Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Reason for the Season

so this is Christmas... i love it! i'm all about the incarnation. i get rather patristic here and prefer Christmas over Good Friday in my theology. In the Eastern Orthodox churches, it is the incarnation where everything changes, not Good Friday. many of us would do well to hold these two in balance as it centers more on the LIFE of Christ rather than the death. As SVS stated so eloquently "the death is meaningless unless the life was one worth noting." or something similar to that.. i'm sure he'll correct me ;-)

Anywho, i was just reflecting on the many claims of Christians that some how "happy holidays" is an attack on Christmas. It even inspired "Advent Conspiracy" which is all about less consuming and more worshiping, after all "Jesus is the reason for the season."

i would contest that.

Jesus isn't the reason for the season, MARKETING Jesus is the reason for the season. Biblically, the time when shepards watch over their flocks by night would be when there are little lambs running around, which would be in the spring. so technically, Easter and Christmas would be a few weeks apart. but this idea also ignores another reason for the season... blending in and subverting.

Pagans had their own holidays going on during this time, and Christians wanted to blend it so to avoid persecution and yet they made it their own... taking the symbols of the season, like the Yule Log, Evergreen Tree, and feasting and making them their own. instilling them with new meaning.

i like this idea. i like that the reason for the season has multiple layers for the church. for me it shows that the church is not an enclave of refugees from the world; it is the sacrament of God's presence in the world by the Mystery of the incarnation. It's not supposed to look as little like the world as possible but as much like the world as it can manage. Otherwise, the world will never be able to recognize anything that the church is doing. it is both fully secular and fully sacred and therefore we are unable to make any distinction between the two.

how cool is that?!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. May it be filled with blessing, good conversation, and warm connections within your family and community.

oh.. and i really LOVE Advent Conspiracy, check out all the cool things it's doing:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What I Learned in CPE Part III

I find it hard to evaluate the program. It is like viewing a dinosaur up close... I can tell you a little bit of what I see, but not the whole beast. It will require some distance before I can articulate the full extent of what I have seen and experienced. Odds are it will take the rest of my life to figure out all the wonderful things i've experienced. i am VERY enthusiastic and positive about the whole experience. I wish everyone at seminary was required to take CPE. I feel that the team here at LGH is top notch in the development of the program and are honest about the pluses and minuses of the process. This honesty is hard to find as most institutions

I’ve encountered want to claim their system is flawless and thus it is something wrong with the individual who doesn't think this way. I find that this openness is the most helpful thing in my learning process as it helped me fully step in and learn and risk.

At this point in time, I feel completely affirmed in my call as it has been affirmed in group and supervision. Knowing that I am outside of the Deutero-Pauline-Augustinian tradition, I felt heard and affirmed in the group and on the floor during visits. I contributed my own interpretation of what it means to be a Christian and how I interpret the Bible and yet learned other ways of being Christian and other interpretations and awareness of stories. The philosopher Žižek speaks to this as he asks us to resist judging the other for a moment and allow the other to judge us and that has happened more times than i care to think about.

My theology stands as one of unity, incarnation, and grace of God given by and present through the life of Jesus Christ. This theology is ecumenical, pragmatic, and post-modern and recognizes the reason for religion isn't reason. It is an embodied, empowerment model that can only come from my denomination and the cross-pollination between the Congregationalists and Reformed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What I Learned in CPE Part II

Second Goal: Stretch limits of feeling “spent”

Why this Goal?

After the few pastoral visits I did in a previous parish internship, I was drained after doing just a few visits per day. I haven't always been too aware of my feeling spent or not. With school work, reading, CPE, parenting, and various other activities, I'm realizing that I have just a little bit on my plate. Usually I would keep at it, grinding the work out, but in this line of work, I really can't do that. One must be very conscious of their boundaries in the pastoral care setting. I will have to learn how to trust a group to accomplish a goal and have patience in the process. I can’t do everything nor should I.

I was surprised to learn that maybe I don’t need to learn how to stretch my limits, but honor them. I don’t need to do 8 to 10 visits a night but to do a few really good visits where I am fully present. People are not goals; they are not items to be checked off a list. Pastors get so focused on trying to do God’s work and be everywhere at once they don’t delegate and they burn out. During this program I’ve learned to trust my team, my wife, and my fellow seminarians. I can’t do all the visits and there are 5 other interns, 4 other residents, and many other associate and staff chaplains who will get to the visits. Kate is a capable mother and wife and will ask for help when she needs it and I can do the same for her. I was part of a worship team here at the seminary and normally I have the whole worship planned and just plug people in. This time, I had to let the group plan and process and develop the liturgy all on their own as I simply didn’t have the time or the focus. With this goal, I realized how non-democratic I can be and this provided a course correction.

