Sunday, September 30, 2007

Brian McLaren's Symposium in Ottawa, Canada (part 1 of 2)

It was a very good symposium by Brian McLaren here in Ottawa.

It was a symposium organized by the Anglicans. Brian McLaren was the main speaker. It took place September 28 and 29, 2007 here in Ottawa, Canada.
I was very glad to meet some new Anglican friends. Rev. Robert Davis was very kind to allow me and my friend Sidney G. to join the symposium. The venue was just perfect: tables of ~7 people, perfect sound and so on.
The whole symposium was a service (Eucharist). It began with music, went on to prayers and Scripture reading. Brian MacLaren had two main talks Friday and two main talks Saturday.
I'll try to summarize some of the thoughts brought by Brian McLaren.
He joked he would summarize the 'History of mankind' in 8 minutes :) That is to say that he identified what he called some abrupt/discontinued changes in society. These were either because of technological changes, or social changes. His thought is that during of immediately after these abrupt changes the church and theology deserve to change as well to maintain its relevancy and relationship with the world. He mentioned the 'invention' of writing, the invention of the press and, more recently, the Internet.

He went on to characterize the time of modernity and reason (after the Industrial Revolution), mentioning the main scientific rationale and philosophical advances of the time.

He didn't quite precisely define post-modernity, but mentioned that we are living now times of great change in the world and very fast changes. The firs talk Friday was mostly an introduction. After the second talk he moved on to talk about how he interprets how the church related to this History. He classified them into some sort of 'flexibility in hierarchy' criterion, begining with Catholics, through Anglo-Catholics, to Anglicans, to Lutherans, Presbiterians, to Baptists, to Pentecostals, to 'fluid/micro' churches (I can't quite remember the terms). And, of course, from an American view, he depicted two ways: liberal and conservative. Brian went on to advocate for a 'via media' that flows in-between liberals and conservaties.

It was between breaks that I had a chance to pose him a question. The question was: imagine a church with about 40 people. With new members, new christians. They probably have in them the potential to lead change so that the church is relevant in today's context, but these people are not probably aware of this potential. How to move forward? I was hoping to draw upon Brian's experience, knowing that he travelled a lot in the past years, speaking to all sorts of organizations. His hint was that established churches (affiliated to conventions) tend to move forward by immitation, whereas new 'churches' move forward by direct innovation. I have some hints of willingness of the Canadian Baptists (CBM) to engage in relevant discussion. ( One hint was that some high-level pastor from CBM mentioned the book Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Culturesby Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger in of the Baptist magazines. And another important hint is the partiticaption of Dr. Leonard Sweet as the keynote speaker at the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec (BCOQ) in Toronto, 2007). My takeaway was to walk closer to BCOQ and the Ottawa Baptist Association.

Friday's supper was very good. They assembled a bar (yes, a bar!) with wine, beer and other liquor, so that folks could buy it for their supper. Every table had wine! I don't know why I was impressed... I have no theological problems with it, of course. I guess I'm just not used to seing it. At the table, the two Anglican ministers were very surprised to see us, two Baptists, drinking wine. We said we were 'good' Baptists :) Mind you that they mentioned 3 times they were surprised with a drinking Baptist... One of the Reverends said to us: "I think as Anglicans we can't even be ordained if we don't drink wine!" The other interesting comment came later on from the other Reverend, who said that "I think you Baptists got it right with regards to Baptism by immersion". Anglicans still perform pedobaptisms (baptisms of children).

I'll comment the second day in another posting.

( The folks in our table. Anglicans and Baptists drinking together)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Questions to Brian McLaren

I'm writting down the questions I intend to pose to Brian McLaren ( http://www.brianmclaren.net/ ) tomorrow.

1- Jesus prayed "your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". And Jesus said to Pilate "My kingdom is not of this world." (John 18:36) Is it the message of the gospel delivered in its entirety if I go on doing "only" good social acts? If Christians are to include 'spiritual' good news when proclaiming the gospel, what are the 'spiritual good news'? Are these news relevant and do they speak to people now-a-days? Is the good news that when they die they will go to heaven?

