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Showing posts from April, 2017

April 2017 Pop Culture Roundup

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Six items for April...

1. This month I read All About Love by bell hooks. It was my first encounter with her writing, which was a big reason why I picked it up. The subject of this work, as you might imagine, is love: hooks writes thoughtfully and wisely about different aspects of love including its relationship to justice, how we might reflect dysfunction from our families of origin in later relationships, how men are taught to be emotionally stunted and withholding, sex, and much more. It was a wonderful first experience of bell hooks, and I'll be seeking out more.

2. The second season of The Magicians wrapped up this month. The first season signaled what fans of the books would be in for by adapting or combining certain elements; the second veers off the path much more. The defeat of the first season's antagonist happened in the third or fourth episode in order to focus on a second enemy who was also introduced in the first season but is much less of a factor in the books.…

Book Review: Finding God in the Body by Benjamin Riggs

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The physical and spiritual are not opposed to each other. They are not two competing worlds. There is not something apart from our life called the "spiritual journey." The journey is our life. When we sleepwalk through life, we are just along for the ride. When we mindfully participate in the journey, we are walking the spiritual path. - Benjamin Riggs, Finding God in the Body

In recent years, I've lost track of how many books on spirituality I've read. I even wrote my own last year, which required me to read even more for research purposes. After so much reading and writing, certain concepts and themes tend to pop up again and again, with different ways of expressing and illustrating them. As you might be able to imagine, not all of these books have been created equal: as with any genre, some are engrossing and well-written, and others...are not.

After so long, I've come up with a few principles to judge whether a spirituality book is good or not:
It minimizes j…

Vintage CC: No, the Risen Jesus Isn't a Zombie

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I wrote this in April 2015 just after Easter, and it seems as relevant today as it did then, as this joke always comes up somewhere. So this is my half-geek, half-theologian response.

In the past few years (probably longer), it's become a common joke to refer to Easter as Zombie Jesus Day or something to that effect. It might actually have been around longer than that, but to me it's been more noticeable lately. The pic to the left was one such mention of it that I saw on Facebook yesterday.

See, he rose from the dead, just like a zombie. Get it?

Sometimes the line between humor and criticism is blurry, and whether this is meant as one or the other varies from instance to instance. Nevertheless, the claim that Easter features a zombie Jesus is misrepresentative of Christian theology and the zombie genre. As it happens, I'm a big fan of both, so I feel some measure of responsibility to delve into the differences between Christian belief about the resurrection, and zombie my…

Book Review: Rules for Revolutionaries by Becky Bond & Zack Exley

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In big organizing we have big target universes. We need to talk to everyone--not just narrow slices of assumed swing voters--about what we want to achieve. We have to get as many people as possible engaged in the work of talking with voters. We have to have voters make demands of their representatives in Congress. Together, we will constitute a wave that will swamp the influence of big money, corporate media, and other establishment players who are invested in maintaining the status quo. - Becky Bond & Zack Exley, Rules for Revolutionaries

Rob Bell had Zack Exley on his podcast a couple of months ago. The topics of discussion ranged from Exley's work on the Howard Dean, John Kerry, and Bernie Sanders campaigns to evolving campaign tactics to his current project to get hundreds of ordinary citizens to run for political office at every level. I was intrigued by what he said, because he painted a picture of a cutting edge way to approach politics and pursue societal change, and b…

Pastoral Prayer for Real Resurrection

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based on John 20:1-18

God of resurrection, we have come seeking the promise and hope that this day brings. We are keenly aware of what in our lives needs new life, wondering if the good news of Easter is really enough to transform it. We feel a desperate need for more than just the tomb being empty; for the risen Christ to be truly present with us and raise what seems to be too far lost to redeem.

And so we lift it all up to you, because if there was ever a day all year to do it, it is today. We lift up our stresses, our anxieties, our needs to work harder to impress others or ourselves. We lift up our diseases of mind, body, and spirit that hold us back. We lift up the people we’re estranged from, both the cause of the fraying and its ongoing effect. We lift up our doubts and hesitancies of faith. We lift up our dissatisfaction, our disillusionment, our disappointment, our despair.

These are the places where we need Easter most; where your reminders that you intend resurrection for …

Triduum

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Lent, Day 38. Maundy Thursday.

