Saturday, October 31, 2009


Sutter's Corn Maze (Pandora, Ohio)

Capo and Penelope--how precious are they?

Pumpkins! Done by: Shoemaker's (far left), Ryan's (middle), and Collin/Allen/Bland (far right)

Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda... duh

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chatting with atheists is a good thing...

I like Christopher Hitchens. He's intelligent and witty... and quite smug. Not on a level with Bill Maher--more like Richard Dawkins, just less formal. I can't wait to see his movie about traveling around with a Christian pastor and debating each other.

Read his articles. They're typically worth your time. I like this most recent one.

I think I want to invite him to Bowling Green. Not to debate me, but to chat. I wonder what he'll say. I'm sure it'd be lively and a lot of fun.

I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Derek Webb...

"I have never, ever felt like a “Christian artist.” I don’t live like that, I don’t create that way; those categories mean nothing to me. I don’t think they mean anything to anybody. I don’t think they’re real. I don’t think there’s any such thing as Christian art or secular art. I think there are Christian and secular people, who make art, and all art tends to reflect the people who make it, but there’s no such thing as “redeemed art.” And if there is, I can guarantee you, I’m not the guy making it."

-Derek Webb (interview with John Wofford, Patrol Mag)

PS-If you haven't listened to Webb's new album "Stockholm Syndrome," do yourself a favor: go out and buy it now.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A conundrum indeed...

I love music. I really love music. But I have an issue. I wish there were more John Mark McMillan's in the world...

I'm really critical. I expect a lot of other musicians. If you're a professional musician, you should constantly be pushing the creative envelope. Seeking to write good lyrics and tell good stories and move the listener in some way. Seeking to put together songs that are sonically pleasing and different at times.

With that being said, I don't like listening to the radio. For one, the commercials drive me crazy. I don't wanna pay for Sirius or XM radio, and terrestrial radio is heavy laden with commercials. They drive me crazy. I don't wanna hear about Crazy Eddie's furniture or Flora Templeton Stuart's law firm. But that's not my biggest problem with listening to the radio.

My biggest problem is that most of the music that radio stations are playing sucks. It just sucks. Country music. Rap music. Pop music. Adult contemporary music. Most of it sucks. I know, I know. I'm critical. They have record deals, I don't. They are getting national air play, I'm not. They actually play with a band, and mine hasn't practiced in months. Nonetheless, as someone who considers himself to be a musician of sorts and wannabe songwriter, I have high expectations and don't have a problem voicing them.

Earlier this year, I started working with a group of four young musicians at our church. They're all four freshmen in high school and quite talented. I've been working with them on leading music for student ministry events. (We covered Beyonce's "Crazy In Love" the other night, but that's not a typical selection. Normally, we're playing songs that would be classified as hymns.) Teaching them how to play certain styles, use dynamics, transition and follow the song leader have not been a problem. In fact, the problem isn't with them at all. The problem is with song selection.

As with other songs on the radio, a lot of songs in the "Christian" genre suck. Many are trite, uncreative and utilize terrible theology. (When I say many, I really mean "most.") When you're a band that spends most of its time leading songs in a church setting, you typically select songs that others have written. In a sense, you're a cover band. But I can't stand to listen to a lot of modern "worship" songs. In this case, its not the music so much as it is the lyrics. I feel like the lyrics should be the most creative and compelling of any song lyrics out there. And I'm having trouble finding songs with such lyrics.

Fee has a new one called "Rise and Sing." David Crowder Band has a new one called "Alleluia, Sing." Delirious has a new one called "My Soul Sings." I like these three. They fit the criteria I'm looking for: they have well-written, engaging lyrics; they are fun to sing; they are great songs overall. But I'm frustrated because I can't find many more. I need help. Please: recommend good songs! Are there new artists out there I don't know about? Are there songs I don't know about?

If you search for "best worship songs 2009," you'll find lists and lists of songs from CD's released this year that include recordings of songs written 2 , 3, even 4 years ago. There's nothing wrong with older stuff. I just don't ever wanna get stuck on them and constantly recycle stuff rather than moving forward. I always wanna be progressive. I want new. I want fun. I want good. I don't want what's good enough to get radio play. I want better than that. To be honest, I think God wants better than that. I know its the struggle of worship pastors and music leaders everywhere to select the right songs--and I'm always concerned about picking good stuff that will click with a younger crowd. So...

Please. Help me. Someone. Recommend good music for a church setting. Please.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Share Time...

Victoria blogged about staying with us in Bowling Green. I thoroughly appreciated the things she had to say, as well as the time she spent with us. You can read her blog here.

