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Showing posts from 2006

Switching to blogspot - NEW ADDRESS

Today I am making the switch to the new blogger, and since you can't use all the new features if you publish via FTP (which is a pain) I am switching to blogspot. So, my new address is , and the site feed address is . (Note, if you subscribe to my feed with the feedburner address , you shouldn't need to change anything.) This change will take place immediately (or about 5 minutes after this post goes up.) My main website will stay the same, only the blog address is changing. The old blogsite should stay up for a while until people make the switch.

Review: The Pursuit of Happyness

Last week, I went to see The Pursuit of Happyness . I've been meaning to write a review, but just couldn't get it together. Heads up: *** If you don't want to know anything about the plot, please don't read this post. I'll try not to get to specific, but I can't write much of what I want without some details.*** First, foremost - Will Smith is absolutely superb. He is really an excellent actor. Don't underestimate him because of his Fresh Prince days, or if you don't go for light movie like Hitch or I, Robot . He is a gifted actor. I first saw him in a serious role when I had to watch Six Degrees of Separation for a class in college (a movie that is a must-see in my mind). Smith communicates so clearly every emotion and feeling - by the climax of the film tears were streaming down my face - and I really hate to cry at movies. Smith has a pretty uniquely solid track record at the box office - most of his films open in first place, and he is one of tho

Think-Tank Thoughts

This fall, my DS has been meeting with a small group of pastors and having us read together The Shaping of Things to Come , by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch. We're only a few chapters in so far, so I will save a real review for later. But the book has been making me think a lot about the in-between/torn feelings I wrote about a while back . We got to talking in our conversation about why it is that we can all say we agree with this book, and think things need to change dramatically, foundationally in the church in order for us to truly be about building the kingdom of God, and yet, still not have anything change, anything grow differently. My former pastor, now colleague, offered this excerpt from Kent Carlson's Soul Journey as an answer : "I am convinced that personal ambition, and a pastoral ethic centered around productivity and success is brutal to our souls and destructive to the souls of the people we lead. I believe there is a better way. But it requires us to walk

Sibling News

Thought I'd share a bit of the exciting things going on with the siblings... I am going to be an aunt! That's right, jockeystreet and wife are expecting a baby, due on Mother's Day in fact. A little boy. Yippee! And yes, this will be a vegetarian-hippie baby for sure. Brother Tim has a new blog, where he is concentrating on writing book reviews. Check it out here: "TJQ's Random Readings, Remarks, and Reviews." Todd is a professional (read: paid) actor now, currently in Cymbeline at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey . He just got hired by the Chamber Theatre, out of Boston, for a half-year touring company. Pretty exciting to be a working actor!

A Methoblogosphere Project: Heifer International

Revfife had a great idea - a challenge for all of us in the Methoblogosphere to work together to raise money for Heifer International: "A challenge for all of you in Methoblog Land. This is truly the season for giving to others, and as I was buying a gift the other day from Heifer International (Geese), I found this thing for bloggers to support Heifer. I thought why not pool our wonderful Methodist Blogs and raise money for Heifer together. If you have never heard about Heifer they are a wonderful organization that has a simple and practical plan to reduce world hunger. Provide animals, water, farms, and teach people how to be self-sustaining. The challenge is simple. Put some code on your blog or myspace page and pool our money so we can reach the goal of $1000 dollars donated to Heifer. You can find the code here ." I think this is a great idea - so if you have some extra cash, a little or a lot, let's show our stuff and meet this goal. If you can repost this on your

The Season of Giving

A few years back, my mother gave me The Five Languages of Love to read, a book by Gary Chapman. Chapman theorizes that there are five languages we use to communicate love to one another: Giving gifts, acts of service, physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation. (All fairly self-explanatory, I think.) Chapman says that each of us has a primary way that we respond to love, a primary way that we understand that someone else is saying they love us. We also have a primary way we tend to communicate love to others, which is usually whatever way we most like to hear we are loved ourselves. In my family, between my mother and three brothers, we figured that we had all five love languages covered. ( Jockeystreet , he wants your quality time, if you were wondering. Todd , my actor brother, prefers words of affirmation. Tim craves physical touch - has loved having his back rubbed since he was very little. Mom - acts of service.) We run in to trouble when we try to communicate love,

Review: Stranger Than Fiction

I went to see Stranger Than Fiction last week. This time of year when there are so many 'awards season' movies out, contenders for the big prizes, I find it hard to pick what to see - too overwhelming. But my friend and I arrived at the theatre without a specific movie in mind, so we just picked what was playing next - Stranger Than Fiction . I was a little wary of the movie because I'm not a huge Will Farrell fan. Ok, I laughed all through Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby , but I was doubtful that he could pull of a serious role like this one. Well, he pulled it off. I really enjoyed the movie. If you've seen the previews, you've seen the basic premise: Will Farrell plays a straight-laced man who finds that his life is being narrated by some voice, and the voice says his death is just around the corner. He tries to find the author and persuade her not to write his death, and in the process of his quest, he tries to live differently - in a way that the v

You Know...

