Elsewhere

When it doesn’t belong anywhere else, it goes elsewhere.

I’m not sure why I even have my own website. I never post to it. I hardly ever update it. No one really ever visits it. But I have one. I keep it updated so that I will have a place for my email. Because I own my own domain, I also own my own email. Yes, it needs to be hosted somewhere, but it is mine and can’t be taken away.

One of the other things that I have realized is that it also can’t outlive me by much.

Because my website and my email are owned (and controlled) by me, they can only survive if I pay the annual bills associated with it. That means that – at some point after I die – someone will either need to assume the billing or let the service simply be deleted.

There is something oddly comforting about that.

I am a pastor and a person that has been preaching sustainability in both my personal and professional lives for quite some time now. I believe that the idea of true sustainability goes against our human nature as we simply cannot think on such grand terms as sustaining something forever. Even when we think about time and space, we talk about the “beginning of the universe” or the “end of time”. True sustainability is outside of our comprehension. (And, to be honest, I also believe that the place where we should be concentrating our efforts at sustainability is in the present moment – not in some future that has yet to be created.)

So, when I consider sustainability in terms that we can understand, it comes down to leaving as little a footprint as possible. Sustainability has something to do with burdening others. The less we burden others with the choices that we make, the more sustainable that choice, activity, or structure will be.

Think about it —

Right now as a church, we are using countless dollars and human resources to sustain buildings and structures that do not fit the needs of today. But anything that we attempt to build in any permanent way will only lead to future generations looking back at us and asking the same questions that we are asking of the generations that preceded us. Building structures and systems that are flexible and possibly even temporary will allow future users the options necessary to meet the needs of their time.

Or —

If I purchase a house, car, plot of land, or anything else that outpaces my true needs now or in the immediate future, then I will spend a lot of my time and resources (physical, emotional, and spiritual) attempting to keep that thing going. For instance, if my car payment and cost of upkeep costs me 20% of what I make in a month, then I am spending one out of every five hours working to simply sustain my ability to get to and from work. We build entire buildings simply to house the things that we use to travel from place to place. That’s not a sustainable model.

We have made the world so complex that we have decided that it requires at least 12 years of formal schooling to simply exist in our manmade culture. Formal schooling doesn’t teach us anything (or very few things) that would help us if we were to be left alone in the wilderness. Most everything that we are taught simply helps us to navigate the institutions that we have created.

There is so much more to say, and I may even start to use this space to say it.

And if I do, I know that eventually my words will eventually be erased… because they simply don’t matter that much… and because eventually, no one will pay the bill.

The Rings

We were able to put our rings back on because all Mainers now have the freedom to marry!

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Hi all. This is kind of a weird post because it is more of an email with a video. I have been asked to film one of my services at OOB UMC and send it to the Tri-State District Committee on Ministry. I did all of that except for one small point, I didn’t put it in the mail.

So… I have pulled the “sermon” out of the service and uploaded it to YouTube. Here it is:

Sermon from December 12, 2010

I have also uploaded the bulletin from that day. It can be found at this link – Bulletin from December 12, 2010.

Sorry for the delay. And if you aren’t on dCOM, let me know what you think. (I’ll be hearing from dCOM soon enough…)

Tags:

Dog meets gerbil.

Summer is Over

Now that summer is fully over here in OOB (meaning – after Columbus Day), it’s time to get back to life in the off season. Bekah and Caleb are now both in high school. Izzie has started her first year of nursery school. Robyn is taking another year off – but is planning to go back in a year or two to finish her bachelor’s degree.

And me? I am back in school, too. This time, I am going to Southern Maine Community College and will be studying for my associate’s degree in business administration. I have only one class this semester, Structured Programming. I will be hopefully be learning how to do some programming in java. It should be a lot of fun.

One difficult development since the beginning of September is that Robyn has had some complications with some minor surgery she had. She has been out of work for more than 6 weeks now and has been on medication to control the pain. It has been difficult. Hopefully we’ll get some answers as to what is happening soon and life will get back to some sense of normal.

Normal is, of course, a relative term.

Right now, normal would mean training our new puppy, Ellie. It would also mean continuing to rip out carpet in our home. Normal, it seems, is a lot of work.

I think I am looking forward to summer all ready.

I haven’t actually written a real post in – ahhh – well over two years.  That’s not good, and it needs to be rectified.

What has life been like? Way too much to say on that subject. But it has been a kick.

Let’s see… Izzie will be starting pre-school in a few weeks. Caleb will be a freshman. Bekah is finish driver’s education this week. (By the way, they are now living in Auburn.) Robyn is now a nurse. Oh, and I am going back to school.

We now have four cats, two gerbils, a bunch of fish, and a dog on the way.

We are also in the process of buying a house – this one – the parsonage.

So we’ve been busy.  Hence the lack of anything of any import going on to my website. I have been making the occasional snarky comment on Facebook, but that really doesn’t count now does it.

I guess I will post a bit more soon.

I’ve been reading Brian McLaren’s newest book, “Everything Must Change”. I am not all of the way through it, but it is incredible. I had felt as though his previous books lacked a sense of clarity. This work brings much of the cloudiness of his vision of the Kingdom of God into sharp focus. On top of that, this book gives a finely crafted theological argument upon which to build this vision.

There is so much to say about this book, but I don’t want to jump the gun. My mind has been racing while I’ve been reading and I need some time to let it all soak in.

So, have you ordered the book yet? I got my copy at Overstock.com.

McLaren vs. Osteen

I just ordered my copy of Brian McLaren’s newest book, “Everything Must Change”. I can’t wait to get it. I read the first few pages at Border’s the other day, but they were selling the book at full price, so I went online and ended up buying it for $5 less after shipping on Overstock.com. It should be here in a couple of days.

In the meantime, I’ve been doing some comparative analysis. McLaren’s book came out within about a week of the release of a new book by “America’s Pastor”, Joel Osteen. What a stark contrast between the two pastors and about the messages contained in these books.

When I did a search for each book on Amazon.com, I found editorial reviews from Publisher’s Weekly for both books. Here is what they said about McLaren’s new book:

“Starred Review. McLaren, a leader in the emerging church, issues a salvo of arguments for radical hope in the face of profound dilemmas. The prolific author and pastor identifies the earth’s four deep dysfunctions that have created a suicide machine: crises in prosperity, equity, security and spirituality. What could change, he asks, if we applied the message of Jesus—the good news of the kingdom of God—to the world’s greatest problems? Here McLaren builds on the theme of his 2006 book The Secret Message of Jesus—that bringing about the kingdom means transforming the world we live in—to propose that we create a hope insurgency. Using a close reading of the Gospels to challenge conservative evangelicals’ emphasis on individual salvation, not to mention end-times theology and, by implication, the prosperity gospel, McLaren argues for establishing a beloved community based on justice, peace, equality and compassion. McLaren’s conclusions are not new, but his ability to be clear and persuasive—and get the attention of a segment of America’s Christians—are exceptional. While his critics will find yet more material for challenging McLaren’s views, his supporters will consider this book a riveting call to a new conversion. (Oct. 2)” – Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

And about Osteen’s new book, “Become a Better You”, Publisher’s Weekly had this to say:

“Megachurch pastor and bestselling author Osteen follows up Your Best Life Now with this disappointingly unoriginal Christian self-help book. The seven subtitular steps to improvement include instructions to develop good habits, better relationships and an inner life. Osteen balances mind-over-matter pep talks with claims that God wants to bless faithful people with successes. The future is always promising, because God never performs His greatest feats in your yesterdays. At the same time, in order to receive God’s blessing, one must back up prayers with action, obey, maintain a positive attitude toward life and do the right thing with the right motives. Some of Osteen’s advice is sound; for example, he suggests that if you are forgiving and kind to colleagues and friends, they’ll cut you slack when you have crabby days. Other suggestions—like writing down a big goal and posting it on your mirror or desk—are unremarkable. Laced throughout are anodyne first-person vignettes; Osteen struggled with frustration when his favorite restaurant announced a 45-minute wait. The hurried Osteen went to a nearby burger joint, only to have a brief encounter that changed another customer’s life. Voilà—God turned Osteen’s disappointment into blessing! Though this book is destined for strong sales, it offers nothing innovative. (Oct. 15)” – Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Even a search of their respective websites has much to say about each of them as pastors and as individuals. The website for McLaren’s church, Cedar Ridge Community Church, has a simple design and talks about the activities and community of the church on its home page. The website for Osteen’s church, Lakewood Church, has at least three pictures of Osteen and a very prominent link to where we can buy his latest book. It also has a few prominent story leads about Osteen’s recent appearances of Good Morning America and the church’s status in Outreach Magazine.

Their individual websites continue this same pattern. Osteen’s personal webite has more links of his speaking on Larry King, the CBS Early Show, and Good Morning America as well as links to purchase his books. McLaren’s personal website is simple in design and does have a very prominent link to his book. But it also has links to liturgical resources and invitations to dialogue and get involved.

Okay, I may be a little skewed toward McLaren. I’ve read many of his books and agree with his take on the current state of the Church and the direction that we must go now. But more than that, I simply have a problem with the way in which Osteen presents himself. The message of Jesus Christ was not meant for us to become a “better you”, it was meant to change the world. And Osteen’s use of the term “America’s Pastor” is disconcerting.

But I think what has gotten me most uptight is that Osteen’s book is currently one of the best selling books in the U.S. McLaren’s book has hardly made a ripple. But among young pastors, I think that we will almost all be reading McLaren’s book and I can’t think of one person that will pick up Osteen’s. In other words, Osteen may be able to make a lot of money, but McLaren will have a far more lasting impact on the Church.

When I get the book, I’ll let you know.

The video from Izzie’s birthday.

More video at YouTube.

And you can see pictures at Flickr!

The hands of faith have a hold on me

It has taken some years to feel it’s grip

I struggle to understand what it all means

Some of it’s pain and some of it’s joy

It comes and it goes no matter my mood

The questions I have I may never know

I just hope that someday

I will see

How the hands of faith got a hold of me

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