The edge is staying here. I need to still be willing to give others a “piece of the pie” and trust that their insight will be valuable. Good leaders know when to delegate and when to over-ride. Like a sailboat team, each one working at their post, putting up the sails and rigging and plotting the course. But when the storm comes, sometimes the captain has to order the sails down, start the engine and put the ship to port. Knowing when to do this will help make me a better, more balanced congregational leader and team member.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What I've Learned in CPE Part I

CPE has ended and I'm reflecting on what I have learned. We had to have learning goals, so I'll write about those on here in two posts and end with a big ol' overview of the entire process.

LEARNING GOAL #1: How to put theoretical knowledge into a practical theology

Why this Goal?

I did an internship at a local church and some feedback that came my way was that I sometimes spoke too complex for people to understand. In Bible studies I would leave people behind with the concepts and vocabulary that I employed. It was my fear that I would do the same on my visits. It was also a fear that I would try to be a problem solver and in this role and in doing so I would offend and miss the real problem that was bothering the patient.

This learning goal had many aspects to it. First and foremost is developing reflective listening skills which I feel I have made much progress with. The second would be to learn how to boil down complex theories, concepts, and vocabulary into accessible and clear statements, which when I did speak, would be understood with little room for misinterpretation. I really felt that I harkened back to my advertising background. I re-learned how to present myself, simply, clearly, and yet still hint that there is still more to me than what is being presented. Likewise, I learned how to locate the patient, meet them where they are, and yet still realize there is more to their story as well.

All this to say that I found that I tend to lead with my head but it is informed by my heart. This is the type of “heart religion” Jonathan Edwards spoke about. What Phillip Otterbien called “a scholarly pietism.” These pillars of my tradition state that you can think things that are cognitive, but if you don’t feel it then it’s worthless. I feel that this goal has helped me realize how I act and respond. I am able to use my seminary training to recognize religious and theological frameworks that are presented by patients and explore them. I am able to match up how the patient’s theoretical theology matches up with what they are feeling in the moment. If the theory and the feeling match, I don’t mess, but if they don’t, I am able to offer alternatives that are both cognitively and emotionally comprehended.

The growing edge with this goal and the progress made is not falling back into a purely cognitive style of working. I doubt this will happen, but I don’t want to lose what I’ve learned here and this new awareness of self. I don’t want to lose this vulnerability and risk and take a defensive stance. I always state that the best theology is one based on questions not answers, and it seems I’m finally taking my own words to heart.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What is Worship?

Julia and I had a great conversation about the worship my group planned for last week in chapel. At LTS, the model goes "Students preach Tuesday, Faculty and Staff on Wednesday." The worship services can contain anything that the particular group of students plans it to be. Our group was a fab. gathering of really creative people and we really risked and went off the deep end in a lot of ways.

Our fundamental premise was to treat the worship as directed at the gathered community of LTS, not some hypothetical church. The two worships planned could not be transplanted anywhere else, but directed and speaking specifically to those who fill our pews in Santee Chapel.

Tuesday was built to be really uncomfortable... I wanted people so uncomfortable that they were puking in the pews. This didn't quite happen, but it did generate a lot of conversation. Namely "What is Worship?"  The problem with this approach, as Julia rightly pointed out, is that it wasn't very careful in drawing people in. We just hit people over the head right away and defenses went right up. She then asked "What is the difference between Worship and a performance?"

Great question!

