Shirley Jones, Marlon Brando and God. [Improvisational Christianity]

The actual scene being shot. That's my back...Shirley's face.

Warning: Name-dropping ahead!I had the pleasure this summer to work opposite Shirley Jones. Shirley won the Academy Award for her role in Elmer Gantry in 1960. She may be better known these days as Mrs. Partridge, but she was a certified top-of-the-A-list movie star 50 years ago. We did a scene together in our latest romantic comedy, A Strange Brand of Happy. Brad Wise, the director, asked us to simply improvise a conversation to see what might happen. Brad knows that I am an improv guy and … [Read more...]

Is God Fun? [Improvisational Christianity #3]

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This is the third post in my exploration of Improvisational Christianity. You may want to catch up by reading the first two posts:1. Improvisational Christianity: I Hope You Like Me2. Saturday Night Live, Modernity and StoriesThe first rule of improv we looked at last week was “Tell a Story.” This week we look at the second rule I learned as an improviser:Rule #2 - Everyone Plays.Deeply embedded in this rule is that improvisation is supposed to be fun and communal.So i … [Read more...]

My Need For Emergent Village – Then and Now

Then - My Need For the Emergent VillageBy way of introduction, here is the thumbnail version of my spiritual trek in 2 sentences. I could likely write a book about it but it echos many of the stories I’ve read from emergent writers. So many of you could write the book too and have!I grew up in a conservative evangelical church, encountered the Holy Spirit in my 30’s. My husband and I planted a Vineyard church and after 10 years (+/-) burned out, dropped out and disappeared.  The book vers … [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...]

Why I Am Emergent, Part 3: Theologically Counter-Cultural

 Continuing in the series of processing through the reasons of why I resonate with the Emergent Movement (See week 1 and week 2), I’m left pondering being theologically countercultural.One of the first things I noticed as I began reading emergent books and blogs, visiting emergent churches and events, and meeting emergent people, was that there seemed to be a uniqueness about them and the way they were.  I have heard of a church that jokingly refers to themselves as “the island of mi … [Read more...]

My Spiritual Path to Virtual Community

Michael with his Sudanese students

Upon receiving a welcome email with a username and password, I paused to reflect. A frighteningly wonderful realization surfaced: I've walked alone to discover a virtual community. This marvelous opportunity to join the writers of Emergent Village once again affirms what my life has been shouting for years -- my peers truly dwell in cyberspace. Despite my failures to connect at the local church level, despite the mundane state of all things Michael, my spiritual journey entails this virtual … [Read more...]

G|od, After the Or(g)y

there is so much meaning that meaning itself  has ceased to exist. somehow, due to the overuse of ideology, concepts, 'truth' and other colloquialisms there is no more reality to experience.the cliche has become too cliche. it is not that reality does not exist. but it is that reality has been hidden behind that which we assume has been reality all along. and then when we peel the curtains back, due to the pregnancy of over-meaning, reality is yet again hidden behind itself. let me … [Read more...]

Saturday Night Live, Modernity and Stories

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My life changed forever the day I wandered into an abandoned dance studio just west of the Las Vegas Strip on a Wednesday afternoon. It was my first professional improvisational comedy class at The Second City. I had no idea that my life was about to shift so dramatically. I had always been fascinated with improv and sketch comedy. As a kid, I used to sneak out of my room at 12:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings to catch the last thirty minutes of Saturday Night Live. In high school I watched a … [Read more...]

Arab Spring an Inventive Age Reality

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Over the last couple of years I have been suggesting that we are living in the fourth cultural epoch of North American culture. We have seen the Agrarian Age, the Industrial Age, the Information Age and now we are entering the Inventive Age.Each of these ages has particular ways of thinking, valuing, appreciating aesthetics and way of using tools. And all parts of culture including religious communities are created from these cultural situations.In Community in the Inventive Age, I … [Read more...]

Churches, Take Up Your Mats and Walk

There’s an old joke that speaks directly to one of the biggest issues holding back Churches these days:How many Christians does it take to screw in a light bulb?Change? Who said anything about change?!?!I get asked to come in and help struggling churches all over the county. Most of them are aging and see the proverbial writing on the wall if something about their future doesn’t look different soon. Pretty often, I’m asked to unlock the secret to getting young people into the pews, th … [Read more...]


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