Showing posts from July, 2011

Pop Culture Roundup

Still reading Cutting for Stone. I'm much deeper into the book, but for whatever reason I can't come up with a whole lot to write about it. As I think I've already said, it tells the story of twins born to a nun in Ethiopia, and is the story of their being brought up in a hospital culture. I don't think I have a lot to say about it yet because I don't find myself really reacting to it one way or the other. It's just a story that I'm reading; I haven't really formed an opinion about it. In fact, I've been incapable of doing that so far. So I'll just keep reading in the hopes that that'll change.

The eighth and final season of Entourage started this past Sunday. Vince is just getting out of rehab, Eric and Sloan apparently aren't engaged anymore, Ari and his wife have separated, Drama is working on his new show, and Turtle is doing whatever with his tequila business. As is the MO of this show, we weren't treated to the hard stuf…

Boogity boogity boogity, amen.

This man is a credit to my profession:


"If you’re the pastor, you’ll probably find yourself saying, “I can’t believe it’s been seven years!” And if you’re anything like those four pastors who came to me for spiritual direction, you’ll start feeling some stirrings that will blossom full-blown next year." - Israel Galindo, Staying Put

I've become somebody's mentor. I didn't mean to. It happened completely by accident.

I remember the first time he walked into the church. Young guy, mid-20s, tall, well-kept. He wandered in behind his family who'd been attending off and on for a few months by that point. Politely and pleasantly, he shook my hand and said "good morning," and took his seat in preparation for worship. After the service, I clearly remember him saying "thank you" as he moved through the greeting line. The next week, he said "thank you" again. This happened for at least the first month that he attended, eventually on his own and without prompting from othe…

Pop Culture Roundup

I'm a little further into Cutting for Stone now, which is about the lives of twins born to a nun in Ethiopia. While the book will focus on their relationship, I'm still at the part recounting the life of their mother and their birth. For me it's been slow reading, not because the story is slow but just because I haven't devoted much time to reading. So until I can make it deeper into the novel, I still can't really say too much about it.

We ordered WWE Money in the Bank this past Sunday, so named for the two featured eight-man ladder matches where wrestlers compete to climb a ladder and pull down a briefcase containing a contract for a World Title match (Did that make sense?). These two matches were decent enough, although I never would've guessed at Daniel Bryan winning the one match; Alberto Del Rio winning the other was to be expected, though. But the big anticipated match, the reason I and probably most others ordered the show, was the CM Punk vs. John …

A Prayer for Difficult Times by Ignatius of Loyola

This prayer is shared by RevTrev, which he linked specifically to depression. Between that link and my preparations to be immersed in Ignatian thought over the next few years, I share it here:
O Christ Jesus,
when all is darkness
and we feel our weakness and helplessness,
give us the sense of Your presence,
Your love, and Your strength.
Help us to have perfect trust
in Your protecting love
and strengthening power,
so that nothing may frighten or worry us,
for, living close to You,
we shall see Your hand,
Your purpose, Your will through all things.

The UCC and God the Father

One of the big outcomes of the United Church of Christ's General Synod 28 at the beginning of July was its approval of changes to the Constitution and Bylaws to move toward unified governance for its boards at the national setting. There are currently five such boards, and these changes will slim those down to one board of 50 members. The 27th General Synod in Grand Rapids approved making this move, and this vote was approving the details of how that will happen. There were, of course, objections to the overall concept that people voiced at this latest Synod, while others focused on the specific makeup of the board and whether minority groups would be adequately represented. Nevertheless, it passed, and we move toward this new model.

In addition to those changes in the Constitution and Bylaws, there was one other change that has received a lot of attention, both during debate at Synod and since:
Delegates at the United Church of Christ's General Synod 28 recently voted overw…

Pop Culture Roundup

I just started reading Cutting for Stone by Abraham Vergese, though I'm not very far into it yet so I can't say too much about it.

