Wednesday, October 27, 2004

And God Created Pets

A newly discovered chapter in the Book of Genesis has provided the answer to "Where do pets come from?"

Adam and Eve said, "Lord, when we were in the garden, you walked with us every day. Now we do not see you any more We are lonesome here, and it is difficult for us to remember how much you love us."

And God said, "No problem! I will create a companion for you that will be with you forever and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will love me even when you cannot see me. Regardless of how selfish or childish or unlovable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourselves."

And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam and Eve. And it was a good animal. And God was pleased. And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and Eve and he wagged his tail.

And Adam said, "Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and I cannot think of a name for this new animal." And God said, "No problem. Because I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you, his name will be a reflection of my own name, and you will call him DOG."

And Dog lived with Adam and Eve and was a companion to them and loved them. And they were comforted. And God was pleased. And Dog was content and wagged his tail.

After a while, it came to pass that an angel came to the Lord and said, "Lord, Adam and Eve have become filled with pride. They strut and preen like peacocks and they believe they are worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught them that they are loved, but perhaps too well."

And God said, "No problem! I will create for them a companion who will be with them forever and who will see them as they are. The companion will remind them of their limitations, so they will know that they are not always worthy of adoration." And God created CAT to be a companion to Adam and Eve.

And Cat would not obey them. And when Adam and Eve gazed into Cat's eyes, they were reminded that they were not the supreme beings. And Adam and Eve learned humility.

And they were greatly improved.
And God was pleased.
And Dog was happy.
And Cat didn't give a shit one way or the other.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Cherry Salad

When I was home in Oklahoma City, my mom made this tasty salad that could also serve as a dessert. It's easy to make and especially good for those last minute potluck dinners where we promised to bring a salad but completely forgot about it until the night before. Here is what you'll need:

1 can of cherry pie filling
1 can of crushed pineapple (drained)
1 can of Milnot (evaporated milk)
1 tub of Cool Whip
1 cup of shredded coconut (optional)
1/2 cup of nuts (optional)

Combine all the ingrediants into a bowl and put in the icebox for at least 4 hours (to firm up). And that's it!!

This is sooooooooooooooo amazingly good.

William Sloane Coffin has said,

I am trying to hone up on my preaching skills and came across the quote from a book by Thomas Long entitled, The Witness of Preaching. Using this quote to make a point about when to use quotes from famous people, I found myself intrigued about the point this quote is making and wanted to share it with you. What do you think of it?

"It is a mistake to sharpen our minds by narrowing them. It is a mistake to look to the Bible to close a discussion; the Bible seeks to open one...The Bible is no oracle to be consulted for specific advice on specific problems; rather, it is a wellspring of wisdom about the ambiguity, inevitability, and insolubility of the human situation...The Bible makes us comfortable with struggle but uneasy in success...[T]he Bible is a signpost, not a hitching post."

quoted from William Sloane Coffin, The Courage to Love (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1982, pp.7-8)

Monday, October 18, 2004

Catholic Church: Vote Republican, or else!!
Vote and Be Damned
Published: October 17, 2004

First Dick Cheney said that supporting John Kerry could lead to another terrorist attack.

Then Dennis Hastert said Al Qaeda would be more successful under a Kerry presidency than under President Bush.

Now the Catholic bishops have upped the ante, indicating that voting for a candidate with Mr. Kerry's policies could lead to eternal damnation. Conservative bishops and conservative Republicans are working hard to spread the gospel that anyone who supports the Catholic candidate and onetime Boston altar boy who carries a rosary and a Bible with him on the trail is aligned with the forces of evil.

In an interview with The Times's David Kirkpatrick, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver said a knowing vote for a candidate like Mr. Kerry who supports abortion rights or embryonic stem cell research would be a sin that would have to be confessed before receiving communion. "If you vote this way, are you cooperating in evil?" the archbishop asked. "Now, if you know you are cooperating in evil, should you go to confession? The answer is yes."

As Mr. Kirkpatrick and Laurie Goodstein wrote, Catholics make up about a quarter of the electorate, many concentrated in swing states. These bishops and like-minded Catholic groups are organizing voter registration and blanketing churches with voter guides that often ignore
traditional Catholic concerns about the death penalty and war - the pope opposed the invasion of Iraq - while calling abortion, gay marriage and the stem cell debate "nonnegotiable."

"Never before have so many bishops so explicitly warned Catholics so close to an election that to vote a certain way was to commit a sin," the Times article said. Once upon a time, with Al Smith and John Kennedy, the church was proud to see Catholics run for president. The church was as unobtrusive in 1960, trying to help J.F.K., as it is obtrusive now, trying to hurt J.F.K. II.

