Saturday, July 29, 2006

A great quote & "It's not all about the sex"

This is from Metacrock's blog; I thought it was absolutely brilliant:

"Gender is a matter of culture, sex is a matter of biology, and God is a product of neither." Metacrock, 2006

There has been much comment recently about William Mouser's upcoming book, which essentially views all of Scripture through the lens of female subordinationist ideas of sex, sexuality, and gender. It's really awful stuff, based on the outline Mouser himself posted publicly. You can go find it yourself; I'm not going to give him more traffic. The Egalitarian Christian Alliance forum site has several discussions going on about his foundational writing, generally referred to as "Five aspects of man" and "five aspects of woman," as well as some comment on the not-yet published"The story of sex in Scripture." Everything he writes about is from an idealized 1950's model of upper-income Western gender stereotypes, read into the Bible and proof-texted extensively as though that makes these stereotypes biblical. It's difficult not to conclude that this author is inordinately interested in sex. In the upcoming book, he claims that there is "cosmic sex," though of course he's careful to include a disclaimer that sex goes beyond the marital act and permeates human and God's relationships. So no, it's not all about intercourse, but it's absolutely all about sex. I put that up there with a classic patriarchalist non-distinction between "masculine" and "male." (They claim God is the former, but not the latter.)

That's where Metacrock's quote applies. We've simply got to stop allowing people with influence (Mouser was recently ordained priest and serves as a vicar in the Anglican church in a small city in Texas) to go unchallenged when they remake God in their own, sex-absorbed image. Human sexuality is God's very good gift to the human race. As with every other human trait and capacity, however, God transcends sex. It's normal for adolescents, male and female, to have sex on the brain. One would hope, however, that as human beings enter full maturity, they find a little more balance in their lives and in their thinking.

So to the Vicar of Waxahachie: Dude! It's not all about the sex!

The Church of What's Not Happenin' Now

I forget where that slightly altered line comes from.

The fact is, I doubt I have a dozen fully-firing neurons at work in my head right now.

I am in VBS melt-down. The sessions are over, but we still have the Sunday Morning Presentation (aka controlled chaos) to get through. I've also been pulling all-nighters (with a couple of short naps when even the padded toothpicks no longer kept my eyelids apart) to get a huge emergency project done for the most part-time of my day my agency ever going to bill the boss big-time for this one! Why couldn't it have hit on any week except VBS week?

Anyway, I'm too dazed and confused to do the Friday Five, even a day late, or find an appropriately cute photo, or anything else. Madeline Kahn's Lili von Schtup is singing in my brain again..."I'm tired, so tired."

Think I'm gonna go catch a few zzzz, then it's off to finally finish this project. If any of the 11th hour preachers stop by, peace be upon you and those to whom you proclaim the Word tomorrow. And say a prayer for me as I lead the music, especially the pre-schoolers in that most profound of songs, "The Good Shepherd" ("If I get lost like a little sheep, BAAA, BAAA, Jesus will find me.") Hey...come to think of it, that ISN'T all that unprofound.

Jesus, I'm tryin' not to get too lost here. Thanks for keeping an eye on this pudgy ol' sheep.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Check-in, and Day-old Hump Day Humor: VBS

It's been VBS time and therefore near-full time at church job, crunch time at the supposedly very part-time day job #2, and controlled chaos at part-time day job #1. There hasn't been a lot of spare time to post. Also, I've managed to keep a foot in with a private e-mail list and public forum amid some really stinky shenanigans by a philosophical opponent against our moderators. Prayer would be appreciated. I know I haven't been at my best in my attitude toward this man, who I believe intends genuine harm to the cause of biblical equality and those who embrace it.

Anyway, as I said, it's VBS time. Like many good United Methodists, we at my church have been enjoying the "Adventures of the Treasure Seekers." My job, of course, has been leading the music. Unfortunately, the director is a bit of a lone ranger who likes doing things on the fly. She refused to be pinned down on any details, including who was to lead which activities and even to giving out the materials. July 16th is a bit late to ask your music minister to "help [C.] with the music--she has the music leader's books," with [C.] gone on a mission trip until late that night...then find out that the director told [C.] that I was going to lead music and would she please help me. I didn't even see the music leader's book until a week ago today. And keep in mind that [C.] reads no music and neither of us plays piano. This latter wouldn't have been so bad, except that like any VBS curriculum, there was not enough "canned" curriculum music. You always have to augment. With our pianist unavailable this week,'s been interesting. Under-prepared, under-accompanied, but still full of God's grace as the children have joined us each evening. Nothing like a sanctuary full of children "walking like an Egyptian" to "Archaeology" and wielding imaginary shovels during "Dig Deep." Tonight is the final night, then we have the celebration for those children able to attend on Sunday morning.

