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Out of the Closet June 26, 2007

Posted by Matt in Matt, Meme.

Tagged by Rob, this meme comes from Ben Myers’ wonderful blog, Faith and Theology.

For this meme, we are to make our theological confessions. So here we go…

I confess that I simply cannot stand Christian music and really wish that every Christian would learn to read music and sing in 4 part harmony .

I confess that I still do not understand what the big deal with Barth is, other than he wrote long dense books that lots of people talk about.

I confess that even if I had the Eucharist every day that I still wouldn’t think that I was observing it enough.

I confess that I call myself “emergent”, but seriously doubt that it really means anything at all.

I confess that I think that the proper Christian response to politics is simply to withdraw from such practices.

I confess that I don’t fully buy N.T. Wright’s version of the New Perspective, but am eternally grateful for him for allowing me to move past my own upbringng.

I confess that I think that mission is essential to the Christian experience, but my current mission is to do paper work.

I confess that I’ve read the catholic epistles once and have never read a single book or commentary on any of them.

I confess that if my Bible contained just the gospels I wouldn’t be all that upset.

And those are my theological confessions, more if I bother to think of them… :-)


miniPost: Update June 12, 2007

Posted by Matt in Matt, Miscellaneous.
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Whew, its been quite a couple of days… Mono certainly has nefarious ways of keeping you down and out. But luckily enough, things do seem to be calming down just a bit and so I am looking to get back into the swing of things here at the blog. Thanks for all your prayers.

In the Pipe:
* Emergent Series’s post on culture
* A look at prayer
* A note on the evangelical notion of “relationship with Jesus”

I’m also looking to review a couple of books for the blog here. If you have suggestions for books, please drop a comment… :-)

miniPost: Mono June 4, 2007

Posted by Matt in Matt, Miscellaneous.
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Hey kids, I’ve got mono and that’s the reason that I haven’t been able to write over the last couple of days. The doc said that my swollen lymph gland was “impressive”. I’m not sure how to take that exactly.

More blog as I am able, thanks for the patience… :-)

So I’m Emerging? May 25, 2007

Posted by Matt in Church, emergent, Matt.
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I suppose that over the past year or so as I have become increasingly familiar with the emergent church and its varying ways and streams of thought that I have gradually been pulled in by the basics of post-modern Christianity. Now, I’ve been struggling over the past few days to try to place some definition around that admission.

I suppose there is something that I find wondrous and mysterious about not being able to completely define the movement that I call home or even describe the basics of that movement. Yet, there is also I think something to be unnerved about the fact that there really is not a firm understanding of the underlying theology of the movement. For instance, what does an emergent soteriology look like? Now, I think that every can agree that there is a fairly plain and common eschatology and missiology amoung those in the emergent movement, but what about beyond that.

I have spent the last few weeks trying to get a hold of as many different intro’s to post-modern Christianity that I can in order to try to make better sense of these issues. I hope that I’ll be able to return to many of them and blog my thoughts.

Anyway, this is all to say that over the next couple of weeks I want to spend time looking at my own views and the views of the movement as I see them on display both in text and in the blogosphere.

The Blog is Dead, Long Live the Blog… May 20, 2007

Posted by Matt in Matt, Miscellaneous.

So yeah, I recieved the following text message today from friend and fellow-formerly-lapsed-blogger Roberto (check the sidebar — I’m lazy at the moment):

You don’t blog anymore and you know it :) …

And yes, I must admit that I don’t blog anymore. There are several reasons for this: none of which I have the time nor the where-with-all to tap out at the moment. The observant reader will note that I haven’t posted a new entry since September. (The even more observant reader will note that there hasn’t been an original post here since even longer in the past.) For this, I am sorry and apologize.

Oh wait! No I don’t… To the five readers of this blog, I remind you that this is MY blog. If I haven’t written anything here, it’s probably because there wasn’t anything worth being written by me at the moment or that I had other better things to attend to. If you know anything about me, then you’ll probably understand this a little bit better than I can explicate in a single blog posting.

All that being said, I am officially announcing the end of this blog.

Whew, now that that is done with, I would also like to announce that there is now a completely new blog, this one. The address will not be changing. The feed will remain precisely the same. The authorship will not change nor be added to any time in the near future. The content will remain the same as well. The only thing that will change (and indeed has already changed) is me, the author. Perhaps, in the near future, we’ll look into what those changes might be.

Matt Lemieux
A Post-Modern Anglo-Catholic Anarchist (whatever that may mean)

The Mini MEme September 25, 2006

Posted by Matt in Matt, Meme.

This meme comes courtesy of Roberto of New Perspective fame… Though I must admit that I originally saw it on Nothing New Under The Sun, a simply superb theo-blog.

