Friday, June 30, 2006

You Are Big Bird
Talented, smart, and friendly... you're also one of the sanest people around.

You are usually feeling: Happy. From riding a unicycle to writing poetry, you have plenty of hobbies to keep you busy.

You are famous for: Being a friend to everyone. Even the grumpiest person gets along with you.

How you life your life: Joyfully. "Super. Duper. Flooper."
The Sesame Street Personality Quiz

Links for June

George Bush sings U2

Ministry and Addictive Behavior

Reasons to hate weddings and baby showers

Its a BOY

Offensive Christian witnesses?

Thinking through the tough issues

Some poetry from a student of mine

Cant we all just get along?

Bible warning label

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Steve Martin quotes



The greatest thing you can do is suprise yourself. - Steve Martin

All I've ever wanted was an honest week's pay for an honest day's work. - Steve Martin

I believe in equality. Equality for everybody. No matter how stupid they are or how superior I am to them. - Steve Martin

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Silly Country Lyric Medley Poem

Have you forgotten?
Why, Why, Why?
I wish it was
the way that it was
before
since you did
what you done
to me

I believe
I am
going to find
someone
somewhere

I saw
an eagle fly
through
the clear blue
sky
and thought
this is
a
real fine
place
to
start

Where I was born
where I was raised
where I keep
all my
yesterdays
Let freedom ring!
Let the while dove sing!
Hell
I'll
make it
on
my own
How about
YOU?

Have you forgotten?
When your long day
is over
and you can
barely drag your
feet
dont forget
to remember
me
since you
did
what you
done
to
me.

New World, Same Place

A new world

awakened

as I woke

this

sunshinely light

white

morning

and rose



A new dream

was dreamt

as I set

the stary sooted

dark circley

night

to bed



And I say

eyes closed and

eyes opened

that

today

has old light

new light

enduring HOPE

Our mission trip crew

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Signs you might not be in the best neighborhood on your work project

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Brittani and I---she was in 4th grade when I worked at Bethel as a full time employee

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Another thought provoking quote

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A lesson I need to learn

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Looking down from the porch at the mess hall at camp

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View from the mess hall at camp

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Our junior highers that chose to go to camp

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Most of my cabin last week

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The other guy in my cabin

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Me at camp with Sylvia, our former children's minister

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One of my favorite sermon quotes

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Wise words from a mentor

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More kids from camp

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Revisioning the Seven Deadly Sins

I love the movie Seven. All the suspense of a thriller, some twisted religious content, some psychological derangement. It is all there.

Lately though, I have been doing some thinking about the 7 deadly sins. I think that although I disagree with the whole layering of sin in Catholic orthodoxy, they provide helpful signposts for sinful behavior, much like the 10 commandments. As such, they wake us up that the trajectory of our life may be going in a way that we do not desire.

When I think of the 7 deadly sins though, I imagine people who have intentionally turned to the dark side of their nature in some gross, huge way. And maybe many who committ these sins have. However, when I think of the seven deadly sins of late, I think of them more as distractions. They are not big bad monsters that we buckle under to as often as they are simple distractions that often have huge unintended consequences. How easy it is to become a glutton without realizing it! How easy to become slothful inperceptably!

Most of us think of evil like we think of strip clubs, big neon buildings on the edge of town that we have to work our way around to get to. Sin in my life is more like running out of gas because I didn't check the fuel gage. I didn't intend it to, but the distractions in my life have left me in a place where I am in danger and I am alone, and I need help to find my way out...

Anyway...a few thoughts....

Monday, June 26, 2006

Either the Most Dangerous Lie or the Most Important Truth

The other day I was sitting and watching television, and thinking about relgion and faith and how it plays out on the world stage. And, I was amazed at people's fear of religiosity, particularly Christian religiosity in the United States.

Certainly issues of faith have been important for people throughout history. Most wars have been jusified in one way or another by religious rationale. After all, how are you going to get people to fight and die for you unless you somehow coopt God-thought to justify it?

And certainly today they are even more at the forefront when more and more we hear rhetoric about civilized freedom loving people vs. Islamic fundamentalism when we talk about the war in Iraq. And in the United States we deal with the red state/blue state issues and how to deal with the religious impulse in our own domenstic politics. Much of the issues we debate today such as abortion, gay marriage, and immigration have relevance and impact with issues of faith and justice.

Now let me state up front, I emphatically disagree with the religious right on many issues, especially as they present themselves in Colorado Springs. Both the left and the right try to ignore issues of faith at some points and coopt them for their agenda at others.

But let me also say this...if you expect anyone at all to separate their belief system and world view from how their public life, you are going to be sadly disappointed over and over again.

Much of what the "modern" era has tried to do is to separate public and private, sacred and mundane. Authentic faith, however, does not live within these boundaries. Christ said, "I am the life" and "I have come to give you life, and life abundant".

He also said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life". Part of what this means is that part of being a Jesus-follower is submitting your life to certain truth claims and ways of living. Furthermore, being a follower of Christ is believing that the "way" and the "abundant life" is not merely a personal truth, but a truth that is important for everyone to hear about and know, and in an ideal world it is hoped that everyone would subscribe to the way of Jesus.

Thus, faith has high stakes not only for our own personal eternal destiny, but for humanity as a whole. The kingdom of God that Jesus talked about, and that many in Christendom have ignored, is either the most dangerous lie in the world or the most important truth. As are truth claims of other religions, particularly Judiasm and Islam which make more exclusive truth claims.

And this is where the work on spirituality that Eugene Peterson has done becomes so helpful for me. Because, I believe the way of Christ to be a volitile, world changing, universally true way of living as an individual and as a community. But, I also believe that the truth Jesus is that Jesus consistently calls us to be subversive agents for his truth. The truth that love is stronger than hate. The truth that the world would be a better place if we lived, as the Dixie Chicks suggest, the commands of "turn the other cheek" and "thou shalt not kill".
Christians are called to be working in the underground. And although I think my faith has direct relevance on public issues of justice, both the teachings of Jesus and lessons of history show faith is utterly comprimised when united with political power. When it is united with political power, it takes the most important truths of Jesus and twists them into dangerous lies make a mockery of what Jesus said in the name of money, power and fame.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Advanced Release of Blog Titles....

1./ Either the most dangerous lie or the most important truth: Monday

2./ Bloglinks and Distractions from moral living and the seven deadly sins: Tuesday

3./ New Poetry from the Friar: Wednesday

4./ Random Thoughts from the Mind of the Friar: Thursday

5./ Music and Books: Friday

Pics from my travels: throughout the week

U turn

I am just getting home from a week on the road on a service trip in Kansas City and a week about 10-20 miles from Woodland Park at camp.

Now I am thinking....I need a time out to be alone and pray and golf a little.

The thing is, although I have been busy working, because my work has not been in town it has not been all that visible to those in the church.

The question is, to I take long stretches off to rest and recover, as well as to pray and renew my spirit while working the next week?

I think I will. I think I will show up enough to make people happy that see me and to get some paperwork done, but I might just take a few afternoons to go golfing too.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Herd mentality

In the last couple of weeks, I have come to the conclusion that middle schoolers, and especially middle school girls moved in herds. When I share this with adult leaders I have worked with they were amused. When middle school girls hear this they are offended--it makes them sound too violent and too much like animals. Which, is why the junior high boys I have been around say it is so appropriate.

The herd imagery works for several reasons.

1. Middle schoolers are migratory and nomadic--For years I have tried to meet and relate to middle schoolers in their own habitat as a part of my ministry. Although it is possible, there are more effective and inneffective ways of doing it. With adults you can sit down and visit and have a nice long conversation while both of you stay seated. Not so with middle school youth, and especially girls. They are always on the move. On of them wants some nachos from the concession stand at a ball game. They announce they are leaving to get nachos. Suddenly 20-30 of the middle schoolers move in a herd to graze at the concession stand. Often all trying to copy one another and get the exact same thing. It does not help to follow. It does help, when meeting the middle schooler in their habitat, to be available and visible.

