## Sunday, February 26, 2006

### What a Sunday!

It sure feels nice when a sermon is well received, right? I preached a sermon on the Transfiguration experience in today's lectionary reading and even was able to use a quote from a friend's blog (hopefully I didn't entirely take Paul's quote out of context). ;)

But it wasn't just the sermon that went well, it was the entire service. The liturgy, the special duet, and the hymn sing (the last Sunday of every month is an opportunity for our folks to name and sing their favorite hymns from The New Century Hymnal. When you follow this link to Amazon.com, be sure to click the picture of the hymnal. It'll open up to see the contents inside the book. It's an amazing feature on amazon.) all went smoothly and was all well received.

In just a few moments, the church is regathering for an evening of fun and merriment as we celebrate Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday depending on where you're reading this (on a Sunday when we can get more people to come).

If you'd like to read the sermon from today, go here to see my sermons. To read today's message, click on the sermon for February 26th.

## Thursday, February 23, 2006

### Re-written Christian Children's Songs

I came across these rewritten children's songs that were written to reflect theologies of different slants and opinions. I am unsure the exact nature of these re-written songs, but as I see them, they may be a tongue-in-cheek way to help us realize how certain theologies may, when taken to an extreme, have an unexpected construction.

***
Jesus Loves the Little Children
(A Five-Point Calvinist Version)

Jesus loves the little children
All the chosen children of the world
All of those elect from birth
But the rest will die and burn
Jesus loves the chosen children of the world

Jesus chose the elect children
Out of all those lost and dead in sin
All the rest can't choose what's best
But God holds them guilty nonetheless
Jesus chose the elect children of the world

I am one of the chosen children
God likes me more than he likes you
We can tell who's damned to hell
'Cause they don't act nice or look swell
I am one of the elect children of the world
------------------------------------------

------------------------------------------
He's got the whole world in his hands
(Extreme Augustinian Version)

He's got the whole world in his hands... (3x)
He's got the whole world in his hands!

My free will is just illusion, in his hands... (3x)
He's got the whole world in his hands!

All free choices are really movements, of his hands... (3x)
He's got the whole world in his hands!

The universe is just clockwork, in his hands... (3x)
He's got the whole world in his hands!

We are responsible for what we can't change, in his hands... (3x)
He's got the whole world in his hands!

We are puppets of providence, in his hands... (3x)
He's got the whole world in his hands!

What you think doesn't really matter, in his hands... (3x)
He's got the whole world in his hands!
------------------------------------------

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Amazing Grace
(An Arminian / Semi-Pelagian Version)

Amazing Grace, how nice is God
To help those who help themselves
I was a nice guy, but its odd:
I'm nicer with his help

Grace chose me 'cause God knew I'd be
A guy who'd choose His plan
He saw my potential and thought he:
He deserves a helping hand

If I get there in ten thousand years,
It will be 'cause I stayed true!
I used his grace to finish the race
So I am better than you!
------------------------------------------

------------------------------------------
Jesus Loves Me
(A Theologically Liberal, Politically Correct Version)

Jesus loves me this I know
For a vague feeling tells me so
But your God is as good as mine
I'm sure your God makes you feel fine

Chorus:
I think some God loves me!
I think some God loves me!
I think some God loves me!
A vague feeling tells me so!

Your truth is yours and mine is mine
No one can know truth at this time
Our best guess is what we feel
Truth feels good, but guilt's not real
(chorus)

The Bible is such an old book
Modern thought has taken a good look
If its not new it can't be right
So only believe what's in your sight
(chorus)
------------------------------------------
Copied and pasted, without permission, from this blog.

### Variance

According to Wikipedia, "variance" means,

In probability theory and statistics, the variance of a random variable is a measure of its statistical dispersion, indicating how far from the expected value its values typically are. The variance of a real-valued random variable is its second central moment, and it also happens to be its second cumulant. The variance of a random variable is the square of its standard deviation.

If μ = E(X) is the expected value (mean) of the random variable X, then the variance is

$\operatorname{var}(X) = \operatorname{E}( ( X - \mu ) ^ 2 ).$

That is, it is the expected value of the square of the deviation of X from its own mean. In plain language, it can be expressed as "The average of the square of the distance of each data point from the mean". It is thus the mean squared deviation. The variance of random variable X is typically designated as $\operatorname{var}(X)$, $\sigma_X^2$, or simply σ2.

Note that the above definition can be used for both discrete and continuous random variables.

