Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Is this the next wave for youth ministry? Mark Oestreicher from Youth Spcecialties hopes not. I think if Abingdon Press picked up on this trend we could revolutionize youth ministry!!! In fact it'll put a whole new spin on SAFE SANCTUARIES.

Monday, November 28, 2005


Ok, so this is not my regular kind of post. So tonight Jen looks at me from her daily online sweepstaking ventures (yes I said it- i blog and she does sweepstakes) and she says, "hey I entered Jonas and Abby in a holiday photo contest. Can you tell all your blogging friends to go and vote for them?"

So I said, "Honey, you know that I dont use my blog for shameless exploitation of our adorable children. My blog is a venue for serious deep theological thought. There's no way in Hades that I'll write a post that promotes the commericalization of our children!"

....I'm so glad my wife and I are on the same page.....

So hey everyone!!! Jonas and Abby are in this really neat holiday photo contest and Jen and I would love it if you went to this website and voted for them. Check it out here.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


Part 1: "Unto Us A Child Is Born"

Another advent season has made its way into our lives. As I sit here thinking about this season (MY FAVORITE SEASON!!) I can't help but think of the darkness that clouds my joy. The world just seems to be in conflict more than in years past. There is a feeling of fear that just seems to surround our culture- and it seems that often times when fear begins to drive our culture- facism begins to feed and thrive. The war in Iraq, genocide, deception from our national leaders, the aids epidemic, and even conflict within the church- all these things are just surrounding me.

But despite these events- the holy rhythm of God's time pushes me toward the light of HOPE. "Unto us a child is born" rolls back and forth like a small cradle in my mind. I think about Jonas and Abby and how even in the midst of the mess of the world I have hope that they will live in a different world- a world that has been transformed by Christ's peace.

Was it God's plan to birth Jesus- to have come to us a vulnerable, small and fragile child? Our hope- THE HOPE- for the world came to us as a baby. And this little baby who broke into our history transformed that history with his life. This little baby- whose mother fed him her milk in the wee hours of the night, and sang songs to him the songs of her faith; whose father taught him to work with his hands and passed on the traditions of his father's father- was God's "THIN PLACE" where heaven and earth met in a sensuous dance, being reconciled into one.

And here I am now on a Tuesday night thinking about the gift that each child who is born is to our world. For with each child contains the potential to be a "thin place" for our world to help it look more like the Kingdom of God.

I think of how within my own congregation when a child is baptized the congregation commits to the nurture, care, and discipleship of that small person. Could it be that we do this because we hope that one day this child will grow up to be part of a world that is differentthan the one we live in now? Are we committing to equipping this child with the faith and practices to embody God's love in such a way that (s)he will help shape the world we live in? If we don't believe that there's hope for the world and hope for that child, then I wonder if we shouldn't make the commitment to each baby we baptize.

Maybe with each little baby that is born around the world God is saying to us, "See, unto you a child is born! There is still hope that the world will be the way I imagine it to be- so don't give up. I'm at work, I'm doing my part! Just bring these children up knowing the stories and walking in "THE WAY" and they'll do the rest... THE KINGDOM IS AT HAND...."

Saturday, November 26, 2005



I'll be reflecting on Advent for a while beginning Monday. I may be posting less since I'll be getting adjusted to my new postion at Hermitage UMC.

Shalom all!!! and Happy Advent/New Year!!!

Friday, November 25, 2005



A stranger is someone who is disconnected from their regular life-giving relationships and connections. That can be a fairly neutral thing if you have enough resources to take care of yourself. However—especially in this society—if you lack such resources as money, education, or competence in multiple areas, you are very vulnerable. You are separated from family, work, church, education. That’s what characterizes homeless people and refugees, and sometimes international workers.

Walter Brueggemann says “Strangers are people without a place.” That’s the most succinct definition. People with resources often have a place—they may just not be in it at the time. The people who are most vulnerable are those who genuinely are without a place, and without the resources to do anything about it.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Happy Thanksgiving all!!!
Christine on "John Wesley and Hospitality":

You see in John Wesley (who spans the 18th century) a recovering of most of the practices of hospitality—the shared meals, the activities in households, the key sites for hospitality like small groups. But he never calls it hospitality. I think it’s because the word had become so corrupted. He uses the word, but purely negatively, because it’s associated with excesses in entertainment. Also, he was working with mostly poor people—and since hospitality, for them, was associated with wealth and power, they were not going to see their own practice of it as hospitality.

The word hospitality with a moral sense attached doesn’t really appear again until people like Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, and the Catholic Worker movement in the 1930s. They talk about “houses of hospitality” (where they cared for the poor and people off the streets) as one of the key pieces to their efforts.

They use the language of hospitality, and they don’t mean it as entertainment. One of the criticisms more recently is that hospitality is sort of “nice”—that in a world needing liberation and justice, hospitality can appear pretty tame. I think the Catholic Worker movement understood from the beginning that hospitality is not tame; it is a form of resistance. Welcoming people is a form of respect and care.

I read through an essay that Dorothy Day wrote about Hospitality Houses. I'm amazed at her dedication to serve AND stand alongside the poor and marinalized of her time. I am in awe of her ability to organize and and be a part of many of the nonviolent protests of her time to bring attention to those who were forgotten about or uncared for in American affluent society. But then she also lived among the poor in intentional communities of hospitality.

Just before reading this I happened to read my friend, Daniel Greeson's, blog about his visit to Simple Way and Camden House. I am thankful for those who in our time of great consumerism and greed respond to Christ's call to live in community among the marginalized.

In fact I'm a little envious of those who make the leap of faith toward living in intentional community. Part of me longs for that kind of lifestyle and community.


Craig Moore over at Methodist No Spin Zone is having an interesting conversation about paying apportionments, and Forest Glen UMC's controversy with the Ohio Conference.

Now I'm not sure who is in the right or wrong in this situation. I have a hard time putting all the blame on a 17 member congregation who was already in the process of leaving the UMC. Maybe they made a mistake by withholding money from the conference that they indeed owed the conference. Mistakes happen every day. If this is the case then putting locks on the doors of the church and threatening tresspassing charges is, at best-a bit much, and at worse- simply a prickish thing to do.

However, if this congregation, no matter how small it may be, was withholding apportionment payments prior to this to make a political protest, which is in the rumor mill, then I am less sympathetic toward their plight. Behind each apportionment penny that we give, there is a real live human who has blood, who breathes, eats and sleeps and relies on our support. I'm sure that I don't agree with everything our apportion dollars go toward, but I also know that the ministries we support are ministries that one congregation could never support alone. By all churches giving what they can there are many many people who are supported. I'm not ready to do them harm by condoning a protest such as withholding apportionments.

