God Is a Three-Mile-Per-Hour God.

2013.01.20 The Three-Mile-Per-Hour God
I delivered a sermon this morning about how the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) might inspire us to create a New Year’s Resolution focused on being the person we wish to be not because we owe it to ourselves but because we wish to better serve God. The podcast will be up later if you want to listen and I will update this post when the audio is available. In the meantime I want to address the final piece of the sermon, a quotation from Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.
In 2008, the Archbishop was part of an interfaith conference in Seattle, WA called Seeds of Compassion as part of his speaking tour with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. During one of the panels, a young man, around the age of 12, asked, “How can you learn to not be so hard on yourself… for a mistake?” It’s a big question and certainly not only on the mind of merely children but of persons across the age spectrum and across the world. Here’s a portion of Archbishop Tutu’s answer (emphasis mine):

Read more

Not That "Mosaic."

I searched for the word “mosaic” in some of my seminary and ministry books to see who was writing about it in the same way Wuthnow and Kinnaman did. By and large, the “mosaic” I found in these searches was referring to not to the concept of being a person or society or world comprised … Read more

Chuck Knows Church Is Awesome.

2013.01.15 Chuck Knows Church
One of the stumbling blocks to persons unfamiliar with church trying church is, well, being unfamiliar with church. It’s hard to feel at ease when there’s a bunch of stuff one doesn’t understand. There are a lot of reasons why people claim themselves as “spiritual but not religious,” a way of saying there’s at least something appealing about faith but an institution organized around faith is a turn-off.
I get that. I’ve been there.
I also think that, aside from many of the ethical and moral issues these people may have with religious institutions, there’s another reason that’s not often explored as much: for someone who hasn’t been in a church in a long time or ever or with much regularity or beyond Christmas and Easter, knowing what’s going on and why can be a frustrating stumbling block that can leave one feeling

Read more

Help Me Eat More Plants, Less Meat.

2013.01.14 Help Me Eat More Plants, Less Meat
I’m interested in trying something new in 2013 – I want to intentionally eat more plants and less meat. Can you help me? Calling all connectors, mavens, and salespersons: I’m all ears.
I’ve been thinking a lot about attempting a change in diet for several reasons such as better health, eco-justice, and my emerging creation conservation theology. I hope to write about all three of those here at The Life Mosaic but for now here’s what I’m looking for from readers like you:
1. Connectors – What am I doing? What short books, inexpensive audiobooks of any length, or documentaries on the topic do you recommend?
2. Mavens – How do I do this? What’s involved in making the switch in a healthy, practical, realistic way? How did/do you do it?
3. Salespersons – Why do it? What’s your story? How did you come to a change in diet and why and what can I learn from your experience?
The above three terms are the three types of people who Malcolm Gladwell say drive ideas in his book The Tipping Point. In short, Gladwell writes:

Read more

Follow My Friends in South Africa This Month

Rolling scenery of South Africa's breadbasket province, Mpumalanga

A group of dear friends and former seminary colleagues are in South Africa for approximately three weeks on a global justice journey. These trips are not mission trips in that they’re not doing service projects and recovery construction (awesome mission trips!) nor going specifically to convert people to a particular brand of Christianity (not my cup of tea!). Rather, these are on-the-ground ways to experience God’s creation of the interdependent global community and see the struggles for justice, liberation, and peace face-to-face. Through the travelers’ learnings, they return home changed people who might be more enlightened and spread the spark to others (now that’s evangelism). I wish I could go but the trip is out of my budget and time reach, unfortunately. I’m following along on their trip blog to learn about everything they’re experiencing and I anticipate I’ll be a little more than jealous if (and when!) they meet the Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

I went on one of these global justice trips in March, 2010 to El Salvador and

Read more

Melting Pot, No. Mosaic, Yes.

2013.01.02 Melting Pot No, Mosaic Yes

The term “Melting Pot” does not agree with me, or is it the other way around? The United States has long been called the melting pot of the world as immigrants from many walks of life descend upon the nation from all four corners of the globe. The idea is that as these persons of various cultures meet up in the US, identities are fused together into a new identity, a US identity, which emerges hot and ready to be molded from this melting pot. Unfortunately, that concept ends up marginalizing many real persons and holds up exclusivity as an ideal.

Essentially, calling the US a melting pot is to tell immigrants to abandon their cultural heritage for the dominant culture and, in the US of A, that means white culture. The lesser parts melt away and the best endures and that is what is to be poured out amongst the people and cast in their lives. Whether those who coined the term or those who continue to use it today understand these implications is

Read more