Also, I learned a great new joke from Hayden today:

"Knock, knock.
-Who's there?
-Utch who?
Made you sneeze."

I cracked up when he told me this. Brilliant. Go use it on your friends.

Hayden teaches me stuff all the time. Its funny how a 7 year old can do that. I never thought I'd learn some much from this kid I mentor. He taught me that it doesn't matter how many throws it takes to get your disc in the basket in disc golf--the winner is the person who gets it in first. He taught me that the drink Hi-C is not pronounced "high-see," but rather "hick." Today he taught me that there's no such thing as a burger made from buffalo meat. But just in case, he was going to ask his mom because she's a teacher and smarter than me.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spring has sprung, Fall has fell, Winter's here...

And it seems like we missed Fall. It was hot... it was hot... it was hot... then it got cold. There was no transition in temperatures. Just hot, then cold. Sucks.

I ride the bike several days a week; its not too bad since I'm exercising at the same time. But the last time I rode the scooter was July 27th at about 9am. It was sunny and hot right before I ran into the side of that truck that pulled out in front of me. The scooter is in the shop now, and I'll hopefully get it back soon--but by the time I do, I'll have to be all bundled up so as to not freeze my butt off. (Is that literally possible? That's an interesting term. But possible? Eh...) Either way, it'll be nice to have the scooter back.

I settled with the dude who caused my wreck in court a couple of weeks ago. On our first court date, he claimed he wasn't driving and wasn't involved in the accident--he just stopped to help me. The judge read him the police report where he told the officers he pulled out in front of me because he didn't see me. I was baffled and amused at the same time. He requested a lawyer and another court date. On his second court date, he initially turned down a settlement and wanted a jury trial. I couldn't believe it. But after much discussion between the judge and our lawyers, we came to an agreement. Crazy. Couldn't believe he was trying to hold onto his lie until they threatened him with 90 days in jail.

I still can't straighten my arm out and it hurts a lot. We have good insurance and its still stupid expensive to keep going to the orthopedic doctor and physical therapist. At this point, I'd like to start ranting and raving about the necessity of healthcare reform... but I won't... much.

I don't think there's a single person in America who could honestly say "the system does not need reform." We have to have reform of the healthcare system in America. We have to. I still haven't talked to someone from a foreign nation with socialized medicine that had a problem with it or liked the American system better. Specialists will still exist and still be the best and all doctors will still make plenty of money--but why can't we, the richest nation in the world, make sure all its citizens are provided for? I don't know how you people with kids do it. Having insurance is expensive enough, but visits to the doctor and pharmacy can break you. My heart breaks for the people out there who can't afford proper health care and suffer because of it.

Keep changing trees. Keep making your pumpkin spiced beverages. Keep pushing for change.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Future of Faith...

Philip Clayton and Harvey Cox both have new books out and they are taking them out on tour. One of the blog tour stops will be on Homebrewed Christianity's blog, but as you can see below they will be making their rounds over the next month until they wrap things up in Montreal at the American Academy of Religion's annual meeting. There they will be joined by an illustrious panel including Eric Gregory, Bruce Sanguin, Serene Jones, Frank Tupper, and Andrew Sung Park to share a 'Big Idea' for the future of the Church. These 'Big Ideas' will be video-taped and shared, so be on the look out for live footage from the last night of the tour.

Philip's new book is Transforming Christian Theology for Church & Society and Harvey's is The Future of Faith. Both are worth checking out at one of the many tour stops. If you can't wait you can listen to them interview each other.

I'm part of Homebrewed Christianity's blog ring. So they'll send me books for free as long as I read them, promote them, and review them. Its a great deal. I received a copy of Cox's book The Future of Faith. I'll be reading it and blogging my review ASAP. I'm finishing up a Christopher Moore book right now, then its next on my list. There's a bunch of other bloggers doing the same thing. You can check all them out too, if you'd like:

Joseph Weethee , Jonathan Bartlett, The Church Geek, Jacob’s Cafe, Reverend Mommy, Steve Knight, Todd Littleton, Christina Accornero, John David Ryan, LeAnn Gunter Johns, Chase Andre, Matt Moorman, Gideon Addington, Ryan Dueck, Rachel Marszalek, Amy Moffitt, Josh Wallace, Jonathan Dodson, Stephen Barkley, Monty Galloway, Colin McEnroe, Tad DeLay, David Mullens, Kimberly Roth, Tripp Hudgins, Tripp Fuller, Greg Horton, Andrew Tatum, Drew Tatusko, Sam Andress, Susan Barnes, Jared Enyart, Jake Bouma, Eliacin Rosario-Cruz, Blake Huggins, Lance Green, Scott Lenger, Dan Rose, Thomas Turner, Les Chatwin, Joseph Carson, Brian Brandsmeier, J. D. Allen, Greg Bolt, Tim Snyder, Matthew L. Kelley, Carl McLendon, Carter McNeese, David R. Gillespie, Arthur Stewart, Tim Thompson, Joe Bumbulis, Bob Cornwall

This Tour is Sponsored by Transforming Theology DOT org!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


This is post #200 on my blog.


