WALP: Plenary: Maggi Dawn: Words and the Word: How Do We Read the Scriptures?

worship with matt maher: continued focus on “catholicity” and unity


  • winston churchhill: us and uk aredivided by a common language
  • church divided by common religion: overcoming these divisions, the differences is hard work
  • to listen carefully is to acknowledge our differences: this is the starting point for conversation
  • the tradition of theological reappraisal is a time honored one. we only get into trouble when we deny this process
  • a major source of disagreement is the bible: how to we approach it? this is s subset of the broader changes in language and understanding of language
  • encountering the scriptures in the midst of cultural shift
  • book: anglicanism, the answer to orthodoxy (no amazon link)
  • 30+ english translations and paraphrases. rarely do we consider the theology behind the translation
  • 1976: good news bible published in entirety. first translation made accessible to the average reader): note in the intro assumes that the text is “transparent,” it has a single meaning that transcends the translator and reader.
  • we want to believe the bible is above the 'twists and turns“ associated with other texts. we want that religious certainty.
  • the bible, however, is not transparent. it does not give this certainty of meaning.
  • question: can we live with the diversity of translation?
  • this problem is not unique to the post-modern shift; it is a human problem
  • history: late-18th century german scholarly work questioned the authorship of the bible. e.g. parts pre-date the history of written language; evidence of multiple authors in a single document.
  • scholars developed ”higher criticism“ to understand and reconsile the bible with scholarship
  • the german church panicked and dug its heels in.
  • english scholar: coleridge: was progressive and embraced the possibilities of ”higher criticism.“ he anticipated the impact of the scholarly work on the english church, and pre-emptively addressed the topic
  • book: confessions of an inquiring spirit: biblical inspiration and higher criticism: uses the technique of letters to a friend.
  • 21st century presents a new (but not singular) challenge, namely that the reader has a hand in forming meaning.
  • danger: how far is to far? how to you maintain democracy w.o falling into anarchy?
  • danger: a retreat into certainty, into a singular interpretation (usually accompanied by appears to the ”word of god“)
  • there is no such thing as revealed truth if you mean propositional statements, no list of statements that can be ticked off one by one. the bible is not a magic talisman; it is a text like any other with soft edges of interpretation
  • if there is no such thing as immutable inperpretation, what are we left with?
  • we are left with poetics. w/o the fantasy of certainty, we find the liberty to engage with the bible as a living book in all the diversity of interpretation

thoughts from coleridge

  1. bible has a depth that allows it not to transcend culture or disconnect from culture, but rather to be embedded and re-embedded in culture after culture, the very nature of incarnation
  2. frees us from the idolatry of venerating scripture. the absence of a single meaning frees the text to live and breath. excessive veneration is scripture renders it dead, possessing only the illusion of life. the text gains a voice that can speak to us.
  3. personal question: where is scripture referred to as the word of god?
  4. story: luke 24: emmaus road
  5. disciples arguing about the word of god with the Word of God: how often do we walk this same road? we must move off this path and into communion with the Word of God. this is the way forward, the way to continued conversation.
  6. storyteller: mike riddell (new zealand)

Posted on 20.04.2005 in WALP '05 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

WALP: Brian Mitchell: Liturgical Lobotomy: Changing Out Minds About Church

brian is a roman catholic, and he structured our gathering around the liturgy of the word w/ communion. very participatory, so no running notes, just a couple post-scripts that developed over the course of the afternoon and evening. hopefully i am not misrepresenting or over-simplifying:

  • clearly there are depths to the issues which prevent unity across the various strains of christianity of which i am completely unaware. for example, i had the vague impression that i probably shouldn't have participated in eucharist when i visited st. anthony's a couple months back, but little did i know how significant and deep this division runs. it was interesting to hear a r.c. perspective: the protestants left 500 years ago, and now they want us to come meet them.... i suppose the orthodox would view protestants as the bastard child of the bastard child. well, if the emergent church is a bastard twice removed, this might be why some orthodox bloggers have expressed the opinion that emergents are really just coming back home to orthodoxy at long last.
  • r.c understanding of eucharist is quite thought provoking. the eucharist is the consummation of life. everything leads up to or flows out of it. the arc of mass, therefore, is a reflection of life. i understand that the orthodox take the mass and liturgy even more seriously. for example, their theology isn't expressed in doctrinal statements, but rather in the liturgy itself. to discover what the orthodox believe, participate in their liturgy. referring back to mclaren's comments this morning, it's the ultimate in infusing ritual with meaning.
  • during the worship prior to maggi dawn's plenary, we read selections from 1 corinthians 13 corporately. i couldn't help but pick up on the following: “love keeps no record of wrongs.” in light of the divisions among christianity, much seems to be rooted in a kept record of past wrongs, real and/or perceived. whether this is simplicity or simplification, (i suspect the latter) i don't know; but this seems to be a real component of the divisions.