2. A clear pecking order--Wheras in high school there is a more tribal mentality of smaller groups, at least in the middle school habitats I have explored there is a clear pecking order. As well documented in recent literature, the pecking order boys looks more like a ladder and the pecking order of girls looks more like concentric cirlces, there is a pecking order none the less. And middle schoolers, tend to pick on and attack the weaker in their herd, leaving them the most vulnerable for attack from within and without the group.

3. Destruction and droppings--Look at a room or a place after middle schoolers have moved through it. Like the buffalo herds moving across the western plains, the middle schooler leaves a mess behind them and dropping everywhere to let you know they have been around. Have you ever been on a middle school trip where after everything is packed up you dont find a trail littered with droppings of wet towels, garbage, sunglassses, and clothes that have been forgotten or messily neglected? It is rare. Ever taken a group of middle schoolers around where things were not broken or spilled inconvieniently along the way? Again it is a rare thing to see.

4. Grazing--Wheras many of us do most of our eating at or around meals with a few snacks, if you watch middle schoolers they are constantly grazing on any edible thing in their path. Although there are exceptions with eating disorders, even the girls are heavy grazers at times. This often means that they will eat half a meal you paid $10 for and talk about how good it was and how full they are, and 15 minutes later will buy grazing food at the local 7-11.

Does anyone else want to add in properties of "herd" properties with middle schoolers?

Michael Jordan quotes


I don't do things half-heartedly. Because I know if I do, then I can expect half-hearted results. - Michael Jordan

You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them. - Michael Jordan

Bodies

"I am the worst kind of fattist...I am a fat fattist" from Dex in the Tao of Steve

So, I was sitting at the wavepool at Oceans of Fun in Kansas City, and I was having a good time catching up on phone calls from work and trying to get a little theological reading in after being with the kiddos for most of the week on our trip.

And here we were. Sherie, our secretary, who has a very thin build and eats hardly anything. And me in my deck shoes, khakis and hawaiian shirted, buddha-bellied, friar glory. And we were both in the deck chairs. After about a half an hour I turned to her and said, "Its great people watching here isn't it?". She agreed. Then she continued to try and secretly check out the twenty-something body builders.

I was checking out a lot of the folks walking by myself, and what struck me was the varieties of human bodies I saw. And within this variety, how the person felt about their body in relationship to how I thought they should.

Of course...my first thought was that people should have more regard for societal standards of beauty. Bald men under 5'5" and over 300 pounds with three times as thick of hair on their back as the top of their head should not be running around without a shirt or a care in the world I thought. They should be like me and spare the rest of the world the horrid sight of their bare chested glory.

And then there was a lady about 30 yards to my left that was thin, about 60, tan as she could be, and with more wrinkles that I could have imagined on someoene in a white bikini. And she was smoking cigarettes like a fiend and tanning. She reminded me of the more mature female roommate on "Something About Mary". And I thought to myself...that is disturbing. Then I thought...no... that is amusing.

Then I looked around at this sea of humanity and it was amazing to see the differences in body types and corresponding body images. There were modelesque types of women in their early 20s that seemed uncomfortable with their bodies no matter how good they looked. And there were men wearing speedos that could have made Jack Black look like a men's underwear model. And there were a lot of people who were just happy to be out playing and could care less what they looked like or what other people thought.

And then I looked around and thought about how their were so many varieties of beautiful around me as well. Black women with wide hips and large rear ends that looked gorgeous. As well as thin Asian 30-something mothers of three. Maybe I am just not picky enough on the female body and physical appearance, but there seem to be thousands of different kinds of beautiful if you look for it. Of course their are hundreds of different kinds of ugly too.

Then I spent the next week at camp. In a rustic cabin. With middle school boys. Leading a middle school camp.

And, strangely, this blog that I had planned in KC, continued to grow.

Their were these girls that were nicknamed the Barbee girls cause they all wore matching Barbee t-shirtsand they were all from Pueblo. And they spent hours every day doing makeup.

And, if you think adult bodies have a lot of variety in how they look...just spend a week with middle schoolers. Boys who shave more often than I do and boys who have not entered puberty. Girls that still look and act like 4th graders and carry around stuffed animals and girls who are 6 feet tall and have legs longer than mine.

