Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Homecoming 08

Proof that you can go home again! This time was very different as our partners in crime Karen and Nick were busy having Elijah Jack! Here's a picture of the young man and his favorite stuffed animal (there's absolutely NO pressure for him to go to OU ;-))

This also means that Karen's brother and sis-n-law Brian and Katie were busy setting stuff up and welcoming E.J. home. We're looking forward to seeing the happy family this October.

This homecoming felt quite different for many reasons, the biggest being that our running crew wasn't there, but it's still great to get back to Athens and catch up and remember. There's something about Athens in the autumn, the Marching 110 and Bobcat's football! 51-31 over VMI, it was a great game.

You can view all the lovely photos at EAG's site here.

Some other goings on are: the recently-married Rasmus, our Georgetown friend, was in town and we discussed Carpark North's newest cd. Also Justin is engaged! that's a huge deal! Justin is marrying the woman who is solely responsible for bringing Ultimate not only to OSU but also to LTS! We caught up with some more awesome people and weren't able to see everyone we wanted too, due to such an abreviated stay.

C.J. introduced us to my new favorite musical of all time, Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog. It's got Neil Patrich Harris in it and is written by the ever-awesome Joss Whedon!

Kate and I are already looking forward to next year!

Rule of Three:
Reading: Too much for class! Origen, Justin Martyr, Worshp Across Cultures and Homosexuality and Civilization to name a few

Listening: Interesting theological overtones in Carpark's new CD Grateful (Thanks again Rasmus!)

Watching: Dr. Horrible! IT'S SO GOOD!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Toothface has been transformed. Check out the new look!

Also added some new gadgets here at the home of DA RAWK! Instead of just a list of friends blogs, here's a tool that shows the title of the last post and when they posted it. Pretty slick stuff there.

Also added is the "Follower" gadget where you can follow this here blog. I'm uncomfortable with the word "follower" for y'all as i know you aren't buying everything i'm spouting. I chose "Fans of da RAWK!" (as that seems to be my catch-phrase) because it shows we can have disagreements and discussions here.

First week of classes down, lots of reading to do, so I'm back on it. OU Homecoming this weekend as well, looking forward to checking out Athens again and seeing our OU friends!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Benediction from Jesus is Punk Rock

Two critiques of Punk music is that it all sounds the same and each song has the same three chords. I contend that Jesus had three chords, namely, love of God, neighbor and self. How many different ways can you play those? Does every church sound the same?

Go forth and make your own tune in the name of God our creator and record producer, Jesus our inspiration and model, and the Holy Spirit who guides our fingers to the right notes. AMEN


SVS stated " Jesus seems like a throwback to old time rock n roll - retro - a call to the innocence and creativity of the genre when it first began (to borrow from your allegory)."

I've posted three songs that work for me that I'd call RADIO JESUS. I want to hear what y'all would post! Post a song in the comments where you sense the divine! What song sings to your heart? What song calls you to be a better person? Where do you meet God/Jesus/the Spirit in music (secular or otherwise)? I'm interested to know what that sounds like!

In otherwords, LET'S RAWK!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Jesus is Punk Rock

Sermon given at Trinity Reformed UCC September 21, 2008

Mark 4:30–32

I came up with this idea that “Jesus is punk rock” on a recent trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Kate and I recently went on vacation with her parents. It was her father's 45th high school reunion and we wanted to see where he grew up in the lonely but beautiful section of the country known as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. By the way he holds a grudge that your Philadelphia Eagles, beat Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers in the NFL championship game of 1960. On the ride up we listened to the songs of the class of 1963, Doo-Wop, Folk, and, what Bob Seger called that old time rock and roll. As I was listening I wondered how rock music of that era could ever be considered subversive. It seemed so lame.

Growing up, I was always puzzled at the music documentaries that showed how rock was hated and feared by the majority of Americans when it first came out. People at the time thought “How could anyone think that ‘You ain’t nothing but a Hound Dog’ was music compared to big band music from the Glen Miller Orchestra? And with those offensive and suggestive hip gyrations!” But from my perspective, I wondered how could Elvis or Buddy Holly be bad when I was listening to AC DC and Black Sabbath?! I recognize now that I'm puzzled because rock and roll is common place. When you turn on the radio today, nearly every station is rock and even our country music is starting to sound like twangy- rock. Then I realized that the same thing happened to Jesus’ teachings--what was once subversive and dangerous has become common place and no one gives it a second thought. This is what happens when the revolution becomes the new established order. We are largely blind to the revolution that is Jesus of Nazareth.

