Showing posts from August, 2009

The Michigan Allegations

I woke up this morning in the usual way. I made the coffee. I got some breakfast for Coffeeson. I turned on the TV. And since there weren't any of Coffeeson's shows on yet, I turned it to Sportscenter, figuring that I'd watch it for just a couple minutes.

And then this happened:
The NCAA, which governs college athletics, has strict limits on how much time coaches can require players to spend on their sport. But Rodriguez's team has routinely broken the rules since he took over in January 2008, people inside the program told the Free Press.

Numerous players on the 2008 and 2009 teams said the program far exceeded limits intended to protect athletes from coaching excesses and to ensure fair competition.Well, crap.

I leave most of the analysis to people who know more about this than me, and who have more time to deal with it than me. And they've made some good points, such as:
You're na├»ve if you think every FBS program practices for no more than 20 hours a week o…


Small Sips: Tornado Judgment, Death Panels

It's a sign! Or not. Michael Spencer has a lot to say about John Piper's tornado commentary, including this:
It’s an evangelical specialty to jump in and out of the scientific world view as needed. It really irks me. One moment we sound like people who have no idea what storms and earthquakes are all about meteorologically and geologically then the next minute we’re off to the doctor to get more of the benefits of medical science with no reference to God’s decision about whether we should get well or not. I know these understandings of reality aren’t exclusive, but who is your audience when you talk about a storm in language not too far off from animism and then next minute you’re looking down your nose at someone who says that grandma’s blindness is caused by demonic attack, not macular degeneration?

We’re just fine telling kids that God sends X and causes Y, but if our children are scared of that God and don’t want to cross the bridge or go to sleep during a storm we tell th…

John Piper Makes Me Rub My Eyes and Say, "Aaaaah"

Via The Paris Project, I had the opportunity to read Reformed speaker/author John Piper react to a recent tornado touching down in Minneapolis the same day that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America took its vote on the issue of accepting openly gay clergy:
"The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners."I have several reactions to this, some of which are incredibly snarky.

First, one can find theological reactions like this to any sort of disastrous happening. Consider, for instance, Hurricane Katrina and the legions of prophets who came out of the woodwork proclaiming that it was God's ju…

Pop Culture Roundup

I finished Leaving Church (again), and I've already written about that.

To get psyched for a new college football season and a blank slate for a certain team that didn't do so great last year, I've been reading Game Day Michigan Football, which gives an overview of the history and traditions of the Michigan football team. The book is slightly dated, as it still has Lloyd Carr as head coach, and the book is more of a coffee table book than an in-depth history. Nevertheless, it's good for what it is.

We went to see G.I. Joe this past week. I thought it'd be a big dumb action movie, which it certainly was, but it also strove to give enough backstory to the characters that it was slightly more than that. In fact, the bad guys seemed to have more backstory than the good guys; a motivation for their badness, which I didn't really expect for a movie based on a popular toy. We meet Duke and Ripcord pre-Joe transporting missiles filled with little tiny electronic bug…

Leaving Church

The first time that I read Barbara Brown Taylor's Leaving Church, I was pretty cynical about the whole thing. By that point, having been a part of the blogosphere for around two years and a poster on various Christian forums before that, I'd read many stories from ex-churchgoers and ex-Christians, so Taylor's story wouldn't seem incredibly novel. In addition, I was annoyed at the thought of Taylor's built-in fanbase raving about how incredibly insightful and groundbreaking and revelatory her story is, when to me it would be one more after so many others. In other words, part of me was determined not to like this book.

Of course, a point of irony that would be lost on me until later: Why'd I end up picking up the book myself? Because Taylor had written it. Yeah.

I was drawn back to this book due to my sabbatical planning. I think that Taylor's story is about a sabbatical in its own way, as she recounts her extreme Type A personality that eventually leads to b…

"Wisdom Calling" - A Sermon for August 16

Proverbs 9:1-6

There’s a movie that came out a few years ago called Idiocracy, where two subjects of an Army sleep experiment who end up sleeping for 500 years. When they wake up, they find that somehow the world is completely populated by morons.

Crowds are easily riled up and manipulated by someone yelling or by explosions. There’s a courtroom scene that looks more like a Jerry Springer episode than a place of reasonable judgment.

A Gatorade-type corporation has taken over the FDA and heavily influenced what people eat (even used to irrigate crops, and people wonder why nothing will grow).

Luke Wilson's character takes an aptitude test that includes questions such as, "If you have one bucket that holds two gallons, and another bucket that holds five gallons, how many buckets do you have?"

We also find that Costco has become as big as a city and that most chain restaurants now feature prostitution.

This future world is excessive, violent, overtaken by a handful of corporati…

Pop Culture Roundup

I started re-reading Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor, but I'll have more to write about that in a few days. I was reading All That's Holy, an account of a road trip to encounter a wide variety of faiths. I may return to it, but I've been meaning to re-read Leaving Church and this felt like the right time.

