Sunday, December 30, 2007

rant...


brothers and sisters, as much as it pains me to say it, i am convinced that we have an ass crack epidemic on our hands.

in years past, i'd occasionally have an unrequited and (usually) wholly unappealing glimpse of a fat crack and five dollar thong, but lately i can't look to my right or left without being accosted by crack.

just on this trip alone, pix and i were subjected to a full-on glimpse of a wide crack ass that was not only half unsheathed, but sprouting black hairs. later, on one of our unfortunate trips to a commerce carnival, we saw a young woman who wore stylish black slacks that were quickly creeping towards the lower rims of her ass. even worse, she was toting along her young son and daughter who were sporting low-slung pampers and proudly displaying finely powdered and (as of yet) completely undimpled ass.

now i'm not calling anyone out here and will let all offenders remain anonymous. but if you are not a plumber, subjected to prison blues or being solicited for a vanity fair photo shoot, i would ask that when in public you properly sheathe your rapidly degenerating ass. proper coverage will not only please God but will secure my appetite and will help teenagers conserve water.

that is all. more meaningful posts to follow.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

a place for a manger



throughout the christmas season, the boston globe has been featuring a series of stories on Ma Siss' Place and the Quincy Street Missional Church in dorchester, massachusetts. through city on a hill and my friendship with aaron graham, i have had the opportunity to worship, serve and eat with the good folks at quincy street on a couple of occasions. if Christ's first Advent had taken place today, i think Ma Siss' former chop shop would be a fitting substitute for bethlehem's stable.

when you get a moment, please take a moment to peruse michael paulson's excellent series on Ma Siss' redemptive community.

part one: birth - from a dorchester chop shop, a place to pray
part two: mission - a call to serve, and to lead
part three: crisis - a crisis year, and a christmas comeback
part four: future - and who, now, will lead them?

may Christ's shalom be with you and yours throughout this holiest of holiday seasons.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

maranatha

i came, i saw, i scrawled
searching for significance
by clustering consonants and arranging vowels

your words, my words
less a lens than a house of straw
the huff and puff of anxiety a threat to it all

still i work
less out of expectation
than an attempt to avoid waiting

the wolf at the door
the baby cries awake
scratching is the sound i make

Thursday, December 13, 2007

rant


when i first moved to new england i assumed that i would be surrounded by thick skinned winter warriors who knew how to drive on ice, maintain the status quo in a foot of snow and laugh in the face of southerners who quake at the mere sight of a snowflake.

after seven years in the region i can confidently conclude that i couldn't have been more wrong.

the greater boston area is expecting 3 to 8 inches of snow today and a single flake has yet to fall, but schools are already closing early, offices (such as my own) are shuttering at noon and the state is already paying new hampshire profiteers to clear uncluttered streets and roads.

when it comes to snow, new englanders are remarkably infantile and pathetic. back home, we would routinely drive through horizontal rain and maintain our composure in the midst of tornadoes. but here in new england, only local heroes will walk through a snow storm to secure a much needed gallon of milk. like i said, pathetic.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

recently consumed

a couple of weeks ago i perused the nyt's 100 notable books of 2007 and decided to knock of a couple of the top fiction pics while i was recovering from sinus surgery. i meant to get a little more reading accomplished during my five days "off," but i only knocked back the books listed below.



then we came to the end, by joshua ferris
since this novel about a failing advertising agency has often been compared to the office, i thought it would be filled with snarky characters and riddled with cutting dialog. however, the tone of the book was quite different than that of the t.v. show. then we came to the end is not a comedy so much as it is a corporate character study on the way we - and i use that pronoun quite literally since most of the sentences have a 1st person plural subject - often loathe, sometimes love and always rely on our work. while reading the novel i did not laugh often, but i was often struck by ferris' insight into corporate politics and colleague relations. if you think you're interested, i'd recommend picking it up in the library when you get a chance. it's not a book that i would shell out money for, but i suspect ferris will pen purchase worthy tales in the future.


the abstinence teacher, by tom perotta
this is the story of a middle-aged, progressive sex-ed teacher who opens her mouth to discuss oral sex only to have a true love waits curriculum shoved down her throat, and a smoked out, divorced deadhead whose been captured by Jesus and called to keep his promises.* within the context of the affluent northeastern suburb in which they live, these two characters somehow stumble into the midst of the so called culture wars and unexpectedly find their lives intertwined in more ways than one. although i thought perotta's portrait of evangelicalism was a tad simplistic, especially in regards to the variety of evangelical we grow up here in the godforsaken cesspool of liberalism, i was overwhelmed by his ability to portray the transformation that takes place when partisans truly receive the other. the abstinence teacher is a moving book that i heartily recommend to one and all.

what's up next?

i'm going to try and finish krakauer's under the banner of heaven because i've come too far to quit and i have heard too many good things about alan hirsch's the forgotten ways to ignore the complimentary copy dr. james so graciously provided for much longer. i'm also thinking about continuing my nyt trend by diving into dennis johnson's tree of smoke and have been itching to taste a little berry lately, so i'll probably give nathan coulter a go sooner or later.

is there anything you've recently consumed and would recommend? if so, do tell.

