On My Return to Youth Specialties

What does a trainwreck look like? Like Tony, Mark, and Doug attempting to reprise the Church Basement Roadshow at the National Youth Workers Convention in 2008.

Tomorrow will mark my return to Youth Specialties as a content-provider. And I’m thrilled.

My publishing career began under the tutelage of Mark Oestreicher, who was then the publisher at YS. He signed me to write my first and second books, and he advocated for me to speak at the National Youth Workers Convention. Tic Long, who I’m guessing was as uncomfortable with my evolving theology as his peers at the heart of the YS world, invited me to speak at the convention for ten years straight, culminating with my crash-and-burn experience on the Big Stage.

Since that fateful day, I have not been asked back to speak at the NYWC.

[Read more...]

Can You Take Criticism Better than Guy Fieri?

Time for Guy Fieri to put on his big-boy pants.

Guy Fieri’s Times Square restaurant got a wicked review this week in the New York Times. I live in a town with one of the greatest food writers in the land — I’ve been reading Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl for years. (Here’s her blog.) Back when she wrote for City Pages, her reviews were both lauding or wicked, but always brilliantly written.

A couple years ago, I stumbled upon what still stands as the best restaurant review I’ve ever read. It’s about a burger joint named Maple & Motor in Dallas (which has appeared on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, as fate would have it), written by Alice Laussade in the Dallas Observer: [Read more...]

The Church and Culture: An Uneasy Alliance

Neal DeRoo, co-convener of a conference at which I am presenting a paper (which is sure to bring Peter Rollins to his academic knees*), writes at Church and Pomo about what elicited this conference:

“Culture” is an amorphous, vague thing that is next to impossible to pin-down. It is only slightly better than a child’s sense of “they”: “But mom, if I do that, they will laugh at me.” Similarly, Christians tend to make a lot of our decisions based on what “culture” will do: “This culture is going to hell in a hand basket and that’s why God is punishing it” or “We have to do this to keep the Church relevant to our culture.” Both the idea that the Church can avoid culture, can hide from it somehow, and the seemingly opposite idea that the Church must engage with culture share a common problem: in both cases, Christians assume a certain distance between the Church and this thing called ‘culture.’

But the Church is not distinct from culture. It is thoroughly infused with cultural products, artifacts and institutions. The Church, any church, requires human interaction, and therefore requires using the products of previous human interactions: language, customs (as simple as a hand-shake or a smile as a greeting and as complex as guidelines for institutional decision-making), reference points (we’ve got to talk about something), and so on. As Christians, we should not call for the Church to engage culture, but rather to engage culture better, which means, in part, to be more self-aware of the ways in which it has always already been engaged by culture, by what Michel de Certeau calls the “practices of everyday life.”

While we tend to think of “popular culture” as referring only to the entertainment industry (films, TV, music, video games, and so on), it more accurately refers to all those cultural elements that are popular because they shape the lives of so many people. While TV shows or movies may be a part of that shaping, formative process, so, too, are our customs regarding food (what we eat, how we eat it, and how we produce it), fashion (what we actually wear, not just what some guy in France thinks we ought [or haute?] to wear), and functionality (what technology does for us, what it doesn’t do, and how we decide on that). As Christians whose lives are thoroughly enculturated, we have not avoided culture so much as we have evaded dealing with it directly and purposively.

Read the rest: Conference: The Christian Evasion of Popular Culture : the church and postmodern culture.

*And if that doesn’t do it, I’m taking Pete pheasant hunting the next day. That will surely cause him to starting praying again.

The Early Bird Gets the Discount

Tonight at midnight (Central DAYLIGHT Time), the early bird rate ends on two events put on by The JoPa Group in May.

Register today for Funding the Missional Church and save $80.

Register for the Church Planters Academy today and save $50.

Register for both and save $180!


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