Thursday, April 28, 2005

Fred Phelps: Just Who Is He Anyway?

Okay, so you know who he is. Everyone knows this guy and his church in Kansas. The San Francisco Reporter did a write up on him that is very interesting indeed and they did it in such a way that the reader gets a glimpse into the ways of Phelps.

Have a looksee:

God Is A Verb

I spoke with a friend in Oklahoma last week who recommended a particular book for me. He said that as he read it, it had "me written all over it". I was unsure if I should be flattered or not but as my friend explained the book, I could tell he was very excited about what it had to say. So, I went down to my local Barnes and Nobles and picked up a copy.

The book's title, in its entirety, is called: God is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism by Rabbi David A. Cooper. While I have only read a few chapters, the book is wonderful! Hearing the stories of this particular ancient mysticism is both facinating and eye-opening. And, it really begs the question of Old Testament interpretation from a strictly word-for-word reading. Rabbi Cooper tells about the Tulmud, the Mishnah, and Midrash and how all these tools and methods have been employed to interpret the Old Testament that Jewish folk use- and conversely, Christians seldom do. As a result, few Christians understand the Old Testament as historical Jews do.

You can see then why a Christian might say, "Why don't the Jews get it?" When, afterall, the Jews get a different message than what Christians do. I am thinking it'd do me well to better understand the Old Testament through the lens of those to whom it was written rather from a perspective where I am trying to imagine how a Jewish person might think.

Hmm.. let me say it another way. When I was a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, my Old Testament class was taught by a Christian PhD student who more than often, interpreted the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament. While he tried not to do so (and he talked about the dangers of doing so), he still couldn't help but make the comparisons that would later be "fulfilled" in the New Testament.

At Union Theological Seminary where I later transfered, my Old Testament professor was a Rabbi who taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary across the street. I learned how to interpret (or rather was taught to interpret, I wonder how much I actually remember) Old Testamen texts. I am thinking this perspective both honors the traditions of my ancestors while hearing the messages in the Old Testament in a different and unique way (the way, perhaps, they were meant to be interpreted).

So my point is, this book, "God is a Verb" is facinating and fun and brings me back to my Old Testament class. It's filled with wonderful stories, keen interpretations, mediatations, and insights. I can't wait to continue reading it (yes, its been designated as my official "subway book", where I only read it on the subway).

Gay Husbands?

While reading the New York Daily News online this morning, I ran across an article about how to tell if your mate is cheating on you. The article is about a new book called The Script that seems to be flying off the bookshelves here in New York City. The book is advertising itself as the 100% way to know if your husband is cheating on you. You can read the article in the New York Daily News here.

In the story, however, is another link. That link is for women who have married gay husbands and it advertises the services of a woman with perfect "gaydar." Gaydar is the ability to tell if a man is either gay or straight. With the advent of the metrosexual (a straight man who takes very good care of himself, dresses very well, and has a sensibility most straight men just don't understand), it has become difficult to always know for sure a man's sexual preference. Enter Bonnie Kaye. She has a checklist and offers email counseling as well as provides thoughtful articles. It's a pretty funny site but one that deserves a quick peak. Check out:

Friday, April 22, 2005

Wanda's Cherry Crunch

This past week we had a new member's dinner at the parsonage. With 6 of our newcomers discerning whether or not to become members, I thought I'd sweeten the exchange by making a dessert from the "Down Home Cookin' " cookbook from the Grady County Extension Homemakers Council, that I so often write about here.

I found this easy to make recipe and received some additional advice from my mom on how to make the dessert even tastier. I made two pans of this dessert for both the newcomers and the members of the church who also attended the dinner. Everyone at the dinner had third helpings of this tasty and addictive delight.

2 cans of cherry pie filling
1 cup of chopped pecans
1 can of crushed pineapple
1 cup of coconut
1 box of any yellow cake mix
1 stick of butter or oleo

Pour pie filling into a 9x14 cassarole dish or baking pan and spread out evenly. Sprinkle the crushed pineapple, chopped pecans, and coconut on top of the filling. Sprinkle the cake mix evenly on top of the mixture, making sure there are no uneven lumps. Then, place butter slices all over the top of the cake mix. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

It's delicious served hot or with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Possible Constitutional Amendments

...that codify all marriages entirely on biblical principles:

1. Marriage in the United States of America shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen. 29:17-28, 2 Sam. 3:2-5)

2. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (2 Sam. 5:13, 1 Kings 11:3, 2 Chron. 11:21)

3. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut. 22:13-21)

4. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3, Num 25:1-9, Ezra 9:12, Neh. 10:30)

5. Since marriage is for life, neither the US Constitution nor any state law shall permit divorce. (Deut. 22:19, Mark 19:9-12)

6. If a married man dies without children, his brother must marry the widow. If the brother refuses to marry the widow, or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen. 38:6-10, Deut. 25:5-10)

7. In lieu of marriage (if there are no acceptable men to be found), a woman shall (may) get her father drunk and have sex with him. (Gen. 19:31-36)

What makes this list sweet to me was that it was given to me by one of the very old and very wise matriarchs in our sister congregation, a Lutheran Church.

