want ad

HELP WANTED. Seeking CEO for organization with $5 million budget annually. Must oversee approximately 100 full and part time employees and facilities valued in excess of $25 million. Must supervise 8 vice presidents; be an exceptional motivational speaker; have a through knowledge of psychology; be an exceptional teacher; have great diplomatic and political abilities… and have a warm, friendly personality. Must know the difference between “fundamentalist,” “conservatives” and “moderates” and be able to appease all three without offending the other two. Must have 20 years experience and a doctor’s degree. Must be formal in demeanor and informal in demeanor depending on which group he is in at the moment. Age range 35-50. Must be good looking, suave and well dressed but look good in khakis and a golf shirt. Spouse must be attractive, have excellent personality, manage children well, be concerned and knowledgeable about applicant’s job but not nosy, gossipy or interfering. Spouse must also excel in either women’s ( or men’s- depending on sex of applicant) ministry, teaching a specific age group or music. Must have 2.5 children who are well manner and do not have a ring in their nose. Applicant must play golf and be a fan of either NC State, UNC, Duke, Wake Forest or East Carolina. Hours : 24/7. Pay: adequate but not commensurate with job. Will be supervised by a Personnel Committee of eight, a board of directors of 48 and have 1851 bosses.

so that was from a church who is currently looking for a pastor and it’s a church with which i am well acquainted. a pretty accurate want ad, but i’m a little miffed that the automatic assumption is that the next pastor will, like all others before, be a man.

politics as usual

i really have to say…i’m pretty pissed off about recent foreign policy decisions (ultimatums?)…one in particular. i agree that things need to change…DRASTICALLY…in myanmar. i am by no means opposed to sanctions and pressuring the junta in order to effect change in that country. i stand in solidarity with the buddhist monks who are leading the way in protest. the action our president has taken this week in that situation is not what hacks me off. it’s the LACK of action taken by the administration over darfur, which has been going on longer, is more wide scale and truly has pissed americans off to the point they have to do something about it on the grassroots level. w has said this week that americans are angered by the situation in southeast asia. i would say that we have been angered more by darfur…and for longer. quite frankly, most americans probably had not heard of myanmar before this week, let alone had any concept of the goings on in that country.

don’t get me wrong. i support action for BOTH places, and others where human rights are violated. but DON’T…DON’T EVER put words in my mouth or actions to my alleged feelings about any place. and if you’re going to take action, then don’t pick and choose…do it for everyone because it’s the right thing to do.

leaving church, part 2

so then i read the following:

“…Jesus’ call of binding and loosing (referring to interpreting scripture)…must be done in community. In fact, binding and loosing can only be done in community with others who are equally passionate about being true to the words of God.
In Jesus’ world, it was assumed that you had as much to learn from the discussion of the text as you did from the text itself. One person could never get too far in a twisted interpretation because the others were right there giving [him/her] insight and perspective [he/she] didn’t have on their own. Jesus said when he was talking about binding and loosing that ‘where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.’
Community, community, community. Together, with others, wrestling and searching and engaging the Bible as a group of people hungry to know God in order to follow God.” (p. 52-53) (Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell)

and

“In my judgment, the single most important practice is to be part of a congregation that nourishes you even as it stretches you. Some of you are already involved in such a church. But if you are not involved in any church or are part of one that leaves you hungry and unsatisfied, find one that nurtures and deepens your Christian journey. Find one that makes your heart glad, so that you can wake on Sunday morning filled with the anticipation of the psalmist: ‘I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Choosing a church is not primarily about feeling good, of course, but church is meant to nourish us, not to make us angry or leave us bored. If your church gives you a headache, it may be time to change.” (p.194)
(The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg)

(incidentally, velvet elvis is by far one of the best books i have read lately)

leaving church, part 1

no, i haven’t done that yet, though some days it’s still sorely tempting.

this question has been posed: why do we need church?

someone has likened his relationship with the church to a “bad marriage” with more lows than highs, and just when you’re ready to bail, you remember why you fell in love in the first place and you stay. i think of my relationship with the church more like cox and jordan’s relationship on scrubs. they can’t be married to each other, but they can’t stand not to be together.

but that doesn’t answer the question. needing church is something altogether different. and maybe that’s tied in to how we define church…so let me try to start there.