Still waiting for the HUMOR? Here 'tis!

The "mascot" for Adventures of the Treasure Seekers" is Professor Whoo, the Owl. Our pre-schoolers especially love "Owl," who is actually a fairly large plush hand puppet. After Tuesday night's dismissal, several of the children ventured up to the "restricted area" to check out "Owl." The puppeteer held the puppet (hands outside, like a stuffed toy) to let them pet and play with it a moment. Then, he put his hand into the puppet to make it move for them. One little boy, an older four-year-old, said quite loudly, "That's how you do it! You put your hand in his butt!"

Poor Professor Whoo! Brave [pseudo-] soul that he is, he was still able to show his face last night, despite his great indignity.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

RevGalBlogPals, INK!

Another milestone! The RevGalBlogPals are now INCORPORATED! This is exciting! Even though I haven't been a Pal for very long yet, it's great to be a part of such a talented, dedicated group of people. I expect even more great things in our second year of group-ness.

Congratulations, and many thanks to Quotidian Grace and the other "matriarchs" who have made this latest step happen.

Read all about it HERE.

Friday, July 21, 2006

For those interested in "my" anthem

A few posts back, I wrote about being published as a lyricist for the first time. A couple of you indicated you'd like to hear the anthem that was published, due for official release in September. (Bear in mind that I am not the composer, though I like what Mark did with the text.) It's a Cokesbury/Abingdon publication, and you can listen online here. If you're still in the cheap dark ages of dial-up access like I am, you may not have a very satisfying listening experience.

A Festive Occasion RGBP Friday Five

Happy First Anniversary to my sisters and brothers at RevGalBlogPals! To help this special group of blogging friends celebrate this festive occasion, I'm playing the Friday Five:

1) What is your first memory of the RevGalBlogPals? I saw occasional references to RGBP by my friend Singing Owl on another list we're on together, and she kept mentioning her blog. I finally went and checked it out, and loved it. But since I'm no longer a pastor, I didn't even think about joining the ring until I happened to go to the RGBP blog itself and noticed that anyone serving or discerning a call to ministry is welcome. So a month and a half ago, I joined. Almost from day one, interesting people have visited, commented, and welcomed my comments on their blogs. I guess I'd have to say that my first memory as a member of RGBP is of a warm, smart, funny community.

2) Have you met any of the other ring members in real life? I haven't met any yet, unfortunately, though Singing Owl and I have spoken on the phone a few times.

3) Of those you haven't met, name a few you would love to know in person. Only a few? Shucks! But if I have to pick and choose, I'd love to meet Singing Owl, Catherine (Come to the Table), RevAbi, Proclaiming Softly, Songbird, and St. Casserole (and my Rosie and Jenny want to meet her Whistle and Fish the Kittens).

4) What has Ring Membership added to your life? Ring membership has expanded my circle of friends. I treasure the collective wisdom I read, and I've laughed a lot at the fun stuff. I've cried a few times. And the week leading up to this past Sunday, the lectionary leaners helped bolster my sermonizing confidence when I prepared to preach for the first time in over four years. Y'all don't know how huge that was to me...or maybe you do!

5) Describe a hope for the future of the WebRing. I was excited to read about plans to incorporate and possibly organize meetings. I hope that this webring will grow in its already significant role as a light shining through the darkness. Our very existence tells people that some "impossible" things are not only possible, but fact. God is doing great things through RGBP. "May our tribe increase!"

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Everybody Needs a Biblical Curse Generator!

You just gotta love Ship of Fools. I hadn't been there in some time, and what should I find but that thing we all have lived without for far too long: a Biblical Curse Generator! I'm not even going to try to describe it. But shouldst thou not sojourn thither to give it the Berean test, thou Amalekite imbecile, I declare that thou shouldst deserve more mothers-in-law than King Solomon. (shamelessly plagiarizing said link page)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hump Day Humor: Chocolate Rules

Yes, that's stating the obvious (at least to a chocoholic), but "Chocolate Rules" is also a list of natural laws we should all know. Find out more here.

