Tuesday, June 29, 2004

A Thomas Merton Prayer

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. - Thomas Merton

This prayer seems so relevant to me- sometimes I think I am haplessly stumbling along and yet, with faith, I hope to turn my haplessness into a more errant journey. (There is a difference.. at least, in my mind there is one.)

Understanding Singleness

I am going out of town tomorrow and one thing I like to do before I travel is to do a complete cleaning of my apartment. I hate coming home to a dirty place, so tomorrow before my flight leaves, I'll be scrubbing, vacuuming, and generally making my place real tidy.

Yesterday, I was in the bathroom cleaning up a bit and noticed mildrew on my shower curtains. It kinda ticked me off because I bought those curtians pretty recently with the promise on the package that mildrew cannot form on these special and expensive curtains. But then, I've never really cleaned them and they are a bit long for my shower (there is an overlap at the bottom, where all the mildrew is spreading like wildfire). Still- there is lots of gross mildew and I gotta get rid of it.

So, like all single guys everywhere (or at least, the single guys I know), instead of taking down the shower curtains to soak in bleach and scrub away the mildew, I am just going out to buy some new ones. ;) And this time, I'll buy shorter ones.

Thinking about singleness and the upkeep of all things dirty reminds me that I need to not be single. Of course, I am not being sexist (or role specific) by implying that my next boyfriend will be the cleaner in the apartment- I simply find that if I know I'll have guests or someone staying over, I am more inclinded to keep the place tidier. Being alone in the apartment, I really don't care how untidy the place gets.

Maybe this is the reason that God desires that we not be alone- otherwise, we'd all live like complete slobs.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Redneck Jokes

Q: What has 132 legs and 8 teeth?

A: The front row of a Garth Brooks concert!


Top 10 Reasons to Know You're a Redneck

1. Your dog rides in your truck more than your wife.
2. You wear specific hats to farm sales, livestock auctions,
customer appreciation suppers, and vacations.
3. You have ever had to wash off in the backyard with a garden
hose before your wife would let you in the house.
4. You've never thrown away a 5-gallon bucket.
5. You can remember the fertilizer rate, seed population,
herbicide rate and yields on a farm you rented 10 years ago,
but cannot recall your wife's birthday.
6. You have used a velvet leaf plant as toilet paper.
7. You have driven off the road while examining your neighbors
8. You have borrowed gravel from the county road to fill potholes
in your driveway.
9. You have buried a dog and cried like a baby.
10. You've used the same knife to make bull calves steers and
peel apples.

Great Weekend

I love it when I have a lot to do and lots get done. This weekend I went to a few parties (two birthday parties, and one housewarming party), hung out with some friends, spoke at a church, stood to march in a parade (although I couldn't stay longer), and participated in a great worship service.

At church, we have several folks looking to get involved in full-time pastoral ministry. One of those folks preached one heck of a great sermon yesterday. His name is James Campbell and you can read his sermon on our church website. I tell you, that boy is gonna make a fab pastor.

This week I am preparing to go home to Oklahoma for a brief vacation. I am very much looking forward to my trip home although I am not looking forward to getting to the airport. Here in NYC, I take a subway to the train, then transfer from one train to the airport tram and then walk what seems like forever once I am at Newark Airport. The whole trip there takes about 2 hours. Yuck.

I'll post a couple of notes once I am home and let you know how fabulous a time I am having.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Power of Prayer


Well, it just happened again.. twice in two days it has. There are whole weeks that go by without it happening and then suddenly, out of nowhere and back-to-back no less, I am praying with people.

Yesterday was kinda tough, to be honest. A man came to the door looking for an AA/NA group, he thought they were meeting at the church where I serve. To his dismay, we have no such meetings on a Wednesday (we have them on the weekends). He was really desperate and needed to talk with someone. I, out of lack of experience, told him I am not a qualified AA person or counselor. He didn't care- he needed someone to talk with and fast. So, in a moment of confusion and sympathy, I invited him in and downstairs. We each pulled up a chair in the fellowship hall and he began to tell his story to me.

