Showing posts from March, 2005

Belated Anniversary

Late yesterday evening marked five years since I sat in a dorm hallway at the end of my faith rope with nothing but a Bible and a prayer, which produced Luke 24:34...

'It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon!' (NIV)

I've moved the lectionary texts around for this passage to be the preaching text for Sunday, mainly because we'll be taking communion.

I've never really done anything official to mark the occasion over the years, but I think that I've done plenty of unofficial things. Last night, for instance, was spent with a roomful of congregants as they shared hopes and dreams for the church's future. The three years prior I was always involved with some sort of seminary work. So in a sense I have marked the occasion: I've been moving forward.

'Do Not Be Afraid' - A Sermon for Easter Sunday

Matthew 28:1-10

A letter came across my desk a few weeks ago from the American Red Cross (did you know that March is Red Cross Month?). It’s a form letter, pretty obvious from the first line: ‘Dear Business Leader,

‘The springtime is a busy time for business. Probably furthest from your mind, as you serve your customers, is the possibility of disaster interrupting your ability to operate. But every year businesses are struck by disasters—fires, floods, tornados and other calamities that slow operations to a halt, sometimes for days and weeks, or even months. Half of businesses struck by disaster fail within two years. Do you know what you would do if your business were affected by a disaster?’

We each could provide our own list of disasters we might be thinking about this morning, ranging in scope. Disasters both close by and abroad are presented to us on CNN. Disasters are personal (such as illness) or perhaps more public (a teenager opens fire at a Minnesota school). And they raise que…

'Right to Life'?

Chris has some interesting thoughts on the Terri Shiavo fiasco (for it has truly become a fiasco, IMO).
Saturday. Stuff to pass the time. Lezz do it.

I'm still reading From Beirut to Jerusalem. Hey, it's over 500 pages long. It's gonna take a while. I just finished chapters dealing with Arafat's rise to power, Sharon's role as Israeli Defense Minister, and the PLO's departure from West Beirut during the 1982 conflict. Friedman doesn't sugarcoat or excuse any group in his writing. He speaks of the true strength of the Israeli army and the realization among some Palestinians at the time that they really weren't moving forward with establishing a state. It really is a good firsthand look into the events of the area.

I honestly don't think I've seen any movies since last week. Hm. Well, if you haven't seen it, see So I Married An Axe Murderer. It's one of my favorite Mike Myers movies and I think one of my wife's favorite movies, period.

I've been listening to a lot of Beck this week, and as it turns out his new album's bei…

The Edge of Reason

I've been casually reading about logic and fallacies the past few weeks, mostly on this site and this site. I figure I spend enough time getting myself into arguments around the internet and do plenty of reading that it might be helpful to bone up on when an argument is logically sound and when not. It'll also be helpful whenever switching on government debates and whenever I pick up a book from the 'Current Events' section of Borders which in my opinion should be renamed Pundit Alley. Seriously, this section is all filled with Coulter and Franken and Moore and O'Reilly all sniping at each other. It gets tiresome after a while. But I digress...

Actually, I don't digress that much. That actually helps me segway into my next point. There are two logical fallacies that I've been reading about that seem to be the most popular, both around the 'net and in politics in general: the ad hominem and the appeal to emotion. The former is discrediting one'…

Holy Week Evangelism

All right, so Greg's post at The Parish is a little...okay...REALLY acerbic. But underneath all that harsh sarcasm lies a commentary on church evangelism during the Lent season. I myself have only recieved one flyer from an area church thus far (and surprisingly it's not from the local absurdly huge non-denominational one), fairly modest in scope and presentation and devoid of any sort of Easter giveaway. They only ask for your company that they might share the joy of Easter with you.

I don't think much of mass-mailing flyers in general. Whenever that subject pops up I remember a stand-up comedian's comment: "It's like they're saying, 'Here, YOU throw this away.'" Not really that effective in the long run. Maybe it'll attract one or two people, but it's not really worth the money. 'But you got those two people to come! Hallelujah!' Don't start.

