Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Nice Swipe

What a funny world we live in. I made a purchase at a department store today, and after I swiped my credit card, I received a flashing message that read, "NICE SWIPE." I thought, "Wow, what a nice, affirming machine." It's good to know that I'm a good credit card swiper. I'd like to know why more stores don't have affirming machines. When I'm done pumping gas, instead of merely asking me if I'd like a receipt, I'd like the pump to say, "You're great at pumping gas." After depositing money at the bank ATM, maybe it could say, "Good job sealing the envelope buddy." OK, so maybe it would get ridiculous after awhile, but I've enjoyed thinking of all the possibilities. I hope everyone is having a good week in between Christmas and New Years.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Merry Christmas to all

Ah, Christmas. It really is a wonderful time. It was great to be at First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, MO for Christmas Eve. I helped out with the 5:30 family service and then just went and enjoyed the 8:00 traditional service. I found myself feeling kind of emotional while singing some of the hymns...memories of Grandpa...hearing the lyrics in new ways...feeling overwhelmed by the thought of God's grace and love manifested in Christ. That third verse of Silent Night was especially powerful for me this year. Love's pure light and all. There may have been some inner realization that this may be the last time for a few years that I'm actually able to worship in my home congregation on Christmas Eve. While I know that the church I'm called to serve will become my new home, there's something special about the place where I spent so many years discovering God and figuring out how to relate to the stories of Scripture. I'm so thankful for having a church home that feels so safe and warm.
Christmas day was good. The Bancroft family opened presents, ate, and relaxed. In the afternoon, we went to visit Grandma. She seemed happy to have the company. I hate it that we're unable to have her over to the house. I'm hoping that we'll be able to work something out so she can attend my ordination. I think she would like that. I think Grandpa would have liked it too. He was such a man of strong faith.
The next couple of weeks I'll be hangin' around Columbia. Flying here was great, but having no car may become more of a headache than I'd thought. I'm so used to coming and going as I please. More than ever, I'm thinking that I should give up driving places alone for Lent. I think that will lend itself to much reflection, especially when I'm walking or riding my bike everywhere. :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Back in the home state

Here I sit in the wonderful Show-me state, awaiting the onslaught of snow and coldness that looks to provide a wonderful white Christmas. Say what you will about the crazy seasons of the midwest, it's pretty great waking up to a land blanketed with snow on Christmas morning.
Last weekend I was in Columbia, SC to hang out with friends. Thanks to Tom and Nicole for letting me stay with them. The casa de Katona really is a great place. It was fun seeing Jennifer, Leigh, Michael, Andrew, Becca, Ellen, Jay, Allison, Tom, Nicole, and all of the Shandon folk. While I love my seminary friends, I really miss spending time with my Cola peeps. I'm definitely gonna be sad if I end far away from them.
On a related note, girls really can be fickle sometimes. I think I'm going to officially quit trying to understand them and just, "live in the tension."
On a totally unrelated note, Napoleon Dynamite came out on DVD today. I bought it, watched it, and fell in love with it all over again. If you haven't seen it, see it...GOSH!!!
I've been listening to a great sermon by John Lynch lately. John Lynch has a website, and I'll add it into this post at some point. Anyway, he talks about the fact that we can't really handle the amazing grace of God, so we invented Santa Claus. That's right...Santa Claus is comin' to town (kind of like a gangster or something). He's keepin' a list of naughty and nice and he's comin' to town. I hope that anybody who might read this will stop to think about that in relation to God. Our's is not a Santa Claus-type God. YHWH isn't comin' to town to remind us of our naughtiness or niceness. Elohim is comin' to earth in the form of a precious little child...a child who will grow in wisdom and stature...a child who shows us what it means to trust God and to be fully human...a child who will grow up and eventually take the weight of the world on his shoulders. In this Advent season, let's dare to believe in a God who is comin' to earth to save us and show us love. Let's dare to believe that God pursues us, even to the ends of our sin, in order to redeem us. Let's dare to trust God and to let God love us unconditionally.
Well, folks, that's enough preaching for now. I've just really enjoyed that sermon and thought I'd share some thoughts. I pray that everyone has a very merry Christmas and a blessed beginning to the new year.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Friends at Sweetwater Posted by Hello

