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Showing posts from May, 2005

Synod Resolutions: The Fluffy

Scene: The Simpson family walks toward a huge shopping center named Sprawl Mart. The sign underneath reads, 'Not a Parody of Wal-Mart.'

Three resolutions going to the UCC's General Synod fall under this category.

The first is a resolution calling on the UCC to advocate 'peace with justice.' Submitted by the Justice & Witness Ministries of the UCC, this resolution addresses a wide variety of work that we are called to do: ending racism, environmental destruction, sexism, discrimination against the physically handicapped, poverty, and homopobia. And in all this work, the refrain is that we are also called 'to create a culture of non-violence and peace.' Addressing the litany of sins against humanity just mentioned is to take steps toward such a culture.

Reasoning is shared both from the witness of Martin Luther King Jr. and from scripture (Ephesians 2:14 & Isaiah 2:4). 'We strive for peace with justice because of the prophetic and pastoral witness of…

Memorial Day

I was asked this morning to help lead a Memorial Day service at the church cemetery, during which I offered the following prayer based on the hymn, 'A Song of Peace:'


O God of all nations, we offer a prayer for peace both for this land and all other lands. America is our home, where we base our hopes and dreams, but we are also aware of hearts in other lands beating just as strongly for their own.

We give you thanks for blue skies, for sunlight, for the shade and green of the trees over us. We give thanks that those skies, your sunlight and shade are over people in other places as well.

This is our prayer, O God of all nations and kingdoms, that your kingdom will be realized above all others, that on earth it will be done as it is in heaven. We pray, O God, for unity among all people, that peace might reign and begin with each of us.

We pray for those the world over who need protection from violence. We pray that we might overcome differences and work toward a new world ruled by l…

Synod Resolutions: The Controversial

'Now we can focus on the real enemies of Christianity: monogamous gays and stem cells.' - Ned Flanders

One of the latest battles to be fought in Christian circles concerning the 'H' word will take place at General Synod. Three resolutions will be presented to the floor: two supporting gay marriage, and one against it. It will actually be the first flesh-and-blood debate over this issue that I'll see (all previous have taken place on this wonderfully useful device on which I spend way too much time), and if media attention to the issue in general (and Christian attention in particular) is any indication, this could be the issue most hotly contested at Synod. The backlash, if either or both of the positive resolutions are approved, could also be something to behold. But many in the UCC take pride in the denomination 'leading the way' on social justice issues, so we forge ahead to all the screaming and yelling that is to come.

Many advocate a return to 'the …

Ministerial Issues at Synod

I left out one very important piece about what is being considered at General Synod this summer. In addition to the resolutions that I've recapped below, we will be discussing a pronouncement on ordination. This pronouncement will expand the traditional formula of 4 years college, 3 years seminary to include other paths to becoming ordained in the United Church of Christ appropriate to one's experience and economic status, among other criteria. It affirms the need for well-educated clergy and stresses that different paths will require education as well. An article describing this pronouncement is here.

I'm torn on this one. As one who followed the traditional path, I believe a seminary education is important for clergy. This is not intellectual elitism, it is calling for extensive training under an accredited faculty. Now, what truly may be elitist about my own position (which I will own) is watching another ordained who didn't have to go through what I did.

On the other…

Pop Culture Roundup

Once again, I'm away from the computer on Saturday. So here it is a few days early.

William R. Clark and Michael Grunstein ask the question, Are We Hardwired? in their book of same name. It's a book about the role of genes in behavior. I picked it up to stay informed of things outside of theology. So far the answer is 'Yes and no,' but I'm only 20 pages in. They need another 250 pages or so to elaborate. If you want an exciting read, skip this one. But if you want to be informed, it's not bad.

We did go to see Episode III on Sunday. If you haven't seen it yet and want to be surprised (the same way you were probably surprised by 'Titanic' or 'Passion of the Christ'), don't read any further. I found it to be the most enjoyable of the three. Jar Jar is in one shot and doesn't speak at all, and that's an automatic plus. Christensen does much better in this movie, although the love scenes are still stiff and awkward (but we c…

Mid-year Resolutions

As I wrote a while back, I am a delegate to the UCC's General Synod this year, and resolutions have been published on the UCC website for a little over a month now. Next week, I'll share some thoughts on these resolutions under my own semi-clever groupings:

The Controversial - resolutions on marriage, divestment from companies in Israel and Palestine, opposition to Israel's 'security fence,' addressing the conflict in the Sudan

The Fluffy - pronouncements on the UCC advocating 'peace with justice,' a call to work 'for the common good,' calling for environmental education and action

The Mildly Politically Divisive - calling the UCC to advocate 'fair trade,' support for the International Criminal Court, promoting religious freedom for Native Hawaiian prisoners, advocating stewardship of God's creation since fossil fuels are declining, saving Social Security from privatization

The Practical - support for campus ministries, making churches more…

The 'E' Word

Yesterday evening was the reorganization of our Evangelism Committee after what I believe is close to a 2-year layoff. I admit that evangelism is a growing edge for me due to its stigma and its uncomfortable nature. I've been jaded by evangelistic tactics I've seen used; how alienating and even injurious it can be. And being a Midwestern guy to begin with, my politeness runneth over.

