Links for 2008-10-01

Things I’ve linked in the past 24 hours:

  • George F. Will – A Vote Against Rashness – "We are waist deep in evasions because one cannot talk sense about the cultural roots of the financial crisis without transgressing this cardinal principle of politics: Never shall be heard a discouraging word about the public.

    Concerning which, a timeless political trope is: Government should budget the way households supposedly do, conforming outlays to income. But the crisis came partly because so many households decided that it would be jolly fun to budget the way government does, hitching outlays to appetites.

    Beneath Americans' perfunctory disapproval of government deficits lurks an inconvenient truth: They enjoy deficits, by which they are charged less than a dollar for a dollar's worth of government. Conservatives participate in this, even though deficits fuel government's growth by obscuring its cost."

    George Will gets it right.

  • Elsewhere in Dreams » Blog Archive » Bullet Points for a Tuesday Evening
  • The Shaman and the Chicken Bones [Topic: Creation and Food] – "These pastors either don't know any better, in which case they cannot be trusted to handle the sacred text of Scripture, or they do know better but are afraid of the coterie of health ladies in the church who are propagating this kind of nonsense, in which case their cowardice disqualifies them."
  • FIRST THINGS: A Journal of Religion, Culture, and Public Life – "This much, I think, is clear: Without an allegiance to beauty, art degenerates into a caricature of itself; it is beauty that animates aesthetic experience, making it so seductive; but aesthetic experience itself degenerates into a kind of fetish or idol if it is held up as an end in itself, untested by the rest of life. "
  • prayers for blowouts » Blog Archive » The 2008 World Series of Worship Leaders

Take me out to the ballgame…

It’s October 1st, which, among other things, means it’s time for the baseball playoffs. This has long been a favorite time of year for me. I love watching baseball, or if a TV isn’t available, listening to it on the radio. And today we get a trifecta, with the meat game of the baseball sandwich being the Chicago Cubs starting a home series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

No sense in me adding to all the blather about the Cubs; just watching Sportscenter this morning they had features on “The Curse” (including the goat, the black cat, etc), the 100-year drought (there have been 4 states added to the USA since the Cubs last won the World Series!), etc, etc. As Lou Piniella said yesterday, the time for talk is done. Now it’s time to play ball. I’m too biased to make any good predictions here, but, as I told Richard on the phone this morning, I’d love to see a Cubs/WhiteSox cross-town World Series… as long as the Cubs win it. 🙂

Go Cubbies!

[Wrigley Field photo by wallyg via Flickr.]

Trying to describe Watership Down

I finished reading Richard Adams’ Watership Down last night and, when adding it to my reading list, found it rather difficult to describe. Figuring that few of you ever look at my reading list, (which is fine,) and knowing that my attempt amused me, I thought I’d post the description here, too.

This is a hard novel to describe, not because it’s nondescript, but because short descriptions would leave out so much. It’s a story about rabbits. Let’s try this on for size: if Tolkien were to have written a story the length of one of the LotR books, and set it in modern day, and narrowed the scope from “save the world” to “find a new place to live” and written it about rabbits instead of hobbits, you might get something like Watership Down. I enjoyed it.

The Coffee Experiment, Day 12

Wow, it’s been a week since I’ve posted an update on The Coffee Experiment. I think it’s really time to stop calling it an experiment, and just call it a new normal part of my everyday life. I’ve consistently been setting the timer to have the coffee brewed for me in the morning, and it’s done a good job at keeping me going through the day. At the moment I’m still working through the bag of Starbucks dark roast that’s been in the freezer. I imagine it’ll take me another few weeks to get through it. After that, I’ll head down to Brewed Awakenings and decide what to try next.

Speaking of Brewed Awakenings, I hung out there for a while on Friday morning and tried a couple different drinks. First, Nate suggested a Don Correllejo, which is a double-shot espresso with Mexican chocolate added. Yummy. After that I had some of their daily light roast, which was also good, even drinking it black. I need a job where I can just spend mornings hanging out down at the coffeehouse. That would rock.

One funny thing I found out when visiting my folks this past weekend: it seems that my mother, a life-long coffee-disdainer, within a day or so of the start of my Coffee Experiment yet having not yet read about it on my blog, took up the coffee habit herself. Sounds like it’s so far, so good for her as well. I think everybody in our family now drinks the stuff.

So, wow. I’m now a coffee drinker. I feel so grown up.

Beginning the church search

After making the decision to leave Imago Christi at the end of the month, we find ourselves in an unfamiliar position: starting the church search. My church history is fairly short and doesn’t include much searching: while growing up we attended a C&MA church, a small Berean church, and then a small Bible church. When I went to college I floated around for my first semester until Becky invited me to her medium-sized Bible church, which we then attended for the next 3.5 years. When we moved to Iowa, we were recommended to a church up here, and after about three weeks of visiting other churches decided to stick there where we had been recommended, at Noelridge. We were at Noelridge for 8.5 years before leaving to plant Imago, and we were at Imago for the better part of a year. So my total church searching experience is a few months of aimless wandering in college and a few weeks after moving to Iowa. That ain’t much.

