Tuesday, May 17, 2005

When the Pot Calls the Kettle Black

A spokesman for the Pentagon just said, "I think it's outrageous that Newsweek would do something based on dubious evidence and may have resulted in loss of lives."

Kind of like our invasion of Iraq, eh?


You're just NOT going to believe what I did last night. It was the stupidest thing ever.

I was going through my mail, separating the bills from the junk mail. As I opened up the mail and came across something I didn't want, I'd rip it in two and throw it away. Yesterday I received more junk mail than normal and moved my trash can close to my desk chair and I opened and ripped, opened and ripped, and opened and rip...ArgghhH!!!.. I ripped my refund check from the IRS in half! It was behind the junk mail envelope and I didn't see it.

Hastily, I taped the check back together and I hope, I hope, I hope, the bank will still take it.

As each day happens, I am coming to the realization that I shouldn't ever be left alone.

Disconnecting Something I Never Thought I'd Disconnect

I read an interesting article ages ago that got me thinking: Could I live without my 5-disk cd player? You see, most of all my music is recorded on my computer and is thereby on my mp3 player (a Rio player). And, I bought a particular cable that I was able to hook my mp3 player into my Bose wave radio in my living room.

I noticed a friend who had done the same thing in his apartment (I was over at his house this past week for a party). "Hmmm... this is really interesting." He has an iPod player and has MUCH more music than I do.

And so yesterday I thought I would "give it a go" and see what my life would be like without the cd player (its a huge ol' box next to my tv and takes up all sort of space). And, my cd player is a piece of crap anyway- it needs to be turned on and off during play because it'll skip from one cd to another and not recognize the next cd and skip again and again and not play. So, frustration is really the main reason I am open to this new experimentation.

And there you have it. I unplugged the cd player, put it in my closet, and spent all day yesterday listening to my tunes through my player. And you wanna know something? It's great and it's working just fine! I am thinking this is going to be wonderful.

Someone Knows All About You

I recommend anyone who wants to keep current with their Windows XP Operating Program to sign up for a free weekkly eNewsletter at http://www.winxpnews.com. The tips and information are priceless and continues to provide keen insight for me as I do all the computer tech work at the church.

In today's issue, we are told about a new search engine at http://www.zabasearch.com. I went there, typed in my name, and was Shocked! about the information I found. It had my birthdate, address, phone, and the opportunity to do a complete search regarding all my financial transactions, what the government has on me, what I own, et al. (for a fee, of course). That option is located at the bottom of the screen.

Go there and see what you find. It has scary written all over it.

And.. it's a good place to look for old friends. ;)

Sunday, May 15, 2005

And More Really Cool Baptist Preachers

I found this blog entry over at Real Live Preacher. It was the nicest thing I've read in a long time- and it even made me get all teary-eyed.


Okay, so it has a bit of stereotype-ish-ness in yet- and yet, I know this man has many folk reading his blog and he didn't have to say this quite so honestly. And yet he did.

This Is What Happens When Really Dumb People Get Elected

Wouldn't you know it, a Texas lawmaker has "discovered" the cause of AIDS and highschool dropouts. It seems that those tawdry cheers we're seen our cheerleaders in highschool perform is the root cause of all the teenage woes. And it's a good thing, personally I was getting tired of being blamed for all the evils in the world (as an openly gay minister).

To counter this threat, there is now a bill in the Texas legislature submitted by Democratic Rep. Al Edwards, the bill's sponsor, that argues that sexually suggestive cheerleading exhibitions are a distraction that results in pregnancies, [high school] dropouts and the contraction of AIDS and herpes.

"If there's anybody who thinks there's not a problem with the way our young folks are performing ... then they've been somewhere with their head in the sand," he said.

Read the entire story here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/suggestive_cheerleading

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Wanna hear something funny?

I was speaking with a friend in Shawnee, Oklahoma yesterday who was complaining to me about the skyrocketing rents in his small town. He and his wife are expecting their first child and they have to move. Looking at 2-bedroom homes, they are excited to learn that they are eligible to rent a house sponsored by the Shawnee Native American tribe (his wife is 1/8th Native American). He was saying how worried they were that they wouldn't get this subsidized housing which made them concerned whether or not they could afford a non-subsidized 2-bedroom home in their community.

Okay, so this is where it gets funny- not necessarily ha-ha funny.

Currently my Shawnee, Oklahoma friends pay $110/mo for their 1 bedroom apartment. The subsidized HOUSE they are going to get is $150/mo. A two-bedroom apartment would run close to $175/mo. So, they are saving $25 because they received word yesterday that they were approved for the subsidized house.

