Archive for the ‘Class > Reflection’ Category

Class at the NS today

April 18, 2007

Madonna and Child with Book

My theology and Art class took a break from the classroom and went to the Norton Simon museum today. Mmmm, I love it. Less than 2 miles away, amazing collection, beautiful gardens, and free student admission.

We spent time just looking at a few pieces in-depth, which let me sketch while listening to the dialogue, and occasionally joining in. Above is a sketch of the Madonna and Child with Book by Raphael (yes, the Raphel) in 1502-3.

It may sound heretical, but I’ve had little patience for religious painting after a trip in 2001 to Italy. I felt like if I saw one madonna and child, I’ve seen them all. Give me a Picasso, Matise, Cezanne, Degas, Van Gough, Monet anyday. Artists who are learning to see their world differently and challenging conventions. *sigh* Yet I’m slowly realizing there is immense value in studying this earlier period, and my reading for this class is shedding some light on these paintings for me.

Woman wih book

I was relieved though when we moved wings into the 19-20th century art, and spent the last hour talking about two Picasso pieces. The latter, Woman with a book, I sketched above. I love Picasso. I feel at home looking at his work. Perhaps because I lived for a year and took art classes in the Spanish town, Malaga, where he was born? Who knows, but the range of styles he went through is always an inspiration to me.


Reflection > Thurs Week 10

November 30, 2006

Today’s class was the last of the quarter, and week 10 is over.

Bolger talked more about the Global Information Economy I posted about yesterday. He brought in a missional approach to this new shift, and shared a few thoughts of his own in identifying “space” and “place”. For instance, if we happen to be sitting next to each other on a bus, we’d be sharing the physical location of the bus, or “place.” But if I was listening to my iPod, and not paying any attention to you, we wouldn’t be sharing the same mental engagement or “space”.

Right now, we are sharing the same “space” as you’re reading my blog and thoughts, but we are not in the same physical “place”. Kinda make sense?

I think this is so interesting, and I love that Bolger was addressing how to bring the church and gospel into these “space” areas – not deem them as apart from the church experience which can only be defined by “place”.

This immediately got me thinking, what would the gospel look like on Flickr? And this doesn’t mean starting a “Christian” photo group (that would get away from a missional approach more meant to transform this culture of photo sharing – although I have started one to connect Avant missionaries and their photos). Instead, this would be looking to join in what the holy spirit is already doing in the community there among the nonbelievers. I mentioned in class that it’s already changed the way I take photos (by creating photo sets and joining groups of people who take like images – anything from out of a plane window, orange flowers, local photos, to my favorite, “Looking at looking at art” etc.). Perhaps a photo group simple titled, “neighbor” and letting people share photos of the people close to where they live. Perhaps this would redeem the maliciously intended I Hate My Neighbor group.

Huh, interesting stuff. I feel like we were just got going, and now the class is over. I really want to continue dialoguing about Jesus in light of not just postmodern, but this global informational economy too. I’m really wondering how being so attached to computers, networks and wires will effect our spirituality. I’m planning on auditing Bolger’s Church in Mission next quarter, so we’ll see what that class covers…

Thanks for bearing with me as I brought school work directly my blog, and I hope there was something in some of these posts that spoke to you!

Reflection > Tues week 10

November 29, 2006

I get so fired up about the modern/postmodern shift, it was a bit overwhelming to hear were are already looking ahead of postmodern to the next shift, the ‘Information Economy’.

Bolger mentioned these three will probably coexist (Modern, Postmodern (or 2nd modernity), and Information Economy). But the later addresses interesting dilemma that I find personally in my own life that I didn’t realize was already categorized.


Seemingly mundane things such as the shift to digital cameras from film. We love the ability to take multiple photos with the capacity to store the information. Before this inovation, a roll of film and expense of processing were limiting factors. After touring major sites in Europe over the past two years, I’d almost hesitate to pull out my camera with the sheer number of people around me doing the same thing. I actually was moved to start capturing people photographing things. I can’t help but wonder, is this futile and ridiculous? What will we do with all of this information we’re creating? I had to go out and buy a 400MB GB external hard-drive.

