<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d10069810\x26blogName\x3dNot+Prince+Hamlet\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dSILVER\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://nphamlet.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://nphamlet.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d5295355548743914979', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Sabbath Book Discussion

Thursday, November 30, 2006

NPH's contribution to a discussion about Norman Wirzba's new book, Living The Sabbath, can be found here.

NPH writes under the pseudonym "rsupinger."


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 5:42 AM | link | 0 comments |

Winter Itch

Or eczema. It is NPH's daily companion, and it really likes to come for visits when the air turns cold and dry. Long, protracted visits. NPH is doing his best to accomodate his guest, who's presence is especially enthusiastic this year, by beginning to take vitamin supplements and by slathering his hands and neck with Aquophor and then covering up with white cotton gloves. Good thing they're so fashionable.

Seriously, friend, any time you wanna leave is good with me.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 3:58 AM | link | 5 comments |

Volunteer Day

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

NPH is spending this morning down at the Salvation Army, answering phones for the annual adopt-a-family drive. Somebody in our church is an accountant for that organization and invited us to take part. Sadly, this will be the first all-out volunteering NPH has done since moving to KC.

In addition to the adopt-a-family drive, NPH is scheduled to lead a chapel service for Salvation Army staff next Tuesday.

Labels: ,

posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 4:02 AM | link | 0 comments |

Dayton Moore

Monday, November 27, 2006

NPH loves baseball, and a few short years in the Heartland has made him a devoted fan of the Kansas City Royals. NPH knows somebody who knows somebody, so he gets to go to games several times per season (although "knowing somebody" is certainly not a requirement for getting to see the Royals; they sell out exactly four times a season: opening day and the three games the Cardinals are in town). NPH reads about the Royals a lot, goes to games whenever he can, and listens to games on the radio faithfully.

So NPH devoured this article in the KC Star this morning by Bob Dutton. It's all about the decisions facing the new Royals General Manager, Dayton Moore, who was hired mid-season after Allard Baird was fired. Essentially, Moore faces the challenge of leading the transformation of an organization for consistent future success, all with scant financial resources(relative to baseball econmics, that is).

And so what's most important to Moore in that process? That's easy. Here's a money quote from the article:
"The most important exercise that we do every day,” Moore said, β€œis scouting and signing future talent in the international market and through the draft.”

In other words, you have to bring in new talent. And that talent has to be inculcated, coached, beat over the head with a consistent philosophy and style of play. To do this, the Royals have even created a new minor league team, a rookie squad, just so that they can bring in more young players.

There are lessons here for life, for sure. Give NPH some time to tease them out.

Labels: , , ,

posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 5:24 PM | link | 0 comments |

Where Is Rest?

NPH is reading a book by Norman Wirzba called Living The Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight. We're reviewing the book for The Ekklesia Project.

Note to self: write that review.

NPH struggles to rest. Even given time off, we tend to fill it with things that are not restful. Entertaining though they may be (television, blogging), they are not restful; we're more tired after them than we were before.

So we've begun to wonder: what is restuful for us? The above picture is NPH's home office, overlooking a rainy Monday afternoon on the Country Club Plaza. It's a day off, and we're using it to do loads of laundry, clean the house, straighten the office, fetch the Christmas decorations, and pay bills. And somewhere in these activities, as The Postal Service record plays through a second straight time, somewhere between the second and third loads of laundry, NPH realizes that he is resting. Yes, this is restful. Moreso than watching a movie; moreso, even, than blogging.

So, we shan't tarry; we will resume our restful working presently. Only, aware of what we are doing, and grateful for the rest and the rain.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 12:22 PM | link | 1 comments |

A Post While The Coffee Brews

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A test pot of a $4.50 bag of coffee from the local Price Chopper is brewing (it's called "Pears Coffee," and it's from Omaha--expectations aren't very high), and so a quick word.

Worship this morning at NPH's church: really nice. In a small church, you have to stop yourself from becoming depressed at the beginning of every worship service, and you have to learn to really enter into worship with the people who are there. The quality of the worship had by those attending is not likely to be much better than the quality of those leading; and quality in worship has damn all to do with numbers. This morning was encouraging. NPH hopes the word was brought with a degree of depth, and he's quite sure the people there were able to give themselves to God in that time. Thank God for worship.

In a couple of hours a small group of people will gather here in the pastor's study. It's our "membership exploration" group, the only thing resembling a small group to take place here since NPH started. The group isn't limited to people exploring membership, so one elder has been participating--even leading--from the beginning. We're spending some of our time in intercessory prayer, sharing the joys and concerns of those gathered and of the community and world, some of our time in a discussion of a chapter from N.T. Wright's Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. Then we concluding with a time of engaging the scriptures (or, rather, being engaged). Every week is a delight. NPH thinks this is the most worthwhile thing he has implemented since becoming the pastor here.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 2:33 PM | link | 0 comments |

"Resistance" as Will-To-Power

Saturday, November 25, 2006

When an institutional power is at odds with the values that your community holds and the ability to reform that institution also lays outside of your community's power, you have two choices: You can either submit to the powers that be and accept gradual conformity to its values or you can organize to resist.

