Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday Words - Anticipating Election Day

The Poor Voter on Election Day

The proudest now is but my peer,
The highest not more high;
To-day, of all the weary year,
A king of men am I.
To-day alike are great and small,
The nameless and the known
My palace is the people’s hall,
The ballot-box my throne!

Who serves to-day upon the list
Beside the served shall stand;
Alike the brown and wrinkled fist,
The gloved and dainty hand!
The rich is level with the poor,
The weak is strong to-day;
And sleekest broadcloth counts no more
Than homespun frock of gray.

To-day let pomp and vain pretence
My stubborn right abide;
I set a plain man’s common sense
Against the pedant’s pride.
To-day shall simple manhood try
The strength of gold and land
The wide world has not wealth to buy
The power in my right hand!

While there’s a grief to seek redress,
Or balance to adjust,
Where weighs our living manhood less
Than Mammon’s vilest dust, —
While there’s a right to need my vote
A wrong to sweep away,
Up! clouted knee and ragged coat!
A man’s a man to-day!

"The Poor Voter on Election Day" by John Greenleaf Whittier (1852).

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday Tome - The Heart of Evangelism

Thanks to everyone who joined me for the book club discussions of Jacob Needleman's book, The American Soul. I appreciated the conversations we had at all three sessions and they helped me get a lot more out of the book.

I've just started reading a new book I'm considering as the selection for my next book club which will start in January. The book is called The Heart of Evangelism and was written by Jerram Barrs, Professor of Christianity and Contemporary Culture at Covenant Theological Seminary.

I frequently try to choose a book that goes well with the focus for my Sunday preaching. My first teaching series in 2013 will be about how Christians can share their faith with others in authentic and humble ways. The emphasis will be on the life that must precede and accompany the message. I'm calling this series "Birthing Belief: Sharing Our Lives and Our Faith." Each week I'll be talking about a specific action/behavior/attitude that must precede or accompany any effort to evangelize. With that in mind, I'm hoping that Barrs book will be a good complement to my series. If you've read the book and have any opinions about it, I'd appreciate hearing from you.

Here is the publisher's description for Barr's book:
All Christians are called. Called to love God with all that we are. Called to serve Him. Called to reach out to the lost. However, if we are honest, the majority of us would admit that we find this last calling the most difficult. While we gladly support the evangelistic ministries of others, many of us feel discouraged by our own attempts at witnessing because our memorized approaches don't seem to work. This biblical study of evangelism gracefully reminds us that the New Testament model of witnessing is not a one-size-fits-all methodology. With compassion for the lost filling every page, Jerram Barrs shows the variety of approaches used in the New Testament-where the same uncompromised Gospel was packaged as differently as the audience-and calls you to follow its example.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Music - Matthew Perryman Jones

Seven days ago, my son, Tyler, was in concert with Matthew Perryman Jones at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville. Matthew was performing songs from his new release, Land of the Living. Wish I could have been there.

Click Here to check out Matthew's website and music.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Supplication - Faith, Hope, and Charity

Almighty and everlasting God, we ask you give us ever-increasing faith, hope, and charity. Give us the wisdom and the motivation to take hold of your promises, and to love what you command.

Thank you for the forgiveness, hope, and redemption you give.  In the same way, help us to forgive, to encourage, and to bless others. You are gracious and merciful to us, and we ask you to make us gracious and merciful to others.

O God, thank you for Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Help us to recognize him, to follow him, and to trust him.

Make our lives a testimony of his salvation, and use us to point others to Christ Jesus, your Son, our Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday Smile - Pumpkin Boats

The annual Pumpkinboat Regatta was held as part of the Pumpkinfest in Damariscotta, Maine, on Sunday, October 7.

I will never cease to be amazed at the crazy ideas people come up with to have fun. Do we grow pumpkins in Minnesota big enough to do this? I think we should give it a try.

More Pictures Here

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Food with Friends - SPICE

A couple of years ago, a friend introduced me to SPICE, a wonderful Thai Restaurant in Savage. The food is fantastic and the menu gives you a lot of options. I usually order one of the delicious curry dishes.

Just a few months ago, SPICE opened a new location in Lakeville near Cedar Avenue and 160th Street West. Yay! I was able to eat there for the first time earlier this week with a friend from church and we loved it. This new location is very close to Valley, so I'm guessing my lunch appointments are likely to get a little spicier in the future.

