Monday, February 13, 2012

Coming to the Table Hungry

I ate three meals yesterday...but they weren't breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Mandy and I now attend an evening church service, so our Sundays have become much less stressful and significantly more enjoyable than they were when we were so busy at our previous church. As was the case yesterday, we generally sleep in, eat a late breakfast, and have some free time in the afternoon to rest or play before we head to church in the evening. In the course of spending the afternoon outside yesterday, enjoying the nice weather we have had of late, I somehow managed to totally bypass lunch. By the time the service was starting my stomach was growling with hunger.

There is something mysterious and powerful that happens when you come to the Communion Table literally hungry. I needed that bread. I longed for that cup. I yearned for the nourishment of the body and blood of Jesus. I have come to love the Eucharist over the past few years, but I normally think of this meal in merely metaphorical terms, as solely a form of spiritual sustenance. But coming to the altar last night in a state of physical hunger was a striking reminder of the physicality of Jesus. I was reminded that Jesus cares about our bodies and not just our souls. I was reminded that the Kingdom of God is about holistic health, about striving for wholeness in every aspect of our lives. If the communion meal is meant to be a meal of remembrance, it definitely lived up to its purpose for me last night.

In our world of intense individualism, especially in the church, I need to be constantly reminded that my spiritual nourishment is pointless if others are not being physically nourished. If I tend to my soul while neglecting my neighbor, I have missed the point of this beautiful, sacrificial meal. May these rhythmic, liturgical reminders continue to spur us on toward embodying the fullness of Christ in the world.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sounds Like Hyperbole...But Is It?

You would hope that this cartoon is expressing a hyperbolic, exaggerated caricature of what followers of Christ have done with the church, but unfortunately, if you look throughout church history and at modern Christianity, this might be more true than we wish. It's unfortunate that Jesus' message of critique against power, wealth, and corruption could become what it once opposed. May we all continue to uphold the radical, powerless, upside-down message that Jesus so beautifully taught and lived for us.

HT:  Naked Pastor

Monday, February 6, 2012

We Don't All Agree...And That's Okay

This cartoon was a great visual reminder that we don't all agree. And in my opinion, that's more than okay. In fact, it's probably for the best. One of the primary factors for me in choosing to pursue ordination with the Disciples of Christ was the fact that, while they maintain a diverse theological perspective, they are still committed to unity around the Eucharist table. May we all have such courage to befriend and unite with others, regardless of theological and doctrinal difference.

HT: Naked Pastor

Friday, February 3, 2012

Another Great Speech...Like Always

Yesterday was the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event that has been attended by the who's who of religion and politics since 1953. The President is often in attendance, as was the case this year, and is usually one of the speakers at the event. President Obama's speech was, as usual, riveting and inspiring, leaving me mindful of the implications of his message. It was definitely worthy of a bit of my time and attention here on this blog. I have included the speech at the bottom of this post, but have highlighted a handful of great quotes and a few of my random thoughts and comments.

A few great quotes:

"At a time when it’s easy to lose ourselves in the rush and clamor of our own lives, or get caught up in the noise and rancor that too often passes as politics today, these moments of prayer slow us down. They humble us. They remind us that no matter how much responsibility we have, how fancy our titles, how much power we think we hold, we are imperfect vessels. We can all benefit from turning to our Creator, listening to Him. Avoiding phony religiosity, listening to Him. "

"But in my moments of prayer, I’m reminded that faith and values play an enormous role in motivating us to solve some of our most urgent problems, in keeping us going when we suffer setbacks, and opening our minds and our hearts to the needs of others. "

"Our goal should not be to declare our policies as biblical. It is God who is infallible, not us. Michelle reminds me of this often. (Laughter.) So instead, it is our hope that people of goodwill can pursue their values and common ground and the common good as best they know how, with respect for each other. And I have to say that sometimes we talk about respect, but we don’t act with respect towards each other during the course of these debates."

"As a loving husband, or a supportive parent, or a good neighbor, or a helpful colleague -- in each of these roles, we help bring His kingdom to Earth. And as important as government policy may be in shaping our world, we are reminded that it’s the cumulative acts of kindness and courage and charity and love, it’s the respect we show each other and the generosity that we share with each other that in our everyday lives will somehow sustain us during these challenging times."