* is that a tortured sentence or what? its a wonder i ever passed comp II.

Monday, December 10, 2007

protect your test-o-clees*



* hat tip to buster olney @ espn.com.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

captivated by a clown

Friday, December 07, 2007

note to self: avoid all future seminars on cocaine and the mystical christ

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

for the record...

the blank page doesn't fear me.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

for the rest of us



if jim halpert was the acting manager at rectangle, he'd probably approach holidays in much the same way that he approached birthdays. thus instead of throwing a half-a-dozen, relatively meaningless, rather expensive and wholly unproductive celebrations throughout the year he'd probably establish one previously inconsequential day as festivus and would throw a vending machine catered and tastefully, florescent lit party for one and all.

i don't know if i would do what jim would do, but i think such an action would make sense.

further, if jim was acting manager at rectangle, he either wouldn't participate in stupid gift exchanges with his co-workers or would abolish secret santas, white elephant or other such ignorant schemes altogether. although he is generally a congenial guy, jim wouldn't be roped into buying a gift for his superiors when his minimal yearly commission would make it financially unreasonable to purchase a little something for pam.

i can neither confirm nor deny whether i would support such plans, but i can clearly comprehend jim's logic.

finally, if jim was acting manager at rectangle, he'd undoubtedly be his funny, engaging self, ever eager to pull a prank on andy or catch up with toby over a coffee. however, he would not be desperate enough to make work the social center of his little life and would probably skip out of the festivus party in midstream in order to share a romantic drink with pam on the roof or play a little uninterrupted game of ping pong with darrell.

in regards to the latter, i cannot say i would follow in his steps exactly, but my path would be roughly parallel.

of course, jim isn't the acting manager at rectangle, so the reasonable folk who work there will in no way be rescued from the ignorant, annoying and inefficient schemes of the party planning committee. gee whiz...let the fun begin!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

overheard: the nyt shares tales of jewish emergence



i am really exhausted and would rather sleep than summarize this article completely, but tonight i stumbled across the new york times* front page and was surprised to find a fascinating story about emergent forms of jewish worship.

apparently a number of young jews throughout the country are starting lay led, gender inclusive "independent prayer groups, or minyanim" where people of the faith are gathering to read the Torah, sing songs of the faith and search for a "sense of sacred community." how cool is that? i hope that the good folks at jewcy are involved.

if you know more about this emerging form of jewish worship, feel free to drop a comment below. i'd love to learn more about this developing movement.

* cnn.com you are dead to me. since you're so dead set on snorting cocaine off of britney's ass, i'm switching my allegiance to the nyt. salut.

Monday, November 26, 2007

unsolicited opinions...

mc lovin'

1. my son: as if you didn't already know that.
2. the pix's pecan pie: 2,000 calories of crunchy, molasses sweet, septic shock inducing glory.
3. seth rogen: partnering up with kevin smith to shoot zack and miri shoot a phono.
4. dr. james as john proctor: dude damn near knocked my knickers off. seriously.
5. free money: thank you family foundations and keep it coming. baby needs a new pair of shoes!

eh...

1. the boston celtics and the nba: love the free tickets, hate the sloppy play and the simultaneously demeaning and demanding scoreboard. i'll clap my hands when i am gosh darn good and ready!
2. jon krakauer's under the banner of heaven: hey, i hate the polygamists too, but some of the simplistic faith vs. reason theologising really bugs.
3. nick hornby's slam: sure, i devoured it in two days, but about a boy and high fidelity it is not.
4. band of brothers: intriguing story and quality cast, but the narrative arcs are not definitively sketched and the dirge like tone gets a little old. take a lesson from your allies easy by learning to always look on the bright side of life. i think a revision is in order. that episode about pvt. blithe just about killed me. wow.
5. christmas: hate the music, hate consumerism, hate obligatory gifts, hate claymation but afraid to offend fred claus.

hatin'

1. fnl: i'm glad the writers went on strike since scabs could surely do better. memo to mr. berg: win state is a legitimate, season long metanarrative. wfw (or who f'd who) is not.
2. micromana...uh, hate feeling the freedom to holler the things i hate. once bitten, twice shy i suppose.
3. dizzy dean: the dog who submitted to the sodium pentothol i always threatened. that is one irony i could live without.
4. extreme home makeover: dying of a terrible disease? taking care of your eighteen nieces and nephews? tractor tore your testicles clean off? here's what you need? the american dream! once you increase that carbon footprint, turn on that plasma screen and soak in your hot tub for twenty, you'll feel all better!
5. my taste in movies: even with all scruples considered, i will not be able to dis zack and miri on opening weekend. i know, i know. indefensable.

consider yourself solicited.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

widdily wah!


little p rocks the electric duckie.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

musing…

growing up, i had the impression that christian ministers were offered their posts on account of their moral accomplishments, theological acumen and commitment to their local communities. for that reason, i often converted descriptive passages such as i timothy 3 into a virtual checklists for prospective christian leaders.

