Saturday, December 22, 2007

Friday Photo Late

Some old photos that I was finally able to get around to processing. These are from Thanksgiving. My cousin and I were able to go around Newton and get some shots of the grain mill that's been there forever. The first is the grain mill inverted and the second is my shadow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dual Citizens, Pt. 7

Dual Citizens

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6


I have tried to show in this paper that we need not a new way to think about the Church’s interaction with society, but a different one. Niebuhr’s typology no longer serves us adequately, because it is based in Christendom. First Peter, however, shows us that we live with a dual citizenship. We are both elect and exiled. We have an eschatological hope that is effected now in the communities in which we live outside of church walls. Our hope has public ramifications. I want to end with a final picture.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns us to be salt. He says, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.”[1] This is the clearest picture to me. In my apartment, I have a ramekin filled with salt on my counter. It is always sitting there, ready so I can grab it when I need to season my food. I make sure it is always full. But with it sitting on the counter, it has no usefulness to me. It is only once I put it in what I am cooking when it becomes useful. As it dissolves in the boiling water or clings to the leaves of my salad, it becomes unperceivable to my eye, but it has a profound effect in the food that I eat. Since I began properly seasoning my food, I can immediately tell when something I eat is not properly seasoned. It lacks flavor and is not as dynamic as it could be.

It is the same for us as Christians. If we are not in and amongst society, we are not useful. We can no longer stay within our church walls, but we need to be in our communities living out our eschatological hope for the good of the city.


Achtemeier, Paul J. 1 Peter. Hermeneia. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.

De Neui, Paul. “Christian Communitas in the Missio Dei: Living Faithfully in the Tension Between Cultural Osmosis and Alienation.” Ex Auditu 23 (2007).

Legrand, Lucien. The Bible on Culture. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2004.

McKnight, Scott. 1 Peter. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

Metzger, Paul. “Christ, Culture and the Sermon on the Mount Community.” Ex Auditu 23 (2007).

Michaels, J. Ramsey. 1 Peter. Word Biblical Commentary. Waco: Word Books, 1988.

Niebuhr, H. Richard. Christ and Culture. New York: Harper & Row, 1956.

Volf, Miroslav. “Soft Difference: Theological Reflections on the Relation Between Church and Culture in 1 Peter,” Ex Auditu 10 (1994): 16-27.

Winter, Bruce W. Seek the Welfare of the City. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.

[1] Matthew 5:13.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dual Citizens, Pt. 6

Dual Citizens

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Part 6

What Peter does not call the believers to is separation. Throughout 1 Peter, he is calling them to a different style of living—one that does not move them out of society, but that changes the way in which they move through society. In 5:8, Peter explains that it is the devil who is our adversary and he is to be resisted, not society. Evil is not some impenetrable force outside the walls of the Church, but is personified in the devil as a lion that prowls around looking for someone to devour. Further, the believers are equally admonished to resist the desires of their own flesh. Ernst Troeltsch stated that, throughout history, believers typically operate in one of three ways: as a church, a sect, or a mystic.[1] He argues that the church operates out of grace, while a sect operates out of law. The church affirms the world, while a sect separates from it. He’s arguing that believing the Gospel has social implications.[2] On the basis of his thesis, not wanting to define the church as Troeltsch does, Miroslav Volf calls it a “soft difference.” Speaking of the Church, he writes:

It looked as if she did not forge her identity through rejection of her social environment, but through the acceptance of God's gift of salvation and its values. She refused to operate within the alternative “affirmation of the world” versus “denial of the world,” but surprised people with strange combinations of difference and acculturation. She was sure of her mission to proclaim the mighty deeds of God for the salvation of the world, but refused to use either pressure or manipulation. Rather, she lived fearlessly her soft difference. She was not surprised by the various reactions of individuals and communities among whom she lived because she was aware of the bewildering complexity of social worlds in which values are partly the same, partly different, sometimes complementary, and sometimes contradictory. And so it gradually became clear that the child who was born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead into a living hope was not a sect at all. The unusual child who looked like a sect, but did not act like a sect, was a Christian community….[3]

A soft difference does not fully reject the culture around them, nor does it fully embrace it. Rather it is a difference that is lived out without fear of others living out their lives and a trust in the God that has elected them to their eschatological hope. Volf continues, “For people who live the soft difference, mission fundamentally takes the form of witness and invitation. They seek to win others without pressure or manipulation, sometimes even ‘without a word’ (3:1).”[4]

Volf brings up another key observation about the Christians in 1 Peter—they are to be a community. This may not be as shocking to us as it should be. We all affirm that the Church is made up of many people from all social strata—whether locally or globally. Throughout 1 Peter, he addresses them with the second person plural u`mw/n. Peter never addresses them as individuals, but corporately. Their lives are bound to one another in their election. Their conduct is not an individual one, but one that is thoroughly communal.

