Showing posts from August, 2005

Katrina: Another Chance to Explain the Unexplainable

At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? - Luke 13:1-4

While perusing my usual cyberhaunts this morning, I came across a suggestion that Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans was our Sodom and Gomorrah. New Orleans is one of our more notorious U.S. cities due to its yearly celebration of Mardi Gras. Sodom and Gomorrah being notorious Biblical cities that were destroyed for their wickedness, I can see how some attempting to explain such a massive tragedy would resort to this comparison in order to satisfy one's own theological dilemma.…

Pre-Season Prep Talk

The Unapologetic Novice is starting seminary. Here's hoping that she does well.

And since she's starting, that means that my own alma mater is gearing up for another year as well. I know at least one person in the incoming class, so here's hoping that she and the rest of the new students (I always called them noobs when I was there) find a comfortable rhythm in studies and just as importantly, NOT studying.

I've mentioned before that the fall used to be the premier season for me. It still mostly is, though my main reason no longer applies. I used to love fall because it meant the start of the school year. I only have reunions and class listserves to keep me connected now. Well...I live close enough to my high school to hang around if I want, but seriously...when I was IN high school and saw recent (and not so recent) graduates hanging around for no other reason than they were still stuck in town, I prayed that I would never be That Guy. I've only been That Guy…

Nuggets From the Deep Fryer of Life

I know I've been kind of 'phoning it in' here this week. I don't have much of an excuse, other than having a job and a wife who is now on a schedule similar to my own.

We're gearing up for high school football 'round these parts which, in middle America, is sometimes more a religion than something something guy on a cross. Yesterday's newspaper had a special section devoted to area teams, projected standings, returning starters, and full-page photos of kids pre-Nike endorsements. The church I serve draws from four school districts. I have yet to experience how it gets handled.

So this week Pat Robertson opened his mouth and said something stupid, denied that he said something stupid, and later apologized for saying something stupid. Evangelical Republicanism is big on personal accountability, but some are really slow to self-application.

You know how denominations such as the UCC, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, etc. are referred to as 'mainline'…

Differences Within Denominations

I found this on the UCC discussion forums. My apologies if the author didn't want it printed, but I found it well-written:

I hope UCC splits up and ceases to exist as a denomination.

I hope the same for MCC, because I disagree with some of the things they did.

I hope the diagreements that are going on with the Episcopal Church/Church of England dooms it to failure too.

In fact, I hope all the denominations fail, and all the churches descend into chaos. It would serve them right, because they're all wrong in some way.

Then, when we're done breaking the ties that bind our churches to each other, maybe we can focus on breaking up our own churches over differences in doctrine, liturgy, and coffee hour.

When we've completely disassociated from each other, we will finally all be free. Each one of us can be right, worshipping alone.

I wonder which one of us will end up being the one who is saved.

What's Your Spiritual Type?

From Beliefnet:

70 - 79
Questioning Believer – You have doubts about the particulars but not the Big Stuff.

Day of Celebration

Today is my wife's last day working as a manager at Red Lobster. To celebrate, I'm ordering her a t-shirt from this website.

Adultery Greeting Cards

Hmm...let's, here we are. Homewrecker.

If you are having an extramarital affair, Secret Lover cards can make it an affair to remember.

Gallagher hit upon the idea a couple of years ago. Like most couples, she and her husband had friends whose marriages had been affected by extramarital affairs, with all their attendant “conflict and emotional intensity,” she said in an interview.

The Secret Lover Collection debuted to enormous curiosity at a national trade show this year. The Greeting Card Association says there’s nothing else like it.

“I’m thinking, ‘So how do these people communicate? It’s a secret love affair,’” Gallagher said. “So I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, what better can you do than give someone your sentiments in a greeting card? How special is that?’”

After two years of market research revealed an unfilled need, she said, the cards debuted to enormous curiosity this year at the annual National Stationery Show in New York.

Barbara Mille…

Pop Culture Roundup

I've started two books this week. The first is David Sedaris' Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, a series of humorous essays about life in the Sedaris household growing up. The second is Mirosalv Volf's Exclusion and Embrace, a theological exploration of who we are vs. who the 'other' is. The latter is for an online discussion group that I joined this week. I'm not very deep into either one, but Sedaris is his usual self in describing the awkward and wacky time of his childhood.

