Ah, Jared's Java. Pleasant taste. Slight Monsterism.

Welcome to the home of my mind, where I brew my intellectual and spiritual joe. Sit back and let me pour you a cup or two. I promise not to cut you off, even after you get the caffeine jitters.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I called Frank Viola a dirty name and all I got was this...

Wait! Never mind. I got this way cool book!

Today, I went to a conference on missional ideas, mainly focusing on recalibrating and re-imagining the church. It all sounds big, but it wasn't. The language was practical and down-to-earth, and the philosophy and principles behind it were sound.

So, Frank Viola (Pagan Christianity, Re-imagining the Church) is there, as are Alan Hirsch (His Forgotten Ways, ReJesus), Leonard Sweet (The Gospel According to Starbucks, Church of the Perfect Storm) and Dan Kimball (They Like Jesus But Not the Church). Dan Kimball goes first, and he's really good. He talked a lot about approaching the gospel message here like missionaries do in foreign countries, which makes too much sense.  My favorite quote from his presentation (coming from a girl he'd talked to once):
Pastors are creepy
I could go on, but I'll leave that to dangle. It was really hilarious, and I'll put the link to where you can download the podcast of this conference (it was only four hours) at the end of this article. It probably won't be available until the Monday after next, but you'll have the link.

Frank speaks next. He gets up there, and it almost immediately seemed as if he was out to offend everyone, intentionally. All I can think while he's up there for the first five minutes is, "Man, this guy is an @$$hole! What point is he really trying to get across?" Yet, I couldn't help but feeling like I really liked some of the challenging things he had to say. I couldn't stop myself from gradually coming to really like him. Some of his words seemed almost edgy for being edgy's sake, but most of it really hit me, in a positive way. He also made mention of his new book to release next month, From Eternity To Here. He commented about his passion for what he wrote as the main topic in it with some length. He did us justice by being more than just a commercial for it and giving us a view as to why we should care and how that integrates with our faith.

So, we get a break after he's done speaking (there were panel discussions after each segment, where the audience asked questions and the speakers interacted with one another on each others' material and speech topics), and he is signing books in the lobby. I walk up to him and shake his hand, and he cordially asks what group I'm here with. He signs the copy of Pagan Christianity I brought, and I break in with, "You know, you're kind of an @$$hole."

He replies, "I tried to use humor; did that not help at all?!" 

I said "Yeah, a little. But the thing is, people called God's prophets of old @$$holes because they said some things that were controversial but true."

He looked at me with what I interpreted to be some confusion and a twinge of incredulousness mixed with a desire to be affirmed. I said, "You may be kind of an @$$hole, but I can't help but like you...a lot. I really appreciate your perspective."

He thanked me, however seriously, and I moved on.

Later, after almost everything was over, we were in the room we'd had a dinner and round table discussion that followed the seminar. My crew was just about to leave, and I saw him again. I stepped up beside him and said, "I just wanted to let you know that I really got a lot out of your answers in the panel and round table discussion, and that I really appreciated them."

He slips his arm around me gently, having correctly read that I respond well to touch, and said, "You mean to tell me the part of my speech about finding over thirty distinctive and original themes in Genesis 1 and 2 that resonate throughout the entirety of Scripture, and are tied up one-for-one in Revelation 21 and 22 wasn't the best part?"

"Well," I started, "I'm a bible college drop out. I finished my bachelor studies in psychology. Perhaps I'll pore over that subject in the future."

He points to his new book, smiles and proclaims, "You don't have to. I've got you covered!"

I replied, "Yeah, I'm unemployed. That's probably not happening any time soon."

He frowns and points to my copy of The Gospel According to Starbucks and says, "But you got Len's book."

"Yes, and I wouldn't have it unless it was given to me as a gift."

He looks down at the books he's holding, pulls out his new book (that, again, isn't released until next month) and extends it to me as if to offer it.

"Your serious?" I ask.

"Yes." he says back. "Consider it a gift."

"Wow." I'm so grateful that I'm falling all over myself confused. "Thank you. Thanks very much. I really, genuinely appreciate this."

A gal who was in conversation with him just before I came in and engaged him asked eagerly and highly inquisitively, "Do you have a blog?!  Are you going to review that?!" I hand her my calling card and tell her to email me and I'll steer her in or friend her on Facebook, since my blog ends up there anyway.

I have much more story to tell about how great this day was, but I'll save that for a later time.

So, what's the moral of the story? Call someone a foul name, and they'll give up good, free stuff. I can't wait to try this at the supermarket tomorrow!

The podcast will be at www.shapevine.com in 10 to 14 days.  Go get it!!!


AbiSomeone said...

...maybe you'll share your books with your old Abbess when you're finished.... I promise not to write in them.

I am so glad that you were able to attend. It will be interesting to unpack this day with those of us from SYB who went.


The Flip Flop Mamma! said...

Wow, that all sounds really awesome! I really dig free stuff. haha. I'm intrigued with your review of the book up top, may have to get it.