Sunday, October 30, 2005

My country music rant

My friend Amy has a deep and abiding love for country music. And since she grew up in Southern Kansas (Liberal) right next to the Oklahoma panhandle (thus also not very far from west Texas) she feels she has country "street credentials".

She is fond of quoting that she was "country when country wasn't cool", and laments that there are many folks out there that have "gone country" when they should not be considered real country singers. And sometimes agree, although our tastes differ in several ways. I feel Faith Hill and Tim Mcgraw should be considered "in", but think Keith Urban should be banned from all country music stations. Amy seems to dislike the McGraw family's music for some reason. Maybe it is because Tim did that little ditty on Nelly's hit song "Over and Over Again". Anywhoo! Country music is the only station with videos when I work out, so I watch a lot of country music videos. And I have this running arguement about who is in and who is out as country musicians. Here are a few of my thoughts.

1. Country music has always been an ever evolving art form. It has always had this struggle with boundaries. Olivia Newton John was named country music artist of the year in 1974--30 years ago. The Austraillian woman who sang "Lets Get Physical" was considered a country musician at one point? Wow!

2. Country music and rock and roll have always shared similar roots. Hank Williams (Sr.) is considered the father of rock and roll in a lot of ways. Elvis recorded on a country label. As a matter of fact, in the 50's and 60's, much of the boundary issues were surrounded by racial issues. Why was Elvis controversial? Because he acted too "black" in his performances. And he blended styles of white soul (country) and black soul (blues, soul and R and B). Also it is very clear that much of country music had folk music routes, as did much of the protest music of the 60s. Of course the content of protest music did not fly that far in country music.

3. In the 60s and 70s a new group of country musicians developed called "outlaw country" with stars such as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash and the like. These people were considered too progressive to be country musicians. As were people like Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton and George Jones. Nowadays these folks are considered the "old school" country musicians.

4. There is a sense in which country music was regional music. At one point it was called "Country and Western" because people lumped together the music of the South and the music of the rural west. So purists start saying that folks from rural Canada (Terri Clark and Shania Twain)and other country sounding stuff from more urban areas (Nickel Creek) should not belong in the country music family.

Recently I have also been thinking about how many folks view country music as racist in some way. In my preaching class, a black professor stated this explicitly, saying that many black folks, especially older black folks from the south, found country music oppressive. At the time I thought it was a blanket statement and a little overstated. As did some of the black folks in the class.

But recently I have been thinking about the history of music in America, and the word choices of clubs in the south and so on. Why are country music hangouts called "Honky Tonks" I wonder (note the first word). And weren't a lot of the black jazz clubs called "jiggers"? (note the first letter for jazz and the last letter for a racial epithet). Stangely enough, both music is music generally written by and for hard living people, often struggling to get by, and having their well being controlled by the more elite and wealthy. Country music is in many ways the music of white sharecroppers, while soul and the blues is the music of black sharecroppers. Historically though, there has been shared roots and crossover and such. For instance, most old school country musicians in the early part of the last century learned how to play banjo from African-americans that they knew of, and the banjo was originally an African instrument (dont quote me on that).

So then, who is in and who is out?

I am not sure. But Viacom is going to try and label anything country that sells in that market. Musical labels are all a marketing scheme. Perhaps looking at Contemporary Christian Music will shed light on this.

What makes contemporary Christian music Christian for instance? Profession of faith of the singer? Is R. Kelly Christian music then? What about Alice Cooper? I dont think so. Is Christian music music with solid Christian lyrical content? There is a lot of "Christian" music out there that has totally wack theology, or is devoid of an explicitly Christian message. And there is a lot of secular Christian music out there with explicitly Christian content (ever listened to U2 rattle and hum album or even Sheryl Crow's "Light in Your Eyes".?)So what makes Christian music defined Christian music? The label that puts it out. Thats it?

The same is true of country music. What makes country music defined as country music these days? A label. Which makes Amy's concern for musical purity all the more important in some ways, but irrelelvant in others. Because classic country is as much a marketing scheme as new country. And historically it has been for the last hundred years. And country music will never be "pure country". It never has been. But hopefully, because it is the folk music of many rural and disinfranchised people, it will continue as an art form without being completely corrupted by marketing experts in New York City.

A couple of quotes

From Len's Blog--
“Religion is a guy in church thinking about fishing. Spirituality is a guy out fishing thinking about God.”--John Fischer

From my coffee cup--
Imagine we are all the same. Imagine we all agree about politics, religion and morality. Imagine we like the same types of music, art, food and coffee. Imagine we all look alike. Sound boring? Differences need not divide us. Embrace diversity. Dignity is everyone's human right.--
Bill Brummel, documentary film maker

Saturday, October 29, 2005

On love and labels

It was my first year in post-seminary ministry, and I had a man who I hardly know drop in my office. He was talking about his crumbling marriage, the challenges he had, how he met his wife in a Pentecostal non-denominational missionary organization. He spent a lot of time talking about spiritual warfare dynamics in his life. He kept talking about how the devil "planted" this thought or that the devil "placed" this opportunity before him. And it was all very interesting. I don't remember all the details of his spiritual warfare theology, except that it seemed that he put a lot of emphasis on angels and demons in his day to day life.