We watched Sin City the other night. I'm a fan of the film noir style, so I figured that I'd enjoy this. By the middle of the second or third vignette, I was hoping for the end. I can't totally explain why, but I had a hard time finding any redeeming value in this film. Eventually I figured that it could be a launching pad for a discussion on human depravity. I guess that'll work. The film is less violent than some I've seen, but even so, that's wh…

Ian No Longer Lives in Belfast

For the past year, Ian had blogged about his experiences as part of a missionary team in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He returned a few weeks ago, so he probably won't be contributing to his blog any more. Regardless, take a peek through the archives.

Coffee Talk

I used to be a Maxwell House guy. That was my brand a few years ago. I switched back and forth between their Colombian and Master Blends, content with what I had. My wife once bought me Folgers instead, and I was,, mildly irritated. I made the switch pretty easily. Throughout seminary and the first few months of my pastorate, I had Folgers at home and Maxwell House at the office. The latter was a gesture of hospitality for anyone who stopped in to talk.

For months I'd also been considering the pros and cons of going Fair Trade. This was before the Synod resolution, but the resolution certainly helped in its own right. Would it be worth the extra money? Was this a justice issue in which I could literally afford to get involved? After all, consider this: a larger can of Maxwell House or Folgers where I live costs between $4.00 and $6.00, and it lasts me a good month or so. Hold that thought.

For the first time, I traveled to the local organic market. Wel…

P.O.C. Hits Milestone

Philosophy Over Coffee logged its 5000th visit today. For a smaller, lesser-known blog like this, I'll consider that a great accomplishment. Thanks to those who list me on their rolls or have otherwise linked to this site because you think my ramblings worth reading.

Puritanical Prudishness

Sex is only for procreation. Jesus turned the water into unfermented grape juice. Dancing is a ticket to hell.

Here's a brief discussion of the second assertion. an excerpt:

Dr. M. claimed that the wine used for the Passover seder was actually grape juice, not the fermented stuff at all. "Welch's makes grape juice--the Israelites made grape juice." (He actually said that.) "The Jews could eat only the unleavened bread, and it would have been inconsistent for them to indulge in drink containing leavening," i.e., the yeast-leavened wine. Nope. That was grape juice. Not wine.

While it may be like shooting fish in a barrel to argue against ("Welch's makes grape juice--the Israelites made grape juice"), the larger point is that in certain cases when it comes to modern practices with the potential to be destructive (which sex and alcohol certainly do) there has risen this extreme avoidance movement that says that any partaking at all is sinf…

Pop Culture Roundup

I breezed through a modest-sized book yesterday entitled What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality. All in all, it's well done, utilizing original historical context and word study to analyze the dozen or so passages that have been cited to condemn homosexuals over the years. I'd heard variations of most of the author's arguments before, but one chapter I wasn't so sure about. He deals the most extensively with Romans 1, first studying the words used to describe the sexual acts mentioned ('unnatural' better translated 'atypical,' 'unclean' and 'dishonorable' rather than 'sinful;' he uses a similar argument for Leviticus), and then arguing that the whole chapter is a rhetorical device. Paul, he states, was writing to a mixed audience and this is part of his address to the Jews specifically. He quotes their own argument against Gentile conversion by describing certain Gentile behavior and then in chapter 2 turns the table…

Proper Focus

While I was poking around one of my regular cyberspots, I came across the following experience:

I did housekeeping for a conservative Jewish family while I was in seminary. They kept kosher and were shomer shabbos. I was expected to, to the best of my ability, keep Torah in their home as well. I began to realize that this was not a burden, and that it did in fact lead to something close to mindfulness. Every moment of their day, every decision however basic, was a religious act. What they wore, what they ate, how they ate it, all were expressions of their faith. Unlike a good many Christians, they didn't and couldn't take their faith out and wear it one day a week. It was the essence of their life. On my first day of work, the woman I worked for went through the basics of kashruth, much of which I knew from my study of scripture. She showed me the things I needed to know--which were meat dishes, which for milk, etc. I was carefullly taking all of this in, worrying that I might …

'Mystical Communion,' Eh?

I've calmed down after initially taking the quiz to see which model of church I like the best. I took issue with the result because of the last line: 'This model can exalt the church beyond what is appropriate, but can be supplemented with other models.' Of course, I paid too much attention to the first part at the time, without proper regard for the second. If you notice, Sacramental Model and Servant Model also scored fairly high. Institutional scored pitifully. That's how I like it.

The Mystical Communion Model 'includes both People of God and Body of Christ.' The statement is not very descriptive at first glance. How detailed can any of these blurbs get? But if one considers why one might have to use both phrases intentionally is to suggest that there is some difference, and to use the word 'both' is to say that one doesn't necessarily include the other, or mean the other. My take is that 'People of God' is more an earthy term, a…

I am not making this up!

