Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It was the kiss of death

New York Daily News
by Derek Rose

A 15-year-old Canadian girl with a peanut allergy died last week after smooching with her boyfriend, who had just eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Christina Desforges died in a Quebec hospital on Wednesday after doctors were unable to revive her, hospital officials said yesterday.

She went into anaphylactic shock last weekend, after the kiss, and was almost immediately given a shot of adrenaline, but it was too late.

"It's a very sad event," Chicoutimi school official Michel Cloutier told the Edmonton Journal. Her classmates "are feeling emotional and we had them meet with a psychologist."

Peanut allergies account for 50 to 100 deaths annually in the United States, said Dr. Jonathan Field, director of the pediatric allergy and asthma clinic at NYU and Bellevue medical centers.

"I wish I could say it's shocking, but we do hear cases of it," he said. "We've had it from mouth-to-mouth contact, or even eating off a surface with peanut residue. It can be minute, minute quantities."

As many as 1 in 200 Americans have a peanut or tree nut allergy, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Severe allergic reactions can develop quickly and without warning.

A White House Blog?

I read this description this morning as I was reading my weekly WXPNews e-newsletter:

If you like to keep up with what's going on with the current administration, now you can subscribe to RSS feeds directly from the White House to get instant access to press briefings, presidential news and speeches. You can even get audio files of the president's weekly radio address. With RSS (Real Simple Syndication), you're notified immediately when new content is available. Just go to:

Friday, November 25, 2005

When an asterisk needs to follow a statement

This week the United Methodists issued three unique rulings that pretty much proclaim their intolerance for anything gay related. In one ruling, they defrocked an openly lesbian minister because she "revealed" that she's been in a long term relationship with another woman.

In another ruling two pro-gay churches who issues pro-gay resolutions were officially admonished by the methodist church for the positions.

Lastly, a church pastor was acquitted of charges when he refused membership to an openly gay parishioner. The pastor's bishop had him suspended but the church court reinstated him.

I mention these points because of the commercial from the United Methodist Church that invites people to its churches with this tagline:

Open hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors. The United Methodist Church welcomes everyone.

I think they need to place an asterisk after everyone*. And then say, * unless you're gay and then you're not welcome here. At least they'd be more honest.

You can read one version of the whole story here.

What a Parsonage!

Today I spent the afternoon checking out the church where I am in the process of candidating. As most folks who know me already know, I am candidating at a church in New Jersey, just outside of New York City. A couple of weeks ago, the church's search committee voted unanimously to recommend me to the congregation as their pastoral selection. I will be preaching my candidating sermon on Sunday, December 11th.

Anyways, there are a lot of logistical things that need to be done between now and then. One of those things is checking out the parsonage, another is finding a car, and yet another is working on my final call contract. In some ways it seems like there is so much to do; in other ways it seems to be all flying along very quickly (although I think that latter feeling has more to do with my age). ;)

Anyways, today I went out to the church to check out the parsonage. Wow! It is beautiful and big. Moving from my small 1 bedroom apartment into a 2-story farmhouse will take quite some getting used to. The house has new siding and a new roof. Inside, there is a finished basement, a lovely first floor with a new kitchen and fireplace, and the second floor has three bedrooms laid out in this very conveniently accessible way that almost links all three together, and yet doesn't. I am sure that makes absolutely no sense.

Also, a funny thing happened today when I went to test drive a vehicle with one of the search committee members. As it happened, I took a used Jeep Cherokee for a drive. Unfortunately, I needed to fill it up with gas before going on the test drive. Giving the attendant the refill coupon from the dealer, I preceeded to turn on the ignition when nothing happened. The car wouldn't start. We had to leave the vehicle at the gas station and walk back to the dealer down the street. Crazy, right?

Anyways, the day went very well and I am very excited about my new future, assuming I get the job of course. Woo-hoo! (I've taken to saying "Woo-hoo!" alot lately, both in writing and in person).

Great Quote

A friend sent me an email just now and has one of those email programs that attaches nifty quote tags on the bottom of his email. Here is the quote that was attached to his email:

Literature encourages tolerance - bigots and fanatics seldom have any use for the arts, because they're so preoccupied with their beliefs and actions that they can't see them also as possibilities.
- Northrop Frye, writer (1912-1991)

Friday, November 18, 2005

When juvenille humor gets a fella in trouble

If you read this blog regularly you'll know first hand that sometime my humor leans towards a humor that some of us employed when we were much younger. I blame that on my years and as a youth minister. Once my humor gets set, its tough to move it beyond anything else.

Anyway, some folks who were looking at me as a prospective pastor in their congregation found my blog and started going back further and further in its past to learn more about me. As they read, some found stories that, ahem.. were a bit juvenille in their presentation. As a result, some were a bit concerned with my giving "too much information" about whatever I was talking about.

So, you'll notice that this blog does not let you go back to past information older than the last 13 posts. Which, I think is a good idea and might save any future discussion about a past bad or icky post.

