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Pastoral Blog (Page 3)

Blog postings by our pastor Rev. Ben Daniel.

Ready or not, Christmas is coming

Friends, This week, as I settled down to write my Contact piece, writing didn’t come easy for me. The axle in my bicycle’s rear hub snapped on Monday and on Tuesday (my regular Contact writing day), I was scrambling, trying to find a bike shop that would either a) fix my hub or b) get my backup wheels up and running. The…

Prayer for Grieving Oakland

Friends, Like most people in Oakland—and like a lot of people around the globe—I have been unable to stop thinking about the Ghost Ship fire.  I am heartsick over the loss of life. I am pained by the complex economic realities that force the Bay Area’s low-income people into dangerous and unhealthy living situations, a condition shared by artists, students, the elderly,…

Keeping promises and keeping tidy

Friends, With all that has been going on relative to the election, Thanksgiving, and the start of Advent, it turns out that I never wrote, in a formal way, to update the congregation on the cleaning service we have engaged to keep our facilities tidy. A couple of years ago, our congregation entered into a covenant with a family of Honduran asylum-seekers.…

Diversity – Laissez les bons temps rouler

Dear Friends, Diversity is an interesting thing. A couple of weeks ago I spent time in Louisiana, about an hour north of New Orleans, where I ate alligator sausage for dinner and grits for breakfast. Plus there was okra, and gumbo, and coffee with chicory. Out in the pine forest where we were staying I saw oyster shell fossils and spiders as…

A Response to the Election

Dear Friends, In this week’s edition of Contact both of your pastors will share a single column. It is important for us to speak in one voice in these days of anxious division. In response to a Presidential election whose results we found to be gut-wrenchingly awful, we found ourselves considering what the Church can be, indeed what the church must be,…

Halloween and the Protestant Reformation

Dear Friends, On October 31, while most Americans celebrate Halloween, a few of us who are church nerds will be observing quietly the 499th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, for it was on the eve of All Saints Day in 1517, that a German monk and scholar named Martin Luther, published a list of 95 theological propositions about the theology and conduct…

Spiritual Exploration & Education at MPC

Friends, This week marks a happy milestone for me: for the first time in more than 23 years of pastoral ministry I am teaching or leading four different classes or informed discussions in a single week. In addition to my regularly-scheduled weekly Bible study, I am leading a discussion around what it might look like for our congregation to declare itself a…

The so-called “Men’s Rights Movement”

Dear Friends, Last week I wrote about The Red Pill, a documentary a couple of filmmakers I admire had asked me to review. The movie looked at the so-called “Men’s Rights Movement” and I would give it a mixed review. On the one hand, the film did a great job of chronicling the inner journey of one of the filmmakers, as she…

Exploring boundaries with Feminist Filmakers

Dear Friends, It came to pass that an unexpected bit of correspondence washed up over the transom of my electronic inbox yesterday. A filmmaker by the name of Nena Jaye asked me to review her newest film which, ordinarily, I’d be very happy to do.  Nena and her daughter Cassie have made a pair of excellent documentary films, one that explores the…

Is there Parity for Pastors in Partisan Politics?

Dear Friends, Like many Americans I was drawn to the Presidential debate on Monday night. I am, by inclination, a political animal. I think a lot about public policy, I follow the goings on in Washington and Sacramento and in the buildings that surround Frank Ogawa Plaza downtown. I have opinions–some of them are strong, some of them misguided– but I like…