“so you want to dance lead?” st. paul somberly asked. “if so, please answer the following questions in five hundred words or less: do you have the same quality of character as your pa pa? are you sexing up anyone other than your wife? are your children little shits?”

however, now that i’ve stumbled after Christ for a number of years, i am starting to realize that my ministry is not something that i have acquired on account of my moral qualifications. rather, the origins of my ministry are rooted in the sovereign, undeserved, seemingly awkward and nearly impossible to interpret calling of God.

i’m not saying that i’m indifferent to importance of developing the character traits that paul outlines in i timothy 3. but, thus far anyway, the purpose and power of ministry seem to reside less in my character development than in the simultaneously wonderful and horrifying knowledge that God has intertwined a life that is, admittedly, not worthy to be incorporated into the scum of the earth with the remarkably beautiful, good and true life of the suffering Servant.

as i’ve mentioned before, much like the whisky priest in greene’s power and the glory and buechner’s godric, i (somewhat) realize that i am a part of the compost of the world out of which God intends to bring new life. so please excuse me if i smell like shit and fail to measure up to paul’s metrics. this life is not an expression of personal ambition or intention but the direct result of an unexpected and undeserved calling.

Friday, November 23, 2007

overheard: megachurches add local economy to their mission


one of the persistent criticisms of megachurches has been that the tax-exempt facilities they own as well as the strain such facilities put on local utilities leads to a drain on the church's local economies. in fact, a few weeks ago christianitytoday.com reported* that a few counties in florida are starting to limit the number of churches that can be incorporated within their jurisdictions due to the demand such facilities put on local resources.

for these reasons, i was surprised to click open the new york times this morning and find a well balanced consideration of the positive and negative influences american megachurches are having on their local economies. one of the churches that is featured has developed a sports dome that is the largest inflatable sports facility not only in anchorage, where the church is located, but in north america. other churches, such as t.d. jakes' potter's house in dallas are in the midst of building mixed-use residential communities that are inspired by the new urbanism movement in architecture.

as the article explains in much greater detail, the sports facilities, shopping centers, credit unions, western inspired theme parks and neighborhoods that these churches are birthing raise thorny questions about the relationship between tax-exempt organizations and for-profit corporations in any given community. however, if these new initiatives create jobs, serve the needs of the people, revitalize underutilized facilities and expand the tax base in local communities, i can see their value. of course, far too many of these initiatives are probably adding to urban sprawl, carefully skirting property taxes and demanding a disproportionate allocation of their church's budget, but in an economy that is trending downward i am more open to such developments than i have been previously.

so that's my opinion, not that it matters. if you are not interested in reading the article, check out the nifty slide show that accompanies the article.

* i tried to locate the CT article that discussed these matters but was unable to do so.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

musing...


just this morning, before i left the office to advocate for a client, my boss told me that he had received an urgent request to meet with his boss the afternoon before, but had not been able to contact the boss before the end of the business day. although i realized that the urgent meeting request probably concerned a small administrative matter or a moving discussion of budget minutiae, i worried throughout the morning that the real topic of concern was my impending termination. for that reason, i spent most of the morning worrying whether something i said, a post i had written or a person i had offended would lead to the unexpected end of a job i dearly love. in short course, such worries led to prayers, compulsive crossing and fears that i would not react to the firing in a healthy manner.

i am incredibly relieved that i no longer spend my days commodifying Christ at lightway christian stores, but if i told you that my firing did not leave a scar i'd be lying. i can't tell you how many times over the past two years i've broke out into cold sweats worrying if a word muttered in frustration, a courtesy left undone or a quick check of the scores on espn.com would be my undoing.

much to my relief, i have since learned that my boss' conversation was about minutiae and i am no longer afraid of spending the next six weeks freaking out about employment. however, the termination terrors that i periodically endure annoy me greatly and are yet another reason that i would be terrified to pursue the path of professional christianity.*

* where, i suspect, 25% of what i say, 70% of the movies i watch and 60% of my political opinions could get me fired in very short order.

Monday, November 19, 2007

whodunit?


something is horribly wrong with the gentry fridge! carefully assess the evidence in order to determine a) what is horribly wrong with the fridge and b) who defaced our beloved fridge in this way.

i'm not offering you any clues on the first question. but as to the second, i have two culprits in mind: one who has daily access to such offensive material and another whose sense of humor often delights in such vulgar displays.

for the love of god* please help us solve this crime!

