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Showing posts from August, 2010

Michigan-Notre Dame '09: Forcier to Mathews

Why I'm a Michigan Fan

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I suppose that part of it comes down to simple things like birth and geography.

I was born in Southfield, Michigan, which is just outside Detroit. At that time, my parents lived in Farmington while my father was pastoring a church there. My family would live in two other communities around Michigan, including a stint in the Upper Peninsula, before moving...ahem...further south. My mom's side of the family lives around Dearborn, and weekend trips to see them, even after we moved out of the state, were fairly frequent while I was growing up.

So, quite simply, I'm a Michigander by birth. Those years are getting further and further away from me, and the argument can be made that after 20+ years I'm much more of an Ohioan, and on a certain level that'd be true. My knowledge of the state of Michigan are based mostly on memory, while my knowledge of Ohio happens in the here and now; has been happening for much longer.

"So why don't you just root for Ohio State?&quo…

Michigan Week at POC

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This time of year, the blog's focus tends to shift a little bit. Sure, I still strive for the content one tends to expect regarding church and ministry stuff, pop culture on Fridays, commentary on the latest UCC happenings, and whatever else.

But around the beginning of September, there comes more commentary about some sport with a ball that is sort of elliptical-shaped and lots more pictures of guys wearing winged helmets and one week I'm really happy and hopeful and the next week I'm wallowing in the pit of despair and wait a minute, don't you live in Ohio?

College football, baby. Michigan football. In a sense I wait all year for this, more than I'd probably admit or realize.

In the run-up to the first game of the season, I declare this week to be Michigan Week at Philosophy Over Coffee. I've got some posts lined up about why I'm a Michigan fan, my hopes for the season, and some delicious video clips. So stay tuned for that.

Those partial to colors such …

Pop Culture Roundup

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I've been reading Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach. You may recall that Bach is also the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which I read a few weeks ago. In this book we meet Richard and Don, two pilots who have a series of conversations about existence. As it turns out, Don is a messiah (there have been and/or are others) who got burnt out on the job and decided to fly planes instead. One of Don's main complaints about his position is that people only really wanted to see him do miracles and didn't really care about his message, which is apparently that anybody can do the same miracles if they'd just accept that they can. The boundaries of the world are illusions, and we can do anything we want to do, if we really want to. So Don's messianic message is part The Matrix and part The Power of Positive Thinking. This was a bestseller back when it was released, and the Amazon reviews are glowing. No wonder: it seems pretty sh…

The Preaching Rut

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Not too long ago, Scott wrote about a preaching quandry he's been dealing with, one facet of which is whether he uses his experiences as a father too often for sermon illustrations. While I try to be very conscious about generally avoiding illustrations about my family, I can certainly relate to the basic issue: getting stuck in a preaching rut.

In three more months, I will complete my second tour through the Revised Common Lectionary, the three-year cycle of suggested texts for each Sunday and holy day of the church year. I've seen these passages twice, some of them three times now. And that's not counting the ones that show up more than once over the course of one cycle. So I've been very concerned with the freshness of my preaching lately. It may have more to do with my own sense of inspiration--being inspired by the texts I have to choose from--than what the congregation notices. But I have to believe that if I'm not feeling inspired, they'll notice.

As…

Pop Culture Roundup

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I finished Left to Tell. I've been trying to process it ever since, and I'm not sure how well I'm doing. In some graphic detail, the author recounts what she saw, heard, and felt. Remember that this is about her surviving the Rwandan genocide, so these descriptions include piles of corpses all around her, accounts of how family members died, and what the government did to encourage the entire thing. Not to mention the next-to-nothing that the U.N. and other entities did, even in full knowledge of what was happening. I was left to think about what possesses people to commit such actions, which can be called nothing short of evil.

