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Showing posts from January, 2007

Review: The New UMC.org

Last night I attended a 'launch' gathering for bloggers of the new UMC .org . The web meeting itself was interesting - I simultaneously logged on and called in, and the meeting used Acrobat Connect to guide us through a presentation of the site while we listened to commentary over the phone from Matt Carlisle , Larry Hollon , and Stephen Drachler . The phone connection was a little iffy - feedback and random background noises made it hard to communicate clearly. After the presentation, there was time for Q & A - not many questions were asked - I didn't ask any myself - but I think in part this was because 1) The presentation was clear and the features are somewhat self-explanatory and 2) Until you get a chance to actually check out and use the new site yourself it is not clear what you might want to ask. So - the new site... The main feature of the new site is that it contains a social-networking component , which is being hosted/run by 7 Villages . Apparently, some

More Book of Resolutions Fun

I know, I know - you've been missing posts about the Book of Resolutions . We're soon getting ready for another meeting of the Book of Resolutions Task Force, and I have a couple of specific questions I'd like your feedback on. 1) Who should be allowed to submit a petition to General Conference ? Right now, any member of a local UMC can submit a petition directly to General Conference. I think personally that this is a great asset to the UMC - we are the only mainline denomination where members can directly petition the general church for change. As much as people complain about the General Church not representing the local members, our denomination does have a way for individual members to act and react. But , that said, this ability also sometimes enables abuse or manipulation or at least just lots of extra work when it comes to petitions to deal with at GC . Some people write petitions dealing with every single paragraph of the Book of Discipline. Still, should rest

Review: Blood Diamond

Last week I went to see Blood Diamond , and I've had a half-written review sitting in my draft posts since then. Ah, procrastination! I never understand the kind of reviews Blood Diamond got, which are typical reviews that roll out for movies of this kind. The review goes: this is a bad movie because it makes you think too much, and has a clear message that it wants you to take away. I know what they're getting at, but is this such a bad thing? Is it bad for a movie's story to want to show you certain things, lead you to certain conclusions? Why is it so bad if a movie illicits feelings of guilt or responsibility for us? God forbid! God forbid a movie inspire us to action or changed behavior or even just new knowledge... Movies in particular that give us a look at anything going on in Africa are few and far between, so I will take one and the message that comes with it when I can. This movie was excellent and moving and horrifying, horrifying because the things portrayed,

Think Tank Reflections: 3 Dollars Worth of God

As I've mentioned before , I'm currently part of a 'think-tank' book study with my district superintendent and some area clergy. We gathered again yesterday, and my also-pastor uncle, Bill Mudge , shared a bit of this 'poem' with us (authored by preacher/writer Wilbur Reese): 3 Dollars Worth of God I would like to buy 3 dollars worth of God, please Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb not a new birth. I want about a pound of the eternal in a paper sack. I'd like to buy 3 dollars worth of God, please How much God do you want? You get as much or as little as you desire. I really like this - not just because I think it echoes the unspoken sentiments of some people I encounter in my everyday ministry, but also because I

Reflections: Congress on Evangelism - Part 4 and Wrap Up

Here, finally, is my last set of reflections from the Congress on Evangelism. Bishop Scott Jones was the Denman Lecturer at the event. I first met Bishop Jones in his pre -bishop days at General Conference 2000 . Jones was the vice-chair of the legislative committee that I was on, Faith and Order, which in that quadrennium discussed all the sexuality issues. Though I disagreed with Jones' point of view, I did definitely appreciate his knowledge of the Book of Discipline , and his willingness to apply it consistently even when the responses it gave weren't necessarily supporting his personal point of view. Later, when I was interning at the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns (say that five times fast), I read most of Jones' book, John Wesley's Conception and Use of Scripture , to write a paper on John Wesley and the authority of scripture. Of course, my paper made almost the exact opposite argument as Jones' book, but still, th

Interlude

It's been a quiet week on the blog because it has been a busy, busy week in real life, and a long week too. Today I led a funeral for a member of the congregation, and his death has hit our congregation pretty hard. I'm blessed to serve a church that really functions as a pretty close and supportive family. This surely can be a challenge from time to time - not always a group that is fast to change or try new things - but my congregation is pretty welcoming and friendly and fiercely supportive and protective of its 'children', our members. So anyway, this was a hard funeral because the grief of the congregation is just so palpable. I've done lots of funerals since coming to St. Paul's, and there's a strange truth to the saying that funerals really tie together pastors and parishioners. But it also gets harder the longer I'm at St. Paul's. The longer I'm there, the more I've been a part of these peoples' lives, and visa versa , and the m

