Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Continuing the Fun!

so the post below this is truly the final--this post is just to give you the heads up on two things.

first, i have another blog. you can find it here. it's about my journey as an associate pastor who thinks associatively.

second, Shutterfly is the coolest! Right now there is a Shutterfly’s Holiday Card promotion were bloggers can get 50 free cards from Shutterfly by talking about it on your blog, and selling your blogger soul a little bit. But we've really been happy with Shutterfly and order all sorts of things from them, so it's not too much of a stretch to sing their praises.

We have used Shutterfly the last 5 years to send out our holiday cards and they have been high quality and low cost. I highly recommend them. Not only do they have great stationery for your cards, but they also have invitations you can use to send out to your holiday parties. great designs and witty phrasings! Each year my in-laws also create a calendar of the year's past events. it's great to have a calendar with people you know on it and a reminder of what you were doing this time last year. So dump Kodak, Snapfish, and whatever service you're using. With Shutterfly, you can't go wrong!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Final

lots of exciting things going on here. the search process is heating up and odds are, i will have a call by the end of the summer. that is one reason this post is late.

another reason is because i really don't know what to put. it's been about 6 years since i started blogging here, 8 total years as this blog was spun off of Politik7, a political blog a few (6 to be exact) of my friends and i started back in 2002. i spun this off of P7 to have my own space. P7 went idle and then we decided to delete it, although I do have a word file of all the posts. it is interesting reading those, because where i am now is so far from where i was back then. so i guess i can talk a little about that journey and what i have gained from blogging.

when i started i was hopelessly liberal. Al Franken and i were best buds and we hung out with Mikey Moore and toilet papered Ann Coulter's house ever weekend. i was purely motivated by the injustices of the Bush Administration and had a blind hatred of all things Republican which included Christianity. so i turned Buddhist. a lazy buddhist, a buddhist without a community, a faith gleened from books like "An Idiot's Guide to Buddhism" and "Living Buddha, Living Christ." i described myself as "Spiritual but not religious."

that was during college... i married Kate and we moved away from our protective bubble that surrounds Athens Ohio, and into the DC area. we found we needed a community, so we tried the various churches around and even the Buddhist temple. the temple didn't fit because we, namely I, wasn't Buddhist. i was Christian. and before I could move on to become a Buddhist, i MUST heal my wounds from Christianity which i felt were legion.

  • the pain of growing up Catholic with a priest who thought my single mom was going to hell.
  • the slash and burn style of many Christians
  • the hypocrisy and materialism of "pop" Christianity
  • and many others... fill in your own...
we found Emmaus and we were at home. and healing had begun. Emmaus was progressive, Open and Affirming, and liberal in thought... however, i came to realize that the wounds i felt i was healing FROM i also happened to be inflicting as well. i was just as closed-minded as the conservatives i was railing against. nor do i think it is healthy to have a theology based over and against something.

seminary has brought a whole new set of  considerations as well as a new way of articulating my thoughts. what i have learned in seminary that being "spiritual but not religious" is a cop-out. being spiritual means i can customize any faith tradition to fit my needs. this can result in an extremely misunderstood and colonialist thought system which goes against the original intent of the doctrines, creeds, and ideas i'm smashing together. religion demands something of you. it causes you to change and consider things you would rather not.

so now i find myself religious and spiritual. spiritual and religious. i may fly off on speculative flights of fancy, but i am grounded by my community, my denomination and it's history, and by the wider Christian history. i now think that there is no way one can fully understand US history without considering the church movements. we gotta know this stuff, it has effected us in ways we don't know. example: if your frig is Amada and your silverware Onieda, congrats! you just bought something from a Christian Utopian Movement from the Second Great Awakening! it permeates our culture in ways we can't begin to comprehend.

now you may say "well Luke, that's fine and well and good, but i think you're biased. and what about the separation of church and state?" well, first the separation of church and state deals only with funding meaning that there will be no state-sponsored church. it does not mean prayer should be kept from the public forum. however, if Christians want to keep public prayer public, then they had best get more inclusive and think about their theology inherent in their prayer before spouting off at the next city council meeting. and i am biased. absolutely. i like history. i like knowing why California and Texas and Florida have Spanish style Churches... or why Lancaster PA has a 60% inner-city Puerto Rican Population and what considerations and changes that causes on the wider community. 

