Showing posts from September, 2006

I Write More About Baseball

Okay, so on Wednesday I got online to refresh the scoreboard on FoxSports 5000 times to "watch" the Detroit game. Nate Robertson was on the mound for the Tigers, which immediately made me worry. If Detroit has a weak link in their rotation, it's Robertson.Check that...Robertson AND Ledezma.

Lo and behold, Robertson gave up a stupid amount of hits and runs and Toronto won 7-4.

According to one sports writer on Thursday, when Robertson was pulled, he was booed walking off the field. The writer felt compelled to call Detroit fans "quickly spoiled" by their success. That was his explanation for the booing. Tiger fans are spoiled.

Yankee fans are spoiled. They watch a winning team year in and year out and if the team starts to falter, no problem, we'll just buy a good player from someone else. They're in the postseason all the time, they just won their 9th Division title in a row. And when a player isn't helping them win some more, they boo. Not hel…

Getting Permission

I made a change to the worship service.

This might not be monumental news to most. It wouldn't have been monumental news to me...until I realized that it was the first time in probably a year and a half that any sort of change had been made.

I brought this up to my music people.

I said, "I don't much care for this or this, either."

They responded, "Oh, that was just something [Most Recent Pastor] did and the other thing is something [Pastor Before Him] did. If you want to change it, go for it."

Why did I need to hear that first? It was almost as if I'd needed permission. But I've always heard it's easier to ask forgiveness, anyway. And that's pretty much been the case.

Maybe it's because I'm still asking forgiveness for other worship changes. Or permission. Sometimes I'm not sure which it is.

At any rate, I'm feeling a little bit of liberation from my own "worship rut" (that I didn't even know I was in) and tho…

Pop Culture Roundup

Again, just a little early.

Scary Movie 4: the usual cast of characters does the usual mix of slapstick, fart jokes, and winking at the camera. The best moments actually aren't parodies of movies, but of real life. First, Leslie Nielsen as the president is listening to a little girl read a story about a duck in an elementary school classroom when an aid walks in to tell him that aliens are attacking. Our fearless leader replies, "Okay, hold on, I want to hear what happens to the duck." Then we get a send-up of the famous Tom Cruise Protests Too Much On Oprah segment, which I found hilarious. Most of the other jokes tried too hard, but making fun of how the people talk in The Village was amusing.

I saw my first-ever episode of Justice this week, and it was really good. It's in the same vein of Law and Order and CSI and borrows elements from both, except they end up showing you what really happened after the verdict and it isn't quite what was determined during the t…

Coming Out of the Worst of It

During my prayer time this morning, my reading for reflection came from Mother Teresa:

If you are preoccupied with people who are talking about the poor, you scarcely have time to talk to the poor. Some people talk about hunger, but they don't come and say, "Mother, here is five rupees. Buy food for these people." But they can give a most beautiful lecture on hunger.

I think that speaks to where I was earlier this week. I have moments like that. These moments can last a week or more, actually. It's why I still don't want to read any more books. It's also why a World Communion Sunday sermon has been a little difficult to write. I'm relying on the stories I'm including to be the parts that stick; that make people think. They usually do.

I really like World Communion Sunday. Next to Pentecost, it's actually one of my favorite non-commercial holy days. It's just so hard to fathom its scope. How to talk about the global church and situatio…

The Written Word vs. Real Life

I haven't been much for writing the past few days. I've been preoccupied with real life. That's what I get for being so joyful that fall is here because it means I'd be more busy.

The good news from this weekend, of course, is that the Tigers are in the playoffs. I can think of nothing to say that would be satisfying as far as trash-talking or savoring the moment goes. So I posted the picture instead.

Mrs. Jeff and I were driving around last night, and a Rascall Flats song came on the radio. It's that new one that's slow and twangy and sappy. I turned to her and said, "It's been my experience that every person I've heard claim to be a Rascall Flats fan is a chick." She replied, "Um...yeah. They're a country boy band."She's much more of a country music person than I am, so I felt very affirmed.

I've entered a very interesting place within myself. For one thing, it's a place that realizes the limitation of another book&#…

Quotable Again

A comment on one of Bob's entries:

Isn't that what being a pastor is all about? Not the being busy, but the being overwhelmed by our own inadaquecies and God's ability make things happen despite our weaknesses. Of course, I think I would prefer to be overwhelmed by how smoothly my life is going and how great my abilities are, but reality inevitably sets in and God has to take over. Thank Goodness.

