Friday, April 30, 2004

Looking forward to this weekend. Tonight I'm headed to the living home for an informal gathering with the likes of Todd Hunter and some locals in the Church. Should be some good times. Then tommorrow I'll take my friend Chad with me up there for more of a directed "unconference." I'm looking to be refreshed with their company and common vision.

posted by Steve at 6:03 AM
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Thursday, April 29, 2004

Weird week. Hard week. Michelle's company is going through transition . . . still. Her department director was informed the other day that his services will no longer be required as of the end of the year. The company is closing the facility she works in, and moving everyone to one of four places: their Oceanside facility that isn't operational yet, their facilities in North Carolina, their facilities in Cambridge, Mass., or the unemployment line. She's been told numerous times that she is on the "valuable employees we definitely want to keep around" list, but somehow it isn't very reassuring. The company seems to be trying hard to help people despite the difficult decisions they're making - tough stuff, though.

On a purely selfish note, the company might offer to fly employees and their spouses to the east coast to get tours and figure out if they're interested in moving. I don't think we're into the idea of moving, but I'm trying to talk Michelle into taking a tour at Cambridge anyway . . . free airfare, free hotel, meal allowance. Sounds good to me . . . even if I have to buy my own tickets to a Red Sox game at Fenway (I'm assuming the hot dogs and pretzels would be covered in the meal allowance). O.k., I'm a jerk.

posted by Steve at 8:49 AM
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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

April 27.
93 freakin' degrees

posted by Steve at 10:51 AM
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Monday, April 26, 2004

Over the weekend, Michelle and I had some good conversations. There is a big part of me that is always in process - rethinking where I've come from and where I am and where I still need to go. Fortunately, I've got a gift from God in my wife, who is frequently willing to help me walk through these things.

Well, as we were talking, I realized that despite how mind-bending my little world seems to be at times, I'm actually in a really great place. Because of the hard work of stripping down my theology and doctrine and expectations of God, church, etc., I've kind of come full circle. Initially the "conversation" of emerging culture/emerging church/postmodernity/whatevertheheckyouwannacallit excited me and gave me hope that I could employ new ways of thinking within my current context. Then it became clear that this was unlikely, and then it was flat out impossible. So I quit. Quit the stable, traditional church gig and launched out into whatever it is that I'm trying to do now. After nearly a year of "this" I understand that I've continued to move, grow, and develop. And I think freedom is the best word to describe where I am.

I pretty much suck at church planting, but I have the ability to continue on this road, and I'll do that until God tells me to do something different. I could also go get a regular job, and do the church planting thing on top of it. Those two options have been there for me for a while now, and I'm good with either of them. But my lilttle moment of clarity the other day came when I said, "You know what? I actually have the freedom to go back into a regular, traditional church context, doing 'full-time ministry.'"

I'm still re-experiencing my "angry young man" stage, and I'm still pretty bent at what the church in America has put together. And yet, I actually think my renewed anger is beyond the rebellious/revolutionary indignation that I used to feel. My anger is now tinted with grief and sorrow and compassion.

If I were to get hired by some traditional church, I'm pretty sure I'd still need to love them with my size 11 Doc Martens. But I can honestly say that it would love. Instead of saying, "I can't believe how selfish, prideful, and petty you people are! You really bother me right now" I could say, "I'm sick to my stomach at the way we've bought into a wrong set of values. There's a better way right in front of us, but it means discomfort, sacrifice, and a different mentality. We've settled for a sham. Let's agree to love one another enough to get over this crap. This way is harder, but make no mistake - it is better."

More easily said than done, I know. I have no idea whether this will ever happen. All I'm saying is that God has brought me far enough to where I have the freedom now to do it.

posted by Steve at 8:00 AM
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Friday, April 23, 2004

I've spent the last couple of days learning and playing with a web design program in order to go live with our new church website. It's been fun and I've picked things up pretty quickly. We'll see if I'm able to actually put a decent site together when it's all said and done.

posted by Steve at 5:56 AM
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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Whew! I didn't get assigned to a case yesterday, so my civic duty is now complete.

