This is Brian Odom's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Brian Odom's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Brian Odom
Recent Activity
Another comment in response to Bill...Should non-liturgical churches, which do have a strong experience of God, dive more seriously into the liturgical sacraments? My first thought is, "If it's not broken, don't fix it." God's presence and activity is the thing of primary importance. However, there is real value added with centuries of tradition at your back. Contemporary churches know this--in that they often incorporate some hymns into their services. There are other options too, like building the liturgical year (advent, lent, and other seasons) into the life-cycle of the church, repeatedly using traditional prayers, and highlighting of teachings of historical church leaders. Tanya's point touched on this earlier. People might be experiencing plenty of God but still hungry for a deeper connection to tradition. For me, personally, presence trumps, but tradition is of great value too.
1 reply
Hi Bill, First a comment on baptism as a sacrament. I don't know enough about the Anglican tradition to speak broadly, but like baptism in my current church. Whenever there is a baptism, it takes a big part of the service and is concluded by the clergy (with big smiles) walking down the aisles splashing everybody with a generous quantity of water. We get to participate in baptism again. As far as how God is present in communion--it sounds like you've thought more about this than I have. However, following what Caleb says earlier, I think God's presence in communion is similar to God's presence in sung worship. God's presence can be real in both activities--I think in the same way. So, to the real presence question, I say "Yes...and in other places besides communion as well." That's my somewhat unstudied opinion. Thanks, also, by the way for all the other great comments people have shared!
1 reply
Like others, in recent months I've found it difficult to make time to comment. I benefit much from lurking, though. On the LGBT issues, to state what I think is obvious, for every few people who get offended, I'd wager there are a few more who are helped by the discussion here. If that's really the case, that people are genuinely helped by a conversation they can't find elsewhere, what's the downside of bad press? (Easy for me to ask, I know.) Given the Blue Ocean goals re: bounded vs. centered set etc, it seems to me that bad press is, by definition, unavoidably linked with increased influence.
Toggle Commented Aug 30, 2011 on Any Feedback? at Not The Religious Type
1 reply
I just got to listen. I don't have anything to say, except that I really enjoyed it! More, please :)
1 reply
"... to what extent did the needs of the Axial Age drive Christianity during that period? And as the age shifts, how can we recover what Jesus is trying to bring to us despite all our limitations ..." I think these are great questions. One topic that came to mind was how Hell has been conceived through the ages. Scripture uses diverse imagery, including "the outer darkness", so why is it that most of Christendom has been convinced that Hell is a place of active eternal torment? Maybe part of the answer relates to the needs of the Axial age--make the stakes, both carrot and stick, as high as you can to get people to behave. Another topic would be reading of scripture. I was struck by Geller's quote in the previous post, saying that most Jews read scripture through a lens that "acknowledge(s) the evolution of human understanding of God". I wonder if we'll get more of that as we move into a new era.
1 reply
"Of all the religions that arose out of Axial Age, only Christianity has the potential to break free of ‘code’ as the source of authority. We follow the risen Christ as the perfect revelation of God on earth. But for example, Islam considers a book, Koran, as the perfect revelation of God on earth. This is why the West must re-discover the stage 4 faith taught by Jesus." OK, so this statement sounds too easy. I don't think people devoted to other Axial Age religions would buy the argument. But, why not? Because they don't agree that the 'Age of the Spirit' is the right ultimate goal, or because they think their faith does in fact offer a way to get there?
1 reply
I have some Pentecostal friends in Peru, which I'll actually be visiting again in a few months. I'd classify them as Fundamentalists--Truth has no shades of gray worth considering and much of their leaders' efforts involve getting people to stop drinking (period, not just in excess) and to stop sleeping around. (Is that an OK anecdotal definition for Fundamentalist?) That focus on Truth and rules seems appropriate for their part of Peru--lots of people there break the rules and wreak havoc on their families, etc. I'm quite a ways from Fundamentalist, but I still get lots of benefit from our friendship and my visits. Anyway, Charles' characterization of Pentecostals tending to be Fundamentalist in the developing world matches my experience in Peru. I did, however, a few years back also visit Iris Ministries in Mozambique. The few church services I attended there didn't strike me as being Fundamentalist. The focus seemed to be more on where the community was going and how they could keep in line with God's plans in the process--not really material for Stage 2 sermons. Anyway, maybe Iris is the exception that proves the rule...I don't know.
1 reply
I've been attending an Anglican church for the last few months, and benefiting very much from it. (I decided to give it a try after I met a priest who described the Anglican church as "the thinking man's church, also open to the Spirit.") In the Anglican high church service, they keep you busy the whole 1.5 hours with standing, kneeling, crossing yourself, reciting creeds, etc. At an earlier point in my life, I would have dismissed most of this activity as religious (read empty) ritual. At the moment, however, I interact with these activities as spiritual disciplines--activities which change you and/or build connection with God. Many other attenders are clearly having a meaningful spiritual experience during the service as well. Anyway, I see some similarities with my novice read of the Episcopal service and Amy's description of mitzvah. There's another category of activity that comes to mind, sacrament. So, (1) mitzvah, (2) spiritual disciplines, and (3) sacrament. All the same, somewhat overlapping, or different?
