Tuesday, March 29, 2005


I came across quite a quandry in Christology class today. We were discussing some John Calvin and his take on the incarnation. Calvin spent a couple of sections refuting a guy named Osiander who,
  • "asserts that man was created in God's image because he was fashined according to the pattern of the Messian to come, that man might conform to him wome the Father had already determined to clothe with flesh. From this, Osiander infers that if Adam had never fallen from his original and upright condition, Christ would still have become man."

So, the questions I pose to you who are reading are these: Would Christ have still become human if Adam had never fallen? If not, does incarnation become contingent on the fall? Is saving humankind from fallenness all that is accomplished in the incarnation?

Any thoughts would be helpful as I try to work through this.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


As I sat in downtown Decatur today, so many different smells assaulted, no approached my olfactory senses. Smells of food, smells of people, smells of industry, smells of animals, smells of who knows what. What is it about smells that take us back to distinct moments in time.
  • As I was sitting at Java Monkey, I smelled something, a perfume or someone's shampoo, or something that took me back to 305 Centennial Hall, 1995. It just smelled like our room, or the hallway, or something. Ryan, Renee, Colleen, and all the rest of the Towne Hall crowd. 305 Centennial Hall.
  • As I walked to the Decatur square, I smelled a perfume that made my mind conjure up an ex-girlfriend...one that was intoxicating, and who made me think, and who made my head spin. I was transported to 2122 Tugaloo Ave...sitting on the porch being told, "I just can't be anybody's girlfriend right now."...my head spinning with those words while being intoxicated by the perfume or the pheremones, I don't know which. 2122 Tugaloo Ave.
  • At truck stops, the smell of diesel takes me back to the cook truck, getting my snack after a performance with The Cavaliers. Standing there in khaki shorts, with my shirt off, wearing my gears, eating a PBJ or banana pudding or leftover lasagna and enjoying the caucaphony of sounds around me...horns playing melodies, drums playing "licks," flag poles and rifles striking the ground, tour buses pulling out of the parking lot. Ah, the sweet smell of diesel. The parking lot after a show.
  • The musty smell in Tom and Nicole's upstairs that takes me back to Grandpa and Grandma's house...the mustiness of lives lived that house...laughter, tears, secrets, hugs, rants, raves, meals shared...coating the house with layers of life...mustiness.

Anyway, I'm amazed at how smells can take you to a different time and place.

Lenten Discipline

  • I just spent a wonderfully beautiful afternoon in downtown Decatur. The sun is shining, people are outdoors enjoying the weather, and I had a great time. I got some reading done for school and did some people watching as well. Thank God for sunny Saturdays.
  • I don't think I've blogged about my lenten discipline for this year. I decided to give up driving places by myself unless: 1. I was going out of town, or 2. I was on my way to pick someone else up. It's been an interesting lenten season. This has meant walking or riding my bike to school, or getting the occasional ride with a roommate. It has curtailed my random trips to the grocery store, Target, or any other random place I think I need to go at any given moment. For the most part, it's been a good discipline, and one which gave me some time to reflect on the sacrifices we make in relation to the sacrifice of Christ. At times, it's meant that I've been a burden to others, or that I simply didn't go do things I wanted to. It's also meant some creative meals when I realized I was out of groceries and none of my roommates was planning a trip to the grocery store anytime soon. Hopefully it's made me more mindful of those who don't really have a choice in the matter of whether to drive because they don't own a vehicle or have access to one...those who rely on public transportation to get them around a big city like Atlanta. I should probably be more mindful of those folks when I say things like, "I need a new car." Anyway, in less than 24 hours, I'll be back in the Buick. I'm sure the people who have carted me around all lent will be happy.
  • I'm not sure if I've commented yet on my friend Julian Jackman and his involvement with an armed robbery. If so, oh well, I feel like commenting again. I thought of him today as I had my legs extended and resting on a chair on front of me as I sat at Java Monkey. I thought, "Man, if someone fell on my legs right now, they'd snap in two." Then, I thought about the time I broke my friend Cory's leg on the playground at Ridgeway Elementary school in Columbia, MO. He was leaning on a fence, waiting for his turn at four square. I jumped to hit a ball and landed squarely on his leg. He arrived at school the next day with a cast and using crutches. It ends up that I had broken his leg...Utterly ridiculous considering at the time he probably weighed twice as much as I did, and I was total pipsqueak. Thankfully, he didn't hate me (for too long), and our friendship remained intact. As we passed through middle school and high school, Cory became Julian (using his first name instead of his middle name), and we grew apart. He played football, while I hung out with the band and choir kids. There was still a fondness between us, but we definitely didn't hang out on the weekends. Anyway, I hadn't thought about Julian (Cory) for quite awhile until a friend sent me a link to a news story from the Columbia Tribune. It ends up that Julian has been tied to an armed robbery in which the victim ended up dying after being beaten repeatedly. It makes me sad to think that my friend Cory...whose leg I broke in elementary school...who survived an awful car accident in high school...who always seemed so jovial and caring would be involved with something like that. I mean, did he plan the robbery? Did things get out of hand? Was he really there at all? What happened in the ten years since we graduated in our green robes and yellow tassles that would lead Julian to commit a crime of that magnitude? Why is he in jail and I'm about to graduate from seminary? It makes me sad. One day Cory is telling me that he's mad at my Mom because she makes him do his math right (my Mom volunteered as a teacher's aid in elementary school) and the next day Julian is involved in the death of another human being. Anyway, for those of you think to pray for such things, please pray for my friend Julian, and his family, and the family of the victim, and, well, for all of the other Julians out there.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Hosanna to Hallelujah

