26 March 2007

A Kitchen Two-for

When I was ordained an elderly preacher friend of mine got up and delivered some thoughts on pastoral ministry. He suggested that I pick an issue to focus on throughout my career. He said there are two many issues to tackle, so pick one and do your darndest. Five years later I have let my life speak and what is the issue? More than ever it is the environment: from coal mining, to water quality, organic gardening and the rest.

One of the qualities I look for on any purchases is its versatility, no one wants a simple one trick pony. So today I present to you multiple reusable tool:

it may appear to be a simple pasta fork. oh no, it is also a:
it is also a Kathy-keeper-away. Once she discovers I scratch my back with the pasta fork, she will never eat anything Italian relater ever again at our house.

A Week Late

On Friday #1 and #2 went out into the garden and planted some peas. We wanted to plant on St. Patrick's Day, but it snowed six inches!

We planted Thomas Laxton peas. We love this variety, they have a crunchy shell with sweetly delicious peas inside. We usually sit on the ground and eat the peas raw. We'll see how they do in a few weeks. We also grew them because they are on sell at Job Lot.

23 March 2007

Blog as a Reminder

On an average week I misplace, lose, forget or misquote important events, meetings, receipts at least 43 times. How to solve this? First I purchased a moleskin datebook; second, I purchased on of those mileage and receipt record books that i keep in the truck; third I post bright post-it notes all over the desk where I work; finally, I post stuff on the blog then use it as a reminder.

As Easter draws near I want to share some of the events for April.

April 1st, Palm Sunday, it also happens to be the Sunday closest to Lime Rock's Birth, April 5. We will have your usual Palm Sunday service, process in to All Glory Laud and Honor, pass out Florida grown palms, pick up the palms after the service, beg folk to attend Holy Week services, and have communion.
After the service we are going to gather for the First Ever Stone Throw event. While at CRDS, Bexley Hall observed a day in Spring with all kinds of folly and fare. The dean wore this absolutely ridiculous chasuble, the liturgy was full of puns and humor and then they would go outside for a stone throw. The winner received a plaque of some kind. I never did attend the service nor many of their weekly Eucharist services. Why? one, I didnt like the incense; two, i was severely disappointed when i first attended the feast of St. Margaret literally expecting a feast of some king; three, one time i led the morning prayer (no one told me to pause after reading each petition - I read that thing in about 30 seconds). But I always fancied the idea of a stone throw.

So this year we are going to have our own stone throw. We have a magnificent and underutilized stone wall. And we all need a day of folly and "Springy" fun.

Maundy Thursday, communion with no foot washin'
Good Friday, service of lessons and spirituals (I find Good Friday to be a day of open creativity, we dont have a long history and tradition of G.F. services, odd when we emphasize the theology of the cross so much.)

Easter Sunday, your usual day of Resurrection services.

Sunday after Easter: A Service of Three Stations
The sanctuary was designed to be movable, but they seldom move things. This year we are going to assemble the pews and chairs around the perimeter of the sanctuary and place three stations in the middle: one of light, one of water and one of bread and wine. It is a way to say there is no way we can replicate Easter Sunday but still a way to continue celebrating the Resurrection.

Third Sunday of Easter will begin a Sermon Series on Spiritual Practices/Disciplines called Soul Feast. This will go to Whitsunday.

After Pentecost, Children's Sunday and the program year comes to a close.

Summer worship? A series on Baptist principles and Baptist biographies, vacation in Georgia, vegetable gardening, trips to our favorite RI beach, etc.

Then we will bang it back up come Rally Day/Homecoming Weekend the 2nd Sunday of September with a Golf Tournament, Cookout, Youth vs. Adult Kickball, etc.

Mr. Marshall

Since Ron Jirsa was fired as the head mens basketball coach for Marshall University there has been plenty of speculation over who will replace him. My vote is for Greg Marshall, currently head coach of Winthrop. Although he was an assistant at Marshall and a regional native and has compiled an impressive record at a "mid-major" none of those reasons matter to me; what matters most is his name! Instantly he could walk on campus and become MR. MARSHALL, that right there is the worth the high price tag G. Marshall will demand.

22 March 2007

Fiddle Class: Session Two

The Gaylus continues to sound terrific. Playing the fiddle my Pap-Paw made is quite amazing, he made when he was 23. When I was 23 I was learning the difference between Bass and Coors Light.

I see the need for daily practice and training my ear. I wish I had stuck with music as a kid and learned how to read music back then, oh well I'm sure I can learn now - just may take a little longer.

So I am off to the post office, swimming and plucking some Yankee Doodle Dandy then off to a few pastoral visits.

The Starbucks Crowd

This morning I decided to head up to the Starbucks in my town and grab a cup of coffee. On the whole I dont like to go there, for one thing I hate their small, medium and large classifications I never use them. Second, they dont want their workers unionized (like Whole Foods). Third, it seems to attract yuppies like gnats to a dog's pecker. Nevertheless, I like their coffee and it provides a morning of laughter.

Yet seeing the folks there in their imported fancy cars, reading their NY Times, ordering factory made treats I have to wonder why it is that folk who tend to lean to the liberal side of social life (read, not on social issues) dont comprise a major segment of religious life? (confession: I would love to drive a Mini, I also subscribe to the Times, and I love the factory made chocolate muffins)

During my almost 5 years here at the church we have taken in some 25 new members and the large majority of them would lean conservative. I wonder how can that be? Dont they know I went to CRDS? Dont they know my ambition to transform the church into a thriving, living, liberal evangelical church? I even went back and read over my sermons from the past few months just to make sure some of my WV baptist upbringing wasnt seeping through my subconscious to my pen.

So what is going on here? I would have to say that conservative folk are more natural to attend church than liberal folk. The church I serve has no outreach budget, hell we dont even have adequate signage stating we are a church. Nevertheless the conservative people keep finding us and joining. (The other day a woman called wanting some answers. So I called her back, first question do you believe in women pastors. We sure do I said. Alright there is no need in going further she said. She didn't come.)

So I wonder what this church would look like if we did some outreach to folk who are a liberalish and dont attend church regularly? I dont know, but i sure would like to find out! I feel that in some ways that is one aspect of my calling, to help figure that out. Prayers, funding, reading materials are appreciated.

21 March 2007

New and Improved but under same old management

I took the liberty of changing the look of the blog this morning. The switch from the old blogger format to the new meant I lost some stuff but that is fine with me. I'll add it sometime soon. I was fed up with the layout management of the old system. I switched the church's blog sometime ago and have been thus far satisfied with its performance, so I converted this one as well. So why dont i just pony up a few bucks for greater creativity control? Don't you remember?

19 March 2007

The Postmaster

While building some train tracks the other day with #2 and #3 I put the engineer's hat on #3. #2 looked at him and said #3 is the Postmaster. What do you think about that Kathy?

folks you are not gonna believe this: JosBank is having a sale, no foolin'.

Scot and Irish but not Scot-Irish

Over the weekend the Church had its annual Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner, I cant for the life of me figure out why. To add insult to injury the next day at church the entire sanctuary smells like the sulfur released from the cabbage, uggh. Just for the record the dinner Sold Out.

The kids picked up some decorations and proudly displayed their Irish heritage. The Norvells were Scots who came over in 1603. My mother's people the McAlisters were Irish but I dont too much about them. So we are a Scot and Irish family but not Scot-Irish like most people in Appalachia, that tradition of people were Scots who migrated to Ireland then left for America in the 1800s.

Here are the kids in all their Irish splendor:

17 March 2007

The Mischievous Leprechaun

Over the past few years the wife has taken to arranging Leprechaun visits. When he comes he leaves golden nuggets, urinates green in the toilet, turns the milk green, messes up rooms and somehow escapes via an open door or open window. What I love the most is not just the reaction of the kids but their pronunciation of the word mischievous. #1 first said miss-cah-vious, #2 this year came up with miss-ta-bus (like miss the bus).

More Coal News

A group of protesters were arrested yesterday at the WV state capital. They were protesting the DEP decision to allow Massey energy build a coal silo besides Marsh Fork Elementary School. Where is the governor who was so "heroic" at the Sago Mine disaster? If he allows that silo to be built I think he should be impeached!

Here the story
. But go here for better coverage.

Speaking of the Sago Mine Disaster the official report done by the United Mine Workers of America was came out Thursday. You can read the report by clicking here.

Finally the NYTimes reported on a pilot project by American Power to pump carbon dioxide into underground chambers. The problem: no one knows what long term effects this may have on the environment. Also, why spend so much money on an inefficient source of energy? Sure it is cheap, but not if you take the total impact mining coal takes on communities, rivers, streams, wildlife, and global weather patterns and global warming! There is nothing cheap or clean about coal. American Power also operates the John Amos Power Plant in Big Scary, WV. (I believe the link should give you a picture of the plant) As a kid I was amazed at the huge clouds of steam they produced (my wife and I both thought that the plant produced clouds). But when you read that that particular power plant is the largest polluter in WV your mind goes from fascination to down right anger!

This and That, more of that

This is the view from the back porch of the parsonage:
Exactly one week ago I was out in the garden cleaning up the plots, checking on the bees and playing with the kids - not this weekend.