If we're in a disgreement with our leaders let's effect change in ways that are prophetic without doing harm to those who are working in the trenches and those who are economically and socially at the margins.

...Funny how we get bent out of shape when a conference basically says it has the "right" to deny a group entry into a church building because their "practices" are incompatible with our understanding of connectional polity (stewardship, and christian life together).

but we have no problem denying some people membership into our church for the same reason.

If I were on the outside looking in at the United Methodist Church specifically at these two situations I would presume that we have a real problem with the spiritual practice of hospitality.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Scott Langord, of the Radical Preaching Community (of which I'm a part of, too), is featuring a week with Dan Bell- a Radical Orthodox thinker who engages Liberation Theology.

This is GOOD STUFF!!!

Day 1: Day One With Dan Bell

Day 2: Bell on Capitalism and Desire

Day 3: A Crisis of Ecclesiology

great job scott!!!


Christine on the "loss of hospitiality in the church":

There are several key points at which the practice of hospitality in the church began to change. One is after Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire and took on significant social responsibilities for the larger population. At that point the Church had to deal with the reality of a lot more needy people, and simultaneously a lot more resources. You see the very beginnings of the institutionalization of care. Hospitality is by definition personal and somewhat intimate, but as institutions grow and develop, the hospitality itself becomes more distant. I try to communicate in the book that I’m not casting that as a “fall from grace.” I just think it was a response to a need, with unintended consequences. I don’t think they saw the downside coming. When you read about how they celebrated the first hospitals, you realize that they only saw the good stuff, which was that people who hadn’t been taken care of were now being cared for.

Secondly, care for the poor and the sick was increasingly distinguished from “hospitality” to people with resources and wealth. As the church began entertaining the wealthy, “hospitality” became a way of consolidating power. Care for the poor began to happen at more of a distance. Interestingly, the language of hospitality continued until the beginnings of the modern period, long after the practice of hospitality had shifted, and you read people like John Calvin worrying about the loss of the practice of hospitality.

By the time you get to the 18th century, the language changes. Samuel Johnson said, “Hospitality is not effective in a commercial society.” He’s talking about hospitality as entertainment, and that it is no longer seen as an effective way to consolidate power.

We, the church, ordained and laity, really ought to take an inventory of our congregations and ask ourselves, "who is not represented within our congregations"- are they persons of color? are they persons of different socio-economic status? are they persons of different sexual orientations? are they....?

The idea is not to go out and recruit people in the name of inclusivity, because they are not present in our church, but to be open to God's Holy Spirit that speaks in diversity (acts 2). If that family shows up who are homeless, are immegrants who speak little english, or same sex partners show up looking for a faith home then those who practice hospitality will extend the peace and love of Christ to them because they represent to us "Christ the Stranger".

This practice is not about doctrine, about "the right theology", about "who's a sinner and who isn't, it's simply about offering sacred space to those weary pilgrims who wander through your doors with a whole life experience that you nothing about until you've befriended them. In fact, more than likely you won't know their background until you've committed to a level of trust and friendship with those persons.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Thank you Sen. Frist!!!

Sen. Frist played an important part in bringing the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act to the floor for a vote. His efforts in recent weeks were key in ensuring the bill’s passage. If you live in Tennessee, like I, please thank him for his leadership on passing substantive legislation on the ongoing crisis, and for reminding Congress and the administration of their responsibility to save lives and to restore peace in Darfur. In addition, encourage Sen. Frist to continue to advocate for maintaining strong provisions in the legislation as it moves forward in the House and to conference.

I don't always agree with our government officials' stances and I usually let them know when this is the case, but I also believe that we need to let folks know when they have made decisions that we support, as well.

email Sen. Frist here.

for more on Darfur, check this out.


In my ADD style of web surfing I came across Brother Amos, a 39 year old military veteran turned benedictine monk. Read about him here, I found the article and his lifestyle fascinating. He is a novice at Mepkin Trappist Monastery.

"It's when God calls you. You can definitely see by the men and women that come into our order and others that it is a calling from God." - Bro. Amos




Christine Pohl on "What is Hospitality":

Hospitality in Greek is "love of strangers." That is the first thing we have to get our heads around. Welcoming strangers had great significance for the early church. Hospitality meant welcoming outsiders into personal space, mostly a home, and offering them food, shelter, and protection. For Christians, hospitality always had physical, social and spiritual dimensions. It had a strong component of recognition and respect—which was most characteristically expressed through shared meals. They understood that who you eat with says a lot about who you respect and value.

I think that maybe hospitality is the most needed spiritual discipline that the church could practice in the 21st century.

The central idea of hospitality is the idea that God is wholly "Other" to us. We find in welcoming those who are "other" to us- the poor, the marginalized, those who are the "untouchables" of society into our midst and serving them that we welcome Christ into our lives.

Monday, November 21, 2005


This week's "A WEEK WITH..." series will highlight the Christian Practice of "HOSPITALITY". Our spotlight will feature author, activist and thinker, Christine Pohl.

Christine D. Pohl (Ph.D., Emory University) has been on the Asbury Seminary
faculty since 1989, and has worked for years in areas of urban ministry, public
policy, and women’s issues. Her articles have appeared in various journals on
topics ranging from medicine to social ethics to moral betrayal. She is the author of MAKING ROOM: RECOVERING HOSPITALITY AS A CHRISTIAN TRADITION.

This should be a lot of fun!!!

Friday, November 18, 2005


Well today was a pretty fun day. I had the wonderful opportunity to hang out with some pretty cool people doing what I really enjoy- set up an area for creative prayer.

The Youth Specialities Convention has hit Nashville and so all weekend, through monday, nashville will host those quirky fun loving church leaders called YOUTH PASTORS.

So I showed up at the convention center and met up with my good friends- jay and gavin and also made new friends- lily, jerilyn, and jeannie. Together we transformed nooks and crannies on the bottom floor into creative prayer stations.

i leave tomorrow for my last retreat with blakemore/west nashville. jen, jonas and abby will be coming along too for the west nashville umc fall retreat. so i won't actually be able to make the rest of the youth specialites convention- so gavo, jay, and friends- have a great time.

although, i think jonas and i will be crashing lily's workshop on monday morning at 9am- "how to create experiential worship in an airplane hanger". now doesn't that sound like fun!!!

shalom all,

(2nd picture borrowed w/out permission from www.gavoweb.blogs.com; thanks gavo)



The Examen was developed by St. Ignatius Loyola who was a practical kind of person which is reflected in this daily method of
prayer he recommended to his brothers. They prayed it numerous times per day as part of their daily rhythm of life.

