Friday, June 27, 2008

Time Out!

I been working almost exclusively with pre-schoolers the past 2 years at church and thoroughly enjoying watching Super Nanny. recently published a great article on effective use of the timeout.

It underscores what we (Evan and I), as behaviorists, have said before about longterm effective reinforcement - Positive/negative, Certain and Immediate consequences. I am not a parent, but I have experienced many times in a multitude of contexts how consistency and calmness results in obedience and respect. I'm pretty good about the immediate and the calmness aspects. I had not considered the timing. When I enforce a timeout with a child, I usually use terms like "take a break," rather than "time out," in part, simply to remove them immediately from the bad behavior and create a space where they can start over with new positive behaviors. I also try to name specifically what their doing wrong. Even though some things we have read have said to not provide an individual warning once the rules for behavior are laid out, I try to enforce the consequence after only one warning. That can be a hard thing to do.

The other thing I've noticed is that, even at a young age, the child will try to shift blame or include others in the correction. (This is true of tattling in general.) This may not seem fair, but I simply call the child on his/her own behavior. e.g. "I told you not to do this . . . not Bud. You need to think about your actions not Bud's. Etc."

I think this has been pretty effective because I think they sense I'm not there to make their lives miserable. They also know I mean what I say. And they will obey me, then, in other things as well.

These are some great kids!

What do you think about this article's definition of the time out? What would your greatest weakness be in implementing the technique according to the article? Any other suggestions in making the timeout effective?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ha Ha . . . Ahem.

Admittedly less vitriolic than my own previous post, Jim Wallis comments on the JD BO tiff.

I appreciate his recognition of consistent pro-life convictions emerging among younger evangelicals.

I remember this big picture connection between God and life being made for me at a seminar with Tim Green on Old Testament preaching (or something like that) at MVNU. Thanks Tim!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Top Ten Things You Never Thought About Recycling

Some of my earlier posts on auntjuls have been talking about recycling, upcycling.

Here's an article on some often discarded items that can actually be reused or repurposed instead of simply thrown away.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ha Ha!

James Dobson is apparently the authority, also, on who is or is not distorting Scripture.

If you're not from Illinois, you may not understand. But I am from Illinois, so I'm always a bit suspicious of those in Illinios politics (sorry Marc) and the Chicago machine. I'm not sold on Obama for reasons other than that. But who is J.D. to declare who is rightly or wrongly using Scripture?

I'm sure there are some things that JD actually knows something about -- spiritual arrogance, self-publicity, moral condescension, oh yes, and some psychology . . . but is the interpretation of Scripture really one of these? Somehow, I doubt it.

Amazing . . .

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lo-Teching It

We're so enamored by hi-tech things. Slate's Explainer article, The 25-Cent Flood Protection Device, is a great illustration of the efficiencies and advantages of things lo-tech.

It got me to thinking. What other things might be just as, or more effective, by using the lo-tech rather than hi-tech solution?

Now, I am not a Luddite but I think it is worth questioning our modern assumptions.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fried: Follow up to Chicken Post

Maybe I really just don't understand what grace is, or what means of grace are -- but if it/they isn't/aren't fundamentally salvific in nature, then what is it?

Why make ourselves available to any means of grace - sacrament or not - if they're not going to work a change in our life?

If these aren't the things that do bring us into right relationship with God then why do anything at all?

Why is this salvific nature of sacrament such a problem?

Finally, it seems we have so "spiritualized" our salvation that we are no longer capable of being entirely saved. That is heart, soul, mind and strength.

What a position for us, of all people, to find ourselves in!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Top Ten New Species with Pictures!

The Top Ten New Species were announced by the International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) at Arizona State University. These were new species discovered and classified in 2007.