I really want to see this new location succeed, so I'm encouraging all my friends to give it a try. It would be a great place to go with friends after church on Sundays. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Click Here to Read a Local Review and See More Pictures

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday Thinking - Are You Ready to Vote?

Have you registered to vote yet?
Do you know what will be on your Minnesota ballot this election? 

 • Voter Registration Look-up
 • Voter Registration Application
 • Election Official Directory

 • pre-register at least 20 days before Election Day
 • register on Election Day at your polling place 

Complete Minnesota Voter Information

Before you can vote, you must register.  In Minnesota, you may register at least 20 days before Election Day or on Election Day at your polling place. To be eligible to register and vote in Minnesota you must:
  • be at least 18-years-old on Election Day 
  • be a citizen of the United States
  • have resided in Minnesota for 20 days immediately preceding Election Day
  • have any felony conviction record discharged, expired, or completed
  • not be under court-ordered guardianship where a court has revoked your voting rights
  • not have been ruled legally incompetent by a court of law
Updating Your Registration 
Your registration remains current until you move, change your name, or do not vote for four consecutive years.  You may update your registration information by completing and submitting another Voter Registration Application. 

Verify that you're registered
Use the Voter Registration Lookup to find out if you're already registered to vote at your current address.

If you are not registered to vote or need to update your registration information, you may do so at your local polling location on Election Day as long as you can provide proof of residence.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday Words - Scripture of Leaves

Reading the Big Weather

Mornings we see our breath. Weeds
sturdy for winter are waiting down
by the tracks. Birds, high and silent,
pass almost invisible over town.

Time, always almost ready
to happen, leans over our shoulder reading
the headlines for something not there. “Republicans
Control Congress”— the year spins on unheeding.

The moon drops back toward the sun, a sickle
gone faint in the dawn; there is a weather
of things that happen too faint for the headlines,
but tremendous, like willows touching the river.

This earth we are riding keeps trying to tell us
something with its continuous scripture of leaves.

"Reading the Big Weather," by William Stafford, from Scripture of Leaves.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday Tome - The American Soul

Tonight, Tuesday, October 23, 7:00pm, we'll be having the third and final session of my current book club at Valley Christian Church. I look forward to discussing the third section of Jacob Needleman's The American Soul, "Democracy and Hope" (pp. 269-356). If you're able to join us, please click here to let me know.

From Publisher's Weekly--
San Francisco State philosophy professor and author Needleman invites readers to contemplate the deeper spiritual meaning of the American legacy of "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Finding a deep resonance between the founding principles of this country and the ancient spiritual quest for an inner liberation, Needleman proceeds to examine and "remythologize" the founders and some of their great deeds.

The reader is asked to consider Franklin's courageous experimentation ("...the man played and worked with lightening!"), Washington's restraint retiring from the army and later from the presidency rather than exploiting his matchless popularity and political power, Jefferson's brilliant articulation of the value of community, and the sheer gravity and awareness in Lincoln's face.
While Needleman clearly finds much to love about America, he balances our light with our darkness, our genuine good will and spirituality with our great crimes of slavery and the genocidal abuse of the American Indian. Decidedly not for strict materialists or historical literalists, Needleman's latest work gives open-minded readers a new set of spiritual role models and much valuable food for thought at a crucial moment.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Music - Upright Bass Hobby

The more I listen to my kids play country roots, blues, and swing with The Cactus Blossoms, the more I've thought it might be fun to learn how to play an upright double-bass. I've decided to make this my hobby project now that we're headed toward winter.

I went online to see what was available on Craigslist and found a Stagg upright electric double-bass for a good price and decided it might be a good starter instrument. If and when I get good enough at it and have opportunities to play, I'll think about getting the real thing. In the meantime, this will be easier to store and carry around.

It's time to put the fishing boat and lawn mower into storage, and it's time to start playing bass. Another benefit to this instrument is that I can practice with headphones, so Cheri doesn't have to listen to me making lots of mistakes.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday Supplication - Show Yourself to Us

Almighty and everlasting God, you have revealed your grace and glory in this world through your son, Jesus Christ. We thank you for your mercy and ask that you complete your saving works of mercy in our world.

Help your Church in all places to persevere with steadfast faith. Shape and use each of us as we find our place and purpose in your Church.

You know our weaknesses and you understand our limitations.  Our sins and failures are no secret or surprise to you. And yet, you are faithful to forgive, you are ready to renew, you are able to lift us up, and you call us to press forward in Christ. In the same way, help us to forgive, to encourage, and to bless others. You are gracious and merciful to us, and we ask you to make us gracious and merciful to others.

