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Walking in the Sacred Way: Ojibway Prayer

In a prayer offered by an Ojibway elder, themes of brokenness, restoration, and balance with all of creation are present. From a North American First-Nations/Native American perspective, we can begin to see these themes in a new light within our own communities.

Look at our brokenness.
We Know that in all creation
Only the human family
Has strayed from the Sacred Way.


My Problem with The Lord’s Prayer

We recently began attending a church that recites The Lord’s Prayer each Sunday as a part of their liturgy. We have never been a part of church that practiced this weekly–participating more in communities that place spontaneity over ceremony. While I do appreciate the intentionality of a liturgical church, there is something specific that bothers me every time we pray these words together.praying

The English translation which we use is based on the text of Matthew 6:9-13 that depends on an outdated form of language, namely the “King James” English. See the chart below for words and phrases no longer in common usage:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Not a single sentence can be understood with contemporary usage!

Why do I have a problem with the Lord’s Prayer? Two reasons… (Click to Tweet) (more…)

Finding Asian American Preaching Online

preaching_webDJ Chuang was asked recently about how best to access Asian American influenced preaching available in podcasts. His page links to a “list of Asian American pastors that regularly preach and teach at their churches and particularly contextualize the Gospel for all peoples, those who are bicultural, interracial, and multiethnic (in contrast to some who may speak from a generic Gospel perspective, not that there’s anything wrong with that… //…to be listed, there needs to be podcast feeds that can be subscribed in iTunes and Android, as well as contextualizing Gospel to cultures.”

LINK: Leading voices among Asian American preachers

I have followed DJ Chuang online and admired his gift for networking, especially among multicultural strands of the North American church. I encourage you to click through and listen to some of those podcasts (I only know one of of the pastors personally, but I am acquainted with several and have grown personally through my interaction with their writing and speaking.)

For more from DJ Chuang about the North American church and Asian American influences, find his website here.

Postmodern Theology: Immanence and Forgiveness

I have always liked this song for its simplicity. The band (mewithoutYou) is one whose use of imagery and lyricism  is pregnant with meaning and the connection toward the spiritual.

There is much hand wringing in the western church over the growing margins of people who consider themselves “spiritual” but not “religious” or specifically “Christian”. This song speaks to this strata of people looking for spiritual significance in a world that is increasingly distant.

The song makes no explicit mention of Christ or salvation, yet a cursory glance at the lyrics makes several theological declarations. (more…)

African-American Voices

Dr. Ralph Watkins, Associate Professor at Columbia Theological Seminary discussing the current voices of theology and social consciousness within the African-American community.

Video credits to the Ogilvie Institute of Preaching

Art and Evangelism

Marilynne Robinson is an American author whose writing has carried subtle Christian messages and found resonance among wider circles, most recently a review in the New Yorker magazine. Allison Backhous has a recent piece in ThinkChristian.net considering her approach to creativity and the impact it can have on society.

This leads her to a question, can art be both true and evangelistic? (more…)

Self-Sabotage: The Lord’s Prayer

A series of short films, titled Self-Sabotage,  by Scott Brignac to accompany Derek Webb’s Feedback album convey graphically the significance of the Lord’s Prayer as experienced by several people.

Self-Sabotage: the deliberate subversion of oneself. Destructive or obstructive action that hinders the person who acts. See also: the Lord’s Prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer is inherently violent towards the one who prays it.

Self-Sabotage is an exploration of the Lord’s Prayer based on and inspired by Derek Webb’s electronic all instrumental album ‘Feedback’. It follows six characters in a narrative with no words – only the music to parallel the stories.

This film has come to pick a fight, and any viewing that fails to recognize that may put the viewer at risk in one way or another.  Self-Sabotage rests firmly amidst the tension between the prayed and the praying; the single-minded character and vision of the Lord’s prayer serves as the sub-text through which we enter into the lives of its characters. Their lives, like moving icons, open windows into the great mystery of communion through self-dethroning sabotage.

The film is embedded below (27 minutes) and available for download in HD here. We welcome response to the film in the comment section or as a separate post.


We need artists in our community. Those who are willing to take risks and be vulnerable in order to convey the truth in their vision. Those who are willing to be misunderstood, yet willing to wait in the process until their vision can be seen by others.

As members in the audience, we watch the artist with intrigue. We do not see the clarity of vision and we are distracted by the flair of the brush strokes or the splatter of the paint. As the piece progresses, we are trying to fit the piece into our preconceptions. It is not until the artist completely turns our perspective upside down that we are able to see what they have been able to see all along– an image that becomes immediately recognizable to us. (more…)

Movement of Crooked Branches

I had some extra time today before class started and I was able to take some time to pray. I walked toward the center of  campus and found a bench to sit down on. Directly in front of me was a tree and I decided as my prayer to meditate on the livelihood of the tree and let it speak to me concerning something of God’s work.


The Hubris of “Normative” Theology

I came across this cartoon today that sums up pretty well how I have been feeling about church and theology lately.

This is a cartoon is from a man named Saji at St. Thomas the Doubter Church in Dallas, TX.

When I look at the board in the picture, it makes sense to me, despite its multiplicity. From the initial inception of the church, there have been factions and divisions along ethnic, cultural, and leadership fault-lines. This is perpetuated in every generation as the church grows and expands. As a Euro-american in Church History classes, the basic projection that I learned was the split of the Roman Catholic Church from the Eastern Orthodox Church, then the Reformation, then the further splintering into Protestant Denominations, until the advent of our particular religious movement which desired to re-introduce a church structure based on Acts 2 (we called ourselves The Restoration Movement, which has since devolved back into a de facto denomination).

The anthropological term to describe the attitude of the student in the cartoon is ethnocentrism, or to believe that one’s own particular group is superior and their ways are normative. This has obvious dangers in hardening prejudices or mistreating others. What is more subtle, however, is the influence that this assumption of normative understanding is applied to theology and Biblical interpretation. (more…)


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