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Showing posts from June, 2005

all in the (blogging) family?

In John's weekly profile of Methodist bloggers for Locusts and Honey , one of the questions he always asks is: Can you name a major moral, political, or intellectual issue on which you've changed your mind?I responded saying that most of my views on issues have changed at least somewhat over time, been nuanced differently, matured in ways. I think all of us probably change and grow, sometimes for better, sometimes in less positive ways. I began thinking: what makes us change? What influences us to take a step in a new direction? For example, I used to think vegetarians were silly. Then I became one. And now I'm a vegan. My prostletizing-vegan brother was one big influence in that decision, and other things led to this decision as well - many factors, to make a gradual shift in my thinking. Then I think about the conversations that go on in blogs in the comments section. I love blogging, and I love reading the blogs of others of all different viewpoints. Some of my favorite


I'm 'unconverting' from Haloscan for comments back to blogger. No trackback, but I like the commenting feature for blogger better than haloscan. the blogger comments from before are back, but the week or so of haloscan comments are gone...

ecclesiastes 3:1-2

a time for everything... In my community, several area pastors take a week at a time rotation at our local hospital to serve as chaplains. We are called in whenever there is a "code blue", a death, or a baby born in distress. The hospital is fairly small, and has bigger hospitals on to the East and West where bigger emergencies get sent, so usually a week of being on call results in 2 or 3 trips to the hospital. I was called in once this week, in the early morning. I live quite close to the hospital, so I arrived before any family did, and while the nursing staff was still working on the code blue patient. I watched as they performed CPR on him, and watched as he eventually died, and watched as they declared his time of death. It was all very non-"ER" - the health care workers did what they needed to do, then moved on to the next things. The wife of the 90 year-old man came in and was a little teary, but talked about life, and how this is just what happens, and how

numbers in the UMC

Dean at Untied Methodist has a great post here about the membership and worship attendance reports that are rolling out of UMC annual conference sessions , with great analysis and questions of what the figures mean. I too had noticed that numbers are down not just in the Northeast or in the West, but also in the Southeastern and Southcentral Jurisdictions (in some conferences) which surprised me. Numbers are tricky - and sometimes I think we worry about them too much - but we want the church to grow for more than just our own selfish reasons (I hope) - we want people to experience Christ, experience grace, and be a part of a community of faith. How do we help make that happen?

Lions free kidnapped girl

Check out this story , which reports a girl kidnapped in Ethiopia who was saved from her attackers by lions! A different take on Daniel in the lion's den maybe, eh? Animals are so amazing - we think we have their behaviors pinned down, explained, and they do things so surprising to us...

more on detainees from A Religious Liberal Blog

Found here at A Religious Liberal Blog is this list from Amensty of alleged practices used on or authorized for use detainees: Abduction Barbed wire, forced to walk barefoot on Blindfolding "Burking" – hand over detainee’s mouth/nose to prevent breathing Cell extraction, brutal/punitive use of Chemical/pepper spray, misuse of Cigarette burns Claustrophia-inducing techniques, e.g. tied headfirst in sleeping bag, shut in lockers Death threats Dietary manipulation Dogs used to threaten and intimidate Dousing in cold water Electric shocks, threats of electric shocks Exposure to weather and temperature extremes, especially via air-conditioning Flags, wrapped in Israeli or US flags during or prior to interrogation Food and water deprivation Forced shaving, ie of head, body or facial hair Forcible injections, including with unidentified substances Ground, forced to lie on bare ground while agents stand on back or back of legs Hooding Host

Women's Division letter takes up rights for detainees

This article from the United Methodist News Service reports the Women's Division's plans to address human rights issue for the detainees, and other related issues, such as those immigrants facing deportation to Pakistan because of change in laws since September 11th, 2001. The article sites instances where men were deported to Pakistan who lacked certain paperwork and were not even allowed to notify their spouses and children living in the US. Check it out for some other specific stories.

from faithforward: religious participation and diversity

happened across this really interesting post over at faithforward : apparently, according to this USNews article , an economist found that religious participation in communities is highest where there is a high density of people sharing the same religious preference - ie, a community of prednominately Catholic members. In these communities, other good benefits seem to exist too - income levels, education, marriage/divorce rates, etc. But, these "positive effects of living around a lot of people who share your religion are offset if most of those people belong to the same ethnic group. In other words, Italian Catholics go to church more often and do better economically if they live in an area where there are not just Italians but other ethnic groups—Poles or Irish, say—that share the Catholic faith." Hm. Like the body of Christ, maybe? Many parts, many gifts, one body?

via jockeystreet: detainees

my brother has a post here re: the detainees at guantanamo bay. It is an issue i've been meaning to write about, but I never know where to start, because it all seems so overwhelming to me. Do the ends (information about terrorism, etc.) justify the means (forced urination, sleep deprivation, harassment based on one's religion)? Does good prison food equal human rights and while forcing a person to urinate in his pants does not equal a lack of them? I'm not so naive as to think that everything is going to be great and perfect inside the prison. But where is a line crossed? How will we be aware of crossing it? When is enough enough? Anyway, my brother's post sums up a lot of my own thoughts, though, as always, more bluntly and less theologically stated!

