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Showing posts from March, 2018

March 2018 Pop Culture Roundup

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Seven items for March...

1. This month I read Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I've Loved) by Kate Bowler, a divinity school professor who is battling Stage 4 cancer. This book tells of her experiences so far, which includes both her trips to doctors, hospitals, and treatments, but also of what people try to say and do to help her feel better. In the process, she takes down many of the common clich├ęs that people use (the book's title being one of the most common) and other attempts to make sense of what is happening. She's also very studious in the Prosperity Gospel movement, which helps perpetuate many of the attitudes that people use, and her insights on how that is so are interesting. The parts where she shares her deepest worries and struggles are powerful and heartbreaking. I'm just going to say it: you need to read this book.

2. I also read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, about a black teenager named Starr who lives in a poorer inner city neighbo…

Life Unpolished

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All social media participation is performance art. I concluded this a while ago.

We only show a certain side of ourselves on places like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We may at times think we're doing otherwise, but these sites give us a tremendous amount of choice and a variety of filters regarding how we present ourselves. We are able to curate the events of our days so that people only see certain parts of our families, our jobs, our political or spiritual beliefs, or our bodies.

People can see the candid photo of our toddler with her favorite toy and not see the exasperated shout we gave while trying to get her to go to bed.

People can see the news about our positive work-related conference or meeting without seeing the tension between team members behind the scenes.

People can see one's commentary on the issues of the day without seeing how much proposed solutions play out in the person's own life (or not).

People see our physical selves from certain angles or th…

Book Review: Living Revision by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

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Yes, writing is revision. But I'm here to say that revision is not just for the professionals or those wanting an audience. At its most basic, revision is seeing anew. revision is the complicated, profound work of creation--an act that simultaneously creates within and through the creator. Revision changes the writer, deepens the writer's work, and infuses that work with the potential to move readers. Revision addresses our innermost longings. At its core, revision is the spiritual practice of transformation--of seeing text, and therefore the world, with new eyes. Done well, revision returns us to our original love. - Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew, Living Revision

As one might imagine, there is a certain process to writing that begins with an idea, followed by fleshing out and brainstorming the idea into enough of something that may be created, and then comes completing the first draft. At this point, one might be tempted to think that the most difficult part is over. After all, on…

Save Us - A Litany for Lent 6

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O God, we gather today to wave palms and shout "Hosanna! Save us!" But we may bring different concerns and crises from which we seek salvation. So we line the streets and aisles of towns and churches and our own hearts crying out to be delivered from what we cannot save ourselves from by our own power. We turn to you, waving and chanting, hoping in your peace and presence. And we pray...

From the addictions, disordered attachments, and dependencies with which we continue to struggle...

Save us, O God.

From the limitations and frustrations of physical, mental, or spiritual affliction...

Save us, O God.

From the ways that troubled relationships with loved ones burden us with guilt or despair...

Save us, O God.

From the grief that weighs on us due to the many ways loss may manifest in our lives...

Save us, O God.

From our insistence to go things alone rather than admit our need for you or others; help...

Save us, O God.

O God, save us from ourselves and from all that keeps us from …

Vintage CC: The Darkest Night

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This post comes from March 2015. The month of March is a spiritually meaningful month for me due to several experiences I've had over the years that, by happenstance, occurred during this month. This post is about one such experience, which I've written about several times in different places.

I recently saw an author share advice that she received from her spiritual director to hold off on writing about a transition she was experiencing until after it was long over. This trusted guide counseled that she needed the spiritual and emotional distance both to see the experience clearly, and to be able to tell her story with proper perspective, nuance, and sensitivity toward others who were involved. She'd been thankful for this advice, as it helped her avoid the possibility of hurting others, as well as gave her the proper space to process what was happening.

We live in a world that is more immediate, and thus we tend to believe that we're expected to tell such stories at …

Forgive Us - A Litany for Lent 5

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Grace-giving God, asking for forgiveness is hard for us. It's hard because it involves admitting that we're wrong. It's hard because it involves approaching someone whom we have hurt. It's hard because it involves depending on others for mercy. Forgiveness takes so much humility, and yet the possibility that it brings for mending relationships and a fresh sense of gratitude and transformation is beyond measure.

So we take a moment to ask forgiveness, and all that it involves, in the hope that such change will come to us all.

For those times we have turned from what builds up others to what will benefit ourselves,

Forgive us, O God.

For those times when we have neglected some opportunity to bring relief to others out of our own abundant resources,

Forgive us, O God.

For times when we have intended to hurt others to feel better about our own problems,

Forgive us, O God.

For times we have turned away from the needs of your natural creation,

Forgive us, O God.

For times when …

Small Sips Bought Schwarma in Bulk

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Death of a theological giant. One of the most prominent theological thinkers of the United Church of Christ, Gabe Fackre, died this past month:
Fackre, who spent 25 years on the faculty at the ANTS before his retirement in 1996, was steeped in ecumenism. He was ordained in the Evangelical and Reformed (E&R) Church, and continued serving when the E&R Church joined the Congregational Christian Churches to create the new United Church of Christ.   "Gabe Fackre was UCC in ways that few of us in the church have experienced. Raised as a Baptist, shaped by the intellectual rigor of the University of Chicago Divinity School, he joined the E&R Church in 1950, inspired by the witness of Reinhold Niebuhr," said Barbara Brown Zikmund, retired UCC seminary administrator and historian of American religion. "When the UCC was born in 1957 his theological horizons expanded. First as a pastor, and then as a professor in two very different seminaries rooted in German Reformed …

Help Us Receive - A Litany for Lent 4

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God of grace, we often find it hard to forgive ourselves, let alone others. We may still be struggling with things we've done that are keeping us from turning toward a newfound purpose and way of life that you reveal to us through Jesus Christ. When we fully receive your forgiveness, that transformation may begin to happen, and we are inspired to show that same forgiveness to others. And so...

For the self-made prisons in which we doubt our worth in your eyes...

Help us receive your forgiveness.

For the ways we lash out at others because we have not yet come to terms with something within ourselves...

Help us receive your forgiveness.

For the ways we are not yet willing and able to forgive others...

Help us receive your forgiveness.

For times in which we attempt to isolate ourselves from you and from other people to avoid being hurt again...

Help us receive your forgiveness.

Help us receive your forgiveness, O God, and to be renewed for a journey back toward wholeness of life and spi…

Out of My Hands for Now - A Book Update

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To the left is a stock image of an older gentleman trying to use a computer. It's been a long-running internet joke that there's a hint of desperation and confusion in his eyes as he struggles to understand the contraption in front of him. Finally, he looks toward the camera, pleading for someone to assist him before his silent scream engulfs his mind completely.

At least he has coffee. That's nice.

It's been a while since I provided any kind of an update on my latest publishing venture. It's been so long, in fact, that you may have forgotten that I'm working on my second book, which will be an exploration of the spirituality of Dave Matthews Band's music.

For the better part of the first month that I worked on the manuscript, I felt very much like our poor helpless model above. I even told my wife at least once, "I don't know how to write this book." Should I try to appeal more toward non-Christian skeptics who might pick it up and thus tr…

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