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Showing posts from August, 2006

Sit down and shut up

Were those Yankee fans singing "Hey hey hey, goodbye" last night?

Oh snap, that was before Craig Monroe hit that 3-run homer in the top of the 9th.

Welcome to the New Class of Eden Seminary

Greetings, class of 2009. Or 2010. Or maybe 2011. And even the guy who will graduate in 2018. That is not a commentary on how difficult the next three or more years will be for you, it is simply an acknowledgement that while you are all starting this stage of your journeys together, you won't all finish at the same time. Look around the room at your classmates. A core group of you will graduate in 2009. A faithful remnant will take an extra year and graduate together in 2010. I'll be honest, some of you might disappear after a semester or a year. Others will have life's circumstances overcome them to the point that you'll need to cut back on classload or take time off.

Regardless, you have come to this moment. And on behalf of all alumni of Eden Theological Seminary, and I'll even presume to speak on behalf of all current students, faculty, field education supervisors, and Mike the janitor (is Mike still there?)...we are praying for you.

We are praying for you.

Those…

You're On Notice!

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Pop Culture Roundup

I read through The Book of J by Harold Bloom this week, which is a literary analysis of the "J" writer, or Yahwist. The theory of "J" is part of a larger theory that four writers contributed to what we know today as the Torah. This book includes a presentation of J's contributions pulled out and strung together, as well as Bloom's commentary on the characters and storylines included in J's narrative. At times Bloom's pomposity gets the better of him ("Tolstoy recognized the story of Joseph as Tolstoyan"), at other times he takes on an anti-religious tone ("J takes care to avoid making Joseph a religious prig and instead has him reject his master's wife's advances on pragmatic terms"). Bloom's overall presentation of J is one of literary genius (throughout the book he makes comparisons to the likes of Shakespeare and Homer) and religious humorist, depicting Yahweh as "human-all-too-human." He suggests somewha…

Mainliner's Lament Part 2

There wasn't meant to be a Part 2. That was before I discovered this well-reasoned vitriol-free diatribe from Mark Driscoll about mainline denominations via iMonk. Truth be told, I can't and won't defend against everything he says. Caricatures tend to contain even a kernal of truth to them. But this will mainly be the points of disagreement.Of course, these are only my responses. I can't speak for every mainline denomination, local church, and member. That'd be silly.



My son Zac and I recently attended a Mariners baseball game for his seventh birthday. On the way home we were rolling along in my 1978 Chevy truck with a bacon air freshener and passed a liberal mainline church. He asked me what that church believed and I told him they do not believe people are sinners, do not believe the Bible is to be taken literally but is more like a fantasy video game, do not believe you need Jesus to go to heaven, and do believe that being gay is cool with Christ.

"Do not …

Mainliner's Lament

There's something that I increasingly am lamenting about my church, at the local level and beyond.

I am a 27-year-old pastor, almost two years into his first pastorate. Like many colleagues my age, I've followed pastors with a significant amount of years' experience and age up on me. I go to Association and Conference gatherings and am usually the youngest clergyperson AND church representative by 15 years easy. In the instance that my Association combines meetings with our neighbor Association to the north, I have a few colleagues closer in age. Still, we are a small handful in perhaps 150-200 older people at those gatherings.

This past Sunday was our annual church picnic. There was a waterballoon toss. After the official activity was over, something had to be done with the extra waterballoons. Well, if you're at a church picnic with extra waterballoons, there's only one logical use for them. I tried to outrun a junior high track runner and finally just gave up and …

Pagitt Soundbites

I picked up a discounted copy of Doug Pagitt's Church Re-Imagined late last week and have been looking it over. Solomon's Porch sounds like an intriguing place, and if I seriously pursue my sabbatical idea it should be a great learning experience to visit there.

Anyway, a few soundbites:

In a recent staff meeting we talked about the occasional person who doesn't feel "fed" at Solomon's Porch. We mused about the kinds of people who need to be fed--babies, people without use of their hands, people too weak to serve themselves. We concluded that "being fed" ought to be a strange metaphor for what happens at church but that it is sadly appropriate. For it seems that the church has trained Christians to expect someone to give them faith in small, pre-chewed bites they can swallow without significant effort.

