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As I think about the weekend with Brian McLaren, I am struck by a problem common to many presentations given by visiting experts who fly in from another context and present their insights relating to church or almost any area of human endeavour – it is easier to deconstruct than to construct, to criticize than to create.
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Session IV – “Our Potential Role in Peoples’ Lives” 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Q. – Language – what about Father and Son jargon that reinforces a patriarchal vision of God?
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Saturday May 29, 2010 Brian McLaren “Evangelism and Transformation in a Secular Society”

Session III – “Focus on our Personal World” 10:50 a.m. – 12:00

In many cases the entire world is viewed as existing as a mine from which to get people into the church to help us on our journey out of the world.
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Saturday May 29, 2010 Brian McLaren “Evangelism and Transformation in a Secular Society”

Session II – “Focus on the Church” 9:20 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

What do spiritual seekers need from us?

Often evangelism is often seen as merely a tool for church growth, to get butts in seats and that is disgusting to most people. We don’t need any more of the practice of consuming people for the religious machinery.
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Friday May 28, 2010 Brian McLaren “Evangelism and Transformation in a Secular Society”

Introduction

Brian McLaren is in Victoria speaking at Christ Church Cathedral. The first session was last night and he is speaking for the whole day today. Brian is an extremely personable speaker; he is an entertaining storyteller. He presents with a lovely gentle, open spirit. He feels like a person you can trust.

Below are my notes from last night’s session. I will try to put up notes from today’s session tonight or tomorrow morning. Of course, I cannot reproduce the stories, but my notes should reflect accurately the content he presents.
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And the Lord said, “Go.” (Genesis 12:1)

The pilgrim said, “Go where?”

Lord: “Go.”

Pilgrim: “How will I know the way?”

Lord: “Go.”

Pilgrim: “How will I know when I get there?”

Lord: “Go.”

Mostly life does not come with a clearly defined road map. We take one step after another; we move forward without any clear picture of what lies ahead. Plans change; things seldom turn out as we anticipate.
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Until recently I had never heard the expression; but I have certainly seen the syndrome it describes. Dr. Ann McGee-Cooper lists the symptoms to watch for that indicate you may be suffering from “hurry sickness”:
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I was in a meeting with clergy yesterday. The topic of busyness came up – not an entirely unusual occurrence in such a setting. One of my colleagues suggested that in response to the stress of having too much to do, “We’re not sure what to do; so we just do more of everything.”

It is a tempting illusion – if only I run a little faster, eventually I will get to the end of my to-do list and be able to rest. Of course by the time my list runs out, another is already waiting to take its place. The work is never done. There are always more demands, needs, and expectations than I can ever satisfy.

I try elaborate time management schemes that promptly fall apart under the pressure of the real world. I recruit more volunteers, or even hire more staff. But volunteers and staff bring to-do lists of their own. There does not seem to be any way to tinker with the reality that there is always too much to do, never enough time in which to do it, and too few resources to fulfill all the legitimate demands made upon our energies.

If we are going to survive the pressures of work, we must take an entirely different approach.
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On Tuesday May 18, 2010 Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were sentenced to fourteen years in prison with hard labour. Their crime? Steven and Tiwonge held a party to announce their engagement. Steven and Tiwonge live in Malawi where Section 153 of the penal code prohibits as “unnatural offences” any homosexual acts.

Canada’s Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon stated “Cases like this are cases we condemn.” The British government, Malawi’s largest aid donor, expressed its “dismay” at the sentences. The US State Department said the case was “a step backwards in the protection of human rights in Malawi.”

Mr. Monjeza and Mr. Chimbalanga may feel heartened by such words from foreign governments. Sadly, it appears they should not anticipate equally supportive statements from most of the Christian Church and should certainly expect little support from the Christian community in Africa.
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I have been told it is not good form to reply to a blog comment with a post of its own. I have also been told that blog posts over a thousand words are ill-advised. But, there are times when it seems necessary to abandon all blog etiquette. What follows is a vastly over-long response to a comment on yesterday’s “The Problem With Religion.”

Chris,

I understand that your comment on “The Problem With Religion” is not a purely dispassionate, intellectual argument. The issues you raise are deeply important and I know your struggle is heartfelt. This struggle has profound implications for how we live out our faith and should not be taken lightly. But I want to try to respond simply to the idea you put forth, leaving aside for another forum the important and legitimate feelings behind your thoughts.

It seems to me that, if we are to survive in any institution, we are always going to be caught performing a delicate balancing act. We will always face a fundamental question – do the benefits I receive from participating in this institution, and the contribution I can make by my participation in this institution, outweigh the failures I perceive in this institution’s processes?
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