Showing posts from February, 2008

Pop Culture Roundup

I started Losers, Loners, and Rebels, which is about pastoral care with adolescent boys. I don't totally know the reason I picked this up...I guess it's because I'm having a son and it caught my eye. Anyway, I'm not very far into it and I don't really know how far I'll really read. The initial interest has waned.

We watched Evan Almighty this past weekend, which was...fine. It can only be considered a sequel to Bruce Almighty due to the first scene and the fact that Steve Carell and Morgan Freeman are both in it. Otherwise, this is an entirely separate film. Leading up to its release in theaters, I'd become aware of a major campaign to introduce a study series based on the film, and the movie does lend itself to discussion on faith, perserverance, togetherness, and caring for creation among other things. Carell returns as Evan Baxter, Bruce's jerk of a rival from the first movie, who has magically transformed into a generous family man and has just been …'s it going?

Well, we're more or less at the halfway point of my Big Serious Blogging Experiment. I have to say that this has been a very rewarding experience.

First, as I mentioned before, I started writing some of these out before the official Experiment started. I wasn't sure how much time I'd really get to spend on these once I was in the midst of it. I knew that we had childbirth classes starting and that Lent is a typically busier time for me church-wise, so I wanted to get a leg up.

As it turned out, I was able to get a few legs up. Green was finished before Lent started, and I'd at least begun working on Darren. There's at least one other one that I haven't posted yet that I began early, too. Otherwise, I take advantage of days off or other evenings when Coffeewife is stuck at work.

The writing has come easier than expected. By the first weekend, I had the first four (remember that "Darren" counts as two) finished. It was just a matter of waiting every few da…

Review of "Becoming a Pastor" by Jaco J. Hamman

Hamman’s tagline is “forming self and soul for ministry,” which is meant as a continuous evaluation of oneself in the pastoral vocation. An underlying assumption with which he works is that pastors do not come out of seminary fully formed, nor are they even fully formed 25-30 years into their ministries. This does seem to be geared more toward pastors earlier in their careers, but I don’t see why pastors at any stage couldn’t benefit from the themes here.

Hamman addresses six capacities in which a pastor should be able to operate successfully. Heavily borrowing from the work of psychoanalyst Donald Winnicot, Hamman notes that pastors should each have the capacity to believe, to imagine, for concern, to be alone, to use others & be used, and to play. Each chapter builds on the previous ones, utilizing concepts introduced from one to the next in order to show how interrelated these are. In that regard, Hamman seems to be an appreciator of how complex the individual is.

Behind the stri…

Pop Culture Roundup

I finished Becoming a Pastor, and the full review will be coming forthwith. In the meantime, I started The Lost Apostle by Rena Pederson this week, which focuses on the mention of Junia as being "outstanding among the apostles" in Romans 16. Pederson is on the hunt for more contextual information about her, as well as some historical background on the lack of emphasis placed on her. She drudges up some of the usual culprits, the chief of which being anti-egalitarianism in the church. In the very first chapter, Pederson explores what it meant to be an apostle and whether Junia could really be considered one. Some argue against her being considered an apostle, arguing that it may have been used as a more general term ("messenger") in her case. For my own part, the entire argument on either side assumes a special group of people known as The Apostles proper, which seems to be rooted more in church tradition. While we have the Twelve set aside, there are allusions in s…


While I was in college, I joined a fraternity. A lot of people who have never been in a fraternity or sorority wonder what possibly could have possessed me to do such a thing. In fact, I surprised myself the day I seriously began considering it. My experience of this consideration happened because two members lived across the hall from me my freshman year, I’d come to know a few others through my involvement with the Athletic Band and a few others through campus ministries. Essentially, I started relationships with a lot of the guys before I pledged, and as a result going through the process became a real possibility after a while. I got to know them first, and wound up pledging because of that.

That isn’t the full explanation, but it chiefly boils down to relationships that I had beforehand. That still isn’t enough for some, but I can't really call that my problem. Nevertheless, I'll tell you this story.

I pledged with three other guys. Ian was my best friend in college, with a…

It's been too long...


Stupid 123 Book Meme

Since everyone else is doing it, and I felt left out and/or had nothing better to do with my Sunday. And I officially lifted it from Even the Devils Believe, but you can find this meme on maybe half the blogs on my sidebar...

1. Grab the nearest book (that is at least 123 pages long).
2. Open to p. 123.
3. Go down to the 5th sentence.
4. Type in the following 3 sentences.
5. Tag five people.

Okay, this comes from Edith Hamilton's Mythology:

"Still, when the great Queen of Olympus begged for her aid, she was awed and promised to do all she could. Together they planned that Aphrodite's son Cupid should make the daughter of the Colchian King fall in love with Jason. That was an excellent plan--for Jason."

Aw, and it's all Valentine's Day-ish. Or whatever.


Pop Culture Roundup

I'm still working my way through Becoming a Pastor, and again, I'm saving it for one of my "essays." Suffice it to say, it's very good.

I watched The Family Stone this week, featuring a very notable cast. Sarah Jessica Parker plays an uppity career woman who joins her boyfriend's family for Christmas, and has a lot of trouble finding acceptance. For the first half of the movie or so, I did feel bad for her. But there comes a point where sympathy for her evaporates and you begin seeing that the family is protective of their own, and for some good reasons. And apparently Diane Keaton contracts herself to have at least one over-the-top melodramatic moment per movie now. There also ends up being a love quadrangle or something, which was annoying after the one brother spends most of the movie sticking up for Parker's character and taking pains to get his family to give her a fair shot. All in all, an interesting exploration of family dynamics and how an outside…


Since it’s Lent, I’ve been thinking a lot about atonement. If there was any time of year appropriate for thinking about atonement, it’d be now. Right?

Let’s get it out of the way up front: it’s been a long time since I’ve believed that atonement is as simple as saying, “Jesus died in my place on the cross for my sins and now God isn’t mad at me any more.” For one thing, when the New Testament talks about Jesus being a sacrifice, the writers don’t have an idea of substitution. When animals were sacrificed, it was never understood that they were dying in someone’s place. They were understood to maintain or repair a relationship with God, but not in the sense that the animal is being punished in someone’s place.

Second, boiling Jesus’ life purpose down to his death is way too minimalistic. It shortchanges everything that he taught about the kingdom of God and approaches those teachings as just some nice ethical things that he said to pass the time. Once one starts delving into some of thos…

Lent Meme

Sundays don't count. This comes from the GalPals.

1. Did you celebrate Mardi Gras and/or Ash Wednesday this week? How? In addition to what I'm doing on this blog, I've given up fast food. So on Tuesday for lunch I had a large Whopper meal from Burger King. That's as Mardi Gras as it got. I led a service on Ash Wednesday, scant in attendance but meaningful nonetheless.

2. What was your most memorable Mardi Gras/Ash Wednesday/Lent? My freshman year of college, when I first started reading stuff about the historical Jesus and had my faith world turned upside down. I'd joined a friend in giving up TV that year, so there was plenty of extra time to read and reflect. Ever since then, I've associated Lent with heavy reflection and usually giving up something that'll mean something.

3. Did you/your church/your family celebrate Lent as a child? If not, when and how did you discover it? We celebrated it as much as anyone else. My brother and I always gave up something l…


Let’s start from the beginning.

This is one of the many thoughts that I have as I sit at the edge of the double bed in what will eventually become the nursery. The transformational process has been a very gradual one: the walls had been painted a light green color even before we knew we were pregnant. A completed changing table stands along one wall, the deep brown of the wood adding a certain refinement that will be completely contradicted by its use. Against that same wall leans a tall flat box containing the pieces of a crib. It will match the table once it is assembled, but that task will not be tackled until the very bed on which I sit is removed from the room. We’ve really just been putting it off. We’re either ignoring it, or we’re that lazy.

I am sitting in this room, as I so often do, because here the feeling of impending, unavoidable change is the thickest. This will be the hub of the baby activity. The walls, the changing table, and the sheep light switch cover all tell me so…

Pop Culture Roundup

Posted early. First "essay" comes tomorrow. Rock on.

I've been reading Becoming a Pastor by Jaco J. Hamman. I was sent a promotional poster for it in some UCC mailing or another and wanted to check it out. I'll treat this to a full review as one of my Big Serious Blogging Experiment "essays," so that's all I'll say about it for now.

I saw the movie Breach recently, which is based on the true story of Robert Hanssen, a rogue FBI agent eventually caught for betraying Bureau information to Russia. The underrated Chris Cooper plays Hanssen, a devout Opus Dei Catholic who feels vastly underappreciated in his position. Ryan Philippe plays Eric O'Neill, another agent taken on as Hanssen's clerk, secretly working with the investigation to catch Hanssen in the act. The movie is not for those expecting car chases and gunfights, who I imagine are the same people who complained about "slower" episodes of The Sopranos. This is much more of a char…

I'm sorry, I just had to...


Pre-Lent Final Thoughts

Update: this post originally stated that this would begin the first full week of Lent, but I changed that. This starts on Ash Wednesday, as it properly should.

With the beginning of Lent on Wednesday comes my Big Serious Blogging Experiment. For the next six weeks, I shall bear down and treat this place like an online magazine, whereby I shall put more effort into what you read here, and then later perhaps submit some of them to real magazines.*

My general guidelines are as follows:

~Between 800-1000 words an "essay."
~10 "essays" total, which doesn't seem like a lot, but I'm thinking that this is really going to take a lot of time and energy.
~If I exceed that goal, good for me.
~The Pop Culture Roundup will still appear every Friday, if for no other reason than to give us all a break.
~Always put "essay" in quotes, because I don't think they'll really qualify as "essays." I don't know what they'll qualify as.
~Around the halfwa…

How'd They Find Us?

This afternoon, we had a voicemail on our home phone. It was a recorded message from Jean Carnahan urging us to vote for Barack Obama in Tuesday's primary.

The problem is that Carnahan is a former Senator from Missouri, and was talking about Missouri's primary.

We haven't lived in Missouri for three years.

Pop Culture Roundup

I recently finished A Private History of Awe by Scott Russell Sanders, which is a memoir that largely takes place during the 1950s and 60s but occasionally jumps forward to the present day. The author shares his experiences of growing up first in Tennessee and then on a military base in Ohio. Later on, he shares his life while studying at Cambridge, and his reactions to some of the great events of that era including the assasinations of both Kennedys and King, Vietnam, and the civil rights movement. These events greatly shape the author's stances on equality and pacifism, on patriotism and religion, on how he views his home country. A particular point of interest for him is how this all relates to the stories of Jesus with which he grew up: he tries to reconcile what he's learned in the church with hearing white pastors denounce racial equality or reading about the ongoing conflict overseas. He strives to wrap his head around MLK's assasination in particular in light of wh…

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