Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Church planting, Dallas, Texas, March 6-8: A video

Below is what I had to say in a little promo video for the Anglican 1000 Church Planting Summit. I'm super excited to be a part of this gathering. I think it'll be fantastic, not just because I'll be sharing the stage with Scot McKnight, David Breen, Archbishop Robert Duncan and David Roseberry, but because I'll get to meet a whole bunch of folks that I don't normally cross paths with here at Duke University: church planters. (Usually folks around here "get appointed" to a church.) I have the greatest respect and admiration for folks who plant a new church. What a courageous bunch.

A year ago November I spoke to a group of church planters in Chicago (see here and here). This past May I gave a lecture at Regent College's pastors conference (see here and here). In my talk at the Summit I'll be crafting a combination of these two talks and making full use of the audience for my illustrations. This will be a full-body contact talk. So get ready. It'll be a lot of fun, and hopefully I'll be able to share a few things that will serve the real and fundamental needs of church planters.

Register for the conference here.

This event will be taking place immediately after our totally awesome Laity Lodge retreat.

And, yes, I wholeheartedly believe the 1976 Dallas Cowboys were and always will be America's Team.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Charlie Peacock: the piano man who is definitely not a muppet but who will be speaking at our retreat

"All Art House programs promote community, life, and world engagement, helping students become more and more interested in the same things that Jesus is interested in." -- Charlie and Andi

I first met Charlie in the summer of 2003. His book, New Way to be Human, was just published and he was two years away from releasing his jazz cum improvisational music CD titled Love Press Ex-Curio. We had invited him to be our guest performing artist at the 2003 HopeArts Festival.  In this role he led a songwriter's workshop, performed on a Saturday night, along with a virtuosic but a little kooky bass player, and then I interviewed him Sunday morning during the worship service.

The fact is, I first encountered Charlie in the late 1980s. He was much younger then. I was a teenager. This was the time when he co-wrote with folks like Margaret Becker and produced music for The Choir, Twila Paris, Al Green and the just-about-to-be-controversial Amy Grant. (Today he produces work for, oh, small outfits like Switchfoot and The Civil Wars.) It was the heyday for CCM and I drank it down in stacks of cassette tapes. It was also the heyday for rolling up your stonewashed jeans so they fit like a cork screw around your ankles. Charlie was a hero. The fact that he was sitting in a chair across from me in the sanctuary at Hope Chapel was almost too good to be true.

For the record, that was also the summer that Josh Banner met Susanna Childress.

Susanna, aka, Strawberry Angel

It was a very good summer, I confess.

What I love and admire about Charlie and his wife, Andi, is their commitment to seek the wellbeing of artists, their whole wellbeing. Never afraid to take risks, they founded Art House America in 1991. For twenty years AHA has invested in the lives of artists with a vision that is so compelling I'm tempted to jealousy, wishing I could do pretty much the same thing.

"Art House America was founded with the vision of nurturing creative artists and anyone looking to explore an artful, faithful life. In addition to promoting the seamless life of Christian discipleship and imaginative living, AHA also provides students with creative nurture, hospitality, and access to sound and exemplary vocational and spiritual counsel. AHA provides mentoring for artists of various art forms, resources that communicate the worth and necessity of all vocations (paid and unpaid)...."

Isn't that good? I think it is. And if one is tempted to think that Charlie and Andi have lived an idyllic life, they will probably be the first to share frankly their many experiences of heartache.

What do they have to offer our Laity Lodge retreat? Years of faithful though not un-costly service, insight into the lives of artists, from Bono to singer-songwriters trying to make a go of their craft (like our favorite Brooke Waggoner), a winsome, unassuming personal aspect, the pursuit of an intelligent approach to art and faith, stories of failure that instead of leading to an embittered cynicism have made them more compassionate to others, and a commitment as a couple to partner together even while respecting each other's distinct calling and gifts.

They'll be a part of our retreat at the Laity Lodge, March 1-4. Why not join us and get an opportunity to know them a bit? See here for all relevant information on the retreat.

Thank God for faithful servants like Charlie and Andi. Thank God for their wisdom and sense of humor. Thank God for the friendship that many of us have received from them. I'm excited to be with them again.

Here is the full meal deal bio note for Charlie.

Charlie Peacock co-founded the independent music company Twenty Ten Music with friend and entrepreneur David Kiersznowski in January 2010.  Peacock serves as producer and Sr. VP of A&R.  Peacock began his artist, songwriting and production career in the early eighties with recordings for A&M, Island, and the Sparrow Label Group. Peacock has played a lead role in creating major hits in three separate decades—most notably Amy Grant's "Every Heartbeat" (1991), Switchfoot's "Dare You to Move" (2002) and The Civil Wars' Grammy-nominated debut album Barton Hollow (2011).  

Charlie is the founder of the label re:think/EMI and former Sr. A&R consultant to Sony/ATV and EMI CMG. Named by Billboard's Encyclopedia of Record Producers as one of the 500 most important record producers in music history, the Grammy Award-winning producer has over 20 Million sales to his credit with a diverse roster of artists ranging from Al Green to Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Switchfoot.  Peacock’s director/producer credits include Any Day Now, Ten Out Of Tenn’s award-winning performance documentary feature, Brooke Waggoner's concert DVD And The World Opened Up, and The Legend Hank Cochran, a documentary tribute in collaboration with BMI and Sony/ATV featuring legendary songwriter Hank Cochran (Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley) and his famous friends: Merle Haggard, Jamey Johnson, Lee Ann Womack, Elvis Costello, Cowboy Jack Clement and others.  

Peacock recently scored original music for the upcoming film Searching For Sonny starring Minka Kelly and the documentary Wrestling for Jesus; and contributed music to Nicole Kidman’s Rabbit Hole, Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, and the NBC Family Movie Night telefilm franchise soundtracks for The Jensen Project, A Walk In My Shoes, and Change of Plans in association with producer Randy Jackson. Charlie and his wife, Andi Ashworth, are Co-Founders/Executive Directors of Art House America.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bits & Bobs at the start of the year of the end of the earth

According to the writers of this Wikipedia entry, 2012 "is regarded as the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar." What do the Mayas really think about it? Check out your local Mayan Predictions to find out.

Myself, I'm going to keep eating dark chocolate malt balls and writing this blog till the brimstone burns up all the electrons that make it possible for you to read it.

Here then a bit of this and a bob of that at the start of 2012. I've got a series on the vocation of the artist that I'd like to begin and a "Best of" for 2011, but those will have to wait till the baby is fed, the diapers are changed, the bottles are boiled, Phaedra is loved on and the comprehensive exams are given first dibs on any energy that is left over for the day.

First things first, though: You gotta come to that Laity Lodge retreat, March 1-4, where we'll talk about the care of artists and swim in the Blue Hole of the Frio River and eat the best food you'll consume all year long. It's a win-win-win, people. Stay tuned for more info.

1. The Technology Loop.  You know you've been sucked under by it. You know you're a sucker for letting yourself be sucked again, over and over. You wish you had one technological gadget to organize it all. Here it is, courtesy of Portlandia.

2. Will art history majors save our economy? You betcha, and Matt Milliner has the goods on it.

3. The David Crowder Band is calling it quits, but David Crowder will keep doing his thing: making music in service of the church. Check out this fine interview over at CT.

What's next for your? What will you do for income? 
I'm going to be making music for the church in the future. I just don't know exactly what that will mean and look like. I just know that I love writing for the church and to help people express themselves to God in a very direct manner in terms of corporate or collective singing. If I'm not doing that in some fashion, I definitely would feel like there's a vacancy. And so I'm sure there's more to come.

4. Ever want to bust out in song on a plane 30,000 feet above ground level? I have. A bunch of times, most of which would have mortified Phaedra. But these folks have the chutzpah and the goods to pull it off with class (on economy class). Call it worship just shy of the heavens. And make sure you listen to the clipped-off comment by the woman sitting somewhere behind the video camera.

5. Stephen Colbert, the latter day mystic? It's hard to believe (or perhaps not) that these words are attributed to the padrone of "The Colbert Report," but they're worth chewing on, as reported in this piece by The New York Times Magazine.

"In 1974, when Colbert was 10, his father, a doctor, and his brothers Peter and Paul, the two closest to him in age, died in a plane crash while flying to a prep school in New England. “There’s a common explanation that profound sadness leads to someone’s becoming a comedian, but I’m not sure that’s a proven equation in my case,” he told me. “I’m not bitter about what happened to me as a child, and my mother was instrumental in keeping me from being so.”

He added, in a tone so humble and sincere that his character would never have used it: “She taught me to be grateful for my life regardless of what that entailed, and that’s directly related to the image of Christ on the cross and the example of sacrifice that he gave us. What she taught me is that the deliverance God offers you from pain is not no pain — it’s that the pain is actually a gift. What’s the option? God doesn’t really give you another choice.”

6. Andy Whitman goes to his Jesus Freak Reunion. See here, via Image Journal.

7. A thing about the liturgical arts.

He suggests that “liturgical arts will offer the best service to the church when embedded in something larger than themselves.” He maintains that the beauty inherent in art is valuable, but that the arts fulfill “a primary purpose in the actions and purposes of the liturgy.”