Almost immediately, he began to cry. Actually, to say that he was crying was an understatement. He was whailing... loudly... head tiled back, mouth open, slobber going everywhere, like an excited Great Dane, who welcomes you after a long absence, tears flying out, and head shaking uncontrollably. "WHY?!! Why does God allow me to suffer?!", he screamed. He is a substance and alcohol abuser and cannot break his habit. He'd been on a 2-week stint away from his family and was just now coming down from his heigh feeling guilty. "Where is your God?!! Where is my God??! Why?! Why?! Why must I suffer?!" Then, in a moment of almost exhaustion, he whispers, "I ought to just go ahead and kill myself."

All a person in my shoes could do was listen. And that I did ever so quietly. I let him cry and scream and cuss. I nodded silently while at other times simply shrugged my shoulders. There wasn't much I could say. Why indeed, does God allow us to suffer like we do? What could I have said in that moment to make him feel better or to calm him? So, I said nothing... or a long while.

Then, when his tears began to subside, I asked him about his family. He told me about his three kids and, courageous wife, who but for the grace of God, hasn't left him. I asked him if he loved his kids and if he knew that his kids (who were too young to not love their dad) loved him too. We talked about the consequences life has for us when we make bad decisions and how some of those consequences stay with us long after we make our bad choices. He seemed to agree and promised me that he'd stick around for his kids' sake.

And then.. and then we prayed. I thanked God for God's care and protection; I asked God to surround this man with kindness and people who care about him; I asked God to pour out God's spirit on us as we go about doing that which we ought, even when things get tough. I also praised God for Jesus and the love demonstrated by God for us. All the while, the man sat somewhat quietly, offering his own prayers and nodding his head every once in awhile (yes, sometimes I pray with my eyes open, sometimes I need to do that in nyc).

After it was all over and we prayed to God, the man thanked me and promised to come by once in awhile to see me, when he was sober or when he needed someone to pray for him.

I experienced a pure ministerial moment. And I did again this afternoon. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, our church (working cooperatively with the Franciscan Community Center) hand out free sandwiches on the street corner. We have our usual customers and every so often a new one who stops by for the sandwich lunch in a brown paper sack. Today, when I brought the sandwiches upstairs, there was a line around the corner and the sandwiches, which are handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis, were handed out in about 26 seconds.

As I was taking down the tables, I was approached by one of the regulars who missed the sandwich give-a-way. He is usually there right on time, today he was late. Astounded the sandwiches were gone so fast, we talked a bit about his life and hard times. Presently, he was to be evicted because the landlord in his Single Resident Occupany (SRO) apartment run with the city's Housing Authority and private owners, said he hadn't paid his rent (when he had). He was almost out on the street when he found the proof he needed, with a document trail, from his bank. Jubilant, he asked if we could thank God for this victory. Happy for him, we prayed right there on the street corner. Thanking God for God's blessings and asking the Spirit to continue to provide great things, my friend experienced a special moment with God.

I am hear to tell you, many of the folks who live and wander the streets around the church know first-hand the power of God. For some of them, God is all they have left. Their substance abuse has driven off most, if not all, family members and friends. When they are down on the luck, with only change in their pockets, they know it is only God that sustains them, even while they carry around their various demons.

When I think about the struggles of the homeless and disenfranchised in my city, (yes, New York City is my city as it is to everyone who lives here, it is their city too)- I wonder how far apart they are from the very wealthy, who, too, have their own various demons and afflictions yet fail to 'fall on their knees' when they need God the most deciding instead to trust in themselves. For many of the disenfranchised in this city that I am called to serve, I think they are the ones who God cares for in an extra special way. If only the rest of us could trust in God like they do, this world would be such a better place.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Parental Lame Excuses

Remember when you were a kid and your parents would tell you to do things NOT because they had the time to explain the dynamic between responsible parent and wayward child but, "Because I say so, that's why!"? Remember when we promised to never ever 'not gonna do that' to our kids? Well, it seems that BushCo is doing that to us, as if we're his kids or something. You just gotta read this to believe it.

10 Foods You Should Never Eat

Since I am always worried that the girth of my tummy may once again exceed the girth of my doorways, I continue to look for ways to stay slim (sometimes even neurotically so). If you're as interested as I in this, read about the 10 Foods You Should Never Eat.

A Fable for You

Let me tell you a story...

Once upon a time, there was a group of folk who wanted to find the best person to be the mayor of their tiny town, a small black and white town. They looked high and low for that person. They looked up and down. They looked this way and that way. Wherever they looked, they just couldn't seem to find the person they wanted to lead them.

