corporate worship

what’s wrong with corporate worship in the evangelical church? and how are we going to fix it?

we’ve set up a model to reach “(post) modern ears.” but lets ask some hard questions. has the method hardened into dogma? does our (post) modern worship end up excluding worshipers? does it even really lead post-modern hearts into the presence of the lord where they can offer up the true worship that the father desires?

are we doing the church any favors?

how about you? do you participate in corporate worship and find yourself wrestling with dullness in your heart? wandering thoughts? how many times in the last six months have you had to remind yourself that worship is a discipline whether you feel like it or not? now, how much of that is really the fault of your unrepentant heart and how much is the fault of the method?

i’m wrestling with this right now, so if you’ve got any “yes,” “no way,” or “how about,” please let me know.

victory of slaves

we abhor fighting for freedom. freedom gotten by the sword is an established bondage to some part or other of the creation. victory that is gotten by the sword is a victory that slaves get one over another.

– gerrard winstanley, leader of the diggers, 1650 (quoted in kurlansky, m. nonviolence. ny: modern library, 2006.)

what do you think?

men respect women

lynzi asked if there are any women writers i respect, and i thought i’d answer publicly. i’m a real man’s fiction lover: peter carey, david wallace, david maine, richard russo, russell banks, charles mccarry, david mitchell, you’ve heard me praise them over and over.

but there are more than a few female authors i really love to read, too, so here they are.

i can’t say enough about annie dillard‘s pilgrim at tinker creek, and i’ll be tackling her novel, the living, at the beginning of the 2007-2008 season of 52 books. her powers of observation and description are anointed.

i’ve told you before about marilynne robinson, winner of the 2004 pulitzer prize for fiction for her amazingly graceful gilead. her debut novel, housekeeping, written something like 25 years earlier, is also astounding. i hope she writes another in my lifetime (or hers).

although i can’t get through all of her books, toni morrison‘s best books are giants: beloved, song of solomon, the bluest eye.

i love kaye gibbons‘s southern world. she recently published the long-delayed follow-up to ellen foster, a great read (and another super-quick one, too, lynz!).

alice munro writes quiet, powerful short stories (about women), and she’s pretty consistently worth waiting for.

i don’t know that these names tower above any others for me, but i think the best book i read this year was joan didion‘s the year of magical thinking; i haven’t yet been disappointed by the fairy-worlds of susanna clarke; if i ever get to another title, i think i could grow to love anne tyler‘s writing.

and, you know, i’m waiting expectantly to read harry potter and the deathly hallows, written by a woman.

how about you, dear reader. any women writers you really like?

getting into the habit

but what to say?

i’ve been required to step into the shoes of the IT (as in Information Technology) guy at work, and learned that i never want to be an IT guy. this week i have to manually update the daylight savings time settings on every single pc in the library, a process that takes about 15 minutes per pc, with three or four interventions each time. blech. the upside is that all your co-workers think you’re magic, which is nice for my ego, except that i know the truth. nice for my pretend ego, then.

i’m not going to make my quota for 52 books this year. for some reason, i decided i had to read three or four massive tomes in a row (team of rivals by doris kearns goodwin, parting the waters by taylor branch, and gravity’s rainbow, for heaven’s sake, by thomas pynchon), and they pretty much killed my average. i just finished title 41 (the absolutely perfect st. lucy’s home for girls raised by wolves, a short story debut by karen russell, which you should rush out to your local library and put on reserve right now! now! stop reading and go!), and since this thing runs from april to march, i have to read 11 more titles in the next 6 weeks (you do the math). plus, a couple of those 11 titles are also behemoths (branch’s second in the trilogy, pillar of fire, and g. j. meyer’s world war i history, a world undone), so…

next week i get to fool around with an electric bass guitar, which is exciting. oh, and, have you heard panda bear’s person pitch? its what simon and garfunkel would have sounded like if they were psych rockers with sequencers. maybe one of the best albums i’ve heard in years, can’t wait till it comes out (along with the arcade fire’s neon bible, which is possibly even better than funeral if you can believe that or even know what i’m talking about).

whew. there. that wasn’t so hard.