28 September 2008

Behaving Like a Calvinist

I have long made the argument that people need a nemesis or a foil for all of their arguments.  I have chosen the Presbyterians.  Why?  While a student at BTSR I felt like most of the students from across the street looked down upon us Baptists (need I say they had every right to do so, for the most part).  But there is irony here.   Personally, after a great deal of family history I discovered the Norvells were Scot Presbyterians when they came over in 1617.  Professionally, everyone always thinks Baptists when they hear fundamentalists, but fundamentalism was a product of: the Princeton Presbyterians.  Oh yeah, when Fozzy and Kermit go into the church in the scene from the Muppet Movie  Kermit asks Fozzy what kind of church it is, Fozzy replies, I don't know they all look Presbyterian to me.  

Now on with the story.  Today I preached on Jacob's Ladder, during one part I talked about how we live in an era infused with positive thinking.  But Calvinism would say positive thinking won't get you jack squat.  My second Calvinistic activity: I went bowling this afternoon.  I once read that John Calvin loved bowling for his Sabbath day play.

26 September 2008

Many people have been requesting an action shot from the kickball game, here goes:

25 September 2008

Magical Animal Eye Candy

I forgot to post this picture from the Pulled Pork BBQ

After 10+ hours of smoking I watched as Richie (co-owner of the deli who let me use the smoker and other facilities) opened the smoker and saw this:

As many of you who smoke meat or even grill it, know there is quite a bit of shrinkage and mass loss due to the cooking/rendering of fat. I lost about half of the beginning weight. So where did all of that mass go? This is where it went:

The pan weighed in excess of 15lbs. I would say the rest of the mass loss came from deboning, pulling off excess, and simple moisture evaporation.

24 September 2008

Relationship Breakthroughs

Once a week a cleaning crew of men and women of mental and physical challenges come and clean the church. When they come in I greet them, shake hands or perform some hand shaking rituals/high fives, hear about their day, and etc.

Today while I was in the office one gentleman who is in his early 20s who usually does not say too much peeked his head in the office and inquired: Hey Father, what about those Red Soxs last night?

23 September 2008

All Unabridged Dictionaries need some love too

Before reading this post I invite you over to the church's blog to look at the Sunday wrap-up pictures from the Gutter Sundae and Youth vs. Adult Kickball game.

Several weeks ago I was able to purchase an Unabridged Dictionary, for $19.99, at the Brown University Bookstore. Unfortunately the Dictionary has largely (no pun intended) sat on my desk unused. Reason: too cumbersome. Solution: build a stand. Yesterday, on my day off, I took some old 3/4 inch birch veneer plywood and built a dictionary stand. First I went over the local library to establish the angle for the stand. Next I went home and went to work. The finished product:

The (W)Reckoning of Faith Sermon 21.Sept.2008

The (W)Reckoning of Faith: Abe says “What?”
text: “that God did tempt Abraham” (Genesis 22:1)

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost 21.Sept.2008
Lime Rock Baptist Church – Lincoln, RI
The Rev’d G. Travis Norvell

Abraham for the Apostle Paul and for early Christian thinkers became the archetypal model of faith, the living example of what trust in G-d looked like. For us today, he still is a model for complete trust in G-d too. The stories of Abraham have funded the imagination of western world for centuries and they continue to at one time repel and attract at the same time. Abraham is at one time, borderline if not fully, insane (going to kill his son) and heroic willing to rest the future of his family on the earlier promise G-d made to him to make a nation out of him.

Different ones have employed the adjective of blind as a prefix for Abraham’s faith, his was a blind faith, as if to say no one with open eyes would have done the kind of things he had done! (Interesting that the rabbis from old tell the story that at the moment Abraham is about to slay his son the tears from his eyes fall into Isaac’s eyes and permanently alter Isaac’s vision). Abraham did not have blind faith, he had a full panoramic faith.

In the book of Genesis after G-d created the heavens and the earth, after Adam and Eve were made and expelled from the garden, after Noah and the flood, after the Tower of Babel, after all of the primordial stories, after the prolegomena of humanity, once the grand themes of creation are laid out on the table the narrative focuses in on one person and his family (from chapters 12 onwards to the close of the book in chapter 50) tells the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Through the eyes and the experiences of the patriarchs the Bible tells the story of G-d’s peculiar and particular relationship with humanity.

