Browsing articles in "BLOGGING"
Apr 9, 2014

American Citizen

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Nov 22, 2013

My Top Sermons of 2013

The end of the year is fast approaching. So it is once again time to count views. Last January I had a three part sermon series about how the art of religion and the art of war are essentially one and the same thing. Those three sermons were particularly popular with my Youtube audience.

From the Holy Quran, from the Surat Al-`Ankabūt, which means The Spider: “And whoever struggles only struggles for himself.” (Quran 29:6)

“If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also” is not a commandment to surrender but a way of finding a position of strength!

Are you willing to pick up that wrestling with God? Do you have a goal in this fight? Have you seen gain from this battle? Are you willing to break the rules and spread the word about this fight club?

Oct 27, 2013

Bubble packed in God’s Grace

“Thank God I’m not like that guy!”

The Rev. Mirjam Haas-Melchior preaching on Reformation Sunday 2013
at Provo Community United Church of Christ.

Oct 11, 2013

U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain (CPT)

Today I was sworn in as U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain (CPT):
I, Daniel Haas, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of Captain do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.

Aug 23, 2013

Extravagance UCC needs to learn from history

As long as it is “on the internet” it must be cool, right? That’s why the United Church of Christ wants to start an online congregation by the name of Extravagance UCC.
I’m hip and online and all but I want to play devil’s advocate: It’s not gonna work, sorry.

1.5 years ago a bunch of Presbyterian leaders tried the exact same thing. I wrote about that here: Church Online?
8 months later the whole thing collapsed into an uninspiring existence as a mere facebook group. Now I can’t even find that anymore. Read about the demise here: Not a Facebook Church

Like its predecessor Extravagance UCC starts with a questionnaire. Here are my answers:

What are your hopes, dreams and ideas for Extravagance UCC?
My hope would be that the people involved with this program reach out to Bruce Reyes-Chow and the former leadership of “Church Online” – the failed Presbyterian version of Extravagance.

What gifts, skills and interests would you bring to Extravagance UCC?
I promise my constructive criticism from the sidelines, like the following sacramental reservation:
One of the biggest concerns that I have would be a sacramental one. The signs of Baptism and Holy Communion ought to be tangible. In order to be a real mainline church you ought to be able to abide by ecumenical agreements on Eucharist and Baptism where the elements play a role that cannot be accomplished without physically touching them. I’m not saying an online church needs to be put on hold until beaming is invented but the body of Christ must be tangible at times.

In what ways do you currently participate in geographically dispersed online communities?
Groups on major social networks that have very narrow purposes.

How would you participate in Extravagance UCC?
As a bystander

Jun 21, 2013

Anton Boisen – A German Perspective

If you are involved with pastoral care in general or Clinical Pastoral Education in particular there is no way you escaped the legacy of Anton Theophilus Boisen. A great approach to this struggling soul is his Autobiographical Study Of Mental Disorder And Religious Experience “Out of the Depths”. It is a available as a free ebook (Nook and online). I just want to focus on one aspect of his personality, i. e. his German roots. He describes them in the most beautiful words:

“Music was an important part of my father’s plan of education, and he was particularly fond of some of the fine old German hymns and folk songs.” (Page 22)

“My pleasantest memories of Professor Boisen are associated with his love of nature and his fine appreciation of German literature, German life, German history and German scenery. He could speak of each of these in a strain of vigor and of poetry such as one rarely hears. He once laid out a tramp for us through Holstein and Thuringia and was never weary of telling us of the beautiful things we should see on the road, the rocks and lakes and glens and castles, the Inselberg, the Liebenstein, and the forest-hidden Ukleisee, which, alas, we shall never see with his eyes.” (Page 28)

Don’t be mislead into thinking that growing up with German roots is all romantic and easy. The German soul comes with a very special set of challenges. Boisen grew up with the cultural background of German immigrants. To me that explains some of his personality traits that are also known as Prussian virtues. Examples of Prussian virtues are according to wikipedia:

  • - Austerity or Thrift (German: Sparsamkeit)
  • - Bravery without self-pity (German: Tapferkeit ohne Wehleidigkeit) “Lerne leiden ohne zu klagen.” Translation: “Learn to suffer without complaining about it.”
  • - Cosmopolitanism (German: Weltoffenheit)
  • - Courage (German: Mut)
  • - Determination (German: Zielstrebigkeit)
  • - Discipline (German: Disziplin)
  • - Frankness or Probity (German: Redlichkeit)
  • - Godliness, coupled with religious tolerance (German: Gottesfurcht bei religiöser Toleranz) “Jeder soll nach seiner Façon selig werden.” Translation: “Everyone shall be blessed according to their own belief.”
  • - Humility or Modesty (German: Bescheidenheit)
  • - Incorruptibility (German: Unbestechlichkeit)
  • - Industriousness or Diligence (German: Fleiß)
  • - Loyalty (German: Treue)
  • - Obedience (German: Gehorsam) “Seid gehorsam, doch nicht ohne Freimut.” Translation: Be obedient, but not without frankness.
  • - Punctuality (German: Pünktlichkeit)
  • - Reliability (German: Zuverlässigkeit)
  • - Restraint (German: Zurückhaltung)
  • - Self-denial (German: Selbstverleugnung) The German author and soldier Walter Flex (1887-1917) wrote “Wer je auf Preußens Fahne schwört, hat nichts mehr, was ihm selbst gehört.” Translation: “He who swears on Prussia’s flag has nothing left that belongs to himself.”
  • - Self-effacement (German: Zurückhaltung) “Mehr sein als scheinen!” Translation: “Be better than you appear to be!”
  • - Sense of duty or Conscientiousness (German: Pflichtbewusstsein)
  • - Sense of justice (German: Gerechtigkeitssinn) Jedem das Seine or Suum cuique
  • - Sense of order (German: Ordnungssinn)
  • - Sincerity (German: Aufrichtigkeit)
  • - Straightness or Straightforwardness (German: Geradlinigkeit)
  • - Subordination (German: Unterordnung)
  • - Toughness (German: Härte) “Gegen sich mehr noch als gegen andere.” Translation: “Be harder against yourself than you are against others.”

