Saturday, December 16, 2006

to remember the good times...(a look ahead to MN?)

So I was reading over at one of my favorite blogstops about this fantastic new piece of shoddy commercialized Christian junk...

Dad...are we going to remember and reflect on a wonderful childhood filled with Rocky movies when I get to MN by not only seeing the delightful new installment of boxing drama, but also could you get the leadership kit to walk us through the movie as a family to discuss its "Christian" values? Please?

Don't get me wrong, I used to watch Rocky 4 before soccer games my junior year of high school to get "pumped up" for games...I mean, nothing gets me more thrilled to play soccer than watching a completely over-matched American boxer single handedly defeat communism by whipping the steroid-taking giant boxer of communist Russia.

Are we Christians really that gullible? Should I even ask? In case you haven't seen the trailer yet...enjoy:

Thursday, December 14, 2006


We're down to the end of the semester, with class tonight and finals next week. Things never seem to quite slow down as much as you think they could or should...but I'm looking forward to being on the other side of next Thursday when I take my last final and turn in my Historical Theology paper on Origen and his method of biblical interpretation.

Two things I've come to realize thus far in Historical Theology I (which is the class where we study the development of theology and doctrine during the patristic time period, i.e. Augustine, Origen, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Pelagius and many more) are:
1) I tend to enjoy studying the theologians and church leaders who were declared heretical on certain doctrines.
2) I think Pelagius got a bad rap.

I'm reading a lecture on Augustine's perspective on foreknowledge and predestination and it reminds me of all the great "conversations" that took place in college about this stuff. Really...reading all this stuff stirs up a desire to read more Eastern theologies...anybody know some good books? (I'm getting How (Not) to Speak of God by Pete Rollins for Christmas...which should be a good look at some apophatic theology.)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

something in the water?

So in the last two days I've had some of the best conversations with students that are unlikely to discuss some of the following topics, that I've had since I've been here as youth pastor. One student who is home-schooled and comes from a rather conservative background and story, asked me point blank about my thoughts on the War on Terror and our president's actions regarding specifically the war in Iraq yesterday. And with this student, who rarely talks about much else besides Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and role playing...we embarked on a journey of discovery of some of the great history in our Baptist tradition, our history as Christians, and the value of a prophetic voice and keeping a critical distance from power was amazing.

Tonight at youth there was a riled up time of prayer requests. One student asked that we pray for the mostly immigrant workers at the local psuedo-fast food place who he works with that he thinks work just as hard as his managers yet make thousands less dollars. This same student also prayed that as a church we would begin to become more doubtful and not just accept everything that is passed down to us, but that we would thoughtfully and generously question our beliefs so that we might be changed by our beliefs and perspectives. Also tonight, a different student asked that we pray for the leadership of our church, and that we might ask why people of other races and other sexes are not in places of leadership at our church. Wow.

Of course, another student (from this same home-schooling family) went on tonight to then talk about how God has a plan for everything, and when I raised some questions about this view, and pointed out how the church has never agreed on this...This student went on to say that she wasn't sure why I was the youth pastor (or possibly if I was even a Christian)if I didn't agree that God was "omnipotent" or "all-powerful" in the ways that she believed God to be all powerful and omnipotent. Oh well. I'm still glad to have the students talking for real...even if this doesn't happen all the time. It's nice to hear their voices...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Potential Worship Band

If I ever start a church, this will be the first band that I try to bring in as a prospective worship band. Check their website out: The website for the best worship band ever!

And better yet, check out a song from their live set (you can watch this above, or click below), featuring my new favorite worship song titled: Trinity Schminity. Don't skip out on the song before the guitar solo...and as a taste of what's to come, one of my favorite lines is:
"Trinity Schminity, don't believe a lie
Trinity Schminity, cuz' if you do
Your soul will surely fry..."

Hands will be raised everywhere. Eyes shall be closed. And everyone is going to grow amazing long beards.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

thanksgiving reflections...

I know this is almost a week late, but I have some time to write a little tonight so my Thanksgiving reflections are finally coming out. A couple of months ago Shey got me the above t-shirt after seeing it at a very random experience in rural Ohio. We were with Shey's grandparents in a poor coal mining and river town for a visit, and our first night out we went to an auction for the possessions and estate of a woman who had recently passed away. It was the event of the little town that night, and it was a very surreal experience. Things were being sold that most people would never think of ever buying, i.e. boxes and cartons of little trinkets, broken stuff, lots of little pieces of junk, and eventually the woman's house. It was kind of a crazy event, with various people buying lots of junk...but I happened to look over at one man who was standing on the outskirts of the event with a couple of people talking and caught a glimpse of this shirt, and was floored.

