Showing posts from September, 2007

Coffee Quiz...Over Coffee

You are a Black Coffee
At your best, you are: low maintenance, friendly, and adaptable

At your worst, you are: cheap and angsty

You drink coffee when: you can get your hands on it

Your caffeine addiction level: highWhat Kind of Coffee Are You? HT to LutheranHusker

Pop Culture Roundup Redux

I didn't think that this post got a fair shake since I originally posted it Thursday night and then did the meme Friday morning. There's some good stuff in this one. Enjoy.

I picked up Scot McKnight's The Real Mary after deciding that I needed some fresh material heading into Advent. McKnight is very clear that he's gearing his book toward evangelicals, and for the particular purpose of reclaiming Mary for the Protestant tradition. As such, he argues against Catholic positions that downplay or eliminate, for instance, her capacity to sin or her sexuality. Moreso, he argues against the sentimental creche scenes where she sits pious, quiet, and submissive. McKnight points out that by accepting God's role for her, she was taking a huge social risk far beyond a few rumors: a single-mother household carried a lot more stigma and socio-economic difficulty back then. He also points out how the political language of the Magnificat might have sounded to Herod had he heard it…

The End of the Meme

1. Best ending of a movie/book/TV show - I'm going with The Sixth Sense. Not the whole twist where we look back and are all like, "Whoa! How did I not see that?" or whatever. I mean the very end, where he's saying goodnight to his wife and there's that subtle shot of the wedding video before the screen goes black. That kicks my ass every single time, man.

2. Worst ending of a movie/book/TV show - I didn't really dig the ending of The Last Kiss with Zach Braff. He sits on the porch forever waiting for her to let him in so they can work things out, andthenshefinallydoestheend. I expected better things from him.

3. Tell about a memorable goodbye you've experienced. When I visited my grandma on the way back from General Synod. We pretty much knew that this would be the last time we'd be able to see her, and so I got up really close to her ear and thanked her for loving me and for helping provide opportunities for me that I might not have had otherwi…

Sometimes I Get Tired, Too

Greg doesn't have a lot of energy right now. He's gone through a "faith detox" sort of thing lately, where he now declares that he's not a Christian if being a Christian means adhering to what he sees as a ridiculous series of statements. From what I read from him, he's been a longtime critic of most church practices that take away from the essence of discipleship; that needlessly pile on or cater to the whims of a comfortable, consumerist middle-class lifestyle. More recently, he's gotten dissatisfied with beliefs in substitutionary atonement, the Bible as infallible God-bestowed document (which includes accounts of genocide, slavery, divine pettiness, etc.). It's not that he just recently gave up these things...he gave them up quite a while ago. He's gotten tired of arguing for broader thinking on these themes, and finally gave up.

(Understand that I mean "gave up" in a burned-out sort of way, and not in any sort of way that sought an e…

Over/Under on How Much Actual Chaplaincy She Does?

HT to Songbird:

Nearly two seasons after her character's demise on the hit series 24, Reiko Aylesworth becomes the latest addition to the ER franchise. According to TV Guide's Michael Ausiello, the actress has signed on as part of the medical drama's 14th season.

Reiko Aylesworth became a household name as the tough and stoic Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) agent and eventual boss, Michelle Dessler for four seasons of 24. She will next play the new chaplain of County General on the long-running and multi-awarded ER.

Though tasked with administering to the spiritual needs of the patients, doctors and staff of the hospital, Aylesworth's character won't be hiding beneath a habit or bound by dogmatic laws on romance and celibacy. ER's new preacher will be permitted to lead a normal life including the use of provocative attire and the freedom to engage in the nuisances of modern dating. She is poised to provide color to the romantic life of John Stamos' Dr. Tony Gates…

A Review of Take This Bread by Sara Miles

There are plenty of conversion stories that we have access to in books and the internet. They may or may not feature the life pre-conversion, which is typically screwed up, drugged up, sexed up, with lots of other bad habits. Then the moment of conversion happens, and in this stereotypical story the habits disappear and the person becomes a deacon or something.

Sara Miles does share her story pre-conversion, which is exciting but not necessarily a tragedy. The conversion moment is better described as a process. And she actually does become a deacon, but not the deacon one would expect.

Miles tells of her life before converting to Christianity. Raised in an atheist home, she finds little to no sympathy for religious causes. She hints that this is, at least for her mother, a rebellion against her own religious upbringing. There is not much of an overtone that her household was an "active atheist" home...that is, one that taught her to go out of her way to disprove God, join the …


Mediocrity never felt so good.

