Thursday, May 28, 2009

Frank Viola at George Fox University

Here's a link to passionate speech given recently at George Fox University by author Frank Viola. It's about 30 minutes long.

Viola has written several inspiring and challenging books about church life, including Rethinking the Wineskin, Pagan Christianity and Who's Your Covering?. These books (as well as some by other authors of similar ilk) had a profound impact on me and completely changed my understanding of what church is supposed to be. Sometime later when I began reading the works of early Quakers I was amazed at how closely they embodied the same values and practices that I had first encountered through Viola.

Frank has a new book out, entitled From Eternity to Here, which forms the basis of his speech at George Fox. I haven't read the new book, but I do have a copy. I guess I'd better put it at the top of my reading stack.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mighty Uke! - The Movie

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day, 2009

by Donald Green

"Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God." Matthew 5:9

In struggling with this teaching, I have come to some convictions.


Push a pacifist for an example of his lifestyle and you may hear any number of bases: "see the world as one" or "we are brothers" or "a federated world is the answer" or "love is the key" or "the multinational corporations are the cause." None of these is wrong in and of itself. They may be possible keys, The point is that they are incomplete, inadequate by themselves. Pacifism is often humanistic, politically, culturally, or socially determined. Human pacifists often come from an intellectual,high-class, educated minority. Pushed far enough a pacifist may be able to share his own convictions -- a sandy foundation at best. If I pursue peace because of a political philosophy, then the best I can do is try to persuade and convince you with logic.

A peacemaker is a biblical Christian -- be he Quaker, Mennonite, Brethren, or whatever, it makes no difference. The lives of biblical peacemakers are rooted and grounded in the universal expression of God's truth. A peacemaker shares the Spirit and mission of Christ, for as Paul said: "For he himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, broke down the barrier of the dividing wall...that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace." (Ephesians 2:14, NASB.) Jesus hung on a cross that we might find peace with God through His blood. Jesus was a peacemaker, and to you and to me He issues the same call.

We are not of the kingdom of this world; we are soldiers for Christ and our command is to be peacemakers. George Fox expressed this succinctly in his declaration to Charles II in 1661: "We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world. The spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move unto it; and we do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the Kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world." The call to peacemaking is the call to a biblical life-style.


Somewhere, somehow, someone received the idea that peacemakers live a "will not" life. "I will not fight," "I will not make war," "I will not kill." "I will not" may be the orientation of the pacifist but not of the biblical peacemaker. Jesus did not command His followers to be "I will not" disciples. Peacemakers are children of God. Their lives are not filled with running from violence, but of confronting it, bringing it under the judgment of God. (See Romans 12:17-21)

The Bible says: "As much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." For Quaker merchants in Boston and Philadelphia (1600-1700) this meant sending ships to sea without cannon. It meant rusting the purpose and sovereignty of God -- confronting violence in the name of peace. Quakers, Mennonites, and Brethren were driven from their homes and lost everything they owned to both Americans and British during the Revolutionary War. The world was at war and it threw its wrath and violence indiscriminately against those who attempted to be peacemakers. In the Princeton meetinghouse today, blood stains remain on benches where British and American soldiers lay side by side as Friends, biblical peacemakers, ministered to thy dying on both sides.

A peacemaker confronts violence and brings it under God's judgment. Be it emotional and physical violence in marriage, or parent and child, violence between employer and employee, or the violence of crime and corruption, a peacemaker always sees an alternative to strife. He always pursues reconciliation, always understand the potential of God's mercy and grace. Peacemakers are ambassadors for Christ, as though god were entreating through them on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God. Peacemaking begins with your mate, you in-laws, in your neighborhood. It begins at work, or it begins in school.

A peacemaker of the New Testament is patient, kind, not jealous -- he or she does not seek his own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered -- bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:4,5, NASB).


Whereas a pacifism not based on the Bible, but based upon a "will not" political philosophy, may see government as the enemy, not so a biblical peacemaker. "Rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil." (Romans 13:3 NASB) The three Christian fellowships given privilege of carrying the peace mission in the world historically have always respected the servant of government. They take seriously the Bible's admonition that "entreaties and prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kinds and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life." (1 Timothy 2:1,2)


The Bible command that we "...pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14 NASB) Peacemakers are conquerors for and through Christ. They were the men, women, and teenagers who gave up their lives by the hundreds on Roman crosses and in Roman arenas. These peacemakers confronted violence and brought the Roman empire to its knees.

Mennonite, Brethren, and Quaker peacemakers for 400 years have been in the middle of battlefields caring for the wounded and dying of both sides. They have been in the midst of racial hatred and strife lifting a standard for God. They have chosen the way of suffering, the way of the cross.

Peacemakers in the home, the community, or the world of nation-states may end up being hated and rejected by both sides of a controversy. But then, biblical peacemaking is the way of suffering.


Friends in Ireland gathered for the Ulster Quarterly Meeting of 1798 in the middle of terrible bloodshed and carnage. Rebel and English forces alike committed horrible atrocities in the struggle.

