***End of message***
Jay Bakker pointed this video out to me yesterday. Rob Bell, looking frumpled and tired from a long book tour, was on a Christian radio show in the UK. Instead of talking about his book, the host and a conservative pastor push and push and push Rob of homosexuality. Rob grows increasingly frustrated until he tells them this is the “bullshit that really, really, really pushes people away” (16:45).
I encourage you to watch the whole 20 minutes, and here’s why. We most often see Rob in scripted situations (on stage, in Nooma videos), but here you see his heart, his vulnerability, his frustration, and how much shit he takes for his open and affirming stance:
Last night, Courtney and I were on hand to help our dear friend, Jay Bakker, launch the new Minneapolis site of Revolution Church. You can hear Jay’s inaugural sermon, “Vulgar Grace Throws the First Stone.”
The photo above is a detail shot by Courtney of the rainbow communion bread that we contributed to the service. We baked that loaf — the same loaf that Courtney baked with our friends Rachel and Rachet for our (sacramental) wedding — in support of marriage equality. Jay has been an outspoken proponent of marriage equality and has performed several same-sex weddings. When he broke the bread last night, Jay told us to remember not just the broken body of Jesus, but also the broken bodies and spirits of many GLBT persons who have been persecuted for their non-heterosexuality.
Today, Jay and Courtney and I and several other friends will be going to St. Paul to hold vigil as the Minnesota Senate debates and votes on a bill opening marriage in our state to same-gendered couples. It is expected to pass easily (my senator has already emailed me to assure me that she will be voting for its passage), and to be signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton tomorrow.
Our gay and lesbian friends will be able to marry in Minnesota beginning on August 1.
A month ago, my friend Jay Bakker and his wife, Karin, arrived in Minnesota. They moved here from Brooklyn, New York, she to start a new job, he to start a new church.
In Sunday’s paper, Rose French profiled Jay and noted the many connections he’s already got with my home state:
1) David could possibly be accused of professional jealously. Both he and Rob Bell had books come out last week. Both claim to say something fresh about God and the future of the faith. Rob has been on Morning Joe, Fox News, and many other outlets. David, uh, has not. (I have recently been accused of professional jealously of Rob and other authors, so I know that this accusation stings.)
2) David and I and others have a right to be frustrated by Rob’s style. I started reading Rob’s book this morning. 90% of the paragraphs are one sentence. It’s typeset in a san serif font. There’s a double carriage stop between each paragraph. There are no footnotes — Rob doesn’t show his math. Who is he reading? Who is influencing him? We’re left to guess and surmise. It’s not how I write books, but it works for Rob.
3) David and I and others have a right to be frustrated that Rob doesn’t engage with us. David and Rob and I are all the same general tribe of Christianity: post-evangelicalism. I engage with David (here) and he engages with my work in his book. Rob doesn’t engage with either of us, at least not in his writing. I got word to Rob this week that I’d like to interview him about his book on this blog, and I heard back that he’s not interested. That’s fine. That’s his prerogative. But it doesn’t engender warmth either.
Nevertheless, Rob Bell matters. Here’s why:
Jay Bakker has become one of my dearest friends. He’s a wonderful human being, and his theology is also excellent. That’s why you should pick up his latest book, Faith, Doubt, and Other Lines I’ve Crossed: Walking with the Unknown God. This is what Publisher’s Weekly says about it:
Bakker calls his latest book “a chronicle of my doubt.” The son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, televangelists tainted by scandal in the 1980s, Bakker outlines his struggles with his childhood faith and offers a vision of Christianity based on unconditional love, radical forgiveness, and full embrace of the Other. The pastor of a church that meets in a bar, Bakker has a special place in his heart for the GLBTQ community and offers a spirited biblical defense for the acceptance of sexual difference.
He expresses a faith that encourages questions and emphasizes relationships rather than rules. Bakker writes in a simple, down-to-earth style as he counters the focus on exceptionalism, exclusion, sin, and guilt that dominate some forms of evangelical Christianity. Like fellow evangelical Rob Bell, Bakker doesn’t believe in a God who would consign people to hell for all eternity. Love trumps justice; participating in community trumps official church membership; compassion trumps dogma. His book should appeal to seekers, youth, and all who are searching for a loving and forgiving Christianity. (Feb. 12.)
Like I said, pick it up!
A lot of what I get to do is spend time thinking and writing about the future of Christianity — my preferred future, at least. And getting together with people who are interested in the same trajectories of Christianity is a big part of my life, too. Honestly, it’s the whole reason that Doug and I started The JoPa Group and produce events like Emergence Christianity: A National Gathering with Phyllis Tickle and Friends.
What I do with my part-time job at sparkhouse is distinct, but related. This fall, sparkhouse released Animate.Faith, a video-based congregational resource that opens conversations about some of the most intriguing and essential ideas of Christianity:
God | Faith Is a Quest
Religion | Spirituality is not Enough
Jesus | The Revolution of Love
Salvation | Abundant Life Now
Cross | Where God Is
Bible | A Book Like No Other
Church | An Imperfect Family
This week, we met with the talented group who will be developing the next course for us, Animate.Bible:
Dear Readers Who Use Facebook (AKA, Dear All Readers),
Facebook highly encouraged all of us who have some kind of public following to switch from a Profile (aka, Timeline), to a Page. In fact, capping the friend limit at 5,000 made it virtually required.
So I migrated my Profile to a Page, and I’ve encouraged numerous other authors to do the same (Jay Bakker, Phyllis Tickle, Andrew Marin, Nadia Bolz-Weber). We lost all of our Facebook history — every update, comments, and image. But that’s no biggie, because now we can communicate with even more people.
But then Facebook did what it does: changed the rules in order to make more money. Now, if you’ve liked my page, there’s only about a one-in-five chance that you’ll see any of my posts. Look at what it shows me, as an admin, at the bottom of each post:
Why the notice? Because Facebook wants me to PAY CASH MONEY to get my posts to show up in the newsfeed of the users who’ve like the page. In other words, you’ve like the page, but Facebook is keeping the updates from you.
However, there is a way to fight back! [Read more...]