Classes started this week at Luther Seminary following a service complete with presidential sermon and abounding in Harry Potter robes. Last week was “First Week” when we welcomed new students to campus and barraged them with orientation information until they begged to start classes and get started on their homework.
Within ten minutes on Monday morning, I ran into not one, but two news stories covering the “Christian reaction” to the Supreme Court’s ruling last week affirming the rights of citizens to same-sex marriage. At first I was annoyed by the stories’ characterization of Christianity, but now I’m not so sure.
Usually, it’s a man who says it. He wants conversation to go deeper. He’s hoping for more self-disclosure. With the best of intentions, he wants to move past the mundane. He desires this time to be different. So he says, “Go ahead. Share. This is a safe space.”
Language matters. Particularly, the language we use in worship matters. So, my ears perked up recently when in worship congregation members were besieged by many, oh so many, opportunities to “volunteer.”
When pastors make the news, it’s often bad (e.g. murderous DUI, sexual abuse, or curious stunts). It was particularly interesting, then, to read the positive coverage of #usemeinstead—initially positive, at least.
Branding is all about claiming distinctiveness. What can your product do that others can’t? What looks or feels better than the others? What tastes stand out? Sometimes we treat faith communities the same way.
The best controversies are those in which the headlines make you think one thing, but the full article pushes you another way. Eventually, you say, “I have no idea what to think on this one.” That happened to me last week when investigating Facebook’s social experiment on happiness.
This week, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, in a segment about the race of Santa Claus, reported a bomb shell. No, it wasn’t that this Christmas, in support of Obama’s socialist policies, not just Rudolph’s nose but his entire face will be painted red.
Not since Kony 2012 has my Facebook feed been awash in such a prolific meme: red Human Rights Campaign equal signs. I’m not exaggerating when I say more than half my Facebook friends (with recent updates) either have changed their Facebook profile pic or shared and/or liked the image. We discussed the fad in my Faith and Leadership class yesterday. After that conversation, I’m somehow both less cynical about social media and more convicted about the power for meaningful conversations face-to-face.
Does Christian stewardship look different for millennials who grew up in our increasingly post-Christian world replete with Facebook, Justin Bieber, and legalized marijuana? Is the sky blue? Is North Dakota cold in winter?
This election cycle has included enough religion-related bickering for a lifetime of elections — there was “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” Mormon bashing, continued ignorance of President Obama’s Christian faith, and Billy Graham’s surprising endorsement of Mitt Romney (orchestrated by son Franklin?). Even though much election rancor softens after election day, our deep divisions do not simply disappear on November 7. We may take down our yard signs, but we will still be divided.
What basic Christian tenet, doctrine or word have you struggled to “translate” into plain speech? That question is part of an essay prompt I’m considering for a July writing workshop with Kathleen Norris at the Collegeville Institute at St. John’s Abbey and University in Minnesota. Can you help me think out loud on this one? I’d love to read your thoughts.
I have a theory about young adults and the church. Here it goes. Let me know what you think.
While many churches say “we want young people” they don’t really. If young adults actually showed up and joined their church for good, the change they’d naturally bring with them would be stark, even off-putting. In fact, making a congregation welcoming for young adults necessarily means it will become less comfortable for the current members.
It’s just a theory, but here’s why I’m suggesting it.
It was late and one chair sat empty when I got an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Looking at the panelists seated up front, I knew the speaker from the Jewish tradition, the Islamist, and the Buddhist were present. By process of elimination, I figured the other two occupying their chairs were the Hindu and Baha’i speakers. Which left a lone seat empty for the Christian.
It’s been one year since I left my position as pastor of a lovely rural congregation to lead The Project F-M, a ministry that delightfully defies easy categorization but could not be called a church. It’s been one year since I’ve preached regularly, presided over the sacraments, led funeral services, visited shut-ins, taught Sunday school, been to the hospital or responded when someone said “Pastor.” One year.
Pastor friends often ask me, “Do you miss it?” It’s a complicated response.