finally a few definitions for my own reference

  • liturgy = work of the people
  • mass = sent
  • eucharist = thanksgiving

Posted on 20.04.2005 in WALP '05 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


WALP: Lilly Lewin: Celtic Christianity for the Emerging Church


  • where am i? what are the different tribes that surround me? who are the “barbarians”?
  • book: celtic way of evangelism (hunter)
  • wild goose: symbol of the holy spirit
  • celts had a pre-existing affinity for the number three: trinity came to them


  • patrick: english. kidnapped by irish slaves as a teen. gained his freedom. became a priest, and returned to ireland. though rome feared and stayed away from the “barbaric” irish, patrick who understood the culture went in.
  • form of christianity was adapted to the culture: open air monasteries, scripture meditation (illiterate culture)
  • no martyrs in patrick's day: peaceful conversion
  • st. comumba: irish royal who became a monk: banished from ireland b/c of violence: settled in iona (island of west coast of scotland)
  • as dark ages descended on continent, monasteries in iona (and others) collected books
  • ionic monks bring christianity to scotland
  • contrast: continental church established in england wasn't affecting or transforming the culture b/c is was continental vs. indiginous
  • st aiden: apostle to uk: monk from iona who went to linesfarne
  • takeaway: candle: light in the darkness: also name of celtic saint for further exploration
  • celtic cross: circle = creation, eternity, wholistic
  • synod of whitby: differences in roman/continental and celtic expressions are confronted. rome comes out on top (though not necessarily b/c they have a better argument)

SO WHAT? COMMUNITY: take the kingdom into the places where people go


  • scripture memorization: originally for a pre-literate culture; what about a post-literate (or post-post-literate) culture?
  • trinity: recovery of the holy spirit: the spirit is already present and working, even in the “barbarians”
  • prayer infused into the rhythms of life, the daily activity (connection: mclaren this morning)
  • infiltration and incorporation of culture (example: church of the apostles in seattle)
  • thin places: physical places when space and time grow thin, where heaven and earth draw close and connection of god becomes transparent (question: can you create thin places in homes? in the suburbs? in the concrete jungle? steve collins; spiritual signage)
  • modern monasteries (example: community houses @ vineyard central)
  • prophetic: pointing those who worshipped creation to the “high king” of creation.
  • takeaway: ribbons to weave: what is god weaving into my life?
  • art of listening/hospitality: when a visitor arrived at the abbey, the guestmaster would welcome them and take them to the abbott/abbottess, whose job was to listen to the guest's story (in detail, questioning when necessary, exploring, full-on listening)
  • personal application: cedar campus is a thin place for me: would pilgrimage be possible?

Posted on 19.04.2005 in WALP '05 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

WALP: Plenary: Brian McLaren: Public Worship as Spiritual formation

welcome: continued focus on unity
eo prayer & selections from eph 4

worship by tribe (los angeles): drum circle: kevin revealed an oilgraph
simple songs, whose music and rhythms are created by all


  • moving to a “post-protestant” era in worship where forms of worship are not biblically mandated
  • lets move beyond protesting against each other, and into pro-testifying about god who unifies us
  • everyone has liturgy, whether it is written or not (just try deviating and you'll see)
  • spiritual formation = the development of people who embody jesus: “teach them to do all i have commanded” OR “i have given you an example love one another as i have loved you” OR to be conformed to the image of god“ OR ”be transformed by the renewing of your mind“
  • in some sense everything is spiritual formation. everything forms our spirit, though not necessarily everything forms us to christ
  • spiritual formation = actions within our power which we do to train ourselves to do things currently beyond our power, and to become people we are currently incapable of being.

