I know, it’s overdue. Long overdue. This blog seems to have disintegrated into one of those that has an irregular stream of posts saying, “Sorry I haven’t posted more, but I will soon, I promise.” But I don’t believe in those posts – and maybe I don’t really believe in apologies for not blogging. Sorry to disappoint you. ;^)
I feel I’ve let everyone down today, and must apologize for being so late in posting anything. People have begun second-guessing what I post on this anniversary, and the last week or so I’ve just been so busy that I didn’t manage to get a post together until now. I’ve been giving advice to Joel Osteen about his plans for a new video venue. We’ve been looking at the new holographic technology, but there’s a great concern that the hologram won’t be able to credibly shake people’s hands after the message. As a result, we’ve been negotiating with Tim Allen’s people about having Mr. Allen stand in for Joel at the new venue. We’ve reached an agreement on the hair dye, but Mr. Allen is balking at Joel’s demand for a wee bit of surgical tweaking of the nose. Will try to keep you posted. These show-biz types can be pretty demanding, so negotiations have been no picnic, let me tell you.
This evening is in a way a day of closings. It’s the end of the week, and the end of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I think our television has been on almost nonstop for 17 days now. And it’s been good seeing our Canadian athletes doing so well. 14 gold medals, more than any country has ever won in any winter Olympics. I think the early glitches of the games were pretty much forgotten as we showed the world how we party at home. People in the street spontaneously singing the national anthem? That’s pretty remarkable for any country anywhere, I’d say. And of course, we made sure to remind the world that hockey is our game. I might have over-tweeted that point, but there it is. Here we are being Canadian… thoroughly proud to the core of all our athletes who scored a podium finish, and feeling sorry for those who didn’t, whether those others are Canadian or not.
Brian McLaren’s new book (A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith) has just been released, and it’s already causing a bit of a firestorm. I’m still awaiting my copy, but plan to look through it at his ten questions and interact with those once I’ve been able to consider them in more detail. In the meantime, there are a few things upon which I really feel the need to comment, and since I have a ready-built platform, there’s nobody to stop me. I apologize for the length of the post — I went back to see if I could split it up into two parts, but it just doesn’t work very well to do that. It’s long, but I think it’s important. Thanks in advance for bearing with me, and reading on. And if you get bored, skip down — I summarize at the end.
It’s become tradition for me to end the year with a look back at some favorite posts from the preceding year, and the end of 2009 should be no exception. Not only does it allow me to highlight some good content that others may have missed, it lets me reflect on the year just passed to outline some of the pertinent topics of conversation and what may (or may not) have changed over the last twelve months.
One of the things about the way I’ve been reading blogs lately is that I often get summaries after-the-fact and reactions from others on various topics and happenings, which offers me a shortcut to catching the drift of some notable posts. And sometimes in this exchange I feel perhaps I’ve missed something important. Often I let it just slip by, but then there are times when I find my feet just instinctively digging into the sand adjacent to home plate as my eye fixes itself on the ball. This time it’s internal bickering among some who insist that any bickering on these points could not be classified as internal, because It’s fun to exclude others.
Yesterday I posted an overview of the Didache to introduce what it is and where it came from, but essentially it’s an early Christian document from around the same time that the New Testament itself was still being written. “Didache” means “teaching”, and the document provides a compilation of (probably) oral tradition about what the apostles taught concerning community life. Today I’m blogging on Chapter 6 of Tony Jones‘ newest book, The Teaching of Twelve: Believing & Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community. The Didache is not a long document, but it is instructive for the fact that it deals with practical community matters during a time of liminality when the church was just coming to birth. We ought to imagine that it will offer us insight for a time when the church is undergoing a rebirth.
Philotheos Bryennios was born in March of 1833 at Constantinople. He was educated at the Theological School in Chalce of the Great Church of Christ and the universities of Leipsic, Berlin, and Munich, and in 1861 became professor of ecclesiastical history, exegesis, and other studies at Chalce. He was appointed master and director at Chalce in 1863, though he soon resigned these two positions. In 1867 he was called to Constantinople to be the head of the “Great School of the Nation” in the Phanar, or Greek quarter of Constantinople. He remained there until 1875 when he was sent by the Most Holy Synod of metropolitans and patriarchs to the Old Catholic conference at Bonn, where he receved a patriarchal letter announcing his appointment as metropolitan of Serrae in Macedonia. In 1877 he was transferred to the metropolitan see of Nicodemia, and in 1880 went to Bucharest on behalf of the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchal and other independent churches to participate in a commission dealing with Greek monastaries that had been plundered in Moldavia and Wallachia. In 1882, at the instance of the Holy Synod of Metropolitans in Constantinople and the patriarch Joachim Il., he wrote a reply (published by the Holy Synod) to the encyclical letter of Pope Leo XIII concerning the Slavic apostles Cyrillus and Methodius. The man was no theological slouch, and despite this list of accomplishments, none of these are the thing for which he is most remembered following his death in 1914 or 1918.
I’m just barely returned from the world of Harry Potter. Having put off reading the books for so long now, I finally gave in and picked up a couple of the books in a used bookstore. After they sat on the shelf for a month or so, I finally started reading. Of course I’ve heard many things about the books, and am aware of the controversy that they caused in some ultra-conservative circles who forgot that C.S. Lewis also wrote children’s fantasy with magic in the books. I’d heard that they were well-written, and I now have to say that indeed, they are. Much better than a John Grisham novel, and not sloppily-written as a number of the bestselling authors are in the grownup world. As a writer, I confess I’m a little taken with the story of a single mother in a tiny apartment crafting a novel series in her spare time after work and landing a worldwide sensation. Also as a writer, I’ve been making a point of reading well-written fiction in the past few years, and despite being branded as children’s literature, the Harry Potter series landed squarely within this category for me.
The other evening, we did a hand-blessing ceremony in our home fellowship, let by one of the women in our group.
For missional communities, it is good to be reminded of our hands. Not that they require special sanctioned programs for “ministry opportunities,” but to be reminded that they are always in the process of doing things, of touching others. This is the point of being intentionally missional… or perhaps it might be better put, mindfully missional, valuing the contacts in our everyday lives.
Blessed be the work of your hands — Holy God.
You hold us in your hands.
So I took my oldest daughter down to the Christian bookstore to buy an “Adventures in Odyssey” CD for my youngest daughter’s birthday. The first store, subtitled a “Christian Store” (Er, I’d like to buy a Christian, please) didn’t have any, so we went downtown to the second, a much older long-established store. It’s the largest such store in the city.
Is that “Remiss-age”? I have to beg forgiveness, but every 122 weeks or so, I need the freedom to miss a “Random Acts of Linkage” post. I’d cobble one together even now (a little late, but better than never, right?) except I’ve don so little reading this week that there still wouldn’t be much to link… barely enough to make a post of, in fact. But I do have some random thoughts.