The work of Dr. Marcus Borg is characterized by its “academic and pastoral sensibility” in the words of John Ross, words I echo. His latest book, “The Heart of Christianity,” spells out the dissonance between two Christian paradigms, the earlier and emerging in Borg’s terms. The scholar and teacher visited WCC for a United Theological Seminary fundraiser Saturday night, dinner and a lecture afterwards, and I was fortunate to attend both. Offering tremendous insight, criticism, and possibilities for building bridges, ultimately Borg’s prophetic voice calls mainline Christians into the vocation of articulating the “emerging” Christian worldview.

From my front-row seat in our sanctuary, Aegis lit and standing over him, Marcus Borg looked like a professor whose class you’d love, all red socks, corduroy pants, and the top button of his denim shirt unbuttoned and half-hid behind the knot of a tie. Soft-spoken and gently witty, only once did Borg’s passion for his vision break through, revealing conviction that is only found in the white in-between spaces of his book. Like many, Borg grew up in the “earlier” Christian paradigm; once transcended, feelings for it are hard to conceal, and he does so better than most. Later, in the Q&A time, he offered his reasoned opinion that we are currently seeing the high-water mark of Christian fundamentalism; an affirmative antidote to the post-electoral disillusionment I, we, have been under.

Over the course of the evening, my suspicions were raised more than once that the special invitation extended to me included a subtext of persuading me towards UTS sooner rather than later. A bit awkward, that.

The process of reading and understanding Borg’s work is reinforcing for me the importance of Christian artistry, the aesthetics of Scripture and Gospel that have been an increasingly living part of my spiritual praxis. Approaching, reading, hearing, and responding to God’s Word as art – even the phrase “God’s Word” is a poetic claim within our emerging paradigm, not a factual one. Musically, this helps illustrate the false bifurcation between “Christian” (actually meaning fundamentalist, evangelical Christian) and “secular” artists. At times I deliberately translate, record, and express my experience of the Sacred in music; also deeper than consciousness, I write as a Sacred-seeking and Holiness-experiencing person. I practice within Christian tradition, and most often find my experiences within it as well. Give it the label you will, but I feel closer to Deftones than to Michael W. Smith.


  1. Excerpt from an email I just typed to Dad – he had written he was surprised with this post in a blog that claims to be about Mr. Furious records and music.

    – “you’re right on – the Mr. Furious [blog] IS about the MFR music, and other music – even though i spent most of the post on borg and the event at WCC, which wasn’t directly musical, there are two links. 1, the post is a glimpse into who i am and what i’m doing, which directly informs my music. 2, it opens up the question about whether my music (howie&scott, maybe echoes?) is “Christian” music or “secular” music – a question i have been asked many times. i always tried to dodge the question – using borg, i thought i could make a statement on my own terms, and not in response to anybody’s inquisition (which always comes pre-loaded with assumptions and emotional / judgemental baggage).”

  2. Howie
    I think surprised wasn’t the best word to use, too strong perhaps. And I used it without thinking that a blog is where you put down whatever is on your mind. But, also, I didn’t read your blog carefully enough. On first reading, I thought it was about Marcus Borg. And you do make him sound interesting with your description of him and comments about what he says. But I realized on a second reading that it is about music after all – your music. And that the last paragraph is the key paragraph, and it is about both your music and Borg. Specifically your music as
    Christian artistry and how Borg has reinforced that concept. And also how the question, “Is your music Christian music or not?” is a meaningless question, a question that has no answer. Or maybe it does have an answer – Of course it’s Christian music, but that only begins to describe it, and if you think that that is the whole answer then you haven’t yet grasped it.

    If I’m right on this, that doesn’t mean that I grasp the whole concept of your music.

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