Thursday, February 28, 2008


R.I.P. Myron Cope.

There are just some things that say Pittsburgh if you're of a certain generation. The nasal tones of Myron Cope do the color commentary of Steelers games is one of them. I remember people at college talking about what a terrible voice Howard Cosell had and saying "You've never heard Myron Cope!"

Like Cosell Cope began as a writer. It's easy to forget what a fine practioner of that art he was. His voice made it so easy to think of him only as comic relief. Add in Myron's own vocabulary like "Yoinks" (an all purpose word for anything big, good or bad. If was really big it might get a "Double Yoinks") and it was easy to overlook the fact that Myron also knew what he was talking about.

Cope served as broadcaster for the Steelers longer than any other broadcaster has served a single team. He's won awards and been inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. The first pro football announcer to get that honor. Heck, he even got a full segment on SportsCenter this morning. What greater honor do we have in this day and age? Myron also invented the "Terrible Towel".

Myron Cope was 79. He retired from Steeler broadcasts in 2004. I can't believe I'll never hear that voice again.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Yet another Monday

Wow, where did my weekend go?

Saturday I met with the group that's working on some preliminary work for the group that will look at ministries with children, youth and young adults as part of the revitalization process in the diocese. I know that sounds absurd when you type it all out but I think it has the potential to be a positive force in the diocese. Good meeting but it ran a little long.

Then Sunday it looked like someone had broken our DVD recorder. We video the 10 AM service and play it back on local cable access. Turns out the recorder was just a little out of whack and appears to be fine now. Too late to record the service though.

Then it was CROP Walk. Which despite everything went exceptionally well. We did something new this year and had it in February at the local ice arena. Some folks walked the track others skated. Very cool(no pun intended) and we raised around $3500. But it was exhausting so I went home and collapsed.

Watched a movie! That's actually a big deal recently. We've been doing something most movie nights.

A Man For All Seasons Winner of 6 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director. Paul Scofield does a great job in this rather cleaned up version of the life of St. Thomas More. More was a great man but the movie skips over his less savory moments (like burning Lutherans. I like Lutherans.) Again if you're going to the movies to learn history you're in for a rotten education. But as a movie it was wonderful. Orson Welles, Leo McKern, Robert Shaw, John Hurt, Susannah York,and Vanessa Redgrave. Lotsa fun.

Also enjoying a podcast series for a while now. "Speaking of Faith" with Krista Tippett from American Public Radio. She ranges quite widely in her topics, interviewing Rick and Kay Warren, looking at diplomacy and religion, Mormonism, Mathematics, purpose and truth and much more. It's very interesting and comes from no particular theological point of view. It's also a great way to take my mind off of the workouts!

Speaking of which! Last week was not a great success. I lost a grand total of 5 pounds but only one of them counts. Yeah, the laziness caught up with me and I put a couple pounds back on. So I had to re-lose them. Sigh. So that next big hurdle - 200 pounds is still taunting me. Seems like a lot of others in the contest had the same kind of week, including Marko. Time to kick up the intensity.

Last week I visited with the local chapter of Intervarsity. First time ever. Felt like a good visit and they seemed to enjoy my visit so that went well. Later this week I'm visiting with a Middle school group. Out of the frying pan...

So that's where we stand at the moment.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Blogger Down

Over the course of 6 years or so that I've really been a "citizen" of the blogosphere I've only been able to meet about 5 people in real life that I've come to know on line. One of the very first was Lee. If memory serves I met him right around the time of (maybe even on) the worst day of his life. He has been diagnosed with cancer.

His life since then has been something none of us can even imagine. He's an intelligent guy, a fine writer, father, husband and staunch 'Piskie.

And he could use some company right now. Pop over to his blog and check out what's happening and leave a note if you would. I know he loves hearing from people.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Some serious if conflicted thoughts

I am seriously conflicted about this post.

You see I was raised to be a nice Episcopal boy. We don't say bad things about other people. You just put a strained smile on your face and make sure never to invite them over for drinks or dinner again.

It's the Episcopal form of shunning.

