Sunday, May 29, 2005

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Book Review: Food For Life, by L. Shannon Jung

I just finished reading Food for Life - The Spirituality and Ethics of Eating by L. Shannon Jung, who is the director of the Center for Theology and Land.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and found Jung's ideas compelling. He starts with an overview of food and the Christian experience, tracing scriptural themes about eating, feasting, fasting, and hunger, and also early church traditions of food, including, of course, celebration of Eucharist. Next Jung conquers our 'disordered' eating - individual, communal, and global eating disorders. He talks about anorexia and obesity certainly, but his idea of 'disordered' eating has much broader connotations. He talks about sin, individual and corporate, as it relates to food, and about responsibility. Finally, he concludes with suggestions for where we as individuals and communities can break through these disordered relationships with food and reclaim food and eating as the gift God created it to be.
I found his concepts about sin and disorder well-formulated - I only wish he had taken things a step farther in his conclusions section. I think his approach was one of a gentle urging of readers to take a next step in breaking down some of these issues we have with food and faith, but I thought he was too easy on us! I wanted more, and more concrete ideas in his concluding section. However, I still think it is worth the read, as his middle section and theological work is very sound. For example, he makes a great argument about our complicity in disordered eating. He argues that we may not be responsible or blame-worthy because of the hunger of others, but we become complicit in hunger when we ignore its existence and fail to act as we are able to change circumstances that cause the hunger of others.

Some excerpts:
On complicity: "It is difficult to ascribe guilt to someone who did not directly cause harm, pain, or suffering. However, as members of a social group that has benefitted to the detriment - harm, pain, or suffering - of another group, we feel some complicity in enjoying that benefit. For example, having been born into a United States middle-class Christian family has produced countless adavantages for me. Should I feel guilty about thoes benefits? I think not. Should I recognize my complicity in systems that operate for my overabundance? Should I try to recitfy some of those inequities to relieve hunger and other unjust distributions? As a Christian, it is my privelege to do so." (pg. 90)

"It should be said bluntly: the way our food is produced, harvested, processed, and sold to us entails unsustainable cost to the earth community." (pg. 88)

quoting Craig L. Nessan, Give Us This Day, "our sloth steals from us any sense of urgency in responding to the needs of our hungry neighbors, replacing it with a sense of futility. We become indifferent, apathetic, spiritually dead." (pg. 91)

"Behold, the kingdom of God remains in that place where Jesus put it the night in which he was betrayed - in fact, where most of the other things we lose sight of are boudn to turn up - right on the kitchen table." (pg. 111, quoting Garret Keizer, "A Time to Keep Kosher," Christian Century 117 no. 12 (April 19-26 2000)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

via SojoMail: "Bush's Calvin College Surprise"

Via SojoMail, I read this short article today, which talks about some perhaps surprising reactions to President Bush speaking at Calvin College's commencement.


An excerpt:
"The day the president was to speak, an ad featuring a letter signed by one-third of Calvin's faculty and staff ran in The Grand Rapids Press. Noting that "we seek open and honest dialogue about the Christian faith and how it is best expressed in the political sphere," the letter said that "we see conflicts between our understanding of what Christians are called to do and many of the policies of your administration."

The letter asserted that administration policies have "launched an unjust and unjustified war in Iraq," "taken actions that favor the wealthy of our society and burden the poor, " "harmed creation and have not promoted long-term stewardship of our natural environment," and "fostered intolerance and divisiveness and has often failed to listen to those with whom it disagrees." It concluded: "Our passion for these matters arises out of the Christian faith that we share with you. We ask you, Mr. President, to re-examine your policies in light of our God-given duty to pursue justice with mercy...." One faculty member told a reporter, "We are not Lynchburg. We are not right wing; we're not left wing. We think our faith trumps political ideology."

On commencement day, according to news reports, about a quarter of the 900 graduates wore "God is not a Republican or a Democrat" buttons pinned to their gowns."


I definitely support the ideas expressed by the dissenting faculty as a whole, but more than that, I appreciate the notion that reminds us taht we can't just put Christians (or others) into categories. If I tell you I consider myself progressive, my label doesn't tell you everything about who I am - I have some beliefs and practices that might not fit into your idea of "progressive." And the same holds true if you tell me you are conservative or evangelical - I might get ideas about you, but I don't really know you because of that. It's hard, though, isn't it, not to group each other and ourselves this way. Sometimes it is useful - sometimes it is valuable to be surrounded and supported by like-minded people. But I guess we always have to keep our expectations and assumptions in check!

