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Showing posts from October, 2007

Who are voting for? Who should you be voting for?

I was doing some reading on the web the other day, trying to figure out what kind of impact Stephen Colbert is having on the polls so far, which is an interesting topic in itself. But in my searching, I came across this tool from Select Smart, which allows you to respond to your views on many topics, and rate the importance of those topics, and then it will tell you who you should be voting for.

I found this intriguing because I'm not always sure we're committed to voting for the person who actually supports what we want to see. There's a lot of reasons that might be the case, some more and less sensible! I can tell you that I wasn't surprised by who this quiz said I most agreed with, but that I'll most likely be voting for the candidate who showed up 5th on my list. Why? Electability. The candidate with whom I'm most in sync I doubt could get elected.

How about you? Do your results match your actual voting intentions?

My brother...

My brother, jockeystreet, appears to be blogging again. Check out the cute video of my nephew, too, from a few months back. Also exciting? Looks like Sam is going to be a lefty like his Aunt Beth. Left-handedness is, of course, a superior trait, a sign of genius. I'm not surprised.

Clergy in Film and Television

I don't know if any of you are ERfans, but I've been watching it on and off since it first came on air. This week, they introduced a new character - a hospital chaplain (female, as it happens) who will become the romantic interest for one of the series regulars. I'm curious to see where they will take this story. In her first episode, she talks about having a spiritual life and being concerned with spiritual issues, but also being a 'regular person' or something like that. I'm curious to see where they take this character.

I'm often frustrated with the way clergy are portrayed in film and television. So often the clergy person in question is just a caricature, someone who is completely out of touch with the real concerns and needs of people. Maybe that's just a harsh but telling judgment on the role of clergy/church in the world today. But most pastors I know have a lot more to offer than empty words! To see a clergy person portrayed as rounded and flesh…

Sam Davidson's Big Idea

Check out this post from Sam Davidson's Remarkablog. As I first started to read, I was expecting some critique of women's dating habits or something, but the post took an interesting, compelling direction:

"While this my be a shocker to approximately 0% of the population familiar with The Bachelor, since I don't follow the show closely, it just hit me. What the women really want (or, the men, in the case of The Bachelorette) is to win. The falling in love and finding a soulmate part doesn't even matter. They like the idea of falling in love. What they really want is to win.

So, they disguise their want in the camouflage of an idea. By doing so, they think they can hold out hope that what they are really going after is in fact the thing they want. They hope that by winning they'll also fall in love and find their happy ever after...

...In a similar fashion,
We like the idea of writing a book, but what we really want to do is create something. So we talk about…

Laity Sunday

This past Sunday, like in many UMCs, we celebrated Laity Sunday. We had a great service here, and I was really proud of how everyone contributed to the service. Our lay leader coordinated the service, and gave part of the message about what Franklin Lakes UMC means to him. He gave a very personal and moving message. We had great music from youth and adults, a special children's time, a guest lay leader, etc. The second part of the message was given by Justin Peligri, a 14 year-old member at FLUMC. Justin did a fabulous job, and he said it would be ok for me to post his sermon on my blog. So I'm posting an excerpt here, with a link to the full text for you to enjoy.

"I am very fortunate to be a member of the Franklin Lakes United Methodist Church, because through the church and all of its members, I have found stability. Here, I am embraced week after week with open arms and friendly smiles. It is a place where I have grown in, joy, fellowship, and faith tremendously. Churc…

Reflections: Tipple-Vosburgh Lectures - God and Mammon, Part 3

Here's my last set of reflections/notes from the Drew Tipple-Vosburgh Lectures:

Dr. Jouette Bassler was on again, this time as Bible Study leader, and she focused on Luke's Parable of the Shrewd Manager. I really wished I had attended this talk before preaching on this tough text a few weeks ago!!

Introduction:
- what are presuppositions we bring to text? Ie, we bring "different Jesuses" to the text

- Jesus’ intent when he spoke. – may have modified this in multiple tellings, probably not only time he spoke this parable. (My thoughts: This had never occurred to me before - how likely it is that Jesus shared parables more than once, in different places. Don't we do this with our stories and tales and illustrations and arguments? We focus what we say over time and tellings. Never even crossed my mind, but it makes sense, doesn't it?)

- Luke’s intent in writing it/including it.

