Friday, November 17, 2006
during my years at soybean bible the writings of henri nouwen were essential to my spiritual health. however, in the years since i left soybean and, later, l’arche daybreak behind, i have only revisited his writings rarely.
i am starting to suspect that my indifference is a mistake.
a couple of nights ago, after receiving news that yet another friend is mired in the midst of crisis, i took can you drink the cup off the shelf. i can’t remember reading this little work before, but i confess that it has served as a remarkable sacrament in my life this week.
i must confess that much like james and john, i often lust for influence and recognition in the Kingdom of God. as a fully equipped servant of Jesus, i consider myself a significant member of Jesus’ mission and expect to be included in noteworthy, if not successful, incarnations of God’s beauty, truth and goodness in this world. in short, i want to build a successful and meaningful career on the back of the one who humbled himself and made himself obedient to death on a cross. fortunately, in response to my foolishness Jesus neither rejects me nor reviles me as "satan," but simply asks: "can you drink the cup?"
henri has helped me to see that responding to this question requires me to pause and consider whether i have the courage to hold the cup of our great suffering and great joy in my hands; in full knowledge of the cup’s bittersweet contents, i can lift the cup and offer a blessing in the midst of curse and whisper rumors of life in the midst of death; and, ultimately, drink the cup of suffering and joy to the dregs.
in the midst of my longing for success, Jesus is calling me to become fully human. as much as it pains me to admit it, he could care less whether i have a successful career or whether i continue to wander through occupational hell for the rest of my days. Jesus has not promised me an honored position, but he has called me to be a parable of his grace and truth. further, Jesus has not sent me forth to construct a respectable curriculum vitae, but he has given me the mission of weeping with those who weep and mourning with those who mourn.
leave it to Jesus to deconstruct my delusions and unravel my expectations with a single question: "can you drink the cup."
Thursday, November 16, 2006
i was initially reluctant to pay $10 to see this film, but after hearing a number of reviewers describe it as a form of provocative cultural commentary and hearing kidpositive and cade's enthusiasm for this film, i decided to take a chance.
although i did not think that the film provided particularly insightful cultural commentary - i'm sure that with a little editing and enough "gotcha" set-ups you can make any country look like it is full of racist, ignorant fools - i have to admit that the movie was incredibly funny. there were scenes that made me really uncomfortable such as when the "throw the Jew down the well" singing borat and his companion found themselves shacked up at a Jewish owned bed and breakfast, but there were also hysterical scenes, especially the one in which borat sings the kazakh national anthem to the tune of the star spangled banner at a virginia rodeo, that were completely worth the price of admission.
if you don't mind a little controversial humor and can stand the sight of a male on male sixty-nine,* then you might want to give borat a shot. please note, i am not recommending the film as such, but i think a number of you would find it hysterical.
one side note: over the past couple of weeks there have been reports that the south carolina fraternity boys who made asses of themselves in the film, the romanian extras who stood in as extras in borat's "kazakh" village and any number of others are planning to sue sacha cohen for their portrayal in the film. i think such lawsuits are ridiculous and are likely built upon legal sand. in the midst of a satirical situation, decent, upright people such as the humor coach, the newscasters and, as much as i hate to admit it, the southern baptist people on secession drive proved their decency, while sketchy folk such as the frat boys and the rodeo manager showed their asses.
if you've caught the flick, i'd love to hear your thoughts.
* the pixie covered my eyes during that part.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
due to unexpected publicity and the possibility of a higher than expected turnout we have decided to move the main cohort gathering to the offices of Reunion Church (665 beacon st, Suite 301, Boston, MA 02215). moreover, since a number of us would also like to gather at the fenway beerworks (61 brookline ave, boston, ma 02215) for dinner we're going to do that as well.
so if you want to join us for dinner, meet us at the fenway beerworks around 5:30 pm. the regular meeting will start at 7 pm at the offices of Reunion church. got it? if not, feel free to comment or send queries to jeff gentry at email@example.com.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
i would like to draw your attention to jeff sharet's piece entitled Soldiers of Christ that focuses upon ted haggard and new life church. in this article, which was published in harper's over a year ago, mr. sharet skillfully reveals the triumphalism and alludes to the docetism which plagues american evangelicalism. moreover, he also records the musings of a royal ranger leader which now seem eerily prophetic. if you take the time to peruse this article, or any number of pieces on killing the buddha you will not be disappointed.
of course, after you read the article i'd love to hear your thoughts and reflections.
update: KTB has also posted these reflections by patton dodd, who is the author of the well-regarded my faith so far, beliefnet columnist, alumnae of oral roberts university*, attender of new life church and close friend of ted haggard. patton's intimate reflections focus on the power of repentance and the hope reconciliation. this article pierced my soul.**
* the campus of which looks so much like walt disney world's tomorrowland (circa 1986) that it skeeves me out)
** i realize the latter statement probably sounds cheesy as hell, but...
Monday, November 13, 2006
a few moments ago, while talking with cade about N&MBL@* and surfing boston.com i ran across a puff piece titled worst jobs ever. i found the first few entries, which focused on a subservient cocktail waitress and driving range ball bitch, rather innocuous. but then, but then, i ran across a winner:
"While in college (down south where there's very few jobs), I worked in a factory that made the plastic covers for Die Hard car batteries. The covers would come sliding down the conveyor belt after being stamped by an automated machine with the words DIE HARD. My job, was to stand there (not allowed to sit) and look at each plastic cover as it passed and make sure the words DIE HARD were stamped on perfectly straight. If it was crooked (AND THEY NEVER WERE) I had to throw it out. To make matters worse they were 12 hour shifts. 5 minutes literally felt like an hour. It was so loud you had to wear ear plugs, so you couldn't even use a radio to pass the time. Not the worst or grossest job in the world, but DEFINITELY one of the most boring and mind-numbing." -townclose
have you ever had a job that is as monotonous or hilarious as this one? if so, please tell. as for me, this little story is a sacrament that has set me free to sail into tomorrow (relatively) unencumbered.
* if you ask nicely, mr. sajak might let you buy a vowel.
and are shocked to find that they aren't infatuated with drunken australian anti-semites.
but seriously, this afternoon christianitytoday.com is featuring an interview with sociologists steven l. nock and w. bradford wilcox that i found quite interesting. after reading any number of arguments that were provoked by mark driscoll's comments* concerning the weight of minister's wives, i found this article on how husbands can serve their wives quite refreshing. i have posted an excerpt of the article below, but i hope you can take the time to read the article in its entirety.
What makes married women happy?
"The biggest predictor of women's happiness is their husband's emotional engagement. The extent to which he is affectionate, to which he is empathetic, to which he is basically tuned into his wife, this is the most important factor in predicting the wife's happiness. This basically drowns out every other factor in our models."
* NB: bullet point 2.