church: a community of faith with similar basic beliefs; ideally the community provides opportunities for spiritual growth and service to others.

so why do we…why do i need church?

i need to be challenged to grow spiritually, to have other perspectives, to have the support of a community loving people…i need the resources of the organization to make the connections to needs that i can meet, to have access to a little more money to that end…i need a place to call home because church was that for me for so long.

now though, i’m the one doing the challenging, pushing people to think…and there’s certainly a place and a need for that in church at this point because there hasn’t been much of that for a long time. but challenging the church to move from where it’s at doesn’t typically meet my spiritual needs…so i go to a coffee shop on wednesday nights for an hour to be with a different kind of church, one not bound by the institution and the sacred cows that are so prevalent. it’s there that i experience a more ideal church…the kind of church i need.

however, my new church lacks something of the old one (both of which i attend regularly)…an intergenerational perspective. there’s wisdom across and among the ages and though the more postmodern/emergent older than us person is hard to come by, they are out there somewhere. why do you think the median age at CUDS is higher than expected?

be that as it may, neither place is perfect. one is certainly more ideal. both are a work in progress and i’m not giving up on either. far from it.

but read on…because i’ve done some reading and there are a couple of things that really resonated with me earlier this week.

a place for everyone

i’m not usually inclined to listen to “contemporary christian music”–mainly because i think much of it would send me into a diabetic coma because it’s so sugary sweet. but there are there are those few exceptions who have some great theology and theological integrity…

it also became a little clearer in a conversation with al recently that probably the main reason i get near (and even lean over) the edge of pluralism is because i’m just not willing to be so exclusive.

so here’s a song about that (written by kyle matthews)…

went to a church that was on a mission
they try to stamp out sin
but since they’ve thrown all the sinners out
now, nobody can go in
no, nobody can go in

is no one
looking for a place for everyone?
isn’t anyone
looking for a place for everyone?

went to a club with a long tradition
they raise the social bar
now they know who they won’t let in
but they don’t know who they are
no, they don’t know who they are

is no one
looking for a place for everyone?
isn’t anyone
looking for a place for everyone?

Jesus warned us, if we life him up
we might not like what we find
’cause when perfect love is lifted up
it draws all humankind

i dreamed i died and joined the millions
there are the pearly gates
but when they saw who’d gone in before them
they turned away and said, “no, thanks”
they turned away and said, “no, thanks”

is no one
looking for a place for everyone?
isn’t anyone
looking for a place for everyone?

WIC – WTF?

WIC stands for women, infant and children. it’s essentially the acronym for our welfare food stamp system. you see it all the time in the grocery stores indicating what items fall into the “buy it with food stamps” category.

BUT YOU CAN’T BUY DIAPERS WITH FOOD STAMPS.

“i” in WIC stands for infant. BUT YOU CAN’T BUY DIAPERS.

WTF?!?!?!?!?!

separate lives

i love wednesdays right now. sure, i’m in class all day, but they are the interesting, practical classes…the classes that really pertain more to where i’m headed than much else i could be taking this semester. but the end of the day is the best part. i come home for a bit, get some dinner and then it’s off to a coffee shop with al to join our new community of friends and fellow travelers. and i look forward to it thursday through tuesday.

church on sunday tends to be a whole different feeling. i certainly don’t get the kind of spiritual nourishment at church that i get at that coffee shop. but the church is my current context of “traditional” (for lack of a better word) ministry. so i do ministry in one place and get fed in another. and i seriously doubt that the two would ever really cross paths. and that says something pretty significant…that i can’t get fed by doing the traditional ministry in a traditional institutional church teaching sunday school.

but when i try to leave that traditional institution, i get pulled back in. i thought maybe yesterday i would have an opportunity to visit another church…just because…since our plans to go out of town were scrapped but people at church still thought we were to be gone. until al talked with our college minister and mentioned that plans changed and we’d be in town after all. and so i was given the task of helping to set up for sunday school (we are in shared space…long story). the college minister was going to be out of town and was really concerned about how everything was going to get done and while she isn’t the type to over-spiritualize things, she definitely considered my availability an answer to prayer. and so it was back to the institution…

which is probably where i need to be in the first place.