Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Literal and Spiritual Potluck

Hey up/rooted friends!

As you know, we gathered again for up/rooted last night at Kristine Socall's home for good food and even better discussion. We reveled in humus and pita, Rosati's pizza, spinach artichoke dip, fresh home-grown tomato and mozarella bruschetta, and a number of other excellent dishes. After a time of renewing friendships over great food, we adjourned to the living room where we decided to each contribute one question to a big, fuzzy Russian hat from whence we drew and discussed.

Of course, with discussion as free flowing and lively as it ever is at up/rooted, we only had time for two of the questions suggested that night. The first we drew was from Pastor Fred of Redeemer Church in Park Ridge. His read:

"We are starting a new worship gathering on Sunday nites. For you, what are the values for worship in a postmodern context?"

It had been a while since we had addressed questions of worship styles and methods at up/rooted, so this was a great topic for us to get into together. We discussed what the purpose or goals of worship were. This led us into considering whether more charismatic group experiences or more individualistic contemplative experiences were preferable (or, if both are, to what degree of each). We also discussed the aesthetics of worship, and how worship should be an act that engages both the mind and the senses. Those with a more liturgical background brought up questions about the reasons for and value of liturgy, and Stephen especially shared about the uniqueness of his charismatic episcopal church, Church of the Resurrection.

BTW, Pastor Fred also encourage anyone from the up/rooted community to email him if you have any further suggestions or advice on starting a postmodern worship service. You can reach him at fjn113@comcast.net.

The second question of the night was from my wife Julie. She asked:

"Are Statements of Faith good or bad? Are they necessary or do they draw unnecessary lines?"

We began by discussing how Statements of Faith often help us know ahead of time what kind of church we're dealing with, if we are skilled at reading between the lines, and how there is value in being up front and honest about what is most important to your church. However, we also talked about the dangers of labeling and pigeonholing a church based on their beliefs without really getting to know the true personality of the church. It was also generally agreed that the more minimalist a Statement of Faith can be, the better, so that rather than drawing lines of "in" and "out", a church can be open to conversation and a diversity of viewpoints (realizing that this is sometimes easier said than done). My contribution was that a Statement of Faith, if a church has one, should be more about telling the basic story of our faith rather than about drawing lines on every little theological debate. For instance, our church, Via Christus, uses nothing more than the Apostles Creed as its Statement of Faith.

For the other questions that we didn't have time to discuss, I will be posting them here at our up/rooted blog every few days or so, and I encourage you all to dive into discussion of them. So if you've wanted to be involved in up/rooted but don't have time to get out to our gatherings regularly, here's your chance to contribute to the conversation online.

Our next up/rooted gathering will be on Thursday, September 28, and we will be joined by special guest Doug Pagitt, pastor of Solomon's Porch, author of the books Church Re-Imagined and Preaching Re-Imagined, and the orginal founder of what has become Emergent. Spread the word, invite your friends and pastors, and stay tuned for time and location details.


Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator

Monday, August 21, 2006

Wahu Kaara Download

Hey all,

A while back I promised a download of the speach by Wahu Kaara, the Kenyan presidential candidate and Nobel Peace Prize nominee that spoke to us a few weeks ago. It's finally online for those of you who couldn't make it to Winfield that night. You can download it here.


Friday, August 18, 2006

August up/rooted gathering coming up

Hi friends,

I just wanted to let you know that we'll be meeting again for up/rooted a week from this Monday, August 28, from 7-9pm at the Socall home, 26W325 Torrey Pines Ct., Winfield, IL 60190. This will be a more informal gathering, and we'll do it potluck style, so bring some food to share and questions to discuss - anything you feel like talking about it fine.

Also, as a sneak preview, we may have the chance of hearing from Doug Pagitt - pastor of Solomon's Porch, founder of Emergent, and author of Church Re-Imagined - at our September gathering. I'll let you know more details as we get them worked out.

As always, contact me with any questions or if you need a ride. Hope to see you then!

Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Heretic's Guide to Eternity

I have another teaser/trailer for you all. As with Brian McLaren's book, The Secret Message of Jesus, I've again been asked to review an advance copy of another book, this time one entitled A Heretic's Guide to Eternity by Spencer Burke, the creator of TheOoze.com, one of my favorite emergent websites. In this book Spencer questions our traditional notions of grace and salvation, proposing the heretical possibility that salvation might be an "opt out" deal rather than an "opt in". (As Spencer said to me at at conference I met him at once, "I'm a universalist that believes in Hell.")

I think this is an incredibly important issue for Christians to wrestle with, even if one doesn't come to a full agreement with Spencer's position. However, my prediction is that most Christians, even those within the emerging church movement, will likely have too much to lose to risk showing support for - or even a mild interest in - Spencer's ideas. Universalism (of any variety) is still a dangerous (and yes, heretical) idea in most conservative Christian circles. As a minister, to "come out" as a universalist will 1) get you fired; 2) cause people to leave your church; 3) lose a big chunk of your missionary support; 4) get your in-laws to start praying for you to recover your lost faith; 5) keep you from being taken seriously or shown much respect within evangelical circles ever again. In short you will be written off as a heretic, end of story.

Fortunately for Spencer, he has already largely disentangled himself from insitutional Christianity and the evangelical establishment over the past decade or so, and will probably not sweat it too much if he doesn't get a positive review in Christianity Today. Indeed, a good chunk of the book seems to be not just about universalism, but also about the stifling effect of institutionalized religion on true spirituality. At any rate, I fully expect this book to be mostly panned by evangelical (and even emergent) critics. I just hope that at least a few bloggers will have the balls to admit that they too wrestle with the questions of who is actually saved or not and why, and that they sometimes hope/wonder that God's grace might in fact be much wider than we're often led to believe.

Anyhow, I've just begun reading the book, so I'll post a real review of it here in a week or two once I'm all the way through. (I'm a pretty slow reader.) Stay tuned!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Hey up/rooted friends!

Last week about 100 of us crowded into Kristine and Brian Socall's home in Winfield to hear an amazing lady from Kenya speak to us about global poverty and what we as American citizens can do about it. It was an amazing night. With her permission, I wanted to share my wife, Julie's, comments on the evening (also posted at the Emerging Women's blog):

Last night I went to hear Nobel Peace Prize nominee and 2007 Kenyan presidential candidate Wahu Kaara speak. The occasion was an event called Wake up to Poverty and Kaara fearlessly called on us suburbanite Americans to wake up and care.

Kaara, the founding coordinator of the Kenya Debt Relief Network, is also the Ecumenical Coordinator for the Millennium Development Goals in Kenya at the All Africa Conference of Churches. With Brazilian President Luis InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva, Kaara launched the Global Call to Action against Poverty in Brazil in 2005, which has grown into the world's largest anti-poverty movement. Its organizations together represent more than 150 million people globally, with campaign actions in more than 80 countries.

What amazed me is how her role as a woman is helping change the world. She was one of the lucky women in Kenya who was blessed with an education. She had a comfortable life first as a teacher then as a school principal. Yet she saw the conditions of her people living under systems of oppression (often inflicted by countries like the US) and realized that she had to do more. She said she saw how in communities in Kenya the women formed networks of support to help care for each other and that inspired her to create networks to help end global poverty.

The groups she has founded have made tremendous impact already. And she is running for the Kenyan Presidency with strong goals and dreams (in many ways aiming at nothing less than ending poverty and helping form a United States of Africa). Her call to us was to wake up to poverty and see the need for aid without conditions, just trade, and debt relief. She wasn't afraid to touch issues that American Christians usually avoid – ones that point out the sinfulness of certain policies, the greed of corporations, and the pain our consumeristic ways causes to other countries and the environment. This wasn't some college hippie liberal ranting about the government, this was an educated leader who has lived through and amidst the pain asking us to open our eyes, be educated, and work for change.

Most encouraging was that even amidst the vastness of the problems (poverty, debt, disease), Kaara had hope. She no longer wants Africa to be seen as a desperate, hopeless continent, but as a living continent. She has hope and has strategies and plans for making it happen. Some of that involves people in America pressuring our representatives to set the standard for the world in participating in the Jubilee of debt relief and aid.

In all it was a fascinating evening listening to a women who has looked at a problem and is stepping up to fix it. She is a modern hero and role model for women.

Brian from Adventrek (the group that helped sponsor this event and bring Ms. Kaara here) has promised to put the audio of Wahu Kaara's talk online soon. I'll send out the link as soon as that's up.

We don't have a date or topic yet for our next up/rooted gathering. I'll let you all know as soon as we get that figured out.


Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator