After Mars Hill, Step 2

Church & Culture

I’ve found myself in an ongoing podcast series called The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, centered on pastor Mark Driscoll and the Seattle based, now defunct megachurch called Mars Hill.  This is the second post, but I recommend reading the first before you go on.

Should followers of Jesus be influenced by culture? What about the church as a whole?

What even is culture? There are a dozen definitions but as a lifelong church kid, the one I’m reflecting on today is one that was never spoken, but always implied: “Anything outside the church.” We were warned against culture and the insidious influence it could have on our morality and beliefs. We were to protect ourselves from cultural influences and stick to the Bible. We didn’t need to understand the intermediate 2000 years of church history or the world around us because we were (as non-denominational independents), uninfluenced by it.

Oh, and one more thing we didn’t speak about: the notion that we ourselves were a culture.

More on that from Mars Hill:

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After Mars Hill, Step 1

I’ve been captivated by an ongoing podcast series called The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, centered on pastor Mark Driscoll and the Seattle based, now defunct megachurch called Mars Hill.  The creator and host, Mike Cosper said that there would be 12 episodes in total; I’m writing this after the 6th.

I found myself in this story in unexpected ways – not as much in the wild ride that is Mark Driscoll – but more in the surrounding context that allow churches like Mars Hill to thrive and quietly ignore warning signs. If you haven’t heard the podcast, skip these posts because I won’t make much effort to summarize. Rather than simply “review” the podcast I decided to incorporate some of my personal church journey as well – and ask a few questions along the way.

What was your experience listening to this podcast series?

What parts of your story connected to this one?

Continue reading “After Mars Hill, Step 1”

As You Go

You’re leaving this week, and I’m a little short of breath.

In a twist of timing, all three of you precious ones are home and then leaving within a week’s span. You have all left before, and we said goodbye. Then hello came again. And here we go once more with cars full of bed sheets and laundry baskets stuffed with Cup of Noodles. New adventures await, and the timing is right.

But before you go, take a deep breath.

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What I Gained By Not Being a Musical Visionary

As told by my embarrassing cassette closet

Today I hooked up a 1980’s Sony Walkman cassette tape player to my speakers. The Walkman warbles along at variable speeds when my thumb clicks the sticky “play” button. And while I certainly wouldn’t argue for the quality of cassette listening, it’s reconnecting me to something nearly thirty-five years old: my tape collection. 

These tapes have travelled with me through the years, pushed into tiny, dusty, cassette-sized cubbies in a closet that hasn’t been opened for a long time. Someday I’ll create Spotify playlists out of them, and finally demagnetize these plastic wheeled spools. 

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Storming the Castle

The mortarboard has been tossed, the tassel turned, the gown gone. We sat in a stadium full of pride, parents up in the bleachers hovering over their kids one last time. As if designed by Zach, Cal Poly’s graduation was efficient: short speeches, spaced seating, punctual pronouncing.

Forgoing the usual thousand-named alphabeticals, the first to arrive were the first to leave, having passed through a dual-threaded system of readers and diplomas. An hour later he was done; two hours later draining a keg with college friends and their aghast parents.

He starts his career next week, but I’m already sitting at his desk, wondering how we got here so fast. I know most middle children aren’t used to the spotlight, so I hope Zach has his sunglasses on for the next few minutes.

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Homegoing: Out of the Center

“The white man’s god is just like the white man. He thinks he is the only god, just like the white man thinks he is the only man.” –Ma Aku, from Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing’s beautiful journey widens the canvas of history and offers me another chance to consider a world that I am not the center of. Yaa Gyasi’s novel connects generational stories from the heart of West Africa to America and back — with a long view of history. I loved reading it, and was affected by it in ways that are worth reflecting on: taking a wider view of history allows us to decenter ourselves.

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