Saturday, January 27, 2007

This 'n' That

I've been doing other things, and leaving things kind of hanging here at the Psaltery. So to catch myself up (along with the handful of you who keep tabs on this blog), here's what's up:

The piano debut was wonderful last Sunday! It happened on just the right day. We had a whole bunch of visitors (usually a few, but way more than the norm). The sermon was even better than our pastor's usual excellent preaching. (She preached from the Epistle lesson on what it means in the larger church to be the body of Christ and what she sees as our unique strengths as a congregation and a denomination within that body.) Despite our having had no final rehearsal during the week, due to our ice storm, the choir did a very good job with the anthem. We had a couple join the congregation.

And the piano! Dear Sister Pianist can actually play the piano, piano now! (Musical pun: "piano" means "softly," something it was nearly impossible to do with our old piano anymore.) It sounded fabulous loud, too! She played her already-chosen service music, which turned out to be a great variety of style and technique. The hymn accompaniments were great as well. And after the service, both she and one of our oldest members, who is completely "unschooled" but plays the most remarkable jazz-style piano I've ever heard, gave an impromptu demonstration recital. People did not want to leave.

I even did something completely out of character for me. Sister Pianist hadn't yet heard the instrument played in the sanctuary; it's so different to hear an instrument sitting "out in the space" than while one is playing it. After our early service, I asked her if she wanted to. She said she really would, so after a proper warning, I played one of the few things I knew I could get through (a Bach prelude). For the umpteenth time, she cried (and I don't think mainly from how poorly I executed the little piece). She said it's been a week of tears of joy over this wonderful gift.

During the choir's prayer time at the end of this week's rehearsal, I heard such wonderful perspectives on it. God worked this out for us. People's hearts are in the right place. This has never been one of those churches that considers itself the pinnacle of musical performance, but nothing about this project has even hinted at pride. They seem to agree with me, that the piano is a high-quality tool for the ministry that is worship. In worship, we encounter God and are equipped to go out and help others encounter God. Our old piano was a distraction from the encounter. The new one permits Sister Pianist to help us all make the best music we can.

So...on to other things. The new car saga still isn't over, and I'm still compiling a doozy of a letter to the owner of the dealership, to which I will allow him time to respond before I contact the Better Business Bureau and the state Attorney General. I am absolutely disgusted over the whole thing. I'm now on my third lending agreement, which is not yet final. After I got a call last weekend telling me financing was being redone to the tune of $100 less per month, I went in as scheduled. The guy who'd called me wasn't in; no one knew where he was. Instead, his boss presented me with paperwork for $15 MORE per month, got outrageously condescending with me when I protested, and still had no more satisfying answer than, "Oh, I think [missing call who called me] was just calling the wrong person. I know I do that at least once a day." He called the wrong person, all right...the person who will actually do something about this ridiculously bad business. As for thinking he was talking to a different person, HE called ME, asked for me by my name, at my phone number, so I don't think so. The problem is, after very reluctantly signing the papers (it was either that or give them the car back and walk home), I called him at the dealership the next day. He still insisted he had a much better deal for me, and to let him call me back. I gave him 2 days, and no call. Called again, left a message that I was calling back. Still no call. In the meantime, another gent got involved and said HE'D call me back about the fact that they STILL--now three weeks later--have not picked up my old car. They have the signed-over title, so it's no longer mine, but it's still sitting in my reserved parking place. (I'm about to call the complex's towing service, since it's parked illegally. But that would be spiteful, so I'm restraining myself.) HE didn't call me back, either.

What has me the angriest, though, is what I finally found out about why there's such a run-around on the loan. My day job is a temp-to-hire position. I'd just begun that assignment when the old car broke down and I went into the dealership. I was very up-front about it. I suspected they'd turn me down because of it; I'm not that naive. But they've decided their niche in the market is "we approve everyone." Well, on the second loan thing, I got a call from a representative of the lender. I wasn't expecting this--the wonderful, now-fired salesman never told me to expect it--but no problem, I took the call and answered his questions. One of these was, "Are you working as a temp?" I told him I was, and the timeline on which I expect to be hired permanently. I asked if this was problematic, and he said absolutely not, to enjoy my new car and to look for the payment coupon book in the mail shortly. So I REALLY was unprepared when I went in and found out they'd supposedly rejected the financing agreement because of my working as a temp. The financing boss-guy who dropped the $115 more per month bombshell on me told me, point-blank, I was not allowed to tell anyone from any lender that I'm a temp, at least not if I want to keep the car. His exact words were, "If your honesty is more important to you than keeping the car, tell them whatever you want to. But if you want to stay in the car, you cannot say you're a temp." He was not happy when I replied that just as with the previous lender, if I'm asked, I will not lie. But I won't. Yes, my integrity IS more important to me than staying in a car I didn't especially want in the first place, which is turning out to be horribly more expensive than I should prudently try to afford. (I *can* afford it, especially when the job becomes permanent, but that's a dangerous thing for a temp to count on. And it's now over $100 more per month than what I pay in rent! There's something VERY wrong with that picture.) Most of all, I hate that I allowed the circumstances to suck me into agreeing to anything with this bunch of arrogant, condescending, lying young thieves who can't be bothered to even return my phone calls.

