Does TED do Theology?

I was fortunate to attend my first TED event last weekend, in Sugarland, Houston. Since then I’ve become a bit of a junkie, watching TED videos on Netflix, and feeling my creativity muscles stretching, expanding. “TED” stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. It is a conference held as far and wide as Taipei, Amsterdam, New York, Sydney, London, Chicago, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Berlin, Silicon Valley, and just about every other major world city. It regularly draws scientists, thinkers, tinkerers, scholars, entrepreneurs, nerds, artists, designers, and overall, people who like talking about and listening to the latest ideas.

Is this a good thing?

I am enthusiastic about how much it is a good thing, particularly for those with a theological bent; I can picture my profs from Regent thoroughly enjoying a conference of this type, because they are always talking about the intersection of faith and culture, theology and philosophy, science and Christianity, practice and theory. For example; in one of the modules titled “Matter” (I’m thinking philosophy and ontology, so ears perk up…) they had a scientist come up and talk about the latest advances in Quantum Mechanics. As I’m listening I know what he’s saying has cross-over implications for the way we’ve been doing theology for thousands of years… I tweeted the following:

It strongly echoed some sentiments published by English theoretical physicist AND theologian John Polkinghorne (which one does he moonlight?) on how the latest finds in how particles behave, or more precisely interrelate; to show that the fabric of the universe is relational, as opposed to individual, independent. The cosmos, as a reflection of the Triune God, simply cannot exist alone. It is being as communion, to hearken Zizioulas.

So does TED do theology?

Not explicitly. But for discerning Christians and theologians I believe it is not just sitting around, talking about and listening to the latest ideas. It is being unafraid. It is coming out of the cradle of faith and finding that science need not be antagonistic to religion, that we should not isolate ourselves, that faith seeking understanding, credo ut intelligam (I believe in order that I may understand), is a legitimate base to begin from.

How Do You Sabbath, Sabbatical, Rest, Play, Refuel, Re-energize?

Today’s talk on Sabbath & Burnout  was not new; it is a talk I give every year, and it is completely necessary. After the service I sat in circles and listened to stories of people burning / burned out by life, work, circumstance and so on. It was tragic. The overwhelming sense I had as I pronounced the closing benediction was God saying, STOP. TAKE A DAY OFF. – and that’s exactly what I said. There is a way to burn for God, or for work, what we do, our passions in life. And then there is also a thing called foolish burning. Many times I find that we are our own enemy; the unstoppable drive is like a tank, bulldozing over our own health, our relationships, our well-being.

So I’m re-posting these thoughts below about burnout and depression; mind you, depression is not always emotional; I believe there are also physical depressions (a depressed body or a depressed immune system), spiritual depressions. And I think these thoughts below, posted from my years in seminary, are very instructive and helpful…

February 19, 2009

Darrell Johnson gave a stirring talk on depression among the clergy today – and personally I think he should blog. So I transcribed some notes and reflections – from my own experience mingled with some of the theologies he presents concerning this “shame-based killer”. I’ve come to see depression among the clergy as a form of self-martyrdom – an unholy dying (in some cases, not all) – because it is often at our own hands, and before the idols of our own hero-worship (ourselves). More thoughts here:

Depression is symbiotic.It is never exclusively an inside-the-skull thing, Dr. Packer talks about the three-ness of human being; body, mind, & spirit (he doesn’t hold to the soul/spirit bifurcation). When depression hits, it is so often on all three fronts @ the same time, even though we can’t see it right away. For me the formula was like this:

Body – deteriorating health / not taking care of how I eat, sleep & exercise / unhealthy rhythms (or no rhythms at all)

Mind – continually denying myself and depriving myself of my inner-most needs and joys. This is a form of self-induced schizophrenia.

Spirit – not having a clue as to what I was made for, what I was called to, how I was designed. What a shame that this is so epidemic.

Depression is intense. I’ll never forget those plunges I first felt sitting on the 7 train on the way home working in NYC, exhausted. It sucked, quite literally.
Depression comes about by Great Expectations – Darrell’s insight here – we think we are more than we are – saints – in the hagiographical sense. The problem begins not in our striving to be great but rather in our idolizing; thus the original sin is placing human beings on pedestals and trying to attain these impossibly high notions of greatness.
Depression can come from “sedentary habits” – DJ cites Spurgeon here. I’m still guilty of this. Hoping between semesters to lose some pounds and get back in shape. Hold me to this.
Depression is better prevented, not cured. We’re better off pre-empting this killer than trying to deal with it at its height. No one likes having their hard drive crash only to be survived by that one, lone, blinking light of the will.
Depression is treated by “pacing” – this is me. Actually I get this from a quote from OM founder George Verwer who says that “burning for Christ” is a good thing – but we are to burn as coal – long and deep – and not like petrol – which flares up like a flash in the pan and fizzles out fairly quick.
A moving story of depression – as told by Gerry Sitzer, A Grace Disguised. DJ recommends this book by a prof @ Whitworth in Spokane who witnessed the deaths of his mother, wife and daughter in a split second. Moving story.

Anyways. My thoughts. Does this sound familiar to u?

Art and Incarnation: Mako Fujimura

We had a discussion among our staff about the art of Makoto Fujimura this morning. He’s a New Yorker. He’s a Greenwich Village artist (my old haunting grounds back in the day @ Parsons School of Design). He’s asian (yay!) And he’s a Christian. So it intrigued me to watch an emerging figure who represents two worlds I inhabit, as an Asian-American as well as a Christian within the arts. So I did some homework only to find this little endorsement here to the left that he receives from CT mag, and to find out that he’s received some accolade from some great sources. See his blog here and professional page here. So I’m thrilled for this guy who is making a statement in numerous ways – as an urbanite, a religious person, an ethnic person – just thrilled. But the one question that seemed to echo in our group was: Continue reading “Art and Incarnation: Mako Fujimura”