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

* This week I went snow-shoeing twice this week. I got snow -shoes for Christmas (thanks Mom), but given the recent tropic climate in Central NY, there hasn't been any snow to speak of. So, as soon as there was snow, I hit the trails. I live right along the Erie Canal , which was a good place to try them out. (I was competing with snowmobilers who were also taking advantage of the weather.) If you can walk, you can snow -shoe, so they say, and this seemed pretty true to me. Also, if you are a person who doesn't like exercising, but you still want to workout, I highly recommend snow -shoeing. You don't feel like you're working hard at all, but then the next day, you will feel it in your muscles. * Don't forget to go vote (right now!) for the Bloggys at Greg's . He's looking for more ballots, and the voting is open til the end of the month. * I've been meaning to link to this article for a while, about a recent study that has found a link between high

My Favorites Posts of 2006

A while back, Gavin asked methobloggers to submit their 5 favorite posts of 2006. I'm a little behind on the project, but here, finally, they are (in no particular order): 1) The Season of Giving - this was my December post reflecting on love languages and how and why we give. 2) All Saints Day and Heroes , which I am cheating in counting as one. In this post-pair, I first reflected on who we consider hereos and what standards we have for them, and then I shared my own 'hero list' that I used to keep in junior high. This was particularly fun because one of the individuals on my hero list stumbled onto the post and got in touch with me. I was glad he knew that he had an impact on me! 3) Reflections: GBCS Fall Meeting, Part 3 - My last reflection set from the fall meeting, where I shared a slam poem from methoblogger and cool person Kristina Gebhard . I also talked about my split personality - devoted institutional UMCer and young person wondering if the church is rel

Reflections: Congress on Evangelism - Part 3

More reflections from the Congress on Evangelism (I noticed today that the website from the event is down already). The Bible Study speaker at the event was J. Ellsworth Kalas , whose book, Christmas from the Backside , I reviewed a couple weeks ago. I really enjoyed Kalas . If I had to sum him up in a couple of words, I would say he is charming and endearing in his manner. That doesn't say much about his content, though, does it? But he just has such an easy-going way of presenting himself and his material that he draws you in. That's what I liked about his book too. Kalas talked about people who were "Jesus Seekers" - not those whom Jesus sought - those on the fringes, the margins - but those who sought out Jesus. He did take note that he doesn't like the term 'seeker' because of what has been done with it in worship circles in the last decade - seeker-sensitive services, how to attract seekers, etc. He said this is making the object into the subject,

Reflections: Congress on Evangelism - Part 2

Still trying to collect my thoughts from The Congress on Evangelism . I arrived at the event part way through Adam Hamilton's preaching/speaking in the opening session. I really enjoyed getting to hear him speak in person after reading many of his books. He seems to be a very down-to-earth easy-going kind of person, and his presentation was very practical/straightforward. He strikes me as a person who is just full of good, usable, practical ideas. He tries to make things concrete, and I think this must be part of the reason for the success of his ministry at Church of the Resurrection. For the most part, I appreciated what Hamilton said. He came down kind of hard on the "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors" campaign of the UMC , calling them "soft values" - I wouldn't exactly agree with him. I don't think those things are necessarily soft values. But he offered some alternatives (too many too fast for me to catch) that were pretty good. He spoke a lot

Reflections: Congress on Evangelism - Part 1

This week, as I alluded to yesterday, I am at the Congress on Evangelism in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. My motivation for coming, I will admit, was solely to meet up with other methobloggers. Otherwise, I can’t say this is an event that would typically appeal to me. But I am enjoying myself and enjoying the event. More on that in a bit. First, Myrtle Beach. I’ve never been to Myrtle Beach before. I drove down from Central New York because, if I haven’t mentioned it before, I have a huge fear of flying. I will fly if I have to, but I find that in the continental US you very rarely have to fly. Myrtle Beach is a 14 hour drive from my home, and I left at a god-awfully early hour on Tuesday to get here. Book on CD make this kind of drive feasible for me, but by the last two hours, I was well past ready to be at my destination. I remember in elementary school that a few of my classmates always vacationed in Myrtle Beach. My family would take vacation in more manageable (read: inexpensiv

Surreal

I'm currently in the same room with John the Methodist , ReverendMommy , Dogblogger , Gavin Richardson , Jay Voorhees , Revabi , and Jonathan Norman . How cool is that? Also, ironically, on the world's slowest internet connection. Give or take a bit. More later.

Review: Christmas from the Backside by J. Ellsworth Kalas

Ok, this review is coming a bit late, but I only just finished this book, Christmas from the Backside , by J. Ellsworth Kalas, since I was reading it chapter by chapter throughout the Advent/Christmas season. You might most recognize Kalas' name as a frequent presenter in the Disciple Bible studies . I decided this year to use these in my congregation at our small, informal Saturday evening worship services. We used a chapter each week as the theme of worship throughout Advent, and we just finished last night. Overall, I really liked this as a resource, and can see how it would make a nice Bible study (study guide is included). The chapters are very short, and very straightforward, making it easy for anyone at any level to get involved. Theologically, Kalas seems pretty down the center - nothing "too conservative" or "too liberal," making it friendly for all kinds of pastors and congregations. Kalas' angle is to look at the Christmas story from different th