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Showing posts from June, 2014

Small Sips Bids Farewell to June

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Yes, very disruptive. Jan reflects on some of the decisions that the Presbyterian Church (USA) made at its General Assembly last week, most notably its decision to affirm marriage equality:
Disruptive innovation is a concept in technological development in which – initially – results/performance/growth might be lower, but eventually there is prosperity as traditional parameters change. Check it out here.After years of prayerful conversations, studies, debates, and even General Assembly voting, GA 211 finally made a disruptive decision: to change the definition of marriage to include GLBTQ couples and to stand with oppressed Palestinians – both Christian and Muslim. Some people will leave the church. Some will send hate mail. Many will misrepresent what happened in Detroit.But innovation is disruptive. And faithfulness is even more disruptive. Thanks to all the commissioners who worked so tirelessly last week in Detroit. While keeping tabs on the events in Detroit and noting the various…

June 2014 Pop Culture Roundup

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Five items for June…

1. I read Dark March: Stories for When the Rest of the World is Asleep by Colin Fleming this month. This is a series of short stories, some of which are loosely connected and most of which are a bit surrealist in nature. There's one about an island that gets bored and wants to explore other places while dealing with wisecracking crabs and braggart gulls. There's another about rival haunted forests each trying to be more fear-inspiring than the other. There's more than one about a sea captain named Doze at various points in his life, including his trying to break into his crystallized garage and another about his devising creative ways to punish crew members. Most stories were enjoyable, although a few of the most trippy ones felt like work to understand. Fleming is a gifted writer and imaginative storyteller; I'll probably end up giving his earlier collection of stories a read as well.

2. I also read The Inexplicables by Cherie Priest, the fifth in …

What Is Spiritual Direction?

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As most regular readers should know by now, I am about to be certified as a spiritual director through the Ignatian Spirituality Institute at John Carroll University. For the past three years, I have journeyed through the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola and then have learned about the dynamics and guiding of others through those same Exercises, as well as other issues related to spiritual direction such as listening, boundaries, ethics, and power dynamics. I have undertaken a 50-hour practicum (which actually amounted to over 80 hours), written verbatims, met with a supervisor, and am now in the process of filling out final evaluations and preparing for the certification ceremony near the end of August.

Nevertheless, throughout this program and these many experiences, I've been constantly trying to figure out how to explain what spiritual direction is to others. When I tell people I'm a pastor, for better or worse they can visualize something about what that means. …

Vintage CC: "I'm Not Bigger Yet"

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I wrote this back in April 2012. Coffeeson is two years older and has just finished kindergarten, so I'm already feeling some of what I wrote then. Not only that, but Coffeedaughter is already crawling and can stand unassisted for short bursts, so I'm already going through this with her, too. With Father's Day coming up this weekend, I thought back to this post  and am amazed every day at how quickly time seems to pass.

A few months ago, I was strapping Coffeeson into his carseat. We were getting ready to go to preschool that morning, and I had just encouraged him to climb in so that I could buckle everything around him. I can't pretend to know why or remember what prompted it, but as I was clipping everything together he said, "I'm not bigger yet."

My best guess is that it was a commentary on having to sit in the carseat. It will be years before he can sit in a regular seat and wear a seatbelt like his parents. The context of the statement supports my th…

What The Ocean Taught Me

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I didn't grow up near the ocean, but I've grown up knowing it.
My introduction came during the many childhood summers spent in Long Beach Island, New Jersey with my entire paternal side of the family. We rented a beach house usually not more than a modest block away from the Atlantic Ocean.
The Atlantic, so it goes, is a rough-and-tumble ocean. Its waters tend to be gray and its waves a bit more choppy than its Pacific cousin, which is known for its easygoing clear blue. But this was my ocean, the one that showed me sand shrimp scurrying into the muck under the receding surf; the one that taught me when to jump and when simply to float and bob, and what happens when it gets into your sinuses and what tides are more favorable for play and which are harder to navigate due to how high the water got and how small I was.
It was next to and within this ocean that my cousin, my brother, and I endlessly played. We'd dig and pile, we'd splash and laugh. We'd pretend to be sea …

Three Things That Pastors Are

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Earlier this week, I posted a list of three things that pastors are not: therapists, case managers, and CEOs. There are certain aspects of these positions with which the pastoral role experiences a certain overlap, but that ultimately pastors are not qualified to fulfill beyond a knowledge that helps one recognize what is happening and needed in parishioners' life situations.

So, if a pastor is not one of these things, what can we say that a pastor is? What has a pastor been trained to do and to be? If we made a negative list, it would certainly be helpful to make a positive list to complement it. Here, then, are three things that a pastor is.

1. Spiritual guides - While it is helpful for pastors to have a working knowledge and skill set in counseling techniques and administration to be used within appropriate boundaries as the institutional church requires, it remains that pastors are called primarily to tend to the spiritual side of individuals and the faith community. This incl…

Three Things That Pastors Are Not

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Be sure to read my follow-up to this post, Three Things That Pastors Are.

Last week, funeral director Caleb Wilde wrote a blog post about who to seek out when dealing with grief. His basic advice: find a therapist before you seek out your pastor. The reasoning goes that therapists, with their training in the psychological aspects that arise in times of grief, are better qualified than clergy to deal with things like depression.

I agree. In fact, this article caused me to think about a few roles that pastors are expected to take on to varying degrees, but ultimately are unqualified to fulfill. Beyond a few continuing education classes that help us better understand some of the issues that inevitably arise in ministry with individuals or organizations, to be a pastor is to be one thing and not another. A certain amount of dabbling is inevitable and a certain amount of understanding is necessary, but there come points when certain issues are best left to the experts.

So I present three t…

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