David Sands of New York felt led by God to visit the Quakers of Ulster in his traveling ministry. He records some of his experiences as Friends went to Wexford for their meeting. The road to the meeting house was strewn with bodies, but trusting in the sovereignty and protection of God, Quaker men, women, and children made their way to worship safely. They marched to the drumbeat of another kingdom; they were in this world, but not of it.

Now, my friends, I come to the key issue of this presentation.

Have you discovered your place among the soldiers for Christ? Have you joined the Lamb's war? Are you living in the Spirit that takes away all occasion for war? Have you herd the call from the Captain of our salvation? Are you a peacemaker? Have you explored the New Call to peacemaking?

Print copies of this and other literature may be obtained from Barclay Press, 110 S. Elliott Rd. Newberg, Oregon 97132, 1-800-962-4014
This Document is on The Quaker Writings Home Page.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Thought for the day

"Before you speak, it necessary to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart."
- Mother Teresa

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Larry Norman documentary

Filmmaker David Di Sabatino, who created the excellent Lonnie Frisbee documentary, has just announced the release of his newest film: FALLEN ANGEL: The OUTLAW LARRY NORMAN.

Here is the announcement from Di Sabatino:

Dear friends,

For the last little while I have been putting together a documentary on the life of Larry Norman. We are pleased to announce that the movie is finished and presently playing the film festival circuit.

The movie is entitled FALLEN ANGEL: The OUTLAW LARRY NORMAN, and includes interviews from many of the people with whom Larry worked with at the height of his success, many of whom are breaking their silence for the first time in more than 20 years.

Interviewees include Randy Stonehill, Pamela Newman (ex-wife), Philip Mangano (manager), Tom Howard (musician), Ray Ware (manager), Holly Benyousky (Street Level Artists Agency), Denny Fridkin (People!), Geoff Levin (People!), Robbie Levin (People!), Terry Taylor (Daniel Amos), Ed McTaggart (Daniel Amos), Jerry Chamberlain (Daniel Amos) and others.

On March 1, 2009 we were pleased to premiere the film at the Cinequest Film Festival in Larry Norman's hometown of San Jose. It was well attended, and the film spawned a long and heated discussion after it ended in the hallway.

Right after we came home, we received a "cease and desist" letter on behalf of the Norman family stating that we would be sued for 84 copyright violations. In answering this challenge, we filed a declaratory motion in a Los Angeles court to ask a judge to clear the movie based on our parsing of "Fair use" law. "Fair use" says that, just like the nightly news, a documentary filmmaker can use copyrighted materials in their movie in order to tell their story as long as it follows certain guidelines.

A few days ago we were pleased to find out that we had won the legal challenge and were free to use all the materials we wished.

It also came to our attention that there were people behind the scenes that were trying to derail the movie. Media outlets from CNN to The Tennessean to the OC Weekly are preparing stories about the goings on. You wouldn't believe it if I told you. So I will wait and let them do it.

Fallen Angel is being represented for an upcoming tour by Street Level Artists Agency (, a company started by Larry Norman back in the early 1970s. We are planning a tour of venues for nights of film & music where Randy Stonehill will appear to play a short set, followed by the playing of the movie and then both Randy and myself will take Q&A. If you have any interest in sponsoring a showing, please contact me at .

To read more about the movie, please go to .


David Di Sabatino

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


It was the late 1980's. Carla and I were musicians on the "worship team" of a Vineyard church. Vineyard worship music was still pretty cutting-edge in those days and our worship band was hot. The pastor of our church had been invited to speak at a small mainline denomination church in a neighboring city. He decided to bring his worship team along with him.

We arrived at the church well before the service so that we could set up our equipment. The building was as I expected: Old, stale, musty, dead. We would kick some life back into them! We finished setting up and had a soundcheck, then the parishioners began to arrive. Many were older than I was used to seeing at our suburban Vineyard.

We played our worship set and it went over pretty well as I recall. But what happened next I will never forget. The pastor of the church we were visiting came up to the podium and thanked us for the music. He then said, "Before I introduce our guest speaker, sister Edith is going to come and sing "Since Jesus Came Into My Heart". A little old lady sat down at the church's upright piano and shuffled some sheet music while sister Edith, no spring chicken herself, stood meekly in front.

The piano was out of tune. Sister Edith's voice was shakey and tended to drift off-key. But as she continued to sing, the Presence of God began to fill the room. It came in like a wave--a powerful breaker--and I swear I could almost see it rolling in before it hit us. Never before or since have I experienced God's tangible Presence in such a powerful way.

I learned that day that with God it's not about the talent or the trendiness or the professionalism. It's about the heart.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Enslaved in America

There was an interesting story in yesterday's Denver Post about illegal migrant workers being treated like slaves--living in deplorable conditions, working twelve hour days, threatened with violence, humiliated. Apparently, this kind of thing goes on all the time here in America. The poor and powerless are exploited and oppressed. The American consumer is, ultimately, the beneficiary. It's Charles Dickens all over again.

