Friday, May 30, 2008

Invoking the Ghost Of Violence

I was introduced to Keith Olbermann from my BSG Seminary Collegue this past winter. I've followed his "special comments" often online as it reminds me of my journalism hero Edward R. Murrow (Good Night and Good Luck one of my fav. movies!). This I like Olbermann and Murrow as they expose politicians for what they say BETWEEN the lines. This is one of the reasons i'm voting Obama. Clinton's tactics are old. Her campaign based on the assumption that she had it all in the bag because of her priviledged last name.

Times change. Our policies haven't. We need to vote accordingly.

Invoking violence is the last straw. Hillary Clinton has lots of baggage; many Americans despise her. The Republicans can’t wait to run against her. Many of the voters that have been inspired by Barack Obama will feel disenfranchised once again. Most voters will once again see things as a choice between the lesser of two evils. Many will not vote. Plus the one candidate who CAN solve this problem is Zaphoid Beeblebrox, and he's not on the ticket!

Obama has brought independents and Republicans, young and old, rich and poor, educated and not, black and white together to work for change. People who have never voted before are voting this time. He can and will beat John McCain (who is running for Bush's third term, same means + war = same ends of recession and dead americans in foreign lands) in November. Hillary will not.

To me it is a clear choice. Barack Obama is the Man we need as our next President. This is the last post i'll do on this issue of choosing between Obama and Hillary. I'm onto to the next level, i just wish Hillary was.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

All We Have is Now

Reflection on "Bowl of Oranges" by Bright Eyes or
"I am a Strange Loop and You Can TOO!"

While Scientists were mapping my insides,
i wandered into a lonely storm,
here's what i found:
there's no prayer i could say,
no advice i could take,
no pill that offered salvation,
no fountain to seek,
no cup i could drink.

i know of nothing that ever grew younger,
the universe goes on forever,
like two mirrors facing each other,
it's reality upon illusion over and over,
until you can't tell the difference,
they both blend together.

all we have is now,
all we have is you and me,
let is sit together here,
in awe of the strange loop we create,
and read the story in our fault lines,
and in our soil,
that is furtile with our own personal histories.

Monday, May 26, 2008

On Atheists and Agnostics-- A Christian Perspective

a midrash on Not Playing God

God did not make others as I would have made them. God did not give them to me so that i could dominate and control them, but so that i might find the creator by means of them.

how many people are on this planet? a few billion. good. each one is a different way to God. you can learn something different from each. take away the notion of "only those who actively come in the name are the only ones worth paying attention to" because that's just short-sighted. God isn't the most obvious, in fact God is very subtle. there are better ways than a sunrise to let people know that you're there, but that's the method i see God reminds us everyday that God's there... discard notions of secular.. there's no such thing. God is everywhere. The trick is to be atuned to seeing God and finding God in unexpected places.

We do not have control of one another. so what are people of faith supposed to do with Atheists and Agnostics? LEARN FROM THEM!

when we are in dialog, truth dialog, both sides benefit. Atheists and Agnostics have a prophetic message to give to believes... a grand reminder that "WE DON"T KNOW!" and we don't. we have hunches. we have a book that in it's current form has been handed down since 300 c.e. Jesus said many things, but how do we keep his words in focus? by talking with one another.. esp. those who we don't agree with.

Jesus said "when two or three are gathered..." he didn't specify WHO these two or three are.. he didnt' say "when two or three Christian, white, middle-class american males are gathered..." all dialog is sacred. we as Christian frequently screw this part up as we are too busy condemning the other party to hell. cut it out and talk. recognize God in your midst. this is something we as BELIEVERS must do. the NonBeliever still has his or her options open and we must respect that.

