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Showing posts from November, 2005

whatcha doin for christmas?

What are your plans for Christmas/Christmas Eve services at your place of worship?

I like to do something dramatic - a monologue or something - but I always have a tough time finding something that's - well, not cheezy. And I rarely feel competent and inspired enough to write something of my own.

We've also done lessons and carols, without a specific message, but sometimes this seems to work better than others.

Thoughts? Insights?

movie reviews: Rent and Walk the Line

I went to see two movies this weekend, Rent and Walk the Line. This time of year, when many Oscar-hopeful movies come out all it once, drives me crazy, because there are so many good movies out at once that I want to see.

First up, Rent. Rent debuted as a musical on Broadway when I was in high-school, and I remember the craze it was among my friends, the theatre-kids. I never saw the stage version, but I eventually came to know the music pretty well from listening to the soundtrack.

I'd read some reviews in advance of seeing the show which suggested that Rent, the movie, would have been better if it had come out ten years ago like the musical. The original Broadway cast is mostly intact for the movie, only now, all the twenty-somethings of the stage show are thirty-somethings. Also, one of the major themes of the play - people living with AIDs - has taken a different place in our culture than in the early nineties. I don't mean that AIDs is any less important or critical of an i…

from CNN.com - One man's trash is another's dinner - Nov 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!
My mom sent me this link from cnn.com, about "freegans," a story about people who find a different way to feast for Thanksgiving:

"They call themselves 'freegans,' a play on the words 'vegan'-- vegetarians who avoid all animal products -- and 'free.' In an ideological rejection of consumer waste, they only eat food that's been discarded. And in New York City, at least, they never go hungry.
'We find more food than we could ever possibly eat,' said Adam Weissman. Just 24 hours before the dinner party, he found a hefty stash outside a gourmet supermarket in Manhattan: bags of salad nearing the sell-by date, dozens of sandwiches, boxes of Ritz crackers, some nice looking squash and loaves of still-crisp baguettes.
Although not all freegans are vegan, they all eat for free. Weissman said that with few exceptions he has not eaten store-bought food, either at home, in a restaurant or as guest of a friend, in more than a…

changing relationships

This weekend, I attended the wedding of a seminary friend in Virginia. A beautiful ceremony - the message, focusing on making sacred space, was extremely moving. (My apologies if I haven't responded to emails and comments you've left this past week - I'm getting there, eventually)

The wedding, along with a few other gatherings I've been part of recently, has me thinking about relationships and change in relationships. In Chicago this week, I had the change to gather with several friends from Ohio Wesleyan, and last month I also saw seminary friends at Drew.

I think that change in relationships is one of the hardest, most emotional things to go through. I suppose this is true, in a way, whether the change is ultimately viewed as a positive, desired change or not. I think back on my life about friendships or even acquaintances that I've had in my life, and I can't help but want to at least know what has happened to some of the people that just aren't a part of …

city life

I'm on vacation this week, so posting and/or responding to comments will probably be slow, and topics will be nice and non-theological, like this one!

Right now, I'm in Chicago visiting college friends. I've been thinking about cities. I've been to Chicago three times now, and I really like it. I feel like I'm getting to know my way around a bit. I feel like it is an "easy-going" sort of city. I grew up in a small city (think 30,000 people) and I now live in an even smaller city (think 10,000). When I was looking at colleges, even schools in mid-sized cities like Syracuse University seemed intimidating to me. When I went to seminary, I chose Drew over Bostonin part to location. Drew would give me access to NYC without having to live right in a big city.

During seminary, I interned at the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns (say that five times fast), and got to do the whole commute-into-Manhattan-thing. I hated it (the commute,…

Everytime I Feel the Spirit

I've recently been emailing with Keith Taylor, an insightful and thoughtful commenter on this and other blogs, about the church, the Holy Spirit, and what we do now in light of everything that's been going on with judicial council decisions and the division in the church those decision represent.

