Monday, July 31, 2006

The Passion of Mel

When the movie, The Passion of Christ, was released, I recall many of the gut reactions from those who saw the movie. Many of the people who watched it said they were shocked by how the Jews were portrayed in the movie. As a Christian who was affect by the movie but had several misgivings about it, I found myself torn by the critique because I agreed with it. And, when one reads the New Testament, it can be easy to understand why Mel Gibson, who helped co-write the screen play as well as directing it, portrayed the Jewish leaders in such a bad light.

Living in New York City, most folks are surrounded by countless Jewish men and women. So it is with great care when a movie with apparent anti-semitic themes is hailed as one of the best Christian movies of all time.

And then something like this happens. Mel Gibson is arrested for drunk driving and according to the arrest report leaked to the press, says this to his arresting officers, "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Turning to the officer, Gibson asks, "Are you a Jew?"

Sure, he was drunk. But being drunk, one doesn't necessarily say things that are totally imaginative, rather, one's inhibitions are lowered to such a degree, that a person will say just about anything without fear of appraisal. Is Gibson anti-semitic? It sure looks that way and it sure justifies what his critics regard as his very apparent anti-Jewish slant in the movie.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


I was supposed to wait. You see, I told a friend of mine that I'd hold my new Netflix selection until we saw each other again and then we'd watch it together. But then, last night, about 10pm, I got bored and was not yet sleepy. And, in a moment of forgetfulness, I thought to myself, "Oh, I haven't watched my new movie yet." So, I opened my DVD player, turned my TV on, and sat back for one heck of an interesting movie. I watched Liam Neeson in the movie Kinsey.

Amazingly, I haven't actually read his book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, but the controversy surrounding this man's life is so huge that actually reading his book is of secondary concern 50 years after its publishing (although I do plan to go to the library this week and check it out). The movie portrayed Kinsey's life from early adolesence into late adulthood. In it, we learn how his view of sex shaped his life and, through his own experiences between him and his wife as well as his popularity on campus, where he taught, he felt it necessary to study and convey his findings to his curious students.

I was particularly facinated how religion and its constraits of the 1930s and 1940s played such a huge role in both Kinsey's personal life as well as in the reaction his studies created. The latter can be expected, but the former- both from his own experiences with his father's strict parenting to his father's admission of his own sexual repression, were both shocking and understandable. Towards the end of the movie, you couldn't help but feel sorry for the father who had been harnassed as a boy to prevent him from even touching himself sexually. As Freud might suggest, the suppression of sexuality can have extreme ramifications for everyone involved--and this was true for both Kinsey and his father.

During the movie itself, it tackled many of the controversies surrounding Kinsey to include how he gathered his data to the subjects themselves. It touched on what we can know from his studies, what is critics have said, and what they continue to say. And, the movie left a lot of information for interpretation. I found myself, a couple of times, wincing. But on the whole, I deeply enjoyed the movie as well as the onscreen chemisty between Neeson and Laura Linney (who played his wife).

When the movie was over, I found myself daydreaming. Not of sex mind you, but of how Kinsey's work may have been more pivotal towards the gay rights movement than the 1969 Stonewall riots that fueled and propelled gay rights formation here in the U.S. Thinking how restrictive America was around sex and how difficult it must have been for hetero- and homosexuals alike causes me to 'thank my lucky stars that I wasn't around then.' And, the movie had me convinced that Kinsey's work with sexuality opened a lot of eyes, ears, and imaginations in and around sex.

The movie also did something else. For not only did the movie make clear the importance of knowledge and how freedom from sexual repression and ignorance can highten one's being, the movie also showed how an organized system of sexual expression, or even the boundaries of sexual expression, are meant to keep men and women... how do I say this... these boundaries may actually exist for a reason. A reason that some might articulate that attempts to preserve the emotional connection and stability of a marriage. And to that, I found myself both agreeing that many people may need constructs in relationships while at the same time amending the argument for constructs with a balanced sense of knowing the boundaries, understanding that not all boundaries work for all peoples, and that some people have differences that don't allow for a "one boundary for all" mentality and social construct.