You know you're a United Methodist nerd if you have a dream about being at some sort of General Church gathering, and consider it a pretty good dream. You know you're a liberal UM, and also just kinda weird, if in your dream, John Stewart is the worship leader at said event, and he's doing a pretty good job.


I pulled into the local grocery store parking lot at 11pm tonight. It's my favorite time to shop - there's really only one grocery store in town (besides Wal-Mart) and it is always packed all day - 11pm is usually a safe time to go. Tonight, I was in desperate need of cat food. I pulled in and immediately saw the pastor of the other United Methodist Church in town and the captain of the Salvation Army, standing in the parking lot, chatting. A mini impromptu gathering of the clergy women of Oneida. Random!

Confronting the Controversy

Regular readers of my blog will know that I generally try to avoid offending when I can - at least I like to think I avoid offending. I usually feel I can say what I need to say without tearing down people who think differently than me. But recently, I've been moved to make a more bold, declaratory statement. Here goes.... White Christmas lights are boring. Multi-colored Christmas lights are fun. Possisble exception: if you have candles in your windows ONLY, then it is ok to use just white lights. Otherwise, people, go for the color! If you want an 'elegant' look, I've seen some very nice very pale multi-colored lights that are not too boring. Seriously. Sorry. But it had to be said.

Too Close for Comfort

Found this great cartoon via Lake Neuron, post aptly titled, "Too Close for Comfort." Indeed! (Cartoon by Dave Walker . Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons .)

Reflections: Exploration 2006

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of leading a group of young people from my annual conference to Exploration 2006, in Jacksonville, Florida. We had 6 youth/young adults from our AC, and two other young clergy lead with me. I had the opportunity twice to go to Exploration ('96 and '98) in high-school and college, and I remember being the only one from my annual conference, or at least the only one I was aware of at the time. So, I wanted to give a more organized experience to young people from NCNY this time around. One of the frustrating parts of the process for me in pursuing ordination was feeling disconnected. I knew I wanted to be a pastor, and communicated that to adults early on and consistently in my journey, but it wasn't until I was back inside the AC bounds serving a church as a probation that I felt really connected again. I've heard many young people express a sense of call, and I always wonder - is anyone following up with them? Is anyone keeping in t

Sites to Check Out

Just got home from Exploration (where I finally, if briefly, got to meet Natalie of Take My Hand - excellent!) and I'm not ready to recap yet, so in the meantime, here are a couple of sites I've been visiting a lot lately: - This site will email you a daily tip on something you can do ( "5 Minutes of Caring" ) to re-focus your life on others, the environment, justice, etc. I like the tips so far, like today's, which focuses on an ongoing theme of theirs, "Christmas is not your birthday." Another is which is a blog/site that highlights eco-friendly products/inventions/innovations, like this water-powered clock , and lots of cool eco-friendly off-the-grid type pre-fab homes (sorry, big-bro, can't find the one I wanted to show you.) Check 'em out.

Review: How (Not) to Speak of God by Peter Rollins

I finally finished reading (#19) How (Not) to Speak of God by Peter Rollins. I would describe this book as a theology of the emergent movement, a 'foundations' sort of book. Maybe Rollins wouldn't describe it that way, but I mean it as a compliment. The book describes an understanding of God - or a not-understanding of God - that is where I see a lot of people these days, where I see a lot of people who are looking for a spiritual life, a faith community. Rollins writes two parts - the first is the 'heavy' stuff - the theology, and the second is outlines and explanations of twelve worship services that represent what he's talked about in the first part. The services aren't meant to be copied, though they can be, but they're meant to give more tangible examples of what he's talking about. I had a hard time getting into the book at first, so I went and read the services, part two, first, and then went back and read the 'heavy' stuff, which I fo


Since I haven't been in the mood to write anything else, I thought I'd respond in a new post to John's question in the comments of my last post about All Saints Day : "So, who were your heroes?" Put the names out there into the blogosphere. He was referring to this part of my post: "And yet, I'm not sure we can help but make heroes of those we admire. When I was in junior-high, I regularly kept a 'hero-list'. I will confess to you that I a bit(?!) arrogantly consider myself hard to impress, so the list was pretty hard to get onto. But I can remember today almost everyone whose name graced the list, and I remember how and why they got there. A couple teachers, a classmate or two, some family members, people in the arts, even an inspirational speaker that came to speak to us. I like to think they gave me something to work for, a model to be like, to try to be like at least." Well, I admit I had to spend some time going through my old journals t

