Showing posts from May, 2010

Glenn Beck Butchers Church History

The Dead Sea Scrolls, according to Glenn Beck:
When Constantine decided that he was going to cobble together an army, he did the Council of Nicaea, right, Pat? Council of Nicaea, and what they did is brought all of the religious figures together, all the Christians, and they said, “OK, let’s put together the Apostles’ Creed, let’s, you know, you guys do it. and so they brought all their religious Scripture together, that’s when the Bible was first bound and everything else. and then they said, “Anybody who disagrees with this is a heretic and off with their head!”

Well that’s what the Dead Sea Scrolls are. Dead Sea Scrolls are those Scriptures that people had at the time that, they said, “They are destroying all of this truth.” whether it’s truth or not is up to the individual, but that, at that time those people thought that this was something that needed to be preserved. and so they rolled up the scrolls and put them in clay pots and they, they put them in the back of caves. no one co…

Sabbatical - Endings and Beginnings

"I wonder if the strong sense of frustration which comes over me so frequently on Sunday evening and to which many other parsons have confessed, is merely due to physical lassitude or whether it arises from the fact that every preacher is trying to do a bigger thing than he is equal to -- and fails. I have an uneasy feeling that it may be native honesty of the soul asserting itself. Aren't we preachers talking altogether too much about what can be proved and justified only in experience?" - Reinhold Niebuhr, Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic

I had lunch with a colleague and mentor the other day. He's experiencing a certain amount of flux and anxiety in the setting in which he works, and together we processed both some of that and some of what I've been thinking about lately. Originally, I'd wanted to process some stuff about whether I should get a D.Min vs. another degree vs. whatever, but I didn't really feel like doing that and thus was worri…

Something About the Michigan Sanctions

Last year, two Detroit Free Press columnists produced a shoddily-written piece of "journalism" accusing the Michigan football team of OMG THINK OF THE CHILDREN~! - level amounts of practice time, far exceeding the NCAA limits.

This exercise in vindictiveness and lies forced both the NCAA and the University of Michigan to investigate the program.

Yesterday, some self-imposed sanctions were announced:
Michigan has reduced the number of QC staffers by 40 percent (ie, by two) and prohibited them from attending practices, games, and coaches meetings for 2010. A new bylaw specifically allows QC staffers at coaches meeting, but Michigan won't take advantage of this until 2011. Michigan will not add more QC staffers until the 2011 season ends.Michigan will give back 130 hours of practice time over the next two years.Michigan has taken "corrective action" to prevent a repeat.Two years of probation.The whole document is here, if you're really interested.

The NCAA will…

Festival of Homiletics: The Not-So-Short Version

So as I mentioned last week, I attended the Festival of Homiletics.

Before I get to that, I just want to say that I loved Nashville. They'll be dealing with the aftermath of the flooding for years, but at least the downtown areas that were hit looked good. My very first night, I went to a place called the Music Row Bar and Grill, which was advertising gourmet burgers. I walked in, and I was the only person in the place. I asked about the burgers, and the guy behind the counter said, "Let me tell you about this pasta I made today..." He went into describing the dish, and when he was finished I said, "Man, I really had a burger in mind tonight." Out of nowhere, the guy's wife yells from the basement, "He said he wants a burger!" Long story short, the guy gave me a "chef's sample" of the pasta, which was so good that I went ahead and ordered it. He and I talked for quite a while: he went on about his training as a chef and as a m…

Festival of Homiletics: The Short Short Version

I got back yesterday from the Festival of Homiletics.

It was enriching and uplifting, and I think I may have to make it a yearly thing.

I ran into an interesting assortment of people from college, seminary, and the Ohio Conference. It was one of those cool "worlds colliding" sorts of things in that way.

Nashville in itself was awesome, too. It's not all flooded any more, and I ate good barbeque.

I had to come back early because my brother's getting married this weekend, and I really should be there for that.

Also, I got an idea for a book. Like, for real. But I'll hold off on saying too much about that for now.

More detailed recap to come later.

Vintage CC: Waiting

From January 2006:

He allowed his weight to do most of the work as he eased back into the driver's seat. A turn of the key and the engine awoke. A flip of a lever and his dashboard glowed a soft orange. He wasn't quite set to take off the brake. Instead, he savored the escape of a sigh that felt like it had been building up for years.

