Fiction, Film, and Christian Spirituality

That’s the topic of our gathering next month, when I meet with nine of my favorite people in the world — the students in my D.Min. cohort at Fuller Theological Seminary. I’m co-teaching with my seminary classmate and long-time friend, Craig Detweiler, and thanks to him, we’re meeting on the stunningly beautiful campus of Pepperdine University.

We’ve got 10 topics, and each topic includes a novel (with one exception) and a film. Novels and films were nominated by the students, then Craig and I made the final list. Each student is presenting a paper on one topic, and a response to a classmate on another topic. Plus, we’ve got guest speakers, field trips, and more lined up.

Here’s the list: [Read more...]

Evolution vs. Creation: I’m Over It

Last week, I attended and participated in a conference at Fuller Seminary called “Talk of God, Talk of Science.” I’m always happy to return to Fuller, and I was warmly received, particularly by president-elect, Mark Labberton. Fuller’s a good place, people. Believe me.

Anyhoo, the background of the conference is that it was supported and underwritten by the Templeton Foundation, particularly the Scientists in Congregations Project. By a show of hands, it seemed that over 1/3 of the attendees were part of that project. Everyone at this conference was a fan of science. Everyone wants faith and science to embrace and make whoopee. That was the de facto assumption in the room.

What I found most interesting about the talks that I heard was that they all dealt with one particular issue in the science and religion world: evolution and creation. That was the case study around which the talks that I heard revolved (I probably heard 2/3′s of the plenary talks at the conference).

I sat on a panel on Friday evening, and, when asked about my experience of science in the church, observed what I’d seen that day. And then I said, “No one under 40 gives a crap about creationism. Only Baby Boomers care about that.”

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Farewell, Dallas Willard

Dallas Willard, 1936-2013

Dallas Willard has succumbed to cancer at age 77.

I first met Dallas Willard in 2001. I was organizing the first ever Emergent Village Theological Conversation. I had scheduled Nancey Murphy and her husband, Jim McClendon, to be in conversation with us — both of them had been professors of mine at Fuller Seminary. But Jim died in late 2000, putting the whole event up in the air. Nancey decided to keep her commitment, and we were her first public event after Jim’s death.

Dallas agreed to join us as well, in Jim’s stead, even though he and Nancey agreed on virtually nothing. And it was magical. Dallas was kind and generous. He and Nancey talked and laughed and cajoled one another. At one point — and everyone who was there will remember this — he was telling us about his childhood Christianity. He stood up and broke into the cadence of a Southern preacher, spun around, and mimed skipping sinners across the lake of fire. To see such an accomplished philosopher do such a thing was, frankly, breathtaking.

I also remember this: Dallas needed someone to move his car, so I got his keys and went to move it. He drove a humble car — a sedan of some kind. And when I started it up, a tape started playing in the tapedeck. It was the Bible on tape. Then I noticed that strewn across the passenger seat were all the books of the Bible on tape. Again, I was astonished: one of the most accomplished Christian authors of our time was listening to the Bible on tape. (To this day, I keep a small iPod with the audio Bible on it because of his example.)

I saw Dallas at several other conferences and events over the years after that. But my last encounter with him was just as memorable as my first:

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Jesus Hugging Dinosaurs: Talking to Kids about Science…at Church

You may have already seen the above test, given to 4th graders at Blue Ridge Christian Academy in Greenville, SC (as confirmed by Snopes, where you can also see the second page of the test and read the backstory). Yeah, that’s pretty bad.

On the other hand, you’ve got these three amazing teenage girls who won the 2011 Google Science Fair and gave a talk at TEDxWomen.

It is those two juxtaposed images of youth engaging science with which I’m going to start my talk tomorrow at Fuller Seminary’s conference, Talk of God, Talk of Science, which is described thusly:

[Read more...]