November 30, 2010

this week's round-up (november 30)

Dan R. Dick on the Divided Methodist Church - this hurts to read, but in too many places he is speaking truth. Great quotes in there:
"We are not a “united” Methodist Church at the moment and focusing on program and structure when the relationships are damaged and the connection is broken promises nothing but disaster.  The problem is, were we to use our General Conference time to clarify what it means to be United Methodist in the 21st century, to reframe and clarify our theological task in contemporary culture, to codify and commit to our Social Principles, and to recover the missional/evangelical foundation that defined our heritage, it would draw a line in the sand and every living, breathing United Methodist would be forced to answer the key question: do I want to be a United Methodist or not.  And, being perfectly honest, we would probably lose a third to a half of our membership no matter which way we turn."
"We are not “one in Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world.”  We are a poster child of dysfunction and we tolerate egregious bad behavior.  We communicate poorly — both in content and style — and use information as a weapon more often than as a tool."
one more line that caught my attention
"We have been a service-provider church for so long that the concept of becoming a disciple-making church is overwhelming."
Be sure to check out the full article. A couple weeks ago I was in conversation with some colleagues about reclaiming the "radical center" in the church, the time for these political divisions has to come to an end so we can really move forward into building the church of today and tomorrow, instead of rehashing the bitter battles of the past century. The radical center isn't about more wishy-washy ambiguity around identity and direction, it's about drawing on the strengths of both camps - vital piety and social holiness, and moving ahead; offering grace to those who can't travel with us. (Of course it's a lot easier to throw these words up on this stupid little blog than to be in the position to make some of those hard decisions).

[I wrote those words above a couple weeks ago, I haven't quite changed my mind since then, but I do find myself feeling nervous about how this "radical center" I speak of will ultimately be understood and defined. There still needs to be room for debate and diversity... it just needs to be done in a better way. If the radical center ever becomes a call for homogeneity in thought or practice, I'd probably have to count myself as one who won't be able to move forward into this new future.]

I was back in Iowa this last week and saw a few articles from a series the Des Moines Register is doing on East High School. I was really struck by the comment by Ruth Ann Gaines that teacher morale is the lowest she's seen in nearly 40 years of teaching, as well as the numbers - 70% of students are on free or reduced lunch, the drop-out rate is around 29% and East has the highest numbers for student absenteeism in the city.  Back when I was there it was a somewhat "rough" school - I knew there were kids coming from difficult situations, and just making it to graduation was an accomplishment for them, but it never seemed as bad as what's being portrayed right now (my guess is the situation has gotten worse, but imagine I was also pretty blind to all that was happening even when I was there). I'm not sure what I can do from 600 miles away, but I've had the whole situation on my mind for the last couple days. There are a couple teachers still on staff from when I was a student there, and if nothing else I think I'll be sending them long-overdue thank you notes for their work.

I've posted this before, but it's worth watching again - Taylor Mali on "What Teachers Make" (warning: some objectionable language and a hand gesture).

Not much really stood out over the past couple weeks, just a couple of posts that caught my attention:

Jay Voorhees on Pastoral Accountability.

Seth Godin on When You Criticize My Choices.

I got hung-up trying to figure out a good song to put up this week... eventually went with Derek Webb, "This Too Shall Be Made Right" - seems like a good song that captures the anticipation of Advent - Luke 1:46-55

November 15, 2010

new video from ok go

215 expired loaves of bread were toasted and laser etched to create this:

November 14, 2010

this week's round-up (november 14)

Reflecting on the United Methodist Call to Action report, Jay Voorhees asks, What is Congregational Vitality?

Donald Miller on The Joy of Getting Older. I love this last paragraph:
I wish I could go back and talk to myself when I was twenty. I’d say to myself “listen, don’t worry about the things you’ve been worrying about. Everything is going to work out great.” And I’d likely clarify with myself that “In the future I get everything I need?” And I’d say back to myself “No, you just realize you didn’t need it. And that’s even better.”
Seth Godin on Why We Prefer Live. I had the chance to hear Jim Walker (pastor of Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community) and he made the comment that we live in a world where with a click of a button we can hear great preaching any time of any day. While the church needs to use social media to reach new people, we also have to offer the very thing you can't get over the internet - face-to-face interactions, high-touch experiences, and the power that comes when people are gathered together in the same room.

I haven't played with this, but it looks interesting - RedNotebook which is a wiki/journaling program (unfortunately Windows and Linux only). Also, via Lifehacker, 10 Things to Know about Photography Law.

Tough look at Detroit from Mother Jones (contains some objectionable language).

November 17 is National Unfriend Day... I'd already been thinking about paring down my Facebook friends, maybe this will be the time to do it.

Build your own home for $5000. Seems like an interesting project, probably not in my future (especially if I want to stay married).

I picked up the latest Eels album last week and have been enjoying it, Tomorrow Morning is the name of it available at all the usual places.

November 7, 2010

this week's round-up (november 7)

Lifehacker has some thoughts on delegating.

Levite Chronicles has some good thoughts on giving gifts that have meaning to the recipient. The point is to offer gifts that will bring lasting memories, but I found myself wondering about those gifts that churches often provide to first time visitors as well - are they meaningful, do they create lasting impressions, or is it just a cheap, disposable, easily forgotten item, with little long-term value or association?

Donald Miller on The Fear of Doing - I love this line: "Perhaps we should not put our energy into criticism, we should accept the challenge to squash what we do not like by creating something better." Stop criticizing, start creating!

Kem Meyer on how the abundance of choice is wreaking havoc.

Seth Godin on Childish vs Child-like. Jesus calls us to be child-like, so why do we spend so much time in the church acting childish?

Leadership Network tells of how Darius Rucker writes 77 songs to get 12 good ones. How many ideas are we willing to work on and discard so that we might discover excellence? Are we willing do endure failure for future glory, or do we just give up, or settle for mediocrity before we get to the destination? 

Thinking about seminary?