It is interesting in this particular story to see how the blame for what happened to these men gets passed around like a hot potato: The growers and grocers blame the state Department of Labor. The state Department of Labor blames the Federal Department of Labor. The Federal Department of Labor blames the Immigration Department.

I'm wondering if the truth is that we're all to blame.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Now I've seen everything.

I recently discovered, quite by accident, that there is a Christian nudist organization. The Natura Christian Fellowship claims to have 32,000 members. It started 65 years ago as a Quaker offshoot but has since attracted Catholics, Southern Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. As a result, Natura no longer identifies itself as Quaker. The group draws its inspiration from Isaiah 20:2, where the prophet walked around naked for three years. They also claim to be very devout and "family-oriented". They do not seem to have a website, which is probably a good thing. Other details are scanty.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Handmaid's Tale

I just finished reading The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid's Tale is a science fiction (or as the author prefers to call it, speculative fiction) story of a dystopian patriarchal fascist state founded by ultra-right wing fundamentalists. Because of pollution, radioactivity and disease, birth rates have plummeted. Fertile women are enslaved and assigned to high-ranking government officials for the purpose of impregnation. The wives of the officials must cooperate with this arrangement because it is the only way to fulfill the mandate to "be fruitful and multiply." Biblical passages are used (and misused) by the regime to justify the forced polygamous arrangments.

The Handmaid's Tale is in the American Library Association's list of most banned books. I recall vaguely when the movie came out in 1990 that there was a lot of uproar from various fundy Christian groups. As an old friend of mine used to say, "If you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one that yelps is the one you hit."

The movie version, from what I've heard, isn't very good. The book, on the other hand, is fantastic. It has been dismissed in some quarters as "feminist literature" but I didn't see it that way at all. I saw it as a cautionary tale of how quickly a free society can turn into a totalitarian one (think of the rapid rise of Nazism in pre-WWII Germany). It is also a warning about how regular folks, like you and I, tend to allow such things to occur by being complacent and even cooperative as freedoms are taken away (first from others, then eventually, from ourselves), until we find it is too late.

Margaret Atwood is a very smart and insightful person. Here (in three parts) is a discussion she had with Bill Moyers:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

David Clayton on the purpose of art

I listened to a fascinating interview on the radio today with painter David Clayton--the artist-in-residence at Thomas More College. Clayton's specialty is sacred art and particularly iconography.

I was particularly struck by this statement:

"When art fulfills its purpose, it engages us and draws us to God."

My primary form of artistic expression is music and I have long felt that the most ancient and pure use of music is to draw people into God's presence (or perhaps I should say draw people into an awareness of God's presence).

Here is an interview with Clayton which is similar to the one I heard on the radio:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Who are the Quakers in Yorba Linda?

I recently stumbled upon the website of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Yorba Linda, California. John Wimber, who was the father figure of the Vineyard movement, was a pastor at the Yorba Linda Friends Church (Quaker) for several years before experiencing charismata and leaving in the late 70's to plant a new church that eventually became the Anaheim Vineyard. The Yorba Linda Vineyard church is only a couple of years old. Interestingly, it is co-pastored by Wimber's son and daughter-in-law, Sean and Christy Wimber.

The Yorba Linda Vineyard seems (judging by the activities listed on their website) to be extremely missional in it's orientation. They are very involved in practical outreach to the community. Way cool.

But I was particularly struck by the following statement in the "Who We Are" section of their website. It resonated with me because of my own journey from Vineyard to Quaker:

"Sean and Christy have been in the Vineyard Movement since the beginning, back in 1977. Both of them came out of the Friends Church, a Quaker church here in Yorba Linda. People often think the Vineyard Movement came from a Calvary Chapel, when in fact, we are Quakers at the root of who we are, and Vineyard roots are Quaker roots."

I have often contemplated what a Vineyard/Quaker hybrid worship meeting might look like. It would be interesting if more Vineyards got in touch with their Quaker roots, and if more Quakers got in touch with the "Doin' the stuff" ethos of the Vineyard (which harkens back not only to John Wimber but to the dynamism of George Fox and the original Quakers).

From what I can gather, the Yorba Linda Friends church is extremely Protestant/Evangelical in form and in most ways no longer resembles or a Quaker meeting. In fact, it is virtually impossible to tell from their website or sermons (viewable online) that they are Quakers. One gets the distinct sense that they are trying to distance themselves from Quakerism and that troublesome George Fox fellow.

Wouldn't it be ironic if the Vineyard in Yorba Linda is more Quaker-like than the Quaker church?

I hope someday I can visit both the Vineyard and the Friends Church in Yorba Linda and find out for myself.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Article about Quakers in Tampa

I just found a nice article in the St. Petersburg Times newspaper from a couple of years ago about the Quaker meeting in Tampa Bay, FL.

You can read it by clicking here.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a while. It is traditional Chinese musicians playing bluegrass with American musicians.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Those wacky Belgians...