This post is actually from a couple weeks ago, only slightly revised. I let it cool for a few days. If you don't know Free Range Kids, check it out.
Up at 5:30, run 11.5 miles with a 60 year-old woman who's faster than me.
Eat, shower, visit the ATM
Spend 3 hours garage saling in our neighborhood. Katie totally enjoys selecting her own items with her own allowance. Johann scores a Slinky and a magnadoodle board.
Visit the neighborhood park festival: hot dogs, neighborhood chamber orchestra, moonjump, goofy games, popcorn.
Go home. Kick the extremely squirrely kids outdoors for a bit while we put away our finds and figure out how to move the piano we just bought for 25 dollars at an estate sale. (Really! An upright for $25! And it plays beautifully!)
Retrieve children, get scolded by neighbor for "inadequately supervising" them (Note: no one was bruised, bloodied, or destructive of anyone else's property).
Stew all evening about said scolding. Think uncharitable thoughts about said neighbor.
I'm so proud of my spouse, even if I can't really explain what he does for a living in 20 words or less.
But now you can read some of what he works on, in a real-time policy debate, at "Reality Based Community: You're entitled to your own opinion, just not your own facts."
Will's lengthy response to the first article is at the bottom of this post. One of the fascinating things about his job is that he now gets to argue against recycling an idea that he helped promote some ten years ago.
While his argument is nuanced, here's my two-bit summary of a complex issue: we can't consume our way out of the environmental crisis we face. Producing new stuff -- even "green" stuff like hybrid cars -- takes an environmental toll, so think twice -- and do your research -- before you replace something that still works with the latest shiny new thing, even if it's "green."
OK, this is fun: Radical Torah syncs R.E.M.s Automatic for the People with the pre-Shabbat psalmody -- including Psalm 98.
And the best line: I’m not claiming that R.E.M. had this sequence of psalms in mind when they wrote Automatic for the People,
and I’m certainly not claiming that the psalmist foretold the works of
R.E.M. But I’m asserting my postmodern right to not care.
I had the odd experience this month of having something I wrote wrongly
attributed to someone else. It was a book review for Alban Institute's Congregations magazine, so I
guess I can be grateful that it wasn’t the most original piece I’ve written.
But I looked in the magazine and there was someone else’s name at the bottom.
And the thenthe book review next to it,
for a book I've never read, had my name
on it. Very strange.
But it sounds like I may have been critical of this other book
in the same way that the reviewer named Pamela Fickenscher might have been. The
author did a tour of U.S. churches, a sort of mystery shopper deal, and like most of us she had her list
of criteria for what a “good church” looked like. She claimed she wanted a
place that didn’t care about her politics, but then criticized churches whose
politics seemed different from hers. She claimed she wanted a place with little
hierarchy and lots of member input in every decision, but she wanted great
music and a transcendent worship experience.
What she didn’t seem to understand was that being “caught
up” in worship is something that necessarily gets us to set aside our lists of
criteria, our evaluations, what writers call our “editors mind.” I’m sure brain
scientists have a term for this, but checklists and transcendence don’t usually
I'm preaching on Psalm 98 this weekend, and on praise as a dying form of speech. Not praise as in "Good job, God, I approve of what you did there!" but praise in the biblical sense, which gets us over ourselves.
18 months ago I spent several glorious days at Mt. Calvary Monastery and Retreat House, a gorgeous estate-turned monastery for a small group of Episcopal monks. (See the link for a heart-wrenching photo of the fire itself).
Last night, as I was catching up on a December Christian Century (yes, it's been that kind of year), I noticed a quote from one of the monks with a caption explaining that their facility was destroyed in the Montecito wildfires in November. I had had no idea. It's devastating to think of that place, soaked in holy silence and hospitality, in ashes, but here it is.
And here it is before the fire:
One of the mixed blessings of our interconnected world is that I could ever travel to such a place and feel such a connection with it -- and yet not hear of its loss until months later. People who live much more globe-trotting lives than I must have this happen quite often as they read the newspaper -- it's a very odd thing.
One of the monks of Mt. Calvary does lovely calligraphy, a piece of which hangs
on our kitchen wall, reading (in German as well as English) "Mornings,
do not complain about the day's work. It is no hardship to labor for
those we love." That print has an added layer of meaning for me --
for now I know that their labor of love is happening in a different
space. I hope I can return when they rebuild, for I have no doubt that
their hospitality will be even further refined by this fire.
My colleague has been on sabbatical now for exactly one week. For the first few days lots of people were asking how I was doing with intent questions of concern. When I was feeling snippy I wanted to remind them that I have been a solo pastor before for five years, with a lot less support than I have here. And, after all, Erik had only been gone for all of 3 or 4 days. And we've been planning for months. And lots of people have offered help and assistance.
But it's never the planned stuff that is the problem. It's what you cannot plan for. I call this Ambrose's Law.
Ambrose's Law* states that you will be called to perform more ministry than you are ready for, under the circumstances that are least likely to happen, which you would least have chosen. For pastors, this is something of a corollary to Murphy's Law.
If your business administrator position is about to turn over, your laptop hard drive will fail in the midst of that transition -- and the outsourced computer network person will be away on jury duty.
If you try to arrange for someone to do backup pastoral care so you can get away, that person will get walking pneumonia.
If you have finally stopped making excuses and scheduled yourself to run a half-marathon, and trained for it for 5 months, circumstances will conspire --and even though your congregation only has 2-7 deaths a year -- to have you presiding over a funeral that very same day as the race.
* Ambrose, you might recall, was the guy who ended up baptized, ordained and consecrated as a bishop within one week's time, all because a near-rioting crowd clamored for his leadership. This in a time when being on the wrong side of the theological fence could get you exiled, or worse. (He was a catechumen by choice, at least -- but you'd think his experience might have scared a few of his peers away from Christianity for good). There's a story that will make a girl quit whining.