happy birthday rudolph...


"I saw that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was on the other day and I refused to watch it. It just seems so early! But I probably should have tuned in for two reasons: it might have been my only shot this season, and it would have been nice of me to acknowledge everyone’s favorite Christmas misfit on his 70th birthday. To make up for neglecting our crimson-nosed friend, we’ll dedicate today’s Q10 to him."

1. Rudolph was created in 1939 when the department store Montgomery Ward asked one of their writers, 34-year-old Robert May, to come up with a character they could base coloring books around so they would have freebies to hand out to the kiddies who came to visit Mr. Claus. As you can probably tell, the character was a huge hit. Montgomery Ward gave out 2.4 million copies of the Rudolph booklet in the first year alone and Rudolph ended up going commercial.

2. Although the song has become synonymous with Christmas at this point, “Rudolph” is actually still copyrighted.

3. He could have been Rollo the red-nosed reindeer or Reginald the red-nosed reindeer. Those were two of the names considered before May settled on the name we know today. Rollo was rejected for sounding too sunny and happy; Reginald sounded too British.

4. If you grew up in Finland, you’re probably be more familiar with Petteri Punakuono than Rudolph. Peterri is Rudy’s Finnish counterpart. The Finnish legend of Santa Claus (AKA Joulupukki) doesn’t name his reindeer the same way we do – Dasher, Dancer Donner and so on – so the beginning of the song doesn’t start out the same way. Instead of running through the laundry list of reindeer the Finnish version translates to something like, “You remember Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding hood, and the grey wolf, but this reindeer is often forgotten.”

5. Apparently Rudolph hooked up with Clarice at some point, because he has a son named Robbie. At least, he does according to the BBC. They developed three cartoons based on Rudolph’s offspring, but the name of Robbie’s famous dad is never actually mentioned. The plotline tells us that the villain of the series, Blitzen, can’t stand to hear Rudolph’s name. In reality, it’s because the BBC couldn’t get permission to use it (or didn’t want to pay to use it). If you haven’t seen the British version but still remember Robbie, that’s because Fox Family ran the show for a few years in the early ’00s with redubbed voices, including Ben Stiller as Robbie, Hugh Grant as Blitzen, Britney Spears as Donner, Leah Remini as Vixen, and Brad Garrett as Prancer.

6. Although the character came out in 1939, the song wasn’t recorded until 1949. It was May’s brother-in-law who wrote the lyrics for it; Gene Autry recorded it. He actually almost passed on the song, but his wife urged him to go ahead and give it a shot. The song hit #1 on the charts during the week of Christmas, then plummeted right off them entirely. It’s the only song in history to ever hit #1 and then just disappear.

7. In addition to being named Reginald or Rollo, Rudolph almost guided Santa’s sleigh much differently. Instead of having a red, glowing nose that could cut through the fog, May considered giving Rudolph large, headlight-like eyes that would light the way. After much consideration, he decided that mean kids would be more likely to make fun of a red nose than huge eyes. Which is a good thing… that would have changed the song drastically! “Rollo, the bug-eyed reindeer, had very large protruding eyes.” No??

8. Speaking of the song, songwriter Johnny Marks specialized in Christmas songs. We have him to thank for Rudolph, obviously, but also “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Run Rudolph Run” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas” (in addition to a bunch of lesser-known Christmas songs). The irony? Marks was Jewish.

9. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the stop motion animated T.V. special, is the longest-runing Christmas T.V. special of all time.

10. The puppets used for that T.V. special disappeared for many years. When they resurfaced, they did so on Antiques Roadshow in 2006. Well, not all of them – just Santa and Rudolph. A woman who worked for Rankin-Bass, the company who made the show, had stored them in her attic since at least the ’70s. Prior to that, she let her kids play with them. Rudolph last his red nose and somehow Santa’s eyebrows disappeared. But they were fully restored after their trip to Antiques Roadshow and have been displayed at the Center for Puppetry Arts for visitors to see. The new owner hopes that the puppets can go on national tour so more people can enjoy them.


opportunity for collaboration...

so i'm leading/speaking at a retreat in a couple weeks. and while i love coming up with things to share and talk about, i always struggle a bit on my own with enough creativity for the small group materials. i've got some questions and ideas down already, but i want to offer an opportunity for some collaboration.

below you will find the outlines for my talks: 3 talks on 'Gifts' -- a broad generalization, but mostly geared toward talking about what it means to discover one's unique gifts as given by God. each 'talk' is followed by a small group session to tease out the ideas. this will be a JUNIOR HIGH crowd -- so think like a junior high-er. so as far as small group stuff goes, questions are good, but relevant activities/projects/involvements are better. so put on your thinking caps and COLLABORATE.

--the theme is Gifts of the Spirit, and will involve helping the kids identify their own personal gifts. Too often kids spend time coveting, for lack of a better word, the gifts of others and not learning to identify and appreciate their own gifts.
--we are created unique and wonderful beings as children of God. part of our journey is discovering our gifts - and we achieve this through determining our strengths, as well as the things that we might not be very good at. God desires us to use our gifts to build His Kingdom -- we'll take a look at what it means to discern our gifts, as well as what it means to apply those gifts to God's Kingdom.

A Starting Point. Who we are, where we’re at.
--> you are uniquely created out of God’s unending love and creativity.
John 3:16, Ephesians 1:7
-->there is a plan – a greater purpose/mission/joy – THY KINGDOM COME ON EARTH. and we are invited to be a part of that. Ephesians 2:10, Rev 1:6
-->it involves EACH of our unique selves – which implies that we need to learn our self and what we have to offer. 1 Cor 12, Romans 12:6-8
-->gifts vs. talents/abilities. gifts as the discovery of your nature – how you are programmed.
--> Holy Spirit: Enabling the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is believed to dwell in the individual believers and enable them to live a Godly, righteous and faithful life.
--> The Matrix – there is a deep identity below the surface. you can take the blue pill and stay on the surface of things and seek a life full of the things the world offers. you can take the red pill and dive into who you are – who God created you to be – and what gifts you have to offer in the building of the Kingdom.
-->involves asking yourself the question: who or what is at the center of your life?
-->there are pressures and presumptions that will try to dictate how your life unfolds and what ‘gifts’ you have to offer: your choice is to discover your deeper self and what you have to offer in joy to the world and to the building of God’s Kingdom.
-->movie clip illustration: October Sky
-->introduce Apostle Paul – he grew up a roman citizen, and was ‘shaped’ by that. with his natural gift of leadership, he assumed a position because of what he knew as a Roman: he became a lead persecutor of christians. and he was GOOD at it.

The Journey. God’s role – life as opportunity and opportunity to explore self.
-->once we have begun something, we are on a journey. our life is thus a journey.
Philippians 1:6
-->one of the greatest things we can offer back to God is to explore ourselves, learn who we are, and apply that to living out the Kingdom. 2Timothy 1:7, Ephesians 4:17f
--> analogy: marble-carving. if we are created unique beings, w/ purpose, then we are beautiful sculpture waiting to be revealed. in marble carving, the carver takes great care to chip away all that is meaningless, ugly, and unnecessary. will we try to ‘reveal’ ourselves? or will we allow the carver to slowly and deliberately reveal who we are and what gifts we have to offer?
-->it takes a willingness to explore deeper – to put/acknowledge something or someone else at the center. a willingness to be honest, humble. this takes many years, and many difficult experiences. John 15
--> we all experience envy of what others have or are able to do. outline envy’s qualities/effects.
--> one of the great challenges in discovering who we are as a unique child of God is to love ourselves for who we are, as we are, EVEN for the gifts/abilities that we don’t have.
-->one of the keys here is to pull close to God: to listen, think, ask questions – all in humility. Matthew 5:14f
-->movie clip illustration: Unbreakable
-->continue with the character of Paul. in his life journey and discovery of his gifts, he was becoming the best leading the persecution and murder of Christians. then God decides it’s time to regain control of the piece of marble known as Paul – and we know this as Paul’s conversion experience on the road to Damascus. from then on, Paul’s gift of leadership – which he already knew about and had been developing – was re-oriented toward where it could be best applied. paul had taken control of his marble-carving, and it was looking ugly.

The Mission. So what? Building the Kingdom with what we’ve been given.
-->construction crew analogy: the various roles that are necessary from start to finish on a building project: surveyors, architects, inspectors, builders, finish crew, decorator, etc. each requires unique gifts and abilities.
-->the world needs EVERYthing. it would be overwhelming to try to figure out what to offer based on what is needed. like a SINGLE person trying to do everything necessary for construction. this is further evidence for discovering our own gifts and what we have to offer. 1Cor 12 – unique for a purpose ... a mission. Romans 8:28
--> find your gifts, abilities, limits, and live it. BUECHNER quote: The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.
--“American Dream” vs. God’s call to Kingdom building: conflicting missions.
Ephesians 3:10-11
-->movie clip illustration: Unbreakable
-->Paul. arguably the most notable person we know of to advance God’s Kingdom thru the building of the church. and he turned his gift of leadership toward this, from something that was unspeakable. he had discovered a gift, and had steered hit toward a righteous, Godly purpose. and THRIVED. i can’t imagine where the Church would be today if he hadn’t.
-->called as ambassadors: 2 Cor 5:17-20, with what we have.
Ephesians 1:9



i hope most of you will find THIS disconcerting. what was most disturbing to me was this paragraph:

North-central Phoenix resident Scott Crozier said he's pleased with Corcoran's decision. "This decision is more about protecting a residential area than anything else," he said. "The nice part is the church can support the homeless elsewhere with UMOM or André House, but we can't move the residential neighborhood."

i hate what ministry is up against sometimes...

ht to cleave.

good read...

great article HERE. informative -- puts things in perspective a little...

ht to SJ.



how did i not know about this?!! chastity bono is now CHAZ bono?


good stuff.

while this article is a sarcastic 'joke' from the pages of the Rutgers Medium (cynical/humor publication), the gist of this article is often on my mind. while cell phones have certainly added a lot of convenience to our lives, i'm pretty sure that they take away a lot as well. i could go into it, but i'll leave it at that. enjoy...

and in related news...


i apparently received mis-information. as if to possibly give them a little credit, westboro baptist was present for their picket for about 15-20 minutes -- and it was a half hour earlier than scheduled. just want to give them a fair report :)


westboro baptist.

about a week ago, i learned that the Westboro Baptist Church was going to be coming to NJ [and yes, that really is their web address]. via their website description, it seemed that they were largely on an anti-jewish tirade, and one of their visits was going to be to the Rutgers Hillel jewish student group, because:

"Rutgers Hillel - You have two mascots? God H8s Fags already 93 College Ave Why does New Jersey have to be so friggin' weird about everything? These guys have two mascots at this college. Is that in case one of them is offensive to someone? I'm just sayin'! WBC needs to have a few words with these young people because all of the people who ever had any influence over them - LIED! What did you do that for? Why did you lie to those kids. Oh well, they're all grown up now, so they must find out for themselves that God is NOT a liar, like you told them He is. Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? So, here we come - behave yourselves appropriately, keep your mouths shut, your eyes and ears open. You never know, you might learn something. Praise God! AMEN!"

yea, didn't really make any sense to me either. if you read up on some of the other 'reasons' for their pickets, i think you'll find them more humorous than offensive -- because it's just. so. ridiculous.

i've known about these folks for awhile -- picketing funerals and such. it's one thing to push your agenda, it's a whole other thing to disrespect and demean.

so i wanted to go see this event with my own eyes. they were slated to arrive at Rutgers Hillel at 8:45 and stay for a half hour. i got there pretty much right at 8:45. and, sadly, this is the only view i got of them:

because they were back on their bus and leaving within 15 minutes of arriving. apparently, they arrived at 8:40, stood out on the sidewalk for about 2 minutes, went back to their bus, and were pulling out by 8:55. come on -- i mean, even spider man came out for the counter-protest:

but seriously. it wasn't disappointment that i felt. it was curiosity. i was curious why a group that has mouths and convictions as large as they do, seemed to have scampered away with their tails between their legs. why would they have bothered? are they simply pot-stirrers with barks much worse than their bites? do they really have any deep-lying passion for what they preach? or are they just after the publicity in order to sustain their ridiculous propaganda?

the plus side, is that they successfully spurred the people of rutgers toward a bit of a unification against hate.

i was excited to see the students and Hillel making the counter-protest against hate. this could VERY easily been an 'anti-christian' counter-protest -- or 'anti-conservative-christian'. i'm encouraged by the way the counter-protest was handled -- maturely, and without irrational stereotypes and hatred. it also could have easily been laced with hatred toward Westboro Baptist. and it wasn't. there were a number of articles/editorials in the Rutgers newspaper over the past week encouraging people to be thoughtful about their reactions. the second reformed church of new brunswick resides across the street from Hillel. they were present and in full support:

anywho. just wanted to share my account. it provoked a lot of thoughtfulness in me this past week about my own convictions -- and what they are rooted in -- so i'm thankful for that. i encourage you to take some time for your own convictions this week -- remind yourself of them, think about them, test them. peace...



we had a 'john calvin' sunday yesterday to honor the great reformer and revolutionary. we had one of his hymns, I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art, in the service. a portion of the lyrics struck me deep. so, any of you who seek inspiration, i pray you take in these words of john calvin -- 16th century revolutionary:

Lord, give us peace, and
make us calm and sure -
that in Thy strength we
evermore endure.


monday fun.

some monday fun courtesy of MENTALFLOSS. i LOVED the smurfs as a kid -- and still love their message of community [republicans can insert comment about communism here ________.] anywho -- enjoy this 'quick 10' about the smurfs...

1. The Smurfs were invented as a result of a silly conversation over dinner. Pierre Culliford, a Belgian artist known as Peyo, was dining with a friend when he had one of those momentary lapses of vocabulary that we all experience from time to time – he couldn’t remember the word for “salt” and asked his friend to pass the “schtroumpf.” Mocking him, his friend responded with, “Here’s the schtroumpf. When you are done schtroumpfing, schtroumpf it back.” This sparked an idea, and “les Schtroumpfs” were born in comic strip form shortly thereafter. This, of course, was translated to “The Smurfs” when they hit the American market.

2. The cartoon series was created when an NBC executive spied his daughter playing with a plush Smurf doll. After observing how much she loved the doll, he decided that the Schtroumpfs might be a good fit for his Saturday morning cartoon-fest. It was; it aired for nine seasons.

3. The Smurfs are specifically “three apples” tall.

4. The white hat the Smurfs all wear have been around for ages and are called Phrygian caps. They’re often considered symbols of liberty and were once found on the tops of Liberty Poles. You can see one on the seal of the United States Senate as well.

5. Because the Smurfs shared all of their possessions, some people thought this was a barely veiled attempt to brainwash children into Communist ways. Of course, some people also thought the Phrygian hats meant that the Smurfs were a sect of the Ku Klux Klan, and others claimed the Smurfs were neo-Nazis promoting an Aryan race because of the lone, blonde female in the group. In fact, none of those things were true. Peyo’s son has stated that the Smurfs had no political undertones at all, and the only messages his father wished to impart were those of friendship and love.

6. Karenna Gore’s Secret Service code name was Smurfette, which she has apparently regretted ever since. In 1997, she said, “Ever since I was put on the spot and told ‘two syllables’ and ‘It has to start with an S,’ I have been cringing in the back seat when identified as ‘Smurfette’.”

7. The answer to the age-old question “What color does a Smurf turn when it’s choking?” is purple. At least we can assume it’s purple, based on the episode where a Smurf decides to hold his breath.

8. The Smurfs showed up at a bunch of Kings Entertainment amusement parks in the mid ’80s. King’s Island near Cincinnati had a boat ride that took people through the Smurf village, King’s Dominion had Smurf Mountain, Great America had a little roller coaster called The Blue Streak, and Carowinds had a children’s play area called Smurf Island. Since then, they have all been replaced with different rides.

9. There are some Smurfs from the original comics that never made it to the cartoon. These include Alchemist Smurf, Timid Smurf, Enamored Smurf, Finance Smurf (whoo-hoo! How fun for kids!), Mango Smurf, Lumberjack Smurf, Pastrycook Smurf, Submariner Smurf and Navigator Smurf.

10. The World Record for People Dressed as Smurfs (I can’t shake the feeling that the plural should be Smurves. I know. So wrong.) was set just this year in Swansea, Wales. More than 2,500 people crammed into a nightclub dressed in blue and white and weren’t allowed to have any natural skin showing in order to count toward the record. The previous record had been set just a year earlier, with 1,253 Smurfs gathered in Castleblayney, Ireland.

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happy monday :)

the internet -- proof that God loves us...

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today i received this passage in my daily email from Sojourners. they are words that inspired my soul, so i was compelled to share...

The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
the Lord will rejoice over you with gladness,
and will renew you in love;
the Lord will exult over you with loud singing,
as on a day of festival.

[Zephaniah 3:17]



is things like THIS that make me curious why some (and herein i am referring to 'pushy' atheists) atheists find it so necessary to press their claim that there is no God. i struggle to think of any other situation like this where someone or some group feels the need to press so hard against the belief of something. i wonder about the motivations of pushy atheists. maybe i should make a shirt that says 'i don't believe in atheists' -- and see what they have to say about that...

article HERE.


is it any wonder?

do we wonder why THIS is something that's bubbling up? it shouldn't be a surprise when there are so many people 'afraid' that teaching aspects of religion and faith in school is considered 'brainwashing'. there is a word for this fear: ridiculous. religion is part of history, and it is part of present-day life. we teach capitalism in schools -- does that give me the right to think that 'they' are 'brainwashing' my kid into being a capitalist? no, of course not. there is infinite value in religion, whether you are a person of faith, an atheist, or a disenfranchised catholic. and this irrational fear surrounding religion in schools and the public sphere is a sad one. because we are losing values, and that's a problem. care to share otherwise?

[ht to melissa for the article]



THIS is super amazing. feast your eyes oh you star wars nerds...

how i wish i was still 4 feet tall...


HERE is an article with a great historical perspective on the recent awarding of the nobel peace prize to obama.



HERE is a good example (watch the video) of someone who saw something that was unjust, and is doing something necessary about it. while i disagree with the headline labeling the GOP as 'pro-rape', i think it's an interesting profile of who voted how (see HERE for the breakdown).

reminds of the time i heard david crowder describe 'justice': we can stand on the banks of the river of injustice and help by pulling people out all day long. it is another thing to walk upstream and figure out who's throwing them in in the first place.

new fun site.

i'm addicted to macro sites. here's a new one i found today (i'll eventually post a list of all the ones i've come across): COMIXED. and enjoy this preview...


only in jersey...

this is a real story. unbelievable, but real. HERE is some further evidence.


girl scout cookie facts...

1. The cookies started out being baked in the ovens of various troop members. The first Girl Scout cookie sale on record took place in Muskogee, Oklahoma, in a high school cafeteria in 1917. At the time, a basic sugar cookie recipe was used and the cookies were packaged in wax paper bags and sealed with a sticker.

2. In 1933, you could buy one package for $0.23 or six for $1.24.

3. The cookies first started being commercially baked in 1934 and the Girl Scouts of Greater Philadelphia were the first to go that route.

4. During WWII when there were shortages of sugar, butter and flour in the U.S., the Girl Scouts sold calendars instead.

5. In 1951, the consumer had only three Girl Scout Cookie options: Sandwich (like an Oreo, I suppose?), Shortbread and Chocolate Mint, which we know as the Thin Mint today. By ’56, they had added a vanilla sandwich cookie as well.

6. Thin Mints are the current best sellers, comprising 25 percent of sales. Samoas (ew, coconut) trail behind at 19 percent, Tagalongs come in at 13%, Do-si-dos at 11% and Trefoils at 9%. The other 23% is made up of all of the other varieties.

7. Elizabeth Brinton is known as the “Cookie Queen.” She sold more than 100,000 boxes of cookies over her Girl Scout career and more than 18,000 in one season alone. She was the first to abandon the door-to-door method and set up a booth in a high-traffic area (the D.C. metro stations). When asked the secret to her success, one of her responses was, “You’ve got to look them in the eye and make them feel guilty.”

8. Girl Scout cookies are kosher.

9. Only two bakers in America are licensed to make the cookies: ABC/Interbake Foods and Little Brownie Bakes.

10. You can make the early sugar cookie version yourself, if you want:

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar plus additional amount for topping (optional)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
-Cream butter and the cup of sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll dough, cut into trefoil shapes, and sprinkle sugar on top, if desired. Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Makes six- to seven-dozen cookies.

fun fact.

In 2002, Norwegian McDonald’s restaurants had the bright idea to name a burger after a place where millions of people were facing starvation. Reps said the McAfrika sandwich was based on an authentic African recipe, but that didn’t stop many in Norway from accusing McDonald’s of extreme insensitivity. McDonald’s considered donating proceeds to famine relief, but ended up allowing relief agencies to place collection boxes in participating restaurants. I think that was the same year they considered the McTsunami filet-o-fish.

as we are...