I'm on my third name (the first was "Remembering Titus" and the second was "The Straw Man's Favorite Blog"). I've written about a ton of topics. I've encouraged some good discussion, pissed some people off, and shared a lot of my life and what goes on in my head.

I thoroughly appreciate you reading along and commenting occasionally.

Anyway... I haven't written because I've been debating what to write about. I lost a good friend last weekend. Lee Elias was the first person to ever take me under their wing to mentor me. He made sure I was concerned about two things: loving people and studying Christian Scripture.

He also taught me something else: it was okay to be yourself. Lee was who he was, and that's what made him him. (If that makes sense.) He was a distinct personality, and reveled in that to some degree. I had a friend say last week that Lee "wasn't like the rest of us." I can second that. Its what made me appreciate him. We didn't always see eye to eye, but I always knew he cared about the choices I was making and the things I had to say. His daughter was one of the best friends I had growing up. His life impacted my life a lot in those earlier years of trying to figure out what it meant to follow Jesus.

So here's to Dr Elias. You'll be greatly missed. The best thing I can do to honor your life is to commend the impact you had on countless lives. Thanks for being you.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Conversations like these...

I was talking to a friend on Friday about the institution of church. This person is older than me, smarter than me, and also works at a church--so his insights can be particularly helpful at times. But when he dropped these few sentences, it blew me away:

“That’s the problem with the institution of church sometimes: we lose the imagination of God. People get zombie-fied. They go on auto-pilot. And I don’t want to be a part of that. And I don’t want my kids to see me be a part of that.”

There's a lot of things I could say to go along with that, but I think anything else who ruin the simple beauty of that quote.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen of Kentucky, these are our senators...

Al Franken is proposing a bill that would withhold contracts from defense companies that don't allow their employees to sue over sexual assault, discrimination, and battery in the workplace. Makes sense, right? You can listen to Al explain why in his own words:

Jamie Leigh Jones' story is terrible. In light of tragedies like hers, Al Franken's bill make perfect sense. However, Senator Bunning, Senator McConnell and 28 of their Republican colleagues voted against the bill in order to protect these companies. (You can find the full story and list of those who voted it against it here.)

If you read my blog and you live in Kentucky, then click on this link where you'll find Bunning's and McConnell's phone numbers. Call them. Let them know this is unacceptable. We can't stand by and let our elected officials pull this kind of BS in the name of Kentucky. Thankfully, the bill passed. 10 GOP Senators voted for the bill. But why would 30 vote against it? Why would Bunning and McConnell vote against it? Call them. Ask them.

More on the story from the MinnPost here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The People Speak...

Terry has taken a break from blogging and Facebook. In his absence, I thought I'd post this commentary from Howard Zinn. If you haven't read anything of his yet, stop what you're doing and go buy one of his books.

"People say, “What, are you a dreamer?”

And the answer is, yes, we’re dreamers. We want it all. We want a peaceful world. We want an egalitarian world. We don’t want war. We don’t want capitalism. We want a decent society.

We better hold on to that dream—because if we don’t, we’ll sink closer and closer to this reality that we have, and that we don’t want.

Be wary when you hear about the glories of the market system. The market system is what we’ve had. Let the market decide, they say. The government mustn’t give people free health care; let the market decide.

Which is what the market has been doing—and that’s why we have forty-eight million people without health care. The market has decided that. Leave things to the market, and there are two million people homeless. Leave things to the market, and there are millions and millions of people who can’t pay their rent. Leave things to the market, and there are thirty-five million people who go hungry.

You can’t leave it to the market. If you’re facing an economic crisis like we’re facing now, you can’t do what was done in the past. You can’t pour money into the upper levels of the country—and into the banks and corporations—and hope that it somehow trickles down."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Money, money, money, mo-ney.... MONEY!

I once had a guest speaker in a business class in high school talk to everyone about how ridiculous it is that "the Bible says that money is the root of all evil." Of course, he didn't wanna listen when I told him he had that verse all wrong and he went on about his little speech. But the verse actually says that the "love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." That's an entirely different scenario. Still, money can be a real sore spot in lots of conversations.

