Q Portland: Day One

"Welcome to Portland. Have you gotten high yet?" That was how Donald Miller welcomed the 600 participants of Q to his hometown. As a very "progressive" and "post-Christian" city, Portland is a colorful backdrop for this year's Q Gathering. Much of the city's cultural texture was captured by a clip from Portlandia that played during Miller's welcome:

Gabe Lyons, the founder of Q, added his welcome. He reminded the room full of iPads, faux-hawks, and black framed glasses that the event is called "Q and not A" because we don't have all of the answers. That launched a day of engaging conversation and some controversy.

Jamin Brophy-Warren from Kill Screen Magazine spoke about the redemptive power of video games and the struggle to recognize them as a legitimate art form.

Tom Ritchie, one of the guys who invented the original mountain bike, shared about how his time in Rwanda rekindled his hope. His company has supplied thousands of custom designed "coffee bikes" to help local farmer transport their coffee beans.

Louie Giglio interviewed Jennifer Wiseman, an astrophysicist (yes, a literal rocket scientist) about the formation of stars and discovery of hundreds of new planets. The images Wiseman shared of galaxies 33 billion light years away provoking silent worship.

Of course there were many other 9 and 18 minute talks on topics ranging from urban design to evangelism to law. But a common theme emerged–God's people are engaged in meaningful work in every channel of the culture. Vocation matters.

The most anticipated session occurred Wednesday night when Gabe Lyons interviewed Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the leader of the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" that caused an uproar last summer. (A handful of local protesters appeared outside the venue as a result.) Lyons outlined his reasons for inviting Rauf to Q in a post worth reading. And as someone engaged in Muslim-Christian dialogue, I was pleased to see civil discourse modeled for the leader here in Portland.

Lyons framed the interview well and noted the clear theological differences between our communities, while holding up the importance of engagement, dialogue, and not leading from a posture of fear. Rauf and Lyons talked about the challenges of Islam adapting to modern cultures, the fear behind sharia law taking over the US, and how the media poisons Americans' perceptions of Muslims, and Arab Muslims' perceptions of Christian Americans. The conversation was so important that Lyons even allowed the clock to hit 00:00 and kept going–something unprecedented for Q.

Stay tuned for more updates.

April 27, 2011

Displaying 1–8 of 8 comments

Tiina M

May 03, 2011  12:24pm

I love the fact that Skye Jethani included the Portlandia video in the blog. I think that fact alone and the attention grabbing quote from Donald Miller persuaded me to read and spend some time on this blog. I love the way conversational language and humour was used. Well done.

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April 30, 2011  6:59pm

it seems the Christian posture ought to be to get together and see what the Lord is doing in each of us...some has a song... a teaching...if He is lifted up He will draw unto Himself. Notwithstanding, elitist Christian leaders have to justify their top-power model and try to create a 'Christian' environment sans the gospel. This lukewarmness causes...a retching effect from deep within the body of Christ. Stop it.

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April 30, 2011  7:42am

Wow. In an era with Christian music, Christian books, Christian radio, Christian pop psychobabble, and all the rest, we now have a Christian TED. Thanks for cementing the notion that Christians are not only un-innovative, but shameless imitators of whatever the hot new thing is.

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steven w.

April 30, 2011  3:51am

33 billion light years? God leaves one dumbfounded. "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."

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April 29, 2011  12:42pm

I recommend to my fellow Christians if you want to know the truth about Islam and Muslims, then go to Walid Shoebat website: http://shoebat.com Walid is a former PLO terrorist/Muslim that is now a Christian, exposing Islam for what it really is.

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April 28, 2011  3:47pm

Love the video. That's a wonderful caricature of my hometown.

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April 28, 2011  10:53am

"Many who don't like or agree with Imam Feisal's positions have questioned this decision. They believe my invitation is a tacit approval for all the Imam's views and beliefs. But let us not forget that listening to one share his or her ideas is not the same as endorsing them." Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists...why does it seem that if Christians hears one of these beliefs talk that suddenly the Christians have this overbearing sense that they are now in the target zone of a wrathful G-d? I've never understood this sentiment.

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April 28, 2011  10:21am

Yeah, that opening line makes me glad I wasn't there. That gathering is way too cool for normal Jesus followers like me.

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