Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from October, 2005

mixed bag - judicial council, federal budget, ordination

I don't know quite what to blog about. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and under-motivated. - Beth Stroud was defrocked (again) because she is a practicing lesbian. The Judicial Council determined that because non-practicing gay and lesbians are not prohibited from ordained ministry that her defrocking was not based on her status as a lesbian woman. I disagree, of course, with the decision because I hope to see gay and lesbian people welcomed fully into the life of the church without condition. But I also disagree with the logic of the argument that a "non-practicing" gay or lesbian person can be a pastor but a "practicing" gay or lesbian person cannot. What does it mean to practice your sexual orientation? Clearly, the logic here limits our whole sexual identity to who we have sex with. I'd like to think our sexual identity is more than that. After all, as a single heterosexual woman, if I am not in a relationship and not having sex, am I "non-p

Relevant Magazine: Time for a New Revolution

I just finished reading another issue of Relevant Magazine . A particular article stood out to me this month: "Time for Another Revolution," by John Fisher (pg. 66, Nov/Dec 2005 issue) Fisher talks about his experience in the 60s going to Wheaten College, where he was in the "worst" class (so-dubbed by the school's president years later), a class of "rowdy, nonconforming troublemakers." Fisher says his class was full of questions, not wanting to accept "easy answers." Some, for sure, lost their faith in school. But Fisher writes, "I consider this an improvement on whatever faith they brought there that was unable to hold up to the scrutiny of deeper questioning and intellectual curiousity." Fisher worries that in the last two decades, he finds "rote acceptance of whatever those in places of authority hand down" to be more the norm. "Faith equals blind acceptance," he argues. "For too long, good Chris

the good and the bad

Ah, being a clergy person brings such an interesting mix of joys and struggles, doesn't it? Last night, my lament was: One of the most frustrating things for me in my ministry is not when things fail, but when people just don't respond to things offered to begin with. I had an event going on at church - something new we're trying - that literally not a single person showed up for. I left church feeling pretty blue. It's better sometimes to try and fail then to have no one try with you at all! Today, my joy is: A clergy colleague died earlier this week - his spouse is also a clergy person. I attended the funeral this morning, joining together in procession, song, and worship with a packed sanctuary which included 100 or 150 of my clergy colleagues. We certainly aren't all on the same theological page as clergy in the conference. But today, when it really mattered, I was proud that we were there for our friend and co-worker in the ministry. To me, that is our connec

Book Review: Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich

I just finished reading Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream by Barbara Ehrenreich, her follow up to the excellent Nickel and Dimed , which I reviewed earlier this year. Bait and Switch is similar in style to Nickel and Dimed . This time Ehrenreich undertakes to infiltrate corporate America. She wants to find out about people who "do everything right" according to societal standards - have college educations, work in white-collar positions, make good grades, etc. - but still end up unemployed, underemployed, and dangerously close to sinking into the poverty that Ehrenreich explored in Nickel and Dimed . So she sets aside ten months and $5000 for expenses and set her goal: search for a job for 4-6 months, and spend 3 months as an employee in a white-collar field, with some mid-range income goal. She would go anywhere, take any job offered that met her requirements and was not morally objectionable to her. Ehrenreich's quest for a job is hilariou

Ezekiel 34:16

Sometimes, I stumble across a Bible verse that has somehow gone unnoticed after so many years of studying, that is just so moving. Today, I noticed Ezekiel 34:16, which comes in the lectionary on Reign of Christ/Christ the King Sunday on November 20th. It reads, "I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice." Wow.

Alumni Lectures: Final Reflections, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

Thursday was the last day of the Tipple-Vosburgh lectures at Drew , and Rev. Dr. Traci West , my favorite professor, gave the sermon at the closing worship, focusing on 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 . This is a text that has a special place in my heart, since it was the text for my senior sermon there at Drew three years ago! Dr. West focused in on the first verse, where Paul says, "we know our coming to you has not been in vain." She said she felt like Paul was trying, a little bit, to convince himself. She suspects, she said, that we all do that in our ministries - we wonder, we hope and pray that the work that we've done has not been in vain. She also focused on Paul's proclamation: "For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery." She wondered why Paul would need to make this claim, unless others had been proclaiming to the Thessalonians with less than honest intentions. Dr. West urged us to look for places in the world where the

Senator wins Powerball Lottery

Geez. CNN.com - Sen. Gregg wins $853,000 in Powerball - Oct 20, 2005 : "WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Judd Gregg won $853,492 from the Powerball lottery after matching five of six numbers in Wednesday's drawing, adding to his already sizable wealth. 'Even senators can be lucky,' he told reporters outside the D.C. Lottery claims center, where he picked up his check. The Republican from New Hampshire -- who chairs the Budget Committee and who has a reputation as a strict fiscal conservative -- said his wife is currently remodeling their home and already has plans for the new money. 'She's already told me, 'Don't spend it. I've already got plans.'' He said he bought about $20 of tickets on Monday at a D.C. Citgo gas station as he headed from Baltimore to Washington for a Senate vote. "I don't plan to quit my job," he said with a smile. He will owe 25 percent in federal taxes on the $853,492. New Hampshire doesn't

Tipple-Vosburgh Lectures - Reflections, part 1

I continue here in NJ at the Tipple-Vosburgh lectures at Drew . This morning I attended a workshop with Dr. Virginia Burrus, professor of early church history. I took church history with Dr. Burrus when I was in the MDiv program here, and I found her to be an excellent professor, extremely intelligent. I've never been a big history buff, but she made the class compelling and enjoyable. Today Dr. Burrus presented a workshop titled "Shame as a Source for Transformation: Early Christian Teachings" - all about shame and how it can be a tool for change. Some quotes from her lecture: "George W. Bush is strikingly impervious to shame." Dr. Burrus noted that this shamelessness is both comforting to conservatives who are reassured by it and alarming to progressives who wish Bush would feel shame for his actions and positions. Dr. Burrus also talked about vulnerability and shame - shame as a warning sign that we are "in a zone of possibility of intimacy."

Home-coming

As I mentioned yesterday, I am now in NJ at my seminary's annual alumni lectures . This year, Seminary Hall is open with a new addition to the building that was at the center of my life for three years. The building is now accessible, has great new preaching labs, restrooms on all floors (formerly a BIG problem!) and generally looks sparkling and fresh while remaining the integrity and history of the original structure. I'm so glad for the school and the future of the seminary and what this building means for room for growth. At the same time, I experienced walking through the building with a surreal sense of realization of how long, literally and more symbolically, it has been since this place was my home, my community. Each time I return for a visit, it is less and less the place that I went to seminary. I'm reminded of the gospel accounts of Jesus saying that a prophet is not welcomed in his/her hometown. I experience not a feeling of unwelcome, but the sometimes sur

GBCS board meeting: wrap-up

Just a quick wrap-up note about GBCS before I moved to where I am this week: Drew Tipple-Vosburgh Lectures . On Saturday, we had a special dinner to honor Dr. Dorothy Height with a "Faith in Action" award. Dr. Height was president of the National Council of Negro Women for more than 40 years, and a longtime participant and leader in the civil rights movement. One of her special achievements: She established the Bethune Museum and Archives for Black Women, which is the first institution devoted to black women's history. Dr. Height is 93 now, and still witty and clever, and quite a stylish dresser! We got to hear her speak at her dinner, and I found her quite inspiring. During my time in seminary, I got to take a couple of classes that centered on African-American History, and I became aware of just how much I don't know. My knowledge of the civil rights movement had previously been limited to MLK and some knowledge about Malcomn X, and that was it. What a rich hist

GBCS board meeting reflections: Friday

Today was another full day at our fall board meeting for the General Board of Church and Society . Today, we spent time visiting our representatives on Capitol Hill. My work on the board is especially on the work area of Environmental and Economic Justice. One of our major priorities has been in addressing federal budget issues, and communicating our understanding of the budget as a moral document . We had time as a small group to meet with Neil Bradley, policy director for Majority Whip Roy Blunt . This was my first meeting of this kind, and I was a bit nervous, but once the conversation started, I remembered the beliefs that ground me and found my voice. I found Mr. Bradley to be, frankly, patronizing, and I felt like we were getting a lot of smooth talk around real issues. At one point, Mr. Bradley informed us, when we asked him about US borrowing money to meet our spending, that many are misinformed and think that we can just print more money at the treasury. And whenever he ref

