Monday, March 31, 2008

Potential Cabinets of Candidates

I have decided to share a little bit about who I think each candidate should put in their cabinet. Here it goes.

Obama

VP--Bill Richardson
Secretary of State--Joe Biden
Secretary of Defense-Collin Powell
Attorney General--Bill Clinton or John Edwards
Chief of Staff--Tom Daschle
Press Secretary--Euigene Robertson

McCain

VP--Mike Bloomberg
Secretary of State--Joe Leiberman
Secretary of Defense--General Petraeus
Attorney General--Rudy Guilliani
Chief of Staff--Mike Huckabee
Press Secretary--????

Clinton

VP--Barack Obama
Secretary of State--Al Gore
Secretary of Defense--Joe Biden
Attorney General--John Edwards
Chief of Staff--???
Press Secretary--Donna Brazile

Stories from the Weekend

This last weekend we were in Fowler candidating to be their pastor. There were lots of stories to share. Thought I would relay a little about the weekend.

We played golf on Saturday. On that round I had the best game of my life through 6 holes. Then I choked. I had 28 through 6, and then had three penalty strokes and a whiff on the final three. Arghhhh. I still had the best score though, which made me happy!

We visited La Junta, and was amazed at the age of women with their second bun in the oven, child in tow, and baby daddy with them at Wendys.

We drove through La Junta, Rocky Ford, Swink, Manzanola, Crowley, Ordway, and Olney Springs.

We stayed at Bushy's Blue Sky Motel. Bushy's is the only motel in town. Bushy himself is the mayor, who is up for reelection on Tuesday. Bushy is a retired Kansas Highway Patrolman, and we got to visit with him a little. He talked about the old ladies he had lunch with as his girlfriends, and how he replaced the tvs in the hotel by transporting the tvs from La Junta by motorcycle. We never saw Mayor Bushie out of overalls. Bushy made us laugh a lot.

We had a dinner at CJs Roadside Grill, which closed promptly at 8pm. The grocery store closes at 6pm Monday-Saturday.

On Sunday I got to mingle with the congregation during the youth breakfast fundraiser. Then I preached and led worship.

After church there was the monthly business meeting/potluck. It was fun. After a few questions of me the church voted on my candidacy. It was a unanimous vote to call us.

As soon as the vote was done, the trustee initiated a conversation about the need for renovation of the parsonage. They wanted Jen to have more cupboard space. One of these changes was the shower, which is poorly concieved and not really tall enough for me to use. As this was discussed, one man said they needed to start with remodeling the bathrooms in the parsonage. He said, "You know a feller has gotta shower at least once or twice a week I suppose." They are also looking at adding a dishwasher, cabinets, and making a few other minor repairs. They are working on getting some new chairs for worship leaders too. It is exciting to see people so eager to be supportive and care.

It is exciting to think we will be in a three bedroom house soon. Jennifer will be able to get a dog. I will be able to work on my houseplant habit on the enclosed back porch. And the commute is only about 15 feet to the office.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

New Vistas



Jennifer and I have accepted a new call to be the pastor at First Baptist of Fowler, CO. We are very excited about the new adventure ahead. We are now also grieving telling the teenagers and young adults goodbye in Colorado Springs.

Fowler is a church in the same cluster of churches in our denomination as the church in Colorado Springs. It is a small church of 30-40 in worship in a town of about 1200 people. It is a half an hour from Pueblo (about 100,000), a half an hour from the county seat of La Junta (about 10,000), and about an hour and a half from Colorado Springs. It lies on the open country that is Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas. It is right along the Arkansas River, and thus the community serves as an oasis in the middle of the arid part of the Colorado Plains.

The church is very sweet and supportive to both my wife and I. The older women adore Jennifer, and one of them has declared that she is already "adopting" Jen as her own. The vote was unanimous to call us, and we will be moving next month.

A new adventure is beginning!

So....Michele...that is why I have yet to answer your question....

Friday, March 28, 2008

Caregiving Teams

Our church has several persons with profound personal struggles. This is a great thing in my opinion, but at times it is a challenge. It is a good thing because churches should be places for people to heal and grow. It is a challenge because churches are often pushed beyond their core strengths in dealing with people

At one point in a recent stafff discussion about how to manage a rather needy person's demands for more support with certain issues, I shared with a staff person that we should make our continued assistance with this person contingent on them bringing us on a caregiving team with other people in our community working with this person. At first it was just a spur of the moment thought, but now I am beginning to think this is really a good idea.

