A Pilgrim’s Hymn Chord Chart #PYT13

I am truly touched and grateful for all the responses to my song A Pilgrim’s Hymn (free download here) after my friend Jorge introduced it at Presbyterian Youth Triennium this past week. I’m not lying when I say that your feedback has been every artist’s dream.

Several folks have asked for the chord chart, so I put one together. It is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-ShareAlike, so you can remix and share to your heart’s delight.

If anyone wants to transcribe it as sheet music, send me a digital copy and I’ll happily post it here.

Here you go!

A Pilgrim’s Hymn Chord Chart

I’m doing a little blog shuffling

Recently, I have had a wonderful thing happen: My work life and my passions have begun to align. It’s a reality that I have been after for a while now, and I’m thrilled that it’s finally coming to fruition.  Over at the Synod of Mid-America, I am privileged to get to work everyday on things that matter most to me. I get to spend every day figuring out how to work with others to help religious professionals be the best leaders they can be.

Around Christmas of last year, I started noticing that supporting leaders in the church was where I was naturally gravitating in my thinking. “A Good Word,” the compilation of sermons in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting was the first time that it came clear to me. I walked several pastors through that weekend, encouraging them  and reminding them that they were truly called and gifted for moments like that. It was an honor to be their cheerleader, and I wanted more of it.

Soon, it started happening that the work my Commissioners at the Synod wanted be to be about lined up with my own personal goals. It took me a while to realize it, but when I did it was remarkable.

So, to honor that shift, I’m going to take my blog over to the website of the Synod of Mid-America, and I’d like you to join me and my colleague, James, as we work to offer helpful resources and encouragement to those of you serving in the leadership of the Body of Christ. Even though we’re talking specifically to Presbyterians, I hope that we’ll do it in a way that allows all of you to join in and see the benefit for your church context.

You can find the blog here: http://www.synodma.org/blog

If you want to add it to your feedreader, cut and paste this link: http://www.synodma.org/blog/?format=rss

We also have a weekly podcast, that you can find here: https://www.synodma.org/somacast/ (iTunes link)

I’ll post here occasionally, but it’ll be mostly personal stuff.

Thanks.

PLGRM Magazine is evolving…

narthex header

It was almost a year ago when I sent my friend Rocky Supinger a text message that read: “I want to start a magazine with you.”

Because of your generosity through subscribing, writing for us, and spreading the word, that desire has become a reality. PLGRM Magazine has published two of it’s first four planned issues by featuring some incredible book excepts, interviews, essays and art helping us to explore the ideas behind what Diana Butler Bass calls the “New Spiritual Awakening.” It’s an exciting project. Indeed, as one subscriber has said, “There’s just nothing like it.”

One of the key ideas fueling the New Spiritual Awakening is that relationships are assuming a place of primacy. Our friends are become the center of our spiritual life. People are, once again, becoming the most important thing about the Christian Faith, as they should be.

PLGRM Magazine has already proven itself to be a capable and exciting forum for exploring the ideas of the New Spiritual Awakening. Now, we’d like to begin exploring the people behind it.

When I first meet other church folk I am certainly interested in hearing what they think about our faith, but I’m just as interested when I meet a pastor from Pittsburgh who geeks out on home brewing and wants to tell me all about it. I’m as inclined to listen to someone wax on about Process Theology as I am to listen to them share about their love of science-fiction. As deeply as they can go into the nooks and crannies of our shared life together, I know that there is a multitude of awesome in there that I know nothing about, but that informs everything they say, do, and believe.

I so badly want to discover those pieces of awesome.

PLGRM Magazine is evolving, and it will no longer simply be a place to think and write about the church. We want it to be a place where we focus on people who love the church and everything that appeals to them. Sort of a lifestyle mag for church geeks. You know, geeks like us?

Beginning February 15 we are going to begin publishing a regular digital edition, called The Narthex. The Narthex will publish four articles, twice a month, straight to your email inbox.

