Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Democrats are losing their effort to convince voters that they take religion seriously, especially among independent voters who say the party has become less "friendly" to religion, according to a new Pew poll.


Where's the National Guard when you need them?

Oh yeah, President Bush sent them to Iraq....



Buried deep within the No Child Left Behind Act is a provision that requires public high schools to hand over students' private contact information to military recruiters. If a school does not comply, it risks losing vital federal education funds. As if that weren't bad enough, the Pentagon has now built an illegal database of 30 million 16 to 25-year-olds as another recruitment tool.

Am I the only one that sees this as somehow inappropriate? I definitely have a problem knowing that the youth I minister to and with are being targeted at SCHOOL by military recruiters and that these recruiters automatically get access to their PRIVATE contact information. Sounds pretty "sneaky sneaky" to me.

I found this "Action Plan" to help speak out against this.

Action 1: Protect our Children - "Opt Them Out!"

Action 2: Host a Back-To-School Event
Sept. 18 Blakemore and West Nashville Youth , my youth group, will be hosting a Back To School "Opting Out" Event.

Action 3: Tell Others about what's going on!!!

You don't have to be against the war, or be a pacifist to believe that some aspects of the way the government and our military conducts business is inappropriate- THIS IS ONE OF THOSE TIMES. PLEASE act on this and let our leaders, our boards of education, and local representatives know that the Christian community does not support this kind of military marketing to teenagers.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005


I read a comment today that John Wilkes wrote in regards to Day 6 of "A Week With Stanley Hauerwas". I love what he has to say so much that I think it's post worthy.

John, I just want to say thanks for insightful and "bridge building" comments that help all who read to grow and stretch a bit more.

Hauerwas says:

"When people say, "The world changed on Sept. 11, 2001," we have to say "No, the world changed on 33 A.D." The question is how to narrate what happened on Sept. 11 in light of what happened in 33 A.D."

John Wilkes replies with:

"I have read and re-read that quote from Hauerwas about 15 times since I first saw it up on your blog. Really, it is the answer for not just 9/11 but every tragedy, every cultural or ideological shift, every innovation or evolution or even collapse that passes in our moment of history.

We, as people who follow the Crucified and Risen Master, must see the events of our world in light of the Gospel and not the other way around.Perhaps the driving force of the growing rift between the Progressives and Evangelicals is that neither has really learned that lesson yet. Maybe we are all trying so hard to make the Gospel make sense TO us that we've forgotten how to let it make sense OF us."

Yeah, I definitely cannot say it any better than that folks.


News Quiz: Week of Aug. 22-28, 2005

How well do you remember last week's religion-news headlines? Take this quiz to find out!

Monday, August 29, 2005


Our youth group had our first meeting about a pilgrimage that we're taking next summer to Leon, Nicaragua.

We're going through Volunteers In Mission to do this trip. All seemed really excited. The youth are sponsoring this as an intergenerational pilgrimage- "Finding God In the Margins". We'll be working at an orphanage called El Ayudante. As of last night we have 10 youth and 15 adults signed up. It's exciting that our little churches of West Nashville UMC and Blakemore UMC will be doing such a big trip. Neither church has done a trip like this before. Keep us in prayers as plans continue to evolve.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Hauerwas on sacrifice and justice

The sacrifice to end sacrifices was made by God through the sacrifice of his son, and the ending of sacrifice means that we don't continue to sacrifice other people to make the world come out all right. Justice has been done. We've been given all the time in the world to announce that God would not have God's kingdom wrought through violence. That's good news. It's hard news, but it's good news.

Hauerwas on dissenting:

Right now, dissent is just evaporated. There is no dissent. When you just try to bring critical questions to bear, people get extremely frustrated with you. I don’t think enumerating all the bad things America has done in the world is the way to go. It doesn’t excuse or justify what happened, but it does mean that this is surely a time for stock taking. I mean, America is Rome. We’re an unchecked power. We do not yet know what it means for America to be America without an enemy.

Hauerwas on conservative Christians:

The conservatives, I think, continue to let their views about Christian salvation be policed by their democratic presuppositions. And so they want to have their Jesus without the implications, for example, for living nonviolently. And I just don't think you can do that. And philosophically, as far as I'm concerned, they just don't get it. When they hear me, they keep saying "Well how do you defeat relativism?" They assume if you don't have a theory about how you defeat relativism, then the Nazis are around the corner.

Hauerwas on homosexuality:

For gay Christians who I know and love, I wish we as Christians could come up with some way to help them, like we need to help one another, to avoid the sexual wilderness in which we live. That’s a worthy task. I probably sound like a conservative on these matters, not because I’ve got some deep animosity toward gay people, but because I don’t know how to go forward given the current marriage practices of our culture....

Indeed, if protection from the harmful consequences of unbridled sex is truly a foundation for marriage, homosexuals would seem to have fully as great a need for such protection as heterosexuals. And committed same-sex couples surely could derive the same support the institution of marriage provides to faithful, monogamous, long-term heterosexual relationships--and thus be helped.

Hauerwas on Faith and the Religious Right:

I think President Bush represents the privatized form of Christianity that revels in how important Jesus is for them but wouldn’t have the slightest idea what to do if they followed any of the radical demands of the Gospel."

Hauerwas on Patriotism:

Patriotism in most countries is associated with thankfulness to forbearers that made life possible, to a past that has given a tradition of worth. The United States doesn’t want you to be loyal to a land or to a history. It wants you to be loyal to ideals. And those ideals are universal. The kind of patriotism that we see in America cannot help but be a kind of imperialism. It says, ‘This is really what you would want if you were thinking clearly.’ I think that’s deeply perverse.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Hauerwas and Sept. 11

When people say, "The world changed on Sept. 11, 2001," we have to say "No, the world changed on 33 A.D." The question is how to narrate what happened on Sept. 11 in light of what happened in 33 A.D.


So I know that I claim to be pacifist and all. And I go to great lengths to not fall prey to either the liberal or conservative agendas of Christianity or politics.

However.... it has become apparent to me that generally when I go on a violent rant I end up beating up on conservatives. So if you lean toward the right in any way and I have ever ranted on you at your blog or mine- I'M DEEPLY SORRY.

So last week Gavin and I went on a quest- TO BRING BALANCE TO MY BLOG... TO BRING YIN TO THE YANG- we went in search of a liberal to get buck wild on!!!!

What you are about to see is severe beating of a liberal Christian, and not just any Christian- but none other than that wiley dissenter- Cole Wakefield.


it all started when gavin and i stormed the united methodist publishing house. while there i eyed the bust of john wesley. this picture was taken just before i sneezed and knocked it over. at that point we ran for our lives from the security guard.


it was a few minutes that we were stopped dead in our tracks by cole wakefield. SHAZAM!!! who would have known it would be soooo easy to find our target?!?


OH YEAH!!!! Nothing like a little WWF Action!!!


I guess I'll lick my wounds and get the heck out of dodge!!!
Cole, you won the battle but not the war!!! YO JOE!!!!

Friday, August 26, 2005


John, you little devil... nightee night!!!


Hauerwas on violence and America:

To offer concrete alternatives means you have to be different. We love violence. When was the last time you went to see a movie about peace? I mean, we're attracted to violence. It's dramatic. It gives us a moral, heroic role! You've got to be really embedded in a different set of practices to force a different imagination.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


EVANGELICAL (מטיף בקנאות לעיקרון מסוים): of or pertaining to or in keeping with the Christian gospel especially as in the first 4 books of the New Testament.

I consider myself an evangelical, in the best sense of the word. I am very passionate about my relationship with Jesus Christ and strive to practice my faith in the most authentic way that I can. I also really want to see people become whole and fulfilled in their lives. I do believe that the most truthful expression of being made whole is through realizing God's grace in one's life, seeing that grace manifested through Jesus and participating in the lifestyle of the Christ community (THE CHURCH).

I have to make a confession- I am a church geek. I love worship, and spiritual practices, church history, liturgy, conservative christians and liberal christians, the Bible, and trying to follow the teachings of Jesus.

Geez I even like to read the Rule of Saint Benedict, stories about the saints, Jewish folklore, and stories about the circuit riders.

But as much as I love the church I can't keep my big mouth shut when something is on my mind. I just finished reading a post over at Shane's site about abortion. And it made me think again how many of our churches are disconnected.

Take for instance the socio-political stance of being "PRO-LIFE". In Shane's post he quotes fellow blogger, LaShawn Barber, who says,
"If the mere possibility that innocent babies are tortured in the womb doesn’t make these women want to hang their heads in shame for advocating murder… but they’ll realize one day soon how depraved they are. It’s too tragic for words."