In order to lift these words as Living Words we have to suspend a few lines of thought. First, Isaac is not Abraham’s only son. Abraham actually had another son, Ishmael from his servant Hagar. Second, it appears Sarah, Isaac mother and Abraham’s wife was not consulted about this proposal. Finally, realize the world of this text is not our world today. What may seem distant, foreign, and odd may have very well seemed par for the course in ancient societies.

What comes to mind when you hear the word faith? We can play around with the word and come up with trust, obedience, devotion, authentic, dependable, committed, resolute, assurance, trust, confidence, hope, steadfast, you get the idea of some on the nuances for the meaning of this word. Do any or all of these words apply to the story found in Genesis chapter 22?

When Abraham was 75 years old, back when he was simply known as Abram G-d proposed a deal to a great man of the ancient world, but not a great man of history (yet). “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” It is quite a deal, Abram goes from a little somebody in Mesopotamia to one of the greatest figures in Western and what was formerly known as Asian societies.

Along the way the promise G-d made to Abram is tested and put to the limits and every time the promise is kept as a viable possibility. Simply put
G-d and Abram developed a relationship, a portfolio of events and experiences that shaped who both were – that’s right even G-d was shaped by his relationship with Abram. Eventually Abram becomes Abraham, Sarai becomes Sarah, the promise is still unfulfilled because Sarah has no progeny. After years and many tribulations God announced to the 100 year-old Abraham and the 90 year old Sarah, you will have a child. Sarah laughs at the prospect and who wouldn’t but lo and behold the nonagenarian and the centenarian have a child and name him Isaac, literally meaning: may G-d smile.

The promise has finally become fulfilled. The portfolio of experiences between G-d and Abraham seems to be overflowing with assurances but the story is not over. It seems that Sarah is not the only jealous figure in this drama (every time she sees Hagar and Ishmael her jealously fumes and has them kicked out of the household), there is a much bigger “ego” to attend to. It seems all the love and attention young Isaac received rubbed G-d the wrong way. Abraham and Sarah indeed have a child, but have they forgotten who provided them with the child. In other words, it is time for another test, only this time it is the test of all tests. It is the test which we will standardize as the story to tell for the full definition of faith.

In whimsical fashion and with a carnival beat (for how else could you tell this story) Bob Dylan best told the story:
Oh God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son"

Abe says, "Man, you must be puttin' me on"

God say, "No." Abe say, "What?"

{editorial note: many had no idea who Dylan was (one member said I only listen to Bing Crosby). Those who did, did not recognize the song (during the announcement time one person said without the Dylan twang they could not place songs, therefore I sang the first few bars with the best nasal Dylan twang I could, all agreed that helped tremendously)

That’s right Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac, the one whom the promised rested. Slay the very progeny that will ensure the promise is fulfilled. We can view Abraham’s acceptance of this command as faith, for he takes Isaac with two of his servants and set off for the unknown destination. Abraham has already done this before and God kept God’s end of the bargin. G-d said Abraham and Sarah would have a child and they did. Abraham has enough confidence to believe that G-d knows what he is doing.

But what if you are Isaac? How are you feeling right now. All your life no doubt Abraham and Sarah has told you how special you are. How you are the result of G-d’s blessing. And yet how are you to properly ascertain what is going on. It is just you and your father alone on a strange mountain in a land unfamiliar to you both. Your father has a knife and a flame while you have a load of wood and neither of you has a lamb to sacrifice. So you properly ask: Father, The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Good question. Your father replies: “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”

Up till now, as difficult as it may seem the story is believable and even somewhat predictable. Abraham has a 15+ years with G-d to know that if G-d says he will provide, G-d will provide. On the other side G-d has 15+ years experience with Abraham to know that if I ask Abraham to do such and such he will usually do such and such. They have both kept their ends of the bargain. We can easily imagine Abraham saying, no way G-d will really want me to slay my son. We can also easily imagine G-d saying no way Abraham will really want to slay his son. But both are wrong!

From here on out the story becomes unpredictable and uncontrollable; the relationship between humanity and God is pushed to its furthermost limits. Abraham binds his son, lifts his knife and is ready to slay his son. While the knife hangs in midair we need to pause before advancing.

