Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2006

Reflections: GBCS Young Adult Clergy Gathering

I'm currently in Washington DC attending GBCS 's Young Adult Clergy Gathering . (Check out our blog, here .) The weekend is a gathering of under-40 clergy, with a purpose of introducing the work of the Board, talking about justice issues, and resourcing/idea sharing to take back to our own communities. Being a board member, I'm obviously already very familiar with the work of GBCS, but I wanted to come just to actually see other young clergy people! There are 90ish of us here from all over the connection, and it is great to NOT be the youngest clergy person in the room for once. (To be fair, one of the newest pastors in my annual conference is nine days younger than me - I'm now only the second youngest clergy person in the AC.) A couple of thoughts from today that stuck with me: Clayton Childers shared thoughts about how we define justice, and suggested something like, "Justice is when all people have the ability to flourish." He emphasized that this doesn&

Review: Kingsolver's Homeland and Other Stories

I wrote some time back about one of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver . I've read most of her fiction, working on some of her non-fiction, and have now just completed a book of her short stories as #2 in my 52-books-goal : (#3 and 4 are almost complete, really.) Homeland and Other Stories . The book - the stories - were fabulous. A dozen stories in all, about 20 pages each, which make them nice reads. If you aren't ready to tackle a whole book of hers yet, maybe the short stories are a place to start. My favorites: "Islands on the Moon," "Why I Am a Danger to the Public," and "Rose-Johnny," but really, they're all great. Kingsolver, with her background in biology, seems knowledgeable on such a wide range of topics, and her stories benefit from her intelligence. A couple quotes: from "Covered Bridges,": " And to think I nearly didn't. A person could spend most of a lifetime in retrospective terror, thinking of all the t

"God, Religion . . . Whatever"

Last week this article was circulating around youth leaders and other interested parties in our area, written by Ed Vitagliano, news editor for the AFA's Journal, an article from their January 2006 edition. Vitagliano mostly only provides a summary of ideas from the study/book listed below, which I guess is why I found myself agreeing with the article, since I gather otherwise Ed and I wouldn't have many similar views on things. Anyway - this article talks about conclusions drawn from a study - the National Study of Youth and Religion. I don't know much about the study or the accuracy of it or any of those details, but the conclusions ring pretty true to me. The main premise, forwarded by Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton in their book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers , is that for many youth, their faith can be summed up as Moralist Therapeutic Deism." I'd like to read the full book, but Vitagliano's article s

The Book of Daniel - from the creator

I happened on this " blog entry " from The Book of Daniel creator Jack Kenny. It's a good read - he shares in a somewhat sarcastic, sad, and angry way his thoughts about the controversy over his show, and what's behind his creation, giving some of his own religious background. I finally watched Daniel myself last night - it was OK. No Lost , my secret addiction, but not bad. As a pastor and a person of faith, I certainly wasn't insulted or offended. And with the AFA doing things like getting Geico to pull out advertising, I have to admit I'm only more likely to watch it. Anyway, check out the article .

Prayer Stations

Here and there I've mentioned that this fall my congregation started a second worship service on Saturday evenings. We've had attendance of about 15-20 each week, and growing into it. We have some folks who are new to the church, some who were members but hadn't been coming to worship, some who come now to both services. It is more 'contemporary' than our Sunday service, in that we use The Faith We Sing , I preach from an outline instead of manuscript (eek!), and we use guitars and piano instead of organ. But the intent was mostly just to offer a second worship time. The different tone is just by default (or the Holy Spirit!) But it has a more meditative, contemplative quality because of the smaller size. I really enjoy it - the spirit and atmosphere. So, the setting makes it a prime arena to try some new things with worship. We had a blessing of the animals service this year, a covenant renewal service, etc. Now I've been looking into a "choose your own&qu

I Won!