At the library the other day, while searching for Rod Stewart cds (the american songbook volumes) I found Bruce Springsteen's We Shall Overcome the Seeger Sessions. The kids love it. I was amazed at an arrangement of O Mary Don't You Weep. I've always loved the Spirituals. I find their imagery, rhythms and usage of scripture quite amazing. Take the Mary song, Pharaoh's army got drownded, O Mary don't you weep, don't mourn. The author(s) took an OT image of Pharaoh's army and combined it with the mother of Jesus as a mourning figure. The images are 1000s of years apart yet they seem to work. Is there a point where it is okay for an unjust army/war to die without mourning? I cant see the answer to that question being yes.

(Also on that cd is Froggie Went A Courtin'. My father would sing that song to me while bouncing me on his knee and would then let me fall {he was holding onto me}. Good songs, fun songs, you cant beat them...

15 March 2007

The Burn & Violin Class

As Easter approaches there is a great desire to clean up the church and the church grounds. Why? It is the day of Resurrection you want to everything to look its best, thus the tradition of "Spring Cleaning." Over the fall a man brought his huge John Deere tractor over with a backhoe and front loader to clear out behind the outdoor chapel. His clearing created a huge pile of brush. Yesterday was the day of burning.

Around 12:30 four of us gathered to start the burn. Soon we noticed that the pile needed some added heat to get rid of the big stuff. So we retrieved some wood pallets and threw them on. They helped, then the janitor from the school next door came over to complain that the school was full of smoke. Oh well what you gonna do after it started, there really wasnt that much smoke.

After school let out all the neighborhood kids came over to the church yard to fly kites, play soccer, ride bikes, chase each other, gather sticks to throw in the fire, and what not. Then all of sudden a dude pulled up in a 72 dodge, opened the hood and we stood around drinking another cold one. It was remarkable how much it felt like being back in WV.

I think all churches should have one of these events, it was a great community building exercise and a chance to get to know some new church/neighbor folk better.

The violin class went well. Myself, two boomers, one 11 year old and one high school senior. It was apparent that they 11 year old was the most advanced. i thought we were all on the same skill level, oh well. But it was great to get the Gaylus out and to begin the process of learning to play.

14 March 2007

Music Notes

Scott Miller and the Commonwealth have released their latest schedule. If they or him as a solo act are in your area I suggest you check them or him out.

A friend gave me this cd the other day. Great arrangements of classic gospel set to mid-western bluegrass I guess you would call this prairie grass or tall grass music. Check them out too if you have a chance.

This evening I officially begin fiddle lessons. At 6:30 I will head over to the Blackstone Valley Theatre and join some other folks of all ages. But just like Kramer, we are all at the same skill level.

I will be playing the Gaylus, the fiddle my grandpa made when he was 22 years old.

If you think that Big Coal still doesn't rule in WV...

This morning Ken Ward of the WVGazette has reported that the DEP board has ruled that Massey energy can build a new coal silo 300feet from Marsh Creek Elementary School. The board split on the vote but a majority ruled that Massey could build it.

I cannot believe this. Imagine the dust, constant rumble of trucks, not to mention the sludge pond up the hollar from the school. I just can't image how folks could rationalize the placement of this silo there.

Do you think it is just a conicidence that Google Maps does not have a satellite picture available for viewing of this region?

Luckily Yahoo Maps does! If you look at the area you can see what looks like a large lake, that is a slurry pond. A collection of coal waste, ie slurry. It is thick and nasty. In 2000 a slurry pond in Inez, KY broke. It was a larger ecological disaster than Valdez, there 267,000 gallons of crude spilled in Prince William Sound, in Inez 250 MILLION gallons of sludge spilled into 60 miles of rivers and streams. Unfortunately there are no penguins in Appalachia. Fortunately for, you guessed it, Massey energy there aint no penguins in Appalachia, the story received scant coverage by the major news media. The largest ecological disaster in the nation and it barely received coverage in All the News that is Fit to Print!

here is a follow up story by salon.com

12 March 2007

Passive Evangelism

This year I have set a goal to focus more on stewardship and evangelism. The evangelism goal is the most challenging for me. How does a moderate-liberal mainline community church do evangelism that isnt a simple copying of our more "evangelical" brethren and sisteren.

I think I may have a solution: passive evangelism. I say that we take an ad out in the paper that reads: Mad at Your Church, Try Us. Thus far most of our growth of new members has come from folk who are ticked off at their former church or simply gave up/lapsed on RCC long ago. I think this will keep the church afloat but I dont see it fostering new growth and new life.

How sad it would be if our only positive contribution to the community is to be a safe harbor for folk who get pissed off at their church. Then what happens when the former pissed off people get pissed off at their new church? I think there needs to be a new emphasis on evangelism, we've got some good news to share too.

11 March 2007

Some pics for the extended family

The gang after church today:

One day they will quit rotating my pictures, looked good to me in iphoto.

Yesterday me and #2 made some cookies.