I'm really digging Ryan Mallet. I vote he starts the rest of the year. Maybe that'd be too much. But he runs. Michigan has a quarterback who...runs. I...uh...excuse me...I promised myself I wouldn't tear up...

Anyway, Hart did his thing and UM's defense had somebody to knock around for the second week in a row. Basically Henne transferred to Penn State for the day.

But Mallet, man. He didn't carry the team by any means yesterday, but he hit his receivers and even ran in the first touchdown. He RAN IN the first touchdown. He SCRAMBLES. He's AWESOME. The future looks promising in that regard.

Snippet of conversation:

Coffeewife: So, who do they play next week?
Coffeepastor: Northwestern, I think.Coffeewife: Wait...isn't Ohio State crushing them right now?
Coffeepastor: Yeah.
Coffeewife: Cool.

There's still a long road ahead. Purdue and basically November is going to be a headache. And I've been reminded by pieces of …

A Meme Where You List Four Things that I Think Was Meant More for Chicks

4 crushes:

1. Molly - elementary school. I went through the whole "gave her a valentine and then got crushed" thing with her.

2. Andrea - high school. Looking back, it's a good thing we stayed in the "friend zone."

3. Katy - college. After an entire semester of flirting, we went on exactly one date and to this day I don't know what turned her off.

4. Coffeewife - college. I'd basically thought of her as a long shot after a very long and winding story, but now we've been married five years.

4 Pieces of Clothing I wish I still owned (and/or that still fit):

1. A dark blue dress shirt that somehow got stains on it

2. A pair of black boots that wore out

3. My favorite pair of Structure boxers (you asked for it)

4. A Michigan tie that I haven't been able to find for years

4 names I’ve been called at one time or another:

1. Taco. Yeah, seriously.

2. Bongo Boy - play the bongos for little kids once, and they'll drive it into the ground

3. Bartok - my fraternit…

Pop Culture Roundup

I'm still reading Take This Bread, and since I'm working on a review all its own to post soon, I won't write much else about it right now.

We watched Flushed Away this past week, which is a silly animated movie about a housepet rat that gets flushed into the sewer and into crazy adventures with the rat metropolis therein. Hugh Jackman voices the main character, and there's a little sight gag about him playing Wolverine. I didn't know he was capable of comedic roles, but he does very well in this one. Other voices include Ian McKellen, Kate Winslet, and Bill Nighy. The basic plot is that McKellen is a crazed pompous frog mob boss who wants to flood the rat city and wipe out the population in order to repopulate it with frogs. There are also slugs, who threaten to steal scenes more than once. One of the things that I found most interesting was how the movie is animated: there's a certain way that the characters move that makes it look like claymation, as if it'…

So Much for the Tigers, I'm Annoyed, and What's On Tap

It's looking to be about over for Detroit. They've blown two games against Cleveland, and if it had been against anyone else I'd be more upset. And I mean "blown," because both nights they got off to strong starts and then their pitching messed everything up. And Robertson is pitching against Sabathia today, so things won't get any better. So congrats to the Indians. I'll be rooting for you throughout the postseason.

I'm annoyed. An event occurred yesterday morning that reinforced all my negative thoughts about weddings. Basically, I was all but baldly told that all I need to do next month is show up, say some prayers, and sign the certificate, and don't bother me too much in the meantime. One-half of the couple considers it a chore to even meet with me once beforehand. We had about a 10-minute argument about it. I suppose that I can be thankful that this person was up front about it. Maybe I should put a Justice of the Peace on speed di…

The Best Time of the Week

Any pastor/church worker whose day finishes at around noon on Sunday might call Sunday afternoon/evening the best time of their entire week. Whatever they'd done that morning, whatever they'd prepared for all week, it's finished. It's over, and if you've invested enough of your emotional energy in the act of preaching and leading worship, you're thankful that the rest of the day involves lying on the couch. Mine was slightly prolonged by an after-worship youth discussion group and a hospital visit, so I've had to catch up on my couch-lying.

Hey, Michigan won a game. How about that? Of course, they played a horrible rebuilding Notre Dame. But a win over Notre Dame is always enjoyable anyway. Next is the opening of the Big Ten season, and judging by every Big Ten team's play thus far, the title is wide open. Here's an exchange relayed during the Michigan game yesterday:

Mike Hart: I think we can win the Big Ten.
Reporter: Really? How do you figu…

The "I Hate Meetings" Meme

1. What's your view of meetings? Choose one or more, or make up your own:
a) When they're good, they're good. I love the feeling of people working well together on a common goal.
b) I don't seek them out, but I recognize them as a necessary part of life.
c) The only good meeting is a canceled meeting.