Another semester down

  • That's right seminary fans, the fall semester is over. I have successfully completed all assignments and taken all final exams. The Ethics finals felt pretty good, but we'll see how it turns out. Some of my work here at the end of the semester was a little shaky, but overall, it was a great semester. It feels good to be done for a bit.
  • On Monday night I went to Sweetwater to celebrate Laurie Taylor's Birthday. See the attached pictures above. Fun times were had by all. It really is a great deal. For $5 you get a pint glass to keep and tickets for fine Sweetwater product. Unfortunately I didn't get the Festive before it ran out. Maybe next year . :) Anyway, it was cool to hang out with those folks.
  • Last Thursday I got to spend some time with some Cavalier buddies. It's always good to sit around and talk about the glory days. :) Thanks to Jud, Lance, Neal, Patrick, and of course Courtney for good times.
  • I'm headed home to Columbia, MO for Christmas in a few days. While home, I plan on sleeping and eating alot, while also reading and getting some PIF stuff ready to go. As soon as I meet with the CPM, I'm hoping to circulate to some churches I've been looking at online. Ah, the seductive power of the CLC.
  • I saw Ocean's 12 last night. I liked it. I always leave movies like that wanting to be a thief. They make it seem so fun and exciting. I feel like I'm a pretty smart guy...I mean, I should be able to pull off a heist of some sort. I'm not sure that a felony theft charge would help me as I look for jobs in churches, but it still might be kind of fun. I have a feeling that most of the thieves out there aren't the master thieves portrayed in the movies. Many people who steal have probably run across hard times and don't see any other way of getting what they want and/or need. There's a quite a wide spectrum between Jean Valjean and Danny Ocean.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

CTS Football

  • That's right folks! The paradigm shift bowl at Columbia Theological Seminary was a big success. I made my way back onto the football field for only the third time I've played all semester. That dislocated pinky finger kept me on the DL for awhile and then I just got into the school work. Anyway, yours truly ended up with a defensive touchdown. That's right...I picked off a tipped ball and ran it straight into the endzone (no need to mention that I was only about 10 yards from the end zone when I intercepted it). :) It was a good time. The Elect ended up trouncing the Reprobate 3-0. Fun times in the mud.
  • Last night was the CTS Christmas party. There was an interesting mix of folks. It made me happy that five of us from the entering class of 2001 were representin'. It's definitely been strange to be at school this year without the regular crew. I still walk into class half expecting to see Hardin, Weicher, Dan, Lyndsay, or even Phildo.
  • Tonight I'm going to a dinner party of sorts. Sounds kind of grown up if you ask me. Ashley and Rebekah Lamar are hosting. It'll be a bunch of married people and Carrie Simpson and me. As long as we don't talk about babies too much I'll be happy.
  • This past week was pretty rough. I feel like I've been hanging on for dear life. Of course, I make some bad time management decisions, but in the end, I think spending time with friends is always worth losing some sleep.
  • Well, time to wrap my ornament and get on to the party.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Wrapping up the semester

Again, it's been quite awhile since I've blogged. I have one more week of classes in the fall semester and then a final week (I only have one). This past week was pretty stressful. I turned in a lot of work...probably not my best work of all time, but at least it's done.
Tonight I'm eating dinner with the Shandon Youth PNC. It should be fun to catch up with everybody. I hope they've had a good day of interviewing. I was hoping to show them that there are plenty of capable people out there who aren't named Alan Bancroft. After dinner I'm going to an organ concert...It's a Saturday night, college championship football is on, and I'm going to an organ recital. Funny enough, it sounds great at this point.
My good friends Emily and Noell were in town last night. We went to Brick Store. It was great to hang out with a different crowd for a change. I love to mix it up. I drank a beer there with the words nectar, nut, and brown in the name. It was absolutely fabulous...must go back for more.
I wish I had something wonderful and profound to say, but I haven't been feeling very profound lately. Too many papers I suppose. Anyway, I can at least say I blogged in December.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

