Archive for February, 2005|Monthly archive page

In Uncategorized on February 25, 2005 at 12:36 pm

Once again, Pope John Paul II is teaching the world how to suffer. His stated intent is to point people towards the suffering Christ. Eventually, much like Cardinal Bernadin, John Paul will teach us how to die well. Please offer prayers to the Lord on behalf of our brother.


In Uncategorized on February 24, 2005 at 2:44 pm

description of the day: savage nation by michael savage

While foreign terrorists and freedom hating countries are working to destroy American from without, liberal politicians, with their wholehearted faith in pluralism and their insipid “political correctness,” are threatening to destroy her from within. Fortunately, in these dire times, there are a few faithful men who are willing to take a stand. In Savage Nation you will learn how Michael Savage is subverting the liberal media by boldly proclaiming the good news of patriotism, family and traditional American values. This son of immigrants loves his freedom and is willing to launch “savage” attacks on any country, person or ideology that threatens it. This thought provoking, patriotic book is now available for such a low price that you can afford to buy a copy for yourself, your friends and anyone else who needs to be confronted with the truth!

In Uncategorized on February 24, 2005 at 12:56 pm

“where do i begin? where do i venture in?”

a couple of days ago i mentioned that there are a few artists, such as frederick buechner, who I cannot critique and (generally) consider above reproach. these men have found the courage to open a vein, and the infusion of their blood has blessed me with life. for the record, you can add bill mallonee to that list.

on monday afternoon, after a morning of swimming, and damn near drowning, in details, the good doctor and i sped our way towards the hawthorne hotel. after a few moments of wandering around the lobby i found bill, flannel clad and sporting a dingy pair of shit-kickers, at the corner of the bar. although i found him first, i was hesitant to introduce myself. so i went and found the doc, who was just about to go look for him in the parking lot, and made him do the honors. twenty hours later, when bill followed us out of the parking lot, i wondered why i was hesitant to introduce myself. though admittedly introverted, i’m not a particularly shy person. i’ve conversed quite easily with politicians, celebrity pastors and hall of famers in the past. so why was i so hesitant to talk to this little five foot eight fella who was chatting amicably with others at the bar? perhaps a few snapshots of my experience will help answer the question.

within five minutes of meeting bill, we shot past the conversational morass of movies and music and headed straight for the heart. he spoke passionately about his love for his family as well as a pressing conflict back home and i let him peek into a couple of pieces of my internal baggage as well. of course i had already seen bill bleed on album after album, but i was shocked by how open and vulnerable he was in person. bill is not only a confessional songwriter, he is a confessional person who truly believes that “what is most personal, is most universal” and is willing to let other members of the body of Christ bind his wounds. a good friend has told me time and again that honesty is my greatest gift and my greatest weakness. perhaps he’s right. but if honesty is one of my greatest gifts, than i am one greedy bastard, for instead of entrusting my wife, my community and even strangers in hotel bars to hear my honest truth and bind my wounds, i quickly scrawl the truth on an internal memo that is filed in subconscious folder 13. although i will probably never find the strength to sew my heart onto my sleeve, i need to trust those i love to listen to and bind my wounds. i also need listen to and bind the wounds of others. paradoxically, i think that it is only after we take the time to listen to and bind the wounds of others that we find personal healing.

after the show we headed over to the yuppie-ish tavern on the green to have a few drinks and spin a few stories. after everyone migrated from the bar to our table bill and i started to talk about our interests. as mentioned before, buechner rends my heart like no other. as it turns out, the same is true of bill. bill also mentioned that he is in the process of becoming a third order franciscan. this intrigued me since i have long been intrigued by francis and have considered joining the order of ecumenical franciscans (the only order that would accept me) as well. from there our conversation branched out into other authors such as henri nouwen and thomas merton. after bill spoke glowingly of merton i confessed that while i traversed the seven story mountain to the top and loved conjectures of a guilty bystander i often find merton’s journals and other works too dense. instead of providing a hermeneutic for merton or suggesting less complicated titles that a bloke like me could understand, bill admitted that he found merton’s writings on saint john of the cross absolutely impenetrable. after spending so many years at bible college and seminary, where students and, at times, professors, speak passionately about what they have yet to comprehend, argue abstractions that they have yet to particularize and carefully hide any shred of their ignorance, i found such honesty refreshing. i realized that bill not only stretched my understanding, he also was more than willing to identify with and share my ignorance. it was a great comfort to connect with someone who is willing to tolerate and even identify my ignorance. i think it is important to connect with others not only on the basis of what is known, but what is unknown. Lord grant me the humility i needed to tolerate and identify with the ignorance of others. more importantly, give me the courage to bring my ignorance into the light of day.