To show my modernist leanings, let's take a look at the given definitions thanks to

Main Entry: per·for·mance

Pronunciation: \pə(r)-ˈfȯr-mən(t)s\
Function: noun
Date: 15th century

1 a : the execution of an action b : something accomplished : deed, feat

2 : the fulfillment of a claim, promise, or request : implementation

3 a : the action of representing a character in a play b : a public presentation or exhibition

4 a : the ability to perform : efficiency b : the manner in which a mechanism performs

5 : the manner of reacting to stimuli : behavior

6 : the linguistic behavior of an individual : parole; also : the ability to speak a certain language — compare

Main Entry: wor·ship

Pronunciation: \ˈwər-shəp also ˈwȯr-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English worshipe worthiness, respect, reverence paid to a divine being, from Old English weorthscipe worthiness, respect, from weorth worthy, worth + -scipe -ship
Date: before 12th century

1 chiefly British : a person of importance —used as a title for various officials (as magistrates and some mayors)

2 : reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also : an act of expressing such reverence

3 : a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual

4 : extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem

After looking at these two definition my question is "Is there a difference?" At first glance, I don't think there is. There is some nuance to it, but a worship ceremony is a performance that is meant to teach, inform, and generate feeling within the worshiper. How is this different from a play, concert, or another live-action event? I don't think that this is a bad thing. Worship becomes an idol if we think it does anything to God as it is my view that worship services is for the people and is meant to change us, not the divine.

My worship teacher Donna Allen stated that worship is "an intentional encounter with the divine." i like that idea, and i'll build off of it.

My definition of worship is "A Social Articulation that is Horizontal and Vertical."

The rationale behind this is the idea of a structured performance bent on generating both thought and feelings. I could do more with this definition like adding a particular structure, but that doesn’t work as there are a varty of worship styles. I could add in a phrase like “A planned Divine/human encounter” which is a really great worship definition, but sometimes worship can be longing for the divine... like in the season of Advent or Lent. Plus it is my assumption about life is to “pray without ceasing” and be in constant conversation with God, and not all of that is planned. I was going to add about people being gathered, but I’ve found that the most profound things happen when I stop and pray on purpose. ‘Two or Three are gathered’ almost guarantees worship, but some of the most profound things happened in private worship.

What I did find was that my definition works for me. It fits with my idea of God. I think that rarely do we see God operating in the present, we usually see God in hindsight. Like Jacob’s words, “God was in this place and I wasn’t aware of it.” Like Exodus 33:23, “…you will see where I just was.” We need to stop and recognize that God was in our midst and is still in our midst. Worship gives us that stop, that articulation, not only to find out what’s going on in our lives, but where God is active and working.

then i see this video by Brian McLaren:

so maybe it's not a performance... per se.. but a "corporate reaching for truth." where a gathered community (Ekklēsía if you will) tries to name a part of their reality. it utilizes elements of performance to try to name what is happening "on the ground" and yet name the transcendent reality.. the meaning as well. Christians try to use the framework of what was presented through the gospels, namely the framework and view of God as presented by Jesus of Nazareth. Like Paul stated in Romans 12:2 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Maybe worship could best be defined like this, a testing? Or maybe as Eric Elnes puts it "I regularly meet my God, my neighbor, and myself through “the Jesus of history” or “the Christ of faith”" Check out his post "Who is Jesus For Me?" Could that be a definition?
I am no longer certain of where the line is between worship and performance? Is there one? What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Start Where You Are: Sermon on Luke 3:7-18

Sermon given 12-8-09, in Santee Chapel at Lancaster Theological Seminary.

I’m here to confess. I am here to stop being a member of John’s “Brood Of Vipers.” I hope you, my colleagues and professors of Lancaster Seminary will accept my confession… here it goes…

I have a name of my study where I type all my papers. I call it “The Death Star.”

I named it after I learned about the theological world of the sinner. I wanted to blow it up like Darth Vader did to the planet Alderaan. Like John I wanted to lay an ax to its root and throw it in the fire because no good fruit can come of this world.

Here I am thinking I’m Mr Diversity. I’ve received diversity training from my under-grad and in my work experience. I’ve had customers who were from all parts of the world thanks to Washington D.C.’s diverse population. I’m on the committee on diversity here and claim friends from all sides of the political and theological lines… But John is calling me out here… You see, growing up , I was taught to read judgment passages like John not as being about some fictional “them” like the Pharasees or Roman soldiers, but addressed directly to me. How am I like a viper?

Here in this academic setting, we’re forced to operate a little differently from how we would in a church. Here I’m more apt to jump and challenge any logical inconsistencies I find in others theology. I lay in wait, just like a snake, and strike when something stupid hits my ears. I am called to defend my point of view, logically and with evidence. I use this method quite often but it can turn into a defensive stance, guarding my position. I could do this easily with John and his words from the gospel.

