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Dan's Musings

Latest thoughts from First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood Pastor, Dan Baumgartner

Dan Baumgartner
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Friday, 21 July 2017 Category Dan's Musings
"Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear."  Jesus said it a number of times. And the truth is, many people I talk to desire this above anything else- to hear.  From God. “If I could just hear from God, just know what he wants me to do, I’d do it in a heartbeat,” we say, with the utmost sincerity. But sometimes it seems like God isn’t speaking. What do we do then? Sometimes we just fill the celestial airwaves with our voices. We just keep asking and asking and asking. Keep knockin...
Dan Baumgartner
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Friday, 14 July 2017 Category Dan's Musings
I’m weary of the shouting. Can we just talk? My week has been full of reminders of our inability to have conversation. I heard the story of an incident at a seminary where a respected professor was part of a diverse panel discussion, and some students at the event began to loudly boo him. Worse yet, not one of the other speakers on stage lifted a finger to reprimand the audience. I pick up the newspaper and read about city development hearings where people on different sides of an issue literall...
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Wednesday, 05 July 2017 Category Dan's Musings
In a word- yes. Our beliefs matter because the way we choose to live will be based on something. Everyone’s life is based on something. It might be as simple as the desire to be happy, or the compulsion to satisfy certain appetites. Decisions made to support those goals will cause life to go in a particular direction.  Someone else may make choices based on a complicated philosophical or religious belief system, and their life will take a different path. But everyone bases their life on som...
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Friday, 30 June 2017 Category Dan's Musings
And then the entire congregation exits the sanctuary, and gathers out on the church lawn near the rose garden. A circular galvanized horse trough has mysteriously appeared on the grass, and it is full of...water. One at a time, four youth from our community step into the water with me and either Nick or Natalie, our youth directors. The traffic on the 101 is as loud as ever. People walking by on Yucca Street keep on walking. A helicopter races across the blue sky. In many ways, just an ordinary...
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Friday, 23 June 2017 Category Dan's Musings
Disney Hall in downtown LA is a cultural treasure, outside and in. The unique exterior of the Frank Gehry-designed building is amazing. The sightlines and acoustics of the soaring interior are breathtaking. But the truly wondrous thing, of course, is what happens in the space. Thursday night we were fortunate to be there for a concert of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. The program was a mix of several things in the first half, followed by a 20th anniversary rendition of Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Ae...
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Thursday, 15 June 2017 Category Dan's Musings
“No man is an island...” starts a famous paragraph in John Donne’s Meditations from 1623. Donne is wrestling with the amazing way in which the lives of human beings are interconnected. He even marvels over how the death of one person can cause others to think long and hard about how they are living. The sound of a church bell, in Donne’s day a likely indicator that someone had died, was not only an announcement of news, but a challenge for the hearer to reflect on how their life, death and ...
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Thursday, 08 June 2017 Category Dan's Musings
Worship is ascribing ultimate worth. Worship is serving God.  Worship is telling the truth: God is God and we are not. Worship is acknowledging the power, compassion and presence of God. Worship is paying attention to God. Eugene Peterson writes “Worship is the strategy by which we interrupt our preoccupation with ourselves…and attend to the presence of God.” Worship happens in every corner of our lives. It also happens on Sunday morning. How do we prepare ourselves for something so moment...
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Friday, 02 June 2017 Category Dan's Musings
Yep. It’s a crazy world. Things are changing faster than any one person can follow.  Yesterday Anne and I walked down Hollywood Boulevard in the late afternoon, en route to an event at the El Capitan Theater. Though I am often on the Boulevard, it never ceases to amaze me. Steering around the tourists, police cars, tour buses, superhero characters and street folks is a cultural experience all by itself. Then I looked across the street and saw the signage for a relatively new building front:...
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Friday, 26 May 2017 Category Dan's Musings
The question came up spontaneously over a couple dinners with friends- what are you afraid of? Our answers ranged all over the place, most of them quite weighty. Some people talked about job fears- the potential of being out of work, or conversely, stuck in a job that sucked life out of them. Others mentioned common phobias- fear of heights, fear of public speaking, fear of flying. Many of us with kids talked about fears for their safety, or the influence of a confusing culture or doubts as...
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Friday, 19 May 2017 Category Dan's Musings
If you know me at all, you know I love to read- widely, deeply, critically. And I tend to read several books simultaneously, from a variety of genres. The author Diane Duane once wrote “Reading one book is like eating one potato chip.” If I have several books going, it means that I have one for whatever mood I’m in- theology, novel, poetry, history. It also means that a few times a year I finish a number of books all at once. So here’s the recently completed list:The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steve...
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