I discussed this with my senior pastor, who was also my most influential mentor in ministry. I compared this man's theology to a Frank Peretti book called this present darkness. Specifically I said, "I am not sure I know how to deal with how to council someone with this self-centered This Present Darkness Theology. My mentor said something back to me in a terse tone and then sent me on my way. He said, "If you want to learn how to understand and reach Larry, you need to understand that Larry does not have a This Present Darkness theology, he has Larry's beliefs." I pushed for more help. He responded, "You asked for my help. Thats it!"

It becomes easy to label people and pigeon hole them. And not always by conventional stereotypes. A lot of time it is by personal experience. As was the case for me here. All my friends in college read this one fantasy book on spiritual warfare and tried to apply it to everything in their lives. I then, in my ministry, quickly moved toward labeling other experiences in the same category. I cannot do that. I need to look at each person and each situation as unique and not compare it to a past situation or a future hope.

We all do the same thing. We compare people to other people in our past. Then we label them. And once we label them, as Kierkegaard said, we negate them. Whether that is in our romantic relationships, our relationships with our supervisor at work, or with relationships with larger groups of people it is easy to label based on our limited experience. We label new romantic interests in comparison to what has happened in the past. We compare one church in our past to the church we are in now. We compare one child to another child or another person. But nobody is just like so and so. They are their own person. And everyone needs to be loved and valued as unique individuals, not a category they are in.

Friday, October 28, 2005


"The righteous man is the man that lives for the next generation" Bonhoeffer

Since 1991, the adult population in the United States has grown by fifteen percent. During the same amount of time the amount of adults who do not attend church has nearly doubled.--p.304

Most people who made a first time decision for Christ were gone from the church within 8 weeks according to George Barna's research--p.304

Only 5% of senior pastors believe they have the gift of leadership--p.305

A Quote for Today

I have loved ladies
I have loved Jim Beem
and both of them
tried to kill me
in 1973--
HANK WILLIAMS JR. "Family Tradition"

thought those were funny lyrics

My solo Halloween Weekend

Since I really dont have any friends, at least around here, I dont have much to share about what I will be doing this weekend with friends.

But that does not mean I do not have a few ideas in the way of plans.

TONIGHT: Party at the clubhouse at our apartment. I am not sure I am going because I dont have anything to dress up in. And since I would have to pay a consulting fee to Omar the Tentmaker to provide a costume that would fit I will probably stay at home and do laundry.

TOMORROW: Walk the line at the movie theater. I will go to the matinee.


MONDAY: Sleep in. Maybe go out for a drink and watch people have fun with their friends. Or maybe I will decide to hand out candy to the youngsters and watch MNL.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Did you know that manitees are my favorite aquatic mammal? Posted by Picasa

Education is not a cure-all

We have this strange mentality in our society that education will cure all of our ills. This came up again when I was talking to someone in a position similar to mine, yet without any theological education (LOL). She was talking about how she did not understand how some people that are educated and have such books smarts can be so needy, weak, and stupid about so many things.

In much of our society, we see education as the solution to everything. I remember, much to my shame, a mistake I made in leadership. I was an RA in my college dorm, and a defensive lineman on my football team. We had this tradition that before our game against Friends University, we would have this relay where we would divide up into teams and have a relay passing raw chicken. It was an optional event. Every African American immediately opted out of the relay. Soon a person in front of me in line made a comment something like, "I can't believe those lazy a** n*****s...." I asked, "What the hell did you say!" He repeated himself. Then the race was on. I discussed it with an African-American student leader later that night, hoping to resource him for an dialogue/education program on the issue. And, although my naivite did not allow me to anticipate it then, I soon was the center of a major racial divide on our football team as I was urged to reveal the name of the person who made the comment. (I worked it out where this person could go and admit what he said for himself and apologize, which probably saved him from a major beatdown.)

That was the night that I learned that education and knowledge were not necessarily the cure for all the worlds ills. And I continued to learn it, because I recieved death threats and other intimidating phone calls for the next year and a half or so. And the coaches blamed me for bringing the issue to light. And the quarterback of the football team tried to run me over with his pickup truck. (So much for a CHRISTIAN COLLEGE)

For me learning is a joy. And education can often help people move into the shrinking middle class of our society. But education is not a cure all. Just because you understand your neurosis cognitively does not always mean that you are able to overcome it. Just because you know you have a drinking problem because you learned it from your parent(s) does not make it that easy to quit drinking. Sometimes, it may make it more difficult, because you think your education has helped you overcome your issues, when it has only made you aware of your issues.

Many of the most messed up people I know are children of ambitious, well educated yuppies.

I know a lot of ministers that ask people to just "read this book" and then they will understand what they are doing wrong and know how to fix their lives. Do we really learn life from a book? Or do we learn what is really important in our relationships with others? I believe that the greatest of theological and biblical teachings are not done in seminary classrooms, but over a burger and beer in a hole in the wall restaurant where you can throw peanuts on the floor. I value my theological education and thinking by how easily it can be understood and lived by a mother with 3 rug-rats that are the center of her life, or by the couple that has been married for a few years and is discovering that marriage is not as easy as they thought it would be, or the single guy living in the trailer on the edge of town wondering when Mrs. Right is coming along.