  • That's right folks...It's Holy Week! This past Sunday I attended church here in Atlanta, and while they gave everyone a palm branch (for Palm Sunday), we never go to wave them! I mean, what is that? The choir processed in with the palm branches hidden lamely beneath their hymnals. I made a couple of attempts to wave mine, but nobody around me seemed to catch on. On the interstate on the way home, we were stuck in traffic, so Lindsey Wade and I rolled down our windows and waved our palms for all our fellow traffic sufferers to see. Not exactly a triumphal entry, but still.
  • The title of this post occured to me yesterday as I was sitting in Christology class. We were talking about Martin Luther's Heidelberg Disputation. At one point, he writes: "Now it is not sufficient for anyone, and it does him no good to recognize God in his glory and majesty, unless he recognizes him in the humility and shame of the cross." In the context of Holy Week, I thought this was interesting material to consider. I mean, isn't that what a majority of Christians in our society do? We show up for church on Palm Sunday, wave our palms (sometimes), cry out Hosanna, Hosanna, and celebrate that Christ has arrived, and then go home for a week, buy a nice new Easter outfit, and then show up on Easter Sunday to cry Hallelujah, Jesus Christ is Risen Today. Somehow, we go from glory to glory, and miss the humility and shame of the cross along the way. Yes, I know that some folks attend Good Friday services or Maundy Thursday services, but definitely not as many as are in church on the bookend Sundays of Holy Week. Why is it that we want to skip over Friday and Saturday? Does it remind us too much of our own brokenness? Are we afraid of what it means for God to die on a cross? Thankfully, Luther, and theologians to follow, remind us that the glory and majesty of God only make sense in light of the humility and shame of the cross. So, my challenge to you and to me is to spend some more time living in between the Hosannas and the Hallelujahs.
  • While I'm thinking about Luther, I thought I'd share another great quote, "Therefore sinners are attractive because they are loved; they are not loved because they are attractive." Yes, that's right, God does not love you because of all the good stuff you do, God does not love you because you go to church every Sunday, God does not love you because you have a pretty face, God does not love you because you give money to charity, God does not even love you because you've brought a thousand people to faith in Jesus Christ. God loves you in spite of all these things. God chooses to love us out of God's great love, and therefore, we are made attractive. We don't get any of the credit...none of it. Isn't that a liberating thought? God loves me, and has freed me from the bondage of sin, so now I'm free to live in relationship and according to God's will.
  • Finally, thanks to all of you who have read my previous posts about the struggle that goes into deciding where I will serve the church in the coming years, and have posted encouraging words/thoughts. I appreciate that.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

