Advent at the Movies

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In a move that launched us into 1997, our family recently started a Netflix subscription.  The kids needed something for Friday Night Movie Nights, Dad needs to catch up on some films to maintain some shred of cultural currency, and Mom likes to fall asleep to Call The Midwife (while I remain rapt and wide awake at this excellent BBC series).  It’s been a fun adventure having a zillion movies right under your right thumb.  One film that everyone else has already seen that I’ve just recently watc … [Read more...]

Emergence in Empire

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It's a four-year-old's game of infinite regression, yet more profound than she can possibly know."Daddy, what would we do if we couldn't buy gas?," she asks with an impish grin when she knows she should be eating breakfast.I will play the game if she'll have another bite.  "Well, sweetie, I guess we'd go to a different gas station!""And what if that gas station was out of gas too?  And the other one. What if all of them were out of gas?"Pushing back flashbacks to my favorite TV sh … [Read more...]

Flexible Faith

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You really can't go back home again.  Or at least if you do, it's best to bite your tongue and sit on your hands.One of the running jokes among my friends who are experimenting with emergence ways of doing church is the ongoing aggravation we have with sermons.  There is nothing inherently wrong with sermons, of course, and we all appreciate the inspiring elocution of a good homiletician who has something important to say and is saying it with flourish and passion.  It's just that we've got … [Read more...]

Welcome to the Zoo

Mike Stavlund is a husband, a father, a writer, an emergence practitioner, and an adjunct faculty member teaching on emergence Christianity at Wesley Seminary in Washington, DC.  He tries to practice what he preaches at a church called Common Table.  He  sometimes writes poetic odes to flat church.  1.the trick with visiting the zoois not staying too long linger longerand the unique behaviorunfolding before your eyesturns out to be perseverationrepeated ad … [Read more...]

A Seat at The Table: Everyone Plays

My friend and fellow Common Tabler Pete comes at emergence not via the plethora of niche-market Christian books, but through science.  He is a systems engineer by trade, a musician by training, and a scientist by passion.  Last month he came and guest lectured in my Wesley Seminary course on Emergence Christianity, to rave reviews. He talked about systems theory, special relativity, quantum physics, flocking, music, and emergence, relating all of it to the grassroots changes we are seeing in c … [Read more...]

A Seat at The Table: Negative Space, Part II, The Art of Doing Nothing

I wrote last month about the value of 'negative space' in worship settings, but the same principle has similar effects in the life of the larger organization.  Of course most reasonable people would look at flat churches, offer an exasperated sigh, and say, "Organization?  What organization? I don't see any!"  And while it is true that there is a lack of top-down structure, even grassroots emergence churches will often naturally employ the use of negative space to get certain jobs done.At Co … [Read more...]

A Seat at The Table: Negative Space

"Negative Space", by Carmon Rinehart

For many years, I dreamed of attending a church where creativity was rampant, where artists were empowered to lead, and where artistry was revealed in many other people as well.  A church of creativity for the many (parishioners), rather than the few (clergy). A few years back, I realized with some pleasure that I was in fact attending just such a church, though I was at a loss to understand how it had come to be.  My best hope is that we can somehow reverse-engineer that goodness in order to s … [Read more...]

A Seat at The Table: Keep it Wild

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Listening to a recent 'On Being' podcast with the venerable and feisty Walter Brueggemann, I was struck by what seems at first to be rank overstatement.  His contention is that the ancient Hebrew 'prophetic/poetic messengers' serve to critique everything:  all political, social, and religious systems. In Brueggemann's opinion, the worst thing we can do with these Biblical messages is to organize them, domesticate them, and to "create another 'ism'".Surely, part of the reason e … [Read more...]

Everything I needed to know about church, I learned in Kindergarten.

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Okay, so I actually don't remember much about Kindergarten, apart from the location of the classroom at Vandercook Elementary in Rockford, IL (which is interestingly, now a Muslim community center).  I remember the strange allure of paste (I was a player, not an eater), the utter joy of the playground (remember defying certain death on the merry-go-round?), and tables with toys.  If I learned any important lessons there, I have forgotten them.No, the place where I've been learning a … [Read more...]


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