The church desperately needs women to lead for it to be whole and beautiful…to represent Jesus fully in the world.
Just the writings of your stereotypical pastor / programmer / writer. Bryan Dormaier is a leader of Sacred Roots, a small church in the Foster-Powell & Mt. Scott Arleta neighborhood areas. If you are looking for more information about what Bryan is doing or how you can help, click here
Rec'd ReadsCheck out this link for a list of books I'd recommend and if you buy through that link, a small proceed also comes back to me to help me pay my bills!
As a further response to the earlier person’s question, well I guess more statement, that Rob Bell says hell doesn’t exist and there are tons of “solid Bible teachers” decrying him as a heretic, I’d like to ask whether those critics really read the book with any charity.
You see, I have read Love Wins and Rob says that hell exists and that we’d hate a God who didn’t leave space for people to reject him (mean Rob isn’t a classic universalist either).
But more interesting to me is how central hell is to our belief. I’ve read people say that if hell doesn’t exist and if God is inclusive, then there’s no reason for any missional impetus.
This bothers me, because if we read between the lines, what we’re really saying is Christianity and missions is about getting out of metaphysical hell and that’s it.
But, let’s play this out for a second. Let’s pretend that we found out that there is no hell, would that change what you believe about Jesus or about how you live if you knew that in the end, you’d just stop existing? Because if you require hell for your faith to make sense, your faith isn’t in Jesus, your faith is in not burning. Christianity is supposed to be about way, way more than whether we end up in heaven or hell. But a convergence of certain theologies and a distrust towards the physical instead breeded a whole bunch of attitudes about Christianity that the early church wouldn’t recognize.
You see, the very first Christians, before they were even called Christians were called followers of the way of Jesus. What does it mean to follow the way of someone? I’d suspect that you’d find that it means more about how you live with others than it does about your beliefs in heaven and hell.
This isn’t to say that heaven and hell aren’t important, no. But it’s a pushback - why the hell is hell the thing of all the doctrines that we most insist has to be part of the package and why do we insist that if there were the possibility that hell isn’t as we’ve imagined it, that the good news is somehow less good?
Anonymous asked: I noticed you've recommend a book by Rob Bell. Rob Bell has endorsed same sex marriage which directly contradicts Scripture. Many solid Bible teachers have already called Rob Bell a heretic especially since he wrote a book in which he denies the existence of hell. How can you recommend Rob Bell's books?
Ok, so there’s some questions here and there’s some implied questions here, dear anonymous. Amongst what is implied is a question as to whether I agree with the stances you believe Rob to have on these subjects, or whether I agree with you and “solid Bible teachers.”
Frankly, I don’t find those questions to really be helpful or enlightening, so I’d ask a question in response:
Have you ever found someone helpful on a topic?
If you did and you said they were really helpful on that topic, would that immediately mean that you agree with everything that they’ve ever written on every topic about every thing?
An example of what I’m getting at - Martin Luther has some brilliant theology, some of which has been brilliantly enlightening to me. But Martin Luther also said some incredibly terrible things about Jews and said that the Epistle of James was an epistle of straw that didn’t belong in the Bible.
Because Martin Luther said some terrible things (and bear in mind, I’m not commenting on Rob here, this is a thought experiment), should I never quote him or draw on his theology that was right, because after all, there were some places in which he was terrible?
I do not worship matter, I worship the God of matter, who became matter for my sake and deigned to inhabit matter, who worked out my salvation through matter. I will not cease from honoring that matter which works for my salvation. I venerate it, though not as God.
— John of Damascus | HT: Paul Louis Metzger
I’m fascinated by the number of emails that circulate claiming all these new and ingenious ways that criminals are prowling and trying to take advantage of people. Just today, I’ve seen two emails of the sort - one claiming rapists are using elderly people to lure potential victims and another about rapists using small children to trick unsuspecting women into being jumped when attempting to drop these children off.
What is perhaps most interesting about this is how it has a sense of it which plays to our constant worry that the world is an ever more sinister place.
While these sorts of emails, even though they are most certainly hoaxes, may seem on one hand to be helpful in getting people to be more mindful of their surroundings, I worry that there can also be something more sinister at play. When you feel that every story ever about something that’s happened might actually just be someone trying to take advantage of you, it leads to the choice to be callous to the needs of others - because who knows when it might be a scam.
It seems we are often so taken with making sure we’re not being got - by the person asking for money for bus fair, or helping someone and inadvertently being entrapped - (some of these concerns actually having a more reasonable chance than others) that we also pass up many legitimate opportunities to help others.
This isn’t even the sort of discussion about giving a panhandler money because “you know they’re going to use it to buy booze.” This is rather a continuous fear mongering attempt in which we trust our neighbors less and less.
Peter Rollins on Zombies
One of my current interests is the examination of comics through the lens of sociological and philosophical engagement. Last year there was a rash of theologians engaging the popularity of the Walking Dead. Many of these left me wanting in that their analysis felt a little on the shallow end, engaging what was too easy and missing some of the deeper reasons as to why the zombie as monster is so resonant with current pop culture.
While reading Peter Rollins’ The Idolatry of God, I found in Pete’s writing an approach that gets a little more at what i think is why the zombie is a resonant monster to us.
It is the reality of this drive (the human drive for an idol to fulfill our sense of lack) that helps us understand the genesis of zombie mythology, for zombies express this pure drive completely divorced from any social constraints or self-interested pursuit of pleasure. In this way, the zombie will do anything in its desire for human flesh, even if it involves its own ultimate destruction. The zombie then expresses pure human drive without the social and psychological constraints that keep it in check. The undead obsessively pursue something beyond the mere satisfaction of a need.
Zombies reflect an aspect of our own nature back to us in a pure and undiluted form. They express what is most uniquely human about us-that which is absent from other animals. But, in doing so, the undead also express that part of our being that makes us feel inhuman, that part that places us into direct conflict with ourselves and those around us.
So then, the zombie is not some alien creature that uses the empty shell of humang beings in order to live, but instead is the overwhelming dominance of one aspect of our being-a drive-existing beyond the death of everything else.
When we watch a zombie film, there is a very real sense in which we are being directly confronted with an image of what it is that makes us what we are. In this way the zombie apocalypse isn’t coming; it is already here. It happened at the very birth of the human race. The zombie is within us.
What we see taking place in the church today is the reduction of God to an Idol, that is, to a thing that will satisfy us and fill the gap we feel in our hearts. In thinking of God in this way, the church ends up mimicking every other industry by claiming that they can take away the sense of loss that marks our life. In this way, they make God into nothing more than an impotent MacGuffin. … By claiming that God is the way to fill this gap, they reduce the divine to the level of a product.
— Peter Rollins | The Idolatry of God
a big change
I’ve been putting off writing about this for a while, but it’s about time to do so. Three weeks ago, Sacred Roots leadership team got together and decided that it was time to disband our weekly gathering.
Suffice it to say, this has not been an easy last few weeks. They’ve been weeks full of emotions - sad, thankful, marveling amongst them. Four years ago, a handful of us got together to ask what it would look like to start a church that made sense in southeast Portland. The result of those conversations started the experiment that was Sacred Roots.
There have been so many beautiful moments over the course of the life of this experiment in spiritual community. Our involvement with Our Happy Block has been and continues to be one very shining example of that. But it was also an experiment that never reached a point of sustainability and so we decided it was time to put this iteration to end.
You’ll note that I’ve been referring to our community as an experiment rather than a church plant. To put it simply, I’m tired of trying to start a church. That isn’t to say that a church wouldn’t be the end goal of the project, but rather that to focus on that as the end goal brings up all kinds of images of what a project or experiment must become.
In the scientific method you form a hypothesis and then conduct experiments to work on test out that hypothesis. Once you’ve conducted the experiments, you take the field data and examine the hypothesis, see where it was right and where it was wrong, and start the process again.
To me, this is what our current decision is. It would be easy to call this project a failure - it only lasted four years, it didn’t result in a sustainable church. But I think that is being untrue to the reality. There has been much to be gleaned in insight and success from Sacred Roots and I know that these things are things that I am going to be dwelling on as I reapproach the hypothesis that started this whole endeavor for me.
Tonight, we gathered for the last time, we reminisced on our experiences and the beauty we’ve experienced together. We laughed at some funny moments and marveled at how we created a space to really learn about God from each other and to stretch our imaginations of what it means to live a life of faith. We commissioned each other to go out in whatever is next. These things seem right and good in staying true to the roots that started this whole process off.
With any announcement like this, it would be almost immediate that one would ask “what’s next?” So a brief word about that. I discerned that it would be good to take a year off from any sort of official leadership position, so I will be spending the next year in the neighborhood. I’ll be continuing many of the practices I’ve developed and I’ll be taking the field data from the past four years to re-examine our formative hypothesis of what church looks like for us in this neighborhood in this time.
I do know this, as of now my calling has not changed. My goal is still to help work with Christ followers to think through what it means to live the Jesus story well in our neighborhood. I can’t say for certain, but suspect that might mean embarking on this sort of experiment again.
To finish off this update, I will just say that I have no regrets about Sacred Roots. I have nothing but love for those that have been a part of this and I recognize that it’s a huge blessing that we could finish this without any major interpersonal conflicts or unresolved issues. This was an amicable ending and one of mutual affirmation as we each continue to pursue this way of life in Portland. Our project has served as a great training ground for working this out, and I’m so proud to see all the personal growth in so many that have been with us. That is worth it’s weight in gold. While my eyes may be quite wet with tears now, I know that it’s all been worth it. I’m excited for a year off to process.
But even more so I’m excited to see what’s next for Tom and Des, Thomas and Heather, Matt and so many others. And I’m excited to see what God has next for me!
A moment of grace
I’m not going to get around to writing other recaps of my time here for a few days but I wanted to share a brief story of grace that happened today.
We arrived in Jerusalem this evening and went out to explore, ending up at the church of the holy sepulchre. Now the tradition here is that in places that are holy, you show respect and have to have your shoulders and knees covered. I didn’t realize we were going there when we went out, so I was wearing a tank top. The line to go into the altar where the church believes Jesus’ tomb was was really short, so we got in line. It was the shortest I would ever see in my life and had to take it.
When we got to the front I was asked by a monk to not go in because my shoulders were uncovered, so I left the line downtrodden, waiting for my friends to go through. While I sat there, feeling sad I wouldn’t be able to go in, a nun walked up and offered me her prayer shawl so I could cover my shoulders and go in.
It was incredible to go and pray in this place that so many Christians have revered over the years. As I’ve reflected, I’ve thought about how it was such a tangible moment of grace. Here I was about to be excluded for not thinking and I was extended grace by a stranger. What a beautiful little moment in my time here!