Monday, April 27, 2009

Planned Chaos

Several of us have been reading Peter Rollins (35 year old Irish postmodern scholar) and founder of the IKON community in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Josh was recently so impacted that he wants to make his way over to visit the IKON community. I second the desire and hope we at Open Hand can help launch Josh on an extended visit. Check out his book - How Not To Speak of God.

Apparently one of Peter's mentors was/is Merold Westphal (Overcoming Onto-Theology Toward a Postmodern Christian Faith) a Philosophy Professor at Fordham University. Good, challenging thinking written with his atheistic postmodern friends in mind and his friends with faith that are dead set against postmodernist notions in mind. (seeing it as warmed-over Nietzschean atheism)

Both these authors seem to be articulating ideas that many of us have felt deep in our bones, but didn't have much of a vocabulary for. Something along the lines of living / speaking about christian faith in the white hot center of the great emergence.... a place not yet populated by many people.

Ann started me on this journey a few years ago (emergent questioning / thinking) and I have been amazed at how much she can take in and absorb, while still deeply loving the inherited church - especially TAB. Ann and many women of Open Hand are a special breed of differentiated authenticity and well connected to the sacred feminine power - much like the first women at the tomb. I hope to do a better job of listening (and believing) when she and the other women of our tribe speak up. They usually have something very valuable for all of us.

Marshall is another person doing something very special - in Romania he is pioneering a new path (or rediscovering an ancient and forgotten one) that leads right into the emergent center of the global Kingdom of God. It continues to be a privilege to walk along beside him from time to time on the journey and see just how far he has progressed into territory that few other believers have the courage to even imagine.

This reminds me of the thoughts of Charles Fleetham in his book on unrational leadership - and his five principles of unrational leadership:
1. start all problem solving by taking personal responsibility
2. aim at increasing and releasing unconscious energy, not just external efficiency
3. confront and partner with the unconscious - rituals help us do this - prayer, meditation
4. creativity drives change - what we need more of is planned chaos
5. look two generations behind and two generations ahead (wrestling with past, present, future)

So let us at Open Hand enjoy more 'planned chaos' in 2011.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


As I knelt to the ground and bowed my head in a posture of repentance, I felt the gracious hands of Todd and Geoff on my shoulders. The tension in my neck melted away as they called out to God with a righteous intensity - 'Lord Jesus, forgive our brother Steve for the errors of his ways. He has publicly confessed his sins, and is now seeking reconciliation with those of us that were harmed in various ways by the Open Hand community. Lord, help Steve make a clean break from his misguided colleagues and friends, give him a fresh start with those of us that can help restore his true Christian faith. In Jesus name, Amen.'

'That's it?', I asked as I rose to my feet. 'Well it's a beginning', Todd said as he gave me a solid hug. Geoff added firmly, 'Steve you will essentially need to break off all fellowship with Rod, Marshall, Larisa, Rich, Janet, Scott, Jeanne, Josh and your wife Ann and your kids.' 'Remember what the Lord said about loving him more than family and friends!'

I mumbled something about taking up my cross and following them when Jim placed a large arm around my neck and with a welcome embrace said, 'Steve make sure you leave a note reminding your wife that she is not invited to our reconciliation prayer meeting at the cafe.' 'She is such a trouble maker!'

Before I could respond, Berry licked my face and his big paws stretched across my chest, crushing my nightmare back into the early morning darkness......

Jesus and the women

Jesus tomb is secured to guarantee that he who had died should stay dead....but there is an earthquake, and a numinous being appears, and the guards at the tomb swoon in is they who become as dead men, telling us that if we seal ourselves up against renewal it will come anyway, but frighteningly, as a shaking of the earth we stand upon, of the very foundations of what supports us...if w want to guarantee that our God is dead and hold that, then we will become as dead guardians at the empty tomb, holding fast to our emptiness......

Open for transformation - the women at the tomb are not sealed up against it is that we are opened to transformation of the flesh by the females among us, or symbolically the sacred feminine within us....this capacity can stand for "fear and joy" that the angel's announcement brings...

