So I’ve got these thoughts that race through my head. Some of them keep coming back. A lot. One of these is time travel. Take a second. Get all the odd looks and laughs out of your system. Now let’s get down to it: time travel is super interesting. Time travel is richly reflected in a myriad of disciplines–science, philosophy, film, and literature to name a few.

The theory of time travel first caught my attention in the movie Back to the Future (and its sequels). I fell in love with the theory after seeing Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and getting into a bit of philosophy. After years of thinking and dreaming about time travel, I had concluded that time travel was impossible because, if it were to ever exist, people would have traveled back in time and time travel always would have existed. After doing some more reading (as unreliable as Wikipedia sometimes is), I found out that a lot of scientific thought (and a little research) has gone into the area of time travel. In fact, Stephen Hawking has a similar theory regarding time travel as mine…although his is much more complicated, informed, intelligent, and detailed. I learned a little about general relativity in physics classes in high school and college, and remember a bit about time dilation. After reading a few more articles, though (in addition to Wikipedia), I have a renewed hope in time travel. The research seems to indicate that time travel might indeed be possible in the future, and will likely involve wormholes and/or some sort of advanced propulsion system–and it might only be possible to move into the future…which would not be able to be checked. Here’s another, slightly more credible source with some expert interviews.

So…time travel never ceases to supply us with something to ponder, whether from a scientific, philosophical, or artistic sense. What, if any, are your thoughts on time travel? Personally, I don’t think we could change the past because then we would change our present in ways that might prevent us from acting as we did (and then I start to get confused). BUT, if you could go back in time, what would you do? Stop a war? Win a bet? Save a life? For now, time travel is a DeLorean at 88 mph, a phone booth filled with historical figures, and theoretical wormhole usage, but someday it may be realized. ‘Til then, I hope the theory of time travel feeds your heart or your mind for a while. And maybe sparks some good (albeit confusing) conversation.

August 8th of this past year was a great day for me. It was the one-year anniversary of the ’08 summer Olympics–my favorite. Oh, and I got married. The wedding day (really, the entire weekend) was a whirlwind of activity, family, pictures, and smiles (almost all real). It was fantastic, but I’ve never really put my thoughts on that weekend, or marriage so far, on paper. Frankly, I’ve barely even talked about marriage in too much detail, save for with my wife. Don’t get me wrong, I am often asked, “How’s married life?” I seldom know how to respond, though, since…you kind of have to do it to find out.

I don’t feel like I can “sum up” marriage so far, but I want to comment on in a bit. First, I love it. There are definite ups and downs, but my best friend is almost always the first person I see when I wake up and the last person I see before going to bed (except, of course, when she is home late or up early). That, in it of itself, is wonderful. Moreover, it’s nice having someone to come home to. Conversely, it’s also nice to have someone come home to you.

Second, I don’t know if the life of a married couple is all that different from a couple who lives together and have acknowledged their intentions of a long relationship. The primary difference, I think, arises in the “getting married” part. We had tons of our friends and family (although unfortunately not all) surround us, embrace us as a couple, and we all recognized the love that Kirsten and I shared and pledged to do our best to make this relationship last. It’s really a communal action. Or ritual. For us (and for many), it was also about being intentional about bringing God into the community of support for our love and relationship. I have found that our relationship (and life) has changed because of this sacred ritual. On a day-to-day basis, there’s little that differentiates marriage from co-habitation. But the knowledge that God and a community of our loved ones honors and supports our love, through all the ups and downs, is powerful. And hope-giving. And just plain great.

“I do” were the best two words I’ve ever said. I thank God each and every day for my wonderful wife, and our fantastic friends and family. Thanks to all who have congratulated us in the past (almost) five months, and a special thanks to all who attended. Marriage is a touchy subject for many reasons, including GLBT marriage and a skyrocketing divorce rate (and polygamy…my wife it watching Big Love online). I am sensitive to and my heart breaks for those who don’t (or can’t) have a similar marriage experience, and I pray that they are someday able. So, next time you ask me “How’s married life?” I”ll give you my stock answer: “It’s great, but it’s not all that exciting.” It may not always be exciting (we spend more nights in that most), but what I really mean is, “It’s the best thing to ever happen to me and I’m forever grateful to my wife, God, and all my friends and family who support us.”