All Saints Day

Today is All Saints Day. I don't ever remember celebrating All Saints Sunday when I was growing up. (I apologize to my former pastor for forgetting if we did!) But in seminary, we always had an All Saints-themed worship in chapel, and the church I served as youth pastor also had a day to remember those in the congregation who died during the previous year. When I started serving St. Paul's, I introduced an All Saints Sunday celebration. My first and second years were filled, it seemed, with deaths of long-time faithful members, and I think as a congregation we were grieving for the collective loss, and I hoped an All Saints celebration would be a way to give voice to our community grief. This year, we have just a handful of folks who've passed away that are directly related to the congregation, though one loss is very recent and very difficult - a young mother, who died after a battle with ALS, which is just a horrific disease. But regardless of the numbers, I find it a mea

Bishop's Convocation: Deepening the Well

Last week I went to our annual Bishop's Convocation, a gathering for clergy in the New York West episcopal area . It was the first time I've attended. The Convocation is always the same time as Drew's (my alma mater) annual Tipple-Vosburgh lectures , which I've been in the habit of choosing over the Convocation. Let's face it - Drew can usually pull in 'bigger' speakers, I get to see friends that I don't often see otherwise, and going to New Jersey for away time is more exciting than going an hour and a half away to Rochester. But...that said, I decided very last minute to attend the Convocation instead of Tipple. I'd just come back from GBCS in DC, and didn't feel like traveling very far. Plus, I guess I think it is important to invest myself here in my hometown area more than I have been. It's been three and a half years now since I graduated from seminary. I loved it, and I loved the people. But I love here too, and need to be more in

Movie Review: The Departed

Last weekend a friend and I went to see The Departed , the new Martin Scorsese film. It wasn't the top film on my list to see, but it seemed to be the available film to see at the right time at a theatre that was easy to get to, so off we went. I really enjoyed the film, I think. It was one of those films where I just wasn't quite sure what to say when I left. What I did not like, however, was the audience who saw the film with me. I saw the film while I was in DC, so it was a bigger theatre with far more movie-viewing-companions than I'm used to for anything other than Harry Potter openings. The audience seemed to be laughing at totally inappropriate places, where the action just wasn't funny. I've got a good sense of humor, I think, but what I was seeing wasn't funny, wasn't meant to be funny, and if you thought some of it was funny - well, I worry about you. I also had to roll my eyes on the way out, when we were standing near a couple, one of whom kept a


I've just finally done some major updating of my blogroll. It was very very sadly out of date. If I've accidentally deleted you, please let me know. I removed blogs without posts in the last month or two, and tried to eliminate duplications between my own blogroll and the other blogrolls I support.

Online Studies

A while back I mentioned that we would be trying online studies this fall at St. Paul's. Well, they're both kicking off this week: a scripture study , usually following the lectionary, though occasionally using different passages if we are using different passages in worship, and a book study , currently on Brian McLaren's The Secret Message of Jesus . I'm not sure how these studies will go - I'm not sure St. Paul's will be 'into' blogging-studies, at least not right away, so if you feel like stopping by and joining in and setting a (friendly) blogging example, I'd welcome your input!

Reflections: GBCS Fall Meeting, Part III

Another set of (rambling) thoughts about the fall GBCS meeting. GBCS is blessed to have a really great set (and fairly sizeable set) of young board members. Currently, one youth and a few college students, and a few seminarians, and a couple of "old" young adults like myself. We had a handful of young people last quadrennium too, but no organized time together, and I don't think I knew more than one of the other young adults in any meaningful way. This quadrennium, we always set aside at least one meal time to eat together. Sometimes we're working toward a specific purpose - talking about the Global Young People's Convocation and Legislative Assembly - sometimes just for time together. I really appreciate this group, this time. It is at these gatherings, though, and in some other places in my ministry lately, that I feel most like I have a split personality when it comes to the Church - the UMC specifically, but the Church as a whole. I don't know where to f

