“Time won’t leave me as I am, but time won’t take the boy out of this man”--”City of Blinding Lights”, U2

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Leadership during Catastrophe

Catastrophe often reveals great leadership in people who keep their heads and provide a calm, cool presence that can be reassuring to others (what Rabbi Edwin Friedman calls a “non-anxious presence” in his book Generation to Generation.), e.g. Mayor Rudy Giuliani, during the 9/11 aftermath. Others respond somewhat less greatly. Consider New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin who waited until SUNDAY to issue a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans, despite warnings that Hurricane Katrina would be catastrophic for the city as early as Saturday. N. Z. Bear thinks he should be prosecuted for negligent homicide.

I was prepared not to second-guess Mayor Nagin. After all, anyone can arm-chair quarterback. But then he fumed at failed attempts to repair the breached levees. From CNN:

"There is way too many fricking ... cooks in the kitchen," Nagin said in a phone interview with WAPT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi, fuming over what he said were scuttled plans to plug a 200-yard breach near the 17th Street Canal, allowing Lake Pontchartrain to spill into the central business district. An earlier breach occurred along the Industrial Canal in the city's Lower 9th War.


But Nagin said a repair attempt was supposed to have been made Tuesday.

According to the mayor, Black Hawk helicopters were scheduled to pick up and drop massive 3,000-pound sandbags in the 17th Street Canal breach, but were diverted on rescue missions. Nagin said neglecting to fix the problem has set the city behind by at least a month.

"I had laid out like an eight-week to ten-week timeline where we could get the city back in semblance of order. It's probably been pushed back another four weeks as a result of this," Nagin said.

(Hat tip: Neal Boortz).

Brady Westwater (LA Cowboy) is not impressed with Mayor Nagin’s decision making skills:

Person at Tulane hospital gave an interview to WDSU describing a fishing boat filled with looters armed with guns patroling the streets and then she describing how looters were breaking into the doctor's cars in the hospital parking garage while they are trying to save lives.

But, Mayor Nagin still needs another night before he decides if it is appropriate to call for martial law citywide rather than in just some areas.

(Hat tip: Mickey Kaus)

Louisiana Governor Blanco understands that relief efforts are a “logistical nightmare”. But her constant repetition of it makes for a cliched response. However, it is clear she is genuinely moved by the plight of the victims. In times of catastrophe, calm (non-frustrated), empathic leadership that points toward a hopeful future will do more than frustrated, overly-critical leadership that pensively makes decisions.

Update: A reader of The Corner emails JPod:

The mayor of NOLA is in complete denial (he spoke last night of the refugees in the Superdome "waiting it out") except when he's angry (publicly blaming others for the levee break not being fixed) ; the governor of LA is emotionally broken. She keeps speaking of "trying to figure out" how to evacuate people; "trying to figure out" how to put refugees somewhere else, etc. As you noted, she can't even say that looting is wrong; the most outrage she can muster is "where are they taking the loot to, anyway?" She can't even see that her brokenness demonstrates that no one is in charge, and the more that people see that, the more utter chaos and lawlessness are spread. Honestly, I think it is clear that the state and local authorities *cannot* do this. The federal govt needs to come in Right Now. FEMA waiting on the outside isn't the issue. Getting command authority into the hands of people who can make decisions and take action is the point. It's time for us to demand the feds to take control before this nightmare of anarchy swallows all of Louisiana.
Update: After reading John's comments, I want to make clear that I don't endorse N. Z. Bear's suggestion to arrest NO's mayor. I'm not sure even N. Z. Bear is seriously advocating it. But I'm hoping the Lousisiana leadership will step up better than they seem to thus far.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Chronicles of Narnia Teaser Out

A few months ago, I was at the movies and caught the teaser to the movie adaptation of C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I don't know if the movie will be any good or not, but if the teaser represents the movie, well, it will be absolutely gorgeous. The teaser can be found here.

I read the Chronicles of Narnia as a child. My best friend liked the series so much he stole the books from the school library (which I always found kind of ironic). I enjoyed them, but preferred J. R. R. Tolkien to Lewis. It wasn't until I was an adult that I discovered C. S. Lewis' non-fiction work. The Narnia books are a great read. My only reservation is my shared disdain of allegory with Tolkien who wrote:
I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence.
But the books are good reads for children and adults. Here's hoping the movie does justice to them.

Hogwarts Sorting Hat

I've got a book review coming up on the Harry Potter series, but I couldn't resist taking this test and posting my results.

You scored as Ravenclaw. You have been sorted into Ravenclaw- you value intelligence, and love the chance to use your cleverness (and maybe even show it off- just a little). You're keen and incisive, and you just love a challenging problem to solve.









The Hogwarts Sorting Hat!
created with QuizFarm.com

Methodist Podcasting

Just got through listening to Jay Voorhees' Methocast (#13) podcast. I really enjoyed the show and I appreciate the good work that Jay is doing. Jay is looking for ideas and comment, so jump on over to his site and give him some feed back. Christian Dissent has also been doing some podcasting; I've subscribed to their feed, but haven't had a chance to listen to their show yet. If you are new to podcasting and are interested in United Methodist subjects, then you need to check out these two:

Methocast: published by Jay Voorhees.
Christian Dissent: published by Cole Wakefield with cohosts Josh Tinley and Joey Hood.

More pics after the storm

These pics are from across the street at the MSU-Wesley Foundation parsonage. The Rev. Hugh Griffith and family are clearing the debris from the yard and putting it on the street.

Aldersgate Post-Katrina Pics

Here are some pics from Aldersgate after the hurricane. Our damage seems to be limited to some of our trees on the property.

Hurricane Katrina Update

The AP now reports that the death toll in Mississippi could be as high as 80. Please pray for the victims and relief workers.

Pastors, Politics, and Religion

I've stayed out of the debate about Pat Robertson for a couple of reasons. 1) I'm not a fan of Pat Robertson, 2) He's not a pastor, although he is identified as that (he may be ordained, but my view of ordination is more restrictive than my Baptist brothers. In the UMC, to be ordained as a pastor means you actually have to pastor) and 3) I knew he was getting slammed pretty good by everyone else.

But this Cal Thomas article is a must-read for pastors inclined to politics. Thomas speaks from experience, as I believe he used to be an advisor for the Christian Coalition. Some years ago he dropped out of that for pretty much the reasons he mentions in this article. Why do some pastors want to get so invested into politics? Those of a liberation theological bent have an excuse that I understand (though disagree with) but why do evangelicals want political influence?

Thomas writes:
Too many Christians think if they shout loud enough and gain political strength the world will be improved. That is a false doctrine. I have never seen anyone "converted" to a Christian's point of view (and those views are not uniform) through political power. I have frequently seen someone's views changed after they have experienced true conversion and then live by different standards and live for goals beyond which political party controls the government.
As the Blogfather would put it: "Indeed."

Hat tip: The Corner

Monday, August 29, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Report from Starkville

We were largely unaffected by Hurricane Katrina, although the eye of the storm passed over Starkville earlier this evening. My parents were without cable. We kept power with the occasional flicker here and there and had satellite most of the evening (which we usually lose anytime it rains hard). My in-laws who live about 30 miles to the west of Starkville are without power but other than that everyone in the family is doing fine. I know we lost a few large limbs, but I think our trees are intact. Area schools are closed tomorrow. We (my family) haven't suffered at all.

That isn't true for a lot of other people, especially in South Mississippi. According to Governor Haley Barber, Mississippi seems to have been hit pretty hard. Media reports say that there are 55+ dead on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (At least 50 in Harrison County).

I keep reading in the media that luckily the hurricane swerved at the last minute and didn't hit New Orleans directly. Tell that to the folks in Gulfport. I realize there is a huge disparity in population between New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but lives are lives after all. Most of the news outlets were out of place, a lot of coverage of New Orleans and Mobile for instance. Apparently there were very few crews in Gulfport and Biloxi. Later in the day more reports surfaced from Gulfport as it became clear that Gulport/Biloxi had taken the biggest hit. Relief workers can't even get into the area yet, so Governor Barber is asking for patience from those who are suffering.