Dave Barry has a blog.Mainly stupid news items he's come across. That's good enough for me.

A Later Summer Night's Dream and the Dinner Before

Last night I had a dream that for one reason or another I was invited to Gwyneth Paltrow's birthday party. Luckily, a Heidelberg theatre friend was also invited, so we rode together. What was my brilliant idea for a gift? A Coldplay CD. Seriously.


Last night I attended a regional dinner for the Association to say thank you for churches' contributions to Our Church's Wider Mission, the offering that funds the UCC in its other settings. A table had been set up with various brochures, stickers, magnets, and so on. In addition, a video of various UCC-related mission work played. At one point, the bouncer ad came on. As the commercial went through its routine, I began to notice how quiet the room had become. A large chunk of the people present had stopped to watch. Whether one had stopped for a moment of reverence or private disgust, it had an effect on the crowd. It's like we all stopped to watch the elephant eat his hay before returning to o…

What is your model of the church?

You scored as Mystical Communion Model. Your model of the church is Mystical Communion, which includes both People of God and Body of Christ. The church is essentially people in union with Christ and the Father through the Holy Spirit. Both lay people and clergy are drawn together in a family of faith. This model can exalt the church beyond what is appropriate, but can be supplemented with other models.

Mystical Communion Model78%Sacrament model67%Servant Model61%Herald Model50%Institutional Model11%
What is your model of the church? [Dulles]
created with QuizFarm.comThanks to Greg for this one.I'm generally in agreement with the little analytical blurb, but take solace in the Servant Model scoring so high as well. Exalting the church too much? Me? Huh...

Pop Culture Roundup

I'm still between books. Isn't that something? Instead, I have a recommendation for Relix magazine, which mainly covers the so-called 'jamband' scene (think Grateful Dead, Phish, Dave Matthews Band, etc.) It features concert and CD reviews, know, everything typical of a music magazine.

The other night we watched The Jacket. Adrien Brody plays a guy who barely survived Desert Storm. He comes home with a bad case of Gulf War Syndrome. Before he knows it, he's wrongly accused of killing a policeman and is sent to a mental facility where Kris Kristofferson thinks putting him in an all-body straightjacket and shoving him in a mortuary drawer for hours at a time will make him better. While in the drawer, he has visions that help him help others. It was a good film.

I've been listening to a lot of Tenacious D recently. I don't have the album and I don't know why.

In a rare occurrance, I have a TV recommendation. I've become addicted…

Judgment, Part 2

Remember that post on judgment I wrote a while back? Probably not. Well, I'm finally back for more. First, an excerpt from Help: The Original Human Dilemma:

And when you ask me if I believe in it, or maybe I just say that I do without your asking.

Yes, I believe there is such a thing as hell.

The look on your face makes me want to take it back, but I don't think you will believe me if I do. 'That's horrible,' you say.

It's all horrible, I say. It's so horrible that you might wish for a hell even if there wasn't one. I read an article the other day about the world trade in prostitutes. Young girls kidnapped from their villages or on their way to what they have been told are jobs in other villages. Gang-raped on videotape. Their captors threaten to send copies to their parents if they don't cooperate. They live under constant threat of violence, in constant risk of disease. They live in 'permanent gynecological pain.'

So let us say there is no hell…

Is it Happening?

From UCC News:

Starting Aug. 3, the 4,300-member Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, Texas, will begin a five-week series of church-wide conversations about affiliating with the 1.3-million-member United Church of Christ.

If such a move were to transpire, the Cathedral of Hope would become the UCC’s third largest congregation.“We’ve been taking a look at this for a number of years,” says Dennis Bolin, a 10-year member of the church and chair of its Affiliation and Expansion Committee.

The 35-year-old Cathedral of Hope, which until 2002 was affiliated with the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, is considered to be the largest church in the world with a primary outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. In more recent years, however, the congregation has attracted many non-LGBT members. It also has a satellite congregation, with a full-time pastor, in Oklahoma City.

Also from UCC News:

Citing dissatisfaction with General Synod’s July 4 adoption of a resolution…

Something needs to change...

Me: My whole life has suddenly shrunk where it is now contained within a 200-foot radius.

Friend: You know what that's called? House arrest.

New Look...Again

Once again, after seeking out something lighter and perhaps easier to read, this is what I came up with. I'll revisit it in a few weeks to see if I still like it. Of course, feedback is always appreciated, too.

I've also added a new feature to the sidebar entitled From the Archives. This feature highlights some past entries I'm particularly fond of and entries that I think capture what I and this blog are about. Enjoy.

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