29 June 2006

Young Clergy

THis week Religion and News Weekly will run a feature on the drop and loss of young clergy. I think the problem stems from a drop in college campus ministry by mainline congregations, no foolin'. I "heard" the call to ministry around my junior year of high school, but I know many who "heard" the call in college. I think an investment in youth ministry and campus ministry just may change things. I also think that northern mainline seminaries should actively recruit from the bible belt.

The church for me has been nothing but a blessing. A large ABC church in a subburb of Charleston took me in and made me one of their own. The church helped me out in college, seminary and licensed me. They wouldn't ordain me, but I don't blame 'em. The church in Athens gave me nothing but good feelings and now the church in Lincoln has done nothing but treat me right.

I think the life of the clergy is worth pursuing, you can actually make a difference in people's lives, you just have to some patience and a willingness to love.

Here is the front from R&NW:
Feature: Young Clergy Shortage
Only about five percent of mainline Protestant pastors are under the
age of 35 -- a dramatic drop from 20 years ago. And less than half of
the students graduating from seminaries actually choose work in parish
ministry. Instead, they pursue careers in social services, chaplaincy or
teaching. Why are young people shying away from this vocation and how
are Protestant denominations addressing the need for youth in the
pulpit? Judy Valente looks at the reasons for the declining numbers of
young clergy across mainline Protestant denominations and what church
leaders are doing to reverse this trend.
According to Maxine Beach, dean of Drew University School of Theology,
"A lot of young 20-year-olds really believe that they can make more of
a difference someplace else -- that churches have become comfortable,
they've become places interested in their own survival. And a lot of 20
to 25-year-olds, 30-year-old people, do not want to buy into that
dynamic. They want a place where they believe that Jesus can be real and


Since my father's diagnosis and treatments I realized the importance of friendship. I cant imagine my father going through his ordeal without the gang from the hardware; they call all the time, they mow the grass, volunteered to drive dad to treatments and even helped me out finacially!

This Sunday the OT lectionary text comes from 2 Samuel, the story when David learns of Jonathan's death. Many have said that David and Jonathan had a relation more than just friends, maybe they did - maybe they didnt, I have no idea. My hunch is that they didnt. I have known a friendship like they did. But I could be wrong.

A classmate at BTSR, Nathan Solomon, now a doctoral student at Union-PSCE in Richmond, VA, wrote this reflection of his time as a Navy Chaplain in Iraq. Check it out, he brings a great angle.

28 June 2006

Perfect Rainy Day Treat

Just a moment ago I finished a delicious Oat Scone with Devon Clotted Cream and homemade Blackberry Jelly with a cup of Earl Grey Tea.

Here is the recipe for the scone:
.75 cup of oat flour (if you dont have any stick your oats in the food processor and give 'em a whirl)
1.25 cups of regular flour
3 tsps. of baking powder, clabber girl
1tsp of salt
3 tbsps of brown sugar
.25 cup of butter
.50 or more cup of buttermilk
1 egg beaten

mix dry ingredients and cut in butter (I just put some flour and butter in the food processor and have at it). mix buttermilk and egg and mix it in the flous (remember wet into dry). roll into oval looking shape till it is .75 inches high. Cut in triangles, place on baking stone and bake at 400 for 15-18 minutes. I like to add some sugar in a little buttermilk for a splash on top and finish under the broiler till browned.

I found this recipe from Our Daily Bread by Stella Standard. I bought it at book sale a few years ago, great recipe.

Royal Mail vs. USPS

Last week I put in an order for a Book of Common Order published by St. Andrews Press on behalf of the Panel on Worship of the Church of Scotland.
I ordered it on the 20th and received it yesterday on the 27th. That is quite a remarkable delivery turnaround; a package from Edinburgh arrives in Lincoln, RI in 5 days business days. Could the USPS do that? I dunno. Now dont get me wrong I love the USPS; think about it for 39 cents I can send a letter to anywhere in the US and it will get there in about 5 days, that is pretty remarkable.

