PRIVATE VS. PUBLIC FAITH

Here at Conversant, we explore how faith connects to everyday life.  But what happens when our personal beliefs crossover to the public square? Jesus warned us not to display our faith for others’ affirmation or praise. So should faith remain a private matter? Jesus also took his teachings into the public arena, from the Sermon on the Mount to the marketplaces of his ancient Judea.  We must examine our motives, examining why we air our faith.

Perhaps the question should be, “Can we discuss our values with those we disagree with in a civil way?”  At Conversant, we hold a public conversation about our personal beliefs.  We must be free to our convictions without fear. Yet, we must do so in a humble and respectful manner—as active listeners.

On a recent tour of Australia, my friend, Geoff Broughton, introduced me to the Center for Public Christianity. We crossed over the dramatic bridge to north Sydney for an afternoon of conversation at the nexus of faith and culture. I was pleased to meet like-minded colleagues Greg Clarke, Simon Smart, and Hugh Clark. They interviewed me during a memorable afternoon. They’ve produced a podcast and a videoblog from our conversations that you can find on Vimeo here.

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Are You a Wedding Cynic?

Don’t attend a wedding with a cynic. It’ll be no fun at all.

Weddings, like rock salt on a slug, leave some people dried out on the sidewalk. For every attendee weepy and sentimental at the sight of a sacred covenant, another guest is raging against the machine—that botched up, burnt out, old school institution known as the American marriage.

Someone doesn’t become a cynic overnight. It happens in layers, year after year, as one’s life experiences begin to outnumber the perceived myths. Domestic violence, a set of affectionless parents, a personal betrayal, or one’s own moral failures can add a layer. If you combine lots of these over time—or if your own love story recently tanked—then sitting through a wedding ceremony for some people can have all the emotional poignancy of C-SPAN.

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Why Talking About Feminine Images of God Makes Me Mad

At the end of this month I have to DHL a manuscript to a publisher in the UK.  The book is a small collection of essays I've written on ways we connect with God and how those connections impact our relationship with him.  I'm not gonna lie, I'm excited and nervous about this endeavor.  I don't really know how to feel about publishing my first book.  Good, I think...

The essays hit on fairly standard images of God.  All except one, that is.  Essay #2, right after the essay on "God as Father," takes a look at the idea of "God as Mother."  And here's the thing: I really struggled with some anger as I wrote this essay.  What is it about considering feminine images of God that got me to riled up?  Well, let me tell you.  It wasn't the beautiful feminine images of God in the Bible that were ticking me off.  What was making me mad was the way I felt compelled to defend these images as being female, biblical, valid and useful.

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An Experience at the Park

The other day, as my children and I walked up to our local park, I saw an unusual person at the park.  Well, unusual for what I am used to.  We now live in Idaho, and so things are different here.  The person I saw was dressed in hunting attire, and had in his hands a bow and was drawing it back attempting to hit a target he had set up in the park.

After the children and I quickly got a distance from him, I decided to watch him for a bit.  He was dressed as a professional, in his camo attire, and his bow looked very nice.  As he pulled out an arrow to take a shot, he stood there in amazing form, intently focused on the target.  Then he did it, he let the arrow go!  It flew through the air, missing the target by a longshot, and then proceeding to entrench itself deeply in the field behind the target.  I turned my attention back to my kids, but after a couple minutes looked back over to see him on all fours trying to dig his precious arrow out of the ground.
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Live with JP and Mike - Tuesday August 18th @ 10 AM PT

Miss the LIVESTREAM? Here's the full recorded discussion! Let's give it up for our host Jan Lynn too. She was awesome. Follow her BLOG and TWITTER.  

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The Problem With Kids Today

Roger Ebert has gotten mighty cantankerous of late, and I love it. He’s always been one of my favorite critical thinkers, and his latest blog rant endears me to him even more.

The piece, entitled “The Gathering Dark Age,” is mostly Ebert complaining about the fact that young filmgoers are increasingly apathetic about reading reviews, which is exacerbated by the ever more insipid mass media machine that refuses the sort of intelligence and critical thinking which characterized older eras of journalism. Instead, the marketing and advertising arms of media conglomerates are setting the agenda and setting it low. With few in the media asking challenging or provocative questions of films anymore, it’s no wonder that most people under 25 have learned to consume media without the filter of critical thinking.

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Baseball Fever—Cards, Josh Hamilton and a Strawberry

I just came back from a few days of vacationing in St. Louis, Missouri. Not only was it nice to visit my old stomping grounds with my two sons, but it ‘s always nice to wear my St. Louis Cardinals cap and not be the only one.

Here in New York City, I’ll frequently get a smirk from Mets fans, but in St. Louis, one acknowledging nod can lead to a 10-minute conversation about pitching assignments, Tony Larussa’s ability to manage a lineup and, of course, the amazing prowess of Albert Pujols

Baseball fever is at an all-time high in St. Louis. As of this posting, the Cardinals are sitting atop the number one spot in the National League Central Division and we have two premier pitchers (Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright) and arguably the best hitter in the last decade (the aforementioned Pujols).

The Real Christmas Story

The Christmas story we tell ourselves is usually nice and neat. But was it really that way?


Leadership is Character, Not Just Effectiveness

John Saddington is a social computing strategist, a technologist, a web junkie and the Creative Web Director @ Northpoint Ministries.  He thinks, "To reach people that no one is reaching we have to do things that no one is doing."

Follow John's Blog.  Follow John on Twitter.


Leadership is Character, Not Just Effectiveness


Something I've been recently chewing on is how leadership plays out in the online space. For a few, it's already been "earned" or developed as they've had exciting careers and have a proven track record of leadership.

Transitions in Life: A Shoutout from Idaho

My last blog alluded to change in our lives.  I thought I might give a brief bit of explanation to these changes now that we are fully in the midst of them. 

I used to be a pastor on staff at a church of 4000+ people in Southern California.  I am now unemployed and volunteering at a church plant in Boise, Idaho.  The church is small and meets in a theater.  

I was a PhD student studying at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena.  I am currently now taking a break from this in order to relocate and look for a job.  (I do plan on continuing at some point however).

Did I mention we now live in Meridian, Idaho?  Meridian is a town right outside of Boise.  Where we lived in Socal, we could drive an hour in any direction and still be in the city.  Now, I drive one minute in any direction and pass cow or corn farms.

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