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Changes

Hello, dear friends.  Today brings some big news.

Tomorrow is my last day as national coordinator of Emergent Village.  We’ve decided to restructure (read, flatten) the organization.  You can read the long version of the decision HERE and the press release HERE.

Also, I will now be blogging for Beliefnet.  Find my new blog HERE, and be sure to add that your RSS feeds.  You can also subscribe to receive posts via email.

This site will be undergoing a complete overhaul in the next couple months.  It will be a place for content other than my blogging, so I hope you’ll keep checking here and/or keep this feed in reader.

Many blessings to all of you who have been so supportive and affirming through these changes.

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Collin Hansen’s fine CT piece on the evangelical world of Minneapolis-St. Paul is now online.  Enjoy.

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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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Yes, that ABC: The Australian Broadcasting Network.  I was interviewed for their religious issues show, Sunday Nights, by Noel Debien.  He was fantastic — thoughtful, knowledgable, curious.  Everything you want in a long-form interview.  Afterwards, he told me that I was “passionate” and “discursive.”  Looking back, I probably could have been less discursive!  But, oh well, I’ve always appreciated tangents.

Tony Jones on Sunday Nights, Australian Broadcasting Network

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Carolyn Kitto and I both got up early and left for the airport.  Carolyn works for World Vision Australia, and she was heading for their annual day of prayer in Melbourne.  She was meeting Mike Pilavachi there, and he led the prayer day.

I flew to Brisbane.  As we pulled away from the jetbridge, I saw my suitcase on the tarmac and thought, “Oh, shit.”  It’s now 24 hours later, and I still don’t have it.

In Brisbane, I was retrieved by Duncan MacLeod, a long-time emergent blogger and networker.  He currently works for the Uniting Church in Australia (a 1970s merger of Methodists, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians).  We went to Duncan’s office for a couple hours and I caught up on emails, etc.

At noon, we left to have lunch and a 90-minute conversation with a group of about two dozen Baptist church planters.  The conversation was cordial and passionate.  We found areas of agreement and disagreement, to be sure.

After that, we went to meet up with Dave Andrews.  Dave is also known to many emergents around the world.  He and his wife, Ange, spent many years in India, living as a Christian communal presence.  A few years ago, they moved back to Brisbane where they founded the Waiters Union.  The name, Dave told me, comes from the idea that a good waiter is a helpful but not overbearing presence at a restaurant.  They’re trying to be the same in the West End of Brisbane.

As Dave describes a bit in the video below, the West End is Brisbane’s most eclectic, diverse, edgy area.  It’s full of ethnic restaurants, has a large aboriginal population, and is also struggling with gentrification and the concomitant rise in housing prices.

The Waiters Union is a collective of a few dozen people who live in several houses in this neighborhood.  As Dave told me, “It’s Christocentric, but not Christian.  Our value for membership in the community is not whether you ‘believe’ in Christ but whether you’re living a Christlike life.”  They’re quite involved in the activity of the neighborhood, and they’ve got several ventures like a fair trade, organic coffee roastery, which I’ll be visiting on Thursday morning.  The whole thing reminds me a bit of ReIMAGINE, and Dave said something that I’ve heard Mark say: “We’re caught between the emergent church and the new monastics.  Now quite one or the other, but a little of both.”

After dinner (see below), Dave and Matt drove me to a nearby church where Duncan hosted the local emergent network, called “Postcards.”  We chatted for a couple hours about all things emergent, then back to Dave’s house for a few hours of sleep.

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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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