The conservative bishops, salivating to overturn Roe v. Wade, prefer an evangelical anti-abortion president to one of their own who said in Wednesday's debate: "What is an article of faith for me is not something that I can legislate on somebody who doesn't share that article of faith. I believe that choice ... is between a woman, God and her doctor."

Like Mr. Bush, these patriarchal bishops want to turn back the clock to the 50's. They don't want separation of church and state - except in Iraq. Some of the bishops - the shepherds of a church whose hierarchy bungled the molestation and rape of so many young boys by tolerating it,
covering it up, enabling it, excusing it and paying hush money - are still debating whether John Kerry should be allowed to receive communion.

These bishops are embryo-centric; they are not as concerned with the 1,080 kids killed in a war that the Bush administration launched with lies, or about the lives that could be lost thanks to the president's letting the assault weapons ban lapse, or about all the lives that could be saved and improved with stem cell research.

Mr. Bush derives his immutability from his faith. "I believe that God wants everybody to be free," he said in the last debate, adding that this was "part of my foreign policy."

In today's Times Magazine, Ron Suskind writes that Mr. Bush has created a "faith-based presidency" that has riven the Republican Party. Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a Treasury official for the first President Bush, told Mr. Suskind that
some people now look at Mr. Bush and see "this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do." He continued: "This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He
believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them."

The president's certitude - the idea that he can see into people's souls and that God tells him what is right, then W. tells us if he feels like it - is disturbing. It equates disagreeing with him to disagreeing with Him.

The conservative bishops' certitude - the idea that you can't be a good Catholic if you diverge from certain church-decreed mandates or if you want to keep your religion and politics separate - is also disturbing. America is awash in selective piety, situational moralists and cherry-picking absolutists.

Back in NYC

Well, I am back in NYC after an exciting and all-too-short weekend. Here is a brief recap:

I actually made it to the airport on Friday morning. I found the money I needed by going to a check-cashing place and cashing my paycheck there. They charged me $15, which seems high but I did get my money.

The following morning I got up and took a cab to Newark airport. Once there, I was given bogus information as to exactly where my gate was located. After running back and forth between two terminals, I reached my gate just in time to board. Flying directly to Okla City, I slept, read, and listened to some music on my new mp3 player.

Arriving in Okla City, mom made my favorite dinner, meatloaf and bean stew. My mom, grandmother, and I had a great time talking and getting caught up with all the new local gossip. Later in the evening, a friend and I went out for coffee. Being the good old friend that he is, we had a fun time talking and deconstructing our Christian faith tradition. (heh heh). In a fun and inspiring way, we came up with an idea. We discussed creating a story examining the Beatitudes and finding comparible teachings in other faith's religious writings. It should be a fab time. I'll keep you posted as that develops.

On the following day, I drove up to Tulsa to perform a wedding (which was my reason for the trip). Prior to going to the wedding, I stopped off to visit a friend who lives nearby. We had a great time talking and getting caught up with our lives. He and his wife just purchased a new house and they are doing all the rearranging and redecorating to make it their new castle.

Following my time with my friend, I drove to the wedding which was only about 20 minutes away. The wedding was not performed in a church but rather in a friend of the groom's house. It is the largest house I've ever been in. Huge. And beautiful. The wedding went by without a hitch. The food afterwards was wonderful and the wine ever in abundance. There were about 75 in attendance and the couple getting married were wonderful.

Following the service, I drove back to Oklahoma City where I immediately went to bed. The next morning, I went my friend and his fiance for coffee in a fab coffee house. After talking and eating no-bake cookies and expensive coffee, they went to church and I went shopping. Afterwards, I came home and packed for my return flight. It was a long day because of my connection in Houston, but the flight was smooth. Returning to Newark, I cabbed it home and discovered to my wonderful surprise, Roy was waiting to see me. After a nice meal, we called it a night and went to sleep.

This morning, we woke up lazily and after getting cleaned up, Roy made pancakes. I've had a pretty nice weekend. I am presently in the church office checking my email and getting caught up with my upcoming week's plans and details. I'll write more later, as stuff happens.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Oh What a Mess!

Well, today just might be one of my most frustrating times in ages. I learned this morning that I am now a new victim in the identity theft arena. Somehow vandals got ahold of my debit card and recreated it, and sold it to someone who has been draining my bank account. My bank discovered some conflicting purchases and notified me post-haste. Fortunately, I have fraud protection on my card (get this if you don't already have it) and I will be reimbursed for the fraud charges. As a result of this fraud, my debit card was cancelled and a new one has been reissued, which should arrive in my mailbox Fedexed, my Tuesday.

So, I was supposed to go to the bank and write a check to withdrawl money for my trip to Oklahoma, only I got busy at work and forgot to go. By the time I remembered, the banks were closed. I have $2 in my wallet and have to get to the airport in the morning. I have no idea how I am going to do this- I've called a couple of friends to loan me the cash but no one answered their phones.

