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Jerry Falwell, 1933-2007 May 15, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in theology, thoughtful.

I didn’t agree with much of anything this man ever had to say about anything. I was always particularly disturbed by the Moral Majority and their influence in government, and his use of religion to divide the nation. Nonetheless, he devoted his entire life to serving God and his country, though I many not agree with the way he went about it, his commitment to his ideals was one of a kind. He was a man who put his faith into action. My prayers for his family, and for peace for them in this difficult time.

Tuesday wanderings through the religious blogosphere May 15, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in theology, vocation.
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I went home sick from work today, and I’ve spent the afternoon perusing some new blogs I’ve found. I got a comment on my previous post from the pastor of The Gathering in Salem, Massachusetts, pointing me towards some podcasts of Christian/atheist dialogue. I’ve always been fascinated by ecumenical dialogue between Christian denominations, and have in the past few years become interested in Christian/non-Christian conversations as well. So I was very excited by the article I found on Yahoo! and posted below. I know that I am experiencing a call, but to where and to do what is still very much in doubt for me…but I know that ecumenical work is going to be very important to however I end up serving. If you’re interested, you can listen to the podcasts here.

Today’s post from Fr. Jake talks about how a particular resolution from the Lambeth Conference in 1998 is repeatedly “trotted out as “law” in regards to the Anglican Communion’s teaching on human sexuality.” He provided a link to this post from a priest named Tobias, a regular commenter in the discussions that take place on his site, and I think it is a perfect response to a popular notion among fundamentalists when it comes to the topic of homosexuality, that of “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” Of course, it’s a little wordy as a direct reply to that particular one-liner…and it has been my general experience that people who are attracted to that particular one-liner are also attracted to other one-liners, for example, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” I don’t think a complex topic like human sexuality can (or SHOULD) be discussed in one-liners. Of course, there are those who say it shouldn’t be discussed at all – God has a plan for what is natural and normal and everything outside of that box is “deviant” behavior. And then there is my former rector who says, “The Bible didn’t fall out of Heaven in a Glad bag.” – his way of saying the Scriptures, while divinely inspired, were written by human beings and reflect human biases. Anyway, I thought it was some interesting reading. Better than sitting around and feeling sorry for myself about how gross I feel, eh?

Christians and atheists start a calmer dialogue … May 13, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in theology.

Christians and atheists start a calmer dialogue

By Jane Lampman, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor Thu May 10, 4:00 AM ET

Wednesday night on ABC-TV, two televangelists took on nonbelievers from the Rational Response Squad in a bid to prove the existence of God (see “Nightline Face Off” on ABCNews.com).

The TV polemics come in the wake of a rash of bestselling books by atheists challenging religion. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, among others, go beyond questioning God to charge that religion is a plague that needs to be eliminated. Their vehemence, some suggest, is in response to Chris­tian attacks on evolution and stem-cell research.

“It’s Christian militancy that has evoked a backlash of atheist militancy,” says Michael Bleiweiss, a physicist and atheist from Methuen, Mass.

Amid the rising heat of this latest culture clash, though, a few people on both sides are finding calmer ways to engage, seeking to build bridges and even learn from one another. Some Christians, concerned that millions of Americans never cross the threshold of a church, want to understand why, as well as learn what it is in evangelistic efforts that turns people off. Some atheists, worried that polls show they are the least accepted social group in the country, want to break down stereotypes and change people’s attitudes.

So both are willing to sit down together in different venues, discuss their divergent perspectives, and, in some cases, jointly visit church services across the United States. As a result, they are sparking a growing Christian-atheist dialogue on the Web.

At a conference in Salem, Mass., last Saturday, for example, Christians from several states listened to atheists and neopagans talk about who they are, the origin of their ethics and beliefs, and what challenges they encounter in a society that is predominantly Christian.

“I’ve never understood treating a people group as [the enemy] because their belief system is different,” says Phil Wyman, pastor of The Gathering, a Salem church that sponsored the conference.

Jim Henderson, a former Evangelical pastor from Seattle who moderated the atheism discussion, has been getting an earful for some time. Frustrated at his inability to draw more people to his church, Mr. Henderson set out to learn how “the unchurched” respond to various kinds of worship services – what it is they find appealing and what leaves them cold. He began to pay nonbelievers $25 to go to a church and tell him what they thought.

“I also became intrigued by why evangelism bothered everybody, including me,” he says in an interview. “I decided to devote my life to reimagining evangelism … how to do it and be ‘normal.’ ”

Soon, he got wind of an auction on eBay in which a student at the University of Illinois in Chicago proposed “selling my soul” to the highest bidder. Young atheist Hemant Mehta had been raised in Jainism, but left the faith in his teens. Mr. Mehta was curious about Christianity and whether it could provide any evidence for the existence of God. Wondering if he might be missing something, he offered to attend church with the winning bidder.

High bidder takes atheist to church
With the top bid of $504, Henderson asked Mehta to visit 15 churches, fill out a survey on each one, and share his perspectives on Henderson’s website (off-the-map.org).