Also, the need for computer know-how with almost every job today, and the dependancy on an IT staff to maintain this infrastructure hit home. I came to class frustrated from an unsuccessful attempt to connect to a server in Kansas City for my work with Avant Ministries. I spent a good amount of time on the phone with the IT guy to try and make it work, but we couldn’t resolve it. I’ll either need to find someone specialized to help me sort out the issue, or create a workaround to handle the original need to streamline the creative process of producing a magazine.

All this to say, I (and you too if you’re reading this) are already seeped in the information economy. I wonder what this will that hold for faith and the church? In the practice of being in relationship of God, it is so vital to shake busyness, unplug and step away to connect with God.

Reflection > Tues week 9

November 29, 2006

We talked about modernity, and the guiding principles found in something called the McDonaldization Thesis (Weber):
• Efficiency
• Calculability
• Predictability
• Control.

Hmm, sounds nice and comfortable, right?

Interesting that one sociologist, Rizter, added the dichotomy: irrationality of the rational. Meaning, the application of control can actually create more irrational results than there were to start, defeating the initial purpose.

This has so many applications in our world. It was a bit taken aback to hear that Rizter had not even thought how his dichotomy played out in the faith/religious sphere when approached by Christian scholars (I think John Draine). These two spoke on what sounded like a panel addressing this question, here at Fuller. It would have been really interesting to hear that conversation. Sound like Ritzer holds a pessimistic view with no answers, but this is at the heart of what the emerging church is addressing > can we control or quantify faith/church? Or is it more holistic?

Reflection > Tues week 8

November 29, 2006

[note: I some how left this reflection in my drafts folder instead of publishing it! It’s out of order, and not so much apicable inlight of the new material we’re looking at (and strangly foreshadows the time of prayer we spent during the next class period…hmm…) Anyway I’m posting it late since it is part of the my journey through the class…]

Honestly? The content in Transforming Contemporary Cultures isn’t so groundbreaking now that I’ve been hearing it for eight weeks. Or rather, let me rephrase… it’s still very groundbreaking, but I’m loosing my fresh ears to hear it for what it is. This makes me a bit sad. *Insert prayer for renewal*

One thing that did stand out was the emerging faith isn’t limited to Christianity. There are about 10 emerging Jewish communities around the country. Bolger was at a conference of Christian and Jew emerging folks, and it sounded fascinating. I guess it speaks to changes in society effecting the way we all approach religion and faith.

Reflection > Thurs Week 8

November 18, 2006

Some friends up in Chico have started a blog to discuss Politics, Economics, Society and the Environment. A tall order, but they’re going for it and it’s cool to follow the group as they pool their passions and collective knowledge, wit and experience. (The blog is literally called, “Not the Name”, which will change at some point, but I secretly wish it’ll stick! Reminds me of Klien’s ‘No Logo’ book title!)

Anyway, this is relevant to class, I promise. They posted on Buy Nothing day, and I left a comment that touched on a new perspective I’d gotten from Wess during the Culture Jam Book discussion. The Adbusters content and Culture Jamming objectives are about being against, boycotting and protesting. Now, that’s good and fine (minus destruction of property or violence), but it begs the question…what are we for?

So what if I don’t buy anything for a day? Will that have any impact when I head out to shop the 364 other days of the year? Wess mentioned he and his wife try to be intentional about how and where they shop, eat out, etc. Do they practice good business, treat their workers and producers fairly, serve organic and local foods, etc.?

The light bulb is starting to go on a bit. I’m realizing it’s ok and good to be against something, but it’s even more important to know what you’re for and live it.

Reflection > Tues week 7

November 9, 2006

Bolger told the story of the very innovative church service in England that was completely native to the club scene back in the early 1990’s (read his Emerging Churches book to get the full story). He also made a remark in class about a group of believers that shows up to Burning Man to be a presence there.

I’m starting to wonder about the value of getting out of the pews and into holistic worship – use the whole body. There is something so powerful about dancing in a club, or joining a community in the dessert away from cement jungles. Droves of people my age are responding, going, and experiencing a spiritual encounter at these events (I think they also might respond deeply to real fellowship, kindness and love, but that’s another story…)

So… turns out our culture is clamoring for spirituality right in-front of our eyes. Could be God stirring in their hearts? Ding ding ding. “But churches are empty,” we realize…”The world must be going to hell!”

