Wednesday, March 30, 2005
For every season under heaven
A time for breaking in a new pair of flops. A time for driving barefoot, windows down, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” blasting from the car speakers. A time for taking a Greek midterm. A time for cafeteria offerings to inspire not only lunch but also dinner from Subway. A time for working under a tree. A time for running two miles. A time for impromptu football in the lawn. A time for coffee and prayer with a few of my favorite people. A time for wrestling an overcrowded server in vain registering for summer and fall classes

posted by Peter at 1:13 AM
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Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Welcome to the Cruel World
Back to school. Back to sitting waking up at dawn. (That’s when the alarm goes off, anyway.) Back to being swallowed in the over-sized library chair by a book involving pre-WWII German Old Testament theology. And books about United Methodist superintendency. Back to cafeteria meals that leave me thinking, “Maybe I’ll just eat cottage cheese and macaroni salad from the salad bar.” Back to lifting those gray cylinders on a bar until my arms hurt. Back to three-hour Monday night class. Back to the band of brothers to talk about our wounds. Back to staying up later than I should.

posted by Peter at 12:04 AM
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Saturday, March 26, 2005
100 words
Count ‘em. Go on. The words, that is. Should be a hundred of them. No more. No less. In an effort to curb blog stagnation and stimulate creativity, we’re experimenting here. Stole the idea from this site. I wanted to keep this blog to chronicle this journey through the theological academy that I’m on and also to keep in touch. I don’t think I’ve done either well lately. Nouwen says, “Articulate.” On a word count, some days I may make sense to no one but myself. Others, it may make me most clear and concise. We’ll see how this goes.

posted by Peter at 1:15 AM
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Via Chicago
We took the Indiana commuter train from East Chicago to Van Buren into downtown. After wandering down Michigan Ave, fighting the blustery, icy blast of a wind that sliced between the skyscrapers, we ducked down Monroe St, passing under the El, until we discovered Italian Village. The lunch special was tortellini in a cream sauce. After rum cake and shots of coffee we braved the frigid elements once more. Tuesdays are free at the Art Institute of Chicago. Picasso. Matisse. Monet. Kandinsky. My favorite was a Chagal. Later, we saw a man singing I’ll Fly Away at the train station.

posted by Peter at 12:45 AM
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"You are like so freaked out right now"
The first thing I notice about northwestern Indiana is the wind. It blows constantly off Lake Michigan. It whips around you and wraps you like a frigid straightjacket. It bites at your bones. The waiter at Bennigan’s wore a Cubs cap. I took a Sunday nap for the first time in who-knows-how-long. An elderly woman in church, when asked to read Colossians 1:6 instead sincerely read the related life application note instead. I discovered a vinyl LP of Narvel “The Marvel” Felts at Goodwill. “Some believe in Peter Pan; I believe in Narvel Felts,” the dedication on the cover read.

posted by Peter at 12:38 AM
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Mariners preview in verse
So I got invited to write up a preview of the 2005 Seattle Mariners for I felt compelled to spice things up a bit. Here's my contribution.

Opening Day is Monday. Supposedly the game is on ESPN2. Yeah, I'll be watching. Or throwing stuff at the TV for showing me some local alternative like the Reds or Pirates or some other National League crap.

posted by Peter at 12:28 AM
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Oil and water
Linked without commentary...

Leaders call 'Emerging Church Movement' a threat to Gospel

Andrew Jones provides commentary.

posted by Peter at 12:11 AM
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Sunday, March 20, 2005
Bob o' Links
"Communality: An Emerging Church"

Randy Patrick of the local Jessamine Journal writes about Emerging Church by talking with Geoff Maddock of Communality, Alan Creech of Vine & Branches and Pete Matthews of St. Patrick's.

I particularly appreciate Maddock's closing comment:
While Maddock said he loves the emerging church, he isn't hanging his hat on it. Whether it has staying power, he said, remains to be seen. That will depend on whether it can "make disciples" better than the conventional church and eventually become more "multigenerational," he added.

"If it doesn't do those things better," Maddock said, "then maybe we need to move on to whatever God is doing next."


Some words from Paul about Evangelism and Hospitality.


"If Bloggers Wrote the Classics: Genesis 1-3"

Granted, if you don't frequent baseball blogs, you might miss the parody, but still, just read it because it made me laugh out loud.

posted by Peter at 11:10 PM
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Thursday, March 17, 2005
God come to my assistance
Lord, make haste to help me.

