Thursday, October 30, 2008


Costumes for 2008:
Ann the Bat as Spiderman in Dark suit
Platz the Raptor as Barney
Linear Dog as Spike from Peanuts
Bottles as a Panda
Leviathan as a 1950s billboard
Unidactyl as a Unitops
Fundiebot as condemnatory

Check out UNIDACTYL on it's own site! I will be posting the comics over there sans commentary PLUS there will be some comics there that I won't post over here... like the COEXIST story line. So if you enjoy my crappy cartoons, please bookmark or subscribe to that blog and let me know what you think!! RAWK!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I've been reading Stuff White People Like for a few months now. The chair of the committe on diversity here at LTS recently got wind of it and asked what we thought about it... here is my response as well as a fellow collegue.

Some parts of SWPL i find really funny, others i find really insulting. i think it's useful despite that it furthers a privileged POV and it really isn't original as Jerry Sienfeld and Chris Rock have been pointing these things that white people do and like at a deeper, funnier and thought-provoking level.

after talking with a collegue about white priviledge at length she told me "i react to you because of what you symbolize to me, not how you act. your actions are very supportive of not only the LGBT community but in all communities in general." i responded "and what do we call reacting to people because of what they symbolize to us? it usually ends with an -ism attached to it."

priviledge is a double-edge sword and i think it's a very useful tool but is too easily wielded the other way and it shuts down a conversation before one can really develop. i think SWPL helps get past the intial boundaries through humor and stereotyping the priviledged.

but how useful is SWPL? Our own PA Dutch Asian (her description) Courtney Harvey, head of Leadership NOW and is pretty much the smartest person I know, had this critique of it:

Whiteness which everyone may not participate in fully but very rarely challenge.This is the important question I ask- Do you think it is better for the SWPL to exist or not? Yes, SWPL is flawed and may support Whiteness rather than deconstructing privilege and power. However, I think the very act of looking at a culture of Whiteness challenges the idea that there isn't one and that the "neutral setting" most White people take for granted has been created by upwardly mobile White people.

If I am completely honest this is the material culture I participate in. Furthermore, I don't think about privilege or power every time I get coffee, send an email on my mac or quote Colbert. I want to be reasonably critical without being completely hypocritical.

Does it do more good to participate in a White material culture without defining it
in the public sphere - to be quiet about the share of whiteness I have
bought into - or is it better to put it out there to be discussed,
critiqued and challenged. I opt for the 2nd choice.

i've found SWPL a useful conversation starter to get into the true issues. sometimes it's better to start in the shallow end of the pool and wade to the deep as some people panic when you jump right into the deep end.

what do y'all think?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Linear Dog Meets a Fundie-Bot

This one goes out to my pal Steve! Look at it this way dude, at least someone got something out of your experience! I got inspiration and you got this comic strip! yay!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I've Got a Secret

Blair over at Dividing By Zero has found my secret plan... He states in this post here that I am part of the cylon religion.

the opening credits of BSG state:
The Cylons were created by Man
They Rebelled
They Evolved
There are Many Copies
And They Have a Plan

I am a cylon! only my credits would look like this:
Religion was created by Man.
Jesus Rebelled.
Christians Evolved.
There are many copies.
And they have a plan.

maybe? no? i'm still working on it.

and since i said that I would remove Blair.. check it out! Blair

REMOVED! HAHHAHAHA! Now the evil league of evil will have to accept my application!

Oh, and i do have another secret... one that Blair won't find out, not until i'm ready to reveal it! MUWA-HAHAHAHA!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Orthodoxy Check

A slight misunderstanding can go a long way. This is what I'm learning in my Church History class. I absolutely love history! It's great to find out why we do what we do and what historical origins and contexts brought these about.

Cody, who used to attend LTS but is happy at a seminary in NYC, had a high view of the church fathers. I must say, after reading the writings of the first fathers of the 1st to 3rd century, i'm highly impressed. but then came the Imperial Church and that's where i'm struggling.

in this era we see the church adopting the very thing it was fighting. the church took on the worldly power and mixed itself with imperial ideology so much that we still have this confusion today. here is where all the heirarchy, militaristic language and themes, and concern with catagories were spawned.

and y'all know what i think of categories! as Rabbi Heschel wrote "Trying to pierce the mystery with our categories is like trying to bite a wall."

