Friday, June 29, 2007


In Judy Thomas' Spiritual Reading class on Wednesday nights at Otter Creek, we have been reading Anne Lamott's Grace (Eventually). I had finished Traveling Mercies the previous week so my mind had been filled with Lamott-isms for three full weeks.

One of the most fascinating things about reading Lamott is reading someone who's became a Christian and came to very different conclusions that I and most of the believers around me have. Specifically with regard to Life.

In her section called In Circulation, Lamott has two chapters. One is called At Death's Window concerning euthanasia and the other is called The Born concerning abortion. First, let it be said that Lamott is fairly liberal politically (ok, that's like saying water is fairly wet), and that she supports both euthanasia and abortion. In At Death's Window, she relates the story of helping an old friend of hers die before cancer ravaged his body. In The Born, she talks about how having two abortions prevented her from bringing children into the world while she was a drunk and addict and would not be able to care for them and give them the life they deserve.

And that seems like what Lamott's point is. Her point seems to be that there is a certain kind of life that God intended and for a child to enter into poverty or abuse is not life as God intended, and for the body to be ravaged by cancer or the mind to be ravaged by Alzheimer's is not how God intended.

I can sympathize on some level. Now, I have never had to deal with an unwanted pregnancy or watching someone close to me waste away, so my sympathy is strictly hypothetical. Maybe more on euthanasia than abortion. It seems that with children, there is an opportunity for adoption (and perhaps Christians need to be more vocal about offering this option or more vocal about how this option has been used). It seems that with children, we look at the potential for life.

So what is life? Does it begin at birth (or even conception) and end at death? If we're followers of Jesus, then we don't believe life ends at death. It just takes a rest for a bit until the resurrection. Is life defined by how we live it? Does everyone have the potential for life, even those with debilitating diseases? What if those diseases cause excruciating mental or physical pain? How does a follower of Christ with an eternal perspective look at these questions?

I'm not sure of the answers, but particularly on euthanasia, the world seems a bit grayer than how black and white it seemed a few years back.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Caption This Picture!

I couldn't resist with all the news this week.

Caption this picture! Be funny!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Vacation and Baseball

My family and I got to spend some time in North Georgia last week. We left Monday and got to spend some time alone before the rest of the family got there. We got to swim in Nottley Lake and generally just hang out which was very good and relaxing.

On Tuesday, Kinsey and I headed down to Atlanta to watch my favorite National League, the Braves, play my favorite American League team, the Boston Red Sox. It was about the only time we broke out the camera so here are the pictures of Kinsey's first Major League Baseball game.

Monday, June 18, 2007

United States Christian Flag

I was driving home from church last night and skimming through the radio, when the phrase "U.S. Christian Flag" caught my attention. I'm always interested to hear how people are equating the United States with Christianity with the implication that the US is God's new chosen people, much in the vein of this:

The ad gave the website and I had to check it out. It's at and the flag itself is very interesting.

I won't bother explaining every aspect of the flag, but you can find that here. The thing that always interests me is simply the phenomenon of why people have this need to place America firmly in the place of God's new chosen. I won't bother to point out the sins committed to make America what it is today (Native American resettlement, dropping nuclear bombs, etc.); someone else would point out the ideology of people settling in America for religious freedom, as well as to proselytize the Native Americans. And I don't think it's wrong to want the best for the place where you live.

I do think the problem is that we become so focused on being Americans, that the Christianity takes a back seat. And even the ugly co-mingling of the two still tries to place them as equals, which is just as idolatrous.

Being an American is not a bad thing, just as for Paul being a Roman was not a bad thing, but something to be used for the advantage of spreading the Gospel of Jesus. In the same way, we can use our influence (waning as it might be) as Americans to do the same, whether that's using our economic power to spread fair trade, or even refusing to buy materials made in sweatshops.

The United States of America is NOT a Christian nation. It might have been founded by men with some Christian principles. It might even be populated by Christians in the majority. But nation's by their very nature are not Christian. Nations cannot sacrifice themselves for the good of others; nations generally seek their own preservation, but that preservation is not eternal. All of the great empires have fallen: Persian, Greek, Roman, Ottoman, British, even the American Empire will fall.

What will not fall is the Kingdom of God and that is where the true citizenship of a follower of Christ is. As Paul said in Philippians 3:
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Between We and Me

There has been a lot of talk and writing about community in the last couple of years. It seems that in the usual pendulum shift, things slide from one side to the other. For much of my childhood and earlier adulthood, much of the focus of Christianity was on the singular. The I. Most of what we heard was about Jesus being your personal savior or having a personal relationship with Jesus. And that's not...bad as far as it goes. The Bible never talks about Jesus being a personal Savior but that doesn't mean there's not an aspect of that to faith.

However, much of the shift came when people started realizing that focusing on "me" and personal morality (and the personal morality of others) became extremely narcissistic. When all the focus is on yourself, others become a bother. And in fact this kind of attitude can lead not just to narcissism but even to misogyny misanthropy (thanks, Kat). People become such a both that you can resent them. And so to react against that, people have been focusing back onto community. Trying to find community and interacting with that. So small groups and the larger worship time/experience have gained a renewed sense of purpose in the lives of Christians.

The funny thing though is that even this has a downside. It can become so easy to get caught up into the group, or even fade into the group, that the personal becomes lost. There is a sense where we have to be aware of the personal, but also realize our place in community. It's one of the reasons I think Jesus took time to be alone. He was always in community with this followers and the closer circle of the 12 that I wonder if he broke away to spend nights alone and in prayer. If that was to not only talk to the Father, but also to "re-center" himself and touch base with that personal side of things.

