Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Praying for Puppies?

One balance I've often struggled with in prayer--especially group prayer--is taking everyone's issues seriously but not making prayer some kind of trite grocery list of suggestions to God. What do you do when someone says their dog needs prayer because it's going to get a shot? Or that their grandma got a bad watermelon at the store that she can't take back?

On the side of accommodating, and even encouraging, any and every request are a few things. One, I believe that God is intimately involved in the world and that there isn't anything that escapes his awareness. So on some level, anything that is a concern to someone is a concern to him. Second, I don't believe I have the right to judge the validity of someone else's experiences. So if someone says they are anxious, sad, or angry about something, my reaction shouldn't be to dismiss it as stupid. It may be something that wouldn't matter to me were I in their shoes, but apparently it does matter to them. Third, I believe that God answers prayer. Prayer is not just something God uses to shape us (though it can do that), he has invited us to shape his involvement in the world through prayer.

On the side of not wanting to accomodate seemingly trite prayers are a few other things. One, the Bible doesn't give us many examples of the kinds of prayer. Prayer in Scripture is rich and is far more about the things of the kingdom of God than it is about minor inconveniences or pains. Two, prayer requests like these tend to make group prayer time less meaningful and more routine. It's easy to make a list, check it twice, and talk out loud about it under the pretense of it being prayer. Sometimes it may be prayer, but I know that there are many times I've just prayed for someone's request without passion or desire because I thought I had to. Many times these requests seem to come out because someone really wants to say something, just give an update on their life and not know when else to do it, or spread some gossip. Third, this reinforces that Christianity is all about "me" and God giving me what I deserve. I don't have time to write about all the things that are wrong with that and how that thinking has neutered Christianity.

Something that motivated this is an article I came across by JoHannah Reardon on group prayer. Again, there's no hyperlink button on this computer, but if you're up for cutting and pasting it's at http://www.christianitytoday.com/smallgroups/articles/artofgroupprayer.html.

Your thoughts on the topic?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sufferin' Sucky-tash

It has come to my attention that as of late the brothers lee have not been taking their blog to the rack. They have not put the blog in the corner pocket, sicked the dogs on it, ruffled its feathers, given it a once over, rocked the blog house, eaten it for breakfast, owned it, showed the blog who its daddy is, taken the blog downtown to Chinatown, or held its feet to the fire.

Their blog has not been served, whooped, updated, run ragged, lam blasted, held accountable or judged with a severe judgment.

It has been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

I have been in touch with the brothers lee and their blog and they offer their sincere apologies. They have assured me that the blog will no longer be neglected, willy-nilly, haphazard, up in the air, out to lunch, gone fishin', or taking a smoke break.

I hope this gives you some solace, peace, hope, giggles, and hyperbolic exclamations as it has me.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Trash Talk

Something you may not know about me is that I like sports talk radio. I started listening in Denver during football season because I love football, but it hooked me. There are limits to my enjoyment since talk radio people have perfected the art of saying the same thing fifty times before moving on when there's not much to talk about, but overall I like it.

Yesterday I was listening to said talk radio and they were talking about the U.S. Open (golf). Apparently the course is really tough this year and so their topic was whether the golfers were competing against each other or against the course. What a stupid question! If they're playing the same course then they all have the same difficulties to overcome, so of course they're competing against each other.

This post has ended up being lame, but the question just annoyed me. It's my blog, I'll do what I want.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Strange New Land

Today I went into the bookstore at Huntington College (University) to see if the books were in since the class I'm teaching starts next week. While I was waiting for someone to talk to me I thought I'd take a quick look-see around the store to see what they had. Since I worked in the greatest bookstore in the world for almost three years (I'd like to send a shot out to all my former bookstore co-workers and homies) I'm interested in other bookstores, especially at Christian educational institutions.

I came to a bookcase that had the bestsellers listed. I want to preface what comes next by saying that I'm sure they took this list from some other place that lists the best selling Christian books, so I'm not hatin on them directly or anything...#1 on the shelf was something by Joyce Meyer. On the next shelf down, at #4 was Joel Olstien's book "Your Best Life Now."

Not wanting to launch into a judgmental (prophetic?) tirade, I will just say here that I think there are a nearly infinite number of books that would be more edifying for the followers of Christ than these. I hate that my alma mater is promoting them.

I'm not in the Denver Seminary bookstore anymore. Perhaps if I just close my eyes and recite the incantation, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no..."

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

B is my fave letter

Last night I was listening to Simon & Garfunkel while playing Settlers of Catan with Erika. As we were wrapping up the game, "My Little Town" was playing. I really love that song and it got me thinking...Is it possible to be nostalgic for a time when one wasn't yet alive?

When I was younger, I used to think I sure am glad that I was born when I was, because of the goings-on in the world of my youth (i.e. the Twins winning the pennant in '87 & '91 & Kirby Puckett was playing). Television was very widespread, etc. etc. Now I am older.

As I become more enthralled with film, theology, literature, music and philosophy, I also become more convinced of the amazing culture of the '60s and '70s. Check these stats.

-Music: On the mainstream scene, there were the likes of the Beetles, Simon & Garfunkel, the Mommas and Poppas, Leonard Cohen, Peter Paul and Mary, and many other incredible folk acts. On the non-mainstream, we had Nick Drake, Harry Nilsson (his performances, the music he wrote was pretty big) and a lot more that I don't know, because I wasn't alive.

