conjectural navel gazing; jesus in lint form

Don't lose any opportunity, however small, of being gentle toward everyone. Don't rely on your own efforts to succeed in your various undertakings, but only on God's help. Then rest in his care of you, confident that he will do what is best for you, provided that you will, for your part, work diligently but gently. I say "gently" because a tense diligence is harmful both to our heart and to our task and is not really diligence, but rather over eagerness and anxiety...I recommend you to God's mercy. I beg him, through that same mercy, to fill you with his love. - Francis de Sales


Holy Saturday: Snare

Posted April 19, 2014 @ 2:33pm | by Tripp

Filed Under: Old School Bloggery |   | Permalink
Tags: snare, bobby mcferrin

Maundy Thursday: Encouragement

Posted April 17, 2014 @ 12:21pm | by Tripp

Filed Under: Old School Bloggery |   | Permalink
Tags: encouragement, liturgical theology

The God Article

Posted April 17, 2014 @ 12:15pm | by Tripp

After [Jesus] had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.
John 13:12-16

It’s probably not surprising that this is the time of year when I wrestle with doubt. This is the hard season. Christmas is easy because there’s music being piped into all the shopping malls and who doesn’t love a chubby baby and stockings hung by the chimneys with care? Christmas is easy theological treading for me. Easter, however, continues to kick my ass every year without fail.

It’s getting tiresome.

Is resurrection a metaphor? Is there any historical validity to this crazy tale? I mean, the whole thing is rather spurrious. Every tale in the Christian scriptures differs in little ways depending on the story teller and most scholars agree that each is bending the tale to suit a certain purpose. This is not historical fact but religious gospel.

I have a problem with gospel-truth. It’s so...slippery. Ephemeral. Unless gospel-truth is connected with factual-truth, I have a hard time trusting it. And the only “reliable” source we have is the New Testament and they are true not because they have been vetted in some way but because, well, because they say they are true. “This is the truth? Why? Because I say so.”

So, here’s this story about Jesus. He’s just washed the disciples feet and he goes all truthy on them. He says, “tell them what I have told you because I’m your Teacher and Lord.” Jesus is Master and he gets to say what truth is (Star Wars conflations abound here - Thanks, George Lucas).

Page by John Farrier - This beautiful papercraft Darth Vader imitates the Christian icons of Byzantine art. It was made by the Spanish designer Lubolo.Jesus has once again turned the Master/Servant thing upside down (something Lucas wrestles with). The Master is the one who serves. The servants of the Master are to be like the Master in that they too should serve. “Love one another,” will follow. It’s a big moment in John’s Gospel-truth. John (or whoever wrote it) hangs everything on this scene. This here is when we get to see Jesus for whom John claims he is. Jesus is The Servant of Servants. If we wish to be like Jesus, we cannot forget this.

There is no empire building.
There is no entrepreneurial vision.
There is no institution keeping.
There is simply service.

But the story does not end here, does it? It never does. And this is what messes with me every time. Every. Time.

I want the story to end here so badly. I want it to end with this truth. I want it to end in humble service. But, no, the week is not yet done and John’s story is far from over. There will be proclamations and visions, death, destruction, horrific grief, and then the least believable thing will happen.

And, of course, I’ll get hung up on resurrection and forget this whole footwashing ever happened. I’ll forget to love because I’ll be trying to prove or disprove the resurrection.

Jesus should have started his lesson in this passage with “I know y’all are going to forget all about this part, but try to pay attention.”


You can read other devotions by folks who curate The God Article on Facebook here

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Tags: resurrection, gospel, truth, stuff, The God Article, anglobaptist

Donuts #latergram

Posted April 12, 2014 @ 2:58pm | by Tripp

Filed Under: random foolishness |   | Permalink
Tags: donut

Abba Marcarious

Posted April 10, 2014 @ 12:09pm | by Tripp

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The Trial of Possibility

Posted April 9, 2014 @ 10:57am | by Tripp

Berkeley’s fog is in full force this morning, a blanket helping to quiet the busy morning streets. I’m hoping some of that quietude will rub off on me. I am sitting here trying to figure out how to do it all. How do I do All The Things that are needed? Someone will likely ask, “how do you know what’s needed?” I have two basic categories: (1) does it help me feed myself and my Spouse, and (2) is it a fun expression of what I study and do (i.e. music).