I was thinking this morning about how much of my devotional life is spent in pursuit of getting something from God - blessing, good feelings, understanding, wisdom, whatever. This isn't necessarily wrong, but I often settle for less than the best in this regard. It doesn't occur to me that maybe I'm there for God's benefit, and not just the other way around. Do I use God? It would be better to worship him. Now, if as a result of my worship and right devotion I receive wisdom, understanding, good feelings, and blessings, that's all the better. I just tend to get things out of order.

posted by Steve at 12:47 PM
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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I've gone through a bunch of the questioning of my role in the Kingdom vs. my role as a citizen of the U.S. in the past year or so. Here's another question I get to ponder today. What about Jury Duty? Yep, I get to ponder it today . . . all day . . . and hopefully only today.

posted by Steve at 5:15 AM
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Monday, April 19, 2004

O.k., now that I've shot my mouth off about more television stuff, and told the world that I'll be taping a TV show tonight, Jason has brought me some much needed humility by giving me a better suggestion. Turn off the television.

posted by Steve at 12:24 PM
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As sort of a follow up to my article over on Next-Wave this month, one of the things that has always struck me about the whole "reality" TV genre is what a mediated reality it really is. The creator and executive producer of Survivor and The Apprentice, Mark Burnett, won't even discuss "reality TV", but insists on the term "unscripted drama" when discussing his shows. Notice that he says "unscripted" and not "unedited". Major, major difference. It's not just that some of the things we see on the show - the conflicts or romances or whatever - seem to be artificially staged, but also that the things we aren't seeing in the final shows is frequently more true than what we do see. Now, obviously, nobody would watch Survivor if they didn't edit out what happens most on the show - a group of hungry, dirty, tired contestants flopping around on the beach bored for hours on end, waiting for the next challenge. But the way the shows are edited actually alters the reality contained in them. Certain players are portrayed as cunning, while others are portrayed as innocent. Even in the non-competetive shows, the editing is extensive. If those guys that build the funky motorcycles weren't yelling at each other at least a couple of times in each episode, it wouldn't be nearly as fun to watch, but are we really to believe that life around the shop is really that intense constantly? If that's the case, then we'd likely see more visits from the local law enforcement team on the show.

Anway, with that as a backdrop, I just saw a little article in the local paper about the new reality TV series that debuts tonight on A&E - Family Plots. Its a show that follows a family run mortuary. As it turns out, it's a mortuary in the San Diego area - one that I've worked with on several occasions. I know these people - not very well, mind you, but when I'm having coffee at the Starbucks closest to their business and they stop in, they always greet me - the director, in particular . . . "Oh hello, reverend. It's so nice to see you again. I know I always say this, but you have the greatest glasses." That always creeps me out. These people are the only ones that have ever addressed me with the title reverend. The last time I saw them, I was wearing a surfer sweatshirt, a baseball cap, and my eyebrow ring, and they still recognized me and greeted me, "Good morning reverend." "O.k., really, STOP CALLING ME THAT!"

They're nice enough folks, and I've had pretty good experiences with them. I will say this, though - if my experiences with them are consistent with what the cameras catch on tape, this may be an interesting show. They're a bit quirky. Good folks, but definitely quirky. The show is on a little late for me, but I'll tape it. It'll be fun to see how my reality compares with A&E's.

posted by Steve at 7:01 AM
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Friday, April 16, 2004

I keep meaning to take our digital camera with me "into town", but forget when the time comes. Since I'm afraid the moment will be lost by the time I actually do remember, I'll just write about it. Ramona is the back woods area of San Diego. It's very much like the Midwest - pretty rural, but not out of touch with metro life. But every time you start thinking that the ol' hometown may be getting a little more hip, you pass by the road off of Main Street (yes, the main street in Ramona is actually called Main Street) with all the mailboxes - as in the 25 mailboxes which stand crookedly, each on a post sticking out of a five gallon bucket of concrete. The other day, while driving home, I noticed a home made sign stuck to a stop sign. Torn cardboard with the scrawl of black ink or paint:


posted by Steve at 6:27 AM
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Thursday, April 15, 2004

I have enjoyed the past few weeks of rising early. While I was working at Starbucks, I would rise early, but without enjoyment. Since laying aside the green apron, I've come to remember the sweetness of the morning air, the color of the sky as the sun begins its journey upward, and the choir of birds. Jesus said that there isn't a bird that goes without the Father's great care. That's reassuring, because from the sounds of things just outside my family room window, God's paying a whole lot of attention to my neck of the woods.

posted by Steve at 6:28 AM
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Wednesday, April 14, 2004

There was a time a few years ago when I was waking up to a lot of the deficiencies of what the church has become. I began seeing things along different lines. I became aware of a movement of God in a different way than I had been told God moves. So I read the hip books on postmodernism, visited the websites, and engaged in the conversations going on. I changed my approach to faith, to life. I've since seen this "movement" as much more than simply an outgrowth of postmodernism, and I certainly never identified myself as an advocate of that philosophical/cultural shift. I simply think that it is what it is, and I would do well to understand it and approach my world with that understanding.

Anyway, during my waking up period I went through what I call the "angry young man" phase. I've watched many of my contemporaries go through it. It's the phase of seeing the kind of wreckage that modernity, consumerism, and cultural imperialism has brought about in the church and the world that the church seeks to impact. I got over it. I'm not an angry young man any more.

