Showing posts from July, 2006

Why Women Shouldn't Play Sports...Seriously?

Update: I don't know why, but there really are a lot of people who search for this topic through Google, so this is possibly one of the most viewed entries I've ever written. So all that said, it should be very apparent that I disagree with the stance of female subservience and crushing the dreams of female athletes for allegedly "Biblical" reasons. So if you're looking for something that supports that kind of crap, go someplace else.

I can't help myself here. LutheranChik linked to the article, I started reading it, and now you have the option of reading it. It is amazing to me that people think that this is a reasonable position. For those completely uninterested in giving this article extra hits, here are some low points:
I propose that sports greatly hinders the development of godly, Biblical, feminine character. Parents today expend extraordinary amounts of time and energy taking their daughters from one sports event to another, week after week, even to th…

A Blog You Might Have Been Waiting For

A blog called The CCM Patrol reviews Christian music. Here's the hook: they actually review Christian music rather than automatically praise it because it's Christian. From their description:

In case the statement has to be made, Christian music should not be the laughingstock of cultural phenomena. Unlike popular Christian magazines that *cough* cover Christian music, no blunders, artistic or otherwise, will be spared scrutiny here. Especially if they lend to making a funny and / or mean joke. If you are willing to put forth your material for thousands to hear, then you deserve to be ridiculed if it's horrible. All of the more so because you are supposedly also endorsed by God. God's name should not, in fact, be raped on the radio.

Perhaps the last line is an overstatement. Nevertheless, they don't give free passes to anyone. Definitely a friend in the fight against bland three-chords-and-a-cliche Christian 'rock.' Check it out.

HT to Bob.

Can't Resist a Book Meme

HT to Chris T. It's a big week for you on this blog!

1.One book that changed your life:The Historical Figure of Jesus by E.P. Sanders. This book started me on my journey toward a thinking faith, complete with a Dark Night of the Soul that lasted into the early morning hours one night.But I got through it. This book got some gears turning; still turning some eight years later.

2.One book that you’ve read more than once: Does Romeo and Juliet count? I can't think of many I've read more than once, although I've been meaning to revisit a couple.A friend of mine makes it a point to read The Color Purple every year. I'm thinking of doing that with Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island: Shakespeare's Complete Works. Plenty to read and if I get really bored I can act scenes out.
4. One book that made you laugh:Pure Drivel by Steve Martin. There aren't many books that make me laugh so hard that they bring me to tears.

5. One book that m…

Pop Culture Roundup

I started Moltmann's The Crucified God this week. I'm not rushing through this, because it's a really rich text. Moltmann's central message so far seems to be that however the church adapts to culture in practice, it must retain the message of the cross at its core. It wasn't until I started reading this that I've begun to fully appreciate the context out of which theologians such as Moltmann, Barth, and Bonhoeffer write. Their thoughts were conceived in Germany in the midst of or shortly after World War II and the Holocaust, so naturally one of their primary concerns is how the church acts and reacts in the surrounding society. They witnessed firsthand the problems that arise when the church takes in too much uncritically from its environment, with destructive consequences.

We went to see Clerks IIlast weekend, Kevin Smith's return to the Askewniverse...or whatever...and it was just really funny. Some of the content is not for the faint of heart, but that&#…

What to wear, who you are

A few days ago I posted some thoughts on dressing for church. Well, if you've seen Chris T.'s photos from his ordination (see below), you might expect such a discussion to arise from the truly eclectic group that gathered that day.

And it has. A blog entitled Beauty Tips for Ministers caught wind of the event and has sparked quite a discussion on pastoral dress, which has led to a discussion of pastoral authority. Check it out.

Another Ordination

Another colleague was ordained over the weekend. This colleague I only know through the blogosphere, but he's a colleague nonetheless. Chris T. from Even the Devils Believe was ordained into the Independent Catholic priesthood. Just by viewing the photos, I learned so much about what goes into their ordination service (AND how much freedom they must have).