And equally interesting is who they find attractive. Because most of it is based on pecking order and popularity, it isn't always what you would think. And sometimes, in a new environment like camp, the people who are not as popular at school all of the sudden become the "hotties of the week" at camp because kids see them in a whole new light than the people who live with them and have grown up with them.

And again, and I mean this in a non-creepy or predatory way, it is amazing how many types of beautiful there are. And how people can have opposite body types and each be adorably cute.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Sequels

As the kids and I were painting last week, we got in a conversation about sequels.

Sequels do not always work. The kids brought up some movie about a killer leprechan killing gangsters called "leprachaun in the hood" i think. They said it was an awful movie.

I am not a big fan of sequels. I like trilogies sometimes....if they are planned in advance. Although I would think most of us could agree that the 2nd Lord of the Rings, Matrix, and Star Wars trilogies (Clones and Return) were the worst in the trilogies.

This last week was a sequel of sorts. It was the only time I have ever returned to the same site for a mission trip. And, before I was a church employee, my ministry was at this Center that I have now also done mission trips at twice as well.

The name of the place is Bethel Neighborhood Center. It is in a low income neighborhood in Kansas City KS.

This week we worked painting, spreading mulch on a playground, clearing brush and leading a worship service.

And although we had some attitude issues, the whole thing went over great over all. And it was fun seeing people that I knew, and that the ministry that I had there for 2 years still has a lasting impact 9 years later. Even one of the fourth graders I worked with remembered me, and she had just graduated from high school. She is now working for Bethel off and on while she prepares for the fall. It was neat seeing how the neighborhood had changed, and how Bethel was working to make the neighborhood center be responsive to those changes.

When I was in KCK, the area around the neighborhood center was about 1/3 white. 1/3 black, and 1/3 hispanic. Today....it still has a multicultural feel, but it is a lot more Latin American in its identity. All up and down the neighborhood are spanish language signs and businesses. It was interesting to see how an area can change so much so quickly.

Probably the thing that grieved me most about all the changes is that the Polish restaurants and presence in the neighborhood is nearly gone. I was craving some polish for lunch while I was there.

But all in all, I would say this sequel of a mission trip was excellent, and I personally would like to go back and volunteer again sometime soon.

Courage

More and more I am continuing to note the lack of courage in my life. And it really bothers me.

It came up again this Sunday. I was about to head out for church, and I got a phone call. It was from the camp director at the camp I am helping with. I had jumped in last minute to help with camp pastor responsibilities. After being with middle schoolers for a week, I said I could help at camp by doing camp pastor duties. This generally means giving a talk in the evening and being available to counsel with kids. Sometimes it also means leading Bible studies in the morning.

Well the leader said she is not doing any worship at camp...and she is handing the Bible study stuff, and she wants me to be a game leader.

Game leader?? And no pastoral responsibilites. And instead of just dropping in to fill in a loose end in the evening she wants me to be a cabin leader in evening with the boys. Arggh.

I was going to use this week to catch up and do a little bit of preaching and teaching at camp. Now since Friday I have to spend the night and lead games but dont get to do the things that are most important to me.

And what did I say? What did I do?

NOTHING.

This is what I am most frustrated with myself about. I did nothing. I couldnt think fast enough to respond. I could not take a break to really mull it over since I went straight from mission trip to young adult party to sleep and to church stuff all day.

Now if I am giving myself a break I would say that I dont respond well in the morning. I just say yes and ok. And I generally have time delayed frustration....meaning things dont bother me until I think about them.

But there is a deeper problem.

And that is that I often find myself acting like a coward. I want to stand up for myself more, but I dont. And then I get run over. And when it finally hits me I am upset, I am worried that I am going to look like a jerk for saying and doing something earlier.

