A Georgetown Suggestion

I found this on GetReligion and was so tickled I thought I’d pass it along here:

what would happen if leaders of the kicked-off-campus Georgetown University chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship applied to the leadership of the Jesuit school for permission to hold a public forum this week in which students and faculty would be asked to read and then peacefully discuss the text of Pope Benedict XVI’s actual speech text on faith, reason and jihad?

Perhaps the event could be held at the well-endowed Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding on the campus?

Just thinking out loud, you know. I am sure the campus administration would welcome such a request by the ousted Protestant groups to organize an ecumenical and even interfaith event focusing on the intellectual thought of a man that Georgetown must realize is in the mainstream of Catholic intellectual life.


I don’t think it’s going to happen, but it’s fun to fantasize about.

Also see my previous thoughts on the evangelical eviction from Georgetown.

5 Rare Gems for Reaching High School and College Students

I just finished Donny Roberson’s 5 Rare Gems for Reaching High School and College Students. It’s an excellent (and brief) guide to campus ministry.

You should especially read this if you are in college ministry and are a male over 30 — he makes some insightful observations you won’t find anywhere else.

His “5 Gems” are really just musings on five big topics: understanding your students’ families, being creative, building quality relationships, being persistent, and listening effectively.

From every gem save one I learned something that I’m looking forward to trying this year — and the book only cost me $3.

So go order it already.

Worst Places To Be When The Big One Strikes

Living in the California Bay Area, my thoughts turn periodically to the Big One.

Recently I was wondering where the worst places to be in an earthquake would be (other than in open-heart surgery or something else that is already life-or-death).

Quick thoughts that I had:

  • Getting a haircut
  • Walking among the stacks of a library
  • In a port-a-potty

I’m sure there are lots of more horrible places to be in an earthquake, but these are the ones that strike particular fear into my heart.

Who Will Let The Dog Out?

Duane Chapman, aka Dog the Bounty Hunter, was arrested earlier today for violating Mexican law while tracking down a wealthy serial rapist.

I have to confess that I’m bummed. Bounty hunting is a noble profession that helps our legal system function more effectively, and Dog was always entertaining. Plus I just learned that he’s the kid of an Assemblies of God missionary (Barbara Chapman, whom I never met and who is now deceased) which gives me a certain kindred affection for him.

I understand that he broke Mexican law, but surely there are higher priorities for the Mexican legal system than arresting someone who helps catch fugitives. Almost anything rather than devoting effort to extraditing an American bounty hunter for catching a vile man who had done despicable things.

The one thing about the reports so far that really puzzles me is that the Chapmans evidently broke bail themselves. Maybe they know something about the Mexican legal system that I don’t, but given their line of work that seems pretty stupid.

Life Church Down The Road

I’ve been thinking about LifeChurch.tv lately (check the Wikipedia article on them).

In case you’re not familiar with the church, it’s one of the best-known examples of the multi-site church movement. At present, Life Church uses live video feeds to simultaneously have the same service in Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, and Tennessee. They also stream the service over the internet.

They both start new churches and acquire existing churches (that’s their language, not mine. They are very clear that they are not proposing mergers — they are proposing acquisitions — listen to Kevin Penry). If you’d like to be acquired you can sign up online ask the dust divx movie online .

One thing I want to praise them for: they make their resources available online for free. They’re clearly very Kingdom-minded.

But something about LifeChurch’s approach worries me.

I’ll explain what it is after some necessary disclaimers:

  1. I have no fundamental theological problem with multi-site churches. If you think it’s okay for a single-site church to have two services on a Sunday morning then you’re inconsistent to oppose multiple-site churches. Once you cede the splitting of the congregation it’s all just a matter of degree (if this is not clear to you then spend some time thinking through your problems with multi-site churches and how they are also applicable to a church that has an 8:00am service and an 11am service).
  2. There are a lot of ways to do multi-site church and there is certainly diversity within the movement. My concerns about LifeChurch’s approach don’t apply to all the ways multi-site is done.

Here’s my concern: if LifeChurch’s philosophy becomes the norm (an excellent test of the soundness of a philosophy) then we lose something vital to the health of the church.

Let’s say LifeChurch continues to grow and spreads into 10 or 15 states. They reach 100,000 in aggregate attendance. 200,000. 500,000. 1,000,000. These numbers are not unreasonable — multi-site churches seem to be scale-free networks and thus will exhibit the winner-take-all phenomenon. The largest multi-site will be about twice as large as its next-greatest neighbor and so on down the line.

In effect, LifeChurch (or someone like it) will become the Wal-Mart of churches soon, and just like Wal-Mart the overwhelming nature of their dominance will be surprising and will take a while to sink in. And just like Wal-Mart, that will bring some good and some bad along with it.