What if we just need a new set of eyes? Will we step out of our own viewpoint to join God in what he’s already doing at this junction of spiritual hunger and culture? Where the people ARE, not where the AREN’T?

Hmm, now where is that Power Practice and Redemption Methodology worksheet? It’s time to get missional!

Reflection > Thurs Week 6

November 6, 2006

We talked about today, which made my heart happy. I think I’m one of the few in the class that knows what it is, and actually uses it already (nerd!), but it’s fun to see people in seminary embracing technology.

We also compared Claiborne and Klien’s books in a class discussion. It’s interesting to me either Wess or Ryan selected these two particular books to talk about, but they are a good pair to compare and contrast.

Book Review > Goodwin & Jasper, Social Movements Reader, 2006, Blackwell

November 6, 2006

The first sentence of introduction to the thick and intimidating 400 page The Social Movements Reader, edited by Jeff Goodwin and James M. Jasper caught me off guard:

“Throughout history, humans have complained about things they disliked. Sometimes they do more than complain; they ban together with others to change things.”

This straightforward introductory quote is especially potent before the editors, both authors and Goodwin, a Professor of Sociology, consider so many diverse facets of social movements. Whether in the form of a revolution (Iranian Revolution), an organization (NAACP to promote civil rights), informal networks (women’s movement), or specific actions and riots (vandalizing testing labs in animal activism), “Social movements are a conscious, concerted, and sustained effort by ordinary people to change some aspect of their society by using extra-institutional means (3).”

Goodwin and Jasper go much deeper and further into understanding specifics of movements as they begin, organize, maintain, engage, change, and end. This collection of articles is organized into nine sections with their introductions addressing the nine questions such as: When and why do social Movements Occur? Who remains in Movements? What do movement participants think and feel?

The seventh chapter covers the question, How do the state and mass media influence Movements? I was surprised how the State and media are wedded together. “Politicians affect social movements not only in their official structural roles, but also via their influence on the news media (258).”

The media it self has come to play an expected role within movements, and is seen as a necessary evil to amplify the movement’s message to a mass audience. Yet there are severe drawbacks to the mass platform including a finicky audience with a short attention span and needing to time the message with a crisis or accident (257). Also, carefully planning events to gain media attention poses the threat of loosing the core of the message in such extreme methods of attracting attention in the first place. For example, when a “…small groups of draft-card burners could leap to national prominence (302)…” during the Vietnam war. Movements actually have little control how they appear in the media (259).

I don’t feel like I’ve touched the depths that Goodwin and Jasper dive with this collection of articles. It’s an overwhelming read, which is why I appreciated Goodwin and Jasper giving reasons to study social movements in the first place. To have an interest in social change itself, and be able to interpret the moral basis and sensibilities of a society through its movements were a few (4).

I feel this is good content to examine as Christ followers coming into the social movement conversation. As we seek to find where God is already at work in these areas past and present, it will give helpful tools to engage our society and with the life-giving attitudes of the Kingdom. Perhaps there are methods to learn, or mistakes to avoid, etc.

Reflection > Tues week 6

November 1, 2006

Class deviated from lecture and my fingers and laptop got a break today. We broke up in groups to talk about different practices of Jesus, and my group focused on Jesus’ as a prophet (others were Jesus and family, peoplehood, time, etc.)

In joking around, John Stewart came up as being prophetic, followed by a round of laughter. A clip came to my mind of Jim Wallis on the Daily Show talking about his book, God’s Politics. I remembered that Wallis made the connection to Stewart’s humor as indicative in the tradition of Hebrew prophets, and he encouraged this in Stewart. I mentioned this thought in my group, and just found the segment on the Comedy Central site (only viewable with PC, Mac users can install flip4mac).

I also found an excerpt from Wallis’ blog about his interaction with Stewart, specifically the connection between prophet and humor.

Jon Stewart seemed actually touched by the inscription I wrote in his book, “The biblical prophets used humor and truth-telling to help make their point – often satirizing the political leaders of the day. You do both very well and may be in the tradition of those Hebrew prophets.” Sitting there after the segment, we talked more and again I felt his keen interest in this connection between spirituality and social change. While Stewart described himself as “secular,” I told him there was a moral edge to what he does and encouraged him to keep on. We both expressed a desire to stay in contact.

The full entry is the last one on this page, dated January 24th.