When the “Ists” Come with “Isms”

I recently tweeted:

I mention this because one of my parishioners asked me about it – and frankly there’s nothing I love more than an inquisitive church member.  Continue reading

Why do we share an εὐαγγέλιον?

The word εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion) is the Greek word for gospel or good news from which we get the word “evangelism”.  I don’t know that my chosen title is the best title for what this post is intending to say. I also mulled over using, “Why do church people talk to people who don’t go to their church?”  But that’s clunky and the chosen title plays on the tension between sharing a good news and evangelizing. In reality the two should be the same, to evangelize literally means sharing the good news, but evangelizing is often expressed in a much different way in practice.

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Launching: toward the Automobile

*This post is one of several entitled “Launching” which present the American world that I think the  United Methodist Church, and the church in general, lives in and must respond to.*

There’s a lot of cars in America.

Why? Based on some simple research I can’t say that the car has ever gotten more affordable in relation to income. I’m led to believe that the rise of the car comes from post-WW2 realities that led to a more stable job market enabling families to feel more comfortable assuming some debt to purchase one – which led to easy financing for more sales, which led to an expanded used car market. Plus, the Interstate system enabled the rise of white-flight suburbs and our now sprawling roadway infrastructure.
Yet, in Levar Burton’s words, you don’t have to take my word for it. This is mostly based on some simple web search perusing.

Even still, the car and our road network has changed the way people live. Continue reading

Launching: toward the Individual(ist)

*This post is one of several entitled “Launching” which present the American world that the United Methodist Church specifically, and the church in America in general, lives in and must respond to.*

In my prior post, I spoke, in brief, about both individualism and how we might shift our Sunday morning structure to engage that individualism. That leaves much to be said about how we might engage the individual in their individualism – the individualist. I would say there’s a nuance to individualism, as it takes on shades of two trajectories: a meritocratic trajectory and a cynical trajectory. Continue reading

Launching: toward Individualism

*This post is one of several entitled “Launching” which present the American world that the  United Methodist Church specifically, and the church in America in general, lives in and must respond to.*

Individualism is a big thing and without writing a book, I don’t think I can fulfill my inner historian and social scientist desires. Considering that, I’m going off my experience and understanding of individualism in the late 20th century (I grimaced at the fact that I just typed that). But the late 20th century is notable, because American society shows a large shift to individualism from the civicism of 60 years ago.

What I call individualism is a desire to attain, protect and fulfill one’s own desires, which can be expanded beyond one person to a kind of communal tribalism, a “looking after me and mine”. Continue reading

What do we call to?

When I was a boy my dad would call to me around supper time. He’d either see that I was playing football in the field, go out the back door and holler so the entire neighborhood could here me or call up to my friend’s house and my friends mom would say it’s time for me to go home. In that call he did two things, he called out to me and called me toward dinner.
Likewise the gospel calls out to people and calls them toward something. Asking what we call to is a double entendre and here, talking about the gospel, it fits perfectly; just as it does with my dad calling me home for supper.  Continue reading

Following the steps of a 30 yr old

What’s the significance of Jesus’ age?  What does it mean that our God’s ministry on earth took place not when he was a teen, not when he was a married parent with a job a children and not as wise old sage?

Jesus was 30(ish). That’s the current age of our American millennials, your children, my peers.

What does it mean to be a 30 yr old?
30 is right in the middle of a life stage. At that age someone is generally wrestling with different questions than say a 45 or 55 yr. old or a 15 yr old. The middle aged adult is figuring out how to do the right thing, so they see life through that lens. A 15 yr. old is figuring out who they are, which also colors their vision of everything else.

30 is between the other ages where one progressed from concerns of identity, but they’re not yet at the concern of middle age. At 30, someone is generally trying to figure out how to be who they are in the world. It’s a question of belonging. Who will they have to interact with in the world and how will they do it?
Once they figure out how to be who they are and belong, they’ll then progress into the concern of middle age, figuring out how to do the right thing according to how they belong in the world. Continue reading