Showing posts from May, 2009

To-Do List Meme

Courtesy of the RevGals.

1) What home fix-it project is on your Big To-Do? Does enduring the process of building a home count? I think it should. So I guess it's more of a build-it project than a fix-it project. And we won't actually be doing the building ourselves, but we'll finalize blueprints and I think Coffeewife is planning to take the builders cookies and whatever. Otherwise, I've been meaning to tighten the screws on the some of the doorknobs.

2) What event (fun or work) is on your Big To-Do? I'll be attending the UCC's General Synod at the end of next month. This'll include stopping up to see relatives the day before and worshipping at a friend's church during. So it's very much mixing business with pleasure.

3) What trip is on your Big To-Do? Funny you should ask. I'm in Ormond Beach, Florida right now. But I've got a second big trip coming in August to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. So it's gonna be a great to do th…

Pop Culture Roundup

I read part of Unholy Ghost, a series of essays on depression. It was sitting on my bookshelf for a couple years, and I finally figured I'd read it. The book was not exactly what I expected, both good and bad. First, I picked it up assuming that this would be a series of firsthand accounts of battling mostly is that, but the writers take a different approach to it than I'd expected. I've quickly gathered that these are professional writers who have been assembled for this...the editor did not seek out amateurs for this exercise. To this effect, I've actually found myself rolling my eyes at how overdone and pretentious some of the essays seem...flourishing, rambling poetry where something raw might have been more effective. And many of the essayists seem more preoccupied with exploring themselves as Tortured Artists rather than people battling mental illness. Not every essay is like this by any means, but I tended to skip over the essays that were…

So...we meet again, Pittsburgh...

How'd that work out last time?

Ah, now I remember.

Congregational Subtext

I don't know how familiar CoffeeNation is with a TV show called Coupling. It was a British sitcom somewhat remeniscient of Friends that had a short-lived American equivalent. The American version sucked, the British one is much better paced and had better actors.

Anyway, there's one episode of Coupling where one of the characters, Jeff, talks about a made-up character named Captain Subtext. Essentially, Captain Subtext can detect what someone really means whenever they talk. This eventually leads to a hilarious scene where we're able to see and hear the world through Captain Subtext's subtext-detecting helmet.

Pastor and author M. Craig Barnes makes a similar point in his book The Pastor as Minor Poet, noting that congregants typically mean something other than what they say, and the pastor's call is to help them identify the issues below the surface. He gives an example of a couple who visits his office to complain about their new choir director, and he helps i…

"A Day of Prayer for Permanent Peace:" Obama's Memorial Day Proclamation

I never knew this about Memorial Day. The president makes an annual pronouncement that today be a day of prayer for permanent peace. Here's this year's pronouncement from
For over two centuries, Americans have defended our Nation's security and protected our founding principles of democracy and equal justice under law. On Memorial Day, we honor those who have paid the ultimate price in defense of these freedoms.

Members of the United States Armed Forces have placed our Nation's safety before their own for generations. From the first shots fired at Lexington and Concord to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, these brave patriots have taken on great risks to keep us safe, and they have served with honor and distinction. All Americans who have enjoyed the blessings of peace and liberty remain in their debt.

As we remember the selfless service of our fallen heroes, we pray for God's grace upon them. We also pray for all of our military personn…

Square One

When I was a kid, I loved the TV show Square One. This was a half-hour long educational show put out by the Children's Television Workshop that taught math concepts in a series of short skits. They'd play music videos that loosely parodied real artists (and guest-starred a few such as Weird Al and The Fat Boys), they had Mathman, a take-off on Pac-Man who would have to solve math problems while avoiding Mr. Glitch. And the last ten minutes or so of every show featured a minisode of Mathnet, a take-off of Dragnet where Detectives Kate Monday and George Frankly would solve crimes using math.

Well, for one reason or another I was thinking back to how much I liked this show, and just for fun I looked it up on Wikipedia. While reading, I learned something about the show that I never picked up on when I was younger.

Look at Mathman's helmet. Does it look familiar to you at all?

Yeah. The writers of Square One were huge Michigan fans.

Other fun facts about the show to this effect fro…

I am SO reading this book

While Coffeewife was making her nightly trek through the blogosphere looking for updates on the New Moon movie, one of her sites willingly offered up news about a parody of Twilight. A sample:
I continued to scan the Sullens’ table for another available stud and quickly found one who was nearly as hot as Casper. Again I queried Maria, this time about the youngest Sullen boy, trying to hide my newly-formed schoolgirl crush on him.

“The boy over there, with the perfect face, nose, eyes, and lips…and chiseled chin, broad shoulders, strapping chest and tree trunk arms…and that V-shaped torso, thin waist and muscular legs like that of an Olympic cyclist. And perfectly manicured finger and toenails. Who is he, and what’s his story?”