Photo Credit: IISE/ASU

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Strange Sight

Monday, June 16, 2008

Stuck in my Craw

OK, maybe I'm just missing something here, but my understanding of the Nazarene's stance on infant baptism is that it is a symbol, but it is not salvific. Huh?
If that's the case than what's the point at all? How can we claim to have any understanding of sacraments, grace or God if baptism is effective only in certain situations?
I'm on the cliff ready to jump . . . please tell me I'm missing it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Intro to Christian Ed

Once again, I am teaching. Yeah!
Once again, I am teaching something I have had no formal training in. Yeah!

I was (and am) happy to have the opportunity to teach for the Southwest Ohio district ministry classes. As usual, it happens to be something that I, myself, did not go to school for. That's ok. I imagine most professors are making up most of their stuff too. I'm teaching Introduction to Christian Education. Fortunately, unlike physical science, I do not have to take another certification test in order to teach this.

I went online and found 4 or 5 different CE syllabus from different Methodist, Nazarene schools and cobbled together my own working bibliography and outline for the class.

The truth is, education seems to get relegated to the side lines in favor of more attention getting ministry endeavors -- preaching, music, etc.

Walter Bruggeman has said, “Every community that wants to last beyond a single generation must concern itself with education.” That's must be true not just for a faith community, but it is particularly true.

I think the most liberating thing for me was realizing that education in the faith takes place everywhere in the church -- but we need to be aware and intentional about it. I figured this out at St. Paul's in Kansas City. I was trying to acclimate myself to my new associate pastor position, really understanding what that meant for my call and that local community. I read Educating Congregations by Charles R. Foster. He talked about creating events within the life of the church that form and transform. Just as the Passover recalls the Exodus story in vivid chewy details, a local faith community must recall and recreate the moments in their journey that made and make them who they are.

When I figured this out, it opened up new horizons for purpose in what we did and what we said. Just a few opportunities I had in the time I was there - a series of worship banners and paraments for the entire church year, fellowship infused with meaning (St. Patrick's Day cabbage and corned beef, Shrove Tuesday pancakes, etc.), Remember your Baptism video (including people from our church telling their baptism stories), intergenerational and family events (marble tournament, Advent wreath making night), ministry to our local parish (Block Party, staff prayer as we walked around the blocks of our neighborhood), Covenant groups using Wesley's covenant questions, creating a multi-cultural Nativity set with Anglo shepherds, Asian and middle-Eastern wisemen, an African angel, and an Indian Mary. But the list could go on.

The thing that I remember about these community events and efforts were 1) their intentionality 2) the intergenerationality 3) their participation.

What Evan and I struggle with right now is the conviction that pastoral ministry is substantially different than any other job in the world. The time I need to spend in prayer, preparation and in activity is qualitatively and quantitatively different than a CEO, a lawyer, a teacher, doctor, or any other profession would need to spend doing what they do. Because we are not CEO's or business people, my bottom line is not money, or tasks completed, or even numbers people. It is lives.

And as Anna Carter Florence points out in her recent lectionary reflections, "Think about the ordination services you have taken part in, recently. Have Jesus’ words in this passage ever appeared in the liturgy? My job is to charge the newly ordained, so I charge you, our Associate Pastor for Christian Nurture here at First Church, to do four things: cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons. Start with the Sunday School and then go after the youth group."

I appreciate that.

For this is the essential nature of Christian education -- a growing knowledge of Christ so that we may actually become more like him. And Christ does not call any of us to a faith built upon the most gold stars for attendance, the longest most urgent prayers, or the most convincing argument for the world being made in seven days. Empty works, false piety, intellectual bullying are not faith.

Vital Christian faith comes in our being restored to his Image. Meaning and integration comes as we see Him in each other. We see the Holy Spirit at work in our own lives and in the lives of our brothers and sisters. We can begin to name where God is among us. And where He still needs to come.

So that's what I have to say about CE right now. Where does CE take place in your local congregation? Is is "working" or isn't it? What events, outside the formal settings such as Sunday School or specific Bible study, does your community learn the faith?