Now when I say Jesus is punk rock I’m speaking from my perspective. The majority of the music on the radio stations that I listen to is rock and punk is rarely played. For you, this sermon could be called “Jesus is flower power compared to Doo-Wop”. Or he could be a "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" compared to Frank Sinatra. Or Jesus is Praise music compared to traditional hymns, or hymns compared to Latin chants. Whatever the radio corporations are playing at the time, Jesus is making his own music that is in direct opposition!

So let’s go back to that old empire sound playing on all the stations in first century Judea. Welcome to Rome Radio! It only plays songs that say that the Kingdom of Caesar is saving the world through Piety, War and Victory… Peace through Superior Firepower and Economic Stability . Not everyone wanted to listen to Radio Rome though, and groups rose up in violent opposition.

One of these groups was the Zealots. Their songs were all about fighting and killing the Roman occupiers and their theology was “you’re not the boss of me now!” You may have heard of a few artists from the Zealots, Judas Iscariot was one as his last name is the name of the knife the zealots carried. Saul, later known as Paul, was one as well.
aside: here's what I think Radio Zealot would sound like in todays world, Watch and Listen Here.
Paul says he was killing Christians because he was a zealot. But the Zealots failed against Rome because Rome is better funded and has a ruthless and vast army. So that Rome Sound continued as the violent opposition was brutally suppressed and killed off. So was there a way to rebel against Rome without getting killed?

The next new sound in radio came from the wilderness. I think John the Baptist was the first anti-Roman hippy. His music centered on the idea that Israelites were being over-run by this evil empire because they had sinned. John's plan was a reverse exodus. The Israelites will come to the Jordan River, be baptized, and return to the Promised Land washed clean of their sins. And since the Israelites would then be sinless, God HAS to kick out the Romans. This music is nonviolent, so Rome won’t mind as it’s not as disruptive as the Zealots’ music. And it worked for a while; Rome didn’t kill John… right away. Lots of people thought that this would work; even Jesus thought so as he was baptized by John. But Radio Rome does not tolerate dissent and John was killed and there ended his movement.
Here's what I think Radio John the Baptist would sort of sound like, watch and listen here.

Then… Jesus. He took the message of Radio Rome, namely that the Kingdom of Caesar is saving the world through Piety, War, Victory, and Peace through Superior Firepower and Economic Stability and completely reversed it nonviolently. Jesus said, “No, no, the Kingdom of God is better as it saves the world through Compassionate Covenant, nonviolence, justice, and peace through love of God, neighbor and self.”
Radio Jesus was very similar to John’s movement, but Jesus had learned something. The problem with John is that he had a monopoly. He was THE Baptist. He was easy to find, thus easy to arrest. So when John was beheaded, there ended his movement. Jesus started a franchise. We see this in the great commission in Matthew and Luke and when Jesus says, “These things I can do, you can do and greater than these." He makes people part of the movement so they have ownership and the movement will continue no matter who is killed.

So how then is a parable of the mustard seed subversive and anti-Roman? The traditional idea is that it's about faith--start with a little and it'll grow. That's one interpretation. I think of it in different terms. It would be obvious to state that the Kingdom of God is like the mighty Lebanon cedar which also starts from a small seed, but instead Jesus says it's like the mustard seed. Here’s what Jewish historian Pliny the Elder, who lived during Radio Rome, had to say about the mustard plant:

“It grows entirely wild, though it is improved by being transplanted. Once it has been sown it is scarcely possible to get the place free of it, as the see when it falls germinates at once. (5) ”

In first century Mediterranean culture, mustard is a weed. What Jesus is saying is that the establishments of the day are trying to weed out God's kingdom, but it’s not working. Mustard is like multi-flora rose, those big thorny shrubs that house groundhogs and other vermin, that drive today's farmers nuts. What's with the birds in the parable? The people of Judea made money through farming and name one farmer who wants birds on his or her land?! So those who are getting shelter from the kingdom of God will not be the Romans or the temple authorities, it will be those unwanted, marginalized people like the lepers, sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors, and those other “punks”.

So the kingdom gets out of control quickly and tends to attract people who are not particularly desired… No wonder Radio Rome and its sponsors at the Temple were so afraid of Jesus’ message. Radio Rome’s message said piety was the best and that usually depended, to some extent, on birth. If you weren’t Roman at least you were a merchant, if not a merchant than maybe an Israelite priest, if not a priest than maybe a lawyer or scribe… The worst thing you could be was poor as that was the sign that God or the gods didn’t hold you in favor. Jesus was counter to what they were saying. Money and piety aren’t as important as compassion and justice and God’s purposes are directed to those who were always left behind.

