Saturday, July 31, 2010

New Lectures from Ekklesia Project Plenary Available

The first plenary presentation, And God Said: Creation, Word-Care, and the Care
of the World
, was presented by new EP board chair, Debra Dean Murphy. The
second, God has Spoken in the Son: Communication and Communion, was offered
by D. Stephen Long. Barry Harvey was our final plenary presenter, sharing a
presentation titled Ransomed from Every Language: The Church as a Community
of Word-Care.

They also published a festschrift in honor of Stanley Hauerwas's 70th birthday.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Some notes on Luke 12:13-21

I notice as I've been reading commentaries on the following gospel lesson for Sunday:

Luke 12:13-21
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." 14 But he said to him, "Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?" 15 And he said to them, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." 16 Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, "What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' 18 Then he said, "I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' 20 But God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."

that readers focus on the wealth aspect, that the man is rich, or that he is solipsistic, speaking "I" and of himself frequently. Furthermore, people often mention that the foolishness is in his seeking security. These are all worth noticing. However, I think a few other observations are important for rounding out preaching and teaching on this text:

1) Jesus' parable is precipitated by someone in the crowd asking Jesus to be a judge who will divide inheritances. So the parable arises out of that context. Maybe the most important thing to note is that Jesus is NOT telling people how to divide their money, or share it. He divests himself of that role.

2) This parable reads incredibly differently if you live in a community where there are lots of farmers who store their crops in bins. In this context, verses 17-18 simply seem like wise and prudent things to do and think. Verse 19 sounds really ill-informed, and it's not the kind of thing most farmers who fill bins think. Altogether, it's a hard passage to read in a farm context. It's also a hard parable to read given that I'm the son of a farmer with a large bin site who stores his grain.

3) All of which leads to the assignment I give myself whenever I read this parable, to pay attention to the agrarian context of it while at the same time thinking clearly and distinctly about how it can be the preaching of the gospel in a rural, agrarian context. For those who read it in other contexts, I would encourage them to read it first of all as a parable that takes place on a large farm, and not move too quickly to talking about wealth, etc., in the abstract.

4) What does it mean to be rich toward God? If you return to the original question, "Jesus, tell my brother to divide the inheritance." Imagine if the speaker had said, "Jesus, help me make use of any inheritance I receive for the good of my neighbor." Or in the case of the farmer, instead of eating, drinking, and being merry, imagine him saying, "I have enough grain stored up for many years that can be used for my own sustenance and the good of my neighbor."

5) Where are the true riches? They're in Christ. Re-read the parable as a Christological parable.

Thursday, July 29, 2010 - Series - Pentecostal Manifestos - Series - Pentecostal Manifestos is intriguing. Any other Lutherans out there wonder what the relationship between Pentecostalism and Lutheranism might be?

Writing and Productivity

Today is one of those days that I feel incredibly satisfied as a writer. I sent off the final material that will help launch the new Journal of Lutheran Ethics Preaching Series that begins this September at You can watch for an essay each month from pastors on the lectionary texts for late in that month as they connect to the social teachings of the Lutheran church.

Then, in really big news, I completed the content for the new pre-baptismal instruction resources that Augsburg Fortress will be publishing soon. My work was to write the keystone lesson plans. I think I'm more proud of this project than any book I would write, because it will (hopefully) be used very widely in the church as a resource for pastors as they do pre-baptismal instruction with families.

So, those two tasks accomplished, I can now move on to finalizing plans for VBS next week. This is what is fun about being a pastor. The diversity of tasks and relationships that come through your day. God bless each of you in your work and life.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Oppose Measures Like Arizona's SB 1070

I am deeply disappointed by the passage a recent bill in Arizona that would greatly expand the role of state and local law enforcement in enforcing immigration laws. I voiced my opinion to my lawmakers on this issue at the LIRS Action Center, and I encourage you to do the same! Our voices to our elected officials are integral for urging them to support fair and humane policies for newcomers.

You may also be interested in signing up for the Stand for Welcome campaign for immigration reform. Thanks in advance for joining your voice on these important issues!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Jesus Manifesto Mini Review

Rating: 4

Sweet, Leonard and Frank Viola. JESUS MANIFESTO: RESTORING THE SUPREMACY AND SOVEREIGNTY OF JESUS CHRIST. Thomas Nelson, 2010. 206 pages. Cloth. ISBN 978-0-8499-4601-1

Many books published today are now "value-added", published with excellent companion web sites. I recommend librarians review The Jesus Manifesto web site. At this site ( readers are invited to sign the manifesto and connect with others. Both authors are famous in the Christian publishing world, and also have their own web sites, and In their book, Sweet and Viola offer a fresh Christology. They believe that "to faithfully represent Jesus in our time requires re-presenting Him" (xiv). This book is perfect for a variety of contexts. It will fill a niche in libraries hoping to expand devotional literature focused on Jesus Christ. It will also energize small groups interested in experiencing "an inward revelation of Christ to our hearts by the Holy Spirit" (19). Highly recommended.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Nicholas Carr

Reading Nicholas Carr's The Shallow's: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brain, and discovered, like most authors that I've been googling recently, has a great web site that enhances the books.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Playing Video Games With God

The last time I played video games regularly was in college. My roommate and I were addicted to strategy games and Tetris, and we played a lot of the early on-line MUDs. In fact, a friend of mine is now married to a woman he met playing on a MUD.

Since college, I've made a point of not playing video games very much. I haven't owned a game console, and only periodically try out free games from CNET on my Mac. One winter about six years ago I did purchase a game, Icewind Dale, and played it for a few weeks, but then bailed out on it because it was too addictive.

Now two things are inspiring me to reconsider playing video games. The first is Craig Detweilers new book
, Haloes and Avatars: Playing Video Games With God
(). It's made me start to think about video games theologically in the same way I already think about movies, novels, and music theologically.

Second, a friend is excited about the release of Starcraft II, and it's made me want to play it. It's the perfect kind of game for me to consider, I enjoy both the concept and the style of play.

My question is, do you play video games, and if you do, which are your favorites, what do you recommend, and how do you think about them in relation to your faith?

Schedule |

Schedule | A Wittenberg tour organized by Lutheran rock artists...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Advent 2011

Let's say it's fall 2011 and you're anticipating another transition into the Advent season and the beginning of another liturgical year. As a person of faith, you're thinking about Advent, what it means, and are maybe especially interested in committing to studying and thinking through the lectionary texts that are read during Advent, with their special focus on the coming of Christ among us, his second coming, John the Baptist, etc.

What's on your heart and mind? What new things would you like to learn? What's kind of "old hat" to you that you'd prefer wasn't in an Advent study? What would especially draw you to participate in a study during Advent? What historical/literary/Lutheran/devotional questions would you have?

What would you look for in a group to study with? Might you form your own group and lead it? What kind of resources would help you?

Words | The New York Review of Books

Words | The New York Review of Books

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I'm reading this volume of the Narnia books for bed time reading this month, and the trailer for the movie version was just posted here: Books - The Blog

Journal of Lutheran Ethics on Economic Development

Another spectacular issue of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics, this time on economic development and relief work in Haiti.