Rule of Three:
Watching: King of Kong; a Fist Full of Quarters LONG LIVE STEVE WIEBE! He's got the true title, Billy is a punk! Watch the movie and email the site to state that Steve rules!!!
Listening: my Halloween rotation of Slipknot, Rammstein, and Type-O Negative
Reading: Change of Heart

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Creation Theology In Jurassic Park

Just finished watching one of my all time fav. movies, JURASSIC PARK! I noticed something.

there's quite a bit of creation theology being thrown around here.

Dr. John Hammond creates life, life that's been extinct for 65 million years. He thinks that which his power in science and technology will keep him safe. I notice here that Hammond acts a lot like the God in the 2nd creation story (Gen chapter 2). He even kinda looks like God with the white beard and clad all in white (not to mention the scottish accent! my Aunt Deb was right!)

Dr Malcom on the other hand, sees what's going on the first few minutes of the film when he laments "God help us we're in the hands of engineers." There's a problem to thinking that if we have the right order, all will be taken care of. If we place our trust in the right system, we'll be safe. No system can contain life's chaos.

This simple fact here shows me that there is no perfect state, no shalom, that the world wasn't ever supposed to be lived in the Garden. That is better left to myth. As Dr Malcom puts it "If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it's that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, expands to new territory, and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously."

I really should write a book about this, but who has the time ;-).

What does relaxation look like, here my dog Sonny showing yous humans how it's done! Thanks to Essie for watching him while we were in DC and for snap'n this shot.

Greyhounds rule!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Autumn Update

Howdy Y'all! Busy weekend thought I'd catch ya up.

Kate's family was in town, and we got to hang out with them at Margaret and Andrew's for Friday and Saturday. Great time to catch up and listen to M&A talk politikz, they're on the inside down there in D.C. Good stuffs there. We rode down with our seminary friends Jim and Linda and had a great time. Watched the Capitals win at home against Chicago. They came out of the gate with no gusto, but found their mojo early on. I think alexander ovechkin is the greatest. just love that guy.

oh, Andrew posted this on facebook awhile ago, but it's SONSEED! With their first and only hit! who knew Dr. Evil sang in a SKA band? best of luck getting it out of your head!

tonight we went on the Gettysburg Ghost tour. Jim was also there, he just can't leave me alone! ;-) we took the confirmation class at Trinity and pointed our cars to the picturesque fall foliage of the battlefield parks. we were told to open our senses as spirits were likely to contact us through 1 of 4 ways (put in the order of most to least common):

1. Smells - like Campfires, coffee and tobacco smoke
2. Noises - footsteps, old songs, shouts, thuds
3. Touch - pushes, brushes, hot/cold spots
4. Visual - soldiers, orbs on cameras, etc.

what i found was my skepto-meter is set to high to have an encounter. but i LOVED walking around on a clear autumn night with a full moon. now, i do believe somewhat in ghosts. i think something can happen that energy is imprinted on a place and it is residual. i think there are also thin spots on this earth were the "veil" is more easily parted. however, i think that my Myers-Briggs setting makes it harder for me to have an experience. just notice the last three claims, they all start with "I think"! i'm a T to a fault and my F is pretty f'n low. i THINK "feelers" may have an easier time with this.

but that's my psychology-bent coming into play. what do y'all think? do you believe in ghosts? if so/not, why/why not? have you ever had an encounter with a ghost? get into the SPIRIT (har har) of Halloween and let those stories rip!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Some New Heresy

My paper from last years educational ministries class entitled "Playing with Educational Ministry"

It seems paradoxical to think of playing with education. But that is the point! Without play of concepts and knowledge, can there ever be wisdom? For our current education model, we need a ‘call and response’ in order to operate. Play is restricted to gym class and recess. This duelist approach works great in theory, but only if it exists in a vacuum. Vacuums hold no wisdom. I propose that in education, we cannot afford to operate in a vacuum. We are dealing with real people who will respond to our theories in real ways. Real people tend bring things into or to step out of bounds in areas where vacuums can’t operate. We must find a way to educate can hold together in the real world. If we must keep the vacuum, let us then us a quantum vacuum. According to quantum mechanics, the vacuum state is not truly empty but instead contains fleeting electromagnetic waves and particles that pop into and out of existence (“Vacuum State”).

Wisdom then is noticing when waves and particles pop in and out of existence. Wisdom is noticing how the play of light in the floating dust of a room evokes feelings of home. Wisdom is hearing a song on the radio you haven’t heard in a decade and remembering with vivid clarity events forgotten. Wisdom happens when things you know blend into things you experience.

