Wednesday, February 27, 2008

An Update - The NPC Convention

We drove 1,100 miles Sunday. Monday, Jonalyn joined three other ladies (Jeanne Stevens, Margaret Feinberg, Sarah Cunningham) for her the start of her six-hour seminar. Her seminar on women and the church: Three hours Monday night and then three hours Tuesday morning. I was a participant in the audience. Lunch. Then ramping up into the seminar on soul differences, Jonalyn and I did together.

We are only one part of several dozen seminar leaders. Yet, Zondervan noted us in their blog update on the NPC. We're honored. And you can listen to our seminar streamed on their website. More here.

Now that our seminars are finished, we can focus on soaking other aspects of the convention. Today we heard a thought-provoking interview exchange between Chuck Colson, Greg Boyd, and Shane Claiborn. I also attended a Bible study by Gordon Fee and then a seminar on Bible translation.

We attended an author dinner last night. I sat beside Tom Dean, who has overseen the Bible Experience project the last 18 months. We talked about life and faith for the whole dinner, including his work with the TNIV.

We're also meeting other authors we've read and heard about, people you would likely recognize. It's amazing to be included with such company.

Approaching well known leaders is always a dubious affair. You never know how they will receive you, perceive you, welcome you. I could name a few people for you (that you would know) who were not very warm, friendly, nor receiving. I've been disappointed and puzzled. But I have approached a couple of people in the last day who were great listeners, heard my appreciation, were interested in what I had to say.

One was John Townsend... who was with Henry Cloud. I'd met Henry before and reintroduced myself. Great guy. Townsend was the same. Yesterday evening, I overhead him walking behind me, so I stopped, introduced myself, expressed appreciation for his work on having a healthy soul and healthy relationships. He was very warm to me and even asked me questions about myself.

The other was Gordon Fee. While others were pressing in for an autograph, I waited my turn to share my appreciation as a fan, not only of his work on understanding scripture, but his theological work on the equality of women. He warmly listened and expressed sincere reception of my appreciation. A knowing looking, a warm handshake... sometimes that's all you need to feel heard.

Moments like that, connecting gratitude to various members of the body who serve at a distance... that's the stuff that sits with me in times when I wonder why I do what I do and whether it is worth it. It's carrying legacy, shining lights, in the company of friends.

7 comments:

Paul F. said...

This sounds quite different from your experience at the "Christian marketing bonanza" from a few years ago. I'm sure cheesy marketing ploys still abound, but at least you get some really great experiences to go along with it. Glad to hear things are going well for you guys.

Dale Fincher said...

Ah, you refer to the Int'l Christian Retail Show... yeck...

This is quite different and we're mingling with pastor leaders who set the pace in so many communities around the country... and with leaders of leaders who inspire and inform.

We listened to NT Wright this morning do an overview of Acts. and then to Carolyn Custis James on suffering. Both very good!

John Ortberg is up in just a few minutes for a general session. Then tonight, NT Wright again!

Leif said...

Dale,

It was a privilege to meet you and Jonalyn at NPC. We are looking forward to hanging with you guys the next time we are in Steamboat.

May God give you both favor, wisdom and safe driving as you continue your time in California.

Leif

PS - enjoy Trader Joes ;-)

Dale Fincher said...

Leif,

Same to you! And you must let us know when you're coming to Steamboat!

We'll have some two-buck-chuck waiting for you.

Philip said...

Sounds like a fun week!

I'm taking a class this semester on Jewish Thought and we have been reading really interesting books. I thought I would give a list of some of them since you are interested in Jewish perspectives. If you've read them all then don't worry about it.

Franz Rosenzweig's "Understanding the Sick and the Healthy" or "Star of Redemption"

Martin Buber's "I and Thou"

Abraham Joshua Heschel's "I Asked for Wonder"

These are the ones I have read and each are great in their own way. Rosenzweig was focused on combating speculative thought, Buber is about understand human interaction, and Heschel's book is an anthology but he is amazingly profound. Just thought about you when I was thinking about them this morning.

Hope your week went well at NPC!

jeremy zach said...

Dale glad the convention went well.

Any thoughts on Boyd, Chuck, and Shane session?

Fee is brilliant. In seminary, he guest taught my exegetical methods class and it was amazing!!! Talk about a man who deeply walks in humility. He does such an amazing job balancing the head and the heart, which I deeply appreciate.

Dale Fincher said...

Philip, thanks for the book recommends! I can't keep up with your pace! LOL

Zach,

Yeah, I really like Fee and appreciate his work even more, now that I've met him. He didn't look anything like I expected (I was expecting a more fiery guy who resembled Bilbo Baggins...?).

Opinions on the Colson, Boyd, Claiborn dialogue...

Claiborn had the rhetorical advantage. He's good on his feet. Good at quotations. Sincere. Good at drawing in the audience by appealing to them emotionally. The audience responded to him the best too. I didn't feel like he had any chip on his shoulder, either. He tries to be a committed pacifist (at least from what I'm hearing form him). While that informs his very attractive decisions, it isn't developed enough to be convincing for me yet. Give him 10 years.

Colson didn't have a chip either. Of the three, he had the most worked out political philosophy, though he does represent more of the status quo. I think Scripture he appealed to (that Boyd tried to wiggle out of) need more wrestling with pastors.

Boyd, to me, has some interesting points, but overall was unimpressive. He seems most comfortable to be the one to knock other views down. But if I followed his position, as I understood it, then I have no idea how I'm to function as a true citizen of a nation or what I would do if I found myself needing to construct a polis with order, justice, and love. I think he makes a better denouncer than an affirming... at least from the discussion.

Boyd and Claiborn agreed we need to clean up the church before we clean up society. Colson said we need to do both at the same time. I agreed with the discussion that if we are going to decry homosexuality in the culture, we need to decry divorce in our own churches. That his hurting society more than homosexuality.

I'm sure others would reach different conclusions on the dialogue. What I think is the saddest part is that I've a feeling pastors will think this is the pinnacle of political discussion that evangelicals have... that this is all we've thought about it. And it's hardly the tip of the iceberg.