"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."
-Anais Nin

agreed. why would we ever think so highly of ourselves, to believe we are right about something above all others?


age of stupid.

while not as noteworthy as i thought it might be, it was still pretty poignant. i'd recommend you viewing The Age of Stupid. had a couple good profiles of people trying to do their part and the barriers they come up against.

found the whole movie online HERE.

through this, i would simply implore you to not contribute to further stupidity and ignorance on behalf of the human race. thanks.

**in related news, checkout my buddy adam at Pomomusings.com and his post on An Experiment in Keeping Our Trash.


the plan in 4 minutes...

thought this was a good compilation and quick summary of the potential healthcare plan...

sound like hitler to you? i thought not...

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fitting for today, being the international day of peace...


moltmann. pt.3

Moltmann’s greeting to us: "Peace be with you – and good theology too.”

Jurgen Moltmann says ‘father’ as Goldmember does in Austin Powers: “Fah-shza”.

And he refers to the Holy Spirit as ‘herself’.

some questions/topics were posed by tony jones. tony recalls a billboard: “unless you confess, God cannot bless.” what does moltmann think of this?
-is God a contingent being? we are Christians by faith alone. the initiative is always on God. we cannot bargain with God – that is pure capitalism.

moltmann talked a bit about is reasoning for his ‘panentheist’ classification (meaning, God’s creator-role and relation to creation).
-before God created the world/the universe/everything, God decided to become the Creator.
-before creating the heavens and the earth, God must have created a space to make room for these created things.
-thus there is a space within God’s being where the heaven’s and earth were created.
-there is a presupposed contract between the finite and the infinite.

regarding God’s creative act, Moltmann suggests that it is ‘creative’ to let another being ‘be’. we can ask ourselves, then, if our attempts to control and manipulate others are decidedly inconvenient?

Moltmann believes that “God wants our response and responsibility – he wants us to come of age.”

on God’s becoming human in the person of Jesus Christ: “God became human being to liberate us from our God complex.”

with regard to evil and unjust things that occur in our world, Moltmann claims that we have a collective responsibility: “Everyone is guilty for everything happening in the world.”

in anticipation of future generations: “we have received life, and we should give life to another generation.”

“we must respect the image of God in every person – in a murderer, in a terrorist. it’s difficult, i know.”

with respect to ‘science vs. nature’, Moltmann says that we need a hermeneutic of nature that asks: “Do we really understand what we know?”

also, that “the struggle between theology and science is better than [just] regular science.”

over the time, the hierarchy of the trinity that has been created by certain theologies (ie, father as head, son as next in power, and holy spirit on the bottom rung), has aided in our human hierarchies (ie, God to Pope to Bishop to Priest to congregants). this is an unhealthy view of the trinity, that creates an unhealthy dynamic for human beings.

when asked about the hinge-pin issue of homosexuality, and whether he has an issue with it: “This is not a problem in Germany, because the Gospel is not about sex.” an interesting, simple answer. he also backs his opinion with the fact that we come to God on faith alone – not by our actions or orientations or behaviors. “homosexuality is neither sin nor crime – how can [we] not bless a union between two humans?” Moltmann puts it in perspective by saying: “We should care more about war and peace.”

with regard to war and peace, there are 3 options:
a) we can change our swords into Christian swords and conquer.

b) we can leave the swords to non-believers and let them fight, and we as Christians can take up our plowshares.

c) we can change our swords into plowshares – change our weapons manufacturing industries into food distribution facilities: to engage in making peace, and removing swords.

“we prepare the way for [God’s] Kingdom by anticipating the peace and righteousness of the Kingdom.”

with regard to the Church – the Church is the Body of Christ and the People of God.

there is a mission of the Risen Christ: ‘whoever hears you hears me’. this is the mission to spread the Gospel.
there is also an invitation of the Risen Christ: ‘whoever visits them visits me.’ this is the mission to spread the Kingdom of God as a result of our own hands.

Moltmann believes in an open Lord’s Table: “At the Lord’s Table, we do not celebrate our theories of the Lord’s presence, but [we celebrate] the Lord’s presence.”

he was asked what is the future of the congregation? he responds that there is power in the face-to-face community. Moltmann talked in reference to ‘cyber-churches’ and ‘technological connection’. he asked us to think of what senses are engaged. internet and technology only stimulate sight and sound. Moltmann makes a distinction between far-reaching senses (sight and sound) and near/intimate sense (smell/taste/touch).
**this is an interesting thought – thinking about our churches and our worship experiences in light of our senses. are younger generations gaining over-developed far-reaching senses? are they lacking development in the intimate senses? this should be an aspect of church and discipleship that we ALL should consider.


moltmann. pt.2

thursday morning began with Jurgen Moltmann heading to the chancel to share with us. i felt a hefty emotional impact as this man came into our presence. Moltmann began by sharing with us his life story to begin. this man is extraordinary. his journey with God began in his teenage years when he was drafted into the german army. his first questions of God were raised when friend who was standing next to him was killed by a bomb that was dropped on the city of Hamburg. Moltmann instantly asked the questions: “Where is God? Why am I alive?” these were the beginnings of his journey, which continued soonafter in a POW camp, where the sight of a blooming cherry tree and kind scottish camp servants were some of things that shone the glory of God to him. an army chaplain at one point passed out bibles to the prisoners. and, as Moltmann describes, Christ found him in the dark pit of his soul and his situation.

as Moltmann began his schooling and his pastoring, he was noticing what things were and weren’t close to the experiences of life: like trying to preach academically to a congregation of farmers, or talking about God inside the confines of a lecture hall. an experience at Duke University lifted his view of amercian christianity during particularly dark times in the US:
in the midst of a time when the US saw an active KKK, and many african-americans mistreated and degraded, Moltmann was giving a conference when MLK Jr. was assasinated. the conference was dismissed prematurely, and in the midst of this national tragedy, 400 students at Duke staged a sit-in – for 4 days and nights to mourn the loss of a man who was seeking to embody God’s truth.

as he moved from personal history into discussion, Moltmann touched on a number of significant areas within Christianity. he talked a bit about the difference between one-ness and same-ness – as in the difference between Christ and God being “one” or “one in the same”. unity is in one-ness, not necessarily in sameness. he went on to talk about near-ness and far-ness with relation to God: God as ABBA (daddy, loving father) vs. God as ‘Our Father WHO IS IN HEAVEN’.

for Moltmann, truth is to be found in unhindered dialogue. thus, he breaks the mold of a typical ‘systematic theologian’. he believes systematic theology sees the need to be ‘perfect’ and ‘all in order’ – but he sees theology as an exploration and a conversation: something to be sought and discovered, rather than something that is organized and tied up with a bow. it was interesting to hear him comment about Barth in this regard: “the Dogmatics is 8000+ pages of doctrine and systematics: can the truth be that long?” he also commented how Barth was (self-proclaimedly) not good at dialoging with his contemporaries. Moltmann is a conversational, dialoging theologian: “we have a starting point: Jesus Christ, and a life-giving Spirit. and we have a universal horizon.”

tony jones asked him about his uniqueness in that he grew up in a secular family: that he is not tied to a particular heritage/tradition – asking if this plays into how his theology plays out. his reply: “Reformed tradition is my heritage, and the ecumenical church is my future.” his open-minded outlook is profound – especially in our world where so many people hold so tightly to their personal convictions. moltman: “don’t become so narrow-minded to only defend your own denomination. Christ is more than one’s own denomination.”

on “scriptural inerrancy” – moltmann makes a number of claims as to where he stands. “i read the bible with the presupposition of meeting the Divine Word in humans words.” as a man who has been exploring the gospel for many, many years, this is a profound statement. i can imagine that a lot of us (myself included sometimes) ‘worry’ about how seriously we take the bible. especially in the midst of the homosexuality debate and the “leviticus says this” / “jesus says this” throwdown. moltmann’s measuring stick in hermeneutics is this: using the scriptures to decide what is closest to Christ. he uses paul’s claim on women to be silent as an example: “if women were to truly remain silent, we would have no knowledge of the resurrection.” a simple but significant observation to support that some of paul’s commands are of a ‘cultural’ nature rather than a ‘divine’ nature. his comment on fundamentalist christianity got a bit of a rise: “I would ask them: ‘Do you really read the Bible? And do you really understand what you are reading?’”

“Pray with open eyes!” he says. he tells us that the NT calls us to not only to pray, but to watch – to look around at the world in which we live – to see what is in contradiction to God and his coming kingdom.

Moltmann offered a great reminder that there are two crosses that people subscribe to – the actual cross of Christ on Golgotha, and the cross that Constantine implemented: the cross of imperialism.

on being asked as to whether he would call himself a universalist, as he is sometimes labeled, he responded: “I am afraid that I am not a universalist; there are a few people that I would not want to see again [in heaven].”


these were the highlights (from my point of view) of day one. day two will follow at some point...


moltmann. pt.1

it's hard to put into words where i'm at right now. i'm in chicago -- at Libertyville Presbyterian Church. and Jurgen Moltmann is here for a couple-day 'conversation' mini-conference. Jurgen Moltmann. here. speaking to us. speaking with us. i can't even explain how honored i am to be here. so excited to savor his words - as they come our of his heart, through his mouth; and through my ears and into my soul.

last night was the opening session. Moltmann was not present for this. but a man by the name of John Franke -- a theologian and professor in PA. he gave some opening remarks that were pretty spot-on. John talked about the job of theology: that this job is to ask the question "What is God doing?", and to meditate on this and put the findings into action. asking questions is key. and asking questions leads to a plurality in the things that we as Christians think. he posed the perplex picture of how easily and readily Christians disagree with each other -- and asked, "How do we make sense of that?" his answer, as a result of many years of wrestling, is that we as a Christian body, are characterized by this vast diversity -- we are characterized by a plurality of truth.

franke went on to talk about this concept as an irreducible entity -- this plurality is one that cannot and should not be reduced to "this is how it should be"s. that the vast and complex nature of it is a gift from God to the church. this is an interesting concept -- because in my experience, this plurality of opinions and thoughts often leads to arguments and divisions rather than a loving community. so it is particularly interesting to think about this plurality as something that could in fact be just the opposite of my suppositions and experience.

franke is firm in his opinion that theology is not about the journey toward one right system of doctrine. rather, it is about a plurality of truth: about the multiplicity of ways that God works/is at work. the obvious question is begged: then does ANYthing go? as obvious the question is the answer: of course not. we need to be after what is on track with God's truth. his prayer in this regard is this: "LORD, don't ever let my theology keep me from seeing what you are doing in the world." this is humble prayer of guidance in seeking after God. and his insistence in his seeking is that it takes the whole church to paint the picture of the gospel. and it is with these thoughts that we begin our time with Jurgen Moltmann over these next couple days.


and in related news...

good stuff.

Trash the diatribe; mull the ideas.


great article. says what my mind has been thinking for awhile. a related post will come soon enough...



hope there wasn't a tree in front of him...

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real or spoof?

you make the decision. haven't been able to discover if THIS is a joke or not. the beginning of the infomercial makes it look like a spoof. but the site has a full-on ordering process and everything. either way, it's hilarious. my favorite line:

"I got odors in special places. And with Aspray, i don't have to worry about that anymore ... my butt."

anywho -- enjoy: Doc Bottoms Aspray.

and then watch THIS if you haven't seen it yet.



article HERE.

interesting what can happen when a positive investment is made in those who have made poor choices -- this would be the opposite of pigeon-holing / discriminating / black-listing. a great example of true 'reform' -- a departure from traditions that 'have always done it that way.'



this one was too good NOT to post...


if i had a dollar...

if i had a dollar for every time this happened to me during my bus-riding-years? -- i'd probably have about 5 bucks...

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this is super crazy --

freaking head first!

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since when ...

since when does spiderman where flippers?

oh and don't his webs usually come out of his WRISTS?!


never gets old...

stuff like this always cracks me up -- reminds me of some stuff we used to pull in boy scouts...

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some worship.

i have a passion for leading worship -- particularly musical worship. but i do love crafting entire worship experiences as well, with prayer, liturgy, silence, media, etc. i've gotten to lead worship a few times in the last few months -- once at La Vida in july, and once at my home-church i'm working at just this past sunday. i've got video up of La Vida (in two parts) -- and i'll hopefully have video up from LCPC by next week. La Vida's celebration worship is really powerful, because a ton of kids have just returned from many days in the woods, living simply, and they've experienced so much. so worship is really raw and tangible with all that fresh on their hearts. it's good stuff. so here's La Vida celebration worship from July 3rd, 2009.

celebration worship from peter allen on Vimeo.

celebration worship 2. from peter allen on Vimeo.

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discs -->

i think most people who don't actively recycle complain about the convenience aspect of it -- mostly the 'my town doesn't take #2 plastic' or whatever. i have striven to find more and more locations/organizations that take/recycle more and more items. a friend of mine passed this link on to me, and i am thus passing it on to you. it will only cost you the effort of gathering, and the money for postage. i encourage you to do this.

CD Recycling Program

i'll even make it REAL EASY for you.

because it's archaic and disgusting...

heard about this on the radio this morning. had to see for myself -- now it's your turn. behold the comfort wipe...

while you might think, this is actually NOT a saturday night live mock-commercial -- 'tis a REAL PRODUCT. and what was wrong with THIS advancement i might ask?

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a loveliness of ladybugs.

so the-stupid-question-of-the-day on the morning radio-show i listen to was: "what is a group of cheetahs called?"(ps -- you'll find out below). upon hearing the correct term, i was reminded of how many groups-of-animals have interesting names. so i decided to look them up, and share some unique, fitting, and favorite ones with you. bear in mind, that some animal-groups have multiple possible terms -- and the ones below were consistent from at least two different sources.

a congregation of alligators.
a lick of anteaters.
an army of ants.
a cete of badgers. (?!)
a cloud of bats.
a sloth of bears.
a flight of butterflies.
a wake of buzzards.
a coalition of cheetahs.
a quiver of cobras.
an intrustion of cockroaches. (SO true!)
a gulp of cormorants.
a murder of crows.
a convocation of eagles.
a business of ferrets.
a leash of fox.
a tower of giraffes.
a cast of hawks.
a bloat of hippos. (THAT one makes sense.)
an array of hedgehogs.
a smack of jellyfish.
a loveliness of ladybugs.
a scourge of mosquitos. (aptly named.)
a romp of otters.
a parliament of owls.
a bouquet of pheasants.
a prickle of porcupines. (one of my favs.)
a coterie of prairie dogs.
an unkindness of ravens.
a rhumba of rattlesnakes.
an odor of skunks. ( ! )
a dray of squirrels.
a rafter of turkeys.
a wisdom of wombats.
a descent of woodpeckers.
a clew of worms.


"I truly appreciate all the love and support I've been receiving over the last 48 hours," Kardashian, 28, says on her blog Wednesday. "I just want you all to know I'm doing okay, and I really appreciate your support."



in honor of... part ii.

this is the first SNL celebrity jeopardy clip...

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in honor of...

in honor of alex trebek's 69th birthday today, here's some great humor. granted, this is will ferrell PLAYing trebek, but this stuff is great. enjoy...

