Archive for April, 2007|Monthly archive page

In Uncategorized on April 27, 2007 at 11:48 am


sometimes i suspect that pastoral ministers are not all that different from sin eaters. based upon the very limited research that i have completed, i’ve learned that sin eaters were a group of societal outcasts who took the sins of the dead upon themselves by eating a ritual meal of bread and ale that was either passed over or laid upon a fresh corpse. by eating the bread and drinking the ale the sin eater supposedly set the dead free from a life of roaming and, presumably, set the aggrieved family free from the terror of haunting.

likewise, every day pastors sit beside dying marriages, corroding churches and, worst of all, their devolving selves and somehow find the strength to eat the bread and drink the wine. like the sin eaters of old they then tromp off to their secluded study, prayer closet or take a solitary walk in hopes that the sin they’ve absorbed and the fucked up messes they are now entangled in will somehow be resolved or reconciled in hope that the people involved therein might be renewed or reborn. in sum, pastors decend into the dens of the dead as Jesus did before them and, on their best days, do not venture forth without hope.

as pastors sit beside the dead, devour the bread and sip the cup, is it any wonder that their own lives are often strained to the breaking point? does it not take great faith to wake the dead for a living and constantly endure the darkness in hope of a new day?

time and again i hear people denounce and lament the brokenness of these sin eaters. while i don’t deny either the unfortunate causes or effects of such brokeness, i’m honestly amazed that any endure this dark descent.

so today, as i think about my brother and sister sin eaters and the horrors they endure on account of Christ i tremble. i want to extend more grace and mercy to those who share this horribly beautiful calling. moreover, on my better days, i want to extend this same grace to myself.

i probably shouldn’t write about such matters in such a careless manner. but so it goes.


In Uncategorized on April 25, 2007 at 6:32 pm

somewhere between the losing and the finding

i am as confounded as i am content. i am so deeply grateful to finally have someone who is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone, but terrified that i will not be able to provide for my family. i finally have a job that converges somewhat with my calling, but doesn’t pay the mortgage and only tangentially relates to my greatest strength. i constantly want to proclaim the goodness, beauty and truth of God, but can only rarely find the words. i’m an ex-aspiring theologian who leans towards calvinism yet finds himself whispering to those broken by Christ’s body that people are only christians insofar as they follow Christ.

it’s in moments like these that i envy my Christian brothers and sisters that serve in more traditional settings and cling to a more established branches of theology. these are days when, in an ecclesiological sense, i feel like “throwing the country a through k rack in the middle of the streets and going to work for a virgin mega store.” but here i quake and can do no other.

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2007 at 10:12 pm

well that was one hell of a birthday present! cards 12, cubs 9

last year the cubs swept us on my birthday weekend and my year was one of the worst on record. this year the cards ground out the series to take 2 out of 3 and apu capped off the whole thing by shivving dempster lidge-style. methinks this year will be one to remember.

on another note: little preston sat on my lap throughout the 9th inning and so witnessed daddy striking the wall. welcome to cardinals/cubs little guy!

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2007 at 8:40 pm


We have been beaten in Iraq, despite all our firepower and all our money. And as soon as the last US soldier leaves that hellhole in the desert, the Right is going to start blaming the media and the Left and the anti-war conservatives for causing us to lose Iraq.” – rod dreher on the crunchy cons blog

over the past six months many military hawks have realized that their early support for bush’s bungle is as indefensible as a cultured person’s passion for american idol. upon hearing these confessions a part of me wants to chortle “see i told you so” but a larger part of me feels pity for family and friends who’ve had to stutter forth such statements of repentance.

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2007 at 11:45 am


a little over a month ago sean poirier, a well-known salem witch, died unexpectedly. in the days that followed, pastor phil wyman had the privilege of accompanying sean’s friends and family through this difficult time. in beyond the pall pastor phil reflects on the importance of honoring and celebrating the life of those who may not share our theology or walk the same paths, yet are inescapably bound to us by their own beauty, truth and irreducible humanity. i suspect that sean and phil were brothers and know for certain that both their lives and the city of salem is the better for it.