3 brothers blogging

My two younger brothers decided to join me and my big bro in the blogging fun. Todd has a theatre-oriented blog, and Tim has a blog of a unknown nature! (complete with profanities to match that of big bro's blog)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Reflections: Chicago Vacation

I'm currently spending a few days visiting friends in the Windy City, Chicago. I've had a great time relaxing and wandering around, somewhere between aimlessly and purposefully...

One thing I've noticed is that everywhere I've been - restaurants, shops, post office, libraries, museums - every employee in a service position has been a person of color. Low wage jobs, no doubt, all filled by people of color, primarily, at least where I've been, African-American. I talked with my friend about her place of employment - she works for a non-profit social justice agency - and she says there are no upper level employees of color at her work place - many in the lowest positions, but none in upper level spots. Why? Certainly, in her job, where door to door advocacy plays a big role, people of color face discrimination, or at least struggle with fears and confidence issues because of expected racial discrimination.
Another thing I noticed: people who own cars here must be crazy. I walked by a parking garage where you would pay $8.00 for 20 minutes of parking time. And yet, as I was riding the el into downtown, I overheard a conversation between two college women who were talking about wanting cars. Why? "It would just be nice to have one." Hm. We are such consumers! (as always, I include myself here.)
Anyway, there are great things here too. Like "free day" at the Art Institue, where I got to view works of Picasso, Manet, and Pollock. I'm not a big visual arts person, but after reading The DaVinci Code, it was more fun to visit the galleries. I can see why it is easy to believe there are hidden messages in art - the paintings I looked at certainly seemed rich in meanings.
(tourist haven Navy Pier)

CNN.com - Woman jailed after calling 911 about pizza man - May 25, 2005

OK, i just *had* to link to this CNN.com article - "Woman jailed after calling 911 about pizza man" - Apparently, this 86 year old woman called 911 over 20 times to complain that a pizza place wouldn't deliver to her. When officers came to arrest *her* for abusing the line, she attacked them, kicking and biting.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Zion's Herald

So, today I read Zion's Herald magazine - somehow I got an issue in the mail - I think because I used to suscribe to The Other Side, which is no longer.
Anyway, I liked the magazine overall - some really provactive intriguing articles. I especially recommend this article (you can only read part online without subscribing) by John Robert McFarland, in which he suggests it is time for the UMC to call it quits and for its members to go their separate ways. I'm not saying I agree with McFarland - I don't, though in moments of discouragement I do - but he writes a good article, and the magazine also includes several well-written responses to his article.
Also well done in this issue:
An article about what Jane Goodall is up to these days and
A story on how the witness of Archbishop Oscar Romero lives on

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Quiz: What is your World View?

What is your world view? I found this quiz via another blog - sadly I can't site my source - I can't remember what direction I came to find it - so my apologies. But try it out for fun!

Here are my results:

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative

88%

Idealist

63%

Postmodernist

56%

Romanticist

44%

Fundamentalist

38%

Existentialist

31%

Materialist

25%

Modernist

19%

What is Your World View? (corrected...again)
created with QuizFarm.com

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Rex A E Hunt site - sermons and liturgies from a progressive perspective

I want to recommend to you this site, home of Rex A E Hunt. I found it via The Text This Week, and primarily use the liturgies section when putting together my church's bulletin each week. I'm always struggling to find liturgies that are both 1) something I actually agree with theologically and 2) compelling and meaningful liturgically - not just reading words out loud. I find that I can usually find something at Rex's site.

About his liturgies he writes:
"While fairly traditional in shape, I try in my liturgies to be very careful about language, images suggested, and the flow or plot of the liturgy. When invited recently to write about my worship style I said: "A name for the style of worship I am most comfortable with is a blending of traditional and contemporary - which I call contemporary liturgical. It seeks to use contemporary language and Australian images in an inclusive way through metaphor and story. The involvement of others each week in the presiding at worship, with a printed liturgy, is essential. Colour, symbols, candles, inclusive language and story, all shape the liturgical experience".

In short: the weaving of story (what we tell) and ritual (what we enact) are ways we make sense of our world. Liturgy is not about the past, but life in the present. And the "outward expression in... worship should parallel the inner course of the experience of worship" (Vogt 1921/29:152)."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

www.zhubert.com | For Fellow Students of the Bible in the Original Languages

Via Progressive Ink, I just found this great site for students of Ancient Greek (OK, those other biblical languages too, but I never got around to taking Hebrew) - www.zhubert.com | For Fellow Students of the Bible in the Original Languages I've only just begun looking around on the site, but it already seems to have a ton of tools for you to use.