Meanwhile, I've been suffering from a rotten head cold with a pounding sinus headache. At long last, however, I've received my separation paperwork copies (only 4 months after I requested it!), so now I can finally make an appointment with the VA clinic and maybe get a bunch of stuff taken care of. By then, the cold will be history. It's good to know, though, that in the event of a serious illness, I won't be forced into bankruptcy because of the medical bills. I continue to pray for my fellow uninsured Americans who don't have the saftety net of the VA or something similar. VA care isn't free, but it's very affordable. It was good to have today completely off, so I could rest and take OTC stuff to help things drain. Am I ever going to sound like a frog in the morning!

Speaking of which, I'd better stop blogging and start sleeping. 5:30 comes mighty early on Sundays!

Blessings to all you dear readers, and may you in turn be used by God to bless the world.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Curtseys are optional

Hat tip to St. Casserole, who tips her own chic hat to Songbird, for this bit of fun:

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Lady Psalmist the Harmonious of Fiddlehope in the Marsh
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

But remember: bows and curtseys are optional here in Fiddlehope.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

On Authority in the Church

This gentleman "gets it" about authority, IMNSHO. It's always good to see someone who can't simply be dismissed as merely a woman, a feminist, a liberal, an arminian, an egalitarian, or any of the other pejoratives often lobbed at those who question the status quo of worldly hierarchies masquerading as God's way in the church.

Kind of difficult for the hierarchalists to "yeah-but" a Bible Belt Southern Baptist pastor and evangelist with over 50 years in ministry who says:
Authority is to be experienced in the assembly because of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit obvious through people. In one sense, the entire body shares authority. [Eph. 5:21, 1Peter 5:5] This means we recognize one another's gifts, knowledge, or experience in the Lord and we choose to serve/submit because the Holy Spirit has placed some as gifts and has annointed the ministries of those gifts. That is the key to understanding Pastors/Elders and their function. No one has authority BECAUSE they have a stronger personality, knows more Bible, or they hold an office. That is foreign to the New Testament.

Amen and amen, Paul Burleson!

This article is well worth reading in its entirety.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Not only am I not a heretic...

...but I'm a (mostly) Wesleyan non-heretic, at that!

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavily by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan




Neo orthodox


Roman Catholic




Modern Liberal


Classical Liberal


Reformed Evangelical




What's your theological worldview?
created with

It's HERE! Our new piano; on praying musically

This is it...the online catalog image of the exact model of piano that was given to our congregation this week (for those in the piano know, it's a Kawai RX-3, 6'1" professional grand piano). I played it last night, and I was entranced. (Not that I'm a pianist...far from it! But I can play enough to test-drive it.) It sounds the way a piano ought to sound in a church sanctuary. There's a wide dynamic range. It sounds full and rich in the bass and delicately glorious in the high treble. Just...well, wonderful, and about as perfect as a human-made instrument can sound.

There's just something holy about being alone in a dark sanctuary with a good musical instrument, praying musically, that brings a musician closer to God. And that includes singing, at least for me, since that's the instrument I'm most trained on and for which I have the most natural talent. But the combining of sound and the heritage of our faith's expression (in Scripture and hymnody) is unlike anything else for me. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to pray in this way.

In the words with which we will close the first hymn on the Sunday we dedicate this wonderful new gift,
Let every instrument be tuned for praise!
Let all rejoice who have a voice to raise!
And may God give us faith to sing always

(from When in Our Music God Is Glorified, text by Fred Pratt Green)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Snow and Braggin' Rights

For a second day this week, I'm home from work due to the weather. We've had a little bit of everything here in north Texas since the weekend: ice, freezing rain, sleet, and now snow. It's coming down lightly right now, adding to the over 1 inch accumulation we got overnight. Very unusual here. If it were ONLY snow, I'd have braved the roads, but with the unsanded ice beneath it, no way. Besides, folks here are nuts. Sorry, but they are. Coming back from a church meeting last night, the roads were mostly clear, and people were doing their usual 75 - 80 mph (not I). I prayed that each one, as he or she sped past or cut me off, did not hit any of the numerous ice patches that still remained beneath the overpasses. Now mind you, I need the money I'm not making by staying home. But I figure I also need to stay alive and out of the hospital!