So what does all this mean for us living at the end of Christendom? First Peter teaches us that we need to change our model of Church. Practically, though, what does this mean? It means we need to inform the people who they are in Christ, what that means and how that affects their life. Simply put: preach the Gospel. Too many churches are caught up in getting people in the door with snazzy sermon topics and programs that they neglect the message of redemption found in the person of Jesus Christ. Peter preached in such a way as to affect his readers’ identity. He called them elect and exiles not to entertain them, but to teach them who they have become in Christ. We must preach the new identity our congregations have in Christ. Further, we need to move away from programs that keep people inside the walls of the Church. The Church is not programmatic or structural, it is people. Grace Chicago, the church that I am apart of, purposely does not fill its members’ schedules with church-bound activities, so that they can live their hope out in their communities.

Living in the communities also means seeking the good of them. This is what Jeremiah 29:4-7 instructs. Peter uses another word: blessing.[5] Desire and work for community improvements. Desire that others have adequate housing, schools, social support. I hesitate to give specific examples, because of the variety of communities that abound. But let it suffice to say that whatever you desire for yourself and your family, should also be desired for others.

[1] The mystic category, not being a part of the discussion, will be left untouched.

[2] Volf, 15, 16.

[3] Volf, 27.

[4] Volf, 24.

[5] 1 Peter 3:9.

Nike and the New Self

If you've ever run, you've probably had the conversation with yourself. You know the one. It's when you think you can't go on any longer, but really you can. Nike has a new ad out that shows what that struggle can look like. It can also teach us about what it looks like between the old and new being in Christ.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dual Citizens, Pt. 5

Dual Citizens

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Part 5

So Peter defines the believers both by who they are eschatologically (elect) and by who they are geographically (exiles, Diaspora). They have a dual citizenship. The writer of the second century epistle to Diognetus writes, “They reside in their respective countries, but only as aliens they take part in everything as citizens and put up with everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their home and every home a foreign land. They find themselves in the flesh, but do not live according to the flesh.”[1] This dual citizenship enabled them to live out a social ethic, on account of their eschatological hope.[2] The “now/not yet” is bound up in having a foot firmly planted in both kingdoms. The question arises “how then are they supposed to live?”

Peter has an answer for this in 2:11-12. “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” Again, Peter gives a two-fold command: Be holy and live publicly.

The believer’s holiness is based on their Father’s holiness.[3] It is because of God calling them holy that they are to conduct themselves in such a manner. Their minds are to be ready, sober-minded, focused on their hope that they have in Christ, no longer living in the “former passions of their ignorance.”[4] Unlike Paul, who urges his readers to abstain from vast lists of conduct,[5] the closest Peter gets to explicitly stating what these passions are is in 4:3, “living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties and lawless idolatry.” These six prohibitions have public contexts. The Greek word avse,lgeia, here translated “sensuality” refers to a lack of self-constraint which leads to participation with socially unacceptable behavior. Passions, evpiqumi,a, refers to sexual cravings, or lusting. “Drunkenness” refers to individual instances of being drunk, while “orgies” and “drinking parties” refer to public excess done in an organized manner.[6] “Idolatry,” the worship of images, was at the center of 1st Century life. Peter knowingly prohibits behavior that is going to be effected in the public sphere while, at the same time, instructing them to live publicly.

In 2:12, Peter instructs them to keep their conduct honorable amongst the Gentiles. Their lives, which are characterized by an eschatological hope that is effected in their conduct, are going to be on display for those they live among. These are lives that are lived out as a reflection of the grace which they have received from God. Further, in 4:4, Peter tells them that the Gentiles are going to be surprised at their different conduct, which, according to 2:12, will cause them to glorify God when he comes. Living honorably is living “good” or “useful.”[7] In other words, it contributes to the rest of society. These good works, carried out in the public sphere, are done because of their hope that they have in God and in turn display what God has done in their lives by calling them out of the darkness in which they once lived and into a living hope.[8] By not repaying evil for evil, reviling for reviling, but instead blessing, acting out of the unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart and a humble mind, they will be noticed.[9]

[1] Epistle to Diognetus V. 5, 8, quoted in Bruce W. Winter, Seek the Welfare of the City, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 12.

