Showing posts from October, 2005

October 31

Tomorrow marks two occasions that live in various states of infamy in the minds of faith communities.

First, it is Halloween. The debate has long raged whether Christians should celebrate this holiday, and if so to what extent. It's one of those 'mixed bag' holidays (along with Christmas and Easter, we could argue), claiming its roots both in pagan ritual and in the Christian celebration of All Saints Day (an alternative name for Halloween being All Hallows Eve). Due to the blood and gore and celebration of grisley death scenes that it has inspired over the years, Halloween has been relegated to the 'non-Christian' pile for some, not to be touched except in 'alternative ways' such as Judgment Houses and Fall Festivals where people can dress up in non-threatening costumes. To each their own. As has been our house's custom the past few years, we'll be inviting some friends over and watching a few horror movies. As I'm not a big fan of the ge…


Occasionally a thought passes through my head. I'd say this thought visits me 2-3 times a month on average, usually after I've written something on here that I'm especially proud of. I think to myself, 'I should point my church to this.'

Some pastors blog with their congregations in mind. Others blog for their churches in particular. I've only ever told one church member that I do this, but have never given an address. It's not for fear that people will read this and conspire to fire me. Honestly, up to this point it's been more of a boundary thing.

The internet has long been a hobby of mine. This place was my first attempt at focusing all my efforts on one site instead of 12 different places. This blog has been for me, a place to share my thoughts. I've thought of it as MINE. A good chunk of my week is for THEM, and this is for ME.

This is all petty selfishness, of course. I've long wanted to keep these worlds separate just because I …

Pop Culture Roundup

I breezed through the end of Harry Potter. The books just keep getting darker and the last one is set to be no different judging by the last line of this one. I also enjoyed RealLivePreacher's book this past week. It's a collection of entries from his blog along with a few unpublished additions. He really is an imaginative writer, and as honest and vulnerable as can be. Some might find that refreshing.

Every once in a while as I flip channels, I end up on VH1's I Love the 80s 3D, the latest installment of their series where talking 'celebrity' heads muse on fads, movies and music from afforementioned decade. At first I thought it would actually be in 3D, but now my hunch is that they're playing off the name of the Jaws sequel. Preeeeetty cleeeeever. Who would've thought that an entire series could be made of all the crap a decade produced? I had nearly (and happily) forgotten about the My Buddy doll and the hairstyle known as the 'rat tail,'…

I Can't Think of a Title

Today was a weird day.

Nothing really weird happened to me. All was as it should have been as far as the office, the tasks at hand, the laziness of the cats as they saw me out the door. No, all that was pretty typical, ordinary, run-of-the-mill. Everything was as it has been for months.

It was me who felt a little weird, a little out of place. Still churning Scott's words over in my mind and fresh off the heels of my first experience with pure horseradish, it was a day of The Pensive Absent-Minded Stare. I fazed in and out of the morning work, taking an extra long while to look out over the cemetery and the stones standing at attention, then moving slightly to the right to gingerly sweep my eyes across the mishmash of books on my shelves. I leaned against one of the chairs reserved for those seeking counsel, sipping my Cafe Peru, questioning whether my book of the week would fit better in the Ministry section or the Christian Education section after I was through with it.

My ey…

What is Church For?

I ask that question as I share this post from Scott Williams, a new addition to the blog list on the sidebar. I've been wrestling with some of the issues he brings up. An excerpt:

for years i was frustrated as to why more people in the church did not go to bible studies. why they had a hard time making church commitments. with all the amazing opportunities we gave people why were they not responding in droves?


as a pastor i believed that serving on a committe and being a part of a small group was the least a christian should do. i have come to understand that for many of us, it is the most we can do. we are insanely busy. church is insanely inconvenient. i was paid to have meetings, hold small groups and work evenings. most people have to come home from working 50 or 60 hours a week, get groceries, clean the house, do laundry, make supper, do the dishes and drop in bed. i never realized before how difficult it is to dedicate 2 or 3 nights a week and some weekends as a volunteer…

My Gentile-ism Shines Through

While at Eden, we occasionally had opportunities to participate in rituals important to other faith traditions. It was part of interfaith relations with a heavy dose of romanticism mixed in. I can recall an entire week of chapel services devoted to Eastern religious customs. The amount of incense that was burned that week would have stunned a charging bull.