The cab ride will be $60 + tolls + tip (which will run about $75 in all) and they don't take credit cards. The cab ride from the airport in OKC to my home is $20 + tip. I am almost beginning to panic.

I am thinking I may have to go to one of those check-cashing places which, honestly, scares me to death. I worry I'll get mugged either in the store or coming out (assuming one is still open).

Whoever is reading this, please pray for me- I am running out of ideas.

I'll let you know if I make it to OKC or not.

Going to Oklahoma

I am going to Oklahoma City tomorrow, Friday, to perform a wedding. The wedding is for a friend of my eldest brother and will take place in Tulsa. I am going to be traveling quite a bit and will need to return by late Sunday night. It looks like I'll be 'going this way and that' throughout the weekend. Fortunately I'll get to drive my mom's car. She has this really amazing and comfortable car and I can actually fit into. I guess this is a bonus for me-- I do love driving seeing how I seldom get to do that anymore living in New York City.

Unfortunately my visit will be too brief. I love going home, its usually always relaxing and inspiring. However, this time, I'll only be there for about 3 days- that isn't long enough to visit with my family and get some needed R&R. However little my time off, I'll take what I can get.

Next month, Roy and I are going to Montreal for a 4-day getaway. It's amazing the travel deals you can get to Montreal in their winter time. I am thinking it's gonna be cold as heck there- but we're staying in a bed and breakfast as well as being located in the heart of the fabulous area of Montreal. So, that'll be my true R&R time--

Get your Life Energized

Lately I've been watching the Today show with some regularity. Amused and informed by many of the stories, I found myself going to their website to glean more information. Earlier this week, I discovered a plan to get my life energized. Printing out the list of recommendations to do so, I've been incorporating that list into my weekly schedule and I am here to tell you, it really works!

For starters, the list recommends I take a brisk walk every morning (something I am about to do right quick this morning). Other suggestions is to drink more water, spend time doing some breathing exercises, and to have a healthier breakfast. You can read the suggestions for yourself by going to the Today Show's website about this energy plan. The link will take you to a .pdf file you can open up, print out, or save to your computer.

Monday, October 11, 2004

My New MP3 Player

Well I finally went out and done it, I bought me an mp3 player.. finally. It seems most of my friends have one, it just took me awhile to find exactly what I was looking for. After doing much research, I decided to purchase the Rio Carbon player. It isn't as big as some of the other players, yet it is more versatile, in my opinion, that the others. And, its rated by several companies and reviewers as one of the best on the market.

What I like about it is its ease of use. I also like the fact that its supported by just about every mp3 music library. And, as an additional bonus, it has a built in mircrophone that allows me to digitally record my sermons and post them on the church website. The only drawback is its size, it is only 5gig in size. However, looking over my library, I realize I don't have that much music. And, if I get more music, I can always delete and add to the player, so that isn't such a big deal (I don't think).

I was thinking about getting the new iPods. And I almost got one- sure, it wasn't that much more than my Rio player, yet for the life of me, I couldn't find the 20gig version. Also, I'd've had to purchase some additional accessories such as a cradle and microphone. I saw the 40gig iPod but they start at $399 not including the accessories.

Since this weekend, I have uploaded half my music library as well as recorded my sermon from Sunday and posted it on the church website. I do like it, it seems to sound and run very well. Now, I can be like other New Yorkers and zone out while on the subway listening to my favorite tunes. :)

And, if anything goofy happens to it, I'll come back here and let you know about it.

Loving the Ungrateful

Lectionary Readings: 2 Kings 5:1-20; Luke 17:11-19

In our Gospel reading tonight, we read about a miracle in which Jesus heals ten lepers he met as he was entering a village bordering Galilee and Samaria... The lectionary readings today also point us to another story, found in 2 Kings because of its similarity with the Gospel account. In this passage, Naaman seeks out Elisha to be healed of his leprosy.

In both stories, the person or persons being healed were done so in an unusual way. In both cases, they were healed from a distance. The lepers in Luke were healed by Jesus as he entered the village. Standing at a distance from Jesus, they asked to be healed and Jesus called out, “Go show yourselves to the priests,” while on their way they were healed.

Naaman was healed when Elisha sent a messenger to him saying, “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then you will be healed.” Angry that Elisha wouldn’t meet him face to face and wave his hand so that the leprosy would disappear, Naaman was upset that Elisha wasn’t being personal. ...In both cases, the healing occurred not in the way we sometimes look at kindness. In this instance, Jesus and Elisha weren’t up-close and personal—and yet, they both provided healing nonetheless.