[2] Ibid., 19.

[3] 1 Peter 1:15, 16.

[4] 1 Peter 1:13, 14.

[5] For examples of Paul’s lists, see Ephesians 4:25-5:5; Colossians 3:5-11.

[6] BDAG.

[7] BDAG.

[8] Winter, 20.

[9] 1 Peter 3:8, 9.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dual Citizens, Pt. 4

Dual Citizens

Part 2
Part 3

Part 4

First Peter, more than any other epistle, speaks of the relation between the Church and society.[1] Peter, rather than giving a five-fold tool for evaluating the interaction the believers have between themselves and society, understands the tension that new believers have between their old way of life and their new. Peter teaches the first century believers that a proper understanding of who they are in Christ will give them a proper understanding of how they are to conduct themselves in society.

From the outset of the letter, Peter is forming the believer’s identity. He addresses them as the “elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and the sprinkling with his blood.”[2] Already he is establishing their identity both in who they are in God and by their social status.[3] Peter’s first label for them is “elect.” The Greek word evklekto,j is a term that refers to an action performed by God. This is a fairly common designation for New Testament Christians, not only carrying the weight of their election in God, but it also refers to “their present historical existence and their final vindication;”[4] both are actions that are performed by God. Their identity is not contained only in who they are now, but who God has called them to be from eternity with an eschatological focus. They not only exist in their present situation, but have an eschatological designation awaiting them. This allows Peter their second labeling: “exiles.” Because they have been elected by God, they are now “strangers” or “exiles.” The Greek parepi,dhmoj refers to temporary residence in a foreign land.[5] In the first verse of his epistle, Peter is trying to stress to them that this is a temporary home for them. This is not to preclude them from establishing themselves in their communities, but it allows them to be free from partaking in the sin that the world offers.[6] Finally, Peter labels them as the diaspora, “Diaspora.” This, probably more than any other word, is bound up with a Jewish identity, however, commentators generally agree that Peter is writing to Gentile believers.[7] By using terms that would generally be used with Israel, Peter is including the Gentiles in the long history of redemption that God has been working since creation. Peter opens up a great deal of understanding for the way they are then to live.

One such understanding comes from the last time Israel was called “exiles” in Jeremiah 29:4-7. Jeremiah, much in the same way that Peter does, instructs Israel exiled in Babylon how to live. He writes, “‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.’” Instead of instructing Israel to stay outside the city walls, as they are wont to do, Jeremiah tells them to move into the city and to put down roots. They have the promise that they will be returned to the land of Israel, but are still instructed to establish themselves. Why? By seeking the welfare of the city and praying for it, they too will benefit from its prosperity. And while this is the answer that the text gives us, I would like to offer another answer.

God is not only concerned for the Israelites, but also for the Babylonians, and therefore the people of “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.”[8] It is at the heart of God to redeem all that he has created.[9] However, if the elect is not living in and amongst those who do not (yet) know God, then they have no witness to who God is and what he had done in other’s lives.[10] Peter emphasizes this further in his epistle: “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”[11] The Gentiles,[12] those who are not in Christ, are in the same position that the elect once were. Their task then is found in the preceding verse, “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”[13] Proclaiming carries with it the sense of an audience and I would posit that Peter intends that their audience be the Gentile communities where they live.

[1] Scott McKnight, 1 Peter, The NIV Application Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 21. Miroslav Volf, “Soft Difference: Theological Reflections on the Relation Between Church and Culture in 1 Peter,” Ex Auditu 10 (1994): 16.

[2] 1 Peter 1:1, 2.

[3] McKnight, 46.

[4] J. Ramsey Michaels, 1 Peter, Word Biblical Commentary, (Waco: Word Books, 1988), 7.

[5] Ibid.

[6] This becomes a large thrust of what Peter has to say. As we get to 1 Peter 2:11-12, this will become more evident.

[7] Ibid., xlv; McKnight, 24; Paul J. Achtemeier, 1 Peter, Hermeneia, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 80.

[8] 1 Peter 1:1.

[9] Whether he does or not will not be addressed in this paper.

[10] Romans 10:14-17.

[11] 1 Peter 2:10.

[12] Peter refers to those who are not in Christ as Gentiles. See 1 Peter 2:12.

[13] 1 Peter 2:9.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Dual Citizens, Pt. 3

Dual Citizens

Part 2

Part 3

Niebuhr did a great service to Christianity in the 1950s. He provided categories with which to think critically about a Christian engagement with culture. Though these categories remain within contemporary discussions, their usefulness is relative to the degree to which they have been distorted by countless theologians over the past fifty years. First, there are no clear definitions of what or who Christ and Culture are. Does Christ refer to the historical Jesus or to the risen, exalted Christ? Since Niebuhr wrote in the 1950s, another possibility would be the body of Christ, the Church—which seems to be the most common interpretation. And what of culture? Is this art and music? Should we understand culture as the customs and familial units that inconspicuously govern our lives? Paul De Neui argues that the missio Dei is already at work in the various cultures of the world. He writes that “culture is the arena of the missio Dei and it is within this cultural arena of mission that theology is given birth, context, meaning, and life practice. Culture is a human product that cannot be separated from humans and God is not ashamed to enter incarnationally into culture fully and completely.”[1] If we cannot separate ourselves from the human culture that we inhabit and have been created by, how then are we to be against it, or above it, or be anything other than of it? Conversely, maybe culture is to be understood as the society in which we inhabit; the world of business and finance, government and politics, the social strata, moral norms and the general make-up of society. If we thought of culture in this way, then it could at least become something much more tangible—something that we can feel, reflect back on and react to—unlike the proverbial fish in water.

The second complaint with the continual use of Niebuhr’s categories is incidental, but nonetheless important. He published his treatise in 1951. In the last fifty years, we have seen a great shift in the strata of life, not only in the West, but throughout the world. Since the “Christianization” of the Roman Empire in 313—or at least the tolerance of Christians—Christendom has reigned. The Church of Rome had complete control for 1200 years, playing a key role in the movement and structure of Europe. In 1517, when Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church, the power moved to the hands of national governments that were tied to national churches. When the dissenters in England decided they needed their own land to express their particular strand of Christianity, they moved to the New World. In what would become the United States, the plurality of denominations led the writers of the Constitution to separate Church from State. Since this point in history, the Church has been perpetually loosing its place of prominence in society. Metzger recognizes this: “We no longer live under Christendom or in a utopian Christian society, though many Christians still long for it and lobby on Capitol Hill to take it back.”[2] For the Church to think that it can return to its place on top of society is folly and its efforts futile. As unfortunate as this is, the Church in charge has not demonstrated itself to be equipped to rule in a manner that exemplifies Christ. Need the Crusades be mentioned? We now live in a post-Christendom world, so the need for a different understanding of the Church’s engagement with culture is needed.

The word “different” is significant, in comparison to other words that could have been used. I hesitate to use the word “new” because this is not the first time that the church has found itself on the bottom of society. Before 313, the church was the bottom of society. Persecution was expected. The concepts of suffering and persecution are used throughout the New Testament epistles. And while we in the States are not under the same kind of persecution as the First and Second Century believers were, it is startling to hear that more Christians died on account of their faith in the twentieth century than in the centuries that have preceded. It would seem appropriate, then, to look at how 1 Peter speaks to the interaction between the Church and a society that was outside of Christendom.

[1] Paul De Neui, “Christian Communitas in the Missio Dei: Living Faithfully in the Tension Between Cultural Osmosis and Alienation,” Ex Auditu 23 (2007): 6.

[2] Metzger, 27.

Photo Friday

A couple pictures from Thanksgiving weekend. My sister, Laura, and I went out to her boyfriend's (Ashley) place and some other friends and shot clays. I had a 5 hit streak at one point. Laura did shoot some and she even hit the clay, which seemed to have caught her by surprise, looking at the above photo. The second shot is of the back one of Ashley's horses. It's a little more golden in real life, but the web kills colors. Some one should stop the madness.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dual Citizens, Pt. 2

I'm continuing my posts on Dual Citizenship.

Niebuhr's Christ and Culture

This conversation has been most notable influenced by H. Richard Niebuhr in his book Christ and Culture. In it, Niebuhr describes five positions the Church can take with culture. The first two he labels the extreme positions: “Christ against Culture” and “Christ of Culture.” In these positions, the Christian has two options, the complete rejection of his surrounding culture or the complete acceptance of his culture. The other three fall in between these two opposites. “Christ above Culture” tries to synthesize the two; “Christ and Culture in Paradox” emphasizes the conflict between the two; and “Christ transforming Culture” seeks cultural renewal.[1] Niebuhr himself concedes that all are sometimes appropriate, none of them basically correct, and it is impossible to find one correct answer. However, while Niebuhr is not without his critics, these five paradigms have been the predominate language used over the last fifty-six years since its publication.