Too often when working with people it has become very clear to me that I am not getting the whole story from someone. I then come to find out that I am being told one story, another caregiver is being told another story, and I feel like I am being manipulated and played.

Maybe as pastors, when we are asked to help someone, especially on an ongoing basis, we should insist on more transparency between other caregivers and pastors. I think this might be especially helpful when financial support is requested. Even if not, it might save us all a lot of time.

Why aren't we more focused on developing caregiving teams?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Politics Fix

McCain's daughter has a blog as she travels with her dad on the campaign. Here is the link to McCainblogette.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Racism, King Kong, and Lebron

Jamele Hill wrote about racist stereotypes in relationship to Lebron James been on the cover of Vogue. Do you agree with her?

Here is an article further detailing the King Kong as drama about race and sex

Sherman Alexie



I have been on a little bit of a binge on reading an author named Sherman Alexie. I recently read Reservation Blues, and loved it. I am now reading Ten Little Indians, which is a collection of short stories like The Lone Ranger and Tonto get into a Fistfight in Heaven. I also recently bought The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

I love Alexie's writing for a number of reasons. First of all, as evidenced by a recent appearance on CSPAN, Alexie is just really darned funny. This comes through a lot in his writing.

Alexie is also really brilliant in how he does character development as well. When you listen to Sherman's characters, it isn't long until you feel like you know them. And if you are like me, you can easily identify them with people you know.

Another thing I love about his work is that most of it takes place in a place that I know and love, the Pacific Northwest. Having grown up in Oregon, went to high school in Alaska, and served a church for five years in Montana, I can picture the places and hear the voices he speaks about.

Personally, what I love the most about Alexie is that his protagonists are always outsiders. The are outsiders in the Indian world they belong to, and they feel like outsiders in the mainstream society of the United States. Whether is the the bookworm that loves poetry going to WSU, or the Urban Indian adopted off the reservation from Seattle, I feel a kinship with these folks because they are loners and outsiders like me. Whether it is black-native mixed political operative, or a miserable working mother who strives to escape her family and job through letting them assume she died in a terrorist attack, Alexie's characters seem to have a sense of not feeling completely at home anywhere, and yet becoming more and more at home in their own skin and their own identity.

I like this outsider motif because I also often feel like an outsider. And yet, I am becoming more and more comfortable in my own skin. In high school I was the athlete and the honor student at the same time, but never completely in either circle. I am an intellectual with a master's degree, yet was raised around loggers, mill workers, fishing guides. I love the country and rural america, but yet I do not have country boy blue collar skills.

Yet nowhere do I feel more like an outsider than in my calling. I serve churches as a pastor, and yet I am not a very churchy person. I believe that the Bible is the the Word of God and seek to live by it, yet I often feel discouraged as I see people trust in interpretations of Scripture from people like Tim Lahaye (Left Behind) or James Dobson (Focus on the Family). I don't fit as a liberal or conservative, a mainliner, emergent, or evangelical. The church in many ways is my home and my love, and yet I am perpetually an outsider to it. At the same time, my deep faith and my peculiar ethical commitments make me an outsider to the rest of the world as well. Alexie speaks to this journey, and teaches through his fiction about how you can live that journey with a unique joy and passion in the midst of the sense of grief and frustration one may have as an outsider.

Interesting Podcast

Doug Pagitt has an interesting podcast comparing development of media revenue to church development in a ever-morphing, emerging economy and world. Check it out.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Words

I have been thinking a lot about words this Easter Sunday. What words do we use to describe Easter, and what words best described the disciples on that first resurrection morning?

I think a lot of times when people hear about the resurrection we are encouraged to be confident in something. On Easter morning, we are encouraged to believe in the fact that Jesus has literally risen from the dead. In arguing for the historicity of the resurrection in worship, we try to use the occassion of Easter to evangelize. Sometimes we are exhorted to have hope, because the story of the resurrection teaches us that nothing is impossible and nothing is not able to be overcome by those who believe. Although the Apostle Paul encourages some of these responses in later believers in Jesus, they were not the responses of the first witnesses on Easter morning. The gospels portray a more earthy, raw picture of the human response to the resurrection. These gospel accounts have a lot to teach us as well.

