Monthly Archives: October 2007

Happy Halloween

My parents went out to Seattle to see my sister a couple of weeks ago and they carved pumpkins together. My dad was very proud of his and so they snapped a picture and emailed it to me via his blackberry – again, I think he was very proud.

Heather and I are having some friends over for chili and trick-or-treaters tonight. I hope you all are getting to do something fun with family or friends on this Halloween 2007.


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Darjeeling Limited

Ever since seeing The Royal Tennenbaums in college I have been a fan of Wes Anderson‘s work.

When one of the members of Dalit, our young adult group, recommended we go see the Darjeeling Limited together last night I was quite excited – even when our local paper wrote a less than favorable review of the film.

Several of us gathered at the theater last night for the visual treat that is Anderson’s film making. I was most impressed with the film, especially in light of the underwhelming review I had read.

The film is a story of three brothers who reunite on a spiritual journey of sorts a year after their father dies. They are traveling across India on a train named the Darjeeling Limited. At each stop they visit a variety of sacred and holy places where they always seem out of place, they never manage to connect to the divine, and they begin to think that their journey is in vain. They get kicked off of the train and decide to return to their homes in the states having failed on their spiritual journey.

As they begin their return trip home they stumble upon three young Indian boys (presumably brothers) struggling to cross a river. They successfully rescue two of the boys but one dies. They return with the boys to their village and become involved with the community, staying through the funeral. Living with this family in this remote Indian village the brothers witness the family and community wrestling and struggling with their grief. At the young boy’s funeral something clicks for each of the brothers and in that moment their spiritual quest is a success.

What was so beautiful for me about the moment of realization was that their spiritual awakening did not come from their forced attempts in “religious” settings. It came when they connected with other human beings, lived in community, and wrestled with grief and human emotion in tangible hands-on ways.

If you are a fan of Anderson’s work I imagine you will really enjoy The Darjeeling Limited and even if you’re not familiar with his work, I think it is a film worth seeing.

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Ridge Youth Fall Retreat – The Simpsons!

This coming weekend I’m headed off on a retreat with 30 youth and 5 other adults from Ridge UMC. The retreat has a Simpsons theme and will be using pieces of “The Gospel According to the Simpsons” to shape the workshops. Needless to say I’m very excited!!!

We do these retreats each semester and I always have three primary hopes for the weekend:

1) That youth will grow closer in their relationship with God

2) That youth will more deeply connect with one another

3) That everyone involved will have an awesome time!

This is the largest group I’ve ever taken on a retreat and I think it’s going to be a wonderful weekend. We’ll be spending the weekend at Miracle Camp in Michigan, I’ve never been there before, but think it will be a great environment.

Your prayers will be greatly appreciated as I prepare this week, as we travel this weekend, and as we retreat!

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Justice in the Burbs

I am currently reading and thoroughly enjoying a new book by Will and Lisa Samson – Justice in the Burbs: Being the Hands of Jesus Wherever You Live.

Lisa is a fiction writer, Will is a full time student in sociology, both bring their respective gifts to the text. Each chapter is written in three sections: a narrative piece telling the story of a suburban couple struggling with justice issues, commentary and theological reflection provided by Will and Lisa, and finally a meditation written by the likes of Doug Pagitt, Leanord Sweet, Brian McLaren, and more.

I am about halfway through the text and continue to be excited, both by the personal challenges that the book presents and by the ways in which I think this book can be used as I continue to minister in a suburban context.

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Provocative Grace – A Call to Xenophilia

I recently had to read Provocative Grace by Robert Corin Morris as a part of my work for Ordination in the North Indiana Conference. I gathered today with the other track three Probationary Elders and we had some interesting conversation about the book.

In general I don’t think anyone was terribly impressed by it – many were concerned by the ways in which Morris seems to be one who believes in universal salvation. This didn’t bother me that much, but I wasn’t terribly impressed by his writing in general. I was however, particularly inspired by one of his thoughts.

In the book Morris talks about the difference between xenophobia (a word I was quite familiar with) and xenophilia (a word I’d not heard before):

How we react to the stranger – to someone alient to us – fundamentally tests our humanity. It’s natural for the stranger – and for strange customs, cultures, and ideas – to evoke suspicion. Because the unknown may contain hidden danger, our urge to investigage the stranger is a necessity, not a flaw in our character. We rightly tell our children not to go off with strangers. But fear of the unknown may intensify beyond reason into the blind revulsion and rejection of xenophobia…

Feared strangers easily become, in our thinking, less human than we. The picure of the alien remains the same, whatever time or place: the other is less intelligent but more devious, morally inferior, often dirtier, more impulsive, and less attractive.

On the other hand, the very same strangeness may not only pique our interest but blossom into xenophilia – an intrigued fascinated love of that which is different. Both xenophobia and xenophilia are parts of our survival equipment. Xenophilia inspires fascination with the new and different. It invites us to encounter strangers with an initially positive, inquiring interest rather than knee-jerk suspicion. Intriguing strangers become doorways into new aspects of the human experience, valued expansions of our sense of the world.

Having been introduced to the word, I would call myself a bit of a xenophile. I have been captivated and enamored by people and culture in my travels throughout the country and around the world. Is it possible that some of us are more wired to be drawn to difference than threatened by it? If it’s not a predisposition, how are people nurtured to be xenophobes or xenophiles? What can we as the church be doing to help people be increasingly open to diversity as a means of experiencing and encountering the diversity of God?

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Dial-a-Story – Update

When I posted on Dial-a-Story on Sunday, I assumed that the same story I had heard on Friday was still available. It turns out it wasn’t. They seem to be updating them every day or so.

The story I referenced in my first blog was a parody of the Beverly Hillbillies Theme Song – “Let me tell you all a story ’bout a man named Christ…” Some of the friends who were over on Friday night have called back through the weekend and the stories have been changing.

In addition to the Beverly Hilbillies parody there have been stories about:

a woman training for a race (and Christians need to train too – so go to church every week)
a man shipwrecked on a big rock that didn’t move (and Jesus is the rock for us to lean on that won’t be moved)
a cucumber struggling to figure out what to be when he grows up (we are just supposed to grow into the best people we can)

So, check back from time to time to see what the latest story is – and maybe we’ll get lucky and the Beverly Hilbillies Song will return! Again, Dial-a-story – 219.838.2576.

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Wesley’s Covenant Prayer

When I was out at Church of the Resurrection for their Leadership Institute early this month they used John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer as part of their opening. Lance Winkler, their director of Contemporary Music, had written a song called “Covenant Song” that we sang.

Since returning from the Leadership Institute I have listened to “Covenant Song” almost daily and have begun praying Wesley’s Covenant Prayer. While the song and the prayer are both powerful, the prayer, written in the mid 18th century, uses a great deal of dated language to which I struggle to connect.

Below is the text of Wesley’s Original Prayer as it appeared in Covenant Renewal Services for the Methodist Movement in 1780.

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.

A more modern adaptation of the prayer that I’ve been toying with for a couple of weeks. (With thanks to John Wesley and Lance Winkler).

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you,
praised for you or criticized for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and fully surrender all things to your hope and service.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,
you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be made also in heaven.


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