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Brian's Blog

  • August 31, 2015

  • Back Home After a Full August

    I spent the first half of August in New Zealand with Rob Kilpatrick and the Smallternative Trust, and the second half at beautiful Ring Lake Ranch in Wyoming. It's hard to imagine more beautiful scenery and enjoyable people than I've encountered over the last month.

    Of course, with all that travel, my email inbox is the fullest it's ever been, so you can guess what I'll be catching up on in the coming days.

    As always, you can see the slides I shared during my presentations here:
    http://www.slideshare.net/brianmclaren

    If you sign up for my email newsletter, I'll be sending out a more detailed report - with pictures - in a few days. Sign up here.

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  • August 25, 2015

    A reader writes: reading the Bible with heart and head

    A reader writes:

    Blog entries Aug. 22 & Aug. 23 both deal with violence. Isn’t it interesting that we readily accept that God would willingly, and with malice, smite the firstborn of Egypt and yet reproach David as unworthy precisely because of his violence? These passages have always been part of the cannon. What changed from one epoch to the other? God? The Hebrew writers' view of God? I am no Biblical scholar, but I have always known to question the "letter of the law" when it did not match God’s character. It is a pity we Christians do not read the Bible with our heart and our head.
    Thanks as always for your continued inspiration, Brian.

    Thanks for reading!

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  • August 23, 2015

    A Sermon from an 8 or 9 year old

    During my recent trip to New Zealand, a mom shared a fascinating story with me about her daughter, in response to a talk I gave about my most recent book, We Make the Road by Walking. She followed up with this note:


    Below is the sermon I mentioned that my daughter did when we did a service at home while we were still looking for a church after moving to [a new city]. She said she would word it differently now but she still agrees with its sentiment. She is now 10 so was probably 8 or 9 when she wrote it. :) At the time she chose her own topic and of all the BIble that is what she chose to talk about. :)

    Lucy's Sermon.
    "When I think about God I think of a person who would never murder or kill anyone. But when you think about it you wonder because wasn't it God who swept the angel of death over Egypt? It makes you think doesn't it? Is God against it or is he not? I mean what had the boys done to die? It was the phero (sic) wasn't it? Now do you realise how little we know about God? I hope this made you think, thanks for listening."

    Thank God that a nine-year-old is troubled by the violent view of God so many accept without a second thought. Thank God her view of God is of someone "who would never murder or kill anyone." If her sermon has touched you, maybe you'd enjoy WMTRBW.

    As Lucy says, "I hope this are you think, thanks for listening."

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  • August 22, 2015

    Why You Have to Love my Readers … Reason #371

    They offer ways to improve points I made in a book. Take this reader for example:

    Hi. I'm reading JMBM of Brian's and finding much to grapple with, and thoroughly enjoying the experience. Thank you.

    In chapter 21, Brian is quoting from Tom Boomershine about using stories in isolation, but recommends 'pairing' stories.

    As an example he uses David killing Goliath 1 Sam 17, and pairs it with David not being allowed to build the Temple because he is a violent man. He quotes 1 Kings 5.

    It may seem a small point, but the same reason for David not being allowed to build the Temple is given in 1 Chron 22;8, and 1Chron 28;3. The passage Brian chose didn't illustrate his point quite as well as the other ones.
    The 1 Kings 5;3 almost paints David as passive, unfortunate, and just happened to be at war, so couldn't fit in building the Temple during wartime. 'You know that because of the wars waged against my father David from all sides, he could not build a temple for the name of the Lord his God until the Lord put his enemies under his feet.'

    However the two other passages quoted above seem to link his violent lifestyle, with his unsuitability to be the Temple builder 1 Chron 22;7-8

    'David said to Solomon:"My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the Lord my God. But this word of the Lord came to me: 'You have shed much blood, and fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight.'

    In my opinion this, and the other 1 Chron passage link the violence with his unsuitability to be the builder better than the 1 Kings 5 passage. Perhaps worth considering for future reprints/versions of the book, which I'm sure there will be a need for.

    Please pass my thanks on to Brian for writing such a courageous book. Keep up the 'fight'......the creative benevolent fight, that is.

    Thanks. I'm blessed indeed to have such thoughtful and helpful readers.

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  • August 20, 2015

    A tribute to an Egyptian brother ...

    a good and peaceful man who died for love of democracy. A look behind the headlines - including the stories that aren't being told. Here.

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  • August 19, 2015

    Next Year's Vacation Bible School ...

    These reports just came in from a congregation in Texas who used four chapters from We Make the Road by Walking as their curriculum.
    First …

    Wow, the first night of WMTRBW VBS went better than I could have hoped. We had about 50 people participating ages 3 months to 89.

    We fed everyone dinner in their "tribes" and then had a worship service. Everyone got up to dance (even our oldest Presbyterians) during the music. We have a bit of training yet to do on the response to scripture reading. When the groups were dismissed to the tribal councils (small groups of about 14) there was more discussion. I did not hear the depth of discussion I was hoping for but it was just the first night and people were working on figuring out just what this family style experience was going to be. The response activities were a hit. We had a prayer room with mandalas, quiet space and Greek and Hebrew writing stations. The games room had four square, jenga, and hopscotch. The science room had stations to build cooperatively build structures from marshmallows and spaghetti as well as other experiments. The final room was an art room where the group made Hamsas and talked about how people of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faith use this as a good luck symbol.

    We have three more regular nights scheduled then we have our mission night. I was able to get in touch with the city of Fort Worth which donated gloves and trash bags to support the effort. There is a stream leading to a small pond in the church's neighbor that is in desperate need of cleaning. Even with threats of the temperature being in the 100s that night, I have several signed up to help.

    Even the church [skeptic] had to admit at the end of the evening that it was a good thing.
    Finding a metric for success was interesting. I come from a deeply Baptist background and the measure of success would be conversions and attendance. The committed decided the best metric for us would be the comments overheard. I think the best long term indicator of success would be an increase in the depth of dialogue about scripture and its use. We will see how that plays out. For now, the goal of the VBS is to expose the congregation to a type of learning that honors the gifts of each member of the group, builds community, and deepens faith as demonstrated by more questions with fewer answers.

    Thank you for the gift of WMTRBW and the time you spent with us in the Dallas bootcamp

    .

    Here's the final update:


    The VBS is complete and it was a success. The people involved were overwhelmingly positive in their assessments of the event. Last night we did a stream clean up. We had a team of 11 who attended. The youngest was 6 and the oldest was 72.

    The material from WMTRBW was accessible to all ages. The group really enjoyed the worship liturgies. The common meal was another great part.

    I used the sermon on the mount as our basis but I think the framework could be applied to any four chapters.It is also highly adaptable to the individual needs of the church.
    I had one person tell me it was like an "old fashioned revival with time to talk and have fun".

    (She was also a former Baptist in the Presbyterian church.) I am pleased with the response. I am attaching a few pictures.


    IMAG1972.jpg

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  • It's time for a new song ...

    Stay tuned for an exciting project I'm working on with some amazing friends … launching a new generation of progressive Christian worship music - songs of praise and protest, joy and lament, contemplation and motivation.

    But for inspiration, let's look back at arguably the most deeply Christian music in American history, the negro spiritual. Here's an amazing interview. And here's an inspiring song:
    Didn't my Lord deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel

    Didn't my Lord deliver Daniel, why not everyone?

    Didn't my Lord deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel

    Didn't my Lord deliver Daniel, why not everyone?

    He delivered Daniel from the lion's den

    Jonah from the belly of the whale

    The Hebrew children from the fiery furnace

    Why not everyone?

    Didn't my Lord deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel

    Didn't my Lord deliver Daniel, why not everyone?

    The moon runs down in a purple stream

    The sun refuse to shine

    Every star shall disappear

    But Jesus shall be mine.

    Oh, didn't my Lord deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel

    Didn't my Lord deliver Daniel, why not everyone?

    Why not everyone?

    Why not everyone?

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  • August 18, 2015

    What Can You Do with an Old Shipping Container?

    Of the many amazing people I met on my recent trip to New Zealand, I especially enjoyed meeting some enterprising folks in Wellington who are repurposing shipping containers to deliver job training to folks in need. Learn more here …
    https://www.facebook.com/storiesespressobar

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  • August 17, 2015

  • August 16, 2015

    What Donald Trump is Teaching Christians ...

    from Ryan Gear, here. Quotable:

    James 2:6 seems to be relevant in every age, including ours, “But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you?” Old habits die hard, as Trump supporters have forsaken billionaire party bosses in favor of . . . well, another billionaire. What would James say?

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  • August 11, 2015

  • August 10, 2015

    Great Speakers to Consider ...

    I'll be on travel sabbatical from November 10, 2015 to September 10, 2016. If you're looking for a speaker, you'll find some excellent ones here:

    NAIITS

    Transform Network

    Center for Progressive Renewal

    Auburn Senior Fellows

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  • August 9, 2015

    Civil Discourse is Possible -

    And you can become a practitioner and promoter. Here are a plethora of resources …

    · The Public Conversations Project (www.publicconversations.org/resources) —They have a helpful guide called “Fostering Dialogue Across Divides” as well other materials.

    · National Institute for Civil Discourse (www.nicd.arizona.edu)- NICD conducts programs to promote civility and also does research to identify individuals and groups promoting dialogue around the country work.

    · Everyday Democracy www.everyday-democracy.org/resources -- This group assists people who want to conduct dialogues on difficult issues in hundreds of communities across the country and they have many online resources available.

    · Intergroup Resources (www.intergroupresources.com/one-america-dialogue-guide) – This organization has numerous resources for dialogue including the One America Dialogue Guide that has been widely used around the country to help structure community conversations on race relations.

    The Faith & Politics website (www.faithandpolitics.com/better-angels) offers a variety of resources that have been created as part of the Better Angels project during the past three years.

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  • August 8, 2015

    Initiative 5: Educate - yourself and others

    https---img.evbuc.com-https%253A%252F%252Fcdn.evbuc.com%252Fimages%252F14552483%252F23745094238%252F1%252Foriginal.jpg%3Frect%3D0%252C126%252C1104%252C552%26s%3D77bf3571650a76b97971a0d4d6f477c2.jpeg

    Our final initiative in Coming Together in Faith on Climate is to educate yourself and others.

    Many of us feel that a tide is turning and momentum is building. Every week, the costs of solar and other forms of renewable energy are decreasing, the data against fossil fuels is growing, and the level of passion and commitment among normal people is rising.

    So we're asking you to stay informed. News sources like Common Good News will keep you up to date, and so will the websites and mailing lists of all our partners.

    But we don't just want you to stay educated. We want you to educate others. We want you to be "that guy" who always forwards information and links to people … using your Facebook, Twitter, blog, and other lines of communication to be contagious in your enthusiasm for integral ecology and climate change solutions … rooted in faith, expressed in action.

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