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812 City Park Avenue Suite 202 + Fort Collins, CO, USA 80521

essays, and interviews to evoke deeper imagination and to awaken more and more people to the good news happening in the larger world and in our neighborhoods.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS GENERATE is seeking writers, poets, thinkers, artists, bloggers, tricksters, students, educators, musicians, clergy, skeptics, mystics, sinners and saints—plus everyday janes and joes—to submit original, recent works that explore, probe, rethink/reframe, question, hack, contemplate, and offer insight into the growing global conversation about following God in the Way of Jesus—its intersections, its life, its resultant creativity and community practice.

DEADLINE: December 31, 2010 web: twitter: @GENERATEmag facebook group:

We are a largely volunteer, grassroots-organized, house. We are excited and eager to involve more of you in helping realize this dream—to give a voice to friends of the various emergent streams—missional, neomonastic, prophetic, postcolonial, arts, social justice oriented…

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SEEKING VOLUNTEERS We’re currently seeking advertising sales, administrative and other volunteers to help make GENERATE happen.

front cover photo: rachel robichaux

planning and hundreds of hours of combined volunteer labor. GENERATE Magazine shares the stories germinated at the grassroots of emergent and alternative communities and individuals each seeking the Way of Jesus. We hope to create an artifact of this historical conversation transmitted through narrative, works of visual art,

We/you are the conversation; our art, our lives, our hopes and failures all meet up with God’s approaching dreams for creation. We converse, and in doing so spread the news that we are not alone—that joy and hope is found in our generative friendship.

linford detweiler | pyrotheology | VOID collective | seth donovan | mclaren, garrison & ramos is not a law firm | asianmergent | easel ain’t easy | y mas

At the 2007 Emergent Gathering, another planning group was convened to discuss logistics, bring some leadership to the dream, and get things rolling.

autumn 2010 [volume 1 number 2]

LEND YOUR VOICE The seeds for GENERATE Magazine were sown sitting around a fountain in San Diego in 2004—a few writers, poets, artists and designers explored and dreamed about launching a print publication that would embody the ethos—and tell the stories of—the growing, generative conversation that would later come to be called emergence Christianity.

an artifact of the Emergence conversation

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boomerang an essay by John O’Hara I’m getting laid off. Some guy on the radio was being interviewed about his experience with job loss, and he described it as a state of numbness for the first two weeks. It’s encouraging to know that our brains are evolved enough to release desensitizing chemicals into our bloodstream, providing something like a sharp curve in the path of living that forces us to slow down - not necessarily to feel, but to quiet ourselves and reflect on the big picture. I know that my prayer life has experienced a marked up-tick since receiving the news. This is how we are made. Far from being automatons who simply and mindlessly carry out embedded instructions, we are complex creatures who respond, interact, repel from and bond with all the various stimuli in our diverse environments.

store, and it did not take us long to realize that throwing this boomerang doesn’t really guarantee the anticipated result. I tried all kinds of different throwing techniques: backhanded, over-the-shoulder, to the side, underhanded. I tried to toss hard, lob, frisbee-style, behind-the back — no matter what we did, the boomerang entered a midflight drop and landed with a thud in the dirt floor below. We were quickly running out of options and patience. Suddenly I began to identify with the dusty triangular trinket. Why am I not getting “caught” either“? It feels impossible to express praise and gratitude to the Creator in these less-than-favorable conditions. In free-fall from mid-flight, covered in dirt, I am that boomerang. This painful experience has drawn me back to Jesus’ story of the prodigal son’s return. Looking back on all the unanswered questions in my career (what if I chose a different path? what if I stood up for myself earlier?) I

“Claim your leaving and returning home with compassion. So I’m being laid off, so my being is in the midst of a radical tectonic shift, so my most basic perceptions about life, vocation, and meaning are influenced by this lens. What is meaningful work? What are my true responsibilities in this life? How do I best honor my creator, my family and my community? How do I respond to the realities of this culture, in this economy, in these circumstances? I am reminded of a boomerang my four year old son won as a prize at church last summer. It’s from the “everything’s less than a dollar”



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can identify with someone who has taken and squandered his inheritance. I took the generosity of our Creator for granted, never truly appreciating the One who gave us food on the table, a roof over our heads, clothing, healthcare and recreation. I can see now how my heart became cold toward the Father while I built up a resume of skill and self-reliance. In the same way, my attitude toward people had become distant. In a church leadership context, people had become reduced in my mind to attendees and tithe givers, subjects for programs and volunteers for my initiatives. Could it be that I keep returning to the dirt in painful fits and starts because of my folly? Perhaps; yet as my attention is drawn to the father in Jesus’ story, I’m reminded that he willingly let the younger son go — and kept vigil until his return.

| Autumn 2010

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It’s as if he took our wobbly boomerang into his hand and, wise enough to know where it would end up, tossed it into the sky. And, with childlike wonderment, he watches its’ arc, turn and descent several feet in front of him with a broad smile on his face. Any critical onlooker with an appreciation for good engineering and the laws of physics would be understandably unnerved by the sight. “Why are you enjoying this,” she might ask, “when you could just as easily get a toy that works?” I like to

By becoming weak, I am fully open to receive the strength of the Creator. By having my future obscured and my professional momentum curtailed, I am drawn into a posture of need and trust for the Father. Today, unlike most days of my life, I don’t have the option of writing off Jesus’ beatitudes as flowery rhetoric. I’m truly comforted by the promise that we’re blessed when we’re impoverished, mourning and meek. I am a child returning to the bosom of his loving Father, and I am made whole: not because I have the status and familiarity of my vocational identity, but because I belong to my Father. A million faulty returns will not diminish the thrill I experience when I am released into flight.

on. We are beloved children of our Maker.” – Nouwen imagine that the father would turn to face his questioner and, with compassion in his eyes, say simply, “Because this one’s mine.” I am loved in my squalor, in my wandering soul, in my leaving and my inglorious return. I am loved even though I am laid-off. The goodness of our Father in heaven has provided a safe place for me to take responsibility for hard-learned lessons, to be weak, insecure, and without options.

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SENIOR EDITORS Troy Bronsink | Atlanta Thomas Turner | Newark GUEST DESIGNERS Maria Harrington | Austin Dave Huth | Houghton Jeromy Johnson | Folsom Gerren Lamson | Austin Jesse Turri | Williamsport COPY EditorS Carla Barnhill | Minneapolis Brian E. Cole | Rochester Ed Cyzewski | Storrs Marcus Goodyear | Kerrville Karen Knott | Wichita Stephen Pearson | Bryant Crystal Rowe | Amherst WEB DEVELOPMENT Thomas Turner | Newark ADVERTISING INQUIRIES Publisher reserves the right to accept or reject all advertising material.

Printed four-color process on Endeavour 100# text, self cover. Recycled content: (50% overall; 25% post consumer) Endeavour’s mill is a “clean” mill with a sustainability charter Endeavour is elemental chlorine free (ECF) Primary typefaces: Whitney, Brothers, Trade Gothic, Mrs. Eaves

MANAGING EDITOR Tim K. Snyder | St. Paul

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EDITORIAL INQUIRIES GENERATE Magazine 812 City Park Avenue Suite 202 Fort Collins, CO, USA 80521



PREPRESS/ PRINTING PURCHASE AT: subscribe or subscriptions@ $10 US / $12 Outside US Free shipping within continental US. All others: please inquire. All prices subject to change without notice.

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Bulk Rates: Please contact us if you are interested in a bulk delivery for your church, cohort or a group of friends. We have sought to balance the Emergence conversation’s hopes and dreams for a physical artifact with the Kingdom stewardship responsibilities that come with the choice to expend natural resources to create a finished printed piece. Our papers and printers have been chosen with care, and we look forward to continued dialogue with our readers, advertisers, vendors, postal officials and mentors to improve our ecological footprint. ©2010 GENERATE Magazine. All rights reserved.

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Hello from the 3ditors :) We’ve each been thinking about expectations a lot lately. Expectations we’ve had about marriage, school, parenthood, our own personal careers and other ventures such as this magazine. In looking at our personal lives, we’re not sure what the difference is between hoping and expecting. Maybe it’s because of how we’re wired but we each have a hard time distinguishing the two.

*crossing the street* taking my two girls to meet their sister for the first time we walk across a college campus moving slowly with freshmen and their parents rushing past us like a river around small rocks my short steps count out my awareness of what I hold in a sacred trust in front of the hospital I grip two hands straining because the crosswalk won’t turn green fast enough the man on the elevator smiles at me and says “If you let go of them, they’ll be twenty”

We find ourselves looking at this issue and thinking the same things: We’re not really sure what we expected to happen with GENERATE but we’re pretty sure it didn’t include an eleventh hour scramble for funds and a release almost four months later than originally anticipated. That said, we’re still hanging on by a thread, even as we note the folding of PASTE Magazine’s print operations in September. It’s an impossible business, publishing a niche rag these days. And, yet: Paul, Tim and I welcome you, friends, to the second issue of GENERATE. As improbable as the first, we breathed fire, walked tightropes, and wrangled an all-volunteer cast of characters, of which we were the chief sinners. It took a village to get this one out the door, including design work by a crew of tireless guest designers, each of whom brought their own style to bear on quite a few of the spreads this time around, freeing up hours of our designer’s life and spreading the love. Check out the list on the left for some familiar names (guest illustrators and photographers are bylined; we love you guys, too). These creators give the magazine its soul through their collaborations. Enjoy.

THE gener8

8 artists we listened to while editing/designing GENERATE 2.1: •Heatherlyn: Heatherlyn •Mumford & Sons: Sigh No More •Radney Foster and The Confessions: Revival •Fistful of Mercy: Fistful of Mercy (advance single download) •Aaron Strumpel: Vespers I & II •Innocence Mission: My Room In The Trees •Jónsi: Go •Mike Crawford and his Secret Siblings: Songs from Jacob’s Well I, II, III

— mike stavlund

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Issue Two


take issue. generate something good.

“The chief object of education is not to learn [but] unlearn things.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

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* Homeless Man Outside the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem | Photo by Becky Garrison


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and oh so much more

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A short story by Christopher Cocca

Ron David had a fishing boat with its own canopy that he stored in the yard beside his house. Ron was a retired pastor and this place was his pasture, this well-kept home and the open water in Perth Amboy and sometimes Sandy Hook. Kestor was a student then, in his senior year of college. Ron would take him fishing and they’d come back with blues or cod. “You’re quiet, today, Kestor,” Ron said on their last trip. “I think you need a challenge. Take her through the channel and we’ll come up the other side.” Ron let Kestor steer the boat and they sped past the breakers. Above the shore, flags flew over the party decks of ornate homes. “I wonder what those people do.” “They’re successful doctors, Kes, bankers, maybe lawyers.” Kes imagined racketeers and union bosses and Ron said, “Kill the engine.” “I like it out here, Kestor. Just the water and us on top of it it. Drop your line and let it drag and let’s see how we can do.” Kestor stopped and looked away, squinting in the diamond light rising from the water. “I don’t want to do it.” “Why, Kes, what’s the matter?” “Well,” he said, still looking off, “Well, Ron, I’ve been thinking. I don’t see how we can do for fun what some peoples’ lives depend on.” He set down the rod and reel and said he felt ironic, dirty. “That’s something you’ll get over, Kes. They’ll show you how in seminary.” Ron David dropped a line. “We’re not all called to be martyred, Kes. We’re not all called to poverty. And for my part I have this boat for fellowship with people,” he said and started reeling, “the kind of people you’d never guess, the least likely saints there are.” Kes sat down and pulled his Phillies hat over his face to block the sun. The diamond-crusted water was huge, and it looked hungry. “What’s the matter, Kes?” said Ron. “Does that disappoint you? Do you think I’m a hypocrite? How many times have we been out here, Kestor? How many times have we dropped our lines or chummed the water or opened up out past the breakers? How many times have we hit this channel and come home with 30 flounder? How many times have we cast these nets? I would have thought that would have meant something. Would I do this if it were vanity? If it was only for diversion? And so what if it is? Even God rests, Kes,” and Kestor sighed. “Or maybe you think it’s extravagance. Half the world will starve tonight so my boat can have a house?” Ron cast. “Is it something like that?” and already he was reeling. He handed Kes a minnow and told him to set his line. Christopher Cocca’s work has appeared in Geez Magazine and at TheOoze, Brevity, elimae, Pindeldyboz, Thieves Jargon, and other venues. He earned an MDiv from Yale Divinity School in 2005 and is currently an MFA candidate in fiction at The New School. He blogs at



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Here we see that contemplation is an essential aspect of the Christian life—even for activists. Tracing seven movements from sleepfulness to wakefulness, Phileena Heuertz shows us that life is a journey that repeats itself as we gain a truer knowledge of God.

Do you feel squeezed into someone else’s mold? Join Margot Starbuck in her journey to become unsqueezed! In twenty-seven brief, funny chapters she demonstrates that women can spring free from the world’s prefabricated body image and discover the body’s real purpose.

978-0-8308-3615-4, $15.00

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Compassion The Hebrew concept of compassion is that it is so integral to God’s being that it can be described as having been birthed in the womb of God. Brennan Manning teaches a similar idea — that the pangs of its felt expression are so strong, it is as if God’s ‘guts are ripped out’, as it arises from the core of God’s being. bowl and thoughts by Jim Robertson

Psalm 145:8-9 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, forbearing, and constant in his love. The Lord is good to all men, and his tender care rests on all his creatures. Psalm 103:1-4 Bless the Lord, my soul; my innermost heart, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, my soul, and forget none of his benefits. He pardons all my guilt and heals all my suffering. He rescues me from the pit of death and surrounds me with constant love, with tender affection…

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Mike Crawford & His Secret Siblings prepare (ye) the way with a lush Advent album Sometimes music arrives full-baked in a songwriter’s head and is recorded just as fast — Aaron Strumpel’s recent Vespers I & 2 was conceived and written in two afternoons this summer. But perhaps it’s fitting that an album of songs about Advent preparations took Mike Crawford & His Secret Siblings an entire year to write, track, and mix. But now GENERATE announces to you glad tidings of great joy: for unto us is born the Siblings’ third release, called Songs from Jacob’s Well Vol. III, Songs for the Advent Conspiracy. The Secret Siblings are a musical community of more than fifty people at Jacob’s Well Church in midtown Kansas City, where worship/arts pastor Mike Crawford also runs The Impossible Box, an onsite recording studio, in the church’s basement. “Songs for the Advent Conspiracy is our take on a Christmas/Advent record,” said Crawford. “But it’s also a benefit for something we do here at Jacob’s Well called The Advent Conspiracy. Lots of churches participate in it; for our part, we’ve been digging fresh water wells in Western Kenya for the past 3 years, and now are venturing into some medical and educational things there too. It’s really pretty incredible. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the album are going to give life — water, medical, and education — in Western Kenya through The Advent Conspiracy.”

The album “started out as a stripped-down EP, and ended up clocking in at around 65 minutes with over 40 people playing on it,” said Crawford. The original intention was a minimalist sound, but as the community added their various parts to the release, it evolved into a multi-layered, guitardriven, pedal steel infused, orchestrated Advent extravaganza. The release features vintage sounds and a warm, clas­sic rock ethos. The year-long recording process was equalled by a painstaking, old-school mastering process, which involved Alan Douches (rhymes with ‘couches’) throwing the mixes to 1/2 inch tape and “running every­thing through a Neve-esque chain and then through the Pen­du­lum 6386 vari-mu tube com­pres­sor on the 2-buss.” Translation: it sounds great in headphones. The CD’s artwork, featuring Samantha Lewis’ illustration work, is not mere decoration, but is an integral part of the release and visually ties the album to the celebrated Songs from Jacob’s Well Volumes I & II: Even the Darkness Will Not Be Dark to You. Crawford said, “The illustrations speak to our being oriented properly in the kingdom, but still with many troubles as we move out into God’s kingdom work. As we bring water to a dry place, we discover that Christ is already there, and it is really to Him that we are bringing this water — to a ‘Him’ who also is ‘The Living Water’ … Ah, the mystery of it all…”

» Listen/puchase Songs from Jacob’s Well, Vol. III: Songs for the Advent Conspiracy at

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When the band Five Iron Frenzy decided to start a community, they asked Mike Sares to shepherd the aberrant flock that was to be the Scum of the Earth Church. Sares exploits his many experiences to uncover the meaning of discipleship for the contemporary world. 978-0-8308-3629-1, $15.00

“Reading the pages of Pure Scum is like reading a continuing chapter in the book of Acts. It is an adventurous, risktaking, inspiring, unusual, missionfocused story about people who are passionate about those who are often missed by the average church.” —Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus but Not the Church


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restless in every church I’ve seen there are people in the wrong places: the kitchen, the parking lot, the lobby, the coffee pot cooking, cleaning, talking, smoking they are pacers, millers-around, baby-whisperers and malcontents sometimes, they look like they’re avoiding ‘church’ but when I squint and look again I see that they’re doing the thing itself

— Mike Stavlund



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an Ra IS


Morning prayers are essential to Korean Christianity, especially among our mothers and grandmothers. Go to church on a Monday morning at 6am, and there you will find adults praying earnestly before work. When small business owners open a new shop, the pastor is there to pray a blessing over the business. When the pastor visits a congregant’s home, he (usually) blesses the home with a prayer. Much of our unique expression stems from our shamanistic cultural past. These were some of the rich experiences that shaped the younger years of my life in the Korean church.

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“You can’t go to prom, Dan. Proms will cause you to stumble. There’s so much sexual temptation!” “You should really do your quiet time everyday. Wait… what? You missed 3 days? Dan, do you or do you not love Jesus?” “We need to pray for our youth group guys.” …After 3 hours… “Guys, I don’t feel like we’re praying hard enough. Where is your passion?” And most importantly, “Don’t date until after you die.” (I kid! Sort of…) At the time, these were a given. This was the Christianity I lived and breathed. I had not considered any alternative scriptural interpretations of social conduct. It was at this time that my faith no longer became so uniquely Asian American as much as it was Asian American Christian conservatism. It wouldn’t change for a while.


The Korean church (at least in the U.S.) offers an experience that I know I couldn’t experience elsewhere. People pray out loud simultaneously, called “tong-sung gido”. It’s a uniquely Korean expression of prayer. Sermons are preached with passion and fervor, and at length. After worship, the whole congregation goes to the church basement with food prepared and ready for consumption . The smells of kimchi and multiple rice cookers grace the scene. There, we don’t stand around and chat with a soda in our hands. We sit down, laugh, eat, and enjoy each other’s company, sometimes for several hours.

During my high school years, I had experienced a wonderfully rich youth group experience. Unfortunately, to this day, I remember little what I learned about God. But what I do remember is the burdensome Christianity that my Korean-American pastor had instilled in me:


Like other immigrants, Korean immigrants often found solace and community in the church. My father started going to church while in Korea, and my mother’s family had been nominally Catholic. But in America, the Protestant church became a prominent centerpiece in my family. Almost all my relatives in the States, most of whom were on my father’s side, were avid churchgoers.

As a child, much of my life centered on the church. Looking back, the children’s ministry and youth group were important environments for Korean-American children like me who were looking to find a place of belonging and meaning in the world. I never considered my school friends as important as my church friends and I looked forward to spending time with them. We had a great time playing and laughing together, but we also worshiped together, an experience that meant a great deal to me. We shed tears together, we prayed passionately together, we were honest with each other, and we cared deeply for each other. Thus, my courtship with the church was easy.

Any story of a person’s faith is inseparable from the story of that person’s life. My efforts to find my way within Emergence Christianity can only be understood when a person knows how my faith has been shaped by my AsianAmerican culture. My aim is not to paint a broad picture of that culture, but to describe my experiences as a person finding his way in the midst of competing expectations and assumptions.

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My college and post-college ecclesial experiences may have had some stylistic differences, but much of the ministerial philosophy was similar. Both were marked by strict pietism, spiritually-rooted obedience to the pastor, utter devotion to the church, and guiltbased sin management with its consequent disciplinarian responses. But most of all, they were both led by Korean-Americans. Like me, these pastors were born in the States, raised as American kids, and could barely speak Korean! And yet, they uncritically accepted some of the ultimately harmful philosophies and mindsets of our parents’ Christianity—a stalled revolution.1 My intent here is not to paint Korean-American Christians in a harsh light. But I have noticed, in varying levels, those traits not only in the church leaders, but also the congregants. Missing early morning prayer (7 am) was seen as being lazy and frivolous about the faith. Attendance at various meetings and gatherings was mandatory, lest we face rebuke. Rebuke itself was sometimes loving, but at all times guilt-inducing. Finally, praise band was reserved only for those “spiritually matured.”

machine. My theological and ecclesiological outlook was blurry and yet there was no nuance or mystery. At the same time, I had grown distasteful and frustrated with the manifestations of conservative Reformed theology combined with a disciplinarian Korean culture. Unlikely encounters with writers such as Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, and Tony Jones proved to be both a gift as well a curse for me. My encounter with Emergent theology was not initially positive. Don Carson, John Piper, and Mark Driscoll were staking their territory in the grounds of biblical truth, stating that postmodernism was a new evil to be thwarted. I proudly bore their flag: that is, until I took the risk of reading about Emergent Christianity by Emergent Christians. Who would’ve thought? My curiosity was piqued. Somehow, I stumbled upon Doug Pagitt’s AOL screen name and started striking up a conversation with him, as I will recall here to the best of my ability: “Hi Doug. My name is Dan Ra. I read your work. Interesting stuff.” “Thanks, Mr. Ra.”

I admit that it is not only the churches that are to blame. I do, however, place some of the responsibility on the negative aspects of Confucian-infused Korean culture that the second generation has unconsciously imbibed from our parents. Strict social hierarchy gave men much power. Pastors were seen as the head of the church. Elders and pastors, with wounded pride, would engage in screaming matches leading to church splits. Women did not have much voice. I don’t remember a single instance, while in the Korean church, where a woman was given authority to teach to the congregation. In fact, I don’t even remember that in youth group. As a result, many Asian-American Christians today do not believe in female leadership. Hence, we see very few Asian American women with spiritual influence. In Korean culture, saving face is a deeply cultural phenomenon. You had to act your best, lest you be punished with shame and guilt, not just by your parents, but your pastors and peers. This leads many to be judgmental towards others. In a study by Kelly Chong in 1998 entitled, “What It Means To Be Christian : The Role of Religion in The Construction of Ethnic Identity And Boundary Among SecondGeneration Korean Americans,” she observes second-generation Korean-American Christians to be cliquish and judgmental. The Asian American (or in my case, Korean-American) church may not have“looked” Asian in its language and forms, but the Confucian culture was deeply embedded in our social reality. As I previously mentioned, this was ironic given our “dual citizenship”. We were all born in the States, but we’ve taken the worst of our parents’ culture, meshed it with conservative Calvinism, allowing a relatively unhealthy Christianity to encroach upon us without our realization. Before I knew it, I had become a product of this dysfunctional marriage, and believed in a dangerous worksrighteousness theology. It was soon after college that I discovered and embraced five-point Calvinism, John Piper-ism, and the new generation of neo-Puritans2 who fervently listened to the likes of Chris Tomlin and the Passion

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“But don’t you believe the bible to be God’s word? How is it anything less? Shouldn’t it be infallible?” “2 Timothy says that all scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Right? Why does scripture need to be anything more?” “Huh? Isn’t that defending my argument?” “I don’t read it that way. What is with you reformed Christians needing the bible to be this magical tome of supernatural wisdom?” *BRAIN EXPLODES!*

Many more paradigm shifts later, I struggled to stay comfortable within my church. Nothing looked right anymore. Words like ‘missional’ and ‘incarnational’ started becoming the standards by which I thought the gospel needed to be expressed. Worst of all, I didn’t keep my mouth shut about it. Needless to say, I left the church that I had come to Atlanta to help build—with all my friends still there—and with no place to go. A lonely time followed. Since that time, I have immersed myself in Emergence Christianity, and by God’s love, found other Christians that I have walked with in the new chapter of my spiritual life. The cherry on top was that there were other Asian-Americans who were asking the same questions I was asking. Emergence Christianity has opened my eyes to see everything I could not see before. I had never heard of liberation theology, Eastern Orthodoxy, or postmodernism. I felt free from the confines of believing not only that there was one right theology, but that

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there was a “best” way of doing church. Being free of the baggage has actually allowed me to name the unhealthy aspects of the Asian-American Christianity from my past. With all these new tools in my proverbial belt, my friends and I started to dream about what a truly unique Asian-American Christianity would look like for this time and place. A Place at the Table Emergence Christianity has allowed me to see my color, my race, and my ethnicity in ways I had never seen it before. For the first time, I was consciously aware of being a Korean-American, whereas in the past, awareness was only sparked by random shouts of, “This is America, chink!” But this made navigating Emergence Christianity a complex ride. Never before had I felt so alive—and so alone. At cohort gatherings, we would engage in incredibly healing and powerful conversations. But I was often one of only a few minorities and sometimes the only one. Especially during conversations about race relations, I would feel like a token particiapant. I played the part conscientiously and tried to represent my ethnicity the best I could. But it was also intensely frustrating. At one Emergent coordinator meeting, I noticed I was the only ethnic minority (there was also only one woman). I mentioned this to the group and a Caucasian friend replied, “I don’t see color. I just see the person.” I

to nonwhite perspectives and voices that may not follow the mainstream of emergent thinking.”3 This subversive line of thought became a thorn in my flesh. Was this really true? If so, what role would I play in the Emergent conversation? Would I invite other Emergents out of their comfort zones into the experiences and environments of the “other”? Indeed, the question became, “What would a truly postmodern Christian expression look like?” In some ways, Asian-Americans already live within a postmodern worldview. Reality to us is not defined by one meta-narrative structure of culture and identity. We truly do live in two worlds. And thus, as an Asian-American Emergent Christian, I found myself living in two worlds—relatively comfortable with the culture of the dominant majority and the culture of hyphenated American existence. As I mentioned earlier, I was blessed with Asian-American friends who joined me on the journey. It is with these friends that I hope to imagine new and thoughtful ways of engaging the Asian-American Christian as he or she enters into a life of discipleship under a Palestinian Jew named Jesus. My intent, however, is not to separate and segregate myself from others ethnically unlike me. In fact, it is with those non-Asian brothers and sisters with whom I wrestle and find particular solace regarding the struggles of being a minority within another minority group: an Asian-American Emergent Christian.

my friends and I started to dream about what a truly unique Asian-American Christianity would look like for this time and place. replied in kind, “That is something only the dominant majority can say.” Harsh? Maybe. He bristled at my response. But I wanted to be known as someone who saw life just a bit differently. In other words, I wanted to be embraced for my hyphenated existence. Emergence Christianity had not yet escaped the trappings of the dominant majority culture, whether in ethnicity or gender. For the first time in my life, I was worshiping with brothers and sisters that were almost all white. Half of my time in gatherings, I had forgotten that reality or was taken over by powerful worship and fellowship (thank God). The other half, I felt very lonely. I could be consumed talking about John Caputo or Pete Rollins, and then be struck by the fact that no one in the room would ultimately understand what I loved most about my past church experiences. My conversations with other Emergence Christians would often center on the ways in which the words of Jesus Christ spoke powerfully to the poor, but we never talked about how those words might speak to the immigration stuggles of people like my parents. We talked about the horrific symbols of power and consumerism churches have become, but no one seemed very interested in talking about the otherness I felt inside my emergent community. Soong-Chan Rah writes in his book, The Next Evangelicalism, that “one of the current failings of the emerging church is the failure to listen to other voices…genuine consideration must be given

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I am learning to view the world with nuance, to know what works and what doesn’t, and leave the rest up to God’s mysterious ways. Emergence Christianity has allowed me to be a careful student of the various ways we all engage with a hyper-immanent (and hyper-transcendant) God.4 My ethnicity, background, theological disposition, and communal expression are gifts that I have been given to express to my environment the radically beautiful and hopeful gospel to all people.

1. A term taken from Arlie Hochschild in her book, The Second Shift, which deals with domestic inequality in the home. 2. From Tony Jones’ blog post at: tonyjones/2009/04/neocalvinist-no-neopuritan.html 3. The Next Evangelicalism by Soong-Chan Rah. page 119 4. As described by Peter Rollins in his book, How (Not) To Speak of God


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mobility & s A


Rebellion as Staying Put by Matt Wiebe

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[they] like to believe they are the first white people to make

“I’ve gotta get outta here.”

this trip. As such, they should be recognized as special and important individuals. (from

As I reflect back on leaving the small southern-Manitoba town of Winkler, that’s the thought that stands out. There was an urgency about it; a feeling that if I didn’t get out of there, I’d shrivel up and

That’s right, by going to a country, riding around on a bus or train,

die. It was the type of melodrama that only an 18 year-old could

staying at a hotel or hostel and eating —they are doing something

feel. I say this to tell you: I’ve been there. I’ve had the sensation that

important for the world.

the only place I wanted to be was anywhere that isn’t here. I was

& stability glad to get out then, and still am. But this means that I’ve been part

Thus plays out the now-common ritual of transplanting our much-

of the problem I’m about to discuss; that what follows is a form of

too-mobile bones from one place to another in the misplaced hope


that what is wrong with our lives has to do with our geography instead of our selves. Changed scenery does not necessarily

Now, to be fair, leaving Winkler wasn’t actually abandoning a

produced changed hearts.

community. Indeed, we move on so easily because what we leave behind isn’t actually community, but rather a loosely connected

At the heart of our wanderlust sit several theological issues that

collection of individuals who jointly occupy a circle, dot, or star on a

are worth bearing in mind as we roam the countryside in search

map. We live as islands, even if we do hop in our SUVs to roam from

of ourselves.

port to port.


I believe that the restless lack of identity and roots is one of the things

Christianity has, from its earliest times, been a movement of

that drives us to leave home, to search for the ineffable something

itinerants. Its earliest adherents called themselves followers of the

which will define us; give us meaning. I fear that all of us who are

Way, which implies anything but staying put. Indeed, the mode of

searching for community —and the sense of ourselves we hope will

mobility known as mission is central to following Christ. But much

come with it —are preventing it from ever happening by living like it

of what calls itself mission in contemporary Christianity is largely

must be found elsewhere, rather than building where we are.

spiritually justified tourism: the accumulation of exotic experiences given a glossy Jesus coating.

FLIGHT RISKS Perhaps you’ve heard something along these lines from friends (or

Nowhere is this more true than in short term missions, which might

your own lips):

have some benefits in exposing the tourists (or “missionaries”) to a mode of living other than white middle-class suburbia. But even this

“This place is holding me back.”

can be insidious when they go home and thank God for their blessed picket fences and freeways.

“I need a fresh start —I have too much history here.” For those who might insist on comparing typical modern missions My latest mental survey says that everyone I know—myself

to the apostolic journeys of the early church, let’s examine Paul and

included—is a flight risk. The reasons to leave are endless: Feeling

Barnabas being sent from the church at Antioch:

culturally stifled? Spend a few months in Thailand or backpack through Europe. Want to make some cash while experiencing

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit

another culture? Teach English in Japan! The always-cynical Stuff

said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I

White People Like blog skewers our itinerant lives in a post called

have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed

“Traveling.” Take a look:

their hands on them and sent them off (Acts 13:2-3, TNIV).

The second type of white person travel is Third World. This is

Two things are worth noting here: communal prayer was the context for

when they venture to Thailand, Africa, or South America. …

discerning the Holy Sprit’s apostolic call, and that neither Saul or Barnabas

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seem to have had an inkling of this call

to travel and/or move somewhere far away

understandable, yet false conclusion. There are

beforehand. Today, however, we don’t usually

from where they live. But I do want to reiterate

rich resources within the Christian tradition for

even consult our communities regarding our

that I feel much of what passes for “missions”

approaching mobility, and I will talk about two

decisions to move around, much less initiate

today is merely spiritually justified tourism.

of them, beginning with pilgrimage.

the discerning process communally. And

And tourism, like so much else, is a modern

submitting the final decision to the community

invention that draws on and corrupts ancient


is as foreign as the exotic locales visited on

forms, as William Cavanaugh explains:

Although it’s difficult to see the resemblance, I

short term mission trips.

Though the origins of tourism can be

already said that modern tourism has its roots

found in medieval pilgrimage, the early

in the medieval pilgrimage. Motives shifted


modern era saw a shift in the reasons for

from penitence to business and pleasure

One of the most painfully ironic aspects

travel from penitence to business and

during the 16th through 18th centuries,

of mobility is that those who are loudly

pleasure. The 16th through 18th centuries

although it was still restricted to the wealthy.

concerned with global justice are some of

saw the rise of the Grand Tour among

Much later, mobility via planes, trains, and

the most likely to make continual use of their

wealthy Europeans, whose purpose was

automobiles—all driven by cheap, readily

privileged access to transportation, never

self-education and pleasure through

available oil—would make tourism available to

stopping to ask whether their mobility might

encounters with the exotic… What we

the many. But the intervening centuries have

be built on the backs of the global poor. The

now identify as tourism arises in the 20th

made the tourist a far cry from the pilgrim,

transportation industry is entirely based on

century with the democratization of travel

whose “primary motive… was transformation

cheap, readily available oil and—in case you

spurred by increasingly widespread access

of the self through the forgiveness of sin...

haven’t been paying attention—efforts to

to money and free time. 2

Pilgrims traveled to obtain indulgences and to

keep oil supplies accessible have caused some

complete penances that had been assigned

conflicts in Iraq in recent years which killed

Cavanaugh goes on to say that tourism can

them, meaning that pilgrimages were not

and dispossessed many of God’s children.

be seen as a kind of “substitute for religion, a

always voluntary and self-initiated.” 5

quest for authenticity,” 3 before offering this Furthermore, countries around the world with

As a movement of penitence rather than

penetrating insight:

oil supplies exercise disproportionate influence

The transformation of the tourist in her

pleasure, pilgrimage did not have to wait for

in world affairs. Stable, oil-rich countries such

spiritual quest is often supposed to take

modern means of transportation to come

as Saudi Arabia perpetrate gross human rights

place by the encounter of the modern (or

along: pilgrims have always had two feet and a

violations against their citizens, but we turn

hypermodern) subject with the authentic

desire for God to lead them as they place one

a blind eye because we want their oil. We’re

local subject who has been untouched

foot in front of another. Tourism’s attempted

especially fond of unstable countries, as they are

by modernity. …however, it is often the

amnesia towards the responsibilities of

more easily exploited, such as the long-running

tourist who remains unchanged, while

everyday life could never deal with the realities

debacle on the Niger Delta at the hands of Royal

the natives are forced to change to

of such hardship when they could be sipping

Dutch Shell and Nigerian despots.

accommodate tourists.


Piña Coladas on a transcontinental flight. Pilgrimage is difficult, and it is doubly difficult

In short, the world’s rich kill and oppress

Tourism then—however spiritually labelled

during modern times because of our tendency

the poor so they can keep driving their

and justified—cannot sensibly be thought to

to slip into the patterns of the tourist.

cars and making transcontinental flights.

be about serving others and caring for the

Is the presence of oil-fueled transportation

world’s impoverished people. If you desire to


something we should take for granted, or

help the poor in, say, Africa, then go to Africa

Monasticism is and has been many things in

would being a citizen of the world—that is,

and become an African. If God could not save

many different places throughout its long and

one concerned with all the people of the

the world except by entering it and becoming

storied history, but that which interests me is

world—mean we should have a general stance

one of the people he wished to save, what

the Benedictine tradition, which contains the

of resistance towards easy mobility?

makes us think that we can so easily “save”

resources in its vow of stability to respond to a

the poor from afar?

culture of mobility by saying “I’m putting down


roots right here.” Instead of expending infinite

There are many reasons why Christians might

One could easily get the impression that I’m

energy in trying to discern where God is calling

be convinced that God’s call to evangelize the

recommending that nobody ever leave the

them to go, these monks believe that God has

world and serve the poor might require them

place they were born, which would be an

called them to be here.

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This restriction is paradoxically freeing, as

does all that is in its power to make that place

committing to staying put frees you of the

beautiful, prosperous, and just. While this might

of God is not elsewhere, but right here in the

anxiety that here is suffocating and there

seem parochial in the age of the nation-state

mundane, heartbreaking work of turning where

is always better. Staying put allows you to

and the so-called global village, consider what

we are into an outpost of heaven.

focus on the ways in which God is calling you

Wendell Berry, that patron saint of localists

to respond intelligently and lovingly to the

everywhere, has to say:

problems and difficulties in your community

…community is a locally understood

instead of the default North American recourse

interdependence of local people, local

there with each other. Let us see that the glory


to, in the words of Gerald Schlabach, “deal with

culture, local economy, and local nature.

difficulties by pulling up stakes and heading for

(Community, of course, is an idea that

O God

new territory.” 6

can extend itself beyond the local, but it

This place is killing me.

only does so metaphorically. The idea of a

For which I thank you.

The vow of stability commits you to one place

national or global community is meaningless

(and, more importantly, the people sharing that

apart from the realization of local

O God

place with you) in a way somewhat analogous

communities.) [emphasis mine]. 7

Help me to see here

to the way the vow of marriage commits you to

with your eyes

one person. Being non-committal may be utterly

Finally, a word of warning to all of my readers

Help me to smell here

typical in our current context, but we at least

with a nasty romanticism habit: living locally will

with your nose

have words like divorce and adultery to describe

not be perpetually fun or beautiful or grand. It

Help me to hear here

marital non-fidelity. No such words exist for the

may be those things some of the time—thank

with your ears

practice of forsaking one place because we are

God—but it will also be filled with hard work,

seduced by another.

heartache, conflict, and suffering.


Living locally will kill you, but in the right kind

To conclude this jeremiad of personal frustra-

of ways. It will kill self-sufficiency and destroy

tion, I entreat you, brothers and sisters, to

self-centeredness. You will be dead to a life that

O God

accept the hard task of loving and caring for a

is merely about your whims and alive to the kind

Bless this place, as it is already blessed

group of people in a particular place over a long

of life that is concerned with accepting the call

Make this community come to life

time. Instead of considering where you are to

to love as Christ loved: self-sacrificially towards

as you are the One that causes the dead to live

be somewhere holding you back, endeavor to

real people in real places. You cannot love the

see it as a sacred gift from God to be accepted,

world apart from especially loving the particular

O God

cherished; to view the pain it will cause as the

part of the world where you are.

God the three-in-One community

O God Lead me not into temptation

crucible in which you may be formed in the likeness of Christ.

Deliver me from the lure of somewhere else

make us in Your image Let us then do the work of building community

help us to love with Your love.

where we are. Let us eat, work, and pray Also, I plead with you, commit yourself to your

together. Perhaps we will even call it church, and

O God

place and a community in that place which

make some promises to one another to stick in

Help us to love here.

NOTES: 1. 2. Cavanaugh, William T. “Migrant, tourist, pilgrim, monk: mobility and identity in a global age,” Theological Studies, June 2008: 345. 3. Ibid, p. 346. 4. Ibid, p. 347. 5. Ibid, p. 349. 6. 7. Berry, Wendell. Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community, New York: Pantheon, 1994: 120.

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Photos by Ben Jones | Illustration/Design by Gerren Lamson


| Autumn 2010



A dialogue between Brian McLaren, David Ramos and Becky Garrison about Harvey Cox’s book, The Future of Faith (Harper One, 2009)

BECKY: As I was reading a review copy of The Future of Faith, I felt like I held in my hand a book that was about to have the same impact that Phyllis Tickle’s The Great Emergence did when it was released in Fall 2008. Both books helped inform my thinking about how church history informs the current state of Christianity. BRIAN: It’s funny you say that, Becky, because that’s exactly what I felt. Both of these books try to help us see the present moment in light of a rather complex past—no golden ages for either of them—and a future full of challenges and great opportunities as well. BECKY: Unlike some books that glorify the early Church as though all we need to do is return to a pre-Constantinian state and all will be bliss, Cox reminds us that this era, which he terms the Age of Faith was no Garden of Eden. BRIAN: One of the things that struck me most in Cox’s book was the realization that in the Age of Belief, which might better be called the Age of Beliefs, exile, execution, and torture became official policy of the Imperial-Religious Complex. That’s a lot like what we would call a totalitarian state—without freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and so on. Ironically, the kind of liberal democracy that we consider very compatible with

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Christian faith today would have been opposed—maybe with threats of death and torture—by the church in the early age of beliefs. DAVID: I enjoyed Cox’s categories; he intuitively points out both emergent shifts particularly in global hemispheres, but also the inner dialogical shifts occurring in how people understand their own faith. While he has some excellent contributions, I disagree with Cox that fundamentalism is dying. Many view globalization as largely a Western phenomenological impetus subjugating non-Western countries; as a result fundamentalism is politicized and leveraged over and against real or perceived colonial enterprises. Religion, particularly in its fundamentalist manifestations, continues to be used to affirm cultural identity, to stave off Western influences, and to mobilize masses in initiatives of choice. While I don’t want to be a pessimist, I believe fundamentalism is far from over. BECKY: Jeff Sharlet’s insightful book The Family certainly underscores your point David. Now moving on to other controversial subjects, how do you feel Cox addresses the history of Pentecostalism? BRIAN: I appreciated Cox’s insight that Pentecostals are great community organizers, and I’ve seen that to be the case in many

9/20/10 7:08:31 PM

places around the world. Sadly, though, very often the community gets organized to help the powerful charismatic pastor to become richer and more powerful, which is an adventure in missing the point. DAVID: I believe that Pentecostals get a bad rap largely because of the very categories that have historically been placed upon them by others. While there is plenty of room for caricature, and I agree with Brian that lamentably many Pentecostals continue to be insular, there is nevertheless a host of emerging progressive, socially engaged Pentecostals who are very much involved in public policy issues. It is necessary to develop a nuanced view of Pentecostals who straddle multiple realities simultaneously. Like many Hispanics who choose not to lose their native language, and customs and become bilingual and bicultural, many Pentecostals place their religious identity, with its idiosyncratic manifestations at the forefront of their justice work and not the other way around.

BECKY: When I attended Metro Hope Church in New York City, I was elated to see how Jose Humphreys had managed to bring together Latino, Asian, African American and Caucasian charismatics. I wonder if this church is an isolated incident or if we might be seeing a shift here. DAVID: While Pentecostals come in all shapes and sizes, there are a growing number of socially conscious Pentecostals who resist being hostage to any ideology and/or perceived agendas of the left or the right, and as such are held in suspicion by both, are misunderstood, and often marginalized by gatekeeper individuals and institutions. While Pentecostalism possesses many virtues, I fully agree and share Cox’s wariness of Pentecostalism’s authoritarian inclination. Some Pentecostals have moved from the periphery into the center stage as they grew in finances and influence and began to establish mega churches. As Pentecostals enter in to their apogee of this historical moment, the jury is out whether they use their new found influence for kingdom causes, or use this political and financial capital merely to propagate for their own agendas. BRIAN: If Pentecostals could rediscover the gospel of the kingdom of God—which is a gospel of incarnation, not evacuation … of

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penetration and transformation, not isolation and abandonment— they could put their amazing, Spirit-empowered energy to work on the biggest problems that face our world, and that would be exciting indeed. I often speak of this possibility as the second century of Pentecostalism. In the first century, we explored what the Spirit could do at the end of long church meetings with lots of loud preaching and exciting music. In the second century, perhaps we can explore what the Spirit can do regarding poverty and greed, regarding the environment and unsustainable consumption, and concerning conflict and peacemaking. That would be an Age of the Spirit to truly celebrate. BECKY: Cox defines the Age of the Spirit as a period that began in the 1960s with spirituality replacing formal religion. During this time, my late father was researching SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) groups for his PhD, as well as hanging out with the Jesus People and other countercultural forms of church.


perhaps we can explore what the Spirit can do regarding poverty and greed, regarding the environment and unsustainable consumption, and concerning conflict and peacemaking.

When I read the abstract of my dad’s dissertation as part of my research for my forthcoming book Jesus Died for This?, I was struck by his observations that these idealistic groups soon morphed into an organization headed by some charismatic leader. Despite their insistence that they weren’t an institution, they seem to have become a de facto organization. This is a pattern I keep seeing repeated in a wide range of religious and civic organizations. Phyllis Tickle seems to imply in The Great Emergence that we’re hard wired as a species to form institutions. Is she right? DAVID: We should understand the Age of the Spirit not only through historical shifts in personal and social spiritual understanding,


24|25 9/20/10 7:08:50 PM

but also how this emergent epoch and spirituality is mediated by people in this new age. As such, Cox’s idea of the Age of the Spirit has traction on many levels. While some are more adept at crafting their own personal spirituality, this also has a correlating effect on the nature of power. Power has become more decentralized and as the velocity of public opinion and market change occurs at mind numbing speed. The democratizing effect that social networking sites have on public opinion are a socio-cultural phenomenon that also impacts upon how people understand themselves, relate to one another, and even reconstitute the nature of the church and fellowship. People seem to be moving from talking heads and experts to freer constitutions of opinion and community, this creates linkages and immediacy never experienced before.

BECKY: Your observations jive with my travels, as well as the observations that missiologists like Andrew Jones (Tall Skinny Kiwi) have been making for the past few years. In fact, Shane Claiborne told me recently that he’s cutting back on his speaking schedule so that he can spend more time with the Potter Street community. BRIAN: I have a section in A New Kind of Christianity where I grapple with this. I propose that there is a dynamic relationship between social/spiritual institutions and social/spiritual movements. Institutions, in my view, conserve the gains made by past social movements, which renders them inherently conservative, which in turn means that they tend to oppose the gains proposed by current social movements. Movements, meanwhile, exist to address injustices in current institutions, and they don’t succeed until their ideals for change are—you guessed it—institutionalized. So, for me, there’s a yin-yang to all this, a dynamic and potentially creative tension. If institutions squash social movements, they stagnate, and if movements trash institutions, they’re forced to recreate them. BECKY: This quote from Cox really hit home from me. “The era of Christianity as a Western religion is already over. Instead of “Western Christianity,” we now witness a post-Christian West (in

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Europe) and a post-Western Christianity (in the global South). America is somewhere in between.” I had the good fortune recently to participate in the Global Roundtable of Emerging and Underground Ministries, which was held concurrent with the Slot Arts Festival in Lubiaz, Poland in the summer of 2009. One of the key points raised during this discussion was how Christianity is growing like wildfire in the Global South and Asia. Historically the West has assumed the role of giver by sending out missionaries to these areas. The question is how we will respond when these missionaries come back to us? Will we be able to assume the role of giver because the way Christianity has been informed by their indigenous culture looks much different than the way we in the West perceive Christianity? BRIAN: I hope Cox is right … and that the folks at this roundtable were right. I’m often worried that a whole lot of what is growing like wildfire in the global south is far less indigenous than it might

appear. Too often, in my experience, it’s exported Western religion, of a largely American, and largely American Deep-South, variety … American revivalism and televangelism, with a big dose of Religious Right politics peppered in. I’m worried a lot of folks underestimate the number of televangelist wannabe’s—ambitious pastors who imitate, with a little contextualization, the hot televangelists from the US and Germany especially. On the other hand, I don’t want to underestimate the true indigenization that’s taking place. You feel it in Latin America, where there’s a real Latin American theology that’s very critical of the American exports … and in Africa with theologians doing truly contextual work, folks like Mabiala Kenzo and the late Kwame Bediako, along with African scholars in the US like Emmanuel Katangole, Lamin Sanneh, and others. DAVID: Brian makes a sobering point; in my international travels there is a ubiquitous presence of Western televangelists. While I haven’t given much thought to the hegemony of this particular theology, I find that in my limited travels to Asia, African and Latin America, that there is an exportation of a theology that is neither local nor contextual. In contrast I have encountered some in Latin America informed by Liberation Theology to have to be more sensitized to social justice issues. Nevertheless, there have been

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many Pentecostals who have been historically socially engaged but haven’t been on the radar and whose contributions are now being chronicled in such works as Miller and Yamamori’s, Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement. BECKY: Since Plato’s time, we keep fighting over beliefs (opinions) but there’s always been this universal desire to connect to something outside of ourselves. That desire seems to be present among all of us regardless of our religious persuasion. DAVID: Becky I think you’re right on point to name this spiritual and existential yearning for meaning in our endeavors. Mere proof-texting and/or holding our denominational orthodoxy somehow just doesn’t seem to satiate us. There is a longing to be creative co-laborers with God in a human and divine historical project. Perhaps our efforts at naming and codifying are our feeble, self-centered attempts at being in control. A reflection on Pneumatology will underscore precisely this—that we are not in control! However, we stumble over this because our very Western theological discourse is embedded in the Enlightenment which privileges reason and logic over the intuitive and emotive and marginalizes and oppresses alternative narratives. We are still uncomfortable and suspicious about passion; here again Pentecostals are leading the way and in many instances create an alternative space that is at once immanent and transcendent, seeks to marry motive and causality with impact and effect, and is an amalgamation of cognition and pathos. BRIAN: One of the issues that I think Harvey Cox really nails is this realization that what we call Christianity in the West is a version of Christianity put through the colander of a kind of Platonism, then thoroughly marinated with Roman seasonings and stewed in the very violence and coercion that Jesus opposed, and that opposed Jesus. By reminding us that there was an age of faith before the age of beliefs, Cox helps us believe that there can be what I call “a new kind of Christianity” that can emerge—that is


Since Plato’s time, we keep fighting over beliefs (opinions) but there’s always been this universal desire to connect to something outside of ourselves.

emerging—and that can provide a needed alternative to a beliefsystem version of Christianity. I think Cox is exactly right in emphasizing the role of the Holy Spirit at this moment … Because what we need is not just a new ideology, but a new approach to faith altogether, a way of life that involves practices that open us more and more deeply to the Holy Spirit, and then send us out as Spirit-empowered agents of justice, joy, and peace in the Holy Spirit. That’s what it’s all about, it seems to me.

