Wednesday, May 31, 2006


So, as much as I the thought of this I know that I need to just go ahead and do it:

As of today this will more than likely be the last post of the summer for the phaith of st. phransus. I have way too much going on and I really need to simply give something up so that other things can fall into place (hopefully). So I do think for my sanity and creativity- a blogbatical is in order.

I may post here and there so I would encourage you to sign up to receive email updates- or you can just wait and visit in august and you will not have missed much- i promise.

So for know the blogbatical will begin today and I plan to return after the 1st week in August. You'll probably find me in various comment strands but that's about it.

Oh, and I should have some interesting new developments when I come back in August, at least I hope to have some. HAVE A TERRIFIC SUMMER ALL!! May the Lord bless you and keep you wherever the summer months take you.


Monday, May 29, 2006


Last Thur. marked 10 wonderful years of marriage for Jen and me. Do I even have to say that SHE IS AN ABSOLUTE SAINT? It's obvious. Since I was away at Licensing School last week we did not get to spend our anniversary together. So we are splitting out in just 7 hours for a two day getaway. I don't think I'll have internet access so it will probably be Thur. before I can post again. Would you believe that we actually started dating when we were 14 years old so we're actually celebrating 17 years together. That just blows my mind!!

If you get a chance check out "Licensed to Ill", a blog that I've dedicated to the wonderful people that went through the Licensing School experience with me. I've posted pics from the week and mp3's of some of the better lectures will be posted too. I hope all is well in your life.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006


In 4 minutes I begin a day of Methodist Polity, Methodist Theology, and the History of Methodism with Frank Gulley- who is an absolute icon of Methodist Polity. He was the head of Methodist studies at Vanderbilt.

If you didn't know I am Licensing School this week and I am in the company of some absolutly retarded "foos" (they said that not me, however it is true)

More to come later today, for now- it's THE GULLEY!! I don't have a picture of Dr. Gulley but he has an insane resemblance to this guy:

Friday, May 19, 2006




I can't think of anything more fun than yodelling with my friend Jesus!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I'M FEELIN' QUITE LUCKY... be in one piece...

Yesterday I was on my way to Jen's mom's house. I was taking Jonas there and then heading back to the church for our usual Wed. night festivities. Well, Jonas was his usual Jonas self telling me about everything under the sun. We were about 2 miles from Jen's parent's home and Jonas was still going strong. At this point in the story things get a little blurry but I remember turning back and glancing back at him while I said something to him. When I turned around there was a car stopped in front of me and I didn't have time to even slam on my brakes.

Needless to say there was a 4 car pile up, my airbag worked and seatbelts and carseats work cause Jonas had not one scratch. Thank God no one was hurt in this accident. I'm feeling very detached today, almost outside myself and nervous. I'm so glad no one was hurt and I really just want to hold Jonas all day today.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Well today is my day in Mark Yaconelli's "Contemplative Youth Ministry" Blog tour. I have tried to take a little bit of a different direction from other contributers to the tour. So if you have been following the tour since day 1, my hope is that this first part of my review becomes an interesting "rest stop" along the journey.

I have put together a meditative video that shares the words and ideas from Mark himself, along with the stories from actual youth workers who have put into practice the ideas in "Contemplative Youth Ministry" set to a soundtrack that I came up with yesterday morning. I believe that this meditation does justice to Mark's book and for those who are interested in knowing more about the idea of contemplative youth ministry- i think it speaks to that, as well.

(about 9.5 minutes)

Also, I was able to catch up early this morning with Mark, via an email conversation. I raised a couple of questions from which he had wonderful and challenging responses:

Jonathon: So Mark, where does social justice/kingdom building fit into contemplative youth