Keith wrote to me, "When I read the journal of John Wesley, I see the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, the gifts of the Spirit, the Power of God that appears to be missing in the modern UMC. As a UM pastor, why do you think that is so? . . . I wonder where is the Power of the Holy Spirit in the Methodist Renewal Movement of 200+ years ago?"

Good questions. I responded, in part (slightly edited), like this:

"I guess I think we don't see things because we don't (in general) expect to see them, if that makes sense. Sometimes people in my Bible study ask why we don't experience God in such ways as in a "burning bush" like they did in the scriptures. I say th…

two things

two things borrowed from Dylan's blog -

1) follow this link to put your pin on my google map, which lets me see where everyone is from who reads my blog or visits my site.

2) Try this fun meme - type your name into google and the word "needs," and blog the top ten hits that come up. According to google, this is what "Beth needs":

1- Beth needs a considerable raise in salary.
2- Beth needs it so it will be done.
3- Beth needs people.
4- Beth needs prayers.
5- Beth needs a job.
6- Beth needs a first-floor bedroom.
7- Beth need your vote
8- Beth needs to stop it already with the lies.
9- Beth needs to realize she has a problem.
10- Beth needs cash and agrees to go deep undercover.

What a great online life I'm leading...!

finance training, day 2

I continue at this clergy finance training event in Binghamton.

Thoughts from today:
The leaders (from the United Methodist Frontier Foundation) strongly suggest that pastors, to be in ministry, need to know what their church members are giving. If you are a pastor, do you know what your parishioners give? If you are a lay member, what do you think about pastors knowing who gives what? I know the benefits, and I also understand why some would be uncomfortable with this.

We also spent a lot of time talking about stewardship campaigns. I posted questions about stewardship campaigns last year, but that was before anyone really read my blog. So, let me try again. What kind of stewardship campaigns do you do in your congregation? Your own program? Prepackaged? Have you seen growth in giving and pledging? Do you talk about tithing in your congregation?

Another 'hot' topics we talked about:
1) Do pastors share how much they give with the congregation? If yes, how?
2) Do pastors somehow rec…

offertory prayer

I am spending a few days in Binghamton, NY at a clergy finance training, where we talk about fun things like personal finances, clergy tax law, stewardship programs, etc. Actually, it is very informative, and helpful to ask some questions that I had not yet found answers for, especially relating to wonderful clergy tax law.

Anyway, our first presenter today shared this quote from Hilbert Berger, an "offertory prayer" that we probably don't hear on Sundays: "O Lord, no matter what we say or what we do, here is what we think of you."

Know Your Bible?

Now, for something a little - different - take this 100 question Bible exam to see how well you know the Book.

(found via A Religious Liberal Blog)

My results:

ACTS AND PAULINE LETTERS 73%
GOSPELS 100%
HISTORICAL BOOKS 84%
PENTATEUCH 82%
PROPHETS 66%
PSALMS AND WISDOM LITERATURE 90%
REST OF NEW TESTAMENT 70%
TOTAL 81%

Ah, the propehts. I guess I know where I need to study up. That and that whole "rest of the new testament" category! I'm afraid I only did as well as I did on the prophet section though by some lucky guessing ;)!

What do we really want?

The recent judicial councildecisions in the United Methodist Church have sent the blogosphere into a state of - energetic, if not friendly, blogging that I haven't experienced in a while. The decision over whether or not a pastor has the right to deny membership to practicing gay and lesbian persons has been particularly troubling, with the Council of Bishops already issuing a statement that leans toward (by my reading) clear disagreement with the Judicial Council on this issue.

What does this mean for the church? The United Methodist community?

Over at WesleyBlog, Shane Raynor has recently written a post titled, "The Left Gets Ridiculous," where he concludes, "The far left is losing its stranglehold on our denomination, so they're beginning to say and do ridiculous things in an attempt to hang on to power. Meanwhile, the UMC continues to move in a more conservative and more evangelical direction."

As a self-defined member of the "far left," I'm …