Thursday, July 31, 2008

Which Sparrow is "HIS" Eye On?

I know which one mine is...

Rule of Three:

Reading: Sandman Mystery Theatre, thanks to the Shu for the find! Great pulp comic!

Watching:: Ironman, great movie, one of the better superhero movies I've seen.. can't wait to see Batman! Also catching up on heros with Cathi and Rachel, great series! Also Jesus of Montreal is a MUST SEE! Wonderful film that has the "historical Jesus" in it... WONDERFUL! RENT IT NOW!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Recovering Catholics: Papal Problems

Second in the series, Recovering Catholics.

The Church Set Up:

Biblical Support?
The dogmas and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church teach that the institution of the papacy was first mandated by Biblical passages:
Matt.16:18-19: "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

Isaiah 22:20-22: "On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah; I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open." (shows a parallel to Matthew 16:18-20)

John 21:15-17: "..Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." (Jesus) said to him, "Feed my sheep."

Luke 12:41: "Then Peter said, "Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?" And the Lord replied, "Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute (the) food allowance at the proper time?" (Feeding theme appears again here)

Luke 22:31-32: "Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers."

However, none of these explicitly point to Rome. The Coptic Gospel of Thomas (a non-Biblical source) points to Jerusalem: The disciples said to Jesus, "We know that you are going to leave us. Who will be our leader?" Jesus said to them, "No matter where you are you are to go to James the Just, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being."

Lots of arguments over this, and continuing since The Great Schism.

Great Schism
The Roman capital became recognized as a Christian center of exceptional importance; but there are only a few references of that time to recognition of the authoritative primacy of the Pope outside of Rome. The “Bishop of Rome” was considered first among equals in the early church capitals. There were five important centers in the early church: Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, and Constantinople. The bishops in these cities were known as Patriarchs, and their specific ecclesiastical territory, as a patriarchate.

The title of Pope was from the early third century an honorific designation used for any bishop in the West. In the East it was used only for the Bishop of Alexandria. From the 6th century, the imperial chancery of Constantinople normally reserved it for the Bishop of Rome.

Eventually, the attempt of one patriarch (the Bishop of Rome) to assume the position of Head (or Pope) of the Universal Church, gave rise to the great division or schism of the Church. The Western Church recognized the sole leadership of the Pope in Rome; the Eastern Churches continued to recognize the historic leadership of their particular patriarchs in the East. This became known as the Great Schism. Relations between East and West had long been embittered by political and ecclesiastical differences and theological disputes. Pope Leo IX and Michael Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, heightened the conflict by suppressing Greek and Latin in their respective domains.

This lead to a disagreement on which was the original church. Here's a good way of thinking about it:

Which one is right?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fantasy Football '08

Who's ready, who's in? Who wants to take on the:

Play'n Yahoo league, random draft, and only open to a few select peeps, so comment and leave your email addy and i'll send you the info.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thoughts Behind Recovering Catholics

I'm really bothered by the first comment I received on the last post...I guess I didn't set up the Recovering Catholic post that well... Let's try this... "In Roman Catholicism, a lapsed Catholic is a Catholic who has ceased practicing the Catholic religion. Such a person is said to have lapsed from the faith."

SO even if you were once Catholic (like me) or never were but are protestant, or if you a completely nonreligious person, we are all recovering Catholics (granted i'm speaking to the Christians in our midst, although one can make the case for Jews and Muslims as well, but for simplicity's sake, we'll stick in the Christian framework).

Why? Well if you're protestant, you then are PROTESTING the Roman Catholic church (note the ROMAN, this is CATHOLIC with a big "C" not the body of Christ "catholic=universal" with the small "c". Your ancestors were living in response to the Roman Catholics and the denomination your in has some baggage left over from the 'ye ol' reformation' times.

If you're a nonreligious person, odds are you're reacting to litergy or the "tradition." By tradition I mean lives of saints, the idea that all "heroes" in the bible are inherently good people, or something in the church structure. Depending on what that particular item of trouble is for you, odds are it comes from the Roman Catholic tradition. you don't think so? well, let's talk about it! if you have a complaint against Christianity, i'd love to hear it and see if it can be tied back to Catholicism... i'd like to know if you're a recovering catholic as well!

Now i may come off cross or too tongue-in-cheek and may offend some catholic readers out there (like i did in the Part 1:Our Stories post) but that is to be expected from a jilted lover... when one is dissed from the very thing one loves, one will be a tad jaded. so all appologies if i offend, please tell me about it, and i'd love to hear your story on why you're still with the Roman Catholic Church

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

From the Series: Recovering Catholics: Our Stories

notes from my class i'm teaching at Trinity, part one of four. feel free to answer the questions yourselves! i'd love to know!

What do you know?

What do you think you know?

What would you like to know more about?

Why “Recovering”?

In Roman Catholicism, a lapsed Catholic is a Catholic who has ceased practicing the Catholic religion. Such a person is said to have lapsed from the faith.
According to Catholic belief, if you are baptised as a Catholic you remain a Catholic forever. A comparison with Judaism can be made, where even though a Jew may not practice their faith, they are still Jewish by birth. Baptism is said to seal the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark... of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation."

If a Catholic leaves their faith but returns later, they are not required to "reconvert" but often go through RCIA for a refresher education in the faith.
The term "lapsed Catholic" is favored over "ex-Catholic," especially in cases where the person has merely stopped practicing the faith (such as going to mass or confession) but has not actively adopted a new religion. Such people often still nominally identify their religion as Catholic. Even repudiating the entirety of Catholic faith does not make a Catholic un-baptised, but rather an apostate. Likewise, a Catholic who rejects an essential part of the Catholic religion is a heretic, and a Catholic who refuses to submit to the Roman Pontiff is a schismatic.
(from Wikipedia “Lapsed Catholic”)

My Story
I LOVED the church. It was easy to understand and I knew who was in charge and where to go to when I had problems. However, the problem of being in a structured society is that you must first fit the structured society from the get go. Being from a “broken home” is an automatic deduction of social points in an all-Catholic crowd. To be poor and not wear the latest trend is even worse. The biggest sacrifice my mom made was to put my sister and I through 12 years of Catholic school. It was expensive but the local school system didn’t cut the mustard in my mom’s eyes. But I never fit in. Then, at 16, my grandparents divorced. I found out over my summer break that my grandfather was having an affair. This was devastating to me as my grandfather was my father figure. My grandmother and I dove deeper into religion, going to church even more.

This need blinded me to a lot of things the church was saying. I never really questioned church doctrine; I did as I was told. I even got mad at my classmates who would question the dogma--it was unthinkable to question the Bible. But something started to give around my junior year. The new priest at my parish seemed to care more about the bottom line than our souls. He didn’t answer or clarify anything for me as the old priest had. His first priority was getting the parish out of the red, so we felt as if we were shunned in favor of the richer families. To get back at him, I started asking more questions in his religion class. This questioning started as just something to annoy him, but it jump-started the critical thinking process. I soon began seeing things I took at face value in a different light. The straw that literally broke the camel’s back was a sermon about a camel.

We were covering Matthew 19:24, where Jesus says, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.” I thought this was the perfect thing to challenge the priest on as it showed to me the exact error of the priest’s ways in shunning the poor families of the parish. I ran home, and my mom and I both looked it up and what I found completely blew me away.

The “eye of the needle” in Jesus’ time was a small alleyway between the long streets in the city. For a camel to pass, he must be unpacked and, in some instances, crawl through the narrow opening. Jesus was saying that a rich man must be unburdened by his belongings, not that it was impossible. I was floored. I went looking for fodder to throw at the priest and instead God gave me a whole new way of looking at the world. At that moment my thinking changed, and I realized I was no longer Catholic. I felt that God spoke directly to me—I didn’t need the priest to intercede on my behalf. The whole experience really showed me that God is all around and in everything, not the Bible exclusively. I relied less on dogma and more on logic. I became more outgoing and friendlier.

