Archive for May, 2007|Monthly archive page

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2007 at 5:13 pm


have you ever dreamed about having a tryst with ving rhames that is just about to escalate from petting to pounding until you are interrupted by an awkward confluence of thoughts of your wife, the fact that ving loves big momma’s house and the unexpected intrusion of a scroungy, fishnet sporting, man-marry laden friend?

yeah, me neither.


In Uncategorized on May 30, 2007 at 11:43 am

open discussion

due to convoluted circumstances i would rather not discuss preston was not circumcised until this sunday. because preston was already six weeks old by that time neither the urologist nor the snip-the-tip certified nurse practitioner would circumcise him without general anesthesia. since the pix and i were less than enthused about putting our baby under, we searched for circumcision alternatives and eventually found ourselves at the home of a conservative Jewish mohel. for obvious reasons i was worried that the circumcision would be a horrifying experience that i would quickly want to repress. however, almost as soon as we entered the mohel’s home, i realized that this experience was going to be special.

when we arrived one of his mohel’s daughters warmly welcomed us in, served us a drink and invited us to wait in the family’s living room. two sides of the family’s living room were filled with leather bound volumes of the midrash and talmud, there were ornate mezuzahs prominently displayed on every door frame and when the rabbi finally arrived he welcomed us as warmly as he would old friends.

after the rabbi sat my child on his own pillows and circumcised preston with great care he took my baby, bounced him on his shoulder and consoled him with yiddish folk songs. i fear that i am not doing any justice to this experience. it was unique, beautiful and, in a very real sense, peculiar.

in both the torah and the new testament, in passages such as exodus 19:6 and 2 peter 2:9, God demands that his people be a peculiar community. when i sat in the rabbi’s house, received his family’s amazing hospitality and later had the opportunity to speak with him about the way faith shapes both our worlds, i realized that this is a man who has followed this call to peculiarity in a very remarkable way.

over the past couple of days, i’ve reflected on that unique experience and have begun to wonder, what is it that makes followers of Christ a peculiar people? in sum, i am quite curious how living the way of Jesus uniquely enables Christ followers to bless the world and work for the reconciliation of all things.

so maybe you can help me here. what does the peculiar way of Jesus look like? how does this way of Jesus empower us to serve others in unique and beautiful ways like the mohel and his family served my little family on sunday? i’m interested to hear your thoughts and reflections.

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2007 at 2:14 am


in either 2000 or 2001 dr. eugene lowry, the author of the homiletical plot, an essential and blessedly short work on narrative preaching, gave the bebb preaching lectures at soybean bible college in mount pulaski, illinois. although i was unable to attend the lectures because i was in the throes of dating a girl i would later dump at an airport, my good friend mark made the trip out to mount pulaski and returned with tapes of dr. lowry’s lectures.

i think i lost those tapes two moves ago and i don’t really remember much of what lowry had to say. however, i do remember one snippet of a lecture in which he expressed his frustration at teaching young preachers elementary exegesis.* in his frustrated little aside, lowry said something like this:

“when i teach young preachers how to properly exegete a text they are constantly asking me how i determine the ‘solution’ of each story. that, i tell them, is your problem. when you are interpreting the bible you don’t go looking for solutions, you go looking for trouble.”

when i first heard this suggestion from dr. lowry i was a bit troubled. after all, i had long thought that the reason i was being sent out as a sheep among wolves was because i had the solution to sin and all the corruption therein right there in that black, calfskin leather, gold edged new american standard bible. if i couldn’t be prepared to always give a reason for the faith that i had why, i wondered, should i minister at all?

but now i’m a little older and many of the certainties that were once set like steel in my eyes have long since melted into questions. now i look back all those millenia and i see abram as he wondered whether he should leave the only land he knew in order to follow a voice no one else had heard and smirk when i think of that fugitive jacob offering the Lord fidelity as long as the holy one ponied up for the wine, women and song jacob was lusting and looking for the in far country. i also think of Jesus, who ignored the politicians who appeared to hold destiny in their hands and denounced as snakes the religious leaders who ultimately sealed his fate. it is in those moments, when i realize that these men and so many others encountered God in the midst of trouble, i begin to catch on to the edge of dr. lowry’s wisdom.

some of you can, and perhaps have, found God among the certainties of theological systems and the robust strength of your christian traditions. rest assured that i’m glad you stand on such a firm foundation and are sure of things that you cannot see.

as for the rest of you, i hope you can find some measure of hope in dr. lowry’s words. if you can’t find God among the certainties that are oft proclaimed and the songs that have so long been sung go looking for him in the midst of trouble. throughout your life you’ll find plenty of the latter and i suspect that you’ll find He is there.

* which is a five dollar word for interpretation much like lexicon is a five dollar word for dictionary. in case you are wondering the answer is yes, most biblical scholars and theologians really do have a stick up their ass.