He looked back toward the store he just left. An entire building filled with the knowledge and experience of others printed and bound for the world's consumption, and to him all those words were as thin as the pages on which they were written. Tens of thousands of gallons of ink spilled and not one that satisfied his thirst. Tens of thousands of trees harvested and not one that gave more than a superficial pep talk, a 12-step list to better times, a study of more words from another book.

He had no more breath to waste. He let down the brake and put it in reverse.

A new CD sang to him, fresh out of the shrink wrap. A live set from a lesser-kno…

Vintage CC: Man-E-Faces

From December 2005:

As I mentioned the other day, Greg has been questioning when pastors are described as 'real.' An excerpt:
The reality, of course, is that every pastor that I've ever met, including myself, has a carefully constructed public persona....Congregations don't want real men and women as pastors. They want carefully constructed simulacra of real people. They want real to be nicer than them but not too nice, and holier than them but not too holy, and smarter than them but not too smart, and more honest than them but not too honest. Pastors learn too quickly that real people are messy. Congregations don't want messy pastors. The concept of the 'pastoral persona' is what I find most interesting. In fact, it got me to thinking about what other personas I have. We show different faces to different people depending on trust level and what we want to get out of different relationships. Sometimes we show the wrong face to the wrong person. Sometimes we…

Vintage CC: I'm Sick of Writing

From April 2007.

I'm sick of writing.

I don't want to do it any more.

In fact, I'm so sick of writing that I'm writing this to tell you how much I'm sick of writing.

I'm using this medium to communicate to you how sick I am of using this medium to communicate how sick I am of this medium. And of communicating. With this medium.

It's time to let this blog go and never come back.

Except I will check in from time to time just to make sure that the blog doesn't disappear. I did have some good stuff on here, in my opinion.

But no more new stuff. No. No more. This is the last new stuff that I do.

This will be the last word that I write.

Except "this" wasn't the last word that I wrote.

"Wrote" is.

Now "is" is.

Now "'is' is" is.

Except those were the last two words that I wrote.

Now "wrote" is again.

Or was.

Now "was" was.

Or is.

But anyway, no more writing. I'm sick of it.

I'm gone…

Festival of Homiletics

I'll be at the Festival of Homiletics this week.

In the meantime, I have a few "Vintage POC" posts queued up; they'll appear over the next few days. Enjoy.


The other day, I did something that I thought I'd never do: I went through my "friends" list on Facebook, and deleted probably 30 people. For the most part, these were mild acquaintances at best; mostly people who'd pledged my fraternity or its corollary, yet whom I'd never met. It made sense to add them at the time, but our relationship wasn't moving forward in any meaningful way, and I haven't been back to Heidelberg since my brother's graduation.

I never thought I'd do this because I'm the type of person who doesn't let go easily. On any other day I might have looked down through that list and thought, "Well, something may change someday." Maybe, I'd reason, I would run into these people at some point and befriend them on a level deeper than any online social networking site could make possible. Maybe. But not likely. And so I opted to let them go. As a result, the front page of updates seems less cluttered somehow;…

Family Tree Meme

It's been a while since I participated in the RevGals' weekly meme thing:

1. Do you have any interest in geneaology? My mom is the geneologist in the family. I find the stories that she shares interesting, but I myself haven't really partaken much.

2. Which countries did your ancestors come from? Germany, Sweden, France...those are the ones I know

3. Who is the farthest back ancestor whose name you know? My great-great grandfather, CoffeeGreatGreatGrandfather. Heh.

4. Any favorite saints or sinners in the group? That'd again be CoffeeGreatGreatGrandfather, who was a missionary from Sweden. He planted churches all over the place, and helped found the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination. I have his pocketwatch, which I proudly display. I don't really know of any "sinners" in my family lines.

5. What would you want your descendants to remember about you? Oh geez, I don't know. That I was devoted, even fiercely loyal. And that I patented an in…

Pop Culture Roundup

I finished In It for the Long Haul, and my feelings about it can pretty well be summed up in what I posted earlier this week. A lot of the material was familiar to me, such that I wound up thinking, "Really? This is what it takes?" Interestingly enough, the book says little to nothing about how to keep the creative energy going after the first few years; how to keep things fresh and vibrant. In various ways it dances around this subject, i.e., making sure that one take time off for renewal, evaluating programs rather than just the pastor, but that's it. That's what I found disappointing about this book.