Jesus constantly reminds us that salvation will not come from Radio Rome or anything in this world. Salvation comes straight from God. And salvation isn’t coming to us, it’s already here. Rome and the temple say that they have the market cornered on holy but Jesus is saying that we’re walking on holy ground ALL the Time! Like Jacob’s words, “God was in this place and I wasn’t aware of it.” Like Jesus’ words to Zacchaeus when he wakes up and realizes how his actions are affecting others, “Today salvation has come to this house!”

So what station are you tuned to, Radio Rome or Radio Jesus? Some ways to tune in Radio Jesus loud and clear are helping your community, donating to Goodwill, learning more about others, visiting someone in a hospital or nursing home, sending a card, doing the small things that mean so much to others… I’m sure you can think of a million ways.

Thank God we have Radio Jesus still broadcasting that God loves everyone, especially those who don't fit in. Those unwanted people. Like you and me. What a wonderful God we have to offer punks like us grace and forgiveness.

Rock on!

Here's three examples of what I think the diversity of Radio Jesus sounds like: Radio Jesus RISE, compared to Radio Jesus ONE and the more political Radio Jesus Sleep now in the Fire.

1. Crossan, John Dominic. “History and Jesus; What is the Content of your Faith?” Living the Questions DVD, 2008.

2. Galatians 1:14

3. Borg, Marcus. The Heart of Christianity and Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary. Harper One, San Francisco CA, 2004.

4. John 14: 12

5. Crossan, John Dominic “The historical Jesus, The life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant.” Harper San Francisco 1991 page 278.

6. Genesis 28:18

7. Luke 19: 1-10

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Advertisement from LTS:
That's the subject of a day-long event at the Lancaster Theological Seminary on Saturday, September 27 from 9:30am to 3:30pm. The event is free, including lunch, and is open to the public. The purpose of the event is "to gather pastors, scholars, and laypersons to study and reflect on the Bible and its use in person's professional, congregational, and intellectual lives".

Various speakers, including Julia O'Brien from Lancaster Theological Seminary and others from seminaries throughout the country, will address such questions as:

How were the Bible writers responding to the politics of their times?

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Please register in advance by contacting Rikki Jones at rjones@lancasterseminary.edu

Every Word I Say is a Sneak Attack

we had a great intensive week here. before school officially starts for the fall term, the 1st and 2nd year classes have 'intensives'. Last year we visited churches and discovered the theological worlds.

this year we talked about family systems theory and how we deal with our emotions. facinating stuff! despite all appearences, i LOVE systems. i love looking at them, making them better, and especially critiquing them. systems can be helpful frameworks in finding connections and order in our chaotic world. Family systems theory states that "all this has happened before and will happen again" and your family is to blame for how you react and cope with anxiety. we had to do genograms (family trees with emotional symbology attached) and it was enriching and eye opening.

the only crap part of it is that we theologians can debate anything to death. the first day we had to break up into three groups and the profs wanted to watch how we did it. we went around the circle and each said our peace. it came down to either pulling names out of a hat or counting off by threes. when people couldn't decided where to start counting, everyone save 3 people voted for names out of a hat.

simple right?

nope! we then debated over how ethical our choice was, whether it was "right", was anyone left out or voice not heard?

caring souls, each of my friends here at seminary. even minor tasks take on great implications. it really came into light that there are some people who are task oriented (let's get this goal accomplished) and others who are process driven (that goal isn't as important as the HOW). Which do you see yourself?

Monday, September 15, 2008


Friends laugh at you when you think you're being clever.

These past two weeks we've met some new ones and reconnected with old ones. Some new ones are the Edens who live next door. They have three adorable daughters, a dog named Jack, and a healthy love of movies. Plus Mrs. Eden thinks i look like Edward Norton! I immediately liked her.

Mr. Eden is awesome and has helped me more fully envision Dinosaur theology. Dinosaurs believed the Picture Bible is the inspired word of God. Since dinosaurs can't read, these "Optic Gospels" would have been the only means to spread the Good News. That Mr. Eden is gonna go far here ;-)

Read The Eden's blog here and check out the shout out in this post!

Friends RAWK. That's all i have to say about that.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Quick Prayer

Deliver us from the cowardice that dare not face new truth,
From the laziness that is contented with half truth,
From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Bible Is NOT A Clobbering Tool

The Bible is not a clobbering tool... even though it has been used as such. the Bible is not a guiness book of world records or an indexed compedium, nor is it ammo! The Bible is a book of mysteries. Jesus wrote nothing. Biblical authority can't be understood nor is it at the heart of the dispute. The main argument is what the readers are bringing to the texts. what are people putting onto the Bible?