Also, we must understand that education does not equal intelligence. Some of the smartest people I know are folks that have never read much more than the Bible. And some of the stupidest people I know have a bunch of letters behind their name on their stationary. Some have accused me of having lots of book smarts and no common sense even, but I am sure you all will disagree! :)

Anyway..sorry if the person that spurred these thoughts is reading this. But I doubt you are....

Monday, October 24, 2005

I am hoping to have a week or even a day somewhat like this someday in the future. Does not look like a possibility this week though. Posted by Picasa

The person of Jesus

This evening I am sitting in a coffee shop on the north side of town nestled in a strip mall. I have a unlimited, untimed wireless internet subscription here, so once a week or so I come on by, get a snack and a carmel mountain latte, read, surf the web, and listen to music I have loaded into my real player program.

(Right now listening to California Love w/ 2PAC and Dr Dre)

There is something about reading Eugene Peterson and sipping on a cup of coffee that gets me thinking.

Here is my thought for the day. The only meaningful difference between Christianity and other world religions and philosophies is the person of Jesus and the reality of the Holy Spirit. You can find about any religion that shares ideas in common with Jesus. Just about any other world religion incorperates Jesus' ideas into what they believe. Just about any athiest can incorperate the ethics of Jesus into their lifestyle without believing in him. With the exception of the strict Biblical standard on human sexuality most do that I know.

The difference is the person of Jesus. The difference is that Jesus actually lived, died, and rose again. The difference is that I can have a relationship with God incarnate through the power of the Holy Spirit.

This weekend our denomination was vigorously debating the place of homosexuals in the church. How should we relate to homosexual persons as a denomination and as congregations. And what has become apparent to me is how easily we move away from relationship into abstractions. The people on the more liberal, socially aware side of the debate see this in many ways as a battle for some rights in the abstract. That everyone has a right to do whatever they want.

The conservative side of the issue sees this as battle for the Bible. How can we say we stand for God and his word if we do not fight against this false teaching?

Sometimes people use their relationships and stories as manipulative tools in the debate, but rarely do I hear people say those words that were so popular a couple of years ago, "What would Jesus Do?" It never comes back to our relationship with Jesus in these discussions. It comes back to some abstract ideas like theology, doctrine, ethics, and Christianity (Christian was not the original name followers of Jesus gave to themselves.). Somehow we have missed the center of our faith to defend the boundaries of our philosophical systems.

The president said in a debate that Jesus was his favorite philosopher. Philosopher? It took me off guard. The words I think of when I think of Jesus are more relational. Master. Teacher. Friend.

Jesus was and is a person. Being a follower of Jesus is about a living relationship of service to a specific person. Lets return to that, and a lot of the more peripheral things will take care of themselves.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

A few times a week, as a part of my job, I go out and watch kids play sports, musical instruments etc. This is Emily at her last softball game a couple of weeks ago. Posted by Picasa

Emily gets a base hit! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 22, 2005

This weekend was our Regional Denominational Gathering. 5 of our youth sang with 8 youth from Denver as a youth choir. We don't do youth choirs very often, but it was really fun to see all this come together. Posted by Picasa

Another pic of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church and First Baptist Church of Colorado Springs groups singing together Posted by Picasa

Our Rocky Mountain Area Ministry Coaches from Right to Left:
Mike Oldham--Coach for Southern Colorado/New Mexico and Western Colorado and Camping
Kay Farley--Coach for Denver Metro Area and Youth Ministry
Wayne Dvirnak--Coach for Northern Colorado and Wyoming

 Posted by Picasa

This is our Executive Minister of the Rocky Mountain Region, Rev. Desmond Hoffmeister. He was involved in the struggle against apartheid in his native South Africa, and is not leading the American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountain through a difficult transition toward health and growth. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Repacking Your Bags

When I was in college, a teacher who just had her oldest child marry someone, and her youngest child graduate shared with us some words of wisdom that she heard when she was younger.

She said that as we grow we have our parents and other significant persons pack our suitcase for life. They pack our bags with morals, good habits, spiritual awareness, different sets of values and attitudes. Then, when we get to a point when we move out of adolescence, our job is unpack and repack our lives baggage. Some of us have lots of unhelpful and unnecessary stuff for our journey. It takes a little while longer for those of us in that situation to sort those things out. And those of us that have had a really difficult upbringing may have had everything we had from our childhood soiled, and we have to go through a ardous process of analyzing and washing everything through before we can even see what is necessary to keep.

I think this is often true with our faith background. Especially those of us who don't feel like they fit the mold of today's church. Having been raised in more fundamentalist churches, energized in more evangelical churches, and served most of my ministry career in mainline churches, I do not feel like I fit neatly in any of those molds anymore. So how do I deal with it?

As a child, I was put under a lot of rules when I went to church. Shorts were bad. Secular music was "of the devil". Dancing was a prelude to all sorts of evil. The King James Version of the Bible was the only proper Bible to use. My former pastor at that church, having moved to a slightly less conservative church said after leading the congregation in this direction, "I grew more and more legalistic, and I found that soon I could not live up to all the rules I was trying to put everyone else under."

Now, there is a lot of head-shaking that goes on when I think about this church, but it taught we a love for the Bible and a love for Jesus. I unpack the legalism, but I keep the love for Scripture and the love for Christ.