In my own search for greater worship resources I ordered the book of common order. I think us liturgically minded baptists need to produce our own worship book. There is a great worship book by John Skoglund and Nancy Hall but I think it relies too much on Reformed models and not enough on the English Free Churches and Celtic traditions.

WV via RI

Our move almost four years ago from WV to RI located us in what seemed a world away from Appalachia. But there are surprisingly similarities between Swamp Yankees and Hillbillies. They both seem to have a knack for thrift, they are primarily Protestant (S.Y. from primarily English stock) and they both seem to be related to nearly everyone in the village. Last night I learned of a connection that isnt too kind.

If you have ever toured, walked or snooped around the Mansions in Newport you may be familiar with the Elms, a spectacular French chateau. It was built by Edward Berwind a coal baron of the early part of the 20th century who owned mines in WV and Penn.

What a contrast it is to sit on the steps at Elms looking at the Newport beaches and the Atlantic Ocean when compared to the poverty of the Appalachian coalfields. There are no Berwind colleges, hospitals, parks, but there is a great mansion in Newport.

You may never know or see the link when you turn on your computer, flip the light switch or lavish the cool air from the AC but there is one whether you live in RI or WV, unfortunately coal is feuling our desire for electricity. I thought that RI was okay, electricity from natural gas, but the Elms says otherwise.

*thanks to Jeff Goodell and his book Big Coal for this link.

27 June 2006

This, That and some more of those

In 2004 I was turned onto the John Edwards campaign. I voted for him in the primary and in the general election as the vp candidate. When you look at his life there isnt much to ohh and ahh over, but there is an authenticity of his talk on poverty that strikes me as genuine. What other politician is using poverty, specifically the eradication of it in America as a major part of their persona and campaign? I hope he keeps it it, he hit a nerve that I believe many will respect.

This morning in the Boston Globe there appears an interesting article about an interfaith group challenging Archbishop O'Malley and the Catholic voice in Mass. This brings up an interesting point for me here in RI. The Catholic voice is so strong and so loud here in New England it seems like Protestants, especially left-leaning, Roger Williamsy Protestants, get left out in the cold (abandoned to the other side of the Seekonk).

Hard core politics. It seems an aide for Gov. Carceri and a RI house Leader got into at Smith's Pub yesterday. My kinda politics. America needs more politicians, lobbyists and others getting it on in pubs.

I placed an order for the Book of Common Worship by the Church of Scotland the other day. I received this sentence in their email the other day: "This email is confirmation that your order has now completed and all items have been dispatched to you." Amazon and the rest dont dispatch items, you gotta like the Scots for their use of the English language.

The New Normal

My father completed his three strong "up-front" radiation treatments, to enable him to breath, yesterday. Today he begins his regimen of chemotherapy treatments. Never in a million years did I suspect my dad at 63 would have cancer. Never did I suspect I would have to learn the new vocabulary of cancer, words like pathology, tumors, nonsmallcell lung cancer, radiologists, oncologists, thoracic surgeons, enlarged blood vessels, etc. I knew these words, but not in an intimate way; before they were words other people knew I only overheard them and used them secondarily.

Several months ago a friend who is in Baton Rouge attended a conference for those who were providing care during Katrina. He mentioned the phrase "new normal." That phrase keeps ringing in my head. Your mind plays tricks with you by tricking you into believing all is back to the old normal: dad is healthy, he doesnt have cancer, nothing has changed; then you talk on the phone, have a fit of tears, and read about lung cancer then you realize life is now the new normal. And the new normal sucks!

Pop, I hope the chemo treatment goes well, agrees with your bodies and kills a ton of fast growing cancer cells today. Rest well afterwards my good man, livestrong.

26 June 2006

Target of Prankster

The church I serve used to have a yearly tradition of staging a grand auction. It was a great success but after a while folk lost interest and the energy to keep it up, therefore, they started holding a grand Yard/Bake/Plant Sale. I love these events, you raise a lot of money selling junk and you get to meet people along the way (I believe they are swell evangelistic events - by that I mean folk get a good feel for the people and makeup of the congregation in a non-threatening way).

Since I have arrived there have been several interesting items.