P.S. Sorry for the sappy post. I’m thinking sports or science tomorrow…

After cooking dinner and doing dishes, I unwound tonight by watching Chopped on the Food Network. If you haven’t watched it, it’s great. It’s similar to most cooking competition shows out there, but with more exotic ingredient combinations and each show is its own self-contained competition for $10,000. The contestants start with a basket of ingredients, and must make an appetizer using all the ingredients (and whatever they want from the pantry) in 20 minutes. Then, they repeat with an entree and a dessert, ’til one person is crowned the winner. When a lot of interesting and creative cooking is combined with a timer, you get great television.

As entertaining as Chopped and other cooking shows (Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, Iron Chef, etc…) might be, I find them particularly facsinating because I love cooking. Really, I just love food. I enjoy the challenge and adventure that food presents. Nature provides us with naturally delicious things (for the most part), and we have the responsibility to draw out their natural flavors and the opportunity to create new combinations. Not only are there infinite possibilities, but no two dishes are the same. Plus, cooking creates beauty and can instill joy in someone. Some of my most cherished memories of family and friends are deeply rooted in the smells and tastes that mixed and mingled with our conversation and laughter. Helping create those memories, or even make my wife smile once, is a large part of why I love to cook.

Right now, I cook because I need to eat (and God knows my wife can’t cook), I enjoy it, and I can control (kinda) how it tastes. I’m not that great, but I am getting better and better with each chicken breast, pizza, chili, and salad–not to mention the plethora of cooking shows I watch (although, thankfully, I am no longer a slave to the Food Network!). I sometimes wonder, though, what it might look like to have a career in cooking. Could I have what it takes to be a chef? This interest in cooking isn’t anywhere near usurping my call to ministry, but maybe it can serve that calling? Is there such a thing as a pastor-chef? Some sort of food ministry? I know there are soup kitchens, but…the one food I don’t really like is soup. I can get behind the soup kitchen idea, but could never be a soup kitchen chef. Maybe God will use me for a few years or decades, and I’ll pursue cooking as a later vocation? For now, though, I’ll stick to making regular meals, occasionally wowing my wife, and sharing smiles and adventures with good food.

I admit it. I am a blog reader. My RSS feed is pretty long…and I actually read most of the blog posts of my friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and some strangers whose ideas I found either moving, thought-provoking, funny, or cool. One of these people is Tony Jones, whom I think fits in between a few of these categories. Tony is probed and attacked (but also lauded and supported) for several “controversial” beliefs. One of these beliefs is the support of same sex marriage. Tony’s beliefs are quite thoughtful, theologically sound (I would say), and well-reasoned–he doesn’t take matters of faith as lightly as some of my colleagues might think.

Today, Tony posted a blog entry regarding the performance of legal marriage by clergy. Please read it for yourself, but basically, Tony suggests that we should separate legal and sacramental marriage because our current system “requires that the clergyperson act as an extension of the state.” For the most part, I agree with Tony’s logic and theology here, and think his idea is very creative and smart. I do question, though, how reasonable it is that enough pastors would commit to this in order to make a real difference and force the state to see these two unions differently.

So, in processing Tony’s idea (or call), and the discussion surrounding it, I’ve been very much thinking about my own (future) ministry. Next year, I will be in the middle of internship at a Lutheran church. I don’t think I’ll be allowed to officiate during wedding ceremonies, but I will after ordination, in a few short years (hopefully). Would I be willing to refuse to perform a legal marriage for a couple in my congregation? I’m not sure. There are many things at play here, such as “what is meant by the ‘sanctity of marriage?'” and the biggie: “What relationship should there be (if any) between the church and state? And why?” These are huge questions. I want to commit to separate legal and sacramental marriage, but I think of the couple seeking marriage. Until something is changed, is it pastorally responsible to make a stand, but refuse a couple the right to be married by a pastor? I realize that they could find another pastor or be married in a courthouse. I also am aware of my lack of experience in performing and preparing to perform a wedding (although I am married and went through marriage preparation and whatnot with a pastor). Sometimes we need to put individual concerns behind the need to make a stand for justice. The tough thing, though, is discerning when it is right to do so. What do you think, is this one of those time? And is this the right way? I’m not sure, but I will certainly spend time thinking, conversing, and praying about it. Blessings and Peace to all of you.