Then one day, they heard about a fella, a tall fella, who they heard from someone would be a very good person for the job. They called him and said, "We think you would be a very good person for the job. Please come and meet with us so we can know for sure." So, the fella went to meet with them. They talked. He talked. They talked. He talked. At the end of the conversation, they liked him and he liked them. And they asked him to be their mayor.

But then something dawned on the fella. He asked them if they had spoken with the whole town about exactly what they were looking for? Surprised, the people looked at one another and discovered that no, they had not talked with anyone. They believed that what they wanted, everyone wanted.

So the fella asked if those who wanted him would ask the townsfolk what they wanted. The fella, you see, was somewhat different from other fellas and he knew it. While he was a handsome and friendly fella, he was also a very colorful fella. And knowing the town was very "black and white," he thought it best to make sure the townsfolk wouldn't mind having someone of his hue.

And lo and behold, when the few of them asked everyone else, they learned that the townfolk didn't want the fella. However, not everyone in the town thought a fella of many hues was a bad thing, especially the leader of the group that asked the fella in the first place. He and the fella thought about it together and seeing how the fella didn't want to create too much of a confusion or make the black and white town folk too nervous, the fella agreed with the townsfolk and withdrew his name from further consideration (also knowing that even if some of the townsfolk really really wanted him, the ones who didn't want him would cause a lot of unrest for everyone). When the fella told this to the leader of the group, he was sad but he understood.

And the black and white town went back looking for a leader to lead them in their tiny town of black and white townfolk. Only this time, the tiny town of black and white townfolk and those who went about looking for their new mayor all knew exactly what they were looking for.. or at least, they knew they didn't want a colorful person.

The moral to this story is that it always helps to know what you want before you go looking for it. It'll save time, energy, and whole heck of a lot of confusion.


Monday, June 21, 2004

Understanding the newspaper you are reading

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country, and who are very good at crosswords.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand the Washington Post. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country, if they could spare the time, and if they didn't have to leave LA to do it.

6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.

7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country, and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country, as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

9. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country ... or that anyone is running it; but whoever it is, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs, who also happen to be illegal aliens from ANY country or galaxy as long as they are Democrats.

10. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.

11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Kindly Pastor or Justice Activist?

I have been thinking, which picture best captures the spirit of Pastor Bo? The old one below this post or the new one in my profile? The old one looks like the me that I want to be felt by those with whom I am called to minister and serve. You know the type, the guy you can tell your worries to, the one who sympathizes with all the crap we humans have to put up with in life.

The other pic, well, looks more like what I do when I am not pastoring. It looks like the guy who goes to the residence of an ambassador to march and protest the lack of condom distribution in some far off country. It looks like the guy who chairs several local community justice-seeking boards and committees. It looks like the guy who grabs his expresso at the local fab coffee house on his way to City Hall.

Both pictures are accurate depictions of me, just in different settings. And, as a result of those different settings, the pictures look very different.. almost as if they are two different guys both claiming to be me. You can see other pictures of me, all taken very recently (within a couple of months) and see the confusion.

So my discernment is, is this blog the place for a picture of me looking pastoral, or as I normally am, the *out* activist seeking to change the world? Hmmm.. what do you think?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

This is my old blog pic, do you think I should use this one instead of what I am using now?
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Haircuts should not cost over $10...

..but that didn't change the fact that I finally went and paid an enormous price for my new doo. Truth is, my old barber moved to Staten Island (opened up his own shop) and I was left high and dry. For the last several months, I've been trying to find a new barber but each time I got my haircut, it was cut way too short. Each barber would rev up his electric trimmer and set it to a particular setting (7 I think) and in about 8 minutes of buzzing and swooshing sounds, all my hair would be on the floor and my cut would be complete. Sure, I was only paying between $10-15 but still..

So, a friend recommended his "stylist" to me who charges upwards of $44. Swallowing my pride, I went to give it a shot. After work, I went down to 14th Street in the west village to the Gina and Thomas Hair Studio. You can imagine my shock when, instead of immediately sitting down for the haircut, I was escorted over to a seat with a sink level with my neck. The haircut price includes a free hair-washing. I was a bit disappointed that a young woman was washing my hair instead of the really cute guy named Ian, who I have actually met before at an art gallery opening a few months back. However, she rubbed my head in this really relaxing kind of way, so I didn't mind (too much). ;)

Then, after my hair was washed and towel-dried, I was led to my stylist, her name is Lynn, who was definately very friendly. I was a bit disappointed that I was assigned to yet another woman in the salon (read, barber shop). However, she had that look that said, "Buddy, I am really good at what I do", so again, I didn't mind too much. (She also looked like she could take me in a fight, so I sat down right quick).

