Sunday, September 11, 2016

New opportunities

I wrote a lot on this blog for a long time. And for now, this blog is going to stay where it is, however, I am also in the process of moving stuff from here to other writing sources. I'm trying to decide if I will link to here and attribute my writing to my former self...

I don't really know. I am trying to consolidate my writing into less locations. I have spent many years writing on many platforms - from OpenDiary when it existed, to LiveJournal, to ProseBox, to Blogger, to WordPress - I have had COUNTLESS blogs - many times for specific audiences. At this point, I am actually doing the same thing. I have multiple blogs, but one of the reasons that is the case now is because I feel like I can't always be as transparent and honest in a sole platform the way I desire. There are things I want to discuss and share with the world that I can do much easier from anonymity. Part of this is the struggle to find myself - my true voice. The unhindered, unfiltered, true voice of my thoughts and inner self - to see where that still exists and to see what that voice is saying to me. I'm kind of excited to do that - to explore what it sounds like - what accent does it speak in, and what is it going to teach me.

I just can't do that as "me". If you would like the link to that blog, you will need to ask me for it - it is not a happy blog - it is not always going to be pretty. It is not going to be the composed, put-together, polished self I put out there for everyone. It's really not. It's not a pretty journey.

I've mentioned suffering from depression before. It is something I still struggle with on occasion. It is not a regular occurrence - and normally it isn't even that bad - but there are occasionally times when the darkness wins and I need to write that out - I need to express that and where my faith fits into that (or doesn't) and where my life story arch brings me on that day. I don't want to have to censor myself based on the audience. I want the audience that needs that kind of outlet and expression to find it - and allow it to be a space where they can also be fully who they are where they are. A community of sorts that thrives on that safe space.

I need that safe space.

So if you ask, and I don't grant your desire - it is because I need a safe place. If you find it on your own because your own thoughts take you that way - welcome - know that I will welcome you with open arms - but this is me unfiltered.

I'm excited to explore this piece of myself.

Really excited.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Is Sunday School Destroying Our Kids: A Book Review

I was reading this book around the same time I read this article: How Secular Family Values Stack Up
A friend texted me that the article was "sad" - when I asked why it was sad, she revealed that she just didn't understand it. So I went on, explaining something that's come up quite a few times recently:
You don't have to be a Christian to be a good person.

And a Christian isn't always a good person.

I don't know where the idea came from that Christianity means following rules, being good, and going to heaven, and not being a Christian meant being bad, sinning, and going to hell. Except that I have some ideas, and I think Jimmy probably had something to do with it.

I'll just let that hang there for a minute...

So then I read some more of this book by Samuel C Williamson: Is Sunday School Destroying Our Kids: How Moralism Suffocates Grace

Let's ignore some basic incorrect information (Williamson says the disciples wrote the Gospels and that Jonah wrote the book of Jonah - Sorry, Sam - that's just not the case). I understand the point he was trying to make, but he basically negates anything he writes by being SO FAR OFF on these points - at least, he writes himself off to people who have knowledge of historical/textual criticism - but let's be honest, there are a lot of people who pretend to but don't really...

So, setting that aside...

There are nuggets of pure gold in the book - as long as you can stand there and sift long enough.

Some examples being:

"What we do" is Pharisaism; "what God did" is gospel." (pg 10)
"Our kids reject Christianity because the can't distinguish it from mere morality." (pg 11)
"Hiding the faults of our heroes robs of us grace." (pg 13)
"This is the evangelical world: we began with the Spirit and end with a to-do list. We accept the gospel, assume others do too, and then we talk about performance." (pg 35)
"Religious righteousness is self-righteousness with a dash of religion. It oozes the arrogance of inner self-goodness as it scorns the evils of the less fortunate; it takes credit for personal success while it altogether forgets grace." (pg 42)

There are other nuggets throughout the book, but I will let you find them yourself - Williamson's point is that grace is what sets us apart from just moralism. Moralism is the rules we follow - the prescriptive sermons we hear - the things that allow us to say "I'm a good person," while forgetting that none of us are actually good enough - but we have grace.

Grace is the thing that sets us apart - it is what makes us good people and Christians. Grace reminds us that everything is a gift, and nothing is because of us. Grace is how we know our worth.

His portrayal of the Pharisees makes sense to me: they started well - with knowledge of God - and eventually became a group of people who followed insane amounts of laws. The church is the same - we began with the experience of Christ - an encounter with grace - and eventually became structures with walls and built morality into our system - a system of rules - Christians don't curse, they don't drink, they don't smoke, they don't gamble.... we sure don't do a lot of things...

This book, as part of a larger conversation taking place around me and around ministry right now fits - because I'm searching for particular things - because my mind is honed in that direction...

I'm also experienced in sifting for nuggets. If you are prepared to not believe everything in particular, to not use this book as a diagnosis or prescription -

Read for pieces of meat to chew on -

But remember it's not suitable as your whole diet.

It is a quick read, though.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

We Will Be Landing Shortly: A Book Review

We Will Be Landing Shortly by Mike Hamel is one of those books that I was really excited to see come across the review list. It served two purposes for me: 1) It was a book that was not strictly theological, so was a 'brain break', and 2) It just looked plain interesting. I was glad for the day when I could settle down and read it.

Mere sentences in, and I was hooked - this book hits me where it hurts, and where I hurt, and where I push through on a regular basis. Hamel bares his soul as he shares his musics through theological questions, grief, and "landing well." The idea of landing well has to do with death - when we get there. His approach to his questions, his honest grapplings, and his use of theologians and other writers, leave the questions unanswered in a way that doesn't hurt. It explores them in a way that reminds you that you aren't alone if you, too, have questions.

This is a book I recommend - whole heartedly. However, I do recommend it with caution - if you are not already exploring your theology, or aren't in a place where you can comfortably wrestle with the images of God presented in many churches, then you won't like the book - plain and simple. If you find yourself already questions where joy and pain come from, how you can still believe what you were taught in Sunday School, or how this world and this life work, then please, please, please read this book. It is beautiful.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Advent is here. And with it, the expectant waiting of the Christ-child's birth.

Mary and Joseph had a lot to do as they awaited his birth: marriage, pending travels, preparing for birth. I picture it as a time of not stopping - a time of constant work.

I picture a lot of things as time of constant work - like us, during Advent - time shopping, church activities, holiday programs, Christmas concerts, tree lightings, traveling, and the list could go on. We are often so busy with everything going on that we forget Advent is around us... the coming is near... and the world is turning in ignorance.

WE are turning in ignorance.

We are busy on our paths, busy with our to-do lists, busy with our Christmas lists, busy with our gatherings, busy with the preparations...

How often did Mary step out of all of the hullabaloo and sit with the fact that she was carrying God's son? How often did she sit and cry over how her life had changed? How often did she wonder over the life growing inside her?

And yet we walk through this season without a second thought of the waiting, the excitement, the anticipation... more than over a gift under the tree, more than get togethers and concerts, but for the eternal excitement that this season brings with it.

More than the trees, more than the deals, more than family...

But everything it brings with it.

Do we feel that kind of excitement?

Do we feel that kind of rush on Christmas morning?


Do we ever remember to be interrupted?
Do we let our lives be turned upside down in a momentary visit from the angels?
Do we even have room for a visit from God?

Or are we so busy that all the noise we create drowns out everything and everyone else?
Are we so busy that life passes us by as we keep up with the Jones'?
Are we so busy that we don't notice the world is waiting, too?

The world is waiting for us to listen.
The world is waiting for us to be interrupted.
The world is waiting for the Christ-child.

The world is waiting for us to wait.

Wait with me? 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

It's a post of thanks a day post Thanksgiving...

There is much to be thankful for this last year -
- My brother deployed the day after Thanksgiving last year, and he returned home safe. For that, I am thankful.
- I rang in 2015 with good friends. For that, I am thankful.
- I completed my MDiv and graduated. For that, I am thankful.
- My family came to the hooding, my dad was present for the hooding and commencement. And I got to see them all again in July. For that, I am thankful.
- The by-laws were changed and I was ordained by FBC Kernersville. For that, I am thankful.
- I was able to participate in the ordination council for a very dear friend. For that, I am thankful.
- I received a call to a new place of ministry, and am surrounded by wonderful people and community where I get live into my calling. For that, I am thankful.
- I have "homes" all over the world and can recall memories of Thanksgivings that are all meaningful in their own ways, and I am blessed to create more memories of Thanksgiving. For that, I am thankful.
- As much as I don't like to listen to doctors, I have medical care, insurance, and treatment available to me. For that, I am thankful.
- More than just homes and places that are important to me - I have the friends and family all over the world that make up those homes - I love them even though they pull my heart in many directions. For that, I am thankful. 

And most of all, I am thankful for a Theology of Abundance:
Love doesn't run out.
Grace doesn't run out.
And for that, I am supremely thankful.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Grace for the Contemplative Parent

"Grace for the Contemplative Parent: A Practical Guide for Mothers Practicing the Presence of God" by Lily Crowder.

I was really excited about this book. In my work I was hoping to find a way to include this while working with parents - especially the parents of YOUTH who are often the parents who feel they need the most grace (after all, those are trying years for anybody). There are nuggets of gold in this book: remembering the present and that sometimes, the present season is difficult, finding contentment in the present moment, noticing God everywhere, etc...

But there are some things that are problematic to me, personally, theologically. The book is rooted in a rather conservative mindset, believer that God gave her her husband, that optimism is imperative and that negativity has no place - Yes the Gospel is optimistic, but then you are casting aside those who may not have been born optimists, Lily. I'm glad God gave you a husband, but what about those who have never married, did God not want to give them a husband?

Ultimately, there are pieces of this book I could share, but I can't honestly see this book working in my context in the way I had hoped. Perhaps someone could come along and bring this book to a more moderate stand-point without such a leaning that it was an exclusive kind of book. Mothers need grace, fathers need grace, and children need grace, and while there is some grace in this book, there are also some spaces that could use more grace.

$ .02

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Adoration by Martha Kilpatrick

If you ignore that in Kilpatrick's interpretation of Mary she sets Martha as in the wrong and Mary knowing the "one way", you can read a lot of good in this book. Certainly, you can read Mary as the one who chose Jesus, but it discounts much of the actual doing that is required in ministry, as well. On that point alone, I was jaded as I read the book because that is where she started.

Adoration: Mary of Bethany - The Untold Story by Martha Kilpatrick is written in a jarring speech pattern, perhaps on purpose (I use it sometimes, too), but it is used the entire way through that I think I am missing the point in trying to follow, and I have a hard time understanding the purpose of the format.

It is, of course, one reading of the Mary and Martha story - and there are valid points, but I have a hard time jumping to agreement with the whole book because Martha is almost villainized. Jesus reminds Martha not to be distracted, but Kilpatrick takes the metaphor and performs eisegesis to it, rather than exegesis - it is a story that has a lot of space to fill, but I think she fills too much.

This book is probably good if you are just looking for something out of the box, or if you're willing to sift through and find the kernels of insight that can stand on their own - or even if you're willing to and looking to find someone else to fill in some gaps for you. However, I don't see myself going back to this book over and over again. It is probably one that will sit on the shelf for a while.

But that is only one person's opinion.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.