I have often used the line, “I am allergic to academic guild meetings.”  To that, I usually hear a response, “Yes, they’re horrible affairs.”  That’s because of two reasons, I think.  The first is that the brown-nosing at these events is noxious.  Almost everyone, it seems, is on the prowl for a job — especially those of us who are untenured.  The second reason is that the content delivered in the vast majority of sessions is regarding the most picayune of details in academia; the worst kind of hyper-specialization is on display at these meetings.

In theological circles, the annual American Academy of Religion meeting is the granddaddy, and it’s happening this coming weekend in San Diego (in conjunction with the Society of Biblical Literature (the meetings will be held in tandem for the last time, as the AAR feels that they no longer need the SBL)).  And I’m going.

Thanks to Paraclete Press, I’ll be on a 2 1/2 hour panel on the emergent church on Saturday morning. The other panelists are Diana Butler Bass and Scot McKnight, and the moderator is Keith Matthews of Azusa Pacific (late of Cedar Ridge Community Church).  I’m looking forward to the panel — Cleave recorded a similar panel last year and we podcasted it, and I hope to do the same thing this year.

Between the panel and other meetings, I’m booked from 7:15am until 10pm, then I fly home on Sunday, completing 10 straight weekends of travel.  I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to Thanksgiving more.  I just hope my allergies settle down.


The next couple weekends find me in St. Louis and Spokane. This weekend, I’ll be traveling to St. Louis for the National Youth Workers Convention — I’m thinking about bringing Lily (6) since NWA is offering seats there for only 15K miles.

Then, the next weekend I’ll be at a Mainline-Emergent Dialogue event in Spokane, co-hosted by the Pacific-Inland Presbytery and Whitworth College. If you live around there, or if you can score a cheap plane ticket, I want to encourage you to go. I’ll be there with Doug Pagitt, John Franke, and Karen Ward, and we’ll be conversing about all things emergent, and about the implications for mainline churches and denominations — however, with the four of us together, you’re sure to get a lot more as well…

Last Weekend

I had a great time in D.C.  I kidded the folks at National City Christian Church why they get to call their denomination “Churches of Christ” and “Disciples of Christ.”  I mean, those seem like rather generic names that all of us who follow Jesus should be able to use.

With some pathos in their voices, several of the clergy members there told me that their denomination was never meant to be a denomination.  It was part of the Restorationist movement to bring all Christians back together, to overthrow denominations.  But, in 1968, they gave in and became a denomination.  One guy even told me, “1968.  Just as the rest of our culture was de-institutionalizing, we institutionalized.”

Others were a bit more edgy, telling me, in effect, that denominationalism is inevitable, and Emergentism is just around the corner.  But what’s interesting, I think is that their move toward ecumenism was part-and-parcel with the lowest-common-denominator ecumenism of the 20th century.  Instead of encouraging distinctiveness, they wanted everyone to lay aside their differences and come together.  The emergent tack is just the opposite, embracing differance as the very element that makes us human.

Winter Travel Schedule

I’ve added a Google Calendar on the right sidebar that will have all of my speaking gigs listed, but here’s a list of the ones in the upcoming months. If you’re in the area, drop me an email and let’s get a beer.

January 17: Boston Young Adult Ministry Project, Boston, MA
January 22-26: Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais, IL
January 30-February 1: Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, GA

February 2-3: Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA
February 20-22: Campbell University, Buie’s Creek, NC
February 23-25: UNC-Greenboro, Greensboro, NC

March 4-10: Sweden, Norway, Denmark

April 12-14: Wheaton Theology Conference, Wheaton, IL
April; 16-18: Emergent Theological Conversation, Philadelphia, PA

May 3-5: Western Seminary Youth Ministry Conference, Holland, MI
May 17-19: Faith as a Way of Life Conference, New Haven, CT
May 19-20: Washington Arts Group Conference, Washington, D.C.