30 December 2005

Supreme Vegetable Oddity

Last year, Fall 2004, I was picking the last crop of carrots, Touchon a French hierloom to be exact, when I pulled this out.

At first I dropped it, thinking what did I pull out of the ground.

I thought about sending it to Letterman as an example of the world's first vegetable p*rn, but changed my mind. I have had a year to think about the implications of such a specimen and have not yet come to any conclusions.

I emailed this widely after taking the shot. Reactions were all over the map: why was it wet? why was it on a towel? did I really pull that out of my garden? Dan Champion said he would need to bathe in a tub of penicillin after looking at it.

Lemme know your reactions to such a specimen.


My Top Ten Resolutions for 2006

1. Start seeds on time this Spring.
2. Weed the beds.
3. Spend more time hiking with the kids.
4. Concentrate on family and friend relations.
5. Pray more rather than admire prayer.
6. Write a Rule for life.
7. Purchase chickens or a dog or both.

I'll come up with some more later.

112. Irritate Tari more.

234. Rent Andy Griffin episodes.

Last one. Don't hold back at the Kids vs. Adults Kick Ball Game at Church this Spring.

Where do they get these people?

If you click on this link you will find an article from the NYTimes on infants co-sleeping with their parents. I am in full support of co-sleeping, both of our kids slept with us and still do some times. Our kids were breastfed, it was a heck of whole lot easier to let them co-sleep with us rather than get up and nurse the child several times a night.

My dig at the NYT article is the the faces of the parents interviewed. They are too happy!! Like I said I am all for co-sleeping but no parent I know wakes up all bright-eyes, bushy-tailed and smiling after a night of a 15lb menance kicking you in the face, forcing you to sleep with a quarter of your body hanging off the edge of the bed, and frequent frights that you have rolled over and flattened the child.

The Times should have had a picture of someone like me who wakes up praying for just 15 minutes of sleep all by my lonesome, grumpy, messed up hair and a face begging for some high test coffee. Where is the accuracy in reporting NYTimes?

29 December 2005

Time to Catch Up

It is time to catch up on the December issues of the New Yorker. I start a bunch of articles, finish a few and then leave a pile of them left unread. On top of the reading list is the article from the 05.12.05 issue on Matthew Carter designer of typefaces; such as Verdana, Georgia and Tahoma. I have always appreaciated different typefaces and fonts. I can't stand the ubiquitious Times New Roman.

I admire a book with rough cut pages, gracious feel, intelligent type and proper spacing. Perhaps that is why I like P.D. James books so much, currently reading The Murder Room. Her books always include the type and its history. I wish more theological books went to this trouble, but I dont think the publishers have that luxury.

28 December 2005

On the topic of violins

When my grandfather was in his twenties he made a couple of violins. I always wanted to learn how to play one but never got off my tail to do it. This year I have vowed to learn how to play it. The piece, however, needed some attention. This afternoon I took it Karl Dennis' violin making studio for some needed attention. My violin should be ready in a couple of weeks. Here is a picture of Karl working in his shop.

Bee Check up

On Christmas Eve the temperature approached 50 degrees, this caused the bees to come out of the hive, use the bathroom and stretch out their wings. I'm serious about the bathroom break, they hold it until it warms up, then they go out and do their business. My sister asked if I could see their droppings - I said if 20,000 things went to the bathroom you would be able to see it regardless of size. Here is a pic. of them getting some much needed sunshine. I fed them sugar water 1:1 on this day. Last year my bees didnt make it through the winter, they froze. This year I am being more vigilant making sure they are fed and will even wrap the hive if extreme low temps approach.

Birthday Cake

The wife's birthday is the day after Christmas, I feel for her; she tells stories of family members forgetting her birthday, getting presents wrapped in xmas paper and a general feeling of let down following the preceeding day. Last year I pretty much forgot about her birthday too! This year I vowed to make it a special day. I made her favorite cake, german chocolate cake with toasted almond-coconut goo. I obtained the recipe via foodtv - many thanks to Gail Gand.

27 December 2005


Shadows on the church.


In seminary one professor made the statement that we were professionals and should dress like it. I took that as my call to shop for nicer clothes. My grandfather was a sharp dresser, I have his cufflinks, his pictures gave me a starting point. Due to monetary constraints and personal taste I do my shopping at Jos Bank, guess what they are having a sale. But this evening on Open Source Radio I heard Thomas Mahon! What a suit maker. I invite you to take a gander at this skilled craftsman's blog.

A New Trinity

A few weeks ago I picked up a copy of Gordon Hammersly's book, Bistro Cooking at Home. This is a gem of a cookbook and one that inspired me to give a whack at French Cooking. I loved it. My favorite course is the cheese course; served after the main course comprised of three or four different cheeses, a nice red wine, and left over crusty bread. This is now my new trinity for food: wine, cheese and bread. You wouldn't think cheese, wine and bread would make a great finishing course - but they do!

23 December 2005


Every six months I like to do a limited search for Walter Rauschenbusch to see if any new and interesting web sites turn up, not really. One that caught my eye was by Brian McClaren on Rauschenbusch. Unfortunately he doesn't really talk that much about Rauschenbusch, more about how conservative evangelicals viewed the social gospel as a liberal endeavor.

McClaren apparently has not read the material between King and Rauschenbusch. I view that time as the most creative and least credited of the social gospel.

While on this topic I have always been a little ticked off at the exclusive use, by a rather conservative portion of Christianity, of the term "evangelical." This is a term much broader, richer, deeper and life giving than one subbranch of modern day Protestantism. It is a term that social gospelers have always upheld and centered on. This is a term worth recovering and reclaiming for liberal Protestants, there used to be a great tradition of liberal evangelicalism. We need some theological archaeologists to dig up this tradition and redefine it in light of the current world.

22 December 2005

Ha Ha Darkness

Make no bones about it Christmas in the western world purposively placed the birth of True Light in the midst of the darkest season of the year. Yesterday we celebrated the Winter Solstice.

Growing up I never paid much attention to the changing and disappearing sun during the seasons. I only remember going to school in the dark and coming home from school in the dark. Moving 800 miles north and east and active gardening has given me a new appreciation of the solstice and the anglining of the sun.

In a primal and rudimentary way I understand why the ancients celebrated the solistice some much. I am glad the earth is titlting back toward summer and warmer rays. Yesterday I took this picture as the sun set at 4:12PM!!

This week we sing:
In the bleak midwinter, frost wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God transcends all heaven, earth, and its domain;
heaven and earth shall flee away when Christ comes to reign;
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed the
sovereign God almighty, Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels, may have gathered there,
cherubim and serpahim thronged the midnight air;
But his mother only, in her maiden bliss,
worshiped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I offer poor as I am?
If I were a shpherd, I would bring lamb.
If I were a wise one, I would do my part; but
what can I offer: all my heart.

Christina G. Rossetti, 1872

21 December 2005

And the gingerbread house went splat

We, okay once again the wife, made a gingerbread house this week.

We, yes we, put it together, but it didnt stand too long.

20 December 2005


As we planned for the Open House a couple of weeks ago I noticed that gas fell below $2.00 but is now averaging around $2.15 a gallon. I also noticed that a case of Rolling Rock, $15.99, was cheaper than a cas of Bud, $17.99 (that just aint right). While at the liquor store I also noticed that Genesse was on sale, $7.99 for a 30 pack with a $1.50 rebate bringing it to $6.49 for 30 beers - that comes to 21.6 cents per beer (I dont think tap water is that cheap). Just for the record every summer I buy a case of Genesse just to connect with my Rochester life.

The other day Ben and Jerry's was on sale at the local megalomart for $1.89 a pint. I offer this picture of our freezer:

I couldn't get to the camera quick enough to include the pint of Gobstopper that had been demolished minutes before this image.

The wife wants me to add that the only reason these two are still standing is directly related to my frequent feasting on cookies, gingerbread, broken pieces of chocolate and what not, she may have a point.

19 December 2005


On Saturday we made, okay the wife made, a pot of chili. It was great. We made it in one of Christmas presents, we had permission to open it early, a Le Creuset dutch oven. I think the chili tasted better because it looked so beautiful cooking in the pot. The picture does not do it any justice.


1-1 and 1/2 cups dried pinto beans
1-1 and 1/2 cups dried kidney beans
1 large container of tomatoes, we like the Fire Roasted Muier Glen
couple cloves of garlic, minced
meduim sized onion, chopped
some chili powder
some salt
some pepper

soak beans over night, drain next morning. then fill a pot with about a knuckle more water than the beans. simmer till cooked and water is gone. When the water is more than halfway gone add the onions and garlic. When cooked add tomatoes, chili powder, salt, pepper, perhaps some hot peppers or meat if you want.

We serve with chili powder tortilla wraps (ask the deli department at Whole Foods for a package of these; They are huge and cheaper to buy this way) a dollap of sour cream and some grated cheese and of course beer. I am a sucker for Rolling Rock, but I sometimes venture out for darker and oatier brands. I prefer wine but I cant find a good match for chili.

18 December 2005

The Man Does Fart Jokes

Brought to you by the lovely folks at Prairie Home Companion:
Why is Santa jolly all the time?
He knows where all the naughty girls live.

I chuckled at that one last night.

A couple of years ago after we arrived in the 13th state the church bought us tickets to PHC when it came to Boston. We first went to Bob's Southern Bistro for an early dinner. Bob's is a great place for food and jazz but not too much happening at 5:00 on a Saturday evening. Then we drove down a piece for the show. We took our kids with us, we take the pretty much everywhere with us.

During intermission some woman came by and made some kind of saucy remark about having our kids with us. The wife quickly snapped back and calmed her right down. Then someone in front of us turned and made a shush sound. For the record our kids were not making much, if any noise! I thought to myself, you know this is not high art - this is popular art. On top of that the man does fart jokes! Some people.

On more note, the first time I listened to the show in seminary I logged onto the computer to see where I could buy Powder Milk Biscuits, it took a while.

17 December 2005

Roger to the Rescue

Last night I finished Roger Williams from the Lives and Legacies series by Edwin S. Gaustad. If you have ever been fishing for a quick, informative, delightful read on the life, thought and times of Roger Williams this is the book for you. It can easily be read in one setting, if you chair is comfortable, you dexterity is up and your consternation is cooperating.

Did you know he was a friend of John Milton, palled (sp?) around with Oliver Cromwell, and raised goats on an island in the Naragannsett Bay? Well you do now.

Here I am a Baptist in the Rhode Island and have never done a serious inquiry into this fine gentleman. This book pushes me to go and read the seven volumes of Roger's collected work. So there you go my first book recommendation.

16 December 2005

Emergent + Mainline

Over the past few weeks I have been exploring the writings and exploration of the emerging church. this morning I found a link of an address Brian McClaren gave at Princeton Seminary. I am still a little wary of the movement but quite hopeful of this exploration. In Feb. I am going to a theologicial conversation at Yale Divinity School. I am interested to see who is there and what is going on.

A Public Repentance

Yesterday I took a personal afternoon; everyone at the church seemed okay, the sermon was finished, bulletin sent in and hymns all set. I celebrated the afternoon by traveling up to the new theatre to see Walk the Line. As I wrote earlier the CBS special left a bad taste in my mouth and the fact that the actors sing all the songs left me apprehensive about viewing the flick.
So I drove up and caught a matinee attended by four older couples, one elderly (solo) and one elderly mother and her not so young daughter.

I am repenting because I loved the movie! I couldnt believe the acting job Reese Witherspoon pulled off and was pleasently surprised by Mr. Phoenix. It was a good biopic.

It was hard to see my hero portrayed as such hard husband and father to his first wife though.

it reminds me of the time that i learned one of my favorite theologians was an alcoholic, or when a favorite preacher was a jerk. But it is a helpful reminder cautioning against idolatry. But that doesnt mean all the good from folk with a particulary troubled streak makes all they did wrong or unworthy.

14 December 2005

Advent 4

This Sunday, Advent 4, include some the most playful texts of all of Advent. I particularly appreciate the 2 Samuel story. God seems perfectly content to live in a tent and not in a house of cedar. It makes me think of my son who is perfectly content to wear sweatpants everyday and everynight. Why would a two and half year old want to weat jeans or khakis when he has a drawer full of broken in sweatpants?

The story along with the Announcement story and the Magnificat also remind me of a saying Carlyle Marney used to say: God is like a wild mustang, you try and tame him and he bucks you right off. Regardless of our attempts of holiness, codification, institutionalization, bogus omni terms and what not God refuses to let us keep God in our back pockets. God chooses to stay in a tent and chooses to have a young girl deliver his chosen one. odd stories for an odd God.

I close with some words from Paul Tillich. I never was locked into Tillichian modes and ways, but I really grooved on The Courage to Be, especially the God above God.

But a church which raises itself in its message and its devotion to the God above God of theism without sacrificing its concrete symbols can mediate a courage which takes doubt and meaninglessness into itself. It is the Church under the Cross which alone can do this, the Church which preaches the Crucified who cried to God who remained his God after the God of confidence had left him in the darkness of doubt and meaninglessness. To be as a part in such a church is to receive a courage to be in which one cannot lose one's self and in which one receives one's world. (TCTB, p.188, 1952)

That quote has always left me wanting more of Tillich, but he never ventured deeper into that area of his writing. But the God above God idea is a great Protestant Principle against idolatry.

13 December 2005

Let Down

I learned today that my cartoon caption did not make the cut for consideration in the weekly caption contest for the New Yorker. There is the cartoon. My unwinning caption: the skeleton is in the shop.

Advent III Worship

Sunday's shindig, Guadete Sunday, went better than expected. The music sounded great, folk were overall in a good mood and my sermon was short and off-centered.

Advent has been frustrating for me, just havent been able to get the sermonic activity going. Advent iv, xmas eve and xmas look better though.

This week ones can celebrate Ember Days. I think these ancient Celtic seasonal celebrations copted by the Christian Church as days of fasting and abstinence are quite cool. Hawk gave the following description:

According to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (every
Anglican leaning Baptist needs one of these in their bookcase), ember
days are four groups each of three days, in the church year, viz., the
Wed., Fri., and Sat. after St. Lucy (13 Dec.), Ash Wednesday,
Whitsunday, and Holy Cross Day (14 Sept.) respectively, which are
observed as days of abstinence and fasting in the Churches of the West.
The name is perhaps a corruption of quatuor tempora which in Latin means
'four seasons'. Their early history and original purpose is obscure,
but they seem to be tied to seed time, harvest, and autumn vintage. The
connexion (Oxford spelling, not mine) of the days with the crops has now
been largely lost, and they are associated to-day almost entirely with
the ordination of ministers.

On a practical matter, Bishops typically use the Ember Days as
opportunities to check up on their postulants and candidates for Holy
Orders. While in seminary I was required to write a letter to my Bishop
on or around an Ember Day and he would respond on or around the
following Ember Day. As for fasting and abstinence I don't know of
anyone who still practices this on the Ember Days.

The Anglobaptist offered this:
hen I was at SWTS I befrinded a bishop who served as one of the
trustees. I
actually sent him an ember day letter once. Mentoring makes sense and
baptists forget that sometimes.

How would you go about it? Is your EM bishop-ish? Pastoral? L. G.
is our EM, I would have sent him an Ember Day letter had he been
serving while
I was in seminary.

Look like a tradition worth reviving, minus the focus on bishops and ordination. Perhaps they could serve as parish wide days of preparation for xmas-epiphany.

12 December 2005

ReRead, part IV

The other day I picked up my brother-in-law a copy of Dialogues with Silence by Thomas Merton; buying the copy got my Merton juices flowing again. I began to think about Seven Storey Mountain, how would it read now? I read, reread and rereread it in college and seminary but what about now that I am married, have a family and no immediate possiblity of entering the seminary. What about now that I have studied and read so many Merton titles, performed academic Mertonian studies, sat with Merton scholars, emailed Merton scholars, claimed Merton snobbery, etc.

How did it read? Like a breath of fresh air.

I wish I could read the Bible the way I read Merton. I love the bible, no foolin'. But it is hard to read that thing after semesters and semesters of classes. On the one hand I wish I could go back to the large blue, huge print kids bible my grandma and great aunt bought me one year. it had large pictures to color and was a great read. Someday I'll get back there and have some fun.

11 December 2005

The Need for a Few Young Families

Last night we had a good mix of church people, friends and neighbors. It was great to have about ten young families with their kids running around making a mess of our house. It was also nice to imagine how great it would be if only a few of them would take a liking to LRBC. We need a few young families, just a couple willing to commit to the church to help build a new community of faith. Over my three year tenure several young families have come to the church but havent stayed, I dont blame them. Our Sunday School needs a 100,000 mile overhaul, we have no nursery or anyone to staff it, and our youth program is lagging. But if a few would be willing to stay and work with us I feel we could really turn the corner.

But I dont want the people who were at our open house to come to our church, yes I would. However, there is a great freedom of having friends who have no desire to join our church, or any church for that matter.

At my ordination I had Dan read a section from Harry Emerson Fosdick's autobiography, The Living of These Days concerning how he was commiting himself to adding to the spiritual life of his generation. I would like to make my our contribution. So I wonder about that contribution.

Third Annual Parsonage Open House

Last night we had our third annual parsonage open house. The wife and I love to cook, host and throw a party. The folk from church, friends and neighbors love to nose around, snoop through our stuff, eat our food, and mingle. The open house builds lots of social capital and is a great time. All in all about 60 people gathered at our house.

The Spread:

Appetizing Stuff
Vegetable Tray
Fruit Tray
Chips and Salsa
Bean Dip
Sausage Balls
Mixed Nuts
Spinach, Artichoke Dip in Bread Bowl

Heavier Fare
Buffalo Wings*
Pepperoni Calzones
Ham and Cheese Calzones

Desserty Stuff
Guiness Brownies*
Corn Flake Chocolate Balls
Toffee Chip Chocolate Cookies*
Rasin Oatmeal Cookies
Brie with Caramel
Peppermint Bark

Rolling Rock
Bottle of Pinot Grigio
Bottle of Pinot Noir
Punch (Pineapple Juice, Seltzer Water, Pineapple Sherbert)

*marks items I actually made. The wife worked her tail off baking, cleaning, cutting, preparing, "dealing" with the kids and other various activities that I have a knack for unnoticing.

Just for posterity's sake. If it were not for the wife and I was left in charge of the open house, it would consist of some saltine crackers, bbq chips, beer and chocolate chips.

07 December 2005

The New Yorker

Several weeks ago I began to threaten others that I was going to start a subscription to The New Yorker. Why? I appreciate the essays, short stories and general art coverage, oh yeah the cartoons (it took about three issues before I started to understand the cartoons). Then one day in October on nytimes.com there was a one day deal, 36 issues for $20, I took it.

The issues come weekly and after a few weeks I realized that I am not a member of the target audience. So I took the first 60 pages to look at the major advertisements and how much the products cost.

A Cartier watch $2,350
An Audi A8 $63,000
Cole Haan handbag $350
Bergdon Goodman pjs $895
Aquos tv $5,000

The magazine may want me to read and appreciate their articles, but their advertisers need to shift a bit for my income.

06 December 2005


How come Donald Trump and the guy on Fear Factor always shout when they talk?

You would think they would go to a voice coach who could teach them how to gain some volume without screaming all the time!

Advent II Worship

Last Sunday went well. The choir sounded great, the flow of the service went smoother and the folk seemed warmer to the newness. Considering that we had a snow storm right before church started and did not stop till after the benediction, it was a good service.

Early Baptist pretty much banished the practice of the Christian year; there was no Easter, no Christmas, no Advent, no Pentecost, no nothin'. Every Sunday was an Easter, no need for one special day. There is part of me that likes this idea and would like to take this to the extreme and uplift the Sabbath every Sunday. Then there is the part of me that has a deep appreciation for the Christian year and its marvelous ability to teach theology. I feel the latter part today is important as more and more people become less familiar with the Christian narrative. Perhaps the best way is the incorporation of the Christian year, at least that is the route I am currently taking. Who knows a few years from now I may be a Sabbath solely kind of baptist.

Mixing Metaphors

During the writing workshop I participate in this summer I was reinstructed on the sin of mixing metaphors. In one sentence I referred to both a plant blowing in a breeze and a fish taking bait. I have repented and seem to witnessing better writing fruits of the spirit. My 2 1/2 year old son on the other hand is still learning this skill.

Yesterday morning he stood next to our manger scene complete with wise men, sheep and the baby Jesus (which did not arrive parcel post). He stood looking at the manger and told it I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down. Not exactly a mixing of metaphors but definitely a narrative mix.

Sausage Balls

This Friday the wife and I are hosting our Third Annual Parsonage Open House. It is our way of having the church, friends and neighbors over for a little holiday festivities. The open house also gives us a chance to try some new recipes and produce some old favorites. Luckily not too many folk with a northeast palate appreciate our down home favorites, which means lots of leftovers for us. Our preeminent favorites is sausage balls. The wife has perfected this recipe and I offer it to y'all.

1 lb of good quality hot sausage, patty style.
10oz. of grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
2 and 1/2 cups of Bisquik
2-4 tbls of milk

form into 1-2in balls and bake at 350 for 15-20 mins

These little jewels not only make a great snack they are prefect warmed up in the morning with a cup of coffee for breakfast. that is what i did this morning along with an omelet.

29 November 2005

Camera Happy

Yesterday, after viewing the recent posts, the wife told me she was going to take the camera away from me; my pics were getting a little ridiculous. I have always had a snap happy finger. As a kid I would take pictures of mud puddles, endless snaps of our dog Amos, pine trees with snow on them, etc. So today I signed up with flickr.com as a way to better communicate my pictures without clogging up the blog. Enjoy the selections.

Reflections on Advent Worship

One time my mother, my sister and myself went to Myrtle Beach for a summer vacation. One morning we went to the K&W Cafeteria, it was pure heaven for me - rows and rows of breakfast buffet items. I piled all I could onto my plastic cafe tray (by the way bee keeping suppliers sell these as Integrated Pest Management (IPM) trays, no foolin') and proceed to eat all I could. My eyes, however, were bigger than my stomach. Sundays Advent service felt a lot like that; my liturgical appetite went well over my liturgical threshold. After talking with the deacons last night we decided to let the choir lead the responses, take out or move a couple of uncomfortably angled pews and begin with an advent song that we all know. I think this is reasonable and one that I am more comfortable with.

28 November 2005


I can vaguely remember the pastor lighting some candles before Christmas at FBC St. Albans, WV
but cant remember much after that. During my first year of seminary at BTSR, after thanksgiving, they started talking more about Advent and how the Christian and Jewish communities share a joint Messianic hope, there was talk about purple decorations, advent hymns (you mean carols? No, real live advent hymns) and special liturgies. I was a bit overwhelmed, still am, but awestruck with a sense of historical worship and religious traditions.

So I attended worship filled with all of the images from Old Testament class and sang O Come O Come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoijce! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel! That was pretty amazing for me. I love that hymn.

This year I am sure that I have messed up everyones Advent. I have introduced four taize responses and put the church in the round. Here is a picture of the sanctuary and the order of service.

Order of Service
Ringing of the Bell
Greeting (sung)
Wait for the Lord, whose day is near.
Wait for the Lord: be strong, take heart!
Advent Candle Lighting singing We Light Advent Candles
Opening Prayer (Collect of the Day from the BCP)
Opening Hymn
Call to Confession
The Kyrie
Words of Assurance
Song of Praise
Bless the Lord my soul and bless God's holy name.
Bless the Lord my soul who leads me into life.
First Lesson
Second Lesson
Gospel Lesson
The Word of God for the People of God
Thanks be to God
Sung Response
Prepare the way of the Lord
Prepare the way of the Lord,
and all the people will see the salvation of our God.
Hymn of Invitation/Response
Prayers of the People of God
O Lord, hear my prayer. O Lord hear my prayer.
When I call, answer me.
Lord, hear my prayer. O Lord, hear my prayer.
Come and listen to me.
The Lord's Prayer
The Peace
Stewardship Moment
Stewardship Hymn From the Rising of the Sun
Prayer of Dedication
Departing Hymn

This is gonna take a few weeks to sink in.

I'd hoped to post my sermon, but you just cant go away the week before advent, come home hit the ground running and have all in place for sunday morning. So my sermon was a creation supplied by 26 hours of driving reflection, puffed up by an advent workshop earlier in the year and some astronomical observations in relation to the True Light whose coming we celebrate. Next week, watch out.

Trip Home Reflections

Usually on Monday mornings I hang out at Coffee Exchange to down a couple cups of joe, munch on a granola scone and take in all of the sights and sounds of the joint. As soon as I enter the doors and order a medium black Naragansett the creative juices start flowing. I dont what it is about the place but I like it and find it worthwhile spending time there.

WV has a pretty cool coffee shop, Taylor Books, but I never knew about places like that till I was in my mid-20s.

But I can not support the place today there is too much on the table. I returned from Thanksgiving in WV exhausted. It was by far the worst and best time at home in my life.

On Wednesday night I patronized a local establishment with the hopes of running into some friends from high school. Indeed they were there. I enjoyed getting tanked with some old pals and hangin around folk who knew me before I was rev. theobilly. An ordained human needs those kinds of relations, I miss them.

Some pics from the trip will be on after lunch.

16 November 2005

Maybe I wait till Saturday

Leaving for West Virginia on Friday morning and planning to catch the late showing of Walk the Line, but if the CBS special this evening is any indication I think I'll wait till Saturday or maybe till it comes out on DVD.

It started out with Brad Paisley and never recovered. The Sheryl Crow voice? Kid Rock, come on that guy is about as phony as they come. Dave Grohl needs to put some bass in that voice. I digress. CBS should've bought the rights to the TNT special that came out after St. John's death and replayed it. Oh Brother.

15 November 2005

The Turkey

Last Saturday the church I serve had their annual Harvest Supper. I decided to grill a turkey. I have been wanting to experiment with this method for some time, but never motivated enough just to do for myself. So when I heard the church needed a couple of more turkeys (no comments from the peanut gallery) I volunteered.

The Recipe:
One turkey (mine was a 14 lber)
Brine it over night in a clean five gallon bucket.
For the brine bring one cup sugar, one cup of salt, couple cloves of garlic, some pepper, some mustard powder to a boil. Cool to room temp. then put bird in bucket and cover with brine and more water if needed. Let sit overnight in a cool spot. (it was 30 degrees in RI that night, so i sat it in the garage). Next day pat it dry and let set out to come to room temp. Then coat with bacon grease and pepper. Why bacon grease? We fried some bacon that morning and it was right there. I could have used olive oil, but come on - were talking bacon drippings, the gold of appalachian cooking. the nectar of hillbillies.

Prepare grill. Light your coals (i prefer hard wood chunks). When ready put a medium size aluminum pan on one side and coals on the other. Place a small handfull of woodchips on for smokiness. The Revs. Smalls gave us a nice smoker box to place directly on top of the coals. Place birdbreast side up over top of pan and grill for 1and 1/2 to 2 hours. My son needed to be rocked back to sleep so my timer went off at 1 and 1/2 hours, kids take precedent over turkey on grill.

Put another load of fresh hot coals and wood chips on.

Rotate bird so that other breast gets cooked, about an hour. Place probe thermometer in thigh till registers at least 170. Let bird rest then eat carve about 20 minutes after coming off grill.

here are some pics. it was too beautiful to cut.

here it is on the grill

here it is resting:

here it is in a serving platter

here is my plate that night.

mmm, grilled turkey with bacon grease.

12 November 2005

ad wizard

Perhaps you can recall the SNL "Stand Up and Win" skit from a few years ago with Jerry Seinfeld and Adam Sandler. Regardless of the question Adam Sandler would answer "Who was the ad wizard who came up with that one." I have always appreciated Sandler's comment and wanted to use it in some type of comedic reference. Thanks to the web, a scanner and Northern Baptist Seminary's ad my perfect sarcastic storm has blown ashore.

A couple years back Northern Baptist Seminary created possibly the worst
advertisement in the history of seminary ads. I only saw it in Christian Century.

A close second, is one of the current ad for my alma mater. The people pictured are great Liberal Prostestant saints, but here is the crux: the pictures are in black and white and two were born in the 19th century. It looks more like an ad for a nursing home than a seminary. Furthermore, it looks like it was cut and pasted in about five minutes.

I know what the ad is attempting to convey but, come on; is this the best the ad wizards can do?

The folks pictured above added greatly to the history and tradition of CRCDS, but they accomplished more than a simple picture. I feel a better advertisement would show the lines and lines of people during the March on Washington. Or a picture of the consecration service with the laying on of hands for the bishop. Or how about a picture of Jim Forbes serving communion at Riverside. Better yet, a simple number - the number of Rauschenbusch books that have been sold!

CRCDS our graduates are a part of the most important religous movements of our nation. CRCDS our graduates change history!
Come and be a part of what God has set in motion.

I bemoan because I love CRCDS and I want it to succeed, I want it to be the best Protestant seminary in America. I would love if it had a waiting list, a majority of younger students, had Glen Hinson as prof of spirituality and was paving the way for liberal evangelicalism, conversed with emergent church and opened the way for broader racial reconciliation. And on top of all of this I pray to God that they would develop an advertisement that would make people want to look at the pathetic web site. Oh CRCDS how long, how long?

One last note, I have yet to find any seminary ads the whet my whistle.

10 November 2005

Carl's Auto Body

A few years ago for Xmas a good buddy of mine bought me a used jacket, not just a used jacket but a used work jacket: specifically a Carl's Auto Body used work jacket. I love this jacket, I wear it all the time, especially when I go to The Auto Zone.

On Tuesday after a New Member's meeting I went to a local establishment to grab a Bass and to watch the Marshall University (my alma mater) vs. SMU football game (who schedules a game on Tuesday?). I had my Carl's Auto Body jacket on. While leaning against the wall and watching the game a dude comes up and starts a conversation about sports and life. About ten minutes into the conversation he asks: Are you a mechanic?

All you ministers out there, go out and by a used work jacket and wear it. You can enter into anybar, USA incognito.

Salt Crusted Pizza

Being a pastor my work week runs Sunday to Thursday. I treat Thursdays as my Fridays, my Fridays as my Saturdays and my Saturdays as my Sundays. On Thursdays we make pizzas, we make the dough, the sauce, grate a block of fresh mozzarella, and have at it. I believe we have perfected the pizza by the addition of condiments on the crust. I use kosher salt, the wife uses garlic salt.

here is the dough recipe
1 cup of warm water
3 cups of all purpose King Arthur Flour
2 and 1/4 teaspoons of Instant Yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of honey (preferably from a hive in your backyard)

Cleaner Abuse

Several years ago some good friends of ours received two brand new vacuum cleaners for their wedding; graciously they gave us one. Disclaimer. The wife wanted to say that my only vacuum cleaner activities include: one, keeping our son from climbing up the vaccum; two, moving the vacuum cleaner from the living room to the closet; and three, around the second week of January I cut out all of the icicles from the spinning cleaning rod that sweeps. Back to the meaning of this post. Shortly after we received and began using this gift I noticed how the wife would operate the cleaner as if it were made out of tungsten, or some kind of hardened cold steel. She would ram it against the baseboard, wedge it under the sofa and move furniture with it. After three years just look at this poor vacuum cleaner.

When we go to the homes of other couples I make it a point to look at the vacuum cleaners and guess what? they all look like this. Go ahead take a look at yours and lemme know.

09 November 2005

True Matriarchy

Around this time of the year, before the cold sets in for the season, the female bees force all of the male bees out. Once kicked out into the cold the male bees die. (A male bee is nothing more than an unfertilized larvae) Here you can see a pile of dead male bees.

I feel a bit of remorse on this day when I find all of the male bees piled up and left for dead. Should I write a liturgy? Should there be a day of mourning. Should all the males of creation wear some form of black cloth?

The male bee actually has quite an extraordinary life. They don't work, build cells, make honey, gather nectar, or even ward off intruders (males have no stingers). There only job is to have sex! Once there task is completed and the sun's rays become more angled they are thrown out and left for dead. Something to admire, kinda.

08 November 2005

Bread Update part II

I promised a picture of the bread from last weekend, here it is.

Caution Church Ahead

Several months ago I sent this picture to Popping Culture and he put it on the blog. But I lost the picture when I spilled a Rolling Rock on my laptop (the ibook survived!). I offer this picture as the icon for the current and next generations of the Christianity.

Last year the Christian Century ran a feature on The Emerging Church and Brian MaClaren. A year later the term emerging church popped up again and I went back and reread the Xian Century article and then went to the Andover Newton library and checked out all the books I could on the subject; there I found some voices, thoughts, ideas and ventures right on track with my own.

I went to Colgate Rochester Divinity School and proudly graduated with honors and with all of the regalia of a Liberal Protestant degree. But after five years of ministry I found some cognitive dissonance (a term I learned at CRDS) between the education I received and the community I serve. My hunch is that all seminarians experience this.

What I am seeking is a way of pastoring that blends the Appalachian love of preaching, emotion, the bible and fellowship with the Northeastern love of reason, liturgy, and the spoken word. Can one properly blend Billy Sunday and Peter Gomes? I think so.

Prostestantism in North America somehow has to find a way to get beyond the liberal vs. fundamentalist fights, those fights do not interest me in the slighest - they bore and suck the life out of me. Those fight draw you to them and use all of your creative energy. Uggh!

I am seeking a Christianity that is somehow beyond that gulf and appreciates the values of both sides (minus the political wrangling). I am seeking a Protestantism that still protests an infallible human figure, a "priestly class" and non-democratic bureaucracy. However, I am seeking a Protestantism that fully embraces and draws from the creative wellsprings of contemplative prayer, spiritual disciplines, historic connectivity, and observance of the Christian year. I am seeking a Baptist path that uplifts a Christ-ocentric narrative, an unabashed emotive faith expressions, a love of terribly beautiful "banged out" hymns, radical discipleship and holds supreme the voluntary principle. However, I want to be connected to the Anglican bloodlines that run through this path. I like to wear a clerical collar, bless people, and hear confession.

All of my trains of thoughts keep hitting both centrally and tangetially to some of the aveunes of the Emergent Church. I am bit hesitant to jump on board. Why? I refuse to bleach my hair, give up business suits, and create a church that is geared more to one specific generation. I cherish the memories of sitting next to Grandma in church. I cherish the intergenerational aspect of congregational worship. I cherish the wisdom, folly and joy when there are blue haired old ladies, no haired men, thin haired babies and thick haired teenagers.

These are embryonic thoughts. I will continue to read, think and write this out. Comments will be greatly appreciated. Still be forewarned: CAUTION CHURCH AHEAD.

07 November 2005

Counting Abner

We counted you in our hearts.

Expectancy. Memory. Brokenness.

Count Your Dead

Yesterday the church I served observed All Saints Day. As part of the liturgy we honored the departed. During one of the prayers I invited folk to speak the name(s) of the departed that were on their lips. To my surprise several voiced a name, some couldn't.

I meant to read this poem as part of the liturgy, but forgot. It is a poem(s) by C. D. Wright, a prof at Brown. This is from Stealing Away: Selected and New Poems.

Count your fingers
Count your toes
Count your nose holes
Count your blessings
Count your stars (lucky or not)
Count your loose change
Count the miles to the state line
Count cars at the crossing
Count the ticks you pulled off the dog
Count your shells
Count the points on the antlers
Count the newjacks's keys
Count the beds you've got to let
County your cards; cut them again

Count your gray hairs
Count your chigger bites
Count your pills
Count the times the phone rings
Count your T cells
Count the days sine your last menses
Count the storm candles
Count your stitches
Count your broken bones
Count the flies you killed before noon

Count your folding money
Count the times you said you wouldn't go back
County your debts
Count the roaches when the light comes on
Count your kids after the housefire
Count your cousins on your mother's side
Count your worrisome moles
Count your dead:

Count the days of summer ahead
Count the years you finished in school
Count the jobs you don't qualify to hold
Count the smokes you've got left
Count the friends you;'ve got on the inside
Count the ones who've already fallen

06 November 2005

Open House Weekend

Thanks for moseying over to see what theobilly is all about. Feel free to nose around, poke your head in, listen in on conversations. Be sure and sign the guestbook, snack on some cheese and crackers and take with you a thank you gift before you leave. Over the next few days there will be some cosemtic changes along with posts.

04 November 2005

The A.P. Carter Theory of Ministry

If you were able to watch the PBS special on the Carter Family you saw A.P. Carter roaming the hills of Appalachia searching for all types of Scots-Irish traditional songs, hymns, mountain tunes, and what not. He collected them then produced them. He took in all of these songs and sifted them through his creative mind and produced a Carter Family product. When we all sing Will the Circle Be Unbroken, we sing it the way AP Carter produced it. I wonder if there is an individual alive who remembers in its true "mountain form?"

So the same goes for ministry. As pastors we roam hospital rooms, living rooms, baptismal waters, Books of Common Prayer, ancient contemplative works, coffee shops, donut houses, jazz clubs and the like. We take all of this stuff in and sift it through our creative Spirit and produce a form of ministry, a new creation.

03 November 2005

The Joe Morgan Theory of Ministry

Growing up in West Virginia my baseball heart always called Cincinatti home. How many hours did my ears soak up the voice of Joe Nuxhall and Marty Brennaman? How many times did I dream I would rise from my catching crouch and throw out a runner attempting to steal second jus like Johnny Bench? How many times did I hear Joe Morgan simply say: "See the ball, hit the ball." That phrase from Joe Morgan stuck with me. I used it as my theology of ministry as I left seminary. But I didnt really grasp it till the other day. In ministry you dont try to pull an outside pitch into left field, you hit a ball down the line into right field. You see the ball and hit the ball.

The other day the church I served changed the times we worship and offer Sunday School. After this change we noticed that we lost several kids but gained a whole bunch of adults. I cringed at the sight of empty child classrooms and frustrated teachers but delighted in the overflowing room of adults. My natural inclination was to force the issue and get the kids back (aka trying to pull and outside pitch). But I saw the ball (a room full of adults) and hit the ball (prepared the best bible study I could.)

Last Sunday the new Sunday School superintendent went around and asked adults to teach classes and asked kids to commit to Sunday School. (Sometimes you have to pull an outside pitch to move the runner or score a run) As always, every metaphor has its limits. But overall I still think the see the ball hit the ball approach works at least 68% of the time.

02 November 2005

Let Us Now Praise the Spoken Word

This afternoon while riding back from the VA home of RI I listened to portions of the Rosa Parks service. If you heard Sen. Barack Obama of Ill. or Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, you now know the power of the spoken word, the need for the spoken word and the heightened communicative form of the spoken word. The Church desperately needs more preachers of the spoken word, preachers who take their sentence structures, natural rhythms, and word selection serious. If we take our time, chew on thoughts, let sentences stew without a barrage of to be verbs, ears on Sunday morning will perk up, take notice and appreciate a fine sentence. Too many areas of life suffer from a depletion of valueless words, sermons should not "be" another dead end vocabularly street.

The Perfect Bowl of Oats

As the sun begins her journey farther and farther away from us my stomach initiates the craving for oats process. After three years of oating I offer this as the perfect bowl of oats.

Serving for one:
1/2 cup of oats, preferably organic and not quick. Believe it or not, Whole Foods Organic Oats in the bulk section cost less the Quaker Oats -- no foolin'.
1 cup of water, preferably filtered with a Brita or the likes filter.
Bring water to a boil, add a pinch of salt.
Dump oats in the water, let boil for about five seconds.
Turn heat down so that the oats simmer.
Go take a shower, read the paper, whatever you do.
Come back in about 15 minutes (when "eyes" have formed, just like rice)
turn off heat, put lid on pot.
Prepare your bowl with dried fruit (cranberries, raisins or fresh fall apples)
Pour in cooked oats and a splash of milk.
Venture off with a couple pieces of toast, a cup of oragne juice, a cup of coffee and you are in breakfast heaven.

This early morning meal will stay with you through the morning, preventing cravings, and will make you quite regular.


The Day After All Saints Day

Yesterday a good portion of Christendom celebrated All Saints Day, the branch I belong to (for the most part) let it pass without any fanfare or excitement. But I have always been drawn to All Saints Day and more particularly to the Lives of Saints. I toyed with the idea of naming our first child Saint, that way the child would always be a saint; the wife didnt go for that.

In Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton resolved to live the life of a saint. I always admired his determination.

One day I found myself reading a book of prayers by Karl Rahner, one was addressed to St. Thomas Aquinas. I prayed the prayer without ever realizing what I was doing. It was great prayer. Prayer to Saint Thomas Aquinas.
So I ask of you, St Thomas, (using the traditional formula, the precise meaning of which I shall not ponder right at the moment): Grant that you will intercede for me with God, insofar as all saints stand for all other saints, among whom even poor sinner like myself belong--grant me your intercession so that even if only from afar I may become a little like you: impartial and sober, with courage to consider well before delivering a fiery speech, a man of the Church but not clerical (my meaning here is doubtless clear to you).
Prayers for a Lifetime

30 October 2005

Chocolate Chip Muffin

One of the world's most sinful pleasures on a Sunday morning: Chocolate Chip Muffins. I prefer the kind made with cake flour, almost like angel food cake. Bread and More makes a mean muffin and one that draws me in with its tractor beam (sp?). Enough already, time to celebrate.

Bread Update

The bread turned out okay, pictures coming later on. It was not as light as I expected, the crust did not get as thick as I wanted, and the floured linen towels did not prevent a crust. But I felt satisfied for the first time in baguette land.

Reformation Sunday

In 'bout thirty minutes worship will begin. Today we celebrate 174 years of ministry, honor longtime members and rededicate the sanctuary. The choir just finished rehersing A MightY Fortress Is Our God, the revised version. It is Reformation Sunday a Sunday like any other, except the cool weather and some folk are dressed up more than usual. The church is a great place but I wonder how far off the mark we are, or are we closer than we think? The church has a country club feel, but what one doesn't? Scattered throughout North America small congregations, along with bigger sized monsters will meet all thinking what? Today I hope that folk will simply think they are trying, they are honest and doing the best they can. Today I hope congregations remain faithful, just the faith of a mustard seed. Is that too much to ask? I dunno. Reformation thoughts.

29 October 2005

Baguette Saturday

On Saturdays I like to make bread, today I am going to try a French Baguette. I will attempting this baguette. The chef who made them Danielle Forestier made a real impression on me. I liked her professionalism and technique. I sometimes think that if I werent a pastor I would like to be a bread baker. I'll have results later on.

My promised thoughts on Anglicanism

At heart you could call me a closet Anglican, from a distance. I love the liturgy, the rich history and the appreciative link between scholarship and the local church. Although I use and appreciate the Book of Common Prayer, its history as a forced book for "Common Prayer" throughout England during the Island Reformation till gets under my skin. I also love believer's baptism and contextual worship. At the end of the day I love Anglicanism, but not enough to marry it. I'll stay baptist.

I've ofter wondered if "baptist" is better thought of as a movement rather than a denomination. Could one be in the baptist movement and be Anglican? I dunno, perhaps. This would free many baptist pastors. One guy is trying to find a more via media. I find myself just your run of the mill baptist pastor with a great appreciation of historic Christianity and E.

The Need for a Nemesis

A few days ago the wife was talking about her nemesis, a woman here in town. She is the anti-(insert wife's name). As she talked I realized how we all need a nemesis in lifel, someone who forces us to hone our thoughts and ideas and someone who we can always focus our anger on. Unfortunately I have yet to find my nemesis but I am sure there is an anti-theobilly out there. The snotty Anglican (a bit redundant I know) comes close, but I think Hawk is alright.

28 October 2005

The Continual Need of Anglican Reformation

More comments will follow on this topic, perhaps later tonight. Until then it will suffice for you to view this blog.

27 October 2005


This blog is my response to the death of a friend, Daniel Champion. His blog gave his daily comments on life as a husband, student, pastor and human being with cancer. Dan died this summer. I received news of his death from the phone call of a friend and Dan's wife via the blog. I flew to Pittsburg, met some friends and drove to Youngstown for the funeral. It was a painful and beautiful funeral. Painful and Beautiful to speak and give witness to the man who touched so many.
The comments you read will never touch the depth and quality of Dan's. But they are here as a memorial to one of the funniest, most creative and sweetest souls I have known. Peace be with you brother.
Dan's blog continues; his wife now gives the view of life as a widow.

Judicial Qualifications

Today Harriet Miers withdrew her name for consideration for the Supreme Court. Many stated she did not have the "material" to sit on the bench. I ask why not? Critics said she did not possess a thick understanding of constitutional law, how many of us do? Perhaps a bit of ambiguity and ignorance is a good thing. Look at the folk we elect for the Congress, how many of them are qualified? Look at our President, a man definitely underqualified. Okay, maybe it is not a good thing to have an under qualified judge. Today at 1:55PM I withdraw the comments offered above.

Why I read the NY Times

I have a hard time reconciling my Appalachian upbring and reading the NY Times, it seems like a yuppie exercise. But some pretty interesting folk have come from my area: Mary Lee Settle, Leon Sullivan, Breece D'J Pancake, and some others. So I read the paper anyway. The main impetus for reading it came from Randall Robinson. You may remember his hunger strike in the Clinton years; almost killing himself. He came to Marshall University while I was a junior and spoke. Afterwards I moseyed up to thank him and asked some kind of question about world news and current events. He stopped and implored me to keep informed and read the NY Times. Then in seminary, the director of Field Ed, told us the story about a preaching class Gardner Taylor taught. Rev. Taylor told the students to do two things: one, read the NY Times for sentence structure; two, watch me. Last Spring Rev. Taylor spoke at the Spring Convocation of CRCDS. He was amazing. So now all gentrified I read the NY Times. Plus I love the crossword puzzle.

26 October 2005

Selected out of the NYTimes

A couple weeks or so ago the NYTimes came up with a new gimmick to pay for its news, Times Select. I love reading the NYTimes. But I cant justify paying the 290 bucks for home delivery. $290, that is at least 12 books, 24 12 packs, 15 bottles of good quality French table wines, a used Gravely cultivator, etc. But here is the crux for me: I am already paying for the NYTimes! I counted no less than 16 ads on the main page. The advertisers arent given complimentary space. And yet they still want to charge me to read a Maureen Dowd piece, come on NYT. Have you noticed how the most emailed columns rarely include a "Select' piece? There is a reason for that. instead of David Brooks up at the top we get a piece on how White House Counsel is asking The Onion to stop using the presidential seal.

24 October 2005

Blog Consummated

For the past few weeks I have been threatening to start my own blog. Today I finally got around to it and here you go. Hope y'all enjoy.