Pop Culture Roundup

Yeah, it's a day early.

I started Thomas Merton's Peace in the Post-Christian Era this week, which is his response to nuclear war. This was written in 1961, not 20 years removed from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Merton was actually barred by his higher-ups from publishing this for quite a while. I'm not very far into it (I think it's because I'm not that into it), so not much more to say about that.I just don't look to Merton as an authority on war. He shares some good thoughts, but I'm just not that interested in this topic right now I guess. Or at least I'm not in a place where I think that reading about it will be very edifying or fruitful for me.

Again, I've been watching the Tigers when I can. I don't get to cheer a favorite baseball team to the playoffs very often. It was exciting to live in St. Louis for a couple years, but I mean American League teams specifically. Fortunately for Detroit, they play some pretty lowly teams the rest of the seas…


From a recent workshop I attended:

"If your church spends most of its time on little maintenance details, it probably isn't doing much that's important."

Ask Me Something Else

I officiated at the wedding of two close friends from high school over the weekend. Friday night and Saturday had to be some of the most fun times I've had this year. I got to participate in one of the biggest and most wonderful days in this couple's life. At the same time, a few other high school friends got to see me "on the job" for the first time, which I was a little nervous about. The groom's sister commented later that it was weird to see me act so serious during the rehearsal.

This was also the first wedding at which I gave a homily. It's only my third wedding ever, but I wasn't sure what to talk about. I didn't want it to be too sappy or too forgettable or too run-of-the-mill or too...well...stupid, i.e., "make sure to put the toilet seat down HAR HAR." I finally decided to focus on what covenant is because it gets mentioned a few times in the liturgy but not really explained, and since we were using the well-worn text of 1 …

GalPals Famous People Meme

1. Tell us about a time you met someone famous. Sadly, I really don't have any good stories. I nearly met Jerry "the King" Lawler in an airport once. This question always makes me feel like a loser. Why'd I decide to do this one? Do notable Bible scholars count? Probably not. Man, I suck...

2. Tell us about a celebrity you'd like to meet. My inner fanboy says either Dave Matthews or The Rock. It's not just for their prominent places in my own pop culture catalog. They really do seem like cool guys to have a drink with. My guilty pleasure would be Kelly Clarkson. I might edit that out.

3. Tell us about someone great who's *not* famous that you think everyone oughta have a chance to meet. I hang out with a 101-year-old lady every month who was a teacher for a long time and now STILL tutors someone every week. She doesn't move very fast, but she's still really sharp.

4. Do you have any autographs of famous people? I have a couple. My most prized is a De…

Critique this statement

"Most Christian arguments are a priori. Most atheist arguments are a posteriori."

Pop Culture Roundup

For quite a while, I resisted picking up Adventures in Missing the Point, team-written by Tony Campolo and Brian McLaren. For one thing, I'd read enough from them individually that I didn't think that their combined thoughts would be very novel. Plus, every time I tell myself that I've had enough of books and blogs that list off all the ways the church is getting it wrong, I allow myself to get sucked back in. In this case, they start off with a good story about a guy walking into a Home Depot and being ignored by the workers. These workers originally had gotten into business to help people and now they're too self-involved and complacent. Then they ask if the church has become the same way. After reading this much in the bookstore, I thought, " I want to read the rest." The two alternate chapters, and the other is given the opportunity to respond. For the most part, Campolo and McLaren are on the same page as self-critiquing (and thus somewhat exil…

Alternative to Hartford?

I sat at my local UCC clergy gathering this morning, unassumingly munching on a couple donuts, still waking up. The morning had come earlier than desired, so I was sucking down coffee and listening to a couple anecdotes that illustrated my own Conference's woes. Truthfully, nothing inspired me to contribute to the discussion...I was there to listen, to inhale caffeine, to take advantage of free pastries.

And then the revelation came.

It was suggested by a fellow delegate to the 2007 General Synod, and it went something like this: what if, instead of flying to Hartford, Connecticut next summer to pat ourselves on the back and have a big party to mark 50 years of UCC existence, we all march down to New Orleans and stay at some UCC entity nearby and help people, now largely out of the national spotlight, rebuild their lives? That includes our friends at Back Bay Mission, a UCC-related mission devastated by Katrina much like the rest of the area.

It didn't take me long to latch onto …


A great podcast from Chris Seay on narrative vs. memorized doctrine, myths of the emerging church, church/culture interaction, and wisdom, via Bob.

iMonk wants parents to ruin the youth ski retreat for Jesus.Sub Ratione Dei has been added to the blog list.Meg recently gave a speech at her seminary about men and women students.Dying Church is back with a cool new layout.