Pendulums are easy to ride, mainly because there's not much work to do. You just hold on and enjoy the ride. The hard part is to try and stop the pendulum and find a happy medium. I've said before that "Christianity is an intensely personal experience that is only properly done in community." And that's the medium; that's where we find middle ground between the personal and the community.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I don't have any pictures yet, but we signed Kinsey up for coach pitch baseball this year. She's obviously been doing dance for the last year and loved it and we wanted to put her in something that was outside and also a team game. I like how at this point it's not a competitive thing. Each team bats around once and then the other team bats around.

What's been the most amusing to me is watching the different reactions the kids have to the game. Kinsey's not the most gifted athlete but really has a lot of fun playing the game and particularly running the bases. When a ball is hit directly to her, she'll field it; however, when it's more than three feet away from her, it's someone else's, usually because several of the boys on the team (she's one of two girls) has run over to it and just created a pile on to get to the ball.

So far it's really been a lot of fun and I'm glad that Kinsey really seems to be enjoying it. Check back later tonight or tomorrow, and I'll add some pictures from today's game.


And here are some pictures.

Kinsey's team, the Mudcats

Pre swing and yes, those are pink cleats

Mid Swing

In the ready position

And a very short video

Friday, June 08, 2007


On Wednesday nights at Otter Creek, there is a book reading group that has been started by Judy Thomas and Doris Colvett. For the month of June, we're going to be reading Anne Lamott's Grace (Eventually). For July, it's Lauren Winner's Mudhouse Sabbath; and for August, Eugene Peterson's Eat This Book. I have not read any of these books, although I'm familiar on some level with all of the authors.

I am really, really looking forward to this class. On one hand, it's been a while since I've actually been able to sit in a class with my wife and interact and dialogue with others. On another hand, I love reading and I love reading spiritual/theological books and especially discussing it with others. And from sitting in the class, it's going to be a great group to sit and discuss with. There are people of all ages, genders, and marital status, and people that knew my dad when he was Kinsey's age and me when I was born, and those that have only been at Otter Creek for a couple of years.

I really think that people are going to get exposed to some new ideas in these books and I know I'm going to get exposed to some new interpretations of some of my ideas. It's one of the greatest aspects of community that we can pool our ideas and thoughts and see how others are thinking. I thank God for a community like that and for women like Judy and Doris who are willing to step up and lead it.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Happy 6th


Today you are 6 years old, and I grow more and more awed at how beautiful you are inside and out. I didn't realize that I could love you anymore than when you were first born, but even today, when you're frustrating and stubborn, I love you more and more each day. I know that you and I will bump heads in the future, but I will always love you. Forever. You are a joy in my life and I love every moment I get to spend with you. Happy Birthday, sweetie.



Well, if Connor got my looks, Kinsey got Sheryl's.

Kinsey's first birthday

Kinsey and I putting a computer together

Continuing to work on the computer

Getting ready for church

Cute even when she's crying

At a fair this weekend

All of us, sans Sheryl

Monday, June 04, 2007

Blog Fatigue...

I'm going to back off of blogging for a while. Maybe the summer. I'm going to continue doing family stuff on Tuesdays and theology on Fridays possibly a stray one here and there. Hopefully this will also allow me to comment more on others' blogs too.

Thanks for reading...

Friday, June 01, 2007

Reading the Bible

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I've really been wrestling with reading Scripture and how we as 21st century people should read the Bible written anywhere from 4,000 to 2,000 years ago.

There are two general schools of thought on this.
  1. The Bible is the totally inspired Word of God and we are obligated as God's children to follow His Word and the examples laid forth to the letter. And admittedly, in the West Wing clip from yesterday, Jed Bartlett thoroughly skewers someone who apparently buys into this mindset, by pointing out the inconsistencies in the practice of her theology.
  2. The Bible was written by men or women who were flawed and influenced by their culture resulting in directives that allow for the selling of a daughter into slavery or even against homosexuality.
I'm really really trying to come up with a personal consistent theology of Scripture. I'm trying to come up with a mindset that allows me to honor Scripture and its apparent influence by the Holy Spirit and the fact that I do believe that culture influenced people as they were writing. I really don't think that Matthew and Paul and the rest went into some sort of Holy Spirit influenced trance and when they woke up, there was 1 Corinthians or the Gospel of Matthew.

So I want to take a quick shot at a theology of Scripture and shoot holes in it (Hi, Thomas+ ;-) ), find where it works, where it doesn't, where it's orthodox, where it fails.

In 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Paul says

2 Timothy 3:14-17 (New International Version)

14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Now, obviously, he's talking here about the Old Testament. What's interesting is that Paul makes another reference (not the only one but a similar one) in I Corinthians 10 where he says:

1 Corinthians 10:1-13 (New International Version)

1For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3They all ate the same spiritual food 4and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.

6Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: "The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry." 8We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

11These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

What Paul seems to be saying there is that the Old Testament is provided as an example to people to work with.

Here's my thought. What if the New Testament is not supposed to be followed to the letter of the law? What if it is supposed to be an example that we work and wrestle with? What if instead of trying to figure out exactly how God intended us to worship (or even live?), what if we see a 1st century example of how followers of the Way of Christ lived and that could look completely different for us in the 21st Century? In fact, it already does, but sometimes I think we continue to try to pretend we're following the Commands, Examples, and Necessary Inferences that are part and parcel of the Church of Christ hermeneutic.

What if we're intended to read the New Testament the way Paul read the Old Testament? Or the way Jed Bartlett read the Old Testament and probably the New Testament (not to equate Paul and Bartlett)?

Is that even a reasonable suggestion? Is it possible to follow that ideology of Scripture and still maintain respect for it? Or do we have to keep saying that we're New Testament Christians, happily ignoring calls for Holy Kisses and washing feet?
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