I heard this and, living in New York City, I was stunned and giggly at the same time. But it wasn't necessarily a happy response, it was more of sort of laugh you might expect from someone incarcerated in a mental hospital. It was a nervous laugh- a laugh that said, "What the hell am I doing living in New York City?!" kind of laugh.

I pay really, really, really, inexpensive rent here. I have a 1 bedroom, 700 sq foot apartment "in da' hood" and I pay $950 a month. I was at a friend's party last night (who certainly makes more money than I) and he lives in a converted 2-bedroom apartment and pays just a little over $3000 a month.

See, isn't that funny? Honestly I don't know whether to laugh or cry right now.

$13 a month!

You're just not going to believe this. I found an honest-to-goodness "deal" in New York City. In a city of insane rents, through the roof taxes, and milk that costs just close to $5 a gallon, I just ordered monthly cable for $13 a month. Thirteen dollars a month!!

Where I live there is just no reception- and when I watch tv, its mostly snow and blurred images. Yesterday I was whining to a friend of mine about my reception and my unwillingness to pay OK Cable $49.00 a month of basic service when my friend said, "You should try Time Warner Cable, they're much cheaper." I responded, "You mean I have a choice?"


I am way excited today. And this is for good reason, you understand. Being the frugal pastor (and my grandma might suggest I am not frugal enough), I have found the inexpensive restaraunts in the city, ways to spend an afternoon without spending any money, and now, I have cable tv for almost the cost of a movie ticket.

So, just to let you know, this is one of the very few deals that I have found in my 9 years of living in this city. To give you some examples of others deals that are far less entertaining, I have discovered inexpensive drying cleaning and the "cheaper than doing it yourself" laundromat service. Exciting, huh?

Friday, May 13, 2005

God's Mysterious Hand

Remember when I booked my vacation plans and had to cancel shortly thereafter because I forgot about an important trip?

Well, get this. I had a conversation last night with a member from the church where we share space with and an idea was presented to have a joint picnic between both congregations on June 12th. I had planned on booking my vacation to Oklahoma on June 7th through the 14th. I told the other congregation that I'd probably miss the joint picnic but would still participate in the planning of it.

So, this morning when I was planning my trip to Oklahoma, I figured it'd be great to be a part of that picnic and decided instead to plan (and book) my vacation to Oklahoma from June 14th through the 23rd. I have my vacation booked and everything is all set.

Now here is the funny (and very cool) hand of God is all this. June 12th is not only the date of the planned picnic but it's also the date of my congregation's Spring Corporate Meeting (something that I cannot, for any reason, ever miss). Had I not spoken with the other church's rep, I would have booked my vacation plans and would have then had to immediately cancel my reservations. But I didn't have to do that, pretty cool, eh?

If guardian angels exist, I can only imagine they receive overtime pay when it comes to watching out for me.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Is This A Slippery Slope?

General Synod is the annual meeting of the United Church of Christ and it's happening this July in Atlanta, GA. At Synod this year will be a resolution to begin the debate regarding "Alternative Paths to Ordination". Generally speaking, an ordained member of the UCC must have a four-year college degree + 3 years in seminary. For most within Protestant mainstream churches, this is the norm. The UCC however, is weighing the factors for many folks who don't have the necessary funds to pay for 7 years of education (esp when some choose ministry late in life and who have not begun a college education) or for many of our rural churches that have been and remain pastor-less. So this compromise is looking at ways to train folks for ordained ministry who a), couldn't otherwise afford it, or b), to raise up those in rural settings and be trained to serve, think, and shepherd their own congregations and be ordained to do such a thing.

Personally, the UCC has a way of licensing a candidate for ministry who has not met the 4+3 schooling or, because many of our smaller churches cannot support a full-time pastor financially, often members of the congregation have already served their respective pastorates in a licensed way (giving them full ordinational responsibilities but only for the particular church they serve, and no other- they would have to reapply to their regional conferences to be granted licensure in another parish setting).

Anyways- I say all this to speculate that such a decision might draw uneducated persons to the office of the pastor who have not spent years discerning their call to ministry. It is during the 4+3 years of education and the ordination process itself (which can take 3 years) that a pastor struggles and affirms his or her calling. Whatever is decided at Synod must take into account the danger in having those who's hearts have not been tested and put into the fires of accountability before a new parish is given over to a newly ordained candidate. These are just my ruminations.

You can read the entire article, which reads very well and makes a great case at http://www.ucc.org/news/r051205a.htm

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

"Blanket Policy" My Donkey

This is from the UCC Newsdesk.

"The communication director of the 1.3-million-member United Church of Christ is questioning a decision by ABC television to allow James Dobson’s Focus on the Family to air two commercials during the network’s season finale of “Supernanny” on May 2.

