Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My Turn

Hi. I'm a kitten. My name is Balrog. The Boy of the House came up with that idea for a name while he was playing his Lord of the Rings computer game. The Mom of the House said it was a good name for me because I need a fearsome name to give me confidence in facing down The Big Cat Who Hates Me.

I don't get that cat at all. Why is she so grumpy? I've done everything I know how to be friendly but all she does is hiss at me and whap me on the nose.

But just wait. The Dad of the House says he can tell by looking at my paws that one day I will be A Huge Cat. Then she will be sorry she was so mean to me.

Balrog the Kitten

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Blessing the Un-confirmed

Hi all--
Have any of you developed good ways to bless/affirm/comission kids who have gone through the whole confirmation class process and choose not to be confirmed?

Because I want the youth to see confirmation as a serious commitment, I always have told them it's okay to say, "I'm not sure, or I'm not ready." Because I want to honor their God-given freedom and integrity, I've always said, "This class constitutes an invitation. You are free to say, "no".

Yet it is hard to avoid there being some stigma attached to the kids who choose not to join. Their parents and other adults in the congregation wonder what went wrong. Was it the class? The teacher? The whole idea of confirmation itself? One of the grad students that has been helping lead the confirmation group this year went on a bit of a rant at Session last night saying essentially that, "We disenfranchise the honest kids and embrace the ones that just go with the flow."

I don't agree completely with his diagnosis. There are some kids who just go with the flow and don't take the whole thing very seriously, but there are also kids who do see confirmation as a meaningful commitment--one they are making freely and joyfully. I also don't think that all the kids who say "no" are brave non-conformists. Some are, but others make that choice to disoblige their parents, or differentiate themselves from a sibling, or because the guy they have a crush on thinks Christianity is lame.

Here the heart of the question, I think. How do we privately and publicly affirm the choice of the kids who say "This isn't the right choice for me right now," yet still somehow convey to them and the gathered community that, ultimately, it DOES matter whether one chooses to be a follower of Jesus or not.

How have you worked this out at your place?

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Invasion: Day 9

  1. Fellow Cat Bloggers,
  2. I'm writing as well as I can with the foul stentch of KITTEN everywhere in the air. At first they kept the little ankle scratcher confined in LIttle Girl's bedroom, but in the last few days, they've let it roam loose in the house.

It has made friendly overtures, which I have most emphatically rejected. I've taken to spending most of my day outside. So far they have not allowed the furry little interloper to invade that portion of my territory. But it's probably only a matter of time. Sigh.

Elizabeth the Cat

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday Five RGBP Meet-up edition

One of the stated goals of the RevGalBlogPals is to apply for grants to support such things as an International get together of folks associated with the ring. Today's Friday Five asks us to dream about that event.

1. What would the meeting be like? (Continuing Ed? Retreat? Outside Speakers? Interest Groups? Workshops? Hot Stone Massages? Pedicures? Glorified Slumber Party?)

Probably needs to have something other than just support groups if we are to justify the trip to our various boards/congregations. Obvious topics for workshops or speakers would be technology in ministry and issues particular to women in ministry. We probably have folks within the ring that could lead the workshops, thus eliminating high fees for outside speakers. Workshop leaders could have their registration and room fee comped.

2. When in 2008 might you be able to attend? January? Shortly after Easter? Summer? Fall? Some other time?
Could we tag it on to the beginning or end of some other even that lots of us might be going to anyway, like the Festival of Homiletics? I don't know when/where that is happening in 2008, but if the RGBP event was a two day affair just before or just after, then we'd only have to buy one plane ticket and take one block of time away from home/work. And there is already a tradition of RGBPs meeting up around that event.

3. Where would your dream meeting location be? (Urban Hotel? Rural Retreat Center? New England Camp? Southwestern Fantasy Hotel? Far away from civilization? Nearby Outlets or Really Great Thrift Stores?)

If we don't want huge shuttle and/or rental car costs in addition to registration and airline tickets, it probably ought to be an airport hotel or a city that has really good cab service or public transit to the airport.

4. Who would make a great keynote speaker? (That's if #1 leads us in that direction.)

As I said, I think we could find leadership within the ring.

Anything else?

We'll need to address the confidentiality/anonymity issue. Enough of us have had problems with individuals or congregations having strong negative reactions to discovering a pastor's blog that this will be a concern I think. Hypothetical nightmare situation: RGBP on the plane on the way home to seatmate, "Oh I was just at the most wonderful conference of clergy-bloggers. I met a woman from Xville who writes the most hysterical blog posts about the dumb things her clerk of session does. . . . " Seatmate: "That's interesting. I'm the clerk of Session in Xville." So we'll need to think about how to handle this.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Joy and Harmony

I told my seven and nine year old children that they need to set a good example for our Big Cat and the new kitten by working hard to get along and resolve their conflicts peaceably. Think they'll buy that????

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Naked Acolytes

Well not entirely.

We have a rota of acolytes who light the worship candles at the opening of worship. There is also a rota of acolyte parents who are supposed to make sure the kids are robed, the lighters properly wicked, etc. before the service begins.

This past Sunday, the two acolytes were 13 year old girls who are long time veterans of acolyte duty. Given that the girls are old pros, the parent in charge decided the girls could handle things on their own. They certainly did. They made the unilateral, last minute decision that they would not wear their robes. This would not have been sooo bad, except that both of them were wearing the shortest possible skirts that one could still call skirts not handkercheifs. And since acolyte duty here involves reaching up to light the taller candles---well, I'll let your imaginations work on that one for a while.

In working through how this happened, I encountered an attitude that seems to run rampant these days--even in my own family sometimes. It goes like this, "I want my kids to come to church. They don't really like church very much, so please don't make this harder for me by requiring anything that might make church more irksome for them than it already is. " Like asking them to dress appropriately.

In my last church, I made one kid go across the street to his Aunt's house and change when he showed up in a Hooters shirt. Don't think I could do that here for a variety of reasons.

Have you run into this attitude? How have you handled it?

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Care and Feeding of Parish Luddites

How far are we supposed to extend ourselves to accomdate folks who choose not to adopt new technologies?

We have a handful of folks in our congregation who "don't do e-mail". I'm not talking about folks who can't do e-mail due to age, infirmity, or financial straights, I'm talking about active, intelligent folks with sufficient financial resources who simply don't like having "an electronic tether" as one of them puts it. The problem comes up when one of these folks is part of a group at church, (Session, Deacons, Bible Study, Committee, etc.), in which everyone but that person prefers to communicate by e-mail.

Case in point: One of our Luddites is on Committee Z. She has informed the committee chair and the committee as a whole that whenever an electronic communication is sent pertaining to the work of this committee, someone needs to call her with the info, or send a hard copy of the message if it isn't particularly time -sensitive. The chair remembers to do this about half the time. The other committee members rarely remember to do this at all. Therefore, she is often left out of the loop with regards to changes in meeting dates, background material for committee business, or quick polls regarding minor decisions that need to get made between meetings.

After church yesterday, she told me she is going to quit the committee since the rest of the group "obviously" doesn't value her input since they consistently forget to include her.

Am I way off base to think this is her problem and not ours? If you choose to opt out of a form of communication that the vast majority of folks have adopted, don't you need to take the responsibility for the natural consequences of that choice?

What do you think?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day invasion

Oh no. I could swear I heard a tiny "mew" coming from Little Girl's bedroom. That would explain why they put me out on the patio last night with a WHOLE BOWL full of wet food. (They usually dole that stuff out a couple of tablespoons at a time, like it was pure gold or something. Sheesh.)

Excuse me while I go gag up some fur balls.