I would venture to say that most of you here want to describe faith as a reasonable and logical avenue of life. St. Anselm, a theologian of the Middle Ages (1033-1109) while offering an explanation of what theology is coined the phrase: theology is faith seeking understanding. Theology, simply put God-talk, has always sought to properly understand the faith which we have and which the Church has had for the past two millennia. But the hardest aspect of explaining religion is that it is not always easily understood, rational or logical forget about explainable. So when you try to ascertain and make sense of the Abraham story from a logical, reasonable and modern standpoint you run into all kinds of trouble. Either Abraham has faith to such a degree that it is unattainable for any other human or Abraham is a complete mad man and G-d is a completely mad and jealous god. Faith is not reasonable.

Back to the story. Abraham has the knife in midair, about to plunge it forcefully down to slay his son, Isaac. Before the electric sensors move from his brain to his arm with the instructions to plunge a voice comes from heaven: Abraham, Abraham! The tone is almost you fool stop. The voice also has a tone of self-knowledge as G-d also says what have I done. Although both parties in this story, Abraham and G-d, have intimately known each other for 15+ years neither knew exactly where the story in chapter 22 would go. Faith for both of them was unpredictable.

Abraham looked up, saw a ram, unbound his son and sacrificed the ram instead. We would like to say that the story had a nice and happy ending, that Abraham had a nice laugh about the whole thing, walked down the mountain arm in arm, were bosom buddies for the rest of their lives, and later on would joke hey dad remember the time you almost killed me what a hoot that was. We would love for the story to say that, but it does not. Notice, only Abraham walks down the mountain, Isaac stays alone on the mountain for an undeterminable amount of time.

Abraham never talks to G-d again, in the narrative. In the next chapter Sarah dies and in the following chapter Abraham dies. If the story of the command to sacrifice Isaac is an example of faith par excellence it is not a story that we would all ascribe to incorporate into our lives. The story is descriptive, faith will transform your life and perhaps not always in the best of ways we would all hope it would. After the story Abraham, Isaac, and G-d area all forever changed.

I do not know how you define faith, it is simultaneous concrete and ephemeral. It is both easily defined and impossible to define. If we take this story to define faith we can easily say faith is not reasonable, is not predictable and is not safe, but let me also say faith is not the end either.

The Apostle Paul in every letter he wrote somehow touched on or made central the topic of faith. He gave us the helpful and cautionary phrase: work out your faith in fear and trembling. Faith is something that comes with time, trust and experience. Faith is not picked up off the street like a lost penny. It is tested, tried, and trued in the crucible of our lives. But it is not the end. In the 13th chapter of the book of First Corinthians Paul wrote his beautiful Ode to Love:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Paul did not say the greatest of these is faith, although we would certainly think so given the centrality faith plays in his letters. No brothers and sister the greatest and most abiding is love. For when we look at the story to slay Isaac we see but through a glass, darkly – we do not have complete and full understanding, we never will.

But we shant desert the great possibilities of faith. If faith is not reasonable, predictable and safe then it is illogical, open, and dangerous. Odd isn’t it that illogical, open and dangerous are some good terms to define love. We take a risk by staking our faith in G-d. G-d takes a risk staking his faith in us. Yet we both preserve and trundle along held up by the bounds of everlasting love.

Brothers and Sisters I invite you to continue to walk on this way of faith, I invite you for the first time on this way of faith, I invite you to renew you walk on this way of faith.

Let us pray:
Almighty God,
your servant Abraham obeyed your call,
rejoicing in your promise
that in him all the families of the earth
should be blessed.
Give us faith like his,
that in us your promises may be fulfilled;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.

14 September 2008

A Photographic Essay on Kneecaps

It was a rainy day here in Lincoln.  As #3 went down for a nap I retired downstairs with #1 & #2 with a desperate desire for a nap of my own.  Luckily the First Lady forgot (in all fairness I forgot also) to take a couple of dvds back to the library.  One of the overdue picture shows was The Great Muppet Caper; even though we watched it last week the 1 and 2 did not care to watch it again either -- I explained, oh yeah let us watch it again for you are sure to see stuff in it the second time that you did not the first time, it worked.  