Mark: After years of working with social justice groups Franciscan activist Richard Rohr (Everything Belongs) discerned that the biggest issue within Christian Social Justice movements was that activists weren't grounded in prayer and the experience of God. The result was that people became bitter, cynical, angry and burned out. He then founded the center for action and contemplation in Albuquerque, NM to address the issue.
My work in contemplative youth ministry has been about seeking to ground "activist" youth workers in prayer, discernment and community. Sometimes people characterize contemplative youth ministry as too inward focused, and yet they forget that our target audience is busy, active youth ministers. When you take people who regularly spend time in the public square (meeting kids, ministering to families, interacting with the culture) and then slow them down, invite them to listen in prayer and silence...something breaks open. It seems to me that the Jesus-life breaks forth in us when we're in that tension between prayer and service, solitude on the mountain and chaos in the streets.
In a contemplative approach to ministry everything begins in prayer and discernment. All of our actions come out of listening to the Spirit and then following what you hear. My experience is that when we listen in prayer we're not drawn into isolation but rather our eyes are opened to the way in which God is weaving us together in community with people we previously considered "different" or "other." Real contemplation, real prayer and listening to the Spirit of Jesus leads to authentic action, action that isn't about our own ego or need to prove ourselves, action that is rooted and grounded in love.

how do we keep our youth ministries from turning this into a "magic formula"
and help our congregations see this as a "way of life"?

Mark: Well, certainly as we researched this there were people (primarily senior pastors) who tried to turn this into a formula. In such cases silence became oppressive and prayer...even contemplative prayer became heavy with expectation and even manipulation.
Human beings always want formulas because we want some kind of control and order....we're terrified of the way in which Jesus lived...completely free, open to the present moment without a planned formula. Jesus invites us into the same kind of freedom...which is very difficult for us to handle...we'd much rather have a leader, a seven point formula, a progression to holiness with check points. Instead God offers us a moving, living relationship that can move and breath and shift and die and be reborn...just like real relationships. Doesn't every married couple look for a system or formula in which to relate to each other? It never works, once there's a system then we no longer have to pay attention to one another, the relationship becomes predictable and begins to die. Here are some of the ways I try to keep from living and ministering by a formula:
1. I continue to struggle to pray in silence and listening each day. Silent or contemplative prayer allows God to speak and move within me breaking up the stifling, stuck places within me. 2. I have spiritual companions who listen to my spiritual life and help me discern what is of God and what is my own brokeness, sin, anxiety, etc. 3. Ministering in community helps to bring different perspectives so that my own agendas are challenged or modified. 4. I try and tell the truth. As much as I can, I tell the truth about my doubts, my anger, my hopes, my joy so that I'm more able to see and let-go off every thing in my life and ministry that is false and strive toward that which is life-giving and of God.

Thanks Mark for the words of wisdom and I look forward to seeing you Friday evening and all day Saturday.

Here's how this week's blog tour has gone and is going:

You can also check out Gavo's contributions to the blog tour, part 1 & part 2.


Monday, May 15, 2006


Get this video and more at

If you happen to be in the Middle TN area tonight:

Samir Adil, cofounder and general secretary of the Iraqi Freedom Congress, will speak at the Nashville Peace and Justice Center tonight, May 15th at 6:30 p.m. This is a rare opportunity to hear directly from an Iraqi talking about efforts to build nonviolent opposition to the U.S. occupation and sectarian violence. The Iraqi Freedom Congress is dedicated to building harmony among all Iraqis, regardless of religious or ethnic identity. Its members are also creating a television station that focuses on peace issues.

The Freedom Congress promotes a “third way” forward for Iraq, through nonviolent techniques. It offers positive opportunities for Americans to contribute to peace and unity in that country. They are involved in the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq, the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq and the Union of the Unemployed in Iraq. They produce a newsletter called Iraq Weekly. For more information:


"Let the Christians of the world agree that they will not
kill each other"

Sunday, May 14, 2006


What does it look like when Gavin, Jonathon, Cole, and Thunder are out on the town in Nashvegas? Check it out here... (just substitute "boss" for "significant other")

Get this video and more at

Friday, May 12, 2006


... I'm a "Red Letter Christian".... we love to box ourselves in with words and labels. I suppose we need that to an extent.

Thanks to Tony Campolo for continually challenging me and American Christians to not accept the boxes that we tend to find ourselves in. Read this article about how Tony Campolo blasts Religious Right as 'frightening'.

hat tip: John B.


J. Denny Weaver on church and culture:

When Christianity encompasses the social order, the "church" as "people of God" has become identified with a society or with an ethnic group or with a political entity. Church no longer consists of those who respond in faith to the call of Jesus Christ. Instead it is a church comprised of the mass of the population, identified by geography, politics or ethnicity. Modern terminology for this amalgam of church and state is Christendom or a "Christian society."