All in all, I loved the movie and would definitely recommend it. Watch out though, if I winced a couple of times, you might wince more. ;)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Encyclopedia of Religion & Society

While doing a Google search of "clergy discounts" (I know, I am so lame), I discovered a pretty cool resource that actually had nothing to do with clergy discounts but did talk an awful lot about clergy in general. It is a nice report (it probably doesn't tell you anything you didn't already know) that explains the relationship of clergy to laity. You can read about that here.

And after you read that, go here. It is the homepage for the Encyclopedia itself.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

They're Having Just a Gay Ol' Time

It Might've Been 11,001

I read this scary statistic that said,

The Department of Defense has discharged more than 11,000 service members since 1993 under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), more than 800 of those service members were trained in skills deemed ‘mission-critical’ by the Pentagon. (News Report)

11,000?! Dang, that sure sounds like a lot of gay people, right? I have an interesting story for you. About a month before I was to re-enlist in the USAF Reserves back in 2001, I received a phone call from a trusted friend of mine up in USAF Strategic Air Command who said that if I re-enlisted, he had heard that my Reserve Command was going to use me as an example for other troops and go after me under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy to have me discharged. The friend who told me about it was and is himself gay and 6 months later, he got an early retirement from the military.

Because of him, I didn't re-enlist. I served for 12 years (4 years Active, and 8 Reserve), received numerous Commendation medals and awards, served with distinction in the Gulf War and the Bosnian Conflict
. And yet, many felt that the contributions I had made were either bogus or threatening to unit cohesion. And yet, when I served, no one was threatened (and you can bet your ass I would have been told if anyone was) and my contributions were honored.

Frickin' stupid logic on their part, if you ask me.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

It Couldn't've Happened to a Nicer Guy

So there I was, doing work at the office when I heard that familiar 'ping', Microsoft Outlook's way of letting me know I had new email waiting for me. Moving my mouse to stop the screen saver, I clicked on my daily news email from The Advocate only to discover what everyone else has been talking about in one of those 'matter of fact' kind of ways.

"Oh yeah, sure, he's gay. Everyone knows that already, right?" I sometimes just don't get it; or, I am thinking I am wanting someone to be gay when they might not be. I mean, I hear straight people say as if exasperated whenever a gay man is thinking a celebrity is gay, "For crying out loud, not everyone is gay! Get over it already." And then, something like this happens and suddenly, the game is afoot yet again. Everyone is now speculating on a host of other handsome or, 'too pretty' men in Hollywood. At present, another man who is a contender for being gay is the young Darth Vader himself, Hayden Christensen.

Anways, just to let you know, Lance Bass, of 'NSync, came out. You can read the exclusive story at People Magazine here.

Running around a City Block

Amanda Beck, a reporter for Reuters news service, has written a beautiful story about the longest foot race in the world. It is a 3,100 mile trek, long enough to stretch from New York to Los Angeles but instead, circles one city block, 5,000 times, for two months straight.

Follow this link to read about the reasons for their journey.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Monday, July 24, 2006

Gift from a Church Member

Eleanor, an elderly member of the church, bought me this sign as a gift in honor of my installation at the church where I serve. Often, when I am over at her house (she lives across the street from the parsonage), she always has cookies to offer me and I always gladly accept them.

I loved the sign so much that I have it proudly displayed on my entry way hallway as you go into the kitchen.

You can get your own sign by visiting this link.

A New Devotional

I started a new devotional book this morning titled The Christian Book of Questions, by Laura Boswell. In it, I found some interestingly personal and suprisingly deep questions about my faith and what I believe about God.

I am a firm believer that God is seldom in the answers that we construct or discover as we read our interpretation of Scripture or theology. More often than not, we end up creating boxes by which God becomes more limited in how God communes with us and us with God. However, looking for answers is part and parcel of our humanity and certainly there are some answers we must search for and discover. But I think those answers are fewer than what is necessary.