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We should understand the Age of the Spirit not only through historical shifts in personal and social spiritual understanding, but also how this emergent epoch and spirituality is mediated by people in this new age.

BECKY: Diana Butler Bass’ insightful question, “What are we emerging from and where are we emerging to?” provides historical clarity by reminding us that the church has been transforming since the book of Acts. We seem to be in the midst of another historical sea change. So that we don’t get seasick or go overboard in this process, I think we should heed the wisdom offered by N.T. Wright. In his book Surprised by Hope, Wright explores how we as Christians can bring hope here on earth. The kingdom will come as the church, energized by the Spirit, goes out into the world, vulnerable, suffering, praising, praying, misunderstood, misjudged, vindicated, celebrating: always—as Paul puts it in one of his letters—bearing the body of the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed. DAVID: I love N.T. Wright’s comment because it underscores the “this worldly” authentic oscillation between “vulnerability and suffering” with “vindication and celebration.” This balanced comment militates over and against the ever increasing popularity of a triumphalistic theology that privileges human achievement, along with its ostentatious symbols and hubris as an ecclesiological end, and in contrast, reminds us that the kingdom is often established by those on the edges of marginality.

Sculpture by American sculptor Charles Umlauf; Photos and design by Maria Harrington


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by Amy Moffitt O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD From this time forth and forever. — Psalm 131 So here’s something that bothers me. When churches speak of “missions” and hold up examples of those who are helping the Least of These, they inevitably direct their attention to aid organizations that work overseas. This attention to the suffering of the poor in other countries is utterly familiar to anyone raised in the church, and it tends to be viewed with unquestioning admiration from those not engaged in such service. I would never ever EVER be arrogant enough to criticize the intentions, passion, creativity and dedication of the people devoted to this work. But

I sincerely question its long-term effectiveness, and I question the effect that it has had on my generation.

Supporting two Compassion kids kind of helped assuage my hunger to help (and it was like a physical hunger), but not really.

In my late teens and early 20s, I was fixated on the thought of working overseas. What could be a better way of distributing the privileges I’d been given as a white American than to go to a poor country and give my time towards helping them fix their problems? But also, what could better assuage my guilt and my feelings of helplessness towards the problems of race, class discrimination and poverty in my own country? What would be a more effective veil for the fact that I grew up without much money (by American standards) than to go to a country where they really had nothing?

It’s a cruel dichotomy, really. My financial situation was mostly the result of bad luck and a lot of dumb but well-meaning decisions, both mine and those of multiple family members for generations. I felt that the rich kids, who had always had everything anyway, also got to be the heroes. They also got to be honored and respected for their concern for the poor, for their “selfless” service in poor foreign countries. It was the weirdest dynamic that I lived in for the longest time, this blind, numbing jealousy of feeling that my economic status denied me even the privilege of selflessness, and that my race denied me the privilege of having visibly overcome the odds against me. I worked my ass off, and I struggled, and I really really wanted to make the world a better place, and nobody noticed. I really can’t stress how much this view of things had a hold of me.

I was bitter for a long time about this. I wanted a badge that said “I want to help the Third World, but I’m broke, too”. I wanted a chance to explain to people that I also got tears in my eyes when I saw pictures and videos of emaciated folks with empty eyes. I felt deeply guilty over their situation. I felt it personally. I wanted to hug and cry with all of them. All of them. Really. I would have sold my possessions to pay off my debt and go help, but my possessions weren’t worth all that much.

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Things changed in my life over time. I taught ESL, worked with international students for several years, and got a Masters Degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Through my interaction with folks from all over the world


| Autumn 2010

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Which brings me to Dambisa Moyo, a woman who has written a powerful book, Dead Aid, that has probably pissed off a lot of people. I haven’t read the whole book, but the central argument is that western aid to sub-saharan Africa has had the opposite of the intended effect. Ms. Moyo doesn’t pull her punches. In the section “The foreign aid agenda of the 2000s: the rise of glamour aid,” she writes the following after mentioning the role of Bob Geldof and Bono in promoting the interests of the African poor to heads of state around the world: “Scarcely does one see Africa’s (elected) officials or those African policymakers charged with the development portfolio offer an opinion on what should be done, or what might actually work to save the continent from its regression. This very important responsibility has, for all intents and purposes, and to the bewilderment and chagrin of many an African, been left to musicians who reside outside Africa. One disastrous consequence of this has been that

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honest, critical and serious dialogue and debate on the merits and demerits of aid have atrophied. As one critic of the aid model remarked, ‘my voice can’t compete with an electric guitar’.” (27) You can almost hear the slap across the faces of all the well-meaning Americans and Europeans who have tried to help. I’m sure there are well thought out counter-arguments against her, but right now I’m just sitting with her assertion. I’m thinking of what I’ve learned over the past 9 years since I’ve been in DC. I’m thinking of the guilt and frustration I put myself through over not being able to pursue my “dream”… and I’m thinking of how often I found myself squirming when Christian leaders praise those who have decided to go overseas, how often I wanted to stand up and say “hold ON a minute… how are you so sure this is what God wants from you??”

I’m not sure I’m right, either, but I think it’s high time for the church to question the wisdom of idolizing those who go overseas to “help”. Where are the voices of the African, Indian, Chinese, and South American Christians? What do they really want from the American church? What do they really think of the money that goes into the charities sent to assist them? What do they think of the people who parachute into their societies for a couple of weeks or months to build a well or a house? I’m very supportive of the models used by, for example, the Mennonites, who do believe in sending people for years to become part of the community, and who do not proselytize, but I have to ask the question even of that model… what do the local folks think of them?

illustration/design by dave huth

and through my reading about international conflict and postconflict reconstruction, I came to a liberating resolution: folks in third-world countries would be happy for my money, but they didn’t need *me*. Not only did they have resourcefulness and problem-solving imaginations far beyond my capacities, but they had the deep knowledge of their own situations, their histories, their cultures.

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Seth Donovan is a community organizer in Denver, and a keeper of bees, chickens, cats, and one tarantula. Seth blogs at

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| Autumn 2010

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Bird in Hand, Andrea Armstrong We met Vancouver-based artist/illustrator Andrea Armstrong last year at the Christianity21 conference in Minneapolis and were instantly drawn to her work. Check out her work and illustrative blog at

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| Autumn 2010

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Would you climb a mountain to get out of your father’s shadow? “Deeply engaging . . . unsparing . . . gem of a book . . . readers . . . will be grateful for its insights, humility, and tenderness.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review), April 2010

WISDOM CHASER Having grown up in the shadow of his famous father, Richard Foster, Nathan Foster had a lot of questions about who his father really was. This led Nathan to initiate what became a decade of father-son hiking trips in Colorado. Along the way Nathan would navigate his twenties and discover exactly what his father could offer him. Afterword by Richard J. Foster. 978-0-8308-3630-7, $16.00


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Community Theater I’m no magi, and I’m no longer at ease here in the old dispensation, mediocre buildings with parking lots filled each Sunday. Smiles shake hands, butts fill pews, mouths shape air into words and air and words. What’s been dispensed except these silk ties, brass collection plates, stained glass overlooking trapsets, amplifiers and the Yamaha Motif keyboard on its hydraulic stand. Can we go? I’m just tired. It’s almost noon and the community theater needs me backstage for the matinee. — Marcus Goodyear

How the West Was Lost Consider me the first to wait in line for a ticket. Everyone has seen the teaser trailer over and over during evening news. We built our cities with paper houses, arrogant enough to think it would never rain. Rain doesn’t play favorites. It looks like all the umbrellas are currently occupied, so you will have to walk the long wet road home with your newspaper hat exposed atop your head, headlines smearing black trails down your cheek, and, inside, your paper heart is being soaked with blood. — Curtis Honeycutt

Prie-dieu Inside, it’s all confessional syntax And I’m reading my iniquities by candle-light These propane peccadillos push me altarward Yes I sing though to myself Outside, its a congressional sin tax And we’re meting out justice with angle-iron These billy club bruises beating downward Yes I cry though to myself

— Dave Huth

Apparently, Jesus thinks there are two kinds of people in the world: your neighbors, whom you are to love; and your enemies, whom you are to love. —Sara Miles

The Art of Telling a God-Centered Story | Ed Cyzewski In one way or another, many of scripture’s pages recount the stories of real people who interacted with God. Part of the work of theology involves interacting with these literary works and, in the case of the stories, figuring out what they tell us about God. Theology begins with this unapologetically literary, interpretive work. The all-important second step of theology involves meshing together these narratives, poems, and letters with the stories of our own lives, allowing God’s narrative to shape and reform our lives. NT Wright speaks of the final goal of this process as writing and acting out the unwritten fifth act of a play based solely on the four acts already written. The process of application leads us to an exciting range of possibilities. As we read about the freedom found in Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the call to the life of discipleship, we engage in the creative work of explaining, demonstrating, and representing the ways God’s Kingdom is at work in our lives. To this degree, the stories we share online, the art we hang in our sanctuaries, and the works of mercy we share with others become God-honoring creative acts that tell God-centered stories. In reading scripture and absorbing its meaning for us today, these lessons shape our lives and all that we create. It should not surprise us that as God’s laws were first laid out in the Torah that the people of Israel did not follow up with a series of sacred scriptures bristling with additional laws and commands. Instead, we find a series of stories that tried to apply the lessons of the law to their daily experiences. These narratives that followed the law moved away from telling the law to showing the law. As these narratives were taking shape throughout the Kingdom of Israel, a number of poets composed Psalms, exploring theological themes in the contexts of oppression, fear, deliverance, and public worship. In addition, prophets composed oracles in verse that shared messages from God, interpreting the Torah anew for their audiences. The New Testament continued this in part with the writing of the Gospels offering the fulfillment of the Torah in Christ. A theology disconnected from the arts reveals a detachment from an application process that has been of vital importance to God’s people throughout the years. Where philosophy and definitions fall short of God’s work and the nature of discipleship today, our art, stories, and practices take over, fleshing out unseen dimensions and driving us to deeper questions, greater mysteries, and deeper experiences of God’s Kingdom.

Ed Cyzewski is the author of Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life. He blogs on theology at and on writing at

­—Paul Soupiset


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I unbelieve, help thou my belief.

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| Autumn 2010

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Breena Wiederhoeft writes and draws comics from her current home in Portland, Oregon. Easel Ain’t Easy is a daily autobiographical snapshot of a person living her best attempt at the creative life. With a metaphorical pet cat who speaks her conscience, a rotating supporting cast of friends and family, and occasional appearances by the comic incarnation of Jesus Christ, Breena draws from a variety of inspirations to depict a world both exhilarating and challenging. Breena is a Wisconsin native and Midwestern loyalist who has been drawing comics for 15 years. In addition to Easel Ain’t Easy, she is currently working on her first graphic novel. She hopes to one day replace her metaphorical cat with a real one.


