Friday, May 18, 2007

happy haiku friday

three pots of coffee

the return of the fury

waking mystery

Thursday, May 17, 2007

happy birthday to musings!

today is the third anniversary of brown v. board of education, the legalization of gay marriage in massachusetts and musings of a jaded optimist. today i went back and read my first post in this space, which focused on one pastor's perspective on homosexual marriage, and realized that it was the most high-brow piece i've ever written. entropy, i suppose, is a bitch.

anyway, as musings moves into its fourth year i really want to focus more on this being a positive, creative space where i can muse on what's good, beautiful and true and continue to poke fun at deserving institutions and individuals too. in the month since preston was born i've realized that the demands and responsibilities of adulthood can easily subjugate one's imagination and leave certain dreams on life-support.* for that reason, i'm re-dedicating this space as a wall on which i can graffiti dreams, rants, inappropriate jokes and out-of-the-box ideas that would otherwise fail to see the light of day.

thank you for reading. i don't write for you, but your continued companionship is most welcome.

* not that i'm bitching about the responsibilities of fatherhood or family. to the contrary, i feel more like myself when i'm with pix and the pres than i do when i am without.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

who will be the next evangelical idol?

earlier this morning, as ryan seacrest mentioned at the beginning of our show, the immensely popular evangelical idol jerry falwell was found dead in his office at age 73. throughout the afternoon fellow evangelical idols met with the media to eulogize their old friend and comrade. for his part, billy graham spoke of reverend falwell as "a close personal friend for many years," adding "we did not always agree on everything, but i knew him to be a man of God." james dobson of focus on the family spoke similar words of remembrance on a special report from focus that was aired on klove and clear channel's fish radio stations throughout the country today. moreover, on the same program charles colson, formerly of prison fellowship, promised not only to found a liberty university chair in legal ethics but also donate125 iraqi freedom model M1 rifles to the missouri militia in falwell's honor.

we* here at musings of a jaded optimist think that the best way to honor reverend falwell's legacy is not only to remember the good times and the tears he brought to tinky winky's eyes but to start looking forward to the evangelical leaders who are likely to take his majesty of the moral majority's place. below we have posted the current vegas line on evangelical leaders who have a fighting chance to become the next evangelical idol. of course this post means nothing without your participation, so don't forget to vote by dialing 800.4FALWEL or posting your comments below.

rick warren: 2 to 1

pros: he's got the best selling book since the Bible (which is often regarded as the Bible), pastors a ginormous church in orange county--the new "it" spot--as laguna beach will attest, is attempting to address the AIDS pandemic and is reaching out across political divides.

cons: he's reaching across political divides, wears hawaiian shirts, his new look is as plastic as barbie's skipper and he might be susceptible to a kerry-esque botox scandal, he has a weird speaking voice and we fear that his willingness to share his platform with mixed race individuals might have a negative effect on our children.

ed young jr.: 3 to 1

he's from dallas, where 36.2 percent of evangelicals live
, both he and daddy have a big church, brother is a gospel singer, and by all accounts ed has perfect hair, pretty nails, a picturesque smile and popular books.

cons he's about three tight fitting pastel sweaters away from john eldredge openly wondering whether he is truly "wild at heart.

andy stanley: 4 to 1

pros: lives in atlanta where approximately 34.5 percent of evangelicals live and narcissistic, melodramatic praise music is the apparently the air the people breathe, leads 2 excessively large churches in the atlanta area that are rapidly multiplyin' franchises all over the south land and rumor has it that he will receive daddy's teflon coating upon senior's death.

cons: height - as one look at billy graham will attest, evangelicals don't like leaders who fail to measure up to dennis kucinich and there is some fear that andy's north point christian church will come under intense, negative scrutiny in the summer of 2007 when the southern baptist convention is announcing its new, annual campaign to evangelize and/or verbally accost all congregations that include the title "community in their name."

rob bell: 10 to 1

pros: graduated from
wheaton college just like graham, is a media darling, has defied the odds and his family's personal safety by planting a gigantic church in grand rapids and is one of the few people who actually looks ten pounds lighter on television.

cons: gets five hundred dollar hair cuts from john
edwards' stylist, wrote a recent book that suggests that God appreciates sex, has yet to condemn mclaren as heterodox and there are rumors of questionable interactions between live animals and bell on the mars hill stage.

luis palau: 350 to 1

cons: pretty much everything. he's old, he leads "crusades," and he's non-white.
pros: if you pronounce his name incorrectly it's a hell of a lot of fun. try it on for size louie paloooee. louie paloooee is livin' it up with stephen baldwin. louie paloooee is preachin' in kalamazoooe!

dr. jose luis de jesus miranda: 500 to 1

pros: he think's he's jesus come back again, he has lots of money, preaches prosperity and great love for many women, has a large following of latinos a growing minority in the country and nobody f*cks with the jesus!

cons: he's a little soft on abortion and may have obtained his doctorate from the university of phoenix.

okay, those are amazing odds aren't they? so let's hear from you our listeners! don't forget to dial 800.FALWEL or drop your comment below! and be sure to tune in tomorrow night for the next episode of evangelical idol!

* by which i mean me, gentry, and the man predestined to be the 2010 miss church planter of america winner, mr. aaron monts!

"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." - Eph. 4:11-13

i only remember snippets of my seminary education. some of the snippets are smeared with shit, such as the moment in class during my first week when professor jefferson davis lee told me in no uncertain terms that "we aren't going to answer questions like yours in this class," but there are are a few snippets that i still treasure. one of the latter snippets is of the time that professor gary parrott, building on the thesis of r. paul stevens' liberating the laity, told us that the heart of christian ministry is building the body up to the head, who is Christ. of course ministry can be viewed through more opaque lenses, parrott admitted at the time, but the irreducible core of serving Jesus is building a community that grows up into the beauty, goodness and truth of Christ.

i must admit that for many years i have thought about building people up into Christ as merely spiritual work. to wit, i tried to teach the whole counsel of scripture by opting for exegetical rather than sound bite sermons or teachings, consistently encouraged people to intellectually acquiesce to traditional Christian doctrine concerning Christ's death, burial and resurrection and sought to include as many people as i could in the sacraments of baptism and eucharist.

at this point in my a-institutional ministry i still think that the focus of my early work is important, but i also view paul's imperative to build up the body into Christ in a much more holistic manner. thus, i am almost certain that when i am accompanying individuals who are seeking to enter the world of competitive employment i am operating as much from the center of my calling as i am when i am preaching a sermon, performing a baptism or presiding over communion. in some sense, i even feel more centered in the employment specialist role than i do in the teacher's seat. in fact, there have been a number of occasions lately when i have been able to almost step outside of myself in the moment and watch myself walking through the workshop at rectangle and grinning from ear to ear as i greet participants, encourage young job seekers to persevere and constantly emphasizing the potential of individuals rather than bemoaning their current reality. in those moments i can hardly recognize my old cynical self and cannot help but wonder whether i am operating more in and with the Spirit in those moments than i am when i participate in almost any other activity or serve in any other role.

i am rambling...i guess what i want to say is this: there are as many diverse and wonderful ways to build communities and individuals up into Christ as there are unique communities and individuals. if we who are members of the church could begin to see our "building up" role in a much more holistic way i have little doubt* that both the church and the very ends of the earth would be so much better for it.

so here's to hoping for a few more prophets to find their calling in the political systems of the world, where they build nations up into the justice of Christ. let's send out more educational apostles from our communities who are educated in the finest institutions of the world and dedicated to helping the kids in new orleans sharpen their arithmatic and accompanying sped students in the bronx as they learn life skills. and here's to the church commissioning more environmental evangelists who call consumers to repent of our unecessary consumption so that we can participate with Christ as he sustains the natural world and celebrate the revelation of God that is barely concealed in every rock, river and tree.

the body of Christ needs to open its eyes. the only limit upon paul's imperative to build up communities and individuals into the beauty, truth and goodness of the creating and all-sustaining Christ is our imagination. so let's start building!

* and, for me, that's saying something.