I like to think that God is more often with us as we search out our questions. For I remain convinced that God is in the journey that our questions take us. And therefore, when a church member loaned me her copy of this book, I was thrilled to begin reading, pondering, and asking myself a plethora of questions.

This morning I found three question each following each other. After reading these three questions, I started wondering if their grouping was by chance or if the author has something in mind. Mind you, these are the only three questions on the page. However, on several pages there are a mix of questions that seem to have no correlation. Anyways, here are the three questions I read this morning. How would you answer them?

* Have you forgiven everyone who has ever hurt you? Why or why not?
* If you were allowed 24 hours to engage in the sin of greed, laziness, sex, or gluttony as much as you liked and with no punishment, how would you spend your day?
* If you could correct the repercussions of one mistake or sin in your life, what would it be?

A Favorite Movie Quote

Gandalf was speaking to Frodo in the Lord of the Rings. Frodo is wishing ill and death on someone and Gandalf replies,

"Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."

I have taken to thinking of this quote when life and death issues arrive, namely when capital punishment is being debated.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Causing a Ruckus

Now this may make you laugh: A senator was arguing that bringing the issue of ammending the Constitution to ban gay marriage was nothing but a ploy to keep the nation and legislatures from actually debating issues of importance (like Iraq and the economy). The senator then, explaining that if legislatures really wanted to protect the institution of marriage, then it would be more concerned about what heterosexuals are already doing to damage said institution. He said,

"If we truly want to protect marriage, we should look and do all the things we must to go after the evils that threaten each and every one of our marriages," Rep Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.) said. "These are the evils of divorce, adultery and abuse."

You go, Lincoln Davis! You tell them scapegoaters off and expose them for what they're doing.

As a result of what he said, Republicans are calling for an apology from him. They are scared he is going to draft a bill making divorce a felony. And if that happens, we'll have a legislature full of criminals. As if we don't already have a lot of them already.

You can read the whole story here.

Procreation: A Losing Argument

"Those who advocate that marriage should be reserved purely for the purpose of procreation have argued themselves into a corner. If they truly want that as a standard, then it should apply it to everyone."

Read the whole story here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Google's Search Cheat Sheet

Okay, so it's not really cheating. Maybe I should simply call it a crib sheet. Whatever you call it: It is actually quite amazing.

Searching Google.

I would definiately recommend that you: Follow the link, print out the information, and keep it by your computer.

Funny Quote

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."
- Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899

Monday, July 17, 2006

Cars Stolen Most Often

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB®), the nation’s motor vehicle thieves continue to favor imports over domestic brands as their target of opportunity. The NICB® has compiled a list of the 10 vehicles most frequently reported stolen in the U.S. in 2004. That top 10 includes:

  1. 1995 Honda Civic
  2. 1989 Toyota Camry
  3. 1991 Honda Accord
  4. 1994 Dodge Caravan
  5. 1994 Chevrolet Full Size
    C/K 1500 Pickup
  1. 1997 Ford F150 Series
  2. 2003 Dodge Ram Pickup
  3. 1990 Acura Integra
  4. 1988 Toyota Pickup
  5. 1991 Nissan Sentra
Click here to see a breakdown of stolen vehicles from state to state.

Are you a Mouse Potato?

Miriam-Webster has added a new word to our lexicon. That new word is 'mouse potato' and it means 'a person who spends a great deal of time using a computer.

The definition sure makes sense to me; I know that I am not a 'couch' potato, heck, I hardly ever watch tv. But I am on the computer much more often. I even have my laptop set up on my downstairs dining room table just so I don't have to go 'all the way upstairs' to get online or access my email.

How about you? Are you a couch potato or a mouse potato?

Friday, July 14, 2006

An American Icon

A few months ago I wrote a post explaining how Johnny Cash was an American icon, and he is (to me anyways). And there is another icon that isn't real but for some of us, represents an ideal about what is really important.

I just returned from watching Superman Returns and let me tell you, it was an incredible movie. To see Superman in the first screen gave me goose bumps- even though he is a fictional character in a franchized movie that is concerned with making huge sums of money, I still look at Superman like I did when I was a kid reading comic books about the Man of Steel.