For one the whole idea of how the Bible is against homosexuality or that Jews and Christians should regard it as a sin is something people PUT ONTO the Bible. The Bible doesn't say this, people CLAIM it does. They are bringing to the text their understanding of sexual preference. Ancient people had no idea of preference, nor did people really think about it until Freud started thinking about it. The actual term HOMOSEXUAL is only 100 years old. Invented in 1892 by Charles Gilbert Chaddock and heterosexuality wasn't coined until 8 years later. Prior to that was the term "sexual inversion" which referred to not just same gender relations, but also to any nonconformity to gender roles I.E. political aspirations in women or men who like cats.

So what? Well for one there is no term that is a direct equivalent in ancient Hebrew or Greek... so not only does the Bible not address the issue, IT CAN'T. it simply doesn't have the language. but there are some passages that refer to same gender sexual ACTS (not homosexuality in the modern sense). The Greek term arsenokoites is as close as one can get but it is rare and of uncertain meaning.

Mark Jordan argues that we're missing the point anyway! here we're not argue'n about homosexuality, we're actually argue'n about what the Bible says.. the argument is over how to interpret the Bible.

I would argue that Jesus did infact give us some guidelines here. Take for example the parable in the mustard seed in Mt 13:31-32. traditionally interpreted this parable is about we have the same "seed" of the kingdom, the Word of God which starts small then all the birds roost in this big tree's branches. that's such a nice poetic parable. but how would a first century jew interpret this story? In stating that this man planted a mustard seed in his garden, the hearers are alerted to the fact that he was doing something illegal. Mustard was considered a weed!! An unclean image thus becomes the starting point for Jesus' vision of the kingdom of God in this parable. what Jesus was saying is that people are always trying to weed out the kingdom of God and this kingdom will keep popping up in unexepected places.

So we need to bring this into our lives as Christians. Find divinity where it isn't supposed to be; in humor, in secular, and in our LGBT brothers and sisters. We are to form lives and see Jesus in others. Worship is a theatre of lived possibility.. and guess what? Sexual desire is in the kingdom of God! We must work to deliver the gift of erotic back to the church. The church doesn't have a homosexual problem.. it has a sexual one. We must strive to be ethical in our sexuality, whichever MODERN definition we fall under.

Post Trackbacks: For the Bible Tells Me So

Monday, September 08, 2008

Duality in 4 Sentences

1.We are either using the bible as a mirror or a portal.

2.The mirror reflects our own prejudices back on us and we act accordingly.

3.If we use it as a portal we are called to transform and leave our comfort-zone.

4.Using the Matrix: we are either Agent Smith (hates humans and is destroyed by his
hate) or we are Neo (who sees how far the rabbit whole goes.)

Futher Reading:
De-Conversion on "Myth of Bible-based Family Values"

SocietyVS on "Keeping the Faith by Losing It"

Faith Journeys: The Harsh Words in the Bible

Sunday, September 07, 2008

OUR Image of Jesus

An adapted sermon from Leadership NOW (Thanks to Zoe!) and from the Iona Community given at the Trinity Picnic on 9-7-08.

Nancy: It is of supreme importance --

Luke: that we get our image of Jesus --


NANCY: There are too many blithering idiots -

LUKE: Well meaning people!

NANCY: Religious nuts!

LUKE: Church leaders – denominational and institutional hierarchies!

NANCY: Conservatives & Literalists!

LUKE: Bleeding Heart Liberals and Socialists

NANCY: Political Elitists

LUKE: Wacko revolutionaries!

ALL: Who are leading people ASTRAY!!

NANCY: So listen carefully – JESUS

ALL: As we ALL know

LUKE: Came from a model family --

NANCY: What?! His mother was pregnant when she got married!

LUKE: And lived in a secure and loving home.

NANCY: They were refugees – his parents had an arranged marriage!

LUKE: He had a wondrous childhood…

NANCY: About which we know nothing!

LUKE: He was mild and obedient – a holy child!

NANCY: He ran away when he was 12… was gone for 3 days – and didn’t feel much remorse!

LUKE: He spoke with love and compassion to all.

NANCY: He was rude to his mother more than once – and said “You’re not my father” to his step-father.

LUKE: Jesus was the model working man.

NANCY: Doing what? He was impoverished, never held a job that we know of. Ran around with the wrong crowd and kept company with sinners and criminals!

LUKE: He was a model capitalist and encouraged entrepreneurship in others.
NANCY: He told Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew to give up their jobs and leave their families.

LUKE: He kept good company

NANCY: I think we’ve been around this bend!

LUKE: He had a good word for everybody.

NANCY: If you think “vipers, blind guides and “hypocrites” are compliments!

