Tuesday, August 31, 2004

It just takes fiddling with something long enough

You're not going to believe it but I fixed my computer problem by creating a new way to do what I was doing before I goofed up my Windows Registry. I found it rather my happenstance but it works like a charm. Now, when I double-click a folder, it opens to show the contents of my folder rather than performing a search of the folder's contents. I am a happy camper once again.

And, this is yet another, "Aha!" moment when, after my time counseling with a friend, that coming back to my old problem, the solution was more easily found. This really isn't a new Aha! experience, I've always known that it exists- its just nice to have it happen.

Now I feel all better. With my challenges today and yesterday, all have been fixed and addressed appropriately enough. My goofing up with a congregant, my trite response to a friend's blog, some interoffice snafus, my computer problem.. they've all been addressed and remedied. And, here is the really cool part- most of the remedies were resolved when those I goofed up with helped me see things more clearly, and in a spirit of peace and understanding. I tell you, if all my solutions were up to me to remedy, very few would ever get accomplished in a really good way. I am so blessed to have great congregants, great friends, and awesome coworkers.

So, the day turned out pretty good after all. :)

Eh- Some days are just so so

My day has been quite interesting- if not a bit off-kilter for me. While my last evening and morning were fabulous, my day hasn't been as good.

Last night, Roy and I stayed up way late watching Further Tales of the City, Vol. 1 on DVD. We had no idea it was going to be a 3-hour movie! Daaaang. Anyways, we went to sleep might late and woke up mighty late. This morning Roy fixed breakfast burritos for us and we puttered around until we both had to leave. We both had a nice break- and, it helped that I was staying home out of the advice of dear friends.

Anyways, upon getting to work, I learned that I had misunderstood a parishioner's request for something and thereby my response was skewed. It sorely upset my friend and parishioner, however, in response, we came to an amiable solution (but the stress of goofing on a friend irritates me). Then, while trying to do something cool to my computer, I went into the Window's Registry and caused a huge irritation whereby whenever I now double click on a file folder, my computer goes into search mode, instead of showing the contents of the folder. Grrrrrrrr...! I have no idea (yet) how to correct this problem but I am thinking the solution will bring me back into my Registry (which is one place that scares me to go).

But then, our church's sandwich distribution went amazingly well- and amazingly fast. Nearing 4:00pm, we had a line stretched down the block. Sadly, there aren't enough sandwiches for everyone (there rarely is nowadays). There are just so many people standing in line. While the joy of helping others is wonderful, lately it has been followed by a touch of sadness knowing we never have enough for everyone.

In a little while, I am about to talk with a fella who is considering going to seminary. He has been visiting several schools in the last two months (including Union Seminary, the Pacific School of Religion at Berkeley, and Harvard Divinity School). We are going to talk about what he found and help begin the discernment process. He is a great guy- wherever he goes, the school will be blessed to have him. Helping someone in their challenging times of discernment is always a blessing for me. I love to see folks take those great risks- which necessitates using their faith in God in profound ways.

So, yeah, today has had some great experiences and one or two I'd rather forget about. But all in all, it's balancing itself out. I am glad my relationship with God isn't measured and determined by how many good things I do in contrast to how often I screw up. God loves me just the way I am and in spite of my goofups and missteps. This is what is so amazing about grace (sorry to borrow that book title in making my point): God loves me in spite of my weaknesses and strengths. Which is a good thing, especially if you tend to screw up a lot, like I sometimes do. ;)

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Just when you think it couldn't get any worse..

I live in a dominican neighborhood at the northernmost top of Manhattan in an area known as Inwood. It is pretty much a nice place to live. The rent is cheap (I pay $925 for a fiarly large 1BR), the local cuisine is fairly low priced (I can get an amazing breakfast deal for $3.25 and a decent dinner meal for under $10), and there are a plethora of amazingly cool .99 Cent stores that sell everything from tools, to cookware, to burritos.

What I do not like about my neighborhood is the merange music. At first, I thougth I could get used to it. When you hear it, it sounds very happy and does make a person feel good. The trouble is, I don't actually hear it "directly". I hear it as it passes through my walls from apartments all over my building and the buildings surrounding my apartment. I get the deep bass (as its turned up to ear-splitting decibels) that shakes my walls, paintings, floors, and teeth. AND.. (this is the annoying part).. AND, all the songs have the same bass beat.