Many distributions, such as the Cauchy distribution, do not have a variance because the relevant integral diverges. In particular, if a distribution does not have expected value, it does not have variance either. The converse is not true: there are distributions for which expected value exists, but variance does not.

In Cresskill, New Jersey, a variance is something you file for if you want to add on a porch, extend a porch, or do anything different than what the original builders had in mind. And the process takes months with unending paperwork. As a result, the contractors who are, at this very moment, fixing my bathrooms and rebuilding the front porch to specific specifications have informed me that they will be unable to build the deck in the backyard because the right folks hadn't filed a "variance" with the city of Cresskill.

I could be misspelling variance while making my point here. Still, while there are may be many different meanings to the word, it still means I won't be getting my deck out back. It looks like I'll be hanging out on my front porch now more than ever. Which, I should point out, is what I probably would've done anyway. I do love sitting on a covered front porch, drinking iced tea, and petting my dog (of course, now I simply MUST get a dog).

## Tuesday, February 21, 2006

### My New Church Website

I have finally finished developing and creating my new church's website. You are invited to check it out and look around while you're there. You can find it by pointing your internet browser to http://www.cresskillucc.org.

### The Luck of the Irish

A friend emailed me a set of jokes, Irish and religious in nature. Some of them were just awful; the ones below I thought were pretty funny. ;)

+++++++

Paddy was driving down the street in a sweat because he had an important meeting and couldn't find a parking place.

Looking up to heaven he said, "Lord take pity on me. If you find me a parking place I will go to Mass every Sunday for the rest of me life and give up me Irish Whiskey".

Miraculously, a parking place appeared.

Paddy looked up again and said, "Never mind, I found one."

+++++++++++++++

Father Murphy walks into a pub in Donegal, and says to the first man he meets, "Do you want to go to heaven?"

The man said, "I do Father."

The priest said, "Then stand over there against the wall."

Then the priest asked the second man, "Do you want to got to heaven?"

"Certainly, Father," was the man's reply.

"Then stand over there against The wall," said the priest.

Then Father Murphy walked up to O'Toole and said, "Do you want to go to heaven?

O'Toole said, "No, I don't Father.

The priest said, "I don't believe this. You mean to tell me that when you die you don't want to go to heaven?"

O'Toole said, "Oh, when I die, yes. I thought you were getting a group together to go right now."

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

An Irish priest is driving down to New York and gets stopped for speeding in Connecticut. The state trooper smells alcohol on the priest's breath and then sees an empty wine bottle on the floor of the car. He says, "Sir, have you been drinking?"

"Just water," says the priest.

The trooper says, "Then why do I smell wine?"

The priest looks at the bottle and says, "Good Lord! He's done it again!"

## Monday, February 20, 2006

### How to be a Good Wife

Now aren't you glad you didn't grow up in the 1950s?! If this is true, and I have no idea one way or the other, it is kind of scary to think that this was taught. I guess in the "fear it may be true", it is both shocking and funny at the same time.

*************

The following is from a 1950's home economics textbook intended for high school girls, teaching them how to prepare for married life:

1. Have dinner ready: Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal - on time. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him, and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospects of a good meal are part of the warm welcome needed.

2. Prepare yourself: Take 15 minutes to rest so you will be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting. His boring day may need a lift.

3. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives, gathering up school books, toys, paper, etc. Then run a dust cloth over the tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift, too.

4. Prepare the children: Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces if they are small, comb their hair, and if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.

5. Minimize the noise: At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of washer, dryer, dishwasher or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet. Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm smile and be glad to see him.

6. Some Don'ts: Don't greet him with problems or complaints. Don't complain if he's late for dinner. Count this as minor compared with what he might have gone through that day.

7. Make him comfortable: Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest he lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soft, soothing and pleasant voice. Allow him to relax and unwind.

8. Listen to him: You may have a dozen things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first.

9. Make the evening his: Never complain if he does not take you out to dinner or to other places of entertainment; instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure, his need to be home and relax.

10. The goal: Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can relax.

### New Dining Room Table

I bought this dining room table today from JC Penney. They were having a huge furniture sale. I also bought a fancy couch that I couldn't find online to show you. However, here is the dining room table. The table itself is pretty tall, counter-size actually. I wavered quite a bit in buying it but it is something that'll fit me perfectly. And, its size seems more condusive to conversation, seeing that it's perfectly square (60" when extended). The table came with 6 chairs (2 free).

