Leading & Blogging Publicly


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I’m currently reading through Ruth Haley Barton’s Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership. Occasionally, I’ll post reflections on my reading.

The chapter I just read had to do with leadership being something that is meant to be a public good. Leadership is never simply for the sake of those you’re leading. It’s meant to overflow into the systems, institutions, cultures, and communities around you. And so, our avenues of leadership are meant to be vehicles to change the world.

Thinking about this, I realized that my most public form of leadership is probably through this blog.

Of all my Christian friends (including my seminary classmates), I keep up with politics more than any. I say sadly, because I don’t have many people and places to get my thoughts directly challenged, critiqued, and kept accountable. And for me, that’s what I need. I feel like I need my mind to feel a freedom to wander and stretch and try things out–but I need others to reign me in.

This is also how I lead. My tendency is to constantly reshape my sphere of influence; to try new things and keep things fluid. For me, then, team leadership works best, so that I have people to tell me I’m crazy and need to relax. This is also why I blog. A blog is, in essence, “public writing”.

Because I tend to dwell deeply in the political realities of the world more than many other Christians in my life, I see much of my role as a public writer as bringing Christian truths to bear on real-world issues in ways that both challenge and further the polarized conversations in the world today. Through national political campaigns, I write frequently on the debates, the State of the Union, the issues, etc. in order to communicate in a clear way to the everyday person what’s going on and why they should care.
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a homosexuality post-script & conclusion


Most of last week on this blog was spent discussing some recent “conversations” about the Evangelical church’s relationship with the homosexual community. I first addressed conservatives, and then progressives (as well as some thoughts on the “willful persistence in sin” comment I hear from conservatives a lot). This week, we move on. But not yet. In response to some of the ways people have responded to these posts, I felt I needed to write this.

In conclusion to it all…

These posts I’ve written got a lot of circulation around the web (and to those who commented/posted links, I thank you), and so for anyone that runs across them, I want to make something clear:

It might seem odd that I’ve typed far more words and dripped more sarcasm in attacking the more conservative side of this issue, all while ultimately agreeing more with them at the end of the day. In the end, even with all of my many theological and social disagreements, I cast my lot with them, even though I know most of them would not have me.

These posts, hopefully, have been written in the same spirit as Mark Noll’s blistering attack on Evangelical anti-intellectualism, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, which he calls “an epistle from a wounded lover”.
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Some critical words for the Left on Gay Reparative Therapy (ii)


Update II: I posted some important final words on these posts.

Yesterday I began giving some of my thoughts on Exodus International‘s recent repudiation of gay “Conversion Therapy” that was supposed to have “cured” gays of their homosexuality. I began by talking about my experience reading the primary text on this type of therapy in college, and then I criticized some of the common thinking of those on the more conservative side of the spectrum when it comes to this topic, especially how Evangelicals have reacted to Exodus International’s President, Alan Chambers. I also wrote some further thoughts responding to some questions about “homosexuals ‘persisting’ in their ‘sin'” (Update: I clarified some thoughts on that post).

But today, I’ve got some words for the Left…
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Exodus International is Right on Gay Reparative Therapy (i)


Update III: I wrote some final thoughts on these posts.

Update II: The second part of this post is up.

Update: I wrote some brief thoughts on a frequent reply I’ve received to this post: “what about gays that are wilfully and persistently disobedient in their sin?” Check it out.

Why on earth am I writing such lose-lose posts as these? I have no idea. Well, here we go.

Last week, Exodus International, one of the biggest and most-well-known Evangelical ministries to homosexuals, came out against what’s called “Reparative Therapy” or “Conversion Therapy”. The New York Times had a big write-up on it (as well as NPR) and an interview with Alan Chambers, the President of Exodus International. And now the whole news cycle is all a-flutter over this. Right when I think the story is dead, I see another headline about “rifts” forming in the Evangelical community and such.

Reading these articles has made me so frustrated with both the Right and the Left in their treatment of this discussion. There’s so much to say, I apologize for the lack of flow or organization that follows.

There are some really important things that seem to be getting lost in this discussion–on both sides.