Last year, I was the Assistant Coach of the Redeemer Lutheran boys basketball team. It was great getting to know the team and all the individual guys, but…I didn’t do much. I helped drive, scrimmaged with them, and did the score book. This year, I’m the Head Coach of the Redeemer Lutheran middle school boys basketball team. I miss the high school guys (although I see them at church), but coaching the middle schoolers is fantastic. At first, I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t do too much scheming and play-calling, but it has freed me up to connect with the boys. We’ve only had one game so far, but I can already tell that this will be a fun, rewarding season.

Redeemer is my “teaching congregation” (a church that seminarians select (or are placed at) to worship and join in the ministry wherever we see fit or there is a need). After over a year of being at Redeemer, I barely think of it as a “teaching congregation,” but more so as my home. And I think that’s because of the nature of Redeemer. I’ll post sometime this month about all the great parts of Redeemer (and maybe some of the not-so-perfect parts), but it’s really a close (and also welcoming) community. Coaching is tiring, but I’m thankful for the chance to be with these kids in fellowship. Over the next few months, I’ll be working through this coaching business–how much do I just “be” with the guys, with my genuine interest in their lives and journies? And how much do I try to teach them basketball, hold them accountable for their actions, be a role model, and be a teacher? Luckily, I’ll have plenty of practices, game days, and car rides to figure it out…and all the while will have tons of fun. And hopefully win a few games (although the players already have aspirations of an undefeated season).

P.S. In case you were wondering how our first game went this afternoon, we won 71-28! We’ve got plenty to work on, but I can’t deny the ridiculous talent and hustle the guys have. In many ways, they’ll make my coaching job pretty easy.

P.P.S. This still counts as a Sunday night post, right? Okay, good.

Tomorrow, I “officially” begin my marathon training. Having only run a few miles a couple times a week over the past few months (with a few weeks of doing almost nothing over the holidays), I’ll slowly be building up my mileage. I’m basing my training off of http://www.marathontraining.com/marathon/marathon.html. I’ll run about 4x a week (sometimes 5x), with some cross training and weight lifting built in. I’ll get at least one day of complete rest every week, sometimes more. I just bought new shoes: Brooks Beasts. They sound cool, but they’re really special extra support, motion control shoes. I do a bit of over pronation and (in case you haven’t noticed) don’t really have a runner’s build (even when I’m in shape). These babies cost me $130–thankfully I got a gift card to REI from my parents for Christmas, so they weren’t quite as bad. But $130? That is the most I’ve ever spent on footwear. Ever. Even after years of basketball, hiking, and dressing up, I have never spent that much. But…Kirsten reminded me that it’ll be worth it if I run on them several times a week (and avoid injury).

As mentioned yesterday, I’ll be running Grandma’s Marathon on June 19, 2009 in Duluth, MN. Registration opens January 14th–and it’s first come, first serve. I’ll be signing up with the Youth Director from the church I attend/coach/study, and a few other parishioners. We better not get turned down.

Well…I better finish up this post, since sleep will be a big part of training. Frankly, I love having a goal to work toward. I won’t be keeping track of my times, only miles. As much as my goal is to finish the race–I want to enjoy the journey. It won’t be easy, but I welcome the challenge…and look forward to the adventure. Wish me luck!

