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Showing posts from April, 2007

I'm Sick of Writing

I'm sick of writing.

I don't want to do it any more.

In fact, I'm so sick of writing that I'm writing this to tell you how much I'm sick of writing.

I'm using this medium to communicate to you how sick I am of using this medium to communicate how sick I am of this medium. And of communicating. With this medium.

It's time to let this blog go and never come back.

Except I will check in from time to time just to make sure that the blog doesn't disappear. I did have some good stuff on here, in my opinion.

But no more new stuff. No. No more. This is the last new stuff that I do.

This will be the last word that I write.

Except "this" wasn't the last word that I wrote.

"Wrote" is.

Now "is" is.

Now "'is' is" is.

Except those were the last two words that I wrote.

Now "wrote" is again.

Or was.

Now "was" was.

Or is.

But anyway, no more writing. I'm sick of it.

I'm gone. Forever.

Not physically. Or metap…

Day of Rest

Monday has to be my favorite day of the week, unless Sunday beginning at noon counts as a whole day. There's a feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment that comes at this point in the week just before it starts all over again.

I took a vacation week the week before last. That's why I was able to churn out all those Synod posts. I didn't go anywhere. I was just due. No more Lent, no more confirmation. It was time.

Okay, here's the thing about me taking vacation lately. I took a week last October, which was meant to be a General Relaxation Week like this last one. It never really got going because a church member died, so I became involved with everything that went along with that. No problem...I made up the time.

This past January I took a most excellent vacation to New Jersey to see family and spend a few hours in New York City. I was standing in Central Park when I learned that I had another funeral scheduled. I didn't have to cut anything short, I would …

Obama Will Be At Synod

This isn't fresh news at this point, but I thought I'd post it anyway. It's my blog, I'll do what I want.
U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.), an active UCC member since 1988, has accepted an invitation to speak at UCC General Synod 26, June 22-26, in Hartford, Conn.

Obama — a member of the 10,000-member Trinity UCC in Chicago — will speak to delegates and visitors during a special day-long "Synod in the City" event on Saturday, June 23, at the Hartford Civic Center.

Gathering to commemorate the denomination's 50th anniversary milestone, Obama joins an impressive line-up of prominent presenters during the five-day General Synod that includes journalist Bill Moyers, activist Marian Wright Edelman, preacher Peter Gomes, actress Lynn Redgrave, author Marilynne Robinson and more.

The occasion will mark the historical 1957 union of the Congregational Christian Churches in America and the Evangelical and Reformed Church, the first ecumenical marriage of unrelated…

GalPals "What Are You..." Meme

In lieu of the Roundup, here's a meme instead. Each one begins, "What are you..."

1. Wearing - Jeans and my "Evil Skull Tattoo Shop" t-shirt. And I've been wearing my Detroit hat off and on as well.

2. Pondering - "American Idol" bothered me in a way similar to the blogger quoted below.Even before that, however, I've lately been ponderinghow to incorporate more mission work into my life, as well as to continue emphasizing it where I serve. I know of a few opportunities, including a trip to New Orleans being put together in early fall by my Association.

3. Reading - Not much besides other blogs at the moment. I have Anne Lamott's new book in my possession, but haven't started it yet. Maybe later this evening when I go get coffee.

4. Dreaming - Not sure what sort of dreaming is meant here. I dream of getting away, like really getting away. I'll get to do that soon.

5. Eating - On a general level, I'm getting back on the wagon as…

There's Something Very Very Wrong Here

From Kamp Krusty...

So this morning, we're talking about poverty on the radio. Of course, American Idol's special put it on the agenda, so I go with it.

"You know, sure would be a shame if American Idol talks more about the starving, the diseased in Africa, than the churches in America. Sure would be a shame if American Idol put something on the radar screen that we didn't. Sure would be a shame if there are churches in Africa with HIV-positive people, and not enough money for ARV drugs, and they have to wait for American Idol. That would be ironic."

Then a very earnest, caller: "Well, American churches are doing everything they can to fight poverty in Africa."

Everything we can?

Caller: Yes. But we're called to take care of our own first.
How so?

Caller: Well, you gotta understand: There's only so much money, and it's really expensive to try to offer the programs we need to lure the world into our buildings. It's very, very expensive…

Dream Sequence

I had two church dreams last night.