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i've long-admired jimmie carter - mostly for his long-term commitment to Habitat, and his actual involvement with it (read: he actually works on houses). got tipped off to this great mini-article. jimmie carter speaks his heart, and makes a move to back it. check it out. and i encourage you to ask yourself the question in the last paragraph - especially regarding your own relationship with the church.

article HERE.



one of my CA church friends and i stumbled across the topic of space a couple years ago -- to find that he was vehemently fascinated by our exploration of it, and that i am cynically opposed to it. he couldn't fathom why i would be against space. it took me a bit of explaining. and it's here that i'll do the same...

i love this man -- Buzz Aldrin. i did a report on him in 4th grade. i think my inklings even back then were on target regarding his humility. i love that neil armstrong has always been the 'one in the spotlight', and Buzz is the much less-mentioned/less-profiled second man on the moon. let me be clear that i appreciate the achievement of the first-team-on-the-moon.

but i outrightly disagree with our investment in space travel and space exploration, for this simple reason: for all of our investment, monetary and otherwise, what has it gotten us? and i don't mean things like "it has expanded our horizons" or "it provides the satellites that make our GPS work" (because frankly, i think our world we be more personable without cellphones, and there would be less idiot drivers without GPS). i mean practically and in quality-of-life terms -- how has our MUTLI-TRILLION DOLLAR space investment made life better for all americans? because i don't see it. i don't understand what our fascination is. we're never going to colonize mars -- we're just not. and no sub-billionaire citizen is ever going to get to travel into space. so why do we continue this investment? why, when so many are suffering and scrounging just to keep their house? or to put food on their table? or, to obtain simple, adequate medical care? especially in this current time where military spending is still at RIDICULOUS LEVELS, and when the government is trying to figure out a way to push forward universal healthcare.

i think that the government can, and should be made responsible in it's spending and allocating. and we need to be the ones to do that. and it takes our efforts to ponder what is true and right and necessary -- and then it requires our voices and more importantly our ACTIONS to back up what we believe.

here's your patriotism...

hahahahaha. so good...



look at that monster -- i'm amazed it can stand up...

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this is the perfect follow up to THIS and THIS. i. love. david. crowder. enjoy...

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(ht cleave)

of COURSE they'll sue...

THIS is also priceless -- i myself am pretty fed up with the way that cell phones/iPods/etc make people completely unaware of everything and everyone around them. i would pay money to hear the judge's response to this suit: "so you want to sue NYC, because you weren't watching where you were going and fell down a manhole. rrrriiiiigggghhhht. *gavel-smack* "



such good stuff. more HERE.


it's THIS kind of thing that makes me a bit ill -- and more than a little embarrassed to be part of such an affluent culture...



i have mentioned previously some of desires-toward and hesitations-against ordination. well i may have found my answer:

read more here: DUDEISM.

i love the internet...



A prayer by Archbishop Oscar Romero,
(b. 1917- d.1980)

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promises.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation, in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.




i'm going on the record to say that i'm thoroughly against twitter -- as it adds ridiculously-so to our already narcissistic and obsessive society.

that's illegal?

came across these on youtube -- i was always amused by email forwards containing "strange laws". here's some video versions that are pretty hilarious.

i once came across a 'strange law' on the books for the town i grew up in:

 -- Lovers in Liberty Corner, New Jersey, should avoid satisfying their
lustful urges in a parked car. If the horn accidentally sounds while
they are frolicking behind the wheel, the couple can face a jail term.


semper fi?

i've long had pretty strong opinions on the military. and i won't be going into them here. but, i saw this marines bumper sticker on a van today, and i had to respond.

the USMC slogan, SEMPER FI (fidelis) is latin for "always faithful." and, in addition, one of the strong themes that is always discussed regarding the military is honor. so, are honor and faithfulness now defined by rash ('overnight') destruction? really? i'm pretty tired of this bullshit-militaristic-force-and-destruction-machismo. and, if my feelers are correct, i think a lot of people are.

i think my radar is especially high after watching Gran Torino yesterday, because it speaks EXACTLY TO THIS: that there is a different way, and that way is better.


nerd humor.

for a bit more thoughtful humor, visit GraphJam ... good stuff.


more great humor.

another great site for guaranteed laughs...



experiential worship.

so -- if you know me, you know that i have passions for worship (and if you didn't, now you do!). in specific, i have a strong desire for seeing worship instilled with life, passion, and experience. too often, we call worship the "center of our church", but it doesn't really receive the attention and investment it deserves. so over time, i have grown to be less picky about worship "style", and more about the element(s) of experiential passion and authenticity within worship.

i've been able to get down to Broad Street Ministry in philly on a regular basis. i work at another church on sunday mornings, and lauren often works sunday mornings too -- so one of our only options is a later-on-sunday service. BSM has a 6p service on sundays. it's hard to describe Broad Street -- but i'll say this: it's different, and it's authentic. and it's not trendy-different-just-to-be-different kinda different. the authenticity takes care of that. my close friend elizabeth works there, and i've also been getting to know one of the pastors - erika.

a couple months ago, erika and i met up to talk a bit. she invited me to think about how i might get involved, even if not on a weekly basis. the next time we met up, i tossed out an idea of prayer stations in worship, for an interactive/experiential component. she said: "actually, we have this empty room up in the bell tower that we have prepped for a prayer room." booya.

so i went to work thinking and praying through what components to include. i did the intitial installation today -- and wanted to share some of the pictures with y'all. in theory, it will be something that grows and morphs and changes over time - with opportunities for participants to add to the room. anywho -- it's a cool opportunity that i was offered. feedback / suggestions / thoughts are welcomed!

couple before shots --

in progress...quotes and scripture passages dot the walls --

a station for folks to create and add scripture passages to the wall...
chalkboard paint under the stairs for a 'wailing wall' of sorts: "share your prayers and struggles... so that you know you're not alone."
a few 'provoking' icons...
a lectio divina station...
self-reflections station --
the finished 'initial' installation - from above --