It is is a prayer where we try to find the movement of the Spirit in our daily lives as we review our day. There are five simple steps to the Examen, which should take about 15 minutes to complete. Many people make the Examen once around lunchtime and again before going to bed. This prayer can be made anywhere—on the beach, in a car, at home, in the library.

The following is just one interpretation (of many) of these five steps to discerning the movement of Gods Spirit in your day.

Before you start: Try to be in a place where you are least likely to be disturbed, and where there is the least amount of
external noise. Perhaps you light a candle or change the lighting when you pray to symbolise the start of this activity. Then sit comfortably and still yourself. Relax, be aware of your breathing, your body and how you are feeling.


We are always in God's presence, but in prayer we place ourselves in God’s presence in an especially attentive way. God knows intimately. He loves you in the deepest way possible and desires for an intimate connection with you. In John 15 Jesus says ‘abide in me and I will abide in you’ – his invitation is to make our HOME in him. As you still yourself be aware that God is
present with you, in creation of your surrounds, your body, in those around you. Remind yourself of his presence with you and desire to BE with you. Be still and know that you are with God.


After a few moments, begin to give thanks to God for the gifts of today. Special pleasures will spring to mind: a good night’s sleep, the smell of the morning coffee, the laugh of a child, a good meal or lesson learnt. As you move in gratitude through the details of your day give thanks to God for his presence in the big and the small things of your life.


Before the next step of reviewing your day, ask that God’s Spirit might help you to look at your actions and attitudes. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to understand the motivation of your heart, to see the gifts of God and how you’ve responded to them. Ask that you’d learn and be shaped as your reflect. Remember, this is not a time to dwell on your shortcomings rather, it is a gentle look with the Lord at how you have responded to God’s gifts. It is an opportunity for growth of self and relationship with God.


This is the longest of the steps. Here you review your entire day, watching it like a movie that replays in your mind. Be sure to notice the details, the context of what happened and how you acted. As you look through the day, notice especially your motives and feelings. This is not psychoanalysis, rather it is a time for you to discern your daily motives, actions and reactions. Don’t try to fix everything in this stage, just examine how conscious you have been of God’s presence and actions in your life.

As you review you may wish to ask yourself some of the following questions.

1. Did I give time to God each day in prayer?
2. Did I have false gods in my life that I gave greater attention to than God, like money, profession, drugs, TV, fame, pleasure, property, etc.?


3. Did I curse, or break an oath or vow?
4. Did I get angry with God?


5. Did I miss worship through my own fault?
6. Did I take time out this week for sabbath rest?
7. Did I set aside a day of rest and a family day?
8. Did I show reverence in the presence of Jesus?
9. Did I receive communion if it was offered?


10. Did I disobey or disrespect my parents or legitimate superiors?
11. Did I neglect my duties to my husband, wife, children or parents?
12. Did I neglect to give good religious example to my family?
13. Did I fail to actively take an interest in the religious education and formation of my children?
14. Did I cause tension and fights in my family?
15. Did I care for my aged and infirm relatives?
16. Did I give a full day's work for a full day's pay?
17. Did I give a fair wage to my employees?


18. Did I kill or physically injure anyone?
19. Did I get angry, impatient, envious, unkind, proud, revengeful, jealous, hateful toward another, lazy?
20. Did I give bad example by drug abuse, drinking alcohol to excess, fighting, quarreling?
21. Did I abuse my children?


22. Did I willfully entertain impure thoughts or desires?
23. Did I use impure or suggestive words? Tell impure stories? Listen to them?
24. Did I deliberately look at impure TV, videos, plays, pictures or movies? Or deliberately read impure materials?
25. Did I commit impure acts by myself (masturbation)?
26. Did I commit impure acts with another - fornication (premarital sex), adultery (sex with a married person)?
27. Did I avoid the occasions of impurity?
28. Did I try to control my thoughts?
29. Did I respect all members of the opposite sex, or have I thought of other people as objects?
30. Did I abuse my marriage rights?


31. Did I steal, cheat, help or encourage others to steal or keep stolen goods?
32. Did I fulfill my contracts; give or accept bribes; pay my bills; rashly gamble or speculate; deprive my family of the necessities of life?
33. Did I waste time at work, school or at home? (yes blogging counts)
34. Did I envy other people's families or possessions?
35. Did I make material possessions the purpose of my life?
36. Did I seek justice and peace in my community or within the global community?


37. Did I lie?
38. Did I deliberately deceive others, or injure others by lies?
39. Did I commit perjury?
40. Did I gossip or reveal others' faults or sins?
41. Did I fail to keep secret what should be confidential?
42. Did I bring disunity in any way to the church where I should have worked for harmony?


The final step is our time to lay things on the table with God. Here you talk with God about your day. You share your thoughts on your actions, attitudes, feelings and interactions. Perhaps in this time you may feel led to seek forgiveness, ask for direction, share a concern, express gratitude etc. There may be an area you’ve felt challenged on or some action you feel you need to take out of this time. Resolve with God to move forward in action where appropriate. You might like to finish your time with the Lords Prayer.

added this morning:
joel got me thinking and so i invite anyone reading this to consider:

thanks joel,these questions are from the traditional examen before confession in the catholic tradition. you raise a good point.

are there questions that ought to be eliminated and are there questions that ought to be asked that aren't in here?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Every year in the UMC bishops have that wonderful job of trying to appoint elders to various churches. Sometimes this works very well and sometimes, well, ummm... it just plain sucks.

Well I have an answer to the problems that arise... a new model for how a bishop might appoint pastors and increase the number of United Methodists in the meantime.

Nothing brings people in like a little pop culture sensability.

So I invite all of our currently active bishops to check this out and let's revolutionize the appointment system:

I Present "Elder Idol"

Check it out and comment on how you think this idea might get played out in our appointment system.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Can a "practicing __________" be a baptized Christian?

hmmmm..... here's one take on it.

any thoughts from our quirky theo-thinking community?


i was tagged by gavo and sooooo........

Amount of Music on Your Computer
33 GIGS (I have a usb harddrive that contains every cd that I own rendered to mp3 or wav.