This cowardly tendency showed itself on the mission trip I was just on as well. It was a wonderful trip...but I also had to deal with the most difficult attitude from a child that I have had to deal with in 10 years of youth ministry. Difficult both because it was so disrespectful, and because she was the most popular child on the trip with the other students. I kept thinking of ways to do some discipline with the student...but it seemed every solution either punished me or punished the other kids in the group. And the behavior was so subtle. I guess what I am saying is that I should have done more with the situation, and I felt like a coward for not being meaner or stronger with her. And the bigger part of the issue is....that her parents are the people and in the family which have questioned every one of my decisions and made my life difficult here. So part of me struggled to do the right thing in trying to keep her accountable...but also knowing that I had to be careful or her family would be after my job again.

But in the end...the problem does not as much lie with other people as it lies with me. I need to learn to be stronger and more courageous. I need to learn to not people and situations push me around so easily. And though I have grown a lot in this regard...I still need work.

I think part of the issue within me is that I do not trust myself enough. I dont trust my instincts. I dont trust my heart. I dont trust my experience. I want to be compassionate. I want to make people happy. I want to be competent and do what is expected of me.

But there are still some situations where I need to learn how not to be played and manipulated by people around me.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

In KC on a mission trip at Bethel Neighborhood Center, where I used to work. Kids are now working with seniors while I am working on gettting caught up with emails in the back room. All junior highers, and mostly girls. PRAY FOR ME!! LOL (Yeah but really pray for me while you are laughing).

Will be posting again on the 18th.

And hope to do some real posting and thinking instead of all this poetry and quiz stuff.

Until then GOD BLESS!!!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Dixie Chicks the Theologians: From the Song I HOPE

Sunday morning, I heard the preacher say
Thou shall not kill
I don't wanna, hear nothing else, about killing
And that it's God's will
Our children are watching us
They put their trust in us
They're gonna be like us
So let's learn from our history
And do it differently

CHORUS:
I hope
For more love,
more joy and laughter
I hope
We'll have more than we'll ever need
I hope
We'll have more happy ever afters
I hope
We can all live more fearlessly
And we can lose all the pain and misery
I hope, I hope

Oh Rosie, her man he gets too rough
That all she can say, is he's a good man
He don't mean no harm
He was just brought up that way
But our children are watching us
They put their trust in us
They're gonna be like us

It's okay for us to disagree
We can work it out lovingly
I hope
For more love, more joy and laughter
I hope
You'll have more than you'll ever need
I hope
You'll have more happy ever afters
I hope
You can all live more fearlessly
And you can lose all the pain and misery
I hope, I hope
There must be a way to change what's going on
No I don't have all the answers
I hope
For more love, more joy and laughter
I hope
You'll have more than you'll ever need
I hope
There'll be more happy ever afters
I hope
We can all live more fearlessly
And we can lose all our pain and misery
I hope, I hope
I hope
I hope
You Are a Learning Cook
You've got the makings of an excellent cook, and the desire to be one.
But right now, you're just lacking the experience. You couldn't be a top chef yet, but you could be an apprentice.
Are You A Good Cook?

Quotes and Paraphrases from the Tao of Steve

The Tao of Steve is one of my favorite movies. Although I would not endorse the frequent smoking of pot and references to it...it is one of the most entertaining and fun movies I have ever seen. Donal Logue won an award for his acting in this movie at the Sundance Film Festival in 2000.

ON GOD
I think God is the lonliest guy in the universe. Everyone always talk to God out of gratitude or groveling. Nobody asks God, "How are you? What can I do for you? What did you think of Letterman last night?"

Dex: the Buddha said "passionless is the greatest virtue."
Syd: the Pillbury Dough Boy said "Eat me I am yummy."

ON WORK
Doing stuff is overrated. Like Hitler, he did a lot. But dont we all wish he would have stayed home and gotten stoned.

Why is it that we give the American slacker no credit, but we think the Buddhist monk sitting around chanting all day is a holy man. Things always seem more spiritual and holy when they are from exotic eastern country

Men try and choose success for one reason...to impress women. If a guy could just sit on the couch all day and do nothing and still get laid he would never leave the house.

ON DATING

Women can smell an agenda like sh** on a shoe.

