Showing posts from March, 2010

Learning by Doing

A few years ago, I took a test meant to determine my best “learning style.” The best minds in education who make it a point to study how people learn have come up with a handful of these learning styles. Some people learn best by seeing, others by hearing, still others by doing, or through music, or reading, and so on. It is not uncommon for one to have at least two of these as their primary learning styles.

So I took this test, and the results indicated that I am primarily a literary learner and a bodily, or kinesthetic, learner. In other words, I learn best by reading and by the experience of doing.

I can point to many examples of how I’ve learned kinesthetically. I’m a big “trial and error” guy; I’m willing to just pick up the tools and figure things out. Ironically, at times I ignore the instructions at the expense of my literary learning style. I’d rather just get into something and either glory in my triumph or reorganize after I mess something up. At least, I tell myself,…

Small Sips: iMonk, UCC ad, Willimon, Rosenberg

More sad news about iMonk - The situation has only gotten worse for Michael Spencer, aka the Internet Monk:
At the encouragement of our oncologist, we have opted to discontinue treatment. He said the chemotherapy was not working, and it would actually be doing a disservice to Michael to continue. We are now receiving help from our local hospice. We know we are in good hands with them, and we are at peace that we have made the best decision under the circumstances.

Several people have already suggested various alternative treatments. While we appreciate their concern and helpfulness, we have discussed this possibility and Michael does not want to try anything else. Please pray for strength and acceptance, for trust in God, for minimal pain and for a peaceful passing.It really was not that long ago that Spencer had been regularly writing, commenting, interacting with others. This has progressed very quickly, and it's incredibly sad.

The Spencer family seems to have some peace about the…

Pop Culture Roundup

I started reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau this past week. Thoreau wrote this about his experience of spending two years living near Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. During that time he chose to live very simply, and later on decided to share his experiences. So far it reads like the book of Ecclesiastes: a lot of revelations about how we work for frivolous things, how there are philosophy teachers but no more philosophers, and how we pretend that we're more important than we actually are. It'd be depressing, except I believe that Thoreau's purpose is not to point out how awful we should feel but how much we should let go of in order to be free. This is a book that one can't rush through if one truly wants to digest it.

I'm also in the home stretch of reading For the Love of God for my book discussion group. The essays are very short, but so far have been very heavy on Eastern religious traditions and American Indian traditions. I'm partway thr…

My Issues with Christian Century

Okay. Right off the bat, let me say that I enjoy reading Christian Century. It has a lot of helpful news items, articles, reflections on the lectionary, and so on. But lately, I've been having some issues (ha!) with this magazine. Part of me has become weary of the same writers and voices. I love most of these authors, don't get me wrong. Some of them have been highly influential in my own sense of vocation and faith.

But lately, there have been some articles that have led me to believe that this magazine is fairly resistant to new trends and ideas, and it's been increasingly frustrating for me.

For instance, a while back Lillian Daniel wrote a half review, half commentary on the book Why Men Hate Going to Church. I had read this book before this article had come out and thus was interested in her take. I found her to be incredibly dismissive of what I thought to be very good insights. She opted instead to blame the guys who hate church themselves, implied or stated the usua…

What's In Your Satchel?

Over at the High Calling blog, Gordon Atkinson aka RealLivePreacher shares what's in his satchel during his Lenten journey:
The day before Ash Wednesday, I got an old satchel out of my closet and began filling it with things that are spiritually significant to me. Some of these things might be considered “churchy” and others might not. I make no such distinctions. Everything in my satchel has been an important part of opening my mind, expanding my heart, and teaching me to be more prayerful and able to listen for God’s work and words in our world.

My Lenten satchel contains the following items:

A copy of the Didache with commentary by Tony Jones.
The Creation of Consciousness: Jung’s Myth for Modern Man by Edward Edinger
The Greek New Testament, along with a parsing guide.
A moleskine notebook that contains my new and growing translation of the Sermon on the Mount.
A set of calligraphy pens and a bottle of luxurious black Mont Blanc ink.
A set of drafting tools that I bought in a junk sto…

Hey, look: a happy Michigan sports thing

Michigan hockey wins the CCHA tournament; makes the NCAA tournament. Go Blue!

Tea Party Attendees Mock Man with Parkinson's

Here's truth, justice, and the American Way in action. Or something.

"You always have the poor with you"

At our Communal Word discussion group last night, we talked a lot about John 12:1-8, which is this Sunday's Gospel text according to the Revised Common Lectionary. For several reasons, I anticipated that the group would spend some time with this passage over the other two, and I was not disappointed.

First off, here's the passage in full:
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse …

The Communal Word Progress Report

Before Lent began, I wrote a little about the Wednesday evening programs I'm leading during this reflective season. I'm loosely following a practice that Doug Pagitt and Solomon's Porch follow, which is to discuss the scripture text for the following Sunday and develop the sermon as a group.

We've been doing this for three weeks now, and I think it's been going well. I start off each session by having people say their name and then answer some silly question to get the jaw muscles working a little.

I then introduce the three non-psalter texts suggested by the lectionary. This has evolved every week. The first week, I thought that we'd read the first text, talk about it a little, and then move to the next until all three had been covered in an hour. This quickly proved to be foolish, as we spent the entire time talking about the one text (Genesis 15, for those wondering). So the next week, I decided that I'd give a brief synopsis of each one and see whic…

Pop Culture Roundup

I'm currently reading Turtles All the Way Down, the new book from Gordon Atkinson, aka Real Live Preacher. This is different from his last book, as it was self-published. Not only that, but he invited blog readers to join him in choosing and editing the essays that would be included. This book can almost be read as a daily devotional - that's how well I think he writes. It's one of those where I maybe read one or two of his essays a day (and most are only 1-2 pages long), and I feel content; I feel full. Essay topics are what might be expected from RLP: faith, the Bible, church, fatherhood, some fictional stories. He truly is an incredible writer.

We went to see Alice in Wonderland this past week. In this version, Alice is a teenager who falls down the rabbit hole yet again. She meets up with the usual characters, who are counting on her to do battle with the Jabberwocky in order to vanquish the Red Queen. I think I like Helena Bonham Carter in pretty much any role…

Sad News About iMonk

The internet is a funny thing. Years ago when I was a big part of various online discussion forums, occasionally there would be bad news shared about another participant's death or grave sickness. This news would hit harder than one would expect given such an impersonal medium, yet it would also illustrate the possibility of real connection that such a medium can foster.

With that, the latest update about Michael Spencer, aka the Internet Monk, is incredibly sad:
It is with a heavy heart that I bring my latest update on Michael. We have learned that his cancer is too advanced and too aggressive to expect any sort of remission. Our oncologist estimates that with continued treatment Michael most likely has somewhere between six months and a year to live. This is not really a surprise to us, though it is certainly horrible news. From the very beginning, both of us have suspected that this would prove to be an extremely bad situation. I don’t know why; perhaps God was preparing us for…

Glenn Beck and Social Justice

The other day on his show, Glenn Beck had some "advice" for his listeners and viewers...and subsequently revealed his complete ignorance of Christianity:
"I'm begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!"

Later, Beck held up cards, one with a hammer and sickle and other with a swastika. "Communists are on the left, and the Nazis are on the right. That's what people say. But they both subscribe to one philosophy, and they flew one banner. . . . But on each banner, r…


Ten years later, why does it matter?

I imagine that that question is floating out there among those following my little Lenten cleansing activity here, particularly yesterday's letter. It's a question I'm asking myself, that's for sure.

College is an incredibly formative time for many people. Some may argue that there's a certain superficiality to it all; that college students don't live in the "real world," whatever that is. Instead, the argument goes, there's a bubble quality to college life; an ignorance of real problems Out There. Students are preoccupied with their own drama and each others' immaturity, even as they're just beginning to discover themselves. All of this takes place while away from home for perhaps the first time.

I would largely agree with that. There was an absurd quality to what I got caught up in during my college years. Some of what we put each other through at that age is only slightly better than what we put …

A Letter Written Ten Years Too Late

Note: This is one of my major "shoulda coulda woulda" items related to what I've been processing lately. In fact, it's pretty much THE item. Further commentary to follow in another day or so.

May 1, 2000

To the Members of the House of God’s Servants and the Campus Fellowship Leadership Team:

I greet you in the name of Christ, who calls us to unity in the midst of our diversity.

After much prayerful consideration in anticipation of my senior year at Heidelberg, I have come to a series of conclusions. These have not been reached lightly, but I feel that they are necessary.

I am hereby announcing my resignation both as a member of the HOGS, and as a member of the Campus Fellowship Planning Team.

It has been a trying school year, one during which I experienced no small amount of turmoil both in terms of my personal faith and in terms of relationships with some members of the Christian community on Heidelberg’s campus. Thankfully, I have regained a sense of stability in my fa…

Click and Read

I don't really know the point of this post, but apparently that won't keep me from writing and posting it.

I like to keep the bloglist on my sidebar neat and trim. Early on, I loved having a big ol' long list of other blogs for me to click on. It helps me stay connected with fellow bloggers, and I just enjoy reading the work of others. These blogs generally are listed due to their humor, or they touch on issues that I'm passionate about, or they're thought-provoking, or they keep me from becoming too comfortable with my own viewpoint, or they keep me up to date on Michigan sports.

Occasionally, I discern that the time has come to drop some blogs from the list. The writer has seemingly abandoned his or her blog, I haven't found the subject matter compelling any more or the blog has shifted focus, the blog was added because of one post that I liked but I haven't really cared since, I haven't clicked on the link in months, whatever.

It's like church: …

Pop Culture Roundup

This week I've been reading Sabbath by Dan Allender. This is part of the "Spiritual Practices" series of books for which Brian McLaren wrote an introductory text; other volumes include one on fasting and one on prayer. The question on the back of the book was what reeled me in: "What would you do for twenty-four hours if the only criteria were to pursue your deepest joy?" Allender argues that the Sabbath is more than a "day off," and not really a day meant to devote to prayer, piety, and self-denial, either. He offers an interpretation of the first creation story where God rests on the seventh day not because God is worn out and needs a break, but because God is taking a day to sit back and delight in what has been created. Allender offers this as a model for Sabbath; that it's not about keeping rigid rules or taking a break, but instead being intentional about delighting in creation, however that may look for each of us. I thought it was a …

Five Iron Frenzy

In late high school through most of college, I listened almost exclusively to Christian music. Coincidentally, the industry seemed to be enjoying a boom period around that same time, as bands like Jars of Clay, dc Talk, and the Newsboys were at the height of their popularity and even enjoying some mainstream success.

Not so coincidentally, I was going through a time of self-discovery, or one of many. By my senior year of high school, I was exploring my identity on several fronts at the same time.

I was getting serious about my faith as a Christian and trying to figure out what that meant. At the time, it meant contributing some of my "secular" CDs to a bonfire that the youth group at the Assembly of God church were organizing. I bought and started reading my first Bible, an NRSV Student Bible that I still have and treasure. I started attending the chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes that was also open to non-athletic types such as myself. I and my high school cre…

The Long Lenten Road

Lent is only two weeks old, and I'm already looking at the long month of March that is ahead.

It's not that the discipline is going badly. I'm rather enjoying it, to be honest. It was the right thing for me to choose. And it's not that my Communal Word experiment is going badly either. After some gradual wading into the process, people have been very willing to share and participate.

Songbird has named my thoughts pretty well:
It's really too bad that Lent will last all March long. I can promise you that whether you give something up or take something on there will come a day in the middle of the month--that long, holiday-free month--when you wonder why you made that apparently seemingly brilliant choice and how you can talk yourself out of it.


But Lent is long. Lent is dreary, especially here in Maine. We slog through muddy March, or some years we wish the snow would for heaven's sake stop! We wish Easter would hurry up and get here.Again, it's not a disc…

I'm Never Reading the Detroit Free Press Again

So. The University of Michigan football program underwent an investigation by the NCAA as a result of an article written by Detroit Free Press writers Michael Rosenberg and Mark Snyder. The big accusation in that article was that the program forced players into practicing way longer than the weekly limits. Like, way longer:
"Players spent at least nine hours on football activities on Sundays after games last fall. NCAA rules mandate a daily 4-hour limit. The Wolverines also exceeded the weekly limit of 20 hours, the athletes said."(There's no link, because I'm not giving them extra hits.)

Okay, so the Free Press makes it sound like the football program exhibited a blatant disregard for the rules, and worked their kids to exhaustion. Well, here's what the NCAA found:
Between August 31 and October 26, 2008, football student-athletes were required to participate in as many as five hours of countable athletically related activities per day, which exceeded the maximu…