finally, bill’s willingness to face his own darkness, which in the end is the darkness we all share, and speak hope into despair, is beautiful and a bit overwhelming. somewhere in the new testament paul talks about carrying the death of Christ around in his body everywhere he goes. i think bill has chosen the same road. he has allowed the truth of Christ’s gospel to penetrate his darkness, is being transformed by God’s beautiful truth and is inviting others to join him on the journey. through his music and ministry bill is pleading with us to “go where you will under the sign of the cross.” though he cannot walk our personal via delorosa for us, the intent of his music and ministry is to give us strength for the journey.

in the end, i was hesitant to introduce myself to bill because something within me identified him as a holy man. encounters with holy men and women are always a bit unpredictable and are bound to point you towards change. and so it was.

In Uncategorized on February 19, 2005 at 6:02 pm

listening to life and letting you in on a few secrets

just a few moments ago, while reading andy crouch’s unexpectedly engaging article about jerry b. jenkins, the christian writer’s guild and the calvin festival of faith and writing, a lump arose in my throat and tears filled my eyes. in moments like these, uncle buechner often intones, you are very near to either the truth or something like it. thus, in honor of my physical reaction to this piece of non-fiction, i would like to enter the booth and offer confession. please take a moment to listen.

i confess:

that there are a few authors i cannot critique. indeed, i hold the life and work of these authors so close to my heart that they have gradually become gatekeepers. senior among these are henri nouwen and frederick buechner. i know it would be more pious to give Luke, Paul or the preacher of Ecclesiastes pride of place, but i might as well be honest. years ago, when someone critiqued nouwen’s exegetical approach in professor windham’s senior seminar class, i almost broke into tears. nouwen was the only one who dared to speak into my loneliness. he was also the pastor who taught me that upon the narrow road, the way up is down. finally, uncle henri lead me to L’arche, where, for a moment, my life became a fusion of faith and action. L’Arche was the context wherein i was able to be the Christ-follower i had always wanted to be, and want to be still. Buechner, well, he rends me in ways i cannot describe. in fact, crouch’s mere description of how buechner came “onstage looking like a bemused hound dog” is what brought me to this place. over the past three years i have not had a more trusted guide than uncle freddy. well, that’s not exactly true. there is another. but some cards are meant to be played close to the chest.

on friday i have an interview with the good folks at the beverly bootstraps food pantry. i know, i know, the name sucks, but they are the most influential social service organization in beverly. i have been volunteering with ‘straps for the past two and a half years and have recently been working part-time with them in hopes that that they will be misguided enough to hire me. i am well aware, as my wife has often reminded me, that not everyone has the opportunity to line up their occupation with their vocation. but when that opportunity arises, i think you have to take the chance.

speaking of my vocation, i once expected more clarity in that area. when they taught us in leadership class that we could boil down our life mission to a short sentence or simple paragraph, i took them at their word. but i do so no longer. i am beginning to realize that my vocation is not only more complex than i originally imagined, it is also evolving as i move from age to age. if someone unexpectedly violated my personal space (read: my cube. yes, rhys, i am fulfilling your uncanny foreshadowing) and inquired about my vocation, this is how i might respond (in a stream of consciousness style). “i feel called to: love God and listen carefully to what he says; incarnate Christ’s compassion among the poor; help Christ’s body grow up into its head; sacrificially love my wife; share my story through writing; educate the young; be a trusted companion of the old; follow my Pa Pa’s lead; seek out wisdom and invest it wisely; watch the cardinals win their tenth world series; learn how to listen to and relate with those i love more than others, and those i love less; let my story unfold within the boundaries of beverly; run a marathon; proclaim the promise of reconciliation; read a library full of books; and die well.” i think that’s a good place to start.

that when i’m in a public place, and see someone i know before they see me, i will most likely leave before stopping to say hello or calling attention to my presence.

that you can “take the boy out of the country, but can’t take the country out of the boy.” a couple of times a week, i can still hear oklahoma in my voice.

that i still kind of miss monological, expository, stand behind the pulpit and pound-on-the-wood-for-emphasis preaching.

that i will always love katy more than dizzy (especially since the latter just interrupted me by pissing on the floor). i do love the latter dog, but have never felt compelled to love all friends, family members and animals equally.

that the farther removed i am from my time at soybean bible college, the more i appreciate it.

that i haven’t read a serious theological book in over a year and am completely unrepentant.

that i was once a rabid republican.

that i once had a confederate flag bumper sticker on my car.

that’s enough for now. may you experience Christ’s peace, and receive a good dose of r & r this weekend.