As I sat down, she draped the long plastic bib around my body. I noticed that my new expensive stylist didn't have an electric trimmer even near her. All she had in her possession was this razor like tool and a comb. The tool, is both a scizzor and a straight (no jokes please) razor. As she began, I noticed that Lynn was slicing (as well as cutting) my hair off. It was very interesting and quite different. We engaged in small talk; not too much yet also not too shallow. She asked what I did for a living and I told her I was a minister. She thought that was nice. She was curious how I knew Greg (the friend who recommended me to the salon and who is so truly fabulous, one would think immediately that he is a circuit dancing party boy instead of the vice president of marketing at Deutche Bank, which he is), as well as how I knew Affan, the image consultant at the salon (Affan is another really fab friend of mine).

So, Lynn had a few questions and seemed very interested to talk about issues of faith (she'd grown tired of the religion of her youth). I answered some questions she had about God and faith; and she seemed to appreciate it, saying that she would be very interested in coming to visit the church where I am called to serve.

We seemed to wrap up our conversation just as she was finished cutting (or slicing) my hair. Then, she rubbed some styling wax (yes, wax!) on my hair and whallah!, I had a new doo. And you know what? I really like it! I have been getting great comments on it and I am able to make it look more conservative when I have to do so, and yet, make it stick up when I am out and about. I am pretty excited even though with tip, my haircut cost me $50. I never dreamed of the day I'd pay that much. However, I guess its the cost of looking fabulous. (very big grin)

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Okay, I'm hooked

Last night after the confrontation with the radio-grabber, I went out with a church member for my first-ever ballet performance at the Metropolitan Opera for a production of Swan Lake.

Oh mah gawd! It was amazing! At first, it was kind of interesting, seeing the set design and the attractive dancers in tip-top physical condition in those skin tight leotards. After that initial "Wow" feeling leaves, the performance minus the actual verbal discussion about what was going on, was spectacular. After intermission, the story-line (if you can call it that) really picked up and I found myself drawn into the show. When the young prince and princess commit suicide, I really felt it- when I saw them in the afterlife enjoying eternity together, it really was powerful!

I always wondered what the draw to ballet was; and while I always thought, in some redneck way, it was because of the almost nekkedness of the cast, I now know that it is just an added benefit of sorts ;), it's really all about the show and performance.

I am going to go back and see something else! And soon!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

How Much is a Radio Worth?

You're not going to believe what I just did. So, instead of just outright telling you, I am going to draw out what happened to the point where you'll say in exhasperation, "Alright already.."

As some of you know, I work in a church basement (where my office is located). Periodically I take afternoon breaks, often to step out into the sunshine (there are no windows in my office) and go buy a candybar or some fresh fruit from the fruitstand guy. Right before leaving, I wondered if I should've locked my office but I figured I'd only be gone for a couple of minutes. Today, however, after getting some fresh strawberries, I remembered I needed some hand lotion. After I stopped off at the pharmacy, I remembered I needed to get some money out of the bank for tonight's ballet experience (it'll be my first). So, after getting some money, some strawberries and some hand lotion, I made it back to church.

I stopped off in the kitchen (which is in the basement too) to pour some sugar into a bowl (for me to dip my strawberries into). Suddenly, I hear someone running past the kitchen door. I look up and hear a person running up the stairs. I quickly stopped what I was doing and ran after the person. Looking up to the top of the stairs, I see a guy leaving through the outside door, turning left and walking out holding something. I run back to my office, remembering the door was left unlocked, and immediately saw that my portable cd player/radio was gone. Without missing a beat, I turned and ran down the hall, up the stairs and outside. Turning left, I bolted after the man. I see him up ahead and pour on the speed. When I got just 2 feet from him, my common sense finally caught up to the adrinaline pumping through my veins. That sense said, "What the HELL are you doing??!" But then, it was too late. The guy turned around.