He doesn’t challenge the existing social order. John doesn’t tell the tax collectors to end their relations with the occupying power but just take what they should. To solders, not to give up their jobs and live a life of peace, but not to be bullies and to be content with their pay. John seems to never even consider the possibility of there being an unjust wage! I have a ton of problems with this… well.. I would have a ton of problems if it weren’t for my time at Lancaster General Hospital this fall, working as a hospital chaplain.

In the hospital, you can’t be a viper. You can’t lie in wait and jump all over the theology of patients and show how your theology is superior. That would be abuse and Lancaster General wouldn’t have you as a chaplain for long. I find that I keep coming back to a phrase I’ve learned from a book by Pema Chodron that I’ve used a lot while in CPE. This phrase is the core of what I think John is talking about in today’s scripture.

Start where you are.

4 simple words that are loaded with possibility. This means to know where you have been; in my case single mother upbringing in Appalachia Ohio, 12 years of catholic school, and my experiences in school and in D.C. That sense of history has helped me locate where I am now and what I’m feeling. Here’s an example of what I mean:

One of my firsts requests was for pastoral support up on the 5th floor of the hospital. I enter to find a woman in her mid-40s who immediately asks if I’m ‘born again and saved.’ This is one of my buttons and I feel my anxiety rise. My first visit and it’s someone who is from the sinner world. I feel my judgment welling up and my mind goes into battle mode… but my seminary training kicks in, esp. thanks to the MS sequence, and I turn judgment into curiosity.

I ask why she would like to know. We then spend the next half hour in one of the coolest conversations I’ve had in a long while. I find out she’s has heart trouble because she’s overweight but she’s also joined a small group in her church to help deal with this, a Weight Watchers support group. She tells me she’s a new Christian, having being born again April 17th, 2009.

After awhile, she requests for prayer and I pray and immediately afterwards she starts giving me pointers on how the prayer could have been improved. Her criticism made me very angry. I said to myself “how dare she teach me a lesson about prayer! For years she has lived a carefree life and that’s what’s landed her artery clogged hiney here in the hospital! Meanwhile, I’ve been steeped in prayer my whole life and I can honestly say there is not one day I haven’t prayed. Now she’s converted, she is trying to tell ME, ME THE SEMINARIAN, THE HOSPITAL CHAPLAIN, THE FUTURE PULIZER PRIZE WINNER? how to behave?! Does she know my GPA?”

I offer up a silent prayer… not to John the Baptist… but to the one who neither John nor I am fit to touch the sandals of. I thought “Jesus… help me out here. I don’t want to chase this newly found sheep from your flock, but I’m greatly tempted. This is exactly the type of follower of yours that drives me nuts and gives me second thoughts for pursing this call you gave me.”

Jesus said “Trust. Have faith. You have nothing to defend here…You know how to start where you are…but can you start where she is?” I know how to start where I am… can I start where she is?

That’s when I felt a strange warming of the heart. Right there I felt what John was talking about, this wasn’t a baptism by water that john offers… this is beyond that. This is a baptism by fire. I found compassion for this woman.

I ask her to pray for me. She offered a much different prayer than I offered, ladened with Father language and that dreaded HE pronoun that I despise. But she blessed me. I got past my issues; I stopped listening to content and went after the meaning. Afterwards I asked questions where the meaning wasn’t clear to me. The conversation was great! We had a great time! She told me as I was saying goodbye that I was “covered in the blood of the lamb.”

Normally I would run screaming from the room and straight to a shower to try to get the blood off. But that woman was paying me the highest compliment she knew how to articulate.

I am honored to have received her blessing. It is something I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life and one I hope to honor.

Every time I feel my complaints start to rise, things like “Why aren’t they seeing me? I’ve worked so long, did so much, and have so much wisdom to offer and this person isn’t listening! They haven’t even considered my point of view! Why do they not thank me, invite me, honor me etc?” I remember to start where I am. I’ve been there; I’ve already traveled those roads. I’m centered and I’m now able to look for intersections where I can meet the other person. I am able to stop the self-perpetuating and counterproductive cycle of complaint and self-rejection and I’m able to embrace the other person. Right where they are. Right at the cross roads where our stories meet.

What this style does is follow in exactly the type of religious experience John is pointing to. John is talking about a religion that is beyond our control. Because it arises from a responsiveness to what God is doing among us, such experience cannot be channeled or domesticated to our tastes. There is mystery, God acts in ways that defy explanation or institutionalization. God calls for genuine repentance and a commitment to the life-style of a covenanted people. Our experience of God is always as Spirit and Fire. Moving and burning.

