Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Decemberween!

Love that Homestarunner!

Remember, Decemberween is inside all of us! So says all the nasty ol' puppets. But it's still not better than your hot cousin.

It's a real statement on what the season has become. Hopefully yours will be filled with friends and family and no one tell'n ya to "Shut up! To one and all o' dang y'all!"

Happy holidays to all!

how cool is that?!

Advent message from: David M. Griebner, Riverside UMC

"During Advent I have chosen to reflect on some gifts you cannot put on a credit card. Today’s message is about the gift of forgiveness. If I had the time I would love to ask each of you a question. Here’s the question: what do you do just because you are a follower of Jesus? What do you do that you really can’t explain to someone except to say, I did that because I love Jesus? It might be some act of kindness, or generosity, or perhaps could it be forgiveness? In many cases forgiveness is one of those things you just can’t explain. The world around us is much more about keeping score; forgiveness is about erasing the score. So I think forgiveness qualifies as something we might do just because we are following the way of Jesus."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What I learned my First Semester

Now that I’ve had a chance to process everything, I feel that I can truly reflect on this first semester. Like everything else in my life, I relate things to other things. In many cases, I relate things back to stories. Here I will relate my first semester with the movie The Matrix.

The film describes a future in which reality perceived by humans is actually the Matrix, a simulated reality created by sentient machines in order to pacify and subdue the human population while their bodies' heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. Upon learning this, computer programmer "Neo" is drawn into a rebellion against the machines.

To get out of the Matrix and into the “real world,” Neo has to choose weather to take the red pill or the blue pill. Morpheus says, “You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

The film as a whole and especially the choosing scene is deeply compelling. Why is the choice between what you believe you know and an unknown 'real' truth so fascinating? How could a choice possibly be made? On the one hand everyone you love and everything that you have built you life upon. On the other the promise only of truth. This first semester is this same invitation. We can take the blue pill and believe whatever we want to about faith, religion, and the Bible. Or we can take the red pill and wake up. Waking up presents a whole new realm of questions. We see the complexities of faith, religion, and the Bible. The red pill helps us wake up and realize that we’re in a matrix ourselves. We realize that we are in complex relationships and networks of beliefs. We are not an island, but plugged into culture and personal history. This realization is startling.

It is like the part in the movie where Morpheus says to Neo, “It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. The truth is that you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.”

We can become trapped in our assumptions about the world and react violently when they are challenged. We often make the assumption that our way is the best and only way. Seminary is causing us to look at these assumptions and realize that we filter things. We tend to hear what we want to and not necessarily what’s presented. Why take the red pill? Why then enter seminary?

The answer in short, is inquisitiveness. Many people throughout human existence have questioned and enquired. Most of them have not been scientists or doctors or philosophers, but simply ordinary people asking 'what if?' or 'why?' Asking these questions ultimately leads us to a choice. Do you continue to ask and investigate, or do you stop and never ask again? This in essence, is the question posed to Neo in the film.

So what are the advantages of taking the blue pill? As one of the characters in the film says, "ignorance is bliss" Essentially, if the truth is unknown, or you believe that you know the truth, what is there to question or worry about? By accepting what we are told and experience life can be easier. There is the social pressure to 'fit in', which is immensely strong in most cultures. Questioning the status quo carries the danger of ostracism, possibly persecution. This aspect has a strong link with politics. People doing well under the current system are not inclined to look favorably on those who question the system. Morpheus says to Neo "You have to understand that many people are not ready to be unplugged, and many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it." The system also has a place for you, an expected path to follow. This removes much of the doubt and discomfort experienced by a questioning person.

So if the arguments for the blue pill are so numerous, why take the red pill? Why pursue truth even though it may be unpalatable and the journey to it hard? In the film, Neo risks death to escape the virtual reality and discovers a brutal reality from which he cannot return. As he discovers the trouble with asking questions is that the answers are not necessarily what you want to hear. To justify taking the red pill we might ask what is the purpose of an ignorant existence? Further still, what is there in merely existing? Simply existing brings humans down to the level of objects; they might have utility or even purpose, but where is the meaning? Existence without meaning is surely not living your life, but just experiencing it. As Trinity says to Neo, "The Matrix cannot tell you who you are."

Seminary is teaching me to think in new ways. Sometimes I’m frustrated by the fact that others seem unwilling to do the same. I realize then that many people do not take joy in questions. They would rather be placated by answers, even if it were a false security. These blue pill takers may wish to seek the truth in a different way, or in a less mind jarring set of circumstances. They can choose the blue pill and not deny their consciousness, but to stop seeking the truth entirely would be to deny their consciousness.

As conscious minds we will always seek the truth. However, the choice over the red or blue pills is not solely a choice between whether to question or not, it is a personal choice on the method of discovering the truth. The question for me then is how to speak to the blue pill people from my position? How can I get people to understand that they are all plugged into a belief system, a culture, and a history? How best can I deal with my own and resist being realigned into another matrix?
These questions will drive my years here at seminary, and possibly the rest of my life.

I feel that Jesus is the Morpheus character calling us to transcend our limitations. Jesus wants to free our minds. His method is through loving God, neighbor and self. I really respond well with this message and hope to be a Neo in the cause.

Monday, December 17, 2007

CoExist comedy tour!

I gotta find out if this is coming to LTS. Maybe i can get the commitee on diversity to get these people here!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

To Clarify the Mountain

i want to be completely honest with you... The last post was loooong and i mentioned a group who I don't entirely know. I don't want to come across as targeting this particular group, i was just citing an example of the opposite of my thinking and this is what i found. Events in my life have called me to take a stance on this issue and it was by no means an all out attack on Xenos... merely they had something in writing that others were verbally saying in my immediate environment. On a reread, I think i came down hard on this particular church that is doing a great good for a large amount of people in the c-bus area, one that my sister gets a lot of joy out of... i hope this clarifies why i don't share their view.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a veitnamese buddhist, wrote the last post in a much shorter and better phrased way.

"Truth has no boundaries. Most of the boundaries we have created are artificial. Our differences may be mostly differences in emphasis.

You are born into your tradition, and naturally you become a Buddhist or Christian. Buddhism or Christianity is part of your culture and civilization.You are familiar with your culture and appreciate the good things in it. You may not be aware that in other cultures and civilizations there are values that people are attached to. If you are open enough, you will understand that your tadition does not contain all truths and values. It is easy to get caught in the idea that salvation is not possible outside your tradition. A deep and correct practice of your tradition may release you from that dangerous belief."

from Living Buddha, Living Christ pages 154-155.

My good buddy Ron emailed me that to show more of the relativity of mathmatics. He states, "I did however want to let you know that 1+1 is not always 2 in mathematics. Sometimes 1+1=0 in mathematics. How you ask? It's binary addition. It's what makes the switches and electronic stuff in your house work. Thought you might like that little bit of that inside information to blow your mind some more."

how cool is that?! yeah, not only do i have a reader, but he blew my mind! that is why the world is sooo cool to me. there's so many different ways of looking at something, why can't we rejoice in it? the world is not static and boring and is proof that a divine genius placed such an abundance before us. we should never be bored with our explorations. if i have other readers that don't share this view, feel free to comment! i'm open to all trains of thought.

i shall now end with Selections From The Bahai Writings on Peace that sound pretty close to my own Christian tradition:
“…Dedicate the precious days of your lives to the betterment of the world.”

"With the joyful tidings of light I hail thee: rejoice! To the court of holiness I summon thee; abide therein that thou mayest live in peace for evermore."

“The fundamental truth of the Manifestations is peace. This underlies all religion, all justice.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Can there be one way to God?

Sorry y'all.. you're getting two angry long posts right in a row. my last one was pretty firey and this one i fear is even worse. i never said that i would be happy ALL the time now did i? and seminary is hard and it makes my brain explode with ideas. i have trouble getting to sleep with all the thoughts my three brain cells are volley'n back and forth like some sad three way tennis match. but here it is in all it's glory! with lots of help in phrasing from a great book called The Phoenix Affirmations by Eric Elnes. it's a GREAT book and i've used most of what i remember about it here to help phrase the argument and terms...

I'm tired of being a "Christian But". Notice there is only one T in BUT. A "Christian But" is someone who says "I'm a Christian, BUT i belive homosexuals aren't evil, women are equal to men, i'm concerned with social justiceand global issues, (and the big one for me) i don't think that people who believe different from me are going to hell."

