Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tuesday Tome - A Timbered Choir

My wife and I love the stories and poems of Wendell Berry. Many is the time we have read aloud a favorite passage to each other. If you're interested in checking out his poetry, A Timbered Choir might be a good place to start. Tomorrow, I'll post a poem from this book.

From Library Journal--
Winner of the T.S. Eliot Award, Berry spends Sunday mornings in walking meditation in the forests and fields around his Port Royal, KY, farm. During these walks he writes, and he has brought many of these poems together in the present volume. Berry has long been an articulate and passionate defender of the environment, and his "Sabbath poems," spanning 20 years, bring the reader close to the earth, the fields and flowers, richness of the soil, and diversity of the seasons: "Too late for frost, too early for flies,/ the air carries only birdsong, the long/ breath of wind in leaves." The poet has a marvelous ear for interior rhyme: "Horse and cow,/ plow and hoe, grass to graze/ and hay to mow have brought me/ here, and taught me where I am." These poems are not uniformly pastoral; Berry reflects, too, on war, technology, and the economy in these pages, but always with a heartfelt devotion first and foremost for the earth. A contemplative treasure; highly recommended. --Judy Clarence, California State University Library.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday Music - Mat Kearney

My son, Tyler, is back out on the road touring with Mat Kearney late summer through fall. I'm hoping to be at the October 27 show in St. Paul. Always nice to see and hear Mat again. To listen, click here or on the image below.



Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Supplication - You Will See Us Through

O Lord, help us to not to be stressed out over earthly troubles, but, instead trust that you will see us through. Even now, as we live among things that are passing away, help us to hold on to the things that last forever.

We confess our sins and we thank you for your faithfulness to forgive us and purify us. And as your grateful children, teach us and help us to be faithful to forgive others. May the grace of Jesus help us restore relationships, heal wounds, calm fears, forgive offenses, and resolve conflicts.

O God, help us find our life and meaning and purpose in Jesus. We desire to surrender to him more and more. Give us the wisdom and the will to submit ourselves to you as we follow Him.

It’s in his name that we pray these things. Amen.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday Thinking - On Youth Leaving Church

Pete Enns recently blogged about the 2011 Barna Report on "Six Reasons Young People Leave Church." The Barna report is interesting enough on its own, but Enns' comments and highlights are helpful. If you're finding this via Facebook and would like to comment, I'd appreciate it if you would make your comments on the Altered Faces blog. Thanks.

On young people leaving their faith behind (and doing something about it) Posted by PeteEnns on August 11, 2016

The 2011 Barna survey on American Christianity published “Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church.” And here they are.

I read through them and I think to myself, “Yup. Yup. Uh huh. That one, too. And that one.” These ring utterly true to me from my experience, including being a Christian college professor.
I continue to think that parents, churches, and schools need to be aware of these trends and consider ways to address them with less fear of what might happen if they do and more fear of what IS happening if they don’t.

As one first year student said in class a few years back, “I feel my church did not prepare me for life outside of the church. They were more interested in protecting me from wrong conclusions and making sure I was a ‘good Christian’ than getting me ready for living in the world.”

I hear that a lot, and these young people are being done a disservice with predictable consequences.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday Words - A Barred Owl

A Barred Owl 
The warping night air having brought the boom
Of an owl's voice into her darkened room,
We tell the wakened child that all she heard
Was an odd question from a forest bird,
Asking of us, if rightly listened to,
"Who cooks for you?" and then "Who cooks for you?"

Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear,
Can also thus domesticate a fear,
And send a small child back to sleep at night
Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight
Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw
Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.

by Richard Wilbur, from Collected Poems: 1943-2004.
© Houghton Mifflin, 2006.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tuesday Tome - You Are What You Love

This book is a possible candidate for an upcoming book club at Valley Christian Church.

You Are What You Love
by James K. A. Smith

Publisher's description...
In this book, award-winning author James K. A. Smith shows that who and what we worship fundamentally shape our hearts. And while we desire to shape culture, we are not often aware of how culture shapes us. We might not realize the ways our hearts are being taught to love rival gods instead of the One for whom we were made. Smith helps readers recognize the formative power of culture and the transformative possibilities of Christian practices. He explains that worship is the "imagination station" that incubates our loves and longings so that our cultural endeavors are indexed toward God and his kingdom. This is why the church and worshiping in a local community of believers should be the hub and heart of Christian formation and discipleship.

Following the publication of his influential work Desiring the Kingdom, Smith received numerous requests from pastors and leaders for a more accessible version of that book's content. No mere abridgment, this new book draws on years of Smith's popular presentations on the ideas in Desiring the Kingdom to offer a fresh, bottom-up rearticulation. The author creatively uses film, literature, and music illustrations to engage readers and includes new material on marriage, family, youth ministry, and faith and work. He also suggests individual and communal practices for shaping the Christian life.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Monday Music - Lucius

Yay, Lucius! Let's hear it for real melodies, rich harmonies, blended voices, good lyrics, and precision performance! I really enjoyed this live radio performance recorded a few months ago, and I'm intrigued and happy to know that The Cactus Blossoms will be touring with and opening for Lucius for a number of concerts this fall.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday Supplication - Transform & Guide Us

O God, we need your help to be the people you want us to be. We ask your Holy Spirit to be at work in our lives to transform us and guide us in all ways. Help us to trust you with all our hearts.

Forgive us our sins. Help us to leave the darkness and love the light. Make us willing and able to forgive others as you have forgiven us. Help us to think, speak, and act in ways that restore lives, nurture relationships, create peace, and bring honor to you.

Help us, O Lord, to be a good stewards of all you have given us. Grant us the wisdom and the will to guard our hearts, feed our spirits, stimulate our minds, and care for our bodies. And help us, by faith, to do the good things you've prepared in advance for us to do.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Faves - The Cactus Blossoms @ Silverwood

I'm looking forward to enjoying a FREE concert from The Cactus Blossoms on Sunday night at Silverwood Park. It should be one of the fun and memorable nights of the summer.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thursday Thinking - Criminalizing Poverty


How the poor are ending up stuck in modern-day debtors' prisons



A new VICE documentary out this week looks at a growing trend of cities and counties that are increasingly writing tickets for so-called “quality of life” offenses, from traffic violations to backyard barbecues. Some of those who can’t pay the fines face jail time, which has communities saying governments are effectively criminalizing poverty. The two-part documentary, called “Justice: Debtors' Prisons," investigates how local governments lock up and extort the poor, and takes a look at what it's like to get caught in the country's private probation trap.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wednesday Words - To My BWCA Friends

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.

"Sleeping in the Forest" by Mary Oliver, from Twelve Moons, © 1979 by Mary Oliver.