2- This is a question related to "us versus them". In Matthew 25.33 Jesus says "He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left". Acts 5.13 says (commenting about Christians) "No one else dared join them, though they were highly regarded by the people". We have baptisms that are public statements of change in direction. And Paul speaks of "being a new creation". And so on. It seems that it is a division between believers and non-believers in many texts. What do you make of this distinction?

( In Mark 1.15 Jesus said "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" )

3- Is the great commission a mandate to proselytize? Should churches grow?
Is it a healthy objective for a small church in Canada to grow in numbers?

4- Jesus went every day to the temple courts (Matthew 26.55). I understand that today the world is very different from back then. Does it make sense to "go to church" today? In your experience, what is the importance for Christians (and others...) to have a place and time to worship together regularly now-a-days?

5- If I tell my pastor tomorrow that "Everything must change" he will be reluctant to agree and will begin to worry for his position. Suppose you were in a historical or evangelical church in Canada of 40 people, mostly seniors, without a pastor and searching for one. Suppose there is some willingness by some 'to change', even though they don't quite know what to change into. Where would you look for one pastor? In your experience and considering what you have seen, what are some of the practical options for leadership now-a-days?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The United States and the International Criminal Court

The United States and the International Criminal Court

The United States of America was one of only 7 nations (joining China, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Qatar and Israel) to vote against the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 1998.

The Bush administration's hostility to the ICC has increased dramatically in 2002. The crux of the U.S. concern relates to the prospect that the ICC may exercise its jurisdiction to conduct politically motivated investigations and prosecutions of U.S. military and political officials and personnel. The U.S. opposition to the ICC is in stark contrast to the strong support for the Court by most of America's closest allies.

In an unprecedented diplomatic maneuver on 6 May, the Bush administration effectively withdrew the U.S. signature on the treaty. At the time, the Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues Pierre-Richard Prosper stated that the administration was "not going to war" with the Court. This has proved false; the renunciation of the treaty has paved the way for a comprehensive U.S. campaign to undermine the ICC.

First, the Bush administration negotiated a Security Council resolution to provide an exemption for U.S. personnel operating in U.N. peacekeeping operations. The administration failed in May to obtain an exemption for peacekeepers in East Timor. In June the Bush administration vetoed an extension of the UN peacekeeping mission for Bosnia-Herzegovina unless the Security Council granted a complete exemption. Ultimately, the U.S. failed in its bid for an iron-clad exemption, although the Security Council approved a limited, one year exemption for U.S. personnel participating in UN peacekeeping missions or UN authorized operations. The Security Council has expressed its intention to renew this exemption on 30 June next year.

Second, the Bush administration is requesting states around the world to approve bilateral agreements requiring them not to surrender American nationals to the ICC. The goal of these agreements ("impunity agreements" or so-called "Article 98 agreements") is to exempt U.S. nationals from ICC jurisdiction. They also lead to a two-tiered rule of law for the most serious international crimes: one that applies to U.S. nationals; another that applies to the rest of the world's citizens. Human Rights Watch urges states not to sign impunity agreements with the United States.

Thirdly, the U.S Congress has assisted the Bush administration's effort to obtain bilateral impunity agreements. The Congress passed the American Servicemembers' Protection Act (ASPA), which was signed into law by President Bush on 3 August. The major anti-ICC provisions in ASPA are:

  • a prohibition on U.S. cooperation with the ICC;
  • an "invasion of the Hague" provision: authorizing the President to "use all means necessary and appropriate" to free U.S. personnel (and certain allied personnel) detained or imprisoned by the ICC;
  • punishment for States that join the ICC treaty: refusing military aid to States' Parties to the treaty (except major U.S. allies);
  • a prohibition on U.S. participation in peacekeeping activities unless immunity from the ICC is guaranteed for U.S. personnel.

