Friday, April 29, 2005


Currently Reading
The Last Word and the Word after That : A Tale of Faith, Doubt, and a New Kind of Christianity
By Brian D. McLaren
see related
We like things boxed. Cereal,
Candy, soap, gifts, and corpses.
They seem safe when boxed, as are
We. As is God and other
Potential dangers. So we
Sleep in a box, awake in
A box, shower in a box,
Refrigerate food, store knives,
Drive to work, work for hours, where
We stare each day at boxes,
In boxed lives. Boxed-in we live.
Through boxed windows we look out, in.
God, once boxed, broke out, broke free.
But we keep pushing God back,
Our Jack, popping out on cue,
To music, though it's not fair.
Nests have birds. Dens have foxes.
God will have none of our small
Boxes. God is free, and we
Are too.
- Pat Murray

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Habemus Papam!

"So throw your hands in the air!
And wave 'em like you just don't care!
Cuz Pope Benedict, the big one-six,
Says "hey - a lot of dudes were Hitler youth before we knew what Hitler was about."

So, we elected a new Pope yesterday. And by "we", I mean "a bunch of guys that I don't actually know." Apparently the new guy was the right hand man to John Paul II (hereafter referred to as JPII). I've heared him referred to as the "doctrinal watchdog", "second-in-command" and "the first German Pope in about a thousand years". My favorite description of him is "John Paul's enforcer". This dude was like Luca Brasi to JPII's Don Corleone. Any of these monikers is preferable to his real name - Joseph Ratzinger. Hey - wasn't that the guy that played Cliff Claven on Cheers?

I'm not quite sure how it works, but from what I understand, once a guy is elected Pope, he gets to choose his new name. His "handle", if you will. This must be a great day for the Pope. Especially this one and the last one - Cliff Claven and "a boy named Carol", respectively. I wonder, though, if this process is anything like choosing a username for Yahoo!, or eBay, or the message boards at (be cool -it's a youth message board), where all the good names are already taken, and you have to settle for something that really has very little relevance to your actual person. That - and it has some ridiculous number at the end of it, because 217 people have already had to settle for that same stupid handle. And that, my friends is how we arrived at Benedict XVI. At least he gets to use Roman numerals,... I wonder - did he have a choice?

There is some speculation that this gentleman is being thought of as a "transitional Pope". In other words, they can't go from uber-conservative JPII, to the guy who's going to allow priests to marry, and ease up on contraception, in just one Pope. It takes a couple of Popes. So what do you do? You install another conservative guy with one foot in the grave, so that you can do some politickin' in the meantime. Before you know it, it's election day again, and you can elect who you want. How bad does that suck? You finally acheive your lifelong dream of being the head of the Universal Church Of Almighty God, and you find out you're just a pinch-hitter until they put the real guy in next inning. Its the papal equivalent of pitching to one batter. I wonder if they told him? I wonder how long he'll last. I did some serious thinking on this. A reputable professor of Youth Ministry (Allen Jackson) at a reputable(?) Southern Baptist Seminary (NOBTS) teaches a handy rule of thumb for the interim period for pastors, and long-term ministers. If I may be so bold, I will apply it here. Dr. J says that the interim period should last roughly one month for every year that the previous long-term minister was in place. By way of example - if my pastor, Bro. Tommy French, were to retire, or (God forbid it) pass on, the interim period before installing a new pastor would be 46 months. One month for every year of his tenure, or just shy of 4 years! Wow. Okay, so maybe the rule of thumb breaks down a little bit, there - but you get the idea. If this new Pope is the "interim Pope" (God bless him), then based on the tenure of the last Pope, he should be in office 27 months, or about 2 years, 3 months. Now, since the only real way to relinquish the office of Pope is to die, that places a bit of an ominous countdown on Benedict XVI, does it not? By my calculations, this guy is set to expire on or around July 19th, 2007. I don't think I could live with that kind of pressure. But, if I were him, you know what I'd do?
I'd go sky-diving
I'd go Rocky Mountain climbin',
I'd go 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu
I would love deeper,
and I'd speak sweeter,
and I'd give forgiveness I'd been denyin'
you know the rest.

Friday, April 15, 2005


I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg! The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid! Aoccdrnig to rscheearch taem at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Such a cdonition is aprpropiately cllaed Typoglycemia.

Amzanig huh? Yaeh and yuo awlyas thought slpeling was ipmorantt.

Friday, April 1, 2005

Free therapy at...

Bill shot me a link to a site today that just blew my mind. It's a blog started by this guy named Frank. He asks for people to mail him postcards with secrets written on them that they have never told anybody before. Then he scans them and posts them to his blog. It's amazing what people will say when you give them the opportunity. There is feedback on there from folks who mention how much better it made them feel to send him their secrets. My heart was broken a couple of times, but I also felt a little bit relieved.
Then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is really not a new idea.

"Confess your sins to one another, and pray for each other, that you may be healed." James 5:16

Rob Bell calls this "spiritual vomiting". It feels good to spill our guts to somebody else. There are adverse effects to keeping that stuff inside. And just like real vomiting, you always feel way better afterward. We all need a friend in a clean shirt within puking distance.
Funny how folks these days (myself included) will latch on to something like this when the idea comes from just some guy. But if we hear that it's in the Bible, it must be some kooky, lame, religious hoop we have to jump through. A smarter man than myself (G.K. Chesterton?) once said something to the effect of: "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried."

May you and I discover the benefits of confessing our sins to trusted individuals who will hurt, even cry with us, and hold us accountable without foisting guilt upon us. May we find the shalom (peace, wholeness, harmony with God) that comes from living the way we were created to live.