Looking in the mirror…

January 16, 2012

I had the opportunity this weekend to speak at a retreat for nearly a hundred middle school students and leaders from a dozen different churches. On Sunday, I stood before my youth group in both the morning and evening, teaching, challenging and edifying. It was a great weekend, full of ministry and relationships.

This morning I re-read a post that I had put up last year on MLK Jr. Day. It was a challenge to the church to consider why they didn’t more fully engage the meaning and significance of this day. I felt like I got punched in the gut. Read the rest of this entry »


Why is the church working today?

January 17, 2011

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Schools, universities and government institutions across the country are closed for a day to consider the monumental impact of one man’s life that was part of an entire movement that helped to move humanity forward toward a more just society.*

But if you work for a (white) church** today, you’re probably at work. And this morning I have to ask, “Why?” Read the rest of this entry »

Europe 10/11 – Ringing in Christmas with Americans & the rest of the world

December 26, 2010

Paris Days Three & Four
Ringing in Christmas with Americans & the rest of the world

I’m currently on a 3 1/2 week trip to Europe.  Centered primarily around the Taize community in France as well as their annual gathering (which is Rotterdam this year) I’ll also be doing some sightseeing and reflecting/relaxing.  Here I hope to log my journey for any who desire to join, first in a several sentence summary (for the busy folk) and then in a more detailed form (for the interested).

La petite
Yesterday (Friday), was spent at the Louvre, before venturing to a Christmas Eve service at The American Church in Paris, an international gathering of english speaking Christians, and then attending midnight mass at Notre Dame.

Today included a delicious chocolate crepe on my way to the Eiffel Tower, then returning to the hostel and preparing to leave early in the morning for Rotterdam.  My next two days will be spent helping to prepare for Taize’s annual gathering of young people and then participating in it for the following several days.  I don’t know what my internet access will be like, but I’ll update if I’m able.

Le grand
On Christmas Eve I decided to venture to the Louvre, one of the premiere art museums in the world and most visited, with millions of patrons every year.  A former palace that was transformed into a museum after Versailles was built (because the King thought the Louvre was too small!) it boasts 12 miles of art covered hallways and rooms that hold some of the most famous artwork in the world (such as the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo).  It’s the sort of place you could spend weeks in and literally just scratch the surface.  Besides the artwork, the building itself is incredibly beautiful.  I stuck to the basics, got an audio guide, and spent several hours exploring.  While surely incredible, the Louvre was honestly a bit overwhelming.  I think I enjoyed the Musee d’Orsay more, just in that it was somewhat more comprehendible. 

On a side note, in the DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, he suggests that the Holy Grail is hidden underneath the inverted pyramid at the Louvre.  Turns out there are 2 “holy grails” under it actually…an Apple store & a Starbucks!  Next to the Louvre is an underground shopping mall & it starts at the inverted pyramid.

One of my friends from grad school has spent the last several years living in France and she recommended that I check out the American Church in Paris (http://www.acparis.org/), a large, international, English speaking congregation, for Christmas Eve (thanks Kristen!).  This service was probably one of the highlights of the trip so far (though there have been many of them). As you would, perhaps, expect in Paris, there was some incredibly artistic people involved, including performances of Ave Maria, a handbell choir, a gigantic organ (talk about some epic Christmas carols), and a candle lighting at the end.  The service was liturgical in nature and truly inspiring.  The pastor, Scott Herr, gave an excellent message on the Christmas story according to Galations (yup…you read that right).  Hopefully you’ll be able to read/hear it soon here:   http://www.acparis.org/sermons.html

After that service, I quickly headed over to Notre Dame where I arrived just in time to catch midnight mass.  There we literally thousands and thousands of people there…Notre Dame is gigantic and it was entirely packed, standing room only, with no space to move.  The homily, given by Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, was entirely in French (and thus mostly not understandable by me) but the experience of standing in the square with thousands of others listening to the bells of Notre Dame ring in Christmas Day was truly amazing.

I got a late start Christmas Day, after sleeping in a bit after my late night on Christmas Eve and then headed off to the Eiffel Tower.  The sun shone brightly for the first time since I had arrived in Paris, seemingly appropriate for Christmas Day, when we celebrate the arrival of a Light shining in the darkness.  I hiked up the stairs to the first level of the tower and enjoyed some great views of the city.  Unfortunately, the upper levels of the tower were closed for some reason, but you could still see plenty of Paris from twenty some odd stories up.

The rest of the day was sent on various odds & ends…packing up, figuring out plans, and preparing to leave by train to Rotterdam this morning.  I had to make an early start of it this morning, with my train leaving the station at 6:01 this morning, but my eurorail pass secured me first class somehow, so I got a great breakfast, seating with lots of leg room, and free internet (which is allowing me to post this).  Today I’ll arrive in Rotterdam and help them to begin to prepare for the Taize European gathering (you can read more here: http://www.taize.fr/en_article11635.html). I have no idea what the next few days will hold exactly or when I’ll have internet access again, but I’ll post an update when I can.  Merry Christmas from the other side of the pond!

Europe 10/11 – pt 2 – l’Art dans Tout

December 23, 2010

Paris Day Two – 12/23/2010

I’m currently on a 3 1/2 week trip to Europe.  Centered primarily around the Taize community in France as well as their annual gathering (which is Rotterdam this year) I’ll also be doing some sightseeing and reflecting/relaxing.  Here I hope to log my journey for any who desire to join, first in a several sentence summary (for the busy folk) and then in a more detailed form (for the interested).