Tonight, my Bible study participated in a mock Seder meal, and if it had been videotaped could have been passed along as the reason why Christians should just stick to Christianity.

If you are not familiar with the elements involved in a Jewish Seder meal, click here.

~The food elements were stored in containers that had a good chance of touching non-Kosher items in their liftetime.

~Our study is done in a room next to my office. When it was time to welcome Elijah, I stood to find that I had left it locked. Don't worry E, let me just get my keys here...

~'These bitter herbs (horseradish) are to remind us of our bitter time …

Prophetic Nature

'Don't worry about the vase.'
'What vase...?' Neo turns and brushes a vase, sending it to the floor with a loud crash as it shatters.
'How did you know...?
'Ohh, what's really going to bake your noodle later on is, would you still have broken it if I hadn't said anything?'

There is a discussion of prophecy in the latest Harry Potter book. In particular, a prophecy was made concerning Harry and Voldemort and their enmity. Headmaster Dumbledore states that Voldemort's hearing of the prophecy was what began to make it come true. If Voldemort hadn't heard it, he says, Voldemort wouldn't have gone after Harry's family, wouldn't have transferred power to Harry, wouldn't have locked them together in destiny. If prophecy made is not prophecy heard, it cannot become prophecy fulfilled. This is the argument made in the book.

Fascinating, I thought. First, a definition of prophecy foremost linked to prediction and soothsaying as m…

Around the web

Yesterday, I mourned the abandonment or neglect of some of my favorite blogs. Well, there is a sunny side of blog life, and it comes from the bloggers who are still around.

Shane at Wesley Blog loves urban ministry and has some challenging words for the rest of us:

Urban ministry is not about putting band-aids on wounds and calling it a day. It's not about doling out money to deal with symptoms while refusing to deal with the root problems. It's not about having cool stories to go back and tell our congregations. And it's not about doing the bare minimum to appease liberal guilt. It's about becoming part of the solution, and expanding the Body of Christ in unfamiliar, sometimes uncomfortable places. And it's about pushing back the gates of hell and fighting for souls that too many people have given up on.

A new addition to the blog list, Storyteller's World, tells of an unfortunate happening during passing of the peace. What a quirky place the church can be:


Pop Culture Roundup

Back into action! And what better way to kick things off than a P.o.C. staple...

Noting that I needed a major break from theological reading, I am now about 200 pages through the sixth Harry Potter book. For whatever reason, this has been a faster read than some of the previous ones. That's probably because I was reading them in seminary.

This past week we watched the entire first season of Arrested Development. It's absolutely brilliant. People have been fretting about its low TV ratings and the prospect that it might be cancelled, which I call a travesty. Yes, let's cancel this show so we can instead watch Law and Order: Meter Maids or CSI: Roanoke or perhaps another lazily slapped together sitcom with laughtrack. We need more shows like those. Definitely. Seriously, check out this show if you never have before.

I went with a friend to see The Decemberists this past weekend. They have quickly become one of my favorites. Their sound might be compared to They Migh…


I'm taking a brief sabbatical from the blog...only a week or 10 days or so. I'm gonna turn my attention to my journal and other matters. Back in a while to pick up the conversation again.


A colleague quoted one of his seminary professors yesterday morning: 'Every time you pull out your checkbook, you're making a theological statement.'

What we spend money on reveals what our priorities are.

I had never heard it put as well as in that quote.

'Change for Change' - A Sermon for 10/9/05

Pieced together from my outline and morning delivery...

