Friday, October 10, 2014

Q Commons 2014 Livestream | Bringing the National Event to Worcester – Thursday, October 9, 2014

Emmaus City Worcester MA Soma 3DM Acts 29 Christian Reformed Church Network of Missional Communities

Q Commons 2014 | National Event on Thursday, October 9, 2014 

Q Commons exists to help people learn and consider how to advance good in our local communities. Last night I had the opportunity to participate via their livestream by broadcasting this event through Google Chromecast. The cost was $19 and it was definitely worth it to hear from Tim Keller, Ann Voskamp, and others about how to impact culture through faithful and grateful lives that proactively engage those around them. Below are my notes of quotes I was able to scribble down during these chats that often lasted no more than 10 minutes.

1 | Tim Keller | Why Culture Matters

Emmaus City Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Network of Missional CommunitiesPeople of faith differ on how much concern we should pay to the culture at hand, questioning what good can we really do engaging in a broken world. Can we really make a significant difference? Does God share these concerns? Every generation must answer these questions in the same way creatives, artisans, industry and civic leaders have done for two millennia. Tim Keller, New York Times Bestselling Author and Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City provides a fundamental perspective on why culture matters to God and therefore must matter to us. His insights helped ground thinking in why its not optional to engage culture, but rather, part of the holistic, disciplined life all human beings are created to enjoy.

1) What is culture?

"Culture is not leaving nature as it is, but making something of it. This is why when we deal with the land, we call it agriculture. And then, after the Enlightenment, in the 17th century we began to determine that we should also not leave human beings as they are, but cultivate them. This grew into a cultural view of a society shared beliefs and values, conversations and social structures that should be 'good, real, and important'. We engage culture by taking the raw material of anything and then we cultivate it.

Example | Music: Taking the raw material of sound and turning it and transforming it into melody and harmony

Example | Theater: Taking the raw material of human experiences and emotions and turning them into a narrative
'Culture is the power to define reality.' James Davison Hunter, Ph. D.   

2) How do we approach culture?  

"We take the raw materials that God has made and seek to cultivate it. The first humans were placed in a garden and told to have dominion over the land and animals. All culture-making is in essence 'gardening' filling, fertilizing, watering, and causing to grow that which we deem valuable and worthy of work.

Our approach is often shaped by how cultures are found as well as formed. Are cultures formed by individuals? Are they formed by families? Are they formed by certain 'tribes' or communities of people? Answers to these questions will also shape how we discern God's view of forming and shaping individuals, families, communities, work, sex, law, medicine, technology, ethics, art, business, money, agriculture, media, education, etc. 

3) Should we engage culture?    

"Unavoidably we will. But will we go with the flow whether in correspondence with or reaction to the societies that influence us – or will we be thoughtful in how to form and cultivate what God has made?

4) What's the way forward?

"While the traditional hierarchical view is in much of humanity's past, and modern secularism shapes much of humanity's present, we need to see and appreciate what is good without being non-triumphalistic in taking a Christ-focused approach. We should not give in to current cultural pressures simply because of their timing, and we don't always need to reject what is new simply because it's curious or foreign. 

Three views of the church in relation to how she has reacted to culture have been:

1) Transformational: We impact society to be what it should be
2) Social Justice: We serve the least of these and help the poor
3) Internal: We focus on building up the church 

All of these in their extreme can be dangerous for how we approach culture. We need an intersection and balance of all of the above in order to be who we were created to be and 'be fruitful and multiply' as God has challenged us to from the beginning." 

'The real point is valuing what God has made, believing that the creation is as 'good' as he said it was, and exploring the fullest dimensions of what it meant for the Son of God to 'become flesh and dwell among us.' Ultimately, intellectual work of this sort is its own reward, because it is focused on the only One whose recognition is important, the One before whom all hearts are open.' – Mark A. Noll      

2 | Ann Voskamp | Known By Our Gratitude

Emmaus City Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Network of Missional CommunitiesOne of the most powerful virtues in our society, is also one of our least known virtues: gratitude. Gratitude is the key to not only experiencing what communities want, an authentic, thriving joy   but is what Chesterton called the highest form of thinking. Thinking that is bedrock foundational to healthy relationships, strong communities, and vibrant culture. At a time when it seems easy to point out all that’s wrong with the world, advancing the common good requires finding, celebrating and cultivating the good, true and beautiful. This is key to how we will shape the future of our neighborhoods, cities and communities. New York Times Bestselling Author of One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp unpacked what can dynamically transform our communities gratitude in a profound and poetic way.

