Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The End

A new year and time for a new era in the life of the illumination dilemma. The ID is changing platforms and can now be read and enjoyed over at:

The Old ID will remain here and always be available as an archive. I'm sure I will be linking back to it from time to time. But please make sure you update whatever it is you use to follow (browser favorites, RRS feed, etc).

Thank you so much to all my faithful followers/readers...it's been a fun 5 years with blogger, but time to move on and hopefully expand!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Top_5_Lists! (2011)

Here they are! (see also 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)


1) Father Along: Josh Garrels
I needed this song in my life this year. 2011 was hard. This song spoke life back into my soul. Simple as that...killer lyric Still I get hard pressed on every side//Between the rock and a compromise//Like the truth and pack of lies fightin' for my soul//And I've got no place left go

2) Holocene: Bon Iver
We saw Bon Iver for the first time this year. SO good. Justin Vernon has the ability to instantly transform your mood, take you somewhere, and break your heart with the first two chords of a song...killer lyric say nothing, that's enough for me//and at once I knew that I was not magnificent
3) Poison and Wine: The Civil Wars 
I remember sitting in the cafeteria at UMASS this year reading the student newspaper when I stumbled upon an article about a concert the reporter had been to doing an article on Cafe 939 (cool little spot near the hotel REUNION meets in). They had seen an "up and coming new folk duo from Nashville." I looked at the photo and said: "that sure looks like Joy Williams." Turns out it was...crazy to see this old Mount Hermon connection blow up this year: Leno, awards shows, album of the year lists, and even 2 grammy's for Joy and John Paul (and it gets bigger). This song is incredible has one of the best turns in any song you will ever here...look for it right after the first chorus...killer lyric your hands can heal, your hands can bruise//I don't have a choice, but I still choose you
4) Timestretch: Bassnectar
2011, the year of dubstep. I was introduced to the phenomenon by a Berklee student on our spring break trip and I couldn't stop listening for months. This is my favorite Bassnectar track by far...killer lyric no need for lyrics, just feel that bass!
5) One Last Thing: Angels&Airwaves
I loved this band when they started...their first album blew my mind. It's been a slow decline in quality and interest since then. They released their fourth album this year (Love, Part II) and overall it's my least favorite of the four. This song, though, sounds exactly like what it is trying to say...the world is full of stuff that kills hope and belief but hope is not impossible. And it's better. And this song sounds like hope. Can't stop listening to it...killer lyric (the whole song really) I try to rest, but it starts to hurt//Living here is a lot of work//but I found, one last thing, to believe in

Books (required reading)

1) To Change the World by James Davison Hunter

I wrote about this briefly right after I finished the book. I don't have much more to add now. One of the most thought-provoking and challenging books I have ever read. Please read it so we can chat about it!
2) One.Life by Scot McKnight
Another book I posted about upon finishing. This book has quickly elevated itself as a must read for our leaders, students, and anyone who wants a primer on the language and theology of REUNION and Sojourn. Best book on discipleship available right now.
3) The Pastor by Eugene Peterson
Any regular readers know I love Peterson. It was fun to read this memoir and see the marks of his other writings present through his life story. So many great moments, here's just one: "Story is a way of language in which everything and everyone is organically related. Story is a language that insists that persons cannot be known by reducing them to what they do, how they perform, the way they look. Story uses language in which listening has joint billing with speaking. Story is language put to the use of discovering patterns and meanings--beauty and truth and goodness: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the seemingly random and disconnected pieces of experience and dreams, tasks and songs, promises and betrayals that make up daily life, words and sentences detect and reveal and fashion stories in places of hospitality." Thank you Eugene for this, for your commitment to and advocacy of the pastorate, for your writing about story, and for so much more.
4) From Wild Man to Wise Man by Richard Rohr
I appreciate a lot of what Father Richard Rohr has to say and so as I've done much reading on maleness, gender, and spirituality I was excited to check this book out. And not disappointed. His chapter on the three men in Luke 6 is worth the price of the book.
5) College Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture by Stephen Lutz
One of my staff partners read this and said, "If I didn't know better I would have thought you and Tim wrote this book." Thanks Bob, that's high praise. A big thanks to Stephen Lutz for writing this book: it describes what we do and why we do it in one handy place. We will be reading this with our student leaders this spring. 
Honorable Mentions: Insurrection, The Meaning of Marriage, The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness, The Sacredness of Questioning Everything, The King Jesus Gospel, The Faith of Leap, The Homiletical Plot, Quitter, The Great Emergence, Love Wins

Books (non-required reading)

1) Open

As far as autobiographies go this is storytelling at its finest. Andre had some help (JR Moehringer who wrote The Tender Bar), but who cares? An incredible story of redemption, marriage, and what it means to give your life away.
2) Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me

If you aren't at least a little intrigued by this title than you hate books. Good writing, funny stories, and a lot of grace through difficult experiences. Ian Cron does an incredible job unpacking some sensational stuff in a beautiful and compelling way. 
3) I Am Ozzy

