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Showing posts from March, 2006

Confession - Stress

In the last few years (non-coincidentally, right about when I started pastoring), I've become much more aware of how I handle stress, and how I let things in my life affect me and stress me. I've become more intentional in handling stress, because I've found that when I don't pay attention to whatever is causing me anxiety or worry, I can become really weighed-down, letting this stressor work away at me in a corner of my mind without my really paying attention to it. Whatever stresses me isn’t necessarily at the center of my attention, but in the background, creating an underlying feeling of anxiety that affects the rest of what I’m trying to do or trying to think about. This anxiety can get out of hand. In college , my advisor once suggested, after a string of times being sick with flu or bronchitis or similar, that I might be making myself sick. I don’t think he meant I was making it up or anything – I definitely was sick – but he meant that I was getting so stresse

Review: Inside Man

This week I went to see the new Spike Lee movie Inside Man , which starts Denzel Washington , Clive Owen , and Jodie Foster . Lee is known for his controversial social justice issue-themed movies. But if you've seen trailers for Inside Man , you know that the movie appears to be a typical action/thriller movie. Lots of commentary and critique/review beforehand mentioned this surprising change in genre for Lee, wondering and speculating (correctly) that this more mainstream movie would earn Lee his biggest box-office opening yet. I really enjoyed the movie, on many levels. The acting was excellent. Clive Owens does smug so well. Jodie Foster took on a different character than I have seen from her in other movies, and Denzel Washington is always fabulous. But the plot was the best - better than I expected. The movie is not as mainstream as the trailer looks, and I didn't think it was completely predictable. Also, I thought Lee included a good deal of social commentary, just in

Review: The Dante Club

For book #7 in my 52-this-year-resolution, I read The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl. I had no particular interest in this novel - I saw it at a book sale at a library in Syracuse, and it looked interesting, so I picked it up. The book is fiction, but uses some factual settings from Boston, 1865. The focus is on "America's first Dante scholars" - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, and publisher J.T. Fields. They are working together in their Dante Club to help Longfellow as he undertakes a translation of Dante's Inferno . (This much seems to be historical fact.) The group then gets caught up in a series of gruesome murders, and their expertise makes them most likely to solve the crimes. I don't want to give much more away than that. The book started extremely slow - I thought I would never get into it. But by the end I was reading bigger and bigger chunks at a time. An excerpt: "In medical school, the sciences had allowed

Jesus' Greatest Hits: Volume 1

Last night I was telling my mother that I'd bought two Bibles for one of my friends. I wanted the NRSV translation, but also wanted a compact Bible, and couldn't find the combination I wanted. So I bought I regular-sized NRSV and a compact TNIV. When I explained this to my mother, she asked, "What does 'compact' mean? Just that it's smaller?" I told her yes - 'compact' just referred to size. But then I teased, "No mom, it's the 'highlights' edition of the Bible. Only the best included." She envisioned one of those commercials - you know the kind, for the CD compilations of love songs, etc. - with Jesus performing the hits: Sermon on the Mount. The Last Supper. The Passion: Remix. Can't you just imagine? Of course, now that I am blogging through the Bible in 90 days , along with a group of bloggers, I don't think my idea is so crazy. I could have done without 1 and 2 Chronicles for the most part. Now, in the midst of

Redemption: Believe it, or not?

My mom sent me a link to this CNN article , about a man who became an ordained Episcopalian priest while serving a prison sentence for a second-degree murder he helped (a homeless man who was stabbed to death) commit at age 17 in 1986. The priest, Rev. James Tramel, earned his M.Div in 1998, while in prison. He is now engaged to another Episcopal priest (I don't know how that came about, won't go there in this post...) and will now be serving as assistant pastor at a small Episcopal church. The congregation, the article reports, is excited to receive him there. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger granted his parole earlier this month. The family of the murdered man is not so excited. Some family members wonder if the conversion is a trick to get released from prison. The twenty years he served was not enough, some say. I think this raises interesting questions. Do we believe a person can be redeemed? I don't blame the family for their skepticism. I am sure I would feel the same w

