Showing posts from April, 2008

Small Sips: A Christian Response to Torture, More Rev. Wright, The "Real" U-M

"An Act of Blasphemy:" Aaron at Street Prophets posts an excellent response to torture from Tom Perriello, a Democrat running for Congress in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District:Q: In 2004 as co-director of Faithful America you aired commercials on al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya featuring prominent religious leaders apologizing for the treatment of prisoners in Abu-Gharib. Why did you feel that was necessary to come from religious leaders and should they be apologizing for actions taken by military officials?A: Torture is immoral and, in my reading, an act of blasphemy against the image of God in another human being. When our leaders make the decision to condone torture, something powerful in the soul of our country is suffocated.Torture also undermines our national security, produces bad intelligence, and puts our troops at risk. The images from Abu Ghraib became powerful propaganda weapons for Osama Bin Laden to use in recruiting a new generation of terrorists to threaten our…

A Pentecostal Mother's Day

Jan reflects on a fairly common dilemma that preachers face on Mother's Day:Here's the thing: it's never felt as comfortable being the mom as it felt honoring the mom on the second Sunday in May. I go along with the whole thing because my kids and husband generously want to give me "my special day." But for lots and lots of people -- women who long to be moms, people with mean moms, people with moms who left, people whose moms died giving birth to them, moms of children who died, moms with children in the military, people with sick moms, and my own club: people with dead moms -- it's a virtual pain fest.I myself was not overly aware of this side of Mother's Day until seminary when classmates shared how they experience the day, which was certainly not the stuff of Hallmark cards.

At one of my field placement churches, I was actually told to preach on Mother's Day because everyone else on staff hated doing it. They felt the congregational pressure to ad…

Ethanol and the Poor

I'm not much of an environmentalist.

By that, I don't mean that I'm against environmental concerns. I'm simply not well-read on many of them and I probably don't do nearly enough to help with them. I recycle paper. I used to recycle other things as well, but that has fallen by the wayside.

I also need to say that I think there is a great theological basis for people of faith to pay attention to environmental issues. Psalm 8 speaks of humanity's dominion of the earth. I take that to mean that we've been entrusted with it, and we should take that seriously. Too often, Christians move the environment to the peripheries, if it's on their radar at all. And tragically, it's usually in the name of baptized consumerism or "being-politically-incorrect-just-because-I-can" that Christians dismiss these types of concerns. I've seen or heard these reasons the most.

It could also be laziness, to which I fess up. For me, that's a big part…

Pop Culture Roundup

I'm still re-reading Gilead. The main character and I both enjoy empty sanctuaries. He talks about wandering to his church before dawn just to watch the room light up with the first rays of the sun. I prefer how it looks in the evening when the sun is setting myself. But maybe I've just never tried it at dawn before, and don't have any basis for comparison. That's really all I have to write about that this week.

We watched Hot Fuzz this week, from the same guys who brought us Shaun of the Dead. Simon Pegg stars as an overachieving London police officer who is transferred to a sleepy country village after his superiors decide that he's showing up the rest of the station. He's incredibly frustrated by his new assignment: his colleagues are lazy and would rather look the other way, and the town in general has seemingly deluded itself into thinking that nothing bad ever happens there, even when it does. The film is a tongue-in-cheek send-up of cop action mov…

Small Sips: Stupid Church Signs, "Gentlemen's Agreements," Paternity Leave, Da Bard

"Small Sips" is a new POC flavor where I run down a few different stories or topics in fairly quick succession.

More on the morons:According to the pastor who put up the wonderful, loving, certainly-not-false-witness-bearing message, "Obama, Osama, Hummm, Are They Brothers?", he "just wanted to get people thinking." The problem is that he clearly wants people to think a certain thing, and we're way past that thing getting played out. So Obama kind of sounds like Osama, and that must mean that Obama is an evil Muslim terrorist. This pastor is, however, able to take this stupid notion to the next level by asking whether they're brothers. Obama is Barack's last name. Osama is bin Laden's first name.

Obviously, this guy didn't get the memo that suggesting Obama is a Muslim is so two months ago. Most people have moved on to accepting that he's a Christian, but suggesting that he isn't the right kind of Christian. Come on man, t…

Knock it off, you morons

Full story here.

HT to Bob.

People Who Obviously Weren't Very Patriotic

George Washington

Benjamin Franklin

Abraham Lincoln

Thomas Jefferson

Theodore Roosevelt


If they really were patriotic, they'd be wearing little American flag lapel pins.

Pop Culture Roundup

As I've mentioned, I've been re-reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I think that when I first read this book, I didn't fully appreciate the narrator's personal musings on everyday, seemingly mundane experiences. For example, he mentions watching a couple walking under a tree after a rain, and the man grabbing a branch and dousing them both with the water from the leaves. The narrator ties this into baptism, and how water is for blessing before it is for gardening or washing clothes. He muses about a facial expression that his son makes, or some activity that they share, and he's able to find the joy and mystery of those types of things and give thanks for them. I really like that.

We watched Ghost Hunters, as we usually do, and this week found them at a resort in New Hampshire to investigate employees' accounts of noises and sightings. In particular, they investigated the "queen's room," which is supposedly still occupied by "the queen…

My Own Gilead, Part 2

According to one study, the average stay for the average pastor in one church is 7.5 years. That's actually longer and more optimistic than some other studies I've read, which put the average around 5.5 or less.

By the time I graduated high school, I'd lived in five different communities, the longest stay being 5.5 years. One doesn't exactly learn patience or how to take deep root with that kind of life. In fact, my current 3.5-year stay where I am is a pretty average length of time. So if I was to pattern my ministry after what I've experienced, I'm probably about due to start searching for my next gig, give or take another year.

The fortunate side to this is that in contrast to my father's life as a full-time pastor, my own ministry thus far does not feature congregational backbiting, betrayal by friends, anonymous threats, and the demand to put church ahead of family. My church is wonderful for doing none of those things, so I currently have a very good…

My Own Gilead, Part 1

Almost two years ago now, I read Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. If you aren't familiar with this book, it is a novel told from the point of view of an old pastor, John Ames. John is reaching the end of his life, yet with a younger wife and 7-year-old son, and the book is meant to be a series of thoughts that John is writing for his son to read when he is older. They are thoughts that range from his own experiences growing up to some theological musings to his love for the church to his jealousy of another man he perceives moving in on his wife to regret that he feels caring for his church at the expense of his family.

I'd originally wanted to make it a point to reread this book every year as a sort of testament to how much I enjoyed it the first time and as a way to pick up on things that I'd missed. I never did get around to doing this in 2007, although I did remember to take it with me to General Synod so that I could get Robinson to sign it.

Just today, in between bidd…

I Promise POC Won't Turn Into a "Baby Blog"

So being a dad is awesome. There. I said it.We began the final stage of our pregnancy journey about 3:00 on Thursday morning, and it was certainly not the mad rush that I was expecting. Coffeewife's contractions were becoming unbearable, which eventually ruled out a natural birth for her. Looking back, if she'd elected to stay on the natural route, she'd have been cramping, contorting, and vomiting for around 15 hours. I left her in severe pain when they did the epidural, and came back to her all curled up under the sheets in bed, as peaceful a look on her face as I'd ever seen.

The actual childbirth part lasted only a little over an hour. Again, she did very well, and we had a wonderfully encouraging midwife and nurse overseeing everything. And then Coffeeson appeared. There wasn't a baby, and then suddenly there was. And he was ours. And he was cold and cranky. All 8 pounds, 3 ounces of him was writhing, craving the warmth he'd just left. All fou…

Moving Meme

HT to Nachfolge. Further thoughts on fatherhood eventually.

1. How many times have you moved? When was the last time? 9 times, not counting to and from college each year. The last time was in November 2004 when we moved from our freaking sweet St. Louis apartment into the parsonage of my current church.2. What do you love and hate about moving? I love nothing about moving. I have more stuff than I think I do, I don't have enough boxes, I put too much into one box and can't lift it or I waste space in another box, the house begins to feel like an empty shell as things are carted out and if I still have to live there in that state for a while longer, there's a certain melancholy that hangs over everything. In conclusion, moving has been, is, and always will be a pain in the ass. If I could name anything about the moving experience that I do love, it'd probably be the excitement of moving into a new place. Unless that place sucks. And a few places I've moved t…

Blog Babies

If you scroll through the blogs on my sidebar, it seems that we have a baby boom going on.

Katherine just had one.

Lutheran Husker just had one.

LutherPunk just had one.

Bob is expecting.

Scott is expecting.

As for us? Well, we're fairly certain that we're in the early labor stage.

Stay tuned.

Wii's New Little White Thing That You Stand On

This Isn't Right

This past week, the first week of the regular baseball season, the Tigers were swept by the Royals.

The Tigers. Were swept. By the Royals.

The Tigers. Were swept. By the Royals.


Now, let's face it. Over the past 2-3 years, the Royals have been slowly climbing out of the basement of futility. They've got a few solid hitters and pitchers who have found their form lately and have been trying to build something around them. This actually has little to do with the Royals at all.No, wait. It has a little to do with them:"In spring training this year, we had the will to get better -- a conscious effort to play the right way," catcher John Buck said. "It's carried over now against Verlander. If you can continue to have good at-bats against him, you can tire him out."I'm not about to analyze whether the Royals are in Verlander's head. I hope not. I do think that there's a mental problem here, which I'…

Pop Culture Roundup

I finished Jesus for President this past week, and I don't have much to add from last week. I will mention that people wanting to lump Shane Claiborne in with the emerging church movement are greatly mistaken. This book makes the case for Christianity functioning best as a radical counter-cultural movement. He tells multiple stories about what loving your enemies really looks like, including a few about his and others' experiences in inner-city Philadelphia with muggers and bullies. He makes frequent references to people who want to make Christianity relevant (a hallmark of emerging/emergent philosophy) and argues that they have it all wrong; that instead, when Christians move on the margins and live out among the poor, the outcast, and serve them as disciples, they are truly being what Jesus wants them to be. Claiborne isn't interested in relevance in the sense that he wants to make church forms and theology credible for postmoderns. He's interested in relevance…

"Why is THAT blog on your sidebar?"

Shortly after I started the United Church of Christ Blog Network, I received a request from one member to remove her blog from the list. I didn't need to ask why, as she made her reasons very clear. Her chief reason had to do with the inclusion of a certain other UCC-related blog with which she had strong disagreements. She stated that she did not want to be associated with this other blog, and thus wanted to remove her membership.

It probably isn't tremendously difficult to guess which blog she was talking about. In fact, it is listed on my sidebar as well. And I've occasionally fielded questions from visitors as to why I include it. Others, as noted back during the UCC Commercial Leak That Wasn't A Leak, seemed to want to associate my blog more closely with it; wanted to make my blog part of the Unloving Critic Conspiracy and so on. Well, the reason for my continued inclusion of this blog, as with any other blog on my list, is not necessarily that I'm in lo…

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