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That was my experience last night at Nadia Bolz-Weber’s book reading.  Nadia is an inked, sarcastic, in-recovery, former stand-up comedienne, emergent, Lutheran church planter from Denver.  Her first book, about watching 24 straight hours of TBN is a mostly sardonic and occasionally sentimental narrative through Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Team Impact (read that chapter here), and both Nadia’s and my favorite TBN preacher, Jesse Duplantis.

Nadia sells herself short when she says, as she did last night, that she’s not a writer but a preacher with a keyboard.  In fact, her writing is crisp, hip, and witty.  It reminds me of Russell Rathbun’s amazingly funny book, which I called the Christian Confederacy of Dunces in my blurb.  In fact, Russell sat next to me at the the reading last night.

Anyway, Nadia is a gifted writer.  But I’ll say that her experience as a stand-up greatly benefits her at a book reading.  The room was filled with laughter over and over again as she read to us from a few chapters of the book.  What I thought was interesting was the room was filled with some pretty leftward-leaning Christians, whom it was clear had never watched a minute of TBN.  In fact, most of them were unfamiliar with most of the names in the book.  Russell and I, however, were in the know because we, like Nadia, understand that TBN is like crack — instantly addictive.

Actually, that applies to Nadia’s book, too.  It is instantly addictive, especially if you’ve ever whiled away the hours watching Paul and Jan, the Power Team, or anything else on TBN.

Bottom Line: BUY THIS BOOK: Salvation on the Small Screen: 24 Hours of Christian Television

Join the book’s Facebook group here.

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It’s not a short flight from San Francisco to Sydney – about 14 hours. But I did get to watch Lawrence of Arabia, one of my all-time favorite films. Then I watched And When Did You Last See Your Father?. I wept at the end of that one, which is my wont on flights. In fact, I’ve cried more on airplanes than anywhere else.

It wasn’t that big of a deal on the Qantas flight to Sydney, since it was dark and no one was seated next to me. The flight from MSP to SFO was a different story. Bright as day and seated between two guys about my age reading business magazines, I read the last two chapters of Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul and wept like a baby. That is a beautiful book of faith found, lost, and refound, written by Tony Hendra (who played Ian Faith in This Is Spinal Tap). I highly recommend it.

I arrived in Sydney at 6am and was retrieved at the airport by a long-time friend, Fuzz Kitto. I’m staying with Fuzz and Carolyn in Sydney, and their house is a bustle of activity with several young women living there now. The vibe there reminds me of Tom and Christine Sine’s Mustard Seed House in Seattle. The Kittos, of course, know the Sines and just about everyone else I know around the globe.

Since I refuse to use neck pillows, I didn’t sleep much on the plane and got pretty tired as the day wore on.  I spoke at a “book launch” for The New Christians at noon, then had a great time on a radio show for the Australian Broadcasting Network that will be aired on Sunday night.  In between, Carolyn took me to Coogee Beach for a Chardonnay.  That evening, we met with a dozen emergent church types for an incredible meal cooked by Fuzz that included the best pumpkin soup I’ve ever tasted.

I fell asleep in Carolyn’s car on the way back to the Kittos, and crashed hard when I saw the bed.

All in all, a great first day with many good connections.  And Sydney is a breathtaking city.

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Phyllis Tickle’s book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why, is about to release.  I’m thrilled about the book, and I’m thrilled to be involved in an event to celebrate the book’s release.  Emergent Village, Baker Books, and JoPa Productions (along with explorefaith.org and more sponsors TBA) are hosting The Great Emergence National Event.  This promises to be a watershed event in the continuing emergence of Christ’s church.  Here’s some info on it:

The Great Emergence

The Facebook Group for the Book

The Facebook Group for the Event

How You Can Get to the Event for Free

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I like Marcia Ford. I’ve met her, and I’ve blurbed at least one of her books. She’s a fine writer. But her latest piece in Publisher’s Weekly continues a trend of less-than-helpful journalism surrounding all things emergent.

Her fourth paragraph reads,

Many in the emerging church “conversation,” the preferred self-descriptor, distinguish among three terms: emerging church, an umbrella term for the category; emergent, referring to an unorthodox interpretation of scripture; and Emergent, shorthand for Emergent Village (EV), a largely online community. Most of the publishers PW spoke with used the terms interchangeably, as does the Christian community at large.

