A Reading from Sabbath in the Suburbs -- Yours Truly Last Sunday I read a short excerpt from my book which talks a little bit about Christian freedom. I chose this excerpt with the July 4 holiday in mind. Freedom gets talked about a lot this time of year, but Christians have something specific in mind when we talk about freedom.
The link above will get you to my most recent 10 sermons at Tiny Church. You can also subscribe via iTunes; search for Idylwood Presbyterian Church. I can't stand to listen to myself so I rely on listeners to let me know if something is awry in these recordings.
Speaking of which, yesterday I recorded a Master Class on Sabbath-keeping for ChurchNext. It was a Skyped video conversation, which makes the cringe factor all the greater. I'll let you know when my class goes live, but in the meantime, check out some of Chris Yaw's great offerings. What a cool resource.
Self-promotion aside... away we go:
Three Great Stop Motion Shorts Not to Be Missed -- Colossal
These are utterly charming. Three short films featuring 1. the primordial soup (err noodles), 2. a teeny tiny road trip, and 3. straight pins with character. [Photo is an image capture from one of the videos.]
The Busy Trap -- New York Times
I can't tell you how many people sent this my way. And for good reason; this piece has Sabbath written all over it:
Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. I once knew a woman who interned at a magazine where she wasn’t allowed to take lunch hours out, lest she be urgently needed for some reason. This was an entertainment magazine whose raison d’être was obviated when “menu” buttons appeared on remotes, so it’s hard to see this pretense of indispensability as anything other than a form of institutional self-delusion.
Lately I am trying to stop talking about how busy I am. For one, because the comment has become so ubiquitous as to be meaningless. It's the "umm...you know" of the 21st century. But also because the author is right; busy has become a status symbol. Henri Nouwen said that the Christian life is a steady process of downward mobility. So... I'm done.
(For that matter, I heard myself use the phrase "killing time" the other day and was immediately appalled. What a dreadful thing to say!)
I Took a Web Detour and Now I Feel Better -- New York Times (again)
I am pretty convinced that our 24-7 digital culture is doing serious things to our brains. But this is a nice counter-testimony:
Stressed out, on a deadline, I was frustrated to the point of uselessness and began to post a handful of items to Twitter and Tumblr. For a while, my mind and fingers wandered aimlessly around the Web. When I grew tired of this, I turned back to my assignment, completed it and turned it in. The entire detour took less than 10 minutes, and it seemed to make me more efficient.
...[S]ometimes I’ve found that losing myself in the Web can be invigorating. Instead of needing to turn off the noise of the Web, I often use it to calm my nerves so I can finish my work.
I have felt that. Even more effective is a run or a shower, though---at least in my experience.
I love the story of Wendell Potter, a former Cigna executive who became an outspoken advocate for health reform based on his experience.
Thousands of them had lined up under a cloudy sky in an open field. Many had camped out the night before. When their turns came, doctors treated them in animal stalls and on gurneys placed on rain-soaked sidewalks.
They were Americans who needed basic medical care. Potter had driven to the Wise County Fairgrounds in Virginia in July 2007 after reading that a group called Remote Area Medical, which flew American doctors to remote Third World villages, was hosting a free outdoor clinic.
Potter, a Cigna health care executive who ate from gold-rimmed silverware in corporate jets, says that morning was his “Road to Damascus” experience.
“It looked like a refugee camp,” Potter says. “It just hit me like a bolt of lightning. What I was doing for a living was making it necessary for people to resort to getting care in animal stalls.”
Though this article does not say so, it was a relationship with a Presbyterian church that helped inform his change of heart.
I'm gratified by the Presbyterian angle, because on the other hand we have...
Five Reasons Denominations Are Passe -- David Lose
I've been following our denomination's General Assembly all week and it's been a bit of a mess, frankly. David's post is prescient, and strong medicine.
Inordinate amounts of funding are spent on maintaining denominational structures and bureaucracies, money that could be spent on mission. Even though every denomination I know has in recent years cut way back on spending, eliminated various divisions or boards, or extended the times between major assemblies or conventions, denominations are still expending vast sums of money to prop up dated denominational bureaucracies. Would it not make sense to conserve resources by efficiently combining structures? Are seven or eight struggling denominational publishing houses better than one robust one? Where there are three beleaguered denominational seminaries in a single region, might not one healthy pan-denominational school suffice? (And we haven’t even started on congregations!) Think of what might happen if the savings were channeled to funding creative media campaigns that didn’t extol the virtues of one denomination but taught the Christian faith.
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and stay cool.