At the same time I am just so disturbed by this that I need to comment. And for you to understand you probably need to see at least some of the video. So here it is.

This is a Baptist preacher doing what he believes is right. He believes his congregation needs to hear this word. It is important for him to spend the time to preach on this passage and to share this conclusion. That's clearly what he believes in his heart of hearts. And I'm sure that he believes that the Holy Spirit is moving him to do it.

And I believe he's wrong.

I don't believe this is an important portion of scripture that needs to be brought before the church. Beyond that I believe the conclusion he draws is (sigh, this is SO un-Episcopalian) ridiculous. This is a waste of his skills, his intellect and his faith. I can't believe that his congregation sat there without thinking "Pastor's slipped a cog".

In the end it did get me thinking. It got me thinking that THIS is EXACTLY the reason why we need to spend more time teaching our kids what the Bible is all about.

Because if we don't they'll think that this kind of thinking IS what the Bible's all about. That's there's nothing more important for us as people of faith to worry about than this kind of silly rule making.

I do NOT want our kids thinking that God particularly cares about whether a guy takes a wee standing or sitting.

I do NOT want our kids presented with this kind of preaching and teaching and not have it challenged clearly and compassionately.

I DO want our kids to know and love the Bible for the wonderful gift and resource that it is.

I DO want our kids to be able to think clearly about their faith and its basis. And to know when someone is wasting their time with nonsense.

So I have no choice. I have to write this post. I have to say that I believe this brother in Christ is seriously off base. And I'd like to say the following as well to all my brothers and sisters in faith, young and old:

Spend some time reading your Bible. Do yourself a favor and get more than one translation. Compare how they interpret the ancient languages in which Scripture was originally written. Think about what it says. Be prepared to be challenged by what you read. That means some of it is going to sound wrong, funny, strange, troubling. Some of it is going to say things you don't like. Good. You need to read all of it, not just the bits that you like. Learn it so people can't twist and distort it for their own ends. Some people are trying to con you with the Bible. If you don't know it then you make it easy for them. Ask questions. If the answers aren't clear or don't make sense keep asking questions. Don't let anyone make you feel "dumb". The disciples had to have Jesus repeat things to them too.

The Bible carries God's message to all of us. It's a message about love and hope and caring for one another. It's a message of peace and joy and being welcomed home. If you hear people telling you it's a message of anger and violence of any kind (mental, physical or spiritual) they're leading you astray.

Let me say this in clear, un-Episcopal fashion:

They're wrong. They're lying to you. They're wasting your time. They are dishonoring God.


Couldn't resist

I promised something serious and that's still coming but I had to hit this. Thanks to Matthew for pointing me this way. I didn't know this site existed. So very cool for us Trekkies.

So true, so true...

Find more at Star Trek Inspirational Posters


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Quick update

Well I continue to progress in my "Biggest Loser" contest. I still haven't broken into the top 10 yet but it's early. People are dropping easy pounds. My plan has been to be slow and steady so I can (hopefully) maintain a steady consistent loss.

So far that plan is working. I dropped about 2% of my initial weight the first week and I dropped an additional 2% this past week. That's right on target!

If I can maintain that this week it will put me below 200 pounds for the first time in at least a decade. That is a HUGE milestone for me. I've gotten close a couple times and fallen back each time. I'm determined that it will change this time.

I've now lost about 30% of my overall goal. Boy that seems like a big percentage when I've only lost so little weight. But I've checked my math twice. Wow.

As for the mustache - the polls aren't closed yet and the vote is still rolling in. We've heard from some of the west coast polling places and they're overwhelmingly in favor of the clean shaven look. We will not be calling this vote any time soon.

I'm working on something serious for later this week.


Friday, February 15, 2008

So what's romantic?

A good many years ago I got some serious static (mostly genial) from folks when they found out that I'd given my wife a rolling pin for Christmas. Between the idea that I was "arming" my wife and the idea that buying something so common place, so utilitarian for a Christmas present was just awful. We were relatively newly married and it was seen as just so un-romantic.