In the first, I visited Rob Bell's church in Grand Rapids. I've never actually been there, and it was obvious to me even in the dream that it wasn't really Mars Hill. I know this because we were meeting in a house rather than a converted mall. But Rob did make an appearance, and he. Talked. Just like. He does. In his podcasts.

The setup in the house was kind of cool. We certainly weren't in a megachurch, but people were milling around, setting up chairs in the living room all facing the same direction. And there was food in the kitchen including a huge pile of chicken wings. No one seemed to be in a hurry to get started...we ate, talked, hung out. There was never actually a worship service in my dream, though. The gathering in general seemed very organic, with a special emphasis on fellowship and hospitality. And it was quite clear throughout this dream that this was somehow a church, not just a social gathering.

The second dream was m…

This Is About Baseball

The Tigers bullpen is pitiful right now. The starters have been pretty solid and Zumaya does what he does, but how many games have Jones, Rodney, and Grilli helped them lose so far? They should have won a couple of those Chicago games, but their relievers aren't holding leads.

Detroit also has Jose Mesa now. Did you know that? Probably not. It doesn't matter. He's injured. He set the record for saves in Cleveland once upon a time, and hasn't really done anything for anyone since.

Their pitching doesn't deserve sole blame, though. Sheff hasn't done much of anything for them yet. Neither has Inge and a few others. They've also been making some embarrassing fielding errors. Still, hearing about Thames tying it up with that homer in the 9th the other day was pretty sweet. And Polanco, Guillen, and Pudge are always money.

And right now they're tied for first place. So I guess I can't complain too much.

I get to actually watch Cleveland games. L…

For Instance, This One Will Go in "Blogging"

After a process that wasn't annoying, didn't take up hours of my life, and that Blogger made very efficient and easy, all my blog entries have now been categorized (or, keeping in the spirit of the blog title, "Flavored").

I thought that it was a cool feature that pretty much every other blog-hosting service had, so when I saw that the Beta upgrade offered it, I wanted to take advantage not just for new entries but for all entries.

So now you can read all the Pop Culture Roundups from the very beginning right in a row. Or every good and bad thing that I've had to say about the way the UCC does things. Or every post where I've cheered or lamented Michigan sports teams and sometimes the Indians. Or every post I made For No Particular Reason.

Check it out in the sidebar. I'm psyched. Psyched.

Pop Culture Roundup

Inside the Organic Church provides some good insight on various emerging churches around the U.S. and England, but one seems misplaced. The author seems to be stretching by including Mars Hill, Grand Rapids. The evaluation of each church concludes with three general learnings for other churches to apply to their own settings. For Mars Hill, #2 suggests to consider mid-sized malls for your facilities and #3 suggests to produce your own DVDs to help communicate to younger generations. How many churches have the money and/or resources to pull either of those off? The book spends so much time criticizing megachurches for their overspending and flashy production (the chapter immediately following Mars Hill lifts up a church using a sheet for a projection screen as a rejection of such flash and preciseness), and then offers these suggestions? Make up your freaking mind. Don't get me wrong. I like what I've seen and heard from Rob Bell and crew, but they don't seem to belong on t…

Synod Resolutions: The Fluffy

This category is for resolutions more theological in nature. I call them "fluffy" because they don't really feature a practical side. They're usually nice statements that most people get behind, and that may work in a spirit-affirming, publically declarative sense, but then everyone goes home and says, "Now what?"

There are two that fit this category: Reaffirming our Faith to Retain Our Churches and Returning to Unity and Diversity in the United Church of Christ. These resolutions are similar in purpose, the former much more detailed and well-written. So I'll focus on the first.

First, a brief anecdote from the Synod in Atlanta. At that Synod, two resolutions were presented for consideration: one explicitly declaring that the UCC recognizes Jesus as Lord and a second establishing the classic cross, crown, and orb with motto as the official UCC symbol over and against the comma of the God is Still Speaking initiative. When I blogged about these resolutions…

Notebook Excerpts on Virginia Tech

These are some thoughts that I jotted down this morning on this week's events at Virginia Tech.