We watched Definitely, Maybe this past week. Ryan Reynolds plays a soon-to-be-divorced dad telling his daughter the story of how he and her mom met. The bulk of the story takes place in the early '90s, as Reynolds' character works for the first Clinton presidential campaign in New York City. His love life swirls between three women: his college sweetheart (Elizabeth Banks), her former roommate and friend (Rachel Weisz), and a free spirit also working on the campaign (Isla Fisher). As he tells this story to his daughter, he changes names to get her to guess which one turns out to be her mom. There's also a humorous early-'90s sentimentality, su…

If you watch this whole video I'll give you a dollar

"I'm not even supposed to be here today!"

This morning I led a worship service and preached.* Typical Sunday for a pastor, yes? Sure. However, I wasn't originally supposed to do it this Sunday. The plan had been to spend a week at a cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and by this time we'd almost be finished with our drive up. But Coffeewife wasn't able to earn enough time off for the whole week, so it was not meant to be.

I'm okay with it. What happens, happens. We've already been assured by the cabin's owners that we can reserve a week next summer. And instead of taking this next week off, I'll save that week for a week in mid-November right before Thanksgiving. I took this same week off last year, and it was a nice break before the activities of Advent. Incidentally, this will also be the week of The Game, which last year of course prompted people to tease me about not wanting to face the music the day after. It was a perk, yes.

The other thing I've been thinking about has bee…

Pop Culture Roundup

I finished the sixth Sandman, Fables and Reflections, and moved right on to the seventh, Brief Lives. Morpheus has six siblings, and all seven are usually referred to in easy alliterative format: Dream, Death, Desire, Delirium, Despair, Destiny, and Destruction, who have domain over the areas of life that their names indicate. In the previous books, it is referenced several times that Destruction up and quit, hasn't seen or spoken to any of his siblings in centuries, and everyone is pretty pleased with that arrangement. In Brief Lives, Delirium decides that she wants to go looking for him, and drags Dream along for the journey.  There's a lot of philosophical discussion in this one about identity and purpose and change.

We watched The Pink Panther this week, as in the 2006 version with Steve Martin. Martin has few comedic equals, especially when it comes to an oblivious buffoon like Inspector Clouseau. I enjoyed his performance, as I often do. But I really could take or l…

Big Fish, Small Pond?

I got into an argument on Facebook the other day with some Buckeye fans. It wasn't really an argument...I voted in this online poll "Which is better, Ohio State or Michigan?" and there was an adjoining comment thread, with such witty banter from OSU fans as "App St." and "Rich Rod is a f**." Thankfully, there was actually more intelligent discussion happening as well, and I was dumb enough to give my two cents, knowing full well what little good could come of it.

It actually went fairly well. I exchanged a few comments with an OSU fan about history not really being on people's sides when they make comments that Michigan football is dead and buried based solely on the 2008 season, as if RichRod isn't eventually going to bring in his own recruits and build up his system, and based on his success despite typically poor showings his first year at each school at which he's coached.

A friend noted my comments, and made a comment of his own to m…

You Might Be Emergent If...

Via iMonk, I found this long book quote on Tim Challies' site offering up the usual list of what critics deem emergent:
After reading nearly five thousand pages of emerging-church literature, I have no doubt that the emerging church, while loosely defined and far from uniform, can be described and critiqued as a diverse, but recognizable, movement. You might be an emergent Christian: if you listen to U2, Moby, and Johnny Cash’s Hurt (sometimes in church), use sermon illustrations from The Sopranos, drink lattes in the afternoon and Guinness in the evenings, and always use a Mac; if your reading list consists primarily of Stanley Hauerwas, Henri Nouwen, N. T. Wright, Stan Grenz, Dallas Willard, Brennan Manning, Jim Wallis, Frederick Buechner, David Bosch, John Howard Yoder, Wendell Berry, Nancy Murphy, John Franke, Walter Winks and Lesslie Newbigin (not to mention McLaren, Pagitt, Bell, etc.) and your sparring partners include D. A. Carson, John Calvin, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Wayne…

"Take This Bread" - A Sermon for August 2 (Communion Sunday)

John 6:24-35

There were so many of them. So many following, so many wanting to hear one more word, so many wanting to see one more miracle.

There were so many of them. 5000 or so, in fact. And they’d become incredibly curious about this man who’d been curing the sick. They wanted to see him do it again, not sure what it meant, but knowing that it meant something. And maybe seeing it again would help it all make more sense. Maybe this time it’d be their own father, or mother, or brother or sister or child, who’d be healed.

The crowd had been following him for so long that it was close to meal time. He knew that, and he knew that they’d need something to eat. He asked his disciples, “What are we going to do about this? Where are we going to buy bread for all these people?”

Notice that sending them away wasn’t an option.

Notice that simply telling them, “Tough luck, you should’ve brought something with you” wasn’t an option.

Notice that telling them, “Go find a job to earn some food” wasn’t a…

Tiny Dog Has Been Barking Non-Stop for 6 Years

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