The World Trade Center attacks set the tone for my entire seminary experience. It happened a week into classes, which introduced to me a sense of community as we prayed and cried and consoled and ate frozen yogurt.

Sadness slowly gave way to anger and debate, as the question of how to respond and why America is hated so much took over. Along came a variety of questions about George Bush's motives for Iraq, defenses of Islam as a religion of peace soured by fanatics, how to love neighbor and enemy, and our identities as Christians and human beings in our new reality.

Five years later, I'm not at liberty to offer a long rambling explanation or reflection this morning. The media will be saturated with such things and one more, even typed with my own hands, will be like ash. At least to me. I'm simply not up for it. In addition, I'll be observing my annual boycott of television in order to avoid the pomp and bravado, the sentimentality and the conspiracy theories. I remember…

Pop Culture Roundup

So I was wandering around the local Borders last weekend, just for something to do. I had no intention of picking up a particular book, but then on those occasions I can end up taking home a bagful anyway. I perused the "3 for 2" tables and just started browsing the "New Paperbacks" table when my eye caught a familiar name and face on the cover of one such paperback. And that's how I started reading Make Love The Bruce Campbell Way. For those unfamiliar with the particular cult following of Bruce Campbell, he starred in the Evil Dead trilogy, the very mention of which causes Mrs. Jeff to roll her eyes involuntarily. At first I thought it would be another memoir like If Chins Could Kill, but it's actually a story of his experience working on a movie called Let's Make Love! starring Richard Gere and Renee Zellweger (it's not real, so you'll feel stupid if you try looking it up...I did). This is Bruce's more creative way of talking about the di…

Oh, come on...

I remember back when Christopher Reeve died, most people mourned his death and celebrated his life and the contributions that he'd made to various causes and research related to paralysis. I also remember a few critics on the fringe who took his death as an opportunity to criticize him posthumously for only caring about paralyzed people after he became one himself. Well, sometimes that's just how it works: until you've experienced something for yourself, you may not think about becoming an activist for or against it. That's common sense.

So while it came as a surprise that someone would take "The Croc Hunter" Steve Irwin's death as a similar opportunity for criticism, it shouldn't have. Enter Germaine Greer, who comes off sounding like the battiest of moonbats as she goes environmental on someone celebrated as being quite an environmentalist.

What seems to have happened on Batt Reef is that Irwin and a cameraman went off in a little dinghy to see what t…

Ice Age 2: Christian Meltdown

A couple people have asked me where to find my Wittenburg Door article online. Well, the new issue must have been uploaded today, so now it can be found at this link:

Ice Age 2: Christian Meltdown

Hopefully, less over-the-top, more subversive material to follow.

GalPals Driving Meme

I found these questions hilarious for some reason.

1. Driving: an enjoyable way to clear the mind? a means to an end? a chance to be quiet with one's thoughts? a necessary evil? the downfall of our planet and its fossil fuels? Discuss. Most days, I like driving. Every once in a while, an evening will present itself where I'll load up a travel mug of coffee, stick in a CD of more contemplative-yet-driven (sorry) tunes, and cruise a highway. I use driving to get accustomed to new music. A memory from fall that I now have is being introduced to The Decemberists while observing the multicolored trees on the way to Chicago.

2. Do you drive the speed limit? A little faster? Slower? Have you ever gotten a ticket? I generally stick to going five miles over. Cruise control is my friend. I still get a twitch in my leg whenever I pass a cop, though. I should get that looked at. I've received three tickets, two for speeding within a month of each other. The other was for the split seco…

Pop Culture Roundup

Faith of My Fathers by Chris Seay is a cool idea: three generations of pastors from one family sit around and talk about church and ministry: what's changed, what should change, lots of anecdotes. This was one of those discounted gems at Nearby Osteen Purveyor, so I was surprised and delighted to find this. The chapters closer to the beginning are better because they're about structure, style, boundaries, and self-care. When the guys get into politics and "sin," it's a mostly predictable and annoying rehash of "hate the sin, love the sinner" blah blah blah. Donald Miller of Blue Like Jazz makes a few appearances, and I find him to be the bright spot in those more political chapters, especially when he calls out Republicans for declaring themselves "pro-life" while ignoring all the death in Africa and closer to home. Seay's father doesn't come out looking too well in these discussions: Miller will give a long diatribe stating his case, …

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