1 reply
I agree, at least in my experience, that the question of Hell is a big one. That, and the related question of suffering. I don't get the impression that many people here would argue, though. I disagree with the use of the term "political correctness" in the current discussion. But it's a common mistake. Stage 2 thinkers often misappropriate the term, because they don't understand how otherwise reasonable people can fail to answer a complex question on the demanded terms of said conversation. And if you don't understand, you feel a need to assign some motive that you can understand, and perhaps do a little name-calling.
1 reply
On the direction of the blog, I'd echo Ryan's thoughts. On Good Without God, I noticed that the anonymous donor and Epstein might be after different goals. I haven't read the book, but from the video clip, it seems like Epstein is trying to do more than help good nonbelievers feel safe outside the closet. It sounds to me like he's trying to rally people towards an active goodness, with a strong communal aspect. No comments as of yet from me, other than to note that Epstein's goals lead to a very different discussion than if the question were "Can people be not-bad without God?"
1 reply
I think this is a good question. I'd say that just because someone draws a contrast or even criticizes someone else, certainly doesn't mean they're necessarily Stage 2 or 3. (That question came up a little in Vince's post on the Daily Show). I think it's more a question of where is the central point of identity. Are you best defined by being correct about God (Stage 2), reacting against people with an inflated confidence (Stage 3), or experiencing God with a world of possibilities (Stage 4)? So, I'd say that just because a church acknowledges that bad things have happened, doesn't mean it's acting out of a Stage 3 energy. I think there are Stage 4 ways to run with that up-front acknowledgment.
1 reply
That's a nice 2-liner at the end of your post, Doug! I really like the request for partnership as part of the identity statement. Those definitions of "religious", mainly reference "religion"--which I think needs a definition. The version of religion which I find unhelpful is a culturally enforced system of correct beliefs and behaviors. What I do find helpful is a community of people doing their best to interact with God, with a good mix of confidence of what they've already found and humility regarding what they don't yet know.
1 reply
Since I can't even tell you exactly what systematic theology is, I'm definitely not the best person to give a full answer to your question, PB. However, I do notice that the second sentence of your representative postmodern quote--"So in the end, my perspective is all that counts."--seems more like something a modernist would expect a postmodern to say, rather than something that would actually be said. (You did say you were in a rush, though, so I don't want to push you up against the wall on that point!) Postmodernism is just another system of thought, which surely has its own limitations, so I wouldn't step forward as it's defender. Except to say that I generally find it to be a more helpful system of thought, to me personally, than is modernism. Back to your question--I'm usually attracted to people who can tell me things they've found to be true about God, but I don't find much common ground with people who assert truth about God based on some authority. There are orthodox people who put either of those two feet forward first, it's just that one is speaking my language better than the other.
1 reply
I just want to confirm that the huge carrots from the Transformations video really do exist :) This photo was taken while hitchhiking outside of Almolonga, Guatemala. Fair disclosure, Guatemalans in other nearby towns also sold huge carrots. Almolongans did strike me as a happier-than-average bunch, though, even if their monster vegetables weren't completely unique.
1 reply
(Am I, by chance, talking to the Troy I know from high school?) A grand-unified (hehe) answer would take more thought, but here's a piece I've been playing with lately. I got this idea from an on-line Scmelzer sermon from a few weeks ago. Dave's idea went something along the lines of: God's power is released to us through his delight in us. God's power is released through us as we, in turn, delight in our endeavors and in the people in our lives. Working with that idea has been good for me over the last few weeks. Intentionally delighting in my work has, at the very least, made it more fun. Delighting in the people I work with seems to be at least a great motivational tool, and at best an important piece of that bigger picture.
1 reply
Great comment, Fiona. Thanks for the candid discussion on a very personal journey. One question for you, because it's a question I ask about my own job too. I noticed that, while you feel your job is important and satisfying, you identify the primary challenges as interpersonal. Is that because you feel more "calling" toward your co-workers than you do to your disease-curing goals, or is that really only a statement of what you currently find most challenging? I ask, because I'm trying to find a balance between the job goals and the interpersonal goals in my own work. Right now, I find it easiest to see the relational goals as more important in God's economy, but on the other hand, I feel more pressured by the job goals. I suspect that God probably has a more holistic perspective for me, where both the job outcomes and people are valued as part of the same big picture, but I'm not often in that space...
1 reply
I'll cast a vote that the gig fits best with Stage 4. Like Vince pointed out, the enemies they're singling out are attitudes toward disagreement, rather than particular people or parties. It looks to me like Stewart wants both moderate Republicans and Democrats, and maybe potheads too, at his rally. True, it's a response to loud-volume extremism, but it's much more than reaction only, in that there's a pretty clear call towards something. Cooperation even without perfect agreement--sounds Stage 4.