1. ritual = doing things i may or may not feel like doing to bond to the meaning they represent

  • book: symbol and ceremony (no amazon link)
  • example: ancient celtic practices: an illiterate culture whose discipleship practices bonded meaning to regular daily activities

2. inconvenience = going to a place i didn't choose at a time i didn't choose for a purpose i do choose

3. association = associating with some people i like and others i don't like for a purpose i believe in (AMEN!)

4. speed = altering my pace to see what i've missed and feel a different rhythm

  • weekly: seasonal: annual: lifespan
  • hip hop culture: evidence of a renewed interest in poetry and spoken word: we must slow down to appreciate it.
  • lifespan: what if we created liturgical milestones that spanned the course of our lives (middle age, retirement etc.)

5. hospitality = using my presence and our space to help ”the other“ feel welcome in my presence, and in the presence of our community

  • the other: those who don't believe (a la hybel and warren): racial and economic differences: cultural and generational
  • we should be drawn to the other vs. standing at a distance from the other

6. attentiveness = waiting for what i may receive only by waiting receptively (he's thinking of sermons in particular)

  • what if we only get something one week out of the year, but we only get it if we come all the weeks.
  • an unfortunate consequence of modernity is an instant gratification approach to spricture
  • ”what you focus on determines what you will miss“

7. generosity = taking greater pleasure in being productive (fruitful) than consumptive

  • bond the ritual of giving to the meaning that it is more blessed to give than to receive

8. modeling = exposing apprentices to masters in prayer, teaching, artistry, faithfulness, service, hospitality, etc.

  • contemplative models (we experience god in the very center of the normal)
  • and charismatic models (we experience god one step beyond the normal)

9. justice & mercy = preaching justice, singing justice, praying justice, signifying justice, announcing justice

  • what if our focus was not just on saving our lives but rather on bring justice?
  • what if our songs focused on god's justice in our world, praising god for his justice, not just his salvation?
  • thought: compare the context for singing ”we shall overcome“ in 1960's selma, al vs. 2000's bagdad? our colonial past steered our hymnity and theology away from justice. how can we justify slavery and colonial domination while singing about god's justice and concern for the oppressed? our focus on individual salvation belies our guilt and need for absolution.
  • book: spirituals and the blues

10. catholicity = quoting others, affirming others, praying for others, inviting others

  • sidenote: sermons are better seen as ritual than education, bonding to the meaning of listening.
  • wendell berry: humans have lived as individuals who live in community, and there are ”publics“ that span communities and connect them. in the modern era publics began bypassing the community and communicating directly to the individual. our virtues, however, tend to be found in the realm of the community.

Posted on 19.04.2005 in WALP '05 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

WALP: John Mortensen: Songwriting for the Emerging Postmodern Millennium...Or Any Old Time, Actually

  • being a participant is a lot harder than being a consumer. the participant must be formed, the consumer must only decide what he or she likes
  • limiting discussion for music written for regular folks singing corporately
  • song-writing is a matter of working with ingredients: melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre, rhyme, meter, imagery

(sidebar: off-the-map.org: video clips of mclaren harassing the slide presenter)

quote: scott alexander: all good is hard. all evil is easy. dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity are easy. stay away from easy.


  • range: middle c to middle c is safe; don't go more than one step beyond
  • rhythm is the heart of melody (example triplets in o, the deep deep love of jesus)
  • melodic shape (example: be thou my vision)
  • steps are easier than leaps (example: and can it be? has leaps that are difficult)
  • meter can change... and they don't have to be 4/4
  • 6/8 (and others grouped in threes) have a light, jig quality (a dr. suess feel)


  1. find the natural meter of your text (more to come)
  2. develop an interesting rhythmic plan
  3. create an overall shape
  4. now fill in the details


  • inversions: the root of the chord doesn't have to be in the bass
  • cadences = musical punctuation
  • book: common ground, a song book for all the churches ( st. andrew press, edinburgh)
  • harmony provide a sense of narrative
  • harmonic rhythm: how often chords change (example: god is so good vs. o sacred head now wounded; slow vs. fast)

writing a chord progression

  1. find the simplest chord pattern that will support the melody
  2. plan the cadences
  3. try some substitutions
  4. vary the harmonic rhythm
  5. why not try a suspension


  • call-and-response songs area good way to develop participation, especially in communities that do not have a strong culture of singing. the response should be simple and fairly repetitive
  • rounds: use them to trick people into singing parts



  • poetry is simply language in concentrated form. it speaks not only by its propositional content but also by imagery, rhyme and meter.
  • all song lyrics work like poetry, so we have to know some of its rules


  • what is the underlying rhythm? twos or threes
  • how are the syllables organized? strong first vs. week first (technique: map out the text with dots and dashes for each syllable)


  • good imagery is concrete but not overblown: or kitschy:
  • book: an experiment in criticism (c.s. lewis)
  • concrete imagery celebrates the ordinary
  • abstractions: abstractions cry out for the concrete.
  • compression: packing layers of depth and meaning
  • rhyme schemes
  • working out a metaphor
  • beware false accents
  • (rhymezone.com)
  • book: a deeper alleluia (no google link)

Posted on 19.04.2005 in WALP '05 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

WALP: Plenary: Sister Rose Pacatte: How to Create Movie-ing Worship


  • opening remarks by (pastor at Tribe???) & McLaren
  • PBS were sending a film crew b/c of the diverse traditions gathering, but the pope's death trumped WALP.
  • breakout sessions cover each of the four foci: worship, arts, liturgy and preaching
  • corporate reading (selection from vatican II and 3rd century prayer) & responsive reading from john 17: focus on unity
  • worship at the end: gospel choir: director hospitalized this morning, bus brown down on the way: etc

Sister Rose

  • Daughter of St. Paul
  • book: guide to in-house film festivals in 10 easy steps (no amazon link; published in 2000)
  • lectionary: lights camera faith (year A; year B; year C)
  • daughters of st paul: formed in italy 1915 to use media
  • movie quiz to warm things up
  • prayer by milton berle: “let us all thank god for the gift of electricity, otherwise we'd all be watching tv by candlelight.”
  • 1990 john paul 2 spoke about communications: media = new areopagaus. referring to pope paul 6: the split between media and culture is the tragedy of our time.
  • theater as church: story of a woman she met who goes to see movies when she needs to figure out what to do in her life. (boyfriend was going to propose; she'd seen three movies so far that day)
  • film clip: waking life by richard linkletter (animated film)
  • duh thought: almost universally people go to the movies whether or not they go to church


  • people have difficulty articulating values. without articulated values, how will we make judgements? how will we choose our entertainment?
  • film clip: chocolat: (condemned by us bishops of the roman catholic church for mocking lenten sacrifice) subverted and used on ash wednesday service: matthew 6; (REMEMBER THIS: 30 second clip sets a wonderful stage for conversation)


  • image of god reflected in our image of media
  • “our young people will go to movies despite us and to church to please us; and never the twain shall meet.”
  • film clip: wit (emma thompson) second sunday easter - year c: john 20


  • are we willing to let popular culture inform our worship?
  • are we willing to let the gospel inform our reading of media (and pop culture as a whole)?
  • films: passion and paparazzi (gibson's next film, released four months after passion); paparazzi celebrates vengeance. is this insight into gibson's struggle for integration, sunday faith w/ monday living? can this inform our struggle for integration? flannery o'connor: we are christ-haunted.


  • brings faith and life together
  • provides a meaningful, fespectful, safe palace for dialogue
  • creates community through communication and communion
  • sermons, reflections
  • retreats
  • prayer groups
  • youth groups & seniors
  • clips or entire film? SEE THE ENTIRE FILM BEFORE USING TO CYA!!!
  • cinema divina (book: finding god in the dark; st. ignatious disciplines (30 days) broken into 52 weeks using film)
  • film clip: life is a house (feast of the sacred heart of jesus, commemorating the moment when jesus is stabbed on the cross: luke 15)
  • de chardain: nothing is profane for those who know how to see.

Q & A

Content Resources


  • yesha praise: gospel choir from richmond, ky: yesha = salvation and deliverance

Posted on 19.04.2005 in WALP '05 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


WALP: Talking with Kevin Rolly

Kevin, an artist from Tribe in LA, has created a series of oilgraphs on the Stations of the Cross. They are a combination of photography and oil painting he developed, produced by removing paint in order to reveal an underlying image. Wonderful works. A fantastic variety of emotion, texture and depth in each piece and across the works as a whole. I had a few moments to talk with the Kevin, and he is giving a breakout session tomorrow in which he will create Station 15: The Resurrection.

