religion

Kevin’s Ultra Hip (Hella Sick) Summer Book Club

Recently, I made a pact with my brain. That over summer I would spend more time reading than Netflixing. Netflix, my best fake friend, is a great tool for relaxing, especially after a 23 credit semester, say, by me. And, oh, I wanted to veg-out on Netflix more than my hipster neighbor wanted rollerblades. But I made a pact, and pacts are serious.

Previous post-semester breaks have included many veg-out TV series marathons (8 seasons of 24 and 9 seasons of How I Met Your Mother come to mind). To be Frank, I’ve still been enjoying Netflix in moderate occasions: a Sherlock episode here, a Comedy Bang-Bang there. But moderate is where I’m trying to keep it.  It’s time to take a break from marathon Netflix summers and, instead, marathon some books.

And the readings have been excellent so far.

If you are looking for some great books to read, then please, read these. We can talk about them together and start a cool kid reading club. Maybe you’ve read a few. Maybe you’ll have a little catching up to do. Maybe you can pick and choose. Either way, join my club. It will be ultra hip and hella sick. We’ll watch The Pagemaster together at the end of summer, and it will be fun.

Kevin’s Ultra Hip (Hella Sick) Summer Book Club

 The_Stand_cover1. The Stand by Stephen King – Completed

I just finished this one the other night, and I had never felt so accomplished. 1200 breathtaking pages. Technically though, it’s sort of cheating. I started the book back in December. The Stand is super long, and I had to wait till my semester was over to read most of it. But it was worth it! Also, Hollywood making a big budget movie. You could be ahead of the curve! (more…)

Advertisements

Saturday Skit: Give ‘Em God

The following is a scene from a larger one-act play I’m writing called GIVE ‘EM GOD. It’s about my experiences leading worship and growing up inside the church (very much still a work in progress). I’m hoping to have it finished as a final project for my playwright course in a couple weeks.

GIVE ‘EM GOD: Scene 5

College Nights

(Spotlight over YOUNG TAD and YOUNG DEBORAH, sitting on the floor in the corner. They are outside. YOUNG TAD is smoking. The Moonglows’ “Ten Commandments of Love” plays quietly in the background, repeating if necessary.)

YOUNG DEBORAH: I guess… I never really thought about it.

YOUNG TAD: Yeah?

YOUNG DEBORAH: Yeah. You know. You grow up in the church and learn not to question things. Certain things.

YOUNG TAD: So you just—

YOUNG DEBORAH: Shut it out, really.

YOUNG TAD: And here you are in college, and your professors tell you differently.

YOUNG DEBORAH: I guess so.

YOUNG TAD: Before you didn’t think much about it.  Now you have to think about it. That right?

YOUNG DEBORAH: It scares me. What if they’re right and biology and evolution and big bang and… explains all this? It’s Santa Claus all over again. How fashionable… lying to children. Somedays I do feel I’ve lost my faith. But I look everywhere for it. The cupboards, the closet, under the bathroom mat. The toaster if I’m hungry. Lord. Somedays I don’t find it.  (more…)

I Hate Critical Christians (and Their Skinny Jeans, Too!)

It’s best to come to terms with who you are. I’m a critical sonuvagun by nature. In the blogosphere my kind are welcome, for sure, but on Sunday, in church, it’s different. Recently, I read through Hebrews, and in Chapter 12 the writer (somewhat) says, “Pay no attention to that critical guy, stirring up trouble. He’s just a bully with a blog.” Awkward, right?

So, fellow critical Christianers, what do we do? Show up, shut up, sit down? Maybe.

SIDE NOTE: If the pastor shortened his or her sermon, then the church could afford interactive Q&A from the congregation afterwards.

The older I get, and the more I read the Bible, the more I consider the mainstream’s misinterpretation and misapplication of verses—like the one from Hebrews 12—that suggest I shouldn’t speak my mind, or be who I am, in the church (like, say, a critical, tight-jeans-wearin’ hipster).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/conorkeller/4998467337/

This isn’t me, be tee dubs.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/conorkeller/4998467337/

(more…)

God Has Never Been to Rochester

“God has never been to Rochester,” said my friend, David. Him and his wife laughed in solidarity; I offered a nervous snicker.

Back in June, Megan and I flew over to search for apartments—at that point, the only people we knew on this side of the continent were these two people who have since left the area due to finishing school; border-lined waifs, we now know no one.

“God has never been to Rochester,” he said. The comment stuck. Sure, he was joking, but it stuck.

Where the hell am I moving to? Where am I taking my wife? These thoughts, until recently even, erupted from the shadows and followed me as such.

I remember driving around, on that same trip, witnessing a worn-down and bruised city. A town, much like Detroit, whose rarefied Kodak Towers have since fallen into the dreck, pulling almost everyone else with it.

Has God ever been to Rochester?

The Answer (It’s Yes)

In the four-ish days we’ve been here, the weather has alternated more than I can keep track: humid, rainy-as-Hell (umbrellas are a must), thunder and lightning, sunny-sky-beautiful.

Right now, it’s nice. The sun is out, a few clouds giving shade.

We attended a church today. YES, I know. Mr. Anti-Church went to church. So sue me (please don’t sue me). It was a Grace PCA church, recommended by Tony from A Way With Words—our only known soul on the East—and it was lovely. The people were wonderful, warm, and genuine.

I even liked the pastor. In our few minutes of conversation, I withheld my personal opinions about how he should find a different job.

Him and his wife were incredibly nice, as was everyone we met, and I think we’re going to go back.

Why am I telling you this? Isn’t it a bit hypocritical to write about changing the modern church, only to dive into its arms first thing?

I suppose you’ve got a point.

