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 --


shine-o ball-o.

please enjoy one of my favorite simpson's scenes:

shine-o ball-o from peter allen on Vimeo.

"Homer - did you polish your head in the shine-o ball-o?"
"mmm no."


[facebookers 'view original post']



i've talked bits before about our culture's seemingly inherent need to accumulate more and better stuff. it's bad news -- in case you haven't spent a second thinking about it before. well THIS WOMAN has probably spent more time thinking about this than most people -- getting at the root of the issue. annie has put a lot of effort into being AWARE (there's that word again...) of what she, and millions of other people walking this earth consume. we are consumers -- our culture has been shaped into MAKING us consumers and materialists. and we have the RESPONSIBILITY to be aware of that, and make thoughtful, ethical decisions on how we live our lives so as not to FEED THE MACHINE of 'planned obselesence' and 'disposable society'. so i encourage you to take 20 mins and watch the video. and then DO something about it.

on a related side note: i saw the reality of this the past couple weeks, as my brother's 3-year-old plasma TV died. it MAYBE had 8000 hours on it, and plasmas are 'said' to have upwards of a 50,000 hour life span. BULLSHIT. planned obselesence RIGHT there.


i have long been a person with an awareness for animal testing and animal treatment -- i have used animal-free (as much as possible) haba products since i can remember, and i went vegetarian for 5 years after reading an undercover expose' on one meat company's practices. and i have respected PETA - generally - but would never have said i was a 'supporter' of the organization.

ok. so now i'm pretty sure i've lost all respect for PETA. i heard about THIS 'incident' on the radio this morning, and i had to check it's validity. yup - right there on PETA's blog. they're a bit up in arms - BECAUSE OBAMA KILLED A FLY. i hate proverbial sayings - but this is the VERY DEFINITION of losing the forest for the trees. a dead fly? really? oh right -- this isn't a country that has 5million people out of work, so there's nothing more important than obama killing a fly.


in related news...

article HERE.


ok. this will be pseudo-brief, but it is a rant. because if i see another plastic bottle or aluminum can in the trash, i think i'm gonna lose it.

RECYCLING is now a commonly used word and known concept. thanks to the efforts of MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, recycling has become mandatory in many cities in many nations. yet it seems that laziness and apathy still win out on most days -- and i'd be willing to bet that AMERICAN CULTURE has played a large role in that, with how ENTITLED WE ARE and how DISPOSABLE our society has become -- go watch some TV and notice how many commercials advertise 'conveniences' that you 'simply use, then throw away'.

one of the biggest culprits is BOTTLED WATER. MILLIONS of plastic water bottles get tossed in the trash every day (because, OH THE HORROR, the recycling bin is down the hall). by yourself a frickin' nalgene (don't even give me the BPA argument -- their new ones don't contain it) or a sigg and fill it up from the tap.

but this takes an active choice -- a choice to be CONSCIOUS of what you do and what you throw out. i guarantee that if you consciously look at everything you are going to 'dispose of', you can recycle more than 50% of it...maybe not CONVENIENTLY, but again, that's what takes the conscious choice. because it's not about CONVENIENCE, it's about NECESSITY.

my opinion may or may not affect me, but let me say this: i have a profound lack of respect for those who are not conscious or thoughtful about their impact -- in ALL forms, but especially their impact on the environment, and their impact on others. so here i tell you: hold on to your f'ing plastic bottle until you find a recycling container.

and ps: i don't want to hear anyone ragging on NJ anymore -- because the first city in the ENTIRE US to mandate recycling was Woodbury, NJ - back in the 70s. so eat that.

some EASY (i.e. only the lazy wouldn't do these) suggestions:
-buy a nalgene (all new ones are BPA free) or a sigg bottle for water.
-use a travel mug for getting coffee at Dunks or Starbucks, or ask for a mug at places like panera or independent coffee shops.
[Starbucks even makes a reusable version of their iced-drink cups]
-most food/product packaging is paper/paperboard and is EASILY RECYCLABLE, but often thrown out. DON'T THROW IT OUT.
-don't buy/use plastic when there is a paper alternative.
-shutdown your computer when not in use(when being left plugged in)... shutting down often is no longer bad on hard drives.
-unplug larger electric devices when not in use (or put them on switchable powerstrips if CONVENIENCE is an issue) -- even when off they draw large amounts of electricity: if you don't believe me, go feel the back of your plasma tv even when it's off.



i've been consciously/subconsciously wrestling with something the last couple weeks -- an 'aha' from which popped into my head the other morning. i'll start earlier though. but i'll preface it all with this: if you don't wrestle with concepts/opinions, then your reality is probably thin.

so a couple weeks ago (as described in previous post), lauren and i went to this great music festival. the generalized definition of the larger portion of attendees at said festival were definitely of the hippie/grateful dead-ish persuasion. while i definitely consider myself to have some 'hippie' elements, i would never classify myself wholly as such, as so many other qualities and characteristics come along with such a categorization.

one such component, is the 'everything goes'/'love and accept everyone's beliefs'/'don't worry be happy' mentality. brett dennen was one such artist promoting this, as was martin sexton. i appreciate the push that these types of encouragements are meant to have -- especially in our present times where discrimination still runs high, where conservative christians tend to look like judgemental hypocrites, where war seems to be the solution to most large scale problems, and where it generally seems that people hate what is different. but something that dawned on me was this: there is an unfathomable difference between trite inclusivism, and thoughtful universalism... with the 'peace love happiness' mantra being the former.

what leads me to be suspicisous about trite inclusivism, is that i don't believe there is usually much thought behind it. i see that there is often much passion, but usually suspect that there hasn't been much scrutiny behind the belief. it is often obvious (to me) that those in this realm of thinking simply jump on the bandwagon as a way to qualify their do-what-they-want actions.

what then is thoughtful universalism? a little backstory first. back in seminary, i became captivated with theologian Jurgen Moltmann. briefly, Moltmann has a very wide-reaching, outside-the-box theological mind. he asks good questions, and doesn't presume to know the boundaries of God - but has an stunningly beautiful way of writing about God. his words and his thinking pierce my heart. Moltmann's christology is cosmic in scope -- meaning it is far-reaching: that the scope of christ's atoning work on the cross is infinitely larger than we can imagine. this has resonated with me since i first began to read Moltmann. and practically, it resonated most in a precept during seminary when a theology professor asked this question during a discussion on Christ as THE Way: "if we suppose Christ as THE Way, and we accept his atoning work by accepting him into our hearts with the decision to live for him, then how do we suppose the mentally handicapped accept this redemption that God offers?" what he was saying, is that if we as christians presume that the only way "to heaven" is "to consciously pray and accept jesus into our hearts", then are the mentally incapable S.O.L.?

this is a difficult thing to wrestle with -- to believe that Christ is THE WAY, but to also believe that God is bigger than we can presume. is Christ the redeemer of humanity? or is Christ the redeemer of the universe? how big of a picture of Christ are willing to paint? how small of a box are we willing to risk keeping our Christ in? these are questions that we are CALLED to ask -- to wrestle with. seeking truth, I.M.H.O., is immeasurably more important than pleasing/including others. what lines up with the Kingdom? what lines with up with this world? what seems like a self-centered-pursuit? what seems like a loving, selfless endeavor?

so i ask: is Christ the ONLY way? HOW is Christ the only way? can we fully determine/explain how Christ is the only way? can we ever completely and concretely know how God ultimately works?

Christ must increase, i must decrease...



a few months ago lauren and i decided to get tickets to this music festival at hunter mountain. this past weekend, our waiting was done, and we got to enjoy a crazy weekend of hippie culture and good music. it was a lot of fun. i'll give you a rundown.

we arrived on friday -- with a hefty hike to find a spot for our tent. AND had to make a couple trips. but after getting settled a bit, we headed to the stage. i wanted to see one of the first bands -- the Marco Benevento Trio. i know Marco from a group called The Duo, and this is another venture of his. he's a wizard on the keys -- organ, piano, etc. in this trio, he was playing this cool mini-piano, with a whole lot of effects. it was pretty sweet. i'd describe it as a good mix of simplicity and creativity.
[marco benevento trio - photo by pja]

next up was Railroad Earth -- i've known about these guys for awhile but never seen them play. great grassroots-ish bluegrass rock. can i tell you?--i love mandolin players. can't get enough of listening to them, let alone watching their fingers fly on the fretboard. my first experience with this was seeing the Jazz Mandolin Project live. jamie masefield is a BEAST on the mandolin. unbelievable stuff. anywho -- i was fixated on RRE's mandolinist, john skehan, for most of the show. great stuff.
[skehan -- photo by mountain jam]

we stayed over to watch Umphrey's McGee -- had heard their name for a long time, but never seen them or heard their music. so yea. cool stuff. not quite what i expected -- kind of a harder genre of jam-rock. a LOT of syncopated rythyms - which i throughly dug. any band that can incorporate and coordinate significant syncopation is respected and enjoyed by me. and they seemed really young -- and i know they've been around for awhile. i was pretty impressed. lauren was pretty impressed too.

before heading to the late night show (which i'll get to), i stopped by the end of Government Mule's set -- to catch them covering NEIL YOUNG'S CORTEZ -- one of my FAVorite songs. i had a moment. Warren had a few moments -- on his les paul -- thrashing away on the strings as he traded solos with Josh Clark from Tea Leaf Green. so good.
[josh clark - photo by mountain jam]

as lauren headed to pass out, i then moved on to the late night show (1a-3a!): Eric Krasno and Chapter 2. the only one i knew in this crew was Adam Deitch - a pheNOMinal drummer who i discovered when he played for a while with the John Scofield Band. Deitch is a straight up funk and soul drummer who is just unbelievable. and this show didn't disappoint -- two hours of the type of funk that i would describe to be 'perfect'. funk bliss for sure.

[not from mountain jam, but will give you a taste -- jump past the first 50seconds:]

so that was friday. saturday dawns all too early -- but we arise to greet the day, and the music ahead. we were anticipating epic performances. first up was Brett Dennen. now. i tend to have an automatic aversion to all-things-trendy-and-pop. and Brett definitely falls into that trendy, popular, indie category. so the cards were stacked against him. but since seeing him wouldn't cost me anything additional (other than maybe an hour of my life), lauren and i checked him out. front row. and let me tell you -- this guy is fantastic. what a great performer. he was super laid-back, but uber passionate and engaged in performing his music. he was dancing up a storm as he played, and jazzed up the crowd as he did so. you could tell he's been performing his stuff in front of people for a long time. he was the biggest surprise of the weekend for me.
[brett -- photo by pja]

i went back to the main stage shortly thereafter for Gomez -- i first heard 'see the world' on a House episode and loved it. so i was excited to check them out. they were ok. they're from the UK -- which always automatically screams "POMPOUS" to me (Oasis ruined the english for me). i ended up leaving shortly into their set because the sound was terrible (yes, i know, not their fault -- but i'm not going to listen to something that sounds shitty right?). oh well. i heard them play See The World from back at the campsite.
[ tom gray - photo by pja]

funny story. while we were waiting for Coheed, the Gene Ween Band was doing there thing on the secondary stage (to the left of the main stage). we had started out watching them because i realllllly love the guy who was drumming for them - Joe Russo. but they were a bit too weird. this was confirmed when, while then waiting for Coheed, a lyrical line came through the speakers: "it freaks me out how much you fucking suck!". that was shortly follow by a song entitled "Let's Get Divorced."

then came epic-ness, in the form of Coheed and Cambria. this was the reason lauren found out about this festival - she is a huge Coheed fan. so this was her moment. and i was excited to check them out. before the show itself, we went to the meet-the-bands tent -- and lauren got to meet them, and get her picture with Claudio (who, i'm pretty sure, she wants to marry):
[lauren and future husband claudio - photo by pja]

for the show itself, we arrived early and got right up front. the time came, and the crowd went nuts -- Coheed has some pretty hardcore fans. i was super impressed -- they are really high energy, pay a lot of detail, and write in a lot of syncopation. lauren was in heaven. Warren Haynes even came out to join them on a couple songs -- definitely VERY different from warren's style of music, so it was fun to watch him. but the highpoint for me, was their last song: the played Final Cut. and midway thru the song, the guitar tech brings out a theremin. and Claudio proceeds to play it (in between guitar solos), WITH HIS FACE. dude. this guy. is. awesome.
[claudio - photo by pja]

[warren haynes joins Coheed - photo by pja]

[claudio plays the theremin with his hands AND FACE - photo by pja]

so yea -- needless to say -- good stuff.

after that orgasmic performance, lauren and i decided to indulge in some vendor food -- we are uber fatkids together. then we passed out.

sunday brought only an interest in seeing Martin Sexton before we left -- and he was ok, but again, the sound was shitty so that threw my enjoyment of the performance. so we bolted. but not before having some more vendor food and beer to send us on our way on a good note.
[martin - photo by lrs]

good stuff. great music. perfect companionship. and might i say -- the drugged out hippie culture is one that continues to baffle me. it's full of hypocrisies if you ask me. but it's tolerable, to enjoy music that it traditionally accompanies. good times.