In Uncategorized on May 24, 2007 at 5:04 pm

The Name Game
by the Pixie aka the “Dairy Queen”

Yesterday Preston and I made our first trip into Boston via public trans. We discovered a few interesting things along the way that we wanted to share. First, Preston’s African-American name is Jaden. According to a high-school girl on the Red Line, he does not look like a Preston — he’s a Jaden. Second, while waiting to see the doctor we made friends with the other patients. Right next to us were two middle-aged ladies with a little girl. Since most 5-year-olds get into some sort of trouble while waiting, it didn’t take much work to find out the little girl’s name. We have spelled it phonetically because we are scared to type the only spelling we could guess. “Air-ee-oh-la, I told you not to run in here!” Poor girl is going to want to run away from her name some day.

In Uncategorized on May 18, 2007 at 10:15 am

happy haiku friday

three pots of coffee

the return of the fury

waking mystery

In Uncategorized on May 17, 2007 at 4:54 pm

happy birthday to musings!

today is the third anniversary of brown v. board of education, the legalization of gay marriage in massachusetts and musings of a jaded optimist. today i went back and read my first post in this space, which focused on one pastor’s perspective on homosexual marriage, and realized that it was the most high-brow piece i’ve ever written. entropy, i suppose, is a bitch.

anyway, as musings moves into its fourth year i really want to focus more on this being a positive, creative space where i can muse on what’s good, beautiful and true and continue to poke fun at deserving institutions and individuals too. in the month since preston was born i’ve realized that the demands and responsibilities of adulthood can easily subjugate one’s imagination and leave certain dreams on life-support.* for that reason, i’m re-dedicating this space as a wall on which i can graffiti dreams, rants, inappropriate jokes and out-of-the-box ideas that would otherwise fail to see the light of day.

thank you for reading. i don’t write for you, but your continued companionship is most welcome.

* not that i’m bitching about the responsibilities of fatherhood or family. to the contrary, i feel more like myself when i’m with pix and the pres than i do when i am without.

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2007 at 1:42 am

who will be the next evangelical idol?

earlier this morning, as ryan seacrest mentioned at the beginning of our show, the immensely popular evangelical idol jerry falwell was found dead in his office at age 73. throughout the afternoon fellow evangelical idols met with the media to eulogize their old friend and comrade. for his part, billy graham spoke of reverend falwell as “a close personal friend for many years,” adding “we did not always agree on everything, but i knew him to be a man of God.” james dobson of focus on the family spoke similar words of remembrance on a special report from focus that was aired on klove and clear channel’s fish radio stations throughout the country today. moreover, on the same program charles colson, formerly of prison fellowship, promised not only to found a liberty university chair in legal ethics but also donate125 iraqi freedom model M1 rifles to the missouri militia in falwell’s honor.

we* here at musings of a jaded optimist think that the best way to honor reverend falwell’s legacy is not only to remember the good times and the tears he brought to tinky winky’s eyes but to start looking forward to the evangelical leaders who are likely to take his majesty of the moral majority’s place. below we have posted the current vegas line on evangelical leaders who have a fighting chance to become the next evangelical idol. of course this post means nothing without your participation, so don’t forget to vote by dialing 800.4FALWEL or posting your comments below.

rick warren: 2 to 1

pros: he’s got the best selling book since the Bible (which is often regarded as the Bible), pastors a ginormous church in orange county–the new “it” spot–as laguna beach will attest, is attempting to address the AIDS pandemic and is reaching out across political divides.

cons: he’s reaching across political divides, wears hawaiian shirts, his new look is as plastic as barbie’s skipper and he might be susceptible to a kerryesque botox scandal, he has a weird speaking voice and we fear that his willingness to share his platform with mixed race individuals might have a negative effect on our children.

ed young jr.: 3 to 1

he’s from dallas, where 36.2 percent of evangelicals live
, both he and daddy have a big church, brother is a gospel singer, and by all accounts ed has perfect hair, pretty nails, a picturesque smile and popular books.

cons he’s about three tight fitting pastel sweaters away from john eldredge openly wondering whether he is truly “wild at heart.

andy stanley: 4 to 1

pros: lives in atlanta where approximately 34.5 percent of evangelicals live and narcissistic, melodramatic praise music is the apparently the air the people breathe, leads 2 excessively large churches in the atlanta area that are rapidly multiplyin‘ franchises all over the south land and rumor has it that he will receive daddy’s teflon coating upon senior’s death.

cons: height – as one look at billy graham will attest, evangelicals don’t like leaders who fail to measure up to dennis kucinich and there is some fear that andy’s north point christian church will come under intense, negative scrutiny in the summer of 2007 when the southern baptist convention is announcing its new, annual campaign to evangelize and/or verbally accost all congregations that include the title “community in their name.”

rob bell: 10 to 1

pros: graduated from wheaton college just like graham, is a media darling, has defied the odds and his family’s personal safety by planting a gigantic church in grand rapids and is one of the few people who actually looks ten pounds lighter on television.

cons: gets five hundred dollar hair cuts from john edwards‘ stylist, wrote a recent book that suggests that God appreciates sex, has yet to condemn mclaren as heterodox and there are rumors of questionable interactions between live animals and bell on the mars hill stage.

luis palau: 350 to 1

cons: pretty much everything. he’s old, he leads “crusades,” and he’s non-white.
pros: if you pronounce his name incorrectly it’s a hell of a lot of fun. try it on for size louie paloooee. louie paloooee is livin’ it up with stephen baldwin. louie paloooee is preachin’ in kalamazoooe!

dr. jose luis de jesus miranda: 500 to 1

pros: he think’s he’s jesus come back again, he has lots of money, preaches prosperity and great love for many women, has a large following of latinos a growing minority in the country and nobody f*cks with the jesus!

cons: he’s a little soft on abortion and may have obtained his doctorate from the university of phoenix.

okay, those are amazing odds aren’t they? so let’s hear from you our listeners! don’t forget to dial 800.FALWEL or drop your comment below! and be sure to tune in tomorrow night for the next episode of evangelical idol!

