Showing posts from April, 2006

Friday to Friday (State of the Blog?)

I live my bloglife Friday to Friday, because Fridays are when you can count on the Pop Culture Roundup. Since I do that, I tend to check the quality and quantity of entries in between. I usually manage to post at least twice between Fridays. Four times is probably average. Six or more is a sign that I had a lot of free time.

Last week I offered two entries, only one of which really required any thought on my part. The week before that I offered four, again only one of which really took any brain power.

Every blog is different. Bloggers like RLP and iMonk are true essayists. They're the types that write drafts and stay up late finishing something that they want to get just right. Other bloggers post short reflection, quote, link, reflection, link, joke, quote, Bible verse, maybe all of those within a day or two. I suppose that I'd like to be more like the former, but not to the point that I'm writing book chapters. The subtitle is 'A UCC Pastor Muses,' not 'A UCC …


I've been chewing on this for the past hour or so after reading it. It's truly remarkable. Apparently there's a cure for information overload. You'll have to see it for yourself.

Pop Culture Roundup

I finished Stiff the other day, which was fascinating from beginning to end. In one of the later chapters she discusses experiments to re-animate human heads. This was borne from someone's curiosity during the French Revolution about whether a criminal's head was still alive after being lopped off by the guillotine, and for how long. Over the years, this morphed into attempts at head transplants. Many monkeys and dogs were lost during these experiments. Apparently switching the heads of a pair of monkeys was successful, except the geniuses didn't re-attach the esophagus so they starved to death. One thing that I have learned from this book is that I am very, VERY thankful for the state of medicine that is around today versus some of the wacked-out techniques and theories that have been around over the years.

I watched Kung Fu Hustle this past week. It's a subtitled Japanese import movie that did reasonably well at the box office a few years back. I haven't…

What's Your Theological Worldview?

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.

Emergent/Postmodern71%Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan61%Neo orthodox57%Classical Liberal57%Modern Liberal50%Charismatic/Pentecostal46%Roman Catholic43%Reformed Evangelical32%Fundamentalist7%
What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.comHat tip to Dwight.Nowadays I'm not surprised by my top answer, although 'alienated' might be too strong a word when it comes to older worship styles. They have their place, but many do have a hard time connecting with them.…

Blogging Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes really is a fascinating book. I finished my lectio divina study of it this morning, and have come away with a few impressions that I wanted to share...

The worldview in Ecclesiastes is clearly different from what we find later in the New Testament in a few different ways. Throughout the book, the Teacher's refrain comes through: 'All is vanity and a chasing after wind.' His application of the refrain produces some results that may puzzle or even offend those who strive to be faithful disciples of Jesus.

In my vain life I have seen everything; there are righteous people who perish in their righteousness, and there are wicked people who prolong their life in their evildoing. Do not be too righteous, and do not act too wise; why should you destroy yourself? - Ecclesiastes 7:15-16

The Teacher has observed what happens to righteous people. They get treated like they're wicked. They're frowned upon. Others don't like them. They get taken advantage of. His s…

Pop Culture Roundup

Yesterday I started a new book entitled Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. Roach details some uses of cadavers donated to science. I've only read the first two chapters so far, which detail human heads being used by plastic surgeons for practice and a brief history of cadavers being used for anatomical study. The latter includes a history of grave-robbing for such purposes, which for quite a while was not declared illegal. One thesis that pervades her book is that we can still be of so much use after we die. For someone who is all in all quite squeamish about such things (yet does agree that we can be funny about dead people), I find this book absolutely fascinating so far. Her use of humor is wonderful. There's a chapter coming up on cadavers being used as crash dummies. I'll let you know how that goes.

We've started Buffy Season 7, which finds the gang dealing with a new high school built on top of where the old one was (which also means it was …

Blogged Church Happenings

There are quite a few blogs that I frequent dealing with church issues this week.

Internet Monk is parting ways with the church at which he's been supplying for seven years:

So I did say I left each Sunday feeling something was wrong, didn’t I? And that’s true. I left each Sunday discouraged with the dwindling numbers and the continued decline of my church. I preach my heart out every week. I wear my heart on my sleeve much more than my people know. I would drive home every week saying to myself, “This has become a situation that is all about you. All about supporting Michael Spencer and family so they will stay. I’m not helping the church. They are helping me. They are dying while I am treated well. That’s not right. That’s not ministry.”

Caroline was banned from presenting a seminar at a church because they found out she was affiliated with the emerging church. Seriously.

