Showing posts from September, 2012

National Coffee Day

Happy National Coffee Day from Philosophy Over Coffee.

Two Days at the Church House

I spent Monday and Tuesday at the United Church of Christ's national offices in Cleveland as part of a gathering of Christian education (we're supposed to call it faith formation now) consultants charged with the task of discussing a report on the state of Christian education/faith formation in the denomination. A few clergy in their 20s and 30s were invited to join the conversation, which is how I ended up attending.

First off, it was my first time at the Church House (one of my colleagues likes to call it the Mothership, which I've found myself adopting). Over 20 years living fairly close to those offices, and this was my first time inside. During breaks, I'd give myself my own tour of parts of the building, particularly the Amistad Chapel on the first floor, being the sanctuary connoisseur that I am. I was struck by how intimate a setting that is, and in true Reformed fashion there was no stained glass. Instead, clear windows with a view of the city provided quite …

Small Sips Is Reading About Dinosaurs

Learning is fun! Via Rachel Held Evans:

Thank God for artists like him. Brant Hansen wrote a piece commemorating the 15th anniversary of Rich Mullins' death:
I'm from Illinois, raised in the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, so you know I saw Rich Mullins a lot. First in 1985, when my then youth minister (a very cool Hoosier who reads this blog) just had to take us to see him at Lincoln Christian College, the regional epicenter of our denom -- ahem -- non-denomination.    I'd love to say U2 has been my "life's soundtrack", but I won't, because it's kind of indulgent, and it's not true. They're from Ireland. Rich Mullins is it. It was Rich playing in my '81 Ford Mustang, while I sat on the side of the road -- my Mustang's natural habitat -- waiting for a tow truck. It was "If I Stand" that I sang, a cappella and off-key, at my brother's wedding.    U2 is the coolest. But Rich? Rich was midwestern, socially awkwa…

Pop Culture Roundup

I've been reading Bo's Lasting Lessons this week, co-written by Bo Schembechler and John U. Bacon. You know the former as one of the greatest head coaches the University of Michigan ever had, and you may know the latter as the guy who also wrote Three and Out, a blow-by-blow recap of Michigan's (thankfully short-lived) RichRod era. Anyway, this book is part memoir and part lessons on leadership: Bo recounts memorable moments from his entire coaching career and extracts general tips on being a leader from them. So, for example, the first few chapters tell of his early years learning from guys like Ara Parseghian and Woody Hayes, and he parlays that into some general thoughts about the importance of having good mentors. A little later, he tells of his first season at Michigan and establishing what you're about right away while at the same time respecting the institution's history and tradition. This book has been entertaining, informative, insightful, and has caused…

Programming Notes

Okay. I think that my blog posts from this week need further explanation and clarification (and backpedaling).

My name is Jeff. I pastor a church in northeast Ohio. Shortly after I began that pastorate, I started this blog. It ended up being a way for me to process those early years of ministry, and to nurture a love of writing at the same time. Over the years, the blog has evolved and changed, from "adventures of a fresh-faced pastor" to emerging church fanboy to Serious Writer wannabe to...whatever it is now.

I began anonymous, although many family and friends were readers when I started. Now I have some church members who read and the blog is even listed on my church's website, so whatever. I figure what you see is what you get nowadays...I haven't changed really anything in response to that fact.

At times it feels like I'm speaking to an empty theatre, I won't lie about that. The big moment where everybody was writing and reading blogs has passed, it see…

I Need Some Time

Edit: No I don't. Let's just keep going.

Fine readers, I really think I've come to a crossroads regarding not just this blog, but blogging in general.

Everything about this is tiring to me right now. The schedule, the audience (or lack thereof), the forced inspiration (which is quite a contradiction).

I need some time to think over what I want to do, if anything. Maybe a week, or a couple weeks, or a month, or forever.

Thanks for reading.

365 Albums - The Return?

I have to be honest with you about something.

This blog feels a little stale.

This is not the first time that I've felt this way. I get like this every six months or so, if not more frequently. So I change something about the layout or I take on some short-term blogging project and generally it helps me get over it.

