Monday, September 24, 2012

Small Sips Is Reading About Dinosaurs

Learning is fun! Via Rachel Held Evans:

Thank God for artists like him. Brant Hansen wrote a piece commemorating the 15th anniversary of Rich Mullins' death:
I'm from Illinois, raised in the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, so you know I saw Rich Mullins a lot. First in 1985, when my then youth minister (a very cool Hoosier who reads this blog) just had to take us to see him at Lincoln Christian College, the regional epicenter of our denom -- ahem -- non-denomination.  
 I'd love to say U2 has been my "life's soundtrack", but I won't, because it's kind of indulgent, and it's not true. They're from Ireland. Rich Mullins is it. It was Rich playing in my '81 Ford Mustang, while I sat on the side of the road -- my Mustang's natural habitat -- waiting for a tow truck. It was "If I Stand" that I sang, a cappella and off-key, at my brother's wedding.  
 U2 is the coolest. But Rich? Rich was midwestern, socially awkward, a "born dissenter". Rich was my people. And I don't think I'm special for saying so.  
 I think a lot of people reading this right now would say the same thing.
I'm not going to pretend that I was ever a big Rich Mullins fan. I've heard a few of his songs, the only one I could actually name being "Awesome God," the words to which I find grating aside from the chorus. I do have a feeling that I'd appreciate more of his stuff if I took time to listen to it (Albumwatch idea ahoy!).

I guess that my point in including Brant's post about Mullins is that I can identify with its spirit. It can be an especially powerful thing when one becoming discouraged by aspects of Christianity can continue to be drawn in by an artist like Mullins who dares to sing about the unattractive side of Christianity and the more radical aspects of Jesus' message. For me, that artist was and is Five Iron Frenzy. For others, that may be Michael Card or Derek Webb (another for my Albumwatch list).

I want to celebrate musicians like this, because I know how important they can be to one's faith journey.

I should probably mention this. Last week, it was revealed that a piece of papyrus has been discovered that includes a reference to Jesus having a wife:
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife ...’ ” 
Evan McGlinn for The New York Times Professor Karen L. King, in her office at Harvard Divinity School, held a fragment of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a reference to Jesus' wife. 
The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple.” 
The finding was made public in Rome on Tuesday at the International Congress of Coptic Studies by Karen L. King, a historian who has published several books about new Gospel discoveries and is the first woman to hold the nation’s oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity.
Some skeptics and those interested in preserving some sort of institutional viewpoint will immediately dismiss this story. Many others might as well. My first reaction was to compare it to the "Gospel of Judas" that was discovered a few years ago: an interesting artifact from an ancient Christian community that may not reveal anything factual about Jesus. But the way I saw this story was because church historian Diana Butler Bass linked to it on Facebook, which included her endorsement of Karen King, and I tend to trust her judgment on stuff like that.

It'll be fun to see what else scholars discover as they study this. How prepared are most Christians to accept the possibility that Jesus was married, in a non-Da Vinci Code kind of way?

Yes and no. I found a new-to-me blog called Black Coffee Reflections (the name was enough to reel me in), at which he asks whether church programs are worth it or not:
It’s so important that we ask ourselves why are we doing what we are doing. Especially during the craziness of launching the fall “programs.” Lives have changed and more can. It’s good that we are seeing that we can do better. It’s good that we are critiquing (hopefully ourselves too). And in some ways, it’s good that we are hustling hard to get done what needs to be done.  
One of the lessons that I am learning in the large church model is there are so many different types of people and we need many different types of churches of all sizes and methodologies. Regardless of what context we find ourselves in, what we do matters to each other.  
It’s essential that we ask the questions regarding sustainability, mission effectiveness and make paradigm changing decisions but if we are waiting for the perfect ministry model, we’re going to not only find our that our ministries struggling but we will also squander our God-given callings and opportunities.  
Are church programs worth it? Well, depending on how you unpack that – yes.
I don't know how well I did it, but I tried to make a similar point a while back that a certain amount of programming and organization is needed for churches of any size to carry out their sense of mission; the problem is when the organizational method becomes more important than that mission, no less the people that mission is meant to serve. That's essentially Tim's point here: programs should be about serving people, not programs for programs' sake.

Misc.  "The Pilgrim" on holding a beloved scholar's Bible. Martha on preaching (or not preaching) on Jesus healing people. Jan asks what you'd change about your church.