Finding Obscurity

Scott Williams was the first to open my eyes to some things that most pastors probably can't see on their own. Chiefly, these are things related to the realistic amount of time that members can devote to church activities, and the place of privilege that pastors truly enjoy. His version is more raw than Barbara Brown Taylor's, which I think is why I like his better. In a recent entry, he says this:

quitting full-time christian ministry has been the best and most frustrating journey i have ever been on. i would contend that i have learned more about myself and my world in this time than in any other period of my life.

i have found obscurity.

perhaps it is more accurate to say that i have finally admitted to myself that i am ordinary and unimportant by almost every societal barometer that matters in prevalent society.i never would have imagined how quickly i could be forgotten. people asked friends of mine if i had moved out of town. there was a prevalent rumour that i had abandone…

Misc. for Sunday

~I went to the depressing and frustrating 14-6 massacre up at Jacobs Field on Friday evening. We were in the bleachers, which become very hard on the backside during the 8-run 4th inning. Tom Hanks was there, sitting in one of the boxes. He wasn't shown on the scoreboard until the 9th inning, which was most likely to keep people from bugging him the whole game. That's good, if for no other reason than that was more exciting than what happened on the field.

~On Saturday I saw a billboard that read as follows:

A) Pro-life.
B) Pro-Choice.
C) Pro-Wrestling.
D) All of the Above.

And then in the corner it said, 'Only in America.' I thought it was an official organization, but as yet I haven't found any sort of literature or website claiming it. I'm still trying to figure out its meaning. Maybe that America is diverse?

~Today a buddy from Eden was ordained into the United Church of Christ. Go to his blog and congratulate him.

Pop Culture Roundup

I finished 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea last Friday, and I can't say it was either great or terrible. It features a much-heralded literary character in Captain Nemo, whom I realized we don't learn that much about over the course of the book. The book is really driven by events more than characters...that, and all the lists of fish that Verne felt necessary to include. In between that and Bell's book, I skimmed over The Missional Leader, which I've decided is the last emerging/missional/new church paradigm book that I pick up for a while, because they're starting to sound the same.

We watched The Skeleton Key the other week, which I thought was good for what it was. The promised twist wasn't nearly as monumental or surprising as I remember the previews making it out to be. I watched it the first time by myself, and then when I saw it the second time with Mrs. Jeff, I picked up on certain lines and actions that made more sense. It's a decent twist, just no…

A Review of Rob Bell's 'Velvet Elvis'

This is another book that I didn't have much of an interest in reading at first, but decided to hear more of what Bell has to say. If you're not familiar with Bell, he's the pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids (not to be confused with Driscoll's Mars Hill Church in Seattle). My previous experience with Bell comes only from his podcast sermons from his church's website. In fact, the very first podcast of his that I listened to was his Easter sermon from this past year, where he begins by announcing, '!' and then you hear 10,000 people cheering. Bell is also associated with emerging/emergent types by others, though apparently he doesn't have much interest in calling himself either of those terms. All in all, Bell seemed to me to be less confined to the rigorous defense of a particular theological 'flavor' and a little more likely to weave human experience into his sermons. I like both of those things. So I read his book…

Sunday...Truly a Day of Rest

Yesterday morning was a pretty good morning. I'm trying my hardest not to tack the phrase 'all things considered' on the end of that.

We had a hymn sing, which I've already mentioned, so that way it was a lower-anxiety day. The bigger event was an early visit from my buddy Ian and his girlfriend Gina on their way to New York. Gina's family lives in the same county as us, so they'd spent the night there on Saturday and cruised through our village on the way up to the Ohio turnpike. This was Ian's first visit to our house, and our first chance to meet Gina.

Sometimes it takes an outsider's perspective to see what you really have. Both raved about the irenic location and really seemed to like the amount of natural light the house provides. I was able to appreciate these things anew thanks to their comments. The lack of activities within walking distance still makes me a little crazy some days, but it really is a beautiful spot in which to live.

We trav…

A Different Kind of Tour

Recently I watched a documentary where four comedians tour small rock clubs as opposed to more upscale comedy clubs.

I thought, 'Could preachers do that? Would anyone come to see them? It'd be a whole different audience, that's for sure.'

Then I read about Rob Bell's 'Everything is Spiritual' tour.

So I guess the answer is yes.

Of course, it helps to pastor a huge church and be nationally known...but hey, it still answers my question.


Why has a pastor who is becoming increasingly fed up with hymns scheduled a hymn sing for tomorrow?