* whom, i've heard, "ain't poor no more."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

man-u-preston




nothing substantial to add. just thought i'd add a few postcards for faraway friends.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

happy haiku



paper-in-plastic
elephant eared latina
behold the good news


red smock, blue apron
plastic bags not worth saving
a life examined


handouts from hindus
serve as supplements for wic
ganesh gives good gifts


cold goya soda
compliments chicken and rice
laughter for dessert


recycle-the-hut
requires can submission
the least shall be first


sweeping the nation
yo quiero tres crustacean
spicy on the lip

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

still hysterical

Thursday, November 08, 2007

musing...



this morning, as i listened to morning edition reporting on the consistent, devaluation of the dollar, the precipitous price of oil and the possibility of chinese companies divesting their american assets and shifting their focus to europe and the euro, i started to wrestle with a strange set of questions. namely, if our country's impending recession devolved into a full blown depression, how would my family respond?

would we exchange our little condo for a more communitarian existence? if we chose the latter option would we live communally in new england, choose to live with extended family or move to the midwest where we could produce more of the food we would need to subsist? in a desperate economy, how would my view of work change? would i be more willing to work a job that met our necessities but was relatively bereft of meaning? how would such circumstances alter my spirituality and my understanding of God? would theological discussions become less of a parlor game and more, or less, essential to a good, beautiful and true existence? would my relationships with friends, family and the other deepen or be distressed?

how do you think a catastrophic economic depression, such as that experienced by my paternal grandparents, who were part of the diaspora that traipsed from oklahoma to california in the 1930s, would effect you and your family?

moreover, if you are a member of the body of Christ, how do you think such circumstances would alter the mission and ministry of the church? as per the church, i suspect that during a depression sermon series on topics such as "how to make friends at work" and "extreme money makeover" would wilt on the side of the road. in addition, the content of your best life now would probably have to be significantly revised. but, i'll leave further discussion of how the church might respond to the comments section.

maybe these musings should be written off as the apocalyptic anxieties of a third generation okie. but maybe considering such questions will help us better understand who we are as individuals and communities as well as what changes we might need to make in order to persevere through the tough economic, political, spiritual and relational times that are bound to come.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

inappropriate!

recently viewed and recommended


last saturday night a group of us gathered to gorge on sausage and cabbage, one of pix's finest dishes, and watch the lives of others, a german film that was awarded the best foreign film oscar in 2007.

the narrative arc of the lives of others focuses on a well respected german state security agent who helps incite and subsequently conducts extensive surveillance on a celebrated east german playwright in hopes of exposing the artist's disloyalty and securing the affections of the artist's girl.

however, as the agent sits in the attic above the artist's apartment, constantly listening to the artists' conversations and carefully preparing his reports, he slowly begins to empathize with his subjects and ultimately identifies with them to such a degree that his loyalties are severely tested.

the lives of others is a magnificent film which will undoubtedly mean many things to many people. however, as i watched this film i could not help but think of it as a parable that emphasizes the significance of careful listening and warns the viewer of the unexpected consequences that arise from truly identifying with the other.

i often wish that i had better listening skills and found it easier to empathize with others. however, after watching the film, i have to wonder whether i am capable and willing to face the manifold consequences that result from such careful listening.

Monday, November 05, 2007

musing...


yesterday i had the opportunity to speak on 1 corinthians 1:26ff at the gathering. on saturday i did a fair amount of research on 1st corinthians and, as a result, felt that i had a pretty solid understanding of the text. however, when i tried to give shape and structure to my message early sunday morning, i felt the text slipping through my fingers like so many grains of sand. on account of these conflicting experiences, when i stood up before the gathering on sunday, i felt simultaneously slathered in unction and rhetorically retarded. i knew i had something to say, but i had no clue how i was going to say it.

for this reason, i carefully preempted my preaching with a disclaimer that sounded something like this:

"for so long i have wanted to be able to preach a sermon that resounds like peter in acts 2. a part of me would love to stand before you and pronounce something similar to peter's punch line: 'God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ!' however, instead of peter's bold propositions, i usually find myself sharing with you only the most provisional thoughts, ideas that emanate from wrestling with questions far more often than they spring forth from certainty. so i hope you don't mind me standing before you today and giving you a glimpse of the way i have wrestled with this text and how, in the end, this text has served as a sort of theological lens through which i have tried to interpret the experiences i had in the streets of salem this halloween."

i have little doubt that my characterization of my sermon as a provisional musing has derived from cadences of home: preaching among exiles, a remarkable little book by walter brueggemann that i've recently been reading. in one of the chapters of the book brueggemann makes a case for testimony as a fitting form for contemporary preaching. such testimony, brueggemann suggests should: render Yahweh as credible by linking our renderings to "real life circumstance;" speak about Yahweh as an "accepted, assumed, embraced Character who belongs invariably and without question in the middle of the narrative;" and suggest that Yahweh is so indispensable that "if one omits Yahweh from the tale, the tale collapses into nonsense."* brueggemann believes that this fragile, contextual proclamation makes far more sense in our cultural context than propositional preaching which, by its very form, suggests not only the existence of absolutes but also a shared, empirical epistemology through which, presumably, a community can observe defined phenomena and arrive at a singular conclusion.

undoubtedly many in the biblical preaching/big idea camp that i was reared in would warn that brueggemann's homiletic - if we can even speak of his musings as such - is so full of holes that it would immediately capsize an evangel into the pluralistic, postmodern seas. however, as i read it, brueggemann's homiletic gives me hope that even paper mache sermons such as mine might occasionally catch the winds of the spirit and be directed towards safe, if unsuspecting, harbors.

in the hours since i stood before the gathering, i've realized that my life is just as provisional as the sermon i just preached. although i usually live as though the unexamined life is the only one worth living, in rare moments like these i am by turns grateful for and terrified of the life of self(ish)less service, provisional sermons and reticent, if resplendent, relationship that lies before me.

yet tomorrow, heart-full and spiritually stunted, i plan on putting this paper mache back out to sea. by God's grace, i'll raise the sails and she'll blow where He wills.**

* Ibid, Westminster John Knox Press: Louisville, pg. 43.
** no, you know that's not what i mean. get your head out of the gutter. wait, i didn't mean that head and that, oh forget it. so it is written.

Monday, October 22, 2007

confession...



yesterday i was barefoot, barely clothed and bawling for confessions on the streets of salem.

since my role as carnival barker* required me to perform a lot more clowning and calling than confessing** i did not have the opportunity to get much off of my chest. so, please bless me by sitting still for one more moment and hearing what i have to say.

i don't like being a fool for Christ, but a fool is undoubtedly what i am. i usually cannot believe all that i hope in, but continue to preach. i rarely choose to bless those who curse me and usually curse more often than i bless. nine times out of ten i not only eschew the prayer closet but also find it hard to opt for silence instead of morning edition.

i am not worthy of Christ, but have been wholly subverted by his grace and though he alone is my righteousness i seem to imitate him less and less. i am as confounded by Christ as godric, as compromised as the whisky priest and duplicitous as jacob. yet, for some unknown reason, every time He cues the song i start to stumble forward.

send in the clown.

* which fits me a little better than say, martin luther, the role pastor phil talked me into playing on friday night.
** dr. james reports that my actual ratio of clowning to confessing was 67.5 to 1.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

overheard...

according to stephanie simon of the los angeles times, southwestern baptist seminary in texas has reinvigorated their humanities program by inviting the weaker sex to minor in home economics.

money quotes:

"Equal but different. You hear that a lot on the lush green campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. God values men and women equally, any student here will tell you. It's just that he's given them different responsibilities: Men make decisions; women make dinner."

"A model house, to be completed by next fall, will allow women to get credit toward bachelor's degrees by learning how to set tables, sew buttons, and sustain lively dinner-time conversation."

too bad the baptist general conference wrestled control of baylor university from the man hands of the sbc. if baylor's board of regents had let the sbc have their way 99% of the married women in waco would have already participated in the life-changing "scouring toilets while sharing Christ" campaign.

now that you've read this take, read the article for yourself.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

memorandum from captain random:

while i'm witnessing the deconstruction of the sox - which i prophesied before the series began - i thought i'd bore you with a few divergent thoughts.

---

every time i as i watch crafty veterans like eddie "vagasil" harris, uh, i mean paul byrd, pitch or manny ramirez hit, it reminds me how important it is for baseball players to replicate their mechanics. pitchers like byrd, maddux or glavine* succeed because they are able to replicate their mechanics on a consistent basis. often one minor adjustment in such mechanics can alter or end a pitcher's career. the latter happened to dizzy dean I when he slightly altered his mechanics to compensate for a broken big toe and consequently shredded his shoulder and was traded to the cubs.** where was i going with this??? oh yeah, the older i get, the more i realize that replicating mechanics is not only essential to success in baseball, but also success in life. as i tell my students, if you can show up on-time for every shift, consistently shirk the voice of self-rejection and fin a way to remain positive in the midst of a pissy world you are well on your way to success.

so why don't i practice what i preach? i desperately need to replicate my mechanics in the practice of prayer, blessing those who curse me, loving my enemies and addressing today what i often put off until tomorrow.

are you listening? if so, here's my secret. i woke up last tuesday and decided to root for cleveland. i respect their pitching staff, enjoy watching sizemore and their other young slashers and respect their baseball ops staff.*** but the primary reason i'm joining the tribe is that i'm sick of rooting for the microsoft red sox. the tribe has less than half their payroll, consistently develops the majority of their own talent and refuses to invest in pricey trifles like nancy drew. in short, i'm rooting for cleveland because i'm a class warrior. so eat it, john henry, you stupid cow.****

new nick hornby novel out today, in case you were wondering. i think hornby is one of the most humane authors of our generation. can you dig?