My idea is that there HAS to be more than one way to God. If God was so simple to have only one path to God, then this is a simple, black and white, and ultimately small god. This type of god is not one i'm willing to follow. To me, God is BIG! God made the earth and heavens and everything in it. God made every cell in my body as well as the stuff on Saturn or Pluto. God is universal. My belief in this is simple... it's commonly refered to as the MOUNTAIN VIEW of God. Here's the metaphor:

The major world religions are like hikers climbing up different sides of a mountain. Each tradition has discovered a unique route for reaching the top. In the case of Christianity and others, they have found a new route off of another established way up the mountain. Now while these hikers are climbing, they cannot necessarily see one another. individuals within the climbing parties may not even be aware that others are ascending the mountain. They think they alone are making the ascent. Yet when they reach the top, the climbers are surprised to find one another. Each party has reached the same goal by a different route. Here is where my deontology kicks in and says that all ethical routes reach the same moral end! the top of the mountain! all unethical routes cannot then reach the top (teleogy).

now people will try to accuse me of religious relativism. as stated in an article by a conservative columbus mega-church,
"Religious relativism is the belief that all religions are simply different perceptions of the same ultimate reality, or 'Many faiths are but different paths leading to one reality, God.' (DIFFERENT MOUNTAIN ROADS WHICH ALL LEAD TO SUMMIT)." this is found at

i really can't stand this. sure i have a bit of relativism in me... Einstein's theory of relativity generalises Galileo's principle of relativity — that all uniform motion was relative, and that there is no absolute and well-defined state of rest (no privileged reference frames) — from mechanics to all the laws of physics, including electrodynamics. To stress this point, Einstein not only widened the postulate of relativity, but added the second postulate that all observers will always measure the speed of light to be the same no matter what their state of uniform linear motion.

Okay.. even if you didn't get any of that, what it states is that where you are affects how you see things, HOWEVER, there is a truth or a constant by which to measure by. So i guess i could say that i'm a Religious Relativist through the school of Einstein. my constant then would be God.

the xenos website states: "The former (and biblical) definition of 'tolerance' made a distinction between people and their religious beliefs. It meant that people should have the legal freedom to practice the religion of their choice, and that you should personally respect and love them, even if you conclude that their beliefs are false. Today's 'tolerance' has removed the distinction between persons and their beliefs. It means that you must never call others' beliefs false or untrue, or you are an arrogant, intolerant bigot...No engineer says '8 + 32 = 40 or 8 + 32 = 53. Both answers are fine with me.' Would you want to trust a bridge this engineer built?"

I love this because it's a complete logical fallacy. they talk about what relativism is but then use strawmen and red herring tactics to defeat relativism without dealing directly, but that is another topic i could spend most of my life destroying. but let's keep to task here! A bigot, by its very definition, is a prejudiced person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles, or identities differing from his or her own. So yes, if you think someone else is untrue or wrong, then you are a bigot. Now you may see the double-speak here of "bigots are wrong because they call others wrong." Let me then add if one does not prove it logically invalid, then yes, a person is a bigot.

the website goes on to prove relativism is ignorant of logic by stating this funny math problem... i certainly would say that an answer is right and one is wrong due to the logic of mathematics.. now if we were talking about another situation, then i would have to look at the findings. what's the difference? well, in mathematics 1+1 is always 2. In other situations, say having a family, 1+1=3. or sometimes 1+1=2 or 3, and even 6! Depends on how many babies those two people produce, this is a question of genetics and fitness. and in Jesus' birth, these same people that shoot down relativism state that 0+1=2! seems like these people are selectively relative themselves.

now let's get on to the main bigoted statement against other faiths other than Christian from the website: "Therefore, the 'DIFFERENT MOUNTAIN ROADS WHICH ALL LEAD TO SUMMIT' analogy is simply untrue. The roads are on different mountains, they lead in fundamentally different directions and they end on completely different summits!"

last time i checked, Christianity was a monotheistic religion. meaning there is ONE God. Some people would state that there is just ONE TRUE GOD, the others are just idols. i would argue no, this argument by its very nature is polytheistic. it doesn't take into effect the gods that came before the Jewish god was ever thought of. so are those ideas of God wrong? No, our idea of God has evolved over time, due to our location and technology at hand. By this same argument, we then would still be on the losing side of the argument as our Christian God is actually the Jewish God in three parts. So who's right here? The Jewish one god of Yahweh, or the Chrisitian three-in-one God revealed through Jesus?

Could it be that God may allow for different routes, each with its own integrity? A Hindu may find a way to the top through withdrawl from the world, while a Christian may find it through immersion into the world on behalf of justice. Wouldn't God be in both places, if God is everywhere and created everything? Now a pure relativist will state "they're all just saying the same things. they're really no different." well no, they are REALLY different! The routes up the mountain engage different terrain, with different obstacles and challenges, different vistas, and different places of rest.

This illustates the fact that God's plan for the world is larger than our human minds can comprehend. Despite significant differences of approach to God, we are all included in God's love, which exceeds beyond our wildest imagination. Jesus states this in the bible as well.

JOHN 10:4-16 "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd."

Some believe this is for the conversion of other faiths to Christianity... but let's look at what Jesus is and is not saying. He refers to other adherents of other faiths (other sheep...) who ALREADY belong to him (I have...) and therefore when he calls them they will listen. Jesus isn't calling for these sheep to change shepherds, he is trying to get us to recognize that the human family is one flock, with one shepherd. What he is NOT saying is "different strokes for different folks" nor is he saying "anyone can worship the god of one's choice, it's all good, no matter what." Which faiths? They aren't identified. We may surmise that faiths that truly follow the ONE Shephred actively promote the love of God, neighbor, and self as Jesus did. Jesus also states that people shouldn't worry about what path others are on. He demonstrates time and time again throughout the Gospels for his disciples to concentrate on walking their own path and offering hospitality to those they meet on along the way... the Good Samaritan parable is the core here. Who is my neighbor? EVERYONE!

So given this, it is naive for a practitioner of any faith to claim that theirs is the only "true" path. Religions do this to garner power over those too fearful to think in this way. Now there is a difference between BEST path for a person to take, so long as this claim is on an individual level. i would hope that these travelers up the mountain investigated other paths before choosing to climb.. there's no shame in this.

Can we claim which paths are rabbit trails or authentic? A quick test is to look at the measure of love of God, neighbor or self. But how could we really with any integrity? It would be like a climber speaking with authority about paths on the other side of the mountain that he has never been on. The climber may read about these paths in books... or have talked to another climber on the other side. This then, would prove to the climber that all paths seem to be heading to the same place. But any serious climber knows that only those who have climbed the path can speak with authority about where it leads and how it gets there. once again, to say that there are "other mountains" is a poly-mountain idea.. i'm only talking in a mono-mountain context.

If people of other faiths want to swap faithful stories of their path and journey up the mountain, then great! In fact, i get a better handle on my faith when i hear these stories. If people of other faiths with whom we are in dialogue decide to convert to our path as a result of this sharing, fine! However, conversion is not the ultimate purpose here of interfaith dialogue. Sharing the joy and wisdom gleaned from our climbing experience is.

Happy Climbing!

Monday, December 03, 2007

For the Bible Tells Me So

A 5th grade understanding of God is okay... if you're in the 5th grade!

We had an LGBT week here at LTS! I'm excited and glad to be at a place that is both welcoming and affirming. I would point to an exciting transcript of Mark Jordan's speech entitled "The Witness of LGBT Christians."

The last post was a crazy angry one.. but this is part of the deal! it's hard and lots of ideas to process. i'm still making sense of things as well.. but i'm slowly coming to a systematic theology, that is getting the vocabulary to express my belief system. that will come in time.. and a big part of the base of the belief will come next week! so i'll hope you'll stick around for that! hope all is well out there! keep rawk'n!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I live for new ideas! I love other perspectives. I’m getting large dosages of both in and outside of class. Seminary is awesome. I really enjoy it here because I’m constantly challenged and engaged. I love MS106 because I can hear the stories of others and I absolutely love it. I go through my week giddy with all these things I’m learning.

We learn a lot of terms and concepts here but the biggest overall thing that I’m learning is responsibility. Religion, the Bible, and life in general for that matter is very complicated. It is irresponsible for people to overlook these complications to get what they want out of a text. Two groups that come immediately to mind are the fundamentalists and the atheists.