2005 Annual Conference Reports

Take some time, UMC friends, and other interested folks, to read reports from Annual Conference sessions around the connection here. It is interesting 1) to see the time spent personally at AC wrapped up in a one page summary 2) to see what's going on and how things are done in other ACs.

comments and trackback

I've just converted to using Haloscan for comments and trackbacks, since blogger doesn't have a trackback feature. Unfortunately, this means all my old comments from people have been deleted. Guess you'll all have to leave me some new comments!

Relevant Magazine: Interview with Moby

I've been meaning to post about an interview with Moby published in the May/June 2005 issue of Relevant magazine . I found it an extremely refreshing read - a celebrity who seems very thoughtful - honest about his own shortcomings, up front about his beliefs, conscious of making ethical decisions. Here's some excerpts from the interview: Moby says, "As a Christian, I feel very shut out from a lot of contemporary Christianity. My understanding in what it means to be a Christian is to, in our own subjective way, recognize Christ as being God, and recognize our shortcomings and our failings, and try and live according to the teachings of Christ as best we can. And what I find so strange is I look at the behavior of so many Christians, and I don't see any aspect of the teachings of Christ represented there. But [I remember] the quote about taking the log out of your own eye before you can see the speck in someone else's eye, so I don't want to get in the position

Nevada church offers spiritual backing to theater company

I just ran across this article from United Methodist News Service : "Nevada church offers spiritual backing to theater company" - The story describes how a local church became involved in supporting the Nevada Shakespeare Company in Reno. It caught my eye because of my own love for theatre - I minored in theatre in college , and worked at the Shakespeare Theatre of NJ while in seminary. My youngest brother is now in one of the touring companies for STNJ, and actually on a path where he might have steady work as an actor! (If you are near NJ this summer, check out their touring schedule and catch a free performance of London Assurance or Coriolanus .) I remember during my senior year of college, I was taking a class in theatre theory - and the professor, then-department chair Dr. Bo Rabby, was asking about our plans post-college. I mentioned how I "wasn't going into theatre" but into the ministry. His response, "oh yes, you're going into theatre.&qu

Annual Conference Reflections: Wrap Up

Another Annual Conference has come and gone! Yesterday morning Bishop Dan Solomon shared another message with us. This time he preached on Luke 10:25-37, The Good Samaritan text. His message was titled "by-pass" or "pass by," and he opened with an account of a woman who was asking the surgeon about the medical health of her family member by asking, "did that pass by thingy work?" Passing by, the bishop said, wouldn't work - only a by-pass had the healing capability. "The difference between pass by and and by-pass is the difference between death and life." Solomon gave us 3 "road signs" on the road to Jericho. 1) God is on this road. A dangerous road sometimes, a road of pain and risk, but God is on the road with us. 2) God uses the people plan. God had/has any means available to communicate with us, the bishop reminded us. God could just write us messages in the stars, spell it out, anything. But God chooses the people plan to have

Annual Conference Reflections, Part 2

still here at Annual Conference . This morning for worship our guest preacher was retired Bishop Dan Solomon . I heard him preach most recently at the 2004 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference, and he was excellent, and his time with us this morning at AC proved no less inspiring. Bishop Solomon preached on 1 Peter 3:13-15, "The Reason for Our Hope." He gave us three 'handles': 1) Respond to the awesomeness of God. He asked, "are you more occupied with the weakness of the church than you are with the greatness of God?" He said that we tend to do plenty of blaming, but he asked, "is God able? God is able. If God is able, I am willing." 2) Redefine our being . Solomon said our personhood is redefined by Jesus Christ, and we are to be representatives of Christ in the world. He told a story about a church member who went on and on about how excited he was about the mission statement his church had spent a year creating. Solomon told us, "I'

Annual Conference Reflections, Part 1

I'm about 1/2 way through our annual conference session here in Liverpool, NY. Yesterday was our clergy session, and today was opening day of regular business. Yesterday, my DS Carl Johnson ( see also my post from earlier today ) gave the message at clergy session, titled, "The Word Made Flesh," based on Ezekiel 37 and John 1. One thing he shared was something I didn't know: when communion tables in churches are dressed with two candles, one on either side of the cross, they have a specific meaning: the one on the right means "Jesus Christ, Son of God," and the one on the left means, "Jesus Christ, Son of Man" - humanity and divinity. Johnson wanted to focus on the humanity of Christ, the body, incarnation, fleshiness of Christ. One way he talked about Jesus' embodiedness was in terms of the sacrament of Holy Communion. He shared a story of a woman who had always been the communion steward at her church, and so never got to really experience c

Reflections on John 5:1-17 - "Do you want to be well?"

In preparation for this weekend's Annual Conference , our bishop met with clergy in each district in the weeks leading up to this one. At our district meeting, my DS, Rev. Carl Johnson, gave a most excellent message that I've been meaning to comment on. I emailed him to see if he had a written sermon, but unlike myself, he makes no written copy of his text. So he emailed me a little summary, and I'll try to convey his message to you! Rev. Johnson preached on John 5:1-17. This is the story of a paralytic who has been waiting by the pool at Bethesda to be healed for 38 years. Johnson's key question was Jesus' question to the man: "Do you want to be well?"Johnson writes, "The man by the pool had 38 years of care. His response to the question [that he can't get into the healing pool fast enough] was designed to keep him at the pool. Jesus, however, cut to the heart of the matter, i.e. [the man's] taking advantage and abusing the situation. This i