As I grew older, especially in college and early in my ministry, I connected to a more evangelical crowd. I soon discovered Christian books, Christian music, praise music worship services, the megachurch, Christian colleges, and Christian celebrities. I developed a heart for making an influence in my world for Christ. I kept that in my stuff I carry into adulthood. But I try and sort out all of the Christian sub-culture and desire for political dominance of a right-wing moral majority agenda. And the stuff that does not seem about Jesus are like clothes that do not fit any more. I set them aside.

In my adult years I have served in mainline churches. I have loved their love for knowledge and their passion for compassion and multiculturalism (our denomination is about half white and half non-white congregations). It has taught me to listen and be tolerant and open to people's opinions that I have no way of agreeing with. It has nurtured my intellectual gifts. But it has also brought me into a larger group of people who serve the institution more than the mission. Who are more about political correctness and nobody's feelings getting hurt than having Biblical convictions. I unpack the milktoast convictions and the traditions. I throw in the freedom to not be stuck in a camp or a box in what I believe, and a growing humility to hold my attitudes and opionions more loosely. Also I take with me a passion for justice, and a desire to look past the religious right party line on political issues.

What kinds of things have you had to pack and unpack in your life?
In your spiritual upbringing and development?

Something to Make Ya Think

Bill Maher (to Kurt Vonnegut Jr.):
In your new book you make a very interesting point about how the Republican right is always wanting to post the Ten Commandments in public places, which of course is from the Old Testament, but they never, ever seem to want to post the sayings of Jesus, like the Beautitudes: Blessed are the meek, Blessed are the merciful, Blessed are the peacemakers. They’re such Christians but they never want to put up what Jesus said.

Kurt Vonnegut (in response to Bill Maher):
Well I don’t think they’ve ever paid any attention to him, and if he were to show up now with that kind of talk I think he would probably be given lethal injection rather than crucifixion.
No, I don’t think they know anything about Jesus…

From the Heart

There are a few things that family members told me that I carry with me to this day. Most of the things that I remember my Dad telling me were about having the courage to judge people by the type of person they are instead of what background they were from or how much money they had. My mother said similar things, but the thing I always remember that my mom said was, “Whatever you do, honey, follow your heart!”

When I entered into preparation for full-time ministry, I debated on whether it was really going to be practical. Was I going to make enough money to support myself? Would anybody hire a pudgy bookworm like me to work with teenagers? What if people mistreat me and disrespect me? Shouldn’t I do something more lucrative and practical?

But then I asked myself another set of questions. Would I rather live with making a mistake or live with never following my heart? Would I rather live a life where I pursue the dreams that God has put on my heart, or do something more practical and predictable? I decided to live a life of passion. I followed my heart.

In the process, I have come to the conclusion that passion is ESSENTIAL to life, especially the LIFE we are offered in relationship with Jesus. There is nothing worse than looking at your life, and seeing that all you have ahead is a series of half-hearted obligations. Yet it is easy to get stuck in a rut of passionless living. Why? Because passionless living is safe living. It is comfortable. Half-hearted faith is like those threadbare socks with a hole in the toe and the heel that you have in the back of your dresser drawer. It has sentimental value, and may be helpful in an emergency, but is pretty useless for day to day use. If the Good News of Jesus is not something I can and should give my everything to than it is nothing at all.

What is true of us individually is also true of us as a churches. If we view our lives in Christian community as simply a nice thing to do, or an obligation to be endured than there are a lot of better things we can do with our time than come to church. If our purpose is to be comfortable and feel good there are several better options. But, Christians are called to be people on a mission. A mission of giving our whole selves unreservedly to God so that can in turn reach the whole world with the love that he shares with us in an unrestrained, irrational, crazy, passionate abandon. Will God find us willing to be faithful to him in that way? Even if it hurts or makes us uncomfortable? If so, great things are ahead of us that we cannot even imagine. If not...what’s the point?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

My Recent Itunes downloads

Just a Friend--Biz Markee

This song reminds me of high school. Plus Biz is so off key I laugh every time

Top 40ish
If I had $1,000,000--Barenaked Ladies

Another happy, funny song

A Change is Gonna Come--Sam Cooke

I fell in love with this song when I was watching ALI.

Classic Rock

Paint It, Black--Rolling Stones

I have loved this song since I heard it as an intro to a TV show about Vietnam.

Blues (kind of)

When Love Comes to Town--BB King and U2

One of my fave songs. Play this when I need to focus and clear my mind.

Drinking Songs (Country)

Its Five O'Clock Somewhere--Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett

Its Hard to Be Humble--Mac Davis

Alcohol--Brad Paisley

All of these are fun, upbeat, playful country songs. The first two are a few years old, while the last one is new. The Mac Davis song brings back memories of hanging out at the pizza parlor as a young kid after Mom's softball games. When they would sing that song most of the time they got together after a game, especially when they won.

Fighting Songs (Alternative)

Alive--Pearl Jam

Rooster--Alice in Chains

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Lost and Found

I am an addict. I have to admit it. And now I can't get my fix for another 12 months.

I rented the LOST DVDs from Blockbuster on Saturday Night, after watching the first two DVDs on Saturday. May I just say..HOLY COW this is the best show EVER.

I watched the 4, 5, and 6 dvds until about 8am on Sunday night/monday morning. So today I am pretty tired.

Part of the draw of LOST is that it has this movie like quality, combined with a nightime soap type of format. Plus all the flashbacks and the intertwining of stories is simply brilliant.

