Archive for May, 2005|Monthly archive page

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2005 at 5:13 pm


for a number of years i believed that substantial training must precede one’s immersion in Christian mission. for this reason, i tried to provide the students and young adults in the ministries that i led with the opportunity to develop the interpretive skills and spiritual disciplines they would need in order to fully participate in the church’s mission of embodied proclamation and compassion. recently a number of things, including the visit of a Haitian missionary to s & s as well as deeper reflection on previous ministry experience, has led me to believe that my assumption (which I think is shared by most Christian education programs and, to a lesser extent, christian institutions of “higher learning”) was at least partially incorrect (if not woefully inept). i am now beginning to realize that the skills and disciplines i sought to teach are more likely to develop in the midst of mission than they are to precede mission. it is the mission of God, not the desire for abstract knowledge or the need to complete a checklist of required qualifications, that compels us to seek His presence through prayer and learn to listen more effectively to His Word. i realize this stuff is probably old hat to many of you, but it has been difficult for me to grasp.

moving forward…

on sunday, june 5 I will be participating in a panel discussion at The Gathering in Salem. the topic for the evening is “pursuing authentic spirituality.” since i am a big believer that “all of us is smarter than any of us,” and somewhat desperate for talking points, i would like to hear what you have to say about this matter. how would you define “authentic spirituality?” what are some of the characteristics of authentic spirituality? how can we contrast “authentic spirituality” with inauthentic and/or hypocritical religious practice? do you question the value of the term authentic in regards to the practice of spirituality? are there any examples of authentic spirituality (i.e., books, music, movies, mentors) that you find particularly intriguing?

if you have any thoughts on this matter, please feel free to post in my comments or email me directly at i already have thought through this matter a bit, so i am not completely void of talking points, but i would really like to hear what you have to say. i would love to hear the perspectives of those who do not profess Christ and would be encouraged to hear from lurkers as well. thanks for your help!


In Uncategorized on May 27, 2005 at 2:55 pm

happy haiku friday!

circle ’round kiddos

learn how to market our Lord

watch out for the whip

In Uncategorized on May 25, 2005 at 7:47 pm

memorandum from captain random

  • in the midst of our afternoon walk, dizzy shit in front of her favorite convent. i was not surprised to find foreign objects in her excrement. foreign objects that i have found thus far: pieces of electrical cord, splinters of wood, remnants of my 180 earmuffs, fragments of richard russo’s nobody’s fool, and tassels from the red and black blanket that becky made us. of all the foreign objects, the tassels are my favorite, since they tend to suspend pieces of her shit and that makes for quite a show.
  • kellie and i watched eternal sunshine of the spotless mind again on sunday night. the more i watch and reflect on this film, the more i appreciate it. i love how the story is able to raise metaphysical questions (i.e., the possibility of determinism, the possibility of providence) without ignoring the blundering beauty of the humanity (note the themes of forgiveness, self-awareness and reconciliation). if our preaching, teaching and creating could evidence such a skillful balance of “vertical” and “horizontal” issues, our communities would undoubtedly benefit.
  • i decided to surprise a friend by buying two tickets to the upcoming folds/wainright tour for his birthday. the tickets set me back $95. i thought the tickets were a bit overpriced at $35, but it was ticketmasters’ $8.50 surcharge per seat that really pissed me off. if folds doesn’t score the second, substantially longer set, i am going to bolt. mark, you know i love you if i am willing not only to deal with rufus and his puffy shirt wearing, poof ass, but also pay for the tickets.
  • warning: the cardinals are not as spectacular as they appear. their pitching has been mediocre and will have to improve if they are going to make a run in october.
  • in better news, gordon edes of the globe reported that the cubs are seriously considering firing dusty baker and replacing him with grady little. this cardinal fan is praying that this will indeed happen and is going to bed with dreams of brock for broglio dancing in his head.
  • from the wtf files: after listening to the order of the phoenix on audiobook and reading the first half of the goblet of fire i have become a harry potter fan. i will undoubtedly buy the next book and cannot wait for the movie version of goblet.
  • i read an article by john macarthur on yesterday that sent me up the wall. i was simply shocked by how much my understanding of salvation and judgment differ from his. if you want to read the article, and try to figure out which parts pissed me off, you can find it here.

In Uncategorized on May 24, 2005 at 4:51 pm


early sunday morning we filled our cylinders with coffee and slowly made our way to the beach. on the way she spoke of her divorce, emphasizing both the causes and consequences in manner that was both concise and heartfelt. after listening to her story for twenty minutes or so i felt compelled to play the pastor by offering advice, suggesting a solution or pointing out the first rays of resolution. fortunately, i resisted the compulsion. instead, i simply noted that it seems to me learning to suffer well is the mark of maturity.

sunday evening, while lazily watching television with the pixie, i walked through the conversation once again. as the frames flew through my mind i thanked God for enabling me to resist my compulsion and openly wondered whether my description of maturity was too simplistic. after thinking about it a bit, i think the latter is true. maturity, it seems to me, is not only marked by the ability to suffer, but is also marked by the ability to appreciate the humor of our upended expectations as well as the ability to snatch a thread of hope out of the hands of despair.

thinking back to the setting of our conversation i was reminded of a scene in the wizard’s tide by uncle freddy. near the end of the novel, the little boy, who serves as the protagonist, and his grandmother are walking along the long island shore. the boy is overwhelmed by the destructive capability of the ocean, its ability to swallow you whole, produce tidal waves that destroy homes and, in an instant, sink ships. while not ignoring the truth of the boy’s thoughts the grandmother tells him that waves of life, terrible and turbulent as they may be, are carrying us towards the shore. surely it takes great faith to believe that the waves of pain and suffering, as well as the more welcome waves of joy and the spray of silliness, are carrying us towards the far shore. but that is the kind of faith i strive for. i hope and pray it is the kind of faith you are striving for as well.

In Uncategorized on May 19, 2005 at 11:53 am

busted balls and broken dreams

they had been waiting for twenty-seven minutes for his father to show up. the afterschool program is over at 6 p.m. on wednesdays, but his father wasn’t there to pick him up. it was not a surprise. daddy had forgotten before.

for the first twelve minutes of their extended time together, the tutor and the boy threw a bouncy ball at each other. the tutor was trying to help the boy develop soft hands so that he would become a better second baseman. the boy was trying to throw the ball in the street in hopes that the tutor would curse, scamper into traffic and perhaps get killed. no such luck. the tutor has soft hands.

at 6.13 p.m. the tutor handed the boy his cell phone and instructed him to call his father. his father immediately answered and said he would arrive in “two seconds.” no problem, the tutor thought, the father only lives three blocks away. so the tutor and the boy went to the front of the parking lot and waited.

and waited. around 6.25 p.m. the father had still failed to materialize and the tutor knew that he was going to be late for dinner with an old friend. this pissed him off. aware of the tension, the boy started to chatter with the tutor. while chattering the boy slung his keys, which were attached to a curly, elastic cord, around his body. “whap” the keys slapped against the boy’s thigh, while he told the tutor how crazy his dad is. “whap” the keys hit the opposite thigh while the boy made fun of the tutor for fretting about his dinner date. “slap,” the keys resounded as they slapped the little boy’s genitals. “ooooh, ah ha ha,” the boy said. “that hurt.” ever the educator, the tutor suggested that in order to protect himself from future damage he might want to stop swinging the keys. but the boy just smiled and continued: “whap, slap, slap, whap, whap, slap, slap.” after smacking himself in the genitals five times the boy doubled over in pain and stopped slinging the keys.

but, by that point, the damage was already done. the boy’s balls were sore, the tutor’s ideals were shattered and they were both far less sanguine about the future of humanity.

In Uncategorized on May 18, 2005 at 2:44 pm


“boys and girls in america have such a sad time together. sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. not courting talk, real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment precious.” ~jack kerouac, on the road

“there is one word in america that says it all, and that one word is, ‘you never know.'” ~joaquin andujar, pitcher and bodhisattva

“all that has been said but multiplies the avenues to what remains to be said.” ~herman melville as quoted by david dark in his superb book the gospel according to america

”you can’t say you never had a doubt, and smoked it down, but really wanted out.” ~ben folds, you to thank

In Uncategorized on May 17, 2005 at 4:47 pm

happy anniversary to me

today is the anniversary of: brown v. board of education, the first gay marriage ceremony performed in the commonwealth of massachusetts and this blog. as i mentioned to kellie only moments ago, the one-year mark provides a good opportunity to reflect upon the good, the bad and the ugly of this blog and to dream a bit about what it could be. here goes…

the good

  • much to my surprise, this blog has been a wonderful instrument of reconciliation. over the past year i have discovered the overwhelming beauty of people i once despised jamie, i’m staring through glassy eyes at you), received forgiveness for past offences (including: smashed worms, studied indifference and unchecked pride) and have regularly been reconnected with people whom i thought had long forgotten me. an illustration of the latter component. a week or so ago i heard from scott ellis, a high school classmate, sublime center fielder, parochial school teacher and all-around good guy. before i heard from scotty i hadn’t spoken to or seen someone from bishop kelley high for eight years. simply hearing his (virtual) voice again reminded me that there is no ground, however badly burned and thoroughly salted, that is completely inhospitable to new life. scott’s email was more than a friendly invitation to a ten-year reunion. it was a sacrament.
  • the process of writing on a daily basis has shown me that i can indeed conjugate a verb, shape a metaphor and deliver a joke. granted, my pronunciation still sucks, but i can use a keyboard to communicate a bit of the goodness, beauty and truth of life to others. because of this another whisper of inadequacy has been silenced and i am beginning to find my “voice.” thanks be to God!
  • related to latter assertion, i have also found the courage to put a few brushback pitches down on paper. this probably seems irrelevant to you, but for someone who is in awe of, and cowers before, the likes of bill james, buster olney and “the commissioner” peter gammons, this is big.
  • the blog has helped me to move from hostility to hospitality. i have found that in the midst of solitude, a practice that is essential to my spiritual life, it is easy to pass judgment on others and establish barriers to community. the blog forces me out of the silence of solitude and into the dialogue of the greater community. the call and response cadence of this dialogue has broadened my understanding of humanity, deepened my compassion for others and driven me back to solitude (where i can continue to become the prayerful, subversive servant that God has called me to be).
  • the blog has also enabled me to continue to communicate with, learn from and serve those who are now a part of the city on a hill diaspora.
  • in the next year i would like to post a few more pictures of our beautiful, quirky little city, my friends and family (including dizzy) and other miscellaneous subjects. of course, this will require purchasing a camera and actually caring it with me…so don’t get your hopes up.