GBCS board meeting reflections: Thursday

I didn't get to posting thoughts from yesterday here at the Fall Board Meeting for the General Board of Church and Society , so here's some catch up. Yesterday Jim Winkler gave his report. For me, this is always one of the highlights of our time together. Jim is a prophetic and bold voice in the church and to our board, and I appreciate his words. Jim talked about claims that his work or the work of the board is partisan in nature. His response? He's not partisan, but he is biased. We are biased. The Board is biased, because we proclaim Jesus' bias for the poor and marginalized. I liked his way of putting this. Sometimes our work on the board through our bias brings us shoulder to shoulder with one group or another. Not becuase it is partisan work, but because we happen to share common goals and purposes on common issues. To this end, Jim also said that he suspected we might still be at war even if Kerry or Gore or someone other than Bush was in office right now, a

agathokakological

Currently, I am in Washington, DC for a meeting of the General Boad of Church and Society . Today, we had a day of training on how to teach our United Methodist Social Principles , led by Neal Christie and Clayton Childers . Clayton led us in a time of worship this morning, focused on James 3, concluding with verse 10, "from the same mouth come blessing and cursing." He talked about reading an articlue in the Arkansas Annual Conference's newspaper by Bishop Charles Crutchfield. In it, Crutchfield talks about a favorite word of his: agathokakological , a word with Greek origins which means "composed of both good and evil." Clayton suggested that this can be a great word to describe the human condition - are we not composed of or torn between both our good and evil selves/urgings? From there, Clayton talked about Jurgen Moltmann, Moltmann's personal experiences in Germany in World War II, his guilt-feelings from his experiences in the war, and his embracing

Topical Preaching

After reading Adam Hamilton's book Leading Beyond the Walls , another thing I've been thinking about is lectionary preaching and topical preaching. I mentioned in my review that I disagree with Hamilton's take on lectionary preaching. I remember at General Conference 2000 , I had my first experience of the using of the phrases "high view" and "low view of scripture" by the late Rev. Bill Hinson in my small group on the Faith and Order legislative committee. Rev. Hinson and other conservatives talked about having a "high view" of scripture, meaning a more literal interpretation of scripture and perhaps a (conceived) more central place given to scripture in theology. I had never thought of myself as having a "low view" of scripture, though this seem to be implied as a natural correlative of a liberal outlook. What does this have to do with lectionary and topical preaching? What I find interesting is this: from my experience (no formal

Movie Review: In Her Shoes

I went to see In Her Shoes tonight, and was happily surprised. I expected a fluffy feel-good movie. I like fluffy feel-good movies sometimes. But this movie had a lot more depth to it, and was much more than a romantic comedy or romantic drama. The movie was certainly about relationships, between siblings, in-laws, parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren. But I think that it was especially about how we view and value ourselves. The two main characters, played by two different and talented actresses, Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette , are very opposite - one extrovert, one introvert, one seemingly boundless in confidence, the other self-doubting. But both seem to struggle with their own self-value, to doubt their worth as a person. I guess it is that aspect of the human condition - how unconvinced we are of our own worth and value - that spoke to me the most. I look at people in my own life who are so gifted and talented and who I admire and wish I was more like - I look

CROPwalking again

I am walking in the CROPwalk again this year in our community, a program of Church World Service . With all of the natural disasters that have struck the globe this year, I know people are overextended financially. I'm certainly having a harder time raising funds this year than last. But if you have $10 to spare, please consider donating to this great ministry... Click to donate :

If you were a peanut...

Ok, since everyone else is doing it, here's my results: You are Charlie Brown! Which Peanuts Character are You? brought to you by Quizilla Thanks to Gavin .

Calendar Girls: UMC Clergywomen?

Thanks to John for highlighting this great article. Apparently, UMC clergy women in the Rocky Mountain Conference have gotten together to pose for a calendar, in some serious and some more humorous poses. Perhaps this is an idea to pitch at my next finance committee meeting. Follow the link to order your own calendar for $15.

congrats, brother

Huge congrats to my middle-little brother TJ (Ok, he really prefers Tim) - he got hired for a full time job today after many months of searching. I'm really proud of him. Go read his totally ranting, profane, and incoherent blog to make his day extra special.

Pastors and Leadership

My recent post on Adam Hamilton's Leading Beyond the Walls has garnered the most comments on any post I've done, replacing only my post on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in number of comments. This is thanks in large part to a conversation between RevWilly and David Allen Grady , and I feel almost as cool as Shane at WesleyBlog and Dean at Untied Methodist , who always have long comment threads on their posts. Anyway, RevWilly and David started a conversation about what it means to be a leader, and what kind of leaders we are called to be as pastors. Forgive my short summary of their comments, but it started with David asking: do pastors enter ordained ministry because they want to be leaders? Is being a leader the focus of pastoral ministry? Revwilly responds to say that shepherding a flock requires great leadership, and that pastors with thriving churches have great leaders. I think both have raised some interesting questions. What kind of leaders are pastors mea