To read more of this sermon, please visit the Sermons section of my church website: (note the capital "S" in the URL)

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

One heck of a great casserole

I made this tastey dinner last night and wowsers! was it great. It is called Company Casserole and it was submitted to my Down Home Cookin' Cookbook by Claire Powell.

1 lb. ground beef
2 8oz cans of tomato sauce
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 lb. of noodles (I used spaghetti, broken in half once)
1 lb. cottage cheese
1/2 lb. cheddar cheese
1/4 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of green pepper, chopped

Brown ground beef, add tomato sauce and salt. Remove from heat. Boil noodles 10 minutes in salted water. Drain and blanch with cold water. Combine cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, sour cream, onion and green pepper in separate bowl.

Then, place in layers in 9"x13" baking dish or pan. Noodles first, then cheese mixture, then noodles and ending with meat sauce. Place in oven uncovered at 325 degrees for 1 hour.
Serves 8.

Modern-day Prophet

I am usually not convinced that anyone today is actually a prophet, mostly because this term is so often applied to someone calling themselves such. There is one man though, who doesn't call himself it (as far as I know) yet whose words touch me so deeply that I cannot find any other words other than, "Man of God" and "prophet". His name is William Sloan Coffin, former college chaplain and senior minister at The Riverside Church.

PBS' Religion and Ethics did a profile piece on him recently. You can read the transcript and watch the video. I'd recommend watching the video first, and then reading the transcript. And then, determine for yourself, what you think of him.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Lover Speaks

The Lover Speaks is one album (cd) that is a must in anyone's music library (if you can find it). It was released in 1986 and has been out of production for years and years. You may have heard a few of the titles re-recorded by Annie Lennox.

Mondays at home

It is just after 8am on a Monday morning and I am listening to George Thoroughgood's Bad to the Bone playing on New York's only classic rock radio station. Normally I'd be online checking my church email and planning my day but today, and for the rest of my Mondays until an Interim Pastor is selected, I am not allowed in at the office on Mondays.

It turns out that I tend to work alot. I enjoy church work and value my time off, for sure. However, since my senior pastor left for another congregation, I have been left at the helm. As a result, I've been working a whole lot making sure life at Broadway Church isn't interupted too much. So, I've been going in practically every day.

The Board of Stewards (similar to Trustees in other parishes) sat me down 2 weeks ago and said, "Pick a day off and whatever day you choose, you have to stay away." The church board is comprised of some really compassionate and great men and women. Several of my friends in other parishes work like a dog without anyone caring less. I feel very fortunate and blessed by the generosity and warmth where I serve.

So I picked Mondays. And here I sit. I was up around 6:30am, started the coffee, wrote down a new church program idea, and then signed online. For some reason, I am already bored and the day hasn't even started yet. I think I'll get ready and go out today.. surely I can find something in New York City to keep me occupied. I'll let you know.

Easy Casserole

I found the fastest and great tasting tuna casserole. Here it is.

1 large package of potato chips
1 can of tuna
1 can of mushroom soup
1/2 can of milk

Put a layer of potato chips in the bottom of a casserole dish; then a layer of tuna, and then the rest of the chips. Mix the soup and milk together and pur on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

It is yummy for sure!

Sermon from this Sunday

In the lectionary reading from Luke 17:5-10, the disciples ask Jesus a question, “We need more faith; tell us how to get it.” And, in true Jesus fashion, he answers their question with a teaching lesson that comes from left field.

The disciples’ request for more faith is predicated with what they heard about in verses 1-4; there they are reminded of the importance of being a good example leading no one astray in both word and deed. Jesus issued a clear warning not to harm or lead astray Jesus’ preferred clientele, the lowly and the poor. He also instructs them that they must continually be forgiving of others, even if those they forgive keep on sinning and repenting, time and again. The sternness of Jesus' warning and the challenge of continually be forgiving may have frightened the disciples; their question may have been in response to their emotion. So they ask Jesus and he responds by saying,

Even IF you had faith as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree (which has very deep roots), ‘May God uproot you and throw you into the sea,” and it would obey you!” (Luke 17:6, The New Living Translation)

Jesus’ response to the disciple’s question actually bothers me. First, he explains that they indeed do not have faith, because if they really had it, they could move that mulberry tree. Obviously though, they must have had some faith or they wouldn't have left their lives and followed after him. Jesus' response seems to have, in my opinion, belittled the disciples a bit. And then, with his exaggeration of the use of faith, it sounds like something more fit for Aladdin rather than the disciples.

Is true faith that sort of faith that moves inanimate objects in that late-night sci-fi kind of way? If we all had true faith, could we float to work instead of taking the subway? It makes me wonder what Jesus’ deliberate use of hyperbole is meant to convey. Was he trying to point out something the disciples (or anyone else, for that matter) would be able to achieve? Or, was he simply redirecting their question as he often did?

You can finish reading the sermon by going to