-peace and coexistence-

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fellow Blogger: Naked Pastor and Going Boxless

What would you get if you combined a pastor and an artist? You'd get David Hayward of the blog THE NAKED PASTOR. I love how he describes himself in his ABOUT ME section:
I confuse people because sometimes I seem conservative, sometimes liberal; sometimes serious, sometimes foolish; sometimes evangelical, sometimes heretical; sometimes open-minded, sometimes stubborn; sometimes creative, sometimes destructive. I don’t know. This blog is meant to be an expression of myself. I guess it’s up to you to figure me out, because I’ve given up a long time ago. What am I passionate about?: How to allow people to be entirely free and to gather in complete liberty without any coercion, manipulation or control; how to provide a safe place for the completely wild, untamable and radical to gather voluntarily and freely; to nurture a radically free place for the radically free to live and thrive.

I really enjoy his cartoons. My favorite is Bible Man who comes from another world, another age, inerrant King James Version in a 100% genuine bonded-leather shell. He means business. Do not cross him. Do not transform him.

There is a lot to be said about not adhereing to one particular theology or philosophy. The ability to change and adjust and adapt is what i find most intriguing about the human animal. People do this all the time in their actions, but lay claim to one absolute answer. What do we call people whose actions don't match their words? People who actually note that they change their mind are more truthful to their actions. That's what i admire about David and his blog.

That is my thought process. Try to be open to transformation, from scripture, from God, from those around me. For example this is what has to happen whenever your lifestyle runs up against the grain of Scripture–one of of the two has to move. Something has to change, and it will either be our behavior, or it will be our belief. More often that not, it is my belief that is forced to adapt to my behavior. I constantly go on and on about something until it is pointed out to me that my words don't match my behavior... thanks to Kate, Rialb, Steve, Sally whoever! That's partially why i have this blog to make sure my words match my actions. For me it's all about going BOXLESS.

going boxless is much harder way of doing it... some ppl NEED the boxes.. like in the matrix. we SHOULD pull everyone out, but some will violently fight to stay in the dream world. i think that once exposed to critical thinking most ppl will find it impossible to turn off their minds. some can, but most won't or won't be able to and will deliberately mess with the results... in other words: humans are freaking weird. :-) they're complicated and controlling capable of great good and evil... what a bunch of funny primates we are!

but ultimately we fit in NO box completely as there are always exceptions. some respond to this by cutting off those limbs that stick outside the box.. or lying.. or making concessions.. or doing what you and i have done and realizing that there is no box. the box is constructed by us for us to keep us safe from the CHAOS of the natural world. those of us to see order in the natural world are less in need of boxes.

see things for what they are but realize that you can only see these things from your perspective and cultural context (affectly making the first statement moot) but it is in this paradox we must live. sometimes i like boxes.. i wear new balance shoes, listen to punk and alternative music, and read progressive stuff.. i like ppl who also do this and can't stand "christian" music and authors like Joel Osteen and believe those who read and listen to this crap are not entitled to their own opinion. that's just me though.. others have different boxes.

That's what being a naked person is all about... that's what being a Naked Pastor is all about.. going boxless and responding to the context with the right frame to help each other out.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Religionless Christianity

Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers:
"The time when people could be told everything by means of words, whether theological or pious, is over, and so is the time of inwardness and conscience-and that means the time of religion in general... Even those who honestly describe themselves as religious do not in the least act up to it, and so they presumably mean something quite different by religious. How can Christ become the Lord of the religionless as well? Are there religionless Christians? If religion is only a garment of Christianity-and even this garment has looked very different at different times-then what is a religionless christianity?"

this is what i'm after. like john lennon says in Imagine, "imagine there's no heaven, and no religion too." then we're forced to deal with one another right where we're at. religion is only the framework, not the means. we've confused this.

i'm after a type of christianity that doesn't worry about labels. christians originally never worried about labels.. there was a stigma on the sick in the ancient days, the christians went in and helped. there was a stigma on the poor and homeless and starving, like the gods have cursed them.. the christians fed them and took them in... we must return to this!!! we must be the type of christians that help the jewish, atheist, homosexual, black, homeless, sick, martian, dinosaur neighbors... that is our calling.

there will come a point where "being a christian" drops and one actually becomes one (i know i'm not there yet, but i want to be!). at this point one sees the world as though everyone is a Christian and helps without consideration of how they will benefit from this help, how closer they'll get to heaven because of their action. Grace allows us to act without hesitation.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Need to Kill Some Time?

Have y'all seen LOLCatz? If not why not? And now they are revising the Bible. Yes, that's right - now you can read the bible in a whole different way - translated to kitty pidgin. It's BRILLIANT! It's the LOLCAT Bible Translation

I just started with Genesis and it cracked me right up:

1. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat was invisible, and he maded the skiez and da earths, but he did not eated it.

2. The earths wus witout shapez and wus dark and scary and stuffs, and he rode invisible bike over teh waterz.

3. And Ceiling Cat sayz, i can has light, and teh light wuz.

This wonderful creation isn't complete yet, so anyone who might wanna help translating the bible to kitty pidgin, is more than welcome.

They even have a section for Awgooments For Ceiling Cat and Awgooments Not for Ceiling Cat.. here are two for and two against:

Pascal's Wagar
Pascal wus clever kitteh hu wus laik: "I am not knoin if teh Ceiling Cat is reel." Oh noes! But Pascal was thinkin an thinkin, an he wus laik "If I is beleefin in teh Ceiling Cat, and he is reel, I will be gettin cheezburger. But if I has no beleefin in teh Ceiling Cat, and he is reel, I will be getting pwned. If there no Ceiling Cat, no matter anywai. I think I is beleefin in teh Ceiling Cat."

All teh kittehs are knowing wut is gud and wut is no gud. Cheezburgers be good, and pwnin ur eminies is no gud. How ar we knowing these tings if Ceiling Cat has not tuwd us?! Ceiling Cat tells all teh kittehs wut is gud and wut is no good, so we knows wut to do. In a pewfec wold doowin gud wud be ruwaded bai hapines butt dis aint alwaiys rite cos dis wun tiem ia wus leik "hai hows yu" an he wus leik "GTFO". Dis means dat der mus be moar leif to reewad us wit teh cheezburgerz we deeservs, an dat mus be Ceiling Cat. kaythnxbai.

Awgooment from No Has Cheezburger
If Ceiling Cat wuz reel, He iz gud kitteh nd haz teh powerz to pwn evrywun. But if Ceiling Cat wuz gud kitteh, then He wants all teh kittehs to haz cheezburger. Nd if Ceiling Cat has powerz to pwn evrywun, He haz powerz tu gives all teh kittehs cheezburger. But sum kittehs no has cheezburger. :'( So Ceiling Cat iz not reel.

(Sum n00bs say this iz becoz Ceiling Cat gived us Free Will, and teh reel reason some kittehs no has cheezburger is becoz other kittehs yuze Free Willz tu steel cheezburger and eaten it--not Ceiling Cat's fault! But this splaination not plausibling: everycat knowz that cheezburger iz better than Free Will. kthxbye)

Awgooments frum Eevul in teh Urfs
He, liek, nevr duz anyfing. An der iz lots ov bad fings in wurldz. Liek, I wuz in teh best warm spot on teh rug, but den it moovd, an Iz cood not be in it anymoar. WAI, CEILING CAT, WAI??? WAI YU SO CROOL??? So, him not exist. An teh Ceiling Cat sed tu kill teh Jews, but wez not ded yet! LOLZ! Yu looz!

"I iz in ur bible, messin wit ur faiths"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Guest Post from the WIFE!

it's been post-a-rama here the past few days.. but what do you expect? i'm done with school and have a lot to talk about! now that i have the chance, it's catch up time.

Kate wrote a wonderful description of the Bible Study we attended last night and I felt like share'n it. so here's the first guest post from Kate:

We went to bible study tonight at Trinity Reformed UCC (where Luke is going to intern). It was great—all about Sodom and Gomorrah and how the original translation of sodomy is to not be hospitable toward someone. That’s what Sodom’s sin was—--not being welcoming to the strangers in their midst. cats
more cat pictures

And also Pastor Nancy said that when Lot and his wife were fleeing the town, and she looked back and turned into a pillar of salt, that’s an old saying for saying you had a stroke (like we say she “kicked the bucket”).

