Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Better talk fast

Hee Hee. A young woman from a local college called the other day. She is taking a class in Feminisit Reading of Scriptures and needed to interview a clergy woman. She guessed her questions would take about ten minutes.

She arrived today at 3:30, bright and enthusiastic, with her list of questions.
#1: Please discuss issues of authorship, canonicity and reading methods in regards to women and your faith's scripture

Right. Ten minutes.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

What would Clair do?

I'm trying to channel my inner TV Mom as I grapple with The Birthday Party dilemma. Can I just say how much I dislike kids' birthday parties? They are just barely tolerable when all the children involved are small and adorable. By elementary school, however, any residual cuteness has worn off and you are left with semi-jaded kids expecting to be entertained in ever more thrilling venues. Bleh.

I've been hinting, not at all subtly, to my very soon to be 7 year old daughter that it would be wonderful to celebrate her birthday be inviting ONE OR TWO special friends to join us for the local performance of The Nutcracker followed by desert at the local ice cream and candy emporium. She is cool to this idea, lobbying instead for inviting all the girls in her class to a blow-out at John's Incredible Pizza, (that's Chuck E Cheese on steroids for those who don't have one in your area). I cannot tell you how unexcited I am about that idea.

Of course, it is her bad luck to have been born smack in the middle of Advent to a clergy mom whose available time and energy to plan and execute birthday bonanzas at this time of year is always going to be just about nil.

We are reaching the point of no return soon. We either have to send out invitations or decide not to. Have any of you successful transitioned your off-spring from the kids' birthday party to more subtle and mature forms of birthday celebration? How did you accomplish this?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Well, at least I'm not Carol Brady

Quiz: Which TV Mom Are You?
By Terri Isidro-Cloudas

Your Results

Clair Huxtable, The Cosby Show
You're a modern yet sensible mom. You keep up with trends you feel like following, and ignore the rest (platform shoes? don't think so!). Often, you're the most rational head in the family -- including your partner! And when all hell breaks loose, you know exactly how to cut through the nonsense. Still, you're not a killjoy -- you encourage your kids to have fun. But they definitely know who's boss. The Bottom Line: Your parenting style is based on open communication, discipline, and reasoning.

Discover your results here

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

You know you live in California when . . .

You know you live in California when your daughter's first grade class is having a Thanksgiving Feast the centerpiece of which is Nachos topped with ground turkey. You receive a note from the Class Parent requesting that you contribute two jars of salsa,(mild).

What's next? Cranberry-Avocado sauce???

Update: Sure enough, someone already thought of that. But in Texas.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Celebrate Delurking Week!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Hiring Practices

Our Choir Director Search Committee has reached a decision. Their choice is not the one church/choir member who applied for the position. This person is a gifted musician, very qualified, but not, in the committee's opinion, the very best choice for our congregation at this point in its journey.

She is naturally very disappointed. I believe this will resolve itself in time, but if she or her family or good friends should choose to make waves about this, they could be big waves. I know she is a classy, professional person--but we all know that when we are feeling wounded, we don't always lead with our best qualities.

This brings me to a question. What is the policy where you are on hiring church members? I know some congregations just flat don't do it because of all the potential for hard feelings when members either don't get the job or, even worse, do get the job but it doesn't work out. Other congregations seem to do nothing but hire in house. If you have been on staff at your own church, how did that work out for you? Would you recommend it?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Return of SPM

Yesterday our new Interim Associate shared with me an e-mail she had received from
Sweeping Proclamation Man in which he lamented that, "last summer Pastor Rebel informed me that she never intended to speak with me about Adult Education ever again."

WTF!!!!!! Last summer SPM and his wife invited me for yet another pre Adult Education Committee meeting lunch to push their agenda for Adult Ed and inform me how the program as it is currently organized is ruining our congregation, (and quite possibly Western Civilization as we know it.) I politely declined, saying I thought it would be much more fruitful to discuss these issues with the whole committee.

This stuff, as Anne Lamott writes, must make Jesus want to drink gin straight from the cat dish.

How are your favorite passive aggressive members doing today???

Friday, November 10, 2006

Advent vs. Christmas: The Annual Battle

There has been some encouragement on several blogs lately about girding up our pastoral loins to engage the annual battle to preserve the integrity of Advent against all the pressures to begin celebrating Christmas as soon as the Turkey has been cleared from the table.

