December 24, 2011

this week's round-up (december 22)

I seem to have lost that weekly rhythm of blog posts... maybe in the new year I'll get on a better schedule. Anyway, here's what has caught my attention over the past few weeks:

Seth Godin: Tools vs. Insight. Often we don't need new tools, we just need to find creative ways to use what we've already got. Also check out Insulate Yourself...

Marcus Zumwalt: We are the 99%. Marcus is a friend I had the great privilege of getting to know when our lives briefly crossed in Ann Arbor. This post is a powerful reminder that even with the issues around the gap between the rich and the poor here in the US, highlighted by the "Occupy" movement, the issue is even more profound on a global scale. Are we really the 99%, or are we, in fact, the 1%?

Donald Miller: It's not what you do that scares me, it's what you hide.; What would change if you believed people actually wanted to talk to you?; and Do you believe in your own power to shape the world? (Side note: I'm really interested in the shift Don has taken from the usual typed blog posts to photos of handwritten messages - there is an element of beauty and authenticity in handwritten messages that I really appreciate).

When Animals Run Attack Ads.

Dan Dick: Christmas Affluenza. Also: The Nice Curse.

EmergingUMC: What Brings People to Church?

Fred Clark: Millennials Will Change the Future of the Church.

The Economist: How Luther Went Viral. Fascinating article about social media and church history and how about "new" advances in communication and collective action aren't really new at all.

Dear Congress, It's No Longer OK To Not Know How The Internet Works.

How to Live Better on 24 Hours a Day.

2011 - The Year in (Lego) Pictures.

Nerd Porn - 47 Year Old Television Signals Are Bouncing Back to Earth. Fascinating article about how "something" approximately 25 light years away is reflecting TV signals back to earth, which means that some "lost" programs, like episodes of Doctor Who, can be recovered and recorded.

Insiders and Outsiders and the future of the Church.

Forget Planes and Cars: The Beginners Guide to Traveling by Bike.

DIY Star Wars Snowflakes. I tried a couple of these and they actually came out pretty good.

Brian Owen (via Michael Hyatt's blog): What an Acting Coach Taught Me About Public Speaking. Also from Hyatt: 5 Ways You Can Be an Everyday Hero and How a Shift in Your Vocabular can Instantly Change Your Attitude - the "have to" vs. "get to" thing has already been a help for me.

December 11, 2011


Another year, another playlist for one more trip around the sun...

19x2 by Michael Mayo-Moyle on Grooveshark

3. U2 - saw them in Lansing this past summer - AMAZING performance.
4. Decemberists - The King is Dead is probably my favorite album of 2011.
5. Andrew Bird - The third song in an "end of the world" medley for Harold Camping, and the Mayan calendar set to end a year from now. The world is always ending. The world is always beginning. It all depends of your perspective.
7. Blur - love the line: "I'm a professional cynic / but my heart's not in it / paying the price for living life at the limit." Here's to the century's remedy.
16. Das Racist - explicit language on this one; you might want to skip.
18. Timelords - old song, novelty pop song, but I still think Dr. Who is one of the best shows on TV (in close running with The Walking Dead).
22. Tori Amos - hard to believe Nirvana's "Nevermind" is 20 years old this year. This version by Tori Amos actually helped me "get" Nirvana. Also started my love affair with a great cover versions of songs.
23. REM - RIP. Didn't listen to the last few albums, never saw them live, but I was a pretty big fan back in the day.
24. Jonathan Coulton - sorry I missed his show with They Might be Giants this year; also see #18.
26. They Might be Giants - This summer the KKK put some "recruiting" material out in the town where I work (apparently they had a pretty strong presence in the area a number of years ago), so I think about this song probably more than the average person does. (Also, just so I'm clear, I've never witnessed racist attitudes among the members of the church I serve).
30. B-52s - always loved this simple instrumental track.
32. Mumford and Sons - Lyric I'll always wished I had written: "It seems that all my bridges have been burned / But you say that's how this grace thing works / It's not the long walk home that will change this heart / But the welcome I receive with the restart". If my years of preaching could be summarized in a song, that would probably be it.
33. Lou Reed - thinking about mortality this fall, led to recalling Reed's "Magic and Loss" album. Even though my job involves being around a lot of death, you're still never quite prepared for the loss of friends.
35. Over the Rhine - just discovered this track this past week. Another song with great lyrics: "All my favorite people are broken / Believe me / My heart should know... All my friends are part saint and part sinner / We lean on each other / Try to rise above." Thanks to those friends who live this out with me.
36. Grateful Dead - Crossed a milestone when my aunt suggested at Thanksgiving that I visit her stylist to get my "color done."
38. Willie Nelson - haven't taken the kids to see the latest Muppet movie, but this song (and this version) is always a personal favorite.

December 9, 2011

Christmas Eve Welcome

This came to me last year in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve and I used it for worship then (and think I shared it here as well). Thought I'd put it up again for anyone who might find a use for it in worship this Christmas; feel free to use or adapt as you see fit (there in info at the bottom of the blog about Creative Commons - if you do use, I prefer attribution and that any derivative works retain the "share alike" philosophy).

We come excited,
We come exhausted,
Welcome to this place.

We come hopeful,
We come humble,
Welcome to this place.

We come with deepest longing,
We come distracted,
Welcome to this place.

We come compassionate,
We come confused,
Welcome to this place.

We come joyful,
We come just-happy-to-have-made-it-through-another-day,
Welcome to this place.

We come faithful,
We come fearful,
Welcome to this place.

to one and all,
to this place,
where we can be who we are,
confident that God meets us,
as we are.

Welcome to this night:
Welcome to the Marys pregnant with possibilities,
Welcome to the Josephs returning to their hometowns,
Welcome to the travelers, weary after a long journey,
Welcome to the inn-keepers, making room for one more, wherever they can.
Welcome to this place
Where angels sing
and shepherds seek
welcoming a King
born in Bethlehem, long ago
called Emmanuel:
and Still Is With Us
Welcoming us,
 receiving us,
  redeeming us,
even on this Holy Night.
Welcome Christmas people.

December 4, 2011

last month's(?) round-up

Ouch... I've gotten really behind on maintaining this thing; apologies to the handful who actually follow this...

Here we go:

Ever want to try to break open a door just like in the movies? Here's how to do it (without hurting yourself).

Glen Bickford: How I Lost a Vocal Cord and Found My Voice.

Roger Olson: Should Christian organizations adopt the business model? Certainly there are practices and techniques that we can learn from an adapt, but when do we cross the line from being a body that changes the world through our values and practices to being one that simply assimilates the inherent brokenness of the purely secular world. I think I see this most clearly around employment practices - should the church pay, provide benefits, and treat employees like every other business does (which generally means strive for the lowest common denominator), or should we aim to do better, striving to really embody a belief that every person is of sacred worth and deserves the best the organization is able to offer? Obviously this same line of thinking can be applied to the whole discussion around church metrics and congregational vitality as well.

Related to that last point - Jeremy Smith has a whole round-up of Call to Action-related posts. Tim McClendon on Restructuring is bad medicine for the UMC. Also, from another perspective, check out Bishop Scott Jones: 1972 No Longer, and Bishops, Conference, Mission.

Another post from Olson worth checking out - Our Founding Fathers, Christians or What?

Mark Engler - a guy I used to play ultimate frisbee with back in high school, now writes some great stuff at Democracy Uprising, has a excellent post on Occupy the Pulpit. I've been paying attention (and intrigued) by the whole "Reverend Billy" thing for a while, and how his act essentially mocks stereotypes of preachers, while at the same time putting forth some very valid points about community building and not being lost in an overly materialistic culture. As Mark makes note maybe it is time for real preachers to make a prophetic stand so that Reverend Billy is no longer necessary.

Megan Phelps-Roper of Westboro Baptist Church: An Heir to Hate. When I read this, I realized it was most likely was Megan that I shared a plane with a few years ago (I was going to guess that her cousin mentioned in the article, Libby, was the other young woman on the flight, but according to the article, Libby had already left the church by then). Much light that flight, the article on Megan simply reminds me how tragic her situation is. I know I'm a victim to my own biases and prejudices, but it doesn't isolate me. It also made me really reflect on the compromises we all make - I'm really curious how Megan can reconcile protesting Steve Job's funeral while also using an iPhone... and I know if I looked hard enough I could find similar hypocrisy in my own life, but at least I'm willing to acknowledge the grey areas of life and my own imperfections. When you make everything so very black-and-white you can't help but expose the flaws in your own philosophy.

Zombie Outreach for Churches. From Halloween, but still good. PS - How amazing was this season of The Walking Dead? Loved the ending, and I can't wait for the series to resume.

Dan Dick: C is for...

Jay Voorhees: Using the Common English Bible in Worship. I do have a couple copies of the CEB (both physical, but also on my phone), and have been using it a little in worship and in Bible studies. I'm not sure I'm totally comfortable with making a big commitment to it, but I do like the way some of it reads.

Drive Old or Buy New?

Perry Noble: My Wife Had a Bad Experience at Chick-Fil-A. Does one unusual experience, or one bad encounter get in the way of all the good ones? (That question has nothing to do with Chick-Fil-A).

Fred Clark: Richard Land to Newt Gingrich - Strike a Pose

Derek Webb has an excellent piece of the future of the music business in terms of distribution, generating revenue, and building community: Giving It Away - How Free Music Makes More Sense. Although I'm not involved in the industry, I've been thinking along the same lines for a while now (see my discussion about Prince from a few months ago - near the bottom of the page). Back to the idea of what churches can learn from business, I think there might be something here - give it away, and build those personal, long-term relationships.

Rupert Murdoch now controls 50% of the Christian book market.

The Easter Island "Heads" Have Bodies! By the way, I've noticed Mental Floss magazine in the stores for a couple years now, but I never really stopped to look at it - turns out I LOVE it, it totally speaks to my inner geek - if anyone wants to give me a subscription, or a shirt feel free (I especially like the "I'm no rocket surgeon" and "I avoid cliches like the plague" ones).

Sometimes you just have the learn the hard way: Maybe our apartment is too small for a bald eagle.

Still prefer the original, but Billy Bragg has a new version of Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards out...