Year One: A Women's Red Leather Lingere Outfit. (Sold quickly)

Year Two: In the midst of the books on the book table there were several issues of Playb*y and a bottle of aphrodisiac oil/lotion.

Year Three: in the midst of the videos, you'd guessed it, several adult vide*s. Before we discovered all of them someone had already bought a big armful.

When I announced this in the service yesterday a congregant asked: "Do we know anyone in them (the videos)?   the congregation lost it when he asked that - I did too.

This is a fun place to serve. You never know what may happen.

23 June 2006

Reel Mower

This afternoon I was able to pick up this 30 inch Gravely Reel Mower Attachment. I hope to cut the grass here at the parsonage with it and experiment around in developing a putting green.

21 June 2006


Nine years ago yesterday the wife and I were united in holy matrimony.

This is the story of how we met.

First story: we met at the Drive-In, we had mutual friends who introduced us the summer before I went to college.

Second story: the first time I saw "Lori." One Tuesday morning, around 10:45, I woke up and stumbled outdoors with the hope of finding some breakfast type food in the cafeteria. The school each Tuesday had voluntary chapel, Lori went. As I turned eastward my eyes I saw the siloutte of a lovely figure in a yellow and black plaid skirt and a yellow sweater. I thought who in the hell is that. I quickly discovered it was none other than Lori Kaye White.

We talked some, but mostly chit chat throughout the course of the year. I transferred schools, but we kept in touch. My senior year I worked up the nerve to call this woman and ask her out for a date. We dated, had fun, and before I left for my first year of seminary I proposed to her. She accepted and the following June we were joined. Now nine years, two kids with one just banging to get out, moves to Saluda, VA, Rochester, NY, Athens, WV, and Lincoln, RI, and believe it or not a mini-van, here we are.

Thanks to a great buy at a bookstore I found Scott's Originial Miscellany which informed me that the 9th anniversary is pottery. So while in WV I stopped by Taylor Books and found a wonderful mug from Mud River Pottery.

One note about the day of the wedding, folk at Lori's church were quite put off and couldnt understand why we didnt want the blue florscent light behind the cross turned on. Go figure.

20 June 2006

Pluarilty Vote Spells Trouble for WV streams

I am fearful of the impact yesterday's 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court on the Rapanos vs. US case. The dissenting opinion seeks to change the previous definition of water: not to include intermittent streams. Therefore one would not have to apply to fill these streams with waste. A change in definition of the Clean Water Act would greatly aid the furtherment of mountain top removal and the continued burial of streams in the WV mountains.

I wish someone from the Senate would have had the nerve to question the nominees on these types of questions before voting to approve them.

This is the first of many posts on coal mining, environment and other WV related material. After my trip back to WV last week I felt moved to do something.

19 June 2006

Hop on Pop

Dad is at home now and after an initial rough evening is doing as well as can be expected. He is eating, resting and enjoying being home.

While I stayed with dad in the hospital room I realized how important quality pastoral care really is. I also realized how important it is to respect people's space and time while visiting. I am a pretty quick visitor when it comes to visits but I may even speed it up a bit more.

Treatments for Pop start in the middle of this week. I know they will knock him for a loop and tire him out, but I hope they are able to shrink the tumors and perhaps even knock them out.

Livestrong Pop.

The Garden of Weeden

Take equal parts fertile soil, ample rain, vacationing and emergency traveling gardener, and splash in some sun and you have you a weed paradise. The existence of weeds in the garden this year is almost too much to handle. This morning I just started plugging along, hilling up potatoes. It is late to hill, I know, one should do it when they are six inches tall - not when they are blooming. That's right potatoes actually bloom, it quite a lovely little flower:

Eventually I will be able to weed, hill, hoe and cultivate the garden, it is just so daunting right now.

But in the middle of the weeds there are some graceful blooms.



Although this is not a bloom I still love it. Know what it is? A garlic seed shoot. You cut these off, just like you do on onions, to ensure that most of the growing energy goes towards the bulb and not the seed shoot. If you love raw garlic like me, cut these shoots then suck the moisture from them. It is a delightful smooth garlic essence. But dont even think about trying to get all lovey dovey with your special someone, it just doesnt work. I also like the way they curl up. This one I will leave and let go to seed so i can experiment next year attempting to grow garlic from seed.

18 June 2006

Travel Tip

For the trip back to WV I arranged via Southwest a car rental from Pittsburg to Charleston. I chose the economy model, for the price and for the gas mileage. But you know something happened when I went to pick up the car: they didnt have any economy models there. So what did they do? They gave me a PT Crusier instead for the same price. I mention this because I have yet to ever receive an economy car when I go to rent a car.

Give it a whirl rent an economy and see if you dont get a better model for the economy price?

17 June 2006


This morning my father was released from room 370 to go home. The past week was horrible. On Monday Pop went in for a biopsy, a "T" incision at the base of his throat, however, enlarged blood vessels were found. So the doctor had to do the same procedure for open heart surgery to perform the biopsy. It was a drastic operation for a biopsy but a correct diagnosis was necessary.

Pop came through the surgery great. There was no esophegal or lymphoma found: it was lung cancer growing in my father!

Lung cancer, that wasnt even on the radar.

So my dad sat in the room contemplating the future and the news of diagnosis.

On Wednesday we met with the Oncologist. He told us dad has non-small cell lung cancer, the typical cancer you think about when think about lung cancer. The typical treatments of chemotherapy and radiation can extend life for an average of 1 and 1/2 years. (if no treatments are offered they gave dad six weeks.)

On Thursday he had a stent put in his esophagus to enable him to swallow and eat soft foods.

On Friday he met with the radiologists.

Treatments will begin next week.

I am back in Lil Rhody now. I will go back to the Mountain State after the baby is born, dad's first round of treatments should be finished by then.

They say 25% of patients at the cancer center "make it." There is good reason to think my dad may be one of the 25%. He has been struck by lightinging. He feel three stories through scaffolding and survived. Because he is left-handed a truck once totaled his car while he was about to get in the trunk (a righty would have been obliterated.) A week after he served his time in Germany his unit was deployed to Vietnam. (His HAWK unit had a 15 minute survival time in the field of battle).

Livestrong Pop.

08 June 2006

High Tea at Our House

On Tuesday afternoon we decided to have high tea. It was a way to avoid thinking about my dad who was meeting with the doctor and a way for the kids to be active without driving the wife crazy since it is the June monsoon season in New England. We made iced tea with simply syrup, garnished with mint leaves from the garden. I picked up some Apricot Scones at Maxie's Bread. Lori also arranged a cheese, grape and cracker tray. It was a great meal and a great time. Easy to do and well worth it.

We first experienced a "real tea" while staying in Savannah a few years ago at the Savannah Tea Room. We were hooked on the Peach/Mango Iced Tea. Our waitress gave us the simply syrup recipe: one part sugar to one part hot water; it is a great way to sweeten tea.

The Best Muffin in the World, Period.

On our way back from WV last week we stopped in Harrisburg, PA for a nights rest before heading out the next day. Harrisburg is about the halfway point and the home of two good friends, Chad and Kelly (here is an action picture of them)

They are great purveyors of beer and great places to eat in the Capital area. They have never let us down from coffee, tea to dinner. We arrived at the hotel too late for a nightcap so we resolved to meet for breakfast. They suggested that we meet in Hershey and eat at an unnamed destination. They chose The Hershey Pantry, located on 801 East Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, PA.

The place had a great feel right from the beginning. I ordered eggs over easy, bacon and homefries. The eggs yolks were runny, perfect; the bacon was chewy, even better; and the homefries were crunchy and wet (wet from their own moisture not from butter. mmmmmm. Lori, the wife, ordered the #4 Pantry Special: two eggs, two pancakes, home fries, bacon and toast. I suggested that they call it the Pregnant Lady Special, the waitress agreed. What made this special so special was the size of the pancakes, look at these things:

But the highlight for me, mealwise, was the muffin. Along the counter laid about 50 muffins of 6 or 7 different stripes. I immediately migrated to the chocolate chip cream muffin. Chad and Kelly ordered one, it came on a plate all mashed up:
I couldnt for the life of me figure out why they served it on the plate all mashed up. Naturally I ordered one of those chuncks of heaven to go. It came in a nice white pastry box. After we filled up the van with gas I started to work on the muffin. I quickly realized why it was served on a plate, mashed up, and ate with a fork. The muffin is so moist, so sweet and so messy with the whipped cream and cream cheese filling, but oh so delicious.

Thank you Chad and Kelly. We are already planning our next stopover in the 'burg so we can try one of the six choices of stuffed french bread.

06 June 2006


This afternoon I learned that dad either has lymphomia, which is treatable with chemotherapy and radiation, or an advanced stage of esophegal cancer, which isnt treatable. Another biopsy is scheduled asap to determine what is in my father.

Where is the Justice?

First Ben and Jerry's was bought.
Then Bert's Bees.
Then Tom's of Maine by Colgate.

And now Rolling Rock has been bought out by Anheuser-Busch. They will continue producing RR but it will no longer come from the glass lined tanks of Latrobe. I have always like RR, for now I will try out some other brands - more than likely i will take up Brooklyn Brewery I was fortunate on our trip home from WV to pick up another Pennsylvania blue collar beer: Yuengling

05 June 2006

Great Dessert

Upon arrival back to Rhode Island after vacation we cut some of our Rhubarb, the wife made a crisp while I made buttermilk ice cream.

The Rhurbarb Crisp Recipe we got from Sara Moulton

1 pound fresh rhubarb, cut into 3/4-inch pieces, about 4 cups
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup old-fashion rolled oats
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted but not hot
Vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl combine rhubarb with sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and cinnamon and transfer into four 4-inch individual baking dishes. In a bowl combine remaining 1 cup of flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, and butter, mixing well. Sprinkle over the rhubarb mixture and bake for 35 minutes until topping is golden brown and rhubarb is tender. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

The ice cream we got from the June 2002 Bon Appetit installment. The recipe came from Asher Restaurant in Rosewell, GA. (which doesnt appear to be in business anymore.)

1 cup whipping cream
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cold buttermilk

Bring whipping cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk hot cream into egg yolk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and stir over medium heat until custard thickens slightly, about 6 minutes (do not boil). Strain into bowl. Stir in 1 cup cold buttermilk. Refrigerate custard until cold, about 2 hours. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. (Can be prepared up to 5 days ahead. Freeze in covered container.)

Our Second Trip to Jekyll Island

A few Saturdays ago we landed at Jacksonville International Airport via our first Southwest flight. I knew we were in the South immediately once I stepped into the Gas Station to pick up some Rolaids for the wife: beer in the coolers and moonpies by the counter, there was also talk about a "burger dog" but I didnt ask any questions.

We made it to Jekyll Island around 11pm, made our beds in the rental house and went to bed. Sunday morning we tried to find a local joint for breakfast, but then again we werent in New Englnand anymore, all the restaurants were closed for church. So we settled for some grub and went back to the island.

Monday was a beach day. Hug, empty beaches.

Tuesday we went to the Historic District and found the island's oldest Live Oak, at the time of the plaque the tree was 350 years old.

Wednesdya morning I went for a walk on the beach and found some Loggerhead Turtle tracks.

That night we found the best Pork BBQ place on the planet. I had two sandwiches and ribs. The only thing to complain about was that I had to go next door to the 711 for a beer.

We closed the week by renting a surrey bike and rode around the island.

Update on Pop

Last Sunday around noon we found a flight to Pittsburg from Providence for a "reasonble" amount that left at 4pm. We hurriedly packed our pokes and headed for TF Green. We made it in plenty of time. The wife and I with our solidly middle class look must have set off all the alarms as being terrorists, we had to go through the strong puffs of air machine!

The week with mom and dad was great. We met with the Ear Nose and Throat doctor, he had performed the biopsy, hoping to find out what the problem with pop was. We didnt. The biopsy is going for a second reading and the thoraic surgeon will perform a different biopsy.

Just keep hoping and praying for mom and dad.

Only You Can Prevent Global Warming

Here is an article from USA Today that shows that you really can make a difference.