* by which i mean me, gentry, and the man predestined to be the 2010 miss church planter of america winner, mr. aaron monts!

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2007 at 4:50 pm


“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” – Eph. 4:11-13

i only remember snippets of my seminary education. some of the snippets are smeared with shit, such as the moment in class during my first week when professor jefferson davis lee told me in no uncertain terms that “we aren’t going to answer questions like yours in this class,” but there are are a few snippets that i still treasure. one of the latter snippets is of the time that professor gary parrott, building on the thesis of r. paul stevensliberating the laity, told us that the heart of christian ministry is building the body up to the head, who is Christ. of course ministry can be viewed through more opaque lenses, parrott admitted at the time, but the irreducible core of serving Jesus is building a community that grows up into the beauty, goodness and truth of Christ.

i must admit that for many years i have thought about building people up into Christ as merely spiritual work. to wit, i tried to teach the whole counsel of scripture by opting for exegetical rather than sound bite sermons or teachings, consistently encouraged people to intellectually acquiesce to traditional Christian doctrine concerning Christ’s death, burial and resurrection and sought to include as many people as i could in the sacraments of baptism and eucharist.

at this point in my a-institutional ministry i still think that the focus of my early work is important, but i also view paul’s imperative to build up the body into Christ in a much more holistic manner. thus, i am almost certain that when i am accompanying individuals who are seeking to enter the world of competitive employment i am operating as much from the center of my calling as i am when i am preaching a sermon, performing a baptism or presiding over communion. in some sense, i even feel more centered in the employment specialist role than i do in the teacher’s seat. in fact, there have been a number of occasions lately when i have been able to almost step outside of myself in the moment and watch myself walking through the workshop at rectangle and grinning from ear to ear as i greet participants, encourage young job seekers to persevere and constantly emphasizing the potential of individuals rather than bemoaning their current reality. in those moments i can hardly recognize my old cynical self and cannot help but wonder whether i am operating more in and with the Spirit in those moments than i am when i participate in almost any other activity or serve in any other role.

i am rambling…i guess what i want to say is this: there are as many diverse and wonderful ways to build communities and individuals up into Christ as there are unique communities and individuals. if we who are members of the church could begin to see our “building up” role in a much more holistic way i have little doubt* that both the church and the very ends of the earth would be so much better for it.

so here’s to hoping for a few more prophets to find their calling in the political systems of the world, where they build nations up into the justice of Christ. let’s send out more educational apostles from our communities who are educated in the finest institutions of the world and dedicated to helping the kids in new orleans sharpen their arithmatic and accompanying sped students in the bronx as they learn life skills. and here’s to the church commissioning more environmental evangelists who call consumers to repent of our unecessary consumption so that we can participate with Christ as he sustains the natural world and celebrate the revelation of God that is barely concealed in every rock, river and tree.

the body of Christ needs to open its eyes. the only limit upon paul’s imperative to build up communities and individuals into the beauty, truth and goodness of the creating and all-sustaining Christ is our imagination. so let’s start building!

* and, for me, that’s saying something.

In Uncategorized on May 12, 2007 at 2:43 pm

mid-morning time waster: create a caption

the writer of the best caption will be awarded one of preston’s yellow and seedy poo dollars. all submissions must be received by 10 p.m. on May 11th, 2007. employees and relatives of musings of a jaded optimist are not eligible to receive prizes. no purchase necessary. void where prohibited.

In Uncategorized on May 12, 2007 at 2:03 am

on unintended consequences
today i had the opportunity to observe a job club* that was facilitated by a colleague that works at rectangle, inc. in melrose, mass. since today’s curriculum focused on perfecting the art of the follow-up call it was unsurprising that my colleague opened the lesson with the following lead: “today we are going to talk about what you should say when you follow-up on a lead, so i thought it would be fun if we began this teaching by discussing what we should not say when placing a follow up call.”

ok, you heard me. what are some things we should never say when we are following up on an application?”

in response to the facilitator’s rather clumsy cajoling the surprisingly diverse group of job seekers responded** in the following manner:

a) “you got my job?!”
b) “um, hi?”
c) “what’s up, my nigga?”

needless to say, the latter comment precipitated a five minute break.

* did you know that in comparison with an individual job seeker job club members are 23% less likely to quit their job search within the first month and 33% more likely to locate a job within three months? did you really give a damn? i didn’t think so.
** i shit you not.

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