Ordain Thyself Makes CNN

Best part of the article is that they found a guy from Liberty University who doesn’t like the app (though there’s no indication that he’s even seen it):

Ordination on the go? There’s an app for that!

By Laura Koran, CNN

(CNN) – Ever wondered what it would be like to become ordained as a priest, rabbi or imam?

If you have an iPhone, you could be just a few screen swipes away from finding out.

That’s because Tony Jones, theologian-in-residence at Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has developed an application, or “app,” that allows iPhone users to experience mock ordinations in more than two dozen faiths.  Solomon’s Porch is a Christian ministry that began as a local church and today calls itself a “holistic, Christian, missionary, community.”

The app, called Ordain Thyself, doesn’t confer any legitimate religious credentials to its users, but it does allow iPhone owners to see what they would look like wearing the religious garb of different clerics, and read a brief and humorous overview of various world religions.

Jones, himself an ordained minister, decided to create the app partly to combat what he sees as an inability of faith leaders to laugh about themselves and their religions.

The app is advertised as an entertainment product, but Jones hopes users will learn more about the world’s religions when they play around with it, a goal Johnnie Moore finds dubious.

“That’s a little stretch,” Moore, a vice president of Liberty University, told the Belief Blog, adding that the app contributes in many ways to the stereotyping of belief systems.

“I kind of wish that all of this effort had been put into something a little more educational,” Moore added, saying that Americans could really benefit from efforts to better understand world religions.

via Ordination on the go? There’s an app for that! – CNN Belief Blog – CNN.com Blogs.

Everyday Spirituality: A New Series

The garden has taken over. So it’s become a spiritual practice for me.

A few years ago, I wrote a book that carries the subtitle, Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life. That’s a book that continues to engage people and congregations. It’s about traditional spiritual practices — centering prayer, lectio divina, making the sign of the cross, etc. — and how to incorporate those practices in your day-to-day life.

But yesterday, as I was working in the garden, two things occurred to me:

  • The converse is also true: everyday practices can be deeply spiritual.
  • My everyday practices change a lot by the season.

For example, in the fall, I hunt, I work on the lawn, I chop wood. In the summer, I coach Little League and work in the garden. So I’m going to start a seasonal series about turning our everyday practices into spiritual practices.

As I do this, I would very much welcome guest posts. If you’re interested, you can contact me through my website. I’ll also be curating a Storify stream where you can share posts from your own blog, Facebook, Twitter, images, etc.

Join me, won’t you? Begin by telling me one thing you do in your everyday life that you’ve made spiritual.

St. Paul Saints Becoming Atheists

Minnesota’s premier minor league team, the St. Paul Saints, is known for wacky promotions: a pig delivers the balls to the umpire, a nun give chair massage, and there’s a group hot tub over the left field wall. Well, next month, the Saints are becoming the Aints for a night:

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – The St. Paul Saints plan to change their name for a game sponsored by atheist groups.

The American Association minor league club will call itself the “Mr. Paul Aints” when they host the Amarillo Sox on Aug. 10.

The Minnesota Atheists and American Atheists suggested the promotion to tie in with a regional atheist conference in town that weekend. The game’s billing is “a night of unbelievable fun.” The letter “s” will be covered up on Saints signs in the ballpark. Player jerseys will be auctioned for charity.

Saints executive Derek Sharrer says the club has “no intention of mocking or making fun of anyone’s faith.” He says several faith-based organizations have sponsored games before and that the Saints felt it would be “hypocritical” to tell the atheists no.

via AP News: Saints to change name for a game on atheist night.

The Denouement of Denominations

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to serve as the Scholar in Residence at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Virginia. You can listen to my sermon (on the Didache and what it has to teach the church today) at the bottom of this page.

My main public lecture was titled, “Why the United Methodist Church Is the Most Screwed Up Denomination,” a title that was chosen by the pastors! It was an interesting time. As seminarian and youth pastor Teer Hardy reports, he was surprised that so few of the parishioners at Aldersgate knew what happened at the UMC General Conference in May:

For me, a seminary student and candidate for ordination, this relationship between the congregation and denomination was an eye-opening moment in the conversation.  No wonder local congregations are not worried about paying their apportionments the same in which clergy are.  For clergy it can be a “career move” and for the local congregation there is no penalty.  Even appointments are based upon the overall success (or lack of) a pastor as they lead their congregation.  If congregations are not as “attached” to the denomination as their clergy are required to be does the congregation really understand what is required of UMC clergy (elders)?

Now, today comes a report from Gallup that Americans’ trust in “organized religion” is at an all-time low: