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Showing posts from July, 2013

Happy Feast of Ignatius of Loyola!

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July Pop Culture Roundup

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Okay. So, for some reason I keep coming back around to wanting to do these things. They started as weekly, then I went to bi-weekly, and now I'm going to try monthly. So here are five pop culture items that I've been enjoying lately.

1. Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Lickety Split - I heard about this album shortly before it came out. Turns out there are quite a few albums by artists I like coming out this year. Shows me for not paying attention. Anyway, this new batch of tunes is just as uplifting and positive as what he's put out in the past. "Born Again" and "Take the Party" (featuring Trombone Shorty) are favorites.

2. Warm Bodies - Coffeewife and I watched this the other week. I wasn't sure whether I'd like it considering how much they mess with zombie mythology. Essentially, the main character, a zombie named R, tells the story of his "life" from his perspective, which includes his falling in love with a live woman named Jul…

Book Review: Answering the Contemplative Call by Carl McColman

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So if life is a journey, then spirituality is an essential part of the passage. Mysticism is not some sort of static experience, a moment in time in which a person feels especially united with God. Rather, it is a process, an unfolding dimension of movement and change that takes place over the course of many seasons. - Carl McColman, Answering the Contemplative Call

Whenever I tell people that I'm in a program to be certified as a spiritual director, there comes the inevitable attempt for me to explain what exactly that means. I confess that I still haven't found the best way to do this: I muddle through something about coaching people in their prayer life, leading them through the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, and walking with them on their spiritual journey.

One of the main reasons I wanted to pursue this program was due to a perception that many Christians, particularly in American Protestantism, don't seem to be incredibly aware of the deep, rich tradition…

The Complexity of Help

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I am a pastor. Coffeewife is a nurse practitioner on the psych unit of a children's hospital. We are both in what sometimes are referred to as "helping professions." That is to say that our jobs are primarily associated with the help that we provide to others--physical, spiritual, emotional, and so on. I doubt that there is really any official list of jobs that qualify as "helping professions." It seems to me that it's a pretty loose term used when it seems convenient to do so.

But it's not inaccurate to say that a large chunk of what Coffeewife and I do in our respective roles is help people in various ways. We are trained to give counsel in ways appropriate to our fields, and otherwise to direct those in need of assistance to people or organizations better suited to their needs.

There are certain side effects to being in a "helping profession." We end up bumping up against difficult people and situations. They are people and situations who …

A Home in Need of Repair

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I was born in Southfield, a northwest suburb of Detroit. My earliest baseball memories happened at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull, and my favorite player growing up was Alan Trammell. My grandfather and aunt were proud Chrysler employees for decades and my great-grandfather worked in the boiler room at Henry Ford's mansion. I've lived in Ohio way longer than I lived in Michigan, but I still consider the so-called "state up north" home. It's been hard to read about Detroit's difficulties the past few years, and today's news about the city declaring bankruptcy is no different. This isn't about ultimately trivial sports rivalries or cheap points that pundits and armchair politicians will surely attempt to score from afar. This is about a place that nearly a million people call home. It's about people's lives. I'll always love ya, Detroit. Get well soon.

Small Sips Defers to More Eloquent People

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The tragedy that we have become. Fellow UCC pastor Jennifer Mills-Knudson has some very well-put thoughts on the recent verdict in the George Zimmerman trial...or more accurately the culture that led to the incident between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin and everything that has happened since: Tonight, George Zimmerman is a free man. The basic story is not in dispute: Zimmerman saw Trayvon Martin walking in the neighborhood, and decided that a young black man in a hoodie posed a threat to his safety. He openly admitted to following Martin in a van, calling 911, and hearing the 911 operator tell him to back off and not get out of his vehicle. Yet he did get out, a scuffle ensued, and then Zimmerman shot Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old boy, because he was afraid of him. The jury concluded that this was not a crime, and Zimmerman is not guilty.   In other words, it’s legal to shoot an unarmed black teenager if you are afraid of him. And that's just her getting warmed up. From there she…

Vintage CC: I Can't Fix You

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I wrote this post just last year, but it's been weighing on my mind lately. I think about people whom I've wanted to fix, whom I tried too hard to fix, where my desire to fix someone seemed to cause me to make one stupid decision after another. At this point I need to chalk past experiences up to "live and learn," and a post like this helps me remember what I've learned.


When you try your best but you don't succeed 
When you get what you want but not what you need 
When you feel so tired but you can't sleep 
Stuck in reverse 

And the tears come streaming down your face 
When you lose something you can't replace 
When you love someone but it goes to waste 
Could it be worse? 

Lights will guide you home 
And ignite your bones 
And I will try to fix you

Every once in a while, a movie is made featuring an unlikely, unorthodox mentor figure who transcends him or herself in order to help another character see how they can be more than they are. The title character of M…

Pop Stories: Monsters University

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This past weekend, we had a family outing to see Monsters University, the prequel to Pixar's Monsters Incorporated. It's been long enough that this movie has been out that we were the only ones in the theater, which was cool. So we could perhaps laugh a little louder than we otherwise would, and we could even make comments to each other if we wanted, particularly if Coffeeson needed help understanding something.

We meet up with Mike and Sully--as well as some other familiar monsters from the first movie--as they're attending college. Surprise premise based on the name, right?

Mike is the dedicated student, the one who needs to work hard for everything he's given in order to be what he's always dreamed of: a scarer at Monsters Incorporated. He always has his monster nose buried in a book, gobbling up every factoid and technique that he can in order to keep up with the others in his class.

Sully, meanwhile, is the one with more natural abilities. He already looks li…

Fake UCC News

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During General Synod, Twitter provided not only helpful running commentary on the event. It also provided many ways to poke fun at some of the proceedings. One hashtag that emerged was #fakeuccnews, where people could contribute false headlines about the United Church of Christ in the spirit of satire. I couldn't resist contributing, and I felt like listing mine here, along with a few more that I thought of:

-Fire breaks out on stage, Synod votes to study the issue further before deciding whether to evacuate.

-Leak from Local Arrangements Committee reveals Synod cookies are all made of tofu.

-"Unitarians Considering Christ" joke made, last person who has never heard it laughs.

-Brian Adams to perform at next Synod as part of upcoming Mission: Summer of '69 initiative.

-UCC communications department issues press release about next Synod in Cleveland that includes a declaration that "we will not, no never, ever ever EVER NEVER EVER consider organizing a trip to a…

On Not Being at General Synod

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The 29th General Synod of the United Church of Christ is underway out in Long Beach, California. I'm sitting here on my couch drinking coffee.

It's not out of protest for such a gathering, or because I don't want to be there. I actually do. I was excited when they first announced that the next one would be in Long Beach, as I've never been to California (note: I still haven't). And I feel like I'm leaving my fellow members of the 2030 Clergy Network's National Planning Team down by not pulling my weight out there. Not a good start for the new co-moderator.

No, it really just comes down to a combination of poor planning and uncertainty around the selling of our former house and the purchase of our new one. I haven't written about that on here, but it was a bit of a hassle and the process just kept dragging out longer and longer and dropping the needed money into a trip out West didn't seem like a prudent thing at the time.

So here I sit, able to fol…

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