A couple of years ago, I found this article intriguing. It addresses the pressures we face and suggests some creative ways to work with those pressures. I've never actually done what the article suggests, but I think he makes some good points--that there might be some good reasons to spend a whole month on Christmas.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Discouraging Discovery

Today the sign at the check-out at the grocery reminded me that in only a few short weeks all the babies born in the year I graduated from college will be legally allowed to purchase alcohol.

What is up with that???

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Compassion Fatigue

I recently had an e-mail exchange with a woman in my congregation. She was basically coming unglued over an incident that took place at the home of another church member. Member #2 was hosting a meeting in her home for a community organization working on local environmental stuff. The meeting was just a few days before Halloween, and at the close of the meeting, Memeber #2 passed out chocolates in pumpkin goodie bags to the meeting attenders.

"How could she do that? Doesn't she know that 70% of chocolate worldwide is harvested by child slaves in the Ivory Coast? How can she host a meeting for local environmental advocacy and then pass out "treats" produced by slave labor. When I asked her about this, she just laughed at me. I used to respect her so much, but now I just think HYPOCRITE whenever I see her . . ."

Member #1 then pointed out, correctly more or less, some other stuff our church does that is not perfectly consistent with our stated mission of sharing the compassion of Christ with our community and our world.

My response to her is that folks tend to fall into roughly two categories: those that don't want to know the ways their lifestyle makes them complicit in the oppression of others and those who do want to know, but often get overwhelmed by the enorminty and complexity of the problem. Folks in category #1 do not respond well to an all out frontal assalt. It makes them retreat even more deeply into their caves. Folks in category #2 (and I counted myself in this category), are funny. We can be eager learners, making changes in how we live in small and large ways. But then we can reach a limit on how much more we can handle. Also, it's easy to just want to give up when it becomes clear that there is no "easy fix" for so many of the problems. And we can act out our compassion fatigue in wierd ways. Like laughing at the person who brings you the latest bit of bad news. I said that, knowing the woman in question, the seemingly callous response probably could better be translated,

"Look, I already bike to work, boycott Walmart and eat only dolphin-safe tuna. I was really excited about alternative fuels until I read an article that said ethenol and biodiesel production will quickly propell Archer-Daniels-Midland forward in its bid to take over the universe. Don't push me on this chocolate thing, because I'm just about the throw in the towel and quit trying."

I think this "compassion fatigue" is a big factor in our ministries. When we try, as church leaders, to encourage our folks to live in ways that are consistent with the gospel as we understand it, we have to take into account that people are all over the place in terms of their capacity to receive information and absorb that information in ways that will inspire them to make changes. We also have to take into account family dynamics and economics. I remember hearing some moms in my kids' preschool a few years ago talking about how they had switched to hormone-free milk and free range eggs, etc. etc. that they were buying from a local independent farmer. At the time, our family was not doing well financialy at all and I was just happy to be able to buy milk and eggs when they were loss leaders at the local grocery, and was very ready not to ask questions about where those eggs came from. The "free range mamas" struck me as elitist snobs at the time.

HOw do you deal with this where you are?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Delayed Gratification--or not

In the collective Halloween lore of our family is the near legendary story of the time my mother, as a young girl, made her Halloween candy last all the way until Easter by limiting herself to one piece a day.

As I was repeating this story for my children last night, I somehow shifted into parenting hyper-drive and turned it into a math problem. "Hey guys. It's October thirty-first. Easter is on April 8th this spring. How many pieces of Halloween candy would you need to make it last until Easter if you were eating one piece a day."

Well, they found this mildly interesting. They put their heads together and figured out, (with a little help), that there are 159 days between Halloween and Easter this year.

"So, when we get home from Trick-or-Treating, you can count your candy and see if you have enough to make it!" I concluded happily.

Silence from the back seat--then, "Are you kidding? I'm not saving my candy clear till Easter!"

"Yeah! No way!"

From all this I can only conclude that the children of today are every bit as smart as their grandparents, but lack their grandparents' discipline and attention span.

(In the light of full disclosure, I tried this myself once as a child but only made it until early December. Whether this was due to limited loot or sudden binging, I don't quite recall . . .)