The problem with wisdom is that it is fleeting (Melchert and Profitt). The problem is that wisdom is incredibly hard to test. To compensate for this our education system has concetrated on testable knowledge. Indeed wrote memorization is important, but wisdom occurs in the face of incomplete facts. We may not have all the facts, but that shouldn’t keep us from moving forward. That shouldn’t keep us from trying to gather the facts and look for the interplay between subjects that we know. The education system has negletcted this. We have tilted too far into the realm of utilitarianism.

We are seeing the effects of this in our lagging performance in the world community. The US is producing far less highly techincal professionals (engineers, programmers, etc). and U.S. students do not lead in any assessment (Strauss). We see the same problem in our churches as well. We have many people running around claiming to be Christian and doing very unchristian things. The generations that include late teens to early 30-somethings believe Christians are judgmental, antihomosexual, hypocritical, too political and sheltered (Kinnaman and Lyons). Rather than simply try to do a PR face-lift, we need to develop a way to teach a faith that focuses on holiness but also loves, accepts and works to understand the world around it
This problem is not new. The Danish Philosopher Søren Kierkegaard commented on the state of Christianity when he said, people claim to be “Christian’ without knowing what it means to be Christian. It is also detrimental to the religion itself since it reduces Christianity to a mere fashionable tradition adhered to by unbelieving "believers", a "herd mentality" of the population, so to speak.”

I pains my soul to hear such things. But how do we fix it? I would take a post-modern, post-colonial, deconstructionist approach. What does this mean? It means I know a whole bunch of “university words” that sound impressive. What I’m actually saying in my “de-post” language is that I’m taking a stand to choose. The word for “choose” in Greek is “heresy.”People think heresy is a bad thing. I would argue it’s not. Why is it wrong to choose?! Mainly because the church has declared it so, as they have God nicely boxed and packaged, no need for thought. It’s all figured out. That view, is simply no fun.

Eastern religions and even our parent religion of Judaism has an immense sense of play built right in. Non-orthodox followers of these faiths do not accept things "just because." They must have room for debate. Jews wrestle at the core, in fact the name "Israel" means "to wrestle with God" (El being the word for God). Why wrestle? Well if you've every seen a Greco-Roman wrestling match, you'll note that wrestling is an intimate event. One must know how the opponent's body is positioned and what strategy that person is trying to use to get out of or put the other into a hold. Aside from sex, this is about as intimate as you're going to get.
There is no vacuum in wrestling. The world is sand, in constant flux. The Jewish tradition seems to get that. Plus how they look at the Bible is at a much more complex level than what I’m used to looking at. With this approach, the sense of awe returns. Within that awe, there is a willingness to live within the possibility of each word. The Rabbi's also have developed the midrash, which are collections of stories to help explain the Bible. This sounds like heresy to most Christians, as we tend just to think of what the Bible says but ignore what the Bible does not say. Midrash stories fill in the blanks in the bible. This sense of play and daily application make the stories much more meaningful and the Bible and faith more livable and flexible to the non-static world in which we live.

So the question then becomes how to instill wisdom into a system, which diametrically opposes wisdom. Task learning is a great step forward to recognizing that we live in a quantum vacuum. I certainly will use it within my future ministry. How do we go beyond my future congregation and into the U.S. education? I don’t have the answer for that. But one day, we will.

Works Cited
Kierkegaard, Søren. Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments, Princeton University Press, 1992,

Kinnaman, David and Gabe Lyons. “UnChristian; What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why it Matters. Baker Books, 2007.

Melchert, Charles and Anabel Proffitt. “Playing in the Presence of God.”

Schramm, David, "The Big Bang Creation of the Universe", in Quarks, Quasars and Quandries, Ed. Gordon Aubrecht, Amer. Assoc of Physics Teachers, 1987.

Strauss, Valerie, A Snapshot of the State of U.S. Education. Tuesday, November 21, 2006 The Washington Post. 4 Apr 2008

"Vacuum state." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 8 Mar 2008, 05:52 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 4 Apr 2008 .

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Wicked Tenants

Given at Trinity Reformed Mountville, October 5, 2008 based on Isaiah 5:1-7 and Matt 21:33-46

We gather today, this Sunday which is World Communion Sunday. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is the oldest and I’d say greatest symbol of the Christian church. It reflects our call to commune with the whole world, not just by breaking bread with our fellow Christian, but with the whole world. We are Christians in our neighborhood, our country, and our world. So it is ironic that the parable of the Wicked Tenants falls on this Sunday. I can’t think of a less-communal parable than this one.