However, all of these provisions are off-set by waiver provisions that allow the president to override the effects of ASPA when "in the national interest". The waiver provisions effectively render ASPA meaningless.

Position of Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch strongly opposes the Bush administration's approach to the ICC. In any event, the Court is now a reality. Anti-ICC laws and impunity agreements only serve to align the U.S. with pariah states of the international criminal justice system (for example, Libya). HRW considers that the major impact of the Bush administration's anti-ICC campaign is to diminish the credibility of U.S. efforts to forge coalitions against human rights abusers and to undermine future U.S. efforts to advance international justice in discrete cases, such as leading NATO in arrests of war criminals in the Balkans, or bringing war crimes charges against Saddam Hussein.


Source: http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/icc/us.htm

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Culto Alternativo: Recursos da Igreja Emergente e para a Igreja Emergente

Estou lendo o livro "Alternative Worship: Resources from and for the Emerging Church" de Jonny Baker e Doug Gay

Editora: Baker Books (1o de Fevereiro de 2004) ISBN-10: 0801091705 ISBN-13: 978-0801091704

É um livro excelente. Das 158 páginas, 125 são de exemplos e sugestões práticas. O prefácio (escrito por Sally Morgenthaler, fundadora do sacramentis.com) é muito bom. É interessante ver como ela pesquisa e cita números e fontes sobre o declínio dos números das igrejas nos Estados Unidos. Embora Sally volta e meia comente sobre tendências emergentes com uma ótica um pouco mais norteamericana, o livro em si tem uma ótica mais britânica (o que é muito bom).
É o capítulo de introdução do livro que mata a pau. Os autores conseguem em 10 páginas descrever o contexto em que surgiram os 'alt worships' na Inglaterra. Isso inclui o contexto histórico dos cultos. Discute características dos cultos 'pós-modernos' (um tanto específico para o caso Inglês, tenho que admitir. Mas não fica menos interessante por isso.) Ao repensar o papel do sermão no culto, citam os trabalhos de Walter Brueggemann, Walter Wink, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza e Phyllis Trible. Me impressionei bastante também como que as pessoas envolvidas nos alt worships pesquisam. É uma grande pena que os pastores brasileiros não estudem bem o culto cristão, mesmo com altos salários quando comparados com a população em geral, com muito mais tempo do que a maioria das pessoas da congregação. Por exemplo, recursos publicados nos Estados Unidos eram rapidamente acessados na Inglaterra e aplicados à liturgia. Foi o caso citado da publicação Imaging the Word patrocinada pelas universidades cristãs de Yale e Texas, sendo logo depois utilizada. Trabalhos recentes nas teologias da liberação, política e feminista também eram consultados. ( Os pastores brasileiros talvez tenham uma educação de base que não fomenta o estudo e a leitura. É muito triste. Fica então o desafio à maioria das igrejas brasileiras de repensarem suas estruturas eclesiásticas na busca de alternativas práticas.)
O uso da tecnologia nos cultos é algo muito interessante. O livro vem com um CD-ROM. E as últimas páginas do livro contêm 100 (isso, cem) fontes de recursos para cultos, incluindo CDs, livros sobre liturgia, livros sobre teologia do culto e prática, livros sobre cultura contemporânea, bibliotecas de imagens e websites.
As sugestões para cultos são organizadas em 4 partes:
1- Advento e Natal
2- Quaresma
3- Páscoa
4- Pentecostes

Cada parte é subdividida entre recursos e rituais.

Recomendo muito. Penso que os Brasileiros precisam ter algum ponta-pé inicial que contextualize os cultos. Onde estão as publicações? Não só os pastores são mal treinados e orientados nessa área, mas não há muitas publicações a respeito em Português. Quando teremos o livro em Português?