history leaves marks, scars that never fade.

i've found that while i still lean left, i can communicate much better with those who think different from me. i would now call myself "progressive" which is neither left nor right but forward. i would also say i'm an aspiring "Neo-Orthodox" guy, but still young. still likely to fall back on liberal things, but that's not a good nor bad thing, but a product of who i am and how i came to be.

i am a student of history and have learned to affirm my own. 

i've learned i have a slap-dash style of blogging that needs tightening up. 

i ain't got the best grammar or speeling, and i never capitalize much. the capitalization is on purpose as i try my best to be humble on here as a reminder not to spout off too much at those i think are crazy. 

and i've had my fair share of crazy traffic. 

without this blog i would have not known of the gnostic revival thanks to Yuergen, thelema practice, that Marcionites are still around thanks to Beowulf, that Anglicans are the true church, but yet the Jews are still the chosen ones, and that Atheists could have a spiritual side. so a big thanks to many of the crazies who stuck with me and became my good blogging buddies. This goes out to the Anglican Family, Sabio, Cody, Jacq, the canon of Yael, Doug, John T, and Jay Bird, and those 30 some ppl who visit the site but never comment. 

thanks for your time and considerations. 

thanks for keeping me humble. 

thanks for offering your two cents. 

thanks for all that you have said and done and please forgive me for anything i have said or done or have not said or done.

if you want to keep in touch, drop me a line at omega[UNDERSCORE]raven AT yahoo DOT com. the part in brackets is this "_" which was done to keep spammers away. i will blog again but in a different setting and under much stricter rules... it won't be done here again. this blog needs retired. i will leave it up for another two weeks and then it will go private. 

thanks again and i hope that you find life good and enjoyable. may you feel blessed in however you understand that term. may you serve something bigger than yourself, may you treat others how you wish to be treated. until we meet again... RAWK!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


I will try to keep my list of favorites brief. I have really enjoyed blogging over the years and I must say that I'm pleasantly surprised to what this blog has turned into. it started off as a place to keep funny links and stupid thoughts i've had while running around the DC metro area. when I decided to go to seminary, the nature of the blog changed. I have tried to report some of what i was learning and considering in seminary and the discussions have been rich. so here are just a few posts that i have enjoyed over the years.

here is the first announcement: the post entitled Get'n My Robe On.

i've posted many poems, but my favorite by far is the Objective Walk. when i read it, i'm immediately transported to those late night walks i took with Sonny as a break from writing whatever paper for whatever class. it is amazing what insights and clarity can be gained by walking your dog.

on an academic, purly theoretical side, i really liked Created Reality. it shows largely how i view the world and what meaning i make out of it. there was a good discussion that followed it. good use of science, TED Talks (yay) and post-modern philosophy and theology.

my favorite journaly-personal happenings style posts, i liked a pair of posts about when my favorite flower pot was stolen. later, i found that a friend down the street took it because she thought it would be funny while she was really drunk. Life Lessons in a Flower Pot is a study in how to look for God in daily life and nonattachment. Water Board Your Friends for Fun and Profit is the follow up post for when the flower pot was returned. it is a funny and ironic rant that is political and theological at the same time... i wish i wrote more posts like it.

two posts that show how others view me and that i read when i'm feeling inadequate are my lay committee evalutation from my time spent as an intern at TRUCC and the letter from Prof. Dr Peter Schmiechen it's good to have those type of things to return to when you feel confused... or in my case, more confused than usual.

finally a reflection on fatherhood entitled How Low is the Bar Set? was pretty cool. i was going to put the debate i had with a conservative christian from Confessions of a Seminarian about "Biblical Masculinity" but i feel that this post does everything that post did without the polemics.

that is just a sampling, short and sweet. do you have any favorites? i could have put a lot more with Eve in there, but i'm attempting to be modest and not too sappy. ;-)

and a small announcement, the next and final post will be next Tuesday. lots going on and i want time to really reflect and say something coherent.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Faith

over the course of seminary, i sure have changed, but i've stayed the same in many ways too.here's what i know:

i am still dismayed at the actions of my more conservative brothers and sisters in the faith. the far-right bothers me to no end and i don't know how to reach them.

the far left, i've discovered, is no better. they are equally closed-minded and intolerant. however, if i had to pick between the two, i'd head left because they wouldn't blow anything up or kill anyone. they would just brow-beat you into submission, albeit very politely.

i've found that Church History is very important and has contributed much to science, ethics, and sociology. it's very important to know religious history in the US, IMHO. we're in the midst of it right now as we speak, and history has been shaped by the two Great Awakenings that happened in this country. the conservative Neo-Evangelical movement currently going on is but a re-hashing of these two movements in a variety of ways.

liberal Christianity gets no press and that's a shame. and if liberal Christianity gets no press, the progressive form is getting even less... progressive is the "emergent" label, one could say, that it is neither right nor left but forward. those like Johnny Baker, Rob Bell, Peter Rollins, Brian McLaren, and Phillis Tickle are great reads and speak to all sides of the theological spectrum.

i realized just how much of a pastor i really am, thanks to CPE and my internship at a local church.

i found out that i'm really a Christian... well i'm becoming one any how. it's a process that's continual and unfinished. but i really can't answer the question to why.... is it because i was raised in the culture? because i find similar themes in my personal narrative as in the gospel narratives? because i'm inherently tribal and want to fit in? further more, how am i to judge what is a Christian and what isn't? who sets the standard?

what works for me maybe totally insufficient for someone else. the overwhelming experience i've had may leave another totally cold and unconvinced. so there is really no rational argument i can construct that would be all telling and universal. i can only answer as Jurgen Moltmann did in his book, Experiences of God and state that I am a Christian for Christ's sake.

i feel that the basis of my faith (defined as the "substance of things hoped for") is liberation for the oppressed, a wake up call to those asleep, and love of neighbor as ourselves as well as a love of a "higher ideal" that is beyond us and cannot be put to utilitarian purposes. it is good in and of itself. i call this higher ideal God and feel that it's more than a human construct. you can disagree. but i hope we can find a shared meaning and purpose to our lives regardless of belief.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Fall

The Fall has been a sticking point for me in Christian thought. I never really got it. How the fall was explained to me growing up, is that we are all punished for the disobedience shown by Adam and Eve in the garden of eden from eating the fruit (usually depicted as an apple) from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I rejected this outright saying that it was, bluntly, stupid and of no use.

however, during seminary i had an existential crisis around spring semester. how it happened is not important, but what it showed me was my painful transition from how i used to think to how i think now. i used to think people were fundamentally good and if we just gave them the right tools, the right education, they would improve and the world would be a better place. i no longer believe that. i think people are mixed bag (best articulated in my elevator version post).

then in August, i wrote A Fallen Letter which came from reading Irenaeus of Lyons writing on the subject. that was helpful. Now i'm reading "Moral Man and Immoral Society" by Reinhold Niebuhr and I like his take. It lines up with my own.

To Reinhold Niebuhr, the myth of the Fall expresses or discloses this situation of ourselves and of all other humans: in each the fault of all, in all the fault of each. Thus this story is “true” but not “literally true.” as it’s not an actual historical event. it discloses, but it does not explain, our situation.

I’m on board with this after much struggling to understand the doctrine of the fall. i denied it, i hated it, but after 3 years of seminary, i’ve lived it. you think if anyone could get it right and live in community, it’d be seminarians. that’s not the case, we’re just as bad as everyone else and subject to the same faults. 

so i now view humanity a little differently than i did 3 years ago. i think we're largely an unfinished as a species. we have poor instincts and we have to be taught a great deal more than other animal species. also, unlike other species, we have great imaginations that can create worlds unto themselves even while dying. we have the capacity for great good as well as great evil. it is my hope, and the hope of all Christians, that we all become more Christ-like: radically welcoming the outsider, conscious and humble of our own sins, living to serve others. 

that's where i'm at now.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Final Four

Gearing up for the last four posts which will happen over these next two weeks.here's what the posts will be about:

The Fall- where i talk my struggle with the Christian doctrine that has confused me the most over the years and what i think of it now.