In Uncategorized on February 18, 2005 at 12:32 pm

happy haiku friday!

beautiful and lythe

the snake glides through the short grass

coming to kill you

In Uncategorized on February 17, 2005 at 3:09 pm


last night a group of rain-soaked pilgrims gathered. with hushed tones and downcast eyes we discussed malignant sex and consequences intended and not. with brutal honesty we confessed that both as a band and as individuals we are fucked up. death has danced before our hastily averted eyes. intonations of malice have filled whispers that we chose not to hear. we have sinned by what we have said and, more often, by what we have left unsaid. everything about the gathering bespoke desperation.

then, unexpectedly, the faint scent of the gospel drifted into our midst, minor keys of hope began to be played and rumors of healing were whispered. it was only then that we began to realize that in this context of desperation, wherein sin seems so vivacious, seductive and liberating, we need to stake our lives upon identifying this faint scent, moving in rhythm to these minor keys and, somehow, believing the rumors to be true.

In Uncategorized on February 15, 2005 at 4:38 pm

memorandum from captain random

concerning bill

“she told her friends i’d come to her on some noble steed, ah but it wasn’t anything like that. maybe empty handed and full of need, but at least i’m good for a laugh.” ~bill mallonee, sweetness and light

if you read this blog, or if i comment on yours, you know that i have a deep appreciation for people who are willing to “open a vein” or share their lifeblood with others. bill’s willingness to open a vein has forced me to reckon with the falleness of my being and listen to the God who calls me his beloved. i have little doubt that his music will provoke you as well. if you live in the area, please take the time to come listen to this musical provocateur.

bill mallonee will be playing “the cave” (located in the museum place mall) on february 21 in salem, massachusetts. the show starts at 6:30 pm and the cover is only 3 bucks.

As of now two opening acts are scheduled for 6:30pm Asher Melodic and Elijah Wyman. Bill will begin at 8pm.

A map and driving directions are included below. Hope to see you there!

For Driving Directions to the Museum Place Mall (where “The Cave” is located) click Here

if you have questions about the show, feel free to comment or shoot me an email at

culled from the wreckage of
lately i’ve been working on a project that has required me to spend an inordinate amount of time researching the archives of although i’ve run across a lot of schlock about christians having sex in the kitchen and have seen far too many pieces that are little more than thinly veiled propaganda for the republican party, once in a while i have run across something worth reading. this classic interview with henri nouwen and richard foster is definitely worth a read.

lenten resources
just in case you were confused, the people that were wearing ashes on their forhead last wednesday weren’t trying to make a fashion statement, but were celebrating the beginning of lent. lent is not only a season in which christians not only forego coffee, alcohol and watermelon, it is also a season in which we commit ourselves to diligently reading, reflecting and meditating upon God’s Word. if you find the scriptures difficult to read or are a visual learner, you might find the BrickTestament to be a helpful resource. furthermore, if, due to inordinate amounts of alcohol or midnight movies, you find it difficult to attend the church of your choice, feel free to worship online at the Abston Church of Christ.

in case you were wondering, with the final post I do not intend to be either snide or sacrilegious. rather, the simple intent is to compel laughter.

In Uncategorized on February 14, 2005 at 7:30 pm

not quite what saint valentine had in mind

“i’m a dog and you’re a cat,” she said. what she said was true, on so many levels.

it was the fall of 2000. i had just moved to massachusetts and was, admittedly, on the rebound. over the past two months i had fallen in love with the L’Arche Daybreak Community in Toronto. at L’Arche i learned the spirituality of cleaning toilets, the beauty of clothing the body of Christ and the overwhelming importance of being an incarnation of Christ. while my time at Soybean Bible taught me about my faith, it was my time at L’Arche that empowered me to embody such faith. spending my free time eating borscht and lounging at the beach with a beautiful ukranian woman wasn’t half-bad either.