I work for a church. My salary is paid by people's tithes (ie, donations). In other words, people who attend Broadway pay me to do what I do. I struggle with that. Its like carrying weight around sometimes. I mean, the economy isn't in the greatest shape ever. I don't make an outrageous salary--in fact, I'm right on the dot for median income for a male in Warren County. I don't have a problem sharing that because I'm not in the position I am to make money. I do it because I love what I get to do. But it still weighs on me that my salary comes from a church budget.

I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with it. At times, though, I feel like I'm perpetuating an unhealthy system. My whole job is to get Broadway involved and active in the local community. I oversee everything from a mentoring/tutoring program to a needs assistance fund, and from a grocery assistance program to a furniture donation program. My whole job is to get people involved in healthy, active ways outside of the four walls of our church. But I question whether or not I need to be paid to do that.

I feel like we've set up a system where we convince people they have to have a pastor, minister, or leader of some kind in the church. Then the responsibility sets on them (pastor, minister, or leader) instead of the church member/attender. I know that's not how everyone feels, but I certainly think there's a large percentage of the average church congregation who feels that way. And that's not how its supposed to be. We are all supposed to carry that responsibility. We are all, as followers of Jesus, supposed to be the ones seeking out "his kingdom come, his will be done, on earth..."

In times like these, when money can be short, I just think we should be about doing the best possible things with our money. The government wastes hundreds of billions of dollars every year--on war, on bailouts, on employee salaries, on God knows what else. People are incredibly critical and analytical about where that money is going--and we should be. (Maybe we should be even more.) Why? Because its our money that the government is spending. Its everyone's money. Its our tax dollars. In the church, its a similar scenario. I would venture to say that there are hundreds of billions of dollars wrapped up in church budgets across our country.

Hundreds of billions.

And we should be concerned with what happens with that money. I have a friend who says that "a budget is a moral document." I can't agree with him more. What we do with our money and resources says a lot about us. I'm not saying that tithing is a bad thing or paying chuch staff is a bad thing or having designated leadership is a bad thing or having structured church is a bad thing. Not at all. I'm just being honest about what goes on in my head at times. I wonder what could be done if there weren't so much overhead involved.

Some people would probably insist that the church as an institution should cease to exist. That it should die. That the American church is way off from what Jesus intended it to be. Those feelings certainly have some merit and I can understand why people would feel that way. There are days when I think we should just burn it all down and start from scratch. But I've been at Broadway for almost 2 years now. I can honestly say that so much good has happened and so much change has occurred because there's been voices encouraging it to happen. If people weren't part of the system to critique it and nail their theses to the front door, would there be any hope? Could the system devolve into a self-perpetuating country club? Aren't the voices demanding change needed? Aren't the things that are hard to hear at times good for us in the long run?

I remember when I first read Shane Claiborne's book "Irressitible Revolution." It changed my life--for lots of reasons. But I was shocked at the end of the book. He had spent a lot of time critiquing the institution of church and talking about the areas in which it was lacking and how we needed to be about pursuing the way of Jesus and not the way of American religion. Yet, at the end of the book, he encourages everyone that is part of the church to remain part of the church and to not leave it out of frustration. I think that I am finally beginning to understand why he made that point. Without the folks who voice their frustrations and concerns, the future of the church would be lost. We need critics. We need people pointing out where we fall short as the church. We need to know where we suck. We need people pushing for change. We need people constantly reminding us of why we're here.

So, at the end of the day, I'm still unsettled about things. I still have questions and concerns about the system I'm very much a part of. But I'm not ready to abandon it. All is not lost. Hope springs eternal. So, for now, I continue to work here and do the best I can. I also seek to be part of the church and not just go to church--the former is much more important to me. I also seek to be an active part of a community of friends who are active in their love for eachother and local community.

This is rambling. Hope it makes some sense. Maybe I just need to type this out at times to confirm that I'm a conflicted human being. I realize there's brokeness and problems within a system. I also realize the potential for beauty and change from that same system.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


So I recently got this done:

I like it. A lot. Its my first real piece. I have others--but nothing like this. It makes me want to cover myself in tattoos--specifically more Japanese art. But until Wes Carter starts doing free tattoos, more will have to wait.

I wrote a couple more posts this week, but want to work on them before I post them. One is on healthcare reform. The other is on the Church/money/paid church staff/etc. Its just been busy, so I haven't given them much time.

Soon! Swears.