Maybe I’m not sleeping right. Maybe I’m not eating right. Maybe I just got slapped upside the head with the regular-scheduled moment of doubt. Just what am I doing here at the seminary? The workload seems to be made of ever-multiplying loaves and fishes. Maybe it’s the fact that Reading Week (i.e., Spring Break) is mere hours away. I’ve been invited to spend the time with a lovely young lady to meet her family in Indiana. Call me crazy, but I’m excited about it.

To you, O Lord, I make my prayer for mercy.

posted by Peter at 12:55 AM
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Tell me if thy name is Love
Excerpts from "Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown" by Charles Wesley, first published in 1742. It is Wesley's interpretation of Matthew Henry's exposition on Genesis 32, where Jacob wrestles with the messenger of YHWH:

What though my shrinking flesh complain
and murmur to contend so long?
I rise superior to my pain:
when I am weak then I am strong,
and when my all of strength shall fail
I shall with the God-man prevail.
My strength is gone, my nature dies,
I sink beneath thy weighty hand,
faint to revive, and fall to rise;
I fall, and yet by faith I stand;
I stand and will not let thee go
till I thy name, thy nature know.

Yield to me now--for I am weak
but confident in self-despair!
Speak to my heart, in blessing speak,
be conquered by my instant prayer;
speak, or thou never hence shalt move,
and tell me if thy name is Love.

posted by Peter at 12:18 AM
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The book says we might be through with the past...
Jeff Ling--a man I call a good friend and who also pastors Clear River Community Church in Centreville, Virginia--is picking through some dirty laundry.

If I told you that in years gone by I ate cheeseburgers with Al Gore at his home (he was wearing leopard pajamas at the time), cursed a blue streak in front of James Dobson, showed dirty album covers to the Secretary of State, and spent a long night on the phone chatting with Frank Zappa; you might not believe it. There's nothing noble or outstanding behind any of it - it was just a place I found myself through a series of events in the early 8Os.

Revjeff and the PMRC Label Wars Pt. 1
Revjeff and the PMRC Label Wars Pt. 2: Beginnings
Revjeff and the PMRC Label Wars Pt. 3: The guitar was from Sears...

posted by Peter at 12:08 AM
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Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Anniversary of sorts
How do we live well in the Kingdom of God when there are so many in it that are so annoying? One year ago today I removed my wedding band for the last time and placed it at the bedside. Silently closed the door. Silently walked away. Silently started the engine. Silently closed the chapter. One year ago today I died and was born again. Resurrection. Spring. New life. My new life. Beauty from ashes. But ashes leave a scar. Can we live well in the Kingdom of God with those who wreck our lives like a hurricane so obliviously?

posted by Peter at 11:20 PM
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I wrote a reflection paper on St. Clement's Epistle to the Corinthians, along with Alan, Matt and Kyle. You can read those here. Four quite varied perspectives on the same topic. Check 'em.

You can read Clement here.

posted by Peter at 11:14 PM
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Wednesday, March 09, 2005
On empty
Ahhh. told me it was 34 degrees. I just got back three hours later and it's supposedly 30 now with a wind chill of 23. I wore my longjohns and hoodie.

It's intramural softball season again. The field was the consistency of mashed potatoes and gravy thanks to a downpour earlier in the week, yet a good time was had by all.


Alan and I spent some time chatting yesterday afternoon in regards to his post on his feeling especially empty this Lent season. My ensuing comment went something along the lines of, "Uh huh. Me, too."

Seriously. I got nothing. Before yesterday, hadn't picked up the lectionary in a week. Our chat then spilled into our VBCC family time later in the evening. And I start to thinking that maybe this is the point. Lent is not the season for victorious allelulias. Lent is not the mountaintop experience. Most important, Lent is not about me and my feeling like I'm getting anything out of it.

How many times have I emerged from a time of worship or prayer or a service asking, "Now, what did I get out of it?" Ugh. Too many times.

Celebrating the seasons of the church calendar is a discipline. I've been regularly lifting weights since the beginning of the semester. Discipline. Some days I hurt. Some days I don't. Some days I feel something. Some days nothing.

Spritual formation requires discipline, and discipline shows no regard whatsoever to emotional response. It moves on and shows it no mercy.

So I'm getting over not feeling anything during Lent.

But here's the weird thing: I left there for Guy's Night, and walking from my car to the eatery, I was in a more tired and cranky mood. That figures.