The music in my neighborhood pretty much blares at all times of the day and night. Sometimes, there is a lull in the music and I can get some peace and quiet. At other times, say, at 3am in the morning, it gets turned up, my teeth begin to chanel the bass music, and fury begins to froth deep within my loins.

But then.. just when I thought the music was more than I can tolerate, something else happened that topped even the loud music. Every night, about 10pm, we now have an ice cream truck that begins its evening by parking in front, or near, the apartments on my block. The music from the truck, turned up to drown out the loud merange music (so you can imagine how loud it is), is this chorus of sound that plays over and over and over.. and it begins with, "Hello!!.. (music, music, music).." Arghhh!! The ice cream truck plays, in one place (usually right outside my window), for about 4 hours (usually ending about 2am in the morning). The only establishments that are up later that the ice cream truck are the many barber shops dotting each corner. They don't open until around 8pm and they close about 4 am. Is that nuts? However, I must digress because that is for another post.

I heard from some neighbors that they think the ice cream truck is really a vehicle that delivers the various drugs in the neighborhood. That actually makes sense- if you are ever wanting to get high without actually smoking pot, you can just walk up my block and the smell of exhaled pot will surely do the trick.

Do I live in a schwanky 'hood or what? My friends all say, "Bo, you get what you pay for," meaning because my rent is so cheap, I shouldn't be surprised that I live amidst the craziness of Inwood. However, the thought of paying $1800/mo for a 1BR apartment the size of my living room with a tiny closet in the bathroom is nuts (there are many apartments like this; heck, a friend of mine lives in one where his shower is located in his kitchen and the toilet in a hallway water closet). Living like that just isn't appealing to me.

Sure, my apartment has a few downsides (like the ceiling in my bathroom that leaks water several times a day so bad that Roy now keeps an umbrella near the toilet for those moments when he's caught beneath a cascade of water while sitting on the pot); and yet, I live far enough away from the city that I sometimes feel like I live in another country (it doesn't hurt that few restaraunts or businesses speak any English whatsoever). New York City is such an amazing place for sure. (By the way, the super has promised the water will stop falling, while its taken him 3 months to actually do it, I've noticed that my bathroom ceiling hasn't leaked all day now- I sure hope that's a good sign).

No matter how ill I speak of my neighborhood though, there are still some amazing things to like about it. I have a couple of the city's most beautiful parks nearby, I am about 4 blocks from the Hudson River and the Harlem River. There is, surprising as it may sound, no crime. The food is cheap and the subways are just around the corner. I guess my big learned lesson in all of this is that a person can put up with a whole lot more than one realizes... one just has to get to the point where that becomes more applicable to one's life situation.

Appreciating my life lesson reminds me of a saying I heard when I was young, "I once complained about having no shoes until I met a man who had no feet." That saying sort of puts things in perspective for me (not that I am NOT planning on moving, mind you, but that I really shouldn't complain. It really could be worse...knocking on wood, "thump, thump, thump").

The Witch of Endor

Ever since I was a kid, I have always loved the television show Bewitched, not just because most of the characters in it were gay in real life (Darrin, Endora, Doctor Bombay, Uncle Arthur, and Samantha's dad, played by Ceasar Romero, I can't remember his onscreen name), I've just enjoyed the fun of the humor, popping in and out of places, and the crazed responses of Darrin and Samantha's neighbors.

So, coming upon the story in the Old Testament about the Witch of Endor was funny because now I understood where Samantha's mom's name came from, her name in the show was Endora. Reading the story found in 1 Samuel 28, it is interesting to read and wonder if it really is possible to speak with the dead, as is seen in the current television show, Crossing over with Jonathan Edwards. I found a great article commenting on the funky story, you can find that by going here to the article on beliefnet.com. If my link doesn't work, just type in Endor in the search engine and go to the article entitled The Bible's Witch of Endor. I worry that my link won't work because the site may require you to sign up to access the article (it's free, by the way).

Personally, the story is about as believable as the angels who married the daughters of the earth to produce really tall and valiant men as described in Genesis 6:1-4. I think its cool to think about it though, in a Lord of the Rings kind of way, where the Nephilim were, "the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown." Reading the story of the witch of Endor though, the author in the article explains the craftiness of the witch once she learned that it is Saul who asked her to conjure up Samuel. It's interesting that Samuel actually appears though- and for a guy raised to discount those fortune tellers and palm readers I see in every town, it gives me pause to go, "hmmm..." I haven't ever been to a palm reader but I have been even more curious since moving to New York where a person sees them on practically every corner.