-Film: These two decades saw some of the great works of Godard, Resnais, Ozu, Malle, Cassavetes, Brakhage, Bunuel Rohmer, and a whole host of other French New Wave greats. The good thing about film is that I can still enjoy, but I'm so far behind.

-Theology: This was the time for the likes of Moltmann, Pannenburg, Kitamori, Gutierrez, Cone, and many other people whose work is to this day being applied, but still remains insanely good and ground-breaking.

-Philosophy: Derrida, De Man, the climax of continental philosophy, latter Sartre, etc. Dang.

-Literature: Here we find the best work of Vonnegut, Burroughs, and probably a lot of other people I should have read by this point in life.

I understand that these examples represent only about 1% of culture in the '60s and '70s, but to some extent it seems that the cultural movements represented by these people point to at least a segment of the population and culture of the time. I also recognize the turbulence of the times politically. At this juncture, however, we once again have pretty turbulent political times.

I also recognize that it is easy to romanticize either the past or the future, especially for things we didn't personally experience. Having said these things, I am nostalgic for the '60s and '70s. When I am exposed to the cultural artifacts I expressed, it makes me long for a time I wasn't even around for. Plus, the Purple People Eaters were around in the '70s. It makes me wonder about the legitimacy of such pining. I'm sure those of you who were alive for these times can set me straight.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Deja Crap

Last night I had the misfortune of watching a movie called Deja Vu. It has Denzel in it and I've liked a number of other movies he's been in so I mistakenly thought to myself, "It must be all right Trevor, relax."

Some of my favorite crappiness from it...how they found a way to "bend" space (not saying that could never happen, read on) and that you couldn't send anyone back to the past, and they had never tried to send any object back, but they just happened to have the equipment laying around to do both...that when Denzel and the woman in the movie were trapped in a car underwater he kicked out the windshield and she escaped but then he insisted on trying the door, couldn't get it open, and drowned (perhaps the through the windshield method was beneath him)...he died but then mysteriously was still alive as the self that didn't know what was going on (don't ask)...his car was plowed by a semi but he remained unhurt and the car/jeep didn't appear to be affected at all.

Anyway, I don't think I would recommend it unless you like to watch crap.

The End.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nas & Nostradamus with NOS

As I go through life here, I am realizing that I am at least two months late in learning about close to everything. I enjoy music and the new happenings, but usually find out about great stuff long after. Here are a couple examples.

-Over the last year, I have been increasingly enamoured with Hip-Hop, especially the Stones Throw crowd. A couple months ago, they announced that they were releasing an album called Ruff Draft by J Dilla, who died last year. I was really excited because I thought Donuts and The Shining were the only solo albums we would ever have from him. I emailed Paco about this "exciting new album." He was glad for my excitement, but pointed out that Ruff Draft came out long, long ago and this was a re-release.

-The slow uptake is automatically built in to living in Denver, America with film. I usually miss great new films, because I watch trailers on international sites, and then forget about them until they have been on DVD for about a year. Anything "new" to me is at least a year old.

-I am also bad at knowing what new authors to read in fiction-land. There are billions out there and all but about 4 are terrible. I don't have much time to read what I want, so I don't want to read crapp-ies. I learned about McSweeney's about two months ago, a great gang that has been around for over ten years.

That was all to say that I am continuing my inability to be on the cutting edge. Yesterday Shalom David told me Greg Boyd has a blog. I was so excited, so I went there (gregboyd.blogspot.com) and realized this had been going on since September of last year.

Greg talked about some stuff concerning memorial day that I was thinking through a lot on Monday. How do I approach Memorial Day when I am entirely against war and am not truly a part of any kingdoms of the world, while at the same time, I greatly respect people who literally put aside themselves and their lives for a cause? If my beliefs about world systems cause me to disrespect persons, I am missing the message of God, just as those who uphold pragmatism above the call of the Kingdom are missing the message. I think the problem lies in the fact that many persons think that if I don't support the government they gave their life to, I do not support them. This is seen in those who think that those opposed to the war in Iraq do not support the troops. Logically, this is a false dichotomy. Yet emotionally, it holds fast.

I especially run into this personal conflict at the Seminary when there are people in the military that go to the Seminary. On the one hand, I love the people in the military. On the other hand, as followers of Jesus, I feel that my brethren and sistren in Christ who are in the military are so drastically missing the message of the Gospel. Back to the first hand, there is a need for Chaplains. I do not think we should abandon the people in the military to themselves, just as I would not others to abandon me to myself. Back to the other hand again, if we take the call of Jesus seriously, how can we be effective Chaplains, because being a chaplain necessitates support for the cause and nation and all that. Otherwise, you will alienate yourself and drag morale.

These are the issues I struggle with very personally. I draw a comparison to how Dr. Sanders used to teach us that sometimes people need a pastor, not a theologian. I.e. Somebody's brother dies and you say, God has a reason for this. Sometimes I wonder if this is the same, but it's not. What I am talking about is intensely ethical and cuts to the heart of the Gospel. It is not some theoretical theology. The Kingdom of God is the very basis of our life and breath as followers of Christ. In that Kingdom, there is no room for violence, only love. This love is so subversive and insane that we would sooner be murdered in brutality than bring a hand against the object of our love. And the object of our love is every living human being. There is no place for dual citizenship. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God or kingdoms of the world. The Kingdom of Love and Peace is breaking into this world because of the love of Christ in us and through us. If we ever believe that a human is our enemy to be treated with violence, we sacrifice the presence of the Kingdom of God and make a mockery of the cross.