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Showing posts from September, 2006

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

In the News

Check out this article at, titled: "Does God Want You to Be Rich?" - It's an interesting read. The article looks at the emerging (or still strong, I guess, depending on your perspective) Prosperity Theology Movement, or Prosperity Lite. Also, this UMNS article caught my attention. Apparently, a church in Albany is in court because of complaints about their music outreach program for young people.

Mark Driscoll, Mainline Churches, and The Numbers Game

A while back both Adam and Sarah Walker Cleaveland posted about Mark Driscoll's recent blog entry on mainlines churches. (Mark is the founder of Mars Hill Church ) I've had the posts saved in my bloglines for a while, with thoughts forming in my head about how to respond to Driscoll's post. Driscoll, in a charming tale about filling his young son's heads with ridiculous stereotypes of mainline-church Christians, wrote about driving by a mainline church with his son, age 7: "He asked me what that church believed and I told him they do not believe people are sinners, do not believe the Bible is to be taken literally but is more like a fantasy video game, do not believe you need Jesus to go to heaven, and do believe that being gay is cool with Christ." He goes on to share his "ten easy steps to destroying a denomination." His first starts with "having a low view of scripture." His whole article angers me, and I'm tempted to take it p

Review: The Secret Message of Jesus

Book #18 this year: The Secret Message of Jesus by Brian D. McLaren. I wasn't sure what to expect, after reading and mostly enjoying A New Kind of Christian . The title (and chapter titles) certainly plays on the DaVinci Code frenzy, implying something hidden that we've missed from Jesus. I read some unflattering reviews, but primarily, frankly, from critics I don't normally agree with anyway... I really like the book. In fact, I like it so much, and like how it is written (an easy read, challenging, but simple language and easy to understand arguments) that I think I'm going to use it as a book study in my congregation this fall. The book is about the kingdom of God, and what Jesus meant by talking about the kingdom of God. You might argue that this isn't a new concept, a critique which McLaren addresses, but his point is that we've missed the point(!) when we talk about the kingdom of God and what it means. McLaren offers several working definitions/re-imagi