I think this is a wonderful quote and I stand behind it completely. But what it has brought to mind is that we don't seem to stand behind the same reasoning when it comes to...

The Death Penalty, or War...

If LaShawn's statement were completely prolife it might go something like this:
"If the mere possibility that innocent people sitting on death row might be killed via the death penalty doesn't make the state hang it's head in shame for advocating state sanctioned murder... but they'll realize one day soon how depraved they are. It's too tragic for words."


"If the mere possibility that Christians killing innocent children, women and bystanders in Iraq doesn't make the Church hang it's head in shame for advocating war... but they'll realize one day soon how depraved they are. It's too tragic for words."

1. I understand that most will disagree with me on this. That's ok. I'm used to it. But I do invite discussion and dialog- BUT ONLY IF YOU REALLY THINK ABOUT THE IMPLICATIONS OF TAKING A "PRO-LIFE" STANCE FIRST.

2. When I speak of war and the killing of innocents- I am strictly speaking of Christians killing other people. I realize that war is a reality in our world- that nations war against one another. But if we take seriously that Christians "practice" an alternative lifestyle that is founded upon following the way of Jesus- then it seems to me that this should dictate the kinds of activities we do and don't do. I'm not sure that participation in war is something a Christian ought to do.



Hauerwas on spirituality and disciplines

I gave up on the language of spirituality because the assholes got it. Spirituality became a way to talk about a universal need that we all have that can be expressed through any religion some way or the other. This kind of individualistic, getting-myself-right with the powers of the world, I’m not sympathetic toward it. I am very sympathetic toward exercises that have been well explored through centuries of Christian practice that are now embodied in wise people that can teach you how to go on. But, never forget, the Devil’s a spirit and the Devil can appear as a spirit of discernment, and so you have to be very careful with that. I wouldn’t want to be among the proponents of spirituality today. I’m more than willing, though, to talk about prayer, fasting, obedience, silence. I regard spirituality as learning how to talk. What that means is not being afraid of your “first order” religious convictions, and that you can just say it. The Psalms are “first order” religious convictions, so I take a lot of comfort from the Psalms.

Day 3

Day 2

Day 1

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


In an effort to bring about world peace, Gavin and I have collaborated to bring you the world's best post. Check it out.


Hauerwas on marriage

When couples come to ministers to talk about their marriage ceremonies, ministers think it's interesting to ask if they love one another. What a stupid question! How would they know? A Christian marriage isn't about whether you're in love. Christian marriage is giving you the practice of fidelity over a lifetime in which you can look back upon the marriage and call it love. It is a hard discipline over many years.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

"Kindness Killed the Texan" A.K.A . "Which One Would Get a Butt Whuppin' If They Fought"

gavin richardson said...
"i think stan needs to do a battle of violent/nonviolent theologies with pat robertson"

alright- who'd gonna win in the great battle of faith? Will it be Stanley The Cussin Texan Hauerwas, or Pat "Killem' With Kindness.... Or Anything Else But Just Killem" Robertson?

You decide....

Watch Hauerwas here.
Watch Robertson here.

cast your vote in the comment section


Hauerwas on Sept. 11:

Christian willingness to kill other Christians in the name of national loyalty is surely one of the assumptions many Christians assume is not to be questioned. Yet no assumption has contributed more to the accommodation of Christianity to secular ways of life than the presumption that Christians have no problem with war. For Christians to be nonviolent is not just another political position, but rather at the very heart of what it means to be Christian, of what it means to be human. I believe God created all that is with the desire to be nonviolent. We are not meant to be killers. That is why we have to be trained to kill. God wants us to be in love with God and with one another in a manner that our differences challenge our self-imposed desires. Christians in America have difficulty responding to September 11 as Christians because we are more American than we are Christian.


Chuck Colson has written a great article where he realizes that no secular agenda held by either liberals or conservatives "get it right". In my eyes this kind of truthfulness and insight, if adopted by UM's would pave some bridges in dialog and even new and different possibilities. Check the article, "What is Justice: neither liberals or conservatives have it quite right".

Monday, August 22, 2005

Accountable Discipleship Blog

We have a new United Methodist blogger in the bl'ouse (blog-house)!!!! Check out Steve Manskar's blog- Accountable Discipleship.