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Is this just another day,... this God forgotten place?
First comes love, then comes pain. let the games begin,...
Questions rise and answers fall,... insurmountable.

Love boat captain
Take the reigns and steer us towards the clear,... here.
It’s already been sung, but it can’t be said enough.
All you need is love

Is this just another phase? earthquakes making waves,...
Trying to shake the cancer off? stupid human beings,...
Once you hold the hand of love,.. it’s all surmountable.

Hold me, and make it the truth,...
That when all is lost there will be you,...
Cause to the universe I don’t mean a thing
And there’s just one word I still believe
And it’s

It’s an art to live with pain,... mix the light into grey,..
Lost 9 friends we’ll never know,.. 2 years ago today
And if our lives became too long, would it add to our regret?

And the young, they can lose hope cause they can’t see beyond today,...
The wisdom that the old can’t give away
Constant recoil...
Sometimes life
Don’t leave you alone.

Hold me, and make it the truth,...
That when all is lost there will be you.
Cause to the universe I don’t mean a thing
And there’s just one word that I still believe and it’s
Love,... love. love. love. love.

Love boat captain
Take the reigns,.. steer us towards the clear.
I know it’s already been sung,... can’t be said enough.
Love is all you need,.. all you need is love,..
Love,.. love,...
- eddie vedder, pearl jam

(update, 5-11-06; 4:53pm) I posted this song today because as I was listening to this last night it occured to me that "Love Boat Captain" can become a great metaphor for God in this song. If you listen to this song as a dialog between Vedder to God and Vedder to society then it becomes a great worship song. I'm keeping it in the back of my mind as a possible alt.worship song at some point in the near future. Shalom. JN.


J. Denny Weaver on becoming a peacemaker like Jesus:

"The ultimate reason for the church to develop nonviolent peacemaking is that it is Christian, it is central to the story of Jesus Christ. We confess Jesus as “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). We are his disciples. Jesus came to introduce the peaceable reign of God in our history. Our calling as his disciples is to do likewise.

The resurrection of Jesus established the reign of God. We participate in and witness to that victory over evil by living within the story of Jesus, the victorious Lamb. “They have conquered [the accuser] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12.11). Our lived testimony makes visible today the peaceable reign of God triumphing over evil in the resurrection of Jesus. Nonviolent peacemaking is central to our calling as Christians."

How will the world know or experience the "peaceable reign of God" unless it is visibly modeled by the people of God? Can we expect that the world will be a peaceful place if the world does not have a model of what harmonious relationships might look like?

Is living as a nonviolent expression of God's kingdom harder to "embody", or live out, than allowing ourselves to live out of a violent narrative?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


... has drawn to a close. Last week I completed the last of my papers for Patristics: the first 600 years of church history; and Theories of Atonement. Both were good classes and I'm glad they are over. I am not planning on taking summer classes.

However, Licensing School is quickly approaching (May 21-27) and there's lots to write for that, including:
1. A 3-5 page sermon that I have to be ready to preach at the school
2. A Reflection paper on the book of Nehemiah and how it can inform ministry in the 21st century
3. 3-4 essays related to two different reading assignments: one deals with the Mccabean War and the other is a simulation of receiving an appointment in a small town rural church
4. Prepare an order of worship from start to finish

Although none of these assignments seem to be too difficult, the difficulty will obviously lie in trying to get it all done in time. Please keep my procrastinating self in your prayers.



J. Denny Weaver speaking about Sept 11 and Oct. 7:

On October 7, 2001, the United States initiated a violent response to September 11. More people have now been killed in Afghanistan as a result of October 7 than were killed 9-11. Those who died in Afghanistan, such as those killed by American fighter planes at a misdiagnosed wedding reception, were also victims of this cycle of violence. U.S.-sponsored violence has not solved the problems involved or convinced the other side to stop its own violence. In Afghanistan there was a regime change, but we still hear about bombs and assassination attempts and fighting between warlords in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

We should remember the victims of 9-11. We should also remember other things. We should remember that there are more victims than those who died on 9-11. There were victims of violence before 9-11—and those victims, of whichever side, are victims of the same cycle of violence that produced 9-11. Remember the events following 9-11, the violence since October 7 that has extended the cycle of violence and increased fears of more retaliation.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


For those interested in youth ministry, emerging models of "doing church" together, postmodern ministry, or ancient prayer practices: there's a wonderful new book out by Mark Yaconelli, the director for the Youth Ministry Spirituality Project. It's called Contemplative Youth Ministry and it's his vision, world view, and model for youth ministry based on ancient forms of prayer, contemplation and practicing the presence of God.