Previously: For Now, Just Live, Go Ahead and Give Up Chocolate for Lent, Homebrewing Salvation, My Easter Burden, Learning from Lenten Failures, Morning Stretches, Brushing the Knots

I sometimes wonder if I could pull off a full Triduum worship schedule.

If you're not familiar, Triduum is the fancy collective term for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Catholic, Orthodox, and some Protestant traditions give each day their own observance, since each recognizes a different part of the timeline related to Jesus' passion and crucifixion.

Today, Maundy Thursday, is the remembrance of Jesus' final night with the disciples, including the Last Supper, the washing of feet, and the new commandment to love one another.

Tomorrow, Good Friday, is the remembrance of Jesus' death.

Holy Saturday is the anticipation of the resurrection, and includes the great Easter Vigil which features several special rituals during an extended time of wors…

Brushing the Knots

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Lent, Day 35.

Previously: For Now, Just Live, Go Ahead and Give Up Chocolate for Lent, Homebrewing Salvation, My Easter Burden, Learning from Lenten Failures, Morning Stretches

We have three cats. I call two of them our "elder statesmen" because we've had them for 12 years and they're about a year older than that. When we got the one he was still a kitten, maybe all of 6 months old. The other we got from the Humane Society, and he was pretty gaunt in those days.

Neither of them are gaunt any more. They are well-fed and quite rotund nowadays, the result of a life of contentment and receiving love.

They're spoiled. Let's just say it. We are very enabling catparents. And we both admit it.

Nermal, the one we brought home as a kitten, has medium-length fur that, due to his increased girth, he is not able to groom as well as he used to. He has lost weight in recent years thanks to an altered diet, but he still has a lot of trouble reaching down by his tail and, in f…

Small Sips Likes Cotton Candy

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More than coffee needed. Kimberli Lira has written a powerful post on the church's preoccupation with coffee bars:

When church leaders sit around and discuss how they can reach people, I don't think they have the widow in mind. I don't think they have the cancer patient in mind. I don't think they have the children who are growing up without a parent in mind. I am not paying attention to the church d├ęcor when I walk through the doors. I don't want to smell fresh brewed coffee in the lobby. I don't want to see a trendy pastor on the platform. I don't care about the graphics or the props on the platform. I am hurting in a way that is almost indescribable. My days  are spent working full time. My nights are spent homeschooling and taking care of two young children. I don't have shared duties with a spouse anymore everything is on my plate. And when I go to church I desperately want to hear the Word of God.

The entire thing needs a read, especially churches …

Morning Stretches

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Lent, Day 29.

Previously: For Now, Just Live, Go Ahead and Give Up Chocolate for Lent, Homebrewing Salvation, My Easter Burden, Learning from Lenten Failures

You could call me an "anxious sleeper," if that's a thing. I've made many visits to the dentist in the past year or more because I've cracked both my lower back molars due to grinding at night (I also wear a bite guard now). Some mornings I'll wake up with aches in my shoulders and neck due to sleeping in a strange position or because I carried too much stress with me to bed the evening before.

A couple weeks ago, I started to think about how to address the stiffness and soreness more intentionally. I'm always on the lookout for tweaks that I can make to how I care for my body, so the thought of doing something to loosen up my joints and muscles first thing in the morning seemed like a good change to make.

And so, upon waking (and even before coffee), I'll come downstairs, fill my water bottle, an…

7 Reasons Your Church is Doing Everything Wrong

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1. You aren't reading enough of these lists. How would you even know what you're doing wrong if I wasn't posting a new list every day? I'll tell you: lost. You'd be completely lost. In fact, you've been lost this whole time until you clicked on this list. Congrats, friend. You're now on your way to real, authentic, relevant, hip, cool, emerga-contemporary awesomeness. Stay tuned for tomorrow's list to find out more.

2. You aren't scared enough that you're doing these things wrong. Before you started reading this post, you were too happy and content. Sure, you might have been too busy planning a Bible study lesson or serving at a soup kitchen with your Mission Team to keep up to date, but now you finally have time to realize why those actual acts of ministry fall incredibly short of whatever you should be doing instead. You should be terrified about how wrongly wrong it all is, and then you'll finally be on your way to starting life-changing p…