the sox are going to have to lay down another unlikely three spot in order to save their arses from o-blivion. like i said before the series began: cleveland in six.

over at rectangle, i had the opportunity to participate in the training of a new employment specialist today. in the midst of my attempts to show him the cold calling ropes, share a few of my schemes and circumvent the colleague dramedies i remembered how fortunate i am to have a job i love. of course, i'll probably, eventually, screw myself by exchanging the job for a half-baked dream of a pastoral ministry, but right now
I am at home with the me. I am rooted in the me who is on this adventure.

this saturday our church is renting out our meeting space to a wine, ale and mead festival. since i have the keys to that particular kingdom that means free drinks for me. how cool is that?

have you ever had a hysterical auto-erotic story that you'd love to share with the viewing public but are legally constrained from doing so?

yeah, me neither.

people i'd cast for the playoff promos before casting dane d-bag cook: john cusack; tommy lasorda;***** alyssa milano; dennis leary.

pitchmen even dane d-bag cook could trump: chris boom-boom berman; joel osteen; helen keller; anamatronic harry caray.

your candidates?

can i just say that i am enjoying fatherhood even more than i thought i would? our preston is incredibly special.******

fifteen second review of friday night lights, season 2: brilliantly acted, exquisitely shot, had me at howdy and full of ratings ploy plots that will probably kill the show.*******

nancy drew popping up in the bottom of the ninth? unbelievable.

* yes, i realize that regardless of his recent post-season success, byrd does not belong in this company.
** then, as now, such a trade signaled the end of a career.
*** speaking of which, chris antonetti, please.please.please bless the lou with an opportunity to interview and a few years of your young life.
**** unless you decide to return to your roots and rescue the team of your youth from our republican owners. then i'll be happy to eat you or do anything else you desire. think about it johnny...who can resist fleur-de-lis a la gentry.
***** yes, even the dementia addled, depends wearing version.
****** we use the latter adjective when speaking of our son because it is deliberately ambiguous and adequately covers both extremes of the IQ spectrum.
******* i wanted to say "abort the baby" but i can't say that here, can i?

Monday, October 01, 2007

pride and joy





Friday, September 28, 2007

musing...

a little over a month ago, when my dog was still in the hunt, i stayed up late to watch the conclusion of the marlins - cardinals game. if memory serves, the cardinals were trailing 3 - 1 in the bottom of the eighth when armando benitez stomped to the mound and recorded two quick outs.

then the game went weird.

benitez quickly induced a weak chop to short that hanley ramirez cleanly fielded and immediately looped over the first baseman's head. at that moment i was as elated as benitez was pissed.

after cursing ramirez, making a lewd gesture to his crotch and wondering aloud why he ignored his spring training ritual by failing to slaughter three chickens to the lady of guadalupe, benitez decided that he could throw fastballs by the bottom half of the cardinals order.

unsurprisingly, benitez was wrong. after fouling back two pitches or so molina slashed a single to the gap to pull the cardinals within a run. then after molina advanced on a hermedia error, ryan ludwick thwacked a four seamer into the visiting bullpen for the lead. at that point fredi gonzales finally walked to the mound to pull benitez and the whole infield, sans ramirez, walked to the mound to strategize.

after the inning i was so convinced that benitez would attack ramirez that i sat on the edge of my seat. according to espn's rob neyer benitez is the best pitcher since zambrano to successfully pair severe anger issues with such a pithy iq. as you might have guessed, the cardinals went on to win the game and thus experienced a small victory in what has been a season (for fair weather fans) to forget.

i mention this simply because often when i face a relational conflict at work or am overwhelmed by the imbecility of the general populace i react a lot like benitez.* for instance, just this morning, when dealing with mind numbing inefficiency at rectangle, i felt like denouncing the social work status quo and flaming every bleeding ego within a fifteen cube radius. fortunately, instead of aggressively goring my coworkers and deemphasizing my clients' job searches in order to start one of my own, i had the wisdom to call upon my consilieres who were more than willing to hear me out and help me strategiez a better way forward.

one of those consilieres is a former ed** of a homeless organization in the midwest. this young leader, who has been recently cited by the milwaukee journal sentinel as robert de niro's doppelganger, recently told me that he once began a staff training by passing around a baseball to each member of his staff. after giving the staff a few moments to fondle the rawhide and fiddle with the seams, de niro's doppelganger asked the staff what would happen if a pitcher threw nothing but high heat to every batter he faced. inevitably, the staff concluded that if all a pitcher brought was high heat he would eventually walk way too many batters and be taken yard far more often than he would like. at that, the ed reminded his staff that just like jeff "soupy" suppan relies on a wide array of pitches to achieve success, his staff needed to diversify their approaches if they wanted their clients to taste success.

so, on account of my rectangle experience and consiliere's advice, i'm desperately trying to develop my secondary pitches. as much as i'd like to tell you otherwise, i'm learning that when it comes to healthy human interaction the old number 1 just isn't enough.