As for the church that saw it, they still offerred me the job so it mustn't've been TOO consterning but still.. I reread some of my older posts and I was shocked to the point that even I said, "Dang son, what on EARTH where you thinking?!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Healthy Living

Yesterday I received lots of interesting information regarding my life in the United Church of Christ; more specifically I received my 3rd Quarter investment schedule as well as a statement on what my last physical will cost me (what my insurance won't pay). While I'd love to go into a rant about the benefits of my insurance paying 100% of preventive care (e.g., yearly physicals) and why the heck they do NOT pay 100%, what impressed me was that our new denominational insurance carrier (Blue Cross, Blue Shield) so far pays so much MORE than our old carrier.

My last physical cost me about $500 out of pocket for the various tests and doctor's fees. I was so angry that I shot off letter after letter about the benefits for long-term care (read: insurance companies paying less in future costly medical bills associated with cancer and heart disease). I guess a lot of ministers complained or, it was just more feasible financially but the denomination switched carriers and I am paying a whole lot LESS! Woo-hoo!

I also received in the mail a brochure advertising the denominations new website dedicated towards advocating the creation of personal healthy lifestyle changes (I love it when the word 'lifestyle' isn't always associated with sex). They set up a website called, UCC Healthy Stewards, from the premise that we are responsible for being good stewards with our bodies. The site seems to be a great resource for maintaining healthy living choices, meal choices, and recommendations towards overall health. And, if you're a member of the Pension Boards (a minister, family member of a minister, or other such person) they provide health assessments and a host of valuable information aimed at providing ways to benefit with preventive healthcare. I think this is the best way to deal with issues of health and certainly the least costly in the longrun.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


There are a few of you in internet space who were praying and sending good thoughts my way last night. Last night I had my final interview to become the new pastor at Cresskill Congregational UCC in Cresskill, New Jersey. And, they voted to recommend me to the congregation as their choice. Woo-hoo!

As happy and thrilled as I am, the process is still not over. However, I've cleared a major hurdle. Next, I go to a 'meet and greet' time with the congregation and then I preach for them. Following my sermon, the congregation will vote and if all goes well then, I'll become their new pastor.

So if you were praying, thank you!! Woo-hoo!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Chocolate Festival

Oh mah gawd I got sooooooooooooooo queazy last night! I must've eaten the equivelant of a traincar full of chocolate. Chocolate bars, drinks, prezels, pieces, parts, wholes, and everything in the middle. Dark chocolate, light chocolate. Heck, I even had chocolate covered french fries!

I am too nervous to step on my weight scale; but not so nervous that I feel guilty. One of the great things about being a liberal is that I feel guilt a lot less often. Ha! Okay, so don't take that statement too far... or use it against me. It's just chocolate! :)

Friday, November 11, 2005

A Night on the Town

I realize I haven't posted anything in almost a week! I've been busy at work getting things lined up for next week and pretty much staying out late at night. This week, I've had the fortune of going out twice and I'll go out again tomorrow night too.

On Tuesday night, a church member invited me out to see a Broadway show that I've been relunctant to see because I've seen various movies about it on television over the years. However, this church member was persistent and finally, we went to see The Phantom of the Opera. Let me tell you, it was amazing! The music, the set design, and the story was worth the ticket price and I now have a show I can take my out-of-town friends to see, the ones who would not enjoy seeing Rent (my favorite all-time Broadway show).

Tonight a church member was performing for her CD release. She is an accomplished singer, has won numerous awards for her songwriting (including a Dove Award, a Christian version of the Grammys). A bunch of us from church (about 10 of us) went to hear Tina deVaron sing. She is very talented indeed! And, her collection of songs with this cd centers around her eldest son's departure for college and him "leaving the nest" and what that feels like to her and her husband.

Tomorrow night, the church musician, his partner, and I are going to New York City's Chocolate Festival in Chelsea. I had wanted to go to this months ago when I heard about it but had forgotten about it until today, when I just happened to be walking down the street where the festival is happening. Suddenly I remembered about it and asked Doug (the church musician) if he'd like to go to it tomorrow night.

I am becoming a real "going out on the town" kind of guy, eh?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Only in New York.. or maybe Arkansas..

A title in today's New York Daily News has this to say: "Woody Allen may be Soon-Yi Previn's husband, but he's still her daddy." As you may know, Mia Farrow, Woody's ex-wife discovered Woody fooling around with Soon-Yi, when Soon-Yi was his step-daughter. Woody's reaction was simply to divorce Mia and marry Soon-Yi.

I can see why my mom wants me to leave New York City and go back home to Oklahoma.

You can read about Woody's comments and the whole story here.

Standing up to Spiritual Violence

I preached a well-received sermon on Sunday entitled, The Way of Reformation: Standing Up to Spiritual Violence. From the opening skit about Martin Luther to the retelling of modern reformers (Rosa Parks, Caser Chavez, and Cindy Sheehan), everything seemed to tie in nicely with the sermon. I love a good Sunday when everything "works".

Here is an excerpt from the sermon:

We don’t have to confront our bullies like I did in my youth. There are other options if we’re willing to utilize them. Let us end the pattern of using violence to end violence. As Walter Wink has explained, “Violence can never stop violence because its very success leads others to imitate it.” (Wink, Engaging the Powers, 216). Sure, it may work in the short term, but in the end, violence will be reemployed again and again, whenever we think we’re being oppressed and hurt. To end violence in the long-term, we need to employ a greater plan—the plan of Jesus. In his teachings and in his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus transcended the notion of revenge and power-over by showing us that by love we can truly bring redemption.

You can read the entire sermon by going here.