This baptism of fire gives you a molten heart. The grace of God, presented and offered by Christ Jesus melts all divisions. When others come with the nay-saying, it is our love, our concept of baptism of a fiery grace melts any and all divisions. You wanna divide on denominational lines, sorry, grace covers it all. Gender, race, sexual orientation, political preferences? In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, Democrat or Republican, Straight or Gay, White or Black or Asian or Hispanic, we are something else. You can’t even divided on Christians and Non as we are all mud and flame, created by God. You can’t divide along theological worlds anymore for all are incarnate within you! I’m now finding myself in the bizarre situation of embracing and being taught by the world of the sinner.

When we lay down our need to be affirmed, to defend our closely guarded positions, this leaves us vulnerable to this grace. Being vulnerable is key here whether you’re a scholar teaching these strange students. Or student in a learning situation with these strange sounding scholars. Or a staff member surrounded by excited and self-focused students and scholars? Starting where you are and looking to meet the other is wonderful testament to absolute grace. It says, "It’s done." It doesn’t say, after this if you do something, then you’ll be OK. It says, "You’re saved now," not because you did something or thought something or figured something out, but you’re saved now because Jesus says so. It isn’t religion that makes you OK with God, its God who does it. The sacraments are not religion. They do not cause something to happen. You don’t change the wine in the Eucharist into the blood of Christ, the presence of Christ. You just put up a sign in which you say, he is present in this sign as he is present in all things, including us. When we hold up the bread and wine before communion and say, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." That means that the whole world is changed, changed by Christ.

So now when I’m asked in the hospital, “are you born again? Are you saved?” I say “Yes. And it happened almost 2,000 years ago when a babe was born in a manger.” This advent, I ask you to consider, how would you answer that question?

Monday, December 07, 2009


CPE rounds on Saturday brought me into contact with a sweet little ol' Mennonite woman. she kept insisting that I was Luke "Creamcheese."* I kept correcting her but after a while I let her ramble along about my supposed lineage and how my "ancestors" came to own the farm they do about 40 minutes from Lancaster.

It was a good visit although it was a social one.

Tonight, I am called to the ER for a trauma. I work with the family and lo and behold who is the patient's emergency contact? Luke "Creamcheese."

as always, this reminds me of a song, and the fact that life is a 'strange condition' with all sorts of intersections and crossings and Constant Small Epiphanies.

*last name, of course, isn't creamcheese. real name protected.

Friday, December 04, 2009

A Theological Review of Yours Truly

I have to write my ordination paper soon. This is hard because I tend to take a Taoist stance and roll with what comes along. Deal with existence as it presents itself, not through a rigid system of absolutes found through theoretical case studies. Real life is much more fluid than that so therefore so must my thinking. That isn't to say I don't have some absolutes or that i'm totally ungrounded. I am open to being wrong and to be transformed either through reason, experience, or scripture. I can't tell you how often i've been changed by one or the other.. or all of the above!

My doctrine prof, Dr Peter Schmiechen wrote a great letter to me when my daughter was born. Dr Schmiechen is a genius theologian as well as a kind and gentle soul. he is an artisan who works with wood and i have a small Iona community cross that he made that i pray with often. anyway.. here is what he wrote as reference for those out there who are trying hard to understand where i'm coming from. it's also written as a reminder of who i'm percieved to be as i attempt to put on paper my fluid theology.

(this was written to my daughter just days after her birth, he dropped off slippers his wife knitted. the book came in May, after the Doctrine class was over.)

Dear Eve,

We met when you were but a few days old: sleeping calmly under the watchful eyes of your parents. Perhaps I will come to know you better but for now I wish to speak of your father. He is a good man. His life is made of many conflicting experiences, held in tension, waiting to be resolved. Some of that resolution appears to be taking place.

His family life was divided, his religious experience fractured several times, his interests were and still are quite varied. As you will discover, he is very bright and good with words, able to fire the imagination. He says he does not like duality or division, but he is constantly thinking in terms of either/or. He claims the inclusive tradition of medieval theology, where everything finds its proper place in an ordered universe, but he thinks about things more in terms of storm and stress, with bold images tied to tradition only by thin lines. But those lines make all the difference in the world.

