Archives For dminlgp

35 for 35 – DMINLGP

December 6, 2012 — Leave a comment


DMINLGP Cohort 1 listens to me introduce myself at our inaugural gathering at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, UK, in 2010.

I’ve been honored to spend the last three years working on my doctor of ministry with the best cohort I could ever imagine. I’ve written before about George Fox University’s Doctor of Ministry in Leadership and Global Perspectives (DMINLGP), so I won’t tell you again all the reasons that it’s the best doctor of ministry program offered anywhere. I am, however, going to tell you about my cohort. It has been an unparalleled educational experience and I’ve found kinship with leaders from all over the world. Continue Reading…

Christian Movements in Southeast Asia: A Theological Exploration (ed. Michael Nai-Chiu Poon) is an engaging look at the history, theology, and missiology of one of the most religious vibrant areas in the world. The volume is a collection of essays published pulled together by the Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia and published in partnership with Singapore’s Trinity Theological College.

The essays vary in their scope, from detailed analysis of the emergence of “folk Christianity” to an impassioned plea for Southeast Asian churches to help historians document the rapidly changing religious and cultural landscape of the region. One fairly consistent thread through the essays, however, is the role Pentecostalism has played in helping contextualize Christianity into a variety of different locales and expressions. Continue Reading…

Nothing to Envy?

August 5, 2012 — 1 Comment

Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea offers sweeping insight into the day-to-day living of one of the world’s most closed societies. She draws her accounts from extensive interviews with defectors from North Korea and her own travels in the region.

Demick’s journalistic writing keeps the book moving. She weaves together several narratives to expose the reader to the history, politics, triumphs and trials of North Korea. She has little to offer when it comes to the faith of those in North Korea, but such is not the focus of her book.

What can be found about the faith history of North Korea is interesting, however. She asserts that before Kim Il-sung came to power, North Korea had a vibrant Christian community: Continue Reading…

Wild Goose East ended a week ago and I’ve been reflecting on the experience. I went to the festival guarded, having heard that the previous year’s iteration was marked with tones of bitterness and cynicism toward institutional forms of Christianity, unimaginative rehashing of failed theological liberalism, and exploration of a bland and consumerist non-distinct “spirituality.” I was ready for more of the same, yet hopeful that the theme for the festival, “Exile and Return,” might offer a way forward.

In that regard, I was not disappointed. There were still plenty of angry people, many of them rightful so. They’ve been injured by “people of faith” and have a hard time reconciling the hurt they’ve experienced with a community that is supposed to be marked by God’s love for the world, in the world. For many, the anger developed into cynicism toward Christianity and “the church.” These people are in exile and sometimes it is helpful to be able to call it what it is. Continue Reading…

Listening to the Goose

June 21, 2012 — 1 Comment


For the next several days I’ll be at the Wild Goose Festival at Shakori Hills near Pittsboro, North Carolina. This is the second annual iteration of the event. My wife and I were supposed to have attended its inaugural last year, but an unexpected job change followed by a cross-country move resulted in us forfeiting our tickets. Boo.

This year, George Fox Seminary is sending me as a representative to talk to people about our programs. What a great job! I love the place where I work (and where I’m also a student, working on my DMin) and it’s easy for me to talk to others about why they should consider seminary education in general, and GFU in particular.

Unfortunately, my wife isn’t with me, though. Bummer. But that means I have plenty of time to meet new folks and to listen.


That’s what I hope to do at WGF this year. I heard very mixed things about it last year (read my friend Chris’s posts for some insight) and am interested–if not a little concerned–about the shape of the conversations this year. Last year there seemed to be a lot of evangelical ressentiment, a path I’ve gone down (or through) and have found a nice, less-cynical, more-hopeful place at the other end. I’m not sure it’s helpful to camp there for long.

So, I’m looking forward to Ian Cron’s conversation on “The Post-Cynical Christian” and Jim Wallis on “Baseball, Unexpected Hope, and the Vocation for a New Generation.” Oh, and also the “Theology of Beer” session… I’m also going to pay a lot of attention to the Sacred Space at the festival. I’m on the planning committee for Sacred Space for Wild Goose West, debuting later this year.

But most of all, I want to listen. I want to hear the shape of conversations and let them enwrap me. It seems that last year the participants wove a hair shirt. What will this year bring? As I am able, I will update this space with thoughts, reflections, and images. 