I’m going to come right out and say it, I don’t like this parable. I don’t think Jesus said this, I think the early church did.

Now I think the bible is a collection of the most amazing, beautiful, deep, inspired, engaging, and DIFFICULT writings ever. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be wasting all this time in seminary studying it. The ancient rabbis said that the scriptures are like a 70-sided gem, and each time you turn the gem, the light refracts differently, giving you a reflection you haven’t seen before. And we keep turning the text again and again because we keep seeing things we missed the time before. What a beautiful metaphor.

However, when I hear people say “the bible says…” I am immediately suspicious. The bible doesn’t say ANYTHING! It sits there. It’s up to our interpretation of what it means. The great theologian Karl Barth said that "when we read the bible we aren’t reading the word of God, we’re reading FOR the word of God.”

We’re reading FOR the word of God. In that light, I can read this parable and be challenged by it and yet still recognize that God’s word is still somewhere in this story. And I really don’t have a problem with this story so much, as I do with the interpretation of this story.

So when I hear some people interpret the bible, I just want to throw up. Can I say that? Church is the place for confessing, so I guess I can. Some interpretations are dangerous to humanity.

This story is interpreted to be an allegory, which is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning. The parable of the wicked tenant farmers has long been interpreted as an allegory describing the murderous lengths to which Jews would go to resist God. Murdering the SON allegorized to be Jesus was the last straw. As a result, God abandoned Israel. For the crucifixion, the Jews were to endure extreme punishment: the calling of the gentiles and the casting out of the Jews.

This parable is found in Mark (12:1-12), Luke (20:9-19, and Gospel of Thomas (65-66). Difference between these is that Thomas has the shortest version and the vineyard is not given to “others” as in Matthew but “to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.” I’ll repeat that as well, the vineyard is give to “people that produce fruits of the kingdom.”

The parable is set up like a typical share-cropper arrangement. The tenant or renter supplied all the labor in running that vineyard for the year, & then at harvest time the tenant or renter got two-thirds of the harvest, & the owner received one-third! That's the kind of deal that this parable is all about, a simple rental agreement between the tenants & the owner of the vineyard, on a share basis! But trouble began to develop when this group of tenants decided to take more than their fair share! They wanted all of the harvest for themselves, & were even willing to kill for it!
The idea that God has taken the blessing away from the Jews and put it on the Christians has lead to anti-Semitism. This is Christian triumphalism at its worst. Christian triumphalism is like bad sportsmanship. It means we’re rubbing the fact that we won the game, namely God loves US and NOT the Jews. The Jews on the other hand didn’t realize they were playing a game in the first place and have no idea what we’re talking about. How can this claim that WE WIN! GOD LOVES US MORE! NA-NA-NA-Boo-Boo, be advanced by the same people who will, in the same breath, say that God does not change? This is a pretty big change here!

Why do I not like this parable? Actually, I do like it, it does have some positive things in it, I just don’t like how some people interpret it. The idea of the vineyard was a traditional metaphor for Israel as we heard in Isaiah. God has high hopes for Israel, his vineyard, and then it utterly disappointed at Israel’s sins and the future destruction of the vineyard. Wicked Tenants is best read as a criticism about US! NOT a criticism of THE JEWS. It should be read in the light of God’s unfathomable grace and ongoing faithfulness and mercy to all people.

That’s what this parable does; it sets up an “US vs. THEM” mentality. What we need to realize is that there is no THEM! There is only US! We are the wicked tenants. We become that when we think we own something that isn’t ours… namely God’s truth as revealed through Jesus Christ. I’ll testify that I don’t have the market cornered on Jesus. Neither does the UCC, the MCC church down the street, the Methodist church, LCBC, no one. The moment we think we have THE TRUTH we become the wicked tenants. God is still speaking. We are in the process of figuring out the truth, we are living in it. We are looking for God’s revealed word and helping others to do the same.

When Christians announced the way of Jesus as “Good news” they announced it to everyone, Jew and Gentile. However, announcing this caused them to be kicked out of the Jewish community and uninvited to the synagogue. How traumatic that must have been. That is where this parable comes from. So in this parable we see the early Church’s struggle with God’s will. Where you and I can get into trouble is when we think that this excludes any particular person or group from God’s love.