I don't know squat

So, I'm back to the blog after a month + hiatus. I went to a meeting of Claiming Justice over at the seminary tonight. We discussed upcoming opportunities for claiming justice in our community and in the nation. We heard from two of the Campbell scholars who are on campus right now talking about a world of religious violence. I was struck by the fact that both speakers, one from Indonesia, and one from Lebanon, said that the Muslim world had interpreted the war in Iraq as a Crusade initiated by our outspoken Christian President. I guess that doesn't surprise me, but it ought to make us think about how the world views us. I'm so tired of the attitude of, "Those people over there are so glad we've come to liberate them and show them the way of freedom and justice." What a bunch of bullshit.
As the second speaker (from Lebanon) was talking, I was reminded of how ignorant I really am when it comes to world politics, especially in the middle east. He was explaining the difference between Shiite and Suni Muslims, which, as it turns out goes back oh, 1400 years or so. Funny (translated as sad) that we think we're going to into that region of the world and fix everything by bringing them our westernized democracy. He also spoke to the damage done by christian missionaries who went to the middle east and basically stole members away from ancient Christian churches that were already present. Anyway, I really should take more time to read world history and understand how current situations have come about around the world.
I just finished reading Reimagining Spiritual Formation by Doug Paggitt. It's an interesting look at a Christian community that he pastors in Minneapolis, MN. His bases most of his stuff on Christians trying to seek the Kingdom of God in the present. I enjoyed most of his ideas, but I'm not sure that I'm ready to reject wholesale the idea that there's some information that's helpful to share with people and that can actually impact faith formation. While Paggitt acknowledges the need to build on the traditions of "the saints," he seems overly reticent to rely on too much tradition. While I understand that he wants to make church relevant to contemporary situations and contemporary people, I wonder if we might recognize that some people walking in the door feel an attachment to some traditions, and that just because something's old, doesn't mean it doesn't speak to the situations and people of today. I thought it was interesting that one of the journals he included was a man who repeatedly voiced his desire to experience some high church from time to time. Of course, this book was better for me as I was able to think about Solomon's Porch was similar or disimilar to my experience in Little Five Points, ATL. It's definitely reminded me of the strong community I felt there and inspired me to go back this Sunday and try to reconnect with some of those folks and maybe get more involved in the community there. This may be one of my only opportunities to experience this emergent church stuff when financial/life risks are at a minimum. Boy, that sounds shallow, but it makes sense in my head.
Finally, as I think more about Claiming Justice, I wonder if a bunch of white, middle-upper class seminarians sitting in an excluded room of Richards Center is really what Kingdom building is all about. I wonder how many people in the room get involved beyond marches and on campus vigils. Are we really doing any good by sitting around and talking about it, especially with those who think like we do? I wonder about folks who pass up volunteer opportunities because it just doesn't fit into their schedule, or because it messes up their sleep patterns for too many days. I mean, I'm not saying that I'm much better, but it just strikes me as funny that we sit around reading books about empire and the principalities and powers while we are basically part of the empire, principalities, and powers. There's a tension there I'm struggling to resolve.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Labor Day 2004

Last night I attended Mosaic here in Atlanta for the second time. It was a different experience this time. No hearing the word read aloud. They're doing a series on heroes of the Bible and started off with Job. Such a tough book to tackle all in one night. The basic premise given by the speaker was that the whole thing was a test for Job and that he had to endure the test to prove himself...or at least that's a quick summary of it. I was particularly bothered by the speaker's notion that all bad things that happen to us and to others are tests from God...tests to show how strong our faith is or how we will handle adversity. I don't buy that. I think that awful things happen in the world and there's no good explanation, and that God has nothing to do with them. So much is a consequence of God's decision to give us choice...choice that leads to a sinful, broken world. Unfortunately we didn't really hear much about grace in the talk last night. Plus, God's words/questions from the whirlwind were interpreted as a sort of rebuke. I don't read them that way. The language is so beautiful and lovely and articulate. I hear grace and love in those words...grace and love from the creator of all things...from the God who seeks relationship with us.
All of that being said, I was again impressed with the warm welcome we received. The community there is definitely strong...great fellowship. We invited those present to go to dinner across the street afterward. Many of them came and dined with us. It was a great eucharistic moment. I think we may have branched out and found a new subset of friends to spend time with occasionally. All in all, I fell very welcomed by this community. In the long run, I wonder if theological differences might cause me to move in different directions, but for now I'm enjoying the experience of emergent church.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

RNC Initial observations

So, the Republican National Convention has begun...great. I just watched Arnold's speech...not so great. He was telling me that if I think certain things I'm a Republican. My favorite was, "If you think this nation, not the United Nations is the only hope for democracy (or freedom), then you're a Republican." Awesome...who needs the UN? We ought to get rid of it...just like the League of Nations. Somehow I'm reminded of Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars wanting to do away with The Republic. Sad...just sad.

On Sunday I caught President Clinton giving remarks at Riverside Church in New York City. He gave a compelling argument against the religious right. He basically said that one doesn't have to think like them to claim God's promise on one's life...Awesome! You can find a webfeed and/or pdf version of the speech at: Check it out if you feel so compelled.

Free Ipod

If anybody wants to try and get a free ipod (and actually help me get one too), check out the following link:

This is how the deal works:
1. You click on the above link
2. Sign up and fulfill one of the online offers
3. THIS IS THE BIG CATCH-You refer five people who, in turn, have to fulfill one of the online requirements
4. After five people fulfill an online offer from your referral you receive a free 20 GB ipod.

I'd love anyone's help, but I wanted to make sure everything was clear up front. If you're looking for a cheap way to fulfill the online offers, the miracle burn trial is only $5.95, the video professor trial is only $6.95, and the ebay credit card is free.


Chillin' in Decatur

Just getting started with this blog thing...saw my roommate's thought it was cool. About to start my third and finaly year at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. I'm excited about getting back into the school routine, although this week plus of doing nothing has been great.