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Showing posts from July, 2014

Geek Christmas

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July 31st is the Feast of Ignatius of Loyola. I know this because the spiritual direction program through which I received my training focuses on Ignatius, and celebrates this day accordingly every year.

As it turns out, it is also the observed birthday of dark wizard-vanquishing literary character Harry Potter.

When I learned this second tidbit, I quipped on social media that July 31st is "Geek Christmas." If you happen to be both a church nerd and a fan of J.K Rowling's magical universe, this is the day for you.

How you celebrate can take a variety of forms.

You can have a movie watch party while reflecting on the interior movements that each scene provokes for you.

You can pretend to be laid up with a cannonball wound with nothing to read but The Sorcerer's Stone.

You can meditate on a scene from one of the books by entering into it as one of the characters or as an observer, noticing the sights, smells, sounds, and emotions present.

You can watch Sharknado 2: Th…

Tips on Church Visioning from "Weird Al" Yankovic

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Everyone has music that helps mark their childhood. The artists that one hears during those formative years tend to stick with us, evoking memories when the oldies are played and, while not always the case, we may be likely to follow a few of these throughout their careers, no matter what sorts of turns their musical styles take.

Sometime in elementary school, I first heard "Weird Al" Yankovic's classic song "Eat It," a parody of Michael Jackson's "Beat It." A few years later, a friend lent me his copy of the album Even Worse, and I laughed so hard at some songs that I cried. That was all it took to make me a fan for life.

A few weeks ago, "Weird Al" released his latest album, Mandatory Fun. As I've mentioned, I've worried with recent albums that I wouldn't be as familiar with the songs he parodies, as I tend not to listen to mainstream radio nearly as much as I used to. Fortunately, this hasn't often been the case, and …

July 2014 Pop Culture Roundup

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Five items for July…

1. Jesus on the Mainline released their self-titled EP this month, and it's quite good. If you like The Black Keys, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Mumford and Sons, and/or Delta Rae, they're basically a puree of those groups. Unfortunately, they don't have anything that I could find to embed on here, but trust me on this. I'll sing this band's praises as they steadily gain mainstream attention.

2. We took Coffeeson to go see How to Train Your Dragon 2 this month. In this second offering, which takes place years after the first, Hiccup has really come into his own as a dragon-training tech whiz, and his gruff father has been dropping strong hints that he is to succeed him as chief of the village. That all gets sidetracked as a new threat emerges in the form of Drago Bludvist, a brutal viking with big plans to form a dragon army. Along the way, Hiccup learns more about his family and about his own capacity for leadership and diplomacy. This was a sli…

Small Sips Doesn't Want Fireworks

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Yeah, that makes sense. Carol Howard Merritt recently wrote a piece about writing. As it turns out, that's what writers do:
About three times a week, pastors ask me 1) how to get on the speaking circuit or 2) how to get published. The questions go together, because the answer to how to get on the speaking circuit is usually to get published. Sometimes they are just starting out in the ministry, and other times they are retired. Either way, my answer is the same, no matter what stage of life you’re in: Writers write.   I can usually tell who is going to succeed within a couple of months. It rarely has to do with talent, intelligence, or how cool a person looks. It doesn’t matter that much how charismatic, young, or old a person is. Instead, it has a lot to do with the fact that writers write. It’s that simple. And that difficult.   Of course, there are exceptions. I know two New York Times bestsellers who have told me that they don’t write every day. They only write when they have …

Vintage CC: Children's Sermons that Textweek Rejected

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I wrote this post in August 2007 during a moment when I was incredibly dissatisfied with children's sermons ideas I was finding online, so I thought I'd have a little fun with some of the common frustrations I have with many suggested lessons. The original entry still holds the record for number of comments, so it seems I wasn't alone in how I feel on this issue. Anyway, enjoy.

Text: John 8:1-11
Theme: Jesus Doesn't Want You To Throw Rocks
Props: A handful of rocks, one for each child.

Lesson: Say, "what have I brought with me today?" (Rocks.) "That's right, rocks. What can you do with rocks?" (Paint them, throw them, use as a paperweight, build a house, arrange a meditation garden with them). "Wow. Those are all great ideas. But the one that I want to talk about today is throwing rocks. Have you ever thrown a rock?" (Wait for responses) "Did it feel good?" (Wait for responses) "Did you want to do it again?" (Wait for r…

Our Hunger Persists - A Prayer for Communion

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Based on Genesis 12:1-9
Down in our deepest places
where questions echo and beliefs remain unfinished the pangs of spiritual hunger twist and rattle.
We feed ourselves with plenty: the busyness of work hours, the distractions of leisure, the security of wealth, the excess of addictive demand.
These are our momentary satisfactions sought moment to moment, day to day, as we cry out to the world, "More!"
We trick ourselves into a false fullness until the hunger returns and we do it all over again.
We long even for the smallest crumb of eternal life that surpasses the fleeting and the frivolous.
To our inner rumbling, you respond, "Go."
You call us away from easy fixes
and quick releases.
We are slow to trust that what we need
is apart from what we've known.

But our hunger persists, as do you; it is by your gifts of courage and peace that we go to find what you wanted to show us:
a feast of grace and truth
for malnourished souls.
The journey is worth making as we f…

The Marriage Between System and Staff

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Every church is a system. Or more accurately, it is a series of systems.

There is a system of worship: the coordination of greeters and/or ushers, the planning and scheduling of music, the liturgy and rubrics, the calling of people to help lead.

There is a system of governance: the governing board, committees or teams, how activities both routine and special are planned, how information is shared, how decisions big and small are made.

There is the interpersonal system of the congregation: who has power both stated and unstated, who is getting along and whose relationships are strained, who is connected to whom through blood, business, or friendship.

These and many other systems within a church change over time. Some evolve very slowly, others are subject to instability, still others healthily respond to changing circumstances. All have ways of handling anxiety and tension, some better than others. But there are nevertheless ways of doing things, handed down from one generation of lea…

Book Review: Grace for the Contemplative Parent by Lily Crowder (written by Coffeewife)

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When I requested this book for review, I somehow missed that it's meant for mothers specifically. So I thought it'd be fun to give it to Coffeewife to read and review instead. And so I present to you: a guest post and book review by Coffeewife.

I would first like to say that I do not believe I was the intended audience for this book.  I believe this book was written for conservative Christian mothers, when I am a liberal independent Christian mother. Yes, I am a strong Christian woman but I am also a child and adult therapist (psychiatric NP). It took me a bit to get into this book and my husband had to listen to my comments about not being the intended audience through those first couple of chapters.  This review will be from a mother, therapist, nurse, and Christian woman.

Once I finished the book, I found it to be insightful in many ways. I rather enjoyed Lily’s words of wisdom and I feel that many people need to hear them. I’m glad that she was able to tie it to the Bible. H…

Writing at the CCblogs Network

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A few weeks ago, I became a contributor at the Christian Century CCblogs Network. You may have noticed the tag on the sidebar to this effect.
What's this mean, exactly?
At its most basic level, it means that the stuff that I write here occasionally gets re-posted there. I'm glad to say that this has happened a couple of times already. I even have my own contributor page.
It also means that I am listed along with a wonderful group of blogs and writers, some of whom I've enjoyed reading for years. It is an honor and privilege to be included with them.
Give the Network a look. You'll find a lot of inspirational and thought-provoking entries there.