      Writing for The Narthex

The Christian blogosphere has a lot of great writing, and The Narthex does not seek to replace it. Rather, we want to supplement it as another creative outlet. Our writers will retain full rights to their work, and are free to publish their pieces to their own blogs and networks a month after they appear in this collection.

If you think this is the kind of place for you to stretch your wings as a writer, please send us a piece. We’re looking for 1000-1500 word long articles on whatever is of interest to you. No lie. If it matters to you, then it matters to us.

And we’re paying. Not much at first, but we’re paying.

      How’s It Gonna Work?

We’re beginning with a simple email newsletter, but we might evolve the format into something else. We’re not sure. We want to see if this thing flies.

We’re not doing another Kickstarter. We’re not going to raise any more money. We’re going to build this piece from the ground up by asking for subscriptions of $2 per month. Trust me, with the pieces we’ve got coming in, it’ll be worth it.

Our only cost is paying writers, and I’m committing enough to make sure we can publish 6 issues, three months of writing goodness. If we haven’t been able to cover the costs by then, we’ll shut it down. No harm, no foul.

PLGRM will still publish the final two issues we’ve promised. In fact, we’d love to treat PLGRM, in part, as an archive of The Narthex’s best pieces, and we’d love to include you in figuring out which of those qualify. But “going digital” in this way will allow us to make PLGRM an even more substantial publication, committing our energies to interviews, finding brand new long-form writing, and beautiful and inspiring art.

      Please Join Us

If you think this is the kind of thing you would love, head over to our subscription page and sign up. We’d love to have you.

I’m blogging elswhere for a while. Come check it out…

For those of you that don’t know, I’m starting a magazine. Remember that one idea I had for a magazine called “The New Ecclesiast”? Well, it’s now called PLGRM and you can find it here. I’m going to be blogging over there for the time being. You should come join me. 🙂

I’ve also started a Kickstarter campaign to help fund it. I could REALLY use your help with that, and you can do that here.

Also, here’s the latest blog post from the PLGRM site.

I’m back, and I have a new idea. (Yes. Another one.)

No worries, campers. Theocademy is not dead, but it is morphing into something else. More on that in another post.

For now, I’d like your help thinking through another idea that I have. Buckle up, this might be a bumpy ride.

I have recently been reading through Diana Butler Bass’ new book Christianity After Religion: The End of The Church And The Birth of A New Spiritual Awakening. I had intended to wait to break it open this summer after the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (when my term as Vice Moderator ends and my life returns to a relatively normal pace), but this series of posts by my friend Rocky changed my mind.

I’ve gotta tell you: I love this book. Not only because it’s great writing, but because I resonate with it so completely. For instance: Just a month ago I preached that we should be about “belonging, behaving, andthen believing as Christians.” Then I pop open DBB’s book and…she’s saying the same thing.

Awesome.

So Rocky and I are chatting this text up, having a blast and I mention that I am returning to a love affair with long-form writing, high-quality journalism, and print as of late. I have discovered media outlets that are staffed and visioned by persons of my generation who consider topics I’m concerned about and write about them in a way that I can hang with.

So I suggest to Rocky that we start a magazine exploring the “next Great Awakening” that DBB writes about in her book. He doesn’t run for the hills, so we proceed. 2-3 weeks later, and after many many chat conversations we’ve birthed an idea, and I’d like you to help me figure out if its just an idea better left to the wayside or one worth pursuing.

The upshot is, I’d like you to take a survey about the magazine concept for me. It’s truly not long and it’ll take maybe 5 minutes of your time.