I don't just recommend this to youth pastors but anyone who is interested in engaging young and old with the ancient practices of the church.

This book is currently "on tour" right now in the blogosphere and you can check out different blogger's thoughts on this wonderful gem, including Gavin who is blogging on it today. I'm up in a few days.

if you want to follow along, the tour dates are as follows:

May 8 Jonny Baker

May 9 Gavin Richardson

May 10 Sarah Dylan Breuer

May 11 Jennifer Roach

May 12 Mark Oestreicher

May 15 Dixon Kinser

May 17 Jonathon Norman

May 19 Adam Cleaveland

May 22 Lilly Lewin

May 24 Tim Van Meter

May 26 Lucas Land

May 29 Andy Jack

May 31 Bobbie

June 2 Darren Wright

June 5 Kester Brewin

June 7 Steve Case

June 9 Mike King

Monday, May 08, 2006


J. Denny Weaver on rejecting violence:

"I write as a Christian pacifist—who believes that Jesus’ rejection of the sword, of violence, is a revelation of God’s reign and a call to all who would live as followers of Jesus under God’s rule. I also believe that if and when one accepts the truth of that rule, one can perceive the truth of the rejection of violence in events of the world around us. From the perspective of God’s peaceable kingdom, it is clear that we are in the grip of an ongoing cycle of violence, with each act of violence serving to justify the next round by the other side.

When I read these words, what comes to mind for me is "participation". As Christians should we "participate" in activities that intentionally promote violence? Should our faith lead us to a different way of living in the world that responds to violence and sin in ways that are wholly "other" than violence?

please, add your thoughts to what weaver has written...


I enjoyed the "Week With..." series last week so I've decided to do it again this week. Some may know the name J. Denny Weaver, but I have a feeling that not too many will.

J. Denny Weaver is Professor of Religion and The Harry and Jean Yoder Scholar in Bible and Religion at Bluffton University. His most recent publications include "The Nonviolent Atonement" (Eerdmans, 2001), and (co-edited with Gerald Biesecker-Mast), "Teaching Peace: Nonviolence and the Liberal Arts" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003). His research interests focus on understanding the impact of violent and nonviolent expressions in theology. He served with three Christian Peacemaker Teams delegations to Haiti.

Weaver's voice is a refreshing and challenging voice for the church today. My hope is that his words this week will open us to some engaging conversation and dialog.



Disclaimer: I have no "cute" pictures to back this post up since most of the time I was tied up by thin guitar cables. But the following post is as accurate to the events that transpired as I can best recall...

So last night my youth group and Gavin's youth group got together at the Rivergate Bounce Factory for a fun night together. I arranged the whole event. Our youth group invited Hendersonville to come and be a part of the night's festivity in a spirit of community.

All in all in was a fun night. As I looked around everyone was bouncing in gigantic inflatabibles and having a great time. As the evening was drawing to a close Gavin's youth group began to load up in their vehicles. One of their youth came to me and said, "Hey, Gavin has your guitar in the van and he wants you to come and get it." I've been anticipating getting my guitar back so I was a little excited that they had been so thoughtful as to bring it. I went outside and to their van where in stead of finding a guitar I was bumrushed by a group of guys and thrown into their church van.

I fought my way out of the van and thinking that the joke was over went to wish Hendersonville's group safe travels home. Upon entering the bus where Gavin was driving I was greeted by another group and pushed into a chair, the door was shut and Gavin took off.

Several times I tried to make it out of the emergency window but the group kept grabbing me and holding me down. All the way to the home base they talked about what they were going to do with me. Obviously I listened with anxious curiosity and concern. Some of the suggestions were:
1. Let's shrink wrap him. But that might kill him. So.
2. Let's strip him and duct tape him and then drop him off in front of Publix.
3. Let's tie him up and leave him at Wendy's
4. Let's run over him with the church bus.
5. Hey Youth Director, do you know what usually happens to hostages in this kind of situation? They are usually killed and thrown out the window.

