Monday, February 28, 2005

communion liturgy

this year during Lent, I'm leading a brief weekly communion service. The service is short, and casual, and the traditional Great Thanksgiving from our UM Book of Worship doesn't feel right for the service. I'm looking for something different to use - anyone have some good suggestions? What kinds of alternate liturgies have you used for communion?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Passion of Hotel Rwanda

found via The Gutless Pacifist is this article - The Passion of Hotel Rwanda about Hotel Rwanda, which I've written about previously. Columnist Brian McLaren raisese the issue - if the Christian community rallied for people to see The Passion, why aren't they rallying for people to see Hotel Rwanda? It's a good question, but I'm afraid the answers may be obvious....

Some excerpts:
"A year after Mel Gibson's movie, I found an even more Christian film, one that most Christians are ignoring...
For whatever reason, when I walked out of the recent film Hotel Rwanda, the story of a hotel manager who saves more than a thousand Tutsi refugees from Hutu-led genocide, this thought wouldn't leave me: If we really had the mind and heart of Christ, this is the movie we would be urging people in our churches to see...
Then I go back to the film again. I think about Tutsi and Hutu locked in a cycle of fear and aggression, insult and revenge, attack and counterattack. And I also think of the Twa (the literal "little people" of our world) whose story is so little known, who suffer in the crossfire between the larger, more powerful tribes. And I think about how our community of Christian believers is divided by tribes also caught in long-standing cycles that seem to defy reconciliation: Protestant, Catholic; liberal, conservative red-state, blue-state; contemporary, traditional; postmodern, modern; seeker-driven, seeker-sensitive; purpose-driven, tradition-driven, and so on.
And I go back to the film, and think of the hotel and its manager, himself a Hutu, but one who loves Tutsi as well. I think about his distinction early in the film between family (who deserve help) and non-family (who one can't worry about), and how in the course of the genocide, he comes to see that all neighbors are family. And I wonder why so few of us see our neighbors in the Christian faith in anything close to a similar way, not to mention our non-Christian neighbors who may also be modern-day prostitutes, tax collectors, and Samaritans. I wonder what kind of tragedy it would take to bring us to the insight gained by that hotel manager...
In fact, I can't think of a more worthwhile experience for Christian leaders than to watch Hotel Rwanda and then ask themselves questions like these:

  • Which film would Jesus most want us to see, and why?
  • Why did so many churches urge people to see Gibson's film, and why did so few (if any?) promote Terry George's film? What do our answers to that question say about us?
  • What were the practical outcomes of millions of people seeing Gibson's film? And what outcomes might occur if equal numbers saw Hotel Rwanda as an act of Christian faithfulness?
  • In what sense could Hotel Rwanda actually be entitled The Passion of the Christ?
  • What do we make of the fact that a high percentage of Rwandans who participated in the 1994 genocides were churchgoers?
  • What do we make of the fact that a high percentage of the Americans who ignored the 1994 genocides (then and now) were and are churchgoers?
  • What kind of repentance does each film evoke in Christians in the West? Why might the kind of repentance evoked by Hotel Rwanda be especially needed during these important days in history? "

    Ok, now I've quoted half the article. But I think it is worth the read! And a movie worth the watching.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Who is the Most Liberal?

Found via Time magazine, a report from National Journal: "Who's the Most Liberal?"

This report uses votes by politicians in Congress to figure out who wins labels as most liberal, most conservative. Surprise: John Kerry gets the most-liberal label. That actually did surprise me! Excerpt:

"Listening to her critics, you might have guessed Hillary Clinton is the farthest left of the Democrats that might run for President in 2008. In fact, Clinton wasn't even one of the top 10 most liberal Senators last year. But the true liberal of that group, according to rankings compiled by National Journal, a non-partisan public affairs magazine, is actually John Kerry. Because he was off campaigning last year, Kerry missed too many of 63 votes the magazine used to calculate its ratings for 2004. But his lifetime ranking, compiled from his entire Senate career, puts him at a 85.7 (out of 100) liberal rating, compared to a 80.7 for Clinton. While Kerry was attacked as being too far to the left in the 2004 general election, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh has the opposite problem. Bayh, with a liberal rating of only 61.7 was more conservative last year than Joe Lieberman, (69.8) who struggled to woo strong liberals in the Democratic primaries competing against Kerry and Howard Dean.
For Republicans, 2008 hopefuls Rick Santorum, Frist and Virginia Senator George Allen all had similar rankings, around 78 on the conservative scale through their Senate careers. But whatever popularity and name recognition John McCain has, being ranked the third-most liberal Republican (48.3) in the Senate last year probably won't help him in the Republican primaries. Asked about the rankings, McCain said 'over 22 years, I've been far more on the conservative side' and blamed his ranking in part on his opposition to additional tax cuts that many in his party support but he thinks will add to the deficit. Allen said 'I just vote my conscience, adding that he considers himself 'a common-sense Jeffersonian conservative.' (Never mind that the third president was a founder of today's Democratic Party."

Church Priorities

found via Wesley Blog:
A new Barna study talks about the priorities of different churches - mainline, baptist, evangelical, etc. - I thought the statistics were pretty interesting. Most interesting? Differences in priorities between predominately white and predominately black churches.

An excerpt: "Compared to white pastors, few black pastors identified worship and preaching as top priorities, in spite of the fact that our surveys among church-goers show that African-Americans are much more likely than white congregants to be satisfied with their worship experience." I think that's pretty cool.

Also, mainline denominations ranked discipleship as highest priority, over evangelism, which was ranked highest by Southern Baptist churches for instance. Interesting - I guess it is a chicken-egg question to an extent, isn't it? Can you reach out, if the people reaching out are not disciples? How can you make disciples, if you haven't reached out?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

another blog to check out

here's a new blog that i'm adding to my blogroll, and the funny post from it that i think many church leaders, musicians and otherwise, can relate to!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - Commentary: 'Buster' and the lesbians - Feb 15, 2005

Here is a good article about the PBS controversy over the children's show that was going to include Lesbian parents. You may remember that several conservative groups protested, along with our brand-new secretary of education, saying that PBS wasn't funded to produce such controversial shows, etc., and eventually PBS agreed not to air the show. Frazier Moore from the AP writes this commentary: "Commentary: 'Buster' and the lesbians TV critic asks: What's the big deal?"


But by daring to include two of the nation's 168,000 gay-parented households (joining Pentecostal Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Hmong among those represented on the series) "Buster" was busted....

Of course, no child watching this episode is any more likely to be brainwashed into becoming gay than into copying Buster and growing rabbit ears.

The danger, such as it is, lies elsewhere. The episode's two couples -- Karen and Gillian, and their friends Tracy and Gina -- come across as perilously likable people and loving parents. They're awfully hard to distinguish from acceptable folks. It might be tricky, then, to convince a child who's "exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in this episode" that these women should be demonized for being who they are. As usual, information is a threat to blind prejudice.

Granted, even Dobson draws the line on his character attacks. Recently he has emphatically denied ever calling SpongeBob SquarePants gay (you almost expect him to proclaim, "Some of my best friends are sponges").

Sunday, February 13, 2005

moral opportunity

check out this post at my brother's blog about moral choices: obligation or opportunity?
I like it. I'm a little biased, but I think it's a good post. it's also encouragement for the sometimes discouraging work of trying to live justly, a little bit more, every day.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

NAACP being investigated by IRS for anti-Bush/Republican statements

found via the gutless pacifist, who says that some churches are also coming under scrutiny for politically slanted speeches, etc. :
from - NAACP says it refused IRS' request for documents -

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Lawyers for the NAACP say their client will not supply documents the IRS has requested as part of an investigation into a political speech given last year by the group's chairman.

a quote, "In a written statement obtained by CNN, Bond said, "We've criticized, condemned and/or praised every president since Theodore Roosevelt and we'll continue to speak truth to power.""

I wonder how many churches engaged in supporting Bush (or Kerry) directly or indirectly as the "Christian" candidate?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Girls sued for delivering cookies to neighbors...

Check out this article about two Colorado teens sued successfully for delivering cookies to a neighbor. Eesh.

