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Showing posts from November, 2007

Pop Culture Roundup

This week I picked up The Golden Compass, on which the movie of same name is based. I'd become curious after the apparent growing Christian backlash against it. The basic argument is that the His Dark Materials trilogy does for atheism what Narnia does for Christianity (but, you know, the latter is okay). So I figured I'd read it for myself and see what all the fuss is about. I haven't started it yet, but I will soon.We saw The Game Plan. I'm a Rock fan, so I wanted to. And given the time of day that we went and the length of time that the movie has been out, we were the only two in the theater. That was kind of fun. The movie itself is very much a Disney movie: very family-oriented, The Rock seems to purposefully oversell some of the sillier moments (although he oversold as a wrestler a lot of times as well, so no shock there). One thing that I finally realized after this movie is that the NFL doesn't seem to license their logo, team names, and so on for movies. I…

You're Exactly Right

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Your Inner European is Swedish!

Relaxed and peaceful.
You like to kick back and enjoy life.
Who's Your Inner European?

Three Years

There doesn't seem to be as much wide-spread common wisdom about the three-year mark of a pastorate as there is for earlier milestones. At least, I haven't heard much.

I've heard that after the first two years of learning them and loving them, respectively, the third year is when the pastor starts leading them. I think that I can look back and spot moments in which that has started to happen, moments where I've begun truly living into my prescribed role as spiritual guide for our governing board and committees. Administration is not my strong suit--or at least it's not something that greatly energizes me--so I'll take whatever I can get.

The only other thing I've heard about the three-year mark came from a colleague who observed that after three years, the tone changes: people start being more honest; less guarded in relation to you. I don't know what exactly she meant. I like to think that people have been pretty honest with me already about likes and di…

Open Forum: The Pastor's Schedule

All entries are open for comments, but Open Forum posts especially ask for discussion and feedback...

This has been a point of interest for me lately after several conversations with colleagues in ministry. It seems to me that we're all on different wavelengths about time off, which days to take off, how long each day goes, and so on. But moreso, I keep getting the impression that at least some other pastors generally regard my schedule in particular as some sort of anomaly ("You have two days off?" "How is it that every week you write about a new book?"). We're all different, so that shouldn't be too big a surprise. And that's to say nothing of church members who may wonder what their pastor does all week, even less so some of Coffeewife's non-churchgoing friends who were in all earnestness surprised when they learned that I do work more than an hour a week. I know that that's the old joke, but they weren't joking (they weren't bein…

The Liturgically Incorrect Blog

You like what I've done with the place?

I know there's still a Sunday left before Advent starts, but my view is that after Thanksgiving the decorating can commence at any time. And even then, I went right for the Christmas red and green instead of Advent purple. Forgive me, liturgy police, for I can't help but get into the spirit of things.

It was just a couple years ago that I felt so incredibly bogged down by the commercialism of it all. Here's a past entry to that effect. At that point pulling the covers over my head sounded better than a lot of the crap we set up for ourselves around this time. But this year has felt different. There seems to be some good energy surrounding the beginning of this season, and I'm going to take full advantage.

So here's first to Reign of Christ Sunday, one of those lesser-known holy days, and then here's to the beginning of Advent.

This year I think I'll start a new posting tradition that will take us toward Christmas: ev…

Pop Culture Roundup

I'm still reading The First Christmas. Borg and Crossan do a lot of contrasting between the use of words and phrases like "Son of God," "Savior," "kingdom of God," "King of the Jews" and so on with how they applied to Caesar and other Roman authorities. To me, that's nothing new but nonetheless interesting. One of the most fascinating discussions so far has been how Matthew presents Jesus as a new Moses: they talk about a midrashic story where Pharoah dreams of a baby who will be born and who will lead Israel, and that's what leads him to order the killing of male infants. This, of course, mirrors the arrival of the Magi and Herod's order to kill all male infants. Matthew presents the Magi for this purpose, because it makes little sense for God to give Herod a dream that leads him to freak out on the Jewish people. I'm liking this book. We went to see Fred Claus this past week, which was okay. The movie borrows concepts that …

Happy Thanksgiving

Sung to the tune of "Deck the Halls"


Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Thanks
Giving Happy Thanksgiving Happy!

Thanksgiving Happy Thanksgiving
Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Thanksgiv!