“Oh, that’s Edweird,” she said, rolling her eyes as if they were the seven and ten pins teetering and deciding whether to fall down or not. “He’s dreamy. But he doesn’t date. Apparently, even the best looking girls in the school are not good enough for him. Rumo…

The Community and Human Nature

I found this Peter Rollins interview via Kingdom Grace, who quotes a few paragraphs dealing with working against the notion of a faith community with a pastor who does things for everyone else:
For if there is no ‘group’ who cares about the person sitting beside me then there is more need for me to care about that person. If there is no pastoral support team in place then I need to be the pastoral support. The refusal to offer pastoral support thus generates a potential place where pastoral care is distributed among everyone.

It is a common feature of religious life that we often seek a leader to tell us what to do. In these situations I would argue that it is good to have a leader who refuses to take on that role. Who, by doing so, forces the other to take responsibility for themselves.

The truth is that many of us seek a particular kind of leader, namely one we can lead. What this means is that we want someone to tell us what we want to hear, but that we want them to take on the respon…


This past week, we signed the papers to build a house in the area. The projection is that, after all the finalizing of floor plans and whatnot, it'll be finished sometime late September or early October. So our first home-purchase experience is a house that has yet to exist.

This feels strange to me for a couple reasons. First, of course, it's my first home purchase. I would think that such a huge fiscal step would feel strange, exhilarating, anxious, regardless. In fact, I'm still not sure that it's hit me yet.

Second, the bulk of my home-dwelling experience is a combination of parsonages and places maintained by institutions of higher education. A continually-running toilet or a broken air conditioner has just always been taken care of. It won't be that easy any more. I know my way around a toolbox well enough, but there's only so much that I can do when something like that breaks down.

Finally, due to the terms of President Obama's incentives for fi…

Twittering the Gospel

I'm not a Twitter person. It took me a long time to convince myself to join Facebook, and I've become stupidly addicted to that. But as far as rushing to my computer to let people know that I'm going grocery shopping or that I just ate lunch, just doesn't seem like a productive use of my time. A church member recently forwarded me an article about using Twitter during worship, which I also don't get (if nothing else because the article only cited some examples, and then not very clearly).

But I've heard the question that sparked this entry more than once, including on Facebook. First, an explanation of Twitter as I understand it: you sign up for an account, then type out 140-character updates for anyone to read about how you're sitting around watching TV, or you just came back from the bathroom, or your baby just threw up on you, or whatever. But I've seen the question asked, "If you had to Twitter the gospel (read: express it in 140 characters…

Small Sips - Creative Pastor-Bloggers

I'm using this Small Sips to point you to a couple blogs by pastors who use their blog spaces for creativity. I mean, all bloggers strive for creative expression, but these are storytellers, cartoonists, and essayists. I've really enjoyed them, and I want to encourage you to check them out.

Ironically, I haven't felt very creative about my own blog lately. I think those Synod posts sapped my blogging energy or something. But I'll be back up to full strength soon.

Oh, that quirky church: I only started reading Questing Parson this year. He posts new stories almost daily about his character, the parson, and his encounters in and around his faith community. As best I can tell, these are fiction, but they usually have a message. Here's one from very recently that I enjoyed:
The cross that had hung on the church wall just above the arch at the rear of the chancel was taken down on a Monday evening. The Church Council had voted for its removal in order for a screen …

Pop Culture Roundup

I've been reading Frankenstein. I've never read it. And more people should, because now I'm wondering where all these popular renderings of the story come from: Igor the assistant, stealing a murderer's brain, the lightning storm, screaming "It's alive!" Yeah, none of it's in there. Instead, when we get to the part where Frankenstein talks about bringing the monster to life, he just says, "And I can't tell you how I did it, because then you may attempt it as well and ruin your own life as I've ruined mine." Subtle, and communicates his sorrow and regret. Nice.  And the monster is intelligent and articulate, too.

I also watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall this past week, wherein a guy feeling absolutely horrible after his actress girlfriend (in a CSI-type show that they brilliantly spoof) takes a trip to Hawaii to try to clear his head. One problem: his ex shows up with her new boyfriend, a caricature of Bono. Although he doesn…

Playing for Change - "Stand By Me"

Ritualistic Meme

Courtesy of the RevGals.

1. Are ritual markings of birth marriage and death important to you? I'm big on marking special days and anniversaries. I don't think one needs to overdo it *coughweddingscough* but a special marking of the moment can create a good beginning or ending; a formal recognition that this time is sacred; is important for the individual or couple and for gathered family and friends in support.

2. Share a favourite liturgy/practice. During baptisms, I walk the child down the aisle while talking about his/her church family and the promises they've made. I see it as a moment of connection between the congregation and the newly baptized; a recognition that we're all in this together and not just watching a moment of cuteness up in the chancel. And as I walk and talk, watching the little one's face and praying for his/her future, I usually get misty.

3. If you could invent (or have invented) a ritual what is it for? I'd like to develop a Christi…

Order my books!

Sign up for my author newsletter!

powered by TinyLetter