The message of Jesus invites everyone into communion. The sinners and the prostitutes, even the scribes and priests! Here is the most important thing to remember, I can be in communion and still have questions and doubts and room for improvement. No one has it all figured out.

What we need to do is not become the wicked tenants who resist God’s urging. We can learn so much from our Jewish brothers and sisters and we are called to love them! God can speak through rabbis just as easily as through seminary interns and catholic priests and ordained UCC ministers and laypeople—you! So when we think that we have it down, when we think that OUR opinions are the right ones (and we all do, because if we didn’t we’d get new ones) God sends prophets to remind us that we don’t have it all figured out. God sends people to remind us that we must continue to turn the gem of scripture and see how the light refracts.

Jesus talks about this “in and out” in a lot of his teachings. He keeps insisting that the people who assume they are in may not be in and the ones who everyone thinks are out for whatever reason may in fact be in. So let’s not assume that we’re IN and THEY! (whoever THEY are) are out. There’s room in heaven enough for us all if we produce the fruits of the kingdom.

The worst thing we could possibly do is use this parable to hurt our Jewish brothers and sisters. When we do this, we become the wicked tenants. We Christians have been tending our corner of the vineyard for two millennia and our record is spotty at best; shameful and horrible at worst.

Today is world communion Sunday meaning that Christian churches all over the world are celebrating communion. What does communion mean? It’s more than just breaking bread, its breaking bread in remembrance of Jesus and a symbol to all Christians that we are connected through our faith. We are connected to each other and we are called to love our neighbor. If our neighbor is Jewish, we are called to be in communion with them. If our neighbor is Muslim, the same applies. If our neighbor is Black, Asian, homosexual, voting for Obama, McCain or other. This is what it means to be in communion with one another. We are Christians, communion is what we are called to do!

So in the end I say to you, Coexist! Love your neighbors as yourself. The rest is commentary. They’ll know we are Christians by our love. Amen.

Works Cited
Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline. Harper Torchbooks 1970.
Origen was the first to talk about the literal and spiritual meanings in his On First Principles around 240 CE.
Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, Repainting the Christian Faith. Zondervan Publishing 2005.
Julie Galambush, The Reluctant Parting, How the New Testaments’ Jewish Writers Created a Christian Book. HarperCollins, 2005
The "rest is commentary" quote comes from Rabbi Hillel, found in the book Alfred J Kolatch The Second Jewish Book of Why. Jonathan David Publishers, Inc.; Middle Village, New York, 1985

Thursday, October 02, 2008

On Conservatives and Liberals

Our professor of Theology here at LTS gave a great theological discussion on both candidate's platforms. He states that Obama is a social gospel theology of help the poor, orphan and widow. McCain is a mix of Purtian and Augustine theology meaning the U.S. is the New Jerusalem and every human needs to live for a higher power. He was very fair, balanced, and one could not tell who he was voting for.

I immediately pegged McCain's theology as false because Augustine of course meant God and Catholic Church as the higher power, but there is where McCain's idolatry enters into the pic. Cody on McCain's Nationalism as Idolatry

It's gotten to the point that when i see a McCain/Palin signs i immediately judge them as "not smart" and dellusional. this not helpful as it counters my idea of inclusion, "we-need-everyone" egalitarianism. Why am i thinking like this?

This video helps, watch and learn! Yay for social science! Thanks to Joel and Angela for the find!

I can't wait until this election is over! I like politics and I'm with Obama 100% but I don't like the division that it creates. Thank God BUSH is out of office now let's all work together and start cleaning this place up! A better American now makes a great America tomorrow!

I'm all about the change within parameters. We'll need our conservative brothers and sisters along to help bring those other three channels into play (just as they'll need us liberals to keep from stagnation). So now when I hear someone is voting for McCain, I'm not at a murderous rage, just mildly annoyed. And that's fine, i own that. It's the first step to trying to be in communion with my fellow republican or libertarian or martian sectarian.

Kate brought to my attention this article in the Washington Post about how 33 Pastors endorsing a candidate FROM THE PULPIT! I think this is awful. As UCC's Rev. Eric Williams put it "The role of the church -- of congregation, synagogue, temple and mosque -- and of its religious leaders is to stand apart from government, to prophetically speak truth to power, and to encourage a national dialogue that transcends the divisiveness of electoral politics and preserves for every citizen our 'first liberty.' "

Where do you stand on this issue? Should churches endorse candidates corporately?