Most recently, Paul Metzger, professor of Christian Theology and Theology of Culture at Multnomah Biblical Seminary and presenter at Ex Auditu, used Niebuhr’s typology to describe the church as “a cultural community that is shaped by the surrounding culture and prophetically confronts that culture for the latter’s own ultimate transformation.”[2] He states that he is not using Niebuhr in a “slavish manner,” but that “each type serves a useful purpose, and has a role to play as part of the church’s overarching framework for engaging other cultures.”[3] He goes on to say:

Positively framed, Jesus exemplifies each of the five types: Jesus is of culture as its protagonist, against culture as its antagonist, God’s “yes” and “no” to culture as the divine and human dualist, above culture as the great synthesist, and the one who ultimately transforms culture as the ultimate transformationalist. [4]

Metzger claims that his is no simplistic form of engagement and throughout his paper exemplifies his claims through the life of Dietrich Bonheoffer and by what Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount. In the end he calls the Church to be a Christ-centered, cruciform and ecclesially framed.[5] But in the continual use of Niebuhr’s typologies, which Niebuhr himself concedes are sometimes all appropriate, none of them basically correct, impossible to find one correct answer, Metzger leaves us no further enlightened than Niebuhr.

[1] H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture, (New York: Harper & Row, 1956).

[2] Paul Metzger, “Christ, Culture and the Sermon on the Mount Community,” Ex Auditu 23 (2007): 2. Note: the page number in this and in De Neui refer to their printed page numbers.

[3] Metzger, 2.

[4] Metzger, 2-3.

[5] Metzger, 28.

24: 1994

Ever wonder what your favorite shows would have been like 17 years ago? We'll we have a clip from 24 from 1994.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dual Citizens: Living as Culturally-Engaged Christians in First Peter

It seems like it would be good for more than two or three people to read something that I worked so hard on. So over the next couple of days or weeks, I'm going to post my paper I wrote last week.


Since Abraham, the people of God have been wrestling with how to interact with the cultures around them. Abraham prayed for and interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah, however eminent their destruction. Jacob deceived everyone with whom he came into contact. Joseph rose through the ranks of Egyptian royalty eventually using his authority to bring reconciliation to his brothers, who sold him into slavery. When Israel’s sanctuary in Egypt turned into slavery, Moses had to interact with Pharaoh for their freedom. When Joshua led the people of Israel across the Jordan, they had to fight with those who already lived there for the land that God had given them. Even when the kingdom of Israel was established, the Philistines, the Amalekites, the Ammonites, and the Syrians were constantly asserting their culture over that of the Israelites. Lucien Legrand, in his book The Bible on Culture, shows how, throughout the Scriptures, the people of God both rejected and embraced the cultures around them. In the history of Israel, God raised up persons to play the prophet, which warned against establishing themselves as a kingdom—like all the other nations—and at the same he selected for them a king to rule over them.[1] Moving into the New Testament, Legrand looks at both Jesus and Paul. Both lived and moved through different cultures. Jesus, embodying the culture around him, spoke Aramaic and obeyed the Torah, but he did not fit neatly into the subcultures of the day either.[2] Paul, on the other hand, fit himself into all categories. Legrand goes so far as to have three chapters on the man, which focus on his Jewish-ness, his Greek-ness, and the integration of the two.[3] Paul, himself, writes in 1 Corinthians 9:19 that though he is free from all, he has made himself a servant of all—to the Jew a Jew and to the Greek a Greek. To summarize, the interactions between the people of God and the cultures around them have found many different forms throughout the history of redemption. This paper seeks to show that the former conversations between Christ and Culture are no longer valid because they are based in Christendom. Instead we need a different cultural hermeneutic that is based on the concept of dual citizenship found in 1 Peter.

[1] Lucien Legrand, The Bible on Culture, (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2004), 18.

[2] Ibid., 83-96.

[3] Ibid., 115-151.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Toward the End

I've been crazy busy as it is winding down to the end of the semester. Last week I wrote over 4000 words, and I have about 8000 left to write. I have the bulk of Ephesians and Colossians to translate, some worksheets, two small papers, two books to read, and an exam to take.


I'm slowly getting it all done and think I'll need the whole semester-- probably should have downshifted earlier.