Anyway, about that meeting. The great Piano Hunt has been "on" for about two weeks now. A week ago, the church pianist told me she thought she'd found "the one." Great deal on it, played beautifully, the whole thing. Well, last night, the pastor told me the whole story. One of my older choir members had wanted to do something "big" for quite some time. Our sanctuary piano is a pitifully bad instrument. Sorry, but it is. Plus, it's been used week in, week out for many years despite its badness, so it's wearing out. She decided she'd like to give her church something the pianist has longed for, for many years: a grand piano. Yesterday, the donor, her son-in-law (also a choir member who has been "brokering" this project) and the pianist met at the store that had the wonderful instrument. All agreed it was both a fine piano and an excellent price for it. Our church council voted unanimously to accept the gift (they're not stupid!) It's being delivered Friday!!! We're going to have a grand piano in our sanctuary and it will be played this Sunday!!!

I know that a grand piano isn't as important as vital mission work. But I still find joy in knowing that one of our saints recognized a need--replacing an old piano that wasn't a good instrument even when it was new--and decided to meet it. Her gift makes sure we do it right this time: we're getting an instrument big enough for the space, good enough quality to still be going strong 100 years from now (if it's well cared for), and beautiful in sound so as to help the saints worship through music. I'm full of joy about this! For yet another reason this week, I can't wait for Sunday!

Unfortunately, because of the weather, I *may* have to cancel the choir rehearsal tonight, at which the news would have been announced (and the chancel furniture be moved while lots of us young, strong ones were there to do it). And I have a very important thing that MUST be done: hugging the neck of the slightly curmudgeonly saint who instigated this whole wonderful thing.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Psalmist: Officially Not a Heretic

(And the hierarchalists say egalitarians are heretics...yeah, right!)

You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant




























Are you a heretic?
created with

The Bloggy Awards - My Nominations

Bro. Greg is (still, I hope) taking nominations for Blogosphere Awards for 2006. Here are my nominations:

1) Best blog site of 2006: RevGalBlogPals

2) Most scholarly blog site: Better Bibles

3) Most controversial blog site:Tellville

4) Most spiritual blogger: Dr. Platypus

5) Most amusing blogger: St. Casserole

6) Most consistant blogger: Dr. Platypus (Don't let the double nomination go to your head, Dr. P.!)

7) Nicest dressed blogger: PeaceBang, who blogs at PeaceBang's Beauty Tips for Ministers (also at her main blog, PeaceBang)

8) Blogger most likely to succeed: Molly, who blogs at Adventures in Mercy

9) Blogger who has made the most impact on your life personally, spiritually or theologically: Singing Owl, who blogs at The Owl's Song

10) Blogger most likely to vanish and be found years later presiding as tribal king on a small island in the Pacific: No nominations. There are quite a few that in my weaker moments I wish would disappear like that, and whose views seem to support the idea of self-importance necessary for tribal kingship, but I wouldn't presume to add to their notoriety!

This 'n' That

Well, as I sit here at the start of one of our famed ice storms (we get a couple of these per winter), I thought I'd blog a bit about some things that have occurred in the past month or so. The Advent and Christmas blogging was fun, but I didn't get in much from "life as I know it" here in my little corner of the world.

One incident from late Advent still warms my heart. It happened during our annual Children's Christmas Program. The pastor asked for two things: base it on teaching the children familiar Christmas carols (because they don't learn them in school anymore), and let the pageant part of it be a simple "bathrobe pageant." Well, I honored the first request, but given the state of children's bathrobes these days, went with the church's costumes instead.

For reasons I won't get into here, my school-age children were all angels (the girls) and dual-duty shepherds and "wise guys" (the boys and my one adult male helper). Our adult female helper was the narrator. The pre-school children, of whom I have very few, were Mary, Joseph, and shepherds. Our Mary was our only regularly-attending little girl, and she is a doll caretaker extraordinaire! Only that morning in worship, she'd seen her school-age sisters as angels, and a high school senior girl as Mary. She was so excited that we used the same manger and stable and "baby Jesus" (doll) as the "big kids." Our little Joseph was a trouper. Mary alternated between "loving on" the doll (Texas term, I'm sure you get it) and gazing adoringly at it once she'd laid it back down in the manger, and Joseph would sit for a while, then stand for a while, mostly gazing (rather sternly) at the manger or at the doll in Mary's arms. But the youngest child in the pageant went into meltdown. He was Joseph's younger brother, the cutest shepherd I've ever seen. But as his preschool group stood in front of the school-age group, singing "Star Child," he started to cry. Narrator and "senior wise guy" couldn't get to him easily. Mom and Dad were halfway back in the sanctuary. So I, being only a few steps away directing, scooted on up to him and picked him up. He cried on my shoulder until Mom got to him.