AND that reading the Bible is like reading a newspaper. Bible is full of poetry, history, narratives, stories, myth. Newspaper has Dear Abby, front page news, poetry people submit, recipes, etc. If you are reading a poem in the paper that says “her lips were like rubies” you know it’s not LITERAL. You don’t say “this poem isn’t literally accurate, I’m throwing out the rest of the newspaper!” Same with the Bible.

And finally, Nancy said she was preparing for Advent with some ministers a few years ago, and they were reading the nativity story. When they read about their being no room for them (Jesus’ family), a black minister said, “No, you’re not reading that right. I’ve always read it and interpreted it as “there was no room for THEM.” Which never crossed the minds of the white people, b/c they’ve never been denied a room in a hotel. But the Bible doesn’t say the rooms were all full. So just shows that it all depends on your interpretation and where you are coming from.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Spirituality for the Myspace Generation

feel free to fill this out too dear reader!

1-what religion are you?
Christian, United Church of Christ

2-what religion(s), besides yours, do you feel the closest to?
any that aren't exclusive

3-what convinces you about your religion?
fluid, flexible and questioning

4-is your religion truer than other religion?
no, as mine respects and reflects

5-do you feel like the world would be better if everyone converted to your religion?
it'd be nice, but then the world wouldn't be nuanced

6-do you think that there should be a separation of Church and State?
yes, for the state's sake. this doesn't mean that the church can't serve as a prophetic role. the church gets a vote, like everyone else, not a veto

7-are you willing to marry someone from another religion?

8-are you against Homosexual marriages?
hell no!

9-are you against complete freedom of speech? Like the Danish Cartoons
i loooove freedom of speech. it's a hard balance, but i'm all for it.

10-do you believe that killing someone for blasphemy is a reasonable
killing anyone for anything is infantile

11-Would you be more confortable in a country where your religion is the main religion?
wouldn't we all be.

12-Do you have any spiritual heroes from different religions? If yes, name them
dalia lama,thich nat han, rabbi jack paskoff, rabbi abraham joshua heschel, rabbi hillel, pema chodron, rumi, hafiz, albert einstien,

13-for those who believe in Paradise and Hell, Do you believe that those who don't believe in your religion can go to Paradise?
i'm a universalist which means everyone gets a chance at paradise.

14-Do you think that everyone can perfectly coexist with your religion?
my religion is coexistence

15-Are you a convert or were you brought up into your religion?
convert, raised Roman Catholic

16-Do you believe that laws should be based on religious values?

17-how old are you?

18-where do you live?
lancaster pa

Monday, May 12, 2008

Constant Small Epiphanies

I believe in synchronicity, that weird phenominon where a certain theme keeps popping up. The term was coined by Carl Jung (and defined by wiki) as "Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events which occur in a meaningful manner, but which are causally un-related."

This happens when you talk about someone with two separate friends and later that person calls you. Or you keep hearing, reading about, and watching some random event all day only to have someone mention it later.

You know what i'm saying?

For example: On friday in conversations with my wife, my ma, my sister, and a collegue here at the seminary, the theme of "common courtesy" came up--all in different conversations in different contexts. Later that night, i held the door for someone who mentioned that door holding should be a courtesy that more common.

Seriously. I notice these things all the time! Have i lost you? does this happen to you or am i crazy?

I can only guess that this is one way that God speaks to us... I always say that there's no such thing as coincidence. Sally coined the term "God-incidence" and i like that. Where did i learn this?

My cousin, Puppet Nuts, has a sense of humor that latches on an obscure phrase or theme and runs with it. He fits it into bizarre yet appropriate situations.

My Gma picked up on this as well. She'd notice these themes and relate things back to a friend's story, past experience, scripture passage, or celebrity (my Gma's touchstones).