One of the books I'm reading is George Marsden's Fundamentalism and American Culture. In his conclusion, speaking of a Christian view of history, he writes,

We live in the midst of contests between great and mysterious spiritual forces, which we understand only imperfectly and whose true dimensions we only occasionally glimpse. Yet, frail as we are, we do play a role in this history, on the other side either of the powers of light or of the powers of darkness. It is crucially importan then, that, by God's grace, we keep our wits about us and discern the vast difference between the real forces for good and the powers of darkness disguised as angels of light.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Photo Friday on Saturday Night

I almost forgot. Well, pretty much I did. But after 9 hours of sitting on your hump and listening to music or otherwise, you pretty much have time to remember anything, including Friday Photos. I was able to get quite a bit of shooting in this week-- about 300 shots (plus or minus a few). But thanks to Black Friday and generous parents, I have a new 500 gig hard-drive to store them all-- an early Christmas gift.

These shots are of my best friend, Michael, who's moved back to Tulsa in July. We got to go to Turkey Mountain a couple times and I took my camera the second and got some pretty cool shots.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I've been back in the house that I grew up in since Friday night and it's been a wonderful blessing to me, even though I'm staying in the guest bedroom. My (old) room, currently, has all the furniture pushed to the middle of the room, no bed and wreaks of fresh paint. If I was able to stay in there, I would sure sleep well.

My best friend from high school, Michael, moved back to town a few months ago and we've been hanging out. We used to do anything that could be designated "Xtreme" without the first "e." So we've gone mountain biking a couple times and I got some shots of him the last time we were out. I visited his work and saw the plant he oversees. We played ping pong best 2 out of 3 and I won all three.

My dad and I were able to get out to the Golf Club on Saturday and play 9 holes. I played the first 7 great--for me-- but lost my concentration on the last two. I got hungry and from then on that's all I could think about.

I need to get a paper written and I think I'm to the point that I can actually write. (I tried yesterday, but I needed more time to think-- but once I get that introduction...)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Photo

This week's been crazy busy and I don't have any new photos yet. But I'm going home today and I'll be able to shoot like crazy and hopefully get some good mountain biking shots while I'm there. I am excited about playing with this girl and hanging out with my family for the week. Be praying for safe travel as I'm driving somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 hours and 700 miles.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Catching Up

I've been extremely busy with school the last week and a half. Papers are beginning to be thought of-- some close to being written. All the work that I had been working through slowly is needing a few extra efforts to get back on track. Books need to be read. Passages need to be translated.

Right now, I'm working mainly in Ephesians, doing the worksheet and eventually translating. It's the only real class that I have to attend each week. I'd never spent much time in Ephesians-- enough for it to really affect my life, at least, but it's beginning to sneak in-- in my prayers especially. It's giving me language to express my heart, my emotions. It teaches me what God has done for me, even though I deserve none of it. It's really quite amazing. Reading about how we were once dead in our sins, focused on the physical world around us and being oppressed by the spirit of the age, you feel the weight with which we need to be redeemed. And then Paul puts for three little words, transliterated ha de theos. In English, it comes across in two: But God. Think about that for a moment. But. God. With stark contrast to the preceding three verses, Paul lets us know that despite our situation, God has broken in and done something amazing, that while we were dead in our sins, he has made us alive in Christ.

Klyne made the point simply: "Never forget that the Gospel is theocentric." In other words, God is at the center of the Gospel, not us.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Friday Photo

Prank Originally uploaded by notashamed

A busy week this week meant that not too much time was had for photos. But since one of my roommates left for a few days, we had to do something to his room. I went out and got 150 balloons and we blew them up to about 18" round. After 5 popping as we herded them through the hallway and into his bedroom, 145 balloons only filled 1/3 of the room. Turns out it made the point.

Also, this photo got picked up for Gaper's Block Rearview-- a Chicago web-publication.

My Photography || Flickr Friday Photo

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

New Gmail

I must say I was very excited to hear about Google's Gmail being updated. I knew they could only make it better.

Well, I was completely wrong. The new version runs slower and way more clunkier. They obviously have many bugs to still work out, but they should have gotten those done before they went live with it.

There's still the option to use the old version, but you have to click on it every time you open it.

Or this is all due to North Park's slower than 1983 internet. Seriously.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Thailand Slideshow

Although it's not Friday, I figured I could still put up some photos. I've been wanting to post my pictures from Thailand for some time now, and while still not all of them have been "developed" I think all the ones really worth showing off have been.