But I do tend to think about the Bible's very explicit warning against participating in such activities. Not because I think I'll go to hell or anything, but because I believe there really are spirits of all sorts, and I have enough of a time handling the ones that I presently contend with. I am such a wuss I guess. ;)


I got a stye in my eye. Ouch! It crept up this week and has been getting bigger, burning more, and I think is about to come to a head. I hope this doesn't gross you out.

Roy, my boyfriend, recommended (and later, just went ahead and did it when I expressed my hesitation) to apply that inner layer found inside an eggshell on my eyelid. He said to apply it before bedtime and sleep with it until the next morning when I take it off. We've been doing that for about 2 nights, and tonight, I'll do it before I go to bed. It is supposed to "ripen" the stye so it'll be ready to pop sooner. So, as I've applied it, I've noticed that when I awake in the mornings, my eye is crusted over with the dryed puss. (I am getting grossed out typing this).

Worried about the puss, I called Mom to ask her opinion. She'd never heard of the eggshell thing but recommended I put a hot and salty compress on my eye for 20 minutes a night until the stye pops. The thought of salt coming near my eye has made me a bit skittish. When I expressed my concern, she recommended that I could just go to my doctor so he can lance it. She cautioned against that though saying it'll hurt like a dickens and I'll have to pay my doctor for the experience.

So, after hearing both Roy's and Mom's advice, I went and spoke with a pharmacist at a nearby all-night pharmacy. The pharmacist recommended I do nothing and let it come to a head on its own. She recommended I purchase (how thoughtful) a gel called Stye that'll help my eye not itch, burn, or hurt anymore. Thinking she was more of an expert than the old wives tales of my bf and my mom, I bought the gel. And you know what? It hurts and burns and itches now more than it has all week long.

So, I am going to wash off the gel and apply the eggshell remedy here pretty soon before I go to bed. I am thinking there is something more to the old wives tales (even if they come through my bf).

Monday, August 23, 2004

When sex sells.. everyone gets screwed

Reading over at salon.com, I found this very interesting article about Brittany Spears and her downward spiral from glamour to trailer-trash (not that there is anything wrong with trailer life). The author brilliantly reveals the lies and deceptions of those who've marketed (and made money off of) Brittany and how that manipulation is what has caused Brittany to, well.. decend to her present place among the halter-top and Daisy Duke folks.

Interestingly, the author of the article explains the weird hypocrisy of one particular early Brittany presentation. She said, "[Brittany] was playing a devilishly destructive role, talking about her virginity at a register audible only to the kids who idolized her. Sex is dirty, sex is wrong unless you are married, she was telling girls who might have had a shot at guilt-free sexual liberation. Meanwhile, she was winking at their fathers, suggesting, in horrible ways, that she was dancing for them." Brittany turned sex into something confusing, dirty, and just plain weird to the audiences that she influenced.

Sex doesn't have to be this sleazy- nor does it have to be this manipulatory. God created us to be loving and joyful partakers of life. And, God created our desire and pursuit of sex to bring us great joy in the process of loving our spouses, partners and significant others. When used in the right spirit, it becomes a joy that is full of amazement and soulful passion.

However, when we abuse joyful sex, it turns around and abuses us instead. That's the funny thing about sex. In a way, sex is somewhat like alcohol. It may transform itself into whatever emotion it was first encountered with. With alcohol, if we are happy when we take our first sip, it can make us happier. If we are angry, then it usually makes us angrier. With sex, if we are loving when we have sex, then it can make our relationships happier. If we are deceitful when we engage it, it often becomes a dirty secret that we have to hide and thereby miss the fruits of joy that ought to be experienced long afterward. If we are sleazy when we engage in it, then it may only hieghten the sleaze into something we'll later regret (ie, cause great shame). Too bad for Brittany that she is learning about sex the hard way (no pun intended).

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Regardless of what you think, I am still me

I found this great post written by someone who likened her ontological existence to a tree. Written with a simple analogy, she talks about folks who argue whether or not, she is justified in being a gay woman. After reading the article, let me know what you think.

These are a few of my favorite things...

Songbird, Eva Cassidy
Celebrate! Music of the 60's, Turtle Creek Chorale
Frisco Jazz Band, Turk Murphy
My Best, John Denver
On the Rocks- Lounge Compilation
Lifted, Songs of the Spirit, Starbucks compilation CD
O Brother, Where Art Thou Soundtrack
Capitol Collections Series, Kay Starr
16 Most Requested Songs, Doris Day
Self-titled, Rufus Wainwright
Come Away with Me, Norah Jones

Okay, I realize some of these cd titles might embarrass you just reading them. But hey, its my music and I like them (and yes, John Denver really isn't that bad). It's wild how a fella can get attached to his music.

This summer, I was invited to spend a week of rest and relaxation with a bunch of friends at the Pines section out on Fire Island. Fire Island is an island with several communities and fancy homes on a strip of land on the southeast shore of Long Island. On the island, there are no streets (and cars aren't allowed on it), only miles and miles of boardwalks. And, the island is only accessible via a ferry boat. It's a schwanky vacation destination for those who are a) rich enough to own a summer beach house on the island, b) almost rich enough yet not yet and choose instead to buy a "summer share" out there, or c) have generous friends who enjoy your company. I am in the "C" category.

Anyways, when I was there, I overslept on the day I was to leave and almost missed my boat back to the mainland. Rushing frantically, I grabbed my duffle bag and left running for the boat. Making it at the last moment, I remember that I forgot my cds. Pulling out my cell phone, I called a couple of my friends who stayed behind at the house to say, "Could someone grab my cds and we'll meet up in the city later."

Well, later bacame one heck of a long time. As it happened, I finally got my cds back last night. And I am one happy fella. It's funny how you get used to familiar tunes- and I have been humming several of the songs I've been sorely missing. The one cd that I have missed the most is the 60's collection from the Turtle Creek Chorale. It is a fun assortment of some great folk music and happy music.

As a result of my temporary loss of music, I am contemplating the purchase of an iPod. I doubt I'd rush to a boat if I left it behind (I'd just take the next one in the harbor) and it seems like a great idea. But daaaaaaaaang, them iPods aren't cheap. Maybe I ought just buy a leash for my cd case and tie it around my neck. Sure, I'll look goofy but at least I won't forget my cds. And, if I am going to carry John Denver and Doris Day with me anyway, what does it really matter how goofy I am going to look?

Midtown New York City View

I went to a friend's birthday party yesterday and this is a view from his balcony overlooking midtown New York City. You can see the Empire State Building in the background on the left.
Posted by Hello

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Irrevocable Calling

Lately I've been talking with several guys who have been struggling ever so greatly with what they believe God would have them do--and more importantly, the fact that they haven't been doing what they think they should be doing in the first place.

I spoke with one of these guys a few Sundays ago and listened as he talked about what he always believed as God's call to ministry. Knodding in agreement with this man's struggle of discernment, I relayed the passage from Romans 11:29 that says, "The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable."

Sometimes it seems that God calls many of us to service and yet, so few respond right away. Perhaps the temptation to live beyond a meager salary is the cause. Perhaps the qualifications and lengthy education is another. Or, perhaps it is the negative social stigma attached to the clergy. And yet, there is another possibility that I relate to personally.

Sometimes a person can confuse God's call with a church's expectation. If that expectation is challenged, a person may then think that he or she misunderstood God's call to begin with. While I am a fervent supporter of the United Church of Christ and all its ministry--God called me to pastor first, it was only the church that confirmed that calling as well recognizing that my gifts for ministry is compatible with the United Church of Christ.

Discerning the inspiration of God is a challenging task that involves much prayer, wisdom, and faith. Often the faith that is required is also one that involves risk--jumping out when few believe you should. When I was rejected as a Southern Baptist minister for my fabulous sexual orientation, I thought my ministry was over--after all, wasn't the church's responsibility to confirm and discern what they believed God's call was for my life? Well, yes and no. Certainly the church confirms my gifts for ministry but it is up to me to discern God's call.

It took me a couple of years to feel confident that God's call upon me was irrevocable-- and it took me finding the United Church of Christ to realize a place in which I can serve. And yet, it was God who showed me the way all along. Answering God's call to service is the first step in understanding God's call, if only to say in prayer, "Okay God, I realize you want me to do something, now just show me what I should do and where I oughta go."

