Showing posts from June, 2010

You Might Be a Church Dork If...

Jan at A Church for Starving Artists writes about "church dorkitude." She has some very good commentary on the concept, but I'm not going to get that serious here. I'm just going to go all Jeff Foxworthy and reveal some of my own church dorkitude.

You might be a church dork if...

...starting in June, you eagerly anticipate your new UCC desk calendar... measure time by the liturgical year more than the seasons, school year, or national holidays... can't wait for General Synod to roll around again... of your favorite places to be is in an empty sanctuary... collect Bibles, hymnals and/or books of worship... become giddy when the pastor of another church looking to get rid of its pews half-jokingly offers you one... find the quirks of parsonages charming rather than inconvenient.
So, who's got one they'd like to share?

Book Review: Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer

Sometime in the winter or spring of 2005, I began reading a blog called the Internet Monk. The specifics of how and why I began reading are lost to me, and I don't suppose they're all that important. What is important is what hooked me: a combination of spiritual memoir and critique of church culture, written in an engaging, earthy style. For a very short time, blogging-wise, I wanted to be Michael Spencer. After I realized that I and everyone else would be much better off if I stuck to my own thing, I became content to just read his posts and listen to his podcasts. Spencer's views and my own diverge on a number of points--he'd still be classified "evangelical" by many, and I one of those "liberal mainliners"--but we agreed enough and I resonated enough for me to keep reading. Since I began blogging, Spencer's blog has been one of the few that I have visited nearly every day.

Due to both the quantity and quality of his posts--long, thought…

Loving Theory More Than Reality

A while back on this blog, somebody jokingly (at least, I think they were joking) made a comment that when I get to be General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, I'll get around to fixing all the denomination's problems. Or something to that effect. Whether they were joking or not, I immediately dismissed the idea. Truth be told, I wouldn't wish that position on anyone.

My reasoning behind this basically boils down to one point: no matter how well-meaning you are, no matter how transparent you are, no matter how exhaustively you explain your decisions, people will still question you, suspect you, deride you, and condemn you.

I base this in part on what I saw, heard and read about former UCC GMP John Thomas during the last few years of his service in that role. The big blowup was before, during, and after General Synod 25 in Atlanta, where controversial votes were taken on resolutions related to marriage equality and divesting from companies that support …

Unrelated Musings

It's Vacation Bible School Week. Normally I wouldn't consider this a huge deal, as in years' past I'd show up to pray near the beginning and then spend the rest of the time swiping cookies from the kitchen. This year, I have some added responsibility as Bible Teacher Guy: I tell the daily Bible story, with sets and props and audience participation and stuff. Five days' worth of such things take more time to prepare for than one may imagine: I've had to hunt down supplies and have spent a lot of time drawing background scenery on newsprint. Two nights down, three to go. It's been fun.

Coffeeson was sick yesterday. Well, at least he was sometime during the night. He woke up bawling around his usual time. The crying was somewhat uncharacteristic, but when I walked in and The Smell reached my nostrils, I figured out what happened pretty easily. I'll spare you the gory details. I say "at least sometime during the night" because he didn'…

Pop Culture Roundup

I continue reading Dracula, which has become quite engrossing for me. There truly is a different personality at work depending upon which person's point of view one is reading. The best example that I can give is Jonathan Harker's journal: I've found every one of the writings from his point of view to be irritatingly dull. The first couple chapters are entirely from his point of view, and I was considering giving up on the book because of it. I've noticed that this has been a recurring thing every time he pops back in, and I tend to skim his entries as a result.

I watched 12 Rounds this week, just because it was on. This is the second movie starring John Cena (he of WWE and The Marine fame). Cena plays a cop who pursues and captures a notorious arms dealer to open the movie. Unfortunately, the dealer's girlfriend dies during the chase, and the dealer vows to remember. The guy escapes from prison, kidnaps Cena's girlfriend, and forces him into "12 ro…

Bloglist Lament

Every so often, I find that the blogs on my sidebar seem to drop like flies.

The list as it stands today, June 17th, has a good portion of blogs that have been seemingly abandoned, or the blogger has announced that they're stopping, or the blog has changed direction.

The list ebbs and flows. Blogs come and go. You can't help that. It just happens.

So it may be time once again for me to clean out the list. But what, if anything may take their place?

Been reading any good blogs lately? Contributors to the emerging conversation? Rambunctious, irreverent pastors or theologians? Writers of soaring prose that cuts to the heart of what it means to be human?

(By the way, how do you like the new layout?)

Lightning Strikes Touchdown Jesus

No, I don't mean at Notre Dame. I mean a big silly landmark down in Monroe, Ohio:
MONROE, OH (WXIX) - The "King of Kings" statue along I-75 in Monroe, OH was struck by lightning Monday evening and became engulfed in flames, according to eye witnesses.

The statue of Jesus in Monroe, dubbed the King of Kings by the Solid Rock Church where it resides, was struck by lightning during the severe storms on Monday.

The 62 feet tall statue weighing 16,000 pounds became engulfed with flames.