My Ma really drove this point home when she made a Jungian out of me. I used to have really vivid and sometimes horrifying dreams and sometimes still do. Not night terros as I'd remember them the next day. My mom said to pay attention to these dreams and watch for them when you're awake. Deja Vu plays a big part in this as well... but i'd find that the Dream Themes would make an appearence throughout the day.

Am i alone here? Is it possible that this is a medium for God? Our native american brothers and sisters made a big deal out of dreams... so did the Persians and other Near East peoples who influenced the Jews... but today we Christians have lost this.. or have largely ignored it... or just don't talk about it in polite company. Do y'all even pay attention to this stuff?

If you do, I'd love to hear about it. IF not, try it for a week and let me know what small epiphanies you find.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


a year of seminary has ended. this usually invites a time of self-reflection and confessions. at this time of schooling there is a human impluse to confess to one another long held secrets or opinions. it is an interesting phenomenon.

i had many great experiences here. i've been told by one collegue that they wish to see the world as i see it, just for one day. that was very nice! i was also told by another collegue that if i was in charge of the earth, they would wake up and have no idea what was going on with a purple sun rise and a velociraptor riding a bike down their street. so there's both affirmation and humility sprinkled in here and it is precisely this mix that is sacred.

this leads to the question of how do i see the world? what frames am i using when i view it? we all use frames as the world is too much to view all at once, too paradoxical. which ones are mine? which ones are useful and which should i discard?

These questions are a step in the process of figuring out the verbage I’m going to use when describing Christian Education. For me right now:

Christian Education is getting to zero.
We do this by examining what we carry,
Why we carry it,
Who gave it to us,
And is it worth keeping?
Zero then is understood as not the absense, but the possibility.

I like this, but I’m unsure of the practicality of this statement. I like that it takes words at the symbolic level. Words are symbols of something, not the actual thing. The word Duck is not a duck. We loose sight of this in our religious communities as we become wrapped up in the one interepretation of the word, not the symbol of it. Words are important but more important I would contend are the possible themes those words are to evoke.

We are standing in the center of something rare and vast. The problem isn’t that we don’t know, it’s that we don’t care to explore the possibilities of our lives.

one way to graphically demonstrate this is with two videos. the first is one of my favorite bands of all time Royksopp... you may have heard them on the Geico Caveman at the Airport ad, but their style really appeals to me. the genre of music is known as "chill" or "deep couch" for it's laid back approach. this video represents how i walk down the street... how and what i think... there's a feeling that this music produces.. a hopeful-melancholy. this may sound like a paradox, but what is life but a paradox?! enjoy the video:

this other one is super-catchy audio crack! i loooove Japanese power-pop like P5. this is if P5 and Slipknot had a baby, both happy and agressive. another paradox! thanks to Weaver for the find!

i think they're saying "sweet and sour, we've got your MEGA-Lover" which is totally cool! whatever they're singing i can't stop listening to it! eeeek!

Monday, May 05, 2008

amazing underwater world

watch the octopus at the end! those things are amazing! too bad that science has nothing to do with God cause all of this is random and makes no sense ;-)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Letter to a Future Seminarian

It's the end of my second semester. Wow has this new venture flown by! Who knows where the time has gone. We had to write a letter to a future seminarian and i think that's what sums up what i've learned here this second semester... here's what i learned the first in case you missed it.
Dear Discerning,

Let’s talk about grapes for a second. My wine loving friend here at LTS once told me a story about how good wine is made. There are a few spots where good grapes can be grown because the climate in America is too perfect.

“Too perfect?!” I asked, “Perfect grapes make bad wine?”

“Yes,” He responded, “For great wine to be made the grapes have to suffer. Suffering adds nuance and builds character.”

This is what seminary will do to your spiritual character. It adds nuance, character and depth. And you will suffer and wrestle with new concepts, methods of reading the Bible, and LOTS of papers to write. However, the community here will help you through it; faculty, staff and students alike.

Jesus said, “I am the vine…” (John 15:1) so that makes us grapes! So come to LTS! Fall is the perfect season for wine, I’ll see you then.

A fellow grape on the vine of Christ,