You should've seen the look on his face. Standing about 6'2 and having a pretty solid frame, he was definately startled. He stopped where he was and held my radio to his chest. Looking him square in the eye, I said to him in a nice but very irritated way, "Would you please give me back MY radio?" He handed it over. I said, "Did you steal anything else?" He said he didn't. Then I said, like an old man complaining about the state of current affairs, "For God's sake, how on earth can you steal from a church?" Looking embarrassed, he said he was sorry, and then turned and walked away. We both knew I wasn't going to call the cops- it was almost as if a small transaction had just occurred although no money changed hands.

Walking back to the church and thinking about what happened, I wasn't as fazed as when that guy threatened to kill me a few months ago on the subway. This time, it was different. I guess I am also thinking about what Bill Cosby said this week at the 50th anniversary celebration of Brown v the Board of Education when he spoke out against families not caring for their children enough and allowing their kids to become hoodlums. The response to Cosby's critique has been explosive here in NYC. While there are some who are very supportive of his thoughts, there are others who complain that he is being hypocritical or too condescending to understand all that is involved with raising kids in impoverished neighborhoods.

Who were the people Cosby was talking about? I tell you, the young man who stole my radio seemed good natured enough- he didn't look strung out (although he might have been). He was obviously sorry for stealing my radio (when he got caught) and no physical altercation occurred when I got back my radio. Whether Cosby was talking about the hoods who kill for drugs or the good natured guys who steal for whatever reason, he was trying to address a problem he sees within the African American community. Sure, his solution might seem too broad and void of specific challenges facing uneducated and impoverished parents, still his words are a challenge to our thinking.

I know there are many challenges facing parents today, especially challenges from minority parents in impoverished areas- still, the guy did steal my radio from inside a church. What on earth was he thinking?

I told this whole story to a collegue of mine right after it happened. She works upstairs and said, "You should've locked your office. If you had, none of this would have happened." It was almost as if she was saying this was my fault from the beginning. While I do realize that I should have locked my office (we have stuff stolen all the time here), that doesn't take away from the responsibility of the guy who stole my radio. That guy wasn't someone who was incapable of NOT stealing. He wasn't some upward walking animal that performs what his instinct tells him to do. He is a human being capable of being accountable for his actions. My collegues response seems to mirror many of Cosby's critics who have grown so accustomed to the plight of the disenfranchized that we no longer hold them responsible for decency and expected right relations.

I will not lower my standards of expectations for someone who refuses to be a good, moral person. While next time I am sure to lock my office when I go out for my afternoon break, I will still think that we are all supposed to do and be better people- not just because God has equipped us for doing so, but because that is what is necessary if we are to live together as a human family.

Oh, and if you were thinking, "Why did you go after him, you could've been killed, for crying out loud!" Yeah, that thought did occur to me but only when I was too close to the guy to reason that line of thinking out. If he would've had a gun, then I prolly wouldn't be writing this now, I'd be in the emergency room saying to myself, "For God's sake, what the hell were you thinking?!"

Monday, June 14, 2004

An Interesting Read

You'll notice a new book listed on the right panel of this blog, its a book called Pomosexuals. I have actually read the book before and am needing to reread it for some professional reasons. It is a great book if you want to understand the issues of gender and the assumptions that underlie what you think you may already know.

I attended our denomination's state annual conference over the weekend and had some interesting discussions with a couple of transgender collegues. Since I am one of the coordinators for our local denomination's lgbt clergy and lay fellowship group (officially we are called this really long title: the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns - NY Metro Chapter). Understanding the challenges of people who wrastle (yeah, I know its spelled 'wrestle' but being an Oklahoman, we say 'wrastle') with gender issues is imperative as a Christian, if I am to be a compassionate justice-seeker to my brothers, sisters, and trans folk.

The book Pomosexuals is both informative and fun. If you haven't ever read it and want a better grasp of trans issues, check it out and let me know what you think.

When God directs our paths..

I am up to my noggin' discerning God's will and direction in my immediate future. As I listen for God's voice and look for God's finger pointing me in the direction I oughta go, I have been thinking about all the ways God has directed my paths in times past.

When I was younger, God allowed me to lay out specific fleeces and to interpret them accordingly. I used to be mighty specific and God would always (I am serious) allow this method of discernment. But then, as I grew older in my faith (I am hesitant to say "grew maturer" because I sometimes wonder exactly how mature I am in my faith), I learned that God desired that as my faith grew, the methods of my discernment needed to change.