And everyone who loves chocolate really does need to know about Virtual Chocolate. This isn't so much humorous as one of the pleasures that makes life sweet. As with all life's blessings, you should pass this one on! (It's free to send "virtual chocolate.")

Sunday, July 16, 2006


God was very, very good this morning. Despite my somewhat inadequate preparation and some logistical distractions, I preached a decent sermon, twice, this morning. It's been quite a long time (over four years) since I had done this, and I had only a week-and-a-half's warning to prepare...and three days of that time was vacation. Still, as I said, God was extremely good.

I preached the Lectionary Epistle text, Ephesians 1:3-14. I homed in on the theme of adoption by God. While most of the feedback was of the "You did a great job" variety, the substantive feedback I did receive indicates that I hit the mark. Our church is in an unprecedented growth spurt in the area of welcoming "other people's children" into our facilities--and into our arms and hearts--this summer. We've been very intentional about this. From that perspective, I was merely reminding us of the eternal value of this kind of ministry. I did widen the perspective, however, to explore briefly how all kinds of ministry involve bringing people into that family relationship with God. We are the Pauls and Timothys here in our little corner of Christendom, "hearing first" what we then proclaim to the next "generation" (regardless of age). We launched this year's "Building in Faith" (our name for our contribution of resources and labor to our area Habitat for Humanity's Methodist House) this morning. As I prayed in preparation for the sermon, I realized that even to fellow workers and the future owner/residents of this house, we are Pauls and Timothys when we serve out of the boundless grace we have received in Christ. In a grace-starved world, we become family to those God seeks to embrace.

Anyway, I didn't mean to abstract the sermon here. I only intended to, once again, invite friends to rejoice with me in the midst of God's blessings to me.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

RGBP Friday Five: Pet Peeve Edition

Reverendmother here with another edition of the Friday Five...

As I shared recently at my place, I am enamored of a newly-acquired treasure, the Illustrated Elements of Style by Strunk and White. It's also awakened the pinched, surly old grammarian in me. I have a few grammatical pet peeves, which I will get into on my blog, but in the meantime, I'm wondering about your pet peeves. Here's your chance to vent, gripe, and grumble to your heart's content. Go ahead, it's therapeutic.

Yes, Mother. (grins) And remember: YOU ASKED FOR IT!

1. Grammatical pet peeve: Having become accustomed to the very useful Southern pronoun "y'all," I get very annoyed when I hear someone (obviously not Southern) use it as a second-person singular pronoun. "Y'all" (a contraction of "you" and "all") never correctly refers to one person. The Oklahomans with whom I worshiped Sunday while on vacation, for example, all correctly asked me, a single woman visiting alone at their church, "Where are you from," though they used "y'all" quite properly to refer to those of us who live in Texas once I answered their question. I would add that it is a true sign of mastery of Southern dialect when one says "all y'all" to emphasize that the entire group in the vicinity is being addressed, as opposed to the somewhat nebulous subgroup described by a mere "y'all."

2. Household pet peeve: I accuse myself of committing that worst of all household pet peeves, neglecting to take out the trash until it either begins to overflow its container, or makes its aromatic presence known. (I know...EEEEW! But when I'm flying out the door, trying to avoid committing that other cardinal pet peeve, being late, well shame on me, I forget to take it out! When one lives three stories up and is already late and only realizes she's forgotten it yet again once she reaches her car, one may well decide she cannot spare the time to go back around the corner, down the terrace steps, around another corner, and up three exterior flights of stairs to get it.) Here ends Sister Psalmist's self-accusation in this Chapter of Faults. See the Bonus below for the next installment.

3. Arts & Entertainment pet peeve (movie theaters, restaurants, concerts): OK, here I reveal my music geekness: I get very put out when people attending orchestral and chamber music concerts applaud between movements. Each composition should receive only one round of applause, at the conclusion of the piece, regardless of how well one believes the earlier movements have been performed. If you have ever wondered why the conductor and/or performers did not acknowledge your enthusiastic between-movements applause, it is because it was considered bad concert manners, even if you simply didn't know better. Now you do.

4. Liturgical pet peeve: I confess it, I'm a "Jesus, wejus' " and a "Father, Ijus' " counter. That is, I become so distracted by repetitive "Jesus, we just..." and "Father, I just..." during public prayers that I count the occurences of these phrases. What's more, nine times out of ten, the very telling word "wanna" follows the "wejus' " and the "Ijus'." And for the record, the highest count I ever got was on "Father, Ijus' ": 17 in an under-five minute prayer. I think that was 17 too many. (If you've never heard this phenomenon, I'd bet money--were I not Methodist--that you live north of the Mason-Dixon line.)

