1. authentic community- this would mean that the members are
intentional about the community being inclusive and welcoming. that
people share their lives and not just their sundays with each other.

2. discipleship- the people in this community get together
periodically to continue to try and figure this faith thing out.
various methods could apply but the main thing is that they get
together to struggle through living out faith in the real world and
in their own lives.

3. worship- there is a time set aside to encounter God. nuff said.

4. food- i think food should be central. it's really what has kept
people from being totally isolated from each other anyway. actually
i don't have anymore right now and i think food always brings people
together so why not?

i'm reading "the spirit of the disciplines" by dallas willard right
now and i keep coming back to the disciplines as being much mor
eimportant and uplifted as a means of living out our faith. i was
never taught, encouraged or mentored in living out spiritual
disciplines in my life. the closest thing was the 30 minute quiet
time and i'm finding that a totally inadequate way of looking at
spiritual disciplines and spiritual growth.

peace lucas