Showing posts from January, 2008

It's Almost Here

I'm just getting positively giddy for the beginning of Lent.


Let me just say that if you've never "gotten into" Lent before, iMonk's got you covered with some places to start.

As for myself, I wrote my reflection for Ash Wednesday this week (see? GIDDY~!), in which I play off of those annoying HeadOn commercials. You know the one: "Apply directly to the forehead!" Get it?

The Ash Wednesday service is one of my favorite services that I lead all year. There's a different atmosphere in evening worship, and this service is so simple, yet so meaningful. For a church this size, we get a good crowd for it, too.

Subsequent Wednesdays, we'll do our soup supper and program thing. This year I'm going a pretty straightforward route and leading reflections on Jesus' final week, based on Borg and Crossan's book. I'm especially looking forward to discussing Palm Sunday and views on atonement...I think people will be into that.

As far a…

Just Like Dad

When I was maybe four years old, I can recall a moment when my dad and I were at home together. I was just running around doing four-year-old stuff, and my dad was working on some pastor notes or something, using a black permanent marker.

When he stepped out of the room, I decided that I wanted to mark stuff up just like Dad.

So I picked up the black permanent marker and started making my own notes: a few on his, a few on the walls, and all in prominent places so that people could see them and be proud of me.

For some reason, no one was proud of me. Instead, I got yelled at and spanked and my note-taking career was put on hold.

Anyway, for some reason I recalled this incident after seeing this post, and I can't help but wonder if karma will eventually rear its ugly head.

Class Meme

As seen at Nachfolge. I'm supposed to bold all the statements that apply to me. I noticed that #26 is missing. Somewhere along the way, somebody didn't like that one I guess. I don't know what to do with this information afterwards. There's no scoring guide or anything. I guess I just need to Be Aware.

1. Father went to college
2. Father finished college
3. Mother went to college
4. Mother finished college
5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers. (Um...I guess)
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home. (My dad's a pastor, too)
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.
9. Were read children’s books by a parent.
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18. (Piano and drums)
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
14. Your…

Pop Culture Roundup

This past Monday on my day off, I barely did anything. In fact, besides eat and eventually switch on wrestling, I read The Year I Got Everything I Wanted by Cameron Conant in its entirety. I've had a thing for spiritual memoir the past few years, so I picked it up on a whim. Conant tells the story of the year he turned 28, a year when he moved from Grand Rapids to Nashville for a girl with whom he was smitten but who didn't seem to return the sentiment. The relationship falls apart unsurprisingly and he quits the job she'd helped him get and that he hates, and along the way he has a great deal of questions about relationships: to God, to others, to himself. Falling into a deep despair, he makes the decision to backpack through Europe for three months as his way of hitting restart. Conant uses the book of Ecclesiastes as his main reference for his reflections, which feature not only his struggles but also a slow spiritual awakening that takes place in the midst of it. While…

My Thoughts Exactly

I just read that Kansas' favorite Church of Psycho Fundies is planning to protest Heath Ledger's funeral.

I'll take a Large, please.

(HT to Jeff)

Books Read in 2008

In various spaces around the internets this year, I've noticed several of the other blogs on my sidebar calling to read more books. There's some kind of "book challenge" going around to that effect...basically to read more books to make up for the large portion of the population that doesn't even read one book a year.

(I tried looking up the blog that I first read this on, but I don't remember and the few whom I thought would have it, don't have it.)

So I stole this idea from Jeff Greathouse, who is keeping a running list on his sidebar of books that he's read this year. You can find mine right below my LibraryThing...uh...thing.

Being a Lutheran is Hard Work

Okay, not really.

I have to admit, though, that going into yesterday morning's pulpit exchange, I felt a little daunted by what would be expected of me when I stood up to lead worship at the local Lutheran church. With the exception of a few scripture readings, I was responsible for the entire liturgy.

Of course, the Lutheran pastor walked me through the whole thing earlier in the week. He told me where to stand and when, what prayers could be found on what pages of the Big Lutheran Prayer Book, how the communion elements are handled and served. I think that two things daunted me the most:

1. The Big Lutheran Prayer Book. I was really concerned that I'd forget to turn a page, turn too far, skip a prayer, lose my place, etc. Fortunately, everything had been marked out for me beforehand. I did turn too far once, but caught myself before reading anything out loud. And I didn't chant. I might have if I'd had time to practice.

2. Communion. I run a pretty simple communion litu…

RevGals Book Meme

What book have you read in the last six months that has really stayed with you? Why? Today I'll go with Shopping for God by James Twitchell, which details the way churches market themselves and sell their message. Surprisingly, this book is devoid of cynicism and relates observances of typical practices in the American religious marketplace from a marketing point of view. Now I recall his points quite often when planning or observing church activities.

What is one of your favorite childhood books? Frog and Toad. Any of them. I read them all the time when I was little.

Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? Do tell! The book of James. A superb reconciling of faith and practice that has been ignored by the church WAY too long. Only a superficial glance will result in dismissing it as advocating "works-righteousness." All due respect to Martin Luther, but he got that one wrong.

What is one book you could read again and again? I've read BBT's Leaving Church and Richa…

Pop Culture Roundup

I started reading Tigers Essential this past week, which is the other book that I got for Christmas this year. This is a general history of the Detroit Tigers, and gives brief glimpses into the tenures of players such as Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg, Norm Cash, Willie Horton, Al Kaline, Alan Trammell, Kirk Gibson, and into the present age. It also highlights changes to the ballparks, owners, and announcers. The book is already a little dated, as it ends after the 2006 season. It's also not particularly well-written: there are an insane amount of sentence fragments, and reads like an amateur fanboy's take on his favorite team ("And then it all went ker-blooey."). While far from a masterpiece, it does its job as a general recap of the team's history. Fun fact: before joining the American League, they were known as the Detroit Wolverines. You're shocked, aren't you?

While Coffeewife was at work on Sunday, I caught We Are Marshall on HBO. This is the movie about th…

Lent and POC

I've been thinking about Lent since before Advent started, because if I'd waited until now I'd only have a couple weeks to prepare. The usual round of activities will be featured at the church, which I'll talk about at another time.

For now, there is that matter of some kind of Lenten discipline. When I really began taking this aspect of Lent seriously, I was mainly of the "give something up" camp. I've given up TV, fast food, alcohol, the internet, and blogging, not all at once. In more recent years, either in addition or as an alternative, I've added a spiritual discipline of some kind, usually a routine prayer time. A few years ago I took on the discipline of lectio divina and made my way through two of the Gospels, which I found quite meaningful.

This year, on the one hand, I'm taking a pretty traditional route and giving up fast food, because it just needs to happen. But I also wanted to add something. The more I thought about what I wanted to …

Lutheran for a Day

This Sunday, my ministerial association is going to have its second annual pulpit exchange, and this year I'm heading to the Lutheran church, of the ELCA variety. I've actually been to a service there once before, when the previous pastor was about to begin another call in Chicago. I'd wanted to see him in action before he left, as I thought he was a pretty cool guy. For starters, he was a Michigan grad, but he'd also helped make my ordination ecumenical. So anyway, I kind of have a feel for what to expect when I roll in to preach on the 20th. It also helps that the UCC and ELCA are part of a full communion agreement that dates back to 1997. This probably helped in the decision-making as to who would go where, so I can officiate at communion.

I have great memories of Lutherans from my seminary days. Every year, most of the St. Louis seminaries would get together for a Day of Theological Conversation (for some reason, the conservative Reformed guys didn't like the re…

My Cohorts in Emergent

So last night I did something I'd been meaning to do for a few months now. I headed over to meet up with the local Emergent cohort.

For those unfamiliar with this, groups of people sympathetic to the emerging/Emergent church conversation set themselves up in local clusters called "cohorts" to talk and have fellowship together.

Last night's discussion centered around words used in church circles that may be out of place or that have been overused or misunderstood. The word our leader came with to kick off the discussion was "excellence." I shared that the word "excellence" belies a certain idea of the church's meaning or purpose, namely that we (whoever we are) are presenting a product to you (whoever you are) and we want to achieve excellence in presenting it. What this model neglects is a more communal idea of the church where we are in mutual relationship rather than some being presenters and others being consumers.

Other words/phrases we t…

Pop Culture Roundup

I was given A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly as a Christmas present, and started it this week. Kelly was a Quaker, and this book brings together several of his essays. The thought here is in some ways Schleiermachian, which only I might appreciate, but Kelly constantly hammers home the idea that one's pursuit of the spiritual life begins with an awareness of God's presence, and a sense that one is dependent upon that presence. Kelly also has a great essay about "holy obedience," part of which has made it into my sermon for this Sunday. It also made me more curious about what exactly Quakers believe. All I really know is that they started in Pennsylvania and like to sit around in silence a lot. But this book, if it is any representation, provided a lot of help in that area.