We’re calling the idea “The New Ecclesiast”, and here’s the “Editorial Philosophy” we’re working from:

The New Ecclesiast is a quarterly thematic journal that investigates the people and ideas associated with the “new spiritual awakening” as suggested by Diana Butler Bass in her book Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening. The main focus will be the lives and interests of those no longer satisfied with Modern Christendom, especially younger Gen Xers and Millennials as they search for a more authentic spiritual expression. The message will be bold and principled, unafraid to take firm stances on dicey issues, and will find its content largely in the consideration of inter-religious/inter-spiritual ideas and practices, the work and convictions surrounding creation care, and in the pursuit of peace and equality (with particular focus on combating violence, poverty, and oppression). This message will be communicated through a variety of voices – some humorous, some painful, some cutting, some joyful – but will each share an earnestness that this journey towards a new spiritual awakening is vital and must be taken seriously. Ultimately, this platform has been created in order to inspire these new ecclesiasts to begin crafting new structures of their religious and spiritual existence, and to realize that they need not do it alone for they are not alone.

If that sounds like a magazine you’d consider subscribing to, I would love for you to take our survey. I’ll leave it up until next Saturday so you have some time.

Thanks.

Click here to take survey

Remix Reformation: A book proposal

I have been trying to discern what my next book will be. I thought it was going to be a proper theology, but, once I finished the first chapter of that work, I realized that the text wanted to stand on its own. Hence, Theology is Art, which was completed about three months ago.

Earlier in December, I tried to write an epic novel, but it was…horrible. No lie. It was really, really bad. Some of you, who are good and kind, offered to read it to see if it was really as bad as I am saying it is, but I’m never letting that puppy see the light of day.

I briefly tried to write another piece of fiction, but I found I had no passion for it. The smart money is for me to write something on spirituality and personality types, for I get around 10 visitors a day to the site simply because they are looking for that kind of information.

But then, a few days ago, I saw the film Press Pause Play. Here is the description from the film’s homepage:

The digital revolution of the last decade has unleashed creativity and talent in an unprecedented way, with unlimited opportunities. But does democratized culture mean better art or is true talent instead drowned out? This is the question addressed by PressPausePlay, a documentary film containing interviews with some of the world’s most influential creators of the digital era.

The following clip, in particular, caught my attention (mostly because I have a man-crush on Seth Godin):

He’s right. The “industry is dead,” regardless of what industry you’re a part of. That means the church, too.

This film and other works surveying the current state of “remix culture” (and the tangential issues of piracy and copyright infringement) have prompted me to begin working on another exploration of the intersection of digital culture and the Christian faith. I’m tentatively titling the work Remix Reformation.

Here’s the abstract I wrote:

With the advent of the digital networked culture, sharing and collaboration are the norm. The democratization of media has enabled anyone to become a “content creator” and distribute their new creations to the world.

In essence, it has become so much easier to do what we have always done: take the creations of the past, build upon them to generate something new, and distribute that new creation to the world. However, those who have profited in the past are seeking to control the next wave of creation through copyright law and the protection of “intellectual property.”

Because the powers of the past willfully neglect the process by which new creations are born,  a growing number of “digital pirates” are seeking to actively subvert and disrupt the immoral laws that have been put into place. Through piracy, copyright infringement, and a new approach to copyright (open source, Creative Commons, etc.) the controllers of the past are being neutralized and rendered irrelevant.

There is a similar story that can be told about the Christian faith, I believe.

Christianity was, itself, a remix of Judaism and Hellenistic culture (so was the Bible). This new creation then spread to Europe and on to the Modern west. At each stage of the advance, the form of Christianity that was prevalent resisted the progression of the faith. Notably, Protestant persecution occurred during the period of the Inquisition. Today, however, the extreme measures taken by the Inquisition simply would not fly. What has risen in its place is a vitriolic coercion in the defense of orthodoxy, which often takes the form of laying the blame of the decline of Christendom at the feet of progressive Christians.

The only way for Christianity to move forward is to nullify and neutralize the neo-orthodoxy Christian fundamentalism that is attempting to retain control. Remix Reformation will explore how, exactly, this can be done in theology, spirituality, and in the life of the Church.

How does that strike you?