Showing posts from January, 2007

Wait...this is a real thing that happens?

From Lutheranchik:

Overheard conversation here in Outer Podunk:

"I ain't votin' fer no one named Obama, 'cause that sounds too much like Osama."

Welcome to my world.

Are you kidding me?

Someone told me that people might dismiss Obama for this reason, and I said, "There's no way that'll work. People aren't that irrational."

Okay, then. Apparently I'm wrong.

Catching Up

I had a dream last night. Looking back I can recall snippets of events and conversations that contributed to the combination of images and participating characters. In this dream I was at my grandparents' house. Most of the dream actually took place in the basement, and it was one of those moments where I clearly was not in my grandparents' basement but in my dream I knew it was my grandparents' basement. This basement had a lot more room and was free of clutter. In fact, I don't even remember a furnace or laundry appliances. Anyway, there was a drum set off to one side, and other people setting some things up. And why? Because we were about to have a worship service. And we were expecting lots of people. Apparently I had started a church in my grandparents' house and they didn't mind.

One way that no one really wants to start off their year is by officiating at two funerals in the same month. The second one is this afternoon...the second-oldest membe…

Pop Culture Roundup

I've never read Frederick Buechner before, so I figured that it would be cool to start. I've seen him mentioned in numerous places as an exceptional preacher, so I wanted to see for myself. I picked up Secrets in the Dark, and the first thing that struck me about it was the compilation of blurbs on the back cover by Brian McLaren, Will Willimon, Max Lucado, and Rob Bell among others. That's a fairly impressive range, I think. Anyway, this is a collection of Buechner's sermons that spans his entire career. I'm reading a sermon a day, using it as kind of a devotional tool. I have to say that as I've evaluated my own approach to preaching as something that needs to be accessible and personable, I soon noticed that Beuchner's style is much more poetic, and a little thick for people who would have to process it by hearing rather than reading. There's nothing wrong with some poetry to one's preaching, but Buechner can lay it on pretty heavily and I might …

I Think We're Back

I think.

If so, I'll post a belated Pop Culture Roundup a little later to celebrate.

Not Intentional

I've been having issues with Blogger this past week.

Maybe my being able to post this message is a sign that said issues are resolved.

But I'm not going to hold my breath.

Foosball is of the Debbill

I stayed up last night to watch the end of the Colts/Patriots game. Earlier I kept flipping back and forth from the Bears/Saints to whatever else I was watching.

Here's the thing: I don't really like pro football that much. It might be because I was born near Detroit and now live near Cleveland, so there simply hasn't been anything for me to like. Barry Sanders and Bernie Kosar are long gone. When I lived in St. Louis there was more excitement. My first year there I got to experience what it was like to attend a Super Bowl party that involved actually rooting for a participating team. They lost, by the way.

Regardless, now we're set for two teams from neighboring midwestern states to play in a ridiculous spectacle that will suck in casual fans and even non-fans like moths to a flame. Usually my friends and I talk while the game is on and then watch the commercials. Except last year, I watched with a Steelers fan, so the rest of us talked and he watched.

But none o…

Christian Unity Sunday

Did you know that we're in the midst of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity? My UCC desk calendar has it marked down, but I've never really observed it in an official capacity. But there's a first time for everything, so this year I'm doing something extra special.

I'm going to go be United Methodist.

Okay, so I'll really just be a UCC pastor in a UMC church. And it'll only be for an hour or so. And when you really think about it...will I be UMC by virtue of being in a UMC church, or will they be UCC by hosting a UCC pastor? Probably neither.

This is all to say that my Ministerial Association is playing Preacher Swap this Sunday to celebrate Christian Unity. The tragedy is that not every church in our area is participating either because of polity issues or because they just aren't a part of our group. So for our situation, I guess that a more accurate term for the week might be Week of Prayer for Mainline Protestant Unity. It's a start, I guess.

So …

Pop Culture Roundup

I started The Misunderstood Jewby Amy Jill Levine this week. Levine is a New Testament scholar and a Jew, which ensures that she'll provide a unique perspective. She spoke at Eden while I was there and many of us were struck by both her scholarship and her feistiness, so when I saw this book I wanted to take a look. Levine explores Jewish-Christian relations as it pertains to the figure of Jesus. In the introduction she suggests that both groups could learn something from the other about him: Christians could gain a better picture of Jesus' Jewishness (as well as an appreciation for its importance) from Jews, and Jews can better understand why he's seen as the central figure of Christianity. After a treatment of the Gospels through Jewish lenses, Levine moves on to the early arguments in the early church concerning who is in and who is out. She shares that gentiles actually fell into subcategories for Jews including "resident aliens" and "righteous gentiles,…

An Alphabet Meme (Yaaaaaay...)

'Cause I'm bored.

A. Available or Married? Married

B. Best friend? Mrs. Jeff, The Masked Doctoral Student, my brother

C. Cake or pie? Cake. Duh.

D. Drink of choice? In the morning, coffee. In the evening, a nice cabernet

E. Essential item? Bible.

F. Favorite color? MAIZE AND BLUE

G. Gummi bears or worms? Assuming you mean gummi worms...worms

H. Hometown? C'mon, this blog is semi-anonymous

I. Indulgence? Books. Lots and lots of books.

J. January or February? This is actually a tough one. I have two big anniversaries in January, but my birthday is in February. I'll be self-involved and go with February.

K. Kids and names? Two kids eventually (sooner than later, actually)...but I'm not telling you their names because for one thing they've been met with nothing but criticism from my in-laws and for another our selected boys' names both showed up on the 2006 Most Popular list...which is crap.

L. Life incomplete without? Music, wine, and true love

M. Marriage da…

Here's a Meme

Thanks, Erin...I think.

1. If you had to choose one vice in exclusion of all others what would it be?I'm gonna have to go with coffee for this one. The amount I drink and how much I enjoy makes sense.

2. If you could change one specific thing about the world what would it be?Just one? Okay...I'd want people to be a lot less focused on themselves...preoccupied with their own comforts while others go without food, shelter, love.

3. Name the cartoon character you identify with the most.I've always identified with Charlie Brown. He wants to do the right thing and he either screws it up or he doesn't express it well.

4. If you could live one day in your life over again which one would it be?Okay, I know that one route a lot of people take for this sort of question is, "Oh, I wouldn't be the person I am today if such-and-such hadn't happened," but let's pretend that the person asking it is threatening to kill a kitten if you don't answer. The da…

Ode to Thrift Shopping

I was introduced to the joys of thrift shopping in college. A very good friend of mine boasted that a good chunk of his wardrobe was from the local Goodwill. The variety of pastel shirts that he'd collected suited him, but they certainly weren't going to find their way to my closet. However, one can't judge thrift shopping on one person's choices alone. That was his style (he's since moved on...sort of), but perhaps there'd be something more suitable for me.

One needs to understand this about thrift have to spend time with what's there to find something good. Sure, there are a lot of plaid 70s pants and weird sequined sweaters and 80s prom dresses...but there are some diamonds in the rough in these places. Maybe you're one of those who likes to wear the garage work know, the ones with someone else's name stitched into them. Or maybe you like novelty t-shirts that are really novelties and not mass-produced by The Gap. Or mayb…

Why Bother With Church?

No, this isn't a rant or some reflective piece on what I and my congregation do day to day. It's the working title for the series I'm putting together for our Wednesday soup suppers during Lent this year. And this is my trying to process what I'm doing out loud for others to see. The purpose of this series is actually fairly simple: encourage people to reflect on the effectiveness of the church in terms of what it is and what it's supposed to be. Hopefully, it gets people thinking about the church's mission and existence in ways other than as a thing to belong to and attend and support financially.

This is the tentative list of sessions, with some books that I'll pull from:

1. The Gospel According to the Simpsons: Church and Culture - The one Bible passage that frequently turns up in emerging/Emergent circles is Paul at the Areopagus (or in some translations, Mars Hill) in Acts 17, when he quotes their poets and philosophers to help them understand his point.…

Best. Lectionary Study Group. Ever.

RLP describes the coolest lectionary study group I've ever heard of:

Then I met Cristopher Robinson, an Episcopal priest here in town. We both grew up playing baseball and were talking about it and also about sermons. I mentioned that I had been wanting to get another lectionary study group together. I was in one years ago and enjoyed it greatly.
Right in the middle of the conversation, I asked Cristopher, “When was the last time you played catch?”

“Just catch?”

“Yeah, just got out with a friend and threw the ball back and forth.”

“I don’t know,” he said. “Years, I guess.”

“So why did we stop doing that? I mean, I LOVE playing catch. I wish I could play catch right now!”

And so was born a new kind of lectionary study group. I pulled my old glove out of the closet – the one I’ve had since I was 12. I had to re-lace parts of it, but it still feels perfect on my hand. Cristopher and I get together once a week or so. We throw the ball around while talking about the passages in the lectionary…

Pop Culture Roundup

Last night I finished Seven Storey Mountain. I appreciate Merton's insights into the contemplative life...but parts of this book really bothered me. First, I appreciate that he was a Catholic. Generally, I have no problem with Catholicism. However, if you really start to break down the belief that Mary is the "Queen of Heaven," things start to get dicey. If one couples that with the language of "Christ is king," that makes for a strange theology. Second, Merton fires off a few shots against Protestantism, some of which is justified, but all in all it's in the name of becoming a Catholic cheerleader: degrade others to make yourself look better. How does he claim that all Protestants are lazy and not really committed to our faith, particularly without leveling that critique at his own church as well? Finally, Merton spends a decent chunk of the book pining for a cloistered life shut off from the world so that he can get some serious prayer and study done wit…

On Bowl Games and Obsessing Over the Wrong Things

Brant makes us laugh, then makes us feel bad:

Another University of Florida sport team played really good at their sport!

What it was was football. The University of Florida also played good at another sport, too. What that was was basketball. I say congratulations to all who choose to draw satisfaction, even self-esteem, from the good-playing of these sport teams!

The University of Florida "Gators" (They play-pretend to be alligators! It's really neat to watch!) have many people here very excited! It's neat! Lots of hoopla and carryings-on! The defeated a team called "Buck-eyes!"

In other news, the University of Illinois has silently defeated cancer.


So it turns out that the sure thing wasn't such a sure thing after all.

And now Smith and half the others are gone.

Hopefully Carr learned a couple things the other week, too.

Congrats to the Gators. And here's to the beginning of something different for Michigan and the Big Ten.

"Prove it"

I used to frequent a discussion forum that was a safe haven for disgruntled ex-churchgoers and seekers. The range of discussion there was fairly broad, and pretty much any belief was fair game. The last part of my tenure there, however, saw a shift in discussion with the increased visitation by atheist posters. In and of itself, this wasn't a bad thing. I'm not one who turns up his nose at people who don't believe as I do (if I can help it, anyway), and while I did go through the same phase that most Christians go through where I parrot any number of explanations for why atheists don't believe in God (They're in rebellion, they're human-centered, they're holding a grudge or whatever), I've found that once I let them tell their own story, these explanations and categories don't work so well.

Anyway, back to this discussion forum. Like I said, a growing atheist presence was not in and of itself a bad thing. However, for a time, it seemed that every di…

Two Years...Again

I celebrate another two year anniversary today.

A little over a month into my church gig, I felt a greater and greater itch to see what I could do with a blog space. By that point I'd become a regular reader of a few, yet was hesitant to start my own. I thought I'd write the first couple weeks, then update every few days or weeks, then decide that I have better things to do with my time.

Here's Philosophy Over Coffee two years later. How'd that happen?

I've truly come to enjoy writing here. At times it helps me process some theological tidbit or another. At other times I try to put my weekly sermon struggles into words. Still at other times I just write to complain or attempt to wax poetic or just talk about baseball or music.

This blog has led to a few published works, which I consider a big deal. It's cool to see my name in print. It's also cool to think that someone gave me the opportunity.

And this blog has led to a small amount of notoriety. Remember the UC…

A Mostly Better Vacation Week

In lieu of a Pop Culture Roundup this Friday, I thought I'd tell you about my vacation week.

My brother, his girlfriend, Mrs. Jeff, and I piled into a van to travel east to see my father's side of the family. The P.o.C. household had traveled there last January as well, but my brother hadn't been out there in years and his girlfriend had never met that side of the family. At this point, with our grandparents' health being what it is, we felt a sense of urgency about the whole thing, so we made plans to line it up with people's school breaks and were on the road.

Let me first say that driving on major highways on New Year's Day is marvelous. You are one of perhaps five other vehicles on the road, none of them big trucks. Of course, the downside of this is that hardly any gas stations or restaurants are open either. Still, the absence of any congestion or foul weather provided for quite an enjoyable (and expedient) driving experience...until we hit New Jersey, whic…

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