Growing older, I found discernment through the wise and experienced people around me to helped guide me in the decision- making process (as well as laying out the occasional fleece) so that the choices I made were thought-out and understandable.

Then, in recent years, my discernment process involved a mental conversation about how I best understand where God is leading, and engaging that process to recognize the signals (and sometimes goofy signals) that helped me see how whatever decision would affect me.

Now, I find that my discernment process is changing yet again. This time around, I am interpreting all sorts of inspiration. From wise people who surround me, to mental conversations to imagining "what if" scenarios, to the occasional fleece, to remaining aware of apparent "coincidences" that happen around me as the decision deadline looms. This time around I am incorporating all signals in my spiritual lifetime to really think how these decisions will affect me.

In all of this, I have noticed a definate progression of spiritual growth and change. It is as if there has come a time when my faith must be entirely engaged to the situation and I must take full responsibility for it. A part of me misses the days of my young faith when it needed only simple direction- now is the time when God has prepared and taught me how to make complicated decisions trusting that God will lead me wherever I go.

Since I am interpreting so many different angles and experiences, please pray for me as I work out my faith and discern some really tough decisions- both personally and professionally.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

In memory of Reagan, I found this old Bloom County comic to remind us of his good ol' days.
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Monday, June 07, 2004

It was a good sermon

Practically everyone enjoyed the sermon on Sunday. I had originally hoped to make it more of devotional because we had so much going on in the service, however, once I got to writing it, it kept getting longer and longer... crazy, eh?

The service itself wasn't as seemless as I had hoped. I wanted to blend a few themes into the service: Pentecost season, the Holy Spirit, and the Trinity (since it was Trinity Sunday). I prolly should have just picked one theme- if a person was paying attention to the different themes, it might have been confusing.

Anyways, it was a good service and I finished writing the sermon in time to practice it and hone it down. You can read the sermon by visiting my church website and going to the Sermons section.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

You'd think I was still in grad school...

I am amazed at how adept I am at procrastination. I am preaching tomorrow and I am about 70% finished with my sermon so you'd think I would just go ahead and finish the dang thing and be done with it.

Any yet... here I sit. Earlier this morning I had a retreat to attend that lasted from about 9:30am to 2:00pm; then I rushed home to finish my sermon. I got home.. and washed the dishes.. and napped.. and cleaned my room.. and went to the cleaners.. and napped.. and updated the church website.. and read some blogs.. and talked with mom over the phone.. and on and on.. and on and on..

It's 10:00pm on a Saturday night- I could be out with my friends; I could be riding my bike; but noooooooooooooooooooo, I still have my sermon to finish- what is up with me?! Daaaaaaaaaaaaang.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Making Sense of Church

Well, I must admit, Making Sense of Church by Spencer Burke is a real eye catcher and is interesting to read. The insights from Burke are very pointed and speak very candidly about many of the troubles of modern-day church & personal spiritual growth techniques. He provides some thoughtful questions at the end of each chapter and I, on the whole, found his insights very eye-opening.

One particular downside with the book is that it is a collection of much whining.. and whining.. from various posters to The Ooze.com who are sick and tired of being sick and tired with modern-day evangelicalism. Normally I can inhale a book of this size in an afternoon; not so with this one. There were times it was so negative that I could only read a couple pages at a time before the negative energy in it forced me to stop.

I can imagine those who agree with all the criticisms of the church to say something like, "Well, it's the truth!" And, it might very well be.. but it would have been helpful to include more stories about churches and people who are making a difference in the war with modernism and unspiritual church growth strategies.

Another aspect of the book that irked me to no end was the constant use of the word "we" when referring to the troubles of church life. For instance, I would read, "The problem with the church is that we have lost focus." Okay, so maybe you have lost focus but you don't know me, you haven't met me, including 'me' in the 'we' is offensive. Maybe it's just symantics but I would have enjoyed reading more "I"s than "we"s.

Okay, so I am whining now myself. I did enjoy the book and can see myself referring back to it often for insights and whatnot. And, I am a HUGE fan of The Ooze.com. However, even on The Ooze, I have to take it in doses lest the negativity depress me. Fortunately, I've met some great people on the message boards and have enjoyed making a whole slew of new friends in and around ministry.