I look at Superman as the epitome of truth, justice, and the American way. He is good natured, good hearted, and, ahem.. quite the handsome hero. It was nice to revisit those warm fuzzy feelings again tonight. Brandon Routh did a superb job playing Superman.

I saw a book years ago that was part of a series of books called, The Gospel According To _______. There was one called The Gospel According to Peanuts (about Charlie Brown's gang) and there was one dedicated to Superman. I didn't buy that book but watching the movie one can easily imagine what it would say. In the movie, Superman is likened unto his father and the son became the father (go see the movie, I won't spoil the surprise). Jor-El (Superman's father) gave Kal-El (Superman's Kryptonian name) to earth to help save it because Jor-El believed the inhabitants of the earth were good people when they held to and lifted up an ideal. Superman is the ideal that keeps earth together. Much like Jesus was given by God for us--and when we hold him up as an ideal (or more than one), then we can all be saved.

On the one hand, I appreciate such spiritual messages as this movie provided. But, I am also careful to remember that the creators of Superman were Jewish and never intended for Superman to used in this way, to carry the Christian message through Jor-El and Superman. As a result, it makes me suspicious when such themes are attached to my American icon. I doubt Superman, if he had his say so, would agree to such a thing. Not because its idolatrous (because afterall Superman is fiction) but because it betrays his humanity--he isn't perfect nor intends to be so--he is just doing what he thinks he should do or, as he took stock in his abilities, what he is capable of. In some ways, Superman is like us--we go about doing good, not because we were chosen to be the saviors of the world but because God created us to do and be good. And that's the Superman that inspired me as a kid--and its the Superman that continues to inspire me today.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

From One Scapegoat to the Other

Does God Wear Tie-die?

This coming Sunday we are reading the story of when David ascends to the throne and becomes King of Israel (2 Chronicles 6). In the story itself, we read where David is transporting the Ark of the Covenant (remember the Indiana Jones movie about the Ark of the Covenant?). In the story, the Ark hits something in the road and is about to tip over when a man reaches out to steady the Ark and keep it from falling over. No good deed should go unpunished though, and God strikes the man dead for daring to touch the Ark (it does make me wonder what God would have done had the man, who could have prevented the Ark from falling on its side, yet did nothing to prevent it from happening).

This particular story tells of a time when the God who we know today was at one time, a very unpredictable, sometimes angry, and sometimes benevolently gracious Being. All through the Old Testament, a reader can find instances when God would strike out and kill many because of God’s wrath. A reader can also find places where God’s spokespersons sometimes talked God out of killing even more people because of God’s sometimes fickle and very arbitrary moods.

Today we worship a very different God. To some, we are living in a different dispensation, or period of time when God, well…acts differently. Those who consider themselves dispensationalists, they see the God of the New Testament as being a more gracious God and the God of the Old Testament. Rather than saying that God may be scitsophrenic, they say that God has chosen to act differently (for whatever reason).

For liberals and progressive Christians, we often view God as a sort of hippie type who, after a few tokes and wearing a tie-dye t-shirt, asks politely and reverently, “Come on man, let’s all just get along, okay?” Okay, so few actually think that God gets stoned but they idea that God is a 60s peace-Child is a very different image than that of the God of Israel.

All this causes me to wonder: are we right in thinking that the arbitrary anger and fickle moodiness of God are really over? Or, was God ever like that to begin with?

One tenet of liberal Christianity is that when we look at the Bible or the Holy Scriptures, we see the book in a different light than a conservative fundamentalist might. One way we look at it is as a collection of stories explaining how men and women of faith have interpreted their relationship with God. Some of them interpreted God as a Zeus-like figure who sometimes tormented us for reasons we’ll never know. Others saw God as a benevolent God who sought out opportunities to show grace. And still others, who read the Bible from a literary perspective see the theology of God developing as time went on.