UMCOR will be on the scene, naturally, so donate here if you can. Red Cross will be as well, so donate here if you prefer their work.

Sorry for the light posting

I don't have many people check into to my blog (okay, like 5) but I do apologize for not having anything up the last few days. First Noah got sick, then Lorie, and then Miriam. Everyone seems to be better today.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Sick kid

How can a kid run a fever one night so that you stay home with him the next day and he feels fine all day, then as you lay with him in your bed and snuggle he throws up all over you and your bed? (It's always your bed too). Needless to say, sick kid so posting will be light for a few days as I am growing behind at work. Please remember Noah and his worried mom in your prayers.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Hatin' John Wesley

James Spring has a great post "10 Things You'd Hate About John Wesley" and "10 Things John Wesley Would Hate About You."

Hat Tip: Locusts and Honey

Monday, August 22, 2005

Book Shelf: Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin Series

One of the things that I’ve wanted to do on this blog is to share about some of the books that I’m reading. My reading tastes are somewhat varied. At any given time I read two books at a time: one for pleasure (usually fiction) and one book for professional growth. Generally I read the pleasure book at a faster pace (in part because I’m enjoying them more) but also because professional growth books require a different kind of reading. I’ll post comments about the books that I'm reading under the name "Book Shelf". The “fun” books will probably have shorter reviews (except this first one), but I’ll try to post longer comments of the professional reading.

First up: The Aubrey-Maturin Series by Patrick O’Brian. These books will be familiar to most readers through the movie Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World starring Russell Crowe. I had heard great things about these books prior to the movie’s release but as naval warfare and the Napoleonic Era are two subjects that haven’t interested me before, I didn’t pick them up until the movie’s release. I picked up the first novel (Master and Commander) from the library and read it. The naval jargon was difficult. Usually my fun reads are in the realm of brain candy—not much thinking required. I had to work a little bit with this book, particularly as O’Brian’s style of writing (particularly the dialogue) is very cinematic. If you can’t understand the terminology, it is hard to visualize the action or know when a scene has changed. I enjoyed the book but took a break and didn’t pick up the next novel for several months. At some point I picked up the second novel of the series, Post Captain, and got hooked. I read the complete series, all twenty books, took a week off, and started all over again. In other words, I read the complete twenty novels twice, back to back.

I got hooked to these books for a several reasons. First, once you can work past the naval jargon (I picked up a companion dictionary) and don’t worry that you won’t always understand every term, you will find that O’Brian is a wonderful author. The heart of this book lies in the friendship of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, two very different but very strong friendships. The bond of friendship is as strong as it is in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy (between Frodo and Samwise). Secondly, the history drew me in. The Napoleonic Era was always to me that confusing time in history when war raged across the European continent when various countries allied for and against Napoleon. (Spain against France or for France? Yes. It depends on when…) I didn’t know a lot about the war that raged across the seas. Christopher Hitchens calls this time the “true and real ‘First World War’ because it extended itself to every ocean and almost every nation, not exempting this one.”

But as a UM pastor I was struck by similarity in the British Naval Captain and the United Methodist Pastor. Aubrey is constantly concerned with having a “happy ship” knowing that his effectiveness as captain and his effectiveness depended on how the people viewed him and how happy they were with his leadership. The Naval Orders (curious mix of ability, patronage, navigation, and survival) are reminiscent of the Appointment system. The Captain serves as the king representative, with the Admiralty providing oversight (Bishop, District Superintendents, Board of Ordained Ministry). Pastors just don’t have the kind of authority that Captains did (who could flog their crew for indiscretions.

The best of the series was the first, but all twenty really should be seen as one complete novel. Start with Master and Commander, pick up a naval dictionary if you must, and enjoy these books. I was sad that Aubrey’s voyages had to end.

This is kind of cool...

Found this via a google ad on another blog (deleted it before I found out which one it was). It's just creepy looking. I won't be buying it. I wouldn't even let my kids play with a kid who had one. But it is kind of a cool toy...

I should be writing something theological but I just can't stop looking at that thing, it just keeps looking back at me....

Reminds me of when the Goldfish cracker folks began putting smiles on their "goldfish" crackers. They didn't put a smile on every one because they said there's something creepy about someone who smiles all the time.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Confession/Profession Good for the Soul?

This Sunday, I’ll be preaching the Gospel lesson of the lectionary, Matthew 16:13-20. This is the second of a series of sermons that I am preaching right now called, “Listening to the Good Shepherd” based on John 10. The homiletical thread of this series is that by listening to the Good Shepherd (Jesus) we can have life “more abundantly”. With this in mind, my study this week has been focusing on the importance of Peter’s confession and how confession is important for us as well. Not in the sense of “confession is good for the soul” but confession in the sense of professing: what we believe about Christ, professing our theology (my usage of the word theology doesn’t relate to dogmatics, which can be important, but theology as “what we know or have come to believe about God”). In this sense confession becomes for me sacramental, because one’s confession of the Christ who lives and reigns within is essentially an outward (verbal) manifestation of an inward, spiritual truth.

Paul’s words in Romans 10:9 (TNIV) are interesting:

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

He goes on to write in verse 10: “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:10 TNIV).

For this discussion I’m pretty much using confession and profession interchangeably.

So why would confession help us to have abundant life and how can we become a “confessing people”?

  1. The first reason that comes to mind is the salvific component noted in Romans 10:9-10. Anything dealing with salvation is, of course, important.
  2. Philippians 2:9-11(TNIV) suggests that eventually, all will do it anyway:
  3. Testifying: an under-emphasized part of our worship services. When I was a kid, I remember attending a friends church one time for a “Testifying (or Testimonial) Service”. The practice of testifying and testimonies if was ever part of some church’s traditions has almost certainly died away. There is something efficacious about sharing in a public way what God has done in and for you and what you believe. Many churches will include in their worship service a professed creed, such as the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed, but these often become unfortunate casualties when worship services are updated and made contemporary. The act of testifying/professing/confessing publicly worships God and can encourage others. It has been a long time since someone said to me, “Can I share my testimony?” “Can I tell you what I believe?” “Can I tell you what I’ve come to know to be true about Jesus Christ?” It is the best way to evangelize non-believers and encourage fellow believers.

These three points bring me back to my earlier statement: confession (profession) is a sacramental act in that it is an outward (verbal) manifestation to an inward, spiritual truth. Confession/Profession of the living Christ saves our souls, places us as part of a heavenly/earthly order that confesses to God, and can be evangelistic or encouraging to others.

A lot of these ideas will be unexpressed in my sermon, but as they were buzzing around my head, I thought I would post them here. Comments are welcome.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Curious Deletion

Josh Tinley notices a curious deletion from the 2000 Book of Discipline in the 2004 Book of Discipline namely, (¶161D) which deals with divorce and asks two very good questions:
1) Why was this material removed?
2) Why was there no coverage of this vote?
Any General Conference delegates have the answers?

And Josh, every blog needs at least two Sisks in their blogroll (*hint, hint*)

Hat tip: Locusts and Honey

Update: Thanks Josh for adding me to your blogroll!

Update (2): Dean Synder figured it out. It was an accident! And not the only one!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Political Activism in UM Churches

This is the sort of political activism I hate to see in UM churches:
Earlier in April, at a speech before the United Methodist church in Venice, Calif., Sheehan likened Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to "Hitler and Stalin" and was particularly lurid in describing her hatred of Rumsfeld's then-deputy:
As soft-spoken and sincere-sounding as Paul Wolfowitz is, is there yet any sane adult in this country whose skin does not crawl when this murderous liar opens his mouth and speaks?
According to this, other people appearing were Tim Goodrich, co-founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Rev. Thomas Ziergert, Pastor of Venice United Methodist Church, with special music by Michelle Shocked. (I won't link to Shocked's website, it being NSFW, but Shocked appears to be stridently anti-Bush). I'm not familar with the other people so I don't know if they represented "counter" viewpoints to Sheehan, and et al. The above Sheehan comments exerpted above (and follow the link please for the full context of her speech) seem to me to be particularly dangerous from a church committed to doing kingdom work.

