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Showing posts from October, 2009

Happy Halloween

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Pop Culture Roundup

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I'm still reading Home, of course. I was thinking the other day about how long it took me to really get into The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. It took me a while because I was usually reading a chapter a night at best after a long day of church/Coffeeson responsibilities. But when I sat down for about an hour one day at a Panera Bread and was able to read 60-80 pages, I felt more connected to the book; at that point I wanted to carve out time to read more. Although I'm enjoying Home, I haven't yet had that Panera Bread type of moment.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was on TV the other night, so I was able to sit down and enjoy that. My favorite part is Snoopy as the WWI Flying Ace, and his trek through "France." I don't know what it is about that part...we spend a good 3-5 minutes in Snoopy's imagination, and it has little to do with Halloween, at least directly. Of course, if one thinks of Halloween as a chance to pretend to be someone else f…

Pruning My Bookshelves

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In times of transition, it is important to consider what should survive said transition, and what should be left behind.

As the Coffeefamily prepares for The Big Move next month, I've been attempting to figure out the best thing to do with my books. To be clear, I'm talking about all my pastor-ish books. Novels, books of poetry, dictionaries, my Sandman graphic novels, Coffeewife's huge textbooks from nursing school, etc., are going to the house regardless. No, I mean all the theology, church history, Bible reference, church models & ministry, liturgy, pastoral care, preaching, and Catch-all Shelf With Lots of Campolo, McLaren, Lamott, Lucado, And Yancey That I Don't Know How Else To Classify.

A couple years ago, it made sense to move all this stuff to the parsonage study. Now that I'll be living a few miles away from the church and I do most writing at the church, it doesn't make as much sense to lug them to the new house.

Anyway, as I've been slowly …

Good Stuff

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I haven't written much about my church on here in quite a while. I never have that extensively, but I think I did more often during the first couple years of this blog's existence. Oftentimes such posts would be about the struggles of a young pastor in a smallish church in a ruralish setting. Those who have followed this blog since those days probably remember, and if you haven't been around here that long or don't remember, they're back there somewhere.

At any rate, I thought I'd write about some of the good stuff that is happening at my church, because I don't think I do it often enough, and because I think I should, and because good stuff is happening.

~In the past, I've written about my attempts and frustrations about starting a senior high ministry. The past four years have seen plenty of starts and stops, hopes raised and hopes dashed. I was working uphill from the beginning: there was nothing when I came, there wasn't necessarily a high ex…

Pop Culture Roundup

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I'm still reading Home, and will be for a while. The book is beginning to explore the relationship between Glory and Jack leading up to and after his return home. Jack is portrayed as being much more awkward and cautious than in Gilead, but I'm still at the point where he's just returned and feeling things out, so this caution makes sense on his part, particularly given what readers familiar with Gilead already know.

I'm also still reading Keating, of course, but I've finished the assigned parts before my next book study meeting.

This week, in another instance of a movie being on TV and both of us being too apathetic to change the channel, we ended up watching The Devil Wears Prada. Anne Hathaway stars as Andrea, the Girl In the Big City Trying To Make It And Find Herself. In trying to Make It, she takes a job at a fashion magazine working as second assistant to Meryl Streep's Miranda, an icy dragon of a woman who sends her on ridiculous near-impossible erran…

"The Sound of Church"

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An old friend called this afternoon. We caught up on everything we'd missed about each other since we last talked: careers, family, he talked about conflict resolution initiatives he was helping with around his city, I talked about our new house and Coffeeson. And then he mentioned that he and his wife had started attending a Unitarian Universalist church.

I was surprised, but I wasn't. I've compared him before to Larry in W. Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge, whose travels around the world lead him to explore multiple facets of human existence, including faith and truth. I even gave him a copy of the book for his birthday one year.

He described his reasons for attending, not the least of which was that it felt right to him at this point in his life and in his faith journey. He described his appreciation for a diversity of opinion around the table in the search for truth.

And then he said, "I was just tired of hearing it."

"Hearing what?"

&quo…

The News Set to Song

Bishop Spong Follow-Up

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Every once in a while, I write a post that I feel has been so badly misinterpreted that I believe it warrants a totally separate post to attempt some clarification.

As it happens, my recent post about Bishop Spong apparently needs such a follow-up.

I wrote that post about a spiritually vulnerable college kid who picked up one of Spong's books and had an experience 180 degrees different from that of his target audience. A few of his appreciators chimed in after perceiving that he needed defending from something I didn't say, or from something that my 10-years-younger self didn't like but which I've most likely changed my mind about in the time since.

And I admit that. I admit that my experience has kept me from moving on from that opinion of Spong, and even revisiting his work.

The post is about who I was ten years ago.

The post is about who I was ten years ago.

And even as I have grown, have become much more comfortable with and appreciative of mystery and questioning, for…

Saturday Plans

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The Michigan Wolverines battle the mighty Delaware State Hornets.

Today's high in Ann Arbor will be a balmy 48 degrees, under partly cloudy skies.

There's no way this turns out like my last trip.

Go Blue!

Pop Culture Roundup

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I just began reading Home by Marilynne Robinson last night. This is basically the story of Gilead from the perspective of Glory, Boughton's daughter and Jack's sister. It's written in a more conventional style, as opposed to the journal-entry style of Gilead. I'm not very far into it at this point, but the book first gives some backstory to the Boughton family and Glory's thoughts of being back in Gilead to care for her father...so far she doesn't strike me as the most cheery or optimistic person. Maybe that will change.

I've also continued to read Keating's Invitation to Love, and I've made it through chapter 15 in accordance with my book study's assignment. Keating reflects on the Night of Sense, during which the emotional high of initial spiritual awakening starts to give way and the individual must more deeply internalize its meaning. He also reflects on the experiences of St. Anthony traveling into the wilderness to face demonic forces. I…

Making Peace with Bishop Spong

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Update: Because it seems that this post may get some slightly heavier traffic, I want to invite readers to read this follow-up that hopefully puts this post in better context. If you feel the need to defend Spong from the person I was ten years ago, I don't think you're quite getting the message of the piece.

"I don't dislike you. I nothing you." - Scrubs

I recently realized that I have a very important faith-related anniversary coming up in March. I had a crisis of faith my junior year of college that I've written about several times on this blog, one which had me on the brink of giving up what I believed, as well as my chosen career path. At my lowest point, I sat in a dorm hallway with a Bible and, in a moment that may not be universally affirmed,* flipped it open after a brief prayer and landed on Luke 24:34 - "It is true! The Lord has risen, and has appeared to Simon!" This moment brought me back, and I name and claim it as a huge turning point …

Quotidian Random

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~I once again tried to spend time at the retreat center this past Tuesday, but once again there was no power. The generator will have all winter to recharge before my sabbatical, so I'm still looking forward to some meaningful time there next May. Still, I was disappointed not to have that time. Coffeehouses were certainly enjoyable, and I get the whole "sacred space can be established whenever, wherever" thinking, but I was looking forward to this sacred space.

~We've started packing stuff for the move. It's a slow process right now, but we know that we close on the house the Friday before Thanksgiving. We originally wanted to host Thanksgiving, but if we do it with this timeline we may be passing the stuffing around stacks of boxes. I've also been wondering just how it is that we've accumulated so much crap. It's been very cathartic to fill trash bags or to set things aside to be given away.

~I'm revisiting the home office issue that I wrot…

"The Raven" as presented by The Simpsons

I'm starting to get excited for Halloween, so here's a classic clip from the first "Treehouse of Horror" episode:

Staycation Thoughts

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In Leaving Church, Barabra Brown Taylor coins the term "sabbath sickness," using it to refer to that restlessness that eventually seems to creep in as one observes sabbath time. Whether it's after ten minutes or a couple hours, she observes, our thoughts eventually wander back into the day's list of tasks. This is all well and good, we say to ourselves, but what else do I need to do before I go to bed?

This is something that we've absorbed through our modern culture. There's nothing to be gained by sitting still, by resting, by taking a few moments, a whole day, a week, to recharge. Sure, we take days off or vacations from jobs, but then there's laundry or dishes or grocery shopping or mowing the lawn or running the kids around. I don't have time for sabbath, and even if I do, that tasklist is going to be eating at me until I can start crossing off a few things.

Week One of my staycation ended yesterday, and it was a pretty good one. I hung out …

Mental Illness Awareness Week

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At A Church for Starving Artists, Jan reflected the other week on one of the blind spots of seminary education:
If you are a church leader or ever have been, you are surely aware of seriously mentally ill neighbors who have come through our doors. Sometimes they are strangers asking for money. Sometimes they are members projecting pathologies. Sometimes they are staff people who have a God complex. Often they are fine unless they don't take their meds.

Seminaries need to teach about this kind of thing. Case studies on the homeless woman who wants to camp on church property to help locate the tunnels under our building that the government is using to spy on us. Or the church member who believes that the choir is out to get him. Or the officer who hears voices tell him that he is really the pastor and he's been called by God to remove the professional minister.

This is not the kind of thing that came up in seminary.I am thankful that it did come up in seminary for me. In fact, my …

Pop Culture Roundup

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I've been continuing to read Keating's Invitation to Love, which I think has gotten better. He tells the story of Bernie, a fellow monk who was very unconventional in contrast with the typical practices of the Trappists. He went out of his way to greet his fellow monks despite the rules about silence (to which Keating adds, "After a while I just tried to avoid him"). He would look for and appreciate the divine presence in all creation rather than just in prayer and other spiritual disciplines. He eventually became a cook in another monastery, which was a great place for him to continue showing hospitality. This chapter so far is my favorite, and I'm hardly doing it justice here. Keating is much more appealing to me when he's sharing personal narratives and reflections like this.

I've also been reading Advent Conspiracy, the subtitle of which is "Can Christmas Still Change the World?" Yes, I'm reading Advent books already. I always do,…

Fair Trade Month

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Tuesday was National Coffee Day, and October is Fair Trade Month:
Fair Trade certification is a market-based model of international trade that benefits over one million farmers and farm workers in 58 developing countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Fair Trade certification enables consumers to vote for a better world with their dollars, simply by looking for the Fair Trade Certified label on the products they buy.

Fair Trade Certified agricultural products including coffee, tea and herbs, cocoa and chocolate, fresh fruit, sugar, rice, flowers, honey and spices (vanilla) are currently available at over 35,000 retail establishments in the U.S.

Fair Trade empowers farmers and farm workers to lift themselves out of poverty by developing the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace. By guaranteeing minimum floor prices and social premiums, Fair Trade enables producers to invest in their farms and communities and protect the environment. But Fair Trade is much …

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