Site under redemption

•September 2, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been a bad blogger the past few months as I have found myself with 3 different sites running and I am in the midst of trying to consolidate them all into a single site.  This will take a while on top of the fact that I am in the midst of opening a church from scratch.  Once we get it all clearly on a single site everyone will get what they want and when they want it…

Thanks for the patience and keep the faith and keep on thinking.

Click Here to Go to the Main Site

Loving the City

•June 28, 2008 • 2 Comments

I have now lived in Chicago for almost two years. I have to admit I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like living in major metropolitan city like Chicago. I grew up in a small town called Friday Harbor (link) which was on an island of about 5000 people. I did spend half of the 90’s living in Seattle, but compared to Chicago its just a little fishing village.

I have to say that for my first year here I didn’t really like the place. It was just too big. My wife would have to drag me downtown to go to the Taste, or the blues concerts at Grant Park. Living in Lakeview at the time I thought anything west of I-90 was the concrete boondocks. Outside of Hyde Park (where I studied theology) I still don’t know what’s up with the southside. I figured Irving Park was where the city ended on the North.

Now I love this place. The turning point was I discovered how lively the local music scene is. I have been in places in Lincoln Square watching post-punk bluegrass bands, listened to revolutionary folk musicians up in Roger’s Park, great blues rock down in the South Loop, trippy spiritual punk by Lakeview, and Wicker Park has all sorts of musicians and artist working and living here.

I’ve also begun to appreciate all the activists in our town. If the revolution is going to start someplace, Chicago has got to be as good a place as any. I even met an actual communist the other day, and I don’t mean one of those dudes whose in his 90’s and will rail about American Imperialism if you accidentally make eye contact, although I’ve met them too. I have gotten to know a lot of folks who care about the biggest issue of them all, the Earth. I also been impressed with people working on affordable housing, homeless youth, aids, gay rights, health care, and with our local Senator Obama now running for president it seems like getting involved in politics has become as common as is in, well, a democracy.

But what has really helped me fall in love with the city is the people. I meet really cool people here practically every day. Some are trippy, some are educated, some think its still the sixties, some are sports fans, and some can tell you where you can order a one dollar beer. But what I love is that each person has their own unique take on their “part” of the city, and what makes them such a fan of all the cool stuff and places there.

Through the people I have gotten to know the soul of Chicago, and that is what I’ve fallen in love with. Of course I still couldn’t tell you what’s going on in Beverly, Bronzeville, or all those other southside neighborhoods. But that’s what’s great about Chicago. You can make it as big or as small as you want. You can take in as much of it as you can handle, and there will always be more. I can’t think of a better city to live in, to love, and to serve.

Summer Sneak Preview Services!!!

•May 17, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Hi all, great news, God has smiled, and we now have the Chopin Theater as a Sunday morning Space. We will be doing a couple of preview services to get the feel of the place and figure out how to make worship there an awesome experience. These services will be open to the public, although we won’t be doing any major publicity for them. The theme is based on one of my favorite books by Spencer Burke called “A Heretics Guide to Eternity.” You can look it up on Amazon.

Anyway, it’s really exciting to finally be putting together our first services. If you’d like to help out let me know at david @ micahsporch . org

Updates will be coming soon.

Gathering on April 30th

•April 14, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Micah’s Porch will host an all new edition of “News from the spiritual underground” on April 30th at Phyllis’ Musical Inn(1800 W Division.) The gathering officially starts at 8 p.m. I’m really excited that we have the band LAZ playing for us. If you haven’t heard them, they’re a great high energy Chicago band, check them out on you tube.

And if you can throw a prayer my way, I could sure use it. I think I’m close to securing a Sunday morning site for a bigger experience of celebration and connection than we can do at Phyllis’. Phillis’ Musical Inn is great, and there’s folks who can go there that might never hear a spiritual message otherwise, but there are some limits as to what can be done in a bar. We want to continue an evening gathering, but are going to go deeper by adding a Sunday morning experience (we’ll be like a “real” church then – ha ha) Anyway, I could use your prayers for this because I’m hoping to announce a series of Sunday morning “preview services” starting in May.

And here is the flyer with all the info for the gathering on April 30th.

Spiritual Underground 4-30

A Simple Path

•March 27, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Within the Bible’s book of Acts, the original disciples of Jesus spoke of the practice of their faith simply as “the way.” The way was basically a bunch of people doing life together, encouraging each other, praying, serving, forgiving, and sharing this vision of a better way of life with others. I wonder how it all got so complex.

It seems like when religion steps in that spiritualitysns00004.jpg becomes incredibly complex. It’s like on the one hand there’s the good news of all the grace in the world, but to get to it religion puts in a bunch of strange hoops. Like having to go to the right church, read this creed, accept our savior, read the Koran only in Arabic, when you pray you have to face east, or west, or up, or down, and then the clincher is that you have to believe that our secret handshake is the only one that works at the doorway to heaven.

‘The prophet Micah helped all of us when he wrote the following: “This and only this is what the Lord God asks of you: to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8). I’ve lost track of the number of people to whom I’ve mentioned this prophetic advice. It certainly has the power to simplify one’s life. Many of us get caught up in much foolishness when it comes to God and how to do God’s will. We imagine God wishing us to live in guilt and dread. We suspect God to be constantly tracking each and every sin that befalls the human race. Virtually every sin I’ve ever heard witnessed can be summed up as failures “to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” The rest, as has been said, is commentary.

If we seek to live our lives according to the words of Micah, we can be assured that God’s dscf0003.jpgmercy will be more than enough for us when it comes time to stand before the Fountain of All that is Good. Too many preachers in the past and present try to make people afraid of God’s judgment. This is purely a way of controlling people. It can also be seen as the outflow from twisted psyches. Whenever religion promotes fear instead of faith, anguish in place of awe, guilt rather than grace, such a religion has gone astray. A good way for us to stay centered is to pay attention to the words of Micah.’

Seems like a simple way toward spirituality to me, and you don’t even have to remember the secret handshake.

Mandatory Obama Reflection

•March 19, 2008 • 2 Comments

If you’ve been surfing the web, reading the paper, or just barely this side of consciousness, you’ve heard about Barrack Obama’s speech on race in America. Since everyone else is throwing in their two cents on this thing, I will too, except I promise that I’ll make this short.

I will say that none of the current candidate was my first choice. I will also say that when I saw Rev. Wright’s comments being repeated on the news and you-tube I realized how poorly I’d fare if you looked at my entire preaching history and clipped out some choice moments of poorly chosen words.

So I had some sympathy for the situation that Barrack found himself in, but at the same time I figured he was sunk. I figured his speech would be the standard distancing and denial that we saw both Clinton and McCain engage in just a few weeks ago. I’m glad I was wrong.

My biggest reaction trp001000.jpgo the speech was that it’s about time a politician spoke to us like we were adults capable of stringing together a thought that lasts longer than twelve words. He unflinchingly went right at the heart of how the race issue divides us not against each other, but it divides us against ourselves. He also spoke on a deeply theological level that the covenant that binds and blesses us as a human family is made fragile by the sin of racism.

I don’t know what this will do for him politically, but I hope that everyone gets to hear that speech. It would do the soul of this country some good.

Peace

The New Religious Landscape of America

•March 7, 2008 • 2 Comments

rel_t_015.jpgI just ran across an article about how fluid spirituality has become in America. Here is a clip:

In a survey of 35,000 Americans 18 and older, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that religious affiliation in the U.S. is both very diverse and extremely fluid. More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion — or no religion at all. Protestantism appears on the verge of losing its majority status. Roman Catholicism has experienced the greatest net loss but is recouping gains through immigrants. The number of “unaffiliated” Americans has doubled. Among Americans ages 18-29, one in four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion.

Maybe it’s just me but I talk to people all the time that haven’t found a traditional church community that makes sense for them. The people I talk to are looking to be a part of something that matters, to connect with other people, search for God, make a difference, and learn to live better lives. But for a variety of reasons the stock spiritual answers and pre-fab religious institutions that worked for our parents don’t speak to a lot of us.

For myself I needed to search for God with others in a way that is honest, real, and authentic. dif00015.jpgToo often I feel like I’ve had to shut off my brain or turn of my heart to fit into a church. Sometimes I felt frustrated because I wasn’t allowed to ask questions. (Other times I’ve had to listen to music I really didn’t like but that’s another story.) I really wonder how many others have left the church of their parents for similar reasons? I wonder what other reasons that for “ages 18-29, one in four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion”? What’s your experience?

Where does God get involved?

•February 19, 2008 • 1 Comment

At our last Micah’s Porch gathering I quoted some dialog from “Pulp Fiction.” Focusing on the part where Jules and Vincent are debating whether a miracle occurred when someone unloaded a gun in their face at point blank range and missed them entirely. Jules is so transformed by the event that he is going to change his life and walk the earth like Kane from Kung-Foo. A lot of you probably remember the scene.

Vincent says that stuff like this happens, unusual maybe, but not an example of divinepulp_fiction.jpg intervention. Jules responds – and here is the theological point – that whether or not God reached down a changed the path of the bullets doesn’t matter, what matters is in that moment God got involved and nothing for him would be the same. In other words it wasn’t the physical miracle of avoiding death, but rather the spiritual awakening that was the real miracle.

So God gets involved in the midst of a mafia style hit.

The idea that God gets involved even in the most unlikely of times and places is the very definition of grace. Now the theology of God and grace are Biblical, but the question we were exploring last week was whether God and grace show up in other religions as well. Maybe God doesn’t even need a conventional religion at all, but just a chance to grow in the midst of our lives. Maybe God is trying to reach us in more ways that we can even imagine. Maybe God is reaching us through our diverse experiences, whether it is through our knowledge of the Bible, or through Buddhist meditation, through a walk in the park, through your friend who is agnostic or even atheist, through the good times, through the tragedy, and maybe even in times when our lives feel completely out of control.

Hopefully it doesn’t take a gangland style hit to wake us up spiritually. What I do believe is that we are all a lot closer to God than we can even imagine.

What do you think? Is God further than we can understand, or closer than we can imagine? Has spirituality ever been present for you in unlikely or unconventional places?

God’s love? Real? Crazy Delusion? What’s up with that?

•February 7, 2008 • Leave a Comment

The question of whether God is real or some crazy delusion is one that any thoughtful person is going to wonder about at some point. It doesn’t mean that you’re bad or faithless, it just means that you’ve taken a liking to truth, and that means being willing to be honest about your doubts. There is such a thing as healthy skepticism.

The thing about experiencing God’s love is that it does require a leap of faith. For instance, I am totally aware that every belief and experience that I hold dear might simply be a bunch of chemical reactions in my brain. In other words, all of my ideas that I believe are true and meaningful could simply be a illusion created by molecules bouncing off nerve receptors in my brain.

So being a bit agnostic about such things is not bad, it’s just being human, it’s honest, it’s authentic. When we die I’m sure a lot of our good ideas will turn out to be BS. But until then if we want to get closer to God’s love we need to take a leap of faith.

What do I mean by this?

I mean that we come to understand what we name God not just through intellectual reasoning, but through relationship. It is something of a paradox to be sure, but in my experience I have found that I need to pray to God in order to experience God as real. The more faithfully I pray, the more real God’s presence is in my life.

I bet some of you are thinking “So in order to understand a God that may or may not be there I’m supposed to begin a conversation with a possible figment of my imagination?”

Pretty much, yeah…

That’s the leap. Much of our spiritual life only becomes clear when we act “as if.”

Guess what? I don’t always “know” there is a God. In fact when I’m in greatest doubt is when it is most important to take some time in the day to pray – to talk to God. It is when I feel like there is nothing spiritual or sacred going on in life that I need to act “as if” there is.

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Crazy? Delusional? Insane? Or… maybe sometimes faith is just a little messy.

What do you think? How do you connect spiritually, especially when God might seem so far away?

Peace,

David

news from the spiritual underground

•January 24, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Our last Micah’s Porch gathering we lovingly called the “news from the spiritual underground.” Over 30 people showed up to connect, have a good time and be part of creating a new spiritual experience in Chicago. The event provoked a bunch of great questions and I’m going to throw one out into the dare2seek blogworld.

This is a great question:

“what does it mean that God loves me? how do I know it’s true and not some crazy delusion? how should it change my life?”

What an awesome question. I really appreciate someone willing to be real about their faith and their doubts. Anyway, think about it, what does God’s love really mean? How does God’s love change our lives. Take some time, ponder it, reflect, comment on it if you’d like, and I’ll work on my own answer to post at the end of the week.

Peace,

David