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So I’m on vacation.  And that picture you see above is the same window I have been looking out of every morning as I read and write.  There are times that I have just sat there and listened to music, not worring about what I needed to do next or the next day.  No meetings to prep for or phone calls to take.  Nothing.  What a vacation is supposed to be like.  Which explains why this blog has been a ghost town.  I have another week before I head back to the valley..  I hope to post more then.  I am going to try and post at least three times a week.  That sounds so easy from this side, but it becomes much more difficult. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

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Freakonomics For my birthday one of my friends gave me the book Freakonomics with a subtitle that reads “A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.”  If you think the subtitle promises more than it can actually achieve you would be fooled.  I am halfway through book and this book it quite literally, about ‘everything’.  At the very least, everything you never thought of which happens to be the hidden side of everything.  I have discovered what the hidden side of everything is and it is not whaty you might think.  And I am not inclined to tell you.  It is a journey you must take on your own.

For the last several months every time I have been in a book store I have seen this book on the shelf but I was never compelled to buy it, thinking I had other more important books to read before I read one for “mere pleasure”.  However, since it was a gift I  felt obliged to read it, that, combined with the need for light reading on a plane (I found that I can’t concentrate on a plane so light reading is best, especially with the take off – it does something to my head).  I have had a difficult time putting this book down.  Levitt and Dubner(the writers of this book one is an economist the other a writer) make compelling cases for what school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common.  Yeah, exactly what I thought, “How could two men talk about everything?”  You will just have to read the book see for yourself.

The following line is what sold me.  “If morality represents the way  we would like the world to work and economics represents how it actually does work, then the sotry of Feldman’s bagel business lies at the very intersection of morality and economics.” (pg 46) As a pastor it is my responsibility to bridge our understanding of the way things should be and how things really are.  I strongly recommend this book.  It is insightful, thought provoking and extremely well written and reasoned.  Everyone needs to read this book if for nothing else because it will force you think beyond what you are used to.

576.152.https%3A%2F%2Felc.netadventist.org%2Flocal%2Feditor%2FIMG_0828-1 I like reading blogs.  I like reading my friends’ status’ on Facebook.  It gives me a sense of connectedness even if just through the computer screen. In our world, friendship has taken on different forms.  The internet makes is so easy to become friends with people we might never be in the same room with.  I am, specifically thinking about the friends I have made through reading their blogs, and Facebook.
I have found that vital to my success and productivity as a
Pastor (grassroot theologian – as contrasted to a theologian in the halls of ivy?)
Tribe leader (my churches are my tribe(s), see also Seth Godin’s Tribes (thanks Jeff G.),
hopeful Innovater (Pastor’s must learn to re-invent, re-capture, re-present what has been true for thousands of years and yet is brand new to a new generation of Christians and non-Christians)
Futurist (Pastors must be futurist,  attempt to observe current trends and what is just beyond the horizon).  Someone should write about these and the many other facets of a Pastor’s life.

I have been Pastoring now for just over two years and I have learned that:  90% of what I have encountered as a Pastor, I have had to learn on the Job.  Which means that I was only really equipped to handle 10%, that 10% was that I had to preach every Saturday, hold board meeting once a month and things of that nature.  For the remaining 90% I have turned to mentors, friends, blogs and Facebook to learn from those who trekked this course before me.  If you are reading this and tempted to think, “Man, anyone can become a pastor” that’s not necessarily the case.  I have the ‘qualifications’ if any exist to be a pastor.  I have an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies/ Pre-Seminary and a Master’s of Divinty (which is a two and half year degree) and I worked as a Youth Pastor for two years under the direction of a Senior Pastor who served and continues to serve as an excellent mentor.  The reality is that in our always changing world the skill-set I learned in seven years in institutions of higher education have become useless which is why I say I was only really prepared to effectively handle 10% of my job responsibilities (for a more in depth understanding of this constantly changing world and the skills needed to lead well in this context look at Leonard Sweet’s Soul Tsunami, Alan Roxburgh’s The Sky is Falling and The Missional Leader and Erwin McManus’ An Unstoppable Force– if you have other titles send them my way).

All of this to say, that blogs and Facebook and other websites have provided a wealth of information.  Specifically, BOOKS.  I know everything can’t be learned from books but they sure help.  Books help us understand in specific ways the world we are experiencing on a daily basis.  The reality is that some people are good with putting words to a concept and that helps.  So here is a list of books that I just purchased thanks in large part to my online community of friends and the books they were reading.

1. What Would Jesus Deconstruct?  The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church by John D. Caputo
2. GloboChrist:  The Great Comission Takes a Postmodern Turn by Carl Raschke
3.  Finding Our Way Again:  The Return of the Ancient Practices by Brian McLaren
4.  In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson
5.  Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright
6. The Great Emergence:  How Christianity Is Changing and Why by Phyllis Tickle

The only problem is finding the time to finish reading all of these books.  I think I still have a few books that I haven’t finished.  Am I the only with this problem?

Finally and perhaps more importantly, as great as reading is there is one things that books cannot do.  They cannot act, they cannot move foward in faith, they cannot risk.. that is our job.  For me the best advice I have been given is “stop reading” with the connotation to start doing something (Thanks Samir).  Ironic I know, but true.

“The three divine persons delight in one another and therefore give to each other.  But delight isn’t only the51lgzwcrjwl_sl500_aa240__2 reason why gifts circulate within the Godhead.  It’s also the reason why God’s gifts flow to the creatures.  God delights in us, and therefore God gives.  Divine delight in creatures is a bit like our delight in our own children – we delight in their feats, their triumphs, or their good looks, but even more basically, we delight in the sheer “that-ness” of their existence.  That they are delights us.  That we are delights God.  So the divine giver gives – and delights in our delight as well as in our being.” (Pg. 73)

I came across an OP-ED in the New York Times that explores in some ways the worldview of Sarah Palin.  I felt Bob Herbert did a great job of showing several examples of how Sarah Palin is not ready to be a VP and how her worldview is dangerous.  Here is the beginning of the Article.  Pay Attention to the way Palin uses Quotes.  I don’t think she has read most of what she says first hand but probably just reads the notes in front of her face.

“Sarah Palin is the perfect exclamation point to the Bush years.

We’ve lived through nearly two terms of an administration that believed it could create its own reality:

“Deficits don’t matter.” “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job.” “Those weapons of mass destruction must be somewhere.”

Now comes Ms. Palin, a smiling, bubbly vice-presidential candidate who travels in an alternate language universe. For Ms. Palin, such things as context, syntax and the proximity of answers to questions have no meaning.

In her closing remarks at the vice-presidential debate Thursday night, Ms. Palin referred earnestly, if loosely, to a quote from Ronald Reagan. He had warned that if Americans weren’t vigilant in protecting their freedom, they would find themselves spending their “sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was like in America when men were free.”

What Ms. Palin didn’t say was that the menace to freedom that Reagan was talking about was Medicare. As the historian Robert Dallek has pointed out, Reagan “saw Medicare as the advance wave of socialism, which would ‘invade every area of freedom in this country.’ ”

TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE CLICK HERE.

As a pastor, during this political year people in general have assumed that I will unquestioningly (is that a word?) support a conservative platform, i.e. vote Republican, and support all propositions that espouse conservative values.  Over the last several weeks the intensity and volume of emails I have received has increased greatly to support proposition 8.  I hate that religious leaders think that all clergy will vote the same way. It disgusts me.  As I was reading my friend Ryan Bell’s blog Intersections I came across a link for Brian McLaren’s blog where he writes about the two presidential candidates in a way that I resonate highly with.  You should read it.  Whether you are a democrat, republican, or independent you will find this blog post well written, simple to understand and it will open your mind.  Here are some excerpts from Brian McLaren’s Blog.

In writing about the difference between Obama and McCain McLaren writes about the way both see the world, “this issue of narrative … means far more in a president than whether he claims to be liberal or conservative, religious or nonreligious, Christian or otherwise, Democrat or Republican.”
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“Does anyone doubt that Senator McCain lives by a warrior narrative? This is the most consistent theme in his campaign. For him the world is clearly divided into us and them.  We are good; they are evil. We are right; they are wrong. We are about safety; they are about danger.”

“McCain’s word “transcendent” is significant. It suggests a kind of holy war mentality, because for McCain, these us-them dualisms are absolute and therefore of a cosmic, metaphysical, even spiritual nature.”

“Senator Obama certainly believes in a strong national defense. But I believe he leans toward a profoundly different narrative. It is a reconciliation narrative, a peace-building narrative, a collaboration narrative. He made it clear when he said he would change President Bush’s policy of not talking to our enemies. McCain and others tried to portray this alternative approach as cowardice and appeasement, but they were wrong. Instead of dividing the world into “us” and “them,” Obama’s narrative seeks to bring people together in a expanding us.”

Read the post in its entirety by clicking HERE.