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.
What percentage of folks in your church are “introverts”? Do you ever hear anything that reflects sensitivities for introverts? How “extroverted” is your church and even your “style” of spirituality/Christian living?
from Scot McKnight, Introverts in a Church for Extroverts on Adam McHugh’s book Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture
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.
It won’t take an overly astute blog-reader to notice I’ve done something in the past month that I haven’t done in my last 4½ years of blogging here… I have –gasp– skipped posting some days. In a way that’s been good for me, since I had been feeling pressure to keep the streak going unbroken. 4½ years is good enough though… I really have nothing to prove in that regard — though it does beat my old record (in the technology sector) by a year, so with the break, that’s like 8 years of daily posting. No wonder I needed a break this past month. Now I don’t feel the pressure to post something no matter what each day, though I do feel I should have said more over the past month. There was a major Emergent-ing conference that everyone blogged about that I wanted to make some comment upon, and there was a gender-related kerfuffle recently that I almost said something about. Too bad I didn’t, but on the other hand, maybe that’s a good thing. I only tend to get myself in trouble.
Today I’m offering two quick reviews and welcoming further input or responses from anyone who’s read these two books — I actually haven’t. How do I review books I haven’t read? Well, we’ll get to that. Both selections are along the same theme, but perhaps for different audiences.
First up is Nancy Ortberg’s Looking for God: An Unexpected Journey through Tattoos, Tofu, and Pronouns, a promising title from a gifted woman. I loaned this one to my friend Pam, who did read it. The short version: decent material on learning to experience God in all areas of life, presented as though it is more radical than most readers here will actually find it. On this basis, it’s probably a great introduction for people from a conservative evangelical background — which makes sense, considering Ms. Ortberg’s resume includes an eight-year stint as a teaching pastor at Willow Creek. You can nab the first chapter as a PDF download. “God is in the details, but sometimes we just overlook him. Nancy Ortberg encourages readers to see God in this very personal, very engaging series of essays that will bring God into focus and allow you to grow deeper in your relationship with him than you had ever imagined.”