Quite possibly the exact opposite of Open on first glance, but extremely similar for this reason: strong second marriages saved their lives. If you don't mind f-bombs and a little craziness check out Ozzy's story. You will not forget it soon. 
4) A Band of Misfits

5) The Millennium Trilogy
I finally took the plunge to see what all the hype was about. These books are crazy, violent, disturbing, but also the best page-turners I've read in a long time. Totally worth the week it will take to read through all three!
Honorable Mentions: Manning Up, Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders, How the Mighty Fall

New Feature: Top 5 Posts of 2011

1) 64659

Even though this one is recent it makes it into the top spot. We have grown a ton as a ministry this year and I think this post reflects some of that fruit. Grown not just in numbers, but in depth, clarity, and direction. I can't wait to see what 2012 holds for Sojourn.
2) 61259/61559

These were the top 2 most read posts on the Illumination Dilemma in 2011. Only serves to highlight what a big transition my family has been through this year. Once again, well done Mom and Dad...I so admire your grace and faithfulness even when it's been hard.
3) 63259

The writing in this post is my personal favorite from the year. I am learning in all kinds of new and interesting (and hard and difficult) ways what it really means to live by a "hermeneutic of sacrifice."
4) 58659/59359

A couple of reflections on getting older. 'Layers' is another reflection post that continues to be a major life theme even months later. 
5) 62559

This post sums up a series I did on Sojourn: the what and why behind our ministry. Always good revisit this stuff.

The End...Happy New Year!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011



Taking a cue from my sister and sending out our "christmas card" via blog post. So, Merry Christmas from the Boutry's! 

Next post will be the last of 2011: Top_5_Lists will be out next Saturday.

Also, look forward to 2012! New format is coming, plus a goal of posting monday through friday. Get excited =)

Monday, December 19, 2011



"To love is to suffer...and that's probably why we generally don't do it well. Unwillingness to venture, plus a desire to be safe, holds us back from love. To be sure, most of us do have a vision of what makes a good life, and as believers we know that it involves growing in the love of God. What we seem to lack, however, is the will to attain to this good life of love. Most of us prefer to skip over the pain and the discipline, to find some easy, off-the-shelf ways to sainthood. Christian self-help spiritualities are a classic dodge of the real issues and manifestly do not produce maturity. We do well to be reminded of the cost of shortcuts in Carl Jung's penetrating statement, 'Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.'"

- Michael Frost  and Alan Hirsch in

Tuesday, December 13, 2011



The past week has been spent with three of our core campus groups (Northeastern, UMASS-Boston, and Boston University), as they wrap up their semesters. What an incredible group of students we have! Diverse and eclectic in every way (personality, culture, background, etc) they have come together to tell great Jesus stories in Boston. Here's a shot of each group and the story they are telling:


I think NEU is telling an "integration" story. They have a unique model where students spend at least two semesters on "co-op"...an opportunity where they get to work and learn in their field while they are undergrads. Co-ops are super important, students stress out over them, and some even find their first "real" jobs through these internships. The idea flows out of the culture of the school: learning happens been in practice. I see these students really working to integrate their studies, their work experience, and their faith in Jesus. It is a beautiful story.


I have watched our UMB students tell a "multi-cultural" story. Multi-cultural because we quite literally have students from all over the world in our community: Brazil, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and even India! We also have multi-cultural "native" students (Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, etc). That's pretty amazing all by itself, but I actually think the true multi-cultural story comes from the ways these students seamlessly flow in and out of various communities and centers on campus. We never have to encourage UMB students to get outside the Sojourn "box". They just do it. They cross all kind of boundaries and build all sorts of bridges and they do it effortlessly. This is also a beautiful story.


No other campus lives my favorite Donald Miller quote quite the way that BU does. (The quote, just in case, is We live in a world where bad stories are told, stories that teach us that life doesn't mean anything and that humanity has no great purpose. It's a good calling, then, to speak a better story). BU is about as hedonistic, individualistic, and nihilistic as you can get. It takes great courage as a student to insist that life means something, that community is possible, that there are better ways to live. They are telling a story of "meaning" and it too is a beautiful thing to watch.

Well done!

Saturday, December 03, 2011



final leadership community of the semester...an opportunity to thank and appreciate all the leaders who have worked so hard all semester. played some minute-to-win-it games, spent time celebrating stories, and had a lot of space to talk and laugh and just be together. great times! really love the students we get to work with and i'm deeply impressed with their courage as they tell great stories around out city.

Monday, November 28, 2011



pics from saturday night's sojourn team get-together. awesome to have the team from providence for the festivities. continue to thank God daily for this group of people, the families and couples represented, and the community they have provided for amy and i here in boston. love these men and women!



amy and i have been revamping our living room. we added the chair on the left last night, so that we can have his and hers wing-back reading chairs! we also picked up the chest so that we (finally) have a coffee table type thing so folks don't have to set their glasses on the floor any more. feels a little more homey now.