|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Holy Water Under the Bridge - Randall Balmer|
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The fear here, I think, is that of loss and the loneliness that comes from losing someone. The poor narrator of the poem is sitting in his chamber, alone with his memories of his "lost Lenore," and he cannot wait for the night to be over and day to shake him from that solitude. The raven comes as a reminder to him of how lonely he really is - that "nevermore" will his life be the same - that he is alone, and could be forever.
We are taunted by this thought too. Those who have known the death of a loved one can certainly sympathize with the agonizing hours at night when the full weight of one's loneliness sits on them like so many "quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore." Those who have experienced divorce know the fear that things will nevermore be like they were, like they envisioned them growing up. Those who lose their first love can feel like that "beak in their heart" will never be taken away.
We all fear loss - loss of love, friendship, control, life - and we all want to see a time when things will be better, or all right again. The remedy for loss is hope. God gives us the ability to hope - not necessarily for a time when "all will be wonderful again." But "there is a balm in Gilead," and God empowers us with His grace and this theological virtue to know that life goes on, and that loss is never permanent in the grand scheme of our eternal life. We don't have to listen to the raven, perched so cruelly above our chamber doors. Hope can extinguish those "fiery eyes now burned into our bosoms' core." For life does go on...
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Judging types are those who live in a planned and orderly way; they love structure, schedules, lists, and efficiency. Judgers don't deal well with interruptions or wrenches thrown into the works. They look for closure and control in their projects, and they like to have things settled. On a negative side, they tend to be rather rigid and inflexible. Mary Poppins is a classic judging type. He policy of "a place for everything, and everything in its place" just screams "high-J."
The perceiving type, on the other hand likes spontineity and new experience. Flexibility is one of their good traits, and they can have many projects going at the same time with no stress over it. They are more about the "process" rather than the result. A possible example could be Princess Giselle from Enchanted. Her experience of going through the portal into the "real world," doesn't seem to phase her too much, as she goes with the flow and continues her life rather well. She adapts as she goes.
These two, as with the others, can work together, despite what Oscar and Felix would have us believe. In fact, in ministry, we need each other. Judging types need perceivers to help them relax and be patient during a process; judgers can help keep folks on track and on schedule. AS leaders of all sorts of types, ministers to youth might find some difficulty in dealing with young people who are different in this regard. Those who "go with the flow" when we need a rigid structure might frustrate us; those who need definite answers when we like keeping options open can seem "pushy."
Recognizing that it takes all types to move our ministerial machine can help us to deal with these differences, as well as help us all see the diversity of gifts and talents that are before us.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I'll often hear this in confession. I usually tell the person, "Well, you just did start. Keep going; you're doing fine."
Then again, there's this way:
Monday, October 19, 2009
First, thinkers are just that - they think. In making decisions, they tend to be more impersonal and rely strictly on logic and facts. They place a high value on objectivity and consistency, and they strive for fairness across the board. They don't deal well with emotions and feelings, and often hurt others' feelings (although not purposely). They can be detached and usually do not take things personally. Mike Wazowski, from Monsters, Inc., is a good example of a thinker. He finds comfort in what is logical and the rules provide a good objective guide for him. He would just as soon ditch "Boo" for the sake of a normal, orderly life.
Feelers, on the other hand, strive to see all sides to a story. They value decisions made with the gut and heart over those of the head. They are "people persons," and consider others' feelings when making decisions. Personal values are more important than facts, and "being true to oneself" is of great importance. Maid Marian of Robin Hood shows the traits of a feeler. She knows the rules, as a member of court, but her compassion and feelings helps her to care for the poor children who sneak into her garden to play.
As with the other couplings, thinkers need feelers and vice-versa. Feelers help thinkers to persuade others, rather than to bully. They can help thinkers to see the effect their choices might have on others' feelings and to help them to plan accordingly. Thinkers, conversely, can help feelers to organize and analyze, as well as to be consistent in act and thought. The challenge to a feeler would be be more detached and not to take things so personally - especially constructive criticism. For a thinker, one might consider asking them to praise someone else, looking for the good, even in a "bad" situation.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I've been with Him
from the start.