Greg posts a pastor friend's post-Easter rant:

In my job I often feel like a used car salesman who wants to s…

Ecclesiastes, Easter, and a Prayer Request

It's been a quiet week around the blog. I've been reading plenty interesting material on others, but have had little inclination to write here. Call it the post-Easter lull.

Lectio divina was an excellent discipline for Lent. I read through Luke and Mark, noting some fascinating corners of them both that I've paid little attention to in previous readings. I'm continuing this discipline, and have decided to focus on Ecclesiastes. Here's a shorter book tucked away in the wisdom writings that I think has a great deal to teach us. It is written by 'the Teacher' (or 'Preacher'), who by tradition is thought to be Solomon. The notable refrain in this book is that 'all is vanity and a chasing after wind,' speaking of toil, generations passing away and not being remembered, seeking wisdom and riches, and so on.

The temptation with Ecclesiastes is to glean a moral from the book summed up as such: 'See...this is what happens when you seek pleasure i…

Easter Sunday

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you." So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for the…

Top 10 Reasons Men Should Not Be Ordained

Hat tip to New Life Emerging:

10. A man's place is in the army.

9. For men who have children, their duties might distract them from the responsibilities of being a parent.

8. Their physical build indicates that men are more suited to tasks such as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be "unnatural" for them to do other forms of work.

7. Man was created before woman. It is therefore obvious that man was a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment, rather than the crowning achievement of creation.

6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. This is easily demonstrated by their conduct at football games and watching basketball tournaments.

5. Some men are handsome; they will distract women worshipers.

4. To be ordained pastor is to nurture the congregation. But this is not a traditional male role. Rather, throughout history, women have been considered to be not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more frequently attracted to it. This …

Pop Culture Roundup

This week the Roundup comes a little early, in lieu of Good Friday.

I've started another book by Thomas Mertoncalled Disputed Questions. This is a series of his essays on spirituality and culture. Some of the chapters aren't as engaging unless you're overly familiar with what he's speaking of. I skimmed his chapter on the Pasternak Affair because it includes an analysis of Dr. Zhivago, which I've never read. However, his chapter on love is one of the best commentaries on divine and human love that I've read, and this comes at a perfect time when the lectionary is about to feature a great deal from 1 John.

We're down to our last episode of Angel Season 4. It's a really fluid season, where the group has to deal with one problem after another. I really like the series for that, because it isn't chopped up into one bad guy for season 1, another for season 2, and so on. It's all one continuous story. And the enemy that they end up facing at the…

Hey UCC Bloggers

I know there are quite a few UCC bloggers who stop by regularly or irregularly. Don't you think it's time for a webring or a blogroll of our own? United Methodists have one, Disciples have one, United Church of Canada has one (which I almost mistook for an existing United Church of Christ ring).

I'd love to get a chance to connect with more UCC blogger types outside of where I've already been. I'm sure that others would as well.

Edit: I went ahead and started a ring. The hub blog for it is here. Join up and tell your UCC friends.

Forgiveness and Calling

Here's an interesting article from the current issue of Christian Century:

A debate on absolution was stirred in England recently after an Anglican priest stepped down from her parish duties because she could not forgive those who carried out the July bombings on London's transport system. The attacks resulted in the death of more than 50 people, including her daughter.

"Can I forgive them for what they did? No, I cannot. And I don't wish to," said Julie Nicholson, vicar of St. Aidan with St. George Church in Bristol, in an interview carried on BBC television March 7. Her 24-year-old daughter, Jenny, was among the victims.

"I believe that there are some things in life which are unforgivable by the human spirit," said Nicholson. "We are all faced with choice, and those four human beings on that day chose to do what they did."

The vicar said she felt "unable to stand behind the altar and celebrate the communion and lead people in words of peace…

Pre-Holy Week Brain Droppings

~Do 'C and E' people know that they're referred to as 'C and E' people? And if so, what do they think about that?

~Why do critics of the Emerging Church act like no one's ever grown a goatee before?

~If your best argument against Fair Trade is that it 'sounds like communism,' you ain't got much.

~If I have to choose between a shallow yet upbeat praise song and a theologically magnificent yet tedious plodding hymn...I just won't go to church that day. Oh crap, I'm the pastor...

~Write a 1-page reflection on why and how Numbers 25 is divinely inspired and fully applicable to our modern situation.

~If your best argument against evolution is that there's no moral connotation to it, you ain't got much.