"Doxology (i.e. gratitude of God to God) or dark?

When a town chose to write down three things a day that they were thankful for, the people not only became less angry and less depressed, it increase positive activity for the entire town by twenty-five percent. Alertness, energy, optimism, generosity, and compassion were all impacted. Giving thanks and giving back go together. If we are not known for thanking God, then maybe we don't think enough about God.

Any deep healing in a community will always be related to deep gratitude.

15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.  
16 Rejoice always,  
17 pray without ceasing,  
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 
 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 
20 Do not despise prophecies, 
21 but test everything; hold fast what is good.  
22 Abstain from every form of evil.  
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Thessalonians 5:15-23

We are not the light. God is light. But we can reflect the light so the light drives out the darkness. And lightness is found in the humility of gratitude.

We hear the grace of God and see the face of God through gratitude. If you're grateful, then you're not fearful. And if you're not fearful, then you won't be violent.

Gratefulness leads to more goodness, which leads to more generosity, which leads to more gratefulness.

When we give thanks, we get joyful. An authentic revolution of gratitude will bring authentic resolution to our fears.

One the night He was betrayed, when Jesus had a universe of options in how He should respond, He gives thanks among His disciples, breaks the bread and pours the wine, and then gives Himself.

When we are radically grateful for what we have, then we will radically share it.  

3 | Southlake Church and Roosevelt High School in Portland, Oregan | Adopt a School: Be|Undivided


"Can you imagine … 300,000 churches serving 100,000 schools? We ask this question because today, in the U.S., there are 300,000 churches in relation to 100,000 schools. We believe churches serving schools can change everything and we believe building strong community means making sure kids and schools thrive. 

Be|Undivided is churches investing time and effort year-round in students and schools. Whatever the need. And without agenda or strings attached. It’s that simple, and that powerful."



4 | Andy Crouch, Jenny Yang, Jeremy Courtney | Religion and Public Life

Emmaus City Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Network of Missional Communities
Emmaus City Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Network of Missional CommunitiesMany Americans distrust religion, believing it should have no place in our public square. However for centuries, America has thrived when there was a healthy relationship between church and state, faith and public life. Citizens are more divided than ever about what role faith ought to play in our society’s discourse. Should religious views be regarded any longer in a modern society? Jenny Yang, Vice President of World Relief , Jeremy Courtney, author of Preemptive Love and co-founder and Executive Director of the Preemptive Love Coalition, and Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making, discussed the tensions and offered insight into how people of faith can change the dynamics. 

Emmaus City Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Network of Missional CommunitiesAC: "In humanity's history, the more you restrict religion, the more social hostility grows. Right now, it's not the U.S., but Brazil that welcomes the most diversity of religion while also providing the most religious freedom. Recently, Robert Woodberry researched "The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy" and discovered that non-state controlled missionaries actually benefited the societies they were in, where as the state-controlled provided no benefit."

JY: "Charity is giving a person food from your table. Justice is giving that person a seat at the table."

JC: "Tolerance of religion is allowing it only if you 'stay in your lane.' Freedom of religion is something very different."

JY: "God uses the immigrant throughout His story, going all the way back to Abraham. Another example would be Joseph, a slave sent into Egypt who ended up saving many nations including his own. God uses the immigrant to bring people to new places to impact other and for people to seek God together. How we treat the 'other' is how we reveal God to others in many ways."

AC: "Religion will not stay private. It will express itself in communities of practice."


