Archive for September, 2008

Wittenberg This Month!

Posted in leadership, theology on September 30, 2008 by velocityvortx

I have been invited along with twenty two other people who will this month convene at Wittenberg and Berlin Germany on the anniversary of Luther’s posting of the 95 theses.  People like Christian Schwartz, Mark Batterson, Chris Seay, Len Sweet, Alan Hirsch, and a number of international scholars.  The topic?  New Reformations. What would it mean for us to turn the world upside down again and explore the pressure points for making those new reformations a reality?

So I have a question I would love to hear back from you on.  All of us have a 20-30 minute slot to attempt an answer to the above question and then facilitate conversation among the 22 others about that idea.

So here is my question for you.  If you were me what idea would YOU present?  I will let you know where I am heading later, but I would love to know what idea do you think would turn the church world upside down so we in turn could impact the world?



Assimilation or Accommodation?

Posted in leadership, personal development, theology on September 11, 2008 by velocityvortx

There is a saying among the Zen Masters “when the student is ready, the teacher will be provided”.

That has been the story of my life. I look back over the last 20 years of ministry and with consistency I can mark easily 10 different major intersections with people who became coaches, mentors and resourcers in my life that altered the very arena or trajectory of my ministry experience.

I have been introduced to a new world in educational learning theory and human development that is life altering. That sounds dramatic but is the honest truth. The learning and insights for the discipline of human development and transpersonal psychology (only around for about 30 years) have such monumental implications for spiritual formation that until we integrate some of those insights we will continue to pass on information with little hope of transformation (think Gallup and Barna research indicating our pathetic life change quotient).

So let me share one of my new learnings that is altering my journey and the way I teach and coach.

Some educational theorists believe information has to go through 6 levels of change before it can be transformational….check this.

Information – discreet pieces of bits, bytes and facts. Think number facts.

Knowledge – involves the development of systems of information instead of just those discreet pieces. Gaining knowledge means constructing patterns of information and implies the basic ability to use information. The deepest knowledge involves comprehension and master over a domain or skill. Think Math Genius.

Intelligence involves the ability to use information and knowledge AND ALSO the ability to create it; intelligence shapes, changes and constructs knowledge. The capacities for critical examination and evaluation open up closed systems of knowledge; through the use of an intelligence, knowledge and info can be taken out of context, recontextualized, and constructed for one’s own uses. Think Bridge Builder using calculus to calculate the volume of the tunnel needed for water flow.


In our educational system this tends to be the end game and as far as I can tell this has been the end game in the church as well.

Master the domain of the bible….Know as much of the information as possible. Put it into a coherent system (that is the step into knowledge) and then help people contextualize the mastered truth into their specific life contexts. That is intelligence.

The next step is to move toward “understanding.”

Understanding though literally means ‘to stand among’. This implies crossing boundaries inherent in standing apart from and moves toward intimacy and empathy. This opens the door to richer perception that transforms information and along with it the self who is perceiving it.

Martin Buber the great Jewish philosopher says “all real living is meeting” when we are talking about understanding we are talking about this activity of meeting.  Understanding then requires a fundamental shift in the way we know.

Understanding comes when we empathize with the other, lean into the other and suspend our distant self separateness for a moment. As we do so, a recognition of interconnection may emerge.

Expressed another way understanding is learning to see through the eye of the heart. The heart of understanding is cultivated through empathy, appreciation, openness, accommodation, service listening and loving presence.

This is qualitatively different than the object/subject distinction we learn to make in school.

We even makes those distinctions with people…

Understand is an all out call to return to no boundary existence. Where we see the sameness in each other. Understanding is seeing with the heart not the head….if you will and heartfulness involves a shift in our being.

The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living –we will never lack the will for information, but we lack the will to wonder and awe.  Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel.

Much of contemporary knowledge does not invite meeting or understanding this is largely because of the domination of the assumptions of contemporary science.  The notions of objective knowing has led to a new level of control (domination) over the natural world and it’s presuppositions have flooded into spiritual practice.

The opposite of the subject/object Cartesian dualism is UNDERSTANDING which involves connection, relatedness, intimacy, even oneness

Think of Jesus’ Prayer for oneness…we tend to think in modern terms of doctrinal oneness or purpose and vision oneness and that is ok but not far enough.  We need understanding in our world. ONENESS of ‘standing among’.

Remember Seeing ONE from our last post.

Let me introduce a distinction that I have found incredibly helpful.

Assimilation is the cognitive process of assimilating the new…event, piece of info or even person, through evaluating them in relation to previously determined categories of meaning (me, not me, good –bad, animals plants, like me, not like me).

It enables evaluation from the objective position without the evaluator having the experience of the thing without ever really meeting it.

The flip side of this is accommodation…

This is when we don’t allow already established categories to provide the whole grid or when something we encounter does fit into previously held categories. Instead of fitting into existing categories new schemata and new understandings are created and we are literally changed in the process.

In this way, every accommodation becomes a potential revision of my identity. When we cease to demand that everything translate into our system and schema we are open to the possibility of transformation.

Will we assimilate to our current categories…or accommodate into a new “standing among” them?

These are the kinds of topics discussed at Spiritual Explorations Live every Sunday night. Join us this Sunday, September 14th as we begin a new series about the missing component of spiritual formation. Go to the home page at http://www.velocityculture for details.

Seeing ONE!

Posted in leadership, personal development, theology on September 1, 2008 by velocityvortx

What could the disciples have done to enter into a the boat more prepared? How could they have not blown their cool and instead experienced the storm… really experienced it instead of fighting it?

The disciples had a far too split perception of the world. The storm was a bad thing, a threat, a scary thing. But that is nothing but a perspective. What if as the storm arises the disciples are able to see and feel something different? What if they see they are part of the very fabric of the storm? What if they see their oneness with each other, with Jesus (John 17) with the created order (Romans 8)? Jesus was constantly trying to get the disciples to SEE ONE. To see the world in which they live in a wider frame of reference, a wider more inclusive frame Jesus called the kingdom of God.

Jesus was inviting them to see the world from the M3 perspective.

What is that?

We have the great philosopher Willis Harmon to thank for the term M3 world.

M1 material is all there is not spirit. Spirit is nothing different than super complex material…

M2 two worlds material and spirit…- common Christian worldview. But this is actually dualism

M3 Harman said this is the second great Copernican Revolution the first had to do with outer space and the second with inner space.

The spiritual world gives rise to the physical material world. THIS IS REALLY THE CHRISTIAN WORLD VIEW.

The disciples were not operating with an M3 worldview. If they had been there would have been no threat and no fear.

You seeing the world as split these days or as one?

These are the very learnings of John 3 with Nic. Jesus commended Nic that while all his colleagues saw the works Jesus did as from the devil he saw them as manifestations of an invisible world. Jesus said that Nic was undergoing a paradigm shift (a rebirth in his perspective) Nic was seeing something different than those around him. Notice the word Jesus uses there is “see” and the topic is a wider frame of sight or awareness NOT a conversation about where he is going to go when he dies.

Question. You seeing the world as ONE. Or is everything around you being split into the already established categories in your head that divide, categorize and dissect?

Seeing ONE….there is life in that.

These are the kinds of topics discussed at Spiritual Explorations Live every Sunday night. Join us this Sunday, September 7th for an All Access SEL where you can check out the community and topics. Login at with a login you create there. Click the arrow on the group youCAST link, type ‘sel’ for the group password. See you Sunday night.