Friday, December 21, 2007

A little (a very little) Friday cat blogging

I've owned cats all my life.
I like cats.
I own a cat.

But some of this cat blogging stuff just gets silly to my way of thinking.

But it's Christmas and for the moment my cat is pretending like she tolerates me. I actually CHOSE this cat at the Humane society. She is utterly utterly worshipfully devoted to my wife. My daughter is second choice. If I'm the only person in the house she'll come sit on my lap. But she acts like it's a great personal strain on her.

This is Amidala. She's a very attractive cat but somehow she has never had a sense of kittenish whimsy. I've never had a cat like that.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Fun and a little bit tacky, yeah!

This is SO me!(Thanks to Pseudopiskie)
You Are a Bright Christmas Tree

For you, the holidays are all about fun and seasonal favorites.
You are into all things Christmas, even if they're a little tacky.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Even better than I could say it

Here's what I would have said in my rant about Christmas rants. Only said better. (h/t to Grandmere Mimi (Wounded Bird: Letter From Jesus About Christmas) who pointed me towards Ann)

Letter from Jesus about Christmas (slightly edited for Episcopalians)

Dear Children,

It has come to my attention that many you are upset that folks are removing My name from the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year -- it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually the time of pagan festival. Of course, I do appreciate being remembered at any time.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, here's how: GET ALONG WITH EACH AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on... If it bothers you that the town where you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen in your own front yard and put out your own Nativity scene. If all of My followers did that, there wouldn't be any need for a display in the town square because there would already be so many all around your community.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made ALL trees. You can remember Me any time you see ANY tree. Decorate a grapevine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten what I said, look up John 15: 1- 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wishlist.

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the President to complain about the wording on the White House cards this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then do it! It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. People in your town will attempt to take their own lives this season because they feel so alone and hopeless. Since you don't know who they are, give everyone you meet a warm smile -- it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit-picking about what retailers call this holiday, be patient with the people who work for them. Give each a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support organizations like Episcopal Relief and Development, who are working for better lives for refugees, prisoners, people suffering from diseases that are easily curable with a small amount of money, giving tools and resources so people can support their families.

9. There are individuals and families in your town who will not only have no "Christmas" tree, but also no presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, take some food and gifts to a charity who will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do or say things that you wouldn't do or say in My presence. Remember -- When you speak badly of my children, you are speaking badly of Me; when you treat each other badly, you do the same to Me. Let people know by your words and actions that you are one of Mine.

Don't get so worked up about what you think are slights about me that occur in the material world. I am God and I can take care of Myself. I am not diminished by those things.

Instead, simply love Me and do what I have asked you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love.


Oh yeah bring on the super powers!

I know, I'm a total geek.

Your Superpower Should Be Manipulating Electricity

You're highly reactive, energetic, and super charged.
If the occasion calls for it, you can go from 0 to 60 in a split second.
But you don't harness your energy unless you truly need to.
And because of this, people are often surprised by what you are capable of.

Why you would be a good superhero: You have the stamina to fight enemies for days

Your biggest problem as a superhero: As with your normal life, people would continue to underestimate you

And it's almost Christmas

The tree is about to go up at DaYouthGuy's house, the last presents are being prepared.

And the usual ranting about Christmas is well under way. The "Happy Holidays" rant, the "They've stolen Christmas" rant, all the usual suspects. I'm tempted to add a little rant of my own, mostly about how tired I am of the other rants. Instead let me offer this:

It's Christmas. Make of it what you will. Feel free to ignore those parts that don't work for you (really, any of them. To my friends and brothers and sisters of the atheist clan - revel in whatever brings you joy and ignore the rest. Seriously. I will not chide you or look askance. I only ask the same respect for my own choices. Same goes for everyone else. For God's sake (sorry atheists) relax and enjoy.) I intend to revel in the midnight mass at my home parish. Smells and bells, and a full choir and all the decorations. I will rejoice in the arrival of the Messiah and the miracle of it all. And I will wish a Merry Christmas to us all. God bless us everyone.

In the meantime I'm going to enjoy my favorite Christmas specials. I own a copy of just about all of them:

WKRP in Cincinnati Christmas episode - a great show about radio and a great riff on Dickens.

A Charlie Brown Christmas - If I only could have one this is it.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - love it.

The Homecoming
- Christmas with the Waltons. A truly classic Christmas story

How The Grinch Stole Christmas
- animated original only, don't bring that other one 'round here.

Scrooge (A Christmas Carol) - The Alistair Sims version or the Mr. Magoo version both classics

White Christmas - yeah, only nominally a true Christmas story but I love it.

A Wish for Wings that Work - OK my natural weirdness bubbles up on this one. This is the Bloom County animated special. It's very hard to find but my most excellent brother got it for me.

Miracle on 34th Street - the original only thank you very much.

Introducing Jesus

Interesting question. If you had Jesus physically here and wanted to introduce him to a friend of yours how would you do it? Steve Harvey (yeah, the comedian and TV star) offers this option (h/t to Stuart Delony):

Little flashy for day to day (I mean how often do you really get together with a couple thousand of your closest friends in a major auditorium?) This is just off the top of my head but I think I'd go much simpler.