Until the Second Vatican Council, Catholicism taught that there is no salvation apart from the Catholic Church, its sacramental system, the priesthood, and the Pope and this was the party line given to me by this priest. (Since Vatican II, there have been a variety of teachings about salvation. These range from saying that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church, to saying that salvation can be found in non-Christian religions.) That blew my mind. I then started questioning everything including the set up of the liturgy itself. Here’s a doodle that pretty much sums up my feelings at that time:

(found at

Now I view systems and structured societies with extreme caution and skepticism. I reject the Roman Catholic hierarchy as I believe in the priesthood of all believers. As for systems, I feel, at least now that ultimately we fit in NO boxes 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 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.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


I've talked on here in the past about how difficult translation in the Bible is (The Possibilities of Each Word). When you throw in punctuation, it's a whole new ball game.

Some examples from Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss:
"Verily, I say unto thee, this day thou shalt be with me in Paradise." vs.
"Verily I say unto thee this day, thou shalt be with me in Paradise."
from Luke 23:43

Isaiah 40:3
"The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord." vs.
"The voice of him that crieth: In the wilderness prepare ye the way of the Lord."

Also Isaiah 40:1:
"Comfort ye my people"
(please go comfort my people)

"Comfort ye, my people"
(cheer up! it might never happen!)

Grammar is insane! If people think that it doesn't matter, we're sorely mistaken. Please run out and buy or check out from your local library, Eats, Shoots & Leaves. Even if you hate grammar like I do, this book offers funny examples and extremely visual rules of grammar (ever wonder why the apostrophe has so many jobs?) that you won't soon forget.


Thursday, July 17, 2008


Borrowed some of these questions from Courtney Da Harvey (from Leadership NOW!) and from Losing My Religion, thanks SVS, i steals your good idea!

1) If you start a band what kind of music would the band play and what would your band name be?

2) If you could board a plane right now and be flown anywhere in the world, where would you go?

3) If God WAS a DJ and life WAS a dance floor....what would you be grooving to?

4) Sin is when I…

5) Wholeness is to holy as Salvation is to…

6) Finish this sentence: The world would be a better place if......

7) Favorite ice cream:

8) Favorite cereal:

9) When I talk to God the image or feelings I have of God are....

10) Good people can be defined by…

11) What is the meaning of life?

12) Evil people can be defined by…

13) Bad things happen to good people when…

14) Christ is to Messiah as being human is to…

15) I am the best me when I…

look forward to your answers! and remember, they're all wrong, unless they are exactly like mine.... ;-)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

We are in Love with WAR

We Americans have a tragic facination and love of war. Anytime someone learns that I'm against war people ask me about WWII. This has been a sticking point for many Americans as they feel we were justified completely in ending this war against a facist tyrannical and genocidal institution. It's our favorite war. Many have fallen in love with this war and try to make all other American war actions equal or somehow related to this war.

I know what war does to people who fought in it. I've seen what it did to my Grandfather's psyche and the effects it has caused on our family. It is tragic that such a young man had to suffer and spend the rest of his life the way he did. Yes, there are acts of heroism and yes it was good of us to stop a massacre. But that's not why we went into that war. We didn't fight in that war to protect other people or to restore peace. We fought that war (and all wars in my opinion) for economic purposes. A recent WIRED article, found by Rachael, states that most reasons for fighting are clouded by our the subconscious mechanism of self-preservation that causes us to grossly overestimate the danger of highly unlikely threats (West Nile virus, terrorist attacks, abduction, plane crashes, shark attacks) and underestimate far more serious, if mundane, threats (car accidents). The fact of the holocaust should have been enough to enter in and fight, but this fact didn't become known until way after the war. So then WWII isn't as neat and clean or valliant as we Americans would like to believe.