In an Associated Press story (May 2), Focus on the Family’s president and CEO, Jim Daly, said the spots were an attempt by his organization to offer “faith-based” advice on parenting, despite the fact that ABC executives have twice denied recent similar requests by the UCC to purchase network time as part of its national advertising campaign.

“Focus on the Family is clearly a religious organization,” the Rev. Robert Chase, director of the UCC’s communication ministry, told United Church News. “Here’s yet another illustration of how a particular narrow agenda makes up the rules as they go along, while another religious viewpoint cannot even purchase time on the people’s airwaves to proclaim an all-inclusive message.”

In December and March, the three major networks denied a purchasing request by the Cleveland-based UCC. NBC and CBS rejected the UCC’s 30-second ads as “too controversial.” ABC, however, sidestepped the fray by maintaining that it has a blanket policy against all religious advertising.

“Why are the network executives so willing to bow to this narrow agenda of the religious right?” Chase said. “Why is one religious viewpoint continually accommodated by the network elites?”

“Focus on the Family may be using a non-sectarian come-on, but what kind of assurances can ABC provide that Focus on the Family’s follow-up literature is respectful of all faiths, respectful of non-traditional families, respectful of the one million kids that have same-sex couples as parents?”


The apparent hole in ABC’s advertising policy has not been lost on internet blogs. Below are a few recent posts:

Media Matters: Is ABC providing airtime to Focus on the Family after denying it to United Church of Christ? mediamatters.org

Talking Points Memo: You may recall www.talkingpointsmemo.com

AmericaBlog: ABC accepts ad from Focus on Family after rejecting gay-friendly Christian Church www.americablog.org/

To read this and other related stories, go here: http://www.ucc.org/news/r050305.htm

Friday, May 06, 2005

Serving Sizes

I got this today from my Bally's Fitness email of the day. I was so surpised to learn that two tablespoons of peanut butter (what I usually put on my pb and jelly sandwiches is equvalent in protein to an ounce of meat!

Here is what I read this morning:

Did you know that two tablespoons of peanut butter is the same size as a golf ball, which counts as one serving and is equivalent to an ounce of meat? Did you know that one serving (1 1/2 ounces) of cheese is about the size of three dominoes, and that one serving of leafy-green veggies is one cup, and about the size of a baseball? Visit the weight loss topics on www.ballynutrition.com for more serving size information.

Whoops, it's actually 616!

A newly discovered fragment of the oldest surviving copy of the New Testament indicates that, as far as the Antichrist goes, theologians, scholars, heavy metal groups, and television evangelists have got the wrong number. Instead of 666, it's actually the far less ominous 616. For the complete story, click here.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Great Religious Truths

1. Muslims do not recognize Judaism as a religion.

2. Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

3. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian faith.

4. Baptists do not recognize each other at Hooters.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Craigville Colloquy

As you might have guessed, even the United Church of Christ has its evangelical strain within the denomination. One place to see this strain, is by vacationing once a year to the annual Craigville Theological Colloquy at the Craigville Conference Center in Cape Cod, Massachusettes. For under $400, you have 4 nights, 12 meals, linen and beach club membership all while enjoying a week around a particular topic. This year's dates are July 18-22, 2005.

This year's theme will be Christ Will Come Again: Reclaiming Eschatology. During the week, there will be discussions about the end of days and what it means when we proclaim each communion Sunday that "Christ will come again."

I am thinking of going to this event for a couple of reasons. Namely, my slot on Fire Island has been nixed and I doubt I'll be able to find a new host at such a late date. And, since I've never vacationed on the Cape, this would be a good place to go (albeit alone). Secondly, I find the UCC's take on evangelism heartening and would like to meet more folks who blend a 'liberal evangelism' although I doubt that they would call it that.

Major Goof

One of the dangers of being able to book your travel reservations online is that a person might get tempted to do so when they really shouldn't. Take last night for example. I was wanting to book my vacation trip home to Oklahoma and have been putting it off. Realizing the rates were going up, I hopped online (at about 2am) when I should have been in bed asleep.

As a result, I booked and paid for my trip home without realizing that I have to be in Buffalo for a conference during part of the trip I booked for home. This morning when I emailed my boss to say, "Okay, I finally booked my trip home," did he call me to say, "What on earth were you thinking? Don't you know we have to be in Buffalo!?"

So, screaming and saying words my mother shouldn't hear, I called the travel company to cancel my reservations. Fortunately, I did so within 24 hours of making my reservation and was able to get a 100% refund. Perhaps THAT is the good thing about making online reservations.

Anyways, I am such a goof. Unfortunately I won't be able to go home in May after all. I am shooting for a couple of week in June. I think I'll wait and make sure my calendar is up to snuff, so to speak, before making another flight reservation.