In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Friday, April 28, 2006

Tonight's the Big Night

Camp Out, the film about The Naming Project Summer Camp is being showing at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. I'm excited to finally have it shown to my family and friends. Everyone knows, I've been talking about it all the freakin' time. Well, tonight is the opportunity. There will be no red carpet, but I'm hoping to find a theatre crowded with lots of friends.

One of the producers is here, and he would like the theatre filled with critics who really like the movie. We've gotten a couple of bad reviews, but I still think the energy will be positive. The Minneapolis Star Tribune was very harsh in it's review. The St. Paul Pioneer Press was a little warmer, but not too much. There was also an interview on Minnesota Public Radio that was a pretty good promotional piece.

After the movie, we are going to have a little reception at The Wilde Roast Café. It should be a fun party night!

I'm still a little bummed that there is no red carpet.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Why Am I Lutheran?

The Lutheran Zephyr asked us what being Lutheran means to us. I'm going to attempt an answer.

I was raised as what I would call a "cultural Lutheran". I was born into a mostly-Swedish Lutheran family in northern Minnesota. I was a Lutheran because...I was.

Today, I remain a Lutheran because I subscribe to many of the main tenants of Lutheranism. I believe that I cannot, by my own understanding or effort, save myself. I believe that God has done the redemptive work through Christ, so I do not have to kill myself trying to please God enough. I believe that because of God's saving grace, I can live my life as full as possible, knowing that I am already redeemed as a child of God.

The more I study Lutheran theology, the more I understand how deeply it resonates with my spirit. For that continued growth in understanding, as well as for everything else, I can only say, "Thanks be to God"

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

My Gay Civic Duty

This weekend is the big, gay weekend. Oh, we have Pride in Minneapolis, but this weekend is the convergance of several high profile GLBT events.

On Thursday, GLBT folk and allies should rally at the MN State Capitol for GLBT Rally Day. We visit with our senators and representatives and remind them that we are people and constituants as well. We spend time thanking them for the great work they have done on behalf of GLBT folk, or challenge them to do more. The climax of the day is a big rally on the Capitol Lawn. You can come too. Just visit OutFront MN.

Also on Thursday is Dining Out for Life. You are supposed to eat at any number of participating restaurants. They will then donate a portion of your tab to The Aliveness Project, a community center for people living with HIV/AIDS. It's another civic duty (to eat out). If you want to join me on that one, you can visit The Aliveness Project.

Friday is Camp Out. I've already talked about that too much. But you are invited to come and see it on Friday night!

Then comes Saturday, which is the Rainbow Families Conference. This is a conference for GLBT people who are parents, are interested in being parents, or just want to support GLBT families. There will be activities for the whole family, plus resources for parents (or potential parents), and games for the kids. Yet another major GLBT event. The Rainbow Families Conference is here.

That's just the gay stuff. This is also a popular weekend for Synod Assemblies in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I know that NE MN is having their synod assembly this weekend, and the Minneapolis Area Synod is having an assembly. It really splits the duties of GLBT Lutherans. Many want to be at both. I've been seeing emails from the Lutherans Concerned/Twin Cities. They are really getting desperate to find folks who will staff a booth at the Minneapolis Synod Assembly. If you want to volunteer to staff a booth, I encourage you to contact my friends. They could sure use the help.

That's the big weekend. It will be exhausting, but definately worth it!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Hotel Ross

My parents have been using our house as a base for their travels for the last few weeks. They've stayed here for a night in between flights to Florida and Seattle. Today, we are all going grocery shopping together. I believe they are going home tomorrow. I like it when my family visits. We have fun, and we can get some good projects done as well.

Although, we are also planning on taking on a few roommates. This may squeeze our parental hospitality out for a few months. It also means our house is going to be this crowded for a while. I'm excited, because they are friends who are moving in, but there will be some logistical questions to deal with.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Popular Economy

I'm reading a popular economy book, The World is Flat. You've probably heard of it, and several of you have probably read it. I have to say, I'm fascinated. At first, I thought that it might be too technical for me (lots of stuff about computer networks). Then, I thought that it might be too much business and economics for me (I never took an econ just didn't happen). But I'm discovering a fabulous resource for looking at our own day and time.

I do like sociology, and this book has enough sociology that will keep be very interested. However, I'm starting to think about this book theologically as well. Basically, this book is about change, and how we deal with change. It is advocating for people to be more adaptable and specialized in their area. No one wants to lose his or her job, but people don't often take the opportunity to keep themselves adaptable to changing circumstances.