We saw Juno this past week, and both greatly enjoyed it. The title character is a tomboyish high schooler who finds out that she's pregnant after a one-off night with her best friend, …

"Meanest Mom on the Planet"

Heh. From MSN:

DES MOINES, Iowa - Jane Hambleton has dubbed herself the "meanest mom on the planet."

After finding alcohol in her son's car, she decided to sell the car and share her 19-year-old's misdeed with everyone — by placing an ad in the local newspaper.

The ad reads: "OLDS 1999 Intrigue. Totally uncool parents who obviously don't love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for three weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet."


The Internet Monk reflects on pastors' temptation to quit or to move on to a different ministry:

We all- and I say this not with omniscience, but with confidence in what I’ve learned over the years- ALL have moments where we want to just type a letter and say, “I quit. I can’t do this anymore.” Quitting looks good at times. It promises a jolt of power, self-determination and the ability to demonstrate to others the depths of grievance or upset.


I have great appreciation for people who don’t quit, even when they are strongly tempted to do so. There are honorable ways to leave a ministry or job, and there are ways that amount to nothing more than an infantile tantrum. There are ways to leave that are so hurtful, they surpass whatever unfairness or frustration the person may have felt.

I appreciate all of you who haven’t quit when it’s been hard to keep going in ministry and serving others. I’m glad my parents didn’t give up on their marriage. I’m glad my wife hasn’t given up on me…

Just curious...

Dear Honda,

How come your CR-V is now only made with an automatic transmission?


Happy Blog-iversary to Me

Three years ago today, Philosophy Over Coffee was born.

It began on a lark and its writer figured that it'd fizzle out in a few months.

Over time, the writer discovered that he was too much of an internet nerd to let it go.

Nowadays, most of his closest friends and family stop by regularly (Coffeefriends? Coffeefamily?), along with at least one colleague from his Association and one of Coffeewife's co-workers. But it also has found regular readership from fellow bloggers and loyal readers.

The great debate for him remains whether to go totally non-anonymous and what difference it would really make.

In the meantime, thanks to all members of the CoffeeNation for reading. Yes, I just coined that term now and I'm keeping it.

Pop Culture Roundup

The first Roundup of the year and still no particular book to speak of. I'm even on vacation this week. Probably next week.

We watched Superbad, and I expected it to be more like the other offerings from people associated with this film (Knocked Up, 40-Year-Old Virgin) and was disappointed. There was much less of an overall point and a lack of heart to this excuse to make a bunch of sex jokes. Maybe it's unfair to lump those movies together, but it still wasn't as good as I thought it'd be. Plus, the basic plot ("Let's try to have sex with girls way out of our league") has been done before. They attempt to counter this with a focus at times on the guys' friendship (or co-dependence, whichever), but for me it seemed forced. I'm hoping for better from Michael Cera when we go see Juno today.

We also watched Little Miss Sunshine, which had much more heart to it. Here is a very quirky family that all ends up in a Volkswagon bus together in order to see …

Some Stuff Happened

And thus I hit my halfway point of glancing across the parking lot, looking at my place of work, shrugging, and then doing something else.

Yesterday was a good day, as perhaps the graphic below indicates. We headed over to my parents' for the day for food, finally getting around to exchanging presents, and what we thought would be an afternoon of wincing through the Capital One Bowl. As it turns out, there was a little wincing involved, but all in all it was a surprisingly enjoyable game. Michigan, as others have written, showed what could have been if 1) everyone had been healthy, 2) they hadn't believed their own hype before App. State, and 3) Carr had been a little more adventurous. A strong game by everyone, including Mike Hart. My brother and I turned on him a little after he fumbled a yard from the endzone and then laughed about it jogging back to the sideline. Yeah. Real funny. The rest of the evening was spent playing various games including the most vicious game of Cat…



Ten Thoughts on New Year's Day

1. It started in my head and has moved down into my chest.

2. Dick Clark looks better than he sounded last year.

3. I came in last place in the Game of Life.

4. The "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" board game is a lot easier than the TV version.

5. I kick butt at Guitar Hero.

6. I enjoy Cranberry Sierra Mist.

7. Coffeewife made it home by midnight.

8. The wind blew one of the top doors open on our recycling bin, and it's really hard and annoying to shut it again.

9. At least I'll get to watch Michigan play today.

10. I don't feel no different.