Showing posts from June, 2017

June 2017 Pop Culture Roundup

A bunch of items for June...

1. I'd been hearing so much acclaim for a recently-published graphic novel called My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris. Set against the backdrop of the tumultuous 60s, the book is written as a series of drawings and diary entries of a 10-year-old girl named Karen Reyes. She interprets the various people and events in her life--including a devout mother, free spirit brother, and beloved neighbor--through the lens of her favorite horror characters. Her neighbor's personal account of living through 1930s Germany as a Jew, as well as reactions in her own time to Martin Luther King Jr.'s murder, are woven into a gripping tale of self-discovery, standing up for oneself and others, and being genuine in relationships. This book was difficult to get a hold of because nobody can keep it in stock, and now I understand why. I look forward to Volume 2 being released early next year.

2. I also read Crazy Is My Superpower by AJ Mendez Brooks this mon…

Book Review: Persecution Complex by Jason Wiedel

I now believe that Christians in America are not persecuted or oppressed. I will go so far as to say the persecution of American Christians is a myth, a fiction that serves to bind many American Evangelical communities together. It is a legitimizing force for our religious activities, a motivator for evangelism, and an excuse to behave badly toward those with whom we disagree. Worst of all, it distracts us from the real problems of human suffering, to which Jesus instructed his followers to attend. What many Christians perceive as persecution is actually fear of losing their privileged place in society, a fear that is exploited by the very people who have the most to lose from this shift in status. - Jason Wiedel, Persecution Complex

I was part of several campus ministry groups in college, several of which had some evangelical leanings. My junior year, a couple members worked to bring a Christian band to campus, which would include a speaker and opportunity for inviting attendees to t…

Vintage CC: This Day in History

This Sunday is the 60th anniversary of my denomination, the United Church of Christ. I wrote this post back in June 2008 to make light of all the trouble the UCC has had educating people that it isn't the same as the Church(es) of Christ. I look forward to being at General Synod next week to celebrate this milestone.

Date: June 25, 1957
A group of church members gathering in Cleveland, Ohio
Guy: All right, everyone. We've pretty much worked everything out except one detail. What shall we call this new church of ours? I propose that, since we are a newly united church, we should call ourselves the United Church of Christ.
Second Guy: Um...pardon me for a second.

Guy: Yes, you'd like to speak to the name?
Second Guy: Yeah, about that. Don't you think that if we called ourselves that, people might confuse us with the Church of Christ?

Guy: Why would people do that? It's a totally different church.
Second Guy: Well, yes, but Church of Christ, United Church of Christ...…

What is the Labyrinth?

Previously: What is the Examen?, What is Lectio Divina?, What is Fasting?

The first thing that you should know is that the labyrinth is not a maze. It annoys me when people refer to it as such, so I wanted to mention that right away.

Rather, a labyrinth is a single path with one entrance and one exit (which are the same), usually arranged in a circular pattern with the center designated as a place to stop, rest, pray, or reflect. Because of the way the path bends around itself in this traditional design, each layer of the path between the edge and the center is called a "circuit." The number of circuits helps the walker know how large and how long the labyrinth is.

There are two common numbers of circuits in a labyrinth. The "classical" design has seven circuits and dates back to ancient Greece, where it originated as part of a myth to keep the Minotaur contained. The other most well-known design is the 11-circuit labyrinth often called "Chartres-style," …

To My Self 15 Years Ago on His Wedding Day

Dear Jeff,

Greetings from your future, and congratulations on your--or, I guess our--special day. I'd acknowledge how much planning and effort has gone into today's festivities, but let's be honest: most of it wasn't yours. But you're here now, stomach full of chicken wings from the night before and not running on much sleep due to nerves, preparing to make things official with the woman you've come to know as the love of your life.

I'm sending you this letter because I want you to know some things about the next 15 years. I'll try to keep things spoiler-free with specifics, but if I can help you with some general points to expect or live by or beware of, I think it might help us both out.

First, call all your groomsmen right now and make sure they've eaten and are well-hydrated. Just trust me on this.

Second, don't worry too much about remembering anything from today. Your photographer will have you on a schedule that will make you believe it…

Pastoral Prayer for Responsible Creation Care

based on Psalm 8

O God, you have entrusted so much to our care: the wonders of the oceans, the beauty of mountains, trees, and fields, the clear blue of the sky, the well-being of species other than our own. Like the garden once entrusted to Adam and Eve, you have given us all that you have created with such care not just to do what we wish, but to nurture well for those born in the decades ahead. Just as you have shared this Earth with us for nourishment and enjoyment, so too is it meant for the generations that follow. Who are we that you have given us so much; that you love us so?

We confess that we don't consider the full weight of this responsibility. We tell ourselves that there will always be enough long into the future, that if problems arise they will be for those who come after us, that even if there isn't enough for others surely there will be enough for us. The implications of careful stewardship are often lost on us, and as a result not only does your creation su…

Millennials, Applebee's, and the Church

I've read too many articles about Millennials the past few years. Then again, people have also written too many. These articles range from blaming this generation for something to exploring how to court its interest.

Often, these two extremes appear in the same thinkpiece.

One of the most recent is that Millennials are apparently killing Applebee's:
"Millennial consumers are more attracted than their elders to cooking at home, ordering delivery from restaurants, and eating quickly, in fast-casual or quick-serve restaurants," Smith wrote. ... Grocery chains are increasingly competing with restaurants, thanks to lower prices and perks such as pick-up and delivery, new technology, and trendy features like wine bars and to-go meals. And meal-delivery kits like Blue Apron are focused on getting millennials on subscription plans to persuade them to stay in and cook a certain number of days a week.
According to this article, going to a sit-down restaurant is not appealing…

How Spiritual Care Affects Mind and Body

I try to pay attention to issues related to digestion. Crohn's Disease is a part of my family's health history, so when I feel a bit of discomfort I worry that it might be the cause and sometimes let my imagination get away with itself. Fortunately, I had a checkup just last year and all looks pretty good.

But in consultation with my primary care doctor that included some deductive reasoning, I've found that stress can lead to intestinal discomfort. Knowing this about myself has helped me address it in helpful ways.

Rather than continue to share some of my health issues with you, let's move on to talk about this stuff in a more general way.

You see, I am not unique. The causes of problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome have been linked to experiencing high levels of stress. The more anxious you are, the higher probability that your body will have physical symptoms.

According to Science Mike on a recent podcast of The Liturgists, this is because we have a high colle…

Small Sips Has More to Worry About

This gig's only going to get harder. You know all those articles and thinkpieces about how the church should be reaching out to Millennials? Well, Jonathan Merritt says forget those and start thinking about "Generation Z" instead:
For the last decade, church experts have been wrestling over the best ways to reach and retain “millennials,” which is a phrase the describes individuals born from the early 1980s through the mid-1990s. Data shows that many millennials leave the church during their college years, and some never return. The fastest growing religious identifier among this generation is “spiritual but not religious.” But as millennials age, get married, and start families, they are no longer the only “young people” that churches must consider. A new cohort has risen: “Generation Z” or individuals born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s. Generation Z diverges from millennials in many ways and presents unique challenges and opportunities for churches who hope to …