Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Attempting to Define "Spiritual, but Not Religious"

The phrase has been around for years, but for some reason, I've stumbled across a couple of posts discussing people who define themselves as "spiritual, but not religious" in recent days. I'll let the folks who wrote those posts speak for themselves, but thing that strikes me as I revisit the term is how the definitions of the terms "spiritual" and "religious" seem to be assumed, rather than clearly defined. I suspect that people may be talking at cross-purposes when they set these terms against each other.

Friday, August 26, 2011

GoBots Feature: Scooter

Once upon a time, there was a company named Tonka. By the mid-1980's, they were known mostly for making sturdy, metal, toy trucks, which they had done quite successfully for several decades already by that point. But like many other companies, Tonka sought to expand, and had placed their footprint in a number of other sectors of the toy market. This included a line of transforming robot toys that came to be known as the most serious competitor to Hasbro's Transformers line: the GoBots.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Collection of Good Posts by Other People

CreativeOther bloggers I read regularly do weekly posts where they just share links of other stuff they've found interesting. I'm not yet sure I have the stamina to do that on a reliable schedule, but I think the concept is worth stealing honoring. Here is a list of posts I've been sharing with my friends via Facebook and/or Twitter within the past week or two.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Worship Curmudgeon: Prayers of the People

I'm trying a bit of an experiment here, and it might fall flat on its face. I'm riffing on a theme occasionally used by commentator Frank Deford featuring what he calls "the Sports Curmudgeon." This admittedly grouchy alter-ego gives Deford freedom to make observations on things going on in the realm of his expertise (i.e., sports) that are undeniably sharper and more potentially offensive than he would usually do, in the hopes of achieving a humorous commentary in which legitimate observations may still be found while being over-the-top enough to blunt any actual offense. I don't know whether or not I'll be able to successfully apply this model to the realm of worship, but I'm going to give it a shot. Please bear with me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

More on "Liking" and "Loving"

Love What is ItThe other day, I posted some reflections after having read an interesting article at Christianity Today.  As you may recall, the article ended with these words:
We Christians are called to love people, and as I understand it, this includes loving people who believe differently than we do. I'm not sure how we can love atheists if we don't like them.
Now, these words are in direct contradiction to a mantra I heard quite a bit while I was in college: "You don't have to like someone to love them." I've always taken that mantra as recognizing at least a couple of different realities: 1) We can (and should!) exercise acts of love to people whom we don't know. 2) Perhaps in keeping with the command to "love our enemies," we can (and should!) seek God's best for even those whom we may personally dislike. The words of the Christianity Today article would seem to challenge some of that wisdom.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Learning to Like Others

In this age of Facebook, it's perhaps to be expected that one immediately thinks of "liking" something as being as simple as clicking on the appropriate link when one agrees with something that someone else has said. And, indeed, I've found that I use the Facebook "like" feature much more often as an "I agree" button than to denote any kind of actual affection. Perhaps I've lost sight of what it means to truly "like" something....

Friday, August 12, 2011

Transformers Feature: Rodimus Prime

The climactic scene of Transformers: The Movie features Hot Rod unlocking the power of the Matrix to become a larger, more mature-looking robot: Rodimus Prime, the new leader of the Autobots. The original toy of Rodimus Prime came out in 1986, at about the same time as (perhaps slightly later than) Hot Rod, and is arguably the first Transformers toy ever made that is the same character as a another toy. I say "arguably," not simply because Galvatron (an upgraded form of Megatron) is more or less in the same category, but the fact is that pretty much no one other than me "argues" for anything different. To most fans, it's obvious that Rodimus Prime is, and always has been, a mature version of Hot Rod. There's absolutely no denying the similarity between the toys, nor even the intention that the toys be related.  Such similarity simply doesn't happen by chance.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Transformers Feature: Hot Rod

When writing about the original animated Transformers movie the other day, I mentioned that I actually don't have very many of the original toys that came out of the new characters the movie introduced (although readers of my Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? parody will note that I do have Wheelie). Much of this can be easily explained by the fact that my childhood dollars were limited. Perhaps it's a bit more surprising that I haven't gone back and picked these toys up in my adulthood, although I do of course have updated versions of many of these characters (Titanium Scourge is just one example). As to the original molds, Hasbro and Takara have reissued some of these toys in more recent years, and I do have a couple of these, so I'll take advantage of the anniversary of the movie to feature them today and on Friday, starting with the 2000 Japanese reissue of Hot Rod.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Celebrating The 25th Anniversary of Transformers: The Movie

25 years ago today, I became 12 years old, and to celebrate, my family went to see an opening day presentation of Transformers: The Movie*. For modern-day Transformers fans, it probably comes as a bit of a surprise that the franchise had a theatrical movie many years before the Michael Bay live-action movies started setting box office records. But this was the Transformers movie for my generation of Transformers fans.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Fuller Prayer Garden Update

About four years ago, I suggested that the Fuller Prayer Garden was going to go away soon. As this picture demonstrates, I was wrong. It's still here, and in fact the area around it was landscaped earlier this year to provide additional prayer space. I also commented back then, as well as when my old apartment building (which was just behind the Prayer Garden) was being taken away, that Fuller was intending to use the site for a new worship center/chapel. Those plans are, I think it's safe to say, on hold for now, having been delayed by multiple factors, not the least of which being the financial difficulty that pretty much everyone has been dealing with for years now.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The End of my Ordination Process

What follows is a copy (slightly edited to remove other people's names and identifying characteristics) of the letter I sent earlier this week to the chair of my presbytery's Committee on Preparation for Ministry:

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Pastor Your Pastor Could Preach Like

(For full effect, the following should read in a loud, authoritative voice.  Starting off in a shower optional.)

"Hello, Christians! Look at your pastor, now back to me, now back at your pastor, now back to me. Sadly, your pastor isn’t me, but if your pastor stopped using generic recycled sermons and switched to Sermon-Right, your pastor could preach like me. Look down, back up, where are you? You’re in a pew with the pastor your pastor could preach like. What’s in your hand, back at me. I have it, it’s an offering plate with two wallets full of cash. Look again, the wallets are now in my pocket! Anything is possible when your preacher sounds like Sermon-Right and not a generic. I’m in a pulpit."

(With apologies to the Old Spice folks. Click below for an audio version.)

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