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new collage (!): peculiar circumstances

"peculiar circumstances" paper collage on hardcover book cover gregory a. milinovich

i truly love the season of life i am in, in my twentieth year of marriage, raising three boys,  and serving as senior pastor of a downtown university church.  life is good.  really, really good.  but it is also full.  some of the things i used to just have time for, i can no longer even make time for, at least for this season.  one of those things is my love of gluing things together.  i still have boxes and boxes of old paper, scraps and bits, found objects and detritus, and more, just waiting to be joined together, to be redeemed in some new birth.  but, for the most part, they will need to wait several years longer, until "teenager" isn't a regular part of our vocabulary. 

that being said, i am delighted that i was inspired to carve out a few moments this week to glue a few things together that had been accumulating in my "someday i'll do this" file.  so i just d…
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"follow me"

so here's the thing: i call myself a Christian.  actually, i don't even use that word as much anymore, because it ends up being a wedge between me and many other people as soon as i use it.  instead, i like to say that i'm a Christ-follower (which is closer to the way the very first Christ-followers talked about it anyway).  to be a Christ-follower is to - wait for it - follow Christ.  i know, surprising, right? 

well, it shouldn't be a shock to us that being a Christ-follower, or a Christian, means following Christ, but in America in 2018 calling yourself a Christian often has far too little to do with actually following Jesus.  when people call themselves Christians in america today, they may mean any number of things, such as:
-i went to a church sometimes when i grew up;
-i once got 'saved' at a christian camp or crusade;
-i believe in God;
-i am in favor of traditional american evangelical political positions;
-i say merry christmas instead of happy holid…

summer is now a scrapbook page

well, friends, it is labor day, which is to say that the period of the year we call summer is now pretty much completely over.  school has started.  the nights are getting darker, sooner.  and we are taking our summer bucket list out of the frame and putting it into the "to be scrapbooked" pile, an ominous sign by any measurement.  when you are "to be scrapbooked" you are clearly just a memory.  your neighbors are torn ticket stubs, bent programs, receipts, and other two-dimensional obituaries to moments that have gone before.  such is summer, 2018:  a memory. 

but it is a good memory.  you may remember that i was reluctant to even share our summer bucket list this year, and i want to say that while we were able to put quite a few dry-erase x's on that sucker; and while we were able to make quite a few memories, what i hope we got out of it is more than mere scrapbook pages: i hope we continued to build something significant, something substantial, something m…

first day of school, 2018

to my three sons,

as i sit down to write these words to you, summer is gasping out its very last breaths.  when the sun makes it a new day tomorrow, you will soon be rising for the first day of school.  it is an interesting moment to be caught in: a kind of swirling whirlpool of excitement and sadness; a reluctant farewell to what has been an absolutely amazing summer, and an expectant joy about the year ahead.

and it has been an awesome summer.  we've been to the beach and built a fort.  you went to summer camp and steelers training camp and made sourdough.  we saw a grand slam at a baseball game, made slushies, and danced like crazy fools in the front row at a great concert on tussey mountain.  we've eaten well, explored together, sung at the top of our lungs, and grown closer together.  no small wonder that its hard to let go of all that.

but if you knew the adventure that lies ahead, you would not be grumbling about alarm clocks, homework, and bus rides.  if you knew, as …

joy! this woman was born!

my friends, this unparalleled woman is celebrating a birthday today, and i cannot help but stop and say thanks that she was born.  every once in a while i imagine my life without her, and it is a dark and grim vision.  in this vision, there are no children living in my house, no voices singing opera from the shower, no kids books strewn across the living room.  in this vision, i eat spaghetti-o's from a can for dinner every night, and i am stuck in every rut i've ever gotten into.  in this terrifying vision the color of everything is gray, music sounds like a monotonous drone, and everything feels like long, cold nights. 

but she was born!

and somehow our paths were blessed to cross, and somehow i was able to convince her that spending her life with me wouldn't be as awful as it might have seemed, and somehow these last 19 years feel like the blink of an eye; like a colorful, melodic, sun-drenched, joy-filled, broken-but-blessed blink-of-an-eye journey.  all because on th…

thoughts on the upcoming school year (theology is a verb)

i remember watching the old cartoon “The Jetsons” as a kid, enjoying the idea of flying cars, and robots making your meals for you at the push of a some point i concluded that this was a vision of our future, and sometimes, i have to admit, i look around and wonder where the flying cars are, or why we haven’t figured out a way to have smell-a-vision.i mean, it’s 2018, people!if i cant taste it through the TV, i want to at least smell what they’re making on the Great British Bakeoff!
but today i read an amazing article by Avinash Kaushik about some of the technological advances that are happening in our world; things that will continue to unfold and evolve during our lifetimes.he anticipates that by the time the next generation is reaching adulthood that we will have two categories of humans: organic and augmented.he further suggests that by 2075 or 2100 all humans could be augmented.augmented how?well, maybe with a neuro-link device that would enable us to interact with com…

our summer bucket list, and why i almost didn't share it

every year our family makes a summer bucket list, a collection of things we'd like to experience/do/achieve/accomplish during the summer.  we don't always get all of them done, but we usually get through most of them.  some of the items are traditions that we do every year, and some are unique to each year.  and of course our graphic designer wife/mom makes it look super awesome, as a kind of family memoir.  here are some from previous years:

but this year i felt kind of weird about sharing it.  i mean, my news feed is full of stories of kids being stowed in enclosures made of metal fencing (not cages, we are told); kids who have been ripped from their parents' arms.  children who probably don't have a summer bucket list, or if they do it just says, "get back to my parents," or "escape."  i cannot fathom a more fundamentally blunt symbol of our own privilege and blessing: that we will engage in a summer of camps and cream soda, of ice cream and amu…