While I'm on the subject, the other site I use, extremely helpful to me while I was still in classes, is The Perseus Digitial Library, particularly the Morphological Analysis Word Study Tool, which allows you to enter a transliterated Greek word, and the tool will give you translations, as well as grammar notes, and where and how often you can locate this word in Ancient Greek texts, including the New Testament. Extremely helpful.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Vegan Chocolate Cake

I found this great Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe online, which I thought I'd share. I like the recipe because it doesn't require any egg-replacer, which I don't have sitting around - just basic baking ingredients. I added chocolate chips to the batter, and used 1/2 soy milk and 1/2 water instead of all water. Yum. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Green Lakes State Park

I had a great visit today to Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville, NY. If you're in the CNY area, I highly recommend a visit. The park boasts two lakes - Green Lake and Round Lake, which are both meromictic lakes, which means that there is no fall and spring mixing of surface and bottom waters. The result is two lakes that look very turquoise, but are also extremely clear, and the overall look is simply beautiful. Enjoying creation makes it so easy to feel God's presence for me. I believe in evolution - I believe that science and faith work hand in hand, not against each other. So, as I walked around the lakes today, and read about the way the lakes were formed, and the science of why they have the color they have, and I experienced their beauty, it was easy to see God's handiwork everywhere. I hope you have as beautiful a place to live as I do!

The DaVinci Code

So, I finally joined the ranks of many of my congregation and read The DaVinci Code. I enjoyed it - I love mysteries, and it was a good mystery, and definitely a quick and easy read.

I wasn't shocked, really, by anything I read there - as Dan Brown has said himself, these aren't really new ideas he's putting forth - certainly a new spin, a fresh story, but the idea that Jesus was married is one I've heard before. So what to say about this book?

Some of the 'facts' Brown puts forward can be interpreted or outright disproven. I didn't take a lot of church history courses in seminary, but enough to remember that Constantine wasn't the one who decided the canon, even if that took place during his reign, under his 'guidance'. Also, his suggestion that Jesus' divinity status was the result of a vote is also stretching things. The nature of divinity was the center of a controversy, but it wasn't as black and white as he makes it sound. But, Brown is writing fiction, so I'm not concerned about these details too much - I'm more interested in the broader themes he's trying to get across, and the fact that this is a book that has people talking about religion, and I don't think that's ever a bad thing. People always seem threatened by things that have people asking questions about religion and faith. To me, this only signifies that the people who are threatened must think their faith can't withstand the pressure of questions...

Anyway, here are the positives I see in DaVinci:
1) I think it is great to reclaim feminine images in the Divine, feminine voices in church history, etc. On the other hand, I wish Brown had given us more voices of women in the plot! Sophie is a great character (I can't wait to see Audrey Tautou play her in the film) but she is the only female character of import in the novel. And no, I don't count her cameo-grandmother or Mary Magdalene. Where are the women?
2) I think the book's point that we always take the winning side as the only side is very important. I do remember in church history talking about the 'losing sides' in lots of controversies, and how those strains of Christianity get lost and trampled. It is good to remember them. Good to read those other gospels that do indeed exist. Good to stretch our minds!
3) The book certainly gives me a greater appreciation of DaVinci specifically and art in general. I like drama and music, but I'll admit that visual arts has been lower on the list. This book made me want to go hit a museum!
4) I appreciate the emphasis on the humanity of Jesus. I didn't think the book was suggesting that Jesus was not crucified - as I've heard some say this does - but that he was married and had a child - which could have been the case whether or not he was crucified. What would be diminished about Jesus if he had been married and had children? I think how we answer that question is very telling, and I think Brown raises great conversation for us in this.

I guess that's it for now. let me know what you thought of the book!

from CNN.com - Jesus Christ in legal battle to get license

Yes, that's right. According to this CNN.com article, a West Virginian man, who legally changed his name to Jesus Christ, is having a hard time getting his driver's license. He already has other ID that proves he's now named JC. According to his attorney, his name change was a move for "expressing his faith and his respect and love for Jesus Christ." An interesting way of showing it! I guess we are called to imitate Christ, but I try to go about it in a different way... :)

Monday, May 09, 2005

Syracuse Area Blogs

I've added a list of Syracuse-area blogs in the bottom corner of my page - I don't have it correctly formatted yet, but I'm working on it. Too tired to re-do it right not. But anyway, check out some of the links, and let me know if you have some good links to add.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Economics of the Emerging Church, by James KA Smith

via St. Phransus, I came across this article from THEOOZE on issues of class and the emerging church.