Steve is the author of "Accountable Discipleship, Living In God's Household", 'Perfect Love: Understanding John Wesley's "A Plain Account of Christian Perfection'" and is also the Director of Accountable Discipleship for the General Board of Discipleship, Nashville, TN.

Look for good thoughts and posts at Accountable Discipleship.

Steve, welcome to the neighborhood.


Hauerwas on Violence And The Church:

God's given us all the time we need to patiently help our congregations be what they can be. That's the way you want people formed, because that's the way the Spirit operates. If you help people discover the violence in their lives, though, don't expect to be honored. One of my favorite epigrams is that Christians are not nonviolent because we believe our nonviolence is a strategy to rid the world of war, even though, of course, we want to make the world less violent. But rather, Christians are nonviolent in a world of war because we cannot image anything else as faithful followers of Christ.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Don't Cry For Me

(sayings of the desert fathers)

'A brother questioned Abba Poemen in this way, 'My thoughts trouble me, making me put my sins aside, and concern myself with my brother's faults'. The oldman told him the following story about Abba Dioscorus (the monk), 'In his cell he wept over himself, while his disciple was sitting in another cell. When the latter came to see the old man he asked him, "Father, why are you weeping?" "I am weeping over my sins," the old man answered him. Then his disciple said,"You do not have any sins, Father." The old man replied, "Truly, my child, if I were allowed to see my sins, three or four men would not be enough to weep for them. " '

I like the desert fathers because they don't mince words and they have such a simple way of living in community together. But perhaps when you're living in caves and very rustic conditions in an area where the land does not make survival easy- then simple structures and simple ways of life together is of great importance.

I wonder what our church might look like if we had more Abba Dioscorus's, unable to focus on the sins of others, concerning themselves with their own shortcomings. It's so difficult to get to a place where I can say, "I have faults, and I sin." However when I do this along with my brothers and sisters in my congregation then I begin to see the "other" person as no better or worse than I- simply a child of God in need of God's grace and my love, and I needing the same from them.

The world can feel like the desert a lot of times- the conditions can be hard and difficult. Unfortuanately the church a lot of times feels no different than the world. There are people inside who seem like the anonymous brother who concerns his or herself with the sins of others, and having troubling thoughts- which usually causes others to have troubling thoughts.

Maybe we need pastors, youth pastors, lay leaders, and prophets who will be our Abba Poemans- telling stories from the desert, and a place where we are called to confess OUR OWN sins, and embrace those who come to us seeking shelter.


Thursday, August 18, 2005

Hope Beyond All Hope

"During the darkest periods of history, quite often a small number of men and women, scattered throughout the world, have been able to reverse the course of historical evolutions. This was only possible because they hoped beyond all hope. What had been bound for disintegration then entered into the current of a new dynamism."

- the late Brother Roger, founder of the Taize Community


Romans 12: 1-2, 4-6
Place Your Life Before God 1So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. 2Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

4In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. 5The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, 6let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.

"We know that 30,000 children die each day due to preventable illness and malnutrition - that means a child dies somewhere in the world every three seconds; almost 11 million children die every year. To put that in perspective, that's nearly the number of people that live in Ohio or Michigan." - Adam Taylor in Sojourner Magazine

I am the first to admit that I like a good heated debate/conversation when it comes to theology and doctrinal issues (especially as they relate to the United Methodist Church).

But as I read the above quote today it became very apparent to me just how disconnected our doctrine and theology is. We argue over the issue of homosexuality because we read that the Bible says that it is wrong. But for the 4-5 times that it condemns homosexuality, how many more times does it condemn the affluent and powerful overlooking the needs of the poor and helpless? THERE'S NO COMPARISON.

There's a disconnect in the church today (actually it has been there all along), but we say we want to be inclusive or embracing but yet we continue to create walls of division in the name of being holy, being scriptural and docrinal. It strikes me as sad that Jesus came not for the religious to know God but that the left out, forgotten, and unacceptables might experience community and wholeness.

If we're going to take serious that some people should not be included in the full life of the church, because of what the Bible says, then I think we'll have to exclude anyone who is not seriously working to eradicate poverty. Are you challenging your churches to have a voice in this? Are you pressuring your government, your commander and chief to make wise decisions? Are you striving to live simply and below your means that you might SHARE with those who have none (which is VERY Wesleyan)?

