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Showing posts from May, 2006

Review: Lamb - The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

A while back I read about a book on Sarah Dylan Bruer's Grace Notes - Lamb, the Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore. (#10 in my year of books, for anyone keeping track) It's been on my "must read" list since then - who could pass up a title like that? I got the book for my birthday last month, and finished it last week.

The book is excellent. It is hilarious, and irreverent, and moving and profound in ways I'm not even sure the author intended it to be. For anyone who lives a life immersed in the church and the Word, I think you'll find the jokes and puns and convergence of faith and pop culture laugh-out-loud funny. I've read that some find Moore's writing offensive or controversial, but I think those reactions (at least to this book - I've read nothing else of his, know nothing else about what he's written) would come from missing the point. Actually, Moore says of the story, "Theologically, I made …

Could Al Gore Be the Next Nixon?

Check out this article from Anderson Cooper's CNN.com blog about Al Gore. He theorizes that Gore may be uniquely positioned for a return to politics, like Richards Nixon once was. For many liberals/progressives, I think Gore as a candidate could be an appealing idea, and appealing as an alternative to Hillary Clinton. I'm very eager for a woman to lead the nation. So many other countries have - shouldn't US, champion of human rights, be setting the tone by example? But I'm not sure Clinton is the right woman, or, more problematically, that she could be elected even if she was the right women, so venomous is the hatred of her by so many. Could Al Gore win the second time around? Maybe...

question: reading of scripture in worship

At a recent worship meeting in my parish, we talked about scripture readings during worship, and whether or not the lector and/or pastor should conclude with something (like "the word of God for the people of God") or not and whether the congregation should respond together with something (like "thanks be to God") or not. Right now, this is not done consistently in our congregation.

Do you use responses to scripture in your congregation?

If so, what do you use?

Either way, do you have some theological/liturgical grounding for your decision?

GBGM Missionary - Rev. John Yambasu

This past weekend at my church, we had the opportunity to hear Rev. John Yambasu speak during our Saturday evening worship. Rev. Yambasu is a regional missionary working through the Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries. He is stationed in Ghana, West Africa, and covers a region of 16 or so countries in Africa, specifically working with women, youth, and children.

I went to Ghana as part of a cross-cultural experience requirement when I was in seminary. I spent three and a half weeks there with a group of about 15 students and faculty. The trip was very overwhelming - this was at the end of my first year of seminary, 2001. Hard to believe it's been almost exactly five years since my trip. I have since wondered what different experience I might have had if I'd taken the trip later in seminary. Years later, I'm still processing the issues that confronted me in Ghana - issues of race, issues of ethnocentrism, issues of history and what it has to do wit…

looking

When I was in elementary school, my big brother bought me a cassette tape that I played over and over and loved. I have no idea what it was called. I remember parts of lyrics to the first song: "You can surely say, in a certain way, each and every day's a new beginning. Starting out to see possibilities . . . " That's as much as I remember. One of the other songs was a mother-daughter duet that I thought was very pretty.

Anyone have a clue what this might be?

Evaluation

Sorry for the no-post week. Just haven't been in a writing mood this week I guess. I'm getting over being sick, and my voice is still MIA. I guess my blog-voice was MIA this week too!

Last week, we had a district clergy day with our Director of Congregational Development. We talked about a variety of things, but one of the topics was the process of evaluation for clergy by/with the staff-parish relations committee. Laurent suggested a model of evaluation that wasn't about the SPRC telling the pastor the critiques rounded up from the congregation, but instead, working together with the pastor to understand the pastor's quarterly ministry goals, and then evaluating progress on the goals to see how the goals can be achieved if they haven't been. A more collaborative process that is about effective ministry, not about criticizing an individual.

Have you been part (as pastor or as lay member) of an evaluation process? What does the process look like in your congregation?

M…

Memory Lane

Yesterday my friend Jason asked on his blog about our spiritual paths - how'd we get where we are?

I can attribute a lot of my personal faith journey to my relationship with my big brother. He's six years older than me, and I had all proper admiration and adoration for him growing up. One year, (age 4?) I asked for "boy toys" for my birthday - I wanted everything my brother had - Star Wars toys for example. (I always had to be the bad guys in our games - always Darth Vader, and he was always Luke Skywalker. Totally unfair.) I listened to the music he listened too, which, at the time, was quality stuff like White Snake, Poison, White Lion - the bigger the hair, the better.

When he went to college, I was very sad to have him so far away, right when I was entering the pit of life that is junior high school. And then when he came back from his first semester declaring himself an (angry) atheist, I was devastated. This was one place I wasn't ready to follow him. I'v…

Curiosity

Question, out of curiosity. Without agenda. Seriously wondering.

If you do, why do you believe what the Bible says? Or, why do you believe what the Bible says is true?

I've been thinking about scriptural authority, and how we use the Bible. I took a whole course, taught by the excellent Dr. Wesley Ariarajah, on 'The Authority of Scripture' in seminary, and it is a fascinating study. Today someone commented anonymously on my previous post about "in joy disbelieving," by saying only "james 1:2-8," which is a passage about joy and doubt and ends with "for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord."

Without any help from the commenter, I'm not sure what to think of the passage in the context of my post. But it did get me thinking about the nature of scripture. Thus, my question: why do you believe what the Bible says?

In Joy Disbelieving

I don't usually write about more personal events in my life on my blog. That's what my journal is for. But I've been pondering how to share my reactions to some recent events in my life on my blog without sharing the details of the event itself. So apologies, in advance, if the intro to the post is somewhat cryptic.

Throughout the season of Lent I've been worried about a particular matter. Very worried. Stressed to the max. A big black cloud hanging over my head. It has made the months of March and April very hard and very long, and I hate feeling that way - like I just can't wait to get to the next period of time. Life goes quickly enough as it is without us rushing and wishing it by. But finally, yesterday, came some resolution to this issue. Good news about the matter that had me so worried. News I hardly dared to hope for.

This past Sunday's lectionary text was not one that I found particularly inspiring, but in the wake of my good news, I keep returning to a…

Two Reviews: Elie Wiesel’s Night and Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian

Coming up as #8 and #9 in my 52-books-this-year-resolution are Eli Wiesel's Night and Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian.

Night, which has been recently released as an Oprah's Book Club selection, with a new translation and introduction by Wiesel, is a very short, quick, easy read. (By the way, I've never read or listened to an Oprah selection that I didn't like.)

I've been interested in the Holocaust ever since I was in high-school when I was in our dradepartment'st's production of The Diary of Anne Frank. Our director was very into helping us live into the experience of the play, and we did things like listen to a Holocaust survivor tell her story. Hearing those stories then, and since then, and reading Night now, I have one continuing reaction: It is so horrible, it is hard to believe it is possible, and yet it all really happened. How do people think of such terriblterribleble things to do to one another? And justify the doing of them? Come up with rat…