Saturday, June 23, 2007

in honor of our weekend guests...

my second favorite bit about oklahoma. i wish i could find my first favorite bit, which is a fantastic rip on oklahoma delivered by anthony clark on the 1995 young comedian's special on HBO, but apparently that clip is not currently on youtube. obviously, someone needs to get on that.

anyway, you gotta love ruprecht just like you gotta love family.

Friday, June 22, 2007


"it's great that you got a job there, just don't get stuck," he said. "excuse me," i countered, "what exactly do you mean." "well, don't take this the wrong way," he opined, "but i've known a number of seminarians who started lightway as a means to an end only to find out that it was more of the latter than the former."

of course no one really talks like that, slinging terms like latter and former into informal conversation, but that's how i remember it. it was early fall in the year of our Lord 2000 when i met this stranger at a seminary ice cream social - which is pretty damn close to my idea of hell - and before i knew it he was offering unsolicited advice on my life. i don't know about you, but i hate it when people do that.

provided, of course, that unsolicited advice does not emanate from me.

anyway, at the time i scoffed at the guy's advice and i forgot to heed the warning. in the end it took a five and a half years and an unexpected firing to set me free from the bonds of lightway and another year or so for the wisdom of that guy's words to hit home.

i wish i would have listened to him as well as to the advice of the long-term missionary who encouraged me in the midst of my college years to choose the pastorate over academia and the accompanier who suggested i stay at l'arche instead of subjecting myself to seminary.

but so it goes. you make your choices, some good and some bad, and then spend years trying to bind the bits together by remembering the wisdom of unsolicited opinion, learning from the road not taken and perhaps even praying if that's your sort of thing.

maybe it's just the influence of sacred games and the yiddish policeman's union but lately life feels a lot like an unsolved case that it's going to take a holy sleuth to unravel. on my better days i believe that ultimately the criminal will be caught and convicted and whatever is beautiful, good and true will be set free. but on my worst days, i have my doubts whether things will conclude as cleanly and quickly as a hardy boy's mystery. i think that's what faith is for me, namely, trusting that once again the holy sleuth will get his man.

one way or another, here's to the mystery.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them." - Lk. 6:32

somedays we meet and other days we don't. somedays are the result of her seeing me first. other days occur when i spy her first and quickly change my scheduled route.

her name is helen. she is kind, has a face inscribed with lines and lives at teh bottom of my street. she is a recent retiree from beverly hospital, spends her summer vacation in st. lou and cannot stand her sister. i know the latter facts because she has told me time and again. God knows, i never would have asked.

i really wish that i could love helen by listening to her stories time and again. i would like to be the kind of person who could stop fidgeting long enough to look into her pale blue eyes and read between those aged lines. but i cannot.

if helen was one of my clients, i would work with her and if she was a distant relative i could learn to love her but, as she is neither, i flee from her.

in truth, i don't feel convicted about my lack of love, but i am burdened with a fair measure of fear. for as the story of abraham and the men on the road to emmaus reminds us, to listen, welcome and express love to the stranger is to do a favor for, and perhaps even invite oneself into the company of, God.

i wish i could welcome helen on account of christian love, but i guess holy fear will have to do.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


i've been thinking a lot lately about: the deeply meaningful yet not quite fulfilling employment accompaniment work i've been doing at rectangle; the quirky and potentially viral nature of a-institutional, incarnational structures such as the home church; and the suspicion that i - along with pix, pres and diz - will eventually be plugged back into the evangelical matrix.

anyway, upon this journey i've been nourished by a number of conversations with close friends and, more recently, provoked by a couple of assertions i've stumbled across on the web. here are the aforementioned quotes. if they incite any ideas within you, feel free to drop a comment below.

"A church, much like any other organization (which is what we are even at a local level, whether you like the term or not) needs its balance of dreamers and managers. The dreamers have high ideals and flowery language on their side. After all, who would disagree with the dream of creating a Jesus-loving environment. But in my meager experience, dreamers without managers are bound to suffer from limited efficiency, frustrated partners, and plenty of rhetoric without follow-through. This is especially true of any church plant that desires to grow beyond the living room/coffee shop phase. Good leaders can be methodical without becoming mechanical and spiritual without becoming lazy." - professor chad ragsdale, as buried in the comments on

" In Canada there are close to 24 million people who do not have a personal relationship with Christ!...Canadians dying without Christ: 165,000 souls each year" - jim tune on the impact canada home page.