I slumbered, but not soundly - every few minutes a question was posed to me concerning the muppets.  Upon fully awakening I came to the part in the movie where Gonzo explained to the gang how he was underneath a table doing a photographic essay on kneecaps.  Shortly after this scene Sam the Eagle made an appearance (Amazing aint it how many people in real life look like him, and I mean more than former Speaker of the House Tom Foley).  

The Pulled Pork BBQ Dinner.  Between 115-125 people attended making it the most attended event in recent history.  Everyone loved the deep fried pickles.  Here is the recipe: purchase some at least 1/4 inch dill pickle chips.  Coat them with seasoned flour (ap flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder).  Drop them in oil heated to 350 and cook for a minute or two.  For this dinner I had access to a local deli that not only an electric smoker but a frialator also.  I was there Thursday night, Friday morning, Friday night, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon.  All the workers kept asking, who is the new guy?

The Sermon.  It was  compact and tightly woven sermon.  I liked it.  I even made copies for folk to take home and they did.  Here is the text:

The Good Book: The Lively Word
text: it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness (Ezekiel 3:3)

By The Rev'd G. Travis Norvell
Lime Rock Baptist Church, Lincoln, RI
The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Holy Bible, The Good Book, The Book, the sword, the Word of God, Beautiful Words Wonderful Words Wonderful words of Life to name just a few of the popular monikers of the Bible. Inspired, holy, uplifting, infallible, fallible, large, special, heavy, deep, old, bizarre, difficult to name just a few of the popular adjectives of the Bible. The Authorized or King James Version, The Revised Version or the English Revised Version (an 18th century adaptation of the KJV), The Revised Standard Version (a mid century revision of the Revised Standard Version), The New Revised Standard Version (a late 20th century revision of the RSV), The New International Version (the result of evangelicals upset with the RSV) The New International Inclusive Version (the result of NIV readers wanting less male dominant language), The Living Bible (a paraphrase version a father made for his daughter who was in 3rd grade), the New Living Bible (an updated paraphrase), the Jerusalem Bible (the Catholic Bible), the New Jerusalem Bible (an update), the Message a late 20th century reader’s version, The 100 minute Bible (an Anglican priest’s attempt to flatten the Bible which could be read in approximately 100 minutes) to name just a few popular versions of the Bible.

The Bible holds an endearing place in our hearts. We buy them for folk when there is a birth, a graduation, a send off, a marriage, a death, or time of distress. In my life I have acquired quite a collection of bibles (folk almost give them away as if they are good luck charms). The Bible is a book that is always at the top of bestseller lists, it has been translated into every language known to humanity, even klingon. We all have bibles they occupy spots on our shelves, coffee tables, and home altars. We all claim to hold the book in reverence, especially in this supposedly Christian nation. Odd then aint it that the majority of Americans then do not possess more than just a casual knowledge of the Lively Word.

Fortunately all of us gathered here this morning are trying to do something about our biblical illiteracy. There is nothing wrong with admitting our ignorance of the Bible, most Americans – even in the Bible belt only score slightly better than folk from other regions of our nation. In our case, however, ignorance is not bliss, in fact it can be quite fatal for our faith and flourishing as people of the book.

I would like to lay out for you four reasons why you should read the Bible.

1. The Tautology Argument. Tautology simply means circular reasoning. Mom why must I clean my room, because I said so. Why are you cleaning your room, Mom said so. Circular reasoning all contained within the argument. Read the Bible because the Bible says so! Happy are those (whose)…delight is in the torah of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. (Psalm 1:1 & 2) Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shall teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)

2. The traditional argument. Read the Bible because your parents, grandparents and your ancestors before you read it. Read it because it is one of the important links in the chain that is Western culture and society. You cannot properly understand Shakespeare, the Constitution of the United States of America, or Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream Speech.

3. The National Public Radio (NPR) argument. You cannot be an informed citizen of America without a basic knowledge of the stories, themes, and contents of the Bible. Every four years we as Americans elect or reelect our President. Even though there are specific instructions in the Constitution banning a religious litmus test to lead this country, there is a de facto prerequisite that our President be a Christian. This year, like all other, there are two Christians running for the office. How do you expect to make a decision about what kind of Christian you want to be in the executive chair unless you have a working knowledge of what the Bible contains. The candidates both represent clear biblical traditions but without knowing which one you identify with you cannot properly make an informed decision.