Eco-Justice Notes - 2/4/05 - Going Postal

another good edition of Eco-Justice Notes from Peter Sawtell, titled "Going Postal."

an excerpt:

I wonder -- how many others around us carry hurt, grief, anger, alienation, helplessness -- all triggered by their experiences of the destruction of God's creation? There are so many places where that painful reality can come upon us. A stark new subdivision replaces an open field that used to grace your day with spacious views and glimpses of wildlife. Or you are ambushed with a disturbing news report about expanding deforestation in the Amazon, or an oil spill that fouls the ocean. It can come from the sudden hurt when chainsaws level a grove of trees, or it can be found in the constant ache that that is carried by those with an awareness of accelerating global warming.

In our churches, do we let it be known that we understand and that we care about those sorts of hurts? Do we provide a setting where the often-hidden grief and anger can be shared? Do we offer a place of healing for those hurting people, and do we offer a place where shared hurts can energize people to work for the healing of the planet?

Sawtell includes a really great story of an interaction he had with a postal worker. Sometimes it is these small interactions, these seemingly random conversations, that bring reminders of meaning and purpose to what we seek to do in God's name.

Friday, February 04, 2005 - Mandela: Rich must feed the poor / Make Poverty History

from - Mandela: Rich must feed the poor - Feb 3, 2005. Found this article via Social Gospel Today. Also, check out the Make Poverty History campaign, the campaign for which Mandela was speaking. They're selling white bracelets with the "make poverty history" slogan on them - like the Lance Armstrong LiveStrong bracelets, but more in the style of the WWJD bracelets that were once all the rage. You can order singles or sets, be quite trendy, and the money goes to help a really important campaign. :)

ps to bloglet users - I think my settings have been screwed up, and hopefully now you will actually be receiving the e-mail subscriptions you signed up for! apologies...

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

more quotes from Peter Singer's Animal Liberation

here are some more interesting facts from Peter Singer's Animal Liberation. I've been vegetarian for over seven years, but this book is what convinced me to make the switch to vegan on the first of this year. I don't consider my self a "proselytizing vegetarian" like my brother, but sometimes the facts can just speak for themselves!

"How much of the protein in [its] food does the calf use up, and how much is available for human beings? The answer is surprising. It takes twenty-one pounds of protein fed to a calf to produce a single pound of animal protein for humans. We get back less than 5 percent of what we put in." (pg. 165)

and again...

"one pound of steak from steers raised in a feedlot costs five pounds of grain, 2,500 gallons of water, the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline, and about thirty-five pounds of eroded topsoil. More than a third of North American is taken up with grazing, more than half of US croplands are planted with livestock feed. and more than half of all water consumed in the United States goes to livestock." (pg. 166-167, emphasis mine)

That last part really gets me: half of our water used for livestock. crazy.
If you're an environmentalist, or just a regular person who is aware that the earth is a place of limited resources that we have to protect, consider going vegetarian, or cutting back on meat drastically. It's not as hard as you think, I swear.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

MSNBC - Christian bookstore sells Harry Potter

I found this story via, the Harry Potter site I visit from time to time:

MSNBC - Christian bookstore sells Harry Potter

I'm a big fan of series like C.S. Lewis' The Chonicles of Narnia and Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings. I could never figure out what sets Christians off so much about Harry Potter, when most of them will read (and love) the Narnia books, which also have witches and wizards and magic in them. Obivously, C.S. Lewis was a theologian, and his books were laden with theological imagery, but they still had witches and wizards, which the Bible would seem to condemn in a literal reading just as much by someone using them to alude to Jesus as by someone just writing about themes of good and evil as J.K. Rowling does. So kudos to this brave bookstore for carrying the Harry Potter books. Read them! They're well-written. I've even used them in a sermon! I only had one person suggest afterwards that Harry Potter books were evil and unfit for church, and when I brought up the Narnia books, she couldn't think of a good response...

Sermon, "In Denial," Mark 8:31-37

Sermon 2/20/24 Mark 8:31-37 In Denial My sermon title is both a reflection of our gospel text for today, and a reflection of how I felt abou...