2009 was fantastic. Well…kind of. This year consisted of incredible highs and lows. Among the highs were the wedding, seminary, and CPE. Among the lows were some family/relationship difficulties (although they were obviously worked out), financial troubles, and CPE. Yes, CPE was both a high and a low. Kirsten and I are settling into our marriage (not in a boring way, I don’t think). We’re learning how we best live together, how to be social together, and how to stay at least somewhat independent. It has certainly been a work in progress and will continue to be. Through all the highs and the lows, 2009 has proven to be fairly stressful, as in, more stressful than the sum of its parts. 2009 was a veritable mix of praises and laments–but there have been more smiles than tears. In the wake of such a year, I am very thankful for friends and family (especially family) for being supportive in more ways than I thought possible, during both the good and the not-so-good times. I am truly blessed.

In 2010, both Kirsten and I have decided to live more simply. This has slightly different meanings for each of us, but we pray that is leads to more peace, a stronger relationship, better time management, and a healthier/happier life. Another one of our main goals is to be in bed around 10pm every night except weekends…when we still plan on getting 8 hours of sleep. I plan to continue discerning the best way I can spend time in prayer and study each day–continuing to work on opening myself up and listening to God. I also plan on running a marathon in June. Yes, I’m serious. Grandma’s marathon on June 19, 2010. So that’ll obviously require some diligent training. Finally, at least for the month of January, I hope to post something on this blog each day. I’ve done a crappy job of posting these past few months, but I think I’ve had pretty good reasons not to. Regardless, I miss writing. I forsee some deeply theological posts, some pop culture (and possibly its theological implications), some sports stuff, and some cute cat pictures.

Now, I’m not calling these things “resolutions.” It may be a matter of semantics, but I think we are continually shaping ourselves to be happier, love better, and know God more. My school schedule, over and above the new year, greatly lends itself to these new changes. That said, the newness of the year, the lengthening of the days, and the continued season of Christmas are all about beginnings. Kirsten and I have much to look forward to this year: internship (and the travel that it might entail), one last undergrad credit, our 1-year anniversary, a marathon, new jobs, and constantly growing as a family (no, not with children yet). So, I pray that 2010 brings us many joys and adventures. I hope that in living lives of simplicity, Kirsten and I can best be present to the complex trials, tribulations and triumphs that inherently present themselves. And that we may live with (and spread) the Peace of God that passes all understanding.

I hope and pray that you are able to look back fondly upon 2009. Even if you aren’t, I pray that God blesses each and every one of you (if anyone is reading this) with peace, joy, faith, love, family, truth, and adventure.

In one of my classes that just finished up, we had one journal entry due each week, based on the topic given by our teacher. Now, this whole “required journaling” thing strikes me as odd. Requiring someone to reflect on their lives in one particular manner neglects the myriad of ways that people are already doing this. I can almost guarantee that people do some sort of reflection, whether through conversation (a big one), a diary, a blog, just thinking to themselves, and many others. At the same time, I have grown to see the value in being intentional and faithful about writing one’s reflections and exploring faith, life, and whatnot through words and pictures. And then coming back to it. I’m reminded of the end of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18: “So long lives this [writing], and this gives life to thee.” Ideas have a life of their own, but this life is oh-so-short if we don’t write them down. People are, after all, quite forgetful. Even me. Especially me (just ask my wife). Getting into the habit of doing a double-entry meta-reflective journal-extraordinaire (the last compound word is my doing) is a truly valuable skill for anyone, but especially someone who is to be a future leader in the church, and is seeking to more fully join in the missio Dei.

I’ve been following and reading blogs for a while now (and dabbling in Twitter), testing the waters of social media. Yes, I’ve been on Facebook since it’s inception, but have only recently used it to network with more than my friends. I’ve also kept a journal sporadically since I was in elementary school. I figure now, as I’m coming in to my own as a married man, seminary student, and aspiring Renaissance man, is as good as any time to finally start this blog.

As for the actual subject matter of the blog, it will likely start as a bit of mixed bag. I strive to be well-rounded, and explore all of the neat things life has to offer. While I’m an aspiring (albeit failing) Renaissance man, I’ll mostly focus on matters of faith and reflections on life. That said, staying true to my liberal arts education and interests, I’ll throw in some posts about music, art, literature, and sports. I’m going to try my best to avoid any cute stories or videos featuring my cat…but no promises.

Thanks for reading!

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