Showing posts from June, 2011

Vintage POC: I Want to Preach at General Synod

Beginning Friday is the 28th General Synod of the United Church of Christ. I won't be attending, but thought I'd revisit this post from March 2008.

I want to preach at General Synod.

I preach almost every week, so you know I’ve had a lot of practice.

No, seriously. You should see it. I’ve got a couple shelves of commentaries that I pull out every week, and I study. I turn the text inside out, pull it apart, piece it back together and make new shapes out of it. I ponder the richness of its meaning for a new day and age where people are interested in the new day and age. I relate it. I’m very good at relating. You could say that I’m relatable. I’m a relatable preacher. I take a text and relate it because people like relatability. You should see the amount of relating that I do. This isn’t some dusty, overly poetic stuff…I’m gritty. A gritty kind of relatable. Unless you don’t like gritty. Do you like gritty? Or do you like poetic more? I can do poetic. But rest assured, it’s a rel…

"Biblical Christianity"


Pop Culture Roundup

No books begun yet. No movies and no TV worth mentioning. But it's been a decent week musically, so here are a few songs via Youtube.

First, I downloaded Adele's album 21 this week, which is very good. Here's the song you probably already know, "Rolling in the Deep:"

Weird Al Yankovic's new album Alpocolypse dropped this week. I've heard the whole thing but haven't purchased anything. He does make fun of songs by Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift, among others. Here's his parody of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," entitled "Perform this Way."

Finally, I stumbled across an artist named Chilly Gonzales this week, who has a rap album called The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales where the backing tracks are all orchestral. Here's the first track, "Supervillian Music:"

The Next Thing

For the past couple of years, I've been wondering about The Next Thing. By that, I mean that, once Coffeewife graduates from her latest program, what would I do? Once it would be "my turn," so to speak, what sort of education- or career-related change or additional thing would I want to pursue?

As I considered my options, there were a wide variety of possibilities. These included another Masters or even a Doctor of Ministry degree, training in spiritual direction or further Clinical Pastoral Education, or becoming more involved in some justice issue or organization. I thought about all of these for many months, and none of them really stood out to me. In a way, I wanted to do them all, which also meant that I wasn't really committed to doing any of them. So I waited and I prayed and I considered and I weighed pros and cons, and after a while I started think that maybe none of these are really something I want to do right now. After all, who says that I have to …

Programming Notes

Hi. I thought I'd give readers a heads-up on a few things. Well, really one main thing and then some other things I tacked on at the end.

I'm thinking about a name change for the blog. I've explained the current name a couple times, but I'm seeing a constant presence of what I presume to be mostly one-time visitors who clearly are looking for a philosophy blog, as in Socrates and Leibniz and did the tree make a sound in the forest and whatever. While the misunderstanding is not major and the inevitable disappointment that these visitors feel is not really my problem, I'm thinking it would just be better if I gave this place a name that is more clear about the content. I have a few ideas, and once I settle on one it'll probably just happen.

I've grown attached to the current name after 6 1/2 years, but changing it makes sense. I may eventually export the whole blog to a new URL, but I wouldn't do that without a lot of advance notice. And I know th…

Pop Culture Roundup

I think it's about time to read Gilead again. That's all I got in terms of books right now.

We saw X-Men: First Class this past week, which gives the origins of the X-Men all the way back to before Professor X and Magneto met (and, of course before they were known by those names). We are given more backstory to Magneto's time in the concentration camp, and the evil character who killed his mother and against whom he seeks revenge through the movie. Xavier (who has hair and can walk), meanwhile, actually took the woman eventually known as Mystique under his wing from a very young age. The seeds of mutant discrimination are planted as the movie goes on, and Mystique and the eventual Beast wrestle with their own self-loathing issues as well. In Mystique's case, it's interesting to see that Xavier actually contributes to those feelings, and yet there is no culminating retaliation. Truthfully, Xavier is a bit of an arrogant jerk, and it's particularly highlight…

Eight Takeaways from the 2011 Ohio Conference Annual Gathering

This past weekend was the Ohio Conference Annual Gathering, held at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio. For the uninitiated, Conferences are large regional judicatories of the United Church of Christ. Many Conferences seemed to have their meetings this same weekend if my Facebook feed is to be believed. Anyway, here's a list of eight notable things about this year's gathering from my perspective:

1. It was my first time back at Heidelberg in a few years, and I loved the chance just to be back on campus. They're working on some great things such as a new dorm and commons that will include an on-campus pub. They also gutted the old cavernous science building and made it into a modern, non-cavernous, technologically-impressive business building. I was also impressed with the cafeteria, which is also more open and whose food seems to no longer suck. However, they have not yet renovated the dorm that I stayed in, and I got a horrible night's sleep. Still, this yea…

Vestments, Part 3

I've now been wearing a collar on Sunday mornings and on other occasions that I deem appropriate for over a month. I've already shared my experience on a hospital psychiatric unit that solidified my conviction that this was a good idea. Predictably, this addition to my wardrobe invited some questions from church members about it, which I gladly summarized in a recent newsletter article to help people understand. Those reasons are summarized thus:

1. A sign of my role. While scouring the internets looking for reasons why other pastors wear them, a common analogy that I read over and over was that of collar as uniform. Police officers, doctors and nurses, mailmen, military personnel, etc., etc., etc., wear uniforms that clearly designate them in their role. The collar thus is a pastor's uniform. And there are times when one needs to know who the pastor is in the room.
2. The collar is a symbol of servitude. The metaphor is much more abrasive today, but the collar is so…

Pop Culture Roundup

I finished Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christianity this week. I'd been reading it off and on for months as part of my book discussion group. I wasn't actually sure what we're meant to discuss for next time so I just went ahead and read the rest. If you're already familiar with McLaren, nothing will be tremendously new here. Also, if you're familiar with 200+ years of modern Biblical scholarship and theological traditions besides fundamentalism and neo-Calvinism, nothing will be tremendously new. I understand that McLaren is writing to an audience within Evangelicalism disillusioned with the same old, same old, but emerging/emergent really are behind the curve theologically. I have an entire post in me about that, I think. So stay tuned.

My brother and I went to an Akron Aeros game last weekend because Jerry "the King" Lawler made an appearance to throw out the first pitch and sign autographs. We signed up for a special meet and greet before …

Vestments, Part 2

One of my pastoral heroes nowadays is Nadia Bolz-Weber. She is one who is ordained in a mainline tradition (ELCA) and who treasures the heritage of that tradition, yet who also has an eye on how the culture has changed and what the church may need to do to relate to this new moment. I've learned a lot from her and have been thankful for her contributions to the larger conversation regarding what the mainline should be about decades after our "glory years" have passed.

Nadia gave an interview last year on God Complex Radio, during which she made some comments about ordination, and I thought that they were so good that I wrote them down in a Moleskine:
Listen, I'm not the special person in the community...I'm the person who's set aside to not have the same freedoms as everyone else. I'm the one person in this church who's not free to have a conversation with someone and chat about it later. I'm the one person who's not free to flirt with other…

Vestments, Part 1

During the weeks leading up to my ordination, I purchased a Geneva gown. The moment was an exciting one: it symbolized for me a passing from one way of being, one vocation, fully into another. After such a long process of education, interviews, and requirements, I would take on the yoke of my calling symbolized by my red stole, which popped brilliantly against the black of my robe that cool January day. It's what I'd dreamt of wearing for so long, and that dream finally came true.

Months later at my installation, the church presented me with a white alb. To me, the alb is more representative of what I want to be about as a pastor: originating from the earliest days of the church, it was given to all newly baptized believers to wear as a sign of their putting on new life in Christ. Thus it symbolizes my commonality with all Christians through baptism, contrasted with the Geneva gown, which was borrowed from academia centuries ago and still carries with it the symbology of p…

Pop Culture Roundup

In case you missed my review of Eugene Peterson's The Pastor, you can find it here.

We watched the first episode of The Borgias this week, about an aristocratic Spanish family whose patriarch, Rodrigo, becomes Pope Alexander VI. Of course, since he's Pope, his family isn't exactly legitimate. But then again, he and other family members do a lot of things that aren't legitimate. His oldest son Cesare, a bishop, carries out a lot of his dirty deeds including bribery and murder. His younger son serves in the Papal Army and lives his own reckless lifestyle. The first episode depicts Rodrigo's politicking and simony in order to become Pope, and then he needs to take nefarious actions to keep his position in the face of opposition. I wasn't sure about the show at first: it took a little bit to get into. But by the end, I wanted to see what happens next. On the other hand, it's not an urgent type of feeling.

One of my new favorite blogs is Jesus Needs New PR

Vintage CC: Pastoral Grief

A recent post by Jan about depression in ministry caused me to recall this post from last year.

I've been thinking a lot lately about pastoral grief. I don't mean grief in the "wounded healer" sense, where a pastor ministers to someone in grief while aware of his or her own brokenness and emotions. I mean grief in terms of a sense of loss in one's ministry. It's not a pastoral care issue, but a vocational one.

I first started thinking about this when I read Dan Allender's Sabbath earlier this year, and near the back of the book he mentions loss as something that may creep up in moments of silence. When preparing for a six-month sabbatical, he tells of meeting with the academic dean at the school at which he teaches, where he is asked if he'll be prepared for the grief that may surface in moments of silence:
He reminded me of what I knew--most start-up organizations are fraught with untimely departures, chaos, mountains of blame, monumental mistake…

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