I have emailed the Rev. Ziegert for more information about the event and asked for his thoughts about political activity and the church. I'll post his response when it is received. I want to make clear, it is not my intention to criticize any one for the content of their remarks. Rather, my point is that I think such an event might be problematic for ministry.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Updates to my U2 post below

Scroll down to see the updates or click here. I'm working on more stuff to be posted later so be sure to check back in.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Helpful Illustration of a Theodicy

Fellow Emory alum David Camphouse gives us an apocryphal but nevertheless helpful illustration of a theodicy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Papering Over Differences

Dean Snyder at Untied Methodist reports on the resignation of Cynthia Astle as the editor of the United Methodist Reporter due to "philosophical differences with management at the Reporter."

Dean writes:

Astle says she has also heard from several conference newspaper editors who say they are under pressure from bishops and council directors to remove letters to the editor and reader response columns from their papers in order to downplay dissent within the denomination.

I'm not an active reader of the United Methodist Reporter so I can't speak to how fair the paper treats controversial issues or even if the management is moving in the right direction with the paper. If it is an emerging trend to suppress debate or to ignore when there are real differences for the sake of unity or influencing public perception of our denomination, well then, the United Methodist Church will be diminished not strengthened.

There is a tension that must be held, however. How can we, on one hand, have vigorous, open debate on big issues but not focus on that which divides us? I don’t know, but I don’t think the answer is to paper over our differences. I think it may be one of the biggest problems that we in fact face in our denomination.

It seems to me that the as the UMC has struggled with controversial issues such as homosexuality that we have become exceedingly divided for two fundamental reasons. The first is willful ignorance of the varying hermeneutics present in our denomination. Homosexuality really isn't the issue; the issue is how we approach the issue of homosexuality. By failing to recognize that there are differing approaches as to how we read and interpret the Bible (specifically, how the Holy Spirit speaks to us today), we set ourselves up for failure, particularly since we do theology by democracy at General Conference. I suspect we remain willfully agnostic because of the second problem, which is an inordinate fear of schism. Fear of schism has prevented us from addressing the problem of differing hermeneutics. We suspect (and fear) that we may find that our hermeneutics cannot be reconciled. There will be winners or losers. But that is what we do when we do theology by democracy anyway. We create winners and losers. But I don't know that if we can't reconcile our varying hermeneutics that schism is the necessary result. We may have to fundamentally change how we relate to one another within our denomination. I don't know the answer. But ignoring and avoiding the problem won’t produce the unity we all crave, anyway. It only creates fault lines and caucuses.

One caveat. Don't read the above as endorsing separation. Read it as a plea to change the subject of our debate of late.

One of the reasons I really like U2

I have been playing U2 a lot lately on my ipod and have been rediscovering the wonderful Christian themes that are a part of their music. I became a U2 fan because of their music, but as I grow older I have become to appreciate the things that they are saying in their songs. At 34, I listen to their album Boy in way that I couldn't appreciate when I was 17. (Which was U2's first album if memory serves). Some of their more explicitly Christian songs are "Gloria" and the recent "Yahweh".

Which makes this article by Gene Edward Veith so rewarding to read. It appears to me at one point in the interview Bono is quoting from Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. Bono can be kind of frustrating at times, but it seems like he has a good handle on the Christian understanding of grace and an ability to articulate it to a secular audience. I think the grace of God is undercommunicated in our evangelism efforts, when it should be the center.

Hat tip: Locusts & Honey

UPDATE: Andy Bryan at EnterTheRainbow likes U2 too. And umm...apparently looks exactly like Luke Skywalker.

ANOTHER UPDATE: In the comments section of Andy Bryan's blog, reader Michah points to some great U2 links along the the same theme:
Dude, you don't even mention (though, perhaps you have seen) this interview with Bono on Christianity Today's website. Also, no preaching Bono fan should be without Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalog, a collection of sermons based on U2 songs, edited by some of my colleagues in the Episcopal ministry. And don't forget to keep up with their blog U2Sermons.blogspot.com.
LAST UPDATE OR I'LL HAVE TO START A NEW THREAD: rev-ed relates his thoughts to the article as well:
The author points out that many people question Bono's faith. Yet in a private interview, Bono sounds a little like C. S. Lewis using the Lord or Lunatic argument with his interviewer. At one point, the journalist says simply, "The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that." It's really an eye-opener for those of us who doubt the sincerity of the singer's Christianity. I wish every member of my church could witness like Bono did.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Pool of Siloam reportedly found

I look forward to reading more about this. Hat tip: Drudge.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Wiki Project for Bible Translation

My experience in Biblical translation experience is limited to the six semesters of New Testament Greek (4 semesters at Mississippi College and 2 semesters at Candler School of Theology) and no Hebrew (wasn't required). Given that, I can't imagine what I could contribute. But what was a throw away question at the close of this post seems like a good idea.