Please enjoy.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Book: Why Men? (Ch 1)

Last week we went started taking a look at David Murrow's book Why Men Hate Going to Church? Now we're moving into chapter 1.

Murrow starts out with a "case study"-- which I use loosely-- about a man named Cliff. He's a hard worker, fishes, loves his wife and kids, drives a four-wheeler, enjoys cold beer, dirty jokes and doesn't go to church. Murrow argues that guys like Cliff are practicing their own religion called Masculinity [He uses this term a lot, but has yet to really define it]. Murrow quotes two men, notably Charles Spurgeon, who says, "There has got abroad a notion, somehow, that if you become a Christian you must sink your manliness and turn milksop." Christianity and masculinity do not go together [as popularly perceived].

Is Church a women's thing? On the outset, Jesus, a man, founded the Church with 12 male disciples and, to our knowledge the whole of the NT is written by men. Today when you look at the pastorate most are males. However, when we begin to look at the congregation, the majority are women. Further, those who are volunteering and most involved are women. Murrow offers this sad statement: "the only man who actually practices his faith is the pastor."

He argues that this affects the women as much as men.

The men we do find in church are not the "manly men" like Cliff (see above), but instead are "humble, tidy, dutiful, and above all, nice." This is a contrast with those men we see in the Bible-- Moses, Elijah, David, Daniel, Peter, and Paul [and Jesus?]. They were "men who risked everything in service to God...They had an intense commitment to God, and they weren't what you called saintly."

Murrow states that this is a book written for laywomen. He asks if they will allow men to take risks, dream big, push the envelope.

I ask this: Murrow states that one "cannot have a thriving church without a core of men who are true followers of Christ." Is this true? Why or why not?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Eating Chicago

I have a new blog. It's about me eating in Chicago. I finally got a substantial post in, so I'm advertising a little.

Please enjoy.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Music: José Gonzalez

I posted the following about a month ago, but was reminded of José Gonzalez's musical genius by last night's Scrubs. He has a new CD out In Our Nature. Below is the old post and the video that accompanied it-- Heatbeats-- the song that was featured last night, a Sony Bravia commercial, and the original version by The Knife.

I ran into Jose Gonzalez via my roommate, Wired and the web. Amazing stuff, especially if you like soft acoustics-- Ray LaMontagne and Andrew Bird. Ah, and Gonzalez's new CD comes out tomorrow.

Friday Photo

Yellow Leaf
Originally uploaded by notashamed

Well, I only have one photo today and I already posted it a few days ago. It's one of those beautiful leaves that you find this time of year.

I want to remind you that I'm doing some printing of my pictures, so if you would like any it's $3 for a 4x6 and $6 for an 8x10, plus a few extra for shipping (bigger sizes are available, just ask). Head on over to my Flickr and pick some out, then shoot me an email.

My Photography || Flickr Friday Photos

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The English Language

Something that's bothered me for a long time and I have no idea how to construct grammatically is the first person plural possessive in English. Our is the way to do it with a pronoun, but what about no pronoun.

Jeff and my...
Jeff's and my...
Jeff's and my's....
Jeff and our...
Jeff and our's...
Does anyone know how to solve this conundrum?

Book: Why Men?

There's a book case behind the reference section in the library at North Park that holds the yearbooks from classes past. As this has no interest to me, the top of the hobbit-sized shelf is where I float over to when I'm looking to put off the necessary reading at hand. See, it is here that the newest books that have come into this compendium of knowledge start and I oft find something to divert my attention from my task at hand.

This week there were a couple books that caught my eye and one that I thought would be interesting to walk through on the blog. David Murrow, a Presbyterian (USA) from Alaska, who has had his hand in producing anything from the Discovery Channel to Dr. Phil, has put out a book entitled Why Men Hate Going To Church. I'll be honest, I've never heard of the guy, but I thought his book would be an interesting read no matter. It seems to look at facts and statistics, rather than our inner drive as men-- at least that's the appearance.

Murrow says that he's often wondered about why men hate going to church. He's seen it in all denominations. Those that do attend he states are "passive, bored or uneasy" (vii). How was a faith that had been started by a Man and entrusted to 12 men, so lacking in men today? As he looked around for answers, he didn't find any at the local Christian bookstore, so he decided to write the book himself. He claims neither to be pastor nor theologian, just a regular guy in the pews who is struggling to find his place in church (viii).

Before we delve into Murrow's search for the answer, what is the consensus of why men don't go or hate going to church? What has been your experience with men and church?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Halloween has always been celebrated at our house ever since I was too young to remember. And aside from Christmas, our house was decorated more than any other holiday-- to the point that I can remember being scared to go in. Sometimes I still am.