The thing is, like many people, these two categories rarely overlap. The stuff in the second set is expanding, of course. This is really the only strategy available to me to do both without going nuts. I have to find more things that I enjoy. I need to learn to enjoy things that, perhaps, I would not have imagined to be enjoyable.

One of the things I miss most these days is doing music well. I assumed I would miss this. I have to spend my time reading and writing and not musicking so much. I get that. It’s been fine. But there’s something to being with a committed group of musicians several days a week working through pieces again and again until they seem to live and breathe on their own.

There’s a way to explore a tune deeply and, perhaps more importantly, the other musicians as well. Listening to one another, feeling what someone is about to do, finding that groove, that place of “entrainment” as my music therapy friends say.

Breathing together. Listening together. Embodying music together.

It is a rare occurance. It is a grace to me, a rare kind of grace.

My brain overflows this morning. As usual, there is simply too much to think about, to consider, ponder, wonder, plan for, imagine, and get done. There are possibilities and opportunities that linger just over the horizon, just out of sight or earshot.

I hear echoes.
I see implications.

There are no promises, per se. There are never promises. But there are...possibilities.  

Filed Under: random foolishness |   | Permalink
Tags: PhD, music, listening, possibilities, whining, git 'er done

Shifting The Ethnography

Posted April 7, 2014 @ 12:01pm | by Tripp

This cannot be a new question.

I don't know why this notion is sticking with me. "Switching the script" was bounding around in my brain and then I switched that one step to the ... right? Shift. It's all about shift again. Drat! 

I don't shift well. 

But here it is, I'm thinking about the various projects I want to work on and how the methods assume other exigencies such as grants, funding from other sources, singleness, youth, etc. Are academic methods writ essentially for twenty-something single men? 

This cannot be a new question. 

How much external support does one need to complete a PhD? A lot. So, I find myself seeking various kinds of support (read: grants, flexible jobs) while at the same time changing the project as these things change. 

This is on my mind today. 

Filed Under: Comprehensive Exams |   | Permalink
Tags: ethnography, All Souls, St. Augustine, Gungor, @godgrrl

The "Problem" of Free-Range Ecclesiologies

Posted April 5, 2014 @ 11:28am | by Tripp

But there is community in despised professions
and when the street musicians look down
into the deep red or blue linings of their instruments’ cases
they are like divers, like archaeologists
discovering for the first time after centuries of burial,
centuries of invention and vast migrations no one understands,
a lost beauty, a vanished art like a living face -
Philip of Macedon’s tomb.

- from “Street Musicians” by John Ash

Once again I find myself pondering new ecclesiologies. How do we Christians understand ourselves as a community, as a Body? Corporate identity plagues me. This, I must admit, is a rather strange experience. I never thought I’d be spending as much time as I do thinking about ecclesiology, but every time I turn a corner in my research it’s staring me in the face.

Christians are crafting new institutions. They are playing within new networks. They are monetizing their relationships. They are gathering with friends. They are “conferencing.” They borrow paradigms from industry or government. They form familes, clans, tribes, or collectives. They are communitarians and libertarians. Anarchists. Federalists. There is an astonishing array of behaviors out there. Each manifestation is an attempt at orthopraxis or “right behavior.” Ethics, theology, aesthetics, and affections all have some place in this prioritized differently in each community.

This morning I am once again focusing on musicians and their communities or industries and how these forms (i.e. the band, the session, the label) are all facets of an ecclesiology. These are embodied theologies and doctrinal relationships.

I have to juxtapose these ideas against one another from time to time to see if the pairings suit.

