Thursday, October 28, 2004

all saints?

Are you celebrating All Saints Day in your congregation? If so, how are you celebrating? This year, in my congregation, we're lighting candles, or inviting family members to light candles, as we read the names of those who have died during this last year. It's something new for this congregation, but something I participated in when I was a youth pastor in Dover, NJ, that I found meaningful, and it is pretty simple to put together. Plus, I found it a nice way to connect with the families of those who have lost someone. What are you doing? Any creative ideas?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Harry Potter goes Greek - Ancient Greek, that is.

For all you Ancient Greek-lovers, check out this article - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has a new Ancient Greek translation:

An Ancient Greek Potter - BY BRIAN M. CARNEY - Thursday, October 21, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT
Later this month, in a publishing event unlikely to be marked by midnight release parties or round-the-block lines of adoring fans, a new Harry Potter book is due out from Bloomsbury--in Anicent Greek ("Hareios Poter Kai he tou Philosophou Lithos").
Why did they do it? "Well, the Latin translation was such a success," a Bloomsbury spokesperson deadpanned, that they thought they'd give Greek a try as well. That's right. There's a Latin version already ("Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis"). In fact, over the past few years, Harry Potter books (especially the first) have been quietly translated into scores of languages, some of them obvious and sensible, some of them, like the Welsh version, downright odd.
For his part, Andrew Wilson, the retired British secondary-school teacher who translated "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" (as the first Harry Potter book is titled outside the U.S.) into the language of Plato for Bloomsbury, wouldn't be surprised if J.K. Rowling, the author of the best-selling series, was behind the decision to translate it into Ancient Greek, a language so dead that modern Greeks are fond of saying of it, "It's Greek to us!"


What fun!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

random statistic for today.

I just started reading Animal Liberation by Peter Singer. An interesting statistic (in the newest edition) in the preface: "Elections [in the US] are many times more costly [than in Europe] - the entire 2001 British general election cost less than Senator John Corzine spent to win a single New Jersey Senate seat in 2000." (pg. xii) Huh.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Peter J. Gomes

Not much time to write, but wanted to share: I'm currently attending the Tipple-Vosburgh lectures at Drew Theological School, and last night had the opportunity to hear Peter Gomes speak. Aside from being funny and friendly, he was also quite brilliant!! He spoke for about an hour and was captivating. He talked about a number of things related to our theme "The Bible as Weapon /as Wisdom", and he made excellent points. One things he said: the Bible interprets our culture. And liberals have let conservatives have charge of the Bible, and thus, given them charge of interpreting the culture. Should you get the chance to hear him speak, don't pass it up! (He also directed the seminary choir in the Hallelujah chorus - spontaneously...)

Friday, October 15, 2004

A Prayer for National Discernment - Neal Christie

In Christian Social Action magazine, a communication resource of the General Board of Church and Society, Neal Christie often writes prayers which are used for the closing Benediction page. This month, (Sept/Oct 2004 issue, pg. 32), he writes “A Prayer for National Discernment” which is particularly timely:

Lord of the past
From one clot of blood you formed every race and culture
And we chose to gather as nations.
But did you ever imagine a life-time election
As priest and prophet in a stateless state:

As the Word who expressed Isaiah’s word,
You were no studied mouthpiece for corporate ballots,
You took no popular polls, admitted no party allegiances,
Danced no inaugural balls,
And held no debates, but spoke truth telling parables.
By the spirit’s triune unction
You became modest enough not to escape the miseries of life,
convicted enough for the poor to save face,
alive enough to outlive Herod’s bloodletting regime
and powerful enough to promise an end to Caesar’s client empire.

Lord of the present, when the White House is our world’s largest gated community,
When we mistake flags for sacraments,
Convention speeches for Scripture,
And illegal wars for leaning on the everlasting arms;
When we prefer mass branding which glues us to telegenic emperors,
When we choose national leaders by corporate proxy,
Who predict Gospel prosperity the plantation size of Walmart;
When we by anything, but value nothing,
And shelve our souls wall to wall in the process –
God, remind us that your yoke is easy and your call without deceit,
To be in friendship with those whom you elected for life –
The poor, the immigrant, the sick, the widowed, the child.

Lord of the future,
May we believe what we sing so well, “Elect from every nation”
And with a relaxed heart commit ourselves to a lifetime of action
As citizens of no one nation,
But only to your ever expanding kin-dom,
Favoring national repentance over calculated remorse,
Vigilance for earth stewardship over stiff-necked ownership,
Health care for all over sugar high promises without cost,
Living wages over weapons of mass destruction,
A new quality of freedom in commitment over myths of national scarcity.

God, give us an election that is not of our own choosing,
In the jubilee path of Mary and Ruth, Esther and Martha.
For your movement of grace reaches farther than your justice,
And your mercy is offered without bias or bounds.


I particularly like that phrase in the third stanza, "we mistake flags for sacraments." Right on.

Barbara Kingsolver

I do a lot of traveling by car, so I’ve become a big fan of books-on-tape, and I just finished listening to Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees. I have already read Prodigal Summer, Animal Dreams, and The Poisonwood Bible, and I loved them all. In fact, I would say that The Poisonwood Bible is one of the best works of fiction I have read, ever. I could quote whole sections, chapters, of her book. I found it just so profound and meaningful – the way she develops her characters and shows them growing, transforming, or not growing, despite all that happens. The book follows the Price family – a missionary family – as they travel to Africa to live and work – particularly through the eyes of the four young – and very different – daughters. The religious and social layers, the cultural issues, racism, justice concerns, etc., that are woven seamlessly in – I’m just in awe of Kingsolver’s skills.
So, I was playing around online to find out if the characters I grew attached to make it in to Pigs in Heaven, the sequel, which I have yet to check out from the library, and I found that Kingsolver has quite a nice website with a big FAQs section as well as study guides for reading groups that give some good, probing questions to use along with her books. Check it out.

Monday, October 11, 2004

church attendance

OK, I know this was Columbus Day weekend, but attendance at my church yesterday, and this fall in general, has been a bit lower than usual. I went through my member list, to see who I've been missing. The answer? Not anyone, really. It seems that people are all attending - just much more sporadically than usual, coming only 3/4 of Sundays in a month, or coming every 3rd Sunday or something. The biggest church attendance deterrent seems to be sports - I never thought I'd find myself despising them so much like I heard pastors complaining about them when I was growing up - I guess this is a pastor's version of turning into your parents when you get older.
How do you get people to see where they're really put church on their priority list, or their relationship with God? I think people like to have it both ways - to think that their relationship with God is their number one priority, but to not have that actually evidence by any behavior or action in their lives...
I know we all need a Sunday off sometimes to sleep in - I know I wish I could some weeks! But I think we've come to view religion as such a personal/private thing that community and public worship together doesn't seem very essential to us...
Rant for the day.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

more from Les Miserables

yes, sad to say, I'm still reading Les Miserables. But, I'm at least about 2/3 of the way through the 1500 page book - well, close to 2/3 of the way through....

Anyway, another quote to share:
God makes hi will visible to men in events, an obscure text written in a mysterious language. Men make their translations of it instantly; hasty translations, incorrect, full of mistakes, omissions, and misreadings. Very few minds understand the divine language The wisest and calmest, the most profound, decipher slowly, and, when they arrive with their text, the need has long since gone by; there are already twenty translations in the public square. From each translation a party is born, and from each misreading a faction; and each part believes it has the only true text, and each faction belive it possesses the light.
Often the government itself is a faction. (pg. 838)


Friday, October 01, 2004

RELEVANT magazine :: GOD.LIFE.PROGRESSIVE CULTURE. - heard of it?

So, a pastor-friend of mine had a copy of this magazine: Revevant. He (a mid-50s clergy) was very impressed by it, and subscribed. He let me borrow his copy, and I must admit, I was quite skeptical, because he said that it was conservative theologically and in some other ways, but that he still found it, well, relevant. I frankly found this hard to believe.

But, I flipped it open last night, and so far have been quite impressed. I can't say I agree with everything, but there are a lot of intriguing articles in there, like about the pros and cons of "Christian Culture," suggesting that perhaps just living as Christians in a "secular" world is often a better path. I tried to find out more online - here's who they say they are:

RELEVANT magazine :: GOD.LIFE.PROGRESSIVE CULTURE.:
"We get a lot of emails asking who we are and what we believe, so here it is:

We're twentysomething Christians. We want to break stereotypes, challenge status quo and enact change through the media. We're seeking God, living life and striving to impact the world around us. It's pretty simple, really.

Oh yeah, and we're a self-contained, for-profit business (although the profit part is debatable)."


Hm. Anyone know more about this magazine? Thoughts on it? I'm thinking of subscribing, anyway...