The experience has changed the lives of both men. Mehta, now an honors graduate in mathematics and biology, has not converted, but the two have become friends. Mehta has started his own blog (friendlyatheist.com) and travels to speak to churches and humanist organizations. He has written a book – “I Sold My Soul on eBay” – that explains why he is an atheist and gives churches advice on what it would take to reach nonbelievers.

Henderson has gone on to pair with another atheist, Matt Casper, for further church visits across the US, and they’ve written “Jim and Casper Go to Church.” Both books offer insightful, revealing, sometimes humorous critiques of what a variety of Christian services, in churches of different sizes and denominations, look like to the uninitiated.

Henderson also conducts interviews with men and women who are non­believers as an event at church and pastor conferences. Many Evangelicals “are obsessed with conversion,” he says, and always speak of non-Christians as “lost.” The interviews show Christians immersed in their own culture and how that sounds to the people they approach.

At the Salem conference, Mr. Bleiweiss recalled a co-worker who “worked Jesus into every conversation we had.”

Henderson’s experiences have led him, with his “Off The Map” venture, into “something larger than evangelism,” what he calls “otherliness.” Otherliness – “the spirituality of serving others” – involves “drawing people into the idea of paying real attention to each other, of listening.” He wants to teach individuals and groups of all kinds how to do a much better job of listening to those they interact with.

For his part, Mehta is still open to “any compelling evidence of the existence of God.” He describes positive elements in some churches, such as top-notch speakers and impressive community outreach. “The more work churches do for everyone, the more respect they’ll get from outsiders,” he writes.

Yet churchgoers are missing the mark, he says, when they think non­religious people lack a basis for ethical values, look down on non-Christians, or fail to speak out against religious leaders who make outrageous public statements.

What would convince him? A miracle.During church services, they often fail to explain traditions or rituals, which leaves visitors confused. “Why is the structure of the service always the same?” Mehta wonders.

Zeroing in on “what it would take to convert me,” he says a church would need to appeal to his sense of reason, challenge him to think more deeply, and allow for asking questions. “I wasn’t confronted with a new line of thinking that challenged my commitment to scientific empiricism,” he writes. Also, he’d want a church where “men and women lead on an equal basis.”

Most important, he states, what would convince him would be “a miracle – an undeniable miracle that has no natural explanation.”

While on their tour of the most prominent megachurches and stylistically innovative churches, Mr. Casper asked Henderson, “Is this what Jesus told you guys to do?”

The 30-something father of two is generally unimpressed with the multi­media “killer” church services they attend. Articulate in explaining his reactions in detail, he, like Mehta, also finds in the predictable format of services that “certainty is boring, certainty is closed off.”

When a healing is mentioned in one Pentecostal service, though, he reacts strongly. If that man can heal, he says, “why is he … hanging out in this building?… Get out there, then! There are people who need your help.”

Saying that he loves the teachings of Jesus, along with those of other important teachers, Casper concludes: “The question that just came up for me again and again … is, What does the way Christianity is practiced today have to do with the … words and deeds” of Jesus?

For Henderson, Wyman, and Mehta, the value of talking and listening to those with differing worldviews has become crystal clear.

Pastor Wyman has been reaching out to non-Christians in Salem, and particularly to the large neopagan community here (attracted, no doubt, by Salem’s identification with witchcraft in Colonial times). His stereotypes about witches were often wrong, he says. Having formed respectful relationships, he’s now being asked to come to pagan events to speak about Christian perspectives.

“Christians for quite some time have been creating events and trying to draw people into our little box, and we call that ‘outreach,’ ” he says. “This is an exciting opportunity – people are opening, listening, and seeking out spiritual things.”

Copyright © 2007 The Christian Science Monitor

You Are 21 Years Old… May 12, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in blogthings.
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You Are 21 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view – and you look at the world with awe.
13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what’s to come… love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You’ve had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You’ve been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

What Age Do You Act?

interesting Google searches that led to my blog this past week… May 11, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in funny.
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dear god forgive me for my sins again since it is my birthday weekend

first communion nervous child

church construction theme party

Renaissance Faire blogs

Craig Misfeldt (haha, I wonder who’s looking for him?)

picture of professor singalottasonga

BACOM retreat

Arbuckle ballroom

depeche mode there’s no time never again before

RevGalsBlogPals Friday Five: Potato, Po-tah-to Edition May 11, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in Friday Fives.

reverendmother says:

There are two types of people in the world, morning people and night owls. Or Red Sox fans and Yankees fans. Or boxers and briefs. Or people who divide the world into two types of people and those who don’t. Let your preferences be known here. And if you’re feeling verbose, defend your choices!


1. Mac? (woo-hoo!) or PC? (boo!)
Why yes, the Friday Five author reserves the right to editorialize!
You know, I’ve never, ever used a Mac. Everyone says that once you switch, there’s no going back, but I honestly don’t even know what the advantages of one over the other are supposed to be. Stuck in my rut, I guess.