5. Wild card--pet peeve that doesn't fit any of the above categories: Let me first say that I love children. Truly, I do! What I do not love is the piercing screaming that some children engage in, while indoors, and which their parents do not correct. Parents, please hear this from someone who wants desperately to continue to consider your child the most angelic tyke ever: His/her screams threaten permanent hearing loss. You may already have suffered such hearing loss. However, I have not. The screams conjure up in my mind a horrifying scene of my screaming at you to control your tiny banshee before I go hunting for a muzzle.

Bonus: Because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God: What do YOU do that others might consider a pet peeve? Sister Psalmist continues her Chapter of Faults: I accuse myself of being chronically late. I offer no acceptable excuse, throwing myself on the mercy of my sisters and brothers who I know are annoyed at my thoughtless behavior. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! Please accept this confession as a down-payment on the repentance I shall surely owe you upon the next occurence of tardiness, which may well be tomorrow morning if I don't get off this computer soon and go get some sleep!

I'm published!

Warning: Shameless Self-Promotion Alert!

Well, not exactly self-promotion, since I don't disclose my name here in blogland. However, it was pretty exciting this morning to get a FedEx shipment of my "contributor copies" of an anthem I wrote lyrics for. Thirty real retail copies of the anthem, complete with "Words by [Psalmist]," along with demo and accompaniment recordings. Believe it or not, this isn't bragging, it's delight. Other than youth curriculum about ten years ago, this is the first time I've ever been "in print." The text for this simple anthem just flowed one day, shortly after I learned that the choir I was singing in at the time and which had been through a very hard trial by fire, was expecting "our" first baby (a couple who both sang in the choir was expecting for the first time). It was our first completely happy news. I told the couple how wonderful it would be to be their little one's aunties and uncles and we laughed together, because it was a rather large choir. Well, just days later, I had a kind of vision of the reality of how we become family through baptism. And a baptism text just poured out of my spirit and onto the paper. I kind of went, "Huh?" for a while, then tried for all I was worth to get some music going. It did not happen. Over and over. Nada.

So I met that church's music director, who is much-published, for lunch one day a few months later, just before that baby was due and not long after I accepted my current music ministry position at a different church. I had the text with me and told him about it. He looked at it, then looked again. He said he was certain he'd be able to work with it if I was sure I wanted him to. Of course I was! So...a week later I got a call from him, asking if I'd like to see and hear what he came up with. And with only a few minor changes from then till printing, that was it. It was premiered at the baptism of the baby whose "announcement" sparked the whole project, and just a week later we presented it at my church when a couple who had waited a long time to adopt, had their new little daughter baptized.

It's a niche anthem, to be sure. Totally useless for congregations that do not baptize infants and children. Not even all that appropriate for youth and adult baptisms. But both the composer's church and mine love it and here we sing it for each baptism. And now, when the choir returns from their month of vacation, they will be ecstatic (and so will our pianist) because we'll have "real" music to read it from (the composer's manuscript was admittedly difficult to decipher).

ANYway, I suppose this is an invitation to "rejoice with me" over a milestone. I needed to share it with someone...thanks for reading!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Back from Vacation

It wasn't long enough! But it was a blessing for as long/short as it was.

I attended a choral reading session in Oklahoma City on Saturday, then stayed two nights so that I could get in some concentrated writing and composition. One of the things I needed to write is a sermon, the outline of which is at least complete now. It will be the first time in over four years that I have preached for a morning worship service (well, two, actually). More about that later, perhaps.

Sunday morning found me back at the church that hosted the reading session, Church of the Servant (United Methodist). It was a very good worship experience; I encountered God in a way I wasn't expecting. (That, to me, usually marks a good worship service!) The people I met at Church of the Servant took their welcoming and hospitality very, very seriously. It's not very often that I experience a greeting from nearly everyone I encounter at church...and I'm a staff member at my own church, where we're considered pretty friendly! It wasn't a case of vague smile and "hello" kind of half-greeting, either. People looked me in the eye, gave their names, asked for mine, and told me they were glad I was with them. And you have to understand something cultural: Though I'm not a born-Texan, I have lived here a long time. That makes me a visitor from Texas. And there is a "Red River Rivalry" that one ignores at one's peril. I had a "flying bird" signal from one Oklahoma driver on the trip. I was not impeding traffic, nor was I going too fast and crazy. As near as I can figure it, this guy was infuriated by a Texas license plate deep in Oklahoma territory. So, for Oklahoma church members to overcome their natural propensity to distrust Texans enough for me to feel genuinely welcome, well...let's just say that God was in our midst. Truly.