All of the above. It depends what group, the makeup of people, the tasks before us. But I never lose sleep over a cancelled meeting. I recognize that they're a necessary part of life...when they really are necessary. There have been a few lately that I've cancelled just because I didn't see that we had enough to talk about to make it worth people's while. Or consider the committee meeting I was at on Wednesday when we planned all our stuff between now and the end of the year, and then decided not to meet again until January. Less can be more.

2. Do you like some amount of community building or conversation, or are you all business? If conversation makes …

Pop Culture Roundup

This week I started Take This Bread by Sara Miles. Miles is a former atheist who converted to Christianity because I've yet to reach her actual conversion moment (if conversion really happens in a moment), but it centers around the act of being offered communion. I'm only maybe three chapters in, but she's detailed some of her travels and her days as a cook in a New York restaurant, always noting the food that she learns about or that she's offered while witnessing firsthand some of the events around Nicaragua in the 1980s. As such, she begins to connect the experience of food and hospitality not only with people's physical situations, but also their spiritual situations (even in her days as an atheist).

Out of morbid curiosity I tuned into the MTV Video Music Awards the other night just to see how Britney did. Um...not well. The lip-syncing was the most obvious blunder to me, as she didn't look like she was trying too hard there. People have ragged o…

Help Me Help You

I'm feeling a little worn out.

Listless. Unimaginative. A little emotionally, creatively run down.

I think it shows on this blog, but that's just a symptom. Really, I look at my calendar from here to the end of the year, and it's already all been planned out for me. Visits, a funeral, a wedding, a vacation that's already planned, a few youth activities, some other thing, and some other thing, and some other thing after that, and then Advent.

And so on the one hand I think to myself, " new projects." And on the other hand I think to myself, "I can't think of any new projects." What makes it worse is a recent car ride with an uppity colleague the other day carping for 45 minutes about how energetic the pastor has to be in order for the congregation to be excited, too. Don't tell me I'm not. That'd be the wrong thing for you to say to me, or to assume, or to imply, believe that.

It's not that I don't want to do …

The Leaders and Best

So a group of people have agreed to work together, to reach goals, to even dress similarly so that others know that they're to be identified together.

They've organized themselves. They have one who guides what they do, one to whom they look as every new situation presents itself. But this guide is set apart from them in certain ways. They have another who is more like them, who governs them from within. Others fill in in assorted positions according to their talents.

But this group isn't doing well. The times have changed. They were once the most revered, the most honored, even the most feared...but lately they haven't inspired these reactions the way they used to. They sit by, ignored, even laughed at. Outsiders have agreed that they're only good for certain functions nowadays, none of which are particularly appealing to those not on the inside.

The group isn't doing well because they're using a set of customs from days gone by. These customs were h…

Because For Some Reason I Only Write About Sports Now

Okay, so the Tigers' season looks about done unless A-Rod gets hit by a car. It'll be fun to watch the Indians in the postseason, but I was hoping for 1) more from Detroit, even though they've been keeping close through injuries and struggling pitching, and 2) a Yankee-less October for once. I suppose that there's reason to hope yet and there's definitely cause to look forward to next year for the Tigers. Meantime, I'll go ahead and call a Cleveland-Boston ALCS going to seven games with the Tribe eeking it out to face some NL team that they'll run over.

The Wolverines...are terrible. I was pleasantly surprised, then incredibly depressed that the game was being shown on a TV station that I actually get. But let's expand our discussion to include Akron holding the Buckeyes to a field goal the entire first half, Michigan State not waking up until the second half against Bowling Green, Northwestern and Minnesota barely surviving their games, and Penn St…

Screw It, I'm a @#$% Michigan Fan

Scene One: a guy in his car, driving up to a cousin's graduation party. He passes the sign that reads, "Welcome to Michigan."

Guy: (as in relief) Aaaaaaaaah....

Scene Two: same guy in the same car, driving back. He passes the sign that reads, "Welcome to Ohio."

Guy: Aaaaaaaaw....

You know, I've considered myself a resident of Ohio for 20 freaking years.

I'm a Red Sox fan who lives in the Bronx.

A Browns fan who lives in Pittsburgh.

A [soccer team] fan who lives in [rival soccer team's hometown].

I've endured it for 20 years, sometimes vindicated, sometimes while covering my head.

And lately I've been the long-suffering one. I'm not a so-called Wal-Mart Wolverine Fan who struts around Michigan in a sweatshirt when the team is doing well. I'm in freaking Ohio, where once they find out who you like they don't let up whether you're wearing your stuff or not.