Elaine Pagels, a professor of religious studies at Barnard College in Manhattan has written several books about the progression of evil, hell, and the devil in Judeo-Christian thought. In her books, she shows how our understanding of God has progressed or changed over a long period of time. The angry and fickle God gets replaced with the super-duper God who loves all, has a definite plan for humanity, is very particular about who gets to heaven and hell, and how it is we ought to live. The very explicit and purposeful God is very different from the early understanding of God as the God’s chosen were led out of captivity in Egypt.

This then, brings me back again to my original question: Have we turned God into a wuss or, have we simply misunderstood God all along?

Hopefully by Sunday I’ll have read more and can offer some insight about this very question to the folks who will be gathering here.

Netflix to the Rescue

This coming Sunday the church will be wrapping up its study of Christine Pohl's book, Making Room. We have been reading through it as we have discovered how men and women have interpreted what it means to offer hospitality (both as entertainment and as a means of survival). It has been a wonderful study and I am glad we have done it.

After we finish the book and later that night, I have invited the readers to the parsonage to watch the movie, "The Spitfire Grill". The movie is about a young woman, who is just released from jail, as she is taken in by the generous hospitality of a matronly townslady to help her run The Spitfire Grill. It's a great movie and will highlight the importance of hospitality.

But in order to actually get this movie in a timely manner and NOT be dependent upon Blockbuster's having the movie and renting it just in time to return it in time, I have decided to do the 2-week free trial offer of As you probably know, Netflix lets you watch movies sent by mail. When you're done watching the movie, you send it back in its self-enclosed stamped envelope. When the copy receives the movie back, they'll send another movie (at least, that is the subscription level I signed up for). You can actually have them send you 2, 3, or more movies at a time. There are no late fees but you won't get your next selection until they have received the former ones.

It all sounds nice and clear cut. I am starting to worry though; I ordered the movie yesterday and it hasn't even been shipped yet. I sure hope I get the movie in time. Otherwise, I'll have to scout out the Blockbusters around the county scouring up the movie.

Stuck in My Head

I just can't seem to get these notes out of my head. It all happened two days ago as I was looking for a hymn for Sunday. As I was picking and choosing the hymns, I ran across three notes in ascending order that made me think of another hymn but I, for whatever reason, couldn't place it nor come up with the rest of the music.

And then, suddenly I thought of additional bars of music and then, "Whallah!" it stuck in my head. That was three days ago and it just won't leave.

Don't you just hate it when that happens? Music getting stuck in your head, I mean.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Theology World Cup

Germany and Switzerland may have been knocked out of the world's top soccer tournament, but on July 9 the two nations are facing off in the finals of the Systematic Theology World Cup to find the greatest theologian -- living or dead -- of the 20th century.

Read more here.

When Youth Ain't Got No Sense

No doubt by now you've "heard" me rant about the importance of sex education, offering condoms as an alternative to abstinence only education, and what I think of those who put their heads in the sand and say dumb-ass things like, "If we don't give kids a choice, then they will only do what we tell them to do."

A new study was conducted by the Harris Poll folks and the University of Arizona regarding what teens and tweens think of viruses. It isn't a 'gay poll' (information used specifically for or about the LGBT community); instead it's an educational one. And one that may surprise you. They asked about viruses in general and the illnesses they cause.

I am going to copy and paste the information here; its not much and I don't want to lose you in a link (although I will provide one at the end for you).


An astonishing 61 percent of youths said that there are antibiotics that can protect them from catching a virus.

"This result and others indicate that youths do not necessarily recognize the differences between viruses and other causal agents of illness (such as bacteria), and their beliefs regarding the efficacy of prevention options reflect this," said Harris in a statement Monday.

The survey of 1,373 children and teenagers between the ages 8 and 18 were surveyed online by Harris Interactive in collaboration with Southwest Institute for Research on Women at the University of Arizona between March 15 to 20, 2006.

Nine in 10 tweens and 95 percent of teens have heard of HIV. Among teens, awareness of bird flu and hepatitis C is also high and only slightly lower among tweens.

But when asked if they thought it was likely that they or one of their friends would catch these virus-caused diseases only a little under two in 10 said it is extremely or very likely that they or their friends could catch HIV/AIDS and fewer believed they would contract bird flu or Hepatitis C.