Once we answer the call, God directs our way into the ministry we oughta go. Perhaps you're in the wrong place to serve now? Well, if that is so, don't be surprised if you're pulled out of it-- especially if you say to God, "Show me where I oughta go."

As I talk with those struggling with their calling, a part of me remembers the joy (and struggle) about the faith that is needed in making such a drastic change. The faith they will need to respond to their call is huge because each one of these persons is not only over 40 years old but each one is also gay. In both cases, their willingness to revisit their calling and the faith they are employing is inspirational and exciting- at least, it is to me anyways.

All this just goes to show that what God begins, God completes in us.. even if and albeit long after we thought it was possible. I wonder if this belated acceptance to God's call is something akin to how Abraham and Sarah understood God's promise that they would have a child so late in life. I guess the moral to Abraham and Sarah, and those that I am talking with is that it's never too late in life to go about doing what God would have us do.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Can a fella actually read 'too much'?

I remember talking with a friend a few years ago shortly after he graduated from seminary. I had asked him what books he was currently reading and he responded matter-of-factly, "I don't read anymore. I read so much in seminary that if I look at one more book that is full of esoteric theology or some diatribe against Christian modernity, I am going to puke my guts out." Anyone who has survived seminary can attest to the insane amount of reading one has to endure- books written about books written critiquing the books about books.

While I sympathize with my friend, I am still a voracious reader. I enjoy reading books about so many different subjects- even at the same time. As you will notice, I have begun two new books. One is a light-hearted read recommended by my boyfriend (he loved it) and the other recommended by a very good friend. The two couldn't be more unlike the other.

I pretty much chunked the feng shui book I wrote about earlier. It was too silly to continue reading. I felt like Harry Potter having to sit through Sibyll Trelawney's Divination class at Hogwarts. Just as he felt she was off her rocker, so do I feel about all things feng shui.

I'll let you know how both books turn out. I've been reading them for about a day now. The book, The Men from the Boys, is turning out to be quite good. The story of the book is set in Provincetown and explains the life of three best friends, Lloyd, Jeff, and Javitz. I am at the point in the story where Jeff meets young Eduardo while Jeff's lover, Lloyd is away for the summer. It is funny and charming- and since my boyfriend is a bit like Eduardo, I can see why he recommended it to me (although I don't have a lover like Jeff has). Anyways, its a charming read so far.

The Cotton Patch book is a collection of sermons preached by Clarence Jordon. Jordon is the founder of Koinonia, a Christian commune near Americus, Georgia. Began in 1942, the commune is rather amazing in itself in that it is run like a farm but provides opportunities in which it helps create and build discipleship schools, builds houses and them sells them to poor families, and providing jobs for poor and rural families on the farm, in food processing, sewing, and craft industries.

Jordon, while running the farm was also an astute theologian and greek scholar. The book is a retelling of Jesus' parables in a modern context (or as modern as Jordon was, he died in the 1969). An African-American, he extrapolated the social justice and the plight of the disenfranchized from Jesus' parables and retells them in a very inspiring way. Even though the book is relatively short, I find myself reading only a chapter at a time- as I need time to assimilate his points and meditate on his wisdom. I'll let you know how this book turns out too.

You know, I just can't imagine thinking to myself that I have read enough books. There are so many out there- and so many from different genres that I doubt I'll have enough time in my paltry life to even stratch the literary surface. But heck, I am sure gonna try!

Monday, August 09, 2004

from my feng shui book...

"...if there is a big shower drain [in the wrong corner of your house], it may be undermining the support you need to prosper. To resolve this problem, tie a red ribbon or red tape around the outgoing pipe (see figure 29). If it is a shower or floor drain, either use a decorative drain stopper, or get red under the existing stopper (enamel paint sprayed in drain), or keep the drain closed when not in use... These little cures can make a big difference in the flow of ch'i in your home." -("Move your Stuff, Change your Life" by Karen Carter)

You just can't make up this stuff any better. Okay, so the feng shui book was a bad idea. Mostly, it breaks up your house into quadrants where you are to ensure that what you have in one quadrant compliments what you have in another one. All this, not meant as a decorative guide to your house, is like some sort of fortune telling way to help you achieve, health, wealth, and happiness.

The Bible says that there is a way which seems right to us but its end is the path of destruction. I doubt that feng shui is a path towards destruction- it does help a person think about ways in which to do something about their situation in life, and that is a good thing. The sad part is that it tells you to do things that don't really affect how life operates. A mirror in the corner of my apartment isn't going to affect how my friends treat me.. really!

It is similar to the popular notion of 'scapegoating'. When we blame others for our situation in life, we misplace what we really need to change. When we blame others for our own condition, we miss the opportunity to direct our energies toward the real solution. Of course, some people don't scapegoat on purpose, they really believe that allowing two women to marry in a county in upstate Washington really will cause them to stop loving their spouses and the spirituality of a nation will become bankrupt and God will allow America to be punished and terrorists will bomb our cities. But then, those people are probably the same ones who'd be inspired to read Move your Stuff, Change your Life: How to Use Feng Shui to get Love, Money, Respect, and Happiness. Both are misplaced. Both will never find the solution they're looking for. And both may create more problems than if they just sat down, prayed for discernment, and asked themselves, "What am I doing that is causing my life to be such a mess in the first place."

As for me, I am going to read a book I picked up in a sale rack awhile back, its called You'll Never Pay Full Price Again When You Learn How To...Shop Like A Coupon Queen by Michele Easter.

Friday, August 06, 2004

The Healing Touch of Christ

** Disclaimer: Religous joke ahead**

Three guys were fishing on a lake one day, when Jesus walked across the water and joined them in the boat.

When the three astonished men had settled down enough to speak, the first guy asked humbly, "Jesus, I've suffered from back pain ever since I took shrapnel inthe Viet Nam war. Could you help me?"

"Of course my son," Jesus said. When Jesus touched the man's back, the man felt relief for the first time in years.

The second man, who wore very thick glasses and had ahard time reading and driving, asked if Jesus could do anything about his eyesight. Jesus smiled, removed the man's glasses and tossed them in the lake. When the glasses hit the water, the man's eyes cleared and he could see everything distinctly.

When Jesus turned to heal the third man, the guy put his hands up and cried defensively, "Don't touch me! I'm on long-term disability!"

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Neurotically persistent

Okay, so I know I can be neurotically persistent. I know this because I have had a few jobs in my life where I developed this trait to the highest level. I have worked in those tedious data-entry jobs where you are to type entries cataloging auction results, been a bookkeeper where tedious number entries and balancing took lots of time and patience, and typed out manuscripts based on taped conversations that take hours upon hours to complete.

I say this to point out my blogging woes this morning. From my home internet connection, I was unable to upload my blog entry about the Sermon on the Mount. I kept getting this, "failure to load" message. So, do you know what I did? I kept trying to load it. And load it. And load it. Each time, I got the same message. So, I continued. And continued. Finally, I stopped only because I needed to go into work.

So, I get to work and, having emailed the text of what I wanted to put in my blog, went to upload it from church. I get here, copy and paste the text and upload it to my blog. Checking my blog to make sure it was okay, I noticed 15 entries of the same entry (it seems I was successful uploading it at home after all). In any event, I had to go and delete all my entries and had the epiphany that I am still neurotically persistent, even as I approach my 39th birthday.

Some things never change I guess.. my only worry is that I'll become even worse. I can see myself as an old man, who, unable to open my can of "mush spam", slush prune juice, or super concentrated Metamucil, I'll stay up all night with a knife and hacksaw trying to open the can when I could've just used the new-fangled lazer can opener I mis-placed on the counter top.

[[shuddering at the thought of it all]]

A Wonderful Way to Look at Jesus

I found this interesting quote from Jordon Cooper, who is a pastor up in Canada. He was explaining how the Sermon on the Mount might be understood from a different perspective.

What if all of this [Christ's teaching in the Sermon] is not new and more stringent rules for us to observe but rather a picture of the way God is? Of course, we are forever getting confused into thinking the scripture is mainly about what we are supposed to dorather than a picture of who God is. If Jesus had put forth behavior like turning the other cheek when someone strikes you as a useful tactic for bringing out the best in other people, then Jesus could be justly accused of ethical naivete. But the basis for the ethics of Sermon on the Mount is not what works but rather the way God is. Cheek-turning, is not advocated as what works (itusually does not), but advocated because this is the way God is--God is kind tothe ungrateful and the selfish. This is not a stratagem for getting what we want but the only manner of life available, now that, in Jesus, we have seen what God wants. We seek reconciliation with the neighbor, not because we will feel so much better afterward, but because reconciliation is what God is doing in the world in the Christ.

