Showing posts from September, 2011

National Coffee Day

Happy National Coffee Day from your friends at Philosophy Over Coffee.

Small Sips Thinks You're Boring

You know who you are. Yeah. YOU. A few weeks ago, UCC pastor/author Rev. Lillian Daniel wrote a reflection for the Huffington Post regarding the increasingly common, ever-innocuous phrase "spiritual but not religious." Hint: she's not a fan.
Being privately spiritual but not religious just doesn't interest me. There is nothing challenging about having deep thoughts all by oneself. What is interesting is doing this work in community, where other people might call you on stuff, or heaven forbid, disagree with you. Where life with God gets rich and provocative is when you dig deeply into a tradition that you did not invent all for yourself.

Thank you for sharing, spiritual-but-not-religious sunset person. You are now comfortably in the norm for self-centered American culture, right smack in the bland majority of people who find ancient religions dull but find themselves uniquely fascinating. Can I switch seats now and sit next to someone who has been shaped by a might…

Pop Culture Roundup

We ordered WWE Night of Champions this past Sunday, because we wanted to be fully prepared for the next night. The concept of NOC is that every title is defended. That's it. So US Champion Dolph Ziggler retained in a Fatal Four-Way match, Divas Champion Kelly Kelly retained against Beth Phoenix, which was incredibly lame given the way they've been building up Phoenix and Natalie Neidhart as unstoppable angry actual wrestlers crusading against the Barbie doll ethos of the division. The tag champions Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston retained, but the tag division is nothing right now so who cares? Intercontinental champ Cody Rhodes retained against Ted Dibiase Jr. At this point in the PPV, I'm thinking, "Boy, no title changes...exciting stuff." Then Mark Henry came out and destroyed Randy Orton to win the World Championship. It was the most dominant I've seen anyone allowed to be against Orton in a long time, and besides that I'm happy for Henry: he…

Life Lessons from Ari Gold

Entourage ended its 8-season run earlier this month. For those who are unfamiliar with the show and/or are brand new to the blog and thus haven't seen me comment on it for the past 6 1/2 years, this show follows the adventures of Vincent Chase, a young movie actor transplanted from Queens with his older brother and two best friends. The four experience the ups and downs of Hollywood (mostly the ups, with plenty of women, booze, and toys to go around), with a lot of winking at the audience thrown in as its many guest stars play over-the-top version of themselves. It's a show that never took itself too seriously even in its more serious moments, and the four guys always seemed to make it through every setback with their little fraternity completely intact.

That fraternity actually had a fifth honorary member, although as the series went on his storylines seemed to diverge a little more, as if the show's creators realized that he stood out from other characters on the show.…

The Daily Show Remembers 9/13

The What and Why of Spiritual Direction

A while back, I mentioned that I'll be entering a program through the Ignatian Spirituality Institute at John Carroll University to be certified as a spiritual director. After going through the application process which included an interview with the program director and two alumni (one of whom is now on my blogroll), it was suggested to me that I wait a year to begin the formal classwork in order to experience the Spiritual Exercises first, which I would have had to do anyway. This made sense to me, so I agreed to their suggestion.

This week I was given the name and contact information for a spiritual director with whom I may go through this process. As I anticipate beginning this step, I thought that I might take another crack at explaining why I'm doing this at all and what in my understanding a spiritual director is and does. I've found it surprisingly difficult to try explaining spiritual direction to others, so maybe if I take another stab at writing an explanatio…

Moved to Silence - A Prayer for 9/11

There is something about certain places and moments that stops our noise.
We enter space or time that has been set aside, and with it we enter the quietness that it seems to invite or demand.
At times we do not want to disrupt the memory as it passes through consciousness as if happening again.
At times there simply are no words; the sacredness speaks for itself.
At times, giving voice to our thoughts will only further confound what can’t be understood.

Today, there are many noises and voices clamoring to be heard in places and moments deemed sacred.
They strive and strain to describe how we feel, what we remember, who to blame.
They do so flanked by markers and memorabilia.
They do so while showing familiar images vivid, terrifying, and heartbreaking.

If left to ourselves, we may not need the voices or the images.
We are reminded by shrines built in our hearts just as well.
Perhaps on a different day with our noises off, we may be able to remember better.

In these silent moments, we remember tra…

Pop Culture Roundup

I recently read Walter Brueggemann's Journey to the Common Good for my book study group. Brueggemann explores Old Testament concepts of neighborliness and community, first by examining God's order vs. Pharaoh's order in the Exodus, followed by the covenant at Sinai to live together as God's people, and finally exploring the prophets' calling the nations back to such concepts after straying from them. Brueggemann alludes to modern views of such things, offering some further contrasts between God's intentions for community and those of today's cultures. It was a pretty good read, though I admit that I skimmed some parts.

I often wonder why I'm still watching True Blood. I couldn't give you a real answer if you asked. We started watching at the beginning, and quickly deemed the acting bad and the stories campy. The acting has improved and I've come to find a certain charm in the camp, but holy crap is Sookie (the main character and heroine aro…

What I Would Say at a Seminary Commencement

I fondly remember sitting where you are right now. After years of study and planning and dreaming, I sat in a church pew having just received my degree, the apex of my educational life, and I clearly remember opening the cover and just staring at it. This anticipated moment finally made real, I actually had to convince myself that it was so. I had spent so many years first in undergrad and then in this Masters program wrestling with eternal truths, using the best Biblical and theological scholarship available to me. Aside from that, I had spent three years immersed in a culture of liturgical experimentation and of justice preached to us by prophets ancient and modern. They were years of envisioning what the church could be as we explored the full gamut of worship experience and visualized what God's kingdom made proper and full would look like.

I imagine that this is what your seminary journey has been as well. You have spent this time steeping yourselves in such wonderful en…



September the First

It was mid-August. I woke up and began my day in the usual way: Coffeeson was up first, standing outside his room saying, "Daddy? Daddy, where are you?" Glancing at the clock to make sure it was an hour when normal people are awake, I rolled out of bed to collect my toddler and to get us some breakfast.

He with his juice and Pop-Tart, and I with my coffee, I pulled up a window shade and was greeted by a realization: we were receiving our morning sun's rays from a different angle, casting the shadows of late summer. I can't really explain this; they're just different, you know? In addition to this, the clouds were a little more prominent, providing cover in a way that only begins to happen this time of year and will continue on through the next several months.

This sight made me smile, because I knew what it meant: September is coming.

September, with its ushering in of the wet and wind that causes us to dive into closets to find our sweatshirts, and every Fr…

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