This sounds exactly like a lot of what I studied in seminary. Churches are harbingers of "We've never done it that way before." They complain as their worship attendance and collection plate offerings decrease, but they don't do anything about it. They continue to try to cling to a set of traditions, many of which are not supported by scripture or a historical look at the church.

Congregations should also be realizing that the world is flat. People have access to information they have never had before. Information means options. People can explore topics and religions they would never encounter in a more isolated world. How does the local congregation work with this?

The main point is not to fight, or take cheap shots at changes in the culture. Your complaining only fuels the difficulty of change. The church can still be an influence within the culture, but it needs to figure out how to do that effectively.

Please understand that I am not suggesting that we abandon the theology that has supported our faith traditions. In fact, we may find that our theology is more helpful for us in this new era than it was in the past. As change is happening all around us, the tenants of faith by grace, the tension between two kingdoms, and simul will be resources that help us understand and even communicate with the world.

These changes could make our spiritual lives even more long as we do not try to build walls around ourselves. The World is Flat says that there is a temptation to try to isolate ourselves or our communities from a changing world. However, those who look deep inside themselves for new resources have been the ones who have thrived in this world.

I highly recommend The World is Flat. Read it, and understand it on several levels.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Falling Behind

There is simply too much to do. It's bad when you start a blog to calm yourself down, but you are too busy to write in it. I've spent most days working at work, then coming home and doing a second shift of jobs. Some are manual labor. Some are meetings for The Naming Project. Some of the stuff is really exciting, but a lot of it is stuff I would rather not deal with.

Here's the low down. The other half of our duplex is empty. We finally evicted them. So, we need to clean and turn this place around in order to get it rented. I think someone is going to be coming in at the 1st of the month, but it's not certain yet. There have been a lot of cleaning and painting project.

We also have a vacancy in our apartment building. This is also due to an eviction. We haven't even dealt with this yet, because we are working on next door so much.

I was writing more for Akaloo. That was the writing project I had before, and there were these small articles they wanted written. I have turned it in, but haven't heard anything back. I'm hoping it's good enough to be done.

The movie I'm in is having a screening as a part of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. I'm excited that my family and friends can see it, but now I want to plan a fund-raiser/reception to follow the screening. More work!

I'm also having a number of meetings for various projects I'm involved with. And my other half is finishing up his semester, so he's overwhelmed, too.

I'm not trying to make you feel sorry for me. I'm also not trying to prove that my life is more complicated than anyone else's. I'm just amazed at how much someone can have going on at once.

Remember, I'm also leaving for Italy on May 8. At that point, I will have the luxury of doing one thing at a time...only that will involve jet lag and speaking a foreign language.

I hope you are making it through all your tasks as well.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Birthday Greetings!

While you are browsing, make sure to stop by Grover's Corners to wish him a happy birthday. He also has a new post...much more recent than I did!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What Is Holy Week?

There is a very obvious answer to this question, but I'm not going to go there. If you don't know what Holy Week refers to, Google it yourself.

In all my conversations with clergy, they always talk about what Lent is going to be like. They may enjoy Lent, but it always seems like Lent really means a lot of work for the pastor. Of course, as we get closer to Holy Week, this frenzy of activity culminates in a series of worship services, designed to test the mortality of worship leadership. At least, that's the perspective I get from my clergy friends.

One of my clergy friends flipped out when he found out that someone was having a schedule conflict with the evening Maundy Thursday Worship. Now, he was probably flipping out for a variety of reasons: leaving the dinner early (it's a Seder meal, so it is going to be elaborate), not being able to help clean up, and not attending worship. However, I was getting from his tone that there should be nothing scheduled...because it's Maundy Thursday.

Back in the day, the Church had authority over the government and could organize life according to its liturgical calendar, ripe with saint days and feast days. Martin Luther began to change things with his challenge to the church. Interestingly, this change was so gradual that we have only begun to notice it in the last century. However, the change is quite apparent today. There is a world out there that does now know or care what special day the Church assigns. Even Christmas and Easter (the big two) don't carry a lot of weight in impacting schedules.