When we look at the accounts of the resurrection in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we see that the first witnesses had several responses that are important for the journey of faith. Some of the descriptions of their responses are as follows:

"hearts burning within us"
doubt
amazement
wonder
emptiness
confusion
fear
loss
emptiness
anger

I guess I just wonder what would happen if on some Easter Sunday we would start with the emotions, the confusion and doubt that leads more organically down the road to the confidence and the hope down the road. Just thoughts.

Anne Rice's reflections on easter

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"What About Hitler?" Book Club


I am a part of a book club looking at an interesting book called What about Hitler: Wrestling with Jesus Call to Nonviolence in an Evil World.We are taking the book one chapter at a time.

The first chapter of the book was about foundations of Just War Theory. Specifically, the author Richard Brimlow compares Tertullian's pacifism (pre-Constantinian) to Augustine's just war thinking (post-Constantinian).

One of the things that Brimlow shares that I think is accurate is that Augustine's development of Just War Thinking was really an apology for Christianity during the decline of the Roman Empire. Christians were being labeled as bad citizens, mostly because of the historic position of the early church to not participate in the military of police force of the Roman Empire. (p 23)In developing this apology, he goes against the historical teachings of the early church. In doing so, he also seems to go against the plain teachings of Jesus counseling non-violence that we see throughout Scripture.

This raises all sorts of questions for us today. First of all, it raises all sorts of questions about how we do theology, ethics and mission. I am firm believer that all good theology is theology that can be lived in one way or another. Yet, I wonder in what ways we also adapt our theology and ethics to fit our context, even when it goes against what appears to be the plain teaching of Scripture? It seems here Augustine clearly moves against the clear teaching of Jesus in order to make Christianity more pallatable to a nation that has adopted Christianity as its official religion. Does the gospel ever win when the interests of the state/government are enmeshed with the beliefs and mission of a community of Christ (the church) which is called to be prophetic and countercultural? I doubt it.

I wonder personally if I approach this issue faithfully here in Colorado Springs, CO. In our city so many people are either millitary or ex-millitary. And in this context, I do not stand on the street corners and preach the Biblical worldview of non-violence. I have shared my pacifist views with my senior pastor and some close to me here, but I do not go out to make it a focus of my teaching. It seems a little condescending to tell the Gulf War amputee that he was wrong to be in Iraq when I am just getting to know him.

Another interesting point that Brimlow brings to the forefront is the dualistic, platonist, and somewhat gnostic line of reasoning that Augustine expresses in the City of God, and specifically in his reasoning about "just war". Augustine seems to locate sin in sinful motive, and fails to recognize that some actions are sinful regardless of the motive of the heart. He specifically uses this line of reasoning in relation to warfare. Brimlow states his concern well when he says,:


When Augustine argues that it is the internal disposition of the soldier that makes the warfare either right or wrong, he introduces a division in our conception of persons and what it means to be a disciple of Christ that plagues the church to the present. To argue that the church is concerned with our souls while the state is concerned with our bodies...is to introduce a dichotomy that yields all sorts of dilemmas and unltimately leads us further from the Lord. This view can be used to sanction the participation of Christians not only in warfare but in other forms of violence as well, from recognizing the legitimacy of abortion to the exploration fo workers and eventually the commodification of all God's children. What matters, on Augustine's view, is the Chritian's internal disposition: all is permissible if we are only disposed to the right way.


It makes me wonder where we tend to do the same thing as well. How do we separate what we do from who we are, instead of seeing ourselves as whole persons? A biblical worldview does not let us choose with what part of ourselves to love God, but calls us to love God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength. We cannot segregate our bodies from our minds, and label our bodies as bad and our minds and motives as good. This is true whether we are speaking about warfare, substance abuse, sexuality, or any other behavior. Because all of our lives in our bodies are spiritual lives, and all of our actions have spiritual and material consequences.

What do you think? How do you process through following Jesus who calls us to love our enemies and following a military leadership that urges us to kill our enemies on our nations behalf? What are your thoughts?


