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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

Piper to Warren: Why Thinking Biblically Matters to You

Trent Gilliss, online editor

John Piper and Rick Warren at Ralph Winter's FuneralCollin Hansen’s article in Christianity Today points out that pastor John Piper’s invitation may reveal a larger split within the Evangelical community, and a backlash against Saddleback pastor Rick Warren:

"You see, a lot of folks who like John don’t like Rick. So now some of John’s friends aren’t sure they want to hang out with him anymore. They may not come to his party in Minneapolis. And they aren’t sure that you should either."

But what specifically is Piper aiming to do? He tells us in the following four minutes of video. Although Piper’s gesture is offered with open palms, it’s also an attempt to get Rick Warren to “lay his cards on the table” and “tell us what makes him tick.” And, Piper also posits that, despite widespread opinion, Warren’s not just a pragmatic preacher who focuses solely on results:

"I do think he’s deeply theological. He’s a brilliant man. … I like him, and I’m frustrated by some of his stuff."

John Piper and Rick Warren talk at Ralph Winter’s funeral. (photo: Hudson Tsuei/Christian Post)

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More Than Two Million in Two Days

Trent Gilliss, online editor


Tony Blair, David Harris, and Rick Warren at the annual meeting
of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2008.

We’ve all read the stories about how the economic collapse has left no institution or business untouched. Rick Warren, a close friend of business management and leadership guru Peter Drucker, and his Saddleback Church of 22,000 members are no exception.

A couple of days before the end of 2009, Warren sent an "urgent letter" to his church members trying to raise $900,000 before the end of the calendar year:

"With 10% of our church family out of work due to the recession, our expenses in caring for our community in 2009 rose dramatically while our income stagnated. Still, with wise management, we’ve stayed close to our budget all year. Then… this last weekend the bottom dropped out.

On the last weekend of 2009, our total offerings were less than half of what we normally receive - leaving us $900,000 in the red for the year, unless you help make up the difference today and tomorrow.”

The response: more than $2.4 million in donations from thousands of folks from te megachurch in southern California.

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A Soldier to His General
Eboo Patel, Guest Contributor

You might be surprised by what our nation’s most famous Evangelical Christian has to say about Muslims.

I first met Rick Warren at the Aspen Ideas Festival a few years ago, where he was doing a talk on leadership. Somebody in the audience asked him — with no lack of scorn — if he thought everyone was going to heaven. That’s when I realized how much of a risk Warren had taken by coming to Aspen — a town of people with a generally condescending attitude towards Warren’s brand of Evangelical megachurch Christianity.

I asked him about why he chose to come to a place where much of the audience was suspicious of him because of the title “Pastor.” He smiled and said that he liked all kinds of people, including folks with a bias against religion, but he was looking forward to getting on a plane and heading to Rwanda the next day, where he had taken on the massive project of helping a country recover from genocide. “It was faith that got them through, and it’s faith that keeps them going,” he told me.

I was equally struck by the pragmatic and profound way Warren answered the man’s question. He basically said that he didn’t come to Aspen to disagree with people about heaven, but to find common ground about working together on earth — and in his recent travels across the developing world, he had seen enough suffering to make anyone with an impulse to serve put aside their differences and develop practical partnerships that actually helped people.

I caught up with Pastor Rick at another bastion of folks suspicious of faith (I spend a lot of time in those places!) — the Clinton Global Initiative. This time, he was even more forceful about the need to focus our efforts on improving earth instead of arguing about heaven. When he was asked how “the church” could play a role in ending poverty, he responded by saying that the armies of compassion included people of all faiths.

I took him aside after his panel presentation and talked to him about the religious diversity he expressed respect for on stage.

As for how this Muslim views that Christian, here’s what I have to say: We might have different ideas of heaven, but I would happily play soldier to his general in an interfaith army of compassion solving the problems of earth.

Eboo Patel appeared on SOF as a guest in "Religious Passion, Pluralism, and the Young." He’s also the founder and executive director of Interfaith Youth Core, a contributor to the Washington Post’s "On Faith" blog, and author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation.

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