As for putting on a more catchy hip facade, after I read Greg's post this morn…

Random Musings at a Slightly Absurd Hour

~I kind of wish I had brought home that kitten who greeted me at the community service tonight.

~Tuna fish mixed with hard-boiled eggs is awesome.

~I jumped rope today, which means my calves won't work right when I get up tomorrow.

~Who really knows what Terri Shiavo wants?

~I wanna go to Seattle. BECAUSE IT'S THERE!!

~Who's ever been 'logically' argued into church?

~After Jesus raises up, my schedule's gonna have a small reprieve. And then it'll just fill up with other stuff.

~My chicken fajita was good, but your hovering over me to ask how it is wasn't.

~I didn't realize just how many old people go to Florida in the winter.

~I need to be in bed, not in front of the Idiot Box's Evil Cousin.


No doubt my readers have been following the case of Terri Schiavo.

Since this story broke, I've read the following in two separate places...

Random Democrat: 'If Terri wasn't white, Republicans wouldn't care.'

Random Republican: 'If Terri wasn't white, Democrats would care.'

Not that either is particularly proveable other than by hearsay, the assurance that the people to whom you say either one buy into your assumptions beforehand, and both are just plain logical fallacies that contribute very little to the actual issue.

Anyway, the only thing I really find fascinating about these two quotes is that they come from two places independent of one another.

Palm Sunday

17 On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?" 18 He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, "The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.' " 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. 20 When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; 21 and while they were eating, he said, "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me." 22 And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, "Surely not I, Lord?" 23 He answered, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born." 25 Judas, who betrayed him, said,…
It's Saturday, so you need stuff to help pass the time. Hey, here's some...

Not only did I finish Ridley this past week, but I went through another book: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. This was made into a movie a few years ago starring John Cusack, which is actually number one on my top 5 movie list (two plugs in one!). The novel is fast reading and provides a pretty accurate look into the male psyche regarding relationships (my experience, anyway). Now I'm on to From Beirut to Jerusalem, a book chronicling one reporter's experiences in...Beirut and Jerusalem. So far it's provided some pretty graphic accounts of the Middle East conflict(s).

We've seen a few movies this week. I've already written at great length about Man on Fire. We also saw (well, I also saw) Boondock Saints, which I'd been wanting to see for a very long time and finally did. It goes in the same category as Reservoir Dogs and is about two Irish brothers in Boston who decide to go…

A St. Patrick's Day Revelation

Yes, I realize it was yesterday, but that's when I had it. But it wasn't until later last night and typing on my blog wasn't my top priority (hey, I'm doing a half-decent job of cutting back my internet time).

Last night we watched the movie Man on Fire. If you aren't familiar with it, it's one of Denzel Washington's recent films, another of his 'One Man vs. Everybody Else' flicks, of which he's made his fair share over the years. For every one of his critically-acclaimed Oscar-nominated heart-tugging braving the system claiming his identity as a human being epics, he makes a movie like this.

Anyway, this one is set in Latin America and is about an alcoholic tapped to be a bodyguard for a rich couple's elementary-aged daughter (only the husband/father is Latin American, though; the wife is a slender blonde caucasion. Significance? Eh...). So at first Denzel is quiet and grumpy, just doing his job and all that. And then at some point his…

'Today's Top Stories'

I got up to go through my morning workout (almost 2 weeks running) and flipped on Headline News to catch what's going on in the world. I'd picked up such a habit from when I had access to an eliptical machine in our St. Louis apartment complex's fitness center: do 30-45 minutes of cardio and watch the news at the same time. Work out your body and your brain. Double whammy!

Anyway, I realized something today while I went through this morning's ritual. Presented as today's top stories were Michael Jackson, Martha Stewart, Robert Blake, and the baseball steroid hearings. Oh, and a brief story on obesity reducing our national life expectancy. For the most part, the stories deemed most crucial and newsworthy to our lives were celebrities either getting in trouble or we're happy that they aren't in trouble after all or we're hoping they won't be in trouble.

The past few days have been spent going back and forth between the shootings at the Atlanta cou…

A Thinking Faith

A while back I made the mistake of picking an online fight with a high Calvinist. As most online arguments go it consumed a lot of my time for a few days with little positive result.