He wants a church set free from dogma, absolutism, moralism, and arrogance, free to proclaim Christ the word of grace. He makes it sound like he is starting all over again but then drops hints of incarnation, cross, resurrection and real presence. He likes writers who ridicule abstract theories because Christ is a real word of grace, but leaves us wondering how this grace actually appears. The record shows it has be co-opted, controlled, abused and misused by nearly everyone, and that it would be helpful (Paul's helpful) to have some guidelines, but not a Sears' Manuel. At times he sounds like those who want to get back to the simples teachings of Jesus (which few have actually agreed on), only to surprise us that he really does think, believe and experience the mystery of grace incarnate in person and presence. He likes to set things at odds and in tension, but then the day is saved by simple affirmations of grace.

Maybe experience does triumph over dogma, tensions softened by love, old conflicts resolved by grace. Without knowing it, you were born into all of this: the child of your parents named for the mother of us all. Your father once recoiled at the thought of that mysterious story of Adam and Eve, but it appears he has mellowed, no doubt through the influence of your mother and now you.

It is fitting that he should be in the process of finding a faith home at the moment he and your mother are creating a home for you. So begins a process of mutual care among the three of you, an image of a larger grace.

Talk about a once in a life time letter... because Peter is a once in a lifetime guy. Check out his books on amazon: like Saving Power and esp.  Christ the Reconciler: A Theology of Opposites, Differences, and Enemies which this letter came with. If you want to understand where i'm coming from.. if i do as well... this book is part of it. always looking for the third way.. the transcendent way.. not really always compromising.. sometimes this way pisses everyone off.. sometimes this way gets you killed.

hope this letter was some light.. as it was for me. peace!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Am I Wry? No.

Time spent here in the hospital is making me an atheist.

Not in the classic "there is no God or gods just as there is no pink unicorns" sense but in the fact that I don't believe in religion. I read a lot of Robert Capon last summer and found this quote:

"Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is the proclamation of the end of religion, not of a new religion, or even of the best of all religions. ...If the cross is the sign of anything, it's the sign that God has gone out of the religion business and solved all of the world's problems without requiring a single human being to do a single religious thing" (The Mystery of Christ ... and Why We Don't Get It, p. 62)

I'm frustrated that more and more people i meet are lamenting "why did this happen to me? I'm a believer!" I don't think bullets, cars, or clogging arteries stop to ask whether one is Christian or not. It's a matter of physics, health and genetics, and spacial location, not a matter of theology. I believe in God and I believe in grace. I also believe in the incarnation of that God of Grace that is with us always... and esp. when we spread the "good news." But we'd sooner accept a God that we are fed to than a God we are fed by. The God presented by Jesus is one that feeds us. That is the God of Christianity. A God that doesn't punish, impeade our free-will, or one that doesn't shame us. I spend a lot of time talking with patients on these three subjects.

Now, sure there are religious elements to the Christian faith. There are some rituals and practices that help us in our daily decernments. They in no way change God, they are not some magic ritual to do when you want to get your way like some petulent child. You shouldn't pray for God to give you that Flatscreen TV, that Mac notebook, or ho-ho-ho, that video gaming system. God isn't your cosmic bellhop. Prayer changes the person who prays. it lets you know that you swim in grace, every second of every day. we are awash in something we can't fully see or comprehend... like fish in water. Like Jason recently stated, "Spirituality is intangible. Religion tries to make it tangible – the expression of the intangible."

So the 3,000 plus dividing Protestant denominations are false boundaries. They only demarcate a focus, an emphasis on social justice, or healing, or sacrament, or organ vs. folk vs praise music, whatever. We can't continue to let that divide us. I'm getting sick of those who do. I can't believe in a religion that divides people. so maybe I'm not an atheist, just really frustrated with people's crap. Really tired of hearing the "why me God?" because that's the wrong question to ask. God is always there, grace ever flowing. God doesn't fit our power-dynamic though. Love is more powerful than anything, it's much harder to do as you have to work at it, keep the relationships going and be honest. It's easier to lie and go to war.

I'm looking forward to 12-15. I've gotten a lot out of the CPE experience. I'm clearer now on how I operate as a pastor and how I think. I'm clear now that I need to serve a parish as I crave that long term relationship and ability to follow up. it's been a fantastic and practical experience. i'm just feeling overwhelmed here at the last few weeks. but i know i'll find the energy to carry on.

headline taken from this song by Mew: