Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thinking About Religion, Belief, and Politics

The Inaugural Danforth Lecture Series
Princeton University

In a dense and stimulating talk, anthropologist Talal Asad engaged the work of Charles Hirschkind and Charles Taylor. Here are a few ideas that stayed with me:

  • changing models of 'religion' over time, particularly in relation to understandings of ritual
  • connections between the optimism of liberal secular politics and Christian articulations of personal salvation
  • how the market and formal communication both exert forms of control that alter internal desire
  • an 'ethnography of the body' that would help distinguish between discipline (as intentional cultivation of specific practices) and unintended shifts in the sensorium (the place data from our senses in received and interpreted)
  • the contrast between state dominance of space and acoustic sensibility of sermons in Egypt
  • the provocative question: how does democratic sensibility accord with democracy as a state?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Emergent Mid-Atlantic Conference

Peter Rollins told stories, pushed the envelope, and dialogued with John Franke. Here's a few highlights:
  • subjective violence vs. objective violence
  • retroactive need
  • refusal to do pastoral care
  • theology as the architecture we build in the aftermath of God
  • we always get God wrong when we speak, but we are impelled to keep on talking
  • interdependent particularity
And two questions it stimulated for me:
  • If we tend to be attentive to subjective violence (the crime-fighting of Batman) while objective violence (the poverty-creation of Wayne Industries) is sublimated, might rejection of success (or criteria for success) enact a Girardian unveiling for churches or other bodies?
  • Might a focus on embodied existence in general (and Gen 1:26 and Matt 25:40 in particular) provide a path beyond a framework in which finitude and fallenness form an impenetrable barrier to Truth?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ecclesiological Desire and the Empire We Find Ourselves In

Evangelicals and Empire Discussion
New York Theological Seminary


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Citizens for Global Solutions is holding its 4th Annual Multimedia contest

Citizens for Global Solutions is holding its 4th Annual Multimedia contest for artists, designers, poets, activists and just about anyone interested in thinking about global issues and making some cool art. The top contenders will be published on our website.

They're looking for short multimedia pieces (flash animation, spoken word, digital video) that can inspire, amuse and activate people out there who believe that a better world is possible. You are welcome to work alone, in a team, or as part of a classroom project (but the cash prizes remain the same).

In 2003 the world awakened to the terrible tragedy unfolding in Darfur, Sudan. Five years into the armed conflict, the situation remains dire for civilians. The conflict has claimed over a million lives, and the people there are still living in abject poverty. This year Citizens for Global Solutions would like to re-focus attention upon this crisis to remind the world that we still have a duty to help the Sudanese people. The Sudanese government continues to disregard its international humanitarian law obligations and flout UN Security Council resolutions, including the ban on offensive military over-flights, the disarming of the Janjaweed militia, and cooperation with the International Criminal Court at the Hague.

This contest is all about communicating your thoughts and ideas on the conflict:

* Feel free to focus on one specific aspect of the Darfurian case that interests you, since this will give you the most creative space to work in.

* You can also choose to expand the theme to include the larger issues of war and genocide. Remember, this theme is there mainly as a guidance tool; you have complete leeway in deciding which direction you will take when planning for this contest.

* As with all previous Flash and Multimedia contests, the yearly theme is considered elective. You can choose to tackle world hunger and poverty, environmental issues, nuclear weapons & the arms trade, or a different global issue of your choice. Simply choose a GLOBAL ISSUE that you care about, and give us your SOLUTION(s)!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Missional Christianity... Church Beyond Boundaries

A conference addressing theological and practical challenges
for the future of the missional church

Friday, October 10, 2008

Noon - Registration
1:00 - 1:50 p.m. - Plenary session
Scot McKnight - "The Bible and Missional Listening"
2:00 - 2:45 p.m. - Parallel sessions
Michael NoelCoaching Established Churches for Missional Change
Todd HiestandMissional in Suburbia? Are you Kidding?
J.H. KimThe Art of Worship: Practical ways to empower and engage the creative arts in your community
Eric MasonMissional church planting in an urban setting
Steve Kriss & pastorsMissionality & Multiculturalism
2:45 - 3:15 p.m. - Snack break
3:15 - 4:00 p.m. - Parallel sessions
Repeat first session
4:10 - 5:00 p.m. - Plenary session
Tim Keel - "Leadership, the Local Church, and the Crisis of Imagination"

5:00 - 6:30 p.m. - Reception with refreshments

6:30 - 9:00 p.m. - Speakers & Formal Installation Ceremony
David Dunbar
- Welcome
Darrell Guder - "The Promise and Threat of Missional Theology"
Brian McLaren - "An Epistemology of Love"
John Franke - Chair Acknowledgment

photo credit: untitled by inocuo 2007-08-30 flickr

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Echos Commission Meeting in Bangalore

Next week, a group of 25 young leaders from churches across the globe will meet in Bangalore to work on issues of mission and overcoming violence. I count it a privilege to be joining them.

You can find more information here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

EcuMap beta launch!

There are a number of good archives for ecumenical documents, but for those who are just beginning to learn about church unity the sheer volume of texts can be overwhelming. The EcuMap project is my attempt to create a visual, interactive means to explore the complicated relationships that have developed between various communions over the last century as they pursue the unity for which Christ prayed. At long last, it's finally ready for some beta testing. If you find it helpful or have some suggestions to improve it, drop me an email.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Managing a Busy Schedule

As another semester begins, I am posting a few organizational tips that I find useful in keeping track of my own busy schedule. I am including strategies for both those who love computers and those who hate them. The basic idea is to develop a system that works for you to organize and simplify your life (for reflection on the spiritual dimensions of simplicity, see Richard Foster).


  1. Go through your syllabi and write down every assignment and when it is due in one place.
  2. Write out a regular schedule for yourself that includes your other commitments and designates extra study time for completing major assignments.
  3. Make a to do list and look at it every day.
  4. Once a week, review the things you accomplished last week (congratulations!), remind yourself to finish things you left incomplete (oops!), and add new things you need to do during the next seven days (you can do it!).
  5. Evaluate whether your system is working and make changes that fit your schedule, personality, etc. (you can find additional ideas and tips at 43 Folders or Lifehack)

  1. CALENDAR: Sign up for a free Google account and set up a calendar that you enter all your deadlines (you can even tell it to send you email reminders a week, day, or minutes(!) before they are due).*
  2. TO DO LIST: Sign up for a free Remember The Milk account and use that to manage a system for "getting things done" that works for you. (43 Folders and Lifehack are very useful for this stage)
  3. INTEGRATION: Download Firefox and get the Remember the Milk addon for Google Calendar (and Gmail too, if you use that). This will enable you to add tasks to RTM from your Google Calendar.
  4. MAKE IT EASY: Create a bookmark in your browser's toolbar (or make it your "homepage") so you can get to your to do list/schedule easily and use it daily.
  5. CUSTOMIZE: Review your system to evaluate what is helpful and what is not. If you waste a lot of time maintaining your system, figure out ways to streamline the process.

*my courses all have a link to a iCal formatted version of the syllabus that you can import into Google Calendar - professors who wish to use my EditGrid template can find it here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Signs of Emergence by Kester Brewin

A review published in Blackwell Reviews in Religion and Theology

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Podcast Theology Lectures

As an increasing number of seminaries and universities make public lecture series available online, students of theology may find the following compendium a useful supplement to their education–particularly those with long commutes. Suggestions of additional resources that would improve this fragmentary index are most welcome.
Note: Posting these links does not indicate an endorsement of the sponsoring institutions or content of linked presentations, simply an indication that they include academic presentations of some value for reflection or response.

Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry - Great Theologians Lecture Series
Spring Institute for Lived Theology
Taylor University College and Seminary (Canada) Lectures and Special Events
H. Orton Wiley Lecture Series in Theology
New College Lecture Series (Australia)
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary audio resources
The Center for Christian Studies
N.T. Wright Lectures
Gifford Lectures (no audio, but well-indexed summaries of lectures from 1888 to the present)

iTunes U (links open to iTunes podcasts)
Abilene Christian University
Concordia Theological Seminary
Fuller Theological Seminary
Gordon College
Loyola Marymount University
Seattle Pacific University
Villanova University

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Envision the Future: A Declaration on the Common Good

"We are at a critical moment in the history of the United States. The common good has been seriously compromised. Perpetual war, rampant poverty and inequality, environmental crisis, and the narrowing of the possibilities of human life and cultural flourishing imperil our future..." [more]

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Complexifying Our Thinking About the Church in Public Life

EnVision: the Gospel, Politics, and the Future
Princeton University


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Immigration Colloquium: Advocacy and Best Practices

Princeton Theological Seminary

Rev. Luis Cort├ęs, Julia Thorne, Patty Kupfer, and Belinda Passafaro shared about the complexity of immigration issues, emphasizing the damage done to families where one or both parents of U.S. citizens face deportation.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Envision the Future

Have a prophetic imagination for social change? What to share your thoughts on how Christians should relate to politics? Well, now is your chance:

In preparation for the EnVision conference this summer, we're holding an online dialogue May 12-14 June 2-3 to help create a statement entitled, “Envision the Future: The Next Decade” using innovative collaboration software called Synanim.

By spending just two hours over those days, you can help set the direction for positive change. Once you sign-up, you can log in from anywhere in the world to discuss the issues you think Christians need to address in the next decade. There is no limit to the number of people who can participate in this free event, so even if you can't come to Princeton for the conference June 8-10, sign-up for the online dialogue and make your voice heard.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pecha-Kucha Transcript Designer

One of the creative assignments I introduced this semester consists of a powerpoint presentation using 20 slides displayed for exactly 20 seconds each - a format known as "pecha-kucha" that has become an international craze among urban designers and will be used for the first time at a theological conference in June. You can see an edited version of one of my presentations here. To make it easier for students to avoid rushing through 100 words in a single slide, I've created a transcript designer tool that estimates how long it will take a person to say the words typed out for each slide.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New Horizons in Christian Unity (panel)

National Workshop on Christian Unity

Chicago, IL

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Compassion Forum

Presidential Candidate Compassion Forum
Messiah College - Grantham, PA

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Michael Eric Dyson

Michael Eric Dyson
Among the many points Dyson covered in his reflection on Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy, a few pithy aphorisms stood out that I paraphrase here:

  • King is often reduced to thirty-four words [of the "I Have a Dream" speech] written when he was thirty-four years old
  • our society is intolerant of complexity and allergic to nuance
  • justice is what love sounds like when it speaks in public
  • nationalists are people who can't make a distinction between love and their country"
  • prophecy is not about gazing into the future but bringing visions into existence

Friday, March 28, 2008

Evangelicals, Ecumenism, and Emerging Questions

American Academy of Religion Mid-Atlantic Region meeting
New Brunswick, NJ

Friday, March 14, 2008

Entrepreneurial Ecclesiological Narratives and the Unity Project

Joint Meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society and Society for Pentecostal Studies
Duke University

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Why Narrative

Pecha-Kucha Proof of Concept Demonstration

Somerset Christian College