I also finished Walden this week. This quote from the end sums up the whole book in a sense: "There is an incessant influx of novelty into the world, and yet we tolerate incredible dulness." Thoreau spends quite a bit of time appreciating the natural beauty around him; on living in simplicity and seeing life through alert senses uninhibited by what mos…

An Anti-Climactic Sabbatical Moment

The past few days, I've been making my way through In It for the Long Haul by Glenn Ludwig, all about sustaining a long-term pastorate. In a sense, this was meant to be the core text of my sabbatical; the wonderfully insightful commentary on the issue that I've made the centerpiece of this time. It was one of the very, very few books that I could find on the subject to begin with. And it was published by the Alban Institute, so it has to be good, right? Yes, this book was going to give me all the answers that I need; all the insights on which I need to reflect.

The anticipation mounted as I neared the chapter entitled "Building the Pillars as Foundations," which describes the five pillars needed to sustain long-term pastorates. After a few chapters relating statistics about average length of stay for pastors, building trust with a congregation, the "myths" of longer pastorates, here came the how-to chapter; the heart of the matter.

And so, here are the f…

Pop Culture Roundup

I continue meandering through Walden, which I think is fitting. He tells a story of being arrested one day while spending the day in town, and he shares these lines which I find still incredibly relevant:

"But, wherever a man goes, men will pursue and paw him with their dirty institutions, and, if they can, constrain him to belong to their desperate odd-fellow society. It is true, I might have resisted forcibly with more or less effect, might have run 'amok' against society; but I preferred that society should run 'amok' against me, it being the desperate party."

I've also just started In It for the Long Haul by Glenn Ludwig. It's the second of my three sabbatical books, and all about sustaining longer-term pastorates. I'm not too far into it yet, so I don't have much to say about it other than it's only 130 pages or so; it may not take that long to read.

We watched Sherlock Holmes this past week. I confess that I haven't read any Ho…

"You're not there yet"

In her book Leaving Church, Barbara Brown Taylor writes about something that she calls "sabbath sickness:"
Anyone who practices Sabbath for even an afternoon usually suffers a little spell of Sabbath sickness. Once you have finished the paper and the second pot of tea, you can start feeling a little jumpy, a little ready to get back to work. You can discover the true meaning of rationalization, which is what your mind does when it wants to do something that you have decided you will not do. Is yard work really work if you enjoy it? Is flipping through a mail-order catalog really shopping? Yes it is.

If you decide to live on the fire that God has kindled inside of you instead of rushing out to find two sticks to rub together, then it does not take long for all kinds of feelings to come out of hiding. You can find yourself crying buckets of uncried tears over things you thought you had handled years ago. People you have loved and lost can show up with their ghostly lawn chairs, …

Tarshish is a Lie

In his book Under the Unpredictable Plant, Eugene Peterson interprets the story of Jonah in light of the pastoral vocation. Jonah is told to prophesy in Nineveh, a detestable city in many respects, and certainly a city that Jonah finds unlovable. And he not only resists God's call to go to Nineveh; he doesn't just pretend that he doesn't hear God or put off going. Instead, he heads in the opposite direction to sail to Tarshish. Peterson describes Tarshish as an exotic place full of culture, romance, intrigue, and adventure. It certainly was preferable to Nineveh. So that's where Jonah decides to go.

Of course, he never makes it. A storm hits, he has to be thrown overboard, he prays in the belly of a big fish, and eventually does go to Nineveh where he belongs.

Pastors, Peterson says, all want to go to Tarshish. Tarshish is a paradise, with wonderfully perfect and obedient congregations serving in all sorts of efficient, polished ministries. But, he continues, &q…

Ah, sabbatical.

Almost a week into sabbatical, I've already noticed several things.

First, I've noticed the itch to get back into the office. It was to be expected, and it hasn't been an alarming or overpowering sort of urge. It's just been that usual compulsion that people have: they're used to being at their place of work, and time off feels strange, and after what is typically no longer than a week they know they'll be back at it. I've had that feeling. I still do. Even now, some part of me, albeit small, feels like I will get up Tuesday morning and go to the church to begin my usual round of weekly pastoral activities. I've had a week it's time to go back, right? That's how it normally works. Except not this time.

Second and closely related to that is the liberation that I have felt. See, the urge I just mentioned is there, but it isn't that strong. Coffeewife will ask me, "What do you have planned for tomorrow?" And I'l…

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