Currently Listening To: Takk- by Sigur Ros

Five Songs That Mean a Lot to You
1. Send Me On My Way- Rusted Root
2. The Scientist- Coldplay
3. Ideoteque- Radiohead
4. My Name is Jonas- Weezer
5. Dodo- Dave Matthews

Top Five Albums: (in no particular order)

1. Magical Mystery Tour- The Beatles: this was the first "real" album that my parents gave me. I fell in love with every song on the album. When I was a kid I used to pretend to be Paul McCartney or John Lennon and sing the songs.

2. Morrison Hotel- The Doors: this is my favorite Doors album, the songwriting is great. Jim Morrison had a profound influence on my writing when I was in high school and college.

3. Kid A- Radiohead: this is just a f*&#ing great album. What can I say? I LOVE IT!!

4. Some Devil- Dave Matthews: his solo album is better than DMB albums. The songwriting, the honesty, the earthiness of this album makes it one of my all time favs.

5. The New Deal- The New Deal: being a musician/songwriter who has moved more into the electronica scene, discovering a band who has blended two genres (rock and electronica) has been fascinating, inspiring and eye opening.

Last Album Bought
Takk by Sigor Ros

Recent Discoveries?
Matisyahu (hasidic reggae is very cool)

The baton is hereby passed to:
1. Shane Raynor
2. Daniel Greeson
3. Thunder Jones
4. Beth Quick
5. Ciona Rouse

Monday, November 14, 2005


I enjoyed putting together the WEEK WITH... STEPHEN LONG. I hope you enjoyed it too. I caught up with Steve at the beginning of the week and asked him a few questions. So now I'm sharing them with you. Enjoy!!


Jonathon: Steve,thanks for taking time out to do this interview for the folks who check in and read The Phaith of St. Phransus. One of the newer and exciting movements in theology is Radical Orthodoxy. And I know that you have been a part of that conversation. In what way can Radical Orthodoxy inform how we "do church" as United Methodist?

Steve: Radical Orthodoxy, in its current form, may not be able to inform how we "do church" as Methodists. It tends to be more of an intellectual exercise, bringing back to theology the importance of philosophy and even metaphysics. It may have more to do with how we train clergy into the theological tradition. Our history as Methodists has been to think of the formation of clergy primarily in terms of the so-called "social" sciences. Thus we focus on sociology and psychology and neglect doctrinal, philosophical and metaphysical issues.

I often chide the church's leadership in that everyone knows her or his Myers-Briggs score, but few clergy would be able to explain the doctrine of the enhypostaton. The reason for this is that the church hierarchy sets forth psychology and sociology as useful and practical tools for ministry, but not doctrine. Whether or not pastors can explain how Christ's two natures are related in his single Person and how that Person is related to the Second Person of the Trinity is no longer recognized as "practical" for Christian ministry.

If Radical Orthodoxy can inform the church as to what it means to be church, it will be to recover from its loss of theological nerve and begin again to take seriously the kinds of knowledge Mr. Wesley himself told the clergy we should have in his excellent "Address to the Clergy." We need to recover a theologically educated clergy, and not just a clergy who have academic credentials from an education based primarily in the social sciences. We are losing a theological and philosophical articulacy today, and I think this is associated with a loss of obedience; for obedience is not a virtue of the will. There is no such thing as "blind" obedience. Obedience is a virtue of the intellect. As the Dominican Herbert McCabe argued, obedience comes from the Latin -- ob audire -- whether to listen. If we do not have an articulate and faithful telling of the Christian story, theologically and philosophically compelling, then we cannot have obedience. Radical orthodoxy could help the leaders of the Church become more articulate, better tellers of the story, instead of functioning primarily as bureaucrat managers or therapists, which is what an emphasis on sociology and psychology inevitably turns clergy into.

Jonathon: Can you think of some practical ways that the theology of Radical
Orthodoxy inform and get played out within the context of a local

Steve: My initial response is: 'no, next question.' Radical orthodoxy is an elite, academic exercise. Even those within it call it a "sensibility." It is not really much more than a sensibility as to how one goes about the task of doing theology in the University, which I think is important because the modern secular University polices all conversations about God so that they are harmless. This often happens through university chaplains who are hired and paid well in order to make sure no outbreak of religion or piety occurs on campus. I am glad philosophy departments in secular universities are reading and engaging Radical Orthodoxy, even if it is primarily to point out its limitations. But what role does it have in the local church? That is more difficult to determine. At its best, what it does is confuse the assumptions that one either has to choose between an evangelical, orthodox Christianity and a progressive politics.

Radical orthodoxy would require recovering certain key liturgical acts. We would have to have Eucharist every Sunday. We would need to begin to confess, with the vast majority of Christians throughout the earth, the Nicene Creed. I think recovering something like Wesley's General Rules and viewing them as a basis for our common life would be helpful. These rules would have to be updated and they would have to be embodied and offer the Methodist people a distinct way of living, both as Christians and as Methodists.. They could be as simple as reminding the Methodist people that we don't play the lottery and as complex as setting forth certain economic practices in which we cannot participate at the risk of losing our freedom to come to the Eucharist table.

I tried to show the similarities between Wesley and Radical Orthodoxy in my John Wesley's Moral Theology: The Quest for God and Goodness. I think there are a number of important similarities.

Jonathon: Does having an emphasis on Trinitarian ontology affect how a church
"practices" its faith together? What might be the practices that would
reflect a more trinitarian idea of church?

Steve: I think I mentioned a few above. I do think we need a substantive form of catechism which teaches our people that our pledge is the Nicene Creed and not the pledge of allegiance to the flag. If we could simply accomplish that recognition, we will have gone a great way toward listening and responding well to the Holy Spirit in our midst. That would not, of course, mean that the Kingdom of God has come, but it would help us begin to see that all this discussion of diversity, open hearts, open minds, open doors (even though the doors remain locked after hours) is really just in service to the pledge of allegiance to the US flag and what it stands for -- e pluribus unum. There is really nothing at all radical to this. It just makes Christianity and the church ineffectual, a consumer choice among a variety of choices.

Jonathon: For those of us in the UMC who feel the need to be "bridge builders"
among conservatives and liberals- what do you see as the best "practices" or ways to engage that vision?