In many ways in my mind, the show is about new life. It also of course has a lot to say about the nature of community. But you dont have to analyze it to watch it. It is just fun to watch.

Since I work on Wednesday...

Coffee Cup Quote

Every language is an old growth forest of the mind, a watershed of thought, an ecosystem of spiritual possibilities. Of the 6,000 languages spoken today, fully half are not taught to children. Every two weeks an elder dies and carries into the grave the last syllables of an ancient tongue. WIthin a generation or two we are losing half of humanity's social, cultural, and intellecual legacy--
Dr. Wade Davis
National Geographic Explorer in Residence
from my Starbucks Coffee on 10-16-05

Friday, October 14, 2005

The New (well maybe not so new) Racism

The KKK was well known for putting on bed sheets and white hoods as they walked around and subversively practiced the evils of violent racism. Today, people put on different covers to guise their racism, but if you closely thier sheets of patriotism are pretty thin.

Who are these racists you ask? They are the minutemen and other people our nation that are trying to end any immigration from the border to our south.

Think about this for a second. At least half of California, most of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona were taken by millitary force from the people of Mexico. We talk about "sending people back" to Mexico that were Mexican immigrants, and it was their country to begin with. After all, do you know what language the names El Paso, San Antonio, Santa Fe, San Diego, El Centro, and Los Angeles all have in common. Thats right, they are all Spanish names for cities.

Many of these people are saying that our border to the South needs to be protected, in order to keep terrorists from infiltrating our country. Yet, which nation has a higher proportion of fundamentalist Islamic folks in their population, Canada or Mexico? Canada by far. Why are we not proposing to build a fence across Canada? Because the majority of their population is white, and most of them speak English.

When talking about racism with a redneck kid that lived in a trailer like modular home with a lean to attached at my church in Montana, this gun-totin' son of a trucker had a very interesting response.

"Most racism is penis envy," he said.

And of course I had to pull over the car for a second because I was laughing so hard at this 8th grade boy in the middle of small town Montana coming up with this.

I am not sure that he is literally correct, but I think he is in a broader sense. The anti-immigration, make a law that requires everyone to learn English crowd is a group that feels threatened. Their small towns are becoming multicultural. Their political power is being eroded.

Now do I think that we should have no border control--of course not. Do I think that illegal aliens that commit crimes should be sent out of the country. Yes. Do I think that we should fund emergency medical care and offer educational opportunities to the "strangers in our midst". Yes I do.

But lets stop pretending all this anti-Hispanic immigration is about national security. It is about racial and social prejudice. Plain and simple.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Treat of Halloween

I grew up in a fundamentalist church that was against almost everything. We could not wear shorts, even in 100 degree weather. We could not listen to any secular music, and even contemporary Christian music was clearly frowned upon. Even in elementary school, you were shamed if you used any other version of the Bible but the King James Version.

I am very thankful for the way many of those people in that church loved me and helped me learn about Jesus, I agree with much of what I was taught; especially when it comes to the authority of Scripture, and salvation coming through faith in Christ Jesus. But, sometimes, with all their good intentions, their zeal for holiness led them to be narrower in their beliefs that the Bible merited. One of these situations was related to the practice of Halloween.

The actual holiday of Halloween was instituted by the early church. Much like the Easter season and the Christmas season, Halloween had pre–Christian roots based on seasons and the calendar. But as it came to be defined, Halloween came to be about how God worked through people that had died before. Halloween is the eve of All Saints Day, which is immediately followed by All Souls Day. It is a season to remember the ones that have come before us and the battles that they have come through. It was not until the witch hunts that people began to associate Halloween with witchcraft and Satanism. These witch hunts that were often politically expedient, and often found later to be founded on unreliable rumor.

But what about all that dressing up, especially like ghosts and devils and such? Isn’t that celebrating evil? I suppose some people could look at it like that, but other people, like myself, can turn that concept on its head. In many ways dressing up as something on a day like Halloween has as much to do with mocking something as celebrating it. When people dress up and caricature political candidates or those in power, it is rarely because they support them. It is an act of civil disobedience. On Halloween, it is like saying that in Christ, the powers of evil don’t have any power over me that I do not give them. That is a good thing.

The early practice of trick or treating had the function of feeding the poor as winter approached and at the same time, asking those people to pray for those they were grieving. These poor people were given “soul cakes,” and they did not do tricks if they did not get anything. Although, people were sometimes afraid of what may happen to them if they failed to live out God’s command to give to the poor. The tradition of Halloween waned for several centuries, but came to full force in America when immigrants brought the holiday with them from the old countries the moved from.

Much like Mardi Gras before lent, the day before Halloween became known as Mischief Day. People were playing all sorts of pranks, low-income youth were getting into all sorts of trouble, and something needed to be done. So, the Boy Scouts came to the rescue. Early in their history, the Boy Scouts got communities to support these youth
though establishing the practice of trick or treating. The youth got the opportunity to dress up, and get candy. The community got to love on and support their children, and have an activity that kept them out of trouble.

Now a lot of us have different feelings about trick or treating. And today, much more than even when I was a kid, safety can be a huge concern as kids wander door to door. So many of us celebrate the season with harvest festivals, or have parties where kids are not out on the street. That is great, and many of these things have the same benefit of the celebrations of old.