A few random comments:
  • When they pan the crowd at the Prayer Breakfast, all you see is white dudes. I'm not totally sure what this means, but I think it says something about the lack of diversity in Christianity and politics.
  • Along the same lines, the Prayer Breakfast costs a ton of money to attend and is really only for the rich. There is immense irony in the fact that the majority of people in attendance are folks Jesus normally wouldn't have dined with. I doubt Jesus would have approved of a prayer meeting that you have to pay a handsome sum to attend and in which you had better wear a $1000 suit.
  • Obama did a great job of remaining true to his Christian faith and roots while also validating the wisdom and truth of other faith traditions like Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism. We live in a multi-faith country but he was speaking to a community that has not historically been abundantly gracious to other religions, so he walked this line beautifully throughout his speech. He honored the faith and belief of others without losing the distinctiveness of his own tradition.
  • I was disappointed when Obama described our global peacekeeping (i.e. war) as an effort to 'care for the least of these.' There still exists, throughout the world as a whole, the idea that war, fear, and power can be avenues toward peace. I am constantly surprised that more people don't see the oddity of that line of thinking. Why are we surprised that war and conquest does not solve the world's problems and that we have not yet arrived at world peace? It is statements like this from the leader of our great country which remind me that even though we live in a pretty good 'kingdom of the world,' it will never be comparable to the 'Kingdom of God.'

While some of my comments have been negative and cynical (sorry, that's sort of my nature), above all I loved President Obama's speech. Not as much as Bono's speech a few years ago, but it was was still great. He and his speech writers have always had a way of naming the problems of this world without succumbing to hopelessness, a much-needed quality in our current global situation. I almost always find myself spurned on toward hope, believing that there is a better way forward. May we all find ways to journey this hopeful path together.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pretty Soon You Can Own Facebook

No, Mark Zuckerberg is not selling off his $28 billion cash-cow. At least not most of it, anyway. Facebook is preparing to sell their stock for the first time, however, so they have chosen to release some statistics to the world. The following article from the BBC offers some greater insight into this social-media giant that has consumed our fascination and free-time over the past decade. Some of these statistics are really interesting. I've bold-ed some of my favorites.


  • Facebook is an advertising company. Of its total revenues of $3.7bn in 2011, 85% came from advertising. And that is down from 98% and 95% in the previous two years.
  • The company makes $1bn in pure profit.
  • Facebook has a total of 845 million monthly users and 483 million daily users.
  • Of its monthly users, half have used Facebook on their mobile. (But there are no ads on its mobile site, so it makes no money from them.)
  • The majority of its money comes from the US, but the majority of the users are outside the country.
  • And the majority of its non-US revenues comes from western Europe, Canada, and Australia.
  • The company generates 2.7 billion "likes" and 250 million uploaded photos everyday.
  • Zynga, the games maker behind FarmVille, single-handedly accounts for 12% of its revenues.
  • The company has 3,200 employees.
  • Lady Gaga may have the most popular page on Facebook - with 47 million "likes".
  • Facebook's ticker on the stock exchange will be "FB".


  • Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and chief executive, has 28% of the company - 533.8 million shares - which are worth $28bn based on an overall valuation of $100bn. He is 27 years old.
  • But Mr Zuckerberg is the controlling shareholder because of proxy voting rights. All in, he controls 57% of the shares.
  • Mr Zuckerberg's base salary last year was $483,333 and, with bonus, he was paid $1.49m.
  • From 1 January 2013, Mr Zuckerberg's annual salary will go down to $1.
  • Mr Zuckerberg was memorably portrayed in the Oscar-winning movie, The Social Network. The Winklevoss twins, Tyler and Cameron, are not named in the filing after settling their legal battles with Facebook. Neither is Eduardo Saverin, his former friend and classmate.
  • Napster founder and early investor Sean Parker is mentioned - but his shareholding is not declared.
  • Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer, owns 0.1% of the company. She is the best compensated director at Facebook. With her salary and stock awards, she made $30.87m last year.
  • But with her stock options and depending on the share price, she will still become one of the world's richest women. She has 38.1 million shares that have not yet vested that will do so from October.
  • David Choe, a graffiti artist, decorated Facebook's first offices and took stock instead of cash as compensation. The New York Times reports the stake could now be worth about $200m.
  • The singer Bono is also rubbing his hands. Elevation Partners, an investment firm he co-founded, spent $210m buying Facebook shares in 2009 and 2010, which could now be worth $800m.
  • Mr Zuckerberg's friend and co-founder, Dustin Moskovitz, has almost 8%, or 133.8 million shares.


  • The company has listed other social networks as possible threats - including Google's relatively-new Google+ and its older Orkut service, South Korea's Cyworld, Japan's Mixi and vKontakte in Russia.
  • Facebook has no legal presence in China - but there are already established social networks such as Tencent and Renren that locals can use.
  • Besides China, Facebook is currently restricted in Iran, North Korea and Syria.
  • The company also cited the "uncertainty" over evolving legal protections across the world on consumer privacy. It cited a revision to the European Union's privacy laws, specifically.
  • Facebook said that potential advertisers could decide not to advertise with them and instead just use a Facebook page.
  • Fame is fleeting on the internet. "A number of other social networking companies that achieved early popularity have since seen their active user bases or levels of engagement decline, in some cases precipitously," Facebook said. "There is no guarantee that we will not experience a similar erosion of our active user base or engagement levels."

HT:  BBC News