The issue is not a hatred of writing. I can't not write. Heck, my vocation demands that I be a writer to a certain extent. And I love writing about all manner of things, which of course you've seen.

But I know that it's time to change things up again before I go crazy.

Every once in a while, I look over a series of posts that I wrote a few years ago, the remnants of an ill-fated project that I couldn't finish that I called 365 Albums. The gist was that I would listen to a new music album every day for a year and write about what I was hearing. There would inevitably personal stories and experiences that I associated with the music sprinkled in.

It was …

Small Sips Is a Lesser Baldwin

Get well soon, King. While observing my usual ritual of watching WWE Monday Night RAW, I noticed at one point that commentator Michael Cole was the only one talking; partner Jerry "the King" Lawler had fallen silent for some reason. I ended up turning off the show before it was explained that Lawler had suffered an apparent heart attack at ringside and was rushed to an area hospital. provides an update:
LATEST UPDATE: 9/11/12, 12:20 p.m.  As of this morning, Jerry "The King" Lawler is in a cardiac care unit and all his vital signs are stable. WWE will provide additional information as it becomes available. We continue to wish Jerry all the best for a full recovery.  Last night, WWE released an official statement on the events in Montreal:  Jerry “The King” Lawler suffered a heart attack while commentating during last night’s broadcast of Monday Night Raw in Montreal. We are hopeful Jerry makes a full recovery and returns to WWE in the near future. Our thou…

Monday Morning Ellipses

I went to the Michigan-Air Force game on Saturday. Michigan's defense has some work to do...If you're ever in Ann Arbor, check out Frita Batidos for lunch...I hope my copy of Away from the World comes today...I didn't eat well this weekend...

Coffeeson starts his next swim class this morning, the first without a parent in the water with him. I hope he gets through it okay...This coffee is really good...I found myself wishing I'd worn a jacket to the church yesterday. It made me so happy...People who say they don't like fall because it means winter's coming need to live in the present a little more...

Sometimes I think it's just taking longer for larger churches to realize they're in trouble membership-wise...I'm still not on Tony Jones' list for his progressive blogfest...It's taken me a while to realize and accept that this blog has a pretty small readership...I recently contributed to a book of prayers. Can't wait to tell you more abo…

Pop Culture Roundup

This week I read The Wrath of Fate by "Captain" Robert Brown, the frontman for steampunk band Abney Park. This is Brown telling the band's fictional backstory in novel form, where on the way to a gig, their plane travels through a rift in time and the ones who survive end up joining the crew of the airship H.M.S. Ophelia. From there they embark on a series of adventures through time and space that include the inspiration for many of the band's songs.  The song part may sound corny, but that element didn't feel forced or artificial at all. It's clear to me that parts of this story were already in mind when the songs were written, and this book fleshes those out and connects them. So first and foremost, it's a fun story with some great creative elements, and it's a quick read to boot: I finished it in two days over Labor Day weekend. That said, there were a ton of punctuation and spelling errors, and the writing quality is lacking in some places. It…

Ignatius Commence!

It may shock you to learn that many afternoons and evenings in my college and seminary days were spent in coffeehouses. No? Nobody's shocked by that? Huh. Okay.

Usually, these trips were accompanied by a bag full of some combination of books and photocopies to which I was dedicated to read. Bottomless cup purchased, I and often a classmate or two would commandeer a table and proceed to ignore each other for the next 2-3 hours while we underlined, flagged, and noted our way through whatever material each of us had brought with us. More often than not, we were surrounded by others doing the same thing. This was less the case in college, but in St. Louis where there are no less than 12 institutions of higher learning, you could count on rubbing elbows (literally, the coffeehouse we liked most could be kind of cramped) with students from all over the city.

I miss St. Louis. Sigh.

Anyway, the life of a student did become tiresome. By the time I graduated seminary, I was ready to do so…

His Final Season Begins

Go Blue. Beat Bama.

(Photo courtesy of MGoBlog)

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