2. Pizza: Chicago style luscious hearty goodness, or New York floppy and flaccid? The best pizza ever on Planet Earth was at The Flying Tomato on Fry Street when I was in college. I dunno if it was Chicago style or not, but I guess it was deep dish – you had to eat it with a fork. (spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and Italian sausage please!) It dropped the “Flying” from the name midway through my college years and became just “The Tomato”, which wasn’t nearly as interesting, in my opinion. I wonder if it’s still there…Mary Beth, do you read this thing? Is The Tomato still there?

3. Brownies/fudge containing nuts:
a) Good. I like the variation in texture.
b) An abomination unto the Lord. The nuts take up valuable chocolate space.
[or a response of your choosing]
Chocolate brownies with chocolate chips and chocolate frosting, too, if I’m really feeling decadent. Why on earth would I put nuts into such a heavenly concoction? I’m gonna go with abomination.

4. Do you hang your toilet paper so that the “tail” hangs flush with the wall, or over the top of the roll like normal people do? Well, since I have been known to viciously oppose anything normal people do, that probably explains why mine hangs flush with the wall. Furthermore, in public restrooms where I can actually get at the roll (if it’s not in one of those dispensers that the cleaning crew has to unlock), I always turn it around if it happens to be hanging over the top of the roll. So there you have it – *I* am the subversive influence your mother always warned you about.

5. Toothpaste: Do you squeeze the tube wantonly in the middle, or squeeze from the bottom and flatten as you go just like the tube instructs? The tube has instructions? I was taught to look for the seal of the American Dental Association on the back to make sure it was an approved toothpaste, but no one ever told me there were INSTRUCTIONS on there! In any case, I squeeze from the bottom. My husband, however, is the wanton type, so I had to put one of those little plastic thingies on the tube that you use to roll it up and squeeze every last little bit of paste out of there. He may not know how expensive toothpaste is, but I do.

Renaissance festival – we’ve even got a castle! May 5, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in slideshows.
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RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: It’s My Party May 4, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in Friday Fives.

Songbird says…

I hate to say it, but over the years I’ve been to too many parties where I, or the birthday child, has felt much like the chorus of Lesley Gore’s old tune. I am therefore not the biggest fan of birthday parties.

For this Friday (which happens to be my birthday), tell us these five things about parties, birthday or otherwise.


1) Would you rather be the host or the guest? Definitely the host, because at least that way I know I’LL get to have fun. I’ll invite people I like, have food I like, have drinks I like, have music I like, for an occasion that I feel like celebrating. How could I NOT have a good time under those circumstances? There is just no guarantee that at someone else’s party I’ll even be feeling particularly social, let alone like their food or music.

2) When you are hosting, do you clean everything up the minute the guests go home? Will you accept help with the dishes? I will definitely accept help with the dishes for a dinner party, because I always offer to help when I go to one at someone else’s house and I think it is the polite thing to do. If it is a more casual party, with alcoholic beverages and paper plates instead of pretty dishes and shiny silver and napkin folds, I’ll be having as good a time as my guests, so I’ll usually just pass out and just throw it all away in the morning. I don’t let people crash on my floor anymore, though. I have a spare bedroom and bathroom, anyone who can fit is welcome to go in there, but I am 31, which is too old to be tripping over bodies sprawled on the living room floor.

3) If you had the wherewithal, and I guess I mean more than money, to throw a great theme party, what would the theme be? I don’t like forcing my guests into a theme…I prefer to see what they can dredge up out of the recesses of their traumatized psyches on their own. Halloween is GREAT fun!

4) What’s the worst time you ever had at a party? It’s a toss up between my 5th birthday party, which was held in the backyard of our house in Ohio, or the party I went to at Monica Ramirez’s house in 8th grade. At the former, two of the neighborhood kids, Kim and David, took the bubbles that my mom had put together for party favors, opened them, and threw them all over each other, making Kim cry. I also remember ice cream cake melting all over the place (my birthday is in July), which got me upset. At the latter, which was the first non-birthday party at someone’s house that I had been allowed to go to, I slow danced to Madonna’s “Crazy For You” with my crush Craig Misfeldt, and then heard him talking to his friends later and saying I couldn’t dance. The party also went until midnight, which was way past my bedtime as a 13-year old, and I fell asleep sitting in a corner until my parents came to pick me up. How embarrassing!

5) And to end on a brighter note, what was the best? My 28th birthday party. My husband and I hosted the  summer BBQ for our young adult group at church at our apartment and made it my birthday party, too. I dyed my hair hot pink for the occasion. All of our closest friends at the time, Episcopalians, pagans, agnostics, and unchurched alike were all there…there was lots of beer and some really good hamburgers. On top of that, the group’s clergy mentor and my first spiritual director, Mother Barb, came and hung out with all of us crazy folks and gave a talk about…something. I’d had a few beers. But it was good! Some people left, we pulled out the blender and made margaritas, and the rest of us migrated out to the apartment complex’s pool. We were really too drunk to talk much, so we floated in the water and looked at the trees. It had rained that day, so it was nice and cool outside for July, and I was surrounded by the love of friends and family. I’m also pretty sure that my son was conceived that night…I call him the best party favor EVER!