On the other hand my wife loved it. It was just what she wanted and she was very excited when she unwrapped it.

So was it romantic or not?

I vote romantic.

But just yesterday, Valentine's Day, I didn't get her a card, I didn't get her flowers, I didn't take her out to dinner.

Some of you are shaking your heads. The romantic failure. The cad.

Let me tell you what I did do yesterday. I ran the snowblower and cleared both of our driveways. I got down on my knees and scrubbed the dirtiest floor in the house. I did a quick clean of the bathroom. I cooked dinner. A favorite meal that I make from scratch.

My wife thinks I'm pretty romantic. You see she doesn't enjoy cooking dinner. So I do it. She was going to scrub that floor but she's working three jobs right now and she's tired when she gets home.

Yes, I buy her flowers. And I buy her cards. And I take her to dinner. The flowers wilt and the cards get thrown away and dinner out is nice. Dinner made for you every day, a help with the jobs around the house, making sure that she has what she needs before I go do my stuff.

That's a far more valuable kind of romance. The flowers and dinner are nice and flashy. But it lacks substance. It lacks staying power.

(In case you're worried I'm taking her away from it all for three days on a second honeymoon later this year.)


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Soft Centres

Thanks to "The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus" for this

A Lenten Discipline?

I'm not sure this counts. Although I am giving something up for Lent (basically).

Well, actually I just happen to be giving it up at the same time as Lent so it really doesn't count that way.

You see on Friday, February 8 2008 I did something that I have not done in 30 years. And did it with some trepidation.

I shaved my upper lip.

No one has seen that lip since my junior year at college. No one. Not once. It has resided safely ensconced under a mustache for all these years.

And it's gone.

The mustache, not the lip.

It feels rather strange really. I get this sensation of a draft when I inhale through my nose. I keep going to play with the mustache and it's not there. I have to remind myself to shave there each morning!

We(meaning me and she who has the only relevant opinion)are giving it till Easter to decide if we like it. My daughter has already cast her vote (bring back the lip hair!). So we'll see.

As to my weight loss plans they hit a small bump. I dropped some weight, then gained some of it back during my birthday weekend. I'll dispatch those pounds again quickly.

In the first week I lost just over 10% of my total goal. Not bad. Let's see if we can keep it going.


Monday, February 11, 2008

I am the Victim of a Conspiracy!

It involved my wife, my daughter, my oldest friends in the world, trusted members of my church, EVEN MY PRIESTS!!!!!

And I've never been so happy in my life.

My daughter, wife and several friends conspired to throw me a surprise birthday party over the weekend. To be honest I'm only lukewarm on birthdays anyway and as this one was a milestone (millstone) one I was perfectly fine with ignoring it.

The ladies in my life would not hear of it.

As usual, they were right.

I was utterly oblivious. My daughter's insistence on coming home for my birthday even though she was coming home on break from college just three days later. Their insistence on going to church on a day when the weather was wretched. (Blowing snow, whiteouts, wind chills in the minus 10 range). The line of cars parked along our friends street. Nothing tipped me. Till I walked in the door and they all yelled surprise.

I hate surprise parties. But I loved this one. Good friends, good food, PRESENTS! Also my friend of longest standing (since third grade), two of my best friends from high school, and my best friend from college all sent e-mails that alternately made me laugh and cry.


Now can I share a little something here? I'm amazed, astounded and perplexed that anyone would bother going to such lengths (this thing has been in the planning for months apparently) for me.

I find myself utterly unexceptional. A bit boring really. Can't imagine why anyone takes second notice of me. I count each day as lucky that my lady wife hasn't come to her senses and gently (because that is her nature) kicked me to the curb. I'm astounded that such an amazing young woman shares any DNA with me (obviously the superiority of her mother's genetics over balance mine). I can't fathom why people would willingly come out on such a wretched day just to wish me well,and give me some very nice presents to boot!

That's not false modesty. I can't explain it. Haven't got a clue.

They like me. They really like me.



Tuesday, February 05, 2008

And now for something completely different...

Yes, I'm a huge Monty Python fan.