Again, I defy Marcia — or anyone for that matter — to find for me a place in which I have written something that interprets scripture in an unorthodox fashion. Listen, I’ve written many books, all of which contain scores of references to scripture, and I have yet to be accused of being unorthodox in any specific case — it’s always in these vague, general ways.

Let me be even more specific: I ask Scot McKnight — a friend of mine and someone who’s familiar with several of my books — to weigh in. I invite Dan Kimball, who has recently blogged about how he’s joining Scot and Erwin McManus and others to form a new network of non-emergent folks focused on evangelism. For that matter, I invite Erwin McManus or Len Sweet or any other notable figure of contemporary Christianity to 1) Define “an orthodox interpretation of scripture” and 2) Show where I have breached said orthodoxy.

Now I know that many bloggers and commentors will weigh in on this. The young Calvinists will say that I misunderstand the atonement, and the young liberals will say that I read the Bible more literally than is correct. But, while you may have differences of opinion with me, I think it’s truly impossible to say that I have landed on a place that it outside of historic, Christian orthodoxy.

So what this is, primarily, is shoddy journalism, in which loosely held conjecture is repeated often enough to be believed. When it’s repeated in a blog, it’s no big deal. But when it’s repeated in a reputable source like PW, then it’s troubling and it borders on libel.

As to the rest of Marcia’s article, it’s hit-and-miss. Primarily, it seems, she allows herself to be a mouthpiece for various evangelical publishing houses, each of which (as you can guess) has some chips on the table (my publisher included). Some have invested in “emergent” category and want it to stick around, others have chosen not to and would like it to go away. But I’ll tell you this: they’ve each used the words “emergent” and “emerging” in the marketing materials for books and on back covers when they’ve thought it would sell more books.

Finally, this: I know and respect each of the women who were interviewed about women authors and leadership around emergentland. And for three of them, I’ve been at least partly involved in the publishing of their books. Emergent Village — and the conversation, more broadly speaking — has not been perfect at getting women a louder voice, but we have surely been part of the solution more than part of the problem. I have personally presented many book proposals by women to all three of our publishing partners, and I am currently at work on two book acquisitions for Jossey-Bass, both of which are by women. I have literally begged female scholars to write for our series with Abingdon — but, as you might guess, female theologians and biblical scholars have no dearth of publishing opportunities.

Further, the Emergent Village board is half women and has been for years. And the biggest book and event of the year are headlined by a woman.

Again, to all the commentors, I’m not claiming perfection in this regard; I’m not even claiming success. Trust me, I have a daughter, and I want her to have the same opportunities as her brothers (in fact, here’s what she said when Obama won the nomination: “I’m glad that Hillary didn’t win, because I’m going to be the first woman president.”) But I am claiming (somewhat defensively, I suppose) that I (and Brian and Doug and many others around Emergent Village) have been very deliberate in our efforts to give women leadership and power in our very small corner of the Christian world. By God’s grace, we will be more successful at this as time goes on.

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A Christianity Worth Believing

Doug’s book is out, and I couldn’t be happier.  It’s a great book — a theological memoir, really.  Doug’s story is so unlike mine, and his mind works so differently than mine, that I find my friendship with him fascinating.  What I mean by that is, whereas I’m essentially a rule-follower and rule-maker, Doug is a rule-breaker.  From the time he became a Christian at age 16, he’s found things wrong with the Christianity he was given.  He takes it as his responsibility, not simply to conserve the Christian faith for coming generations, but to own Christianity, to participate in it and make it better.

This book is his story, so far.  I’m sure that you will find it inspiring.

BUY IT NOW!

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First Base: Collin Hansen and I have begun a dialog on our two books and two movement (if you don’t know, Collin is part of the “young, restless, Reformed” crowd).

Second Base: Scot has a guest blogger?  Yes!  RJS is blogging through Tim Keller’s book.

Third Base: Jenell Paris inveighs on gender in emergent.

Home Plate: The Democratic race thus far, in 7 minutes.

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Vacation Repost 5: A Top Ten List

A Top Ten List

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