Halloween ’08

October 31, 2008

For some reason that is unbeknownest to everyone I’ve talked to (but knownest to the people who call the shots) the entire Des Moines metro area has decided that trick-or-treating should NOT happen on Halloween…rather, it should happen on October 30; also known as “Beggar’s Night”.


Regardless, we had a wild Thursday night.  From 6:00 – 7:00 the kids and I (along with a couple of neighbors) walked around the neighborhood asking for candy.  As you can see, the princess, the rooster, and Buzz Lightyear were quite the sight to behold.

Anna was an excellent big sister, looking out for both of her brothers at various points in the evening.  She was particularly concerned about Evan’s safety when it started getting dark.  Isaac’s big moment came when we were about 3 blocks away from home, and declared he was about to have an excretory emergency.  Fortunately, one of the ladies overheard his plea, and allowed him to take a (lengthy) pit stop at her home.  Evan showed no fear throughout the evening…even at a house where a person in a Jason mask stood on the inside of a glass door staring motionless at those who came to the house.  Evan walked right up to the door…stared for a minute…knocked on the glass…and yelled “hhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii”…to which “Jason” broke character and started to laugh.  Priceless.

After we had canvassed the neighborhood, we visited the Carlson’s in Clive and my grandparents in Urbandale.  The kids were a not-so-perfect mixture of hyper and tired, so neither visit was terribly enjoyable…but it’s always fun to end the night with close friends and family.

Visiting Greta & Ben

Visiting Greta & Ben

And so, without further ado, let the week-long sugar high commence!


The Votes Are In…

October 30, 2008

Actually, just one vote that I can speak to — mine.  I just mailed in my absentee ballot, which sure beats waiting in line next Tuesday.  In case anyone cares to know, I cast my vote for president in the direction of Barack Obama.  Here were a few of the deciding factors for me:

Temperament – Obama is mild-mannered and calculated in his decisions.  McCain is a hot-head with a temper.  It is of paramount importance that a president can keep his cool in diplomatic scenarios.  I trust Obama to do this; not McCain.

Palin – she’s not prepared, and she’s too devisive.  McCain dropped the ball when he picked someone without proper vetting – or without even meeting that person more than once.  It shows poor judgment on his part, and the idea of “President Palin” is genuinely frightening to me.

Taxes – I’d pay about $1,000 less in taxes per year if Obama were president.  So would most of the working / middle class.  The moderate-conservative in me is just fine with that.

“Socialism” – I don’t think Obama is a socialist, but I really like the policies that have caused some people to label him as such.  (As an aside, I invite anyone to read Acts 2:43-47 and tell me if the early Christian church sounds more like “socialism” or “capitalism”…and then tell me why it’s unethical or irresponsible to expect those who have been blessed with an abundance to share with those who have little.  The assumption that all wealthy people work harder than all poor people – and, therefore, deserve more riches – is not only asenine but it’s unbiblical.)

Foreign Policy – most countries around the globe dislike the USA…and most of these countries really like Obama.  It’s essential for our country to repair its standing among the other nations, and I think Obama is extremely well-equipped to do that.

Intelligence – Obama is almost always the smartest person in the room, and he surrounds himself with other smart people.  I don’t think intellect can be undervalued as a voting criteria.

Iraq / Afghanistan – I don’t think we should remain in Iraq indefinately.  I also think we need to put more focus on radical fundamentalist Islam terror orgainzations…and many of these groups – including al Queda – are operating out of Afghanistan.  Obama seems to share my thoughts on these two issues…McCain doesn’t.

Those are my thoughts.  I’d love to hear yours.  I understand this is a potentially volatile topic, so I’d appreciate a modicum of tact and respect among those who are wish to leave comments.

I also thought the Obama “infomercial” last night was well done.  Here it is:


October 29, 2008

This appears to be my 100th blog entry since I started this humble little experiment in April.  Here are the 7 highlights of my 7 months of blogging:

  1. An insane stretch of spring weather that flattened the town of Parkersburg and messed up our backyard.
  2. A less-than-impressive fourth running of the Dam to Dam.
  3. Pilgrimages to Jackson, MS and Mexico City with people from church.
  4. A surprisingly enjoyable Olympic Games in Beijing that changed my bedtime to 3:00 am for two weeks.
  5. New Beginnings for Anna (Kindergarten), Isaac (Pre-school), and Allison (working full-time outside the home).
  6. An unexpected forray into politics, culminating with a Messiah sighting in Denver. (For my conservative friends, that was supposed to be a joke…)
  7. An enlightening entry into the realm of the Emergent church conversation

I know some people can pound out 100 blog posts in two days (Andrew Sullivan)…and I know that boasting an average of 30 hits per day isn’t anything to write home about – but I’ve really enjoyed using this medium of expression.  It’s a good outlet for some of my thoughts and experiences.  It also lets me dabble in something that I would really love to do as my “real job” (writing) at some point…which is, likely, a pipe dream, but it at least keeps me in the mix.

In the coming months I hope to:

  • Turn the Youth Auction page into an eBook
  • Flesh out some of my thoughts about the Emerging church movement within the ELCA
  • Offer my thoughts on the start of the NBA season – “Where Amazing Happens”
  • Toy with renaming the site to something a little easier to understand
  • Reach #200 in fewer than 7 months
  • Remain gainfully employed
  • Lose 50 pounds
  • Not turn 30 years old

Thanks for your ongoing readership.  Tell your friends…

Jesus 2.0

October 27, 2008

I thought this was a clever way of addressing a glitch in a computer game…just pretend it’s not a glitch!

