Monday, October 31, 2016

Podcast #009 - Over the Garden Wall

"Into the Unknown"

On this Halloween-y Times episode, Emily & Alan discuss Emily's new favorite creepy, weird production, the 2014 Cartoon Network mini-series "Over the Garden Wall."

In the course of the discussion, we talk about Halloween, American folk religion, liminal spaces, scary forests, and demons. And we reply to some of the lovely things that our lovely listeners have said to us recently.

Click on the player below to listen to the episode:

Right-click to download the episode.

You may also subscribe to the podcast through iTunes or the RSS Feed.

Link: The music of Anderson Cale
Link: A doctoral dissertation on liminality and the Bible

We would love to hear from you about this issue, the podcast episode, or the podcast in general. Send e-mail feedback to 

You can follow Alan on twitter @ProfessorAlan

Monday, October 24, 2016

Book Review of "Strength For The Journey"

Strength for the Journey, by Diana Butler Bass. Hardcover.
Diane Butler Bass is an author, retreat leader, and seminary professor. In this book, she combines her personal church history with sociological and theological insights to present this look at the present state and future of mainline churches in the United States.
Bass’ main point is that although mainline churches have spent the last few decades losing members (hemorrhaging, some may say), that there is in fact renewal taking place in those denominations. Her focus is on the Episcopal Church, of which she has been a member since her twenties, but she believes that what she sees there applies to other mainline American churches.
Bass talks about her post-college drift away from Evangelicalism, and being drawn towards the Episcopal Church. She spent a few decades moving from city to city for career and family purposes, giving her experience at a number of different congregations. She was able to experience shrinking and growing congregations, older and younger congregations, and stable and changing congregations. All of this experience is woven skillfully into the work.
Her conclusions are interesting, and counter-cultural. I am not convinced that she will eventually be proven right, and that mainline churches will recover a leadership position in society, but her arguments are interesting. Bass has an academic background, but the personal aspects of the narrative help keep the book easily readable. She saves the most traditionally academic analysis until the last few chapters.
Source: public library. I sought out a book by this author after hearing her interviewed (in relation to a different book) on the Nomad Podcast. 

This review originally appeared at: Alan's Eyes and Ears.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Summit on Race Relations

On a weekend in late September, Senior Pastor Rich Nathan and campus pastor Dr. Charles Montgomery preached a joint sermon on  building a multi-ethnic church. Their church, Vineyard Columbus, has over the last decade transformed itself from a standard overly-white evangelical church into a congregation representing nearly 100 nations.

In this sermon, the two men take turns telling their stories of how racial reconciliation became important to them. They talk about the positives that have come from a commitment to building a multi-ethnic congregation, as well as the sacrifices that each had to make as a result of that commitment.  It was a fascinating and eye-opening event.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Major Milestone for "The Podcasting Priest"

We have mentioned Father Roderick from SQPN previously, regarding his YouTube videos that use LEGOs to present church teachings.

Father Roderick is  also a pioneer in the world of podcasting, and recently released the 1000th epiosde of The Break, his flagship show.

The show has gone through a few iterations over the nearly 10 years that it has been around. For a time, it was a daily show, but now comes out (mostly) weekly. The show includes reviews of geek-related movies and TV, along with discussions of current history and information about the Catholic Church.

Congratulations to Father Roderick on reaching this impressive podcasting milestone. Here is to another 1,000 more!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Happy St. Francis Day!

St. Francis lived from approximately 1181 to 1226. His legend was such that he was canonized just a few years after his death. In his 44 years of life, Francis accomplished quite a bit. He founded multiple religious orders that still go strong today. He was a skilled poet, and a great teacher about the value of God's creation. He witnessed to the world the value of poverty, and is credited with creating the first Nativity scene.

In addition to penning the famous Canticle featuring "Brother Sun" and "Sister Moon," he was known as a lover of animals. He once left a group of traveling companions, asking them to "wait for me while I preach to my sisters the birds."

Many Catholic churches recognize Francis' commitment to God's world by offering a "blessing of the animals" service. Mostly that's for dogs, but I've heard of more exotic animals coming being brought to these services, as well. My pets have always been cats, and I wonder how many well-meaning cat owners have been clawed and scratched attempting to have their felines blessed.

The current Pope took inspiration from this saint in selecting his name upon being raised to the Papacy. This is reflective of both men's commitment to the cause and care of the poor.