Women Blogging

Lately Shane and John have both commented on the growing size of the Methodist Blogroll and thus the Methodist Blogger Weekly Roundup. Our growing numbers are super - remember back when the MBWR highlighted about 10 blogs ? I think it is super that so many Methodists, lay and clergy, are sharing in this tool, blogging. I've certainly enjoyed my blogging experiences so far. With the launching by Shane of Wesley Daily , I've specifically been wondering about women and men and blogging. The first several posts at Wesley Daily were by men. One post from a woman blogger. Then some more men. Before you think I'm picking on Shane, let me say - my noticing led me to look at the Methodist Blogroll as a whole. Waay more male bloggers than female. I didn't count everyone, but I'd guess there are at least 3 or 4 times more men on our list than women. The posts at Wesley Daily reflect the Methodist Blogroll membership. So I did some quick google searches on women and blogg

Review: Noises Off

In Book #6 in my 52-books-this-year resolution (whew, I'm flying along now...), I finished a quick read, Noises Off , a play by Michael Frayn. My hometown's community theatre has chosen Noises Off as its spring show, and I've been considering auditioning. Noises Off is hilarious. I was literally shaking with laughter reading it. I can only imagine how good it must be when staged. The first act shows a second-rate drama troupe rehearsing a comedy, Nothing On. It is the dress rehearsal, but clearly things are not going well. Act II shows the troupe again, now performing their play, only this time we see the action from backstage. We see the drama behind the performance. Finally, in Act III, we see the play yet again, from the front again. This time, the company members are so upset with each other, and so jumbled, that they begin to seriously show their dysfunction in their performance. Their lines are wrong, understudies show up on stage, along with the assigned actors. Th

Review: Talking about Homosexuality

For book #5 in my 52-books-resolution, (yes, I know I'm a month behind) I just finished Holy Conversations: Talking About Homosexuality - a congregational resource by Karen P. Oliveto, Kelly D. Turney, and Traci C. West. I picked the book up at my seminary during alumni lectures back in October, drawn to it particularly because Traci West was my favorite professor in seminary, and because the book with a quick flip-through appeared to be practical and hands-on. The book is apparently first in a series of books that will tackle tough issues, focusing on the Wesleyan Quadrilateral as a study model. The book gives plans for a six week study on homosexuality in local church congregations, complete with teaching plans, activities, assignments, etc. I like the model a lot - a variety of kinds of exercises, appealing to different learning styles, the Wesleyan quadrilateral as an entry point to examining a controversial issue, etc. I think the model is good and would be usable for many d

Relay for Life 2006

Hey all -I'm participating again in the Relay for Life this June in Oneida. Everyday it seems I find out that someone else I love and care for is struggling with cancer. So many in my congregation are going through surgeries and treatments - I'm sure you have the same experience. I've found personally that my only luck in raising funds is through online donations, since everyone I know around Oneida is a church member of mine! So, if you're feeling inspired, click on this link below or on the Relay icon to the left in the sidebar, and help support cancer research. Thanks! Click to donate :

Reporting Back: Mississippi

I've been mostly absent blogging this week - I'm still trying to catch up, after returning from my trip to Mississippi last week, and beginning Lent this week. But I wanted to write something about my week in Mississippi - it's hard to process, but important to share, I think. So here are some random thoughts: * People who used to live in reasonably-sized homes are now living in campers (this is what the FEMA trailers are.) I could do this for a week, or even maybe a month. But sixth months? I cannot imagine. *Our team was divided into two groups - half of us worked on rebuilding homes that had been cleaned out already - these were our skilled workers, who could work on electricity and plumbing and finishing and other things I most definitely cannot do. The rest of us were on clean-up/sanitizing crews, which were really demolition crews. Anywhere two feet above the water level and below in houses had to be torn out to the studs. The black mold growing was everywhere. One