Saturday, December 24, 2005
Behold, the Great Show of Imagination
It would appear the interweb thingy has finally made its appearance in Mississippi. It's the only logical conclusion I can find as to why it took Jason so long to finally start a blog. And he's all in the Christmas spirit, too:
I believe Christmas is a time to celebrate the greatest show of imagination the world has ever seen--God becoming man, or even more--God becoming infant. Reindeer, elves, snowmen, and a jolly old man delivering presents every year make for a pretty good story, but compared to the story of Jesus, I think it is like comparing The Davinci Code to The Odyssey or to the other great epics...

The problem is that the great story has become common, and the story that is somewhat common is now seen as imaginative. I hear as many songs about jingle bells and winter wonderlands as I do about the wonder of God incarnate. Where is our imagination?

Now as you all find yourselves amidst the consummation of the Advent season, may the presence of the incarnate Son of God, Emmanuel, be right with you.

Because that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

posted by Peter at 12:49 PM
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Friday, December 23, 2005
Christmas mix
Tomorrow morning bright and early I make the 12-hour trek to Tulsa. So you know what that means, don't you? It's time to make a Christmas mix for the roadtrip.

I'm pretty strict about Christmas music. Only after Thanksgiving. And not a day after Christmas. My taste is pretty scattered across the map, too. I prefer the nostalgic stuff. None of this contemporary pop stuff. Actually, Christmas music for me is pretty much stuck in the late 70s.

I grew up with a mix tape my dad had made from his records - Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, the Carpenters. Now, if I could just find "Come On, Ring Those Bells" by Evie Karlsson on mp3...

1. Hallelujah Chorus by Johnny Mathis
2. Joy to the World by Bing Crosby
3. Hark the Herald Angels Sing by Nat King Cole
4. O Come All Ye Faithful by Frank Sinatra
5. Carol of the Bells by the Carpenters
6. O Holy Night by Nat King Cole
7. I Heard the Bells on Christmas by Pedro the Lion
8. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel by Sufjan Stevens
9. Anthem for Christmas by Michael W. Smith
10. Sleigh Ride by the Carpenters
11. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Billy May & His Orchestra
12. The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole
13. The Christmas Waltz by the Carpenters
14. Jingle Bells Cha-Cha-Cha by Pearl Bailey
15. Blue Christmas by Johnny Cash
16. A Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives
17. White Christmas by Bing Crosby
18. Winter Wonderland by Johnny Mathis
19. The Friendly Beasts by Sufjan Stevens
20. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Jars of Clay
21. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! by Johnny Mathis
22. What Child Is This, Anyway? by Sufjan Stevens
23. Adeste Fideles by Nat King Cole
24. Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella by Sufjan Stevens
25. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (except you, Kyle) by Judy Garland
26. Christmas Time Is Here by Belle & Sebastian

I had the pleasure this evening of sharing pita crackers and chicken curry cooked by Alan with Kyle looking like a wide-eyed culinary Padawan. A good evening of theological chitchat and compline prayer was had by all. Except for Conor, who occasionally interject, "You guys are weird."

posted by Peter at 12:25 AM
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Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Advent: Day #25
This week's Advent reflection, Conceive:
Imagine the coming of Messiah. Break out of cynicism and pessimism. Challenge yourself and others with the presumption that God is acting and that creation is being drawn into redemption. Conceive of a love as genuine, as tangible, and as pervasive as the struggle which we more readily perceive. Let that conception be birthed in your actions.

This is the stuff of faith.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
In Ancient times onces gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee,
O Israel.

O ADONAI and Leader of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flames of the bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come, and with your outstretched arm redeem us.

(stanza and antiphon 2 of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel", 9th cent. Latin, #211 in the United Methodist Hymnal)

posted by Peter at 10:58 AM
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Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Yeah for books
When I was 9 years old, I catalogued every baseball card I owned in an Appleworks database on my Dad's Apple IIc. I was a weird kid.

So I am more than little grateful that my obsessive-compulsive-inner-child did not discover until after finals were finished. Lord knows I would not have accomplished much last week.