O God, help us all to seek you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Show yourself to us through your word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true. Help us to desire and delight in your will that we might walk in your ways to the glory of your Name.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Family - Néné in Nashville

I'm delighted that Cheri is able to spend this weekend in Nashville visiting Tyler and Ali and our grandsons, Søren, Östen, and Luca. She's really been looking forward to it!

Hopefully I'll get to do a little Sunday Skyping with everybody. It will be fun to see Cheri on the Nashville end of the video chat.

I sure hope she will be willing to come back home. I can just hear her thinking, "Hmm, Dave or Grandkids? Dave or Grandkids? Dave or Grandkids?" You might just want to shoot up a prayer for me.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday Thinking - Nones on the Rise

I've been hearing a lot of buzz on the recent report from the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life. According to the report, the number of "nones" in America, those Americans who claim no religious affiliation, has reached 20%. Not surprisingly, the fastest growing number of "nones" is among younger people, while the smallest group of "nones" is comprised older Americans.

You can read the full report here, but I'll post a few excerpts and charts below to pique your curiosity. I'm also embedding a news commentary from NPR's All Things Considered.

I'm not sure what to think about the report. Does it indicate deepening secularization of our culture? Does is indicate the breakdown of institutions and institutional loyalty? Does it indicate less interest in religion? Does less affiliation mean less belief? Is it simply easier today to admit doubt? Is specific religious affiliation less desirable? Are more people simply being more honest? Have religious institutions become less necessary and less relevant? Does this correlate with the ways people are similarly shying away from commitment to other categorical and institutional affiliations -- political parties, brand loyalties, gender classifications, racial and ethnic identification, service clubs, labor unions, etc?

I'm actually surprised that four out of five Americans still do self-identify a religious affiliation. I would identify myself as a Christian, but I wouldn't identify with an institutional label or subset. That's not to say I wouldn't get pushed into a category if I was one of the people surveyed. It's easier for me to say what I'm not than what I am. Are you religiously affiliated? How would identify yourself?

What are your thoughts? Please leave your comments at:

What follows are excerpts and charts from the report:

The decline is concentrated among white Protestants, both evangelical and mainline. Currently, 19% of U.S. adults identify themselves as white, born-again or evangelical Protestants, down slightly from 21% in 2007. And 15% of adults describe themselves as white Protestants but say they are not born-again or evangelical Christians, down from 18% in 2007. There has been no change in minority Protestants’ share of the population over the past five years.

Generation Xers and Baby Boomers also have become more religiously unaffiliated in recent years. In 2012, 21% of Gen Xers and 15% of Baby Boomers describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, up slightly (but by statistically significant margins) from 18% and 12%, respectively, since 2007. The trend lines for earlier generations are essentially flat. Not only are young adults less likely to be affiliated than their elders, but the GSS shows that the percentage of Americans who were raised without an affiliation has been rising gradually, from about 3% in the early 1970s to about 8% in the past decade. However, the overwhelming majority of the “nones” were brought up in a religious tradition. The new Pew Research Center/Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly survey finds that about three-quarters of unaffiliated adults were raised with some affiliation (74%).

Commentary from NPR's All Things Considered:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday Words - Dark Berries, Savage-Sweet

Blackberries for Amelia

Fringing the woods, the stone walls, and the lanes,
Old thickets everywhere have come alive,
Their new leaves reaching out in fans of five
From tangles overarched by this year's canes.

They have their flowers too, it being June,
And here or there in brambled dark-and-light
Are small, five-petaled blooms of chalky white,
As random-clustered and as loosely strewn

As the far stars, of which we now are told
That ever faster do they bolt away,
And that a night may come in which, some say,
We shall have only blackness to behold.

I have no time for any change so great,
But I shall see the August weather spur
Berries to ripen where the flowers were—
Dark berries, savage-sweet and worth the wait—

And there will come the moment to be quick
And save some from the birds, and I shall need
Two pails, old clothes in which to stain and bleed,
And a grandchild to talk with while we pick.