### Alka Seltzer, where are you?!

I officiated at my first wedding here in New Jersey over the weekend. The couple getting married were both of Italian heritage and so, I guess youse can says that I am now Joisi-fied. In all seriousness, it was a beautiful wedding held on a Native American reservation on top of a huge hill overlooking the eastern shore of New Jersey with New York City easily visible in the distance.

Besides the great couple getting married, the entire gathering did resemble an episode of the Sopranos. The men were impeciably dressed and the older men all had this thick "Godfather" accent seeing how they were all born in Southern Italy. The father of the bride made a good connection. He is from the town of Bari and I was stationed near there when I was in the military. My base was at San Vito Air Station near Brindisi.

I had a wonderful time with everyone; they were incredibly friendly. And you wouldn't believe the food they had. I ate from the time I arrived (at 10:30am) until I left at 5:00pm. They had a huge appetiser buffet from 10:30am until 2:00pm (the wedding was at 11:30am). Then there was dancing and drinking and more appetisers. And then the main course, and then more appetisers and then desserts and then more drinking. Oh mah gawd! I was so gorged on food, they had to roll me to my truck.

And still, I had a wonderful time. I guess now that I am out of New York City, I'll soon be looking like a dutch version of an Italian family: Large, well-dressed, and well-fed.

## Tuesday, February 14, 2006

### The Bane of My Existence

It is a Banana flavored Moon Pie. I discovered them, once again, at a local .99 cent store in a nearby town. Wheeling my shopping cart past the plasticware, cheap shampoo, and lightbulbs, there sitting on a corner display were box and after box of banana flavored Moon Pies.

These have been (and continue to be) the bane of my existence- for just as I am about to lose another pound or am struggling to keep my weight down, I run into a sale of banana flavored moon pies.

And I just can't pass them by, you know. I have to buy a box... or two... or my in case on Saturday, I bought three boxes. They are so amazingly good tasting despite the probable reality that there is next to nothing in them good that they do for the body- secret preservatives, fake banana flavoring (that I like mroe than I do the real taste of bananas), and all that marshmellow goo.

This morning I had two moon pies for breakfast, a glass of orange juice, and two vitamin pills. typing this now I have to laugh out loud at its absurdity--and yet, I know that I'll do it again tomorrow if I have any left. Go figure.

## Monday, February 13, 2006

### It's Just You and Me, Brother

The blizzard on Sunday not only had me stuck (for a time) in my driveway; being stuck meant that I had to walk to church Sunday morning. Fortunately, the parsonage is only a few blocks away from the church, so it was a short walk. Granted, the snow was blowing in chunks sideways at about 50 mph; I couldn't see further than 10 yards in front of me, and I had to walk down the middle of the street avoiding the few cars who were brave enough to be out in the snow storm (the sidewalks were covered with 27" of snow plus the snow the plows had blown on them taking them from the streets.) All in all, I think there must've been 5ft of snow on the sidewalks in all.

Anyways, when I arrived at the church, it was just me and the chairperson of our Board of Trustees. He handed me a cup of coffee he picked up along the way and we sat down in the church parlor talking and gabbing until, looking at his watch, he said, "It's 10:35am." Church starts at 10:30am. So, after our hour long conversation, we got up, walked to the doors of the church, turned off the lights, locked the doors, and went home.

And you know what I did? I went home, took off my shoes, sat down and back in my recliner, and took my first honest Sabbath day rest in a very long time. It was wonderful.

And, I am glad our church members stayed home too. It was too dangerous to be out driving in; I was so worried that one of them would try to make it in only to get in a wreck and get hurt. Church shouldn't be a dangerous thing to go to, not even to keep your perfect Sunday attendance.

### A Blizzard to Remember

On Sunday, we had the worst blizzard in history (or rather, as long as there's been New Englanders living in the East). It snowed 27 inches here and it did so in less than 12 hours. It was incredible to watch! And it was horrible shoveling it away.

Moving to the 'burbs I am now responsible for shoveling the snow that falls. Or rather, if I don't shovel it, I can't get out. But then, while I was shoveling the snow yesterday, I got to thinking, "Son, you've got a 4x4 now. What on earth are you doing shoveling your own driveway?! Get in that car and put that good ol' redneck blood you got coursing through your veins to work and get out of there!"

Actually, I didn't think this at first--it took my mom to say, "David dear, didn't you buy a four by four? Why not just back it out; you can hurt yourself shoveling all that snow." After some thought (which lasted about 1 minute, I thought to myself, "Yeah, she's right," and then the redneck blood argument popped into my head.)