Ing, Happy Thanksgiving Happy
Thanksgiving, Happy Thanksgiving Hap!

Py! Thanksgiving Happy Thanksgiv
Ing, Happy Thanksgiving, Happy THANKS!

Worst Thanksgiving Ever

This is the story of the Worst Thanksgiving Ever...at least as my wife and I remember it. There are many Thanksgivings that are probably worse than this, but at least as our Thanksgivings go, this one was The Worst.

The year was 2003, the place was St. Louis, Missouri. That September I had started my time as student pastor at a large UCC church right down the road from the seminary. Coffeewife's time had been occupied for some time at a local children's psychiatric hospital which was right up her alley in terms of background and career aspirations. I think that's enough of a setup.

The church at which I was serving held a worship service on Thanksgiving Day, followed by a traditional meal in their parlor. The whole thing would start mid-morning and finish shortly after noon. Since I was the low guy on the totem pole, I was put in charge of organizing and leading this service. This was no shock to me, so I began to put the thing together. Coffeewife's reaction to this new…

Three and Out

That pretty well sums up Michigan's offense today. Attempt after attempt at short throws and long bombs, each one usually met with either the ball slipping through the receiver's fingers or Henne lying flat on his back. After the first few series, Hart wasn't even much of a factor.

Okay, let's get a couple things straight.

As much as people have been dogging Lloyd, this had little to do with him. There were the afforementioned dropped passes, the sacks, and Henne's injured shoulder that didn't seem to come around the way it did in previous games. Whether Carr retires at this point or not, this loss can't really hang on his performance. The running game basically got shut down and Manningham and Co. couldn't hold onto the ball.

The defense did their part, at least after a while. Wells did what Hart usually does, but really, the defense held the Buckeyes to two touchdowns. That's significant, I think. That's even less than Akron allowed (AKRO…

Pop Culture Roundup

I've been reading The First Christmas, which is the latest joint offering from Marcus Borg and J.D. Crossan, similar to last year's The Last Week. This time the pair treat Jesus' birth narratives contained in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2, calling them more "parabolic" than historical. They build a case for the narratives being more concerned with faith claims and presenting these through particular constructions of genealogies, birth announcements, whom they each say is invited to come visit the child, and so on. They juxtapose the announcement of Jesus the Son of God with Caesar the Son of God, and so on. This will be old hat to those familiar with these scholars' work, but still helpful heading into Advent. That's why I picked it up anyway.

We watched The Departed this past week, which we meant to see way back when it was in theaters. It finally showed up on HBO, so we settled in on Saturday evening. Matt Damon, in a rare "heavy" role, plays a guy …

The Potential for Change

Without much fanfare, I added a few Michigan sports blogs to the sidebar, and they're some of my favorites to read (and via Statcounter, I saw that at least one of them noticed...hope you guys don't mind).

Anyway, this entry was posted the other day on Michigan Against the World, and I thought that it was worth quoting in full. It's a reflection on the 2004 UM-OSU game, the game that would begin OSU's three-year winning streak over the Wolverines. I remember sitting in a nearly empty St. Louis apartment with not much other than a TV, a computer, and a cat (the rest was on a moving truck heading for Ohio), thankful that I was at least in somewhat neutral territory and wouldn't have to hear about it. Of course, then my Buckeye alum sister-in-law found me on IM and started laying it on.

The point of the article is that this game was the latest big shift in the rivalry, and that there's little reason to doubt that the next one could come on Saturday or, if rumors are…

Toot, Toot!

So after about a year and a half or so of agonizing, pulling teeth, throwing things, and a ridiculous amount of hope that at times felt really really foolish, I went into my Consistory meeting last night and said the following:

"I think I can now say that we have a senior high youth program."

It even drew a little applause.

If there's anything that I've learned about the church the past several years while trying to get this thing off the ground, it's that patience, no matter how irritating and frustrating and despicable and ridiculous it seems, is an absolute must.

Would I say that if I were still agonizing and throwing things? Probably not. But it worked in this case.

I guess that this post was to toot my own horn a little. But mostly it was the patience thing. Because that only happened by the grace of God.

There was also a "don't be afraid of success" thing and a "be thankful for what you have" thing in there, but mostly I'm sticking…

Congratulations to Philosophy Over Coffee!

This week the 2007 Weblog Awards were announced, and I have some great news!

