Wednesday, August 29, 2007

leaving the CRC

About a month ago, I officially joined Athens First United Methodist Church - the church I've been attending and leading worship in for about 2 years now. While being a sign of my commitment to my local church community, it was also the bureaucratic and official point at which I left the Christian Reformed Church - the denomination of my membership since my baptism 24 years ago. My perspective on Christianity is rather ecumenical, so this is not really a change in theology so much as a change in location. There's a lot of methodists here, and the church where I made a home is methodist. Also, I like the methodist's social justice focus.
I was recently directed to this article in The Banner (for those outside CRC heritage, the denominational magazine of the Christian Reformed church). It asks some interesting questions, but in my opinion, answers them weakly. I want to take a few small issues with the article:

1. The article talks about how often when young adults get married and have kids they come back to the "family-oriented" church. Let me make something clear. Family-oriented alienates single twenty-somethings. I'm fairly happy with my life. I have a fulfilling career and social life. I don't think I will get married for at least four more years. And I don't need "family-oriented" making me feel like my current life moment is unacceptable. If a church focuses a lot on parenting, marriage, and kids, is it really a surprise that single people in their twenties don't think it's for them?

2. The article mentions divisions and infighting. Sure, that's part of it, but from my perspective it's foot-dragging. I believe the church should be ahead of society on justice issues like women in leadership and gay rights. Instead I find that even this year, when great strides were taken, synod allows classes to still hold women back from participating in denominational governance. On gay rights issues, the CRC is frustratingly ambiguous.

3. I find the very idea that young people joining churches in other denominations is a "problem" a bit offensive. The CRC has been a part of an insular dutch community for generations, and young people find that ethnic identity less important, and a spirit of eccumenicism appealing. So what?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Desert Island Discs: Why Should the Fire Die

Ok, it’s been a while since I posted a desert island disc. I moved, school started. I’ve been busy. But I’ve picked another album to write about: Why Should the Fire Die by Nickelcreek. It’s no big surprise that I’m a nickelcreek fan. I really love anything with a good fiddle player and come to think of it I don’t recall anybody ever disliking this band. They’re often praised for their musicianship, songwriting and showmanship. I’ve seen them live and they are engaging, high-energy performers, each a bluegrass virtuoso in their own instrument. All their music also features elegant vocal harmonies and arrangements.

Many fans of the band were disappointed with their third album, Why Should the Fire Die, because it is less straight-ahead bluegrass. It has a bit of a sharper edge to it, and blends into other genres. I, on the other hand, love genre-blending, and found this album innovative and engaging. I have had it on my ipod nano since I purchased the gadget in December, and I’m still not sick of it. Pretty much everything else in my collection has gotten cycled in and out of my “ipod favs” playlist, but I just can’t get enough of this album.

Really each song on this album has had a moment of being my favorite, I think they are all strong for different reasons. I particularly love the haunting melody of the title track, and I often find myself singing “Doubting Thomas” to myself. I love the sarcastic edge that some of these songs have, like “When in Rome,” “Someone More Like You” and “Anthony.” But like I said, in my opinion, this album has no losers.

previous picks:
Achtung Baby

Other Players: