Thursday, August 27, 2009

South by Southwest Missionary Opportunity

I need your help. Merrill Wade, rector of St. Matthew's in Austin, has a great idea:

Each spring the South by Southwest Festival is a major event bringing musicians, filmmakers and others to Austin.

One of the facets of the music component of the Festival, apart from the some 1,500 bands that play all over creation, is daily presentations at the Austin Convention Center for the musicians and those in the music industry.

Most of the presentations are in the form of panel discussions. The panel discussions cover almost any music issue you can imagine.

Here is the part we need help with: panel presenters’ make application with South by Southwest and are chosen, in part, by the support the suggested panel receives from the public, in form of votes and comments on the idea.

Merrill Wade has applied to present the following topic, Spirituality for Nomads.

His goal is to use that hour to describe classical spirituality and to lay groundwork for travelling musicians to order their lives around some useful spiritual practices.

Linking to the proposed presentation on the South by Southwest website is a bit tricky, here is our best bet at directing you.

1. Go to the link:

2. Once you get to the link, scroll to the bottom and click on the SXSW Music Conference programming proposals link.

3. This is where it gets tricky. There is a Search feature for you to type Merrill's name into to find his actual proposal, (Merrill Wade) which is necessary because the SXSW website constantly scrambles the location of the proposals. You will never find the proposal in the same place twice.

4. Suggestion: that you do NOT use the Search blank but click on the Search Options link just to the right of it, which is more reliable. Type his name into the space for Organizer and my proposal will come up. Click on the proposal title and you can see what I am doing. At that point, you will be required to register in order to vote. It is quick and easy.

5. Help by voting thumbs up as often as you are willing. Also, post comments and questions for me about the proposal itself on the blog space at the bottom of my proposal. And bookmark my page and you don’t have to go through all of the above again.

South By Southwest expects its applicants to show initiative in getting their panel presentations approved. So, please give me a hand!

So, lets get Merrill a place on the ticket....lets get the Diocese of Texas a voice at South by Southwest!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

September Calendar

1 Province VII Hispanic Clergy Conference, Austin
2 10:00 a.m. Program Group, Diocesan Center, Houston
10:30 a.m. SLEHC Grants Evaluation Committee Meeting, Houston
6:00 p.m. Morgan Allen Celebration of New Ministry, Good Shepherd, Austin
4 9:00 a.m. Congregational Development Retreat, Camp Allen
6 10:00 a.m. San Francisco de Asis, Austin CF
8 4:00 p.m. EHS Board of Trustees Meeting, Houston
9 10:00 a.m. Church Corporation Meeting, Diocesan Center, Houston
6:00 p.m. Grace, Georgetown
10 7:30 a.m. SLEHC Board Meeting, Diocesan Center, Houston
12:00 p.m. Mission Funding Advisory Committee Meeting, Diocesan Center
11 9:30 a.m. Initial Planning Meeting/EDOT Strategic Plan, Christ Church Cathedral
13 9:30 a.m. St. Matthew’s, Austin CF
15 1:30 p.m. Community of Hope Meeting, Camp Allen
3:00 p.m. Bishops’ Meeting, Camp Allen
5:00 p.m. Executive Board, Camp Allen
16 10:00 a.m. Executive Board, Camp Allen
6:00 p.m. Dinner with Rising Sr. Seminarians, Camp Allen
17 10:00 a.m. Bishop Quin Foundation Meeting, Diocesan Center
19 9:00 a.m. DOK Assembly – Keynote Speaker, Camp Allen
20 10:45 a.m. St. Mark’s, Bay City CF
4:00 p.m. Christ Church, Matagorda CF
22-23 Blandy Lectures, SSW, Austin
24-October 7 Compass Rose Annual Meeting, London

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Work of Glorifying God Extends to How We Treat One Another

On the blog experimentaltheology Richard Beck posted a reflection called The Bait and Switch of Contemporary Christianity, wherein he wrote: "The trouble with contemporary Christianity is that a massive bait and switch is going on. ‘Christianity’ has essentially become a mechanism for allowing millions of people to replace being a decent human being with some endorsed ‘spiritual’ substitute."

As an example he recalls waiting tables: "The single most damaging phenomenon to the witness of Christianity in America today is the collective behavior of the Sunday morning lunch crowd. Never has a more well-dressed, entitled, dismissive, haughty or cheap collection of Christians been seen on the face of the earth."

Beck’s article implies that the first followers of Jesus were about transformation and being different, better human beings, examples of a better way of treating one another within a larger culture. Perhaps the change has occurred since most of the earliest followers of Jesus were those who served rather than were served, in America the opposite is probably true today. (Beck is the Associate Professor of Psychology at Abilene Christian University. The entire article can be found at

Beck’s observations are not novel, though they may be difficult to internalize. We can either be angry then dismiss the observation, or we can honor them as a reflection of how some Christians act and therefore how many Christians are perceived.

In rereading The Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith, I was reminded that the first use of "Christian" in the Bible is as a noun and not as an adjective. Author Rob Bell makes a good case for this. Being a Christian is about being a particular way--a better person--a decent or good human being. Traditionally we have called this "virtue."

It reminded me of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. One of Paul’s shortest, the letter is addressed to the infant church at Colossae in the Lycus Valley in Asia. This was a new congregation started by followers of Jesus, inspired by Paul’s mission to Ephesus and it was in trouble. There was some false teaching going on.

Scholars believe this false teaching distinguished itself within the church community of Colassae directing individuals to hold, act and impart certain teachings in order to be considered true members with the real tradition. The emphasis in Colossae focused on particular practices necessary to receive the unveiling of heavenly mysteries. What strikes me as interesting is in the midst of pressure to discern rightly Paul reminds the Colossians that the traditions that matter are those given by Christ himself and that they should engage in following the traditions embodied in the life of Christ.

Paul teaches them (3:12) the way of Jesus, the manner of being followers of Jesus. Not surprisingly the work Paul offers the Colossians as spiritual disciplines might be the type of spiritual development that would actually make us better, more decent, human beings. Paul says we should be compassionate, kind, humble, meek, and patient. We should think of others and support them. We should forgive one another, in the manner that God forgives us. We should be loving. Paul says that the love of Christ binds everything. Christ’s peace dwells in our hearts if we allow it.

Paul concludes this portion of his letter by saying, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (3.17)
Paul reminds me that the work of the Church is to first, glorify God through the singing of hymns, prayers, psalms, and remembering the breaking of Christ’s body for the world. What we learn from Paul, and soon discover in our own life, is that this work of glorifying God extends to how we treat one another: family, friends, neighbors…waiters, waitresses, and those who wait on us…the servants of all. We participate, as partners with Christ, in the restoration of creation by acting as Christ in the world, that includes restaurants and with people we don’t know.
Becoming a virtuous person, a "decent human being" is our personal Christian work and it is the work of discipleship where we help others live a more virtuous life.

This Fall, let us be willing to engage in spiritual disciplines, ministries and worship that change, that transform who we are…that make us better people. As C. S. Lewis once remarked, let us be about the work of restoring and recreating one another as the embodiment of Christ in the world. That is the work of the Church, each of our congregations and each and everyone of us.

Friday, August 14, 2009

2010 Mission Funding Video

Click on the link to download the new Diocese of Texas Mission Funding Video.


  • "Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process." Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • "Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer." Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • "Perfection, in a Christian sense, means becoming mature enough to give ourselves to others." Kathleen Norris
  • "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." John Wesley
  • "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." G. K. Chesterton
  • "One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans." C. S. Lewis
  • "When we say, 'I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,' we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the church seldom asks us for forgiveness." Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
  • "Christians are hard to tolerate; I don't know how Jesus does it." Bono
  • "It's too easy to get caught in our little church subcultures, and the result is that the only younger people we might know are Christians who are already inside the church." Dan Kimball