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2007 at 11:39 am


When a child is born, a father is born. A mother is born too, of course, but at least for her it’s a gradual process. Body and soul, she has nine months to get used to what’s happening. But even for the best-prepared father, it happens all at once. On the other side of the plate-glass window, a nurse is holding up something roughly the size of a loaf of bread for him to see for the first time. Even if he should decide to abandon it forever ten minutes later, the memory will nag him to the grave. He has seen the creation of the world. It is his mark upon it. He has its mark upon him. Both marks are, for better or worse, indelible.” – Frederick Buechner

In Uncategorized on April 19, 2007 at 1:22 am

and a little child shall lead them…

i probably shouldn’t say anything about children of men because it’s a film i have not even begun to absorb. but if you preach, teach or are simply intrigued by the story of moses, the life of christ and/or any number of assorted bodhisattvas you should invest two hours in this film. somehow this film simultaneously reveals the depths the human stain while reminding us to whom the beauty, truth and goodness of God ultimately belong. i could go on about the immaculate imagery of moses in the bulrushes or discuss the cuaron’s implicit condemnation of the “fish.” but instead, just this once, i’m going to revel in a film like i’ve always wanted to revel in the revelation of saint john. namely, by sitting back, letting the imagery slide over me and listening for the whispers that emanate from within.

i realize that the fact that we just welcomed a son into the world might be leading me straight into hyperbole, but i’d have to say that children of men was better than any film i saw in 2006. in my estimation, the producers of the film only made one trifling mistake: they should have released it on december 25th.

In Uncategorized on April 15, 2007 at 3:48 pm

introducing: preston alan james gentry

our son was born on tuesday, april 10th at 4:45 pm. he weighed 8 lbs, measures 21 and 3/4 inches long and has inherited my monkey toes. i’m sure i’ll find more to say about this event, but until then i thought you might enjoy a few of tabitha sherrell’s beautiful pics.

okay i will say one more thing. our friends and family have been a wonderful support during this important time. special props to brooke wilcox for tending to kellie and myself throughout the birth, becky for tending to parents while we were at the hospital and kellie and i’s family for venturing out in order to welcome little preston to the world. also, many thanks to everyone who gave so generously and so ensured that we were well supplied for preston’s arrival.

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2007 at 4:32 pm


last night, while sitting on the couch watching friday night lights, i confessed to brooke that i haven’t had a very holy lent. for the most part i’ve kept my fast and i’ve even spent a little more time in prayer, but in general this has not been a season filled with the honest personal assessments and extended periods of reflection that, for me at least, befit this season of repentance.

instead it has been a season of anxiously awaiting preston’s birth, scrambling to adjust to the interpersonal demands and intermittent political struggles that often characterize my work and learning to invest more fully in my beautiful, pixie of a wife and growing family.

thus, to a very real degree, i do not think that i have extended much effort towards communing and incarnating Christ throughout the past forty days. and yet, and yet, in the midst of a conversation with becky this morning i realized that regardless of my efforts God is in the process of reconnecting me with my own blood by giving me a son, winding the paths of a couple of beloved old friends back towards beverly and investing heavily in the beauty, truth and goodness of our community by bringing miss aubuchon into our midst.

as with jacob before me, even in the midst of my apathy and open rebellion, God continues to give good gifts. i suppose that by this point i shouldn’t be surprised by God’s grace, but i am. moreover, i have a sneaking suspicion that my forty days of failure have led me towards the heart of a truly holy lent.

i am so thankful.

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2007 at 1:30 am

a feeble request…

if you find yourself channel surfing on wednesday nights, please tune in to NBC and turn on to friday night lights. failing that, you can catch up with this amazing series by watching every episode online for free.

listen, i’ll be the first to admit that FNL is not a perfect show. occasionally the plot drivers are inane,* the writers constantly underestimate the way that faith shapes the culture of small southern towns and, as drunken bee over at has noted on a number of occasions, the portrayal of teen life is a tad bit idealized.**

however, the show consistently portrays the beauty and promise that suckers even cynics such as myself into interpersonal relationships, while never flinching from the conflicts and complications that never cease to ensnare. in addition, i think that nbc has done a grave disservice to the show by marketing it as a sports drama when most of the compelling characters are women such as the coach’s wife, who is played to perfection by tami britton, and the hub of the show is the family life of the taylor’s, not the panthers pursuit of the texas state football title. i’m amazed that the legions of folks who bitch and moan about the dearth of family friendly t.v. are constantly tuning in to narcissistic, meaningless drivel like american idol while excellent, critically acclaimed shows like FNL are ignored into extinction.

i know that i’ve beat the FNL drum in this space before, but i’m still convinced that if enough you take a moment to listen to the tune you will eventually fall in line.

on a wholly unrelated note: the cardinals are in the process of getting curbed by the mets again. while i can’t say that i like losing, i must admit that i’m surprised that the MVP3 core of rolen, edmonds and pujols carried the team this far.*** after 2004 i predicted that the team had taken its best shot and was on the road to rebuilding. who knew that after 2004 the team had one very good season and one unexpectedly magical season left in them? so be it.

* like last week’s tragic train wreck that resulted in the football field of dreams.
** i.e., the students are a little too good looking and they party to the sounds of tragically hip indie pop instead of the steve miller band.
*** and by this far i mean the 2006 world series championship. still can’t get over that one.

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