Showing posts from January, 2016

January 2016 Pop Culture Roundup

Five items for January...

1. The first season of Ash vs. Evil Dead concluded early this month. The show is faithful to the source material of the movies, combining the over-the-top gore of Evil Dead 1 and 2 with the humor of Army of Darkness. The finale was well-done, even if initially I didn't know what to make of the ending. The character of Ash Williams remains torn between being a badass hero spouting one-liners and a self-centered buffoon, and in the end he tries to reconcile the two as best he can, even if he could have done much better. Plus we're set up for season 2, which I imagine will just be a continuation of the first given how it ended.

2. After hearing so much positive acclaim for it when it was released in November, we finally binge-watched our way through the first season of the Netflix series Jessica Jones this month. Played by Krysten Ritter, Jones is a superhero trying to make a living in Hell's Kitchen as a private investigator while also dealing with…

New Sacred Post: Looking for a Scapegoat

A few years ago, my pastoral colleagues passed around a picture on social media of a person crying with the caption, “When I was a kid, I thought everyone in the church got along.” Identifying the source of the conflict in a church can be tricky, because what people are really upset about isn’t necessarily what they say they’re upset about. Have you ever witnessed or been a part of a church argument that, after the fact, seemed strange? Read the rest at New Sacred.

Saturday Cartoons and Spiritual Practice

As with many children my age, I looked forward to Saturday mornings the most. We grew up in the 80s and 90s, when that time of the week brought with it a ritual that by that point had been observed by kids across the country for a few decades.

This ritual had a simple quality to it: we'd wake early in the morning, pour ourselves a bowl of our favorite marshmallowy cereal or unwrap a package of Pop Tarts, turn on the TV, and flip between the channels that showed cartoons.

Every. Saturday. Morning.

I fondly remember many shows from that era. I especially looked forward to The Real Ghostbusters, a cartoon based on the 1984 movie. Over the years the morning featured other film-based cartoons as well (Back to the Future and Beetlejuice come to mind), with varying levels of success. The classic Looney Toons characters were always prevalent, as were Ninja Turtles, heroes from DC and Marvel, Gummi Bears (oh yeah, a show based on a candy), Smurfs, Transformers, Care Bears, Garfield, and c…

Vintage CC: Let's Stop Calling Them "Church Shoppers"

It's hard to believe that it's already been nearly two years since I wrote this post in February 2014. I think it still holds up very well as a general commentary on how to view and treat people looking for a new church home.

When I was in college, I played in a worship band at a United Methodist church some 10 miles away from the school. The church at that point was taking a lot of cues from a fellow UMC, Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, which you may have heard of. Ginghamsburg had found great success transforming and growing itself through many of the methods common to megachurches in that time, and this country church in little Old Fort, Ohio was just beginning to find its own niche through some of these techniques as well. Last I checked, they're still thriving, incarnating the gospel in their setting as best they can.

In those days, the primary word used to refer to the people that churches wanted to attract was "seeker." The larger movement went by the na…

Church Envy

A few weeks ago, a pastoral colleague was sharing with a mutual group about her church's plans to renovate their sanctuary. She showed us pictures of the new wood that would cover their floor in place of their present green carpeting that had outlived its aesthetic usefulness, in favor of something a little more modern and that wouldn't wear for quite some time.
I confess that I felt a slight twinge of jealousy over this. My church's sanctuary was built in the 1960s, and our burnt orange carpet and matching pew upholstery may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it certainly has not withstood the years very well. We've needed an upgrade for quite a while, but other more essential projects demand that we forego that for a bit longer. Still, whenever I enter other places of worship, I tend to notice their floors, noting especially when they lack anything so dated as what we have.
Based on my experience with human nature in general, I'm not the only one to ever…

Prayer for Baptism of Christ Sunday

based on Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Faithful God, it is in you in whom we live, and in whom we love and are beloved. You send us reminders of this through your creation in all its majesty and subtlety. You reveal this to us through those who hold us the closest and whom we hold close. At times you make this known through a feeling of transcendent peace, the source of which cannot be described yet we know ultimately emanates from your Self.

When our own devices and tricks fail to sustain us in ways on which we've long relied, your Spirit descends upon us to renew our sense of your loving and claiming us. Like a dove awakening us to a new day, you wake our souls to the new possibilities inherent in your ever-present grace. By this same Spirit, show us the way forward through what we may be facing. Whether disease or death, whether depression or despair, whether uncertainty about the world or about ourselves, lead us from cleansing waters on the path toward restoration and wholeness.

O God…

Small Sips Keeps Geeking Out

What are we talking about? One of my New Sacred co-contributors, Patrick Duggan, proposes a list of suggestions for the United Church of Christ's "sacred conversations on race" that its various entities host from time to time.

They're all provocative and thoughtful, but I wanted to focus on this one:
7. Before participating in the conversation, the convener must provide to everyone a list of definitions a week in advance on the terms “race,” “racism,” “racial/ethnic prejudice,” “class,” “Jesus’ preferential option for the poor,” “white supremacy,” “white privilege,” and “#BlackLivesMatter.” Honestly, I think that a big issue for conversations like these, even between a few friends on social media, is misunderstanding or ignorance of the terms involved. It's been my experience that many don't know what people mean by "white supremacy" or "white privilege." I don't know if I understand them properly either, even with the benefit of foll…

One Word 365: Play

For the past two years, I've approached the New Year by using One Word 365, which encourages people to choose one word by which you live the entire year.

This past year my word was Venture: At least once a month, I plan to venture out to do...something. Anything. I could call up a friend for coffee or drinks. I could more actively participate in a justice cause that I care about. I could be more intentional about making connections in the community of which my church is a part. I could play my guitar on a stage somewhere. Whatever the particulars, I'd be venturing out to just be a bigger part of the world beyond the walls of home and church. Consider it the logical next step of Share.  Ideally, this would happen much more often than once a month, but that's the absolute basement-level requirement.  For my continued development as a person and as a pastor, I need to venture. So I shall. Venture went very well, I think. I never made it to an open mic or to Friday Night Magi…

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