So I went outside and put my key in the ignition. Letting the truck warm up a bit, I threw the car in reverse, stepped on the gas pedal, and Vaa-ROOOOMMM! I was out of the snow. It was actually like driving through tall grass- that snow didn't have a chance. Now I feel like an Oklahoma boy in these thar hills of New Jersey. Woo-hoo! Or rather, "Yeee-hawwww!"

(Thanks mom for reminding me where my bloodlines come from.)

## Tuesday, February 07, 2006

### Now THIS is one great way to go fishing

...although I can't figure out what is causing it. Is it the light upon the water? Or something more insidious? Maybe you can figure it out.

Fishing without Poles.

*warning: huge file

## Monday, February 06, 2006

### Don't you just love these?

Calvin and Hobbes is one of my favorite cartoon strips. Many times their simplicity is hilarious and sometimes deeply theological. I found a whole page of Calvin's snow men antics. You can see the whole gallery by going here. It's really a hoot!

## Sunday, February 05, 2006

### Busy Weekend

All I can say right now is, "Whew!"

I've had a busy weekend for sure. What with the building of the church website, setting up email accounts, purchasing and setting up new computers, and preparing for my sermon today, I am pert near tuckered out. I did want to post something on this site though and direct your way to the new church website. Click here to visit www.cresskillucc.org

The site still has a ways to go, content wise. And, I am having trouble with the pesking banner. It looks like the fonts are smudged. I'll get that fixed as soon as I can nail down PhotoShop better and put something that looks cleaner up.

On another fun note, I heard a voicemail message from my mom that a Baptist preacher in Oklahoma is getting in hot water over his blog. Mom is always concerned when I write things in my blog that offends here; she is convinced that blogs are nothing but trouble. And, from what she said about that Oklahoma pastor, she might just be right!

## Friday, February 03, 2006

### New Computers

As you might expect, my life is kinda revolving around my new position as the new pastor in a community church. Having moved here just over two weeks ago, adjusting to living in a parsonage, and getting everything in the church office organized and 'up to snuff' so to speak have all been happening around me at the same time. It's really cool and sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure this is all really happening and that I am really awake.

One of the really exciting things to have happened this week (yesterday) was the purchase of two new office computers, one for the secretary and one for me. We decided to purchase 'all-in-one' packages to save some money and to make things a little easier. So, we bought two of the exact same computer packages. Each package came with a computer, 17" LCD monitor, and an all-in-one printer. I asked the salesperson about the computer that we purchased and I asked him if it was what we're looking for (after telling him what we needed). He said, purchasing "this" computer is akin to hammering in a nail. While these other (cheaper) computers are like hammers, what we ended up buying was like, "hammering in a nail with a jackhammer." You could've seen the glean in my eyes.

Actually the reasoning for buying these computers as powerful as they are is the hope that they will last us for 8-10 years since chances may be that once we get a new computer, buying an upgrade will be more difficult in convincing the trustees in their overall need (since they would have worked well for the first few years we bought them).

This is the CPU we bought. You can go here to read its specs.

Pretty cool, eh? I am soooooooooo psyched. One of the cool features is that is has a built-in wireless card. On Saturday, our DSL in the office is getting turned on. So, all we'll have to do is enter in the MAC number on the wireless modem and we're all set. I just can't tell you how excited I am.

## Wednesday, February 01, 2006

### Jersey Boy

On Monday, I turned in my keys to my building super in Manhattan, turned off the lights to my apartment, closed the door, and left. It felt like I was leaving a part of myself in that apartment. And, in a way I guess I did. That apartment was painted and decorated by Roy and me. We made the place our own, painted it in a variety of funky (but cool) colors, and had the time of our lives there. We threw some great parties there, enjoyed being together, and spending lazy Saturday mornings watching television and sleeping in.

And yet, since Roy and I decided, last year, to be friends instead of lovers, leaving the apartment is also a bit of closure too.

And, with my church job ended, my long-term relationship over, and my new life beginning in New Jersey, I can say with honesty, conviction, and a bit of sadness: my time in New York City is finally over. Visiting the city will never be the same (part of me thinks, "Thank Gawd!") while another part of me is already romanticising my time there. There is no other city like New York, that's for sure! And yet, that is probably a good thing. :)

"A-ayyyy New Joisey, whatha f--k you doin'?!" I am now a Jersey Boy, accent and all (with only a slight Oklahoma twang). ;)