It's such a powerful and wonderfully insightful shirt. He and his shirt just didn't seem to fit in with the American-flag lined streets, the poverty, and small rural town vibe. Nevertheless, we chalked the whole night up to one of those weird experiences, that just happened to give us insight into some deeper stories that run through the history of our country. And Shey in a great surprise, didn't forget that night or that shirt and bought me one of these shirts a couple of months ago.

All this to say, that over the last week, and with the students I work with, we began to talk about you know "the meaning of Thanksgiving" and all that jazz. And as I told some of the students about this shirt, we began to discuss how it would be good if we began to tell the story of the plight, genocide and racism that informs (yet does not tell the whole story) of Thanksgiving. How powerful would it be for us to begin to incorporate in our traditions at this time to include and give voice to those whose voice was taken away, and certainly cornered onto reservations...How can we make sure that their story is not lost or forgotten? One of the ways we discussed is to simply tell their story, to recall the sin that took place in the plight of many Native Americans. Another was to continue to build awareness with our family and friends.

This t-shirt is a simple way to continue to tell their story, and much of the proceeds go towards work in bettering reservations, and giving them a check out this shirt, and many other mediums of the same message go to: The Native Press.

Hope you had a good Thanksgiving. Sorry for the late post. I'll try to post about Christmas by February.

Friday, November 17, 2006

our new place

after the craziness of the last couple of weeks, i finally have gotten to enjoy a little bit of what Shey and I hoped for in moving out of town. this morning I got to sit and watch the morning fog move through the fields and over the mountains. I watched as the sun began to peek through the trees, casting its soft morning light onto the yard.

Better still, I watched for quite awhile as different birds moved back and forth and sang their different and varied songs. I saw for the first time (that I could recognize anyway) a Yellow-shafted Flicker, which is a type of woodpecker. It's pretty awesome to see it forage for insects in the trees, and to hear the tapping sound as it searches for food. here's a picture of what it looks like, though its not the one I saw...(hopefully for Christmas I'll get a telephoto lens so I can post some of my own pictures of birds!)

Monday, November 06, 2006

a favorite story from texas

so while in Texas the last few days for a conference with my pastor and a few other dudes from the church I work at, I met a woman who was touting a pretty sweet leather purse with a nice Texas state flag sewed onto one of the sides. As amazing as it was to hear that this was an anniversary present from her husband, the real surprise came when she showed me that on one of the ends of the purse there was a zipper. and upon opening the zipper she informed me that this is where you are supposed to keep your handgun. actually i believe her expression was "this is where i pack my heat."

only in Texas.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Shey and I are moving tomorrow and things have been really busy trying to move during the school year. But we are excited, and looking forward to the great view that will soon envelop us. I'll try to post some pictures of our new place and the view, especially with the leaves changing all around us when I get a chance...

We won't have internet for a bit until we figure out if this high-speed antenna and new form of technology is going to, I may be incognito a bit longer on the blog, but hopefully I can post something one night while I'm up at school...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Plato and the Sovereignty of God

so over on some message boards that i hang out at every once and a while to try to be in conversation and to have a chance to write out some of my theology with people who i expect will disagree and with whom i would also usually disagree with also had started a discussion about the notion of the age of accountability, and most of the people at the board starting explaining two things that are very reformed and very Calvinist.

1. Children and babies are born into sin, and though we hope God will judge them mercifully, we don't know what will happen to them.
2. It is God's prerogative as to how he'd like to deal with these children and babies who die at young ages, and who are we to question God or his judgments.

both of these notions scare the crap out of me, and tell me a lot of what these folks think about God and his wrath, and they pose a huge unbreakable (and unchallengeable) wall of God's sovereignty in between God's relationship with humanity. talking about this stuff of course led into a discussion of hermeneutics, a time of defining what the gospel "really is", sin, and on and on about things that really probably can't happen on message boards or blogs because it is like trying to smash what takes some theologians 13 volumes to say in a few really loooong posts. which is dumb too because i am still deconstructing a lot of my own theology anyway, so i'm learning what i think often as i write...

but tonight in philosophy for theology, we were discussing Plato's allegory of the cave and a passage stuck out to me that helps illuminate how intertwined the reformed doctrine of the sovereignty of God and Platonic order of realities are:

"And is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplations to the evil state of man, misbehaving himself in a ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surrounding darkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places, about the images or the shadows of images of justice, and is endeavouring to meet the conceptions of those who have never seen absolute justice?
Anything but surprising, he replied."