"Blackberries for Amelia" by Richard Wilbur, from Collected Poems. © Harcourt, 2004.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday Tome - Richard Wilbur

A volume of Richard Wilbur poetry is one of the newest additions to my library, Collected Poems 1943-2004. Slowly but surely, I'm navigating my way into the world of poetry and am finally discovering poets and poems I should have heard about decades ago.
The work in these 500 or so pages has been one of the saving graces of poetry in our time...Such a volume will see a reader through quiet evenings and noisy Metro commutes, indeed through one's whole life." - The Washington Post Book World 
You don't have to read very long to discover Wilbur is truly a master poet. He approaches every subject with great care and craftsmanship. The voice and spirit of his poetry conveys a wisdom, humility, and seriousness about life.

I especially enjoy his poems with strict meters and rhyme schemes because Wilbur makes these constraints serve and strengthen his writing. With his adeptness at verse, it wasn't surprising to learn that Wilbur has also written song lyrics such as "Make Our Garden Grow" from Leonard Bernstein's Candide. This is probably one of the subtle reasons I connect so well with his work.

Wilbur really enjoys being a writer, and a sense of this joy comes through to the reader. In an interview with The Atlantic Online (1999), Wilbur made a few comments about his lifelong experience as a poet.
I'm grateful to all of the poets of the past who have delighted me, and who gave me a feeling that I wanted to do something like that. And if there is a muse, I'm grateful to the muse for the occasional experience of making something as good as I wanted it to be.

I also enjoy being able to do something with the important feelings of my life. I think that to be inarticulate can be a great suffering, and I'm glad that my loves, and my other feelings, have sometimes found their way into poems that fully express them.
The much-respected literary critic, Harold Bloom, suggested that Wilbur's poetry should be read "in the company of Robert Frost and Wallace Stevens." That seems right, though I can see already that I'll be turning to Wilbur more often than Frost, and prefer his poems far and above those of Stevens.

Click Here to learn more about Richard Wilbur.
I'll be sharing a Richard Wilbur poem in tomorrow's Wednesday Words post. Click Here for poems, articles, and audio from Richard Wilbur.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Music - An Evening in Northfield

Two Thursdays ago, I drove my sons, Jack & Page, to Northfield where they performed a set of their songs with steel guitar player, Randy Broughton. The venue was The Chapel, a second story room above a downtown storefront.

It was a lovely evening and had the feel of a living room concert. We made some new friends, and after the show a few of us enjoyed the comforts of the Contented Cow pub just a few doors and floors down the street.

Here's a video from that evening:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Supplication - Always Direct Us

Lord, we pray that your grace will always direct us and go before us and follow us in all we are, in all we say, and in all we do. We pray that your grace will shape and motivate us that we may continually be given to good works.

O God, we humbly recognize our need for forgiveness and restoration. In our weakness and selfishness, we often fail each other, fail ourselves, and fail you.  We also recognize the hope and power we have in Christ. 

Raise us and transform us by the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. Forgive us our sins, and make us ready and able and quick to forgive others, even as you forgive us.

O God, lead us into truth. Show us your ways. Teach us to follow your lead. Help us to turn away from what is wrong and to do what is right. Our hope is in you all day long. Help us to be faithful followers of Jesus and help us to become more like him each day.

It's in his name that we pray. Amen.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Saturday Smile - Campaign Laughs

First, some practical perspective on political yard signs from the good folks at Coffee with Jesus.

Next up, some hilarious silliness from the very funny people at Bad Lip-Reading. In this masterpiece of editing, the first 2012 presidential debate takes an unexpected musical turn toward mystic harmony.

"I love you two. Okay? I want you to turn and look at me."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Food - Farmer's Markets

Time is running out for 2012 Farmer's Markets. I'd love to get to the Mill City Farmer's Market tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 13) if weather allows, but the forecast looks like it might get rained out.

Click Here to see the Mill City Farmer's Market Schedule for Saturday, October 13. I was surprised to see that my boys, Page and Jack, are scheduled to perform there with The Cactus Blossoms.

CLICK HERE to hear The Splendid Table's Lynne Rossetto Kasper talk about Autumn Farmers Markets.  

Splendid Table host and all around food knowledge savant Lynne Rossetto Kasper joins The Current's Morning Show to talk about the foods she's been tasting lately.

Lynne spoke to The Morning Show's Jill Riley and Steve Seel about what makes a tasty corn and how genetic modification alters the taste. She also gave them some rules of thumb for trying tomatoes at the farmers market.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thursday Thinking - Vulnerability

Last week, I discovered this 2010 TED Talk by Dr. Brené Brown on how important vulnerability is to well-being. Her presentation, The Power of Vulnerablity, is so filled with insights that I watched it several times in order to let them really sink in.