Apostles - the women at the tomb run to tell the others, acting as apostles to the apostles...and there is initial disbelief among the men....showing how hard it is to recognize old truths in new forms....and with what distrust we receive the wisdom of the resurrected body...we are endlessly uneasy with those modes of being in us that are simply open to God.

Sharing - God comes to us across the gap, bringing the capacity to let be what is before us, to look at it and take it in, and then respond to it...this showing off of the new and transformed that comes so unexpectedly brings an impetus, indeed a necessity, to tell others, to share it, to give it away....this we cannot receive without sharing.....this is not a private showing, but a breaking into the lives of all of us.....

Ordinary tasks of life - Jesus has been doing this always, appearing in the ordinary tasks of life...when John and Peter are fishing, Jesus tells them where to find their catch; he reveals himself when they break bread together...the literal taking in of food for the body opens the soul to its nourishment, to taking in transformed values, old truths made new...the life of the soul is always rooted in the body...the sacraments are always directed to enter the body...

Community - when Jesus comes to his disciples as a new community made up of those who have seen his new form, the coming to them entails their going to others in the body...Jesus tells them to Go, teach, preach, feed, forgive, show visible signs of the invisible, God coming across the gap to us brings us the power to see and to receive and sends us on to others to share the transformation now taking up residence in our own bodies....

Holy Spirit - that is what it means for Jesus to breathe on the disciples and say, Receive the Holy Spirit...the new value is personal and it is special for the soul and the body of humanity in the enters history as well as the psyche; it changes individuals as well as society...we can't have it for one without the receive is to give, to give is to share, to share is to join in a new Being that comes across the gap between our finite images of God's infinite mystery to make us a new creation...
Ann and Barry Ulanov

Resurrection and the Healing Imagination

Imagination - lives and shapes our persons, making objective reality alive and interesting to us because or our imaginings about it...still for all that, we know that our pictures of God, personal or traditional, do not equate with God - the unfathomable mystery of deity abides....

Religious imagination - though we honor the different primordial lenses through which the invisible becomes visible in different ways to different people, we can't say it does not matter which lens we use, that all these pictures are relative to person or group or context, that one will serve as well as another...

Two reasons this will not do:

1.) the first is that such an attitude is too careless about God...when God comes to us, it matters very much how and to whom and in what form and where....a hallmark of religious experience is its specificity, even to the exact time and date - there is nothing vague or general about such an is concrete, particular and it rips time in two and thenceforth everything is marked as before or becomes a central date and moment....we gain our history from it...and our subsequent imaginings about the experience arrive in specific images and order not only our history, but all our shared history with others, delineating all we know as community.

2.) the second reason a loose relativism about god-images will not do is that it ignores the reality of the imagination...imagining is always rooted in the body, in time, in history...we make use of our instincts, of our active experiences, of the languages native to our own particular culture...we are finite and particular and must use what is most immediately available to us...the event invades and reorders us: altering the entire force field in which we live, making something new of us, not simply offering one among several alternative directions to us...

Ann and Barry Ulanov

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ramble on...

The now's the time, the time is now
to sing my song.

To the non-Zeppelin fans reading this --oh who am I kidding, is there such a thing as someone who does not recognize the genius of Led Zeppelin?

Ryan gave me access to contribute to this blog and I have been wringing my brain for something to write. Or rather something to contribute, which is far different than me quoting random lyrics from the 70's.

My reading list of late has consisted mainly of fiction and letters from 17th century Japanese swordsmen; at first glance it had nothing to do with the likes of Friedman or Jung.

I was re-reading O'Steven's notes from Friedman on leadership and found many similarities:

1.) engage without being reactive
2.) teach a new way of thinking
3.) stimulate without rescuing
4.) observe without willing the other's head to change
5.) the nature of one's Being - becomes transitive

All of these points can be found in classic books on swordsmanship.

As my previous Sensei pointed out, engagement and entanglement are deeply rooted in our culture. We watch sports which pit one team against the other and neither is allowed to disengage until the clock tells them to. In debating and sales, we are rewarded for turning the opinions of others to our side.

My current Sensei keeps telling me that thinking is bad for my health. If I think about what someone else is going to do, I construct a plan of how I will react to it. If my partner then chooses a different attack, I must first let go of the thought I was holding to react accordingly. It is far better to to remain calm and wait for what is being given to me so I can blend with it.

"I hate waiting." -Inigo Montoya

Over the past ten years, of all the things that have changed in my personality, I think my small increase in patience has been the most beneficial. I don't need to point out that most of the credit goes to Mary. Patience in my mind is the removal of fear from the equation. Sitting and waiting while biting my fingernails is not being patient. Patience is sitting calmly and letting time take its course while looking my problems in the eye.

The ironic thing is that I have more to fear now than ever before. I have a lovely wife. I have two beautiful children. I have a better appreciation for my life. Yet with all of that, I find myself able to wear my resonsibilities comfortably.

Once or twice a week, I pay to go to a white room with padded flooring and let people swing wooden sticks at my head in an effort to be calm and wait so I can act appropriately. It is an exercise on a small scale of what I am trying to do with my life. or at least until Cora is old enough to start dating.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Craigslist Add

I have read your response and am wondering about the house rules and things like that. Youth With A Mission is religion-based if I'm not mistaken. I want to be honest with you and let you know that I am not an avid church-goer. Do you have students rent from you who are not involved with YWAM? While I am not too familiar with it, I do not judge it either. Let me Know. Thanks.
Prospective Renter

Our organization is named Open Hand - and meaning all that implies. Currently only two of the eleven folks that live in our homes are connected with faith based YWAM. The rest found us on Craigslist just like you. We have no rules and each home creates (or not) its own structure. We have had over 100 internationals living in our homes and everyone is free to participate as much or little as they want in our extended community life. But it would be best for you to see the homes and meet some of the roommates to better answer any of your questions. I have no idea of the faith / or lack thereof for our folks from Burma, Mexico, Japan, Russia, and Korean currently living here. Monette and Evelyn would consider themselves Christian. I have a Butler student moving in in May - Anthropology and Physics - and he wants to live with internationals and learn Japanese.

Anyway, you are welcome to respond accordingly. The address of the homes are 215 E. 32nd Street and 3174 N. Delawares Street.

My wife is a MFT and we study and apply Bowen Theory in our mental health work. We will be at the Bowen Family Life Center on the campus of Georgetown University next weekend for a conference. We also will be traveling for a Board meeting in Barcelona in May - Mana Deschisa Romania. This is our outreach / ministry to older street folks from Bucharest. We have many properties and projects in Campina (one hour north of Bucharest) and are combining our non-profit faith-based ministry with global business.

Lots of fun! I would beware though - it is very challenging for some folks to live in the midst of our community. The house at 215 has the "spirit of marriage" on it - as for told by a Kenyan pastor many years ago and now we have had over a dozen marriages from men and women that have met and lived in that home. (I married a couple two years ago - they were from Teach for America and started out by not getting along very well. The next thing I knew they were coming over for couples therapy and then asked me to marry them.)

So beware and

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Josh is no longer a web log virgin

-verb (used with object)
1) to give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; contribute strength or means to; render assistance to; cooperate effectively with.
2) to save; rescue; succor
. . .
- verb (used with or without object)
to involve oneself in a matter without right or invitation; interfere officiously and unwanted.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I have been giving quite a bit of thought to helping, being that I am learning to be a "professional helper". Mike Mather (Pastor at Broadway UMC) shared this video with me. May I resist the temptation to blur "help" with "meddling"; resist the pull to "help" without "knowing" . . .

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Open Hand Gathering May 3rd

Please join us in welcoming Marshall McKenna at our next Sunday evening pitch-in on May 3rd - 6:00pm outside at the Reynolds house. He will be arriving in Indy for a visit (sans family)on April 28th before flying to LA on May 5th. I say cheers!!!!

Black Saturday Breakfast

For the men of Open Hand - 8:30am Black Sabbath breakfast at O'Steven's...lets talk about what Jesus did wrong to get himself killed. (I think most of the women will be praying and fasting - and just who do they think will be listening?)

German Words of Wisdom

"I faked it until I believed it !"

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A new member of the community on the way

You may or may not know that, our friends, Kath and Derek Powell are at the hospital in  the process of welcoming a new baby. Their child is breach, and will likely require C-section. Please keep the Powell's in your prayers for safe arrival of this baby and Kath's recovery.

Also, the baby is coming a little earlier than expected and so the house isn't quite ready to be as welcoming as their hearts. So, as a loving community, let's make ourselves available to help in any way the Powell's should need us.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Fatal Conceit & The Errors of Socialism

by F.A. Hayek

On Differentiation

Freedom involves freedom to be different - to have one's own ends in one's domain; yet order everywhere, and not only in human affairs, also presupposes differentiation of its elements. Such differentiation might be confined merely to the local or temporal position of its elements, but an order would hardly be of any interest unless the differences were greater than this. Order is desirable not for keeping everything in place, but for generating new powers that would otherwise not exist. The degree of orderliness - the new powers that order creates and confers - depends more on the variety of the elements than on their temporal or local position.

The advantage of individual differentiation is all the greater in that it makes large groups more efficient. Thus, differences among individuals increase the power of the collaborating group beyond the sum of individual efforts. Synergetic collaboration brings into play distinctive talents that would have been left unused had their possessors been forced to strive alone for sustenance.

Thus individuals had to become different, before they could be free to combine into complex structures of cooperation. Moreover, they had to combine into entities of a distinct character: not merely a sum but a structure in some manner analogous to, and in some important respects differing from, an organism.


I have frequently seen people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life. They seek position, marriage, reputation, outward success or money and remain unhappy and neurotic even when they have attained what they were seeking. Such people are usually confined within too narrow a spiritual horizon. Their life has not sufficient content, sufficient meaning, and if they are enabled to develop into more spacious personalities, the neurosis generally disappears. For that reason the idea of development was always of the highest importance to me.

C. Jung

Pondering "Wild at Heart"

by: O'Steven Joyce another Irish writer

Apparently in 2002 many mild mannered, very polite and nice tame guys read it and talked about it and went to conferences about it and discussed it some more and thought about it and pondered its meaning with other nice guys around the USA until it became a best seller in the evangelical world where it was put on the agenda for further committee meetings to determine how it might be incorporated into the church without causing nasty disruptions and divisional splits that might actually lead to destructive situations where determined young men go on the offensive picking fights while destroying reputations in the process of living passionately for their Lord, and once marshalling their band of destructive brothers go on to wipe out all forms of freedom that don't conform to their particular brand of pure faith and with righteous anger they flaunt their strength quoting scripture while scaring women and children and stampeding in herds that rush to and from as God's army defending Christendom from pagans while traveling as globetrotting missionaries building a kingdom out of sheer might and power of persuasion inspired by the Holy Ghost of doom and gloom for the salvation of the heathen, grown cold and stupid with generations of sin and wickedness that couldn't recognize God if he showed up as Morgan Freeman on the big screen at the drive in theater where modernist philosophy is the bottom line of a culture needing the white hot fire of revival and the inoculation of the mega church membership somewhere in the suburbs away from the the urban stains of the dust of death that have clouded any clear thinking at the universities and the broader global marketplace which racks up capital hoards of wealth tainted with the sweat and blood of countless, faceless souls laboring to survive in coastal third world cities that have clearly rejected Jesus' saving grace for ancestor worship and animal sacrifice over thousands of years leading to, poverty, disease and AIDS not to mention global warming and other countless afflictions whose spread and high mortality rates are a blight not only to those guilty containers of wasted humanity but even the chosen brethren spread in the blessed lands of Europe and the USA where faith has taken root and the likes of Calvin, Luther and Wesley have turned over in their graves at the state of the affairs in the kingdom at the start of another century where once again faithful destructive men with righteous anger lay waste the sin and corruptions that so easily entangles them.

Shame. All this from a wee little book.