But it wasn't the ghouls and goblins that treated us, rather it was because my dad was born a while ago today. Instead of birthday cake, we ate pumpkin pie and instead of "happy birthday" we played Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor. And we scared the pee out of not a few kids and even more moms.

So Happy Birthday Dad and Happy Halloween.

Going to Press

Yellow Leaf, originally uploaded by notashamed.

I'm to a point where I need to print some more of my photos. So in an act of shameless self-promotion, I extend this offering to you. Some of you have asked so, I'm not too ashamed.

4x6s will run at $3.

8x10s at $6.

Any bigger please inquire.

I haven't priced shipping so add a couple extra bucks for that. Try to let me know by Friday so I can place the order over the weekend-- drop me an email, send me a message over facebook, or whatever.

mark.grapengater [at]

Vintage Sights and Sounds

I find it interesting to see what people collect, catalog, and build a website to display their glorious collection. In that interest I have two sites I've been to and found interesting:

The first one comes from my dad and is dedicated to Penny Postcards. The post card was patented in 1861 by John P. Charlton of Philadelphia and for a while only the USPS could produce them. Wikipedia says the above, but then says that the first postcards in the US were made to advertise for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Soon, though, the cards were able to be produced by anyone and this gave rise to the versions that we see today, although then the sold for only a penny-- thus, penny postcards. The site is arranged by state and has a pretty thorough collection. One of my favorites.

Our second site is Midwest 45s. Scott Harlow is a friend of mine at Grace and every Saturday morning he heads South to the old pawn shops on the South-side and digs around for Soul, Funk and Gospel 45s from Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois. After he finds them he digitizes them onto his computer, puts up their album art and lets your ears pulsate to the long forgotten beats. He has quite a collection going on but of all that I've listened to, I really dig this one.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I figure since I haven't been blogging in a while I should probably update as far as me. So as much as I can, I will.

I have two great roommates that moved into the apartment with me for my last year of Seminary. Both blog also. Chris is working on a MATS degree. Luke plays frisbee-- oh, and is M.Div-ing it.

School's wrapping up nicely. I had my End of Studies interview yesterday and I think they're going to let me graduate. Ephesians and Colossians is by far my favorite class this semester and maybe of all Seminary. I find Paul's use of language ever amazing and how he lays it down by saying things like "But God..." (cf. Ephesians 2:1-10). As Klyne asked in class today, "Can it be this good?"

I got back from Kansas City about 2 weeks ago now. Kevin and I had a great time together getting to see the city. We had so much BBQ on Saturday that I thought it was coming through my skin as I lay down to sleep that night. Today during class I zoned out for a good 3 minutes as I thought about my Z-man and fries. I also got to see a lot of friends from K-State and on Monday I was able to head over to Manhattan to see my grandparents.

I went on a date.

I'm going on another date.

Different girls.

I was notified today that one of my photos is going to be printed and featured at the Chicago Public Radio's Community Gallery. Pretty exciting!

I'm still involved at Grace Chicago. I'm heading up the coffee, which I may have mentioned before, but I'm thinking about changing providers. Don't tell anyone, though, I haven't checked into it yet.

I leave you with this nice video I saw earlier today.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Photo

Well, to kick off me starting to blog again, I'm publishing my Friday Photos again. It's been really nice not to worry about writing anything for a bit, but I'm getting some good learning in and need to share it some. Look for a few changes and regular postings.

For now, though, I offer these two recent photos for your visual pleasure. The first is a friend's daughter, Olive, who I caught outside playing on some of these beautiful fall days we're having here in Chicago. The second is a bright red leaf that I placed on the gazebo on campus. You know I don't know why North Park has a gazebo, but it made a great photo anyway.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Friday Photo v2.0

Hancock, originally uploaded by notashamed.

Friday Photo

Murcielago, originally uploaded by notashamed.

So I'm feeling guilty because the six of you that are faithful readers haven't even gotten a Friday Photo in a couple of weeks. I've been busy, sure, but I've also not taken the time to post the pictures up here. There's a ton over at Flickr for your perusal, but here's this week's installment.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Music Tomorrow

I ran into Jose Gonzalez via my roommate, Wired and the web. Amazing stuff, especially if you like soft acoustics-- Ray LaMontagne and Andrew Bird. Ah, and Gonzalez's new CD comes out tomorrow.