December 25: St. Mary’s Cathedral Gregorian Chant Christmas Service



The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption hosted a Gregorian chant service this Christmas. The chanting was great, but only a minor part of the service. The space was beautiful, though perhaps a bit dated. I’m no architect, but the place occupies some strange space between modern weirdo and a dated vision of the future. In other words, it’s 70’s as hell. There was a bit more sing-songiness to the spoken words than in other Catholic services I’ve been to, which I thought was cool. The church was mostly empty though and there didn’t seem to be much sense of kinship amongst folks. Most people simply looked at each other and said “peace be with you” during the Sign of Peace and seemed confused by my extending my arm for a handshake. I’m used to and appreciate lots more handshakes, smiles, and hugs during that portion of mass.

Being a part of a service with Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was particularly challenging for me, despite the words he was actually saying.  If you are unaware of the hoopla surrounding Cordileone, this article does a good job of summing it up. And here are the accompanying bits from Episcopal Bishop Marc Andrus:


Also, check out this sweet organ at the cathedral:


More on healthcare

This ain’t explicitly religious in nature, but it relates to this post and it’s something that matters a lot to me right now, as a person with no employer sponsored health insurance.

Fun fact on that one: My insurance premium went up about $95 (from about $200/mo to about $300/mo) and when I called to ask why, they said it was because they needed to be compliant with the Affordable Care Act. So ACA actually ended up making my insurance cost more?

Is Pope Francis Really the Anti-Benedict, or Just a Better Salesman?

Is Pope Francis Really the Anti-Benedict, or Just a Better Salesman?

The Book of Mormon


My friend surprised me with a front row ticket to see The Book of Mormon last night! I’ve since poked around a few other theologically minded blogs to read their reviews and compare notes.

First of all, I am not really a theatre guy, but I am very much a South Park and pop-religion (or something like that?) guy. The musical was exactly what I expected (dick & fart jokes interspersed between some sort of cultural criticism) and more (seeing South Park humor portrayed by live people in the flesh was some next level entertainment).

The white, male, American saviours of poor black people
This dude takes issue with the African song with the chorus of “fuck you, god,” saying that the writers are out of touch with Ugandan culture and that they would never say such a thing. Fair enough, maybe they should have been saying “fuck you, rich, white people.” I dunno, Ugandans may not say “fuck” at all. Nonetheless, it’s just a device they use to poke fun at the gospel of prosperity, and it was funny. So why does it matter if Ugandans would never sing such a song? People don’t live their lives in song no matter where they live.

The role of mythology in religion
This was the real meat and potatoes of the story. Is the bible meant to be interpreted absolutely literally? Or do religions use stories/metaphors/parables to engage believers while pointing towards deeper truths? If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that I’m obviously in the latter camp. This dude seems to be onboard until he confuses ends (doctrine) with means (allegory). It isn’t difficult to maintain firm beliefs about right and wrong while simultaneously viewing biblical stories as literary devices that help people understand truth. For example, one doesn’t have to believe that god literally chiseled 10 commandments on stone tablets and gave them to Moses on Mt. Sinai to believe that the 10 commandments are sacred truths. What people need are engaging stories they can relate to, not rich, white geeks telling them to conform or burn in hell.

Vocational discernment & prayer for outcomes
There ain’t a lot to say about this one, just that discernment is more about listening than asking.

I had more fun last night than I’ve had at a live performance in a very long time. During intermission I heard the woman next to me talk about how offended she was! I wanted to ask her if she had ever heard of the show before or how she ended up there.

December 20, 2013: Mission Minyan


This past Friday I went to the 6:30pm Mission Minyan service.

Mission Minyan meets in the San Francisco Women’s Building, this time right above some sort of heavy hitting party downstairs. This service was challenging because it was entirely chanting/singing/reciting in Hebrew. We were provided with books that had everything written in Hebrew, with English translations & transliterations, but it was still difficult because the language is so foreign to me. I split my time between trying to read along out loud, trying to read the translations, and worrying that my yarmulke might fall off my head. The service was led entirely by laypeople and they had crackers, chocolates, and wine at the end. I’m told that there are usually snack sponsors who hook up more badass food. I don’t know much about the Jewish Shabbat meal, but it seems like folks in the congregation welcome each other and strangers into their homes for food after service. Did I get that right? I ended up going to a bar afterwards for dinner.