But that's not what surprised me about the worship experience. That, I haven't quite finished processing yet. When I do, I'll blog about it. Meanwhile, I've got a couple of new "8:30" songs written, text for a third started, a sermon outlined, and while on the drive, made a dent in my backlog of publishers' browsing CDs to see what's worth buying for "10:45" choir music.

All in all, as I said, I was blessed. I trust that by having enjoyed a change of pace, I will in turn be a blessing to those I work with.

Oh, and the furry residents of Chez Psalmist greeted, rather than snubbed me on my arrival home. Life is good.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Guest Bloggers: Rosie & Jenny, Felines Extraordinaire

Greetings, friends of our human. We're Rosie and Jenny, the feline (i.e., superior) members of Psalmist's household. She told us that we could blog for her while she's getting ready to leave on a short vacation. Hah! "Told us we could." As if she can really give us permission, or forbid us, to do anything. After these 7 years with her, she ought to realize that cats RULE. Dogs may have owners, but cats have slaves. Some are smarter than others.

Oh, now we've gone and done it. She's giving us "the look." Next will come a loud hand clapping, which hurts our sensitive ears. Then some blah-blah-blah-de-blah that sounds like "You bad cats!" or some other nonsense. When she gets this way, we merely ignore her and wait till she's out of the room to continue doing what we like.

Anyway, since you humans quite rightly appreciate feline beauty, and since our lazy human hasn't got any pictures of us on her computer for us to upload to Blogger, let us describe our lovely selves.

I, Rosie, am the senior cat in this house.

[Jenny: Are not!]
[Rosie: Am so; I had the human all to myself for a whole week before you begged her to bring you home with her and make my life miserable ever since.]
[Jenny: Some cat you are! She had to find a prettier and smarter one because you couldn't cut it.]
[Rosie: She just felt sorry for you because no one else wanted you. She's too sentimental for her own good...or mine, either.]
[Jenny: You are such a snot!]
[Rosie: Better than a big hairy old drooler like you!]
[Jenny: HISSSS]
[Rosie: Scratch]
[Jenny: Growl HISS - HISSS - Scratch]
[Psalmist: Will you BAD CATS just knock it off! Can't I do ANYTHING without you two fighting? You're worse than little children!]

Worse than CHILDREN? The young of the human species? Now THAT'S an insult, indeed. We'll leave off the fighting and show this arrogant human a united front. We cannot tolerate insults from our slave.

[Jenny: I'll poop in the bathtub while she's gone.]
[Rosie: I'll find the most valuable and least cleanable item I can reach and barf all over it.]

Yeah, we'll show her.

Now, where were we? Oh, yes. Describing our beautiful selves. We won't get into the whole seniority squabble least not while Psalmist is still here.

Jenny: I am the gorgeous one, with long, luxuriant silky white fur. I have a noble face, rather like a lion's, with one gold eye and one copper-colored eye. I guess God couldn't decide which was more beautiful to place on the lovely face of the most beautiful cat ever. I am a big cat, though much more fit than Rosie. Psalmist says she chose Rosie (out of pity when she was just moping around in her cage), but I chose Psalmist. It's true. I was surrounded by over 20 other cats and a foster-human who tortured me by pulling out stitches and cleaning a wound I got from a horrible car fan belt, so I needed to make my escape fast! Psalmist was the most likely prospect, but she said she wasn't interested in a long-haired white cat, even one with soft bunny fur. So, I jumped up on a book case and waited for her to walk past. Then I jumped down right into her arms and started to purr. She caved in two seconds. Little did I know that she was also the human who adopted that insufferable Rosie. All I knew was, Rosie was gone--hooray! She didn't play well with others. Then I went home with Psalmist (with a detour to the vet, who hosed me down because I'd messed in my cage--hey, I hate cars! I have good reason. I *hate* that vet, too!), and who was there, acting like she owned the place, but the brown and white beast! But anyway, enough about mean Rosie, and meaner vets.

