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Showing posts from April, 2009

Are Violent Video Games Adequately Preparing Children for the Apocalypse?

Synod Resolutions - The Fluffy

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The Fluffy:Sacred Conversations on Race, Ecumenical Commitments in the United Church of Christ

The "Fluffy" category is for those resolutions that make nice statements and usually affirm or re-affirm church relationships but don't have much practical impact.

After re-reading the resolutions I originally put in this category, I moved An Economic Justice Covenant to "The Practical" and Affirming the Accra Confession to "Mildly Divisive."

The Ecumenical Commitments resolution is pretty standard fare...it cites a few scripture verses calling for unity, including one from the Gospel of John that was adopted as the UCC's motto. It also cites a few statements from the UCC's founding documents with similar sentiments. The resolution describes the formation of the UCC as an "experiment" where four very different churches came together, striving for unity in purpose rather than theology, and has always put forth a vision of being a "unite…

Synod Resolutions - The Practical

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The Practical:Responsible Meeting Practice, A Call to Be Global Mission Churches, Justice Town Hall Gatherings, An Economic Justice Covenant

"The Practical" category is for those resolutions that directly affect the way in which some aspect of the United Church of Christ goes about its work. They're likely to all be prudential resolutions, which are for this purpose.

I was intrigued when I first saw the Resolution on Responsible Meeting Practice, mostly because it was submitted by the Hawaii Conference. Those who keep up with events in the UCC know that the 2011 Synod was set to take place in Hawaii up until last year, when it was decided that it would be financially impractical for many travelers. It was a good stewardship decision that only seemed to receive praise...at least, all I heard was praise. There may have been grumbling. There's always grumbling.

Anyway, the Hawaii Conference has submitted this resolution that seems to reflect that decision, stating: &q…

Synod Resolutions - The Mildly Divisive

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The Mildly Divisive:Mediating Climate Change, Acting on Climate Change, Human Trafficking, A Call for Study of Our Church's Involvement in the Eugenics Movement, NAFTA, HIV Prevention, Global Food Crisis, Iraqi Refugees, Affirming the Accra Confession

All right, I'm going to say right off the bat that I'm not going to address all of these. This category is for resolutions that may or may not stir up some strong opinions, and "pet project" resolutions that some marginal group cares about and that usually pass, but ultimately not much is going to come of them.

Let's say a couple things about the resolutions on climate change. Let's start by saying that Synod 26 just dealt with a climate change resolution, and here we have two more.  I guess I don't understand why an issue that Synod just talked about is being talked about again. Is it to keep it fresh in people's minds? Is it because people missed that a similar resolution was just passed two years ag…

Synod Resolutions - The Controversial

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The Controversial:Options to War Against Iran, Axis of Friendship with Iran, Health Care Reform, In Support of Physician Assistance in Dying

Let's skip to the Physician Assistance in Dying one first. This will likely be the most hotly contested resolution this year. Two years ago, a similar resolution was the only one that was really allowed extensive debate on the floor as I recall. Yes, this issue was presented and debated at the very last Synod, and yes, there wasn't a lot of debate on any resolution last time because they'd crammed all the business sessions into the last two days because they'd planned so much celebratory stuff for the 50th anniversary. And hey, look, they're going with a similar format this Synod. Brilliant.

Man, I've become jaded. But honestly, I love going to General Synod for all the reasons completely unrelated to resolutions anyway. So why do I write these posts? 'Cause I got to. That's all.

Anyway, something about physician aid …

Open Forum - Faithful Regret

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Just a few questions for this one.

Do you think the original disciples and apostles, in the midst of faithfully carrying out Jesus' call, ever felt stupid or like they were missing out on a wonderful opportunity for themselves?

Have you ever felt like that?

Do you think it's possible or natural to feel regretful in the midst of being faithful?

Discuss.

It's Resolution Season

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As I've mentioned before, I'll be a delegate to General Synod in Grand Rapids this summer, part of which means that I am entrusted with the task of reviewing and voting on a series of resolutions that will come to the floor during our business sessions.

What do these resolutions do, you may ask? Well, there are two kinds of resolutions that are written and presented. The first is a Resolution of Witness, which is exactly what it sounds like: a statement to our churches and the rest of the world that the General Synod (not the UCC, mind you...learn your polity) affirms or supports or condemns whatever-it-is that the resolution says. And then there are Prudential Resolutions, which are more practical in nature and establish policy or procedure.

But in the grand scheme of things? These resolutions probably won't actually do much of anything. I'm cynical like that, I guess. Every once in a while, a resolution like the ones on marriage equality at Synod 25 in Atlanta co…

Next Easter, I'll get one for Coffeeson

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HT to Bob.

Pop Culture Roundup

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I'm about halfway through The Pastor as Minor Poet by M. Craig Barnes, which is a short book about the pastoral role using a different sort of metaphor. So often, we hear of the pastor as shepherd, CEO, coach, visionary, and whatever else, but here Barnes is presenting the pastor as one who searches for the deeper truths under the surface of ministry situations, which is what poets do. An example: a couple visits Barnes in his office expressing anger over the musical choices of the choir director, how she doesn't do things like their previous director of 25 years or so, doesn't even use his original material, and how Barnes, if he's truly a strong leader, needs to step up and fire her. Barnes recognizes that this has less to do with the choir director or how strong a leader he is and more about their grief over the former choir director's leaving. The pastor as poet digs underneath the surface to help the other person discover that deeper pain. So essentially,…

Return to Eden

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Yesterday I came home after a couple days back at Eden Theological Seminary for their annual Herbster event, which is open to the five most recent classes of graduates, and also for their spring convocation, which features scholars lecturing on various aspects of theology and ministry. To be more precise, I showed up about 15 minutes before the end of the Herbster event. Yeah, the last Herbster I'm eligible to attend, and I basically missed it. But here's the thing: I wasn't tremendously interested in the program, and was actually kind of looking past it toward convocation, which featured Bible scholars Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan.