Update: By the way, it went pretty well. We celebrated both Christmas and Easter this morning, and we sang about being washed in blood. A mixed bag, that's for sure.

GalPal Pet Peeve Meme

I didn't used to be a big meme person, but sometimes the GalPals come up with one that I don't mind playing. So this one is all about pet peeves.

1. Grammatical pet peeve - I don't think I really have one. I do get irritated when someone uses the wrong version of a word, i.e., 'Are you going back to you're house?' or 'I like pizza, to.' It's more a minor annoyance than a full-blown pet peeve, though.

2. Household pet peeve - I have two, and they're both cat-related. First, even though we splurged on a self-scooping litter box (with three cats it was practically necessary), there is the eventuality that is changing the tray into which said litter gets dumped. Because the box is in a part of the house that is scarcely visited, neither of us are very good at catching it before it begins to overflow, so it is a pet peeve that can be avoided. The second also involves a kitty luxury: my wife bought the cats a water dish with a fountain, because apparent…

'Spiritainment' Alternatives

Monday Morning Insight is reporting on George Barna's latest venture. Barna has tracked church trends for years and years and has used his data to predict where the church is or should be headed. Well, in a departure from that project, Barna is now head of a Christian entertainment company called Good News Holdings. Here's what they plan to do together:

“Our objective is to be the forerunner in a new genre of multimedia we are calling spiritainment,” says Good News Chairman George Barna. “Our research has shown that people—especially young people—absorb an amazing degree of their values, beliefs and lifestyle practices from the media content to which they are exposed. Our desire is to raise spiritual questions and draw people closer to God and His truths.”

As I commented there, I'm skeptical about the quality of 'spiritainment' that will come from this project. I've been skeptical of most of most of the Christian subgenre of entertainment for years now. Most Chr…

Pop Culture Roundup

Last weekend I realized that I've never read a book by Jules Verne, so I went to the library and checked out 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea...all 400 pages of it. I'm about 100 pages from the end, so I should finish this weekend. It's easy when Verne devotes entire paragraphs to dates, classifying fish, and ship coordinates. The story itself is compelling, with Captain Nemo refusing to ever set foot on dry land again and the constant surprises that he reveals to his three prisoners. I just wish Verne wouldn't get so bogged down in lists of all the different crustaceans they saw.

We saw Pirates 2, which I didn't like as much as the first just because I like ghost stories more than I like sea monster stories. But the movie has some great action sequences, particularly a swordfight on a moving water wheel. The very end features the last thing you'd expect, which sets up the third movie. And stay through the credits.

Entourage is starting to get interesting. Turtle is…

Walking the Line

Okay, I have a story to tell you. It'll be the cliffs notes version, because I can't recount an entire night. Last September I drove over to a friend's apartment in Northwest Ohio for a birthday party. While he and I both count ourselves as Christians, I was uncertain of the religious makeup of the rest of the group, which was largely 20-something grad students.

Even so, I was introduced as Jeff the Pastor. Not with those words, but it was mentioned that I am indeed a pastor. It didn't seem to faze anyone really, and I actually had a decent conversation with one young woman about it, who seemed genuinely interested...or maybe she was just trying to be polite. Sometimes I can't tell.

Well anyway, this was my first time away from church members in a while, so I enjoyed myself. I nursed a glass of wine or two, and at one or two points got overly goofy (which is more my personality when I find a situation comfortable, yet many mistake for drunkenness if any amount of al…

Dream with me...

There was one beautiful moment during the All Star game last night that I wanted to make sure my wife shared with me.

Pudge Rodriguez was catching.

Kenny Rogers was pitching.

Albert Pujols was batting.

I said to my wife, 'Just pretend with me for a moment. Just pretend that it's late October.'

And we sat in silence. Pujols flied out and just like that the moment passed.

It could happen, friends. This year it could happen.

Wrong Shirt, Wrong Shoes, No Service?

Monday Morning Insight recently posted a story of differing views about appropriate dress in worship:

Dear Abby: My pastor says no one would consider dressing casually if they were going to be in the presence of our president or any other dignitary. Why would we consider anything less for our Lord? Makes perfect sense to me.

Here is the assumption that you show up for this hour or more time slot where you better look sharp because you know God will be in His balcony seat looking over the masses and giving His royal wave. Meanwhile, the rest of the week, God isn't around apparently. It's time to put away this notion that God is closely watching you for this hour, so you better put on your best face.

It's a strange thing when you really think about it. Put on a suit or a dress and you can somehow fool God on Sunday morning, and then go back to your ripped jeans the rest of the week. No...that's a mischaracterization, right? The intent might not be there, but actions speak …

A Review of Barbara Brown Taylor's 'Leaving Church'

When I began hearing rumblings about this book, I was of two minds. On the one hand, I quickly became interested. Barbara Brown Taylor is well-known in both preaching circles and Christian feminist circles, so her books (and in one instance, her self) showed up at my seminary quite often...and she's just a good writer. In addition, this is a book about her journey out of the church, particularly local church ministry, and I've been reading a lot of those types of stories the past few months. So to hear Taylor's story might be fascinating in itself.

I was hesitant to pick up this book for many of the same reasons. Taylor is a name that people are more likely to recognize than any other person I've heard tell their story of disillusionment, dissatisfaction, 'wanting to be free,' and so on. Her story, thus, will be more widely read and perhaps for many hers will be the first and only such story. But for me, this wasn't the first and thus part of my reaction wa…

Pop Culture Roundup

I read The Catcher in the Rye very early on this week. I suppose that I can see, for it's time, how it freaked so many people out with the language...but this is tame stuff really. The controversy was whether to have it read in schools, and with the 50s being such a kinder simpler time when children were good and proper and never even thought about drinking or sex, it is understandable why this book had to be kept from their virgin eyeballs. Well anyway, I find the main character Holden hypocritical in that he calls everyone around him phony and then lies his butt off to pretty much everyone he meets. He's not a tremendously likeable character. He has his moments, but ultimately he gives off a vibe of entitlement and laziness that I couldn't sympathize with. In some ways, perhaps he's the archetype of that tendency within us to never be satisfied and thus constantly complain about and abandon things. I also just finished Barbara Brown Taylor's Leaving Church last n…

July 4 Misc.

Happy 4th of July. Yep, I said it. This week I've come to realize that whatever I've been holding onto for this holiday to have an indifferent-to-negative meaning for me...isn't worth it. The good points far outweigh the bad, so happy 4th. Do something productive...nah, wait until tomorrow.

Chris T. at Even the Devils Believe further explains why he thinks the proposed Episcopalian two-tier system (read: split) is a good thing. He raises an important issue about denominational loyalty vs. relationship at the Eucharist. That part is good for those against the proposal to hear.

Bob Hyatt shares a dream he had about his church. He also speaks of denominational loyalty...but not very positively (maybe an understatement). I think that one reason I enjoy reading so much is because he's on the front lines of a new church plant...which is an exciting place to be in general. I mean, how bored can one really be in an environment like that?

While piecing together m…

I like this one...

You scored as The Kingdom as a counter-system. This approach has been adopted by Anabaptist and similar groups who saw themselves as recapturing the essence of true Christianity in opposition to a "Christianised" society and an institutional church.

The Kingdom as a counter-system67%The Kingdom is mystical communion58%The Kingdom is a Future Hope58%Kingdom as a Christianised Society58%The Kingdom as Earthly Utopia58%Inner spiritual experience42%The Kingdom as a political state33%The Kingdom as Institutional Church25%
What is the Kingdom of God?
created with


I wonder how many pastors count Saturday as a workday. I don't mean 'I need to finish my sermon instead of going to Billy's baseball game' either. I mean, I wonder how many pastors declare that, if congregants really need you, they can count on you being in the office sometime that day, or you purposely schedule an event that day because you'll be working anyway. Finishing the sermon is a perk because you don't feel like you're sacrificing time that could otherwise be spent...well...doing anything fun. Or maybe one feels that way regardless.

I switched Saturday to a workday around the new year. I thought that it would give me an opportunity to catch up with all those congregation members who have 9-5 weekday jobs. So far, this move has not yielded the results I've been seeking, partially because I don't think I've really taken advantage of the possibilities yet. It does help for scheduling new member classes, and there are plenty of activi…

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