Exodus 32:1-14

When you go to the Ohio State Fair, there is a lot to do. You can see one of the many concerts put on throughout the day by the State Fair band or choir. You can ride the rides. You can view all the livestock and the arts and crafts on display. You can play one of the carnival games. And there are plenty of elephant ears to go around. One other thing that you can view there as you visit the dairy section..Smith's has a display something truly amazing, astounding in its own right. There enclosed in a glass case (and presumably properly refrigerated) is a cow, life-sized, made completely out of butter.

It IS truly amazing. After all, it is a butter cow. How many of those do you see in your lifetime, even if you visit the fair every single year? You have to admire the work, the creativity that went into such a thing. It's a butter cow! Did someone pour butter into a giant mold? Did someone…


Fall is here with a vengeance. It's rainy, it's dreary, if you look out the living room window you can see the leaves in all their oranges and browns beginning to gather around the foot of the tree. I bet if you walked outside right now you'd smell that leafy rainy fall smell. This was the day I'd been waiting for since the first of September. All I need now is a cup of cider and a hayride or cornmaze or something. But a cup of Ethiopian and Jack Johnson will work.

I came upon a realization the other day about the nature of ministry. The M. Div is considered a professional degree (as opposed to an academic degree, I suppose), and so I've been asking myself what I'm a professional in. Why, ministry of course. Right? I'm a professional minister. That works on a theological level: all are called to be ministers, and some are called to specialization. I get that. That's not good enough, I'm afraid. I want to parse 'professional' and 'minister…

October: Fair Trade Month

Did you know that October is Fair Trade Month? is.

Fair Trade seeks a regulated wage to be paid to coffee farmers, among other benefits and products. A short list:

Producers receive a fair price - a living wage. For commodities, farmers receive a stable, minimum price. Forced labor and exploitative child labor are not allowed Buyers and producers trade under direct long-term relationships Producers have access to financial and technical assistance Sustainable production techniques are encouraged Working conditions are healthy and safe Equal employment opportunities are provided for all All aspects of trade and production are open to public accountability Read more about it here.Related post: Coffee Talk

Pop Culture Roundup

I'm done with Volf. The discussion group has all but completely dried up with him. It really is a good book. It just takes some time.

On Arrested Development this past week, we were introduced to the family's new lawyer, Bob Loblaw. Read that name out loud several times and you'll understand. This show is gold.

Lately I've been in a Blues Traveler kind of mood.

Around the web, Serotoninrain and Bridget Jones Goes to Seminary are both quite good places to stop and read for a while.

Short but sweet this week.

Missed Opportunity

I stumbled upon this blog a little too late. Dead Youthpastor Walking seemed to have been a good place to talk about the reality of church and ministry including the pitfalls and frustrations, much like Real Live Preacher only with a harder edge. By the time I found it, the author had decided to discontinue posting:

bye kids. tired of church and its abuse of people's lives. tired of God and what he allows his commissioned followers to do in his beloved son's name. tired of bad dreams and newsletter scraps from churches gone by. tired of compliance-based "christians" selling real estate in heaven to which they don't have the deed. tired of finding myself fighting back tears during worship, not
because of what Christ did for me, but because of whatever flashback hits me triggered by a hymn, a verse, or the way someone looks at me. tired of being a failure in the eyes of so many. tired of the quiet dark speculating time during the night when i consider whether it was …

Early October Meanderings

~The leaves are still green and the weather's still warm. Ahem...autumn now. Hey! Autumn now!

~Yes, yes, no Indians in the playoffs to speak of. The Yankees are division champs and the Red Sox are the wild card. That never happens. This is a monumental playoff year. Maybe we'll even get to see New York and Boston play each other for the pennant. It's a long shot, but we can hope. Seriously though, last year was amazing and I was glad to watch history in the making and Boston can repeat, good for them. Meantime, I only have one other thing to say: Go Cards.

~In my new 'preaching without notes' weekly schedule, today is outline-making day. That assumes that I've come up with illustrations and a coherent idea of what I'll be talking about, which is only partially true. The text is Exodus 32:1-14, the story of the golden calf. It helps that I wrote an exegesis paper on vs. 7-14 my final year of seminary, along with a sermon, but I'm not really fe…

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