Ryan, great piece. Some comments:

1. Trying to figure out out how to comment on Substack is hard. Why substack anyway?

2. Have you listened to Sting's latest album? I'm not sure I like it, but The Book of Numbers is theologically interesting. Sting's relationship with God is weird.

3. You know when Jesus enters Jerusalem and they sing Hossanna to the Son of David. What is the next thing he does? Turns over the tables in the temple and clears everyone out ... How challenging it is when we worship Jesus for what we think He is only to have him turn over tables in our lives and bring change? Perhaps this is something of what is happening today.

4. I don't think its as much about our progress as it is about identity. I think the reason why we identify with artists is they tell of our humanity. Perhaps the challenge for the church is our artistic expression became what do our buildings look like an our music sounds like in worship... while Bono, Justin Bieber, Kanye West and Tori Kelly have pulled at the heart strings of people who find Jesus but express their emotions and challenges in the world? Maybe we need more of a focus on identity and the road Jesus walks with us, especially when its in the gutters of relational challenges, depression, financial woes etc etc

5. It feels like we've been on a diet of bread and cheese in the local church, but Jesus didn't say go and plant churches to reach the world, or go and make your churches like XYZ to reach the world. He said go and make disciples and I think church is something which should flow out of people becoming Christians and then naturally want a place to connect, learn and grow. Not be the central process in which the gospel goes out to the world (With all its expenses, programs, staff costs, operational costs etc)

Good thoughts here. Well done!

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Thanks Steve! Appreciate it man! And appreciate you taking the time to read and engage!

1. It took me a long time to come around to Substack, but I eventually did. I chose it because I want to host a semi-public (not a full public) conversation. This helps me to be a little more "hard-hitting" as the conversation is a little more "in-house". Also, the way it manages subscriptions is quite nice - I could set all this up manually on my blog but it requires some maintenance, whereas with Substack it's all integrated - blogging, emailing, etc. It's become a bit of a platform for hard conversations.

I also think the subscription model will help me to actually write as I know some people are reading it, as opposed to just blogging and having to use my channels to promote the blog and hope for the best. This is especially difficult too when my other channels are used more professionally.

2. I do like Sting's new album. The last one was terrible, though. This one is a bit of a return to form. I do find Sting's relationship to God very interesting - I think that's partly why I'm compelled to think of his music in spiritual terms as well as musical terms.

3. This is absolutely true hey, you're right. We assume we're the guys who are "in" and have it all together, and can be shocked to find out that we're actually not. Well, the Pharisees were shocked too! Fascinating! We need some humility!

4. I think Identity is a huge factor and agree. I do think though there's a macro story we find ourselves in. We struggle with our identity WITHIN that story / we struggle with identity because we don't know how we fit in.

However, the story itself is worth looking at. I find the story of Progress interesting to think about as a journalist. I recently read a book by Jeffrey Bilbro called Reading The Times. It's a good book. I'll send you a blog post I did on it at another site. I've been thinking a lot about how we are all often just people of our times and how much the Church integrates with culture and is influenced by it, and what that looks like in our day (which we can't see for ourselves because we're living in it).

5. Dude, that's great, that's put in a very good way - I agree!

Thanks man!

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I love your point about pragmatism. You’re touching on what I think Jesus meant by “lukewarm”… I posted this the other day:

“Christ accepts the radical, on-fire believer. Christ will convince the honest cold skeptic… It is the lukewarm that he cannot stomach, the moderate playing both sides, standing for nothing, that he will spit out… don’t confuse Christ with Goldilocks.”

I think there are pockets of creative theology. Mike Heiser is doing something phenomenal, “I dare you not to bore me with the Bible”.

BibleProject new app looks wonderful where they are looking at scripture in “movements” and forcing the reader to see repeated themes and patterns in masterful arrangement.

I was in a small conflict/debate recently, and realized that my opponent was attempting to protect his reformed view from the Bible!

Ad fontes indeed! Back to the artesian well, the un-capable spring.

I think the middle is always more radical than either of the extremes, and the truth has always been stranger than fiction. Where the imagination strives for uniqueness it becomes self serving and inauthentic; where imagination is made subject to truth it begins to bloom the original, the sincere, and the authentic.

After all, no one, no matter how gifted or creative or skilled, is able to imagine all that Christ has prepared for us!

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Thanks Al! Thought-provoking comments. That's such great stuff on the imagination.

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Ryan I can say no more than what you've succinctly emblazoned onto this post. Everyone needs to read and share this post. Blessings (and keep on writing, please)

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