He called to our boat,
and we followed.
That must mean something.
is not too much.
We've been given power
we've cured the sick,
and healed the blind,
and cast out the demons.
Of course, we have the right to ask.
But what's this?
Ones who came after me?
I can drink the cup -
I will be baptized,
just like Him.
"You don't know what you are asking,"
I certainly do.
I want to be near Him -
I want to share in His life.
Surely, this must count for something.
But to be first,
He tells us,
to be near Him,
where do we go?
We must be last.
The servant of all?
Does He know what He is asking?
Is that how we get near to Him?
becoming insignificant -
the opposite of what we asked.
He is always there -
with the least,
in the last places.
It seems important to Him.
I will pay attention.
Sure, this must count for something.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Intuitives gather their information from a sort of "sixth sense." They are imaginative and innovative, preferring to work with abstractions and to make connections between ideas. They tend to be very idealistic, and they enjoy new challenges and problems, facing them, usually, with new ways of solving them. Peter Pan is a good example of an intuitive personality, with his world that is full of imagination, where his feet rarely touch the gound.
On the other hand, sensors gather their data from facts - things that can be experienced with their senses. They are very practical, hands-on and realistic, and they much prefer the actual and present to the "possible" or imagined. Folks like this work best in a routine, with details and specifics spelled out for them, and if it's tried-and-true, even better for them. Eve, from Wall-E, is a good example of such a trait (even if she isn't human). He dedication to "the directive" and no-nonsense way of exploring her surroundings - as well as her impatience with Wall-E at times, show off the sensor type very well.
Again, in our ministries, we encounter (and are) these two types as well. Intuitives need sensors to bring up pertinent details, but sensors should not overtax them with details. Intuitors bring a good sense of the "big picture," if not the practical steps to achieve it - that's the sensor's role. Sensors need intuitives to bring up new, unseen possibilites and to provide the energy to bring them out.
For us as leaders, it is important, for example, to keep an intuitive young person grounded in the practical side of achieving what they are so good at dreaming up. Also, we should challenge our sensors to look for new ways of going about our projects and ministries (sometimes the larger Church can use this help too!). The two are not opponents; rather they are necessary sides to our important coin of ministry together.
Friday, October 16, 2009
A bit of a stretch? Okay, maybe it isn't, but the story narrated by the song can say a lot to young people about fitting in and the connecting power of our faith. To wit, Miley sings about leaving Nashville for the flashiness of LA. She is nervous, uncertain and a little scared. Everyone seems to have it together, and "everyone seems so famous." It speaks to the normal adolescent challenge of finding one's place in a larger world and fitting in. Is there no safe place for her? No comfort?
and i'm feelin' kind of homesick
Too much pressure and I'm nervous
That's when the taxi man turned on the radio
And a Jay-Z song was on
So feel free gang -
They're playin' My Song
The butterflies fly away
Noddin' my head like yeah
Movin' my hips like yeah
I got my hands up
They're playin' my song
I know I'm gonna be ok
Yeah It's a party in the USA!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
In fact, many priests I know are introverts. Because people often only see us when we are "on," the perception might be that we are extroverts. Certainly, there are many extroverted priests too, and that is good. What this points me to is the fact that ministry is bigger than any one person or personality. For me, my introversion means that I can look to others around me to be "out front," while I remain in a more reflective, supportive role. In our youth groups and parishes, there are people of both dispositions. We need each other. Jesus knew this. He chose disciples that were as varied as they could be - smart, practical men; impulsive, big-mouthed guys; busy, organized women; prayerful, quiet gals. Together, they were the Church.
Together, we are too. There is time to speak and act, and - significantly - there is time to pray. Jesus knows that this is necessary, and he chooses us to be about his ministry now.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
What this points me to, however, is something that is a problem for a lot of people in our society, and most particularly men. The problem is defining oneself not by who you are - by your character and the value of your relationships - but by what you do. This lends itself to a society that places value on a person based on their "usefulness," or "contribution."
"Eightfive" (to use his English name) might be a good football player, but he remains a man reaching for meaning. He might seem to have it all, but he still comes up lacking. When he is retired and no longer playing, he will be forgotten, and the value that he possesses inherently as a human being will be all he has.
Hopefully, he will realize it by then.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Because of its relative youth and the inherent parameters imposed upon it by the musical-comedy genre, “Glee” cannot explore the teenage experience the way “Gossip Girl” can. Yet because the show centers on a group of marginalized high school students, certain existential reverberations are inevitable. The teenagers of “Glee” fashion their identities through their vocation as singers and through the in-school communities they have created. As glee-club members, they have their first taste of autonomy and self-respect. Soon the club becomes their sanctuary. All the characters are stereotypes: the jock, the sassy black girl, the effeminate boy. All are faced with their own set of obstacles imposed from outside, yet all manage to flourish in spite of the alienation they feel, firmly entrenched as they are in both their love for music and their commitment to one another. The jock is harassed by his cronies for taking part in the group, yet he refuses to back down. Like every other aspect of the show, the potential for offering a more sophisticated account of the high school experience lies within reach of the talented writers of “Glee.”
When the gimmickry, lacquered sheen and musical numbers are stripped away, both “Gossip Girl” and “Glee,” though flawed, provide startlingly authentic accounts of the most primitive needs of contemporary adolescents. Both shows examine the oft-tread territory of teens’ almost pathological desire to belong. Yet neither stops there; instead both dig deeper to find out what fuels that urgent need. The answer both shows provide is rooted in the adolescent desire to be in relationship, to be part of a community and to be heard outside the constraints of the family model, which leads to the first signs of an adult identity.
Friday, October 9, 2009
The LORD God said: "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him." So the LORD God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man. So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said:
"This one, at last,
is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
This one shall be called 'woman,'
for out of 'her man' this one has been taken."
Why can't we?
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Though he was in the form of God,
[Jesus] did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance, he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
If organized religion has become less relevant, it’s not because churches have held fast to their creedal beliefs—it’s because they’ve held fast to their conventional structures, programs, roles and routines. The problem with organized religion isn’t religion, but organization. In the first and second centuries, the Christian church was communal, organic and unstructured—a lot like the Web is today. It commanded little power (it couldn’t raise an army or depose a monarch), but had enormous influence. (The Christian church grew from a handful of believers in AD 40 to 31 million adherents by AD 350, roughly half the population of the Roman empire. ) Today many mainline denominations are institutionally powerful, but spiritually moribund—at least in the U.S.
What’s true for churches is true for other institutions: the older and more organized they get, the less adaptable they become. That’s why the most resilient things in our world—biological life, stock markets, the Internet—are loosely organized.
To thrive in turbulent times, organizations must become a bit more disorganized—less buttoned down, less uptight, less compulsive, less anal.
As a start, you’ll need to become more alert to the things that reflexively favor the status quo in your own organization. While no one’s going to stand up and say, “I’m on the side of inertia,” they may nevertheless defend management processes that reflexively favor the status quo.
All of the things that allow little organizations to grow into big ones—scale, learning effects, and accumulated expertise—are products of repetition. When the environment changes, however, the returns to repetition start to diminish. Problem is, old habits die hard, particularly when they’ve been hardwired into a company’s management processes.
–Hiring criteria that over-value “expertise” and under-value diverse life experiences.
–A planning process that institutionalizes orthodox thinking by using industry standard definitions of customer segments and product categories
–Decision-making bodies that are comprised mostly of long-serving industry veterans who tend to discount new views.
–Highly conservative budgeting criteria that starve unconventional projects of resources by demanding near certain returns, even when the funds involved are modest.
–A single approval track for new projects, where every new idea has to go up the chain of command.
–Large, monolithic organizational units built around a single, dominant, business model.
–A highly optimized but inflexible IT infrastructure.
Large organizations don’t worship shareholders or customers, they worship the past. If it were otherwise, it wouldn’t take a crisis to set a company on a new path.
The most extreme version of organizational inertia comes when those within a company are no longer able to distinguish between form and function—when their instinctual loyalty is to the “how” rather than the “what.”
If one didn’t know better, it would be easy to believe that a lot of newspaper publishers have been more committed to producing broadsheets than to delivering the news in a convenient form, or making it easy for advertisers to connect with customers.
Until recently, music companies seem to have been more committed to stamping out plastic discs than to giving their customers easy access to their favorite tunes.
Many drug companies seem a lot more interested in peddling temporary palliatives for chronic conditions than in eradicating disease.
For years, Kodak seemed more focused on making film than on leveraging new digital technologies that would make photography simpler and cheaper.
Alzheimer’s, arteriosclerosis and arthritis—these seem to be the inevitable byproducts of old age. But must organizational maturity bring a similar set of maladies? I don’t think so. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, I think a company can truly be “Forever 21.”
In my next couple of postings I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version of the book I’m too busy to write: ”Ever Young: How to Keep Your Company Flexible, Vital and Impertinent.”Until then, a question: What are the most powerful inertial forces in your organization? And what could be done to counter them?
There can be the stifling attitude among ministers in the Church that we should run our programs a particular way because "that's how we've always done it." While this may be effective, and new participants wouldn't know the difference, we run the risk of becoming stale, and worse, we lose the energy that we put into it at the beginning: things become simply "routine." However, the Gospel is ever new. It speaks to people in every age and to the same person differently at different points in one's life. It is up to us, as the "organization," to consider how we present the message now - in this particular cultural context - and determine if that is the most effective way to do it. It might mean asking people their opinions - listening to them - and taking that advice, criticism and input to heart to create a more effective way to get the Message across.
What are some the ways your programs at your school or parish are "what we've always done"? How are you addressing the needs and attitudes of the modern listener? What can you do better? What resources are available that you can make better use of? Answer those questions, and those like them, and we might be on our way to a revival in ministry!
Monday, October 5, 2009
His story is one that should resonate for anyone who is different. It's a tale that is not that far from reality. People will always look at distinguishing characteristics, and they will either accept or reject people with similar or different attributes. Whether is is based on religion, political persuasion, sexual orientation, or simply choice of hairstyle or clothing, people will cast out those who seem "other."
In reality, we are all human. We are all created by God, in the divine image, and based solely on that fact, we all share the same dignity - regardless of what makes us different from one another. By casting out those who seem "strange" or different from us, we are in some way casting out some part of our humanity - that unity that God has willed for us. Tolerance should not be about accepting everything as equal; rather, it should be about acknowledging difference, diversity, and realizing that to be human is so much bigger and more noble than our personal, limited categories.
Sometimes, or differences can seem to be a burden to us; sometimes, others will use these to make us feel inferior - sometimes we ourselves do that. However, differences can be a blessing - as was the case for Dumbo. His ears might have been goofy to those who expected him to be a certain way. However, they also were the very things that marked him as special, and his ability to fly with them made him a hero.
What burdens in our lives might also be the very blessings that God has given us? And what might we use them for? Can we do that? Might elephants fly?
Sunday, October 4, 2009
all these things:
day and night,
land and sea,
sun and moon,
birds, fish, cattle and creepy things,
and best of all,
And they were good.
now I look at this one,
stretching and searching,
looking for another -
among the birds
and cattle and creepy things.
He is a searcher,
looking for that other,
to share the life
I have given.
And it is not good
for the ha'adam to be alone.
So, I shall help him.
I will give him a partner,
one to search with him,
one, in whom he is found.
sleep now, ha'adam.
see your completion.
"this is bone of my bone
and flesh of my flesh!"
Here, I see myself -
I am complete,
and I know what it is
to love someone,
and to know
the One who gives me life.
This is life now,
How can I think of being
How can I imagine life
apart from this one?
Here is the one,
for whom I was made
...from the beginning.