Steve: I guess it depends on what bridges you want to build. I don't know what people mean when they say conservative and liberal and the need to bring them together. Are they talking about the Republican and Democratic parties? Are they talking about communitarians and social contract theorists? Are they talking about orthodox versus 'progressive' Christians? Are we to build a bridge between those who think Christ was Incarnate and born of the Virgin Mary with those who think he became the Christ at his baptism? I want to know what bridge I'm building before I begin the labor. I worry about all this need to bridge differences these days; it too easily legitimates the dogmatic 'inclusivism' that says we are inclusive; you are not and therefore we exclude you exclusivists, all in the name of inclusivism. That is language performing a contradiction. I want to build a bridge that begins with orthodox, evangelical, catholic and anabaptism theology but moves away from the troubling right wing market fundamentalism. I want to build a bridge to those who have been really tending to issues of poverty, violence, life at the margins (and not those who have simply made a cottage industry out of talking about it) without leaving faith behind. I also want to build the bridge with faith that seeks reason, not a faith that is anti-intellectual or a reason that falsely thinks it has somehow moved beyond dogma.

Jonathon: I know you've been doing some work on Radical Orthodoxy in conversation with Wesley. Why are the two compatible?

Steve: This is simple: Christianity. I have no more stake in being radically orthodox than I do in being Wesleyan. Both are only useful inasmuch as they help order our lives to the Triune God and follow Jesus on the way that leads into truth and life. There are other less significant reasons I think they have much in common -- a Christian platonism grounded in a sacramental and metaphysical understanding of creation is a key one.

Jonathon: For the American church- how do we respond to social/polital issues in such a polarized time and not alienate one another? (We're so poloarized
even within our congregations)

Steve: I'm not sure we can. I think we simply have to embrace this alienation as God's judgment until someone comes along who can offer a compelling vision for our way forward. That has not yet happened.

Jonathon: Who have been your major influences to help inform your theology?

Steve: Of course Stanley Hauerwas. He went to Duke the same year I did and when I first met him I found him somewhat obnoxious. He offended my evangelical piety. He was my advisor and kept telling me to take theology courses even when I told him the courses I had to take were required for graduation! He grew on me over the years because of his profound piety and love of God. There is also Karl Barth, Henri de Lubac, Hans urs von Balthasar, Aquinas, Anselm, Julian of Norwich.

Jonathon: For those who want an "on ramp" primer to Being Methodist In a Postmodern Context, what books would be good to read?

Steve: Read anything Phil Meadows is producing. We need to get his important work out. I would also read the work of Michael Cartwright and Amy Laura Hall. I've already mentioned my own John Wesley's Moral Theology so I won't be so crass as to mention it again. Hauerwas's work remains an important development within Methodist theology; it seems to scare most people. Perhaps Bishop Willimon's work is a good place to start. I would also read Archbishop William's On Christian Doctrine. Anglican theologians are doing some really important work that we Methodists could benefit from greatly -- Milbank, Pickstock, Connor Cunningham, Michael Hanby. And of course the best presentation of RO in the US is James K. Smith's Introducing Radical Orthodox.

Jonathon: What might a "radically orthodox" United Methodist Church look like on Sunday morning?

Steve: I don't think I would ever use "radically orthodox" as marks of the Church. I would stick to one, holy, Catholic and apostolic.

Jonathon: In your honest opinion- do you think John Milbank indeed looks like
Harry Potter on steroids?

Steve: I've never known John to use enhancement technologies to get a theological advantage, but now that you mention it. . . .

Jonathon: Steve, thanks for taking the time out to be a part of THE PHAITH OF ST. PHRANSUS.

ON THIS DAY... Monday Nov. 14- St. Gregory Palamas

Gregory Palamas was born in Constantinople (?) about 1296. He became a monk of the great community at Mount Athos, near Thessalonika. Here he was one of the formost supporters of a theory of contemplation called Hesychasm (or, after him, Palamism). The Hesychasts claimed that, by suitable spirtual disciplines, those engaged in contemplative prayer could come to see the "uncreated light" of God. Their opponents objected that this doctrine was inconsistent with the unity and the transcendence of God. At first, Hesychasm was condemned as heretical and Gregory was excommunicated.

However, in 1347, thanks chiefly to the unwavering support of the monks of Athos, Gregory was brought back from exile, cleared of heretical charges, and made bishop of Thessalonika. After much controversy, his position was declared orthodox by the church of Constantinople in 1351, but by then he was worn out and an invalid. In recent years, there has been a revival of interest in his ideas.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

ON THIS DAY... Sunday Nov. 13

WE REMEMBER... St. Bryce

Bryce was not everybody’s idea of a saint. "A real menace," said some, "well intentioned but difficult." His boss, St Martin of Tours, whom he succeeded as bishop in 397, let slip the remark: "If Christ endured Judas must not I endure Bryce." His zeal as a missionary carried him through and drew admiration and support from the common people.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

my sermon for sunday nov. 13, my last sunday at blakemore/west nashville umc

1 Thessalonians 5
1I don't think, friends, that I need to deal with the question of when all this is going to happen. 2You know as well as I that the day of the Master's coming can't be posted on our calendars. He won't call ahead and make an appointment any more than a burglar would. 3About the time everybody's walking around complacently, congratulating each other--"We've sure got it
made! Now we can take it easy!"-suddenly everything will fall apart. It's going to come as suddenly and inescapably as birth pangs to a pregnant woman. 4But friends, you're not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this? 5You're sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. 6So let's not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let's keep our eyes open and be smart. 7People sleep at night and get drunk at night. 8But not us! Since we're creatures of Day, let's act like it. Walk out into the daylight sober, dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of salvation. 9God didn't set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. 10He died for us, a death
that triggered life. Whether we're awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we're alive with him! 11So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you're already doing this; just keep on doing it.

(around the altar have tall chicken wire fence encasing it with a sign on the front of fence that reads, "KEEP OUT")


There was a little girl who lived in a small town not a lot unlike where we live. Next door there was a neighbor girl about the same age. They enjoyed playing together almost every day after school and in the summers. One day the little girl's grandfather began building her a tree house. He cut the wood and began building. Pretty soon she had a little treehouse in her back yard that was just her size. She had furniture and posters, a table with a tea set and her favorite toys in the tree house.

One day the little girl next door noticed the treehouse and yelled up into it to the little girl, "hey, can i come up and play?"

A voice from inside the treehouse yelled back, "No, this is my treehouse, keep out!!!"

The neighbor girl went away sad while the little girl continued to play with her favorite toys in her new treehouse. A few days later at the neighbor's house, hammering could be heard. The little girl looked in the yard next door and to her suprise, right next to where her tree house was, another treehouse was being built by the neighbor girl's dad.