Reflections: GBCS Fall Meeting, Part II

More reflections from my fall General Board of Church and Society meeting: I mentioned in my last post that we have several new board members. One new member presided at our opening worship at communion celebrant. As she was giving the invitation she said something like "it's not the size of the meal that matters, it is the number of people you can gather around the table." Well said. The whole opening worship centered on the death penalty and our historic United Methodist opposition to the death penalty. We had a list in our bulletins of all the names of those who had been executed since the 1970s, and we prayed for them, their families, their victims' families, etc. It was pretty powerful. Later Jim Winkler gave his General Secretary's report. A few excerpts: Did you know that GBCS' roots come from 1) "the old Board of Temperance, Prohibition, and Public Morals established by the 1912 General Conference to work for alcohol prohibition, the suppression

Reflections: General Board of Church and Society Fall Meeting

I’ve been away from blogging this week, spending time in Washington, DC at my biannual meeting of the General Board of Church and Society . This gathering also marked the first meeting of the Task Force on the Book of Resolutions, which I chair, and which I asked for your input on last spring . I was pretty anxious going into the meeting. I’ve ‘run’ many meetings now, since becoming a pastor, and these usually don’t worry me. And I also chair the Communications Committee here at GBCS. But I’ve never had to set the entire agenda, collect all the advance content-information, and generally set the course for the work of the committee. On Communications, for instance, the agenda is pretty ‘regular’ and typical. We have a clear task. But with this Task Force, we’re addressing a pretty open-ended question: Establish an interagency task force convened by the General Board of Church and Society to examine The Book of Resolutions with specific reference to its content, including but not limite

Church Websites

We're about to redesign our church website, and give it a major overhaul. I know what makes a bad website, but what makes a good church website? What's your favorite one? What features do you look for? What features seem cool but never actually get used? I'd love your thoughts.

from jockeystreet: God's Ego

My brother has an excellent post up, "God's Ego." An excerpt: "And so I've often wondered why, if I, a pretty flawed individual with a fragile self-esteem, can handle that sort of thing, so many believers insist that God can't. Why is it that we want to attribute to God an ego so fragile that it can't tolerate well-meaning believers getting a few facts wrong? Why is it that we believe that God's self-worth is so conditional that mixing up some of the biographical information is a sure way to earn his wrath? Working on the assumption that God is smarter than us . . . and just all around better than us, I'd have to assume that, when it comes to the details, he'd be willing to let a few things slide . . . Why, when it comes to God, do so many people want to convince me that what matters isn't the desire you have to grow closer, isn't the effort you make to conform to his will, isn't the openness you have to faith and love, isn't

Churches and McMansions

Jay Voorhees at Only Wonder writes ( of his recent trip to Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City): "I did get to make the pilgrimage to Church of the Resurrection (or as I like to call it, the MethoMall) to touch base on the schedule and figure out how far it was from the hotel. It would be interesting to do a doctoral thesis on which came first, the church or the high rent community that surrounds it. Don’t get me wrong, for I am not saying that COR is doing anything wrong — in fact they are doing a bunch of things right. But it does confirm my thesis that United Methodist church plants are much more likely to succeed if they are planted in booming bedroom communities filled with McMansions. What we’ve been unable to figure out is how to succeed at being missional in more working or lower income communities, and especially communities of transition." I thought Jay raised an interesting concern. Do any of you know of growing ministries/missional communities that are

Membership Books

Anyone have thoughts on how to get UMC membership books back into order from a state of general chaos? My secretary and I have been kinda sorta working on this for three years now, and I need a better strategy. There has been no chronological roll kept. If I want to start one, where do I start? Do I include in the chronological roll members who have died? We don't have family cards. We don't have a preparatory membership list. Chaos! Add to this the fact that our oldest membership book is in German (St. Paul's was an Evangelical United Brethren Church once upon a time, and was very German), and you get an idea of the mess we are in. Help appreciated!!

Review: Jesus Christ Superstar - The Farewell Tour

Tuesday night I had the great pleasure of going to see Jesus Christ Superstar , the so-called "Farewell Tour," starring Ted Neeley , who played Jesus in the movie version of Jesus Christ Superstar. (Check out this youtube clip of Neeley singing his trademark "Gethsemane" on The Tonight Show) Neeley is now in his early sixties - he's no longer the young 30 year old that starred in the 1973 movie. And he has aged since I saw him touring in the production in 1992 and 1996. But it was still just so awesome to see him perform - his age was very low on a list of concerns! I went to see the production with my little brother, a birthday present from me to him that was as much for me, and in the overture when Jesus first appears, I glanced excitedly over to Todd and leaned forward in my seat in anticipation. As soon as Neeley appeared, the audience went crazy with applause, before he ever even sung a note. And then again when he first sang. And then again with his "