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(mid-September - Spring 2011)

PLAINFIELD, Vermont—Quaker Emergent friend Callid Keefe-Perry works with the Transformative Language Arts Network, and that organization’s annual conference will explore how to use our words—written, spoken or sung—to make community, deepen healing, witness one another, wake ourselves up, and foster empowerment and transformation. (Sept. 23-26, LAS VEGAS, Nevada—Foursquare pastor Charles Lee continues his series of Idea Camp events with a sin city gathering around the theme of “Sex.” (Sept. 27-28, ST. PAUL, Minnesota—Luther Seminary continues its series of focused youth ministry conferences with this edition on ministering to the children of divorce, featuring speakers Andy Root and Elizabeth Marquardt. (Sept. 27-29,

Abolition Prayer Make me an agent of your healing and justice To weep with those who suffer To speak for my sisters and brothers whose voices cannot be heard I join the struggle of love’s triumph over greed Spending myself for the captive Praying that more liberators will be sent until every slave is free.

Experiments In Truth Prayer Spirit of the creator, we surrender to the reign of love, in every currency of being: Body, mind, feelings, time in purpose, possessions and belonging Make us alive to the power that is making all things new

Awakening Creativity (with Adam Klein) Created to be creative We enact our destiny Embracing the energy of the Spirit To risk making beauty With our whole lives Amen.

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ATLANTA, Georgia—Hotlanta is increasingly a hotbed of progressive theology, and that tradition continues with the second annual Progressive Christian Alliance gathering. (Oct. 1-3,

around the village

POETIC PRAYERS Mark Scandrette

SPRINGFIELD, Missouri—Drury University plays host to “Subverting The Norm: The Emerging Church, Postmodernism, and The Future of Christianity.” Yeah, that’s a mouthful. It’ll be an earful too, from speakers such as Jack Caputo, Peter Rollins, Karen Ward, and others. (Oct. 15-16,

ATLANTA, Georgia—Progressive Hotlanta hosts the sixth annual Emergent Theological Conversation. The theme of this year’s conference is “Creating Liberated Spaces in a Postcolonial World,” and speakers include Musa Dube from Botswana, Richard Twiss from the Rosebud Lakota/ Sioux Tribe, and Colin Greene from the UK. This annual gathering is Emergent Village’s signature event, not to be missed! (Nov. 1-3, FORT WORTH, Texas—Father Richard Rohr continues his series of “Emerging Christianity” conferences with this event at Brite Divinity School. (Dec. 3-4,

MEMPHIS, Tennessee—The self-described Outlaw Preachers are converging on sweet ol’ Phyllis Tickle territory for the first-ever “Outlaw Preachers (Re)Union.” (Dec. 3-6,

PHOENIX, Arizona—The first Big Tent Christianity gathering took place in early September in North Carolina, and there’s already a second event being planned for the West Coast in partnership with the Arizona Foundation for Contemporary Theology. Once again Philip Clayton and Brian McLaren will take part, along with Marcus Borg and others to be announced. (Feb., 2011,

DALLAS, Texas—Lutheran youth minister Neil Christopher is spearheading a grassroots emerging youth ministry gathering in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. (Feb. 24-25, 2011, DALLAS, Texas—JoPa Productions has announced a new conference to be held on the topic of “Funding the Missional Church.” This will be an important gathering for those seeking to find ways to finance the formation of new forms of Christian community. (April 2011,

SEATTLE, Washington—TransFORM Network and The Parish Collective are partnering together on a West Coast regional gathering (to be hosted by Mars Hill Graduate School) on the subject of forming new missional communities of practice with an emphasis on a rootedness in neighborhoods and a robust theology of place. (April 2011, / SILK HOPE, North Carolina—Several years in the making and modeled after the Greenbelt Festival in the UK, the first-ever Wild Goose Festival (focused on justice, art and spirituality) will take flight in rural North Carolina. This is our Burning Man. Be there. (June 23-26,

Let GENERATE know what’s going on in your corner of the world. Email us at to tell us what’s going on in your community.

— Compiled by Steve Knight | @knightopia

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Beauty and the Sacred d e r c Sa e th Beauty and Twenty years in Beauty and the Sacred

Beauty and the Sacred

photography by michael wilson

by Elizabeth Sands Wise


sat on a cold cement floor under stained glass windows, a wool jacket spread underneath me in lieu of the blanket I hadn’t thought to bring. The cracking walls and makeshift stage were lit with tea lights and other candles. Assorted food, coffee, and wine, procured by volunteers, sat out on long tables in the back corner, and a hungry line snaked around the room as the concert began. Young couples sat under blankets on the floor. Some had bleacher cushions. Some of the artsy sort were there in tattered corduroys and homemade scarves, with enormous camera lenses and dark-rimmed glasses. Others in the room were middle-aged and well-dressed, in khakis, turtlenecks, and diamond earrings. This unexpected community shared an afternoon eating, drinking wine, huddled under the crumbling shell of the hundred-year-old St. Elizabeth’s, home to a vibrant church community in Norwood, Ohio. It was a Eucharistic kind of experience. A surprise communion. It was Over the Rhine’s annual Sunday Soirée.

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An Interview with Over the Rhine’s Linford Detweiler

Beauty and the Sacred

Twenty years in:

Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist, better known as Over the Rhine, began recording music together in 1989. Their lyrics infuse ordinary, lived experience with a can’t-quiteput-your-finger-on-it sacramental something. They consistently manage to put aside the sacred/ secular divide and find the beautiful within brokenness. It is this thoughtfulness—found on each of their more than twenty releases—that has earned the husband and wife duo a place on [recently-defunct] Paste Magazine’s list of 100 Best Living Songwriters. Based near Cincinnati, Over the Rhine has been making music for over twenty years, yet their albums continue to plow new ground lyrically and instrumentally. In 2007, they started their own record label, Great Speckled Dog, and this summer recorded a new album with famed producer Joe Henry. To fund the new album, Over the Rhine developed a “Let’s Make a Record” plan and offered to partner with their fans, giving listeners an opportunity to get involved at various financial levels. (Smaller donations yielded donors an advance copy of the album, additional bonus tracks, and a few other thank

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you’s including “a small surprise when the CD ships;” the largest donation category promised a “private acoustic house concert,” among numerous other personal gifts from the band.) Based on the strong and immediate response, their fans were thrilled to be part of the adventure. I recently spoke with Detweiler on the phone from Nowhere Farm, the home he shares with Bergquist an hour outside of Cincinnati. We spoke about the new album, the sacramental side of Over the Rhine’s music, the difficult discipline of being present, and how communities have shaped his songwriting. In one of the long letters your fans have grown to anticipate receiving from time to time, you recently said one of the reasons you keep making music is “presence.” You talk about the passage when Jesus said, “if you help someone in need, someone hungry or naked or thirsty…” if you are able to be present with them and soothe them in some way—those are your words—“it’s the same as if God was hungry or naked or thirsty or in prison, and you found a way to help God.” How do you remain present to the music at hand? You’ve recorded so much, and you write so much, how do you continue to remain present? LD: The first way is just insistence on telling the truth and not faking something for the sake of finishing a song or a record. So first of all just being willing to sit with a song until something is revealed that feels real and honest and sort of connected to the people that we are. The scary thing is that doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. It’s been three years since we’ve released our last studio record, and there are songs on the new record that I know I wrestled with for every bit of that three-year time period, really waiting for that right thing to be revealed, when the song felt substantial and well-made and like a container of something I needed to learn. So I think it starts with creating space in your life to write, if you feel called to the vocation of writing. That’s one of the steepest hurdles, just arranging and discovering a life that actually makes room for writing. When you think about this making space in your life, and the writing process as a whole, do you think of it in terms of discipline, then, rather than inspiration? LD: Yes. Inspiration is great, but fairly early as a writer, I wrote down “Inspiration comes afterwards.” That is not an original thought, but writers put pen to paper, or they sit down at the keyboard, and they start wrestling with words, and that sort of needs to happen regardless of whether or not you’re feeling inspired. That being said, I’ll take any scrap of inspiration I come across, and I will be grateful for it [laughs]. I know one song on the record, ‘Infamous Love Song,’ was like that. I just happened to pick up Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, and was just sort of reading that and just sort of getting a little bit

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intoxicated with the language, and I put it away and went out on the porch swing and probably eighty percent of the song just spilled out. I had come across a line, “holy the bop apocalypse.” And that line just started quivering and reverberating in my mind, and I started scribbling down lines, and then, you know, I took six months of really hard work to edit it down and get it the rest of the way home. But I had already been writing for a few hours before I picked up Howl and had that little bit of inspiration hit me, so I think it’s more about putting in the hours. Some of your songs are playful and yet also seem to be timely, or somehow charged with—not necessarily something political or ethical—but something else, under the surface. “No Kill Shelter” from the new album comes to mind—it’s fun, and you can just listen to it as a fun song, but you could also see it as pacifist, or just pro-compassion, empathy, and caring for the stranger. There’s this other level to it. How do you see your role as a music-maker in the world? LD: Some of that comes down to craft, and being aware that most of the music that I’m drawn to, most of the songwriting, has various levels going on simultaneously, so I want to be open to that. The best metaphor for what you’re talking about that I’ve heard was given to me by the poet Billy Collins. I heard him speak, and he talked about his poems and his approach to them being like an eye chart at the eye doctor. There’s the big “E” sitting up on top that everybody can see. And then there’s a second line where the print gets a little bit smaller but most people are still very much on board, and then the print gets a little smaller, and then it gets a little smaller still, and—Wow, as I’m saying this a beautiful blue heron is flying right over my head!—in my songs, I want a focus point in the song where everybody in the room can come together and share in that moment, without a great deal of effort. I try to be inclusive, but for those who want to go a little bit deeper, I want there to be layers that are available to those who are willing to look more closely. You have said, “When we stop believing we’re doing our best work, we’re done. Every song has to be good, every record has to be great, every concert has to have some spiritual significance—something that we can’t quantify, something bigger than all of us.” Rather than making a big proclamation of what is good or what is beautiful, you tend to tiptoe up to the good and the beautiful, as if you’re discovering it, maybe, or you’re unearthing it in this ordinary, lived experience. Do you see your music as a bearer of the sacramental imagination? LD: Well, first of all, in terms of whispering hope versus shouting from the mountaintops, you know, I’m much more interested in the former. I just doubt my ability to shout convincingly from the mountaintops. Yeah, one thing that happens on a fairly regular basis in our writing, I think, [is that] if I tend to cross a line over into making too many pronouncements, my wife (my partner and editor) will often say, “Why don’t we rephrase that as a question?”

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Right. Questions rather than answers. LD: Yeah. For instance, in the last song on the new record, called ‘All My Favorite People,’ there was a line where I said, ‘I see each wound you received as a burdensome gift. It gets so hard to lift yourself up off the ground.’ And Karin was uncomfortable with ‘I see each wound you’ve received as a burdensome gift.’ She just took out two letters and made it, ‘Is each wound you’ve received just a burdensome gift?’ I thought it was so much more powerful. Because you’re sort of just putting the question out there, like, at those most difficult moments, are they a gift of

some kind? I don’t always know that. I’m willing to learn from you, ‘what do you think,’ you know? And that to me opens up a special place where real conversation can happen. So I don’t know. Take the unwillingness to divide the world into sacred and secular, or an unwillingness to divide the world into

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the broken and the unbroken—we see that those divisions cannot be made. We’re all broken, and it’s all sacred. So that is sort of where we try to live. And if we fail, on a personal level, I think songs can remind us what we aspire to. I wanted to ask you about the e-mails that for years you’ve sent out to subscribing fans; some readers have called your e-mails works of art. Do you see them as just an outlet—a way to communicate information—or is there something more going on, maybe a sort of “housekeeping” work toward maintaining a community?