Tim, I think a wiki project for Bible translation would be great. The more information that can become accessible to people about Bible translation the better.
Peter Kirby from Christian Origins Blog has been thinking about this a bit longer:

There are many different uses of wiki software, as well as many different wiki software packages. It would be a good idea to create software that is specifically tailored to "open access"/"open scholarship" collaborative and participatory translation efforts than, say, MediaWiki. That is precisely what I plan to do (see my recent blog entries and comments on Wayne's blog), and I'm glad to see more support for the idea.
One disadvantage that I see is that a lot of contentiousness could result on this. If a wikipedia entry about Glenn Reynolds can be controversial (see the whole puppy blender joke thread in the history) imagine for example, what a discussion of the shorter ending for Mark would be like with people who are invested in the Textus Recepticus and are involved in the wiki project. Of course there would be further disagreements produced in terms of English style.

But I see some real advantages to this as well. First, would be the copyrights or lack of. This would would truly be the people's version in a way that William Tyndale never could have imagined. Secondly, collaboration is almost always a good thing (at least I can't think of a good thing). Translators operate with an assumption as to what will communicate to the widest number of people. As more people are involved in the translation, a consensus as to what communicates well would naturally come together. Thirdly, I see translational bias mitigated by the sheer number of people involved in the translation. Throw in the Holy Spirit and it could make for a very interesting and rewarding project.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Peter Jennings dead...

My prayers go out to his family, friends, and colleagues.

Well I said I would reveal my deep ignorance...

It seems I've sparked an interesting post over at Better Bibles Blog about the meaning of the word "wirping". Thanks Wayne for your nice comment and I look forward to the answer of my question! Check out his site, especially if you have an interest in Bible translation. There's some great ideas sproutin' over there. Oh and Wayne, what do you think of a wiki project for Bible translation?

Tacit Messages Intentionally Delivered or Not

We celebrate Holy Communion at Aldersgate on the first Sunday a month (in addition to special services throughout the year.) Last month, I did something I always feared I would do, but in nearly 12 years of ministry never had, I spilled the grape juice. The way I also assumed it would happen is by dropping the serving tray that hold the individual servings of grape juice, either by tripping or dropping it. That isn’t the way that it happened, however. Instead as I was righting the table after Communion, I was re-draping the linen back onto the elements when the linen caught the ceremonial chalice. (This is the chalice that is filled with grape juice that I lift up and present to the congregation with words, “The blood of the New Covenant.”) Over turned chalice, loud crash, grape juice everywhere, and nice service we were closing was completely invaded of any peace. I glanced around and said meekly, “Good thing our carpet is burgundy colored.”

This morning, during communion, I was uncovering the elements and looked down into the chalice (I was alert as to where it was) and I just had to smile. Instead of full chalice, there was maybe a quarter inch of grape juice in the glass. The communion stewards say it wasn’t intentional, that they ran out of juice. “It isn’t because you’re a clumsy pastor.” I’ll take their word for it but if the chalice becomes a sippy cup next month, I’ll savvy the message.

Speaking of the big chalice, sometimes I will partake of the elements using the presentation items (big chalice, big wafer that is broken). The congregation receives communion in the individual cup and small wafers. (I had a friend who called them Jesus shooters). I’ve been through the theology of the common cup and have intinction, etc., this method of communion covers the most areas that this congregation is sensitive to in terms of theology, practicality, and sanitary concerns. But I haven’t decided if my utilizing the chalice and presentation wafer as my communion elements is a good thing, because I’m not really using the common elements that the congregation uses. But if they aren’t used, then they are meaningless and probably shouldn’t be on the table. So I haven’t made up my mind about that.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


I've always wanted to do something like this. I wish the article included recipes. Speaking of food, I'm considering having a Bible Study at Aldersgate using the Group Publications Bible Study called: "Friendship First." Has anyone else used this study before?