As far as our attitudes go, however, let us celebrate Halloween in the spirit of Pope Gregory who instituted it. Let us redeem the day for what is good about it. Even if part of the holiday offends you, celebrate the pro-Christian, pro-compassion, pro-community, griever-friendly, pro-generosity part of this holiday that so many enjoy. Take the opportunity to carry out the golden rule, and love your neighbor and their children with a kind, full, unjudging heart.

Friar Tuck giving Robin Hood a piggy-back ride across the water Posted by Picasa

A rendering of Friar Tuck Posted by Picasa

Another likeness of Friar Tuck Posted by Picasa

Where Robin hood and Friar Tuck met Posted by Picasa

Quotes for today

The most important thing about Christianity is not "what" but "WHO"!--Kenda Creasy Dean

It is a great thing to seize and improve the very now--John Wesley

Earth is crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only who see, take off shoes;
the rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries--
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Maybe next time Big John

One of my favorite golfers is John Daly. The overweight, Diet Coke drinking, self-effacing, sometimes chain-smoking (I swear I have seen him set a cig on the ground to hit a ball in the middle of a professional tournament), recovering alcoholic is one of the most fun golfers to watch. He is a big hitter, that wears his emotions on his sleeve. And, he is one of the few succesful professional golfers to ever sport a mullet at the height of his career. He lost to Tiger in a playoff this week. C'mon Tiger....its ok to lose one of these once in a while.

The Answer Man--Part 2

A couple of new questions have come across in the continuing idea I borrowed from Brea's blog of ASK CLINT ANY 3 QUESTIONS

The Gig asked:
Have you ever regretted being a minister?

That is a hard question to answer.

Financially, I wish I had taken a year off sometime, went home and lived with one of my parents, and retired my school debt. That would have changed the course of my ministry.

Personally, sometimes I wish I had settled down with a family before I went into the ministry. Cause there is not a huge dating pool out there for ministers, much less overweight youth pastors who are losing hair and are still paying off their school debt. To be honest, the fact that I am a minister alters nearly every relationship I have. I wish I had people outside my family who related to me as CLINT instead of CLINT, the ordained minister.

Also, there have been times where a mix of depression and really negative circumstances in ministry that make me wonder if what I am doing is really of any value. At that time I wonder if I really heard God correctly, and whether I just need to start over with my life. There are times like this where I feel trapped by God. Like I am stuck where I am and there is no way out!

BUT, in the end, I try not to live regrets. I try to live in the faith and hope that the hurt, pain, and struggle I feel during the times I want to give up and wonder if I made the right choice will be redeemed. That somehow, I will look back and go...OH NOW I GET IT. I still live in the hope of the NOW GET IT moment with some stuff in ministry. MY MOMMA always taught me that I need to follow my heart. Following my heart is what brought me to this point. So, GIG, I think of them as things I struggle with more than regrets. Does that make any sense?

Heather asked:
If you could go back and do one thing all over again in your life, what would it be and why?

Well at the risk of sounding very shallow, the first thing that comes to mind is the semifinals of the state wrestling tournament my senior year. There was this guy I wrestled who I pinned the first time, he beat me on the points the second time, and I was wrestling him the third time in the semifinals. We were both heavyweights so he was about 40 pounds heavier than I was at weigh ins. He was an airforce kid, a TOTAL jerk, and had his coach argue or contest something every time he got tired because I was running five miles a day, lifting weights and then going to grueling wrestling practices. So anyway...there was this opportunity where he slipped off of me and I had the opportunity if I did not think about it to attack but by the time I thought about it, the opportunity was lost and I lost the match 5-2. I relive that match that happened 15 years ago at least once every other month. The big city paper read on Sunday...."It was the match everybody wanted to see. Greg Fann and John Copeland, both giant heavyweights, wrestled in the finals, each with only one loss on the season to HOMER's Clint Walker

What if I would have won? I could have wrestled in college instead of played football! I could have stayed on the West Coast, and went to the college with the coach from FOREST GROVE OR!

But I also would not have had met my closest friends, been an ordained minister, or any of that stuff either.

In a more general sense though, I regret not being more confident when I was in high school and college socially.

But as stated in the previous question, I try not to live with regrets.

Sorry for rambling....any other ?s

TOOT! TOOT!--A Serious Reflection :)

No, I am not passing gas. I am just feeling pretty proud of myself.

I put in 255 minutes on the elliptical trainer in the last week. That is an average of over 35 minutes a day. Maybe if I keep that up for a year or two I will have to come up with a new name for this blog!!

But seriously.....I have been thinking.

My exercise routine is something I enjoy immensely while I am doing it, and I also feel WONDERFUL after I work out. So what is the problem? Most of the time, although I will be immensely rewarded by the time I get done, I find it hard to get motivated to go to the fitness center (about a block away). Here is a list of the excuses I have made:

I have to get to work (I have a flexible schedule with work and involuntary fitness component to my job description).

I wont be able to sleep if I work out now.

I dont want to get dressed again.

I would rather take a nap

I deserve a break

I will go just after this TV show, then that TV show.....

I should call _______

I will just check my blog and email and then....

So I make a lot of excuses....but when I go I never regret it. The only other place this happens on a regular basis is with my spiritual discipline. I make excuses about how I will pray my Bible another time...give to the next person in need etc. I resist. But when I do those same things that I know feed my soul, I feel refreshed and renewed because I did them. And I wonder...why did I have to make this so difficult.