Thinking about the impact of God's mercy is astounding to me. It is the mercy of God that continues to affect how God relates to you and I. In God's mercy, we find that God continually forgives, atones, makes right, pour out the Spirit- for each of us. Regardless if we're able to live up to the standard or not, God loves us anyway. And the Sermon on the Mount points us to other ways in which God relates to us- in the way Jesus tells us we ought to live.

Another way in which we can look into the mind and behavior of God is to look at the life of Jesus. Look at how he related to his friends, the strangers surrounding him, or in response to his critics, Jesus' always had a word of compassion or an insight into the mind of his oppressor (sometimes with a funny zinger included). Both Jesus' life and the words he spoke give us direct access into the mind and motivation of God. Is that special or what?

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Figurines on my Desk

This is the Buddy Christ, from the movie Dogma. My brother, who knows how much I love the movie, gave me this figurine as a gift. I keep it on my desk at the church- just about everyone asks me, "What the heck is that all about?!"

Monday, August 02, 2004

This should come as no surprise...

You'll notice a couple of new books on my recommended reading list (on the right side of the screen). One of those books is about appreciating grace- a book I've read once but am reading again. It is amazing. The other book is about something so very different- it is about using feng shui to better organize my way of life. I have a couple of friends who are very big into feng shui. Part of me thinks its all a bunch of crap- but then, I am quite the clutter-dog, so maybe I oughta look more into it.

So, by looking into it, I went to a bookstore and bought the book with the coolest looking book cover. I'd've chosen something else but there were so many selections and choices. Admittedly, choosing the book by its bookcover goes against all preconceived logic (remember the addage, "Never judge a book by its cover")- and yet, how the heck am I supposed to make a decision when Barnes and Nobles has 852 other books about it? Okay, so shallowness aside, I got the book I now have. It is officially called, Move your Stuff, Change your Life: How to Use Feng Shui to get Love, Money, Respect, and Happiness by Karen Rauch Carter. Another reason I chose this book is that not only does it promise my room will be less cluttered but that I might also get some money in the process. How cool is that?! I'll let you know if the book is crappy or helpful.

It's been a busy week

I love being productive- its something I was ingrained with as a boy. However, part of that ingraining process included some interesting twists. For instance, my mother used to say (about my bedroom), "a cluttered bedroom is a cluttered mind." Given how my brain has always seemed to be cluttered with something, I reasoned that I couldn't ever do anything productive unless my bedroom was clean. Now, in my adulthood, I can't seem to do anything unless my whole apartment is tidy and clean.

So.. you'd think my apartment was extra clean- the thing is, it isn't. It's tidy for sure but not super-duper clean. So, whenever I have projects to do for church or sermons to write, I have to stop periodically and clean. So, I clean a little, and write a little. And this goes on all night. Part of me is thinking, if I got a maid, then I'd get more work done. But then, how would I know if my mind is cluttered if someone else does the cleaning in my apartment? Hmmm...

Anyways, I have had a busy week. I preached yesterday morning up at my former church in Scarsdale, NY. It was a great time and I loved seeing all my old friends there. Following the service, I came home, changed clothes (can you believe the church is Scarsdale doesn't have air conditioning?- my shirt and suit was drenched in sweat). I went back to my church (our services are at 5pm) and preached the same sermon I preached at Scarsdale (with only minor situational changes). Several people commented that they enjoyed how I interpreted the text based on the lectionary reading; they appreciated how I gave them something to really 'chew on'. Other folks enjoyed the references to the Broadway musical Rent that I used in the sermon. Click here to read the sermon. Following the service, we had communion (which is my favorite church liturgical experience). And, get this: we had a ton of visitors. And, we even had a few who came back! I love it when that happens.

On Saturday, I took folks from church up to our cabin at Lake Herriman State Park for a day of R & R. It was a nice trip and I had fun rowing across the lake as well as sleeping and catching up on a book I'd been reading.

This week will be somewhat busy but not as hectic as last week. I am sure I'll get all caught up in no time.

Oh, and I finally finished the book Dry, by Augusten Burroughs. Wow!! It was a great read. The book is a sequel to Burrough's Running with Scizzors. It is about his life as an adult and details his struggle with alcoholism. The book is funny and poignant. I'd definately recommend it- but first, read Running with Scizzors. That way, you'll understand the chronology better.

I'll write more this week- sorry for the absence of stuff last week.