Robot’s Best Friend

This is strangely mesmerizing, disturbing and cute all at the same time.

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Shane Hipps @ Mars Hill G.R.

My friend and pastor Shane Hipps will be teaching this weekend at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids. If you are unfamiliar with Shane, he’s basically a totally awesome dude. If you haven’t read his book then you should. If you want to check out his weekly sermons, you can check them out here. Check here during the next week to hear Shane’s Mars Hill teaching.

(Update: Shane hit it out of the park! I heard reports of standing ovations…..something we don’t experience at our Mennonite Church! Big ups, Shane. Click here to listen.)

Making Sense of Wilber (4 Quadrants)

I’ve written quite a bit on this blog about my fascination with Ken Wilber. Over the past few years I’ve been doing my best to slowly digest several of his books and in doing so I found out that not only is he an amazing thinker, he’s got great taste in music and podcast guests. I really believe that what Wilber has to offer can be massively helpful to moving forward into the future of spirituality, psychology, politics, business and beyond. The hardest part of trying to digest his writings is when I have to somehow describe what he’s on to. I’m gonna try to put together some posts that will hopefully shed some light on why I, and many others, think he’s incredibly helpful. This will probably be a miserable failure, but I’m incredibly interested in this stuff and I want to take a stab at it.

The first thing I feel might be helpful to highlight is Wilber “four quadrant” approach to mapping the universe. Here is a simplified version of the graph Wilber uses frequently to map the four different perspectives or ways of interpreting the world around us.

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I think this graph is fairly self explanatory but I’ll try to reinforce it with an example from a Christian perspective. When I was in high school I read Lee Strobel’s “A Case for Christ”. It was a book that, at that point in my life, really had a big impact on me. When I read it, I was looking for something to sure up my doubts about Christianity. It provided me with a fair amount of purely empirical analysis of the central claims of the Gospel and, for a time, I was satisfied that it all wasn’t just B.S.. As I got a bit older and as life became more complex or less black and white, the empirical evidence that had been presented to me began to not be as convincing as it once was. I was no longer satisfied with only the exterior or “right side” of the Christian perspective. This isn’t to say that what Lee Strobel has to offer is of no use. His approach is incredibly helpful and it’s needed, but by itself, it is incomplete. I needed more. I began to wonder…..”So what if it’s factual, what does it mean here and now for me, for us?”. I needed to find a way to expose myself to the interior (or left side) perspective. I realize this is a simplified example that only contrasts the exterior and interior perspectives, but I think it gives us a jumping off point to understanding the graph more fully.

The beauty of the four quadrant approach is that it can be helpful in virtually every problem that we face. Do we stress sex education and the availability of condoms when countering teen pregnancy or do we only teach abstinence? Maybe it’s a balance of both. Do we stress personal responsibility (conservative) or more opportunity (liberal) when fighting the poverty rate in this country? Again, maybe it’s a balance of both. The four quadrant approach to interpreting the world around us and the many problems we face seems to be a very convincing approach.

This kind of approach is difficult in a world of the gross polarizations of right or left, conservative or liberal, good vs. evil. But when we open ourselves up to the nuances and complexities of the universe, it can lead to a more unified, integral understanding of each other and the world we live in.

This probably seems incredibly geeky, but it was fun to write.

The New Christians

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I’ve been meaning to pick up a copy of my friend Tony’s new book, The New Christians. I think Tony is a very smart, sincere, and brave leader. I’m always interested and excited by those who want to reimagine what means to live life in the Christian story and I applaud Tony and the other voices in and around the Emergent Village community. I went to my local B and N to pick up the book and I found an entire table of books dedicated to progressive Christian writers. It made me smile and I have to say that I’m happy these voices are finding themselves to be a bit more visible and at the same time, a bit more threatening to the status quo. I’ve been blessed to be able to not only read most of these books but to have been able to have relationships or brief personal connections to some of the brave souls who put themselves out there in a very scary way.

Anne Rice on Easter

…On the afternoon in 1998 when faith returned, I experienced a sense of the limitless power and majesty of God that left me convinced that He knew all the answers to the theological and sociological questions that had tormented me for years. I saw, in one enduring moment, that the God who could make the Double Helix and the snow flake, the God who could make the Black holes in space, and the lilies of the field, could do absolutely anything and must know everything — even why good people suffer, why genocide and war plague our planet, and why Christians have lost, in America and in other lands, so much credibility as people who know how to love. I felt a trust in this all-knowing God; I felt a sudden release of all my doubts. Indeed, my questions became petty in the face of the greatness I beheld. I felt a deep and irreversible assurance that God knew and understood every single moment of every life that had ever been lived, or would be lived on Earth. I saw the universe as an immense and intricate tapestry, and I perceived that the Maker of the tapestry saw interwoven in that tapestry all our experiences in a way that we could not hope, on this Earth, to understand….

…As we experience Easter week, we celebrate the crucifixion that changed the world. We celebrate the Resurrection that sent Christ’s apostles throughout the Roman Empire to declare the Good News. We celebrate one of the greatest love stories the world has ever known: that of a God who would come down here to live and breathe with us in a human body, who would experience human death for us, and then rise to remind us that He was, and is, both Human and Divine. We celebrate the greatest inversion the world has ever recorded: that of the Maker dying on a Roman cross.

Let us celebrate as well that throughout this troubled world in which we live, billions believe in this 2,000-year-old love story and in this great inversion — and billions seek to trust the Maker to bring us to one another in love as He brings us to Himself.

(HT: David Kuo)

Offa

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Today our family lost our beloved Offa. I’ll always remember him as a man who took tremendous pride in his family. I received a massive amount of acceptance and encouragement from him throughout my childhood and into adulthood…..even though I’m his only grandchild who never graduated from college. He was a survivor who braved a rough childhood in Chicago and worked tremendously hard at giving a better life to his family. I’ll always remember him complaining about the modern day NBA and all that double dribbling going on and how the hoop should be raised two feet. I’ll always remember his excruciating experience as a lifetime Cub fan……the lamenting was unforgettable.

With the humor aside, how blessed we all are in my family to have followed the lead of Fred Wunderle. He will always be remembered as the strong foundation on which we’ve built a family full of love and togetherness.

This will be the first year I haver ever rooted for the Cubs, in honor of Offa.

4,000

As of Sunday, March 23, 2008, at least 4,000 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes eight military civilians. At least 3,253 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military’s numbers.

The AP count is nine more than the Defense Department’s tally, last updated Friday at 10 a.m. EDT.

The British military has reported 175 deaths; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 21; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; Denmark, seven; El Salvador, five; Slovakia, four; Latvia, three; Estonia, Netherlands, Thailand, Romania, two each; and Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, South Korea, one death each.

-associated press