In any event, its crazy how we can use the Bible to justify all sorts of things- and how we can use it to either support what we like or don't like. As you can see, proof-texting is seldom a good idea; the above list gives us an example as to why.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Interesting website

I read a great article in my PC World magazine about a website called Konfabulator that lets you download widgets, programs that can do pretty much anything you want from viewing traffic cams, a haiku generator, Fedex package tracker, to a tool that checks how much free RAM you have. It's quite amazing actually and it even lets you create your own java scripts to do whatever you want your computer to do, or whatever you want your desktop to look like.

For a better description of what this is, check out

Monday, April 11, 2005

Unitarian Jihad

The following is the first communique from a group calling itself Unitarian Jihad. I have no idea whether news organizations have received this communique, and, if so, why they have not chosen to print it. Perhaps they fear starting a panic. I feel strongly that the truth, no matter how alarming, trivial or disgusting, must always be told. I am pleased to report that the words below are at least not disgusting:

Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States. We are Unitarian Jihad. There is only God, unless there is more than one God. The vote of our God subcommittee is 10-8 in favor of one God, with two abstentions. Brother Flaming Sword of Moderation noted the possibility of there being no God at all, and his objection was noted with love by the secretary.

Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States! Too long has your attention been waylaid by the bright baubles of extremist thought. Too long have fundamentalist yahoos of all religions (except Buddhism -- 14-5 vote, no abstentions, fundamentalism subcommittee) made your head hurt. Too long have you been buffeted by angry people who think that God talks to them. You have a right to your moderation! You have the power to be calm! We will use the IED of truth to explode the SUV of dogmatic expression!

People of the United States, why is everyone yelling at you??? Whatever happened to ... you know, everything? Why is the news dominated by nutballs saying that the Ten Commandments have to be tattooed inside the eyelids of every American, or that Allah has told them to kill Americans in order to rid the world of Satan, or that Yahweh has instructed them to go live wherever they feel like, or that Shiva thinks bombing mosques is a great idea? Sister Immaculate Dagger of Peace notes for the record that we mean no disrespect to Jews, Muslims, Christians or Hindus. Referred back to the committee of the whole for further discussion.

We are Unitarian Jihad. We are everywhere. We have not been born again, nor have we sworn a blood oath. We do not think that God cares what we read, what we eat or whom we sleep with. Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity notes for the record that he does not have a moral code but is nevertheless a good person, and Unexalted Leader Garrote of Forgiveness stipulates that Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity is a good person, and this is to be reflected in the minutes.

Beware! Unless you people shut up and begin acting like grown-ups with brains enough to understand the difference between political belief and personal faith, the Unitarian Jihad will begin a series of terrorist-like actions. We will take over television studios, kidnap so-called commentators and broadcast calm, well-reasoned discussions of the issues of the day. We will not try for "balance" by hiring fruitcakes; we will try for balance by hiring non-ideologues who have carefully thought through the issues.

We are Unitarian Jihad. We will appear in public places and require people to shake hands with each other. (Sister Hand Grenade of Love suggested that we institute a terror regime of mandatory hugging, but her motion was not formally introduced because of lack of a quorum.) We will require all lobbyists, spokesmen and campaign managers to dress like trout in public. Televangelists will be forced to take jobs as Xerox repair specialists. Demagogues of all stripes will be required to read Proust out loud in prisons.

We are Unitarian Jihad, and our motto is: "Sincerity is not enough." We have heard from enough sincere people to last a lifetime already. Just because you believe it's true doesn't make it true. Just because your motives are pure doesn't mean you are not doing harm. Get a dog, or comfort someone in a nursing home, or just feed the birds in the park. Play basketball. Lighten up. The world is not out to get you, except in the sense that the world is out to get everyone.

Brother Gatling Gun of Patience notes that he's pretty sure the world is out to get him because everyone laughs when he says he is a Unitarian. There were murmurs of assent around the room, and someone suggested that we buy some Congress members and really stick it to the Baptists. But this was deemed against Revolutionary Principles, and Brother Gatling Gun of Patience was remanded to the Sunday Flowers and Banners committee.

People of the United States! We are Unitarian Jihad! We can strike without warning. Pockets of reasonableness and harmony will appear as if from nowhere! Nice people will run the government again! There will be coffee and cookies in the Gandhi Room after the revolution.

Startling new underground group spreads lack of panic! Citizens declare themselves "relatively unafraid" of threats of undeclared rationality. People can still go to France, terrorist leader says.