Here is my over-simplified way of thinking: Before I'm an American, I'm a Christian. Before I'm a Christian, I'm a human, like everyone else. War is the practice of prioritizing unneeded things over humanity. This practice is wrong every single time.War is never good. War can never be justified. Peace is not A way, it is the ONLY way.

This is not anti-military. You may notice that when i say hi, i salute (a proper one at that), and in this gesture i'm honoring my grandfather, my uncles, and many friends in the military. I am a patriot, not a nationalist. I love my country but fear my government.

thanks to Nick for the video find!


check out a related post over at Sam's blog, Opossum's Creed:Our Final Undeclared War.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

This Map on my Wall

I am no longer the axis on which
the world revolves.
I am not a genius or shaman but I realize
how a human evolves.

Maps no longer depict the things I've experienced
or the places I've been.
what matters more is what's between the lines
and the people under these pins.

(written in Leipzig Germany in 2003, but dedicated to the Leadership NOW class of Summer 2008)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

BOOK REVIEW! To Know as We Are Known by Parker Palmer

I had to read this book in my Educational Ministries class and i really LOVED this book. Here is a little review i put together, enjoy!

The main thesis put forth by Parker Palmer in To Know as We are Known is that truth is relational. Parker makes the case that education is at it’s best when it reflects this model. The quest for truth, by this definition, is a quest for self and for community with each other, with all creation and with our Creator. We cannot be removed from the equation and viewed as entities observing truth. We must be a part of it and be willing to be transformed by it. This way of life is only as secure as your relationships, and relationships are a lot of work. Parker’s truth is not to be found in our various doctrines or theologies (as these are partial, impersonal), but in the quality of our relationships.

There can be groups of people who just want the easy, impersonal relationships. I see these in extreme fundamentalist religions. These are a threat to community as a rigid adherence to doctrine takes an objectivist stance that reduces everyone to mere objects for conversion. There is also a subjectivist view when these groups lay claim to the absolute truth and those outside the circle are destined for damnation. In both instances of objective and subjective stances go against this idea of personal truth and how it involves relationships.

Some would claim that Parker is too vague and too idealistic. I don’t see this at all. Parker simply strips away all the systems we’ve added to get to the natural way to truth through community. We’ve ritualized education; we’ve synthesized and systemized for the sake of a controlled path to truth. Parker offers a look back to where we started, a world where relational community met life or death and this fact brought us closer to God.

The problem I see is that America is built on competition. We are a capitalistic society from the get go. Parker’s “truth is relational” stance flies in the face of our society and this makes the idea that much harder to get people to listen to it. How can you enforce good community? How can you measure it? In this area I wish Parker should have gotten down to the nuts and bolts, as this is what the theory hinges upon.

The question of building a good community is one that I will carry with me into my ministry. I will measure my effectiveness in how well my community has bonded. I won’t deal in the currency of answers, but that of questions. The more questions raised, the better and deeper dialogue my future congregation can have and thus a better chance at building true, loving relationships. This method is much more messy and uncontrolled but isn’t this how Jesus taught? Isn’t this how God ultimately connects with us? We build systems that inherently block this truth in the name of controlling and measuring education. The last thing we need is another system as we’ve had the answer in each other all along.

Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these…” (John 14:12) This is the call of Christian education. We are called to be the way, the truth, and life ourselves. We must become the incarnation of truth. Jesus also gave us the only way to do this is when he said, “When two or three are gathered…” (Matt 18:20)

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Real Obama

There are many things people do not know about BARACK OBAMA. It is every American's duty to read this message and pass it along to all of their friends and loved ones.

Barack Obama wears a FLAG PIN at all times. Even in the shower.

Barack Obama says the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE every time he sees an American flag. He also ends every sentence by saying, "WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL." Click here for video of Obama quietly mouthing the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE in his sleep.