Furthermore, in our pluralistic society, where a cacophony of voices constantly vie for our attention we need to know the contents of our own voice and tradition. Last week we as a nation marked the seventh year of the tragedies in New York City, Washington D.C. and a field in Pennsylvania. But has our understanding of the Islamic faith grown past a mere caricature? Do we know the side of the story present in our Bible not only of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac but also Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael? Living in our multi-faith and pluralistic socieity is going to require a deep understanding of our own narratives.

4. Finally, the Travis Norvell argument. Read the Bible because through song and story, history and imagination, and poetry and prose the great book of books tells a very particular story of what it means to be a human being, who God is, and how we are to live in a covenantal relationship with God who created us.

The Bible stands as a vessel vacillating between humanity and God as an aide in our relationship. The Bible informs (builds up), critiques (tears down) and reconstructs our thoughts, experiences, and dreams about the relationship.

Now allow me to offer four cautionary words.

1. The Bible is really old and from foreign cultures very different than ours. Nevertheless we can identify with the characters of the Bible quite easily. Therefore, we think we can just pick the book up and automatically viola, complete understanding. The Bible always has been, is, and always be a communal book meant to be read and understood in community. The world has already experienced enough nut cases claiming a direct revelation from God, let us spare the world another. Read and discuss the Bible together, preferably with a person or two who disagree vehemently with you.

2. You will never master the Bible, it is bigger than your thoughts, more expansive than your imagination and greater than the sum of all your learning. This book was passed down from generation to generation in an oral manner long before it was written down. The Bible was cut and pasted, whittled down and added to, elaborated and edited by folk wiser than we are. Despite all of our advancement and progress there are parts of the Bible that are lost to our understanding. We keep those parts but at the end of the day we throw up our hands and say I do not know, and that is okay. The Bible’s contents have stood the test of time again and again as a wellspring for saints and sinners.

3. The Bible is not perfect. It is in many ways still a work in progress as we evolving human beings are still a work in progress. The portrait of God, as a whole, portrayed in the Bible is not neat and tidy but is messy and unfinished. The Bible is a product where the best and worst of human beings and of God are on display for all the world to see. Always remember the Bible is a fully human product, soiled with prejudices, biases and troubling thoughts of the authors who penned its words.

4. Finally, the Bible is not the end. The Bible is a helpful guide, the one guide that judges all guides and helps along the way for human beings. But it is not the teleological point for human destiny, God is. The Bible is an ambassador that points to God but it is not God. Do not treat the Bible as an idol to be worshipped, the Bible simply points to the One, The Living God, to be worshipped.

In conclusion, Sisters and Brothers, take this book and read it, treasure its contents, find a translation whose rhythms and cadences speak to you, and you will find the stories, songs, poetry and prose a resting place for your troubled minds and great source of strength and comfort for your homesick souls. These words will knock you off your pedestal by reminding who you are and your place in this world. These words will also pick you up and nestle you close to the bosom of God. View this book as a life long wrestling partner. View this book as living words which allow you to nurse from the breast of God as the Bible nourishes your starving body.

The Bible is not God, but reading it, studying it, chewing it and digesting it sure does put you in a place and peace of mind for God to knock on your door and spend time with you.

Take these words digest them so they go from a mantelpiece to part of who you are and how you see the world.

Take these words and hold fast to the blessed hope of everlasting life. Amen.

Let us pray the collect found on the cover of your bulletin:

Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be 
written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise
hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that,
by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace 
and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which 
thou hast given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and 
reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and 
ever. Amen.