I was a little concerned at this point and feeling fairly irritated in the fact that I had been kidnapped and their responsible youth pastor who was allowing this to take place had allowed:
1. Me to be taken from my youth group in a public place where I was responsible for my kids
2. Had not let any of the adults in my group know what was going on nor made arrangements for someone to be responsible for my kids in my absense.

Upon arrival to their home base I decided that I would not put up a fight and so they:
1. Tied me up using guitar cables
2. pushed me down
3. Called Hermitage and told them that they had me hostage but they had no demands.

At this point I was tired, tied up with guitar cables, and been dragged around the church, and then taken into Gavin's office where I wasn't allowed to get up. They were kind enough to offer me water and a starburst. As I was sitting in a chair I asked if I could get a book to look at. I noticed a book called "Moral Thought" and decided to check it out. I pulled from Gavin's neatly placed stack of books. For a second all looked well but then the wall of knowledge came tumbling down. Sorry Gavo, I had no intentions of that happening. I'll be happy to help you rebuild your wall.

After my youth group heard what had happened they sent a peacemakers team to come and get me and yes, the peace treaty was torn, but only because Gavin your rowdy crew and yourself showed:
1. irresponsibility- if you were going to take me you should have made proper arrangements- who was responsible for my kids after I was take. My adults were left in dissaray and didn't know if I was coming back, who was in charge...
2. disresct- we invited you all to be a part of this night.
3. a spirit of violence instead of a spirit of peace.

I know it was all in fun and a need to "get back" at us but it wasn't thought out AT ALL.

Friday, May 05, 2006





Every track on the new Pearl Jam CD is absolutely incredible. I highly recommend it. I've been a Pearl Jam fan ever since I bought Ten my senior year of high school in 1992. Every time they come out with a new album I am just blown away at the directions they go. This one does not disappoint.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


This clip is my favorite this week. It's a bit longer than the others (at about 10.5 minutes) but it's well worth the listen. Stan is taken to task by a couple of callers but he does a wonderful job of explaining his position.

1. why George Bush was not acting out of character concerning Iraq.
2. How going to war can turn a "murderer" into a "hero"
3. War leads to more war = The Never Ending Story
4. The Bible, The Old Testament, God and War
5. "YOU'RE WRONG!!" :)

THIS IS A GOOD ONE Y'ALL- Check it here


Stan talking about the logic of freedom:

click here to listen (7:28)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006



click here to listen (9: 30)

"Let the Christians of the world resolve not to kill one another."

I wonder if as the church, we could ever agree in the very least to agree that we'd encourage all Christians to not engage in any practices that would kill other Christians. What a different question than "do you think war is right or wrong?". Would you agree to not partake in any action that might voluntarily kill another brother or sister in Christ? My other thought is, putting aside the rhetoric of nonviolence/just war/war is necessary, is there something very wrong morally within the boundaries of war between nations when a Christian kills another Christian? Does Christianity transcend national boundaries? Or does Christianity pay homage first to it's nation's flag and then to Christ? These are tough questions I believe.



Today Jonas, Abby and I were at Oprymills Mall walking around and just wasting some time. We had planned on doing a picnic today but rain spoiled that so we ended up where most people with small kids end up when you need something free and casual to do- the mall.

I walked into the Family Christian Store to see what was new in the ole' "Christian Living" section when I actually came across something that looked of interest to me: ANXIOUS ABOUT EMPIRE: Theological Essays on the New Global Realities, edited by Wes Avram.

I thumbed through it and low and behold there were many voices whom I have much respect for: Michael Budde, Wendell Berry, Robert Bellah and others. I'm looking forward to this read. And the best part of the deal- an $18.99 book marked down to $5- SCORE!!!

Monday, May 01, 2006


If you've been a reader of The Phaith of St. Phransus for any amount time you know that I have a real admiration for Stanley Hauerwas. Dr. Hauerwas is a prof. at Duke Divinity School, he was named "America’s Best Theologian" by Time in 2001. Hauerwas' theological orthodoxy and political progressivism defy attempts by liberals or conservatives to own him, and deny both sides the comfort of entrenched positions.

This week instead of posting quotes from Stan, I'll be sharing segments of an interview with him. I hope you enjoy and I hope you are stretched. I invite dialog and discussion.

Click here to hear 'hauerwas'

(8 minutes)