A tape exists of Michelle Obama saying the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE at a conference on PATRIOTISM.

Every weekend, Barack and Michelle take their daughters HUNTING.

Barack Obama is a PATRIOTIC AMERICAN. He has one HAND over his HEART at all times. He occasionally switches when one arm gets tired, which is almost never because he is STRONG.

Barack Obama has the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE tattooed on his stomach. It's upside-down, so he can read it while doing sit-ups.

There's only one artist on Barack Obama's iPod: FRANCIS SCOTT KEY.

Barack Obama is a DEVOUT CHRISTIAN. His favorite book is the BIBLE, which he has memorized. His name means HE WHO LOVES JESUS in the ancient language of Aramaic. He is PROUD that Jesus was an American.

Barack Obama goes to church every morning. He goes to church every afternoon. He goes to church every evening. He is IN CHURCH RIGHT NOW.

Barack Obama's new airplane includes a conference room, a kitchen, and a MEGACHURCH.

Barack Obama's skin is the color of AMERICAN SOIL.


Barack Obama says that Americans cling to GUNS and RELIGION because they are AWESOME.


(props to the wife for the awesome find)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Pastoral Prayer from June 29th

Given by yours truly (with some help from Carrie Newcomer and Nickel Creek lyrics) at Trinity Reformed UCC Mountville.

Let us bow our heads and quiet our hearts in prayer…
Lord, how can I explain your love to these newly acquainted strangers. I don’t know them that well, and they’re a trusting people to let me up here and all… but what am I to say?

I can’t explain it, I couldn’t if I tried. How the things we carry with us are the things we hold inside. Like a day out in the open, like the love we won’t forget, like the laughter that we started and hasn’t died down yet.

God, aren’t we the ones who cause each other to shine, aren’t we standing in the center of something rare and fine? Some glow like embers or light through color glass, some give it all in one great flame and throw kisses as they pass.

Holy is this place… holy are these faces… Holy are the quiet moments, later, this afternoon… Holy is the busy street of our home, holy is the checkout girl counting change and the hands that shook my hands today. Blessed be the hymns of birds that fly overhead, just like their parents did. Blessed is the dog that runs in her sleep, to catch that wild and elusive thing… And folding sheets like folding hands… to pray as only laundry can.

Holy is the place where we stand, to give whatever small good we can. The hymnal page, the open book, redemption is everywhere we look. Here is your children of Trinity Reformed, slowing our pace in the shade of your unexpected grace.

O God, we’re east of Eden, but help us realize there’s heaven in our midst. Help us know that we’re never really all that far from those we love and miss. Give us the courage to wade out in the water and see the glory all around, as we speak the words that Jesus gave us… Our father

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Pastoral Prayer from June 22nd

Given by Toothface at Trinity Reformed UCC Mountville.

Dear God, Creator, Lord, Yahweh, The Almighty, The Great Unknown…

What’s the deal?!

Just when we think we’ve got it figured out, that our own returns from boot camp, just when the floods and fires seem to be under control, the rug is yanked out from under us. We know that these events are not part of Your will. Some are wheels we put in motion ourselves, some just happen. Help us remember that when these things happen, the world weeps and is weeping still. You weep and are weeping still.

Though we are shaken, we still believe. Help us be the best of what we can be. We are only one congregation; individuals gathered in Your name… gathered in your grace. Because of your love, we feel we must try. We have our questions and frustrations… They rise like rockets and fall like dust, maybe they rise like prayers… and fall as your answer… the small, still speaking voice that holds your answer…Love.

In the face of deepest loss and in our joyful, celebratory moments, help us treat each other tenderly. We know that we are in your arms and that your eye is even on the sparrow. Help us remember that YOU make no separation, just fiercely love us all. May we be conduits of your healing love as we speak the words Jesus taught us… Our Father...