Q 2009: Day 2

img_0229I decided to save myself some time and just blogged my notes today. I may go back to edit and add some observations, but in the interest of time here’s my unedited notes.

Catherine Crouch

  • The more we understand about the scientific world, the more we are aware of the purpose of our creator.
  • Studying the creation engenders humility. The moments of discovery are rare.
  • In science, observations are taken and models are built to explain and interpret data. Models are built by us but also shaped by a community.
  • Faith works the same way. We begin with a framework from our own experience and observations, but our framework is also shaped by community.
  • Science requires collaboration. Advancement happens through a community of scientists working together. It requires generosity. Scientists are must be willing to share without the promise of any personal gain.
  • Science requires risk. As with any creative work, it requires taking chances in order to see progress. It is a reminder that our advancement is not our own work but from God. There is no assurance of success. We have a promise that God will bring some success and even redeem our failures.

Gregory Burns – Iconoclast Thinking

  • Iconoclast – someone who tears down icons or traditional ways of thinking.
  • Thinking differently is very difficult to do.
  • Three dynamics that play into thinking differently:
    • Perception – The brain takes input from our senses and constructs something we can make sense of. It begins with physical reality, but the rest takes place in our brain. Imagination runs perception in reverse. Your brain generates the input itself. Imagination is therefore connected to past experience.
    • Fear – The amygdala is a primitive part of the brain. There is only one real fear – the fear of being alone. It is so ingrained in us that this fear inhibits our creativity. Experiments on visual perception and nonconformity have shown that our desire to be part of a group will change our brain’s perception.
    • Social Intelligence
  • What can you do?
    • Perception/Imagination – Novel environments, travel, new people
    • Fear – Neutralize fear in workplace, recognize fear of public speaking, training, exposure, habituation
    • Social Intelligence – Golden rule, familiarity, when all else fails get a partner

Blake Mycoskie – TOMS Shoes Update

  • Given over 140,000 shoes in the last 3 years. This year they will give away over 300,000 pairs of shoes.
  • Discovered a disease in Africa that can be prevented by wearing shoes.
  • AT&T is extending the commercial they made to 1 minute and premiering it on American Idol

Micah White – Culture of Consumers

  • Adbusters  exists to expose that our mental environment is polluted by our advertising.
  • Americans are exposed to anywhere from 300 to 2000 ads.
  • Micah wrote an article called ‘Commit Facebook Suicide.’ Facebook is interested in demand generation. They want to create demand by allowing your friends to know what you consume.
  • NYT reported recently that we spend 8 hours a day looking at screens. “The screen is our friend, not the people we interact with through it. We spend more time with the screen than our friends.”
  • Book reference: iBrain
  • Adbusters do campaigns to “jam” advertising. E.g. “Buy Nothing Day” – they do a campaign to spend one day without buying anything (usually the day after Thanksgiving).

David Crowder

  • Order/Chaos
  • Limited/Limitless
  • Story of Pythagoras – perfect right triangle (3/4/5), study of the mathematics of music.
  • Over time in the evolution of music in the church there is a move toward the limitless/chaos, and then there is a desire for the limited/order. There is no reason to think that will not continue.
  • We are currently in a period of restraint. We have simply embraced pop music. Pop music is the “lowest common denominator” of  music.
  • Where we are heading is toward a pursuit of the limitless/chaos –  irrational numbers (3/3/SQRT(18))