You have to understand: I have no children and was not enough older than my two twin brothers to have ever had much child comforting in my past. This is one of those rare, precious moments when a child has trusted me for comfort. I hate that he was distressed. But I'm so grateful to have been able to offer comfort to him. Really, there's nothing like a barely-three-year-old snuggling against you, trusting that you love him. Oh, yes, little T., I do love you! (still misting up, thinking about this!)

Now, to totally shift gears here, I have had a convergence of good stuff, not so good stuff very recently. The end of December, I gave two weeks' notice on a three-month temp assignment in order to accept a temp-to-hire assignment for much better money and for a dream combination of skills. (It's going very, VERY well, btw.) The night after the first day on the job, I went down to the church (in a neighboring town) and headed home very late. Only a few miles into the trip, the car gave both an electical system warning and hit the danger zone on the temp gauge. I pulled over and let it cool down. Started up again, and the electrical light stayed on. When it started getting too hot again, I pulled over. Finally after a couple more stop-and-go legs on this odyssey, I was at a convenience store. When all cooled down again, I checked all the fluid levels, added water and antifreeze and a quart of oil, and finally made it home. There's really no one near home for me to call, so I limped the car to work; it did OK. But on the way to a shop after work--this was a week ago Friday--it conked out completely. I called my trusty towing guy and after over TWO HOURS (busy night), he picked it up and towed me home. There was NO MONEY to repair the poor ten-year-old thing. This happened at the WORST time!

So the next day, I started researching some options. I was about to be making the best money I've ever made, but after just two days on the new job (and starting out as temp there to boot), I didn't make a good "risk" on buying another car. Plus, all I had to put down was the poor disabled trade-in. I had the TV on for "background noise," and finally realized one of those annoying car sales infomercials was on. It was for a dealer near me, promising no matter what car you want (new Suzukis, or other makes of pre-owned), for as low as $88 per month, they'd put you in a car. If you were one of their first 30 callers, you got an extra $1K over book value on your trade or $500 pocket/extra for down payment. That latter, I was sure counting on. It was either them or a prominent pre-owned "we finance" place within walking distance, so I called to prequalify, then went to the dealership. They didn't know a thing about the "first 30 caller" thing but assured me the dealership would take care of that. I was looking for a 2-3 year old car, perhaps a Honda or Toyota. The ONLY car they'd sell me, after hours there, was an '07 Forenza, for an outrageously high monthly payment. And nobody still had any answers about the "first 30 caller" issue. Never got it. I asked about the "we'll put you in the car you want." The clueless salesman said that was what the bank would qualify me for. Essentially it was take it or leave it. And here we were, now dark out, and me nearly a mile from home without a car.

I'd been praying, hard, ever since the car started acting up, that God would help me work all this out. I could NOT lose the new job due to car woes. I very reluctantly agreed to the only deal I could seem to get. To add insult to injury, the income verification documents I took in Monday at lunch, didn't fly. (I was up-front with the salesman and the finance manager about the job being temporary at this point, and they assured me there was no problem.) Finally, the next day I had to go back in AGAIN, I thought to get the 2007 books (they'd given me 2006) and my spare key. Nope. Without my knowledge or approval, they'd abandoned the financing they'd put together on Saturday and went with a different bank, which ended up being for two percentage points higher interest and which raised my already high payments nearly $20 per month. Again, it was "take it or leave it." They'd taken my title to the old car on Saturday, so I didn't even have the old car to fall back on once I could get it fixed. (It's STILL parked here, by the way, in MY RESERVED SPOT! GRRR...) So once again, if I was going to have a way home, it was a matter of agreeing to their shenanigans.

The sad thing is, it's a nice enough car. It feels comfortable and drives well...much more power than any car I've ever owned before. And in the long run, other than the terribly high price, it will be good to have a car under warranty. This dealership offers free loaner cars if any warranty-covered work is done--that is, if they're telling the truth about THAT. But DANG! This was a horrible experience. I know everybody stresses out to some degree when buying a new car. But I was stuck with more car than I wanted, for a whole lot more money than I have, and all based on a part-time church job and a day job that, for the next two months and three weeks, is a temporary assignment. God and I have been talking, let me assure you! Mostly my saying "You've GOT to help me keep this job!" and God communicating "Trust me" at every yelping turn.