an excerpt:

...a couple of years ago, I read with some interest The Quarterlife Crisis by Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner, concerned with “the unique challenge of life in your twenties” (as the subtitle billed it). I hated the book: partly because of its rabid individualism, but more because of its obvious socio-economic location. Story after story went something like this: “After Ashley [sic!] graduated from Stanford, she just wasn’t sure what to do with her life, so she explored her options by finishing an MBA at Harvard. Now that’s come to a completion and she’s facing ‘the real world.’ Sure, it would be fine for her to become the vice-president of her father’s multi-million dollar corporation, but she’s looking for more than that. Now she’s beset with postmodern Angst.”

Yeah, life’s a bitch when you’re a Stanford grad with a Harvard MBA. What’s a poor girl to do?

Recently I’ve been bothered by a similar socio-economic suspicion regarding the “postmodern” or “emerging church.” Don’t get me wrong: I’m with the program and in deep sympathy with the vision that’s been sketched by folks like Brian McLaren and Robert Webber. But I have this nagging question: “What’s the median income of a ‘new kind of Christian?’”


The article raises good questions. Now if we could just come up with some good answers!

Friday, May 06, 2005

mikevincent music

My high school friend Mike has a new website for his band/solo project - check it out, and buy his music:
MikeVincentMusic

Also, my big brother is getting married tomorrow. As a present, stop by his blog. He loves visitors.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Ugh: from Cnn.com - FDA wants sperm banks to bar donors who've had 'gay sex'

Ugh - just read this article on CNN.com - apparently the FDA wants sperm banks to bar donors who've had 'gay sex' in the past 5 years for "health concerns" like HIV. Of course, HIV/AIDs is on the rise among heterosexual men and women, but the FDA insists that this is a matter of public health, not discrimination. I don't think I'm buying it.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Less is More: 10 Ways to Consume Less Energy from Sojourners Magazine/May 2005

Check out this article from Sojourners Magazine on 10 easy ways to use less energy around your home.

Here's my favorite:

If every American unplugged their TVs when not in use (or put them on a timer or power strip that they can easily turn off) we would save 9 billion - yes, billion - kilowatt-hours of energy. Modern TVs constantly draw power to keep the tube primed to turn on instantly. Hook your TV to a timer that gives it power when you first would normally use it and cuts power at night. (For instance, we watch the news and occasionally late-night TV. Our timer turns on power to the TV from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., cutting power for nearly 18 hours of the day.)

As we talk about energy bills knocking around Congress, it is helpful to remember the power (pun intended?) that we have in our own hands.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

United Methodist bishops meet with President Bush

Check out this UMNS article, reporting that members of the Council of Bishops have met with George W. Bush. As far as I know, this is the first, or at least one of the firs times that Bush has been willing to meet with an official UMC delegation, which is of course his own denomination. So, a good thing.

Excerpts from the article:

The bishops had two objectives in meeting with the president, Weaver said. First, they wanted the visit to be a pastoral call in the tradition of similar visits dating back to 1789, when the first American Methodist bishops, Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke, presented a Bible to President George Washington. The bishops wanted to let Bush know they were praying for him.

Second, they wanted to continue building on a relationship with the White House that would be productive with the “fruits of human justice, peace and hope,” Weaver said afterward.

"What do you do with Ascension Sunday?" - from the Center for Process Studies

If you're having problems with preaching on Ascension Sunday, as I am (was, maybe), check out this commentary, by Bruce Epperly, courtesy Center for Process Studies:
Commentary

**Updated on 5/17/07 to reflect a new link to the article.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Beth Stroud: The Wesley Blog Interview

Shane Raynor over at Wesley Blog has interviewed Beth Stroud - not the typical interviews with her you might have read - I definitely recommend checking it out: Wesley Blog: Beth Stroud: The Wesley Blog Interview
Thanks to both for doing this!

Blessing of the Bikes

Saturday, I was supposed to conduct a "Blessing of the Bikes" service, where Harley-Davidsons and their riders receive a blessing at the beginning of 'bike season.' I had some basic idea of what I was going to do, but obviously, there is no Book of Worship liturgy for such a blessing. It rained and rained Saturday, so the blessing was postponed for a couple of weeks. I've got more time to think about the service.
SO... Have you ever done or been to a bike blessing? What kind of liturgy was used? This is an all-outdoor service. No big sermon or anything. But I'd love to hear thoughts and suggestions if you have any!