Barack Obama's speech, spoken in the same place as the Gettysburg Address, and the same zipcode as the Constitutional Convention, gives a rousing speech that was both intelligent and beautiful.

Friday, March 14, 2008

What Book Are you




You're Catch-22!

by Joseph Heller

Incredibly witty and funny, you have a taste for irony in all that you
see. It seems that life has put you in perpetually untenable situations, and your sense
of humor is all that gets you through them. These experiences have also made you an
ardent pacifist, though you present your message with tongue sewn into cheek. You
could coin a phrase that replaces the word "paradox" for millions of
people.



Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.





ht Marko

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Best of.....

Professional Writers

David Kuo's reflection on suffering (David authored "Tempting Faith" about his experiences in the Bush White House)

Lauren Winner's disussion on the emergence and transformation of "Christian Fiction"

Greg Boyd's review of Colson's God and Government and then his follow up disclaimer.

Time Magazine's Q and A with N.T. Wright

Albert Hsu writes about the often complicated relationship between role playing games and Christian belief

Mike Devries' book club. (Mike is a youth ministry author, formerly with Youthbuilders)

Tony Jones on his boredom with liberal Christianity. (Tony is coordinator of Emergent Village)


Bloggers

Robin Chapman's Meditation on Isaiah 53

Becca on Moving Into Spring

Steve Buie using irony to share why he won't vote for Obama

One of Stephen's heartwreching poems

Non-Prophet's discovery of interesting technological uses for fish sperm

Amy finds inspiration in the midst of strife as a missionary during violent conflict in Kenya

Robin Chapman's reflection on Groaning.

Michele's dream post

Friday, March 07, 2008

Mike Huckabee and Jim Wallis heading in the same direction?

God's Politics and Soujourners leader Jim Wallis, a noted progressive who is also the author of God's Politics, wrote a very positive goodbye to Mike Huckabee as he concedes the Republican nomination for president to John McCain. His support of Huckabee speaks of Huckabee's nuanced message of social conservatism, and the growth of the evangelical vote away from the religious right.

I would have been a big fan of Huckabee, except that he had to make that comment in favor of the South Carolina state flag. Well, that and I am not sure about the flat tax.

Here is a quote:

In the Republican YouTube debate, the candidates were asked if they believed every word of the Bible. Huckabee said that while some of the Bible was allegorical, we needed to take much of it much more seriously than we do - like the words of Jesus which say, "As you have done to the least of these you have done to me." This is not the text that most conservatives quote when asked about the authority of the Bible. In an interview with Reuters in January, Huckabee spoke about the broadening evangelical agenda:


Unquestionably there is a maturing that is going on within the evangelical movement. It doesn't mean that evangelicals are any less concerned about traditional families and the sanctity of life. It just means that they also realize that we have real responsibility in areas like disease and hunger and poverty and that these are issues that people of faith have to address.

And when conservative columnists like Robert Novak attacked Huckabee for not being a "real conservative," this is precisely what they meant. When Huckabee was governor of Arkansas, he advocated spending money on poor people - behavior which is offensive to the economically conservative wing of the Republican Party. While Huckabee is a consistent social conservative, he is suspect by the party's economic conservatives who, of course, don't support spending any money on overcoming poverty. Huckabee disagrees with them.




Read more
HERE.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Contrarian viewpoint from Iraq

Here is a link to an article about the anti-cleric sentiment in Iraq

This is why I am not a fundamentalist



This is a hillarious video of a Baptist preacher taking a Bible passage totally out of context. The rampant anti-intellectualism and not-so hidden anger against everything different is the reason I left my fundamentalist roots for the American Baptists.

ht Jason

The Good News about losing your CPAP















I am both emotionally and physically dependant on my CPAP. Thus, it was a welcome relief when my breathing machine for my sleep apnia came in the mail.

For those of you who do not know, a CPAP machine is a machine that opens the airway during sleep for those of us who have sleep apnia. Before I had my CPAP, my sleep study showed I woke up approximately once every thirty seconds in the night.

It took about a week to replace it, but the advantage of having the new machine is that I have a new model with a bunch of new features. It is very cool.

Now if I could just get away with not paying my 20 percent.