Elizabeth the Cat

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Four Rev Gals go Star Stalking

Yesterday we had a couple of hours of free time in the afternoon. We had heard that some famous people live in the gated neighborhood down the hill from the retreat center, (the same gate you have to go through to get to the retreat center.) One of the staff here helped us out. She stood with us at the overlook in the retreat center garden that looks down over the canyon and pointed out who lives where. Then we changed into our sneakers to take a walk.

We walked past Mel's house. No Mel. We walked past Olivia's house. No Olivia. We walked past Brittany's house. No Brittany--but lots of not very well hidden security cameras and five City of Malibu sanitation department containers on which were written "No Trash". Giggling hysterically about this, we decided we'd had enough star stalking and headed down the back road to main highway and beach. Just as we crossed the little bridge across the duck pond, a white Jaguar passed us going the other way. The driver had his windows rolled down and smiled a big smile at us, waved, and said, "hi!".

Dick. Van. Dyke.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Prince Philip story

So, I'm at a Franciscan Retreat Center in Malibu for a couple of days. What are the Franciscans doing in Malibu you ask? Well, apparently they arrived well before the movie stars and obtained their present real estate here back when no one could figure out why anyone would want to live so far outside the city on hilly land that is essentially unfarmable.
I'm here for the penultimate gathering of a pastor-theologian group that is nearing the end of its three year, Lilly funded cycle.

Our guest theologian for this gathering will be going here in a few months. This prompted him to tell this story about Prince Phillip who, as you know, has been visiting the U.S.

A colleague of Guest Theologian was at an event at the University of Edinburgh at which Prince Phillip was also present. They were introduced. Prince Phillip, well schooled in the art of polite conversation, asked GT's colleague, "What has brought you here to the University?" "Well, " he replied, " I am a systematic theologian. I'm doing some research here."

"Ah," said the prince. "And what does a systematic theologian do?"
"We try to demonstrate how all the bits and pieces of Christian doctrine hang together."
Moment of silence from Prince P.
Then, "I would have thought the Creeds did that."

Which is either incredibly dense or bloody brilliant.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


No kitten yet. The little fuzz balls are apparently still to young to leave their mother. But there has been a lot of cooing about "the little grayish one" and I've overheard some conversations about names. (All seem Harry Potter related).
So what shall it be comrades? A call to claws? A cuddling strike? Litter box non-compliance? What resistance strategies have you found effective?
Elizabeth the Cat
P.S. I had thought of asking my Royal namesake, who I understand is in country this week, for assistance. But all reports are that she is a dog person. Hmmph.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Friday Funny

How to tell if a Catholic is driving too fast . . .

Thursday, May 03, 2007

There oughta be a law---

----- that if it is even one minute past 9:00 p.m. you cannot say, "I think we need to have a discussion about our real purpose as a Committee . . ."

I'm just sayin'. (Yawns. Reaches for the coffee pot.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

If you need me, I'll be in Bermuda . . .

A member of my church just forwarded this to me.

When Doug Smith went to Bermuda this month, he left preaching duties to his favorite substitute: his PowerPoint program. Smith says he felt better leaving the sermon to his PowerPoint than to his youth pastor, who has "made controversial remarks" in the main service before, or his associate pastor who will be busy with other important Sunday morning duties like stuffing bulletins.

Smith programmed the PowerPoint to deliver a 25-minute sermon, slide by slide. It included a closing prayer which some staff members found sterile. "If he can’t trust me to sub for him once a year, why do I work here?" said one pastor who asked not to be identified. After worship time, Smith’s PowerPoint presentation began and the congregation sat quietly, reading each new screen and taking notes. The PowerPoint even told a few jokes, spinning in the punchline. Smith says he worked hours to get the timing right and programmed his pauses down to the quarter-second. "Not to boast, but I have a way with PowerPoint," he says. "It’s like an instrument. When you play it well, people notice." The final slide read, "Go with God! See you next week!"

People were mostly surprised that the sermon felt like Smith was actually there. "Everything he preaches is with PowerPoint anyway," says one member. "The only thing we were missing was him standing up there pressing the button. Maybe we should just hire the PowerPoint." •