Rochester, NY, Baby

My initial worries of the area have since fallen away; I’m falling in love with Rochester. So far, it’s a great town with great people. We live in an area called East Ave (near/or Park Ave). It’s absolutely gorgeous. We ordered pizza the other night, and I almost couldn’t stop eating it.

Does the town still have its issues? Does it still scare me? Does driving here make absolutely no sense? Yes, but I love Rochester’s potential; I love its heart, and every day feels a little bit more like home.

Rochester_Fotor

If you’d be willing: 

Continued prayer for friends, jobs, closeness to God, church issues, and cheap furniture.

Your thoughts?

Follow Up: The Judas Argument

A few weeks back I wrote a blog called “Professional Christians (and Other Oxymorons).” In short, I shared my distaste of paid salaries and wasteful spending—in my opinion, one in the same—in the modern church.

I’ve also since written a response to the responses of that post called, “A Thick Skinned Grin: My Reply to Your Response.”

As promised, I wanted to write a follow-up to a specific comment that came in. Anna from http://cannopener.wordpress.com/ (an awesome blog) wrote a comment on “Professional Christians…”, regarding what I deemed unnecessary and poor spending, that has since stuck with me.

Just a little question. Wasn’t it Judas who said “this [expensive perfume poured out in worship of Jesus] should have been sold and the money given to the poor”?

JudASS

This isn’t the first time I’ve come across this argument. The church spends a $1000 on a new drum cage; I say the money should be spent on more substantial purposes like the poor or sex-trafficking awareness (or maybe even… I don’t know… drum lessons so the drummers can learn volume control, a basic skill most educated drummers have).

What happens? Someone always says, “What about Judas and the perfume?” And another, “Remember when Jesus said, ‘the poor will always be with you’?” For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, go read the Gospels. I believe this story is mentioned, oddly enough, in each Gospel account.

In the story, a woman, Mary, anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. As Jesus points out, she is preparing him for burial and doing “a beautiful thing,” despite the grumblings of Judas and maybe other disciples.

This act is definitely a beautiful thing, and one of the most sentimental in all of scripture.

But here’s the deal: we can’t excuse the church’s poor spending habits by taking Jesus stories out of context, the perfume story especially.

My Quick Three-Point Rebuttal

1. Not every Jesus story can, or should, be flipped and turned to fit our modern times to solve our modern problems. The perfume story, I believe, falls into this category (this statement, of course, is worth arguing in better detail). To me, the perfume story speaks of the disciples’ sadness and confusion, as well as the humanity of Jesus, NOT an open door to spend money as we please. Jesus was to soon be tortured, executed, and buried. At that moment in time there was no better use of that or any perfume.

2. The Gospel of John states that Judas desired the money for himself because he was a thief. This was hardly my intention.

3. Jesus is not here any more. Not in the flesh, at least. Spending money on giant buildings with top notch gear and a full salaried staff (flying to conferences) is NOT synonymous with pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet. Our consumerism driven church is often wasteful and greedy—in light of the troubles of the world—and represents Mammon more than Christ.

mary-and-jesus-feet

This is my rebuttal. It may need some tweaking. I’m leaving soon for a cross-country road trip to Upstate New York, and I thought it’d be best to respond before this issue got too far away from me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter! What’s your take on the perfume story? Does it excuse all church spending?

Open-Mic Church

I’ve had a vision to start a church for a little while, a vision which I share with my Brother-in-Law. As of right now, we call it Open-Mic Church.

The format is simple:

Meetings revolve around a timed, open-mic sharing time (think TED talk), loosely facilitated by dedicated Elders. No paid staff and no owned building… no emo worship band.

A weekly topic will be given in advance for the Body to meditate, pray, and live over. Sign-ups will then be first-come, first-serve with a two-week-in-a-row speaking limit (to encourage different voices). Members can fill their time with teaching, singing, Q & A, performance, liturgy, whatever.

To encourage commitment and community, only members can participate, though participation isn’t required and anyone can come.

Open-Mic Church—not a replacement of the current system, but an alternative, a bridge—will be a place for change; a place for people to learn, argue, and interact with one another; a place where the average church goer can impact more than just a pew cushion.

That’s the vision in a nutshell.

Moving Forward

I had church today. Over coffee, with a friend, it was great. We met at a cafe and spoke about Jesus. We encouraged one another, challenged each other.

Struggles were confessed and visions were deciphered.

Although I was tired, grumpy, and a little hungover—the “Highlife” is not all it’s cracked up to be—today’s meeting was just amazing.

My friend spoke some truth that woke me up.

With this church thing, I get to the point of giving up—thinking Open-Mic will never happen, wondering if it even needs to. Then, I run into someone, like my friend, who reminds me that movement starts with action, not words.

I talk with other believers who lack an identity or connection in the modern church, and like me, thirst for it in a new and vibrant way. They remind me that the vision isn’t mine alone. That I’m just a small part of the puzzle, shaped uniquely for the Kingdom of God.

Moving For Ward

I’m fairly certain my vision of Church wont change the world. I don’t think it needs to. There’s a lie going around, telling people my age that if your faith doesn’t impact millions, then it’s not worth having or sharing.

I’d disagree. I’d say faith is best when it’s personal.

Relationships are more important than status. Find two or three people and pour yourself into them, and them to you. Small and personal grassroots ministries, I believe, are a lost art and the only way back to Acts 2.

I’d love to see more of that. Let’s get back there.

If 20 or 30 people can find a home, can find a Body, at Open-Mic Church (or whatever it will be called), then that’ll be fine. Maybe, 20 or 30, or 2 or 3, or one friend at a cafe, is all who I’m called to impact.

I guess we’ll see.

 

I’d love to get some feedback on the Open-Mic idea. What do you think?