In addition, the term 'Evangelical' has taken on a stigma with which many do not want to be associated. Nowadays it is identified with a particular theopolitical ideology. Say any variation of the word 'evangelism' in certain circles and either watch people clam up or get set to hear a rant on how 'they' are hijacking our country. I'm the last to defend 'them,' but my point is that the 'e' word has been given such a narrow definition in recent years that salvaging it at this point has already been deemed a pointless endeavor.

So I sat among a few congregan…

Out With the New and Back to the Old

I decided in a moment of sheer boredom that I wanted to switch back to the original black layout of this trifle of a site. I hope my seven readers don't mind too much. I think of the 'Script' layout as New Coke, and now I've switched back to the original formula. However, I expect that such a move will not produce a reaction that rivals the Coca-Cola Company's in terms of appreciative delight.

While preparing to click the mouse button that would complete the circle of my not-so-clever marketing campaign, I thought to myself, 'Why did I decide to begin this task of recording random musings in which the world might perhaps take a mild interest?' I certainly have no great aspirations of bringing to light the next corporate scandal and I shudder at political punditry. What I write here is not much different than what you could find on hundreds of other sites of various colors and layouts. What's my motivation?

I'm still trying to figure that out, I guess.…

Pop Culture Roundup

I wish I could sit here and be able to talk about Episode III, but I won't see it until tomorrow. Meantime, I have seen a movie this week. I caught S.W.A.T. on television the other day, which is basically a whole bunch of guns going off and Colin Farrel does some stuff. A foreign kingpin needs to be transported, offers $100,000,000 (pinky to lips) to whomever can bust him out, and there are lots of car crashes and chase scenes and bombs and you can skip this if you want.

I finished Beloved last night. I felt myself getting bogged down by some of the more poetic chapters, but all in all it was a good story. A black woman is tormented by the death of one of her children, whom she killed during an uncontrollable fit while a slave in Georgia. Such torment takes its toll not only on her, but on her family. I recommend it, if for no other reason than the flashbacks to the characters' days as slaves. Some parts are difficult to read emotionally and even more difficult to imagi…

Christ and Culture

Last night I turned the television on in the bedroom and then went to check my e-mail. The wife called and I ended up sitting in the den talking to her while mindlessly playing 4-5 games of Free Cell in a row (I've become quite good). You see, I have a nightly television ritual to wind down the day: two episodes of Whose Line is it Anyway? on ABC Family, then switch over to Cartoon Network for Futurama and Family Guy. Well, as I was on the phone I wasn't paying attention to the TV. On ABC Family after Whose Line is it Anyway? we get Christian Broadcast Network, a 'news' show hosted by self-endorsed political prophet Pat Robertson. I walked back into the bedroom and discovered my error. 'Oh no,' I told my wife, 'Now the Nielsen people are gonna think I was watching it.'

Before fretting about the cable ratings' opinion of me, I was leafing through a book of guitar chords and picking around. This particular book had a lot of songs in it left over from c…

Another Imperfect Take on the Trinity

My Pentecost post inspired some comments on the Trinity, that Christian idea that has no perfect explanation but doggone if everyone doesn't try.Some think of it in terms of God's function (Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer), while others adhere more closely to the classic 'God in three persons' (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).Well, I threw around some thoughts one late night when I was driving back from the in-laws', and now you get to hear them.And what perfect timing to think about such things as this coming Sunday is recognized as Trinity Sunday.

First, I say we throw out any sort of three-sided, three-component objects. No more triangles. No more intertwined circles. I prefer one circle without distinct individual parts. We get so caught up in the number three that we put forth one symbol after another that presents God as having three separate beings. In order to avoid tritheism, which is a problem we frequently run into with this idea, just eliminate symbols that prese…

Pentecost

Chris T. has commented that his favorite church celebration was yesterday, that being Pentecost, the yearly recognition of the Holy Spirit descending with tongues of fire on the disciples in Acts 2. Many also call this moment the founding of the church, although the text does not explicitly lend itself to such an interpretation. Instead, church tradition recognizes it as such, but I'm not going to make too big a fuss over that. Some also believe that before this moment the Holy Spirit was not in the world, which is also debateable even in scripture. The Spirit of God moves over the primordial waters in Genesis 1 and breathes new life into the dry bones in Ezekiel 37. Plus there is some discrepancy as to when and how exactly the disciples 'receive' the Spirit (contrast John 20 with Acts 2, for instance).

In addition, Chris laments that Pentecost is not regarded with as much flare as Christmas or Easter (I'm not sure how many people would have even worn red yesterday had …

'Whitewashing Jesus'

Here's a quote from Dave that is worth repeating:

'Whitewashing Jesus is when we twist the evidence to make him squeaky-clean. It's irresponsible to make a dogma such as the sinlessness of Jesus the primary interpretive lens through which we approach the gospels, at least if we're going to claim we're getting at the original meaning in its historical context. It's dishonest and unfair to approach the text with unquestioned assumptions and then claim to be finding the original meaning; and that holds whether your assumption is Jesus the Grace Teacher, Jesus the Fundamentalist, Jesus the Radical Liberal, Jesus the Second Person of the Trinity, of One Substance with the Father, Jesus the Neo-Conservative, Jesus the Egalitarian Defender of Human Rights or Jesus the Proto-Hippy. Sure, we might find elements of all those things, but when we approach the text with our minds already settled, we invariably twist things to fit our preconceptions.'

Amen.

Saturday Pop Culture Roundup, a Couple Days Early

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I'll be away from the coffee table the next few days, but God forbid I miss my weekly ode to entertainment. So you get it a few days early...not too long after the last one. Waddaya gonna do?

One other thing before I get started. I originally called this 'Saturday Recommendations' and then 'Saturday Plugs,' and then I realized that I don't necessarily want to recommend or plug some of this stuff to my small yet dedicated readership. It's more like I'm reviewing those items of film, music, literature, and the internet that I've stumbled across for better or worse over the course of the week. If you dare to pick up, for instance, the movie that I'm about to tell you about, it's your own freakin' fault. But it won't be because I mentioned it on this blog. Here, let me illustrate what I mean.

The other day I decided to watch The Sweetest Thing. Why? Because it was just starting on Comedy Central and…

Some blog reading elsewhere

Dave won't be converting to Calvinism any time soon in one of those 'Lord, save me from your followers' type of scenarios.

Roopster is now a Compassionist. I'll just let you formulate your own opinion about that for now.

WesleyBlog has an interview with Beth Stroud, the United Methodist pastor who was defrocked and then refrocked after coming out a while back.

Chris shares of a fun brew he came across in St. Louis.

And later today, more somewhat disjointed thoughts on judgment.

Saturday Plugs

I just started Toni Morrison's Beloved yesterday. It's the trials and triumphs of a black woman and her daughter. I've only made it through the first chapter so far, so I don't have a whole lot else to say about it yet.

Here's another local act for your listening pleasure. I first saw Dionysia when they opened for a Dave Matthews Band cover band in St. Louis. They've got one studio album out but are working toward recording another one last I heard. They're a mix of Latin, rock, and a little funk. Enjoy. And speaking of Dave and Co., their new album comes out this Tuesday.

I've seen two new movies this week, and they couldn't be more different. The first is Ocean's Twelve, which we'd been meaning to see pretty much since it came out in theaters. Danny Ocean and his boys have to steal enough money to pay back Terry Benedict, the guy they stole from in Ocean's Eleven. Above all else, I found this to be a fun movie. It's fun. You can tell…

Judgment - Part 1

I've been thinking about judgment lately. Many people I know put a lot of stock in 'judge not, or you will be judged.' This text speaks more about hypocrisy than anything else, i.e., 'Don't judge UNLESS you're prepared to be judged yourself.' But really, I've been thinking more about God's judgment.

'You judge people and nations by your righteous will declared through prophets and apostles.' This is the line from the UCC Statement of Faith. The Apostle's Creed includes the line that 'he will come again to judge the living and the dead.' What sort of a God is that, I ask myself. Can judgment get thrown out with a Jesus who proclaims forgiveness (and repentence, ahem)? There's a place for judgment, of course there is. One of my foundational texts is Matthew 25 ('when you did it to the least of these, you did it to me'), but I admit more difficulty when fessing up that 1) it's in the context of a judgment scene and 2)…

10 Random Thoughts for a Tuesday Evening

~I don't wanna go to my committee meeting.

~A while back a colleague opened a seminar telling a story 'when I was greener than I am now.' For some reason that phrase has stuck with me. Maybe because for me it don't get no greener and I can't wait until I can begin a story with that phrase, too.

~One of the local papers' columnists has an article about pastors who blog today. I'm not in it, but I thought it was interesting.

~After a two-week layoff, I'm back on the exercise wagon. Two months until the beach. Gotta step it up.

~Ramen noodles are the best thing since around the same time they came up with sliced bread. Maybe a couple months after or so.

~The alb was too long, so I'm having it hemmed.

~Go Pistons.

~Why do cats wait until you're asleep to walk all over you?

~I haven't heard from someone in a while. Maybe I'll call or e-mail them after my meeting that I don't wanna go to.

~That red button thing is fun, isn't it?

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