Wednesday, April 11, 2007


What a week! It is only Wednesday, but I am already wiped out. Easter, by itself, is enough to push anyone to the limit, but add to that a capitol campaign, stuff for the Rotary Run-A-Round, and a death and the week is loonnngggg! I have been invited to a Tiger's game next week, in Detroit of course, but since I haven't taken a day off for 2 weeks, I think I will go.

Someone suggested that I share about the books that I am reading. I will give this a go. I am usually in the midst of 2 or 3 books and I just finished 2 in the last few days. One I was listening to as I walk my dog in the morning, the other I actually read.

I listened to Michael Crichton's newest book: NEXT. If you have never read any of Crichton's books you really are missing out. In his introduction he makes the following statement: "This novel is fiction -- except the parts that aren't." Dan Brown, are you paying attention?

Next is the story of the growing field of genetic research that is taking place in the world. It is told in an engaging way that made me question a number of the assumptions that I have about gene therapy and the way business and universities are engaged in controlling the research and the use of potentially life saving and life altering genes. If you like a good mystery, and at the same time, want to think, Next is a great choice.

During spring break my middle daughter watched a family in the church's four pets (2 dogs, 2 cats), I guess they figured I was needed to help because they left a book for me. Rob Bell is the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Michigan -- his weekly messages are available free as a podcast on ITunes -- a couple of years ago he wrote Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith. This is a powerful book looking at Christianity through new eyes. I appreciated a lot of what he said, even if I wanted to smack him at times. He (like most of us) suffers from a inconsistent belief system. What he says on one page, he will refute on another.

A big part of why he does that has to do, I think, with the problem of language and how we tend to describe God. It is very hard for people who grew up in the church to get away from some of the outdated God language that was drilled into our heads as children. Despite that complaint, I would highly recommend this book.

Bell writes in his introduction:
For many people the word Christian conjures up all sorts of images that
have nothing to do with who Jesus is and how he taught us to live. This must
change. For others, the painting works for their parents, or it provided meaning
when they were growing up, but it is no longer relevant. It doesn't fit. It's
outdated. It doesn't have anything to do say to the world they live in every
day. It's not that there isn't any truth in it or that all the people before
them were misguided or missed the point. It's just that every generation has to
ask the difficult questions of what it means to be a Christian here and now, in
this place, at this time.

And if this difficult work isn't done, where does the painting end

In the basement.

That is exactly why I started this blog --- because I am wrestling with God, and so too are most people who are younger than me. This book is a great introduction to "progressive Christianity," I don't think he goes quite far enough, but if you read it with an open mind, it will get you thinking --- and that is the most important thing that we can do!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Musings

Easter is over, the bunny is off in the flowers, doing what bunnies do, and I sit here thinking about the days just past. Other than all the bunnies, and jelly beans in a store, would anyone know it was Easter. Or maybe more important, would anyone have any idea what this was all about?

Easter is supposedly the most important event in the life of Christianity, it was on Easter that Jesus taught us what life (and death) really is about, and showed us the path to living a kingdom life today. Yet, when you compare the hoopla at Easter with Christmas there is no contest. Easter has become the holiday of spring break and ham, bunnies and colored eggs — and let’s not forget the jelly beans! Jesus and his message seem nowhere to be found.

One of the great experiences that I had was being in Israel for the High Holy days of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana. I knew a little bit about these holidays, but I was shocked by my experience. On Yom Kippur, Israel (at least the Jewish parts) totally shut down. The TV stations all go off the air, stores are closed, cars are not driven. It was amazing to see how serious they took this significant religious festival. Can you imagine that happening here?

On Saturday I needed to run to the store for milk, I figured I should get it today because the store will be closed for Easter. The store I went to was a local grocery store that was originally owed by very strong members of the Dutch community. I was shocked when I saw a sign proclaiming that they would be open Easter Sunday. When I saw the manager I asked him about it — he said that the owners wanted to keep up with the competition. While I expect the national chains to be open, a local store???

What does Easter really mean anyway? What were you doing this past weekend? It is so easy to just go with the flow and let Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter just be like so many other days. Oh well, maybe next year . . .