Anywho, onward to the actual meme:
Name a piece of Art that you love.

The Godfather

My pick would have to The Godfather, the film directed by Francis Ford Coppola based on the novel by Mario Puzo. Simply a masterpiece of American Cinema, this is a film that simply takes its own time to tell the story that it desires to tell. Add that with the fact that it happens to be one of the most manly films ever. How could you possibly go wrong? (*cough* GF3)

A Line of a Song or Line of Poetry that Reaches Your Core

Isn’t it love
This rain that falls on the sinner and the saint
Isn’t it love
This well that won’t run dry
Isn’t it love
These mercies are made new every morning […]

Isn’t it love to look down from the sky
And see your only son on the cross asking why
And somehow let him die that way
And not call the whole thing off

All for a man here in Kalamazoo
Who loses his bags and his way sometimes, too
But that was something that you already knew
And still you died for me

From Andrew Peterson‘s Isn’t It Love, originally from his Clear to Venus album, but most recently (and the best cut I think) from his Appendix A. You have my permission to buy every record Andy has ever made and any ones he will release into the future. In fact, buy several and pass them around to your friends.

An Experience in Nature that was really special and/or Spiritual

Not that I am one to “commune with Nature” all that much… However, I would have to say that there is the place in the North Carolina mountains called Sterchi Lodge that I can’t help but have a spiritual connection with. I’ve traveled there for several retreats, all of which were memorable for one reason or another.

Lake Junaluska might become a close second some day if I ever get to spend enough time there doing something other than business.

The Movie(s) that Changed the Way You Saw the World

I’m going to cheat and throw two films up here. I feel justified since they are related.

Most recently, I would have to say Hotel Rwanda. This film is about Paul Rusesabagina, a Rwandan native who managed a hotel in Kigali, Rwanda. Paul was instrumental in allowing over 1200 refugees flee the genocide that gripped Rwanda at the time. This film solidified my resolve to help the people of Africa (and the rest of the world) in any way that I could. One cannot walk away from this film without being affected to change. Psst… Surely Amnesty International is not the only folks that have caught the modern day parallel (Darfur).

Relatedly, I will select Schindler’s List, a film about Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who ran ceramics factory in Poland and the modern Czech Republic. Schindler was instrumental in allowing over 1200 Jews escape the genocide that gripped Europe at the time. I must admit that I wasn’t old enough to fully appreciate this film the first time I saw it. It is one of the few films that I spend the last half crying through. It introduced me to the notion that film could impact the way that I saw the world. I suppose that is a touch “meta” to the meme’s question… :-)

A Piece of Music that Makes You Cry

As much as I love music (both to listen and perform), I have never cried at a musical performance or recording. However, I always get a good kick in the gut when the church sings Amazing Grace. I sang four verses from Amazing Grace at my maternal grandfather’s funeral. I can’t say that I ever cared much for the man, but in my mind that is forever where Amazing Grace will be found, at the graveside of my mother’s father.

This concludeth the meme. If you are reading this line, consider yourself tagged to complete this meme at your blog or place of posting residence (*cough* TWebbers). Just remember to drop a trackback or comment with a link.

A Dearth of Spirituality September 6, 2006

Posted by Matt in Matt, praxis.
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I suppose that it would be most appropriate to start off this entry with a confession: I rather dislike the word “Spirituality”. I suppose that I’ve been exposed to so much pop christianity that I’ve been unable to separate their usage of the term from its vaulted former status as a word describing the praxis of our Faith.

That being said: right now, I am experiencing a dearth of Spirituality.

There are a couple of reasons for this I think. One, I am afraid of unsettling some of the people around me. My roommate, for instance, comes from a background where Worship was seen as optional as long as one attended some Church function during that week. (This isn’t meant to be a condemnation, just an observation — one that he himself made.) I was struck by this fact when we were driving back from Disney here recently. We were chatting about the times that his group was able to meet. One of the times that he mentioned was early Sunday morning (10 to 2). I myself come from a background where Sunday (usually all-day, but especially mornings) were completely off-limits to calendar with. How do you explain to someone who doesn’t care about the Theology that Worship is a vital part of your life (personally speaking)? I use my roommate as an example, but it’s equally true for many amoung my Faith Community. How do you explain that you see Communion as so important that you should set aside a time every week to get together and share in the Meal? How do you explain to your Protestant friends when you start crossing yourself? I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable around me, because they are my Faith Community. They are the people that I live, learn, and grow with.