So begins a post on the blog Classical Presbyterian (CP), written by a Texas pastor named Toby Brown. As an ordained Presbyterian minister, Brown is a colleague of NPH's, yet the two blogging pastors probably have little else in common. Such is the state of the PC (USA), for good and ill.
Brown wrote this week about "resistance," the effort that he is now committed to, having "lost," along with fellow militant conservatives, the intra-church fights over constitutional issues (whether Brown and company "lost" anything is a seriously suspect claim by itself, but his sense of defeat points up a major flaw in the decision-making system traditionally employed by the church, a difficulty that the PUP report so maligned by those conservatives prominently discussed: the creation of winners and losers).
The premise of this resistance, as evidenced by the above quotation, is that the values of Brown's congregation are at odds with the institutional structure of the church and that the church has taken away the ability of such congregations to reform it. NPH has serious difficulties with this assertion.
First of all, the assertion that the values of a congregation like Brown's are at odds with the institutional structure of the PC (USA) gives up, immediately, the langue of "right," "good," and "true" in exchange for the language of "values." This is a cultural capitulation against the likes of which Brown would rail were it to pertain to sexuality or church property.
Lesslie Newbigin writes about western civilization's captivity to the thought forms of modernity. He notes that,
"Claims to speak meaningfully about right and wrong are discounted. Instead, one speaks of 'values.' These values are a matter of personal choice. They express what the person who holds them wishes to see enacted. They are precisely expressions of the will."

Brown supposes that the "values" held by himself and his congregation are at odds with the larger church to which they both belong. Further, he asserts those values to be "classical Presbyterian" values, derived exclusively from Scripture (he talks about "equipping the saints with the truths of Biblical faith"--a thoroughly modern view of Scripture: Scripture as an infallible repository of "truths" to be unflinchingly applied to life).
What this claim demonstrates more than anything else is the utter refusal on the part of Brown and those who agree with him to engage in anything resembling a meaningful conversation about the "truth," about what is "right" and "good" for the church. Because they have chosen their values already, and chief among those values is a refusal to change one's mind, the value of steadfastly "taking a stand" in the face of conflict. This is just as much of a cultural accomodation as anything Brown and Co. openly despise in the larger church, if not moreso; it pervades everything they believe.
NPH believes that he is part of a church that is committed to discerning truth and goodness, not just asserting "values." The "resistance" of colleagues like Brown is easily recognizable as un-true and not good, because it is little more than a strategy for imposing one's will on others by refusing to yield, even by refusing to talk. It is a capitulation to culture, albeit to the culture of modernity, not the one we live in today.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:04 AM | link | 0 comments |

The Wisdom And The Cost of Peace

NPH spent some time in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1998/99, and so perks up when news items from that country come across the wires. Today comes one about a man appearing in court today after his arrest on on November 24th for storming Northern Ireland's government building (Storemont) with a backpack full of homemade bombs. It's not just any guy, though. It's Michael Stone, the man behind one of the most nototious acts of violence of the "troubles" in 1988(see video.) He was released from jail in 2000 under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, which made provision for the early release of [political] prisoners. Those provisions were some of the trickiest in the agreement, as citizens were forced to watch the people who murdered their friends and families go free as "political" prisoners.
Well now here's one doing exactly what opponents of the peace agreement said released prisoners would do--return to violence. The truth is that the majority of released prisoners have not done that. But this will give critics ammunition (no pun intended) for a long while.

Labels: ,

posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 5:26 AM | link | 0 comments |

"Deliver Me From My Enemies"

Friday, November 24, 2006

NPH's daily reading of the Psalms has yielded this phrase more than once this week. "Deliver me from my enemies." Strangely, for the first time in his life, NPH feels like he has enemies, only they're not the things that a technological age thinks are enemies. Because they are the technology. Or they are a person's use of the technology. Or they are a technology's use of a person.
Computers, television, video games, mp3's: NPH is only starting to see the ways in which these devices conspire to claim valuable chunks of his time and attention and to deny him the fulfillment and the rest that they promise. For example, NPH three days ago finally dove headlong into the bittorrent phenomenon, and he has since acquired innumerable records he has long desired to have. To what result? Fulfillment? Enjoyment, even? Not really. Instead he is fatigued and finds his thoughts increasing drifting towards other things to look for, to discover, to acquire.
To be delivered from these enemies is the only thing that will save. NPH cannot manage them, cannot avoid being given completely over to them for a time. Alas, NPH cannot, it seems, avoid worshiping them by offering to them the most valuable chunks of time and attention he has to give.
They have crept into NPH's life with a whisper about "leisure" and "recreation"--"education" even--and they have established strongholds in my everyday routine. They are occupiers. They are enemies.
Deliver me from my enemies.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 10:01 AM | link | 0 comments |

Can This Be Done?

Blogging as a useful regular practice, that is. NPH has wrestled all along with the question of what, exactly, a blog is good for and why he alternately should and should not be spending time with one. This blog was conceived as a sort of escape, a way for a small church pastor to write about things that don't pertain to "work." Over the months, these things have most prominently included werewolf movies and Douglas Rushkoff.
Entire weeks have passed now where the demands of funerals, nominating committees, and stewardship campaigns have rendered blog fodder completely meaningless, so that spending time posting would be to take away time for other valuable activities, like preparing sermons, reading, or even just resting.
That's been good. But NPH is challenged by the example of some good blogs, maintained by people in the same vocation, as a vehicle for critical reflection and even faith formation. Foremost of these are Kairos and Church For Starving Artists, not to mention Andrew Sullivan, who, though he is primarily a news commentator, is a committed person of faith who whips out gems like this.
So let's give this another go. Let's see if NPH can't be a regular participant in a community of thinking and learning not restricted to content constituting an "escape" from work. It's all work, really. And that's good, as long as it's good work.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 8:59 AM | link | 1 comments |