Friday, August 05, 2005

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Sink or swim I'm diving in...

One of my favorite songs is called "Dive" by Stephen Curtis Chapman. In it he sings:

I'm diving in I'm going deep in over my head I want to be
Caught in the rush lost in the flow in over my head I want to go
The river's deep the river's wide the river's water is alive
So sink or swim I'm diving in.
Although Chapman is singing about diving into a life of faith, these lines capture my mood as I move into the blogworld.

I've been reading blogs now for several years. I can't really remember how I discovered the blogworld. I think I came to it by reading the online edition of The Washington Post. One of my favorite columnists for WaPo is Howard Kurtz. Through Kurtz, I became acquainted with Glenn Reynolds (The Blogfather) and Andrew Sullivan (Blog Pioneer). These two guys in particular (and a host of others) led me into the wonderful world of blogs.

Aside from a few comments posted on a few blogs and a few emails here and there to folks I was reading, I never felt a need or a desire to blog myself. Although I'm a bit of a political junkie, I haven't felt the need to contribute to the political debate for two reasons. First, as a pastor, however strongly I feel about political issues, I believe I should abstain as much as possible from political debate. I am very uncomfortable with the mixture of church and politics. This is an area I may blog about later, but needless to say, I doubt I will have much to say about politics. Secondly, in terms of politics, I'm more of a consumer than an advocate. I'm not an expert at anything. Therefore, even if I weren't a pastor, I'm not sure what I can contribute to political debate. I think political debate has become needlessly divisive anyway, so keeping my mouth shut seems to be a smart thing. So while political blogs drew me into the world of blogging, I'm not interested in this becoming a blog about politics.

It was, however, the discovery of two blogs that has encouraged me to enter into the blog world. I discovered them at about the same time:
Shane Raynor from Wesleyblog.com and Mark D. Roberts (markdroberts.com). First of all, I want to complement them on their blogs. Shane's site is packed with a lot of information, lots of links, and yet somehow retains a clean, uncluttered look. Mark's site just represents his great mind...it is a virtual commentary/sermon site. It was in the midst of his excellent series on the TNIV translation that I began to follow him and discovered his sharp, reasonable mind.

The thing I like about Wesleyblog.com is not only Shane's postings but the conversation that occurs in the comments section. Shane has a similar perspective as mine on a lot of things so there's that, but I enjoy the spirit and the way that engages different perspectives. I would like for my blog to be kind of like that. Re: Mark Roberts: I want to be him when I grow up, a United Methodist Mark Roberts.

I've been thinking about doing this for several months now but have had reservations. Blogging comes with risks. I'm fiercely protective of my ministry so I must be careful that I tread lightly. Let me say for the record: my views here are my own and do not represent anyone else: not my church, not the United Methodist Church, or anyone else. I had to be sure that this isn't about ego or trying to make a name for myself. Instead I hope that the discipline of blogging will help my writing. I don't write well. Certainly not as well as I would like. I'm hoping the discipline of writing will encourage me to a better job communicating, particular when I contribute some it should be defensible and coherent. To this end I say: constructive criticism will be welcomed though rarely enjoyed (heck, who likes criticism). One other concern I've had is losing anonymity. When you blog, anyone can read it and is free to make judgments about you, informed or no. Its one thing to share your opinion or open your mind in the real world. You know to whom you speak. You can get a read as to whether people understand you, whether they agree of disagree with you. Not so in the cyber world.

But I get the sense that blogging will help my writing and thinking skills. It will open me up to conversation with other people which will help me to grow as a person and pastor. It will be a forum to bounce ideas and help me develop skills I do not now have. And I hope that somehow this will be a means of grace for me. So I'm risking that the Holy Spirit can work within this work.

So casting aside reservations about losing internet anonymity, risking scorn and criticism, revealing my deep ignorance, I'm diving in.