Yes, I said that. I said it in an interview for a publication by the Anglican Mission (now organizationally in a state of limbo, but, well, whoever let that stop one from loving the Anglican liturgy? Not me.) And Phaedra's art made it into the article too, so that's even funner.

8. Bruce Benedict's Top Ten Congregational Songs for 2011. I really enjoyed reading his list and the explanations that accompanied them.

Way to go, Cardiphonia. Keep up the good work.

9. The enchantment of simple, elegant lines. This is a really beautiful work of Chinese painting, which the artist has animated in three dimensions.

3D Chinese painting animation - Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

10. Three books I look forward to reading in the next month.

The Study of Liturgy, edited by C. Jones, G. Wainwright, E. Yarnold and P. Bradshaw (Oxford: 1992).
I'm thoroughly enjoying my readings in liturgical theology and this includes an anthology-like collection of essays by distinguished members of the field. It's organized around basic categories such as "theology and rite," "initiation," "the Eucharist," "ordination" and "the calendar." It'll be a great resource as a quick read of issues and concerns surrounding each facet of the liturgy.

Space, Time and Resurrection by T. F. Torrance (Oxford: 1969).
This spring semester Jeremy will run a seminar for his doctoral students on Thomas Torrance. This is the book we'll be reading for our first gathering. We'll also venture into The Mediation of Christ, "The Trinitarian Mind," "The Transformation of Natural Theology," "Natural Theology in the Thought of Karl Barth," "Theological Science" and "The One Baptism Common to Christ and his Church."  I'm excited to spend time with a man I first visited in seminary, with his Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Faith, a book that awakened in me a love for the Great Tradition. The book hurt my head every time I picked it up, but I was a better man for it.

Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy, because I can't justify reading The Hunger Games trilogy for a third time in a row but I can read another, perhaps just a wee bit too similar, set of dystopian novels featuring a spunky teenage girl, who just so happens to live in society that is divided into five factions--Abnegation (the selfless), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent)--each dedicated to the cultivation of, yes, you guessed it, Aristotle, a particular virtue, in the attempt to form a "perfect society."

C'mon, you know that's going to be a good read. At least for the first 100 pages. Hopefully more.

My firstborn is a girl. I want her to be spunky like Katniss. I now need to check out her doppelgänger, Beatrice.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

David's comings and goings in 2012

In addition to studying for my comprehensive exams, occurring at the end of this month, and writing a dissertation, occurring as fast as I can write it, I have the privilege of visiting folks around the country and participating in the ongoing conversation about the church's relationship to the arts. Here are a few stops along the way. If you're in the area, I'd love to see you or meet you.

February 5 -- Preaching at All Angels Church in New York City.

February 17-19 -- Giving three talks in Topeka, Kansas, for an arts festival sponsored by five churches, which on that fact alone deserves a hearty hoorah.

March 1-4 -- Speaking at the Laity Lodge retreat for ministers to artists, in the middle of perfectly nowhere in Central Texas. Also speaking will be Charlie Peacock, Andi Ashworth, Ginger Geyer and Sandra Organ-Solis. A musician, a hospitality maven, a visual artist and a contemporary ballerina and me.

March 6-8 -- Giving a plenary talk at the Anglican 1000 Church Planting Summit in Dallas, Texas. The fact that I'll be sharing the stage with Scot McKnight, Archbishop Robert Duncan, Mike Breen and David Roseberry only makes this a sweeter deal.

March 22-29 -- Giving a paper (Lord-willing) at the Society for the Study of Theology's annual conference in York, England.

May - June -- Studying Latin in Durham, North Carolina. This isn't geographic travel but it will involve travel across time, to the land of dead languages. Ecce beatus homo, or something like that.

July -- Travel to the mothership, Austin, Texas.

September 22 -- Giving a plenary talk in Wenham, Massachusetts, at an event sponsored by Gordon College, Gordon-Conwell Seminary and CIVA. The day event will explore the dynamic between the church and the visual arts. The tentative title of my talk is "The Problem of Sight and the Possibility of a Re-formed Vision."

November 1-3 -- Giving a plenary talk at a conference in Los Angeles that will explore the relationship between preaching and the visual arts, aptly titled "Preaching in a Visual Age." It will be co-sponsored by the Ogilvie Institute of Preaching at Fuller Theological Seminary, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship at Calvin College, and Christians in the Visual Arts. See here for previous Brehm Lectures, which this conference will constitute. Mark Labberton is coordinating. Details to come.

Other things are in the works. Stay tuned.