Is communion intellectual property?

I learned a hard lesson today. Some of you saw my post where I had developed a contemporary version of our United Methodist communion liturgy Word and Table and recorded it on my iPhone. A friend informed me that there was a copyright issue with doing that, so I wrote the United Methodist Publishing House and was promptly ordered to take down the video and the blog post. I’m not meaning to be snarky, but wow, communion liturgy is intellectual property? Continue reading

We are always praying; the question is to whom

Yesterday our senior pastor preached a thought-provoking sermon on prayer based upon Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6. He talked about the way that prayer is a privilege, not just an obligation, and that it can encompass a variety of behaviors that are done intentionally in the presence of God. What hit me today as I sat in mass at the basilica is that we are always praying; we just often aren’t praying to God. Continue reading

How do we do confirmation post-James KA Smith?

For those of you Jesus nerds who haven’t read James K.A. Smith, you need to change that. Smith names what is probably the most important problem with the way that the church approaches teaching: we teach as though people are most fundamentally rational creatures whose actions are shaped by the abstract principles that they just need to get drilled into their heads, when in fact people are more fundamentally liturgical creatures whose habits shape them far more than their principles. I was thinking about this as I interviewed our church’s confirmands this past week: what would a liturgical confirmation process look like?

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A brilliant rebuttal to my attack on suburbia

So I thought some of you who are tired of my blogomaniac hubris would get a kick out of watching me get owned by one of my friends in a response that he sent to my critique of suburban culture. He gave me permission to share it as long as he could remain anonymous. He’s absolutely right that “suburbia” ends up being a scapegoat depository where hipsters like me project everything we don’t like about America or even just modern culture. Anyway, what I really love is the way he shows how different aspects of worship are the antidote to the social problems I described. So it’s an excellent application of James K.A. Smith’s liturgical theory. It’s way better than what I originally wrote, so enjoy. Continue reading

Thanksgiving: Our Duty and Our Salvation

Every week at the Monday mass in the basilica during the Eucharist liturgy, the priest says, “It is indeed right and just, our duty and our salvation always and everywhere to give you thanks, God, our Father Almighty.” To the “I love Jesus but hate religion” crowd, this phrase is doubly scandalous. So you’re trying to save yourself with something that you do as a duty? Isn’t that the definition of works-righteousness? I’m sure the Roman Catholic Church has an official answer to this. I wanted to share what I have meditated upon as I’ve thought about it on this holiday in which we celebrate giving thanks, which by the way is what Eucharist means in Greek. Continue reading