The other day #1 & #2 were acting like monkeys:

And #3 fell asleep on Mom while she was cooking:

Reasons #378 and #379

The other day the wife cooked her first turkey. Someone from the church gave us a turkey, it was frozen and in a UPS box (I don't ask questions). Normally I usually brine and grill the turkey. But seeing that I could not get out of work early, the wife took over duties. She did a simple butter, salt and pepper rub under the skin and bacon grease on the outside skin, then baked it. Not too bad at all...

That night she also made her mom's famous hot rolls.

Here is the recipe:
2 cups of lukewarm water
2 tablespoons of yeast
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of salt
1/4 cup of oil
4 and 1/4 cup of flour.

preheat oven to 450.

we use instant yeast.

combine flour, yeast, sugar and salt, then water and oil. mix well.

put on floured waxed paper and knead well. let rise about 1/2 hour (or double in size) Pinch out into greased muffins pan (clover leafs) let rise again until double in size. bake until golden brown. butter and serve. makes about 2 dozen

A couple of nights later the wife made a turkey pot pie with the leftovers, she used all the pan drippings (minus the fat) and a little leftover mashed potatoes to make the filling a little thicker. Trust me it was out of this world fantastic.

Here is the recipe:
Make your basic pie dough.
Took drippings, skimmed off fat
took teaspoons of fat to saute with celery and onions.

one celery stalk, diced
one small to medium onion, diced
one cup of peas
one medium carrot

after you saute take pour some water and add bay leaf. Take some of the hot liquid and dissolve mashed potatoes then add them back in.

fill pie shell

bake at 400 until browns then to 350 (total baking time 35-40 minutes.)

Quadrilateral Approach to Sleep

Some of you are probably aware of the Methodist usage of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral methodology. (I happen to like it and sometimes find myself using it, although I usually lean towards my own baptist trinity of scripture, experience and hymnody). But back to Wesley, supposedly he used four criteria in the formulation of theology: scripture, reason, experience and tradition.

Yesterday while rocking number #3 I found myself employing my very own quadrilateral. He wouldn't go to sleep easily so I had to Rock him, Pat his back, Jiggle him and Sing to him. This simultaneous fourfold approach did the trick, thank you John Wesley.

07 March 2007

#546 On why I married the great woman

The wife is always coming up with some great creative creations. I used to think I was the creative one with my photography (look at our bathroom wall and you'll notice she has the better eye), with my ideas for stoles (look at the ones she has made thus far and you'll see she has better taste) and now we come to furniture design. I like to think that I can muster up the creative energy to make a reading chair with a leather cushion. Well the wife hasn't made a leather cushion but she has made this wonderful cushion for #3's high chair. I suppose it is Rhode Island inspired.

A Gripe with Liberalism

The other day the wife went to Whole Foods to do some grocery shopping. As we unloaded the bags I found two boxes of copy-cat cereals one of Cheerios and one of Rice Krispies. Here is a picture if you dont believe me.

Now I believe that these cereal boxes give credence to my general complaint with liberal Protestant Christianity: we are copy-cats and not indigenous producers right now. Take music for instance lots of congregations are using Taize and Iona produced music. I use them too, I find them quite useful but there is something inherently wrong with just using other forms of music for your own, why not create your own worship music. Or take contemporary/praise music some folk like the stuff and incorporated it into mainline worship, again why not create our own music that is not cheap, plastic or expressive of our own particular religious tradition. Now lets go onto Study aids. In Europe and the states many conservativeesque churches use the Alpha series as a teaching tool. Many mainline churches simply started using it too, but some folks took the same idea and copy-catted it and called it Living the Questions.

Going back to Schleiermacher liberal religion primarily was birthed out of a reaction to a more conservative context. Will we always be trapped to that paradigm? Is there a way out so that we can build on our foundations and create a vibrant religious movement that does not simply copycat but produces indigenous, thoughtful and meaningful aides for worship, spirituality and intellectual growth? Just some thoughts that are swirling on a Wednesday morning.

06 March 2007


It may be registering somewhere around -5 today with windchill but that hasnt stopped me thinking about the coming Spring. It is March so it is time to order seeds (late I know), think about planting peas on St. Patrick's Day, potatoes on Good Friday, etc. I like the idea of planting on specific days. It is also that time of year when the girls in green deliver their once-a-year delights, that's right Girl Scout Cookies. We received the Carmel Delites (aka Samoans - I understand the name change), somekind of peanut butter cookies with chocolate and my favorite Thin Mints. The wife had to hide the cookies, if they are left on the counter she devours them. I enjoy them, but just a few.

It is also time to start thinking about my annual declaration that this will be the year that I do a triathlon, no really I mean it this year. So this week I initiated training. Today I jumped in the pool with the old ladies to swim some laps over my lunch hour. Here I am 32 years old in relatively good health and some 70 year olds have more wind than I. They were swimming laps when I jumped in and they were swimming laps when I jumped out. Oh well, as soon as I get my wind - I' ll show 'em.