I want you to meet someone who has really changed how I think and work and approach the world. And I can't even tell you how much of a comfort he's been when things have really gone in the dumper. He's laid back, never in your face but never plays games either. You'll always get the straight stuff from him. Just really comfortable to be around even when he's letting me know that he disagrees with me. He's cool, I really think you'll like him.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Just SOOOOOO Wrong!

No, no, no! Say it ain't so. This is a CHRISTMAS lawn decoration! (H/T to Marko)

Monday, December 10, 2007

No I won't

Seems like I see this question every so often on Facebook or on a forum somewhere. Someone comes in with some variation of this question:

Can You Give Me One Logical Reason to Believe In God?

And then the fight is on. Lots of well meaning brothers and sisters in Christ who will try and show this poor lost soul why they should believe in Jesus. The original poster will keep asking for a more rational, logical reason. Something that avoids the circular logic of using our own scriptures as the "proof". The believers will get offended that Holy Writ isn't taken seriously as an "independent source", shortly thereafter the name calling begins.

Every time.

So this time I'd like to take a shot at answering the question. And I think I've come up with something short and to the point. My answer to the original question is this:

No, I can't.

Thanks for coming.

Can I give you one rational, logical, reasonable reason for believing in God? Nope, not one. No some folks will read that and their blood pressure will start to rise and they'll want to protest. I can't imagine why. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians (1:21-23) warns us that people are going to think this stuff is foolishness. If you're not willing to take the Bible as authoritative (and if you take it as authoritative then you've already made up your mind on the subject, haven't you?) then I've got nothing.

Ok, I slipped over the edge right at the end. In fact I do have something. But it's anecdotal. So you'll have to take it for what it's worth.

To me it's worth my whole life. Cause that's what I've got.

I can't prove the existence of God. For me that falls into the old category of why you should never try to teach a pig to sing (It wastes your time and it annoys the pig). I can do my best to tell you why I believe. And that's going to be a story (or stories) about the effect that a life in faith has had on me. When my daughter was born two and a half month premature, when my wife has been very, very sick in the hospital, when I've lost my job(s), when folks very dear to me have passed away. The joy of reaching out and helping someone else. The great relief of losing the burden of so much of our cultural expectations. I can tell you about the positive effect a belief in God has had in the lives of people I know.

But one good, logical, rational reason to believe in God?

Sorry, not in stock.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

My time as a sojourner

Psalm 39 has one of those phrases that has just always stuck with me (from the KJV days) - "...for I am a stranger with thee and a sojourner...". The youth I work with can tell you that I have a thing about language and words. Sojourner (a person who belongs somewhere else but is staying for a time in a different place) is a word that has always appealed to me. In this last week I've gotten the chance to truly feel what it means.

I got the chance to attend an annual meeting of ELCA camp and conference center leaders. They had arranged for Loren Mead, author of "The Once and Future Church" (among many others) to come and talk with us about the place of faith based camp programs in the 21st Century. While many secular camp programs are doing well, church camp is struggling. Loren is an expert on the subject of paradigm shifts (don't roll your eyes!) and the church. Paradigm is simply a shared set of values or beliefs. So a paradigm shift happens when a culture's (large or small) shared set of values change. In the last 50 years we have been in the middle of a massive paradigm shift. The least comfortable place to be during such a time is in the middle of the shift. It's stable at either end but it's hard to find stability in the middle.

You'll note I said leaders from ELCA camps. You may also be aware that I am neither on a camp staff nor am I Lutheran. Our local ELCA camp happens to employ my wife and I serve in a couple roles as a volunteer there. The subject sounded very interesting so I asked if I could tag along and they agreed. It occurred to me though that I wasn't quite sure how to present myself to the larger group. In the end, while I put my link with the ELCA up front, I was clear that I was primarily employed by the Episcopal church. My favorite short version is to tell people I'm a "Lutherpalian". By the second day (the meeting started on Monday and we came home on Thursday) it didn't really matter. They accepted me quite warmly.

What I learned at this meeting will take a while to percolate down through my brain. It was interesting. Loren is a wonderful person who fulfills the role of consultant the way it ought to be filled. Besides that he said some very nice things to me personally! I think it amused him to find another Episcopalian at the conference (Loren is an Episcopal priest).

What really struck me was how the sojourner in their midst was treated. There's a clear instruction in the Scriptures that sojourners are to be treated well. I was treated as a welcome and valued member of the community. They listened thoughtfully to my offerings and seemed to find them worthwhile. At the end of our time together I was told (by several folks) that I was welcome to continue to come to those meetings. I am now "family" and a sojourner no more. That's how faith-filled community is supposed to work.

And that's a very special feeling indeed. My thanks to my new "family" from places like LCLC, Lutherlyn, Calumet, Bear Creek and the other camps whose names escape me at the moment.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

From the Man Who Hates Everything

No that's not me in the title but a very good friend of mine. He works in Hollywood and offers a funny look at where the film industry may be headed:

Dateline, July 17, 2014. With the Writer's Guild strike in the middle of its seventh year, and talks suspended after a food fight broke out between the sides at the last negotiating session, Hollywood faces the final crisis of the strike. For though the TV networks have changed and survived, unproduced film scripts are about to run out.

Read the rest (and more) here "The Last Script in Hollywood"