11 September 2008

The Big Weekend

In a few hours I will embark on preparations for the Big Weekend.  This evening I will start by mixing the rub, preparing the butts and placing them in the smoker.  Tomorrow morning I will make the sauce, pull the pork and store the mixtures in pans until Saturday evening.  For this weekend is the grand kickoff to the Program Year for LRBC.  Saturday we will serve pulled pork sandwiches, Clint Eastwood Baked Beans (this recipe was given to me by my father's best friend shortly before he died, I believe I may be the only living person with this coveted recipe), cole slaw and this year's new edition: deep fried pickles.  Tomorrow I have to find Boars Head Pickle Chips, it may be a wild hunt.  This year Dobro Dan and the Innocent Bystanders will be playing bluegrass music for our entertainment (I have never heard them, but they have a dickens of a name).  I am cooking 80lbs of pork shoulder (aka Boston Butts)

Sunday morning is Rally Day (official beginning of Sunday School) for this I make a large gutter ice cream sundae.  (We take a six foot long piece of gutter, line it with plastic wrap, and scoop in tons of vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and sprinkles.  The kids get messy, sticky and a little crazy.  Each year I try to convince one of the kids to drink what is left over, but they just look at me like I have horns growing out of my head.

For the sermon I have doing my semi-famous yearly proclamation on the Bible.  This year I am not going the via negativa (apophatic tradition) but instead am going the direction of four arguments for reading the Bible.  The Tautology,  The Tradition, The NPR, and the Travis Norvell argument.  I will reveal their contents after the sermon is delivered on Sunday, come on folks I am not handing out my words before I speak them.  

Writing a sermon always surprises me.  Sometimes I come up with stuff and think wow I came up with that, other times I am like no way I wrote garbage like that.  This sermon, right now, I feel good about.  

10 September 2008

Duck Season, Wabbit Season, Elmer Season? Nope Pledge Season

I venture to say most communities with more than 10 inches of snow a year all experience the fifth season: road construction.  The constant freezing, thawing, salting and scraping takes a toll on a road.  But here in Lil Rhody this time of year (and it seems a good chunk of the year it is PBS and NPR pledge season).  First WGBH goes at it then RI PBS which usually overlaps the NPR pledge drive.  Needless to say I have missed crucial interviews, minutes of ambient sounds and reviews of books I will never get around to reading.  Tonight it was either another dose of Susan Orman, a Tribute to Ed Asner or Norm Abram fashioning a template of himself.  

I enjoy PBS and NPR, I just wish the gov't would fully fund them both and let me enjoy the programming.  

The polls show a bounce for McCain but I am not worried.  Why?  Polls do not account all the folk without a landline and does not factor in the online community.  Plus I think the disparity between McCain of 2000 and McCain of 2008 will begin to show and cause worry in such economic hard times.  

04 September 2008

Language Lessons, installment #3

Lesson #1.

This morning I took the family automobile down to the garage for state inspection.  While I was waiting I saw a couple of guys that I know and began talking about normal stuff I suppose.  Gradually the topic of my profession worked its way into the conversation (specifically in regards to how much, if at all, time do I get for vacation).  As our time of exchanging words drew to a close one gentleman asked me if Baptists were Protestant.  Yes we are I replied.  Then he said he was Protestant too, an Episcopalian -- although he did not say it in a proper manner, instead his elocution caused Episcopal to rhyme with despicable.  Say that out loud the despicable Episcopal.  Now picture an acquaintance of yours that you do not care too much for who is Episcopalian then really say it out loud, what fun you will have. 

Lesson #2
(This is more of a lesson in regional metaphors)
While the mechanic was deliberated down the list of required diagnostic reviews I inquired if he would be so kind to check the brakes, he obliged.  Afterwards he approached me with the suit of brakes covering his arms (which covered his tattoos) to inform me my brakes were "tighter than a substitute the word here which can and often does mean the son born in the midst of what our society deems illegitimate."  I had never quite heard the tightness of brakes described that way, nevertheless I knew exactly what he meant.

Lesson #3
Our middle child is now off to school.  Since his first day he has been explaining, with great jubilation, the impending arrival of "the gymnast."  The VOR and I welcomed the news and thought how peculiar that a guest would already be coming to school, this being the first week and all.  Yesterday we were informed by #2 that he would have to wear sneakers for the gymnast.  The VOR and I thought how neat, the children will be learning some rudimentary gymnastic skills.  Finally today #2 began to report about "the gymnast."  First, she was an older person, like you mom.  Second, she taught them many moves.  Third, she said that the kids were not allowed to throw the ball this high (#2 lifted arms to show us how high).  Fourth, she will be coming every week.  At this moment light bulbs shone above the VOR's and my head.  The gymnast was properly translated to the gym teacher.