Archive for November 2009

Holistic Mission and Evangelization

Attempting to write about my experiences in the Dominican Republic is a daunting challenge. I got to spend time in a wide range of church ministry environments, and I learned so much that it’s hard to encapsulate it. The pastors and churches of la Red Del Camino that I’ve met are so energetic, creative, and driven to demonstrate visible signs of the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God. They get out into their communities, listen to what’s going on, and what the needs of people are, and they respond. If you looked at the group of churches, you would notice some common threads between them, like low-cost schools for families that wouldn’t normally have access to high-quality education, or clean water treatment facilities. But another common thread is that these churches are bold and unashamed about including a gospel message in what they do with and for the people. They […]

A Community-Shaped Theology

I’ve just spent the past couple of days meeting and learning from some of the best theologians I’ve ever met. Rather than hearing their grand theories and $10 theological phrases, though, I have witnessed their theology in action. As I mentioned in a previous post, while in the Dominican Republic, I’m spending time with several different people that work with la Red Del Camino network. This is a group of churches and other ministries that have been working in Latin America and the Caribbean for a number of years now – some for 15 or more. They practice a dynamic Kingdom theology that expresses the present reality of the Way of God, rather than huddling up in their buildings and homes, waiting around for Jesus to come back. For example, a church in the colonial area of Santo Domingo – just a short walk from the oldest Catholic Cathedral in […]

Playing the Power Game

After getting off the airplane in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, getting my luggage, and going through customs, I was greeted by Alfredo, who works with la Red Del Camino network here in the DR.  Specifically, he works with a program called Endeavor, which receives and deploys teams of people from outside the country who come here to do various “ministry” projects.  Previously he worked with Habitat for Humanity.  One of the distinctives of Endeavor is that when they’re contacted by a group wanting to come do a “mission trip,” they hit the pause button from the get-go.  They believe that before just jumping into a work project together, it’s much better to become friends first.  This means slowing down long enough to get to know each other and develop some mutuality in the relationship.  Sure, they’ll end up getting some important work done, but first things first. Alfredo explained that […]

Random Observations from a Foreign Citizen

I’m sitting in the town square of a community in the hills of Puerto Rico.*  It’s a place called Aibonito – away from the beaches, the resort hotels, the tourists that congregate in San Juan.  It’s a quiet, friendly town.  Every so often, though, the quiet is pierced by a pickup truck, loaded down with Massive speakers, blasting what I assume to be advertisements for stores or political candidates or Chuck Norris jokes – it’s all in Spanish, which I don’t understand.  (How can someone live less than an hour from the U.S. border with Mexico for nearly 35 years not be able to understand this beautiful language better?  Shameful. ) As I sit here, I notice that this town is full of runners – I must have seen 25 of them just in the past couple hours here. Giving cultural commentary on a place after only being there for […]

The Questions of Caribbean Theology

Within just a couple of hours of being in Puerto Rico, I had the opportunity to sit with Professor Agustina Luvis in her office at the Seminario Evangelico de Puerto Rico.  Dr. Luvis teaches a broad range of courses, including Systematic Theology, courses on Pentecostalism, Feminist Theology, and Caribbean Theology.  I learned a lot in my brief time with her, and left with a lot more questions than I had gone into our meeting with – which is usually a very good sign. I asked her about some of the distinctive elements between Caribbean Theology and other Latin American theologies.  She has written an article about this in the Global Dictionary of Theology.  She told me that in Caribbean Theology, there is a stronger focus on the impacts of colonialism than in other Latin American theologies.  When she teaches her class on this topic, she helps her students methodically deconstruct […]

Puerto Rican Street Art

Last week, I stood in awe of the artistic works on display at the Tate Modern in London. Yesterday, I stood in awe of the work on display on the streets of San Juan. Whether it’s a planned mural, a simple doodle, or a political statement, there’s a lot to see here. All of these pictures (and a few more) were taken on a short walk, within just of few blocks of where I’m staying. I took these almost accidentally. I’ll be looking forward to more . . .

Welcome to Puerto Rico

I’m sitting in the library, on the campus of Seminario Evangelico de Puerto Rico.  I arrived yesterday safely after a long night of travel from San Diego (via Atlanta).  Puerto Rico is, of course, a U.S. territory in the Caribbean.  Its status is regularly a source of controversy – some want U.S. statehood, some want total independence – it’s complicated.  But this is an incredibly beautiful place with beautiful people, beautiful street art, and thus far, beautiful food.  I’ve only been here 26 hours at the time I’m writing this, but it’s already been great. The people here at the seminary have welcomed me warmly, and encouraged me to interview faculty and students.  I’ll write another post about my first interview with a professor, which was great. The seminary was kind enough to arrange a room for me to stay in, right here on the campus – it’s a full […]

My UK Scorecard

I had a great couple of weeks in the UK, driving around on the “other” side of the road, visiting universities that are out of my league, meeting with really good people, and walking the streets of London.  So, here’s my scorecard for the UK. Top Five Likes: Old buildings.  I love that you can walk into any random building in the country and know that it’s been there for hundreds of years.  Much better than the disposable architecture of most of USAmerica. Environmental care.  There’s still quite a lot of room for improvement, but you can tell people are more aware of their environmental impact than in North America.  For example, I never once saw a paper towel dispenser in a public bathroom anywhere in the UK – air dryers only.  Also evident in . . . Automobile design.  Shocking but true, U.S. drivers – big auto has LIED […]

Oh yeah, I’m an Internet Celebrity

This past Wednesday night, while in London, I attended a discussion that the Moot community put together.  They brought in author and holy trouble maker, Dave Tomlinson, to discuss his new book, Re-Enchanting Christianity.  Before things got kicked off, I was approached by a guy named Johnny (pictured), who thought he knew me.  I knew the odds of this being the case were very low, so I thought about just telling him that, no, I’m not Matthew McConaughey, and I’m getting really tired of people asking me if I am.  “NO, I am NOT the sexiest man alive!”  I resisted, and just told him that I wasn’t local, and he was probably mistaken. Not willing to take no for an answer, Johnny persisted, and while I don’t think we ever quite made the connection as to how he might know me, it probably has something to do with the internet.  […]

The Highest Priced Shoes I’ve Ever Owned

I’ve been hassled about having a thing for shoes.  That’s somewhat, but not totally true.  I do like looking at and obtaining new shoes.  I think shoes indicate something of a man’s personality.  Unfortunately, I’m also cheap – I hate paying a ton of money for shoes.  Well, in the picture here, you see my newest pair of shoes.  They are definitely the costliest shoes I’ve ever had.  Sort of . . . The truth is, I paid exactly $0.00 for these new running shoes.  They retail for the moderate sum of 70 bucks a pair (moderate by running shoe standards, that is).  I’ve paid more money for shoes before (though rarely).  So then, how are these the highest priced shoes I’ve ever owned? Well, these things cost me plenty. A few months back, my friend and former college ministry colleague, Petey Crowder got selected by Nike to be an […]