5 | Robin Nagle | The Truth of Trash

Emmaus City Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Network of Missional Communities
Robin Nagle is the author of the book Picking Up and
anthropologist-in-residence for New York City's Department of Sanitation. She also teaches anthropology and runs the Draper Interdisciplinary Master's Program in Humanities and Social Thought at New York University. Her research considers the category of material culture known generically as "garbage," with an emphasis on the many forms of labor and infrastructure it requires as well as the organizational demands it imposes on urban areas. As she shared about her studies of the relationship between trash and cities, she showcased that if all material is from God, how should we treat that which we "throw away" as well as those who "take care of the trash" for us. 

"Does all material come from God? If so, can any of it be thoughtlessly discarded? 

Is garbage sacred or profane? The answer to this question will also reveal how we view sanitation or maintenance workers. How do they 'cleanse' a society? How do they 'maintain' us?

In so many ways, sanitation workers provide a liturgical rhythm to a city that makes us a whole again and thriving. Sometimes it's tedious, sometimes it's smelly, sometimes it's completely unpleasant, but how we treat trash and those who take care of trash reveals how we view life and our need for cleansing."

6 | Onleilove Alston | Race in Public Life

Emmaus City Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Network of Missional CommunitiesOnleilove Alston works with Faith in New York, a member of the PICO National Network, as the lead organizer for Brooklyn. Onleilove is also a workshop facilitator, speaker, and writer. In light of the recent turmoil in Ferguson, Missouri, Onleilove shared about how people can be proactive in addressing the tension the simmers to the surface in areas where race relations are in turmoil in our nation and across the world.

"The outcry in Ferguson began with shifts in population and police protection long before Michael Brown was shot. As more African Americans moved into the area, the more of a dichotomy in ethnicity and appearance there was between those who were sworn to protect this town and those who lived in it.

The question that's rising in the people of Ferguson is, 'Are police protecting people or an unjust system?' The reason many believe it is unjust is because the response has been over the top in relation to what is happening.

The question people need to ask is, 'Is our church proactive in addressing racial tension rather than reactive?' Do we live a full gospel, the ministry of reconciliation not only between God and man through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, but also between our fellow men? Do we consider how to organize people to reconciliation, to hope instead of hopelessness? For example, police stations have a clergy council, but do our clergy participate? Are our churches willing to work with Sojourners or PICO to learn? Recently, I was with PICO in St. Louis working with leaders from more than 200 churches to address the apparent need for wisdom in relation to race."

7 | Dale Kuehne | Sex and Identity in Public Life

Emmaus City Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Network of Missional CommunitiesDale S. Kuehne is the professor of Ethics, Economics, and the Common Good at Saint Anselm College. He was the Founding Director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. He also serves as the vice-chair of the Executive Branch Ethics Commission of New Hampshire. His current research focuses on the relationship between Religion, Politics, and Human Sexuality. He also recently authored a book for Baker Academic Press titled: Sex and the i World. He thoughtfully examined current issues pertaining to sexuality and society following the sexual revolution and asked questions like, "What kind of world are we creating?" and "Is it a world that is actually harming us more than benefiting us?"

"We've passed on our values from the sexual revolution to our own children and now we have a generation that often defines identity by sexual orientation. It wasn't only a revolution of sexuality. We've changed how we identify ourselves mostly through the lens of sex.

But, as with every generation, youth tend to rebel against what has been passed down. With the influx of more sexual imagery and easily accessible sexual activity, youth are beginning to push back against constructing their identity through sexuality. Recent research has shown that in Manchester, New Hampshire, and San Francisco, California, two cities where sexuality is more "free", sexuality is down in activity from five years ago. With increased exposure to sex and pornography, youth are discovering they are bored with sex.

In our schools as we have pursued providing knowledge about sexuality earlier and earlier in a child's development, and promoting them figuring out 'who they are' by looking inward, we're coming back to the realization that 'we can't know who we are without a reference point outside of ourselves.'

For Christians, the question of asking 'What does it mean to be made in the image of God?' needs to be returned to in order to know the answers to identity and sexuality that our culture will begin to ask again."

Curiosity piqued? Something inside you being stirred? Go ahead and connect
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