LUKE: His conversation was deep and centered on the finer things in life,

NANCY: bread and dough, sheep, pig farming, prostitutes for dinner, tax collectors for lunch.

LUKE: He never dabbled with controversy.

NANCY: He just claimed to be the Son of God – and urged people not to support their government or obey their parents or their religious leaders!

LUKE: Jesus never upset anyone!

NANCY: with the simple exception of priests, Pharisees, pigeon sellers, the wealthy, the religious, the Roman government, and anyone who suggested that they might know how to live a pious life!

LUKE: He was respected in religious circles

NANCY: Which must be why they plotted to have him arrested and killed!

LUKE: Jesus was a man among men

NANCY: And women!

LUKE: He was a man of God.

NANCY: He was a man who called himself the Son of Humanity!

LUKE: In his majesty we see God at work

NANCY: In his humility we see God in person!

LUKE: That’s why he was worshipped and adored!

NANCY: That’s why he was tortured and crucified!

LUKE: Jesus isn’t here now

NANCY: He rose on the third day.

LUKE: So we have to wait until he comes again.

NANCY: But he sent his example to guide us.

LUKE: He will bring the Kingdom of God with him.

NANCY: We have to celebrate his love and acceptance!

LUKE: We have to save souls and tell people where they are sinning!

NANCY: We need to look at our own lives and find the path to good and grace.

LUKE: We need to be religious leaders!

NANCY: We need to be faithful followers!

LUKE: We need to stand up and be counted!

NANCY: Humbly!

LUKE: Onward – Christian soldiers!

NANCY: Onward – Peaceful servants!

LUKE: We are a mighty army!

NANCY: We are the Body of Christ!

LUKE: It is of supreme importance --

NANCY: That we get our image of Jesus –


Friday, September 05, 2008

Bradford's Son

Uncle Glenn passed away yesterday. He has been in ill health for a while, so this is a welcome rest. He's now able to play baseball the way he used to with Ted Williams and all the greats.

We love you and miss you Uncle Glenn. We will always remember!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

It's Been a Summer

Wow has this summer flown by! Now it's into my fav. time of year, fall! And fall means FOOTBALL! YAY!

So this summer has proved to be quite a busy and fun one. My internship at Trinity Reformed as been going great and I get to give three more sermons before the year is out. Those dates are Sept 21 (sermon title: Jesus is Punk Rock), Nov. 9, and Nov. 30. Exciting times! I've learned a lot so far on the state of the healthcare system in the U.S., how theology can impact and potentially ruin lives, and how warm and loving people can be.

Classes are starting up here in two weeks, so i'm working on the sermons and stuff through advent to get ahead before i'm overwhelmed by my class schedule. I'm taking worship, Paul and the early church, history of Christianity, and a class to prepare us to go to Egypt in January! Lots of crazy stuff coming up.

The coolest thing net-wise is getting to know some kindred spirits here and reconnecting with some that we left behind in Maryland. Dividing by Zero has kept close contact since we've left and that's a huge blessing. John T. and Society VS provide a skewed view of the world that is both helpful and innovative. Confessions of Seminarians and De-Conversion have taught me how to talk with people I might not always agree with, with respect and dignity.

Summer out! Bring on the football and the colorful leaves!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Church as Social Articulation

SVS had a great post last month about why he left the church. This caused me to reflect on why I value the church and have stuck with it, instead of leaving it behind.

here’s my idea of a church: community. like, a real one.

not a surface level “how are you alice, how are the kids?” but more of a fully-realized group idenity. here it’s not a “you must believe ABC to be in our group” as monolithic indenity is a myth.

the church should be a place of articulation: a place that enables us to think how ideologies empowers people, enabling them to make some intelligibility of their socio-economic, class location, social position and cultural influence. namely, the church exists to show you the water in which you swim and offer a non-duelistic way of thinking and compromising with one another.

this would mean that this linkage is not altogether necessary, determinded, absolute or essential for all time… in fact, once this full community is established the church would cease to be as it would become the community at large.

i may be showing my Jungian and Congregationalist bias here, but that’s where i’m at on this issue.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Character Introduction

Here's a good character introduction. I shouldn't deviate too much from this pattern and character attributes. These characters are based on people I know here at seminary and most already know which character they are. The robot is no one person but a character of a pure fundie. The Unidactyl doesn't use words, so Uni couldn't introduce herself. But she's my symbol for the unknown and mystical forces. Other characters will come and go, but these will be the core.

The outer characters so far include:
"Bottles" a close friend
The Leviathan, another close friend and prophet.
The Marshmallow Zombie, pure evil.