Since my angry young man phase, I've grown a lot, stripped down a lot of assumptions, and settled out a lot of what I believe about Jesus and the people of God. I've left my position as a church staff member at a mainstream church, and begun the life of starting a new community from the ground up. I've developed a brighter view of the possibilities before us. I'm excited about the opportunities for us to live the Kingdom and be followers of Jesus in ways that really make sense. I want to invite others to join me in a new discovery of some things I previously thought were old hat.

All that is great . . . except that I think I've officially become an angry young man again (o.k., so I may not qualify as young any more). Yep, you can call me one pissed off hombre. I won't take the time to go into the stories here, but I've had a couple of experiences in the past few days that have reminded me of all the B.S. that our Christian ghetto culture has brought about. Despite some careful and consistent efforts at honest, non-judgmental, non-threatening relationships with people who don't follow Jesus, I've gotten lumped into the category of "what Christians are like," and it sucks.

I hate being a Christian right now. Being a Christian apparently means that I label the real world as unrighteous. Being a Christian apparently means that I lack compassion for people. Being a Christian apparently means that I'm ready to pounce on people for saying "the wrong thing". It means that I'm well equipped with a bunch of manipulative sales pitches aimed at getting people to pray a quick prayer so I can add another notch in my holier-than-thou gunbelt.

Let me be clear. I love Jesus. I am passionate about following him with my whole life. I want nothing more than to see him lifted up as the radical breath of fresh air that a suffocating world needs. I suck at following him most of the time, but I want to get better.

But I'm sick of having my best efforts at living as a light spoiled by the weight of expectations of what other "Christians" have created for me. Once I lived a life of desperation, and my encounter with Jesus rescued me from myself. Now I'm waiting for him to rescue me from the stupidity of people who claim to follow him.

I'll stop this rant before I get out of control. There's more brewing, which is a good thing. I am just grasping for a rationale, a way of moving forward, a way of maintaining hope.

posted by Steve at 8:14 AM
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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

O.k., if this church planting thing doesn't work out, I think I just found a new profession . . . heavy equipment operator. Oh yea. Just fired up my father-in-law's tractor and did me some earth movin'. Maybe I just suffer from not having had enough Tonka toys as a youngster. Or maybe not - fun stuff!

posted by Steve at 10:10 AM
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Monday, April 12, 2004

I checked the Yahoo! Movies page to see what did well at the box office. It's good to know that during Holy Week, The Passion of the Christ was the top movie . . . and Hellboy was number two.

posted by Steve at 7:03 AM
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Friday, April 09, 2004

Ahhh, good times at 'ol ball game last night. The Padres opened up the new place - which is very nice indeed - with an extra innings come from behind win. Even better, it was against the hated Giants. Even better, I got to walk around the Gaslamp District and eat a sandwich with my dad before the game.

An interesting little thing happened, though. We were walking around the outside of the new stadium and ran into a couple of pastors from churches in our local association of the denomination. My stomach tightened as they brought up stupid, petty, worthless political BS agendas that they're trying to work on. I seriously think my blood pressure rose about 15 points for the several minutes we were stuck talking to them. Funny thing is that not ten minutes before that, I was talking to my dad about how it's that kind of stuff that causes me to hold my denomination at arms length. I really gotta wonder if it's worth it to even be affiliated. Every rose has it's thorn, but in my case, I'm wondering if there are flowers to be seen through all the prickly crap.

posted by Steve at 11:10 AM
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Thursday, April 08, 2004

Busy week, good week. I've worked outdoors, enjoyed friends I love, met fellow Kingdom workers who have walked the path I'm walking now, and ventured haplessly into the area of setting up a website for the new church. Tonight I get to hang out with my dad . . . at opening for the Padres and their new home field. I'm looking forward to being with my dad than the game or the festivities, actually. It's been a while since we had extended talk time, and I've got a lot of questions I want to listen to him respond to.

posted by Steve at 8:00 AM
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Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Hey, it looks like the article on Reality TV that I wrote for Next-Wave is up.

posted by Steve at 11:20 AM
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Monday, April 05, 2004

I had an interesting day of worship yesterday. Michelle was off to judge a horsing event, so I was on my own for the morning. So I went to a 7:30 Holy Communion service at the Episcopal church in town. Palm Sunday - a good day to be in a liturgical environment. I'm pretty sure I was the youngest person there, besides the teenage altar boy. Having grown up in a baptist culture, I'm always a little tentative in liturgical spaces because of unfamiliarity. There was a lot of time spent in responsive readings - one in particular taken from the gospel of Luke. It was a synthesis of passages surrounding Christ's Passion. Different folks had been pre-assigned different "roles" in the readings, and there were parts for the whole congregation to read. As it turns out, those parts contained the words of accusation and condemnation of Christ. Together, we accused Jesus of speaking against the temple, against Caeser, and against paying taxes. Ultimately, we said "Crucify, crucify him!" Ouch. A very poignant moment indeed for me. I was there, after all, having been guilty of the sin for which he was penalized.