In a couple of days,there stood next to one another TWO TREEHOUSES. And on both treehouses there were signs on the doors- MY TREEHOUSE- KEEP OUT!!

Early one morning both girls were outside playing in their treehouses- one having a tea party the other cooking breakfast for all her favorite dolls. The little girl realized that she and "her friends" were pretty hungry. Tea was good but it didn't satisfy their hungry bellies. "Oh man", she said.

"What's wrong" came a small voice from inside the other treehouse. "I have just had tea but now I'm hungry and I don't have anything to eat or to feed my friends."

"That's funny", said the neighbor girl, "I just fed my friends breakfast and now we're thirsty and we don't have anything to drink."

The little girl thought for a moment, "do you want to come over and have some tea?"

"I can't", said the neighbor, "you have a "keep out" sign on your treehouse."

"Oh", said the little girl. "Well I could change it. I could change it to "WELCOME".

The neighbor thought for a moment and said,"I could bring over the leftovers from breakfast and you and your friends could share it."

So that day the little girl took down the sign that was on the door of her treehouse that said "KEEP OUT" and replaced it with another sign- one that read, "WELCOME". And on that day, two little girls enjoyed tea and breakfast together and after they were finished, they asked the dad and the grandfather to help them build a bridge that would connect their treehouses so
that they could always visit each other when they wanted to.


There's a lot that I want to say to you as a congregation- as friends and family. I want to say things like- for the last 5 years I have felt less like a staff person and more like a friend and family member to a beautiful church and beautiful people.

I want to say something like- I have been part of a youth group that has made it easy for me to feel like I've suceeded because my youth have taught me and given to me as much if not more than I feel that I have given to them. The youth of this church and West Nashville have embodied the kind of community that we all dream about- one that says "Welcome" and not "keep out". I have seen kids from all walks of life show up through the doors to the youth room and not get turned away but embraced with open arms and listened to.

Where did these kids learn that remarkable ability to say "WELCOME" instead of "KEEP OUT"? Well, from those who model it- THIS CONGREGATION.


We are living in a time when it is very easy to get caught up in playing the game of who gets to be in and who gets to be
left out. Our political leaders play that game, decision makers play the game all the time. And yes, even in the church, our UM church- we play that game- way too easily sometimes.

And as I look at recent events- some events even made by within our own denomination, I wonder why fear has to be such a motivator to build walls and exlcude.

It's real easy to say he or she doesn't talk like we do, look like we do, dress like we do, have the same skin color as we do, so I'm not sure this would be the right place for them to be. And in very subtle ways we create invisible fences around the "table", around our church and in God's eyes, we've just denied someone grace, the chance to experience and receive God's grace.


It's funny but one of the things that I'll take with me from Blakemore and West Nashville is the memory of two pastors with very different preaching styles but two very similar messages, who standing at the table with bread and cup in hand look out at us and one says- "IN THE UNITED METHODIST TRADITION THIS IS NOT OUR TABLE- THIS IS GOD'S TABLE- AND SO ALL ARE WELCOME" and then I think of the other pastor who says, "THIS IS AN OPEN TABLE, YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A BAPTIZED CHRISTIAN TO PARTAKE- IF YOU ARE SEEKING A RECONCILING RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AND NEIGHBOR THEN THIS IS FOR YOU."

You may hear about leaders and decisions in our denomination who try and put fences around the table, around the doors. We as a congregation, youth group, sunday school class, etc... may even from time to time struggle with or be tempted to put up a fence and hang a sign that says "keep out".

But today the gift and story that I take with me is of a church, a youth group, a group of frends, a family who strives to make sure that the fences are never put up and the sign that hangs out front always says, "WELCOME" not to our house, but God's house.

when you came in this morning you should have received a piece of string. This string represents God's presence in our lives here at Blakemore and God's desire for us to be people who welcome all God's children. So I want you to spend some time
thinking about those places in your life where you have created fences seperating yourself from others. And if you'd like to invite God into that place and bring healing then come to the fence and tie your string to it- as a sign that God is at work on those fences that we create. If you feel led, you are invited.

("It's Only Fear" by Alexi Murdoch plays while congregation comes forward to tie strings on fence)


(facing the altar with fence around it; take the KEEP OUT sign down)

I think I'll take this down- this isn't us... does anyone think that this is us?

(youth come up and take the fence away; turn sign around and it says "WELCOME"; and place sign on altar.

Thank you for 5 wonderful years of ministry, partnerships, and frienships. Jen and I will be leaving our membership here cause we know where home is.

And as I travel on down the road let me leave you with words that Paul left with the thessalonian church , "speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you're already doing this; just keep on doing it."

In other words- you've got a great treehouse here, invite everyone over for tea and breakfast.




One of the places from which the term 'heart religion' emerges in Wesley's thought is his sermon "Catholic Spirit." The phrase "if your heart is as my heart then give me your hand" is often quoted out of context to imply Wesley set a religion of the heart against Christian doctrine."

Wesley is discussing different worship styles — how one administers the Lord's Supper and baptism and how these are the cause of division in the various churches (although he was clear that Methodists should have a common and uniform way of doing this which was in the Discipline up through the mid-twentieth century.) He simply recognized the legitimacy of other traditions doing it differently.

Then he asks, "My only question at present is this, 'Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart." (p. 87). This is often used to argue Wesley was more concerned with the state of one's heart than with matters such as doctrine or worship. But he then goes on to explain what is meant by a "right heart" and he says, "But what is properly implied in the question? . . . . The first thing implied is this: Is thy heart right with God? Dost thou believe his being and his perfections? His eternity, immensity, wisdom, power; his justice mercy and truth."

Note that his first response to this question implies proper "belief" which is a doctrinal matter. He then says "Dost thou believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, 'God over all, blessed for ever?"

Note the second thing implied in this "heart religion" is a belief in Jesus' divinity.

Then he asks thirdly, "Is they faith filled with the energy of love?"

Fourth — "Art thou employed in doing 'not thy own will, but the will of him that sent thee'?

Fifth — "Does the love of God constrain thee to 'serve' him 'with fear'?

Sixth — "Is thy heart right toward they neighbor?"

Seventh — "Do you show your love by your works?"

These are the seven questions Wesley says constitute "having the same heart." And then he says, "If it be, give me thine hand." Some wrongly interpret this as an indifference toward doctrinal issues.