There is this question seen here in Plato's writings that who do the visible beings think they are trying to believe that they understand the Idea of justice from the highest Good? Who are they to question the Good, for their feeble minds are seeing but reflections of the shadows or perhaps the images of justice, but not the idea of justice...

and this reminds me of the reformed doctrine that tries to say through omission, that who are we to question God, if it is of God's desire to send little children and babies to hell, God is able to make such decisions...but in making these claims, we fail to think about what this actually says about the nature of God and how God acts. can we not say that we don't believe that this is how a good God, who pursues and longs to be in relationship with his creation would act?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

a little help

So I sort of alluded to the idea that I will be working on an essay for a book to be published later this year or early next year with the two guys over at The Nick and Josh Podcast (or see their blogs over on the right in my blogroll). They have a pretty fun, interesting, don't-take-yourself-too-seriously series of insightful podcasts that feature interviews with all kinds of people associated with Emergent (e.g. Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt) while also going outside of the box a bit to meet with people like Sammy Andraos a Christian exiled from Lebannon during the bombings by Israel, or musicians like Derek Webb (who is giving his latest CD "Mockingbird" away for free right now).

One of the things that has come up in the rapid growth in listeners has been a desire to find ways for other young voices in the church to have a chance to speak up. So the idea of publishing a book (perhaps even yearly) has been born out of a desire to provide space for new voices at the table of both the Emergent conversation and the church at large.

I thought this was a great idea, and last week I emailed Nick and Josh about the idea of writing about the need for a generous dialogue amongst the current church leadership and the rising generation of leaders that will soon come into the places of leadership in the church (both locally and globally). (April you may remember a conversation that I had with Sheila about this in some email conversations that she talked to you about?) So, I have a lot of work to do still in writing the peice, but I must say that I am really excited about the opportunity to write...

One of the neat things that is happening in the publishing of this book is that we are using an on demand publisher and editing the book ourselves to help cut down on the costs. One of the ways that we could use some help is in offsetting some of the actual publishing costs. Nick has graciously offered to give all of the money of sales of his cd "qara"(you can see a picture in the top right of this post) as means of fundraising for the book. Cost is $6.50 for his album of some good music, and the proceeds go towards helping a group of young authors find their voice in the church conversation. (To buy, go to Nick's blog and click on the album at the top right of his sidebar, which will take you automatically to a paypal transfer site).
No matter what, whether you can help by buying a cd or not, I'll keep you posted as the book progresses, and I look forward to sharing with you more as things happen...

Monday, October 09, 2006

reading week

well reading week for The Leland Center is going down this week. Which couldn't have come at a better time. Besides being a little stressed from school and church, Shey's great-grandmother passed away this's sad, but kind of beautiful too. This will be the first funeral in a long time that I feel like I can actually celebrate the life of the person gone...

So on this day, I thought that I should tell a good story or two of the wonderful woman Evelyn Spah who left us this morning at the wonderful age of 94. First, I should let people know that the first kegger i ever went to was for "Vera's" 90th birthday party a few years back, complete with a Senetor or two, and a lot of fun family stories. It was one of those great evenings with Shey's family that I still look back on and think of all the fun that we will still have together...

One of the neatest things about Vera and her husband, was that they were famous for many things, including some neat showbusiness acts and Vera's husband was one of the few survivors of the Hindenburg crash. If you get a chance to check out any documentaries on the History channel looking at the Hindenburg and its inevitable demise, you'll likely see an interview with Shey's great grandmother as she describes the Hindenburg coming down and watching her contortionist husband hang on to the outside waiting until the Hindenburg was close enough to the ground for him to fall off (which he did, and survived!). Much of the video footage of the Hindenburg flying (before its crash) comes from Evelyn's husband trip on the zepplin. Anyway, she was a great storyteller, always wanting to discuss her travels around the world and a life of love and family. she'll be missed...