Philosophy Over Coffee wasn't even nominated! Neither of its readers thought to wander over to give it a mention!

That means that this blog will not receive the extra couple hits that a win surely would have produced!

It also means that I will not receive any sort of grand prize in the mail that surely accompanies such an honor, like a million dollar cash prize, or an exotic trip, or a free Frosty at Wendy's! I won't even get to tell my friends and family about the really neat online award that I won and thus receive such acclaim and shouts of joy and congratulation, or at least a few bowed heads shaking in shame!

My recognition for spending hours upon hours this past year filling out memes, writing riveting original essays, and depriving myself of daylight will have to wait another year.

Nevertheless, faithful audience, I thank you for reading. Some day I will properly be honored for the time that I r…

That Time of Year

We've come to that week.

If you live in Ohio or Michigan, you know what that week is.

Lately, this week has made me cranky. Why, you ask. Because I just become overwhelmed with a sense of dread about the whole thing. Last year, I was really cranky because the teams were so close in ability that I knew it would be a nail-biter, and the final score reflected that.

This year...uh...

Okay, up until Saturday Ohio State was number 1 in the nation...again. Highly touted defense, decent offense. They've blown out almost every opponent, except Illinois. On the other hand, OSU's schedule hasn't exactly set the world on fire in terms of difficulty. They had a couple scares against Washington and Wisconsin...and Akron.

Michigan...well, we all like to remind UM fans about how their year has gone, don't we? There was the craptastic debacle that was Appalachian State, followed by the trouncing by Oregon. Although we now know that Oregon is really one of the best teams in the country, …

Okay, Pass the Crow

I will happily eat a plate of crow over something I wrote a few weeks ago related to the TV show ER adding a chaplain:


I'm all about a chaplain being portrayed as "normal." God knows clergy struggle with relationships as much as anyone else. I wonder, though...will she pray with people? Will she struggle with some of the tough spiritual questions that come with experiences in the ER? Will she counsel fellow staff after a tough loss of a patient? Will she share her struggles with others in a way that shows how draining and rewarding real chaplains find their work? Obviously, there'll be the sexual tension between her and Uncle Jesse. Oh, and she'll wear low-cut tops. I just hope there'll be more to it than that.


Basically, I was worried that she'd spend more time flirting with John Stamos than doing her job, and that when she did do her job, it'd be so watered-down so as not to reflect what real chaplains do on a daily basis.

This past week I willed mysel…

A Wedding Meme?

I'm feeling a little sappy, so why not?

1. How long were you and your wife dating before you got engaged? A year and change.

2. What date did you get engaged? April 2, 2000

3. [Question about maiden names that does not apply]

4. Any special story about the engagement to share? After I proposed, she went to call everyone she knew and I went to watch Wrestlemania with some frat brothers.

5. My In-Laws are (choose all that apply):
a. Very welcoming
b. Part of a huge family…I will need name tags
c. Not excited about the marriage
d. Divorced
e. Contributing money to help
f. Marrying off their only child

6. When did you get married? June 15, 2002

7. Did you leave the next morning for your Honeymoon? We have yet to take a honeymoon. We didn't have any money at the time and we just recently started to really make money, but now we're pregnant, so maybe by the time we're married for 10 years we'll get around to that.

8. Was the ceremony in a church? If not, where? Yep. We held it…

Pop Culture Roundup

This past week I read most of They Like Jesus But Not the Church by Dan Kimball. The title pretty much says it all: Kimball details his conversations with...he doesn't really use a particular term. Unchurched? Unbelievers? The lines are blurred a little. Anyway, he talks to non-churchgoers (particularly those under 30) who don't necessarily profess to be Christians, but who have a tremendous amount of respect for Jesus. Basically, the people Kimball talks to love what Jesus has to say, but think that the church sucks at following him. He spots a few overarching reasons that they give about why they don't care for the church (judgmental, homophobic, oppressive of women, political agenda, stifles true spiritual experience). Kimball then attempts to show how each of these are misunderstandings based on the Christians who keep showing up on TV. Kimball tries to backtrack in a couple places to acknowledge that it's more than just that (he does offer several challenges to Ch…

I Get All Political

Right, so I think yesterday's Onion article hit a nerve. I figured that it would, as it pushes some boundaries as satire is wont to do. And let me be clear that The Onion is nothing but satire, which is important. You know all the Christian panty-twisting over Harry Potter being satanic and J.K. Rowling secretly wanting to convert children to wicca and whatever? All that was started by an Onion article. So I get that when something isn't read in its proper context, bad things happen.