~Whether they admit it or not, even 'liberal' Christians believe in some form of Intelligent Design.

~Maundy Thursday is underrated...especially if you just skip from Palm Sunday to Easter.

~If your best argument against instruments in chu…

Pop Culture Roundup

I've finished To Kill a Mockingbird, and there are some really good themes there. There's a conversation about what a 'real Christian' is in relation to racism, with which I agreed. One character makes everyone think that he's perpetually drunk so he can be left alone to live how he wants to live (which includes regular fraternizing with black people). I found that something worthwhile to chew on...realizing that his behavior wouldn't be accepted by society any other way. It's an excellent read.

I'll be looking over Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale today and tomorrow before I go see my brother's college production of it. I read it in college, but don't remember much about it. Or maybe it was Twelfth Night. And why do I always get those two mixed up?

We're still watching Angel Season 4. This season marks the token appearance of Angelus, the non-soul version of Angel. It had to happen sooner or later. They already did the outright Moment …


Greg has a preliminary review of Brian McLaren's new book, The Secret Message of Jesus. He and I agree that McLaren should have chosen a different title, because it really isn't that much of a secret.

McLaren's argument is that Jesus really means what he says. Really. Again, [John Howard] Yoder makes this argument at length in [Politics of Jesus] and Royal Priesthood, but McLaren presents the argument as if it is "the secret message of Jesus." The reality, of course, is that the Anabaptists have always believed that (it's never been a big secret to them), thus McLaren's dependence upon Yoder...The Radical Reformers, eventually Anabaptists because of their insistence on believer baptism, understood the words of Jesus, especially the Sermon on the Mount, as the controlling grammar and vocabulary of the kingdom. The kingdom wasn't tied to a secular state; it was a state unto itself. The Anabaptists understood Jesus to be talking about a present reality,…

Having a Disgruntled Moment

Before you read anything beyond this sentence, read this entry.

Done? No really, did you read it? Don't read any further unless you did. I'm serious. Did you? Okay, then. Go ahead.

And settle in for a few minutes, because this turned out to be really long.

So the National Council of Churches has published its new Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. Various other blogs have picked up on it, including Chuck and Shane. As has been expected, they each have very different foci and takes on the information. Not only does the Yearbook report membership for all denominations and faith groups, but this particular book focuses on the influence of blogs and the emerging church and other ecclesio-trends. The one figure I was particularly interested in was, of course, the following:

-United Church of Christ, 1,265,786, reporting a decrease of 2.38 percent.

Guess how that drop happened. If you've thought about it for more than a half second, you either haven't been reading up on …

Some Blogreading

The author is long gone, but every once in a while I visit this blog and take a look at a few entries at a time. There's a lot to think about here:

Dead Youthpastor Walking

Much to my surprise, he actually returned not too long ago to respond to comments to what was supposed to be his last entry. Then he disappeared again.

Go ahead and poke around. He won't care.

Coming Clean, The Aftermath

Yesterday's April Fools trick was a success. It had people worried until the end...and at least one person a little past the end.

You know that show Punk'd on MTV? Aston Kutcher sets up this elaborate scheme to get some celebrity hot and bothered about something, and then he sneaks into the scene and said celebrity realizes that they've been had, sometimes to the point of wailing on Kutcher either verbally or physically? One has to wonder if, after a really good prank, the ruse is worth the person finding out.

Well, I dunno about that. But what I do know is that this entry's purpose is to separate the more factual from more fictitious.

I'm staying in ministry. Of that my dear readers can be certain. It's way too early for a guy like me to feel burned out. So all the stuff about praying in earnest and in secret and jeopardizing plans...that was all fictitious.

The stuff about no one being open to thinking? Mostly fictitious. I still have yet to detail what's …

Coming Clean

I haven't shared what I'm about to type with very many people before now. It's been brewing in my heart and mind for a while, and at this late hour it's starting to consume me. I need an outlet, a time to vent, a place to share, and now that things are officially moving forward, I feel more free to discuss it.

I'm quitting the ministry.

It was strange to type those words. It's strange to read them.

I was convinced for so long that this was my life's vocation, what God was calling me to do. Through four years of college and three years of seminary I was convinced that this was my path. But then I actually started doing it. It's a different matter from the dream to the reality. A disappointing reality. A disheartening reality.

I thought I'd be engrossing people in theology and the Bible. They want to believe what they've always believed. No one wants to think. They want to be told what to think.

I thought I'd be leading people to interact with the…

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