And if YOU want to come to the Goose, I could use some help staffing my exhibitor booth, especially on Saturday and Sunday, since I have to leave a bit early. I have a pass for you in exchange for your volunteer labor! Send me a message on Facebook:

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been slowly working my way through Thomas Merton’s Cold War Letters. The anthology is a collection of 111 pieces of personal correspondence written between October 1962 and October 1963, the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In the period just before he wrote the letters, Merton came under fire from the Archdiocese for his increasingly vocal opposition to nuclear war, an opposition the Catholic Church was slow to adopt. As a result, Merton circulated the collection of letters privately with a disclaimer on the first page: “Not for publication.” The letters weren’t made public until 25 years after his untimely death in 1968.  Continue Reading…


Over the next few weeks my reading for my doctoral coursework is self-selected, rather than assigned by the program’s lead mentor, Dr. Jason Clark. He gave us space this summer to pick one or two books and take our time reading them deeply. The books could be classic literature, theology texts, works related to our own research, whatever we like. 

I hemmed and hawed for a while. At first, I settled on reading through Jim McClendon’s three volume systematic theology set. I have it and I’ve always wanted to read it. But that just seems tiring right now. Plus, I’m slated to dig into some of Paul Ricoeur’s work for my own research this summer. I think that’s heavy enough. Continue Reading…

This week my cohort continued our readings and conversations about atheism. Our guest in chat was Matt Casper, co-author of Jim and Casper Go to Church. The book is an engaging read of the duo’s adventures to a dozen churches in 2006. Jim (Henderson) is a former pastor who started employing atheist, skeptics, and non-believers to serve as ‘mystery shoppers’ in his church. He’d have them come and fill out a survey of their experience. (Matt) Casper is a lapsed Catholic turned atheist who works in marketing. Together, the two visited a wide spectrum of churches and wrote a book about what they found.

Casper is an interesting contrast to last week’s guest, Dr. Peter Boghossian. He takes a more ‘do no harm’ attitude toward people of faith. His issue is not with the veracity of belief, per se, but with the inconsistency that is often displayed in the lives of ‘believers.’ As he and Jim sit through church service after church service, he often queries aloud, ‘Is this what Jesus told you guys to do?’ Often, the answer is simply, ‘No.’

Continue Reading…

The past couple of weeks in my D.Min. program have included some fascinating readings, lectures, and conversations. Dr. Alvin Plantinga’s newest offering, Where the Conflict Really Lies, kicked things off. In the book, he makes the argument that there does exist deep conflict between science and religion, but it is not the conflict that one ordinarily supposes.

Plantinga appeals to Newtonian and Quantum physics, microbiology, astronomy, and cosmology to show that what conflict does exist between Christian theism and science is superficial at best. He then uses those same fields to show deep concord between Christian theism and science, and deep conflict between science and naturalism. Scientific theory is agnostic about metaphysical and theological questions. Naturalism, however, is not.

Yet to follow the science, Plantinga asserts, one is forced to conclude vis-à-vis a naturalistic interpretation of the evidence that the trustworthiness of one’s cognitive faculties is very, very low. Why? Because a naturalist’s commitment to unguided natural selection as the driving force of evolution necessarily entails that only those functions which aid in reproduction and evolutionary adaptation have a high probability for selection and preservation in the future generations of a given species. Rational cognition, it seems, fails to meet the evolutionary adaptive criteria.

Continue Reading…


Jared Diamond’s Collapse examines the response/non-response of societies to the big problems they face. He focuses most specifically on environmental problems, which in turn lead to resource and political problems. Through a comparative methodology, Diamond seeks to import his observations and analysis of dead and gone societies like Easter Island, the Roman Empire and the Mayans into the present problems facing the global society today. He constructs a five-point framework for analysis:

  1. Damage inadvertently inflicted upon the environment
  2. Climate change
  3. Hostile neighbors
  4. Decreased support by friendly neighbors
  5. Problem response by the society

Diamond’s book is not without its problems. Critics from both the left and the right accuse him of being in bed with their opposition. The right casts him as an environmentalist fear monger, whereas the left charges him with being in the pocket of big oil. His methodology has also been called into question as too subjective for the conclusions he draws. Despite the criticism, however, Diamond is recognized as an authority in his field.  Continue Reading…