Maybe Burke's next book might be titled, "Getting Over It: The Way to Transform your Congregation's Attitudes without Depressing Those Who Want to Join You on the Journey."

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Okay, one more post and I'll stop for the day

I have been blogging over at theOoze.com and discovered this nifty list of ways to keep alert during a boring sermon. Maybe you can add some ideas of your own- if so, please do by commenting to this post. Just so you know that I am sympathetic to "those in the pews", don't you know. (smile)

Summertime Hours

One of my most favorite things about summertime is how my body responds to it. Only in the summer (or when there is more daylight) am I able to get up at 6:00am, or like this morning, 5:00am. I love being awake so early (assuming I get to bed early enough)- I get so much more accomplished.

This morning I was able to check my email, download an update to my firewall, install an updated Adobe Acrobat reader, have coffee, post some messages on theOoze.com and generally feel better. Oh, and I had the guts to step on my weight scale- and, you're not going to believe this (or you are going to believe it and you admit that I freak out too often), I weighed 228. I dropped 6 lbs in 2 days. What is up with that?! Maybe that extra weight I picked up on vacation was lazy weight? Or, fun weight that needed time to leave..? I have no idea. I wonder if I'll be back to my 224 weight by week's end? My body is so freaky sometimes.

However, I am sure happy to be up at this hour (it's 7:25am now). I think I'll head into work early and see what I can get done.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The Rule of Four

The Rule of Four is a book I just finished (leave it to me to do more reading on Fire Island than dancing) and it was really good. If you like those Emberto Eco style books that have a plot surrounding archaic discoveries then you'll enjoy this book about a couple of college seniors who interpret the hidden meanings in a 500 year old manuscript.

One thing I enjoyed about the book is how the writers weaved into the story a 'coming of age' theme about love and relationships while going about solving the secret to the manuscript. It was filled with heart-warming wisdom although in the end, rather than the boy getting the girl, the boy decides the girl isn't what matters to what he thought he wanted all along.

My next Eco-like book is going to be The Eight by Katherine Neville. I hear this is supposed to be a great read. Have your read it? If so, drop me a note and let me know how you liked it.

The Price of Fun

You're just not going to believe this!! I was away for 4 days during the holiday and gained 10 pounds! I didn't even think this was possible! I stepped on the scale last night and it complete horror, I weighed 234 lbs.

Last week, you have to understand the whole picture, I had my annual physical and my doctor said, "Bo, you're in the best shape I've ever seen you." I told him how I eat sensibly and exercise like a fiend and finally enjoy looking and feeling great. My doctor had me get on the scales and, watching his reaction with glee, I weighed 224 although earlier that week I weighed 222. My goal is to get down to 218 and I was all excited that I was almost there. My doctor congratulated me and I was beaming!

And then.. then I went to Fire Island.

Fire Island is a resort community (of sorts). Divided into different sections (some for families, others for various relaxers and party-goers), I stayed on part of the island for fabulous men who gather during the summer every weekend to relax, dance, and have the time of their (our) lives. On the island, there are a bajillion fancy beach houses surrounded by miles of boardwalk (no cars are allowed on the island thus, no streets, just boardwalks). In each beach house, there are between 8-10 people (usually friends) who rent a beachhouse every summer. Several of the regular summer renters are friends of mine who invited me out for the weekend.

This year, like last year (my friends invited me out last year too), I went to bed early and awoke early, tanned often, and read books (taking periodic naps throughout the afternoon). In the evening, I danced and mingled (in a good way), sipped cocktails and enjoyed all the relaxing fun that a vacation is meant to encourage.

In our house, one of the housemates is a bona fide chef. He is amazing. His name is Tony and every meal was like dining in heaven. And, since there isn't a place to exercise or workout, and since all our evening meals were eaten after 'high tea' (around 10:30pm!!), what you eat stays on you. Most of my friends would go out after dinner to dance the night way- except, I didn't go out, I went to bed.

It'll take me a month to get this weight off of me (grrrrrrrrrrr!!)-but then, I did have an amazingly wonderful time. I wonder if this is the price I pay for such a vacation? I know there is a lesson to be gleaned in all this and I am sure you can think of some nifty Aesop-like fable to make this point even more true; while you're doing that, I am going for a bike ride- maybe I can lose a pound today.