about a month after i arrived in massachusetts, while i was readjusting to the abstractions of seminary and realizing that long-distance relationships with foreign women weren’t all that plausible, i met another girl. on the surface, she intrigued me. her father was an english professor at a well-known college, she was an aspiring children’s author and she had found a beautiful way to integrate the Jewish faith of her youth with the confessing life that she had embraced as a young adult. as we talked about books, listened to jazz and savored micro-brews at seaside pubs she began to grow on me. in fact, i enjoyed spending time with her so much that i thought it would be interesting to see how she interacted with my family. so, against the advice of a close friend and the limitations of my checking account, i bought her a ticket to tulsa so she could join us for thanksgiving.

by late october i was beginning to suspect that these plans were a mistake, but did not know how to disinvite her. since breaking off the relationship after the trip seemed to be the path of least resistance, it was the one that i chose. so when thanksgiving arrived, we boarded a plane for tulsa, i subtly flirted with the boston university student sitting behind us the whole way there and then cringed when we encountered my family at the arrivals gate. as we made our way home, my prayer was that the weekend would at least be bearable. as it turned out, it was far from.

the first day we were in tulsa, she sat on my father’s lap. now let it be said that my father is not a shy man, he is the type that wears a flashing red rudolph nose into candle-light christmas eve services, moreover, as a long-time elementary school santa claus, he is not unfamiliar with strange people sitting on his lap. however, when a strange yankee that he just met hopped on his lap and called him “daddy jim” you should have seen him squirm. that was strike one.

the second day, while we half-heartedly watched the macy’s parade and prepared for the noon meal, she tried to win over the other woman in my life, my dog Katy, by French kissing her. needless to say, that was a shiver-inducing strike two.

then, on the third day, at my great aunt and uncle’s fiftieth anniversary party no-less, she had not one, nor two but three glasses of champagne. now i have been known to have a drink or two myself, so i had no problem with the drinks. however, after she sat down on my eighteen year old cousin’s lap and tried to answer his unease by saying, “don’t worry, jealous is not a jeff kind of guy,” we had to ban her from the bar from the rest of the evening. steeeeriiiiike three. she was out. i knew it, my family knew it, hell, even kate, the unwitting object of same-sex attraction, knew it. the night before we left, while she was sleeping in the next room, my dad looked at me and said, “the girl?” and i responded immediately. “oh yeah, she’s yesterday’s news.”

to get back to boston we had to connect through o’hare. since we had a little time to kill before our flight, we stopped at the starbucks that is nestled between the k and j terminals and i overpaid for a couple of cups of coffee. as we were sitting around a little two-top and looking out the window at a couple of large men who were fueling a 737 and doing their best to damage passenger’s luggage, i had a stunning realization: airports are a perfect metaphor for transition. this, coupled with the fact that this cat did not want to be leashed to that dog when my feet touched massachusetts soil, led me break it off right there at the starbucks between gates k and j.

as i look back on that relationship i am ashamed that i dated her and abhor the fact that my family and friends incessantly tease me about her to this day. however, i can attest that even this relationship bore good fruit, for it left me with one hell of a story to tell.

happy valentine’s day!

In Uncategorized on February 12, 2005 at 3:59 pm

concerning the integrity of Christian retail

Go chief: From Bibles to Breasts

props to ted olsen of for pointing this one out.

In Uncategorized on February 11, 2005 at 8:01 pm

lyrically speaking

as rob taught us, “the making of a good compilation tape post is a very subtle art.” Unfortunately, subtlety is not my spiritual gift.

“I got things in this suitcase, I’m carryin’.
I got things, some of them you can see.
Yeah and the others, let’s pretend they’re of no consequence.
Yeah i’ve always had this black cloud o’er me.”
~Bill Mallonee, Black Cloud O’er Me

“All these lies are only wishes. I know that I would die if I could come back new.” ~Wilco, Ashes of American Flags

“In a coffee shop in a city
Which is every coffee shop in every city
On a day which is every day
I picked up a magazine
Which is every magazine
Read a story, and then forgot it right away”
~Ani DiFranco, Little Plastic Castle

“But darling, I wish you well
On your way to the wishing well
Swinging off of those gates of hell
But I can tell how hard you’re trying,
Just have that secret hope
Sometimes all we do is cope
Somewhere on the steepest slope there’ll be an endless rope
And nobody crying. “
~Patty Griffin, Nobody Cryin’

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