There's a disconnect in the church today. It seems that most of us doing the talking about being holy, and living scripturally, holding keys to the kingdom of who's in and who's not- who receives and who doesn't are people that by societal and global standards wield power. How are we going to use the power and priveledge that we have? Will we help live out God's vision of shalom or will we miss the kingdom all together?

I'm afraid that in a lot of ways- we're missing the kingdom all together. It has taken artists and musicians outside the church to get our country to becoome aware of the scale of global poverty that we're dealing with in the world. It has taken the artists, activists and musicians outside the church to help bring our country on board to "make poverty history".

All the while the church is more concerned with issues of abortion and homosexuality than 30,000 children dying every day. There's a disconnect in the church.

"O holy and merciful God,
we confess that we have not always taken upon ourselves
the yoke of obedience,
nor been willing to seek and to do your perfect will.
We have not loved you
with our whole heart and mind and soul and strength,
neither have we loved our neighbor as ourselves.
You have called to us in the need of our brothers and sisters,
and we have passed unheeding on our way.
In the pride of our hearts, and our unwillingness to repent,
we have turned away from the cross of Christ,
and have grieved your Holy Spirit."
- Wesleyan Methodist Conference, England, 20th Cent.

Taize Religious Community Founder Slain Founder of a Christian ecumenical community stabbed to death at an evening prayer service.
Associated Press August 17, TAIZE, France

Brother Roger, the 90-year-old founder of an ecumenical religious community dedicated to peace and reconciliation, was knifed to death by a woman at an evening prayer service attended by 2,500 people, authorities said.

The slaying was deplored Wednesday by the pope and the head of the Anglican Church, who called the slain monk "one of the best-loved Christian leaders of our time."
An all-night prayer vigil was held following the fatal attack Tuesday night in the church at Taize, in Burgundy.

A Romanian woman wielding a knife killed silver-haired Brother Roger, witnesses said. A community spokesman, Brother Emile, said the monk's throat was cut and he died 15 minutes later.

Taize officials said the woman had arrived two days earlier among thousands of pilgrims who visit the site. Prosecutor Jean-Louis Coste said the woman, reportedly 36 years old, had bought the knife the day before.

"It would appear for now there is little doubt that this was premeditated since she bought a knife the day before and voluntary homicide is manifest," Coste told reporters without naming the woman.

Coste said the woman detained for questioning by police. He said she was not "unbalanced enough to justify psychiatric care."
People at the service grabbed the woman, who had sprung from the crowd, and turned her over to police.

Brother Roger founded the Taize religious community in 1940 emphasizing the need for all Christians to come together in peace, love and reconciliation. The Taize ecumenical community, which is near Macon, 240 miles southeast of Paris, draws tens of thousands of Christian youths from around the world each year for prayer and meditation.

Pope Benedict XVI said he had received a "very moving and very friendly letter" just Tuesday from Brother Roger. Benedict spoke of the "very sad and terrifying news."
"This is an indescribable shock," said Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the Church of England. "Brother Roger was one of the best-loved Christian leaders of our time and hundreds of thousands will be feeling his loss very personally, and remembering him in prayer and gratitude."

President Jacques Chirac praised Brother Roger as "one of the most remarkable servants of the values of respect and tolerance," while German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said he regarded Brother Roger as one of the "great contemporary personalities of religious life."
Schroeder praised him for sheltering Jewish refugees during World War II and later fostering reconciliation in Europe.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. (oh well, i did it anyway)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I received an interesting email from a new friend- "Oblate X", whom although posted a comment somewhere on my blog, I cannot seem to find where he posted.

His comment is a reference to where I must be describing myself as a "little bit monastic". His comment says, "I'm not sure you can be a "little bit monastic" - that is sort of like being a "little bit married". Marriage and monasticism are both defined by the nature of the vow. The monastic vow (in the Benedictine tradition anyway) is to poverty, stability, and conversion. The key to these is stability - the lifelong commitment (much like a marraige vow). Without this vow, and the renunciation of private ownership, it is impossible to experience monastic life, just as it is impossible to experience marriage by sleeping with women you've known for only a week. It's worth thinking about - monasticism can't be "had" in a week's time."