These groups are two vastly different approaches that share the same irresponsibility. The fundamentalists read the Bible literally and ignore all the other methods and even the tradition and history that spawned the Bible. They get what they want out of it. The atheists do much the same thing. They ignore all the criticisms and methods and just label all religion as “Hocus Pocus.” Both methods are irresponsible, as they take no steps away from what the groups comfort zones.
I think this is directly linked to comfort. This is a comfort that starts with a hunch and will not further explore it for fear of having to change. A dude in my class added "apathy” to this concept, and I too will add this in saying that these people do not want to challenge their worldviews and are apathetic about doing so.

Atheist i have less of a problem with however. they seem to be resisting worshipping a false idol... they have no idols! well, there's always the idol of self, consumerism, etc. but as jose miguel bonino said in his book Room to be People "Only a atheist can be a good Christian." of course both of these groups that i have problems with are presented much more simply here for brevity's sake and i realize that there's a larger more nuanced issue at hand, but this is a quick explanation of what i'm struggle'n with.

As I see it, we have a duty to study and find our way through the world, we have a responsibility to the world. I know my strong and weak points in learning. I know I’ll struggle with Greek and Hebrew as this is wrote memorization. I know my strong points are concepts and theologies. If I can play with concepts and apply them to other things, I have no problem learning. I guess I’m a process learner as I must learn through relationships. I might not have agreed with Plantinga in Theology 101, but I understand him and where he’s coming from. I cannot understand where fundamentalists are coming from.

It would be irresponsible of me to say that I do not have a comfort zone as well. I take great comfort in this seminary. I take comfort that people are looking at the Bible, are struggling and debating. I respect the work involved. I am depressed when people will not take these steps, either by literally reading (or reading into the Bible the words they want to hear) or by not reading it at all. Either way, no further steps are taken to get the story IN the text as well as the story OF the text or to put it another way, the story the text tells and then the story of how that text came about and was written. I am ready for more, keep the challenges coming.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tastes like Liberty

Hey Y'all!

With all this reading from women's Bible commentary and thinking and such, i think i'm forgetting what it means to be a man... so i found this reminder!

happy turkey-ween everybody! remember, don't be a jerky, fry that turkey!

Monday, November 19, 2007

List 'em!

Lots of work to do... so i thought i'd post early this week and hit y'all up again on Friday or something. but here's some Head off the Neck Revelations:

TaNaK not settled in Jesus time. The TaNaK and C.A.T. were pretty settled as of the 4th Century. so the Scriptures and Testaments were settled around the same time! sorta.

The Jewish People have been ruled by another empire through most of their culture's history. There were a handful of independence periods between being ruled by the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. This is the foundation that the Scriptures are narratives of identity not a "history" as we would think of it.

After the second Jewish Revolt around 132-135 C.E. Jerusalem was sacked. It would not be the center of religion until the 20th century, and this was a christian idea to restablish it! Not saying that the Jewish people didn't hold the area in high esteem, as every passover they pray for the return to Jerusalem... but it was the Christians who began to investigate the region around WWI. and those reasons were mainly looting dig sites as only christians can do... ;-)

After WWII, the area was resettled for the nation of Israel. The Palestinian/Israeli conflict is not ancient grudge war, but very recent! Now i still side with Israel as they've legally owned the land and have defeated many nations attacking them and to the victor go the spoils. but this is not an ancient conflict by any means.

and finally.. the Pharisees held all writtings sacred of the TaNaK. The Saducees held only the Torah as sacred. The Pharisees therefore believed in the messiah and in the ressurection of the body and soul and the Saducees didn't. So Jesus would have been a Pharisee!!! who woulda guessed

also i'm beginning to take a whole other look at the Bible and Jesus and such. if you take the historical context of when something was written, you get a much deeper meaning from the texts. like leviticus (that book everyone loves to hate!) was not written by moses! it's dated in the post-exilic Babylonian times so around 5 or 6th century BCE. that sheds a whole new meaning on these texts!

also Jesus tends to be more politically active than at first glance.. like His death for example. ppl try to say pilate was trying to get Jesus off the hook and it was the Jews that killed Jesus.. but if the Jews would have they would have stoned Jesus.. Crucifixtion is a Roman way of killing and humiliating POLITICAL enemies and pilate never hesitated to kill ANYONE! there is a historical report of pilate sending in roman centurions on a peacful sit in protest of orthodox jews. all of the protesters were tortured and their heads were put on pikes on the city wall. so when jesus says "And Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at Him." in Mark 12:17.. He was prolly saying "Give praise to God and a Knife to Caesar" hense the reason ppl were amazed at Jesus's audacity to proclaim such a thing... and don't get me started on LUKE 8:30!!!! that is nothing but a political rant!

anywho.. more later!

Monday, November 12, 2007

All These Things That I've Done

So we're closing out the first semester of seminary and holy crap, what a start! I've absolutely love it here in seminary. i feel like a squirrel on crack! speaking of which, what would a squirrel preacher look like? i just get excited by the word excited anymore. and no, not in that way you sicko! so what's been happening?!

well first off Jason and Lindsay finally got married! and what a shin-dig! talk about your fancy-schmancy parties. kate and i had a blast and it was great to see all of J&L's friends!

I must say that i equate the first semester to just getting our facts straight. the whole first semester is challenge'n our base assumptions as to what the bible and religion in general mean to us as well as what we expect from both. this is happen'n both inside and outside the classroom. i'm grateful to have this challenge as complexity and change is what i live for.

some new friends include an ex-EMT, a college prof from VT, a couple of cute halloweenies like myself, a earthy-Christian, one heck of a smart library guy who shares kate's and my love of BATTLESTAR, and too many others to mention here. it is very rewarding and i don't want to think of where i'd be without these ppl.

so to sum up my experience in a video, it'd have to be this to demostrate how i feel as i go through these deconstructionalist, post-modern processes with my new friends (and Kate of course!)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

CMAs, Scary Stories, and GOBLINS!

So I told my Ma that i don't like today's country and said i wouldn't be watching the CMA's. but kate and i checked it out and then barely turned the channel. we really loved carrie underwood's song "so small" i couldn't find a good copy of the song, but here's a cover.

we also liked Taylor Swift! This song really brought us back to being bf & gf!

so Ma's pretty smart! Although we still can't stand Sugarland.. sounds like the lady swallowed a cat and is try'n unsuccessfully to bring it back up. and the guy who sings "these are my ppl" is boring and i'm not a fan of these types of songs. YAY US! YOU GUYS DON'T KNOW SO QUIT ACT'N LIKE YOU DO type songs suck. so yay for the rest of country music! also Kitchen Nightmares is like TV Crack Goodness!

Here's random videos to recap some past events that i'd like to share:

Here's Kate telling me a scary story for halloween:

Just when you think that getting stairs for your dog is the best invention ever, here comes the trump card!

Kate and i have so much trouble with Zerrag, but since we got the Goblin Steps, all is well in the world!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Doctrinal Conclusions of Process Theology

So here's the break down of where process stands on the issues.

Process Creation
Everything is related to everything else. Evolution plays a HUGE part here. This is evidence of God's urging through out history of world and specifically in the origin and adaptation of species. finally! a theology that gets that there is no real conflict b/t science and religion! gotta love that!

Process Humanity
We are just like everything else, relational, free, and changing. They have a high sense of body mind connection.. yoga, health, fitness are impt. here.

Doctrine of Sin
refusal to listen to God's urging. This stems from scared to listen as it might shake things up AKA FEAR! or just a straight counter to God's urging. Goes right along with the saying "the death you choose is often worse than the death you avoided". Plus it doesn't help that the universe has a bad past of choosing to go with God's will.

Jesus counteracts all bad-examples. He was the first human to always say yes to everything God urged him to do. So we at our best day only obey God's will like 20% but Jesus did it 100% everytime and every day.

This looks at Jesus as 100% human as well. If Jesus was already divine and didn't have sin in him, then Jesus conquering sin is really a false victory. In the traditional view, there's really nothing to write home about Jesus beating sin since he never had it to begin with... and since we're human it's really an unrealistic goal to strive for. Process ramps up this and says we too can become like Christ who was in harmony with God's will. Therefore the incarnation is affirmed not only in Jesus but also in all of us as well.

Jesus transgresses boundaries for inclusivity's sake as well. He speaks to lepers, romans, tax collectors, and women, all of which are no-no's in ancient Palestine (and not just the Jewish culture, most cultures in the area during the first century).

Another big difference to note here is that Jesus isn't a sacrifice.. God doesn't need appeasement nor substitutionary sacrifice. God loves all and wants harmony and never wanted Jesus to die. This was a scape-goat method by the Romans to silence a dangerous political usurper. So there is no atonement here, it was an unfortunate death.

Final Thoughts
The main aim is that life is an adventure and that we move from the threat of stagnation to the ever-increasing enrichment of life that change brings. Chaos is a danger as the world becomes more complex and more things can go wrong. But the prospect of increased enjoyment is well worth the risk. Humans are intuitive, empathic, relational, and embodied. Feeling produces thought and action. Jesus saves us from stagnation and transformes our lives to ones of greater relationality, freedom, and openess to change.

i am just starting down this path, so let me know if you, dear reader, have any questions. we'll explore them together!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Process continued: Wiki!

Lots of reading to do this week, so here's a cop out.. i mean more about Process Theology!!!

Here's what Wiki has as the tenents of Process Theology:

God is not omnipotent in the sense of being coercive. The divine has a power of persuasion rather than coercion. Process theologians interpret the classical doctrine of omnipotence as involving force, and suggest instead a forbearance in divine power. "Persuasion" in the causal sense means that God does not exert unilateral control.

Reality is not made up of material substances that endure through time, but serially-ordered events, which are experiential in nature. These events have both a physical and mental aspect. All experience (male, female, atomic, and botanical) is important and contributes to the ongoing and interrelated process of reality.

The universe is characterized by process and change carried out by the agents of free will. Self-determination characterizes everything in the universe, not just human beings. God cannot totally control any series of events or any individual, but God influences the creaturely exercise of this universal free will by offering possibilities. To say it another way, God has a will in everything, but not everything that occurs is God's will.

God contains the universe but is not identical with it (panentheism, not pantheism or pandeism). Some also call this "theocosmocentrism" to emphasize that God has always been related to some world or another.

Because God interacts with the changing universe, God is changeable (that is to say, God is affected by the actions that take place in the universe) over the course of time. However, the abstract elements of God (goodness, wisdom, etc.) remain eternally solid.

Charles Hartshorne believes that people do not experience subjective (or personal) immortality, but they do have objective immortality because their experiences live on forever in God, who contains all that was. Others believe that people do have subjective experience after bodily death.

Dipolar theism, is the idea that God has both a changing aspect (God's existence as a Living God) and an unchanging aspect (God's eternal essence).

The rest can be found here.

The big name in Process is Rabbi Harold Kushner and his book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Also John Cobb, William Sloane Coffin, and Rabbi William E. Kaufman are worth checking out.

and homestarrunner's halloween toon is up! it's a 1,000 times better than last years. and katie burke is still a floozie.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!! eat your fluffy-puff marshmallows!

Friday, October 26, 2007

An Intro to Process Theology

"Fundamentalism in all it's varieties--Christian (protestant or catholic), Islamic, Jewish-- all appears to be based on fear: fear of the universe, fear of science, fear of the lose of self, fear of nothingness and Aquinas observes that "all fear derives us from love."
--Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality, liberating gifts for the peoples of the earth.

Process theology is my new thing. i absolutely love it. i love it because it rejects fear! Fox states "to be a person of faith is to be a person of trust. No religion based on fear can lay claim to following Jesus." Process Theology is the complete opposite of what ppl think when they think of Christianity. It is not fearful, judgemental, nor is it duelistic. You do not have to leave your brain at the door when going to church. In fact, process requires SO much thinking that most people are too lazy to attempt it.

I'm learning about process theology in my theology class. I have read the Fox book as well as God, Christ, Church: A Practical Guid to Process Theology by Marjorie Suchocki and Proverbs of Ashes by Rita Brock and Rebecca Parker. From my basic understanding, this is what i've felt about the nature of reality all my life.

here are the basic tenets: Reality is Relational, Free, and Changing. Can you describe yourself without using a relationship? Process says no, you can't. Even by saying you have black hair means that you do not have brown or blonde hair. this is relational. Hense, there is no inner you! You are a microcosm of relationships, you are like an onion, all layers, no core. we are like Shrek when he insists he's an onion, and donkey says that he's a parfait. We are the conjunction, a network of people, places, and things.

In these relationships, we have the ability to focus on some over others so that these 'chosen relationships' have greater impact than others. for example, i was constantly told i was gothic and affected except for my gma and uncle scott who said i was funny and creative. one day i just decided to focus on the imput from my gma and uncle scott.. mainly cause the chicks dig happy, chicks don't dig moody (at least at TCC they didn't). Free will is very important and this is what grounds agency.

and because of this shifting focus on relationships, this means that everything changes. perminence is an illusion.

This is a post-modernist thought base. relationships are internal (they do not exist on their own outside from us). we are free in an contextual environment. we are more likely to choose the majority imput alhtough we have the freedom to choose less likely.

in this, ALL things have freedom. you the reader, your computer, your chair that you're sitting, the subatomic partical, your body's cells are all free. however there are degrees of freedom. your chair could dematerialize from underneith you.. however it has a history and all it's imputs are telling those particals to stay put. so the likelyhood of this is very slim. however this explains cancer and other malidies. some ppl ask "why has God done this to me!" well, God franky didn't have anything to do with it! It was the cells that choose their freedom to multiply, not God.

So God in this theology is also relational. God is not the all-powerful, sovereign judge of yore. If things are truly free, then God can't make anything do something it doesn't want to. God doesn't have the power over freedom. God suggest and coaxes and God's will is for harmony in diversity and complexity. So sin in this theology is ignoring God's will and choosing something counter to that. The good news here is that while God isn't all powerful, God has more power than anything else. There are no guarantees. If the world wanted to blow itself up (as it seems to be doing), God will ask it not to, but the world can ignore this and blow up. But process has a cautious optimism when it comes to the future, since God can influence things into harmony.

In the next post i'll tackle where process stands on creation, humanity, sin, and it's Christology. stay tuned won't you?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What Do We Call This?!: Thoughts on renaming the Hebrew and Christian scriptures

This is a paper i wrote from my OT112 class. I have since edited it and clarified some spots... hope you enjoy!

There are too many Bibles in the world. If we look at just the arrangement of the books there are at least four different Bibles. The Jewish Canon, the Roman Catholic Canon, the Orthodox Canon, and the Protestant Canon all include books arranged differently to further certain agendas. There are also translation issues that multiply these four canons to an uncountable number of Bibles.

There are as many Bible translations as there are languages. There are also specific translations in these Bibles as to the exact wording, Kings James or New International Bible or Everett Fox translations for example. In all of these translations the Bible never gives itself a name (Williamson 106).

Other book collections do not have this problem. One would simply title their work “The Collected Works of So-and-So,” or one could logically put the overarching theme as the title. The problem is that no two groups can agree on what exactly the Bible’s theme is. To the Jews, everything points toward the Torah. For Christians, everything points to the cross. These two groups are theologically at odds with each other. To make matters worse, the Christian faith groups cannot agree on a theme, hence the various denominations of Catholic and Protestant.

People attach a great deal of political and emotional weight to these books. We cannot just name the first collection the “Great Escape,” nor can we name the second one “The Empire Strikes Back.” There is too much religious sentiment riding on the Bible, so using a catchy title will not do for this sacred text.

So how can we pick a title that everyone will agree on? How can we pick a title that people do not judge? How can these groups with different agendas co-exist with the same texts? Christian struggle internally with these questions to come to terms with the role of the Jews and Judaism in Christian theology (Schramm par. 4).
Christians must work to avoid the theology of adversus Judaeos. In the book Has God Rejected His People?, Clark M. Williamson states that “against the Jews’ theology is an apologetic argument in the support of the claim that Christianity has superseded Judaism” (90). Against the Jews’ theology is defined in two ways:

1. Rejection/Election theology—Gods reject Jews and therefore “elects” Christians as the new people of the covenant
2. Inferiority/Fulfillment theology—Jews are inferior to God’s plan and through Jesus, Christians fulfill God’s plan (90).

Jews are very aware of the “New Testament.” This book is Christianity’s claim that the ritual demands of the Scripture are abolished (Schramm par. 8). Christianity’s founding fathers have cited the New Testament many times to attack Judaic theology (Williamson 90). With the way that Christians have arranged both testaments, the New Testament is dependent on the Hebrew Scriptures. William Johnson Everett states in his article “Renaming scripture - Old Testament or Hebrew Bible?” that “Judaism can no longer be understood apart from Christianity, not only because Christian oppression so deeply shaped the development of Judaism, but because through the expansion of Christianity the whole world has come to know the peculiar witness of the people of the ‘Old Testament’” (73).

The traditions are so intertwined it is impossible to separate the two without harming the other. Judaic and Christian theologies are like conjoined twins who violently disagree on many issues. One twin argues that there are three major parts of the body: the Torah, Nevi’im, and the Ketubim (and the latter supports the former). The other twin not only disagrees but suffers from schizophrenia and reorders the first’s order of organs while adding a few other organs. So in the end there is one big confused mess. We have one schizo twin that is dragging the other half around claiming the same origins. But the situation is not as hopeless as it seems. I feel that acknowledging the individual twins’ agendas and motivations would be defining factors as to what to call the Scriptures.

My solution would be to give each separate grouping of a particular religion’s Scriptures a name. The overall name for both Jewish and Christian Bibles simply would be The Bible or more politically correct, The Scriptures. The Jews could call their Scriptures the TaNaK or Jewish Bible or something similar. The Christians will then acknowledge their own rearrangement of the Jewish order of the books, since they are indeed arranged to fit a certain agenda. The name I would use for the Protestant Old Testament would be the Protestant Agenda Scriptures or P.A.S., and the New Testament would be the Protestant Agenda Testament or P.A.T. The Catholics in turn have C.A.S. and C.A.T. and the Orthodox O.A.S. and O.A.T. This fulfills the Christian embrace of acronyms and manages to pay proper respect to the Judaic tradition without belittling it. To argue for the Protestant names specifically, pas in Spanish means peace and to pat someone is usually a sign of respect and to show affection. It is perfect for my Protestant tradition because peace is love and love brings peace.

Realistically this would never work. For religions to gain members they must argue that it is God’s agenda they are following and promoting, not their own. Some might also say that this phrasing paints Christianity in a bad light compared to Judaism. The reality here is that we cannot afford to continue the use of “Old” and “New” Testaments due to the history of Judaic abuse at the hands of Christians. These types of characterizations of the testaments have led to many abuses like supersessionism and claims of inferiority that were manifested in the Holocaust (Williamson 105). We do not have the vocabulary yet to get across the ideas and histories that these Scriptures contain, but we must work to get it.

We must be accurate and give each separate Bible a different name. We must recognize that there is not one from of Christianity and that even our selection of Bibles differ. We also must recognize Christianity's dependence and history of disreguard for the Jewish religion. We must strive for a vocabulary that can do all of this and I know i'm not the one to do it.

Works Cited

Everett, William Johnson "Renaming scripture - Old Testament or Hebrew Bible? - Column". Christian Century. Oct 29, 1997. 02 Oct. 2007.

Schramm, Brooks. “Uncertain Terms: the Title of the First Volume of the Christian Bible”. Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies, Autum 2000. Moodle. Lancaster Theological Seminary, Philip Schaff Lib. 2, Oct. 2007.

Williamson, Clark M. Has God Rejected His People? Anti-Judaism in the Christian Church. Nashville, Tennisee: Abington Press, 1982; 89-105

Monday, October 15, 2007

Further Down the Rabbit Hole

I feel like i didn't go far enough with explaining the Bible and it's formation. The whole point is that the formation is very complicated. So much so that some things will seem alien or counter to what we've been traditionally taught.

let's name my primary assumption. the Bible is worth reading and investigating it's origin. This collection of works has been cited throughout history. some would say it is the backbone of western culture, so i would say it's pretty influential. so what is the bible?

it is not a history book as it doesn't match up with other histories in the areas directly. it doesn't mention a lot of heavy hitters that influenced it... like alexander the great! he's sort of a big deal in the history of the region, but the bible does not mention him although most of the prose in it is a direct greek immitation.

it is more than a hallmark of literature. most like the entire cultures of Jewish, Christian, and Muslims would agree that it's God's dealing with people over the ages. this is the world viewed theologically.

the Bible is very fuild. some books were already written and being copied and distributed while others were being written. it was not circulated between two covers but as individual scrolls. communities had differing stories. even though some had the same stories, there were differences between those! some scrolls were widely distributed early and then died off and vice versa.

for example the Christian Testament pretty much had the 4 gospels and 10 Pauline letters widely distributed. James, 2&3 Peter, and Revelations struggled early but made it into the final canon. Barnabus and the Apocalypse of Peter started early but didn't make it to the canon. however the ideas stayed around and Dante's Inferno was written based on the Apocalypse of Peter.

The Bible started to stabilize for both Christians and Jews in the 4th century. Cananizations not up to a small group but it was rather inclusive. large segment of communities that already held scrolls to be central, holy, or authoritative. there was also a typical Middle Eastern process that puts differing and contradictory traditions into a single book. Just ready Numbers and then Deuteronomy or Paul and James and you'll know that there's a lot of stuff that doesn't stack up easily in the Bible. This is a huge problem for fundies who read the Bible 100% literally. This fact makes a literal interpretation of the Bible impossible because it's not build on linear thinking. it's built on Jewish non-linear thought. It is built so that different groups can form their own canons out of the Canon.

the dead sea scrolls confirm this whole process. the dead sea scrolls are pretty much the entire TaNaK (what we would call the "old" testament, but more on this later) with the exception of Esther. There are also more additions to certain books like Daniel and Numbers. This really is the most important find in the 20th century for biblical studies and has lead to the revision of the Bible many times.... and yes... the BIBLE is being CHANGED! even today!

so in conclusion, i'll restate my stance on the Bible. THe Bible is complex in it's reading and in it's formation. The Bible, I would argue, is not without errors. There are a ton of questionable translations since Hebrew is a pun-based sometimes vowel-less language. the copying of this book isn't perfect and any bible scholar worth their salt will admit this. I do believe the bible to be infallable. i do believe there there is enough in the Bible that it will never let you down if you're looking for an answer. this is also the reason people can be pro-choice or pro-life and be scriptually supported for either stance.

keep it tuned! up next: What to call the Old Testament!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

a religion of questions

Seminary will shatter your faith! well, it will at least challenge it at it's very core. questions about the true nature of God, how the bible was formed, and even the history of christianity... many ppls views on all of these issues have drastically altered in the past few weeks.. for me it was more of a confirmation of things i've suspected over the years.

did you know that the first five books of the bible has at least 4 authors? this explains the two creation stories i mentioned a few weeks back. this also explains how when you're reading the bible, stories will start over or be interrupted in the middle. the bible is actually many traditions spliced together.

the bible didn't fall out of the sky and was complete cover to cover. it was a long process of passing around scrolls and these were never in a particular order. plus it wasn't until much much later that anyone decided to put a cover on these stories anyway! so the order of the stories even to which stories got in is up for debate. there were never a room full or rabbis or priests who decided which books go where, it was mainly through popular concensus that the bible was ever formed. so despite what most consiracy theorist tell you, or what the DaVinci Code would have you believe, a vote was never taken on the bible.

when things were translated from hebrew and greek into latin, The Vulgate, this set the stage for what books were in and which were out. so one man, named Jerome, pretty much decided what made it and what didn't.

so who cares? well just think of the theological implications of this. where is God in all of this? this is something i challenge you to answer for yourselves.

what i am proposing here is that we start to develop a religion of questions. i was asked recently about how i deal with all of these "faith shattering revelations" and i said that it fit my religion of questions. even when i get an answer i question that. the person then said that it seemed like i'd never get any answers... i said that this type of religion always keeps one engaged and active. religion is not just something one should do on sunday, it should be a week long, hourly process.

that's all for now! coming up later this month is a spotlight on the jewish christian relationship (including a post concerning what we should call the old testament), a halloween special, and hopefully a video post if kate and i ever get around to doing it.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Not getting much sleep recently due to the papers.. here's what i've started using drugs to help! aaah... drugs.. they're my new god now! (hi Jimmy! :-))

also found here

i however see Denny, a 17ft allosuarus... however that's nothing new. Denny's been chill'n with my since elementry school.. i think he's still dating his high school sweetheart Erin B.!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

What the BLEEP am I talking about?!

What the Bleep Do We Know!? (also written What tнe⃗ #$*! Dө ωΣ (k)πow!? and What the #$*! Do We Know!?) is a controversial 2004 film that combines documentary interviews and a fictional narrative to posit a connection between science and spirituality.(from wiki)

Did you know that our brains’ neurological set ups are based on what emotions we experience on a daily basis? Our brain networks our synapses in response to daily stressors. So if we’re angry or frustrated or happy at certain times of the day our brain connects to respond to these emotions. The problem in this is this wiring is very hard to undo and is already set up even if the stressors aren’t there. This leads to all sorts of habits, emotional problems and even addictions.

Here's The Addiction Clip:

Some other ideas discussed in the film are:
+The universe is best seen as constructed from thought (or ideas) rather than from substance.
+What has long been considered "empty space" is anything but empty.
+Our beliefs about who we are and what is real are not simply observations, but rather form ourselves and our realities.
+Peptides manufactured in the brain can cause a bodily reaction to an emotion, resulting in a new perspective to old adages such as "think positively" and "be careful what you wish for."

Also it talks about the power of intention and prayer in one's life. there was a study about how water on a molcular level would react to prayer and meditation with very conclusive results! the movie states that if observing water changes its molecular structure, and if we are 90% water, then by observing ourselves we can change at a fundamental level via the laws of quantum physics! pretty cool stuff!

how often have i said science and religion are not fundamentally opposites?! i have always argued that they do infact share the same basic operating question, how does the world work and why are we here? we won't reach this question through just one lens... we will have to use both the lens of science and religion to gain any ground on these questions.

anyway.. this movie is a mind bender! go check it out!

Rule of Three
Movie: See above

Book: Engaging God's World- Plantinga

Music: Omega Love great band from pittsburg that my fellow seminarian Cathy turned me onto! great loungie, nora jones-esque sound with some electronica thrown in for good measure.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Eras of Thinking

OT112 is my intro to the old testament class. it is quickly becoming a favorite. i really enjoy my theology class but this one is just awesome! it's amazing what a huge load of impressions and biases we bring when we read the hebrew bible.

Val asks me every Sunday "what was the fav. thing you learned this week?!" and then listens to me babble (much like you are reading this babble dear reader). either by loving and wonderful sister is really interested or she's really good a faking but i don't really care because it's a nice question and it shows that she supports me and is at least interested.. or has the courtesy to fake interest ;-)

so here's my favorite brain candy from last week! i learned about the three eras of biblical interpretation/philosophical thought.

before we start some would claim that the bible is a self-interpreting book. if that was so we'd have no ministers nor seminaries nor commentaries or arguments about the bible. the bible always had to be intrepreted. here's how:

1.)Pre-Modern Thought cira 100 c.e.
scriptures have multiple levels of meaning and there's no one way to do it but the bottom line is that all scripture is good to and supports the church.
Famous Dudes: Augustine, Origen

2.) The Enlightenment Modernism peak at 1600-1700s c.e.
bible is a rational book. Spinoza summed it up best with "Things happened in natural laws. what is contrary to nature is contray to reason. anything contrary was added by irreligious hands." adds the natural and social sciences into the study of the bible. period where the historical/literary criticisms develop. this periods thought belives TRUTH is an independent entity, just see the famous literature written at this time... the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

"The modern mind assumes that knowledge is certain, objective, and good. in principle, knowledge is accessible to the human mind" -Stanley Grenz

3.) Post-Modern 1940s-present
"Morning after Modern" people are no longer convinced that knowledge is inherently good and the universe is not mechanistic. reality is realitive, indeterminate, and participatory. Quantum Physics= everything is realitive.

so this was pretty cool way of looking at how the bible has been thought of and how humanity has come along in it's thinking. this also leads into the very nature of the Bible... is it a codebook (i.e. literal) or casebook (i.e. open ended). there is an article i read that argues that it's a casebook. a codebook requires precision, example from construction: one build-to-code, exact no straying from it. a casebook requires reflection and application. i take this stance as a casebook can take a series of examples and reflect a variety of responses under varied circumstances. it is this open-ended application that makes the bible such a holy book and such a long lasting tool for people.

this also leads to the very nature of the bible.. is it a history or collection of stories to help an exiled people define their identity? more on this later!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Theological Worlds

This past week we had an intensive introduction to seminary life which culminated in a retreat. All during this week we were challenged to be open to other methods of practice and "doing" religion. We did so by visiting churches and LOTS of class discussion and self-reflection. I loved it!

A prime component of all of this was our "Theological Worlds Test". There is a book by a hermit called Theological Worlds: Understanding the Alternative Rhythms of Christian Belief by W. Paul Jones which stipulates that all religions and reasons why people are drawn to particular Churches is that we are driven by a certain primal fear. So the way we see the world and interact in it is all based on what "world" we happen to reside in.

This is a great, ministry-changing idea as it helps one understand where ppl are coming from. it explains why particular ideas, sermons, bible passages, hymns, etc. resonate with some and not with others. All of these worlds are scriptural represented and supported. here is a quick run down:

World One: Orphan-- primal fear: all is not well! this is not my true home!
Life is: journey home to a place of protection. Heaven!
God is: loving parent, ultimate security (rock of ages)
Jesus is: link between here and "home/heaven", divine window
Church is: described in family images, a warm place.
Preachers act surrogate parents of God's family
Pop Culture Reference: Wizard of Oz (this isn't Kansas!)

World Two: Crusader-- primal fear: could be happy here, someone screwed it up! systemic injustice the real problem of the world. get rid of the "-isms" we can have heaven on earth! Heaven not important, now is paramount.
God seen as: coach, motivational energy to fight the fight.
Jesus is: social prophet, political agitator
Church is: a task force, change agent, a prophetic community
Preachers are like Martin Luther King JR, political activists
Pop Culture Reference: Rage Against the Machine

World Three: Adventurer-- primal fear: boredom! positive note sounds more loudly here in this world. it's largely optimistic and problematic spots of humanity are accidental. Harmonious world where you take care of yourself is taking care of others
God is: Energy, spirit, moving, motion, not stable!
Jesus is: not savior, more like a guide
Church is: education, spiritual recharging station
Preachers are exciting, challenging, and answer questions with more questions! the education aspect is really highlighted here.
Pop Culture Reference: The Simpsons (not linear plot, more wondering and covering lots of topics in one episode)

World Four: The Sinner--primal fear: moral and spiritual failure of humanity. Most thought of world when thinking of Christianity.
life is as test and trial. humanity is fallen/bad!
God is: the judge and will convict but not sentence
Jesus is: the sacrifice, enabler of forgiveness, SAVIOR
Church is: proclaiming community, worshiping
Preachers are role models for community.
Pop Culture reference: Jerry Falwell/Televangelists

World Five: Wounded Healer-- primal fear: shit happens, nothing you can do about it. you will die, life is tragedy. hope is that through other ppl an intimate bond will happen and God cares and empathizes with us.
God is: compassion and empathy
Jesus is: EMMANUEL! (God with us) and paramount as Jesus is the ultimate paradox. God knows through Jesus on the cross what it feels like to be abandoned by God.
Church is: intimate sharing, a big support group.
Preachers are pastoral councilors and role models of compassion
pop culture references: Mother Teresa, alcoholics anonymous, Fight Club

Here's the test for you to test yourself and see what worlds you score in. it's not digital and you have to sum up your scores all on your own, but it's worth it.

I scored high in worlds 3, 1, and 2. The thing about these worlds is that no one has the corner on the market. each one is just as valid as the others. so even though i didn't score high in world 5 or at all in the sinner world doesn't discount them. in fact our class was all over the board.

ministry is messy. what we're challenged as preachers to do is recognize these worlds and do our best to reach all worlds as best we can. what we need to strive for as ministers is to keep all these worlds in dialogue with each other as one can see the potential conflict that could come out of one holding onto their world and actively attacking the others.

So this whole process was definately a HONR! i really opened my eyes to what it means to be a minister as well as why there are so many churches with so many different ways of doing things. It explains alot about the world of religion but it also leaves open a HUGE question which would be "what way is right?" the answer is more questions! critical thinking! they are all valid and the world is a wide open place.

so how does my three interact? something like this:
something is wrong with the world, this is not my home--orphan
this wrong is partly systematically imposed and the -isms aren't helping--crusader
but these three dimentions are enjoyable despite these wrongs--adventurer
there are dimensions that get it right--orphan
we need to work to establish these dimensions here--crusader
by enjoying each other and the world at large--adventurer.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Does your job exist?

There will be two posts this week! one now and one on thursday!

there are many things that freak me out about becoming a minister. the first being the fear that ppl will think that i think that i'm holier than they are/thous arts. i assure you dear reader, kate, ma, megan, burrito, nick, and karen and all my other buddies will make sure that i stay humble. (just see the myspace photos and tagged facebook pix for proof).

i see my role not as a leader but as a guide. i just think i 'feel God' more than the average joe. that doesn't make me better.. a little more intuitive.. or crazy. but not better.

the second thing that freaks me out is the fact that ppl debate whether my future job exists. no one ever debated the existence of Armstrong tiles, Georgia Pacific paper-less drywall, and DeWalt tools. No one debates the existence of law, just its application. no one debates val's job as an admin. buying assistant at rod's western palace. but everyone debates the core of my job.