I watched Chaos Theory this past week, starring Ryan Reynolds as Frank, an efficiency expert who is incredibly organized and punctual for everything. His wife, meaning to set the clocks ten minutes forward in order to help him be on time for a big presentation, sets them back instead and makes him late, which starts a domino effect of events that disrupt his entire life outlook. Or at least, that's the premise. First off, reading that description caused me to expect something along the lines of Yes Man: overly cautious guy learns to let go and try new things. I was pleasantly surprised that this is a far more weighted film: it does have some humor, but what happens to Frank is far more upsetting and serious. Reynolds, of course, pulls it off very well. Second, the fact that he's ten minutes late is not necessarily the reason why what h…

Oblivious Church Sign of the Day

The best I can come up with is that it's a play on the word "beach:"

HT to Jesus Needs New PR.

Speak the Good - A Prayer Based on Genesis 1

Before time, nothingness.
Before form and shape, before light and shade, a void.
Before fullness of life, empty.

And over the nothing, through the void, into the emptiness, you breathed.
The waters of the void, once twisting and crashing unrefined, began to separate.
And something took shape.
Light and dark.
Sun and moon.
Ocean and continent.
Salmon, dove, lion, cow.

You breathed into the black, and through your breath you spoke, and through your speaking, it began.
Swirling galaxies, rotating planets, and blazing comets responded to your speaking, and became.

As you commanded, you also blessed.
What you deemed would be, you also deemed worthy of being.
Into existence, you spoke good things.
The light and dark is good.
The sun and moon is good.
The oceans and continents are good.
The flora and fauna are good.
You spoke the good, and it was so.

You spoke the good, but we don’t always remember.
We can’t always hear you speaking the good…
…over the cries of children with bl…


As a pastor, I've visited a lot of cemeteries.

It's an inevitable part of my vocation. Somebody calls me to let me know that their wife, husband, father, mother, grandparent, sister, brother, or whomever died. I get a call from the funeral home maybe a day later, at which point they tell me when and where the service is taking place, and where the burial will be. The location of the service is usually a predictable choice between the soft pink lights and soothing piano music on CD of the funeral home, or in the sanctuary of the church. It makes no difference to me, really. Funeral home services are much shorter due to the general lack of hymns and corporately read prayers. Every once in a while somebody would like a favorite song sung together, or at least as much as people are up for singing. But for the most part, they're about half as long as a church service which, as you might expect, is normally held at the request of member families who couldn't imagine th…

Summer Activity Meme

It's been a while since I did a meme, so why not:

Share five things that are happening in your life, personally or professionally or some of each, in this season of life.

1. Vacation brain. I just spent a week in Florida, and I don't feel like I've re-adjusted to being back yet. It's also July, so there isn't a ton of stuff happening around the church at the moment at least in terms of activities. I'm just in "summer mode" like everybody else.

2. Spiritual direction. I'm continuing to anticipate the beginning of my spiritual direction program, which will begin either later this summer or in the fall with experiencing Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises. I'm still waiting to hear from the program director about finding a spiritual director to guide me through this.

3. Coffeewife's graduation. She will earn a Nurse Practitioner degree in mid-August, and both of us are ready for that in multiple ways. I'm incredibly proud of her and h…

Slow to Emerge

It's worth noting before you delve in that 1) this is really long, so make sure your coffee is topped off, and 2) all book quotes are from their hardcover versions, just in case you look for it in a paperback and things don't quite line up.

In a recent Pop Culture Roundup, I reported on finishing Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christianity. In that review, I said this:
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.On Twitter, somebody picked up on the comment about being behind the curve, and I ended up getting in a whole discussion about what that meant. Of course, that discussion w…

Flash Communion

Here are some of my colleagues from the United Church of Christ's 2030 Clergy Network engaging in a "flash eucharist" at General Synod:

Pop Culture Roundup

I'm reading a book called Driftless by David Rhodes, about a tiny Wisconsin town's collection of characters as they interact with one another. As I've read, I've waited for some overarching story to emerge, yet after a while it became clear that the overarching story is the entire town: how the characters support one another, live with each other, bump into each other for better or worse in a place that hardly anyone purposely travels to except out of necessity. In that sense, the feel of the book is very much like living in such a place - those small towns where everybody knows everybody, where people try to stay afloat or are too rooted to move or are living a type of fatalism or are longing to escape. Whatever their demeanor or motivation, here they all are together, to some degree stuck with each other, with lots of little beginnings and endings weaving in and out of each other, much like life itself.

We watched The King's Speech this week, starring Colin Fir…

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