LD: Hm. I like that. Well, first of all, as a songwriter, I’ve always tried to find excuses to secretly just be a writer! And so I’m a songwriter that has been scolded by critics for writing long liner notes! These “newsletters”—it’s really just sort of a nonthreatening way for me to get to be a real writer [laughs]… I do write them as if I’m writing to extended family. It’s a pretty



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important component of what we do at this point, twenty years in. It’s not uncommon for people to thank us for our music and for the letters [laughs]. Like they’ve almost become part of a whole somehow. In those letters, I’m really, really thinking out loud about what it is I care about, the little discoveries I’ve made, you know. I try again to write mostly from a place of celebrating the small victories. A place where I’m paying attention. I’ve resisted the urge to write when my head is overwhelmed with dark clouds, or if I feel like I’m losing my way. I’ve tried to make the letters a little bit more celebratory in nature, I guess. But yeah, I do put everything I can muster into those. And I do treat them as if they were real pieces of writing. In the letter that was announcing the “Let’s Make a Record” plan of action, you said, “We believe that making music has something to do with what we were put on this earth to do. If we leave our songs alone, they call to us until we come back to where we belong. When we live in the sweet spot of that calling, it gives others permission to discover the sweet spot of your own calling and live there.” I thought that was really beautiful, because it combines this idea of calling with the idea of relationships, or community. So I would like to take a few minutes to talk about communities of influence on you and your music. Is that okay? LD: Sure, absolutely. I guess the easiest way to start is to ask what music you and Karin were raised listening to. LD: Well, probably first and foremost, we both grew up around a lot of old gospel music and hymns, and church music, sacred music, so-called. And we both spent some pretty formative years in small coal towns near West Virginia, so there was a little bit of an Appalachian thing happening, with those traditions. We were hearing country and western music, and then the rock ‘n roll that would happen on our friends’ car stereos. It was just sort of—I think I wrote in the liner notes to Ohio that it was kind of this strange musical world where Elvis was king and Jesus was Lord. So yeah, we grew up with a pretty wide crosssection of American music. But in terms of community, I would say the first most influential community on me was my family. Both of my parents were raised on Amish farms, and music was essentially forbidden in terms of musical instruments, except for the harmonica, and we’re not sure why that exception was made. But I just buried my dad’s last living brother—he passed away a little over a week ago—and as a child, he had hidden an acoustic guitar in the hay in the barn; he had hidden an accordion under the horse’s manger. And there was this idea of forbidden music. I think that has been a huge influence on me, inheriting that part of my family’s story, because it reminds me that songwriting … there is something dangerous and subversive about it, and if I’m not risking anything as a writer I might be wasting people’s time.

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The other beautiful image as far as the community of my family is my mother wanting a piano as a child. She wasn’t allowed to have a piano, so one of her school teachers helped her cut out a cardboard keyboard and bring it home to her bedroom, and she would play her cardboard keyboard and hear the music that was only inside of her. Forbidden music. So sorting out some of that tradition, my dad turned down the family farm when he was 21. He left, began exploring, he eventually bought a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and he would make field recordings at night. He just loved what everything was doing at night, you know, at the edge of the swamp, on the edge of the woods. He began bringing records home, a very random eclectic mix of things that he discovered, everything from Harriet Jackson to early Eddie Arnold to southern gospel quartets; it was just very, very rich and very random. So I would start with my family, which is kind of a large community in and of itself. I have five siblings, my dad had seven siblings, my mother had eleven siblings. Over the Rhine is obviously named for a community of sorts as well, a neighborhood community in Cincinnati. What’s the significance of that decision? LD: That was very influential as well. We started the band in sort of a bad part of town in Cincinnati, and it happens to be one of the most intact neighborhoods from the late 1800s in the world. And it was just sort of full of a kind of terrible beauty. We migrated down there after college; I had a third-story apartment overlooking Main Street. It was our first time living in a predominantly black neighborhood. I thought the children were so amazingly beautiful. The contradictions of America were just everywhere you looked—this European architecture combined with issues of poverty and gentrification, all of it was just kind of right there. What about your fans? You’ve been playing for over twenty years; you have baby boomers with diamonds sitting next to twenty-somethings in cut-off jeans. How has this diverse community influenced your music throughout the years? LD: Well, number one, they’ve certainly given it a life by listening to it and passing it around. They complete the circle and make it feel like a complete conversation. We love the fact that young kids continue to find the music. I think if that quits happening, you know, it’s time to look at the expiration date. We’re always excited when we play a show that’s twenty-one and over, and we get people asking, ‘Are you sure there’s no way I can get in?’ It’s a huge compliment. One of the most amazing stories that somebody told me, that speaks more to the power of song, really, than anything I’ve done, was that there was a woman in hospice, and there was a sign on the wall that said, ‘do not unplug. for hospital use only.’ And her family had unplugged that

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cord, and plugged in a little stereo, and my friend said they were playing one of our records for her the day before she died. When we do songwriting workshops sometimes, this idea comes up of like, who are we writing for? And I always say, why not write for the person who is living their next-to-last day on earth. Why not write that song? And sort of swing for the fences—what would that song be? I’m interested in trying to write that song. I think our listeners have influenced us by being willing to go with us into whatever those dark, messy places are that feel honest. You know, one of the first things that we did, having grown up in the church, was we took our music sort of out of the church and just put it in a physical place where people were listening to music, in any particular town, regardless of where that might be. That was a little bit radical when we started. For instance, if we played Cornerstone Festival—that was the only ‘Christian’ concert that we would play that year—and then we would get back to work and go back out to the general marketplace. I’ve always been interested in breaking down artificial barriers that divide us into camps, when we’re really all part of the same family, even if it’s a dysfunctional family. Well, I guess I’d like to end by talking about your new record again. How would you describe the album to people who don’t know what you’ve done?

Joe is a very gifted writer, frankly, and I think it might have been the first time I felt like we were really making a record with a

songwriting … there is something dangerous and subversive about it, and if I’m not risking anything as a writer I might be wasting people’s time.

LD: I would describe it as a little bit dark, cinematic, sea-faring. Those are just general words. We cut the whole record live, I mean, with everybody playing together. It really felt that we were hopping on a train or setting out to sea, and we had to occasionally hit the lifeboats, but we made it back, and the record is what happened. What sort of influence did [producer] Joe Henry have on the actual album? LD: I wanted to make a record that I couldn’t imagine. And that happened. I wanted to, in Joe’s words, “blow the seams out of the songs” in unexpected ways. That happened. Joe doesn’t talk to the musicians about how the record is going to sound. He asks everybody to watch the same movie a few days before we start. It happened to be an old Italian film from the fifties, kind of grainy, black and white. And sure enough, it was gray and

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rainy when we arrived Monday morning in Pasadena! And I was thinking, ‘Wow, this guy really does make weather!’

writer. And there was a different level of communion that was happening. Joe co-wrote a song with us and then contributed a lyric to a melody that Karin had. It’s that little melody at the end of the demos called ‘Soon.’ That was just one of the high points of the record, and it happened, like, before breakfast the day before we were done. It was just a real—I think the word I would use is communion—sort of a deep solidarity. It was the trip of a lifetime. Do you have a favorite track on the new album? LD: One of my immediate favorites would be that song that Joe wrote with Karin, ‘Soon.’ When you hear it, tell me if you don’t close your eyes and just have this movie happen in front of your eyes. I think it’s one of the high points. L



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the untouchables photo essay by rachel robichaux

The Dalits comprise nearly one quarter of India’s society, with a population estimated at 250 million people. The term “Dalit” means “those who have been deliberately broken by those above them in the social hierarchy.” Members of the Dalit, also called the “untouchables,” are particularly vulnerable to forced/bonded labor and sex trafficking due to their social and economic disadvantages.

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Rachel Robichaux is a Colorado-based photographer whose passion lies in documentary photography. She has worked with various non-profits in Colorado, Thailand and India. Currently, she is working on a project regarding trafficking in India. Her desire is to be involved in an artistic movement bringing advocacy and hope to those without a voice.

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GODISNOWHERE “GODISNOWHERE” explores holy space through the seemingly contradictory perspectives of “God is now here” and “God is nowhere.” Early in the event everyone is invited to write a memory of a personally meaningful holy space. The slips of paper are collected and placed in a tin can where they are lit on fire. A blessing is read: “As our memories of these holy spaces turn to ash, may they fuel the fire that illuminates this place tonight.” The evening is filled with music, personal reflections, and provocative imagery and concludes when everyone is given a pair of gifts — a small container of ash and a fresh candle.

Mothers of God “Mothers of God” is an extended reflection on a quote from Meister Eckhart: “We are all mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born.” Throughout the event the silhouette of a woman in labor dominates the front of the room and everyone hears the painful groans of labor. The event progresses as various readings, reflections, and images are presented. The climax of the event involves three (mis) readings of Mary’s story. In the first, Mary refuses God: “I do not want to be the mother of this God.” In the second, “Mary wept bitterly because the God that she had hoped to birth did not survive.” And the final reading concludes, “Though she was willing to birth God, she was not strong enough to survive. Mary died giving birth to God.” The event ends with uncertainty but also with the affirmation that we are all pregnant with the possibility of God.

A provocative and experiential event, VOID aims to be a space where God can give God. VOID finds its home at Treff’s Bar in Waco, Texas. Learn more at All photos from “GODISNOWHERE” and “Mothers of God” were taken by Jackson Griggs.

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Dayvid Graybill

Great God, Forgive us our greed Forgive us our wars Forgive us our exclusions Forgive us our footprint

Invisible Spirit, Touch our body Touch our pain Touch our brokenness Touch our world

Loving Jesus, Give us a hand Give us a nod Give us a smile Give us a wink


Prodigal Confession Jim Robertson

Prodigal Confession

I have lived selfishly.

Father, I have squandered the goodness you have given me.

I have lived sinfully.

I have abandoned the rich inheritance of being your child. I have run far from you and have not been responsible. I have refused to live in loving relationship to you. I have refused to live in loving relationship to my family. I have refused to live in loving relationship to my neighbour.

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I have lived wastefully. I have lived in servitude to things you say are not good for me. And now Father, I am tired of living this way, and want to come home. I pray you accept even the most humble service I may offer. I am turning, Father, turning to you. I am coming home Father, coming home to you.

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52|53 GENERATE MAGAZINE | Summer 2010

Joel McClure

We believe in the Resurrection of Jesus. We don’t just believe that the Resurrection happened. We don’t just believe things about the Resurrection of Jesus. We believe in the Resurrection of Jesus. In a world where it appears that death wins, where violence, murder, disease, and terrorists might cause us to fear and lose heart, we say that we believe in the Resurrection of Jesus.

And so we refuse to accommodate ourselves to the fear, despair, and cynicism all around us. We choose, instead, to give words and expression to the groaning of creation. We say that a new day has begun, and the darkness all around us will find no safe quarter, for the light of life has dawned. Death’s teeth have been pulled; it no longer holds any threat. So we live with abandon. We stand up for and alongside those who are most at risk, and we say in word and in action that we believe in the Resurrection of Jesus.

We say that there is a power beyond our understanding that is able to give life back to those who’ve lost it.

God has begun his good revolution, and change is on the way. Oppression, violence, deception, rejection, selfishness, apathy, brutality, manipulation, malice, murder, hatred and all their kind are living on borrowed time.

This is not metaphorical life, but real, actual, fish-eating, hand-touching, word-speaking, bread-breaking, sitting down at the table life.

We believe in the Resurrection of Jesus.

We believe in the Resurrection of Jesus. In a world that teaches and trains us to protect and secure ourselves, we say there is a power at work now in this world that exposes the fragility and short-sightedness of such socalled securities, and offers — no — promises and continues to prove the ability to deliver us through, not merely from, danger and death. We believe in the Resurrection of Jesus.

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We believe in the Resurrection

So we refuse to be seduced or coerced into sharing in the behavior of that which will be removed and replaced. Instead, we love rather than hate, we share rather than steal, we give rather than take, we show kindness rather than brutality, we tell the truth rather than deceive, we hope rather than despair, we believe rather than doubt, we help rather than oppress, we heal rather than destroy, we embrace rather than strike, we lose rather than win at any cost. We do all of this because we believe in the Resurrection of Jesus.

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“change is inevitable because those who

want it are younger than you.”

(facebook status) — Jonathan Brink


, The so welcome, like a warmkiss



energizing each remaining thread of my worn, gray soul.”

— attributed to Tim Samoff

“Satan plenty. I’ve seen

Resurrection =rising up =up rising

=Insurrection” — Peter Rollins


He’s beautiful every single time.”

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— @newlutheran

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“We find by losing. We hold fast by

letting go. We become something new by ceasing to be



This seems to be close to the heart of that mystery.

I know no more now than I ever did

about the far side of death as the last letting-go of all, but now I know that I do not need to know, and that

I do not need to be afraid of not knowing.” — Frederick Buechner


fails doctrines become


witness and proclamation wooden, doxologies and litanies empty, consolations hollow, and ethics


(Amos Niven Wilder, Theopoetic)

Scott Cairns tells a story of an earnest evangelical who asked an Eastern Orthodox priest,

“Is Jesus Christ

your personal savior?” “No, I like to The priest replied,


share him.”

throws this party.

