Post-Christendom's Opportunity - And Sorrow...

Being Sued for Jesus...

Associated Press

VITERBO, Italy - An Italian judge heard arguments Friday on whether a small-town parish priest should stand trial for asserting that Jesus Christ existed.

The priest's atheist accuser, Luigi Cascioli, says the Roman Catholic Church has been deceiving people for 2,000 years with a fable that Christ existed, and that the Rev. Enrico Righi violated two Italian laws by reasserting the claim.

Lawyers for Righi and Cascioli, old schoolmates, made their
arguments in a brief, closed-door hearing before Judge Gaetano Mautone in Viterbo, north of Rome. They said they expected the judge to decide quickly.

Cascioli filed a criminal complaint in 2002 after Righi wrote in a parish bulletin that Jesus did indeed exist, and that he was born of a couple named Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem and lived in Nazareth.

Cascioli claims that Righi's assertion constituted two crimes under Italian law: so-called "abuse of popular belief," in which someone fraudulently deceives people; and "impersonation," in which someone gains by attributing a false name to a person.

Part of me weeps for the faithful who are barraged for speaking truth. Part of me aches for the knowledge of Christ that has been lost from our cultural vernacular...

But I must confess I hold this sorrow in juxtaposition with deep excitement at what occurences like this mean for the future... not for Christendom (the outward manifestation of a politically and theologically infused power structure that has permeated and shaped the Western World for over a thousand years) but for Christianity... perhaps a New Kind of Movement (forgive me Brian) could emerge.

I'm reading Stuart Murray's book, Post Christendom for a class at George Fox Seminary. Leonard Sweet is our gracious professor for the semester and the reading he's subjecting us to is truly invigorating.

Remember, no matter how bad things get for the "ESTABLISHED CHURCH," God is doing something real and active in this world, and it may look like nothing we've seen before.

Sue away! You cannot suppress a living Holy Spirit!

X Fest Comes to the Northwest...

A visitor to my blog recently asked if I would be willing to post some information on a Christian rock concert he's promoting. I said, "of course," so here's the information...

I must confess that I continually struggle with the place Christian music has in my life and what sentiment I hold for it. While I grew up with artists like Keith Green and Michael Card, I find the industry of Christian music to be often-frightening. Commercialism rules out and we look like the money-making-machines of American consumer culture that we often are.

Furthermore, I don't like the implication "secular vs. Christian" entertainment makes, which ghettoizes Christian-run industries and implies moral superiority. It also leads to a rejection of a lot of wonderful, prolific, vibrant art that is not tagged with a "Christian-friendly" sticker.

On the other hand, as with a concert like X Fest, or with my passionate friends in Falling Up, or with other great bands like Caedmon's Call and Jars of Clay, there is a place for them, we need them, and I'm thankful for them. I just hope we learn balance. I also wish we could understand that Christian concerts are rarely effective evangelism anymore. I've been to plenty, and I don't see any new converts... I do see a lot of "re-dedications."

Like an inspiring sermon, Christian music can teach us and move us to action.

Yoga Sensibilities...

My wife (I love saying that) has been going to yoga classes for almost a year now, and she's become quite a natural.

There is a meditative prayer they invoke at each class, and Jen finally asked her instructor for a translation of the words. They struck us both as incredibly beautiful; such sweet words make me long for a liturgical tradition - one with depth and history my own pentecostal ecclesiology does not demonstrate...

May the Divine protect us while we are together
May all obstacles be removed which stand in the way
of our understanding the truth that all is One:
and that there is no division or separation between us.
May we grasp this understanding with full comprehension
and without doubt so that all misunderstanding is dissolved within us.

May we not cherish hatred, anger or displeasure.
May our hearts be full of love.
May perfect friendship reign between us.

May the space around us be free of fear.
May the East and the West, North and South, be free of fear.
May the earth be free of fear.
May the past and the future be free of fear,
May the human race unite in one fearless friendship.*
Peace. Peace. Peace.

Heavenly God, bless us with the spirit of these words, I pray.
*updated additional lines

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