Rosie: I'll get you for that one, AFTER Psalmist leaves. As for my weight, my curves are part of my adorable charm, just the way God made me: perfect. I am the undisputed cute cat in this house. I'm a short-haired brown tabby with white socks and part-tabby, part tortie, part white throat and tummy. I am actually very tiny, which is why an extra pound or two shows so easily on me. I have lovely green eyes, though Psalmist says I live up to them whenever she forgets that I am the top cat and is fussing over Jenny. Psalmist felt so sorry for me when she adopted me, because I was still kind of knocked out from my "surgery" and was so malnourished. She fed me all I wanted that first week, and I filled out nicely. But then she brought Jenny home (the big, fluffy odd-eyed freak) and I had to be sure to eat all I could so she wouldn't steal my food. I quickly established myself as the alpha cat. One must do what one must do to ensure survival.

Jenny: Well, I finally had enough of the hairy pig's bowl-guarding once Psalmist decided she needed to go on a diet, and I figured out if I stood up to the little bully, she'd let me go first. So that's how we do it now. We wake up Psalmist every morning, sounding pitiful and staring at her, so she'll put a much too small amount of kibble in the bowl, then I scarf down enough to be sure Rosie doesn't hog it all.

Rosie: You are such a drama queen. I actually agree with Psalmist about my needing to diet, but so does she, and she's not doing it! It's important to set a good example for one's slave. So as much as it hurts me, I am eating less. But let me tell you...if we had opposible thumbs and could reach the car pedals, we would rule the food container, this apartment...and the world!

Rosie & Jenny: Bwahahahaha!

Well, it's about time for Psalmist to get a little sleep so she can get up early in the morning and finally leave us alone. The bowl will be super full, the litter box clean and empty, and the self-filling water bowl contraption will have plenty of fresh water. Then we'll have the whole place to ourselves. She'll be gone till MONDAY - HOORAY!

We may just have to check out the other RGBP blogs and see what other cat masters are blogging for their humans. We met Whistle the Kitten a couple of weeks ago, when Psalmist was spending too much time on the computer and not enough with us. Whistle, you're very young yet, so you don't know any better, but do *not* get sucked into writing any more essays. It's St. Casserole who should be in trouble, not you. You make the rules. However, since she's using food to manipulate you and Fish the Kitten, we do sympathize. We have ordered our human to buy us some greenie cat cookies. So far, she's returned home empty-handed. Stupid human. Still, we must be patient. Training humans takes perseverance.

Oh, and tell Fish the Kitten that TRUE cat divas would not settle for Star Jones's seat on THE VIEW. It's Babs's spot or nothing.

Friday, July 07, 2006

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Short!

A Short meme for what was for many a shortened week:
tell us about five noteworthy Short things in your life.
(Be liberally imaginative.)

Short People: I come from a long line of short women (5'4" and under; I'm 5'3"). But my Granny, God rest her soul, was the best of us: just 5' in her older years, tough as they come, but with perhaps the most beautiful soul I've ever known. I hope to be half the woman she was...still have a long way to go! (Granny was my great-grandmother, the undisputed matriarch of our family. There was no patriarch. But that's another story for another time.)

Short Hops: The military stand-by flights I took were often short hops on the way to elsewhere. When my (now ex-) husband and I were engaged and before we were stationed together, that was the only way we could afford to visit each other. I still don't know where "Nobnoster" is, but he swears he landed there on a medevac flight while trying to get from Kansas to Washington to visit me at Fort Lewis. My most memorable was doing a long flight on a cargo plane to Offut, then lucking into a seat on a very small military version of a corporate jet on a two-star's private flight for the hop to Topeka. Smoothest flight I have ever had. Even met the two-star, who thought it was charming that the Air Force was helping out a young Army couple's romance. I was all of 19.

Short Stories: Anything by Walter Wangerin. If you've ever heard the many versions of "Ragman," you owe it to yourself to find a copy of Ragman and Other Cries of Faith to read the real version.

Short Lists: My checklist to get ready to go on my mini-vacation to OKC in the morning. No, blogging wasn't on that list, but so what? Neither is procrastination, but I'm a faithful adherent.

Short Stops: Uh...the position I liked playing when I played baseball and softball as a child, but at which I inhaled because my arm was so bad. Could catch 'em, but couldn't throw 'em worth a doo-diddle.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hump Day Humor: Saints There Ought to Be

Made-up Saints

A few of my new RGBP friends have created saints' names for their blogging identities. These include St. Casserole and St. Inuksuk, though I think I'm missing a couple more people. I think it's a great idea to remind ourselves every chance we get that we're ALL saints: those who are being sanctified in Christ.