Shocking study from Too much testosterone kills brain cells

I just couldn't help linking to this article, " Too Much Testosterone Kills Brain Cells." Excerpt: "Too much testosterone can kill brain cells, researchers say, in a finding that may help explain why steroid abuse can cause behavior changes such as aggressiveness and suicidal tendencies. Tests on brain cells in lab dishes showed that while a little of the male hormone is good, too much of it causes cells to self-destruct in a process similar to that seen in brain illnesses such as Alzheimer's. [Barbara] Ehrlich's team [who led the Yale University study] tried the same thing with the "female" hormone estrogen, just to be fair. "We were surprised, but it actually looks like estrogen is neuroprotective. If anything, there is less cell death in the presence of estrogen," she said. "Next time a muscle-bound guy in a sports car cuts you off on the highway, don't get mad -- just take a deep breath and realize that it might not b

Points to Ponder

MyHeritage offers a fun tool - "Find the Celebrity in You" - upload a picture of yourself (or someone else) and it will match the image to celebrities with similar facial features. No doubt the only time I will ever be compared to Drew Barrymore in my life. My brother pointed out a site/online community called Zaadz . Zaadz is a myspace -type community with a twist, aimed at progressive/spiritual/conscientious types. Zaadz, from the Dutch word 'seed' says their mission is to "change the world. Our math goes like this: you be the change + you follow your bliss + you give your greatest strengths to the world moment to moment to moment + we do everything in our power to help you succeed + you inspire and empower everyone you know to do the same + we team up with millions like us = we just affected billions = we (together) changed the world." Their purpose/method? "Ours involves Conscious Capitalism infused with Spirituality and a healthy dose of Enthus

State of the Church

Update: Chuck Niedringhaus from UMCom commented to say: " Please check the survey again. An age category for 12 to 17 year olds was added last week. Members of the Connectional Table noticed the error and authorized a change." Thanks, Chuck, for stopping by! Of course, Natalie also commented that she was confirmed at age 11 (I was confirmed before I was 12 as well.) But I'm glad the change was made to the survey. Recently the UMC has been conducting a survey to establish the "State of the Church." I saw the link in a UMNS article. Natalie, who blogs at Take My Hand , found the link at Natalie is a high-school student, and noted, in taking the survey, "Here's the kicker, though. At the very end of the survey the question "What age group do you fall into?" was posed. The age group options only began at 18. So, apparently while I am being discussed in this survey I am not included in participating. And I thought I was a member of the UMC


I was going through a pile of papers the other day (one of many such piles around the house and office) and found a couple articles I'd torn out of the June 2006 issue of Health magazine. The first is a short blurb titled "Read this . . . or the kitten dies." The article highlights a study reported in the Journal of Consumer Research which found that "an ad with a threat" or a message of guilt combined with a message of fear "inspires you to move from intending to act for your own good to actually doing something." So, the study found, an anti-drug message that says "Smoking pot may not kill you, but it will kill your mother" is more likely to deter drug use than one using "an educational or hopeful message." I thought that finding could have interesting correlations to what kind of messages we use in the life of the church. Guilt and fear are more persuasive than education and hope!! Ok, I'm not seriously advocating we use

Brushes with Greatness: RevGals Friday Five - on Saturday

From RevGals : "In the coming days, I'll be meeting my creative/artistic role model--a singer-songwriter who has been a part of my spiritual journey for some 10 years now. I'm psyched!David Letterman used to have a feature on his show called "Brushes with Greatness." Members of the audience would share stories of encounters with famous people. And so..." 1. Tell us about a time you met someone famous. Hmm. The best was meeting Ted Neeley ( who I will be seeing again very soon !!) when I was in high-school and he was doing a touring production of my favorites, Jesus Christ Superstar . I actually waited at the stage door after the show with a small group of fans and we got to go into the theatre and meet and get autographs. He was very warm and friendly, I thought. In seminary, while I was fortunate enough to have work-study jobs at two professional theatres - The Playwright's Theatre of New Jersey and the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey , I got to 

What I Remember

I thought about posting this yesterday, (ok, technically two days ago now), and just ran out of time. No real 'point' to it, but just a day when people share their stories about where they were, I guess. In September 2001, I was a second-year student at Drew Theological School in Madison, NJ. I was just starting my supervised ministry position, which was working as an intern at the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns (GCCUIC). I had been there two days (I worked on Mondays and Fridays, so I was in on September 7th and September 10th), and my supervisors were out of town at a board meeting, so I didn't yet have a clue what I was doing. I remember feeling just proud that I had managed the commute to work - a Njtransit train to Manhattan, a subway uptown to the Columbia University area, and a walk from the station to the so-called "God Box." On September 11th, I slept in past 9am for sure. After my first year of seminary, I never had cl