I was given a copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which I'd heard of but have never read. This is about a seagull who spends all his time trying to perfect flying: exploring what he can do, testing his limits. The other gulls chastise him, saying, "The only reason we fly is so we can find food." But Jonathan keeps thinking tha…

Jesus Is a Friend of Mine

Sometimes, there are no words:

Summer Is Winding Down Meme

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Courtesy of the RevGals, here's a meme about the "Dog Days" of summer. I'm way late in posting this in terms of when they all go around reading each other's, but with August on the decline and my excitement about that fact, I wanted to play:

1. What is the weather like where you live? The first half of August was apparently ridiculous in terms of the heat, but now it's starting to give way to that cooler, pre-fall weather, featuring more rain and wind.

2. Share one thing you love about this time of year. Maybe it's too easy for me to say something like "summer's almost over," or "it's almost September." I do love that sense of anticipation, of gearing up for a new program year at the church, of preparing for cooler temps, of kickoff at Michigan Stadium.

3. Share one thing you do NOT love about this time of year. Before we really get to everything I mentioned above, we'll probably have one more stint of stupid ridiculous-h…

Toy Story and the Church

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Coffeeson has become a huge Buzz Lightyear fan. I don't really know how this happened. I do remember a Buzz Lightyear cartoon on the Disney Channel not too long ago, which I believe was the first time he ever became aware of that character. Not too long after that, whenever we would pass anything with Buzz's picture on it, he would yell, "Buzz!" After one viewing of a cartoon for maybe 15 minutes.

Since then, we've purchased both Toy Story movies that are out on DVD. We've debated whether he'd sit through the third in a movie theater, but we just don't feel like taking the risk. In the meantime, I am not exaggerating when I tell you that we watch one or both of these movies every. Single. Day. The request/demand can come at any point during the day...we'll be hanging out, and suddenly, "Buzz!" And so it goes.

(I'll go ahead and also share that he does plenty of running around outside, playing with puzzles, reading of books, f…

Decaffeinating

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I'm taking time off from blogging. Check back next week.

Pop Culture Roundup

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I've started reading Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza. The author is a survivor of the killings in Rwanda, and this is her story of living/surviving through that, particularly how her faith sustained her in the midst of it. I'm not very far into the book yet. She spends the first few chapters talking about her family, and the seeds that their European occupiers sowed that eventually led to what happened. That's all the further I am at this point.

We saw Inception this past week, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the leader of a group that enters people's dreams in order to retrieve information. The world in which the film happens implies that this is a known and somewhat widespread practice, and that high-profile people who may be targeted for it go through training to defend against it. DiCaprio's group is eventually hired to enter someone's dream in order to plant an idea in his mind and thus get him to make certain decisions once he wakes up. Along the …

Monitoring Burnout

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I've been thinking about burnout lately.

I'm fine, just so you know. But this has been a rather unique summer in terms of pastoral situations that have called for my attention. There's been a lot of them. They kind of piled up for a while. Things seem to have calmed down now, but how things have played out over the past two months has caused me to revisit my thoughts from this post that I wrote during my sabbatical. After quoting some points made in the book I was reading at the time about sustaining a long-term pastorate--most of it related to self-care and good boundaries--I wrote this:
But holy crap, man. I know a lot of this stuff already. I do a lot of this stuff already.

That's not to puff myself up or anything. There seems to be a good portion of pastors who don't know or practice a lot of this. Ludwig shares that 1300 pastors leave ministry every month, so obviously there are a decent-sized number of us who aren't putting these safeguards in place.

I&#…

Pond Scum Theology

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I finished Rachel Held Evans' book Evolving in Monkey Town over the weekend. As I mentioned on Friday, I hear some of my own journey in hers. She speaks at length about the crisis of faith that she endured, along with her friends' attempts at helpfulness that really weren't all that helpful. She names some of the cliches and pat answers that these people give; the exact same that I expected to hear years ago if I shared my own crisis too widely. Thankfully, she did find a few who made more of an attempt to take her doubts and questions seriously.

I digress. One attempt at helpfulness that Evans shares has had me thinking, especially as I prepared for yesterday's preaching. Evans shares part of an e-mail exchange with her friend Andy, which is actually meant to be a composite representation. In this conversation, "Andy" says this:
The truth is, God is utterly disgusted by our sin, and it is a miracle that he chooses to save any of us to begin with. Witho…