What situations do you have in your life that are like this?


In case you have not seen it before, you need to watch BABY GOT BOOK

A Song you Need to Hear!

I have been sitting in my office before church listening to "Music" by Leela James. Think a Tina Turner type of voice, with a Lauren Hill baseline. Its my favorite song of the week.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Me holding someone's purse at the wedding. Posted by Picasa

Another pic from the wedding I went to this weekend!  Posted by Picasa

Go Angels! Beat the Yankees! Posted by Picasa

Your Wish is My Command

Get your mind out of the gutter Brotha Buck....just kidding.

Three people have accepted my invitation to ask any question they want about me
(the invitation is still open by the way). Here are my answers to the questions so far:

What is my name:
Clint Stanton Walker is my name. Stanton is also my Dad's middle name and my grandfathers middle name. Sometimes when I don't want people to really know me I say my name is Stan. I don't do it as often since people said it reminded them of Bea Arthur's ex-husband in Golden Girls.

What is my quest?:
Recently I have been thinking in terms of a personal mission statement. Here is what I have come up with.

I want to live a life of unconventional beauty in service of my Creator.

Hope that does not sound too cheesy.

What is my favorite color?

I like black, because I look best in black. But for real colors, I alternate between red and blue. Blue when I am in a mellow phase, red when I am feeling more confident.
Can you tell I think about everything through. This happens when your social life is non-existent.

When did I first called into ministry? And how did I know I was called?

When I was 18. I took a youth ministry class at Trinity College in Illinois cause I heard it was a fun, easy class. And the registrar talked me into it. After the first class I was hooked. I argued with God about whether I was adequate enough and gifted enough to do this type of work. The answer I kept getting from you are not Clint, but I am able to do it through you. Everything kept shouting to me that God wanted me to enter ministry. Everytime I read the Bible, that is what it said. It seemed I would have at least one conversation a week that was totally random where people would tell me that they thought I was gifted or called for full-time vocational ministry. I finally surrendered to the call somewhere in the middle of my freshman year.

When am I going to start my own church?

I don't think I am a strong enough extrovert to get this accomplished without having a team of people I am working with. Becca's boss also has told me that I am too introverted to ever be a church planter.

Why do I believe in God?

While I struggled with the whole Christianity thing soon after accepting my call to ministry (I know sounds weird...but it is true), I don't think there was ever a time when I did not believe in some sort of God.

Atheism has never made the least bit of sense to me. My experience is that most athiests are not as much non-theists as they are just PISSED at GOD.

At this point I believe in God because God just seems so real, so alive, so present to me in everything in life. How can I look at a beautiful sunset, and think that it just came about by chance? How can I look at a beautiful woman, and not think some God up there knew what he was doing when that DNA got put together? How can I sense having a spirit and not believe that it has a source?

Like I said, believing God is like breathing. It is making sense of Christ and Christianity that was and sometimes in the real struggle.

Who is the most influential person in my life right now?

At the risk of sounding like a total weakling, my momma has always been the biggest influence on my life. Most of the time that is a good thing...sometimes it can be more challenging. But I love her regardless. She is the only person in my life that has always been there for me, and thus deserves to have a fair amount of influence. Right?

My dad is a deep thinker, independent, and an armchair philosopher, and I have a lot of that in me too. But, when you see my heart, my passion for things, my orneriness, my goofiness and "out-there"ness, those are all things I learned from my mother.

When am I going to write a book?

When I feel I have something to say, and can sound half way intelligent saying it!

Any other questions out there?

Quicky Clean-Ups are Insufficient

So, last week I had been puttering away at cleaning house. I had gotten home from work about midnight on Saturday night, and suddenly came to the realization that the work I had done early in the week had been undone by the rest of the week. And, a friend was coming to town on Sunday, and would most likely drop by my apartment.

So, I did the best I could to get something done between 1am and 2am cleaning (which looked fairly presentable). Of course the friend came over on Sunday afternoon, and all I could notice is what was left undone. Damn it! I should have washed the walls down. Shoot! I should have cleaned the INSIDE of the fridge. Everything was picked up, the TV was even dusted, but all the things that were not done have been pounding in my mind like Edgar Allen Poe's Tell Tale Heart.

And I started reflecting today, looking at another thing I missed, that our lives are much the same way. We try and do quicky clean-ups in our life, and it just does not work. Cleaning up the messes in our lives is a process, and it is never a quick and easy process. In fact, when we really work at cleaning something up, things sometimes get messier before they get clean! We live in a world that wants everything quick and easy. But beauty does not come quick and easy. It takes work.
May your life become more and more beautiful each day.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Desert is part of the journey

Being as I am using the lectionary for my devotional and my source for BUBBAS BIBLE BLOG, I have been thinking a lot about what it means to walk with God in the desert.

For at least the last month, the lectionary has been challenging me to read and think through the journey of the children of Israel through the desert. The wilderness between Goshen and Jericho seems to be a frustrating place. A place full of fear, the unknown, and complete and utter dependence on God for all of the day to day stuff of life. Part of me gets mad at the Israelites for muttering and being so rebellious; however, another part of me empathizes with the Israelites a lot.