My thoughts on this:
I agree with you to an extent. Yes monasticism is a vow to a "way of life". Yes that way of life is a dedication to living a lifestyle of poverty, stability and conversion. This commitment is a lifel0ng commitment and "process" of sanctification through observing the specific practices of monasticism.

Where I disagree is that one has the option of being called to cloistered life as a benedictine or a secular ordered benedictine. Obviously one cannot give up privite property in doing a secular order, however one can observe the rule, practice the rule, pray for brothers and sisters, and live out (in spirit) the ideals of the benedictine way. My understanding of possessions is that they are not privite property but that we are stewards of God's gifts. So as far as I'm concerned there is really no such thing as private property.

When I say that I'm a little bit monastic what I mean by that is not that I'm casually committed, but that I try to live out the ideal of the benedictine spirit.

I would be careful in the way you approach your critique because you sound a bit like some of my fundamentalist friends, who at times can be quite pharisaicle. Oblate X- I look forward to further conversations.


The Passing of Brother Roger

Brother Roger has entered the life of eternity. This has come as a shock to me, as I know it has to everyone else. Brother Roger started the Taize Community in Taize France back in the 1940's and has been an incredible witness to both the peace and love of Christ ever since.

During the evening prayer on Tuesday 16 August, in the midst of the crowd surrounding the Community in the Church of Reconciliation, a woman - probably mentally disturbed - struck Brother Roger violently with knife blows. He died a few moments later.

In its sorrow, the Taizé Community thanks all those who are supporting it by their affection and their prayer. On the morning of 17 August, after Brother Roger's death, the following prayer was read in the church:

"Christ of compassion, you enable us to be in communion with those who have gone before us, and who can remain so close to us. We confide into your hands our Brother Roger. He already contemplates the invisible. In his footsteps, you are preparing us to welcome a radiance of your brightness."

The funeral of Brother Roger will take place on Tuesday 23 August at 14.00.

Each afternoon, from 15.00 to 19.00, his body is placed in the church of Taizé, so that all who wish may go and meditate close by him.

Eight years ago, Brother Roger designated Brother Alois to succeed him, as the person in charge of the community. Brother Alois has entered straightaway into his ministry as servant of communion at the heart of the community.

Let us keep the brothers of Taize along with the many young pilgrims who are deeply saddened by this in our prayers this week.

Worship Feast's Worship Music

It looks like I'll be working on creating songs for Abingdon Press' upcoming Worship Feast project- "Worship Feast: Prayer Stations". It will be an interactive DVD with prayer stations developed by Gavin, along with contemplative music to use during the worship around the stations.

So Brandon Brooks and myself (aka Treefinger) will be creating the very hynpotic grooves that you will hear on the project- much fun and quite meaningful I hope. I think it'll be out by next spring. You can check out one of the upcoming tracks, "On This Rock", at the Treefinger site by clicking here.

Friday, August 12, 2005

A Great Ending to the "Not So" Sabbath Adventures

The day was winding down. Gavin and I were walking to our cars to call our "Not So" Sabbath Day quits when I spotted the labyrinth at Scarritt-Bennett.
Finally- the opportunity for silence and solitude. I began walking and I felt something- it was amazing. Wow, this silence stuff really works. Then I realized- the sprinklers around the labyrinth had come on. On a day when the heat index was close to 100, and humidy was 1000%, the water from the sprinkler became the living water of Christ for me.... not a bad way to finish a Sabbath Day Retreat.

shalom all,

Rock Star Religion

How well do you know the spiritual lives of the gods of rock? I apparently do not know as much as I thought. You can click here to see how much YOU know.

The "Not So" Sabbath Day Adventures of Gavo and Jonathon

Picture yourself in the halcyon days of childhood. You are putting on your jacket, getting ready to leave home, when your mother calls out your name.

"Where are you going?" she asks.

"Out," you say.

"With whom?" she continues.

"My friends," you answer.

"To do what?" she inquires.

"Nothing," you say....

That is the scenario for the last two days of my life. Yesterday Gavin and I had decided would be a Sabbath Day. First we were going to go to Penuel Ridge for an overnight time of solitude. Well, after several meetings quickly took over as the agenda for the day for both of us- that got shot down.

After the last meeting at the United Methodist Publishing House was over (more about that later) we decided to carry over the idea of a Sabbath Day.