However, for my weekly discipline of at least one humor post per week (naturally melancholy sort that I am), I thought it might be fun to challenge my blogging friends to create saints there ought to be. Like "St. Elsewhere" of classic television, these made-up saints' names are fun. They could also be the patrons of very important people and things. To get us started, I suggest:

  • St. Carriout: Patron saint of those who work in fast food restaurants, and their customers
  • St. Febreza: Patron saint of those with too little time to deep clean their homes
  • St. Illegibus: Patron saint of physicians and the pharmacists who must decipher their prescriptions
  • St. Liberalis: Patron saint of the progressive left, and moderates who live in the Bible Belt
  • St. Procrastor: Patron saint of the last-minute
  • St. Rectitude: Patron saint of the upright, uptight, and/or the religious right

I hope you'll add your own candidates for sainthood in the comments!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Evening Prayer

Tonight, dear Lord, I commit my rest to you. Let my sleep rejuvenate my body. Let my dreams reset my mind. Let the prayer you give me in my last waking moments guide my soul into your vast arms. Cradle me in your peacethrough the quiet hours of the night. Wake me with the dawn refreshed, that I may serve you and my neighbor well throughout the day to come.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Tired, So Tired

(Sorry...I couldn't resist quoting from "Blazing Saddles." Shame on me!)

But really, I am tired (though not for the same reason Lili was!). Isn't that the way of things, when one is getting ready to take vacation? There is a lot of extra work to do just so one can take time off. I suppose it makes one need vacation just that much more.

I'm looking forward to my short little trip. It's a kind of working vacation; I'm going to a reading session in a neighboring state on Saturday and then on Sunday I'll attend worship at the mega-church that's hosting the session. This 300-mile round trip will be the farthest afield I've driven since 1998 and the first vacation I've taken since 2002. Talk about being stuck in the proverbial rut!

One of the reasons I need the break is to get a healthier perspective about my "fit" with my church. One of the problems with being a theological moderate and a political progressive here in Texas, is that everyone assumes you're something you're not: conservative on both counts. That's the politically and religiously popular "persuasion" to hold. The political side of this crystalized for me when an outspoken former colleague, who was about the same age as I, was gushing as she listened to the radio broadcast of President Reagan's funeral, "Oh, isn't it so sad to say good-bye to the first president you ever voted for?" She was horrified when I agreed that it was a sad occasion, but said I had not voted for him. I'll never forget the look of disgust on her face.

The same kind of thing happened yesterday at church, only I didn't exactly betray my true feelings. The assumption was that everybody was hunky-dory with our central banners (on either side of the large chancel cross) being taken down and replaced with American flags. I had to force myself to be up-beat about leading the National Anthem--all four verses of it--as our opening hymn. I made it a point not to betray my disappointment over what I had feared would happen--an American history lecture in place of biblical proclamation--as it did indeed happen. I was sick at heart, because the focus was about the "nation" trusting in God. As I see it, that's a cop-out. We Christians are to be salt and light. The national "trust in God" has been superficial at best and, these days, is pretty much only a saying. It takes real Christians actually trusting in God, in contrast to the national religion of trusting in self and nation, for the "trust in God" factor to increase. It was a message that apparently made a lot of people feel really good. It challenged us, as disciples of Jesus Christ, to do nothing except uphold a national motto. With the exception of our observance of Holy Communion, the service was as disappointing as I feared it would be. And with such things leading up to the Eucharist, there was a certain hollowness. The sermon had gone on so long that Communion was rushed and mechanical. Christ was still present. I hold on to that reality, even as I grieve over our idolatry.

So after putting in a lot of extra time getting things ready for next week, I was very tired. I took today off. I'm working (at the day job) tomorrow. I had no parades or cook-outs or parties or fireworks-watching outings scheduled anyway, and that's pretty much what Americans do to celebrate Independence Day. So I figure there is nothing wrong with observing a sabbath when I most needed one, and working through a secular holiday since there's still work to be done.

Maybe I'd better make this my last public gripe session for awhile. Gee, it was negative! But I think I'm in pretty good company. Elijah, Jeremiah, and the Psalmist himself all had some pretty negative things to say. From what I read, they got pretty tired, too.