But really, isn't that where we all are, at the heart of it? We're all sustained by God's providence, no matter how cushioned from that awareness our relative wealth may make us (you know, things like having clean water, a roof over our heads, transportation, a living wage...the things that the majority of the world's people either lack entirely or struggle to provide). I *am* a grateful woman, though I am not grateful for the deceptive practices of the car dealership. About that, I intend to communicate my complaints. I've had a week to "sleep on" my experiences, and I even re-watched today's airing of the same infomercial, just to be sure I was accurate in my letter.

So...that's the latest stress in the life of Psalmist. Thanks for reading my stuff. Oh, and happy 2007 to everyone!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Cheeky Eschatological Humor

You must go check out "Old Lutheran's" Left Behind products. Really, you must. If laughter is good medicine, following this link will go a long way toward keeping you healthy all 2007 long.

I am still laughing over this one. Really, this is what every end-times pop-theologian will soon be wearing.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


The Star of Bethlehem,
Edward Burne-Jones, 1888-91

Three Kings, Joseph Leyendecker, 1900

(I found these Art Nouveau images quite interesting and fanciful. Hope you like them!)

Though traditionally sung as an evening hymn, I've always loved this text for the Day and season of Epiphany; it is one of the oldest Christian hymns:

O gladsome light, O grace of our Creator's face,
The eternal splendor wearing;
Celestial, holy blest, our Savior Jesus Christ,
Joyful in your appearing!

As fades the day's last light we see the lamps of night,
Our common hymn outpouring,
O God of might unknown, you, the incarnate son,
And Spirit blest adoring.

To you of right belongs all praise of holy songs,
O Son of God, life-giver.
You, therefore, O Most High, the world does glorify
And shall exalt forever.

(Ancient Greek hymn, translated by Robert S. Bridges, 1899)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 12

Epiphany, Cristobal de Villalpando (1645-1714 - Mexico)

No drummers drumming, birds of any kind, or any dancing or leaping revellers...and the only gold comes not in rings, but from the Magi. It's the Twelfth Day of Christmas!

"Then entered in those Wise Men three, full reverently upon the knee,
And offered there, in his presence, their gold and myrrh and frankincense."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 11

Adoration of the Magi, Peter Paul Rubens, 1577-1640.

"Shall we then yield him, in costly devotion,
odors of Edom and offerings divine,
Gems of the mountain, and pearls of the ocean,
myrrh from the forest, and gold from the mine?

"Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
vainly with gifts would his favor secure,
Richer by far is the heart's adoration,
dearer to God are the prayers of the poor."

(from "Brightest and Best," Reginald Heber (alt.)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 10

Bonaventura Berlinghiero, Madonna and Child, tempera on wood panel, ca. 1230

"Isaiah 'twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind,
With Mary we behold it, the Virgin Mother kind.
To show God's love aright,
She bore to us a Savior when half-spent was the night." (from "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming")

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

ABC's gaffe

I hesitate to point this out, but did anyone else notice what ABC did after airing the Capitol memorial service for President Ford? In it, Mrs. Ford had been shown probably half the time and much was made about "Betty Ford." Then, once Charlie Gibson signed off, the VERY first thing that came up was a silent title screen for "Ugly Betty," which apparently was the show the service interrupted.

Rarely have I cringed so badly at a television faux pas. I'm hoping big-time that this happened only in my local market.

(I'm just sayin'.)

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 9

Adoration of the Magi, Vicente Gil, painted 1498-1518

"So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come peasant, king, to own him;
The King of Kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone him."
(From "What Child Is This")

Monday, January 01, 2007

2007 Resolutions

I've created a mess! I started with two good goals in one of my New Year's resolutions: keep up with each week's Lectionary texts, and read through the NRSV in its entirety this year. But trying to make these two good goals work together has resulted in utter chaos!

The problem is that I haven't yet found a chart of non-Lectionary Scripture passages. I'm quickly discovering that MAKING one isn't going very quickly! I knew we had a "hole-y" Lectionary, but sheesh!!

I'll post what I eventually come up with, but I think maybe I'm going to need to do a low-tech checklist from one of those Genesis-Revelation charts in the meantime.

(I do wonder if I'm the only anal-retentive person in the blogosphere who is even concerned about making my Lectionary and full-Bible systematic readings harmonize.)