Church searching has changed a lot since 9 years ago when we were looking around here in Cedar Rapids. Back then your main resources were the yellow pages and the religion section of the newspaper. Today, though, it’s all about the websites. You can find out a lot about a church’s beliefs and ministries with just a few clicks of the mouse. You can even listen to recent sermons. I think I’ll have to be careful not to do too much pre-judging by the websites.

Several things I am anticipating will make this church search tough:

  • Theological pickiness. I don’t expect that I’m gonna agree with everything at any church I attend, (heck, I didn’t at Noelridge or Imago, either), but I’d like it to be close. And I’ll need to have the freedom at a church to hold some views that don’t quite line up and not be ostracized for those. For example: one of the churches we’ve been considering has a rather long excursis in their doctrinal statement concerning the exact sequence of a premillenial end times. I’m OK with them believing that, but I won’t be able to handle it if they’re dogmatic about it.
  • Leadership Expectations. Now, I have no desire to be in leadership again for a while. But I’m going to want to have the pastor and elders of a church I attend be men who enjoy reading and discussing theological topics. I almost feel sorry for the pastor and/or elders who will have the typical so-you’re-interested-in-our-church meeting with me. I have a feeling I’ll have far more questions for them than they will have for me. Bonus points for anybody that’s read any N. T. Wright. 🙂
  • Limited Choices. Now, while some of my friends will step in and suggest a bigger denominational change, I just can’t see us moving to a more mainline denomination, even a conservative branch of one. We’re not gonna end up Catholic, Lutheran, or Methodist, and we don’t even have conservative Anglican or Presbyterian options in Cedar Rapids. Which pretty well leaves us Baptist, Bible, maybe E Free, and, well, not much else. Even in as big a town as Cedar Rapids. 🙁
  • The Struggle for Contentment. I am acknowledging here up front that we may not find someplace that I’m completely happy with. And that will have to be OK. I would dearly love to have Steve McCoy’s church or Joe Thorn‘s church or Rae Whitlock‘s church nearby. I would totally go for an Acts29 church, and would take a very long hard look at one of the new breed of PCA churches. (We have one PCA church here about 30 minutes away, and it appears to be the old, stodgy flavor of the PCA.) But given that those aren’t available, we will have to be content with what we have available here. We’re praying that God will be clear in His leading.

We get a pass this weekend – we’re leaving in a couple of hours to head to Wisconsin to visit my folks. But next weekend we’ll have to bite the bullet, pick one of our options, and give it a try. I’m planning on blogging our adventures, so check back. If you’ve got any thoughts or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments.

moving around

So, it was time for a little blog reorganization. I’d started about a year ago, with the intent of posting more regularly there on topics surrounding the church plant. Well, we’re no longer at the church plant, so that doesn’t really make sense. In addition, my old scheme of having a place where my various family members could blog never really came to fruition, because, well, I seem to be the only inveterate blogger of the bunch.

So, my conclusion: time to move things around. So, with the help of my intrepid hosting provider, those of you visiting or (yes, I know there is still at least one person with a bookmark to that original location… and I won’t name names, but I’m married to her!), you will now be seamlessly routed to the new All the same content, just a new location.

If you notice anything acting weird, let me know.

Finding the right Saturday-night service time

One of our challenges at Imago has been figuring out the right time to hold our Saturday night service. Pick a time to early, and folks find it hard to attend because they’re still wanting to finish their Saturday activities. (Especially during the summer.) Pick a time too late, and you’re running in to evening plans (which is bad if you’re trying to attract college students), dinner schedules, and small children’s bedtimes.

When we started back in January we decided on holding the services from 5:30 – 6:30pm. The reasoning went something like this: it’s early enough that people can eat afterwards, even go out to dinner with someone else from church after the service. It’s early enough that people with small children won’t run into trouble with bedtimes. It’s late enough that people should be able to make it and still have been able to put in a good day of work on Saturday. And really, for the past 7 months, that’s worked pretty well. For our volunteers, it means something more like a 4:30 – 7:00 commitment, but that’s still not awful.

Now we’re approaching fall and we want to add a couple of adult Bible studies on Saturday nights. We’ve tossed around all sorts of service times, from starting earlier (5:00?) with classes afterwards, to having classes first, then the service, to moving everything later… Even though we’re talking about at most a two-and-a-half hour block of time, for some reason it seems a lot more difficult to fit it in on a Saturday night than it would be on a Sunday morning.

Tonight at our core team meeting the elders are going to propose the following schedule:

  • 5:00 – 5:15 prayer for the service
  • 5:30 – 6:30 worship service
  • 6:30 – 7:00 fellowship and snacks
  • 7:00 – 7:50 adult Bible classes

I think it’s probably the best option we’ve got right now. The other challenge is what to do with the kids during the class time given that we’re struggling with having enough manpower to do kids ministries. But we’ve got to do that somehow, to make the opportunity available. We’re trusting that God will provide the workers to teach the kids He brings in.