Check it out, you can catalogue your entire library!

I've started. It'll take awhile. You can see my collection here, though so far it's just the stuff that was sitting on the shelf right in front of me on my desk - mostly the recent seminary geeky stuff.

I really am still a weird kid.

posted by Peter at 3:18 PM
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Friday, December 16, 2005
Birthdays and such

My birthday was this past week. Last weekend some friends took me up the road to Teak Thai in Cincinnati. They bought me raw fishies. It was delicious. A good time was had by all.

So in honor of my birthday, I have a present for you all: live music. And lots of it.

Sufjan Stevens @ the Bluebird Theater in Denver, CO 7.30.05
Iron & Wine with Calexico @ the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC 11.30.05
John Vanderslice @ the Independent in San Francisco, CA 11.5.05

As Courtney, the photographer of the above photographs, might say: Yummy goodness!

posted by Peter at 3:35 PM
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Monday, December 05, 2005
Advent Week #2: You're Welcome
Clinton of Communality on this week's Advent theme of "welcome":
Welcoming the Advent means welcoming not only Messiah come to us, but also welcoming Messiah come through us. We welcome as God has welcomed.... graciously, eagerly, lavishly, expectantly. This week of Advent, open yourself up and invite the "other" in. You may find you are hosting Jesus; you may find that Jesus is hosting you.

O come, thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And cause us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O WISDOM, who came forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end, and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: Come, and teach us the way of prudence.

(stanza and antiphon 2 of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel", 9th cent. Latin, #211 in the United Methodist Hymnal)

posted by Peter at 11:52 PM
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Friday, December 02, 2005
Advent: Day 6
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee,
O Israel.

O EMMANUEL, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of the nations and their Savior: Come and save us, O Lord, our God.

(stanza and antiphon 1 of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel", 9th cent. Latin, #211 in the United Methodist Hymnal)

posted by Peter at 12:49 AM
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I passed my interview on Tuesday in a relatively painless process. The Jedi council approved of me. I am now a certified candidate for ordained ministry in the United Methodist church, meaning I have passed through the preliminary stage of a very long and laborious process. Now I spend the next two weeks spending my attention on preparing a half-hour presentation on weapons and warfare in the Old Testament (fun stuff) and a 12-page paper defending my own theological method (not so much fun stuff).

I've acquired an Advent calendar from the good folks of Communality. The theme this week is "Awakening." Their community is blogging their Advent experience together. Here's a sampling:
This week we focus on our need for awakening- to sin, heartache, injustice, suffering. This awakening can allow us to experience more fully the yearning for the coming of a Messiah. This week we can also pray that we can be awakened to Hope- in God's story, His promises, and the coming of His Son...

Perhaps these stories may help us to see the ways that God may be trying to awaken us. Let us pray that we may be faithful and obedient, trusting in God's mercy and grace, as we yearn for the coming of the Messiah this advent season.

And also:
And it is in this sense more than in any other that we know that it is not a false, illusory, or deluded hope. We are able to rejoice in an event that caused such immense heartbreak and hardship to so many, precisely because we know that in God's economy death has indeed become the very way to life...

God has given us a gift so precious that its worth dying to possess it; and this is what truly makes life worth the living. So, as we celebrate advent season this year, we would do well to remember all those people who pursued a purpose driven death so that we might be able to know the deeper mysteries of God's love and the purpose of our live's in this world.

Not to be a downer or anything, but lately, amidst the joyous festivities of the Christmas season, I've been reflecting on the great pain and suffering that coincided with the birth of Jesus.

At the birth of Jesus, an untold number of new mothers watched their infant sons slaughtered by Roman soldiers.

At the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary become outlaws and refugees, cut off from family and everything familiar.

This is the way Messiah comes--in violent disruption.

It's not exactly the marshmallow world Wal-Mart, or even the local Christian bookstore, would like to sell us this month.

And so in this season of festive lights, sugar cookies and sentimental music, Christ have mercy on those who have no home, those who are oppressed and those who have no voice.

posted by Peter at 12:23 AM
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