C.H. Dodd – “At its simplest the parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from native or commo…

Reflections: Tipple-Vosburgh Lectures - God and Mammon, Part 2

Day Two at the Tipple-Vosburgh lectures opened with Worship – Rev. Tanya Linn Bennett, Associate Chaplain, preaching: "Signing In." Tanya talked about the first class of students who signed in at Drew, and invited students who hadn't signed the matriculation book to do so (the book was lost for a number of years until the 1970s.) It was fun to watch the older alumni sign the book and be part of a Drew tradition.

For my morning workshop I went to Dr. Traci West's “Christian Ethical Policy for Rich and Poor: The Magnificat and Welfare Reform.” I've mentioned before that Dr. West was one of my favorite professors at Drew, so it is always nice to get a chance to learn a bit more from her.

Notes on her workshop:

How to keep someone from doing critical thinking:
1) Shaming us. About what we look like, who we are. Makes feel inadequate, go inward.
2) Help us think of selves as superior.

Scripture is our theory as Christians. God looks with favor on Mary’s lowliness.

How do we…

Reflections: Tipple-Vosburgh Lectures - God and Mammon

I just spent the last three days at Drew Theological School's annual Tipple-Vosburgh lectures. This year the theme was God and Mammon, which sounded particularly interesting to me. I was also eager to attend this year and reconnect with friends and faculty now that I am back in the New Jersey area. These first two months in my new appointment have been so chaotic I haven't really taken the time to get in touch with my friends in the area yet.

Here are my (mostly unedited) notes from day one of the lectures:

John McCullough, Executive Director and CEO of Church World Service
Theology of Mission: International Development in an Increasingly Complex World


Myanmar/Burma – rejection of 1990 elections, placing of leader under house arrest, 1989-present. 100,000 refugees in Thailand, although Thailand doesn’t recognize their status. Only can enter to flee active fighting. Camps close to border. Restricting role of UN on refugees. Etc. 450,000 internally displaced persons. One of 50 poore…

Movie Review: Eastern Promises

This past weekend I went to see David Cronenberg's new film, Eastern Promises. I knew this film was supposed to be very graphic and violent, but I'm a fan of Viggo Mortensen and really wanted to see the film. I really liked A History of Violence, and figured another Cronenberg/Mortensen combination would be a good match, and the film has already been getting a lot of Oscar buzz (which sometimes means something...)

The film centers around Anna, a mid-wife, played by Naomi Watts. She delivers the baby of a Russian girl, 14, who dies in childbirth. Anna, for reasons made clear in the film, can't let go until she finds the girl's (and baby's) family. She has the girl's diary, and seeks to follow the clues in it. Her quest leads her right into the Russian mafia, including twinkling-eyed Semyon Armin Mueller-Stahl, his son Kirill (Vincent Cassel), and Kirill's friend/'driver', Nikolai, played by Mortensen.

The film is certainly graphic and violent as promi…

New Nephew Cuteness

When I went to Central New York for Adjourned Session last weekend, I got to swing by my brother and sister-in-law's house, and see my gorgeous nephew Sam. Of course, I know you want to see some pictures:





Sam and Aunt Beth















Sam, looking too grown up at four months old.












Sam proving his grown-up status by bringing home fridge artwork already from daycare. He's talented, no?

Adjourned Session: A New Conference?

Yesterday I attended an adjourned session of the North Central New York (NCNY) annual conference. The agenda? Vote on a recommendation to Jurisdictional Conference to merge four annual conferences in New York: NCNY, Western NY, Troy, and Wyoming. Through the wonders of modern technology, we were meeting at the same time as our sisters and brothers across the state also having adjourned sessions, and we were able to see them live (OK, with a 60 second or so delay) and worship together(-ish) and vote together(-ish). It was an interesting experience for sure!

We've been talking about merger for at least the last four years. A number of factors bring us to this place, but suffice it to say that most of us on the Boundaries Task Force felt that merging together was a strong choice for the future of the UMC in the New York State area. It's a risk, of course. Membership in the UMC in the Northeast is declining. Merging will give us more collective resources, but unless we really chang…

Questions

Now that I finally have internet access at my parsonage, I find myself not coming up with things to blog about. So, some questions for you all instead, that aren't ready for stand-alone posts:

Do you have a projection system at your church? What do you use it for? Do you use it every week? Do you (or does your pastor) use it in preaching? Every week? How?
Do you have a Christian Education/Sunday School Program at your church? What ages? When does class meet? What curriculum do you use? How is attendance?
How does your congregation celebrate Laity Sunday?
Do you usually follow a theme for the whole season of Advent (or Lent)? This is something I've just started doing in the last two years, and it has helped give me more direction and cohesiveness to the whole direction of the season. Yes, it is time for worship planners to be thinking about Advent already!