It's been awhile...so some people say

  • Alas, I have failed in my effort to blog at least once a week this semester. Please accept my deepest apologies. Life has been way busy, and I've been too busy dealing with my thoughts to type them out...if that makes sense.
  • Since my last post, I have traveled to Nashville, TN to visit Harpeth Presbyterian Church and to Arlington Heights, IL to visit First Presbyterian Church there. Both visits were good...nice people, cool churches. This whole call process thing is so difficult. Just this week, I had to call a church and tell them that I wouldn't be accepting the call they extended me. I mean, I go to these places and meet wonderful people, and in the end, I can only choose to serve one church. In some ways I feel like Pippin in the musical of the same name, when he tries to find himself by experiencing everything. There's a great line near the end of the musical that goes, "...and if I'm never tied to anything, I'll never be free." I know that at some point, I need to make a commitment to a church and really plunge into its community and become a minister for her people. I suppose I'm struggling a bit with the notion of, "what if there's something better just around the corner?" Anyway, for those who care, I'll probably be making the decision in a few days, and I'll be sure to blog as soon as I do.
  • On a related note, thanks to my good friend Lindsey Wade for helping me sort through some of my thoughts with regard to the church I'm leaning toward. Boy, that's an awkward sentence. Oh well, I'm feeling a bit awkward lately. It just feels so hard to sit down and talk about the call process with my fellow students who are looking for similar positions. I feel like I've been pegged as some sort of, "chosen one" by my peers. I mean, I know they're just kidding, but I can sense a seriousness behind the jesting. Am I supppsed to quit being Alan Bancroft? Am I supposed to be sorry for being gregarious? Am I supposed to apologize for being a male in a church that, in some places, still values a male minister over a female minister? It's never my intention to brag about the fact that churches are calling me, but when people ask, I also don't want to lie. Anyway, thanks to Lindsey for not making me feel bad about having options.
  • MARCH MADNESS BABY!!! That's right, it's that time of year again. Even though my bracket usually falls apart in the first round, I love these days of non-stop college basketball. If I didn't have a retreat to lead this Saturday, I would probably sit in front of the TV all day and watch basketball. Good luck to all of you in your office, church, home, and school pools.
  • I think I'm really ready for the sweet, hazy days of summer. You know, those days when it's light until after 9:00...when you can sit out on your front porch and play the guitar after work...when you have hours of daylight to enjoy the world and the people in the world...when you can sit out on decks and porches at bars, drinking and telling funny stories...when there's always a baseball game on TV...when kids are out of school...when it's warm and sunny and wonderful. Yeah, I'm ready for summer.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Napoleon Dynamite

Hey folks...If you like Napoleon Dynamite, you should check out this link of him doing the top ten list for Dave Letterman. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Justice and Mercy

  • I've decided that I need to carry around a little pad of paper to write down all of the, "clever," thoughts I have throughout the day. Usually by the time I sit down to blog, I've forgotten everything.
  • Thanks to those who have posted comments with regard to my thoughts on leadership. It's my hope that I'll spend my life working on my leadership style, but it's kind of cool doing a more intensive look as I prepare to go out into the church.
  • So, the love of God. Hmm...This week the tension between the mercy of God and the judgment/justice of God has popped up in almost every class. It seems to me that we, as Presbyterian seminarians, seem fairly comfortable proclaiming the mercy of God to one another and to the masses, but recoil in fear at the prospect of proclaiming anything as God's justice and/or mercy. We're told that mercy and justice are both aspects of God's love for creation, and that we must hold them both in tension, but yet we're afraid of justice. It might be interesting to chat about whether there's a difference between judgment and justice. In any case, I wonder if we are adequately proclaiming the love of God if we leave out God's desire for justice in the world. What does the justice of God look like? Do we really know what the mercy of God looks like?
  • Yeah, I haven't done too well in my endeavor to greet people with, "Peace be with you," instead of, "How ya doin'?"
  • I have spoke with the tongue of angels...I have held the hand of the devil...It was warm in the night...I was cold as a stone...But I still haven't found what I'm looking for.
  • In chapel this morning I was struck by a couple of verses in Jeremiah: They all deceive their neighbors, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongues to speak lies; they commit iniquity and are too weary to repent. Oppression upon oppression, deceit upon deceit! They refuse to know me, says the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:5-6) What powerful words. That they (we) are so caught up in lying and deceiving, oppressing a being deceitful, that we are too weary even to repent. I wonder if, at the end of the day, I've spent so much time lying to God, myself, and my neighbor that I'm too weary to do anything other than drift into the sweet escape of sleep. It makes me sad to think that this is so. Sometimes I don't think it's so, but sometimes it is. Does our nation, as we bring "freedom" to the world spend it's days lying, deceiving, oppressing, being deceitful, and committing iniquity with such fervor that as the sun sets on our manifest destiny the nation is too weary to repent...to turn around...to seek wholeness in the arms of the one from whom all gifts come?
  • My final thoughts for today come as a rampage on Vanderbilt divinity school. This week, two of my roommates received rejection letters from that place. It makes me wan to drive over there after my interview this weekend and burn it to the ground. Not really burn it to the ground, but at least spit on the grounds or something. My heart is tender for my revivalist preacher roommate Mark. He has stepped out in boldness into a whole new world, and is in danger of being left in the lurch. That sucks.
  • Coming soon: A poem entitled Intoxication.