Anyway, he threw around a lot of heady theological and philosophical terms around such as secondary causation and libertarian volition. You know, stuff that Jesus talked about all the time. I was mildly familiar with these concepts but hadn't studied them in years and at one point just went on a frustrated mini-rant on ivory tower philosophical drivel that has no bearing on reality. The dialogue didn't last too much longer.

Fast forward to a funeral I did a few weeks ago. I sat down to chat with the funeral director for a few moments and he spoke of another pastor who 'would always use big words. I needed a dictionary whenever I talked to him.'

At one point I would have been happy to know all the typical orthodox theological concepts inside and out, be an academic, and then go forth into the …
It's a cold snowy Saturday morning and we need some stuff to keep ourselves entertained. So here's some.

Still trying to get through the Ridley book. This afternoon I think I'm gonna curl up on the couch with my cats and try to get through more of it. In the meantime, I'll recommend for you another book: Sky Knife by Marsella Sands. This book was given to me by a man at one of my field education placements in seminary. It's by his daughter. It's a good piece of historical fiction set in a Mayan city in the midst of its heyday.

We watched a couple movies this week. We saw The Forgotten with Julianne Moore, and that was adequate. The same day I rented that, I also bought 25th Hour, which I'd seen before and really enjoyed. It stars Ed Norton as a convicted drug dealer spending his last night as a free man with his closest friends out on the town in post-9/11 New York.

This week I picked up an album called 'Unclassified' by Robert Randolph and the Family …

Fasting - Food For the Soul

Okay, I'm gonna fess up. I haven't committed to a Lenten discipline this year. I considered a few options like 'giving up' some food or vice, fasting once a week, shutting off my @#$%&?!! computer for six weeks....but I haven't really devoted myself to anything. So now we're over halfway through and still nothing. I had resigned myself to accepting failure until I picked up the March 8 issue of Christian Century, which features an article on fasting. The author talks about fasting as a spiritual exercise rather than just not eating, paying attention to one's hunger rather than trying one's best to ignore it, and so on. But I was most struck by this tidbit:

'Monks have restricted meat and dairy products in part because bread and vegetables have always been the food of the poor--the simplest and least expensive food available. When we voluntarily agree to share this food, we become more tangibly connected to the poverty of millions who strug…

Aw, come on!

Not that I'm an Illinois fan by any means, but Ohio State?

Seriously....Ohio State?

It's a day early, but I am presenting you with your weekly dose of pop culture recommendations today. Why? I had a revelation (more like a re-revelation) this morning that I spend way too much time on the internet. So tomorrow the computer stays off while I read a book or play my guitar or anything other than warm the seat of the desk chair.

Hey, speaking of books, I'm still reading Ridley's The Origins of Virtue. Did you know that it's been observed that when chimps go hunting, they tend to give the spoils to female chimps more likely to have sex with them? Yep, this is what your pastor is reading about.

We've seen two movies this week, and they couldn't be more different: Shaun of the Dead and I, Robot. The former is a healthy combination of comedy and horror/thriller, similar to Evil Dead where it pits Joe Average against the forces of evil. The latter is loosely based on some of Isaac Asimov's sci-fi writing, pitting Joe Not-so-Average against artificial …

...and stay off!

I was thinking about this today and thought I'd share it with my loyal readers.

All right, so when I entered seminary 3 1/2 years ago, I weighed 175 pounds. This was actually the weight at which I graduated college minus 10 because I had just come off a summer as a camp counselor where a good chunk of every day was spent hiking around in the hot sun. So I gained that 10 back with little effort at all.

Anyway, the next two years were spent (as were the previous 4) making late night trips to fast food places of various sorts. I didn't think much of it because it had been the norm for me before. But on top of late night snack runs I began to substitute meals with this 'food.' Wouldn't you know, soon I had cleared 200 pounds, getting closer to 210. Luckily I was beginning to really notice that this was a bad thing, so I tried jogging. Jogging lasted about a week. Then I tried taking walks every day. I lapsed on that pretty quick. Eden students got free membersh…

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