So today I woke up early ,went into church to get some things done for the weekend,and then decided to see if Gavo and I could use Stillpoint as our Sabbath Day homebase. My buddy Sis. Kathleen (another story for another blogpost) informed me that becuase of various projects going on at Stillpoint a sabbath would not be a good experience there.

So then I went to the next best location- Bill Lizor's office. I thought to myself- "self, what a very tranquil place Bill Lizor's office might be." But instead I found a very pissy Bill Lizor on Friday (poor bill). He was just in a real blah mood. None of my lame and annoying jokes lifted his spirits.

So then finially Gavo, Bill and I hooked up for lunch and then Gavin and I went over to Vanderbilt Divinity Scool in search of a wifi connection to surf and have quiet. What we found was a nice lounge but no wifi. So instead we went up to the Vandy Div School Cokesbury bookstore (yes vandy has a cokesbury located in the div school). There we harassed Dan and Angela as they were busy stocking shelves full of wonderful and intriguing works of theology.

(Dan at Cokesbury enjoying stock day)

Frustrated at our lackage of wifiness we have no settled down for the last part of our Sabbath Day back at the Alektor Cafe (sometimes i feel like i live here). And here I am writing this post and lauging at John "Liberace" Wesley and listening to monks chant. Wow, Sabbath Days with Jon and Gavo- a lot of holy (or not so holy) laughter and just a lil' bit of solitude.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

A Great Weekend in the Mountains

I just got in a few hours ago from a great weekend at Beersheba Springs Assembly, our TN Conference Retreat center. I took the youth group to Summer Sizzler, the conference's big summer youth event.

We had the largest number of youth attending this event ever. What a great weekend. Now I'm absolutely pooped.

Every year this event means for me the summer is coming to a close. Wow, it seems as though it just started. Oh well, I guess it's time to start thinking about Advent....

More to come this week.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


So last week I wrote a post about how frustrated I get sometimes with the polarization that I see in the church today. Not that I think we can easily move passed this nor do I think the issues over which we debate and discuss are trivial enough that we ought to dismiss them.
I did conclude however that what ought to be at the center of Methodist polity- ought to be a denomination that embodies "practices" of faith.

"Practicing our faith" was so central to John Wesley's idea of how we do church together that he instituted practices as central to the Methodist societies- he called them the "means of grace". Means of Grace as defined by Wesley were nothing more than practices that Christians were to engage in that over time with much practice- would help a person to continually become more and more like Jesus.

According to Richard Foster- these spiritual practices (means of grace) are made up of:
Meditation, Prayer, Fasting, Study
simplicity, Solitude, Submission, Service

Confession, Worship, Celebration, Sacraments

Steven Harper, director of Spiritual Formation at Asbury Seminary says this about spiritual practices:
" We are made in the image of God, and as Augustine said, our hearts are restless until they rest in God. To live the life of a disciple is to live the life we have always wanted to live. When we live as disciples, our hearts exclaim, 'For this I was made!' And out of that exclamation will come a willingness to practice the spiritual disciplines in whatever ways will make us better followers of the Master."
This kind of thinking had a huge impact on Wesley- the more we practice a spiritual discipline, the more the practice becomes a way of life.
So back to Methodists and the Means of Grace. I have an idea and I want to see if anyone is interested in trying this with me.
Henry Knight III is the Donald and Pearl Wright Professor of Wesleyan Studies at St. Paul School of Theology. He has written a book called, "Eight Life Enriching Practices for United Methodists". According to a writeup on the General Board of Discipleship's website: "Eight Life-Enriching Practices of United Methodists presents the basic practices of Christian discipleship. Also known as the means of grace and spiritual disciplines, these eight practices are the historic places where God promises to meet God's people face to face. They are an essential part of the life of Christian discipleship because they are how disciples grow in faith, hope, and love."
So I'm interested in seeing if there is a group of people that would be willing to read this book- maybe 1 chapter per week, focussing on living out the practice during the week and posting about it on their blog. What we'd in effect have are various ways that different Methodist Christians begin to strive to live out their faith with a shared/common language but we'd each live out those practices in different expressions.
I'm thinking that it would start at the beginning of September and we'd go till we get through the book. There's a few other great books on Wesley and spiritual practices that we could do if this goes well- including Paul Chilcoates- Recapturing The Wesley's Vision, and fellow blogger, Ken Carter's- A Way of Life in the World.
So, who's in?