so things may be a little scattered on the blog, b/c between family stuff the next few days, I'll be working on a chapter for a book that I get to write that Nicholas Fiedler and Josh Brown are working on putting together...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

netflix = amazing goodness

so about midway through the summer Shey and I finally got our act together and signed up with netflix. i must say, i don't know what anyone is thinking by continuing to rent movies from blockbuster (or insert other lame movie rental store here: ) netflix is a wonderful collection of movies, documentaries, educational films (Shey is a teacher), and tv shows. it has been awesome, besides a slight detour through cape cod with dawson and crew this summer, Shey and i have been chewing up movies and especially some great documentaries lately.

two documentaries that i would highly recommend are: Born into Brothels and Boys of Baraka
Born into Brothels is a look into the lives of children growing up in the red-light district in Calcutta, as they struggle to get an education, find a way out, and find hope for the day-to-day. One of the ways that Zana Brinski (who is living in the red-light district among the families) attempts to help these children find a voice is by giving them a camera, and helping them to take pictures. In taking pictures of their families, their homes, their cities, their simple and yet complex beauty, these students find their voices amongst the terrible noise that surrounds them.

Similar to Born into Brothels is Boys of Baraka, a story about African-American male middle school students living in Baltimore that are fighting against the odds that 76% of them will not graduate high school (this is from 2004). In both humor and harsh reality, we are able to catch a glimpse into the lives of a few middle school boys trying to break the cycle of disadvantage, poverty, sin, racism, and brokenness in their neighborhoods. I laughed and cried a good bit in this movie. To be honest, it is the first movie in a while that shook me up and made me ask some hard questions about God and life... (e.g. How could God possibly have predetermined a life for these boys born into such a crappy environment and situation?, What are some of the systemic changes that need to take place to reverse this statistic?, How the heck is this going on only an hour and a half from my house?)

and the last movie i'd highly recommend of late is Bamboozled. I saw this movie in college when I was taking a class called "Major Black Authors" (which was supposed to be taught by an African-American woman, who left shortly before school was to start, and thus class was taught by some random 30-something white dude from UVA) at JMU. (On a side note, the professor for this class used to talk with his eyes closed/fluttering in rapid and stumbling phrases, for 2 1/2 hours at a time.) This movie helps us to take a look at some of the systemic racial sins that pervade the media, stereotypes, history, and current perspectives. This movie is bringing more Spike Lee movies to the Hayden's house in the coming weeks...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

figuring all this stuff out

So after creating this blog, I quickly realized that I had a lot to learn, and that I should've signed up for Blogger's beta version of blogging. So after messing around with a lot of stuff, I am now switched over to the beta version, have a profile pic up, and am messing around with stuff to figure out how i can make things smoother, look how i want, and give me the most options for types of posts and links that i want to have...

i have to say, messing around with html and all this junk is kind of fun (as long as i keep saving my current stuff so i won't lose it). anyway, technology can be a pretty sweet thing (though of course it causes just as many problems often times than it solves, and can often have a costly effect on our lives and community (thanks Wendell Berry), but today i like it).

anybody want to come pack up my apartment for me?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Finally (can I say finally in my first post?)

So I'm finally doing more than blogging on other people's sites and lurking without having a blog of my own. Though I finally am starting a blog, this is my first post, and I'm probably supposed to say something sentimental or of some profound sense of why I'm starting to have my own blog or whatever. To be honest, we probably don't need another young, white, middle-class dude saying stuff and filling up the world with more words...but I thought it would be fun, and would keep me honest and open for a bit, and I miss the practice of writing out some of my thoughts...

Thus, "Moments of Recognition" has been born. (or insert whatever lame introduction to a blog you'd like) A good friend of mine had written about this notion that maybe faith and belief are wrapped up in simple and beautiful recognition of God. This was something that Shey and I had been talking about for weeks, this idea and notion that prayer, faith, and belief are centered in moments of recognition where God is seen or heard, touched or whispered, abundant or close. And sometimes these moments, especially when they happen in community, when God is recognized, a simple and yet wonderful beauty is found.

So I hoped that this blog would provide a time to share and reflect on some of these moments, and some of the absences of these moments too. Of course I hope these moments will also include some insights into the culture, church, theology, seminary, and community that I find myself in these I've finally arrived to only's to another new blog to distract me from studying...