That probably says something about my character.

Kindly keep it to yourself.

No, the something different is a challenge I've taken on in my life. A challenge to seriously work at losing weight.

I've been above what my doctor considers a healthy weight for about 20 years. I've never liked being this heavy but like many of us I just couldn't really buckle down and do something about it.

And I was stubborn in that resistance.

High blood pressure couldn't make me change.

The threat of diabetes kind of got my attention.

Add to that my 50th birthday (which is mere days away) and I was finally coming around.

In the spring my lady wife and I are planning a little bit of a second honeymoon. That really started me thinking about making a change. But I was just missing that last little push.

Then Marko from Youth Specialties announced that he was going to lose weight and opened up a challenge for other youth workers to compete with him. He put up some nice prizes and sat back expecting a couple dozen folks to take him on.

Other than me there are only about 271 others who are in. Probably a few more than that actually.

So now I have a little competition thing to add to the list.

Did I just feel a little push?

I know myself well enough to know I need to be accountable. So this is it. I promise to keep my progress updated here.

My goal is to lose 40 pounds. How much of that I can reasonably do in 12 weeks is the question. I see no reason why half of that isn't a perfectly achievable goal. That would be just shy of 20% of my current body weight. As they say on the show "Biggest Loser", those are big numbers.

My plan is simple. Eat smart, eat less, exercise.

Repeat for 12 weeks.

Keep me in your prayers.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Leaving MySpace

This is my opinion and mine only.

I'm deleting my MySpace account later today.

To be honest I've always been a little iffy about MySpace. The glut of tacky ads, the regular porn spams in my mailbox, the poor security have all made me feel uncomfortable with this online social site. But I knew that some of our youth were to be found there and I need to be where they are.

Not any more. And I'm urging all our young people, adult leaders and groups to depart MySpace. Here's why:

MySpace Deletes Atheists

An online group with almost 35,000 members was deleted. For no apparent reason other than a group of alleged Christians who put an online "hit" on a group that they disliked.

They hacked the site, destroyed forums, deleted members, banned them (which apparently is a permanent, non-repairable action)and re-named the site "Jesus is Love". (The story from the former moderator of the group is HERE.)

I detest and reject all the actions of these supposed Christians but that last one makes me want to vomit. A more un-loving, un-Christ like act on the web is hard to imagine. It is deeply, profoundly repulsive to me.

These actions are profoundly un-American in my opinion. They are a blow against one of our most cherished concepts. A "Freedom of Religion" must necessarily also be a "Freedom From Religion".

Don't get me wrong. I AM a theist. I AM a believer. I DO believe that they are wrong. Deeply, sadly wrong. But that does not give me the right to attempt this kind of persecution and oppression. The Gospel does not support that in any way.

These actions are also in my opinion deeply un-Christian. Jesus is shown to regularly speak and reach out to the outsider. His harshest words, over and over and over again, are directed at those INSIDE the faith community of his time. Those people who oppress and reject their fellow man and woman. Certainly he calls all to a life in faith. How on earth anyone expects actions like these to lead anyone into a life in faith is beyond me. They are perfect exemplars of why so many people have rejected the church.

Because we can be judgmental,dictatorial and unwilling to allow any thought process not perfectly in line with whatever arbitrary standards are chosen.

I looked into the Episcopal groups at MySpace. The largest I found was under 1,000. Given the opinion of many folks out there about The Episcopal Church (you will find many who believe we are apostate at best, heretic or atheist at "worst")I am concerned that we could very easily be next. I do not believe that such a thought is particularly hysterical at all.

I have sent a bulletin to all my friends on MySpace outlining my concerns, directing them towards this blog, and urging them to delete their membership with MySpace. Some may see this as retreat in the face of the enemy. I see no way to confront the enemy directly but do see a way to bring pressure on MySpace to live up to its earlier commitment to protect this community. And by extension all communities.

It's funny how often this phrase of Martin Luther's has popped up for me over the last couple years. I have looked at my alternatives and I have decided:

"Here I stand. I can do no other".