* but not zambrano. my 37 iq puts me in a class far above the big z.
** for the laymen among you, that's an abbreviation for executive director, not erectile dysfunction. get your heads out of the gutter.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

i'm with rod on this one...

along with many others, i've been thinking quite a bit about the protests in jena, louisiana today. i could say more about this subject, but my opinion pretty much lines up with rod dreher's and he writes so much better than i do.

"Let me stipulate right up front: what happened to the Jena 6 was unjust. No question about it. I am grateful for the national attention to this story, and am grateful too that justice is finally being served.

But the sight of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton leading the march there today makes me sick. These guys are both dirtbags who thrive off of exploiting racial discord."

read more...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

rock the vote


i'm probably the last person in the baseball world to hear about this, but marc ecko - some hipster i know next to nothing about - has purchased barry bonds' 756 home run ball and is now allowing fans to determine the fate of the ball.

so log on to www.vote756.com to vote on whether the ball should be: a) donated to the hall of fame; b) branded with a red asterisk before being donated to the hall of fame; or c) banished into space on a rocket ship.

i personally voted for option b because i think it is the most humiliating option and i think that the asterisk would encourage some idiot commentator* to construct a tortured analogy in which the brand on the baseball would be likened to the lamentable legacy of southern slavery.

so go forth and vote an then return to share your reasoning.

---

update!

espn.com is now reporting that bonds, who has a well-documented penchant for leaving the income he receives from merchandise sales unreported and utilizing such funds to purchase homes and other amenities for his whor girlfriends, is calling marc ecko an "idiot" for spending $750,000 on the ball and doing something "stupid" with it. ecko did not respond directly to bonds' criticism but did offer to design a shirt for bonds that reads
"marc ecko paid $752,467 for my ball, and all i got was this 'stupid' t-shirt."

is it just me or is this turning into one of the greatest practical jokes of all time?

* calling stephen a. smith. baseball tonight needs your opinion, stat!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

the return of the cohort

hey one and all,

after a four month hiatus boston's emergent cohort is finally reconnecting. here are the vitals:

date: tuesday, september 25th
time: 7 p.m.
place: cambridge brewing company in kendall square (1 kendall square, cambridge, ma 02139)
purpose: generative conversation among friends

if you are an old cohort member, we'll look forward to continuing the conversation. if you're new to this cohort we'll look forward to connecting with you, together considering the beauty, goodness and truth of God's Kingdom and perhaps discussing how we can partner together to pursue Christ's mission in this world.

if you have questions about the cohort or would simply like to drop me a line at gentry13@gmail.com, feel free.*

peace of Christ,

gentry

* for those of you who have already dropped a line and until now have received no response, please accept my apologies. i've been a bit overwhelmed by the new father bit as of late but am hoping to be a tad more responsive in the near future.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

musing...


about three months before preston was born my mother-in-law told me that after the baby was born life would become a whole lot simpler for me.

in that (brief) moment, i wondered whether she was certifiable.

but, as preston begins his fifth month of life i must confess that my mother-in-law was right. since preston entered our life i've realized that obsessing about my personal story is far less important, and much less fulfilling, than wholly investing myself in his story, the narrative of my marriage, the life of my community and the reconciling mission of my God.

so life has become a bit simpler. i'll drink to that.

Friday, September 07, 2007

overheard...

rod dreher over at crunchy con recently linked to this piece by amy wellborn dubruiel, a catholic blogger who i don't know but feel like i should.

anyway, in the piece above amy provides a horrifying tour through some of the more egregious expressions of contemporary EEEvangelical* worship and suggests why such expressions lead many christians to long for liturgy and tradition.

as i read her post, i was particularly touched by the great example northeastern christian church in louisville set for my own bretheren and sisteren by foregoing worship on july 1st to host showings of evan almighty. nice.

if you take a few minutes to read the article, let me know what you think.

