Monday, August 29, 2005

Retreat day

I did it. It was great. More later...

Saturday, August 27, 2005


I think I need a personal retreat. And I'm thinking about taking one (at least in mini form) on Monday. I'm thinking I'll pray all the hours of the Daily Office, have some period of exercise, journal, pray, and read. And no electronics whatsoever. Maybe not even lights. I'm thinking I'll hold up in the guest bedroom. Yeah. Good idea.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


This is the second week in a row that I haven't been able to fall asleep on Tuesday night. It sure makes for a long Wednesday. Maybe I'd do better on Mars where the days are longer.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Really big questions

I've been trying to work on ordination essay for the last few days, but without much luck. I'm just having a really hard time getting started. The questions are so big that I guess I really want to give them proper treatment. I have a feeling I could end up with a 100 page paper on these without trying too hard. But no one wants to read that... at least I don't. So anyway, here are the questions from ΒΆ324.9 of the Discipline:

a) Describe your personal experience of God and the understanding of God you derive from biblical, theological, and historical sources.

b) What is your understanding of evil as it exists in the world?

c) What is your understanding of humanity, and the human need for divine grace?

d) How do you interpret the statement Jesus Christ is Lord?

e) What is your conception of the activity of the Holy Spirit in personal faith, in the community of believers, and in responsible living in the world?

f) What is your understanding of the kingdom of God; the Resurrection; eternal life?

g) How do you intend to affirm, teach and apply Part II of the Discipline (Doctrinal Standards and Our Theological Task) in your work in the ministry to which you have been called?

h) The United Methodist Church holds that the living core of the Christian faith was revealed in Scripture, illuminated by tradition, vivified in personal experience, and confirmed by reason. What is your understanding of this theological position of the Church?

i) Describe the nature and mission of the Church. What are its primary tasks today?

j) Discuss your understanding of the primary characteristics of United Methodist polity.

k) How do you perceive yourself, your gifts, your motives, your role, and your commitment as a probationary member and commissioned minister in The United Methodist Church?

l) Describe your understanding of diaconia, the servant ministry of the church, and the servant ministry of the probationary member and commissioned minister.

m) What is the meaning of ordination in the context of the general ministry of the Church?

n) Describe your understanding of an inclusive church and ministry.

o) You have agreed as a candidate for the sake of the mission of Jesus Christ in the world and the most effective witness of the gospel, and in consideration of their influence as ministers, to make a complete dedication of yourself to the highest ideals of the Christian life, and to this end agree to exercise responsible self-control by personal habits conducive to bodily health, mental and emotional maturity, integrity in all personal relationships, fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness, social responsibility, and growth in grace and the knowledge and love of God. What is your understanding of this agreement?

p) Explain the role and significance of the sacraments in the ministry to which you have been called.

Simple, right?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Liberal Fundamentalism

I've been meaning to write this post for quite a while, and I think I won't be able to write anything else until I get it done. Also, I don't really have any evidence; this is just my own unproven rambling

I've been noticing in the last little while what is to me a rather disturbing trend which I'll call liberal fundamentalism. My surprise at its existence is starting to fade, but at first I was very surprised by its irony.

Here's the deal: liberals are constantly attacking conservatives and especially fundamentalists for their closed-minded-ness and unwillingness to consider other viewpoints. The argument seems to be that it's not that fundamentalists have different views that's the problem, it's that they refuse to consider other arguments, etc. The liberal idea is that all perspectives should bloom and be respected by all others.

The problem is that this is a hypercritical argument on the part of many liberals. Yes, there are some who are open to all sorts of competing perspectives. But it seems like many liberals are just as fundamentalist as the conservatives they attack. They are just as unwilling to change, as unwilling to consider differing views. The only difference is that they base their ideology on different fundamentals.

Here's one example. Bill Maher was on Larry King last night, and I heard a good deal of the interview. Now, I've heard Mr. Maher say this before, but it always shocks me a little. He made the argument (over and over) that all religious people have been brainwashed, that all religious beliefs are ridiculous, and that all people holding any type of religious belief are mentally unstable. This is after saying that he is not an atheist, but an agnostic, and that he is not unspiritual. The problem here is that he has so completely oversimplified the religious landscape that he has ceased being able to listen to any type of religious argument whatsoever. Even though he says on the one hand that he just doesn't know one way or the other about the existence of God, he is ultimately saying that the only valid view for anyone is that they cannot know and therefore should not even try to know in part. It is actually a fundamentalist view disguised as anti-fundamentalism.

I've seen the same sort of thing from religious liberals. We start to become so convinced by our own positions that we start to completely discount all others. We cease being able to listen to anything else. It's getting more and more easy to isolate ourselves among friends and media sources with which we virtually always agree and to say that anything outside our bubble is extremist and fundamentalist because they won't listen to us. Nevermind the fact that we won't listen to them either. This is dangerous state of polarization that can only lead to us vilinizing each other and getting nowhere.

Here's what I'd like to try to believe instead. If there is one thing I know, it is that something about what I believe is wrong. I haven't got everything right. Something about it is surely wrong. And furthermore, I don't know which part is wrong. So, that means that out of all the people with which I disagree, something about what each one of them says is probably right. Maybe not all of it, but there's probably some kernel of rightness in each person's beliefs. Therefore, it is necessary for me at least to listen. Besides, we are never going to get anywhere if we can't work together. We'll just get more and more polarized and keep talking past each other until finally we just hate and demonize each other. That should not be an option for the serious Christian. If we are called to love our enemies, should we not at least listen to them.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Spirit of Things

Since the most recent update to iTunes which enabled Podcasting, I've been exposed to a lot of new radio progams from around the world. One that I'd like to recommend to all is an Australian program (or programme, I suppose) called The Spirit of Things, a really interesting discussion of religion and spirituality in the world today. If you're an iTunes user, you can find in the Podcast directory. If not, try listening on their website.