So, what is a lay person to do? Holy Week is supposed to be the culmination of the church year. Ideally, we would be able to take that week off, or better yet, the season of Lent off to devote ourselves to prayer and study. At least, we are supposed to attend and appreciate the worship services planned out by our clergy. My clergy friend is torn between wanting the opportunity offered, and wanting the opportunity to present itself on less of a high holy day.

However, in this complaint I hear the superiority of the clergy seeping through. I think that all the stress and effort being put into Lent and Holy Week blinds the clergy to the fact that us lay people still work and live throughout Holy Week...just like any other day. It's Holy Week, yet we still do mundane work.

This has been a very strange Lenten season for me. My church attendance has been nearly nonexistent, for a variety of reasons that I will not go into. My devotional life was going well for a while until it also got derailed. The funny thing is that I feel like I lived Lent quite fully. Again, life circumstances made Lent more real to me than if I had tried a particular spiritual discipline. I won’t go into a lot of life details, but it made Lent come alive.

Maybe that's the way it should be. I like interpreting our lives by the liturgical season. Nothing has really changed, except my perspective. I think that living in the promise of the resurrection is the same way. Our lives do not dramatically change, but we view our lives in a different way.

This doesn’t really come to a resolution. Sorry.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Offering Condolences

I would like to encourage you all to offer prayer and support for one of our blog-buddies. LutheranChik has been going through a death in her family. She's been posting through the illness and into the death.

Please offer her your e-love and e-support.

God be with her whole family.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

North Country

Tonight I watched the film North Country. I've been excited to see this movie for quite a while now. It takes place in northern Minnesota, near where I grew up. I had no idea how angry I would get. Angry at this horrible situation for the women who had to work in the mines. Angry that this still happens as late as 1989, when the film was set, or 1998, when the "real" lawsuit was settled. Angry at myself for not realizing this was going on while I was in high school and college.

I started off watching the movie for signs of places that I knew. Have you done that? It's where you watch a movie that was filmed in an area you know, and you feel compelled to figure out the exact spot where they are. When you do know a landmark, you have to point it out to the others watching it with you. I could really only do it once. I only identified the restaurant where they ate dinner (the Village Inn, in Virginia, MN). I couldn't even identify the high school, but I'm sure I was there.

Eventually, though, I got wrapped up in the story. It's amazing how slow we are to support, or even believe, one of our own who is hurt. My other half tried to make it political, blaming it all on the Republicans. As much as I would like to agree with his sentiment, I know this problem crosses political boundaries.

I'm going to be thinking through this for some time now. I'm very glad that they decided to do this film. It's not a glamorous movie, although you will get hints of Erin Brockovich while watching it. I recommend it. Go see it.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Little Things

The title pretty much sums it up. I don't edit my posts a lot before putting them out there (this will not surprise some/many of you). So, since I don't have a grand theme springing up, I guess I'll share the little things...THE LITTLE THINGS.

Italian Lessons: I'm almost through my Italian lesson. To prepare for my upcoming trip to Italy with my other half and my parents, I studied Italian. I got one of those "15 Minute Italian" books and CDs. There are 12 weeks of lessons. I'm now starting week 12. I do fairly well at languages, but I'll need to review this to be helpful. I'm hoping to finish the sequence of lessons. Then I'll separate the book and the CD and practice with them separately.

Painting Closets: I spent today painting closets. We own a duplex, and the other half is vacant. We've been painting the whole thing, but held off on the closets. Today, I finished those up. I don't like painting closets. I'm too tall, and I keep knocking into a wall that I've already painted. There are many obvious jokes here about me trying to work in the closet, but I'll leave them for you to make. I also cleaned the bathroom. My goodness, did those tenants EVER decide to clean anything? It was in bad shape.

New Cell Phones: We were noticing that our cell phone batteries were not holding their charge as well. When we were exploring our options, a salesperson told us we were eligible for "new every two." We knew that we were not supposed to be eligible until October, but they insisted. So, we went to the store to find new cell phones. You will see, a few posts down, where I talk about Working Assets. They have cell phone service, and we really contemplated using them. However, we decided that we could do better to use our same service and give a larger portion of the money we are saving directly to a non-profit we support. So, with that decision out of the way. Then, we had to decide to get the EXCITING NEW RAZR phone!!!! We decided that we could continue to save money by not getting a RAZR (and all the accessories that go with it). It would be better stewardship to get a phone that works with the accessories we already have. So, we are getting new/non-exciting phones.

Those are just a few of the little things going on this Saturday! Have a good weekend.