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sexuality & the church’s obsessions (a quote)


Another sobering finding is that while high-octane rhetoric has been devoted to the issue of same-sex marriage, an issue relevant to only a small faction of the U.S. population (the CDC reports about 2-3%, some figures are as low as 1.7%), huge shifts have taken place on attitudes toward sex before marriage—what the Bible calls fornication: “The best evidence is that the fraction of all Americans believing that premarital sex was ‘not wrong’ doubled from 24% to 47% in the four years between 1969 and 1973 and then drifted upward through the 1970s to 62% in 1982.” Today attitudes toward sexuality are the best indicator of church attendance. It appears that many in the church have taken their eye off a far more pervasive problem among a far larger number of Americans.

from this Cardus book review on Robert Putnan and David Campbell’s book American Grace: How Religion Dvides and Unites Us

An Amazingly Thoughtful Discussion on Gay Marriage


Thanks to David Sessions, the editor of Patrol Magazine for bringing this all to our attention.

Now, I have remained in the closet for much of this discussion (forgive the pun), though I have spoken of this in-person with others, with varying reactions. For a myriad of reasons, it’s generally wiser to controvert into a half-empty coffee cup or beer pint than it is to do so on the web. But nevertheless, this is a charged issue that demands response, both public and private, from those that have (hopefully) given it deep and communal thought, allowing both time and others to help refine and nuance one’s opinions. I hope I may be so bold as to include myself in those numbers.

Someday.

For now, I’m still figuring it out, and discussions like the one I want to bring to your attention today both clarify and confuse the issue for me.  I find myself agreeing with each article you will find below; a similar reaction Sessions has eloquently articulated in his Patrol article.  I appreciate his public candor and can easily relate.

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It is done: Derek Webb’s “Stockholm Syndrome” album release + new free song


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[WARNING: there’s a “bad” word mentioned a few times in this post]

[Also, for those reading this on Facebook, click here to read this on my actual blog, so you can watch the videos, stream the music, and download the audio more easily.]

Well, it’s done.  After all the drama, Derek Webb’s new album “Stockholm Syndrome” is set for release this Tuesday.  Apparently, if you pre-order the album off his website on Tuesday, you will be able to get a free download of the entire album immediately.

But –

this revelation did not come before another song – the song of the album perhaps – was released.  Anyone who has been following this situation knows that Derek has been releasing “stems” (or pieces of the song) for a while.  This is the song with the cursing that started this whole thing.  It is a song that has been titled “What Matters More” and it has to do with the Church’s treatment of homosexuals.  So without further ado, here are all the songs that have been released off of Derek Webb’s newest album “Stockholm Syndrome”.  Enjoy and be sure to download them all on Tuesday.

Thanks again to Shane for the update.  The name above each streaming song is a link to the actual file for you to download.  Right-click or whatever you do to download these things.

“What Matters More?”

“Freddie, Please”

“Heaven”

“The Spirit vs. the Kick-Drum”

It sounds like the new song is what inspired (or vice versa) Webb’s recent purchase of the domain GiveAShit.org, which he plans on using as a fundraising site.  The site’s had no content on it for a while, but just now as I saw that it has a black screen on it, apparently holding the spot for new content coming soon (Tuesday, perhaps?).  We’ll see.

Lastly, I heard from musical artist and friend Joel Rakes (so if it’s not true, blame him – or the people he follows on Twitter) that there was also a documentary done about this whole thing, so keep an eye out for that.  And check out Joel’s stuff while you’re at it.

Here are other sites concerning Webb and the album. Please visit these as well to support the artist and his craft.

For those that don’t even know about Derek Webb and his music, here are a few of my favorite songs by him. Yeah, he’s pretty stinking good. [Once again, if you’re on facebook, these videos may not show up, so click here to watch them]

“Wedding Dress” off of “She Must and Shall Go Free”
Vodpod videos no longer available.

“Medication” off of “I See things Upside Down”
Vodpod videos no longer available.

“My Enemies Are Men Like Me” off of “Mockingbird”
Vodpod videos no longer available.