Ever wondered why Germans are so tense? I hope this gives you an idea. “Cut yourself some slack!” or “Don’t beat yourself up all the time!” hardly resonate with people of this upbringing. And please feel free to find my own counter-transferences in this study.

May 19, 2013

Twitter as your News Source

If you are anything like most people you think you are nothing like most people. Also you may want to find one of the most convenient ways to access all the news you want in a one-stop-shop across a variety of devices (smartphone, computer and tablet).

You may say: I’m on Facebook and I don’t need another social network. Well, depends on your definition of “social”. To me Facebook is about the “Who?” whereas Twitter is about the “What?”.
As for News: On Facebook I don’t learn about news but I learn about my friends’ reaction to them. That has social value for me but may not always be news.

If you can admit to being anything like most people you may be able to find something that fits your needs among Android’s Top 4 free news apps:
1. Flipboard
2. CNN
3. FOX News
Disregarding Number 1 – which really is more of a social aggregator than a news app – you will recognize three major media outlets that you know from TV, Radio and print. That means you could visit their websites on your computer and have their respective apps installed on your respective devices.

Or: You can use Twitter for all of the above.
If you were to follow CNN Breaking News @cnnbrk, Fox News @foxnews and USA TODAY @usatoday on Twitter you could easily follow everything that interests the most people without multiple installations and having to go to websites all the time. It is just conveniently delivered to your twitter feed. Be aware though: Twitter is just as social as Facebook: your friends are there and will follow you. You may end up engaging with them over there and it will be different from what you do on Facebook. Also Twitter gives you more opportunities to follow decision makers and stars more directly. Just look at whom I am following. And also please follow me @danielhaas

Mar 22, 2013

Wealth in the Bible

Wealth as a Blessing
- Abraham’s servant celebrates his master’s wealth in Genesis 24:34-36
- Solomon’s kingdom is blessed with riches according to 1 Kings 10:23-25

The Dangers of Wealth
- Living under the influence of money can be dangerous according to Ecclesiastes 5:10-6:2

Criticism of Wealth
- The prophet Jeremiah speaks out again injustice in Jeremiah 17:5-13
- “the borrower is the slave of the lender” is among the warnings of Proverbs 22:1-16

Mar 14, 2013

Poverty in the Bible

The reality of poverty:
- Nathan raises the problem of Wealth Inequality in 2 Samuel 12:1-4
- Elisha helps a widow in financial distress according to 2 Kings 4:1-7

The fight against poverty
- Laws to protect slaves and borrowers in Deuteronomy 23:9-25
- Protection for Orphans, widows and aliens according to Deuteronomy 24:5-22
- Remission of debts during the Sabbatical Year according to Deuteronomy 15:1-18

Jan 10, 2013

Treating email like just another social network

It’s very early in the year and I seem to have a problem:
The two email accounts that I use have a combined 11,572 emails in their inboxes.
This I would consider a problem because my view of email has evolved like probably everybody else’s:

Email is electronic mail – that’s why we call it that.
You use proper greetings and salutations, the whole etiquette is that of a full-blown letter.
To this very day Outlook is the gold standard for email and it tries to simulate real hard copy letters to the very details of a paper clip symbol for an attachment.

One problem is: there are way too many emails. And most emails are not from people. These days email is mostly automatic notifications of all kinds – not really a letter anymore but an endless flow of updates.
Second problem: Email is no longer in the Outlook on your computer. I check them on my phone and my tablet way more often than I do sitting down at the desk. That has dramatic effects for email consumption: It blends with texts and social media status updates. There is virtually no difference in handling the apps for email, facebook, messaging or twitter on a mobile device.

I used to file every email I received in the appropriate folder just like you did with paper letters back in the day. When Gmail came around it replaced folders with labels which was a huge progress back in 2004. Now even that seems to be obsolete!
What’s the point of keeping yourself busy archiving emails? Regardless of your email provider they all have decent search functions these days. There is no need to put them in folders, archive or label them. From now on I will just leave them where they are: in the inbox. I will continue to respond in a timely and professional manner but the whole processing after that I will just not do anymore.

I am happy with the way I manage my social media accounts.
When I see a facebook post I either let it go, like it or comment.
When I see a tweet I either let it go, retweet or comment.
I don’t know why email in 2013 should be any different:
When I get an email it either triggers some sort of action on my site or not.
I’ll just let it fly by like any other post or tweet.
Basically 2013 will be the year I start treating email like just another social network.