...My thoughts immediately went to Heidelberg. This could have happened there--either while I was still a student or now when my brother is still a student. To put this horrible event in those terms makes...this event that much scarier. It personalizes it; makes it real to me. That's not to be selfish, i.e., "I'm glad that it didn't happen there." Instead, it's my way of sympathizing with the grief and shock being felt on Virginia Tech's campus. People across the country are grieving what happened in different ways, and I suppose that this is mine. This could have happened anywhere--that's my shock. This happened at Virginia Tech--that's my grief.

I hesitate to make sense of this in theological terms. All the concepts that I've studied melt away in the face of raw tragedy and deep pain. Michael Spencer observes in this week's podcast…

Synod Resolutions: The Practical

This category is for resolutions that address structural and governance issues, whether it's meant just for Synod or the denomination as a whole.

There are two that fit this category: Changing the Composition of the General Synod, and Renewing the Covenant with the Rural Church.

I'm torn on the resolution on Synod's composition. As it currently stands, voting delegates to Synod are elected by their Associations or Conferences and are understood to be representatives of their Conference. In the best of circumstances, delegates solicit input from the churches of which they're members. Occasionally, churches are proactive enough to send letters to all delegates within their Association or Conference with their opinions on resolutions as well.

This resolution proposes that Synod's representation be altered from Conference representation to local church representation: every church gets to send a delegate and every authorized minister is able to be a delegate. It provides …

Synod Resolutions: The Mildly Divisive

This category is for resolutions that may or may not cause divisions in local churches depending on people's level of passion for the cause. Frequently, in my opinion, there are a certain amount of resolutions presented before Synod that some group somewhere cares about and that Synod as a whole affirms because it seems right, but in which most people really don't feel invested. Some of the resolutions that fit this category this year, however, may get a little more attention.

The resolutions that fit into this category are Against Depleted Uranium Weapons, A Call to End Migrant Deaths and the US Blockade Strategy of Border Enforcement, Call for a More Humane United States Immigration Policy, Support for Immigrant Communities, and Regarding the Tar Creek Superfund Site.

I'm far from being an expert on any of these issues, so this entry may end up being kind of short.In fact, the way I'll do this is riff a few observations on the resolutions now and then spend more time o…

Synod Resolutions: The Controversial

Today I begin blogging through the resolutions to be presented at the 26th General Synod of the United Church of Christ.

This category is meant for those resolutions that may cause the biggest rifts among church members.

This year, those resolutions are A Reaffirmation of Marriage Based on the Word of God, A Reaffirmation of the Historical and Ecumenical Christian Perspective on Marriage, and Legalization of Physician Aid in Dying.

In the case of the first two, I'll focus on the second. They'll be combined in committee anyway. And I'm not going to spend a lot of time on it, because I'm bored with it. Children are starving in Somalia and people would rather spend their time on this.

First, a word on the scriptures this resolution uses. Particularly for opponents of same-sex marriage, the issue is how the Bible is authoritative. This resolution acknowledges that, and I agree. Accusations fly over this issue more about whether people are correctly following "what the Bib…

My Notebook Fixation

I'm one of those people who loves keeping notebooks.

I didn't realize that the "one of" phrase applied to the word "notebooks." I know lots of people who keep diaries and journals. I know less who like to keep sketchbooks or who like to scrapbook or who keep a book around for writing down lyrics or poetry. And I know lots of people who clutch their calendar books to their chests like life preservers.

What I mean is that I like keeping notebooks. Sure, I mainly use them to journal nowadays, but I just like to have a notebook around. I get all giddy when I go into Staples or when I see the journal selection at Barnes and Noble (which I actually prefer to Borders, if you must know).

It all began when I was probably around eight years old. My cousin, my brother and I began a little notebook fellowship of sorts. Hm...that would have made my brother two years old. Okay, I think he came along a little later in this story. Anyway, we began filling notebooks with our …

Pop Culture Roundup

And here we are, back on track.

I started Inside the Organic Church this week. It's been sitting on my shelf, and I really meant to leaf through it. This is another book that studies and reports on various emerging congregations, but this author has resolved to not only report on success stories. Instead, his intent is to profile 12 churches and lift out a few general points from each that could help other pastors and leaders. I picked up this book specifically to read the chapters on churches that are struggling a little more. I haven't hit one of those chapters yet. So far I've read about a huge Anglican church in England and I think Rob Bell's huge church in Grand Rapids is next. I guess I have to be patient.

I know that I resolved to give up on American Idol after last season, but I haven't been able to help myself. This is something that I am ten times more ashamed of than my botched Lenten discipline. It's especially horrible because the only intriguing sto…

Resolution Time

As I've mentioned before, I'm a delegate to this year's General Synod in Hartford. Before I went to Atlanta, I blogged about the resolutions that would be presented at that gathering. Soon it will be time to blog about this year's resolutions. Happily, there aren't as many as there were two years ago, likely because this Synod will focus so much on the anniversary. Still, I'll divide these into my own categories and tackle them one day at a time.

So here are this year's categories. The texts for all of these can be found here.

The Controversial: A Reaffirmation of Marriage Based on the Word of God, A Reaffirmation of the Historic and Ecumenical Christian Perspective on Marriage, Legalization of Physician Aid in Dying

The Mildly Divisive: Against Depleted Uranium Weapons, A Call to End Migrant Deaths and the US Blockade Strategy of Border Enforcement, Call For A More Humane United States Immigration Policy, In Support of Immigrant Communities, Regarding the Tar…

Contemporary Theology

I was tagged for a meme a while ago by Chris T. and didn't know it until a few weeks after the fact. Since then, this entry has been sitting around unfinished because...well...I can't think of many books that fits the meme criteria that I've read. I've been reading so many spiritual memoirs and books on church structure that straight up theology hasn't been on the radar lately.

The meme states to list your favorite contemporary theology books. "Contemporary" is set as 1981-present. He picked three, so I'll pick three:

God, Creation, and All That Jazz - This is a book out of the school known as process theology, the thought that creation isn't finished and God is still actively creating alongside us as opposed to having it all finished from the get-go and now we're just along for the ride. Here, Pedersen uses a jazz metaphor to explain what she means: jazz is more of a free-flowing style. It has a basic structure, but the musicians know the…

Old Branches, New Buds

Via UCCTruths, I was able to catch up on the latest membership numbers for the United Church of Christ as presented by the National Council of Churches' annual yearbook. The stats aren't pretty:

21. United Church of Christ, 1,224,297, reporting a decrease of 3.28 percent.

Two years later, it still isn't hard to guess the reason. According to FWC's website, 227 churches have left the UCC since the 25th General Synod's passing of Equal Marriage Rights for All. The above stat is the largest decrease of any "mainline" denomination reported this year.

There is a hopeful side that I can see. About a week ago, our national office sent out a new flyer entitled Now is the Time for New Church Development, which sets out the very ambitious goal of establishing 1600 new churches by the year 2021. I occasionally wonder if I'm called to participate in such a thing down the road, which scares me if it's genuine and not just my ego. Regardless, this flyer and its st…

Post-Lent Pop Culture Roundup

I couldn't wait until Friday, and it's my blog and I'll do what I want.

As I wrote yesterday, I only read one book during Lent. I skimmed one or two others, but I only really read one. That book was The Last Week, a team effort by Borg and Crossan. Their primary focus is the story of Jesus' final week as told by the Gospel of Mark. First off, I hadn't realized that Mark does give an account of every day of Jesus' final week. That was a small revelation for me to start. The discussions that really stuck with me dealt with the symbology of the "triumphal" entry into Jerusalem, and what is really meant by Jesus as sacrifice. They suggest that the entry is largely satirical: Jesus on a donkey rather than a mighty horse like a Roman emperor might ride, and so on. They discuss the meaning of sacrifice quite a bit, and how temple sacrifice didn't carry a focus on the animal's suffering or a belief that the animal was somehow taking humanity's plac…

Back in Business

And we’re back.

I guess I should begin with Happy Easter. Christ is risen. It is true.

As it turns out, this little discipline of mine came with mixed results.

For the most part, it was a rewarding time that I was able to stick with. Initially, I allowed myself time on the internet for two reasons: e-mail and research. “Research” was loosely defined as anything involving sermon preparation, driving directions, and stuff I can’t find anywhere else. As such, I discovered a few things about my own dependence on the internet, as well as our culture’s dependence on it as a whole. After all, how much quicker is it to enter a subject on a search engine than to figure out the next most likely place you’d find certain information? In addition, how much more information might be available on the internet; how limited is my access otherwise?

A light-hearted example: I live in Ohio. My newspaper, thus, will not provide extensive coverage on Michigan sports unless it’s taking cheap shots (the usual Bu…