The survey also found that both tweens and teens have little understanding of what a virus is.

When asked about ways to protect themselves from catching a virus, teens and tweens emphasize the importance of good hygiene and general healthy behaviors, but do not appear to differentiate between actions focused on viruses versus bacteria.

Most youth said that washing their hands would protect them against catching a virus, and nine in 10 also mentioned staying away from people who are infected and being vaccinated.

About eight in 10 say that using antibacterial lotion on their hands would help.

Link to the story.

It seems teens and tweens have as much sense as they have always had; which, is what can get them into all sorts of trouble. And we need to recognize this fact when, why, how, and what we educate them with. Otherwise, this'll happen. The fastest growing rate of infection is in young gay men. And among women too.

Monday, July 10, 2006

An Advocate Survey

In the lastest weekly email, they reported the following results from one of their recent surveys. Of the 2,965 respondants who were asked, "How old were you when you had your first same-sex experience?", they report that:

17% said they had their first same-sex experience before age 12
34% said age 12-17
34% said age 18-25
11% said age 26 or older
and 4% said they haven't had a same-sex experience.

Who Knew?!

George Barna, a researcher of Christian churches and statitician wonderkind says there are 300,000 senior pastors (and I am assuming solo pastors too, but who knows, right?) serving Protestant churches in America. (see link) The particular link will take you to some findings about the personalities of these pastors.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

An American Jesus?

I just read this on a post and had to share it with you. The site was recommended to me by a friend and I have found myself happy that there are even more good ol' progressive Christians in Oklahoma than I imagined. The blogger is talking about a conversation he had with a charasmatic who is questioning his faith based on his own explanation of a soteriological discussion. I am quoting from in the middle of the post, I'll put a link to it at the end of my post. It said,

"Are you even a Christian?"

There it was. The big question. I had just given what I thought was a pretty reasonable confession of faith in Jesus' death on the cross as beneficial somehow for humanity and still I get the question. I wasn't even offended by it. Something has happened to my anger. Yesterday a friend calls to tell me that the First Baptist Church of Tuttle has this on their marquee:

Two people are willing to die for you: Jesus and the American G.I.

I guess I'm less angry because I realize that any church who can put that on their sign isn't really practicing the same faith I am. And I guess that's okay too. I think people realize that. All this to say, I think I'm a Christian, but maybe not in any way other, more conservative denominations would understand the word.

I am putting this post here because I cannot even fathom how someone can think that our soldiers are actually "dying for us" when it was us who invaded another country based on lies. The country had no weapons of mass destruction and our government knew that AND Saddam, as evil a dictator as he was, had nothing to do with Osama ben Laden (heck, WE had more to do with Osama than Saddam did). And here is a sign at a church in Oklahoma that said American G.I.'s are akin to Jesus because both are willing to die for us.

Is that sacriledge or what?

Here is the link to the post.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Old TV Show Theme Songs

Okay so yeah, this site is awful but it's also a bit nostalgic too. I just watched a trailer of the old Thundercats cartoon show. You can see your other favorite TV shows, theme songs, trailers, commericials, and 'where are they now' articles.

New Porch Book

You'll remember from my posts of yore, when I lived in NYC and rode the subway everyday, that I would often head off to the bookstore to purchase my 'subway book'. Riding the subways can become monotonous but having a book to read helps the time fly by especially when the subway is delayed on some track far from your destination.

Now that I live in the suburbs, my new place to read is on my fancy front porch. Surrounded by bushes, trees, and potted plants, I sit down next to a small table with my coffee within arms reach to read whatever book I fancy. And, since I love the mornings so much, I tend to do my reading around 7-8am, on the mornings I don't hit the gym.