Fire crews are on the scene were on scene throughout Monday evening attempting to put out the fire.

The statue nicknamed "Touchdown Jesus" is made out of wood and Styrofoam.

The statue also had a steel frame anchored in concrete and fiberglass.
When driving down in this area, I would make fun of this thing. A lot. He looked like he was coming out of the ground to eat your children. The local nickname "Touchdown Jesus" was fun, too. Buckeye fans would inadvertently make fun of…

Workout Meme

I figured I'd do the RevGals meme today, which is related to working out in various ways.

1. Do you work out physically, spiritually, or psychologically? (I'll let you define what that might mean to you) Yes. With it being beach season, I've forced myself back into an exercise routine. When I'm really motivated, I do really well. Five pounds lost already, and going for 7-8 more in the next 2 months. Spiritually, I mainly do my sanctuary thing. But I've been considering scheduling a monthly visit to an area retreat center as well, just to decompress and recharge every so often.

2. Are you more inclined to join a gym, or a book club? I thought about joining a gym a while ago, but couldn't justify the cost. It just didn't seem to be worth it considering what I could do at home. I'm already a part of a book club of sorts, so I guess that answers that. When it comes to exercise, I've become very private. Years ago I worked out in a gym and it w…

Pop Culture Roundup

Dracula has gotten a lot better since those first 50 pages or so (good call, Scott). I like that it's written as a collection of letters, journal entries, and newspaper clippings. Not only is it unique, but it adds a certain mystique to the story: Dracula experienced through the eyes of a handful of characters rather than a straight-up narrative that would risk manipulation. A good example is the sharing of excerpts from a ship captain's log as he recounts the crew being spooked by a presence on board that ultimately consumes all of them. It conveys fear and hopelessness in a way that a basic third-person story couldn't.

I've also been reading Stories of Emergence for my book study group. Edited by the late Mike Yaconelli, this is a collection of essays written by different people about their emergence out of one mindset toward another. So far I've read the first section, which are all about crises that people faced in their philosophies of ministry. Tony Jon…

Small Sips: Mere Churchianity, Brock Mealer, Nadia Bolz-Weber

Spencer lives book form. It's been a couple months since Michael Spencer, aka the Internet Monk, passed away after a brief battle with brain cancer. The blog continues on thanks to the work of a handful of other bloggers.

I've yet to make up my mind completely about whether I like where things are going over there. Spencer was a faithful and loving critic of his tradition, seeking to get past all the silliness and theatrics of evangelicalism to what he dubbed a "Jesus-shaped spirituality." Now the blog is second-generation, and something always gets lost when that happens.

Regardless, Spencer's message lives on in at least one other way. Just before he died, he completed a book entitled Mere Churchianity:
The day many of us have been waiting for is here: Michael Spencer’s Mere Churchianity is now available as an eBook. Those of you who have eBook readers such as the Amazon Kindle, iPod Touch or iPad, Barnes and Noble Nook or Sony Reader can download M…


I've been back at the church for about a week now. Memorial Day was good: the veterans did their thing pretty much right before the downpour started. I had a pretty productive week: visits, planning a baptism, back into the rhythm of sermon-writing, meetings. All of this was like putting on an old shoe: comfortable and natural.

On the other hand, I've been dealing with something. I resumed my practice of walking the sanctuary, and something was different. Probably the best explanation that I've come up with for what it was is this:

I've been here over 5 1/2 years.

Maybe that doesn't sound like much, but it's a big deal. I've never lived anywhere this long in my entire life. The previous record, held by the town in which I graduated high school, was 5 1/2 years, and my current context just surpassed that.

I do consider this a good thing. In fact, Coffeewife and I shared a bottle of champagne to mark it. There's a sense of stability that comes with s…

Arizona Mural with Multi-Ethnic Kids' Faces will be Changed to All-White

This can't be a real thing, can it? Apparently it can:
"A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school. The project’s leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children’s ethnicity ….

R.E. Wall, director of Prescott’s Downtown Mural Project, said he and other artists were subjected to slurs from motorists as they worked on the painting at one of the town’s most prominent intersections.

“We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars,” Wall said. “We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics).”"I guess we've reached the breaking point in this country, where so much change and diversity has occurred that people who can't deal with it are going to cope in stupid, destructive ways. Sure, this kind of thing has been around forever, but it seems to have been r…

Pop Culture Roundup

I started reading Bram Stoker's Dracula the other week, but I haven't made a lot of progress. I've just been preoccupied with other things. It's weird, because I've seen most of the movie that purports to base itself directly off this book rather than popular renderings, and already I know that Count Dracula looks different than he did in that movie. What has surprised me so far is that this book is written as a series of journal entries and letters from different characters, rather than as a narrative. This same sort of eye-opening thing happened when I sat down to read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: the popular version is nothing like the book.

I've been on a Skillet kick lately. I picked up Awake the other week. It's their latest, and it's okay. The reason I picked them up again in the first place was because their music punches me in the face. Unfortunately, Awake is less face-punchy. A couple songs are such, but it's more mainstream i…



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