Friday, November 11, 2005



In modern theology both Evangelicals and liberal Protestants often do this move. It comes out of the Middle Ages, and it says that the way I know God is by knowing myself—God's being and my being are on the same plane. If you really want to know God you need to know who you are, then you have a direct, unitical access to God. What becomes crucial is experience. In evangelicalism you've got to have an experience. But liberal Protestants do the same move—if my experience as an individual can give me access to God simply by my being I don't need community, church, or another language. I don't need to be formed into by catechesis. All I need is this experience. It does all the work. I think that the experience becomes a commodity—a fetish. There are churches which exist to fabricate that experience. But it doesn't sustain us.

i wonder how seriously we take the liturgy that we have that's in our um book of worship and the um hymnal. one of the gifts that i see that the wesley's gave to us was there poetic sensibility through charles' hymns and the anglican tradition that shines through our liturgy.

our baptism liturgy is very communal in nature- not the least bit individual (personal- yes, but not private) ; our sevice of word and table- very communal.

the rich liturgy that we contain in our tradition has the possibility of shaping and forming us into a distinct denomination that can be both open and welcoming to human diversity AND adhere to scriptural authority. we just have to allow space for the liturgy to inform our worship and way of life.


ON THIS DAY... Friday Nov. 11

WE REMEMBER...Martin of Tours

Martin of Tours is known by the name of the French diocese of which he became bishop in 372, but his earlier life was spent in the Roman army. It was in that context that he is said to have given half of his cloak to a beggar and subsequently had a vision of Christ. He founded the first monastery in Gaul and set about spreading the Gospel to the surrounding countryside. He strongly opposed the Church establishment’s way of dealing with heretics (those who don't believe in traditional religious doctrine) by violence. His monastery seems to have been a stopping-off point for missionary travellers to and from Scotland and there are many place names which incorporate his name. He died in 397.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


You are a

Social Moderate
(55% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(10% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test



Radical Orthodoxy talks about "the liturgic turn" not "the linguistic turn." The social and political context that will help us understand God and being is found in worship and liturgy, not language.

Liturgy gives us a different sense of time. Modernity mathematizes everything. Everything becomes a point on a grid—the clock—the time—tic-toc. I hate this clock. I get up early to read, and I can hear it tick. That's just so fake. That's not time. Liturgy says there's a different time—we're in advent—a new year has already begun. In the center of the liturgy is an event that already happened, but happens again and again so it has a circular motion. One of the more radical things the Church could do would be to recover a sense of liturgical time. That would mean doing away with things like The Fourth of July, Mother's Day, all of those secular "liturgical" times that churches who think they are being faithful, but really they're not, bring into the church.

by adhering to Liturgical Time the church claims it's allegience to God and not the world. I like the idea that as a community the church re-tells and relives the stories that have been passed down through scripture and tradition as the seasons and holy days roll around each year.

I know that my life has been shaped and formed by the rituals and practices that have come directly from living within "liturgical time".

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Renewing the Center: Beyond Theological Liberalism and Conservatism

"Calling for a renewal of an evangelical center to the church of Jesus Christ, a center characterized by a 'generous orthodoxy.'"
—Stanley Grenz

"It is time to ask how theology ought to be done in a postmodern era and to envision a rapprochement between theologians of the left and right."
—Nancey Murphy

"My own vision of what might be propitious for our day, split as we are, not so much into denominations as into schools of thought, is that we need a kind of generous orthodoxy which would have in it an element of liberalism—a voice like the Christian Century—and an element of evangelicalism—the voice of Christianity Today. I don't know if there is a voice between those two, as a matter of fact. If there is, I would like to pursue it."
—Hans Frei

"I will also say that if the sort of research program represented by postliberalism has a real future as a communal enterprise of the church, it's more likely to be carried on by evangelicals than anyone else."
—George Lindbeck



Liturgy is made of those human acts we do which open us up to receive the Gift that we can't contain. It's not like liturgy guarantees anything. It's not a fetish, like, you hold of the bread and say, "behold your God—and I dispense God to you.." It's not a particular thing. Liturgy is learning the skills, language, and postures to be open when God comes and meets us. God promises to meet us! Liturgy gives us the language to know how to speak God well. Without it we'll get confused, and we'll think God is Thor or Dionysus. In philosophy there's a thing called "the linguistic turn." It says that metaphysical questions can't be answered, but if we think of them as questions about our language, then we can answer them.

I think he says what I was thinking yesterday. Only he says it so much better. Without a common language we don't have words to describe the God of the Church. It is liturgy that shapes the people of God and gives us a common language of which to speak.

I wonder if the UMC is in such disrepair right now because of our lack of a meaningful liturgical language out of which we can talk and communicate with one another...

In fact the breakdown that we have was recently manifest at Locust and Honey as we began to discuss whether or not Methodists ought to subscribe to The Apostles' Creed. The Creed itself is not a litmus test to use as a tool for witchhunting but is a way for a particular culture to have a common language. There has to be a set of beliefs that we hold in common with one another or we run the risk of making our faith meaningless and falling away into nihilism.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Steve Long on Language and Radical Orthodoxy:

Radical Orthodoxy says that language is not just ornamental or decorative. Language really matters. An ontology, what really, finally is, isn't separable from being able to have a language that sort of gives you access to it. That's different from, say, the Chicago school of theology, which, on the whole, has had what George Lindbeck called an experiential, expressivist understanding, that we all have an a priori religious experience—it's the same in all of us—and we use language to express that universal experience. We're all going to use different languages, but we all mean the same thing.

One of the problems that I see with Conservative Fundamentalists and Liberal Fundamentalists and even those of us who find ourselves somewhere either in the middle or outside (postliberal/postconservative) is that we do indeed speak a similar but not entirely unified language. Both fundamentalist sides seem to want to claim that "a priori" experience and use it to trump the other. We do have a common language though, in the church and its the language of formation and revelation. Its our LITURGY. Liturgy is the language of the church. In it the Church's time is contained, the church's story is contained, our festivals and holy days are contained, our rituals are contained.

ON THIS DAY... Tuesday Nov. 8

WE REMEMBER... Duns Scotus

Duns Scotus was born at Duns in the Scottish Borders, became a Franciscan friar and was ultimately ordained as a priest. He studied and taught at Paris, Oxford and Cologne.

Duns Scotus
He attacked the basis of mediaeval theology, based on Aquinas' idea of abstract knowledge, and insisted that we could know truth from what we could see and experience. He further insisted that we could only know God because God has willed it that he should be known. This he saw as leading to a response of obedience and prayer. These insights, and his account of the Trinity, deeply influenced Calvin (through the Scottish scholar John Major) and the Reformation. He died in 1308.