I purchased a new book today. The book is titled, "The Devil and Miss Prym" by Paulo Coelho. You'll remember he is the author of 'The Alchemist'. Here is a write up from the publisher about the book,

Tormented by past tragedy and now searching to understand the good and evil natures of humanity, a stranger targets the remote town of Viscos for a spiritual experiment that involves tempting the youngest resident, the discontented Chantal Prym, with gold bars to see if she will hold fast to her religious beliefs or cast all aside for monetary gain. As part of their bargain, Chantal is required by the stranger to tell the town members of the gold, which will be freely offered to revitalize their declining town if they will break a commandment and kill one of their own. This enticing proposition throws all the townfolk into a grave moral crisis.

If you find yourself reading it, or have already read it, please post a comment here and let us know if you enjoy it or not.

The Best Summer Treat

Pop these in the icebox for a nice summer treat. Each grape will be frozen solid through and eating one at a time will feel like you're eating so much more. I like to freeze the largest seedless white grapes I can find. Freezing seeded ones might do a number on your teeth when biting into them.

They are so yummy!

The Bible Vs. Scripture

Here is an excellent post from RevJen about the difference between 'the Bible' & 'Scripture'. The author explains how very different they are from one another although admittedly, he is playing with symantics to make a point. Still.. it's a good point. My only caveat in the article would be to suggest that it is the Holy Spirit that turns the Bible into Scripture and thereby making it a 'graceful participation'.


To recognize that God’s intentions for Scripture are to form us into people who reflect his character more than to provide texts to support this or that position leads us in a very different direction. First, we do not cast about in Scripture, fishing for proof texts that allow us to make the points we want to make, but rather to see that one must immerse one’s self in Scripture in order to discern what Wesley called “the general tenor of Scripture.” It is a way of coming to see the “big picture.” Second, we do not seek to extract various points from Scripture’s narratives. Instead, we allow ourselves to be formed by the narratives themselves with the goal of coming to “have this mind in us that was in Christ Jesus.” In short, the goal of Scriptural study is that we be formed by the narratives so as to “think Christianly." Third, as a result, we come to see that the Scriptural narratives lead us to see the world in a very different way. Some have used the idea of seeing the world through “Scripture colored glasses.”

This approach is very different than the application of a set of “principles.” Rather, it is a way of valuing and assessing every situation so as to be able to make sound Christian judgments. Our usual approach is to ask how the Bible can speak to our world. Scripture, though, wants us to live in its world so that we are shaped according to its theological vision.

Go here to read the entire article.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Dangers of Legalism

This is from my friend Paul's blog:

"I saw a comment recently from someone who roughly said that legalism kills far more people than alcohol ever will and that it does so in a much more insidious way. At least alcoholics can find grace. Legalists never seem to."

Go here to read the rest of his comment and to watch a music video with a striking message to the dangers of following others blindly.

the new Religious Left?

"A fundamentalist can be self-sacrificing just as easily as a more imaginative soul, but only someone who believes that his or her story is inextricably interwoven with that of the next person’s — and, for religious folk, with that of God — can turn that selflessness into power.

Power matters. The religious right knows that but doesn’t like to say it, since doing so would involve confessing how much it already possesses. The would-be religious left, as seen on TV, knows it, too, but doesn’t like to believe it, since doing so would involve admitting it doesn’t have any."

You can read the whole story here. It is quite a facinating read.

How Stars Get their Stars

...on the Walk of Fame.

(Los Angeles, California) If it weren't for two guys with a bunch of crushed granite, Hollywood might not have its iconic Walk of Fame.

The 2 1/2-mile-long sidewalk monument, with its parade of pink-and-black stars bearing names of Hollywood luminaries, draws international media coverage for each new star placement and an endless line of camera-toting tourists from all over the world. They find their favorites and pose for pictures standing or kneeling atop stars like Marlon Brando and Michael Jackson, or any of 2,312 others. The Walk of Fame, almost all of it running along Hollywood Boulevard, is a tiny piece of Tinseltown magic anyone can experience.

You can read the whole story here.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A Water Bridge

I've never seen anything like this before. It's a water bridge over water. A church member sent this to me this morning. Thanks Jack!

You can click on the picture for a larger image of it.

Wouldn't you know it!?