“We can’t think about the institutional powers,” one person commented. The money is not needed and the way of “doing community” is cumbersome and gets in the way. Some critics will say, “Good! It’s supposed to be in the way.” What does discipline look like whether a positive or negative force? “Discipline” is ethically ambiguous. What are the standards? The free-range ecclesiologies of our time can give us Sojourners, Westboro Baptist, TransFORM, or Nuns On A Bus. It can also give us Gungor, Sweet Honey, or John Michael Talbot, and Amy Grant. How these individuals and communities connect themselves to theological/spiritual agencies outside of their own work is a kind of “discipline.”

This is a kind of relational archaeology by which I discover invention and migrations barely understood.  

Filed Under: Comprehensive Exams |   | Permalink

Old School Bloggery

Posted April 5, 2014 @ 9:25am | by Tripp

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Tags: abba poemen, desert wisdom, ink, pen

Pondering The Old School

Posted April 4, 2014 @ 9:23am | by Tripp

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Tags: pen, ink, writing, play

Improvising A Jesusy Tune #trans4m14

Posted March 31, 2014 @ 10:20am | by Tripp

Theological improvisation, communal arrangements, jam sessions, riffing, re-mixing, dropping the beat, composition, mash-ups, it was all part of what we were doing together. It was beautiful.

On the drive back from San Diego yesterday, a friend asked me what it takes to be able to improvise musically, "Do you just need to know the chords or the key?" I responded, having been brainwashed quite happily by jazz great and parent of other jazz greats, Ellis Marsalis, "the tune; you have to know the tune." Of course the other things matter, but if you don't know the tune, well, no, you really need to know the tune.

We were on our way back from spending a weekend at TransFORM, a missional theology and activist gathering in (very) southern California. Holly Roach and Steve Knight did a great job pulling together various artists, pastors, activists, educators, and others into what I am now thinking was a theological jam session.

This metaphor for understanding the conference started for me when I was asked if I brought my mandolin (which I had) but was kindly reprimanded for leaving it in my hotel room. Marjiel Danse (la Boliviana mas fina) was scheduled to perform and she was kind enough to ask me to play along. I balked on the first night. . . and the next day.

Cold feet. Ugh.

Anyway, I psyched myself up to play mandolin accompaniment to her etherial guitar and vocal work after listening a couple of times (sure, that's it), and brought my mandolin to the conference on Saturday and asked her if it would be alright if I joined her. She kindly said yes and we were off to the races.

We played two songs. One song she knew she would play and so we made time to run it through once. The second was entirely a spur of the moment thing and I improvised as I heard the tune for the first time.

This is what spurred my response to my friend who asked what it takes to improvise a song. You see, I knew the key and guessed the chord progression from there, but beyond that scaffolding, the only thing that mattered was the tune. I listened to Marjiel sing. The melody, the tune, is what mattered most in the moment.

This, for me, is what we were all doing as we gathered together. We were listening desperately for the tune. We were trying to establish a key, a progression, and then in acts of relational and theological (plenty of overlap there) archaeology, we looked for the tune, the commonly held artifact that compelled us all to gather in the first place. Then, once we had done that, we could improvise something new.

Theological improvisation, communal arrangements, jam sessions, riffing, re-mixing, dropping the beat, composition, mash-ups, it was all part of what we were doing together. It was beautiful.

Improvisation happened in San Diego and it worked best once we all discovered the tune.

Are there various forms of improvisation? Of course. And some musicologists would rightly remind me that "making shit up" is perhaps the purist form of improvisation. I could not agree more. Perhaps there are "degrees" of improvisation, intensities. Perhaps, as some colleagues of mine have bemoaned, "now it's just all improvisation." No symphony orchestra plays Beethoven the same way twice. Interpretation becomes another form of improvisation.

All true.

But this morning I want to praise knowing the tune. I want to hold up why it matters to scrape away all the arrangements and packaging and get to the heart of the matter. The heart of the matter is the tune.

After all, it's what inspired so many to start singing in the first place.

Filed Under: random foolishness |   | Permalink


Posted March 28, 2014 @ 5:33pm | by Tripp

Never preach >>at<< me. Please.

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