Monday, November 07, 2005


In order to take a holy rest from the intense conversations of last week, I've decided to crawl back into my inner monastic cell and take a breath and spend a "week with..."

To those I promised parts 3 and 4 of scripture- Scott, Lenny, Craig, and others.... I'm working on it. I just haven't had the energy after the last week to put into coherent thoughts. But hopefully this week will produce some fruit.


I am proud to present A WEEK WITH D. STEPHEN LONG. I came across Steve Long via Steve Manskar of Accountable Discipleship. We were having a conversation after worship one Sunday about Radical Orthodoxy and Steve said to me, "well have you read Stepen Long's stuff? He teaches over at Garrett and is one of the leading new methodist theologians."

Well, he was right. I picked up Divine Economy and even though I haven't yet finished it, it is great!!! I've also since then read quite a few of his articles all of which I enjoyed.

Stephen Long is assistant professor of theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and codirector of the Center for Ethics and Values. His newest book out is John Wesley's Moral Theology: The Quest For God And Goodness (which i am currently making my way through).

I hope you enjoy this week's WEEK WITH series and I hope it generates good discussion.
On the last day of this series (day 7) i will actually have an interview that i had a chance to conduct with Steve.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

ON THIS DAY... Sunday Nov. 6

TODAY WE REMEMBER... St. Leonard (not Nimoy)

Leonard was a sixth century French nobleman who became a hermit in the Limoges area, whose austere yet genuine lifestyle attracted others to join him.

Leonard: patron saint of prisoners

Regarded as the patron saint of prisoners, after a special affection for them evident from an early age, in art he is usually portrayed holding chains or manacles. He is also the patron saint of midwives and expectant mothers, after a hunting incident involving King Theodebart and his pregnant Queen Misigard. His reward was enough land on which to expand the future Benedictine monastery of Noblat. Returning crusaders, bringing with them experience of imprisonment, illness and setback, brought also knowledge of the cult of Leonard who had become associated with the care and healing of those in extreme ned and his name became attached to hospitalsand hostels for pilgrims.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Friday, November 04, 2005


"No spiritual exercise is as good as that of silence."

— Saint Seraphim of Sarov

Practice This Thought: Set aside a time today to be completely still for at least 10-15 minutes.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


This is the statement approved by the Council of Bishops on Nov. 2.

A Pastoral Letter to the People of The United Methodist Church

From the Council of Bishops

By grace you have been saved through faith.

-Ephesians 2:8

Grace to you from Jesus Christ who calls his church to welcome all people into the community of faith as it proclaims the Gospel.

The Judicial Council, our denomination’s highest judicial authority, recently issued a decision regarding a pastor’s refusing a gay man’s request for membership in the church. In the case, this man was invited to join the choir at the United Methodist Church in the community. As he became more active in the choir and the church, he asked to transfer his membership from another denomination to The United Methodist Church. Because he is a practicing homosexual, the pastor refused to receive him into church membership. The Judicial Council upheld the pastor’s refusal of membership.

While pastors have the responsibility to discern readiness for membership, homosexuality is not a barrier. With the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church we affirm:

“that God’s grace is available to all, and we will seek to live together in Christian community. We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.”(Para. 161g, 2004 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church)

We also affirm our Wesleyan practice that pastors are accountable to the bishop, superintendent, and the clergy on matters of ministry and membership.

The United Methodist Church is committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ with all people. We, the bishops of the Church, uphold and affirm that the General Conference has clearly spoken through the denomination’s Constitution on inclusiveness and justice for all as it relates to church membership:

“The United Methodist Church acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth. All persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status, or economic condition, shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, upon baptism be admitted as baptized members, and upon taking the vows declaring the Christian faith, become professing members in any local church in the connection.” (Article IV, Constitution of The United Methodist Church)

We believe the ministry of the local church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is to help people accept and confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We call upon all United Methodist pastors and laity to make every congregation a community of hospitality.

Nov. 2, 2005

Lake Junaluska, N.C.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


The Saint I chose to reflect upon for All Saints was St. Serephim of Sarov. He is one of the orthodox saints who in a lot of ways resembles St. Francis (not to be mistaken for St.Phransus).

St. Serephim was born in 1759 to a merchant family. He loved to read about the lives of the saints who came before him and frequently, as a child, retreated to the forest for seclusion and prayer. At 18 he became a monk and began to live a life of solitude, eating only once a day and fasting completely on Wednesdays and Fridays (also the days Wesley chose to Fast).

Serephim retreated into the life of the hermit where he had little contact with others but kept communion with the animals of the forest. Tradition has it that many animals came to Seraphim for council. He is also a saint of peace and is known for achieving great perfection in his time.

read more about St. Serephim here

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


i have to admit that i am growing weary of both conservative fundies AND liberal fundies. you can have your arguments and rants. no one is going to win so QUIT TRYING!! i'm gonna stick to the daily office, loving my neighbor without litmus tests, prayer and contemplation. the blog grows tiresome and boring. it's all a game of rhetoric and arm wrestling.... it's all starting to sound like blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah....

goodnight folks.


Scripture reading for ALL SAINTS DAY: Matthew 5: 1-12, Revelation 9: 9-17

Quirky fact: All Saints was John Wesley's favorite Christian holy-day.


Sing praises to God, O you saints,
and give thanks to God's holy name!
We exalt you, O God, for you have restored us to life!
We may cry through the night, but your joy comes with the morning.
You hear us, O God, and you are gracious in our distress.
You turn our mourning into dancing!Our souls cannot be silent!
O God, our Savior, we give thanks to you for ever!

We often remember saints through pictures, mosaics, statues, and stained glass. Take some time and surf the web and learn about a saint from our Christian tradition. Blog about that saint today and share the saint with others. A place to start might be Christian Saint's Notes.


from The United Methodist Social Principles contained in the Book of Discipline:

"Homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth. All persons need the ministry and guidance of the church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. We affirm that God's grace is available to all, and we will seek to live together in Christian community. We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons."

It would seem that yesterday's ruling by the Judicial Council to allow the pastor sole discretion to reject someone from membership in the UMC, and given the spirit and circumstances that it was determined, is not in the same spirit as our BOD. If this ruling is used as ammunition against the GLBT community to keep them out then it would seem that pastors could be brought up on charges against the discipline?