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.