The Faith- where i was and where I am now.

The Favorites- some favorite posts over the years

The Final- where i write something awesome and touching and you cry at you computer.... or maybe not...

stay tuned dear readers!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


i love the tv show LOST. my buddy Jason got me hooked on it around at the beginning of the third season and it's been one of our favorite shows ever. between that and the new Battlestar Galactica, we were in tv heaven.
i've resisted posting too much on it until now, so if you don't want to read any spoilers, read no further.


don't read if you think you'll watch the show....

you sure?

okay... here we go...

wait, really? you're not going to watch it? or have you already... okay, i'll quit stalling...

i love the whole narrative of LOST, it has something for everyone. it is very post-modern this way as it largely could be experience in a variety of ways. if you like drama, it had it. action, tons! mystery, how 'bout a big freak'n smoke monster, Egyptian statues, a 1800's ship thousands of yards inland, and strange science stations littered around the island protected by a mysterious group of "natives." but largely, the narrative was character driven, so however you watched it, it had to be done with the characters and their connections and relationships in mind.

LOST can't be categorized either. it had everything. " 'Lost' is in a class by itself," ABC's programming chief, Jeff Bader, said this week in this WashingtonPost article. "It is the most successful cult show ever." so what the hell was it about?

I think the show was offering us a big ol' allegory, for everything! The primary one is on how life should be lived. Namely an ongoing effort to understand each other and ourselves and this can only happen to it's fullest when undertaken with a community of people. a plane crashes, people meet up and figure out how the live together. their motto is "live together, die alone." and that was initially in reference to, "live with us and behave, or go out and get killed by a polar bear, the smoke monster, or the Others." but i understand that differently now.

we live together, we are defined by our relationships. yet no one can tell us who we are, we make our own narrative. yet we don't do this alone, we intersect and get feedback and such. we come into the narrative, the conversation, and it's already going on, and it will continue long after we're gone. who started it? not important. what is it about? about life itself. about what's real and what's worth paying attention to, how we should live and what "this" is all about. when we have listened long enough, we may enter in and vigorously discuss. but everyone does, articulately or un, explicitly or implicitly, live in relationship to the conversation. and after all our striving and figuring out, and trying to understand this existence comes to a close, we die alone.

yet not alone. we are surrounded by our memories of those who have come before us, and maybe, just maybe, we may find that the exact same people we lived with, already there, waiting on us. at least, that is my hope, some don't believe this, but Lost puts it in there and i like it.

the show was an awesome riff on Apokatastasis as everyone is together and reconsiled at the end. what we know is that there was a plane crash, people survived and lived together for a time. there is also a "side-ways universe" where they meet again and remember the island and everything that happened on it. it turns out that this place of meeting is an after-life, a place to reconnect and remember. and they move on from there.

this story gets us to ask many questions, and the questions we ask about "the island" are the exact questions we ask ourselves today. the main three at 1. what is the island? 2. why are they on it? 3. what happens when they leave? this can be translated to 1. what is existence? 2. why are we here? 3. what happens when we die? these are important questions... much like the ones Al raises on his most recent post.

i loved the "inclusio" in the finale. Lost started with an extreme close-up of Jack opening his eye and ended with him closing it. that was a bit of poetry and really stuck with me. great narrative move by the writers.

I like how this EWonline Article summed it up:
Lost is asking ''what if?'' What if our actions on this planet counted against some eternal reckoning? How does that possibility change things for you? If that possibility does inspire you to live a better life, then... how? And even before then, what is a ''better life''? Is it doing ''good''? But what is ''good''? Lost doesn't have answers for these questions and the others that they raise — it's just demanding that we ask them and discuss them. Together. Are we? Are you? Am I? Do you even have a choice? 
There is a lot to chew on. There are also many questions left unanswered, some of which aren't really all that important. what is important is the relationships formed during the time these people were alive. they were with each other on the journey, and still are. and they may forever be as far as we know.