Secondly, there is a lack of kindred spirits in my Faith Community. Sure, there are a couple of people who actually have some understanding of what pomo means for the Church. Yet, they have their own lives to run as well. What the first point deals with at the personal level, this point deals with at the organizational level. What do you do when your own Faith Community does not always match your view of faith and practice? Obviously, this is an ongoing discussion (especially amoung self-identifing emergents), but I’m not looking to answer the larger theological question in regards to ecclesiology. I’m looking for an existential solution to the question of differing thoughts on praxis. I think that our community provides wonderful opportunities for praxis, but I don’t think that anyone in our current leadership has a firm understanding of what that means nor how that should drive how you do ministry. This makes continuing commitment to a life filled by praxis difficult.

In the end, I know that I simply MUST do my own Faith. It is what we as Christians have been called to do. I know that God will provide the strength necessary to do what I have been called to do. I need to place aside the concerns of my flesh and embrace the concerns of Christ.

Praise be to His Name for he provides comfort in the time of need.

Seven Songs August 6, 2006

Posted by Matt in Matt, Meme.
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Woohoo, another meme… This one comes once again from Rob.

So, seven songs that I am enjoying right now…
1) Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48 by Chopin (for quiet reflection)
2) Flesh and Blood by Andrew Peterson (Song about the Eucharist)
3) Fair Phyllis, a English madrigal, performed by The King’s Singers (I love to sing)
4) Carolina by Andrew Peterson (Song about Carolina and relevant just now)
5) Piano Man by Billy Joel (Long story, Jellyrolls)
6) Mohawks on the Scaffold by Andrew Peterson (Song about Church and “not getting it”)
7) Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright (just a great song)

And there you have it, seven songs that I am enjoying right now. If you are reading this and have a blog, consider yourself tagged.


The One Book Meme July 27, 2006

Posted by Matt in Matt, Meme.

Rob of the New Perspective on Robb fame recently tagged me to complete another fun little meme…

1. One Book that changed your life:
Popular response it seems, but I would have to say N.T. Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God. Not so much for any specific content of the book, but just the way that it affected the way that I view Jesus, the Gospels and the Kingdom of God.

2. One Book that you have read more than once:
Easy… The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S Lewis. I’ve read the entire series several times and recommend it to everyone.

3. One Book you’d want on a desert island:
Hrmn… Tough one… But I think I would take Dune by Frank Herbert. I can keep reading that book and get new things out of it every time that I do so.

4. One Book that made you laugh:
The book that has made me laugh the most would probably be Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. If you’ve read it, you understand. If not, you should… ;-)

5. One Book that made me cry:
A repeat… The Lion, The Witch, and The Waredrobe. If you can make it through the Stone Table scene without breaking down, I’m not sure that you are human.

6. One Book that you wish had been written:
An Open Letter to Matt Lemieux by Jesus of Nazareth. The Church in the Kingdom, or ‘Getting’ Church by any theologian prior to this century.

7. One Book that you wish had never been written:
Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoffer. If there is one book (which, I’ve not even read all of) that challenges me than any other, it is this one. I think that my life would have been much simpler and more complacent if I had never heard of Bonhoffer. That being said, everyone MUST go read this book… ;-)

8. One Book that you are currently reading:
The Secret Message of Jesus by Brian McLearen.

9. One Book that you have been meaning to read:
Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon

10. Tag 5 other people:
Well, you see, I’m new to this whole blogosphere, so for the time being this is a dead-end, but eventually I hope that it is not… :-)


The Joy of Rediscovery July 22, 2006

Posted by Matt in Church, Gospel, Matt, Mission.
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The following blog entry was written primarily as a free write exercise in order to better understand the place that I am currently in. The flow will reflect my own thought process. As such, it may not be the most coherent piece of writing on the face of the planet. However, I think that it accurately represents the place that I currently stand, even if I am the only person who can understand it… — Matt

As much as I hate to admit it, it is time to start writing about myself. This may strike some people as odd, but recently my identity has shifted from the traditional individualistic Western view to a more collective and Eastern view. This is the result of a paradigm shift in the way that I approach Scripture and Revelation, which, in turn, impacted my Christian identity. My identity as a Christian moved from being a quality of who I am to become the “whole” of which I am only a small and barely significant (if I may be so bold) portion of.

This shift was facilitated by a severe case of Clinical Depression which onset in the midst of my Freshman year at Clemson University. In the muddle of my depression, it became necessary that I maintain a firm grip of my own identity, both in a holistic sense and in a spiritual sense. Without the conscience effort to keep my own identity intact, I would have killed myself. Without a firm understanding of the place that God had for me in his world (not in a specific sense, but a general one — one in terms of life and existence), I would have lost the last barrier between myself and myself, between the man that I would called to be and the man I saw myself as. I look back with a sense of irony that this was also my period of greatest doubt, both of Christianity and the existence of God.