In many ways, the last year and a half has been a desert time of my life. I feel like I have been kicked around a lot. I miss being close to family more now than I ever have. I feel more gifted to lead than at any point in my life, and have less opportunities for leadership than at any church I have been at.

Yet, like the Israelites, I can look back at these days at this place and feel like I have learned valuable lessons and have been blessed regardless. I have lost weight. I exercise at least 3-4 times a week. I have learned more about "working the system" and being a "professional" here than I ever would have in Montana or in Kansas. I have developed better "PR" skills than I ever had before. I have become a more polished speaker in many ways. And although I don't want to go through the last year over again, I can definitely see God's hand in it.

Now if I can just trust him for the next year!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Open question post.

Hey there!

I am going to steal an idea from Brea.

I would like for you to get to know me a little bit better.

So I want to give you the opportunity to ask three questions of me--anything about me that you are wondering about and wanting to know. And I will answer all the questions that come my way.


My iTunes Downloads

Ramblin' Man 4:48 The Allman Brothers Band

The Devil Went Down to Georgia 3:34 Charlie Daniels

Jesus Freak 4:49 DC Talk Jesus Freak

All Jacked Up 3:32 Gretchen Wilson All Jacked Up

Hicktown (Radio Edit) 3:36 Jason Aldean

These Boots Are Made for Walkin' (Radio Edit) 3:40 Jessica Simpson

Pickup Man 3:39 Joe Diffie Greatest Hits: Joe Diffie

Sweet Home Alabama 3:40 Lynyrd Skynyrd

Free Bird 9:10 Lynyrd Skynyrd

It's Hard to Be Humble 4:23 Mac Davis

Queen of My Double Wide Trailer 3:29 Sammy Kershaw

Magic Carpet Ride 4:27 Steppenwolf

Theme from the Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol' Boys) 2:05 Waylon Jennings

Beverly Hills 3:17 Weezer

I Can Only Imagine 5:09 Wynonna Judd

Sharp Dressed Man 4:14 ZZ Top

Tush 2:15 ZZ Top

Monday, October 03, 2005

An Avalanche in the Closet

I remember one time when a committee came to my house after their meeting to meet with me. The senior pastor had just resigned at the church where I was at and there was a lot to do and to think about. One of the things that they were dealing with was that the senior pastor had told me one thing about advocating for my salary package, and he had told the people at the church something else. And like a loyal employee I had kept my mouth shut about things. With the senior pastor's departure, I decided to stand up for myself a little more and tell the bigger story. Namely, that I had been given a different salary package when I accepted the position than when I arrived at the church, and that the pastor had promised to advocate for a salary increase (I was making under 20 a year w/salary and housing allowance) but he had not.

Before they had come over, I did everything I could to clean house like a crazy man. That included taking a number of things and putting them in the closet, and then arranging chair in the room where we could all talk.

I thought I had removed my mess from visibility and notice.

Soon all the men came in the room and we began the conversation, which was a pleasant conversation. We talked about a number of things, and got issues resolved.

As the conversation began there were a few noises in my closet, but they easily could be shrugged off. As the conversation went on for about 20 minutes the noises became more noticable. All of the sudden, it sounded like an avalanche was happening behind one of my guests. His eyes got big and he scooted his chair forward. I explained how the noise came about, and we all had a good laugh.

I think a lot of times we try to clean up the mess in our lives like I tried to clean the mess in my spare bedroom. A lot of times, we can just hide the mess in our lives in a back corner somewhere and nobody will notice. We cannot. Sooner or later, our mess is apparent to everyone who is around us. And the real work of cleaning house begins.

Movie Meme Mania

The Gig asked me post about movies. Here are some self-generated memes on movies to pass on.

Six Favorite Movies
1. The Tao of Steve
2. Simon Birch
3. The Color Purple
4. The Matrix Trilogy
5. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
6. Tombstone

Five Honorable Mention Good Movies
1. Benny and Joon
2. Silence of the Lambs
3. Edward Scissorhands
4. American Pie Trilogy--Hangs head in shame becuase it is not something a good friar should enjoy watching as much as I did.
5. TommyBoy

Four Movies I have Grown to Like, But Hated at First
1. American Beauty--At first just creepy. After watching it more than once was an interesting commentary.
2. When Harry Met Sally--hangs head in shame for admitting this to the men in the blogosphere.
3. Napolean Dynamite--Once I came to accept that it had no plot, I learned to love this movie.
4. Sideways--Did not like it at first, but it is one of those movies I keep coming back to in my mind, and may want to see again.

Three Least Favorite Movies of All Time
1. Waiting to Exhale--Stuck watching with mom and sis over Christmas. The drawback of being the only male in that crowd. The women in this story drove me crazy with their stupidity in relationships. Especially the Whitney Houston character.

2. Sleepless in Seattle--This movie was so corny that I wanted to just SCREAM. Instead I just mocked it incessantly.

3. Mrs Doubtfire--Could not stand this movie.

Two Movies Made Before 1985 that I liked
1. True Grit--Can a movie meme be complete without John Wayne?
2. Fiddler on the Roof--The only musical I have liked

One Movie I Recommend that I Doubt Anyone Has Seen
1. The Third Miracle--An interesting movie about doubt, faith, and the capriciousness of God through the character of a fallen priest.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Saying What Needs to be Said, But Should Go Without Saying           Racism is wrong. Violence based on racial prejudice is wrong. Christi...