If you live in or near the Twin Cities, you have an opportunity to hear Brené Brown TONIGHT at St. Philip the Deacon Church (Plymouth). As part of their Faith & Life Lecture Series, she will be speaking on The Courage to Be Vulnerable in Life, Love, and Parenting.

If you appreciate this talk, I'm guessing you'll be interested in her follow-up TED Talk -- Listening to Shame (March 2012).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday Words - A Barred Owl

A Barred Owl 
The warping night air having brought the boom
Of an owl's voice into her darkened room,
We tell the wakened child that all she heard
Was an odd question from a forest bird,
Asking of us, if rightly listened to,
"Who cooks for you?" and then "Who cooks for you?"

Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear,
Can also thus domesticate a fear,
And send a small child back to sleep at night
Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight
Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw
Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.

by Richard Wilbur, from Collected Poems: 1943-2004.
© Houghton Mifflin, 2006.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Tuesday Tome - The American Soul

Tonight, Tuesday, October 9, 7:00pm, we'll be having the second  session of my current Book Club at Valley Christian Church. I look forward to discussing the section two of the book, "Crimes and Failings" (pp. 189-268). If you're able to join us, please click here to let me know.

Our book selection is The American Soul (Jacob Needleman). The dates and topics for our book club discussions are as follows.

Dates and Topics:
September 25, 7:00pm - Ideas and Beginnings (pp. 1-188)
October 9, 7:00pm - Crimes and Failings (pp. 189-268)
October 23, 7:00pm - Democracy and Hope (pp. 269-356)

From Publisher's Weekly--
San Francisco State philosophy professor and author Needleman invites readers to contemplate the deeper spiritual meaning of the American legacy of "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Finding a deep resonance between the founding principles of this country and the ancient spiritual quest for an inner liberation, Needleman proceeds to examine and "remythologize" the founders and some of their great deeds.

The reader is asked to consider Franklin's courageous experimentation ("...the man played and worked with lightening!"), Washington's restraint retiring from the army and later from the presidency rather than exploiting his matchless popularity and political power, Jefferson's brilliant articulation of the value of community, and the sheer gravity and awareness in Lincoln's face.
While Needleman clearly finds much to love about America, he balances our light with our darkness, our genuine good will and spirituality with our great crimes of slavery and the genocidal abuse of the American Indian. Decidedly not for strict materialists or historical literalists, Needleman's latest work gives open-minded readers a new set of spiritual role models and much valuable food for thought at a crucial moment. 

Monday, October 08, 2012

Monday Music - Skypiper

My twin nephews Graham and Gabe have a great band called Skypiper. They recently did a Daytrotter Session. CLICK HERE to hear to hear that performance. If you're not registered with the Daytrotter, you can sign up for a free trial. It's easy and worth the effort.

Check out the Skypiper website here.

Here is one of my favorite Skypiper songs.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Sunday Supplication - We Put Our Trust in You

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear us than we are to pray. Your readiness to provide for our needs is greater than our readiness to live for your glory. You remove our fears, you graciously bless us, and you draw us into fellowship with you through Jesus Christ our Savior.

Thank you for your promise to forgive and purify us. Thank you for being the one who saves. Forgive us our sins. Renew us by your Spirit. Show us how to act, think, and live as Christ.  As you have forgiven us, make us merciful and ready to forgive those who have sinned against us.

O God, when we are afraid, help us to be still and put our trust in you. When we feel like running in the face of challenges and obstacles, give us the courage to stand firm. Be our help, our shelter, and our deliverer.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Saturday Smile - More Than a Rusty Old Minibus

This is the first episode I've seen of Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, but I assure you it won't be my last. This show is a lot more than funny, it's a blend of genius and grace. This particular episode is good for a lot of laughs, it's also good for the soul. Pay attention to things like friendship, loyalty, forgiveness, encouragement, and redemption. It makes me smile on so many levels.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Friday Family - Perry and Soren

Today's Friday Family post features one of my nephews and one of my grandsons.

First of all, I'm sending greetings and best wishes to my nephew, Perry Burkum, and his lovely bride, Jill DeVault, who are getting married tomorrow. I'm not able to make it to their wedding, but my wife, Cheri, will be there. Congratulations, Perry and Jill! I hope you have a wonderful wedding. You're a sweet couple and I pray God's blessings upon your marriage.