Thus, I started an intellectual pursuit of Truth. (This should surprise precisely zero of the people with which I have had ANY significant contact.) I began to seek out those answers that Christians offered to tough questions. Questions brought to the forefront by honestly seeking doubters. As much as I wanted Christian answers to be resoundingly and obviously true, this was simply not the case. The answers they gave began to ring with a hollow sense of artificiality. It was as though even the people giving them knew that they were lacking. Even the most astute (at least, seeming so) attempts to prove the existence of God, to disprove another Bible “contradiction”, or push the latest and greatest in 16th Century Christian thought, began to show sign of being forced, as if something about them were artificial.

It was this artificiality that caused me to approach some the primary scholarly material of the past half-century. Slow, but surely, I was introduced to an entirely new view of Scriptural Study, an attempt to return the texts to their proper and full context in the ANE, specifically in the idea-world of Second Temple Judaism (and, yes, it is okay to be completely confused by that last bit). From this study, I began to see a clearer picture of where we as Christians were called to be.

At the same time as this shift in focus, I was also confronted on several sides by this seemingly popular notion of a “Radical” Jesus. From youth retreats to billboards, from Spiritual self-help book to NOOMA videos, this notion came through loud and clear. However, nothing the people presented seemed all that radical to me. It was the same old picture of Jesus as that great moral teacher who died to save me from my own sin. Not to say that this wouldn’t be a singularly unique person, but it simply didn’t strike me as radical. This is, perhaps, to blame on my own Evangelical upbringing and this fact that this notion had been drilled into my head from such an early age. Whatever the reason for that reaction, it is the one that I felt at the time.

Then, these two decidedly different streams of thought came crashing together. This “modern” view of Scripture present a “Radical” Christ. Radical not only to his own day, but to ours as well. It is incredibly important to unpack everything that this revelation entails. So important, in fact, that I won’t even begin to venture an attempt to do so here. There are several works on the subject avaliable and I hope one day to possess the ability to pen my own thoughts in an attempt to encapsulate a small portion of that significance.

While I don’t even have the words to begin to explain it, this revelation caused a complete shift in my own understanding of myself. A shift from an individual to a member of a collective, a shift from needing to figure out my place in the world to the joy of finding out what God had in store for me, a shift from understanding Jesus’s sacrifice for me to understanding Jesus’s sacrifice for the whole of creation, A shift from an urge to understand myself to loving everyone in every way that I was capable.

This is the joy of rediscovery. The joy of finding the truth that has always been there. Like solving a puzzle or having a singularly marvelous insight, it’s uncovering the truth that laid just under the surface, eager to break out of its binding in ancient text or bad assumption. My joy of rediscovery was finding the message that drives to the very core of the created order, Gospel.

However, that joy brought hardship. It brought the understanding that I was not where I needed to be. Further, that the Church (as a collective whole) was not where it needed to be. We (I and the Church, if I can even begin to speak as though those two were separate) had a mission. Something that we had been neglecting to accomplish. English scholar and churchman N.T. Wright call it “putting the world to rights”. Jesus charged us to proclaim the message to all nations, but, even beyond that, he charged us with the very act of bringing about God’s Kingdom in this world in the fullest possible expression. If that sounds like an easy task, then you probably need to spend some time thinking about what a Kingdom of God would be.

However, there is hope to be found. Christians have been doing this work all along, even if they never completely appreciated the significance of that work. Even I had been developing an “attitude for service” for a long time before I ever realized that this is what I was compelled to do by virtue of my loyalty to the Christ and his work in this world. I had never understood it on those terms before, but somehow (read: the Spirit) I was already on the path that I needed to be on.

However, this began to beg a larger question. What is my unique Kingdom-Work? What is it that I am supposed to bring to the Table of the Church? I must admit that I am currently deep in the heart of this struggle. I know pieces of the picture: Seminary, Ordination, Clemson. Yet, this doesn’t provide even a glimpse of the life that God has in store for me. Through Clemson, I was able to tap into a unique community of believers known as Clemson Wesley. That unique community has yielded unique Christians who have challenged and continue to challenge any view of my future. I am continually haunted by Jesus’s call to Kingdom-Work.

I continue to see many avenues in which that work is being carried out and will be carried out. Visions are coming out of this community that simply can have no other source than the very Spirit of the Living God. I am excited. I know that God placed me in this place and with these people for a reason. I still have no idea of my place in this Kingdom-Work, but I am ever excited to see where God wants me to be. I am also excited to see where God wants me to be. I am also excited by the fact that others are excited by the very same thing in their lives. They may be further along in that journey than I am. They may be slightly behind, but you can still sense that joy. That joy of rediscovery. That joy of finding the place that God has for you in this world.

Praise be to the Lord for the place that he has brought me and for the places that he will take me. Amen.