just an apprentice

the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Grant, O Lord, that the course of this world may be peaceably governed by your providence; and that your Church may joyfully serve you in confidence and serenity; through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Heavenly, Father, in you I live and move and have my being: I humbly pray you so to guide and govern me by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of my life I may not forget you, but may remember that I am ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Flip-flopping or honesty/humility

It is so good to hear George W. Bush and Tony Blair owning up to some of the shortcomings of policy and execution in the Iraq war.

The other day one of my students wore a T-shirt with the Heinz trademark on the front and something about John Kerry flip-flopping. We struck up a bit of a conversation in the last minute of class about the need for politicians to be able to change their position when the information available changes (such as WMDs not being found, etc.).

It takes a lot of courage and humility to be able to own up to mistakes in life. Whether it is in politics or any other profession, or in personal matters self-justification and pride are much easier options than honest acknowledgement of shortcomings and bad judgments.

I for one, am thankful that the president has come to this point. I would never think of accusing Bush of flip-flopping. I believe we need to allow for the possibility that as time goes by and as we think critically about what is happening in the world as a result of decisions that were made…we may come to the conclusion that some decisions did not produce the results hoped for. Leadership and commitment to certain values does not mean that we are beyond making errors in judgment. To be human is to be fallible. It is a sign of moral strength and character, not weakness, to acknowledge this.

This is not about flip-flopping, but about choosing HONESTY over DENIAL…HUMILITY over PRIDE. It is too bad that we see so little of these qualities in the political arena, where self-preservation and political capital lead to pragmatism and spin. Congressman Murtha (his plan for withdrawing troops) has been one shining example of speaking Truth to power regarding Iraq no matter what the political fall-out. He is one who did not allow his hawkish ideology to subvert an honest reading of what has happened as a result of the American policy in Iraq.

If the United States is going to regain the respect of the nations, it will be for the ability to express words and actions that come from character and decency—including the ability to say that we have made mistakes. It is not enough to just continue to blindly insist that we are right—and to plow ahead with our agenda through violent means. The moderated tone of Bush and Blair are just a small step in the direction of recapturing this respect and standing in the world.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Baby Tortoise

You know what it is to be born alone,
Baby tortoise!
The first day to heave your feet little by little from the shell,
Not yet awake,
And remain lapsed on earth,
Not quite alive.

A tiny, fragile, half-animate bean.

To open your tiny beak-mouth, that looks as if it would never open,

Like some iron door;
To lift the upper hawk-beak from the lower base
And reach your skinny little neck
And take your first bite at some dim bit of herbage,
Alone, small insect,
Tiny bright-eye,
Slow one.

To take your first solitary bite
And move on your slow, solitary hunt.
Your bright, dark little eye,
Your eye of a dark disturbed night,
Under its slow lid, tiny baby tortoise,
So indomitable.
No one ever heard you complain.

You draw your head forward, slowly, from your little wimple

And set forward, slow-dragging, on your four-pinned toes, Rowing slowly forward.
Whither away, small bird?
Rather like a baby working its limbs,
Except that you make slow, ageless progress
And a baby makes none.

The touch of sun excites you,
And the long ages, and the lingering chill
Make you pause to yawn,
Opening your impervious mouth,
Suddenly beak-shaped, and very wide, like some suddenly gaping pincers;
Soft red tongue, and hard thin gums,
Then close the wedge of your little mountain front,
Your face, baby tortoise.

Do you wonder at the world, as slowly you turn your head in its wimple
And look with laconic, black eyes?
Or is sleep coming over you again,
The non-life?

You are so hard to wake.

Are you able to wonder?
Or is it just your indomitable will and pride of the first life
Looking round
And slowly pitching itself against the inertia
Which had seemed invincible?

The vast inanimate,
And the fine brilliance of your so tiny eye,

Nay, tiny shell-bird,
What a huge vast inanimate it is, that you must row against,
What an incalculable inertia.

Little Ulysses, fore-runner,
No bigger than my thumb-nail,
Buon viaggio.

All animate creation on your shoulder,
Set forth, little Titan, under your battle-shield.

The ponderous, preponderate,
Inanimate universe;
And you are slowly moving, pioneer, you alone.

How vivid your travelling seems now, in the troubled sunshine,
Stoic, Ulyssean atom;
Suddenly hasty, reckless, on high toes.