the bad

  • my political posts. i am a hyper-opinionated person with strong political persuasions. thus i was not surprised that political propaganda found its way into my posts. however, i was surprised to discover was how much heat and little light emanated from such posts. at this point i simply do not know how valuable it is for a pastor to engage him or herself in sustained, partisan debate. i am not saying that politics has no part to play in my life, but i do not know how to integrate my perspectives on national affairs with my participation in the ongoing subversion that is the Kingdom of God. i cannot promise that you will never hear my political perspectives on this page again, but i can promise that such posts will be marked by a more measured, provisional and generous tone.
  • my comments. i cannot tell you how many times i have dropped a crass, unloving or ill-considered comment on someone else’s blog. i usually delete these comments as soon as they, in all their published glory, are staring me in the face, but still… over the course of the next year, i want to be as careful about my comments as i am about my posts. as a side note, this lament does not extend to anything i have posted on jon wise’s blog. in those comments i have not attacked the session or impugned anyone’s character. i have simply tried to defend someone i know well and love more than most.
  • too many of my recent posts could be filed under the title of “mental masturbation.” while i think a number of these posts are funny and provocative, they don’t require much creativity or thought on my part. expect, and demand if necessary, more substantial posts from me.

the ugly:

  • the shot of my ass that sat front and center for a day and a half. i’ll admit that it was ugly, but will not apologize.

of course, if you have any reflections on the last year, thoughts about this post, or hopes for the year to come, feel free to share.

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2005 at 3:34 pm

memorandum from captain random

  • every time i hear the twang in john hiatt’s voice i realize that the “ole acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.” i think that my penchant for folk music is simply a sophisticated expression of my boyhood love of country music. that being said, every time i hear someone talk about new country (read: shania twain, rascal flatts and toby keith) i am tempted to throw the country A-K rack out in the street and go work for a virgin megastore.
  • i recently received confirmation from the seminary that they had waived my immunization requirements due to my “stated religious objections.” i never registered an objection, but do have a friend who works in the registration department. it pays to have friends in high places
  • i’ve been reading a church growth book by thom rainer and actually enjoying it. shhh! don’t tell any of my emergent friends.
  • you know you’re getting old when an unexpected office meeting makes you doubt your ability to pay the mortgage.
  • memo to mr. pearass: you know you are loved when Gentry agrees to accompany you to a rufus wainright show. the aforementioned upright, integrous citizen cannot believe he is going to subject himself to such excesses of cruising, camp and cheese.
  • memo to mr. folds: Gentry expects you to make aforementioned evening worthwhile.
  • memo to self: keep saying “aforementioned.” it makes you sound sophisticated
  • that is all. i must now return to the pimp-driven life

please note: the aforementioned post was brought to you by the good folks at LifeWay Christian Stores. the opinions, language and sexual innuendo included within are not endorsed by LifeWay, but are the sole intellectual property of Mr. Gentry.

In Uncategorized on May 12, 2005 at 6:12 pm

thursday afternoon, 2:11 p.m.

heart rent
hands shaking
head spinning
and feet cold

against better instinct
i light up and lean on a crutch

is this what it feels like when you speak?
am i reacting to a screaming conscience or a still, small voice?

i not only need the Holy Spirit.
i also need a new hermeneutic.

In Uncategorized on May 11, 2005 at 1:38 pm

musing about Lk. 4:14-30

the gospel is not merely a proposition we need to believe. it is also a reversal and release that we need to experience. after being immersed in evangelical theology for eight years i can effectively explain, apply and illustrate the truth of substitutionary atonement. however, as the years fly by i am beginning to realize that this proposition is only a door that leads us into a deeper experience of salvation.

i could not believe the gospel if i had not descended through the depths of depression (and the substance abuse, self-loathing and catatonic nights at a 24 hour, hopper inspired diners that accompanied it) only to find the broken Christ at the bottom. it is this Christ, the utterly forsaken, yet full of faith, that led me to believe that the abyss is not the end.

moreover, i suspect that Christ commanded the seventy times seven because he knew that we needed to extend as well as receive the release of the gospel. perhaps it is not until we have proclaimed release to the prisoners of our expectations and unshackled others from their onerous obligations that we can fully enter into the year of the Lord’s favor.

my prayer for you, dear reader, does not differ from my personal petition. i pray that we will fully experience the reversal and release that is offered to us in Jesus Christ. God help us if we settle for a proposition when we can fully experience the year of the Lord’s favor.

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