Monday, October 31, 2005

Ten Things I Think I Think

1) I think I had a nice surprise today when an old friend from High School, Eric Beecher, stopped by the office. I haven't talked to Eric since just after he got married, many years ago, and over the course of the last eight or nine years, we just lost touch. Today, he met my three sons for the first time. Seems like only yesterday we were watching movies all night in his mother's basement.... as always the lesson is that I'm getting older, every moment.

2) I think that I'm taking the MAT (Millar Analogies Test) tomorrow, pretty much unprepared. You see, a couple of weeks ago, a number of different people had the idea that I probably should start my doctorate soon. While I'm not opposed to it (I had actually told the people in my last church that I was going to start this degree two years ago, but then life interviened), the process for admission has been fast and furious. I've a sense that this is one of those tests you can't study for, but I'm still nervous walking in stone cold to take this thing. We'll see how it goes. Since I'm taking it Toledo, at least I'll get to eat lunch with my brother tomorrow.

3) I think that if you haven't been reading Romans 12 these past few weeks, then you haven't been paying attention to this blog, or what's been going on at Shawnee UMC. Am personally stuck on this verse: "So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marveously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comaparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't."

Seems like from the first day I entered the ministry, I've been pushed by lay people, denomational leaders, and clergy in the church to become an uberleader. Lord knows I've grown immeasurably in this area, but it hasn't come easy. Just goes to show how acute the shortage of competant leadership is in the life of mainline denominations this day. With God's help, I'll keep growing as fast as I can.... I just hope I can make that leap far enough, soon enough.

4) I think that it should be interesting to be a part of the District Transition Team. If you hadn't heard, our conference is in the process of downsizing our bueracracy. We're going from 14 districts to 8, and the staff at the Conference Office in Columbus is shrinking as well. With three districts essentially becoming one, the new district territory will be all of Northwest Ohio, minus Toledo. It'll be difficult for a District Superintendent to wrap their brains around a mass that large, particularly when it comes to new church planning and old church revitalization. I see a lot of opportunity for church planting by the local church (either in the form of free-standing sites or multi-site campuses). Statistically, this approach has a much greater chance for success, and is much cheaper, than new church plants planted by a district committee. We'd really miss the boat if we didn't build this kind of new ministry development into our strategy for reaching those who live in our part of the state.

5) I think that if Mike Brown, as a long-time Bush loyalist and the head of FEMA, doesn't fumble (badly) the evacuation and clean-up of New Orleans, that Harriet Miers becomes a Supreme Court justice. Now, the Republicans are going to have a real dogfight on their hands.

6) I think that if you missed Tom Brokaw's special, "In God We Trust", which focused on the Evangelical movement, and their role in politics, I could give a quick synopsis. A host of evangelical pastors have banded together, under the leadership of some key Republican insiders, and have been using their muscle to push a particular social agenda on Capitol Hill. The group is opposed to gay marriage, abortion, and "activist judges", and have, in turn, put considerable effort and energy in Washington, in their local communities, and from their pulpits to stop what they believe is an overall decline in our nation's moral fiber. The piece tried to help people realize that evangelicals aren't all necessary in lock step on all of these issues, and possess, in fact, a wider agenda that includes things evangelicals traditionally have been silent on as a body (issues of poverty, AIDS, and the environment to name a few). However, in this young pastor's opinion, I think what's really happening is that disillusioned evangelicals like Jim Wallis (he wrote "God's Politics"), Brian McClaren (an environmentalist), and Tony Campolo (a champion of the poor) are influencing their fan base to put pressure on people like James Dobson, the various Evangelical PAC's, and other evangelical leaders to broaden their position. Whether or not that is really happening, beyond writing new planks into the movement's platform remains to be seen. When I see angry 527 ads berate political candidates for ignoring the plight of the world's poor, then I'll believe it.

7) I think that my predictions for the upcoming election include the following: Balyeat and Rovner get elected to Shawnee's School Board (I have no idea who the third elected person will be), Dave Berger serves a fifth term as Mayor of Lima, the Shawnee Police and Lima City School Levies both pass, and a certain write-in candidate for the Lima City School Board gets trounced in what is a resounding rejection of the way he's politicized his children's education for his own personal gain (or, at least that's the way it looks to me).

Oh, and Ned Bushong goes down as having produced two of the finest political commericals in history... as long as "finest" means "hilarious". The new one where Dave Berger's name gets struck down by lightening is almost as good as the one where he rides around a church parking lot on a mini-motorcycle to bluegrass music. Priceless!

8) And speaking of Ned Bushong, I think it's strange that in light of the fact that he's been roasted by an editor of The Lima News two weeks in a row, that there has been no angry replies from any of his supporters. I mean, if my guy gets leveled as someone who hates volunteerism, pursues policy initiatives that will likely halve the population of the city in one year, and has no clear track record of business success, I'd be saying something. Why aren't they?

9) I think that the episode of "Intervention" I watched on A&E last night was the most chilling story I've ever seen on TV. To watch a nineteen year-old girl do heroin, crack, and crystal meth pretty much non-stop over a period of days, and wish that she'll die soon, made my heart sink. I couldn't sleep last night thinking about it. I hope and pray that her willingness to pursue sobriety will result in something very good.

10) I think that if you really like alternative rock music, you'd be well served to check out Switchfoot's new album, "Nothing Is Sound". It really is a great album.

Bonus: To the two of you that took me up on my offer to email me and "make the blog", much thanks. Just so you know, my wife commented on my poor grammar and vocabulary, and the other, Jeff Johnson (an old friend) used his email to agree with Bruce Dickerson that my basketball game is overly physical. Thanks again!

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