The evening of Herbster was a reception and dinner with the Eden faculty, followed by vespers. This is a regular feature, and meant to be a close to the day. For me, it was the beginning to my time there. I could think of no better way, really...wine and refreshment at a place and with people representative of a time of tremendous person…

Easter Sunday

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Further Triduum Reflections

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My church's practice on Good Friday is a bit understated, to say the least. After communion and tenebrae the night before, people are invited to the sanctuary on Good Friday between noon and 3:00 to pray, meditate, reflect. I have an appreciation for this time, as there are no paraments, music plays, candles flicker on a bare altar. The atmosphere during this time is very irenic.

In years' past, the most that have come during this time is four. I suspect that, although the hours are what they are due to their symbolism, they still fall in the middle of one's workday and we no longer live in a culture where many businesses close on Good Friday.

Another reason probably has to do with the discomfort of simple silence with oneself. Okay, I'm in the sanctuary...now what do I do? For people unfamiliar with prayer disciplines, the thought of just stopping in for this is just weird.

One possibility to help with this would be to offer some sort of guided meditation, and down the …

Vintage POC: Green

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Today is Coffeeson's first birthday. It's certainly been a year that has seen all three of us grow so much. Even after this long, I sometimes watch him play and find it amazing that he's here. I wrote this entry two months or so before he was born. I have to say that the worries expressed in this entry aren't as great, but they still linger if only in that general way that all parents experience.

Let’s start from the beginning.

This is one of the many thoughts that I have as I sit at the edge of the double bed in what will eventually become the nursery. The transformational process has been a very gradual one: the walls had been painted a light green color even before we knew we were pregnant. A completed changing table stands along one wall, the deep brown of the wood adding a certain refinement that will be completely contradicted by its use. Against that same wall leans a tall flat box containing the pieces of a crib. It will match the table once it is assembled, but …

Maundy Thursday

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My earliest memory of Maundy Thursday (it actually could have been Good Friday) was when I was in elementary school. My dad was serving what would be his last settled pastorate, and a small portion of the congregation gathered in our country church for a solemn assembly observing Jesus' final hours.

I don't remember much about the service, as I had the attention span of a goldfish (some say I still do). However, I do clearly remember the story of Jesus' final breath being taken. It was at this point that the organist played a loud chord, almost as if she just pulled out the stops and then slammed her hands on a few random keys. When that happened, the lights went out. We'd sit in darkness for a few moments until a single candle was lit in the chancel and the final words of the evening were spoken.

In later years, I recall tenebrae being observed in a darkened sanctuary after a fellowship meal. A few high school kids would be recruited to don black robes and hoods, …

The Emerging Church and Authenticity

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Nadia, aka Sarcastic Lutheran, recently wrote a post espousing what she believes defines the emerging church. But the bulk of her post seems to deal more with established churches attempting to tap into the movement:
Emerging church is not a worship style. I know emerging churches that do traditional liturgy with Jazz (Mercy Seat), who use electronica (Church of the Beloved), who are acapella Gregorian chant (House for All Sinners and Saints) and who do nothing but old time Southern gospel (House of Mercy).

So, when trad churches in the suburbs are wanting to attract young people (with all the good intentions in the world) and they ape some kind of worship style they read about in a Zondervan book by starting an "emerging" worship service, it's a bit ironic.

Ok, now before you leave me angry responses let me say; this is not saying that there is something wrong with the traditional church. Trad church is often a faithful expression of Christian community. But my friends…

Palm Sunday

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14:1 It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; 2 for they said, "Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people."

3 While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. 4 But some were there who said to one another in anger, "Why was the ointment wasted in this way? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor." And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, "Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has a…

Pop Culture Roundup

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I've been reading Founding Brothers this week. I read the first chapter and a half something like a year ago, and then forgot about it for a while. It was always sitting on my nightstand, though, and so I decided to give it another shot. This is a historical recap of a series of events and issues that the "Revolutionary Generation" faced in the earliest days of the nation's life. So far, I've been reading about the incidents that led up to the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, which saw political disagreements turn into more personal insults. I've also been reading about the first Congress' attempts to avoid or put off the discussion of slavery, as many believed that such a divisive issue wasn't healthy to address while the country was still trying to solidify its government and sense of unity. Interestingly enough, the earliest drafts of some of our founding documents contained provisions for abolition, but they were eventually re…

Fine Wine

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The Naked Pastor recently wrote some words that have resonated with me:
I was watching the movie Bottle Shock earlier in the evening. A vintner says don’t give the vines too much water or fertilizer. Keep it sparse because the best wine comes from vines that struggle against adversity. Vines that have it easy produce a lazy taste in a lousy wine. I struggle against my own adversity. I realize someone might say, “Quit your whining (excuse the pun). You’ve got it easy!” And in many ways I do. Some think that I fulfill my own prophecies. And I know some accuse me of holding my own pity-party. Yes, my adversity is intangible. I don’t even understand it. But my sorrow is real. That can’t be denied. Forgive me for this. It’s not really a pity-party. In fact, it’s something I feel I can boast about. It makes sense of my life. And to know this brings me peace. I just wanted to share with you what seems to be a persistent theme in my personal and vocational life. Who knows! I might be a very fi…

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