So screw it, I'll wear it anyway.

I'll wear it during Lloyd's swansong…

Dark Night of the Meme

1. Have you experienced God's faithfulness at a difficult time? Tell as much or as little as you like... I think that some of these questions are going to overlap. I consider my junior year of college to be one of the darkest periods of my life: I was having a dark night of the soul, I was in huge clashes with a few other Christians on campus, and some other things that I'm not going to write about. It was a time when the question, "Does Job fear God for nothing?" got answered, I think. I still had people to lean on such as Then-Not-Mrs. Coffeepastor, who prayed for me when I couldn't pray myself, and a good group of friends who were clashing with others right along with me.

2. Have you experienced a dark night of the soul, if so what brought you through? This was, again, pretty much my entire junior year. However, even aside from all the different things that were happening that weighed me down and which certainly contributed to my crisis of faith, I'd gotten…

Pop Culture Roundup

I discover something new each time I read Open Secrets. I'm actually a little ashamed of how I've missed the way he centers stories around common theological themes in each chapter. For instance, he describes the images of the Trinity in one church window; how it seems to have God all figured out, how it seems to provide a closed and completed formula for how the whole "3 in 1" thing works...and then he tells story after story of human uncertainty and tragedy; the sorts of situations where we try to figure out what exactly God must be doing with us, if anything at all.

We watched Blades of Glory this past week, which was a typical Will Ferrell movie: talented piggish man-child falls from grace, learns a few lessons, makes a big comeback. Insert a few people you've seen from his other movies in assorted roles. It was fine for what it was. Will Arnett and Amy Poehler are great as the brother-sister rivals, and Jon Heder is decent as the other more fragile man-chil…

Church and Collaboration

Jan reflects on a book she's reading and comes up with a few observations about technology and church life:

For emerging generations collaboration is the norm a la Facebook, Flickr, and Wikipedia. When The Professional Clergyperson is a lone ranger, creating a sermon in solitude, and preaching doctrine from a high pulpit, it feels foreign and fake to many members of the Net Generation.

I have been asked some disconcerting questions by one of my high school friends in church recently:
Why do you stand up in that high pulpit and look down on us and tell us what to believe?Why do you wear that robe and collar as if you are the only educated one?Why are you the only one who gets to talk during worship?

Ouch indeed.

The typical answer may sound something like this: you go to a doctor for medical advice, a mechanic for car advice, and a pastor for theological advice. That's the Pastor as Religious Professional answer, and it's one that I and many of my ordained colleagues may …

Back From Crying in My Beer

I didn't actually have that much beer on Saturday evening. It was like half a cup, and that because the keg was really foamy.

See, I actually got the news about Michigan's most embarrassing loss ever right before I was about to perform a wedding in someone's backyard. Mrs. Coffeepastor kept up on the little ESPN ticker for me and called me on my cellphone. I don't totally get this whole Big Ten Network thing...does this mean they get all the rights to the games that I give a crap about? I mean, Michigan State was on, and I've never been into the Wolverine-Spartan rivalry (I'll cheer for them because they're still Michigan-ish...I hate Notre Dame far more), so I was okay with that.

By the way, the ceremony went fine. Their five-year-old son walked down the aisle with grass stains and dirt all over his tux, which is par for the course for a five-year-old boy at an outdoor wedding. The bride said that they plan on wandering over to worship sometime soon, b…

Just Fire Him Now


For me. For all of us.

Save everyone the embarrassment.

Today was unacceptable.

It's Michigan. Not Heidelberg.

This is ridiculous. And Bo isn't around to save him.

Please...make it happen. Take a cue from the guys in East Lansing.

No more Laloyd.

See? You've got me using lame OSU insults now. That's how bad it is.

Just do it.

Just freaking do it.

Pop Culture Roundup

Maugham is on hold and Merton was recently placed on the shelf unfinished. I have every intention of returning to Maugham and eventually when I've worked up to it I'll get back to Merton. But after re-reading Leaving Church, I decided to return to another story that I've already read twice: Open Secrets by Richard Lischer. Lischer recounts his time in his first church, a country chapel outside Alton, Illinois: the quirks, the disagreements, the Good Ideas That Didn't Work, the relationships. My mindset is just geared toward reading or re-reading these stories at the moment.

So in seminary, a friend asked me to burn some songs for her onto a CD for a project she was working on. The assignment was to write one's own creed, and she had the idea to turn in an accompanying series of songs that somehow express her beliefs as well. So she handed me a stack of songs and long story short, I burned a copy for myself just for kicks. The songlist is about 1/3 U2 and 1/3 Live, a…

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