These are his guests, not mine. I can stand out with older brother

or deal with the guest list. attributed to -@imonk

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I’m in.”

design by jesse turri


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Immersing Ourselves In Conversation A Review of Walter Brueggemann’s An Unsettling God: The Heart of the Hebrew Bible By Christopher Smith


aving been an observer—from the inside and the outside—of the emerging church movement for more than a decade, I have come to understand that two of its most respected virtues are community and conversation. I was therefore intrigued to find that theologian Walter Brueggemann, a familiar name to many emerging church folk, recently published a book that explores the Old Testament through these lenses of community and conversation. This book, An Unsettling God: The Heart of the Hebrew Bible, depicts God as a “dialogical character” who converses primarily with the community of Israelite people, but also with individuals, nations, and creation as a whole. In the book’s preface, Brueggeman summarizes the task he will undertake in the coming pages, challenging us to be a people whose life is defined by such conversation with God and each other: The defining category for faith in the Old Testament is dialogue, whereby all parties—including God—are engaged in a dialogic exchange that is potentially transformative for all parties, including God. This constitutes a conviction that God and God’s partners are engaged in mutual talk…. The Old Testament is an invitation to re-imagine our life and our faith as an ongoing dialogic transaction in which all parties are variously summoned to risk and change (xii). Following in the rich tradition of Jewish theologians such as Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, and Emmanuel Levinas, Brueggemann maintains that the conversation between God

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and God’s people is characterized as “utterance and response, as command and obedience, as confession and forgiveness, as petition and attentiveness, all in the interpersonal ways of Jewishness that resist reduction” (9). God, as described by Brueggemann, is holy and yet “undomesticatedly available” for conversation. Israel is a people marked by the covenant that defines its relationship with God. The nature of this covenant is the expectation that Israel will “listen and do justice.” “Israel understands itself,” Brueggemann says, “as a community of persons bound in membership to one another, so that each person-as-member is to be treated well enough to be sustained as a member of the community” (27). Israel is also called to be holy as God is holy. In addition to the defining virtues of justice and holiness, Israel is a sort of missional community, being described in the Old Testament as having “as part of its vocation and destiny a role in the well-being of the world” (35). Brueggemann also emphasizes that the narrative arc of the conversation between God and Israel in the Old Testament is shaped by Israel’s recalcitrance (and scattering) and their obedience (and gathering). Over the remainder of the book, Brueggemann describes the conversations God maintains with individuals, nations, and all of creation. The latter two partners are of particular interest because they offer fresh theological perspectives on power and ecology, respectively. Of the nations Brueggemann says, “YHWH will consider the destiny of the nations as a

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Walter Brueggemann An Unsettling God: The Heart of the Hebrew Bible by Paperback: Fortress Press, 2009

partner, when the nations make their way in a testimony that is churches now. For instance, he says of scriptural interpretation: Israel-driven” (103). He goes on to explore the Old Testament “And so, in our desire to remain absolutely, totally, and resolutely dialogue between God, Israel, and the nations, specifically faithful to the Word of God, we come face to face with the idea Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and Persia. In regard to the Old that we must be prepared to wrestle with, question, and even Testament conversation between God, Israel, and all creation, betray the words. Only when we have broken with our initial Brueggemann observes that the key points of this dialogue naïveté and have embraced a passionate, critical engagement are wisdom (“careful, consistent reflective attention to the with the text can we ever hope to enter into that second naïveté shapes and interconnecting that keep the world generative”), and be embraced by the truth that is affirmed there” (The righteousness (“daily endless attention to the gifts of creation, Fidelity of Betrayal, 62). for their abuse and exploitation can harm and impede the generosity that makes life possible”), and worship (“a context Furthermore, Rollins argues that this conversation leads us within which the generosity of creation can be received and “toward a religionless Christianity” in which knowledge is no enhanced”). These three virtues offer us much to consider as longer divorced from practice. Although Rollins’ reflections on how this conversation plays out in practice in our church we reflect on the ecological mission of the church. communities tends toward the abstract, leaving much to be While Brueggemann, as an Old Testament scholar, excels discerned conversationally in local contexts, he highlights the in his reflections on the biblical text, his meager two-page contemporary significance of a dialogical theology like the one consideration of the implications of these theological dynamics Brueggemann has described in An Unsettling God. for the church leaves much to be desired. At the same time I was reading An Unsettling God, I was also working through Peter May we continue to immerse ourselves in the conversation Rollins’ work which seems to offer some wisdom—particularly with God and humanity that both Brueggemann and Rollins in The Fidelity of Betrayal—on how the divine conversation have highlighted and may this conversation guide us toward we see in the Old Testament might play out in churches as the full reconciliation of creation, for which all partners in the conversation long! communities of God’s people today. The God Rollins describes is one of vulnerability and one that fits Brueggemann’s Old Testament interpretation of a God in conversation. However, Rollins initiates an exploration of what these sorts of conversational dynamics might look like in

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Christopher Smith is a member of the Englewood Christian Church community in Indianapolis, the editor of The Englewood Review of Books, and is currently working on a book manuscript tentatively titled The Conversational Church.



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with New Life For Haiti via one of our community members who had worked with them before, and in a few months’ time we had organized a trip for nine of us from Journey IFC in Austin, Texas, to go on an exploratory trip to see what was going on in the Grande Anse Valley, and to see if this was a place and a people that we might commit ourselves and our community to a long term

relationship. Although we were in shock upon entry into Port Au Prince, it didn’t take long for us to fall deeply in love with the people and the country. We worked on a school in the small village of Marfranc, but more importantly we engaged people on our daily walks into the village, in our work at the school, and on our visits to a nursing home. I cannot speak for the people

we encountered, but I can speak for our group when I say we were all transformed by the beauty and the joy we discovered deep in the souls of the young and old we encountered. We cannot wait to get back! — Austin filmmaker Carl McLendon, who recently traveled to Marfranc, Haiti with other friends from Journey: An Imperfect Faith Community.

photos by Carl McLendon

After the earthquake ravaged the island-nation of Haiti, many in our faith community felt a strong need to help because our beloved David Gentiles had a heart for the place because of his prior work there. David had passed in December, and I think many of us felt a need to do what he would have done, which would have been to find an opportunity to go help. We connected

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Drying Its Wings

All the dreams of caterpillars Seem impractical. Foolish hairy creeps. Inconsiderate visionaries Painting airy portraits For themselves, invisible To the hive. “Why so shy? Look to the flowers, grumpy! Have some nectar, honey! Show some self-respect, Insect!” Shamed to see All the winged productivity, As if the burden of beauty Were too great, the beast Takes its own bait “Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.” Illustration by David Wierzbicki

And slinks away to think awhile about its purpose, and to die.

Now, blind to what’s transpired, And suspicious of a sudden quiet, It dries its wings in the sun, And gazes out upon the flowers, Which bow in its direction. The butterfly hears a far Vibration, and wonders Why, and where the bees did fly.

On every worm, that plows the waste Of better beasts, the life of trees Depend. In every creepy caterpillar, Dreams of beauty brew Invisible, but not unknowable, Nor untrue.

— David Maddalena

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City Market in Luling. Some of the best BBQ in Texas. Photos by Shelton Green. Shelton founded Good & Fair Clothing to bring consumers clothes that are fair trade from the bottom up. Made with organic cotton grown by farmers paid a fair trade price for their crop, Good & Fair’s mission is to be good to the earth and fair to the people who produce our cotton and make our clothing. Clothing available this fall at

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after.word To the critics: I so understand where you are coming from.

and say, “Something is not working, and damn it, I’m not going to take it anymore.”

Recently I’ve been contemplating both the emergence theory and something a friend of mine said: “We’ve allowed the critics to define the emergent church.” I resonated with his statement because the nature of the conversation has been predominantly deconstructive in nature. Many are learning to question the beliefs of their youth and come to terms that all is not right in Christendom. And the absence of a clear, defined theology allows the critics to throw anything out as true. It doesn’t really matter what those within emergence say because there is little in the way of organized documentation to reflect a response. At least not yet.

The critics weren’t there during the periods of deep unrest and painful sweats that accompanied exodus from the safe confines of what I had always known. They weren’t there for the penetrating questions and fears that I had to confront as I questioned the doctrines that had historical significance. They also weren’t there for the soul satisfying conversations with those who dared to question me, fighting for resolution and reconciliation with the stories in our heads. They weren’t there for the moments of grace when I was reminded that there was no question I could ask that was too big for my Heavenly Father.

Much of the tension within emergence is hearsay and outright lies. Brian McLaren had a great post recently exploring the three questions he gets asked the most, and his answers were awesome. They were in direct opposition to many of the portraits painted of him. I appreciate Brian’s ability to cast off the criticisms and move on. Well done Brian. Do the critics shout from the rooftops, “We got it wrong?” No.

When I look back and see the critics, those who questioned my sanity, my judgment, and even my salvation, I now realized I don’t really see the critics. I see me. I see a scared little boy unable to take a risk for fear of upsetting the ruling authority. I see myself trapped under the weight of wanting to be loved, yet finding none of it within the religious system I was told would work. I see the need to believe just a little harder, to fight away the nagging questions in the back of my mind that kept me up at night. I see deep wounds of insignificance that I had hoped would come from becoming the smarter guy in the room. And I see the loneliness that comes from finding only the fault within the other, the one that reminds me of my own brokenness. If I left anything, I now realize it was the need to validate myself through my belief, which is impossible to do. Love awakened in me a reality that I have always been loved. I just hadn’t seen it.

But as I pondered the criticisms and critics, I realized something very important. It’s virtually (but not entirely) impossible to leave something so important as faith, especially a specific way of believing, without something coherent to replace it. Yet, that is exactly what this point in history called for: to leave the known for the unknown. Much of the emergence journey over the last ten years (possibly longer) has been a journey of faith INTO the abyss. It was an exodus of mass proportions. There was no net to catch us. There was no map to follow. There were only people, willing to take the risk to raise their hand

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So, to the critics: much love. — Jonathan Brink



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812 City Park Avenue Suite 202 + Fort Collins, CO, USA 80521

essays, and interviews to evoke deeper imagination and to awaken more and more people to the good news happening in the larger world and in our neighborhoods.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS GENERATE is seeking writers, poets, thinkers, artists, bloggers, tricksters, students, educators, musicians, clergy, skeptics, mystics, sinners and saints—plus everyday janes and joes—to submit original, recent works that explore, probe, rethink/reframe, question, hack, contemplate, and offer insight into the growing global conversation about following God in the Way of Jesus—its intersections, its life, its resultant creativity and community practice.

DEADLINE: December 31, 2010 web: twitter: @GENERATEmag facebook group:

We are a largely volunteer, grassroots-organized, house. We are excited and eager to involve more of you in helping realize this dream—to give a voice to friends of the various emergent streams—missional, neomonastic, prophetic, postcolonial, arts, social justice oriented…

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SEEKING VOLUNTEERS We’re currently seeking advertising sales, administrative and other volunteers to help make GENERATE happen.

front cover photo: rachel robichaux

planning and hundreds of hours of combined volunteer labor. GENERATE Magazine shares the stories germinated at the grassroots of emergent and alternative communities and individuals each seeking the Way of Jesus. We hope to create an artifact of this historical conversation transmitted through narrative, works of visual art,

We/you are the conversation; our art, our lives, our hopes and failures all meet up with God’s approaching dreams for creation. We converse, and in doing so spread the news that we are not alone—that joy and hope is found in our generative friendship.

linford detweiler | pyrotheology | VOID collective | seth donovan | mclaren, garrison & ramos is not a law firm | asianmergent | easel ain’t easy | y mas

At the 2007 Emergent Gathering, another planning group was convened to discuss logistics, bring some leadership to the dream, and get things rolling.

autumn 2010 [volume 1 number 2]

LEND YOUR VOICE The seeds for GENERATE Magazine were sown sitting around a fountain in San Diego in 2004—a few writers, poets, artists and designers explored and dreamed about launching a print publication that would embody the ethos—and tell the stories of—the growing, generative conversation that would later come to be called emergence Christianity.

an artifact of the Emergence conversation

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Generate Magazine, Fall 2010  
Generate Magazine, Fall 2010  

GENERATE exists as a forum to retell the stories of the grassroots communities and individuals who are finding emerging and alternative mean...