May 25, 2009

Khrist and the Kasuals.

In a wide-ranging discussion about the state of faith in America, veteran researcher George Barna recently addressed questions raised by his new book, The Seven Faith Tribes: Who They Are, What They Believe, and Why They Matter. In that book, Barna outlines seven diverse faith segments, profiling their lifestyles, religious beliefs and practices, values and life goals. The seven tribes include Casual Christians, Captive Christians, Mormons, Jews, Pantheists, Muslims and Skeptics.


Happy Memorial Day.

May 24, 2009

Keep Out

The cause of [the cessation of the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost] was not, ... "because there was no more occasion for them," because all the world was become Christians... The real cause was, "the love of many," almost of all Christians, so called, was "waxed cold." The Christians had no more of the Spirit of Christ, than the other heathens.

The Son of man, when he came to examine his church, could hardly "find faith upon earth." This was the real cause, why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in the Christian church; because the Christians were turned heathens again, and had only a dead form left.

--John Wesley (1703-1791), Sermons on Several Occasions,
New York: Carlton & Phillips, 1855, Sermon XCIV. "The
More Excellent Way", vol. 2, p. 266.

See the book.

May 21, 2009

St. Philip's ascends.

The Ascension of Jesus, Salvador Dali

Today is Ascension Day, the commemoration of the day Jesus returned to Heaven. His parting words to his disciples (including St. Philip the Evangelist) from Matthew 28:16-20:
(16) Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. (17) And when they saw him, they worshiped him: but some doubted. (18) And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."

So today is also "The Great Commission Day." Rather than mourn Jesus' leaving us, we celebrate his sending us out into the world to do his work, strengthened and accompanied by the Holy Spirit. And today is also a day that St. Philip the Joy Giver Episcopal Church ponders their future, now that they have been closed as a mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

But who was Philip the Joy Giver?

Philip, Deacon and Evangelist

Acts 8:26-40 --

Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went.

Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.

Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go over to this chariot and join it." So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" He replied, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:

"Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and like a lamb silent before its shearer,
so he does not open his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken way from the earth."

The eunuch asked Philip, "About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?" Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus.

As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?" He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip an the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.

When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Immediately after witnessing to and baptizing the Ethiopian (although the baptism was conducted by the Holy Spirit, Philip simply poured the water), Philip was transported away by the Holy Spirit, and and went on his way loudly singing praises to God.

That is what I'd suggest the band of believers who make up the community known as St. Philip the Joy Giver do. Allow the Holy Spirit to transport them to a new place, where they can sing joyful songs of praise to our God, our resurrected Lord, and the Holy Spirit, Three In One, in thanksgiving for what he has done in their lives.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Thanks be to God!

Holy God, no one is excluded from your love, and your truth transforms the minds of all who seek you: As your servant Philip was led to embrace the fullness of your salvation and to bring the stranger to Baptism, so give us all the grace to be heralds of the Gospel, proclaiming your love in Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

May 19, 2009

Leftovers Night at Casa del Verano

Brisket from Milt's in Kyle,

Lockhart sausage from Milt's,

Black beans from Tres Amigos in south Austin,

Irish soda bread from Trinity Hall in Dallas,

...all good!

May 18, 2009

That's all, Volks! Tipp o' the hat memories.

Quaintly crappy cell-phone pics by P.M. Summer.

The Tipperary Inn closed again last weekend. It closed once before, was bought and reopened, and failed again.

The Tipperary Inn (not to be confused with Fort Tipperary just east of White Rock Lake) was an Irish-style bar/pub, complete with actual pub furnishings imported from Ole Eire. Legend says the Tipperary's first owners (who were Irish) paid $1 million in cash for the furnishings. They were in the "sporting hardware export" business, so it was whispered, and could be found hanging around Knights of Columbus halls in the USA.

The triangularly-shaped stone building they were housed in was originally the Lakewood Volk's Department Store, an upper-middle class shopping venue that I grew up with. This particular location (designed by George Dahl?) had multiple levels, and a fascinating indoor/outdoor goldfish pond that went through a glass wall to the outside. There was even an item I can't believe REALLY existed as I (and others) remember it... an X-Ray machine to size a child's foot properly. The bi-level corner of the building the Tipp was located in was the Women's Fitted Wear section (as opposed to Ready-to-Wear), and the mezzanine was Couture.

So, I paid my respects to the Tipp last Thursday after work. I walked in at 4pm (opening). It was un-air conditioned at that time (cost savings?), and had the distantly all-too-familiar smell of stale beer and bleach that I remember from my bar-keep days during my college years. I sat at the bar and ordered my preferred lager, a Spaten Bock, thinking perhaps I was making a mistake (ordering a Bavarian lager during the parting visit to an Irish pub). As I was pondering my error, I heard the gush of CO2 coming from the tap, the tell-tale sound of a blown keg. "Make that a Guinness" I said to the Mohawk sporting barkeep in a First Cav t-shirt (IIRC).

I drank my beer, wishing I'd had the foresight to order a Guinness 250 instead. Then it happened. A bad idea. A potentially ruinous idea. What if I pulled together some investors, cashed out my retirement, took over the Tipp, contracted with Franconia Brewery to brew private-label beers, did some minor redecorating, and re-opened as the "Volks Brauhaus"?

Or even as "The White Horse Tavern," appealing to the historically literate renegades at nearby Dallas Theological Seminary.

May 12, 2009

OK Cupid

You are a

Social Moderate
(50% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(25% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Today's unrepentant thievery

If New Testament Christianity is to reappear today with its power and joy and courage, men must recapture the basic conviction that this is a Visited Planet. It is not enough to express formal belief in the "Incarnation" or in the "Divinity of Christ"; the staggering truth must be accepted afresh--that in this vast, mysterious Universe, of which we are an almost infinitesimal part, the great Mystery, Whom we call God, has visited our planet in Person. It is from this conviction that there springs unconquerable certainty and unquenchable faith and hope. It is not enough to believe theoretically that Jesus was both God and Man; not enough to admire, respect, and even worship Him; it is not even enough to try to follow Him.

The reason for the insufficiency of these things is that the modern intelligent mind, which has had its horizons widened in dozens of different ways, has got to be shocked afresh by the audacious central Fact--that, as a sober matter of history, God became one of us.

... J. B. Phillips (1906-1982), New Testament Christianity
[1956], chapt. iii, par. 3

See the book at