At least my car didn't get towed. Like Adam's.

posted by Peter at 11:50 PM
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Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Quotable #3
From David L. Thompson's Bible Study That Works:
Before the New Testament was even written, all or part of the Old Testament had already been translated into Greek (the Septuagint) and Aramaic (the Targum). Indeed, the Septuagint had itself undergone multiple revisions prior to the first Christian century. As if this were not enough, the history of the New Testament's textual transmission is even more awesome. One discovers that before a single syllable of the Bible had appeared in early "English" (late seventh century A.D. for sections in Anglo-Saxon), the New Testament had already been translated in whole or in part into Syriac, Latin, Coptic, Ethopic, Armenian, Gothic, Georgian, Nubian, and no doubt other tongues as well.

When one turns from such facts to the claims of any one English version to monopolize the believer's attention, one almost feels a sense of shame at the arrogance, if not ignorance, involved. The designation of any biblical version or revision as the church's best and last attempt to place the Word of God in the language of the people is a travesty on the labors and sacrifice of saints of bygone eras who gave their lives in the desire to communicate. Why you study the Bible in your own dialect? To keep faith with the passion of the church to communicate (98-99).

Just a thought or two to keep in mind for the next sola scriptura, inerrancy, nothing-could-be-closer-to-the-truth discussion.

posted by Peter at 9:58 AM
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Quotable #2
From Brian McLaren's A Generous Orthodoxy, a chapter called "Would Jesus Be a Christian?":
The more one respects Jesus, the more one must be brokenhearted, embarrassed, furious, or some combination thereof when one considers what we Christians have done with Jesus. That's certainly true when it comes to calling Jesus Lord, something we Christians do a lot, often without the foggiest idea of what we mean. Has he become (I shudder to ask this) less our Lord and more our Mascot?

The orthodox Jews have taken the second commandment so literally as to replace the Divine Name (capital L-O-R-D in our English Bibles) and replace it with Ha'shem, that is, The Name. They won't even say His name in private or public worship.

Stephen Prothero has written about our fantacil craze with Jesus in his book American Jesus. Haven't read it just yet. But I just imagine what might happen if we were to grasp even half an inkling of the Jewish reverence for the name of God--of Jesus, the divine made flesh.

posted by Peter at 9:30 AM
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Quotable #1
From Ralph Emerson's "Self-Reliance," (a personal favorite essay of mine):
Prayer that craves a particular commodity, anything less than all good, is vicious. Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view. It is the soliloquy of a beholding and jubilant soul. It is the spirit of God pronouncing his works good. But prayer as a means to effect a private end is meanness and theft. It suppoes dualism and not unity in nature and consciousness. As soon as the man is at one with God, he will not beg. He will then see prayer in all action.

But then, what does a 19th-century, transcendentalist, Unitarian minister have to say me about prayer, right?

posted by Peter at 9:24 AM
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Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Spiderweb: Day 1 (my only day)
All the rage on the seminary campus this week is a game called spiderweb. Today I received a watergun and a card in my mail. On the card was the name of someone else playing that I was to then shoot with the watergun. The game proceeds as I shoot my target, I then assume their target, and so on, until the end of the week or until I am the last one standing.

The game commenced at 6 pm. I was shot dead at 6:28 on my way to class, victim of an overzealous, trigger-happy dormmate.

I blame this as a product of a personal character flaw. Perhaps it's more a character eccentricity. One thing I've learned about myself recently is just how trusting I am. I consistently give people the benefit of the doubt. I inherently look for the best in people. I want to trust that people are good.

And that's just not a productive skill when it comes to the game of Spiderweb. I didn't even get a chance to fill my watergun.


Over the weekend several of us partook of the theater. A group at University of Kentucky had adapted The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis for the stage. I was impressed as that's not easy material to translate to a visual medium.

One scene we ended up chewing on during the ride back home involved a woman (happily content in the bliss of heaven) and what appeared to what was once her husband, a deformed, passive man manipulated by a puppet with severe co-dependency issues. At one point, the man/puppet lets out a pathetic squeal, "What do you mean you don't NEED me anymore?"

So our discussion gravitated towards our own need of people and what that might look like in eternity. The thought escaped someone's lips that perhaps in heaven we won't need people. That wasn't my impression at all. The thought left with me was that in eternity all our needs are filled by God Himself--all of those needs we mistakenly and tragically seek satisfaction for in those unfortunate souls in our immediate vicinity.

The thought left with me is not that in heaven I won't need people or community. It is that, simply, I will not need.

posted by Peter at 12:08 AM
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