Nine months before graduating from Brite Divinity School and a few years before ordination, this little blog began. What began as a series of random thoughts with an audience size of one a month now is a series of random thoughts with an audience size of about 700 a month. 

You readers are the largest congregation that I will ever have the privilege of engaging on a regular basis. Thank you for subscribing, reading, commenting and sharing with others. 

If this blog were a person, this is what the development would be. Which other than the math portion, this is just about right.

With this milestone, I will be taking a week sabbath from writing. 


How Where's Waldo exposes a problem with Christianity

Where's Waldo may not be the cultural icon it was when I was a kid of the 1990's but I still see this little guy around sometimes in the bookstore (also seemingly a dying icon of my childhood). In case you are not aware of what "Waldo" is all about, it is a book where you search different scenes and try to find the "Waldo" character. Frustratingly simple and boy did I love it.

I would race my brother to determine who was the best Waldo-finder in our house. To this day I secretly assess if the person I am looking at a Waldo scene with it smarter then me based on how quickly they find him. Most of the time, everyone finds him before I do and thus I feel less smart by the end of the book. 

Where's Waldo is a fun little thing to do and I marvel at the imagination of the artists to draw such crazy scenes. There is also a sense of excitement when you begin to look, a sense of challenge sets in after a few minutes. Frustration can set in when you begin to convince yourself that Waldo is not in this scene at all and then the moment you find Waldo there is a sense of satisfaction and affirmation that you are encouraged to go through the whole process again and turn the page. It is the search that makes Waldo fun. 

Which is why one of the worsts gifts you can give is a Where's Waldo book with Waldo circled on every page in thick black marker. Sure the other person will always be able to quickly "find" Waldo in every scene, but you also have removed the joy of the search. 

Large parts of Christianity have become fixated on sharing our faith with others but doing so with all the answers already given. Some Christian communities tell you what the answers are to every question. When people are searching for the "real Noah's arc" they believe that in finding it they will answer the question and thus bring more people to the faith. I contest that in "proving" all sorts of things in Christianity surmount to marking up the faith with a thick black marker. Sure, you can see the "answer" but then the joy of the search is removed. 

Give me a blank Where's Waldo book anytime.


What a Conversation Between Kermit & Fozzie Shows About Self Identity

In 1979, The Muppet Movie was being filmed. It is the only film that I know of with a product placement of both a Studebaker and pistachio ice cream.

The genius of Jim Henson Productions cannot be contained in one post, but the first two minutes of this video between Kermit and Fozzie is another example of their brilliance.

This is recording of a sound and camera check for the film and so the dialogue is improvised. Rather than going through the standard "check" or "Sibilance" there is an existential conversation about self identification.

Fozzie takes the position that he is able to self identify as a bear. Kermit plainly points out that in fact Fozzie is not a bear. He is made of foam rubber and fake fur. He does not hibernate. He is not a real life bear. Now you and I know this, but this comes as a huge shock to Fozzie who then, in a turn of tit-for-tat, informs Kermit that he has a wire attached to his arm. 

As silly as this conversation is, it is an example of how Christians think of ourselves. 

Christians in America tend to think of Christianity as an identity that we can claim all on our own. We are like Fozzie who thinks he is a bear because he says he is a bear. I am a Christian because I say that I am Christian. We live in a place where self-identification as Christian goes unchallenged. There are few Kermit-type people saying, "You cannot say you are a Christian and condemn people like you do." Or "You cannot say you are Christian and do not practice the spiritual disciplines that Jesus taught." 

Christianity is a religion that is practiced by the individual but confirmed by a community. It is like saying you can study medicine all you want but unless people agree to be treated by you, you are not a doctor. We are not Christians unless the community (and as a Methodist I affirm the community to be Bible, tradition, reason and collective experience ) confirms that your actions reflect what the community understands a Christian to be. 

We all know this in the extreme. When someone says they are Christian then murders and steals and lies and cheats, the community agrees that the person in question is not Christian - no matter how they self identify. It is the actions of the person that defines who they are, not their words.

This idea requires more space and time to unpack everything, but this is not a thesis paper. This is a blog post designed to kickstart a conversation. 

So let the conversation begin!