La petite
After sleeping in & catching up on some rest, I spent the bulk of the day at the Musee d’Orsay having my mind blown by incredible works of art and then took a snowy, early evening stroll down the Champs Elysées to l’Arc de Triomphe.  Paris avec la neige may be cold, but it’s gorgeous.

Le grand
In my weeks before the trip, I had a mini-revelation.  Seeing as no one else was coming with me on the trip, I didn’t need to meet anyone else’s expectations.  While with a group, it’s proper to acquiesce to others desires, or at least to walk “la rue de of compromise,” with just me, I reminded myself that I should enjoy things just the way I wanted, in the way that would be most refreshing.

This morning that meant sleeping in.  After sprinting for a month to get ready for my time away and then the craziness of travel, I was pretty well beat by the time I got here.  Some extra sleep and a slow morning made the day much better, though I still seem to be overcoming jet lag.

Musee d’Orsay is one of the premier art museums in France and the world, housed in an incredible old train station that is itself a work of art.  They are currently holding a special feature on Jean Leon Gerome, a French painter and sculptor in the mid-to-late 1800’s.  Displaying an expansive oevre, Gerome’s work is impressive both in style and its progressive elements for its time.

Also housed at the Musee d’Orsay are works by Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Renault, and Cezanne, just to name a (very) few.  It’s really quite difficult to do justice to the pieces found there and the building in which they’re displayed.  My understanding of art and its history is fairly minimal, but I was continually amazed.

One featured artist particularly of note was Alexandre Charpentier, a sculptor, engraver, carpenter of sorts.  Charpentier was the founder of “L’Art dans tout” (Art in Everything), a group artistic interior designers, furniture makers, painters, and architects.  Their contention was that art was not just to be displayed in special “magnificent” paintings and sculptures, but should be incorporated into the everyday details and mundane objects of life.  I couldn’t help but be stuck by the similarity of the concept of holistic discipleship that helps us understand that spirituality is a pervasive piece of our lives and not a segment gathered into compartmentalized hours of our week.  It’s striking to consider this concept in a country crowned with ornate chapelry.  The churches dotting the French landscape were constructed with the intrinsic purpose of reminding the viewer of God’s transcendence, power, and beauty.  Summed up simply, they leave us awestruck.  But what’s striking about Christ’s life was the way that he lived it in an awe-creating way and then left his disciples to live in similar ways (John 14:12).  The point was not all-powerful moments, but lives of faithful, incredible love.  Lives like those of Brother Roger, who I will be learning more of and speaking more of as I head toward Taize.

Though I was disappointed that part of the museum was closed for renovations, it may have been a good thing, as dusk was setting in when I finally made my exit.

Stepping outside, I was reminded it was winter, with a brisk wind and a steady snow starting to fall.  Not to be deterred, I decided to skip the metro and walk across la Tuileries and Place de Concord before starting the long (it didn’t seem like it would be that far!) walk down the Champs Élysées to l’Arc de Triomphe.  The snow honestly made things incredibly beautiful and though it was a tad colder than the day before, the beauty made it a preferable way to experience Paris.

Champs Élysées is an overpriced, though attractive, shopping street on steroids.  While stopping in Luis Vuitton, I decided to pass on the 1500 euro purse and 10,000 euro suitcase.  Needless to if anyone’s going to get any souvenirs, it won’t be till later in the trip.  Though plenty of people seem to apparently possess ridiculous sums of many which they enjoy spending on inane objects.

By the time I got to l’Arc de Triomphe, they had unfortunately closed the top due to the weather, but I still spent some time tromping about the bottom taking pictures and the like before grabbing the metro back to the hostel.

May it be so…

September 21, 2009

Great video from one of my favorite bands, mewithoutYou.  Their latest album, It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright. is a gem.

Unfortunately, embedding is disabled, but please take the extra second & check this out:

The Fox, The Crow, & The Cookie

the church of the lowest common denominator

June 1, 2009

one month later, i have not stopped thinking…just lacked time to document my thoughts.

at the beginning of April the CEO of Pixar, Robert Iger, was having to respond to questions about the commercial viability of Pixar’s latest film, Up.  industry insiders were concerned that it wouldn’t have mass appeal for a variety of reasons highlighted in a New York Times article.  Om Malik grabbed this gem of a quote for a blog piece based on the article:

We seek to make great films first. If a great film gives birth to a franchise, we are the first company to leverage such success. A check-the-boxes approach to creativity is more likely to result in blandness and failure.

as i’ve been studying church models recently (including reading Simple Church), evaluating the future of youth ministry (including the Seismos posts on this blog & reading Youth Minitry 3.0), and through a myriad of conversations & thought processes related to my vocational role in ministry, i think the Church has much to learn from Iger’s thought process. Read the rest of this entry »

for the love of panic

April 30, 2009

I was out of town & offline this weekend when everything started breaking loose with swine flu.  I believe it’s tragic that people have lost their lives because of this disease & I hope that people wiser than i are able to quickly and effectively provide treatment and help for those suffering from it.

929117_22204583however, i’m deeply, deeply concerned by the media and general public’s response to this disease outbreak. Read the rest of this entry »

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