Last Week, This Week

Last week was amazing.
I spent a few days with the good people of Willow Creek Community Church. Their Shift Conference brings together a tremendous group of intelligent and energetic youth workers from around the world. I spoke at a plenary session on Wednesday and then in a breakout on Thursday. Wednesday afternoon, I had the opportunity to be Bill Hybels' and Nancy Beach's guest in the studio to record an episode of Defining Moments, the monthly CD that goes out to all WCA members. I'll share more about the recording in a future posting.
In between, I had a number of meaningful and enjoyable interchanges with some wonderful people.
Then we went to Seattle. Thursday night we had an excellent dinner with some friends from Mars Hill Graduate School and from the Episcopal Church ... including Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop Greg Rickel, Karen Ward, and Tom Cashman.
Friday I spent half the day with MHGS students - what a tremendous group! - and then our EMC tour event began.
Tomorrow I'll be at Princeton University ... they're sold out, so I can't invite you to join us. But if you live anywhere in the area, remember that we'll be in New York May 2-3 .... After my lecture, I'm looking forward to joining the Princeton Emergent Cohort in a local pub for some good conversation.
Then, later this week, I'm hoping to do some backpacking for a couple of days - a chance to catch my breath, enjoy the Spring, and prepare for our last three tour stops, in Kansas City, New York, and Goshen Indiana.

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Finding Our Way Again

This afternoon Grace was going through the stack of mail that accumulated while we were out of town last week - and there in the pile was a copy of my newest book, Finding Our Way Again.
I believe my loyal readers will find it valuable and nourishing spiritually, and I hope it will connect with a new community of readers as well.
I think there is a healthy balance being struck ... my last two books, The Secret Message of Jesus and Everything Must Change, focus on the message of Jesus and its vision of God's dream for our world. My next two books, Finding Our Way Again and an as-yet untitled book on prayer, will focus more on the personal and communal spiritual life.
I think we can best see our personal spiritual lives in the larger context of Jesus' message of God's dream for our world ... and at the same time, we have to translate Jesus' global message of good news into our daily lives, so the inner ecology of our souls will contribute to a new outer ecology in our world.
I'll try to post some more about the new book later this week. My apologies to readers who are having a hard time keeping up ... but I hope you'll find this new book as enjoyable and rewarding to read as I found it to write.

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Art-Lovers near Boston and DC?

If you're in or around Boston, you should check out this show by my friend Bob Jackson. Amazing work!
And if you're around DC, don't miss Blair Anderson's show at Ranazul, April 7-30 - reception 4-5 pm on April 20.

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Why I Like Anglicans and Anabaptists

They aren't as likely as some religious folk are to kill or torture you (literally or metaphorically) ... as the great philosopher Eddie Izzard explains here ...

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social change

I recently caught a discussion on CSPAN (I think) about social change. One of the speakers, an African reflecting on the African struggle for what I would call prosperity, equity, and security (from Everything Must Change), listed six institutions that must be strong and involved for profound and lasting social change:
1. The press/media
2. Courts
3. Banks
4. Police
5. Election commission
6. Civil Service
It was interesting that he didn't list the church. Too often, the church (as a collection of institutions) lags behind and either waits for the change to happen or actively opposes it. But my hunch, and my hope, is that the church (as a community, a movement, a body of individuals) often plays a key but subtle role in deploying robust, honest, and visionary disciples into the press, the courts, banks, the police, election commissions, and civil service institutions - along with education, the arts, and other sectors of our common life. There, they work like yeast in dough, salt in food, and candles in darkness ... bringing transformation to institutions which preserve social change and make it normative for future generations.
All of this relates to a theology of institutions ... something we need a great deal. A wonderful sage in this field is Jim Emrich, whose work you can read about here.

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