Perry and Jill make a lot of wonderful music together and with friends as The Kanesville Boys. Never underestimate the power of sharing music. It's the Burkum way! I firmly believe that the couple who sings in the car together, will go far together.

Yesterday morning, I got a phone call from my daughter-in-law, Ali, reporting that my grandson, Soren, had a fantastic time at a the Missy Higgins and Gotye Concert in Nashville on Wednesday night. He got to stay up WAY past his bedtime and had a blast backstage. He really enjoyed meeting Missy Higgins, Butterfly Boucher, and Gotye.

Now I guess we can say that Gotye is somebody that Soren actually knows!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Thursday Thinking - Winter Christianity

A couple of days ago, Richard Beck published a post on how faith has shifted it's position in people's lives from 1) the historical position of being a given individuals take for granted, to 2) the contemporary position of being a choice individuals are required to make. This shift, while having the potential for deeper and more authentic faith, also makes faith more difficult, tiring, and fragile. A faith that must be chosen, defended, and sustained presents individuals with a significant personal challenge and produces existential angst.

Beck posits four ways people deal with this existential faith problem:
A taken-for-granted faith settles and puts to rest a host of existential anxieties about the meaning, significance and purpose of life. But when faith is a choice all those existential questions get pushed out into the foreground where we can worry and obsess about the significance and meaningfulness of life and our life choices.

...Christian people to tend to face this existential challenge in one of four ways:

Some people do follow the predicted path of secularization theory and opt out of faith.

In the marketplace of faith many people buy a lot of different products and cobble them together into a personal bricolage of spirituality.

Some Christians learn to life with doubt, reconciling themselves to the fact that faith is always going to be tentative and fragile.

Some Christians, unable to live with the anxieties produced by modernity, will seek existential solace, comfort and consolation in dogmatic certainty.

Read Complete Post at Experimental Theology
What do you think? Do you agree with the assertion that faith has moved from the position of cultural given to that of personal choice? I think this is accurate.

And what do you make of Beck's four options for dealing with the existential challenge of choosing faith in a pluralistic culture? Is there an option he missed?

Which of Beck's options most accurately describe the way you deal with faith? I'm most definitely in category #3, though I'm not thrilled with Beck's label, "Winter Christianity."

"Winter" implies cold and dying, which I don't believe is the case for everyone in this category. I'll admit that faith in the post-modern world feels pretty chilly at times, and, yes, much of the old-time religion of my childhood has suffered a wintry death. And as a pastor, I'm constantly pressing against the cold-north-wind realization that most of the people I work with are in categories 1, 2, and 4. Yet, in my view, the doubts and questions I live with in category #3 serve to purify and authenticate my faith. Christian faith in the post-modern world is more difficult, but it's also more honest and humble.

I would prefer Beck's category #3 be called something like, Hopeful Christianity, or Humble Christianity, or Intentional Christianity. Christians can be (and, in the contemporary post-modern world must be) hopeful, humble, and intentional about their faith. Post-modern faith requires believers to live with the tensions and questions engendered by doubt and uncertainty. This type of faith is, in fact, the faith I see presented in Scripture--people acting upon their beliefs in the midst of profound uncertainty.

Acting upon beliefs is the only way to build confidence in them. Living by faith is the only way to overcome doubt. Day to day experience is the necessary crucible for refining trust and hope. Maybe the best name for category #3 would be "Authentic Christianity."

Please post your comments at: Altered Faces.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Wednesday Words - Better Day

I've already written my "Thursday Thinking" post that will appear on this blog tomorrow. It's titled "Winter Christianity," and that sounds pretty bleak. So in preparation for tomorrow, I thought it would be good today for me to post these hopeful words from my song, "Better Day." You might want to revisit them after reading tomorrow's post.

Click Here if Music Player Doesn't Appear

Better Day
Abel made a sacrifice.
Enoch somehow never died.
Noah built an ark
And left the world outside.
Abraham didn’t have a son,
But by faith he traveled far.
His children now outnumber
The stars.

Take another step,
Breathe a little deeper,
Straighten up and take a stand.
Walk another mile,
You’re headed for a better land.

Isaac blessed and prophesied.
Jacob worshipped, staff in hand.
Joseph spoke of exodus from
Egypt’s land.
Moses chose to be mistreated--
Pharoah’s pleasures he would deny.
The Red Sea parted and the ground the children walked
Was dry.

Take another step,
Breathe a little deeper,
Straighten up and take a stand.
Walk another mile,
You’re headed for a better land.
Think about the joy,
Don’t forget the promise,
Let the Spirit lead the way.
Tomorrow’s gonna come--
It’s gonna be a better day.

Gideon, Barak, and Samson--
There’s not time enough to tell
Tales of Jephthah, King David,
And Samuel.
There were those who closed the mouths of lions;
Those who quenched the fury of the flames.
They suffered this world’s hateful scorn
And shame.

Still they took another step,
Breathed a little deeper;
They weren’t afraid to take a stand.
They walked another mile,
Headed for a better land.
They thought about the joy--
Thought about the promise;
They let the Spirit lead the way.
They gave a little more,
Hopin’ for a better day.

So take another step,
Breathe a little deeper,
Straighten up and take a stand.
Walk another mile,
You’re headed for a better land.
Think about the joy,
Don’t forget the promise,
Let the Spirit lead the way.
Tomorrow’s gonna come--
It’s gonna be a better day.

Words and Music by Dave Burkum from Breathe a Little Deeper. © Copyright 2000 by Dave Burkum.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Tuesday Tome - Four Holy Gospels Bible

As a Christian, I'm very interested in The Four Holy Gospels project. I love the arts and I care about culture. I really like Makoto Fujimura's work and I'm looking forward to seeing this Bible.

When I first heard about it, my first response was that I'd like to have a copy of it. A lack of funds makes that unlikely, but more importantly, I'll admit to having serious reservations about the project in general. Something about it doesn't sit right in my gut.

What are the philosophical implications of making illuminated texts. Why have people chosen to illuminate texts in extravagant ways, and does such extravagant illumination add a layer of meaning/message? If so, does that added meaning enhance or diminish the text? How do the the motives for the Four Holy Gospels illumination compare with other illumination projects, both ancient and contemporary? What is accomplished by these illuminations?

Is the authentic nature and purpose of the text rightly served by such a project? Is the result a piece of art or is it a Bible? Should the Bible be turned into a work of art? Is this appropriate? Does doing so make the Bible more approachable or less approachable? More compelling or less compelling?

Are the realities and underpinnings of the contemporary art scene so removed from the ethics and values of Jesus that such a project is ultimately antithetical to the heart of the Gospel? Would Jesus buy this book? Would he want his followers to buy this book?

What is the motivation for this project? Who will be profiting from this project? Is this about art and personal expression? Is this for those who love Scripture or those who love art? Which of those loves compels a person to buy this book?

Is this project an attempt at cultural relevance or cultural influence? Is such an attempt authentic, effective, or misguided? Does this project communicate a position of power or weakness? Is this about publishing, marketing, and money, or is it about proclaiming, sharing, and sacrifice? Will it serve an elite and wealthy few, or will it serve to better all of humankind?

I'm conflicted. Honestly, I think my doubts are overshadowing my enthusiasm.

Copied from Press Release by Crossway Publishing:
Renowned artist and writer Makoto Fujimura is not shy about the importance of his latest project. “Whether I like it or not, this is what I will be remembered by,” Fujimura asserts. “I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that it is a commission of the decade, if not more,” says Valerie Dillon, whose Dillon Gallery is Fujimura’s main exhibitor.

The commission is an illuminated manuscript published by Crossway, to commemorate the four hundred year anniversary of The King James Bible, set to be released January 2011. The leather-bound English Standard Version of the Bible, printed with a six-color metallic process, will comprise the four Gospels as designed and illustrated by Fujimura.

Five major new works, painted in the artist’s Manhattan studio, will be the volume’s main images, making this the first such manuscript to feature abstract contemporary art in lieu of traditional representational illustrations. It is this unprecedented marriage of a modern, usually secular art form with ancient scripture that most interests Fujimura, who aims to depict “the greater reality that the Bible speaks of… for the pure sake of integrating faith and art in our current pluralistic, multicultural world.”

Monday, October 01, 2012

Monday Music - Pickathon 2012

Here is a great new video of the The Cactus Blossoms recorded by Peacock/KBOO radio during the Pickathon Music Festival 2012 (Pendarvis Farm, Oregon).

Sweet memories from the busy summer of 2012.

Page Burkum: guitar and vocals
Jack Torrey: guitar and vocals
Mike "Razz" Russell: fiddle
Liz Draper: upright bass
Randy Broughten: steel guitar/dobro