* in his brief introduction, rod labels these forms as "emergent." since emergent is a generative conversation, not a worship style or a sermon series on sanctified, astroglide-anointed sex, i'm going to have to disagree with rob on that characterization. i hope that people do not start using the label emergent as a tag all of the worthless pop-art, market-driven, mega-church worship styles that most of us in the emergent conversation love to hate. that mis-characterization would be tragic.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

a quick update

it's been over twenty days since i posted, so i thought i'd s.p.e.w. a little drivel.

over the past couple of weeks i've been:

  • playing politics, er, i mean diversify my responsibilities at rectangle by writing grants, abstaining from inter-office sin and solidifying my position as placement king

  • investing as much time as i can in ministry at the gathering

  • continuing to learn how to love my wife like Christ loves the church

  • enjoying every minute i spend with my old/new housemates, the de franzas

  • preparing for my final seminary class which i ultimately realized i do not have the money to attend

  • walking the dizzle and her new "friend" general jackson

  • taking preston to daycare every morning, picking him up every afternoon and loving every minute of it

  • looking forward to reconnecting with friends from the second city

  • laughing my arse off at this post on this site

  • wondering why the cardinals are outperforming their pythagorean record by nine games

  • starting to get excited about halloween...

  • but resisting the the temptation to attend the rectangle halloween party as a black-faced, pixie stick sniffin', pin stripe sportin' dr. k
that's all for now. expect the valiant return of somewhat reasonable and meaningful posts in the not too distant future.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

This Just In!



in a repentant and surprisingly faith affirming statement on monday, former falcons' quarterback michael vick testified that:

"i will redeem myself...i have to."

"through this situation," vick continued, "i have found Jesus."

what vick failed to mention during this press conference is Jesus is either:

1. his new mexican pit bull supplier (remember, vick once referred to himself as “ron mexico”)

2. the pet name vick is giving his former business partner and future cell mate in block 34e

3. or the most badass dog in all of honduras. record: 126-0 with 35 confirmed kills

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

spiritual disciplines of the office life

this morning as i wound my way into work i found myself thinking about the spiritual disciplines that enable me to sustain, and somedays even succeed at, my job. after logging seven months at my current work site, i'd have to say that steering well clear of office drama is the most important spiritual discipline i practice in the workplace. i don't know about your work site, but ours is always filled with more gossip, petty rivalries and punctured egos than you could stir with a stick.

although i'm not always able to steer clear of the aforementioned career carcinogens most days i'm able to eschew the drama and stay focused on serving my clients and company well. don't get me wrong, i don't consider myself superior to my coworkers nor do i think i'm too good to delve into the daily dramatic fray. i've simply realized that repeating my friend andrew's occupational decree - "i don't do drama." - has saved my sanity on a number of occasions and continues to make my current position viable.

what spiritual disciplines of the office life keep you alive?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

robert putnam discovers what evangelical church planters have known all along

in sunday's edition of the boston globe* there was an article entitled the downside of diversity that focused on robert putnam's recent research. putnam is a social researcher and activist who has spent a number of years studying american's patterns of civic engagement. in bowling alone**, putnam's most well known work, he identified and discussed the growing social dislocation and subsequent isolation of individual americans.

in putnam's most recent surveys has found that ethnically diverse american communities have lower rates of civic engagement and interaction. interestingly, he has found that in these diverse communities individuals tend to not only distance themselves from individuals of other backgrounds, but also live increasingly separate lives from others of their own ethnicity. for putnam, who is deeply committed to the ideal of civic engagement, these findings are quite disturbing. as the article mentions, putnam is afraid the results of his research will alienate him from other social progressives and encourage the xenophobic tendencies of many anti-immigration activists and others on the far right of the political spectrum.

for my part, i found the study interesting because it appears to confirm a long held assumption in church planting circles that is known as the homogeneous unit principle. simply stated, the homogeneous unit principle asserts that since mono-cultural church plants grow faster than ethnically diverse christian communities - i read a short study on this years ago and this assertion seems to be true - churches should focus their ministry upon on one ethnic group. when i was first taught this principle in a church planting class at soybean bible college by a well-known mega-church leader i was shocked that the church growth movement would advocate an approach that appears to completely ignore the clear teachings of st. paul in ephesians and romans. in the previous epistle, paul identifies the "mystery" of the gospel as the fact that Christ has torn down the barrier wall between jew and gentile in order to create a new community. on account of st. paul's teaching i was disturbed by this principle and mentioned my concerns to my teacher. i am sorry to report that my teacher's response was quite simple: whether you like it or not the practice of the homogenous unit principle is a practical way to encourage church growth so we should apply this principle to church planting.

ugh.

while i don't disagree with the fact that mono-cultural churches grow more quickly than multi-ethnic christian communities*** and have little doubt that putnam's disturbing findings correlate closely to our national reality i do not think that we should forego diversity in our communities or forsake our hopes for fully integrated church communities simply because such initiatives are difficult. surely Christ's abolishment of the wall of hostility and the better angels of our participatory democracy suggest that we should continue to invest ourselves in the difficult work of diversity and so embrace dr. king's dream as our own.

* if you live in massachusetts and consistently read the other major daily, you're incredibly stupid. you heard it here first...
** yeah, i haven't read it either.
***if you disagree take a minute and think about the number of well-known, non-pentecostal mega-churches whose attendance mirrors the diversity of their communities at large.