- Gustavo

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Brian McLaren no Canadá (e 2 brasileiros por perto)

Olá, pessoal,
O Brian McLaren ( http://www.brianmclaren.net/ ) estará aqui no Canadá semana que vem, dias 28 e 29 de Setembro de 2007. Brian McLaren é um dos expoentes da conversa emergente. Ele estará em Ottawa num simpósio dos Anglicanos. E o Gustavo e um amigo estarão lá também. Serão dois dias de interação. Eu vou estar compilando uma lista de assuntos e perguntas. Não sei se vou ter a oportunidade de conversar sobre elas. Sei que meu blog entra em pelo menos um blog roll brasileiro emergente. Você meu amigo que está lendo esse blog post tem assuntos e perguntas? Mande pra mim. De repente eu tenho a oportunidade de pôr na compilação. Mas não dá pra prometer nada. Nem sei ao certo como vai ser o ambiente. Você pode pôr os assuntos e perguntas nos comentários desse blog post, ou mandar direto pra mim por email. Meu email: u9x3n_15so arroba hotmail ponto com. Ou clique aqui: mailto:u9x3n_15so@hotmail.com

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Livro: Culto Cristão através do Mundo ("Christian Worship Worldwide")

Christian Worship Worldwide: Expanding Horizons, Deepening Practices (Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Series) (Paperback) by Charles E. Farhadian (Editor)

Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (August 30, 2007)
(em Inglês)
ISBN-10: 0802828531
ISBN-13: 978-0802828538

Só tive acesso ao livro por poucas horas, mas gostei bastante do conteúdo. Por isso o comentário aqui faz referência somente a partes do livro. É um livro acadêmico.

Comecemos pela introdução. "Beyond Lambs and Logos: Christianity, Cultures, and Worship Worldwide" por Charles E. Farhadian.
Tradução do Anjo Raoni:
"Como podemos mapear uma nova geografia do culto global?

Hoje, o Cristianismo é um movimento pós-Ocidental com um renascimento forte no mundo não-Ocidental, onde a grande maioria de cristãos vive agora. [...] Acadêmicos religiosos, missiólogos, historiadores e antropologistas cada vez mais apontam a enorme mudança de números na direção do sul como sendo de tal importância social e religiosa que muitos prevêem que estamos entrando numa nova era do Cristianismo: uma revolução na maneira de ver o Cristianismo.

À nossa frente está um oceano de mudanças na própria forma em que o Cristianismo será concebido à medida em que é recontextualizado e ressurge de culturas não-Ocidentais. As maiores comunidades cristãs nas próximas décadas não estarão mais nas regiões Euro-Norteamericanas, mas ao invés na América Latina, Ásia e África, com os maiores números de Cristãos morando nos Estados Unidos, Brasil, México, Filipinas, Nigéria, Zaire (República Democrática do Congo), e Etiópia. Nós devemos reconhecer este novo relevo global do cristianismo não-Ocidental. O Ocidente não ocupa mais o centro de gravidade em torno do qual as igrejas não-Ocidentais cristãs orbitam. No passado, práticas de culto não-Ocidentais cristãs eram comumente legitimadas por suas características Ocidentais - mesmo estando as comunidades não-Ocidentais histórica e culturamente mais próximas do local de nascimento do Cristianismo. Não mais. A expansão através do mundo todo do Cristianismo não deixou em seu rastro nem centros nem uma agenda cultura particular. Ao contrário, comunidades de culto de todos os tipos se encontram em grande desfile de contextos culturais que glorificam a Deus de formas diferentes. "

É interessante mesmo ver a mudança em números para o sul. Os continentes citados contêm em sua maioria países subdesenvolvidos. Se o Brasil for um país com um grande número de cristãos no mundo então ele terá uma grande responsabilidade de expressar e representar os valores do cristianismo. No culto, ainda temos muitos moldes americanos e muitas falhas teológicas e práticas. Será que a quantidade maior de cristãos vai ajudar na qualidade do culto e da sociedade? Sobre culto, penso que temos uma boa oportunidade de incorporarmos elementos que falam aos brasileiros e que os ajudarão a melhor experimentar o metafísico.

O capítulo que merece atenção é o "Worship and Culture in Latin America", por Miguel A. Palomino e Samuel Escobar. Vou comentá-lo em outro post.