(Mental note to spend more time with the images in the coming days.)

Posted on 18.04.2005 in WALP '05 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

WALP Has Begun

The opening session is over, and I'm stealing a University computer in order to check e-mail and such. If - I'll be honest, when I find wi-fi or something, I'll post notes and such.

Posted on 18.04.2005 in WALP '05 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

WALP: Registration & Waiting

Arrived at the hotel around 5:50; easy drive, no traffic issues. Checked-in, phoned home, headed to Asbury, which appears to be about 20 miles from anything.

It's an easy enough drive. Along the way I passed the entrance drive of what appears to be a huge campus church, I thought Saddleback with it's exit ramp from the highway. Here it is out in the country, next to the horse ranches, the country club, the new developments starting in the multiple-hundred-thousands. I hate that my first impression of this church, having seen nothing but their drive-way is negative.

Wilmore is a small town. It appears to exist for the school. I regestered and found my way to the assembly hall. At the book table McLaren's latest, The Last Word and the Word After That is available, so I might splurge. I may even play groupie and ask for an autograph.

Sitting in the gym prior to the first session I met Shawn who is from outside Boston. We chatted. I suspect I'm one of the very few not employed in ministry.

Looking over the schedule each main session starts with worship. I doubt any of the sessions will look like the Vineyard Praise Band.

McLaren is floating around. It's always odd to see or meet someone you only know from media (book, tv, blog, whatever.) He has even less hair than me.

We're in a gym, and the available seating is mostly full. I'd guess a hundred or so. 60/40 split among men and women; 99/1 white/non-white. The age diversity is far greater than I anticipated.

It's 7:15, and a series of slides/video shorts are running. I think a formal beginning is on its way...

I'll publish notes from each of the sessions in a running format with a minimum of editing/formating. Pardon the punctuation and spelling.

Posted on 18.04.2005 in WALP '05 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


A Response: Does Prayer Change God's Mind? (Part 2-B: Further Dialogue)

GodStalker asked me to clarify a comment I made in this post. My remarks were getting long, so I've made them here. A few excerpts for context:

GodStalker asked:

Why would we want to change the thoughts of God? Doesn't it seem a bit self-centered and arrogant to think our thoughts are better than His and we need Him to see things our way.

to which I replied:

I don't know what else to do with the Scriptures. If I give God credit for sincerely and transparency...then God truly changes his mind.

GodStalker responded:

Again, why would you want to change God's mind? And where in Scripture is God described as transparent?

to which I now hope to be more clear....

By transparent I mean that God is without deceit and full of truth.  We need not root around for hidden subtext or true motivation. This is not to imply that God can be fully known or understood. There are mysteries upon mysteries that will remain beyond us, but to the extent that God reveals himself, he does so transparently. I think this is fairly clear from Scripture.

For example, in the desert when God says he intends to leave the Israelites, I believe we can take him at his word. God is not playing at some game in order to provoke a particular response from Moses. He truly intends to abandon them.

Let me use a metephor, which I believe was introduced by C. S. Lewis. We live in a house, and we look out thru windows that give us a view of God. These windows, (Scripture, nature, mathmatics, community, etc.) however, are neither large enough nor numerous enough to give us a complete view of God. We see only in part. Within this metaphor, then, by saying God is transparent I mean that God is truthfully and accurately displayed behind these windows. (Whether or not the windows are transparent or translucent or something else is another question that has just now occurred to me.)

At this point I have to agree with GodStalker: It does need arrogant and presumptuous to assume that our choices are better than God's, but this is exactly what Abraham pleaing for Sodom and Gomorah)  and Moses (pleaing for the Israelites) do. Why are thy not rebuked? Instead, God changes his mind, compromising or going along with entirely. And these men are heralds for the faithful.

It seems that the windows aren't quite as big as we'd like.

Does anyone else have a comment or alternative interpretation? Is there some way to reconsile these two ideas? Or must we live with the tension?

Posted on 15.04.2005 in Thinking | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)