What happens when the primary leader of the American gigachurch lapses into stupidity, heresy, or moral failure? How does that affect Christianity in America?

This isn’t an unrealistic concern — evangelicalism has a history of each of these blunders. And the higher-profile a person is the more prone they seem to be to falling into one or more of these.

  • Stupidity: public displays of ignorance, particularly on political or scientific issues
  • Heresy: saying things about Jesus or the Bible that just aren’t true
  • Moral Failure: financial impropriety or sexual immorality, for example

As things stand now, when Joe Preacher on television has a moral blowout that church is destroyed but the rest of us rock on, saddened but unaffected.

Imagine a single church which contains 35% of all evangelicals in America (and a handful in England and Australia) having the same blowout. It’s a completely different story.

That’s bad enough, but what I really worry about is the lack of ideological diversity such an arrangement would bring about. Evangelicals are already prone to sheep-like behavior, but at least we currently hang out in different flocks.

When we create an evangelical pope who has far more direct influence over his organization than the Pope has over the Catholic church, we will lose something vibrant and vital about evangelicalism. If we’re not careful, we’ll lose a vital part of the gains of the Reformation.

LifeChurch (and the entire multi-site movement) have a lot to offer and are doing some wonderful things. On the whole, I have high praise for them.

But it is not unqualified praise.

Entertainment I Adore

Yesterday I mentioned some of my least-favorite entertainment, today is the opposite-entertainment I adore.

Radio: Dennis Prager is the man. He’s smart, reasonable, and thinks out loud in an interesting way. If your local radio doesn’t carry him then it’s your loss. Honorable mentions: Ira Flatow and Hugh Hewitt.

Television: Mythbusters is clearly the best show in the history of something. I just can’t decide whether it’s the best show in the history of the universe or the best show in the history of television. Honorable mentions: Dog the Bounty Hunter, 24.

Books: Steven Brust is one of the greatest authors of our generation. If you like novels about assassins with sarcastic lizards, that is. Honorable mentions: Terry Pratchett, C. S. Friedman

Music: Rich Mullins rocks the free world. Or rocked the free world. Or whatever. He’s dead but his music continues to inspire me. Honorable mentions: U2, Men Without Hats

Entertainment I Could Do Without

Social networking sites like the Facebook often ask you to list your favorite books, movies, and music. I understand the reasoning they’re using, but sometimes I wonder about what people really dislike.

Lest ye wonder the same about me, here’s my list of entertainment I could do without:

  • In radio, I could do without Fresh Air with Terry Gross. I just don’t like her interviews. She’s got a wonderful reputation and so I’m sure she’s great at what she does, but I just don’t connect with her. And I LOVE talk radio.
  • On television, I could do without Project Runway. Paula loves this reality show, but I just don’t get it. Most fashion is ugly anyway — nobody really likes it except for those in the fashion industry. Even the supermodels who demo the outfits don’t wear that stuff when they don’t have to.
  • In the world of letters, I could do without the books by Brian Herbert. Frank Herbert’s son has been writing science fiction novels just like his dad did. One problem: he’s not his dad.
  • And in the world of music, I could do without hip hop. I know it’s hip (by definition — see name) and all the kids are diggin’ it, but it just doesn’t do it for me. I can appreciate the bizarre genius that goes into crafting the rhymes and that are rockin’ our times, but Dr. Seuss retired that genre years ago. Everything else is purely derivative.

So that’s my anti-profile. You may now judge me by the things I don’t like.

I’d Like To Thank The Academy…

I was in the Stanford Bookstore today when I happened to see a book called Stanford Spirit. I noticed it was a compilation of essays by current Stanford students, so I picked it up to see if any were by people I knew — and one of our Chi Alphans has a contribution!

You can download a digital copy for free at
http://www.lulu.com/content/382219 — look for the chapter by Maribel Diaz.

In addition, Lisa Ooi just had her debut publication in Cell (yes, THAT Cell) with the stirring “A Rapid, Reversible, and Tunable Method to Regulate Protein Function in Living Cells Using Synthetic Small Molecules

Congratulations to them both.

Facebook Friend?

I just learned that one of my friends is being recruited by the Facebook.

I really hope this works out, because then I’d be the coolest person in campus ministry by dint of that association.

Picture me at the next Chi Alpha conference: “Pardon me, I need to take this call — my caller ID says it’s from Facebook.com Headquarters. I’ve been urging them to rethink the way they handle groups and I think the conversation we had at a BBQ last week is finally bearing fruit.”

Now all I need to do is get an alumnus into Google…