The threefold path of the Tao of Steve in picking up women:
Be excellent
Be desireless
Be gone (or retreat)

Syd: What do you look for in a woman?
Dex: Low standards

Getting out of the category of friend is worse than getting out of Alcatraz

Male Insanity Syndrome:
You are with a woman and no matter how cool she is youthing you could do better or trade up.

With chicks, boredom equals death

We pursue that which flees from us.

Syd: I dont have a lot of hangups, but monogamy is one of them.

We should just be open and admit that romantic love is our national religion.

Women want to hook up like 15 minutes after men do, so if you will wait for 20 they will be chasing you for 5.


ON BEING OVERWEIGHT AND BODY IMAGE

I am the worst kind of fattist. I am a fat fattist.

I am just a say no to nudity kind of person. I dont even let my cats see me naked.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sabbath

It's strange
gazing back
at
a full day
of
activity
and
feeling empty
and
enclosed
once again
as it
comes
to a
hasty
close

It's strange
staring away
an
empty day
of
deck chairs
and
soda pop
and
feeling full of
dreams and affection
as the sun
sets
in purples
and oranges

It's strange
how we
refuse
ourselves
the things
that fuel
us
and fuel
ourselves
with
the refuse
of a
life
frantically
lived.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Express Pick-Up at Panera

I am at a meeting today with our planning committee for our trip to Gulfport, MS. And we are standing in line at Panera to get our meals. And as we get our meals, the woman behind me starts talking with some women and I hear them say, "So are any of those guys with ya single?" I think our friend Mary (female) knew these people from somewhere. And I was sure that they were going to be talking about my buddy Robert, which would have been an interesting conversation. (Mary and Robert are dating, but it is supposed to be kept quiet until after our trip is over.) So I start talking to Robert, and Robert says that

A few minutes after our meeting Mary comes up to me with a piece of paper. She says...this is just weird so I am coming out with it. And she procedes to tell me what I already heard about what the women were saying. And then she says that the woman specifically asked about me and asked her to give me her phone number and some vital information about her. So here I am in Panera an hour later with some digits in front of me about a 40 year old school teacher named Katty.

Strangely enough last night I had a very "unique" woman who tried to pick me up on MYSPACE/AOL AIM. Besides revealing her life history she was urging us to at least have a "committed friendship"..which kind of freaked me out a little. I thought she might turn out to be a potential stalker to be honest.

This is very intriguing to me. For several reasons.

First of all, I have been casually going out on dates with someone. Not a committed relationship. And there would be a lot of issues to work out before I ever got too serious with her, but it has been nice to have someone to hang out that there is a little bit of a "spark" with. It has been fun.

But it makes me wonder...why is it that the number of opportunities with women if you are a man is inversely proportional to your level of involvement to another woman? Why is it for us men that when we are not dating nobody wants to date us, but the more we get involved with a person the more desirable we are to other women. I dont get this.

The same thing happened about this time last summer. I was pursuing one woman fairly aggressively, and at the same time another opportunity for dating openned up with another woman. I dated both, and was fairly direct with the second person that I was interested in another person out of state. Neither of the situations worked out, which was probably a good thing in the long run.

These kinds of situations intrigue me. Is there a law in nature that you are either in a state of abundance or want? Because, as a side note the same thing happens to me with churches being interested in me. For a while they are not interested. And, there are always a few other job offers that come along after I accept a call to a new church. Why is that?

Is there some pheremone that men when they have people interested in them that other women are drawn to? Because....I talk to other single guys and most guys I talk to agree this happens a lot in their dating lives. Do women just think less available men are more of a challenge, or hot? It seems dating is like the Colorado Front Range landscape..you are either enduring drought or driving through flash floods.

Not that I am complaining or anything...but I think that it is interesting.

Friday, June 02, 2006

You Are Ned Flanders

A good neighbor and a devout Christian, you are a community leader.



And you are called to make the world a better place, especially for left handed people.



You will be remembered for: your goofy expressions - "hi-dilly, ho-dilly!"



Your life philosophy: "I've done everything the Bible says - even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff!"
You Are Rain

You can be warm and sexy. Or cold and unwelcoming.
Either way, you slowly bring out the beauty around you.

You are best known for: your touch

Your dominant state: changing