I won a coveted Bloggy Award , courtesy of BroGreg : Blogger most likely to track down John the Methodist and body slam him You know you're jealous...

martin luther king jr. day

Tomorrow we have a national holiday celebrating the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. I just finished reading Bishop Woodie White's annual letter to Martin, here . This year it is a letter filled with pain and grief, at the loss of Rosa Parks, and the memories her loss stirs up. In my congregation this year, in conjunction with Human Relations Sunday , we celebrated in our Saturday worship service the work of Dr. King. I read excerpts from his " I have a dream " speech, and a favorite of mine, the " Letter from Birmingham Jail ." In the "Letter from Birmingham Jail," addressed particularly to Martin's fellow clergy, he addresses many criticisms of the movement, and takes to task particularly the church and its leadership. Excerpts: On the timing and tactics used - "One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the

Review: Joshua - The Homecoming

Like my brother , I decided to follow blogger Rox Populi and try to read 52 books this year. I'm not sure I'll make it, but so far, so good. I definitely have 52 or more books on my list of "want-to-read." I just finished my first one: Joshua: The Homecoming , by Joseph F. Girzone. Girzone, a retired Catholic priest, has written several in the Joshua series, where Jesus visits earth as laid-back wanderer Joshua, talking and living with people and trying to teach, heal, and change lives as he did in the gospels. I read some of these earlier books in the series when I was in junior high - Joshua, Joshua and the Children, and Joshua in the Holy Land. I remember enjoying them very much. I've always envied those who lived with Jesus as he was present and heard him "first-hand." These books seem(ed) to toy with that idea and imagine what it would be like. Theologically simple, the books always focused on God's love, God's seeking the best for us, etc.

Review: Brokeback Mountain

Yesterday I finally went to see Brokeback Mountain . It only just opened Friday at a theatre close enough to me to reasonably see. I went to a Saturday matinee, and the theatre was packed . It actually made me a little teary just to walk in and look around at all the people there. All ages, all types of people. The movie was great. I can't even think of a good way to review it. The movie is both a simple love story and an extremely complicated look at how everyone involved is affected by the relationship of two men who, for many reasons, are not willing to make their relationship public. I think the film gives a fair look at how the relationship between Ennis ( Heath Ledger ) and Jack ( Jake Gyllenhaal ) touches everyone - especially their wives and children - while also showing the the passion of the relationship between the men and their desire to be together and the impossibility of things working out as they would hope. Ennis, Ledger's character, is really the main focus of

baptism and renewing baptismal vows - what to do?

This Sunday we, like many congregations, will celebrate "Baptism of the Lord" in worship, when we read of Jesus being baptized by John. A seminary friend emailed me this question - if you are leading a congregational reaffirmation of baptismal vows (as I am in Oneida), what do you do for those who are unbaptized? Is there a way for them to participate in the ritual that is meaningful and theologically appropriate? Last year, when this issue came up, I invited those who were not yet baptized to receive a blessing in anticipation of their baptism. An imperfect solution perhaps, but it worked OK. Any thoughts? Ideas? I checked out the General Board of Discipleship's worship planning helps, and they had this to say : Consider how to be hospitable to people who may be present who have not been baptized. How will they participate in reaffirmation of baptism? What invitation will you make to non-baptized people to journey toward the Jordan and life in the baptismal covenant? Fo

Spiritual Disciplines: Journaling

This year at my church, we're doing a program of focusing on spiritual disciplines together as a congregation. Each month, we'll be focusing on a different discipline - worship, tithing, fasting, fellowship, body, prayer, etc. Some of these are non-traditional disciplines, but I was wanted to find twelve that would work as a community. I've had a decent amount of interest asking people to sign up so far. I decided to start off with a less intimidating discipline, and my favorite: journaling. Blogging is great - since I know someone else is reading, I tend to write more consistently in my blog than I do in my personal journal. But it wasn't always that way - I've been keeping journals since 5th grade - I have a whole filing cabinet full of them. But in the past years, my journaling has become much less regular. I'm so glad that at least I've been blogging, so at least there is some record of my thoughts and what's going on in my life. I love looking back

George for President - Just a different one

My brother, if you read his blog , already revealed my latest idea in the world of politics. Thinking about how crazy it is that people like Arnold and like Jesse Ventura can end up as Governors, I thought it would be smart if the Democrats jumped onto the "let's run an actor" bandwagon. Who? George Clooney for President. People would vote for him because he's good looking and seems 'cool', and he has the added benefit of having some intelligent ideas (though I'm afraid that seems to be an afterthought for some voters.) The crazy thing is that when I googled the phrase "George Clooney for President" I got quite a list of results! Which celebrity would you run for president?