Tim Keel – The Gospel Revisited

  • There is a growing awareness and concern that we have domesticated the Gospel.
  • One domesticating force is the modern force of reductionism. To reduce is to observe a complex reality and remove it from its context.
  • Rather than living in the narrative of our lives, our neighborhoods, our communities and seeking an understanding of how the Gospel works itself out in our stories, we look at “successful” churches and strip their methods from their context, expecting it to “work” for us.
  • We have more of a commitment to the systems and our understandings of the Gospel rather than the person of Christ. Some of our modern epistemological arguments are costing us our ability to see God at work around us.
  • In the western church we are experiencing a crisis of imagination. Many of us are not even aware that imagination has anything to do with the Gospel.
  • Imagination:  The faculty or action of creating external objects not present to the senses.
  • This is Jesus’ call to the disciples: “Behold, the Kingdom of God is at hand.” It is a call to live according to a different, alternative reality. It is no small thing to do this – to awake from the reality of our world and live differently.
  • Modernity traded story for proposition.
  • “You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” -Mark Twain
  • What is the context of the Gospels? It is the Old Testament narratives. There are four OT frameworks that shaped Jewish imagination:
    • Creation
    • Exodus
    • Exile
    • Priestly
  • Jesus interacts regularly with these four Jewish narratives.
  • The origin of the Gospel is the OT. It is the good news of God’s restoration of peace and shalom (Isa 40-66).
  • In the Exile narrative, good news is the movement from exile to restored relationship with God. Luke’s Gospel is full of Exile language. Jesus’ mission was brokering the restoration of God with the marginalized.
  • Salvation in the Exodus story is the movement from slavery to freedom. Matthew and Mark’s gospels are full of Exodus language.
  • The Gospel is also a retelling of the Creation narrative. John’s gospel is full of creation language. The resurrection is a profoundly creative, actually re-creative, work.
  • The Priestly narrative is the most familiar to us as it pertains to the Gospel. It is not a story of dynamic movement. It is the transaction that moves us from unholy to holy. This is the story that Jesus engages with the least, and when he does, he subverts it. The church has been obsessed with the priestly story. Why? The priestly story is most easily reduced: “Sin has separated us from God, and we require a sacrifice to reconcile us to him. Jesus died to pay that debt, and trusting in him reconciles us to God.” This is a true and necessary (hallelujah!) perspective of the Gospel, but it is not complete.
  • Salvation is not just fall and redemption. It is creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. This is the narrative.
  • We have made one aspect of the Gospel and made it the entire Gospel and ignored the themes and stories Jesus himself focused upon.
  • We are the location of God’s restoration and his agents of recreation.
  • The culture around us is obsessed with the themes of creation (what does it mean to be human, what is the nature of our sexuality), exodus (how do I escape my addictions), and exile (how do we bridge the separation of racial division).
  • People are curious about spirituality, not as a transaction, but as a journey. We keep making it about the transaction.
  • The traditional evangelism question is, “If you died tonight, do you know where you would go?” It doesn’t work. People are struggling to make meaning of their lives. So what if the question became, “If you knew you had 20 years to live, what kind of life would you live?” Jesus has a compelling answer to that question – Wake up, and follow me. Find purpose in God’s recration work.

Shane Hipps & Micah White

  • Shane does own a cell phone. He is not against technology. Technology is the inevitable expression of man’s creative impulse – to hate technology is in a sense to hate people. But it is important to understand the implications of technology use so that we use it, not it using us. A phone becomes a crying baby – when it cries for attention we must attend it. However, a phone is not a baby; you don’t have to attend it.
  • What is good and redemptive about technology? Shane: “To answer that seems redundant. The benefits of technology are obvious, and it’s why we’ve adopted it. I focus on the darker or hidden side of technology, because no one is focusing on it.”

Forum – What Healthy and Unhealthy Trends Exist in the American Church Today?

  • Chris McDaniel (Trinity Vineyard Church), Alan Hirsch, Shane Hipps (Mennonite), Sherry Thomas (para-church training for women), Jon Tyson (Trinity Grace Church), Charles Lee (New Hope), Heather Larson (Willow Creek), Jonathan Dodson (Austin City Life), and Gideon San
  • Jon Tyson: Concerns – Absence of conversation about spiritual warfare, video venues.
  • Heather Larson: Video venues are not ideal, but at Willow it is working. People are coming to Christ and growing in their relationship with Christ.
  • Alan Hirsch – There is much to be hopeful about in the American church. If there is any hope for the western church it will come from America. Concerns: We are addicted to results, and there is too much focus on celebrity.
  • Charles Lee – Concerns: Technology is a concern, but it can also enhance relationships.
  • Alan Hirsch – With respect to technology, there is a place for absence and a place for presence. Absence improves presence.
  • Chris McDaniel – Concerns: Over-emphasis on relevance. Lack of church planting.
  • Jonathan Dodson – Concerns: We assume the essentials of the Gospel, but in fact our bond is mission.
  • Gideon – Concern: There is an emphasis of focusing on upper levels of culture (arts, government, science, etc.). The problem is these centers of power are not neutral forces. Jesus also said that the first will be last.
  • Heather Larson – Concern: An inordinate amount of energy that goes into finding the “right” model.
  • Shane Hipps – Concern: The lack of spiritual practices beyond the cognitive. There is a lot of darkness in the world, and we are like unplugged light bulbs sitting around talking about the fact that there’s no light. We need to plug into the source.
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