Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

Don't know what your plans are for Halloween this year but you may hear from some folks how terrible Halloween is and how evil. I want to take a minute to step back and take a look at that.

Halloween is a contraction of a three word phrase "All Hallows Even(ing)". In other words the night before All Hallows day. All Hallows can be "translated" to All Saints. So this is the night before the day when we remember all the saints that have lived before us. Doesn't sound so bad does it? All saints day is a Christian holiday that goes back many centuries. Like many of the days on the Christian calendar it doesn't get the attention that it should. But more on that in a second.

So what's the flap about? Well part of it has to do with the date chosen. Several dates on the Christian calendar were chosen to fight against pagan customs. In Halloween's case it was a festival of the dead called Samhain in the British Isles. Christians took the pagan holiday and "baptized" it. (We did the same thing with the date for Christmas which overlaps an old Roman pagan holiday. This is also why the Easter Bunny exists and why we have evergreens like a christmas tree at Christmas time) We "tame" the bad things (vampires and ghouls)by making them silly. The tradition of giving food to keep them from misbehaving is now candy and "Trick or Treat".

So is all this "stuff" about the supernatural just silly and to be ignored? No. As Christians we believe in the supernatural and recognize that it has its dangers. So does everyday life in this world. While I personally think things like the Tarot and Ouija are frauds I recognize that they can be used to bring great evil into people's lives. I also recognize that the powers of evil have used even the Bible to bring great evil into people's live as well. The difference is that the Bible is a much greater source of light and life and good, while Ouija and Tarot (and the like) are just pointless and silly.

So go out and enjoy yourself this Halloween. But remember two things:

Take your faith out with you. It'll keep you out of trouble (just like every other day) Halloween isn't a vacation from living a life in faith.

And tomorrow, take a few minutes to remember a saint. Can't think of any? Then take an extra moment and look one up. Some wonderful people have walked this path before us. We should take a few moments once a year to remember them and learn from them.


Friday, October 21, 2005

Yeah another dopey quiz

Things have been busy, I'll share with you why in a bit. In the meantime...

You are Rerun!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I honestly expected to be Linus.


Friday, October 07, 2005

Another silly one

Yeah it's silly but my cyborg name came out pretty cool and very appropriate. At my age I'm certainly an "artificial youth" and it's all about the journey isn't it?


Friday update

Mentioned before the indoor soccer in my life. Last night was interesting.

I spent the day (my extra day off)sanding drywall and painting. Lots of bending and stretching and general manual labor. I remember now why I don't like manual labor. It's hard work! So I was a little stiff and a bit tired when I rolled into the Y last night.

And who was waiting for us? A bunch of just out of HS (some maybe not even yet)varsity players with a couple of all county type thrown in for good measure. In other words players who have no business in this league (co-ed recreational). They thrashed us 12-0. I've never had any delusions about my level of play but last night was one of the few times when I felt utterly incapable of playing. It's frustrating and took the fun completely out of the game.

The problem is that while the players grumble among themselves I'm not sure anyone's ever actually complained to the Y. That'll change with yours truly. My suggestions will be two fold:

An outright ban on power league players (yes there's a separate league for this skill level but it starts later than the rec league). If they play rec league during the program year they are ineligible to play power.


they can play rec but not as a team. They have to be divided up among all the teams.


they just offer power league earlier.

We'll see what comes of it.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Why Lord?

This is my column from the October 2005 edition of our diocesan newspaper ChurchActs

As I write this (in early September) the full scope of the Hurricane Katrina disaster is just becoming clear. I've only learned today that all the members of my family are safe and out of New Orleans. Prayers of thanks for my family and prayers for the safety of everyone still in the city are the order of the day. Inevitably out of events like this a couple things happen. Certain groups begin to shout how God has expressed his anger through the storm and many people begin to wonder why/how God allows things like this happen.
As for God's involvement in “sending” storms and earthquakes and plagues to punish us I must admit to having a problem with the concept. That God is able to do such things is beyond question but that the Lord chooses to do it strikes me as inconsistent with his post-Easter relationship with his creation. Could this all be part of a larger plan? Sure. But it dawned on me several years ago that God's plans are probably way beyond my pitiful understanding. I'm willing to assume that the God who calls me “beloved” has a plan that is beneficial to creation in the long run. Personally I fall somewhere between believing in a God that micromanages every part of my (and everyone's) life and a God that got the world spinning then walked away.
So where's does that leave the questions from the beginning of my column? The honest answers are: I don't believe God “sent” Katrina, and I don't know why or how he chooses to let these things happen. I simply know that bad things do happen both on the large scale and the small. The more important question for us as a people of faith is how do we react to them? Our reaction to the “bad things” that happen tell us a lot about how deeply our faith has etched itself in to our lives. I believe that God is very interested in how we react to what happens in our lives.
God's challenge to us has less to do with being caught in the great disasters of our time than it does with being caught in the little ones. How will we react when we see suffering, when we are confronted with injustice, when we are surrounded by selfishness. When we open our eyes we discover that bad things happen every day to people all around us. Whether it's the victim of the school bully, a frightened child, a confused adult or someone just having bad things happen to them (a car breakdown, an emotional upset, the loss of someone or something important to them) I believe God watches us. It's not so much that God creates tests for us as that he knows that tests abound.
I wrote earlier this year on my blog about watching a young man struggle through the slush and snow of late winter with a long line of grocery carts. That's his job, to return those carts from the parking lot to the store. It dawned on me that I had never really looked at folks like these. He wasn't getting rich working at the grocery store and this job had to be pretty awful that day. And I could make his life a little easier or a little more miserable. Not a lot, just a little. It would be easier for me because I didn't want to be out in that weather either. My faith had etched itself deeply enough into my life that the easy answer wasn't going work anymore.
That large disasters like the hurricane bring out the best in us is fine. I believe we need to keep our eyes open every day. We need to remember the passage where Jesus talks about serving him when we help the hungry and the naked that surround us. Our society pushes us into every more self involved behaviors. We isolate ourselves from our daily life and those in them. In doing so we miss our chances to be agents for positive change in the world. We either ignore or simply insulate ourselves so that we do not see the bad things. How could we have made the day easier for someone with just a word, or a smile?
We ask why does God let bad things happen. How often do we choose to behave in a way that makes God ask us the same question? I can't stop the storms, large or small. Of course that's not my job.

Something new...sadly

If you've visited before and posted a comment you'll note that I've added a security feature that makes leaving a comment slightly more annoying (hopefully only slightly). You'll now have to verify you're a real person by copying a security code. The reason for this is that I'm getting spam comments. The first batch was just annoying and I figured I'd just edit them. The latest was totally inappropriate so I have to defend myself and my readers.
Hope you understand.
As for the spammers, I think you're dirt bags.