Saturday, November 24, 2007


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 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


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 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


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


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