To move beyond this passive approach to faith, we've tried to create a community that's more like a potluck: people eat and they also bring …

Something in his eyes...

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HT to Chris T.

GalPals Ridiculous British Sayings Meme

Right, so one of the GalPals recently took a trip to England and came back with a bunch of phrases that, in our Amuhrican dialect, sound quite silly. The invitation here is to come up with one's own definition for each like the game Balderdash.

Adverse Camber - a new 14" diameter splash cymbal from Camber that, when you hit it, actually makes the sound of a kitten mewing. This is the first cymbal introduced for the field of psychology and requires a prescription. Patients using the Adverse Camber are to hit the cymbal whenever they become extremely stressed in the face of adversity.

Butts Wynd - a phrase included in a scene from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet that up until recently had been lost. Literature scholars postulate that the scene should come after Romeo and Benvolio's first scene together, as a drunken Mercutio begins to seriously deride Romeo for being a pansy as he pines for Rosaline with the line: "If thou wert truly a man, who cares not if be accus&#…

Pop Culture Roundup

Again, I've been slacking on my Moltmann and went with Anne Lamott's Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith this week instead. Lamott's 'sequel' is a little thicker, but I think that has to do with the layout. It's still a quick read. I'm going to personally recommend her chapters on being with her dying dog, hearing the pastor of the Church of 80% Sincerity preach, and her brutally honest thoughts about being a mother. Lamott is a wonderful mix of humor, irreverence, honesty, and sincerity. She may grate with some more 'conservative' folks, maybe in this one more than the last as her language can be salty...that and she hates the Iraq war so she has some words about our current administration. No problem here, though.

The show Miami Ink is the only show that I will willingly watch on TLC, since every other show is about babies, weddings, makeovers, or interior decorating. Plopped down in the middle of all this on Tuesday nights is a show about a tattoo p…

Ever wonder...

...what a comfort it must be for people to believe that their church is the only one in the whole world that has it exactly right?

Lord...save me from your followers.

My First Ever Dream Entry

Last night I had a church-related dream, although it was a little different than my usual church-related dreams which typically feature some variation of my not being prepared to preach.

In this dream, I led our first ever Sunday evening contemporary/youth service. There were maybe 20 people there and I made a special plea to attendees to bring their friends. I remember feeling highly confident that we were fully capable of filling the sanctuary for that service if people took the time to tell others about it, person-to-person. For me in the dream, this was the most logical and natural thing to consider, and it drew nods from those who were there.

Perhaps the strangest part of the whole dream was that a family who is staunchly against the idea of contemporary worship was in attendance. I didn't get that part at all. But dreams hardly ever make sense.

Anyway, I'm not one to put much stock in dreams as having some special prophetic or psychological meaning. I have thought a…

What I Learned During My Summer Vacation

~Open mic nights actually can be quite close-knit communities. We went to one on Wednesday night where eight people performed all on acoustic stringed instruments (7 guitar, 1 dulcimer). This was a coffeehouse in a smaller town...not THAT small, but small in the sense that not that many people seem to be interested in open mic nights at coffeehouses. I don't know what that means. Anyway, most of the performers knew each other and it seems like they're pretty regular. Mrs. Jeff and I were two of the perhaps eight pure spectators there, not counting the girls working the counter. All in all, it was a fun night. Through it, we even discovered another coffeehouse nearby that hosts open mics on Wednesdays that alternate with this one, where a lot of the same people seem to go. Hurray for expanding knowledge of social hotspots.

~I got my second tattoo on Friday (Hi Mom!). Apparently I was the first pastor that my artist had ever worked on, which both surprised and delighted him. Whil…

Hitting the Big Time

I've just discovered the sign that this blog has hit it big. Someone has added a link to this place on that veritable site of populist truthiness, Wikipedia, under the entry for Eden Theological Seminary. Two other Eden graduate blogs which should be familiar to POC readers are also listed.

A thank you to whomever thought this silly little site was worthy of such a mention.

Pop Culture Roundup

I've taken a break from Moral Man and Immoral Society. The short version is that I don't have a lot of interest in pure theory like I used to. And political theory on top of that...it's going on the shelf. That's an entry in itself and I hope to remember to come back to it. I did read another book this week: Is Belief in God Good, Bad, or Irrelevant? This book is a collection of e-mails exchanged between Preston Jones, a college history professor, and Greg Graffin, the lead singer of Bad Religion. Jones just on a whim e-mailed Graffin one day and it evolved into months' worth of discussion on Christianity and naturalism. The title is horrible. Besides that, it's a very quick read (I read it in about 2 hours). Jones' Christianity would probably be characterized as more 'liberal,' as he concedes some points to Graffin that more 'conservative' types would probably be hard-nosed about. Even at the discussion's most heated moments, …

This wasn't a very good one

You scored as Calvin. You are John Calvin. You have a Nestorian Christology and separate the Divinity and Humanity of Jesus. You believe only those who have faith are united to Christ, who is present spiritually, yet you call this "Real."

Unitarian56%Zwingli56%Calvin56%Luther31%Catholic19%
Eucharistic theology
created with QuizFarm.com

Just Felt Like Blogging

It's come to that point in the summer where I'm tired of summer. I didn't used to be tired of summer, because I didn't want to go back to elementary/junior high/high school. But for almost ten years now, I've hit a point usually sometime around the beginning of August where every hot humid day is the same, you've seen one green leaf you've seen a million, and since everyone at church is on vacation there isn't as much to do around the office.

Of course, I'm on vacation this week, so I don't care so much about that last one.

The prospect of fall energizes me: the change of the leaves and the thought of college football. Sipping red wine or warm cider on an early October evening is heaven on earth to me. I'm glad that I wasn't called to a church in Florida or California or some other place that never sees this, not that I was looking in those places. I would be tremendously bored without a change in seasons, if every day was like a Beac…

Healthy Dissention

Over the weekend, I've begun to intersperse Niebuhr's Moral Man and Immoral Society with Moltmann. I know, what sort of recreational reading is that? I've just been in the mood for some theological and ethical classics after a long string of books telling me how to make the church more missional, relevant, emerging, cool, Biblically faithful, big, etc.

Niebuhr is not the most optimistic guy in the world. I suppose that's why he's referred to so often as a realist. In this book, he puts out chapter after chapter indicting the true motives of people and communities and how self-serving we really are. One of his favorite themes seems to be hypocrisy, in particular the tendency to pursue the highest moral good and justify our use of dishonest or less-than-moral actions in that pursuit. In other words, we spin immoral actions to say that it is for the greater moral good. My head swims with examples.

But that's not even the reason that I'm bringing it up. Niebuhr …

Pop Culture Roundup

I've been finding some good ways to practically apply The Crucified God to my surroundings. Take, for instance, a recent article I came across detailing a church's building a 72-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty, except she's holding a cross and is called the Statue of Liberation. Moltmann would roll over in his grave, yelling and screaming for someone six feet above him to remind people that Jesus' death wasn't so that we could build cheesy odes to AmeriChristendom and call it discipleship. He would yell through his casket padding that the cross is a dirty ugly instrument of death that symbolizes a God present with the lowly, despised, and rejected and calls us to do the same instead of raising $250,000 for a monstrosity of a lawn ornament. This book needs to be required reading in every freaking seminary in the country.

We watched Secondhand Lions this week. Actually, Mrs. Jeff watched it and I was in the same room and glanced up at it occasionally. Robert Duv…

Changing One's True Colors

I've been reading with some interest the current saga revolving around Mel Gibson's little drunken tirade. The Cliff's Notes is this: he was pulled over for drunk driving and started yelling slurs about Jews. For good measure, he threw in a sexist comment toward a female officer. Since then, the boards have lit up with theories about how liquor lowered Gibson's inhibitions and revealed his true colors, which might be true, to less logically sound comments like, 'This proves that Passion of the Christ was anti-Semitic.'

Gibson offered one apology, partially to say 'That wasn't the real me.' Again, I can't totally disagree with alcohol lowering your filter. The boards lit up again to say that very thing. Then Gibson offered a second apology, this time expressing a desire to meet with leaders of the Jewish community and face 'the problems that he has.' This sounds closer to admitting that maybe his string of epithets was perhaps reall…

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