(As an aside, the more I think about it, the more I'm willing to bet that the Harry Potter stuff was someone with a sense of humor fanning the flames and trying to see just how big the fire would get...which would make it a brilliant act of satire. Too bad a lot of people wouldn't "get" it.)

Satire is meant to hold up a mirror to a particular aspect of society and help show its ridiculous side. When that happens, it tends to make us uncomfortable. It may go places we don…

Guiliani to Run for President of 9/11

From The Onion:

NEW YORK—At a well-attended rally in front of his new Ground Zero headquarters Monday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani officially announced his plan to run for president of 9/11.

"My fellow citizens of 9/11, today I will make you a promise," said Giuliani during his 18-minute announcement speech in front of a charred and torn American flag. "As president of 9/11, I will usher in a bold new 9/11 for all."

If elected, Giuliani would inherit the duties of current 9/11 President George W. Bush, including making grim facial expressions, seeing the world's conflicts in terms of good and evil, and carrying a bullhorn at all state functions.

"Let us all remember how we felt on that day, with the world watching our every move, waiting on our every word," said Giuliani, flanked by several firefighters, ex-New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, and Judith Nathan, his third wife. "With a campaign built on traditional 9/11 values, an…

A-Rod Receives Offer from Toledo Mud Hens

Heh. From the Detroit Free Press online:

Alex Rodriguez isn’t going to be a Tiger in 2008, but maybe he’ll consider an offer from the Toledo Mud Hens.

On Sunday, after SI.com reported that Rodriguez would opt out of his contract and become a free agent, New York Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner told the New York Times, “Does he want to go into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee, or a Toledo Mud Hen?”

The Mud Hens figured they should give him that opportunity.

Dan Royer, a graphic designer for the team, created a mock Hall of Fame bust, with Rodriguez wearing a Toledo hat.

The Mud Hens also prepared a letter that they plan to mail to Rodriguez’s agent, Scott Boras. Included is a contract offer with incentives if he hits 75 home runs per season and leads Toledo to 10 straight Governors’ Cup titles.

There is a catch, of course.

The letter includes a reminder that Mike Hessman – the International League’s reigning Most Valuable Player – is the Mud Hens’ everyday third baseman.

“We th…

It's Funny Because It's True

I'd nearly forgotten the hilarity of this commercial for MeChurch.

In other news, it just started snowing. SNOWING.

Young and Indie

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Pop Culture Roundup

This week I read American Gangster, which was the basis for the Denzel Washington movie of same name that is coming out soon. These are a series of articles written by journalist Marc Jacobson, all based on people and events in New York City. The piece on Frank Lucas--the drug kingpin who basically ran Harlem in the 70s--is longer than the others, chronicling his childhood and rise to power. It details how he smuggled heroin into the U.S. in the coffins of dead soldiers being shipped back from Vietnam, and how he'd hang out with the likes of Sammy Davis, Jr. But Jacobson also tells stories of the Village Voice losing its soul to the New Times, 9/11 conspiracy theorists who believe it was an inside job, hating the Yankees, and the love story between an escort and her pimp. These aren't hard news stories so much as human interest pieces, and they're fascinating glimpses into the weird, complicated, unique world of New York City.

On Halloween, the Sci-Fi Network had its second…

Post-Halloween

So this year, the Coffeehousehold had one trick-or-treater. That's actually one more than we've had the past two years combined. Why is that, you ask? Because we live in a freaking cornfield and parents understandably don't think it's worth the drive for their kid to get one more chocolate bar.

The only reason we even had one was because I made an announcement before worship on Sunday. And knowing full well that we won't get many, we always make it a point to make it worth people's while: this year we picked up some full-size Snickers and Milky Way bars. "Fun size?" How is making your candy smaller "fun?" No, we go for the gusto. People are missing out, man.

Anyway, the one who did make it up (which we were entirely too excited about) was a little girl who'd just turned a year old. Her mom carried her up to the front step and had her all decked out in a little duck costume. We let her pick out a Milky Way, which she wasn't …

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