One thing’s fer sure: Mission Minyan has the sweetest header logo that I’ve ever seen on a religious congregation’s website.

Google search: christianity revelation climate change

I have been looking at Genesis/creation to see what the bible has to say about stewardship/dominion/gardening/caring for creation/etc. Tonight I figured that it might also be interesting to see what Revelation might have to say about climate change (i.e. what happens if we don’t fulfill our roles as caregivers of god’s creation). This is what I found in my initial Google search:


Click on this!

(This is what the website says):

Question: “How should a Christian view climate change? What does the Bible say about climate change?”

Answer: It is interesting to note how the phrase “climate change” is replacing “global warming” as the catch phrase of environmentalism. Scientists/climatologists are certain that human activity, primarily greenhouse gas emissions, is impacting the environment. What they are not certain about is precisely what the impact will be. A couple of decades ago, “global cooling” was the fear, with warnings of a new ice age being the primary scare tactic. While most scientists/climatologists today believe that global warming is the primary risk, uncertainty has led to “climate change” being used as a less specific warning. Essentially, the climate change message is this: greenhouse gas emissions are damaging the environment, and, while we are not certain what the effect will be, we know it will be bad.

Climatologists, ecologists, geologists, etc., are unanimous in recognizing that the earth has gone through significant temperature/climate changes in the past. Despite the fact that these climate changes were obviously not caused by human activity, these same scientists are convinced that human activity is the primary cause of climate change today. Why? There seem to be three primary motivations.

First, some truly and fully believe the greenhouse gas emissions are causing climate change. They honestly examine the data and come to that conclusion. Second, some hold to the climate change mindset with an almost religious fervor. Many elements within the environmentalist movement are so obsessed with protecting “Mother Earth” that they will use any argument to accomplish that goal, no matter how biased and unbalanced it is. Third, some promote the climate change mentality for financial gain. Some of the strongest proponents of climate change legislation are those who stand to have the greatest financial gain from “green” laws and technologies. Before the climate change mindset is accepted, it should be recognized that not everyone who promotes climate change is doing so from an informed foundation and pure motives.

How, then, should a Christian view climate change? We should view it skeptically and critically, but at the same time honestly and respectfully. Most importantly, though, Christians should look at climate change biblically. What does the Bible say about climate change? Not much. Likely the closest biblical examples of what could be considered climate change would be the end times disasters prophesied in Revelation 6–18. Yet these prophecies have nothing to do with greenhouse gas emissions; rather, they are the result of the wrath of God, pouring out justice on an increasingly wicked world. Also, a Christian must remember that God is in control and that this world is not our home. God will one day erase this current universe (2 Peter 3:7-12) and replace it with the New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21–22). How much effort should be made “saving” a planet that God is eventually going to obliterate and replace with a planet so amazing and wonderful that the current earth pales in comparison?

Is there anything wrong with going green? No, of course not. Is trying to reduce your carbon footprint a good thing? Probably so. Are solar panels, wind mills, and other renewable energy sources worth pursuing? Of course. Are any of these things to be the primary focus of followers of Jesus Christ? Absolutely not! As Christians, our focus should be proclaiming the truth of the gospel, the message that has the power to save souls. Saving the planet is not within our power or responsibility. Climate change may or may not be real, and may or may not be human-caused. What we can know for certain is that God is good and sovereign, and that Planet Earth will be our habitat for as long as God desires it to be. Psalm 46:2-3, “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

Recommended Resources: Balancing the Christian Life by Charles Ryrie and Logos Bible Software.

While he is not the author of every article on, for citation purposes, you may reference our CEO, S. Michael Houdmann.

Read more:

Wow. We’re fucked.

Jesus Was. . . .


Was Jesus entirely nonviolent?

I don’t think he was entirely anti-public prayer either. The point of that passage is just to point out that we need appropriate motivation for prayer. Jesus would not be opposed to praying in public should you be doing so out of an honest and loving heart. That being said, a lot of the public prayer that Christians champion would likely fall under the pompous category of prayer that Jesus was against.