1 reply
I've been chewing on this for a few hours, wondering whether catastrophic flameout seems to happen more often in churches than other places, e.g. politics or business. I still don't have a conclusion, but Doug brought up some helpful parallels with the business world. Maybe another parallel is that the flameouts never seem to happen in low-pressure situations--it's usually congressmen, CEOs, pastors, or the like. Maybe it's almost by definition, that it's only the people at the top which are capable of mass destruction when they go down. But, I still wonder whether pressure is perhaps the key ingredient. Does the perceived high stakes situation, of being a focal point of God's work on Earth, create more pressure than most people can handle?
1 reply
To add another answer to the question...There were several years during which I was trying to figure out what do in the post-schooling stage of life, with the leading options being ministy or academics. Because of the great things that God had done with me along the way, along the lines of moving me away from idolizing career success, I probably would have defaulted to ministry, barring a clear encouragement from God to do one or the other. In the end (or at least for the time being), I felt like God was suggesting I go secular rather than ministry, so here I am.
1 reply
I think I often have a more clearly defined sense that actually following Jesus means being counter-cultural, i.e. against something, than I have a sense for what following Jesus means being *for*. Sure, when the question is articulated that way, I can fill in the blank. But, I find it interesting to notice that, for some reason (too many YWAM & IV books read? personality?) it's easier to think counter- than pro-. Maybe this relates to something Prashant said: "Really the best choice vis-a-vis culture, is to make as much of it as one can."
1 reply
Thanks for the feedback, nukuler(/Sisu1955?). Since this feels like the perfect opportunity to put words in Dave's mouth, I won't resist the temptation. In answer to your question, Dave would say that he is quite confident your fresh encounter with God has everything to do with Jesus and nothing do do with his theories... :)
1 reply
Hi nukuler, I'll respond, since I had some overlap at the conference with your question--although it's possible I was pushing from the opposite perspective from yours. I was the first to grab the mike after the LGBT session, asking "Since this issue affects REAL PEOPLE'S LIVES, don't you need to land at a position eventually?" (For the record, I was rather unhappy with the way the question came across...although interestingly not unrelated to the point we're discussing here about culture war topics...I meant to ask a polite question and found myself sounding like I was on the attack.) Most certainly, leaders will be wrong from time to time (or even often)! But, I thought Dave's answer was a reasonable one--just because a position is eventually necessary doesn't mean that now is the right time to take it. For example, if you want to move culture past the war, another voice on one side or the other might not really help much. Sure, Dave could be wrong in this case, but his approach sounds like a reasonable one for some leaders in some circumstances to take.
1 reply
Commenting more on the preamble and only indirectly on the main subject of this post...I share Dave's experience of having had a great time at the summit. For one thing, it was just fun to meet in the flesh several you who comment here. (Some of you look nothing like your pictures, much less like those blue-hued floral patterns, by the way.) For another, the summit did work for me as a sort of reunion/community meeting. Meeting once a year is of course not a substitute for local community, but for those of us not finding a local venue for the understanding we are developing on this blog, having a 1/year summit is worth a fair amount.
1 reply
Like Brent, Rice has my full sympathy. I'm not sure I would agree, though, that her move is obviously indicative of Stage 3 faith. Rice's quotes definitely feel reactive, which is usually associated with Stage 3. However, she does "remain committed to Christ", as contrasted with at least one version of Stage 3, a unilateral rejection of all things smacking of the rejected religion. The stage theory is not more than a helpful model, so I guess these labels are only useful insofar as they help us understand larger issues. Is this decision a move forward for Rice? Whichever Stage might be at play here, probably "yes". Is it a move indicative of ultimately unsustainable/unhealthy rebellion? Well, wouldn't that depend on where she's going? If she were, for instance, going to gather a band of ex-Catholics/ex-Christians similarly committed to Christ, couldn't that be a reasonable way toward experiencing more of God? I guess part of the question is whether moving forward with God necessarily entails a commitment to 'right the ship' of religion you've outgrown.
1 reply
Following up on Holly's post, I think the SBNR label means different things to different people. Perhaps it's time to spin off a few different SBNR denominations? I've found that for both Catholics and mainline Protestants, "religion" is usually seen as a good thing. I think that at least two things are going on there: 1. It's partly a question of definition. These "religion" proponents usually are objecting to isolated and consumer-style spirituality, where there is no (a) community or (b) single tradition followed--resulting in individuals alone on a beach praying to Mother Earth while doing the rosary. I think this incarnation of SBNR is a modern form of syncretism, and I agree with the Catholics and mainliners that it's harmful when taken too far. A value on both community and tradition helps prevent excesses along these lines. 2. The Catholics quoted in the article are wary of rejecting community and tradition, and I feel the same way. However, I think there is also a hint of something else going on in those quotes, and it matches my experience talking with "religion" fans. Greely seems to endorse "truth" and reject "post-modernism". I think that is a false dichotomy, and it is indicative of the type of "religion" which is harmful, leaving out of the equation any interaction with God. If we instead accept the post-modern claim that, in the end, it's a losing proposition to try arguing for one truth over another, then it's only a genuine interaction with God which puts truth back on the table. So, here's where I disagree with many people who think religion is good--they are often in favor of a truth or tradition in a way that makes it beside the point whether or not God is present.
1 reply