Tuesday, November 28, 2006


In the spirit of the season, I wanted to post what I am thankful to God for:

* my wife and daughter, and the unconditional love (and grace) they show me
* my job, which is almost literally a "one of a kind" opporutnity for me
* the Church in general, and my local church in particular
* all of the good books I have read, and the ones I hope to read in the future
* my health, and that of my family

I like my life, but am looking forward to the next one

Monday, November 20, 2006

Book Review

The Suburban Christian, by Albert Hsu. Intriguing little book about finding (and bringing) Christianity to the suburbs. Hsu points out that suburbs have always existed, but their growth in modern America makes them a stronger influence than ever before.

There is a long history of urban Christianity, as well as country/wilderness/small town Christianity, but it is the suburbs where people are moving, as well as some of the biggest churches. He gives some thought-provoking ideas about how to forge community in these areas, where garage doors close us off from neighbors in a way that front porches used to bring us closer to our neighbors.

I am a suburban Christian myself, and am weighing some of the suggestions Hsu makes regarding how to behave Christianly in this setting, in terms of: shopping, work, neighbors, etc . . .

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Plagairizing Pastors?

Do not underestimate the front page of Wall Street Journal as a source for fascinating articles on religious/spiritual/church things.

Today (Nov. 15) had another really interesting article -- this about the debate over pastors delivering other pastor's sermons as their own, and including the wide range of positions on the issue. Now as a writer and as a professor, I admit that my bias is in favor of attribution -- crediting the souce from which you get an idea or a story or an interpretation -- anything less than that is a violation of professional ethics and/or copyright law. I will also mention that my pastor (a former lawyer and university professor) practices attribution, mentioning the author and the book from which he gets concepts, facts, etc . . .

Another pastor in my denomination who I respect is quoted in this article as saying that pastors should feel free to use whatever truth they find, wherever they find it, and that attirbution can get in the way of the flow and point of a sermon. The arguement is that as long as the work is not printed, then copyright has not been violated. But with sermons being sold on CD, I wonder about that legal analysis.

But to me, legality is not the key issue, it is honesty. It is OK for pastor to not have an "original" idea every week, but if they are using resources, they should mention the resources they are using. Again I recognize my bias, but I have trouble seeing the other side of the argument.

But I also think that attribution models pastoral humility. In a setting where we have seen the "pastor as rock star" mentality -- and the excesses and moral trouble that comes along with that mentality -- I think a pastor pointing out that he is not the font of all new wisdom is a very good thing.