Is there a God?

for me, the answer is yes. if it's different from your answer, that's cool. if your answer is yes, it's Allah/Yaweh/Jesus that's cool too. whatever it takes to guide your life. i think everyone needs something to look towards when they come into conflict. what do you look towards when you get in a pickle and need help?

In a shout out to my Danish friend Rasmus, i've been reading the famous Danish philosopherSoren Kierkegaard. He explains that doubt is an essential element of faith, an underpinning. In plain words, to believe or have faith that God exists, without ever having doubted God's existence or goodness, would not be a faith worth having. For example, it takes no faith to believe that a pencil or a table exists, when one is looking at it and touching it. In the same way, to believe or have faith in God is to know that one has no perceptual or any other access to God, and yet still has faith in God

i really boils down to community. the world runs on the advice of friends and family. the role of religion as i see it now, is to give people a community in which to find solutions to their life-problems. this is what i see as the churchs role in service to humanity.

Rule of Three:
1-Book: Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin, this series is a must read for any fantasy fan!!

1.5-Skool book: Material Christianity and What to Expect in Seminary.
i really like the MC book as i always felt i didn't need 'things' (statues, rosaries, fish symbols on my bumper, etc) to remind me of Gods presence as i've felt it most of the time. Despite my feelings about it's not tough to be devout and kitschy at the same time, but it works for most people to help their personal relationship with God.

2-Music: The Dixie Chicks- taking the long way. i bought this for kate but i absolutely love it! this album proves that they're truly superstars, renegades, innovators, heroes, villians to stupid ppl and moms

3-Movie: Open Season. Genius! really funny! good buddy film about how your friends will get you in trouble but that will also help you grow up.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Head off Neck Revelations

I'm living in a townhouse next door to other seminary students. There are roughly four other dudes that are in their 2nd and 3rd year. Talking to them is great cause it gives me a chance to see what's to come and develop a community that we're lacking here (hi jaycee's! k&b&d, and jason and lindsay!!).

The first conversation was about how challenging this seminary seems as compared to the one i checked in DC. My neighbors agree and one said "I thought i knew a lot about the Bible, but the first Old Testament class I had blew my head off my neck!"

He then told me about how there are two creation stories! A close reading of the first few chapters of the King James Bible reveals not one, but two different -- and contradictory -- stories of creation.

From Wiki:
There are two orders of events given which are contradictory. The earlier version appears in Genesis 1:1 – 2:3 and key items follow this order of creation:

marine animals, birds;
land animals;
humans (man and woman together) (Genesis 1:20 – 27).
The second account begins with Genesis 2:4 wherein key items of creation appear in this order:

man (not woman);
land animals and birds (marine animals are omitted but omission is not a contradiction and the order of birds and beasts is not stated as being on separate days unlike chapter 1);
and, when no "help meet for him" is found, woman (Genesis 2:7, 9, 18 – 22).[9]

Now I really can't see the point in Creationism! I look forward to more quirks like this! I live for this type of mind-bending,"head-off-neck revelations".

I hope to have many more HONRs as my Old Testament Class begins. (i'll pronounce those as "hon-ers").

p.s. I forgot to mention that i'll be posting every Tuesday! so check back every tuesday for new posts!

Monday, September 03, 2007

A Shift In Focus

This blog has been pretty unfocused. This is a product of it's author, because I'm a pretty unfocused individual. Or I'm more focused on the big picture and not on the brush strokes so I seem unfocused... ANYWAY! here's the deal:

I will now use this blog mainly to try to show what seminary is all about. Hopefully this blog will help shed some light on what most ministers go through (at least UCC ministers and those who attend that denom's seminaries), what is actually in the Bible, and personal changes and challenges I'm going through. I hope this will be of interest to you all.

Lots of posts to come! Stick around!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

To the East Side!

we're here in good ol' lancaster gearing up to start seminary! holy crap!

right now i'm unpacking and kate is driving way too long to work. hopefully we'll get a new deal where she can work from home.

i had no idea how much stuff we had. my days are now filled with moving it around the new house and trying to place it. it's a nice place and it'll be fixed up much faster than i thought possible, so that's nice.

what's not nice is our condo is still on the market. we hope to sell it be the end of Sept. if not, then we'll have to rent it out.

so that's all from here. once internet is up i'll post more useless info! yay!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Found on Youtube and Copied here

It Could Happen Here...
Schools Back In Session. And They Don't Make 'em Like This Anymore! Despotism (1946): Tyrannical Government, What We Are Supposed To Be Fighting Against! We, the People, are (were) a Republic, NOT a Democracy! Lutheran Germany WAS a Republic, WHAT HAPPENED ?
Watch This Film, Rate Your Goverment....


"Every step...towards...democracy is an advance towards destruction... Liberty has never yet lasted long in a democracy; nor has it ever ended in anything better than despotism." - Fisher Ames (1758-1808; Congressman from Massachusetts ; Statement made in 1801)

"There was not one man among the Founding Fathers who wanted a democracy. Thus, when we are told by our government that the American form of government is a democracy, that statement is not true." - John W. Chalfant (Author of the book Abandonment Theology: The Clergy and the Decline of American Christianity)

America's liberty is perishing beneath the constant growth of government power. Federal, state, and local governments are confiscating citizens' property, trampling their rights, and decimating their opportunities more than ever before." - James Bovard (Author of Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty )

"The powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States , may be RESUMED by them, whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression." -- Thomas Jefferson

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty , and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." -- The Declaration of Independence

"Man will ultimately be governed by God or by tyrants." - Benjamin Franklin

Here's an example of LIE'N tyrants. We are still a democracy. we need to unite and get these lying sheep out of the higher offices of government!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I just finished reading Bill Bryson's book "A Walk In the Woods" and it's become one of my all time favorites! it's about this novice hiker that takes off to hike the AT and his experiences and thoughts on America while on this hike.

while on his hike he comes across a town called Centralia PA. Here's a quick history taken from

"Centralia - Columbia County, Pennsylvania - The fire was started in a garbage dump over an open coal seam in May of 1962. The fire was reported and seemed to be quenched at the time, but actually continued underground. There are many additional versions of the original cause but the garbage pit and the date are probably right. First bid to extinguish the fire was $175.

In July of 1962, the Department of Environmental Resources started to monitor the fire. Boreholes were drilled to check to extent and the temperature of the fire. Some thought they also provided an natural draft which helped combustion. Gas monitors were also installed in most homes in the area above the hottest fire (the impact area)."

and for the MTV generation here's the YOUTUBE to go with it!

Please run out to your borders, BOOKS A MILLION (hi rober!), local library and pick up this book. it's the perfect summer read. can't recommend it more highly.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Hail to the GREYHOUNDS!

Hail victory! Dogs on a warpath, FIGHT FOR OL' DC!

Greyhounds enter into the Jaycee's league as the defending champions and league record of 14-1. Here's to another successful year! (I also won in my yahoo public league and placed 6th in my own league, not a bad year all in all)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Politics of Conscience

Fellow UCC Member Senator Barack Obama spoke at the UCC Synod on June 23, 2007. He really hit the nail on the head with what I've been try'n to say about my faith and the current political situation. Here's some Highlights:

"So doing the Lord's work is a thread that's run through our politics since the very beginning. And it puts the lie to the notion that the separation of church and state in America means faith should have no role in public life. Imagine Lincoln's Second Inaugural without its reference to "the judgments of the Lord." Or King's "I Have a Dream" speech without its reference to "all of God's children." Or President Kennedy's Inaugural without the words, "here on Earth, God's work must truly be our own." At each of these junctures, by summoning a higher truth and embracing a universal faith, our leaders inspired ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things.

But somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. It got hijacked. Part of it's because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, who've been all too eager to exploit what divides us. At every opportunity, they've told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their Church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage; school prayer and intelligent design. There was even a time when the Christian Coalition determined that its number one legislative priority was tax cuts for the rich. I don't know what Bible they're reading, but it doesn't jibe with my version.

But I'm hopeful because I think there's an awakening taking place in America. People are coming together around a simple truth – that we are all connected, that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper. And that it's not enough to just believe this – we have to do our part to make it a reality. My faith teaches me that I can sit in church and pray all I want, but I won't be fulfilling God's will unless I go out and do the Lord's work."

Obama just became my candidate! Universal Healthcare, taking care of the poor, and educating our children are the top issues i care about. We need to think of the young and the old and make sure the beginning and end of life aren't traumatic and stressful. I really don't care about abortion, death penalty, or gun control as they will not directly affect me (not saying i don't have views on them!). The top issues and plans to enact on them are very important and i'm happy obama laid these out.