After that service was over, I decided to attend the morning worship service at the local Calvary Chapel - casual, laid back worship (usually). Well, given that today is Passover, they had a special service planned. An Israeli Christian spoke, leading the congregation through a Passover Seder. Wow - we who are in Christ so rarely pay attention to or embrace the truly ancient part of our story, and we deprive ourselves greatly.

Shalom, friends.

posted by Steve at 9:05 AM
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Friday, April 02, 2004

I do believe that this post breaks the longest hiatus from blogging I've had since I started nearly two years ago. I've watched a lot of other fellow bloggers go through times of relative inactivity, so I suppose that I was due. Anyway, some things have changed in my daily rhythms lately, which may or may not result in more posts. I'd like to think that it will, but I'm a little scared to make any promises.

I've ended my run with the righteous order of the green apron - at least for the time being. The location of the store I worked in was just too far away from home, which meant I wasn't spending enough time working the soil of this area. There have been rumors of a new storefront from the previously mentioned "order" right here in Ramona. If that comes to pass, I'll likely re-up with them, because it really is a killer way to meet people and be a part of their lives. Until then (and after then too, actually), I'll continue to hang out and drink coffee at the local joint - good people there.

As I was working my final few shifts over the past week, I realized with some amount of gratitude to God that I had been effective in my mission there. When I told many of my regular customers that they wouldn't be seeing me regularly any longer, for the most part they expressed a genuine sense of regret, and wished me well. Lest I sound like I have an outrageously inflated impression of myself, I do realize that my role in these peoples' lives was very very very small indeed. However, I do believe that I made a significant connection with them that went beyond handing them a cup of coffee or a latte. Heck, I heard that the day after my last shift, the eight-year old son of one of my regulars cried all the way home because he was bummed out. Truth is, I miss little Alex too.

The past eight months have demonstrated to me how easy it is to have an impact on people - if only a small one. At the risk of once again overly inflating something simple, I wonder if I haven't learned a lesson of Jesus here.

**Thank you Jesus, for letting me wear your name tag.**

posted by Steve at 8:45 AM
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spirit farmer data

I'm Steve Lewis. This used to be my blogging home. My online home is now at When this blog was my active online home, I lived in Seattle. Now I live in London, UK. I follow Jesus (poorly most of the time), worship simply, read a lot, watch culture, go to school, listen to music, write, enjoy art, and drink a lot of coffee.
e-mail me:

seattle spots

victrola coffee
zoka coffee
university of washington
church of the apostles
quest church
sanctuary church
shoreline vineyard

sites i visit

off the map
nt wright

a few of the blogs in the feedreader

jason evans
joe boyd
kevin rains
alan creech
chris marshall
bill bean
eugene cho
jordon cooper
dwight friesen
john chandler
amy palmer
ryan bolger
rudy carrasco
ryan sharp
sings in the sunshine
rick bennett
scot mcknight
karen ward
alan hirsch
dan kimball
petey crowder

i'm reading it

colossians remixed
africa unchained

i finished reading it - 2007

generation me
jesus and the restoration of israel
god's continent
globalizing theology
gustavo gutierrez: essential writings
jesus and the eyewitnesses
garlands of grace
twenty poems to nourish your soul
the black swan
dancing in the streets
made to stick
signs in contemporary culture
hit the bullseye
the politics of jesus
readings in christian ethics
toward old testament ethics
the kite runner
principles of conduct
velvet elvis
the irresistable revolution
they like jesus, but not the church
the great omission
charisma: the gift of grace, and how it has been taken from us
the starfish and the spider
a perfect mess
the world cafe
the new faces of christianity
leaving church
journeying in faith
the creed
transforming mission
metaphors we live by
foolishness to the greeks
personal knowledge

states i've spent time: 2007

british columbia
oh yeah, denmark, too

i wrote it

managing conflict in the 'new world'
music review: over the rhine
film review: bonhoeffer
music review: fighting jacks
film review: the passion of the christ
how reality tv changes lives
the best tv article you've ever read
corks & caps: a wine lover's story of change
america's idols
random, disorganized thoughts about life after the katrina disaster
missional . . . plain and simple
on becoming post-gnostic

i blogged it

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