Friday, August 28, 2009

Science Fiction Friday: Mourning the Loss of... time, first of all, for having seen Knowing (2009) and totally regretted it. I never like Nicholas Cage (except in Next which was clever), so I should have known. But is wasn't so much the bad acting, but the totally contrived nature of the plot, attempting to pit faith against science, and then aliens who are really angels (?), and then them taking children to be a new Adam and Eve on another planet before Earth is consumed by fire. IT IS TERRIBLE!!! It is bad sci-fi which neither tells us anything meaningful about ourselves or the world, and baits Christians along the way (shame on followers of Christ if they get sucked in--Hollywood is just taking your money by putting a picture of Ezekiel into a poorly written script).

I'm also mourning the loss of Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles, a low budget Fox show that I was quite pleased with because it new what it was and didn't try to do too much. It raised more interesting questions about time travel, the inner life of a cyborg (Cameron, which Jon secretly loved, and Miss Weaver, a rouge T:1000 who seems to work against Skynet), and how one lives with knowing the raise these better than the newest Terminator movie (which does not even deserve a link!). It was also very creative in its writing and plot development without over-extending itself like Lost. But alas, it is cancelled and now there is no good science fiction on TV (i don't have cable), and Heroes doesn't count even though I watch it. Perhaps I should watch the Dollhouse...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Art of Losing

One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like like disaster.

We are all marked by loss, by losing things, people, places. Humanity is marked by being able to lose things and yet not to forgotten them. The trick is to learn to lose well, to live well amid the losses.

Or perhaps the trick is to reverse the process so that it is not a disaster, but a movement to green pasture. From the loss of a world that won't stay to a journey to one that won't leave.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Missional Mondays: Radicals or Missionals

Now this is just a question, so please help me out. It seems to me that much of missional theology comes from a more evangelical background, and much of a radical theology comes from the anabaptists. is that right?

Missional theology tends toward equipping the church to participate in the Mission of God by help it shed its heirarchical and institutional baggage, and engage in cultural studies. Radical theology tends toward practicing resistance to an idolatrous culture in a more overtly political and economic manner.

It would seem they both would benefit from a better integration and cross-pollination of ideas and practices (notice how I resisted saying 'conversation') to mutually reinforce one another. It seemed that for a while over the last couple of years that these two streams were flowing together, but I'm not as certain now.

What do you all think?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Science Fiction Friday: Series Re-boot

Now that I am hoping to blog more often I would like to resurrect or re-boot an older blog series: Science Fiction Fridays. I don't promise to write something every Friday, but I will try (and some will be updated re-posts).

Science Fiction vs. Sci-Fi: So, what is the difference between Science Fiction and Sci-Fi? (I'm basically using a distinction my cousin, Kevin Reed, proposed to me.)

Science Fiction: A form of social critique or investigation set in the future (distant or near), or set in the present amid highly anomalous circumstances. Science Fiction is what you see in Cyber-Punk books, the Dune series, and Philip K. Dick (and the movies based on his stories).

Basically, science fiction offers a utopian/distopian vision of the future as a critique of the present, and therefore is not supportive of the status quo (I also also Fantasy but that was going to make my series name too long, and I don't read/view as much of it).

Sci-Fi: Roughly state, Sci-Fi is strictly entertainment of the futuristic type (somewhere in space) or concerning dangerous scientific research (think Mutant X or X-Men), and it is not different than the status quo. Just about everything is Sci-Fi now on film and the tv; there are few view science fiction movies or tv show which actually critique rather than support the current system of thought.

So, basically, I want to commit to a regular reading of the difference between Science Fiction and Sci-Fi, in literature and film. Through this series I'll engage in ideological and theological critiques of the consumer american lifestyle in which I live and minister.

I have recently just finished The Sparrow, A Canticle for Liebowitz, and a border book, Foucault's Pendulum, all of which will receive some reflection, as well as some recent films.

But to get started, and to add to my reading/viewing list, what are your favorite science fiction books or movies? And why?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Missional Gibberish: On learning German and leading.

"Learning to read German is like constructing a jigsaw puzzle: the more pieces you have in place, the easier it is to fit in the final pieces." German Quickly

That is so true it is ridiculous! I need to read German for my doctoral program, and I am having so much trouble with it. But now it is finally getting easier. Unlike English grammar which is relatively straight forward (linear day I say), German grammar is more intuitive and loose (the pic is not a joke, it is reality!).

The same goes for much of missional theology. It is a jigsaw puzzle, a gestalt of pieces placed together which become comprehensible only when nearly finished. It is often hard to know where to start when describing it to people: "It has to do with theology...but really missiology, or rather, what Christ has accomplished on the cross, so that is soteriology, but not merely in a substitutionary-individualist sense...well, what I mean is God gathers us into his mission to save all creation, but we can't really do that unless we are in a concrete really God is calling a people and that is what the cross is about..." Ever had that conversation? And we are still not even talking about what a missional church might look like!

The problem, though, that I've noticed is that often we missional leaders are so steeped in the missional grammar that we don't think it is confusing to talk like this, to talk as if we were speaking German. But just as often we loss the people we are supposed to be leading and then get frustrated that they don't see the big picture.

We must get in the habit of going back to the missional basics. Just because we are in advanced missional linguistics doesn't mean we neglect teaching our young leaders the basic missional grammar in clear, compelling language. If we don't, many of our lay leaders will start off excited albeit confused, and then continue being confused without being excited.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

On being missionally bad at basketball

Now, just image how good these two guys would likely be while playing some street ball at a local park with mostly Latinos. Now you know just how bad I played tonight. Really bad...blown 6 foot jumpers and missed layups. I was terrible. But I love it. Playing basketball, which I picked up just last winter, fulfills a triple function in my life.

The first is that I need to stay in shape, but I hate exercising. I have to be competing to stay motivated to run around.

Second, it works out great that I hate exercising alone because I end playing a team sport, which means I get to mix it up with people from my neighborhood. Which means staying in shape is one of my missional activities. I've met two high schoolers at the park across the street, a bunch of graduates just starting out in their careers, and I get to play with the hidden minority here in Chicago (i.e. the Latinos). Hopefully soon I'll be hanging out at the local pub after games.

And it works out great that I'm not very good (I'm a slow, skinny, tall at least I'm good for rebounding). But its great because if you are friendly you can just ask for pointers on how to get better, and people love to play coach and teach you stuff. One of the best missional activities is not to offer help, but to ask for help.

And lastly, I think everyone, but especially pastors, and especially missional pastors, should have something that they are getting better at. Anything will do, even if it is not ministry related. I think people in ministry should discipline themselves to grow and master something they love as part of their continuing development, as a means of sharpening their lives, as well as relieving stress. It could model train building for all I care. Basically a hobby of some sort (but watching movies or sports does not count!). It was and still is music for me, but now bodily health, missional relationships, and personal development are running through basketball for me. Even if I'm a skinny white guy.

Mission activities that you plan in advance to be with strangers to the gospel are good (going to a regular hangout, being part of a food co-op, or whatever), but when you really love something and share it, then that itself will become actively missional. For me that is what basketball is right now, even though I embarrassed myself tonight.