To check out the full artile, click HERE. It's worth the read.

Book: A Walk In the Woods
Music: Plain White Tee's
Movie: 007: Casino Royale

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Panzer Pope is on a rampage! First Ratzinger brings back the latin mass.. cause that's exactly what the catholic church needs, a dude babble'n in a dead language about things that normal people don't understand in THEIR OWN LANGUAGE! Also declares in this article that "that other Christian denominations were not true churches". Well count me out then!

If the catholic church is the only true church, then i want no part in it. I thought the founder of the whole religion was out to tell us that we don't really need laws and churches and institutions to get to God, all we needed was love and anything that helped remind us of that love. That is what church is to me, a way to remind myself of God's love and help focus my energy on finding the answers to the present questions bothering me.

Ratzinger also stated "Christian denominations because it said they were not true churches but merely ecclesial communities and therefore did not have the "means of salvation." I would argue that NO CHURCH has the "means of salvation". To me the entire ministry of Jesus and the teachings of Islam and Judaism state that only God can bring salvation and that the individual has to choose if he or she wants to follow that path. Buddha came right out and said that salvation lies within the INDIVIDUAL and I believe that's what religion is calling us to do, wake up and smell the salvation!

This pope is on crack. This is why ppl do not like religion because it's constantly argue'n with itself and looking completely useless and detacted from the REAL church of the human global society.

Switching gears, I saw this all day on Robin and Company:

Michael Moore Serves Wolf

I don't agree with Michael Moore 100% but I really think he brings up great points to consider. And he was completely right about Iraq. I gotta go see sicko and see what's up with this! Another way to illustrate that we are in charge of our own destinies and we must realize this fact before churchs and governments run us into the ground.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pearl's Back!

Katie Burke sent me THE LANDLORD and i laughed until milk came out my nose. then i realized i don't drink milk. when something is so funny it makes my nose lactate, it's worth doing a sequel.

Good Cop, Baby Cop

plus brandon and alley were married at the beginning of june!!! i don't think i've mentioned that on here. great wedding!a big post is upcoming! until then bloggateers!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Seven Nation Army Couldn't Hold Me Back

Yeah that's right!! Lotsa good stuff goings on here. I just went in front of the Potomac Association to become "in care" and got it! What this means is that after I graduate in 3 years from seminary, the Association will ordain me if I so choose the route of pastoral care. Right now it seems that that's what I'm heading for.

Some interesting questions posed such as:

"What parts of the Bible are you not familar with?"

Pretty much Old Testament after Deuteronomy. We covered a lot in ol' Catholic religion class but it was just the first 4 texts of the old testament.. with a few prophets thrown in so they can say "jesus is coming, jesus is coming, JESUS IS COMING!" and then BANG! New Testament, he's here. We learned up until Acts and then a little revalations thrown in for some doom and gloom. I'd love to tackle the whole darn book and see what i find now.

"Where do you see yourself? What's your ministry about?"

I see myself as a pastor of a church and I hope to target people ages 20 to mid to late 30s. When i tell some of my friends that i'm going into the ministry they're like "that's nice but you know how i feel about religion" (to call them out, mainly OU Ken and The Famous Mister Edwards). I agree with them whole heartedly. Christianity has been taken over and defined by the crazy fundie right-wingers just as Islam has been branded in much the same way. Religion is HARD. It's about loving people for who they are, not who they're supposed to be. Jesus didn't hang with prositutes and tax collectors to guilt them into a better life. He loved them for where they were, and that love caused them to realize that God loves them just as much as anyone else. That asshole that cuts you off in traffic, the rival team that constantly beats your fav. team (i.e. Yankees, Spurs, and Ravens/Steelers), and even that homeless guy you pass everyday, God loves them just as much as He loves you. That's a hard call to answer. Religion isn't easy, it isn't supposed to be. But great things happen to ppl once they're out of their comfort zone.

"What gifts to you bring to the ministry?"

Well half way through my sermon, I'll break for a commercial sponsered by some corporation. PLUS! I'll integrate their product seemlessly into my ministry. Here's an example of what i'm talking about:

I feel a great need to rally the younger generation. We need to mobilize against this onslaught of political corruption, religious bigotry, and social elitism. America needs a gut check, and I hope to be in a position to work towards a better tomorrow through my ministry and UCC affliation.

I can't wait to get to Lancaster PA (not OHIO, sorry Ali!) and start down this road. AND one of my fav. senior high students will be up there! I'm looking forward to hanging out with MALICE and catching up and also see'n what music she's into. Girl has like 600,000 some odd songs from her iTunes and 5,000+ points on the ever so addicting iLike music challenge (which i'll beat her on).

And now, the coolest heckler joke:

Rule of Three:

MUSIC- Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (thanks Kim!)
MOVIE- Firefly Full Collection

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Problem with Herzog

The last year the Ohio University Post has done something very commendable by having it's own conservative collumnist Ashley Herzog. I say commendable as the media has an obligation to present both sides of an argument to creative constructive debate in a opinion column. I say Opinion column as the media has no obligation to either side, just the facts when it comes to delivering the news (a fact that more and more news organizations seem to be forgetting as battle lines are drawn).

My buddy OU Ken got me reading her articles every Tuesday on the Post online magazine. Needless to say OU K was outraged by every single word Ashley put on the paper and wanted my opinions on the majority of them. Upon reading her columns I saw what offended OU K so much as Ashley was challenging most of his unquestionable tenants of liberalism i.e. Abortion, Iraq War, and Feminism. My belief is to question everything. Hit a belief from every angle to see if it holds up. This stems from the Buddhist saying "Believe nothing true you find in books, hear from friends or wise teachers. Take nothing on faith. But believe what you yourself have tested and found to be reasonable, and conform your conduct thereto."

What I did disagree with was Ashley's Ann Coulter style of an us-v.s.-them pandering towards one's base tactics as well as twisting facts to meet her arguments. The grosses example was her article on the gender paygap (wiki definition here). She argued that women don't get paid as much as men because of their job choices which is a valid point but the study already compensated for this. So i wouldn't caulk it up to a twisting of the facts than a rookie mistake and seeing what you want to see, as mistake we've all done, libs, repubs, conservs, and dems alike.

This was the only article I disagreed with 100% as the logical foundation of the argument was flawed. But I must admit I've only read the articles from this past quarter not ones before February 2007, so I might retrack this statment.

My biggest point is her fire-brand US v.s. THEM! tactics. Broad generalizations and mud slinging at 'Liberals' really eskew her good points, and she does have good points. Such as why do feminists seem revel in promiscuity? where's the line between sexual liberation and a new form of sexual serfdom? why can't one be a conservative feminist and be accepted? All these arguments are lost by her Coulter-esque bashings and most ppl feel so poked in the eye that they will either toss out her whole argument like OU K did or just not read anything she writes.

I'm really sick of the libs v.s. conservatives. I consider myself a liberal, such a liberal infact that i see both sides of the argument reguardless of party affliation. But the muckrackers like Coulter, O'Rielley, Rush, Stern, and several others do no good to fostering an intelligent debate on Iraq, Abortion, or any other issue. We really need to realize that America has progressed as it has not on the sole policies of any liberal or conservative administration, but from a mix of both. If we were completely conservative like Ashley wants, we would never progress anywhere nor would we rationally debate anything.

Now this next statement is speculation and a generalization as well but please forgive me as i try to prove a point. If we were completely liberal like OU K would be we would have no measurements or finacial indicators to show how a certain program or policy is working. We need both! Liberals for new ideas for progressing and considering the welfare of those effected by the laws and conservatives to put in a business mindset to see if programs are working and efficent. There is no us v.s. them is just an US. We need to realize this and work forwards.

OU K is right that Iraq is a complete disaster and the war on terror is unwinable how we are currently fighting it. He's right that our school and most social systems need overhauled. Ashley is right that Abortion is a terrible thing to go through and should be used only in drastic circumstances and not for birth control.

OU K and Ashley agree on more than they realize. But the mudslinging and cheap shots have to stop for us to gain any clarity so we can move forward together and get us out of this mess that we made (yes WE meaning bush for the war and those idiots who voted for it!).

So my plea is for OU K to remember that we do need to consider how to measure our success and that we need to continually question ourselves as liberals do not have a hold on the truth alone. My plea to Ashley is to continually listen and not try to KO the otherside as they have valid points.