I hate it when this happens. Just as sure as the rains come in the Spring, you buy something for what you thought was a great deal, say, a USB flashdrive for just under $100 and within 3 months, you find one for only $21.99.

You can go here to buy it.

Preaching Anew

This past Sunday I preached again in a way that is very different from the way I have been preaching for the last 10 years or so. Normally I have a manuscript in front of me and, having spent countless hours preparing, writing, structuring, and keeping thoughts to a recognizable scheme, I have presented a carefully written out sermon for those in the congregation.

But for practical reasons, a week ago Sunday, I simply preached with some organized notes. You see, I had a time crunch and only wanted to speak for about 5-8 minutes. If I were to have written out something, it would have been much longer. Instead, I had one or two ideas to present and that was it. And you know what? The congregation LOVED it. Personally, I thought it wasn't "fancy enough" or, theologically astute.

One particular congregant, and a newcomer at that, said, "Honestly, I am confused half the time but 'this' time, the sermon spoke to me in such a way that I knew that this is the congregation where I belong." What she said hit me like a brick.

So, this past Sunday, I preached again like I did the week before. And you know what? The congregation was attentive and 'with me' throughout the whole sermon. This time, I had more notes, written down chronologically but they were just notes, or points. And, I really didn't have to look at them all that much. I had prepared throughout the week on the direction I wanted to go. And, given some of the freedom I had in the text, I was able to explain the Biblical texts in greater detail, most notably about King Saul and David. And, the points were made and the sermon ended. Afterwards, the congregation said, "We love the new way you're preaching. It is like the message has suddenly 'come alive' for us. Thank you Pastor Bo."

So there you have it.

And I am left wondering if I can really do this again and again. And, I am concerned that I won't have written sermons of my past sermons on the church website every week.

But you know, something interesting happened a couple of weeks ago that has just now made more sense. My eldest brother and I spoke about church and what I am doing. He said that he is surprised that I don't have a video of my sermons on the website instead of having them written out. I said that the cost was a bit prohibitive seeing how we don't have a digital camera. And you know what he said? He said, as of right now, I will give you $_____ for the purchase of a digital camera and the additional cost of your website running streaming videos. After some quick mental calculations, I figured with the purchase of a digital camera, we could run sermons and other video for 4 years on our site. I spoke with the chair of our Board of Trustees and he said, "Yes, let's do it!"

It is kind of wild how things work together and happen to make other things work out. Sometimes those things don't happen in a recognizable order but in the end, one can say, "Holy cow! We can do this, right?!"

Saturday, July 01, 2006

For an Achy Throat

I have been using this tea for a couple of years now and it makes a scratchy throat feel sooooooooo much better. I don't know how it happened, but either my allergies are affecting me or I have caught a cold somehow. In any event, my throat feels like someone tried to shove steel wool down my throat.

Anyways, I just brewed up a cup of Throat Coat and it'll feel better in no time. You can find this tea at health food stores or your local big ol' grocery store on the 'tea aisle'.

Young Minister Shortage

Here's a good article about the change in pastoral leadership. Used to, a lot of young folks pursued ministry. Today, older folks are choosing ministry as a second career. As a result, the pulpit itself is getting older and the churches are losing out on the vitality of young men and women.

There are many reasons for this shift, this article focuses on a few of them:

Only about five percent of mainline Protestant pastors are under the age of 35 -- a dramatic drop from 20 years ago. And less than half of the students graduating from seminaries actually choose work in parish ministry. Instead, they pursue careers in social services, chaplaincy or teaching. Why are young people shying away from this vocation and how are Protestant denominations addressing the need for youth in the pulpit? Judy Valente looks at the reasons for the declining numbers of young clergy across mainline Protestant denominations and what church leaders are doing to reverse this trend.

According to Maxine Beach, dean of Drew University School of Theology, "A lot of young 20-year-olds really believe that they can make more of a difference someplace else -- that churches have become comfortable, they've become places interested in their own survival. And a lot of 20 to 25-year-olds, 30-year-old people, do not want to buy into that dynamic. They want a place where they believe that Jesus can be real and new."

You can read the whole story here.