Isaac the Hilarious

October 25, 2008

I got back into town a little late, mainly due to an infestation of deer on I-35 in north Missouri.  The Yaris was constantly slowing down to avoid God’s creatures (both living and dead) along the road.  When we finally reached the WDM it was about an hour past Anna and Isaac’s bedtime.  Naturally, they were too excited to actually go to sleep.  We popped in a movie – Ratatouille – and set up a pile of pillows and blankets on the family room floor.  Anna fell asleep by 10:00…Isaac did not.

It’s 12:30 am, and Isaac is still going strong.  We’re wrapping up “Star Wars I: Phantom Menace”, namely the lightsaber duel between Darth Maul and Obi Wan Kenobi / Qui Gon Jinn.  Isaac turns to me and says:

“Obi Wan is a better jedi than Qui Gon.  He really uff da’s Darth Maul in this movie.”

Hilarious.  A few minutes later I was changing out of my polo and jeans into pjs.  Once again, Isaac has a priceless observation:

“Dad, you’re kinda embarassing me right now.  I can see your nipples.”

It’s possible that these aren’t really that funny, but I’m finding them extra humorous because I’ve been away for three days.  Even though we’re both really tired – and it’s probably irresponsible to let a 4 year old stay awake this late AND watch Star Wars – it has been a lot of fun talking with him and listening to his observations.  Very smart little boy.  They really do grow up quickly.

Reclaiming Paul Recap

October 24, 2008

My brain hasn’t been this tired in a while.  With no disrespect intended towards the people I encounter on a regular basis, I don’t think I’ve ever been in direct contact with this many intellectual heavyweights in such a condensed period of time.  This has, inevitably, led me to become overwrought with ideas.  I’m hoping to work through them in the days ahead (once I finish my writing project for AFP)…but here are a few quick reflections on the Emergent / Nazerene environment:

  • Contrary to popular belief, Lutherans do not hold a corner on the market of grace-based theology.
  • Emergent church leaders prefer to discuss ideas in the presence of micro brew beer
  • Paul was a church-planter
  • Kansas City is an underrated city – great BBQ, fun bars, and tons of downtown construction
  • It’s impossible to be neutral in your opinion of Tony Jones
  • The future of the ELCA just might rest in its ability to engage in the Emergent conversation
  • People with PhD’s are rarely the most intelligent and never the most interesting people in the room
  • Sonic ice cream in a styrofoam cup will remain in a solid state for at least 90 minutes
  • A pre-req for being Emergent is odd facial hair, thick black-rimmed glasses, and shirts with buttons

It was an excellent conference; though not for the things that were on the agenda, but for the things that happened organically.  I suppose that is true for most conferences…and I am going to another one in early December.  Time to go home and see the family…

Workshop – Tony Jones

October 23, 2008

Excellent workshop with Tony Jones about his new book, “The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier.”  (It seems that he neglected to bring copies of the book to sell at the conference, so I’m linking to his site where you can find out how to order it.)  He’s a passionate man with a lot of wisdom.  He’s also pretty controversial in many circles…and I tend to agree with him on 90% of the things we discussed.  I’m not sure what that means for me, so I just hope that stake-burnings for heretics aren’t making a comeback.

Here are the notes I took…more reflections later on…


Structure of the Book

Chapter 1 – Landscape of American Protestantism, and how the Emergent movement fits
Chapter 2 – Biography of Emergent Village
Chapters 3, 4, 5 — Theology & Philosophy of the Emergent movement
Chapter 6 – Profiles of 4 churches (including Jacob’s Well)

“Residential seminary is a dead model, and we need to move beyond it.”

“I don’t think we should use the word ‘sin anymore – we should used the word ‘f****d’.” — Mark Driscoll

Reason for Writing the Book
– Converting Protestantism
– “Emergent is one of the few hopes for the future of American Protestantism”
– Tried to write like a columnist (kinda like Thomas Friedman, NY Times)

People to talk to about how to work within Protestant denominations

Karen Ward

Diana Butler Bass

Nadia Bolz-Weber

Roy Terry


“Lutherans don’t live out their notion of ‘priesthood of all believers’ because pastors have to say the magic words over the magic bread and the magic juice.  It’s not only non-Biblical, it’s gnostic!”

Conversation Between TJ and me:

Tony – It’s important for church members to establish a relationship with their pastor.  This requires a pastor to stay put for a while and make real connections with people.

Erik – What happens when the pastor leaves?

Tony – Their pastors will not leave these communities anytime soon.

Erik – What happens when they retire or die?

Tony – These churches do not think that they should exist 30 years from now.  We’re not about building institutions.  The church is for the people in a particular time and space.  It will look very different for the next generations.  It’s our job to allow that to happen.

Scriptural Foundation for the above argument
Mount of Transfiguration when Peter says, “let’s build a church here”…and Jesus doesn’t even give Peter the time of day.  It’s the only time in Mark’s gospel that Jesus is called upon directly, but provides no response.
“Churches are often times mission-minded until they build a big new building.  Their ministry shifts from outreach to trying to fill the building.”


“The guardians / caretakers / practitioners of orthodoxy in our Christian life is the Holy Spirit; NOT clergy, Robert’s Rules of Order, and institutional bureaucracy.  It’s not Biblical to abdicate power to people or a system.  Divesting power is what we’re called to do when we make disciples.  Power should reside in the local iteration of the Church.”