Voiceless little bird,
Resting your head half out of your wimple
In the slow dignity of your eternal pause.
Alone, with no sense of being alone,
And hence six times more solitary;
Fulfilled of the slow passion of pitching through immemorial ages
Your little round house in the midst of chaos.

Over the garden earth,
Small bird,
Over the edge of all things.

With your tail tucked a little on one side
Like a gentleman in a long-skirted coat.

All life carried on your shoulder,
Invincible fore-runner.

D.H. Lawrence

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Final Paper...Take Two

I guess the other post with the link to my final paper did not really work. I'll try this again...here.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Irrelevant Church

Phil Cook offers an insightful view on the misguided, never-ending quest of the American church to be relevant. The missional church IS relational. Relationships. The WORD became flesh and dwelt among us. Incarnation. Jesus did not get caught up in worshiping the idol of RELEVANCE.

I have been thinking a lot lately about this phrase from the Gospel of John...THE WORD BECAME FLESH. I wonder how the Gospel would look to our neighbors and our enemies if we (the Church) would be less caught up with Words being used as ammunition and judgement...Words that are put together to defend our rights...and allow the Word to become flesh. If it is to do so...it must become flesh in us...in me.


Friday, May 19, 2006


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Champions League

Yesterday's Champions League final brought a fitting result. Barcelona's 2-1 triumph was deserved. Arsenal fought courageously, playing a man down from early in the game. It's too bad the referee sent Jens Lehmen off with a red card. He should have shown the yellow card and allowed the goal that Barcelona scored on the play.

Samuel Eto is such a dangerous striker. His goal was well taken off a deft pass from Henrik Larrson, and what a spark he added to the Barcelona side. It's a shame that Eto will not be able to display his skill on the World Cup stage. Cameroon did not make the final round.

What a masterful goal off this set piece. Henry serving the ball, and Sol Campbell soaring to head it into the back of the net.

I've got World Cup fever. June 12 cannot come soon enough. United States vs. Czech Republic.
Ich liebe die fusball. Deuscthland ist wunderbar. Ja, gut.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Writing Project

Some of you have expressed interest in reading my final writing project for the EMS class I took this spring with Brinton Rutherford. The paper is entitled Ecclesiology and Baptism: Anabaptism and Eastern Orthodoxy in Conversation. You can access it here. It could use some work, but I'll put it out here in cyberspace anyway.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Walter Klaasen

The piece by Walter Klaasen in The Mennonite this week is heartening. His persective resonates with my own journey of connecting the Anabaptist tradition with the Church catholic. What does it mean for us if we recognize that "our 16th-century forebears were not out to separate from the Catholic church of their day but to reform it."

My journey has been guided by the same perspective that Klaasen expresses in this piece and is summed up in the conclusion:

"If we are going to be faithful to the Anabaptist vision, then we will renounce all separatism and ethnic pride and participate in the incomplete, ongoing reform of the whole church to the glory of God and his Son Jesus, who prayed that we all be one."

Will we be able to renew our sense of the Anabaptist vision so on the one hand we see ourselves as vitally connected to the Church catholic? Or will we continue on the schismatic trajectory, often tending toward the autonomous individualism--characteristic of many Protestant Evangelical groups who are attempting to keep the church Pure? In the Believers' Church tradition, there is a theology, a sense (pride?) in the fact that our Church is a pure church (versus the mixed-body of the infant baptizing Catholics). But I wonder sometimes, are we really THAT much better...less sinful...less influenced by our culture than those whom we look down on.

Or maybe the winds of change are blowing and the movement of the Spirit is guiding us back together--the Protestants, the Catholics, the Post-Protestants, and those who think they are beyond all these labels and are just Christians.

McClendon says that Christians are never just Christians. They are Methodists, Mennonites, non-denominational types, Missouri Synod Lutherans, Baptists, Anglican...

I tend to agree.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


The winner by a technical knockout...the Final Paper for my class. It beat me to a pulp...I was somehow able to get up off the canvas and hand it in. Should have asked for an extension! It was a bit rough...needed more time to get to where I wanted to with it. I ended up writing on the topic--Ecclesiology and Baptism: Anabaptism and Eastern Orthodoxy in Conversation. Now just one week left of class.

This photo from Barcelona was taken on the 2004 Spain trip. Las Ramblas is a thoroughfare of pedestrian traffic. So many interesting things to see...like this artist painting the bullfight.