Monday, October 29, 2007

A New Twist

Last night I was sitting on the couch, browsing through a book of Advent/Christmas resources. My daughter came and curled up next to me, reading over my shoulder. She is a pretty good reader for a second grader, but she still gets mixed up sometimes.

"Mom? Is that play you are reading really about Mary and a gerbil?"

(I scan the pages quickly, trying to figure out where she is getting this)

"You mean Mary and Gabriel?" I ask.

"Oh," she says. "I thought that word (pointing to Gabriel) was gerbil"

Much hilarity ensues as we imagine if the the Annunciation really had involved a gerbil rather than an angel.

That would certainly pep up the old Sunday School pageant, wouldn't it??

Friday, October 26, 2007

A New One for Me

In my life I've experienced events being cancelled due to
snow, freezing rain, flooding, tornado warnings, hurricanes, and bomb threats
but this is a new one for me: all soccer games cancelled this weekend because of bad air quality caused by smoke from all the fires round here.

Better than a cancelled house, though.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Eighteen years ago this week

I stood in front of a full congregation and promised to serve the people with "energy, intelligence, imagination and love." (From the Presbyterian ordination vows.)

I was twenty-five years old. I was single. Folks from the church lent me furniture for my house because I owned almost nothing of my own aside from a futon and a TV. My mom and grandma were both elders, so they were among those who laid hands on me during the ordination. I invited lots of my seminary friends to the event. It just so happened that most of the ones who could make it were male. This started tongues wagging about "all those boyfriends." (Though, in fact, only one of them had actually been my boyfriend in real life--and that only briefly.)

I've been a pastor longer than I've been a spouse, longer than I've been mother, and almost as long as I've been an adult. (I started seminary six weeks after my 21st birthday.)

As an ordination gift, the Senior Pastor gave me a book of Fairy Tales and wrote on the flyleaf, " . . . given on the day you are set apart to tell The Greatest Story of All."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dead Heat

And it's Eastern Orthodoxy and Calvinism, folks. You read it here first.

Eucharistic theology You scored as a Orthodox
You are Orthodox, worshiping the mystery of the Holy Trinity in the great liturgy whereby Jesus is present through the Spirit in a real yet mysterious way, a meal that is also a sacrifice.

Try it yourself here

Please Pray . . .

For the members and friends of Malibu Presbyterian Church, destroyed by a massive wildfire yesterday morning.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What SpellCheck Doesn't Catch

We are also searching for a Director of Children's Ministry. This morning I reviewed a resume of a woman who listed among her references a man who is chair of the Pastor-Perish Relations Committee at her church.

A little Halloween Humor maybe? Or a Freudian slip? Do you have one of those committees at your church???

Friday, October 12, 2007


Okay. Now I'm mad.

I went to a local coffee shop this afternoon to work on my sermon. At a table near mine there was a young man reading a book on 21st century Christianity. Presently an older gentleman arrived and joined him. I recognized this gentleman as one of the movers and shakers in the local chapter of an organization for Christians of the progressive persuasion. I've met him before, but he did not give any sign of recognizing me.

They were close enough to me that I couldn't have avoided overhearing their conversation unless I'd actually gotten up and moved. It turns out, the young man is moving soon to a Town Down the Road. He wondered if Progressive Older Gentleman might have any suggestions regarding like-minded clergy there he might get in touch with when he arrives.

POG responded that, until recently, he would have suggested RevGal Friend of Mine, but that when he had approached her about being involved in the Organization for Christians of the Progressive Persuasion, "she really gave me the cold shoulder."

Here's the thing. Another POG approached me about the same thing. Specifically, he wanted me to be on the steering committee of the local chapter. I heard him out, then responded that being the working mother of two young children, I had to choose my commitments carefully. I said that I support many of the OCPP's goals, but regretfully, I can't take on a leadership role right now. People pleaser that I am, I felt badly about this and said so in a conversation with RevGal Friend of Mine. She shared that she too had been approached about joining the steering committee and had responded exactly as I had. (Well, the number of children is different in her case.)

That a self-proclaimed "progressive" would interpret a working mother's struggle to balance her ministry calling with her family's needs as "giving him the cold shoulder" makes me just about catatonic with rage.

Got a deal for you bud. You come to my house, make dinner for my family, fold five loads of laundry and help my kids with their homework. Then I'll go to your damn meetings. So there.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Remind me cause I'm having a hard time getting there on my own:

Is there anything good about being a pastor during STewardship season?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How do you say "Flannel Board" en Espanol?

Do any of you have suggestions for a Sunday school curriculum designed to be used in a bilingual setting? I don't mean a regular curriculum that has been translated into Spanish/Korean/Chinese or whatever for a Spanish,Korean, or Chinese speaking congregation. I mean something created with the idea that it would be used in a setting where English speaking and non-English speaking children would be learning together--something that give potential leaders some background and guidance on how to make that work.

It occurs to me that if such a curriculum doesn't exist, someone with the right language skills and CE background could probably find a market if s/he developed one.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Lost Pleasures

In spite of the many high tech advantages and entertainments available to today's kids, there are some joys they are missing.

This morning my kids were watching some freakishly awful cartoon involving Alvin and the Chipmunks and a Werewolf.

"Where do they find singers who have such high, squeaky voices?" my second-grader wondered aloud.

"They don't," I explained. "Those are just regular singers' voices played back on a higher speed."

She looked puzzled. And I realized that my kids have never and never will relieve an afternoon's boredom by putting random 33s on the turntable, playing them at 45speed and giggling hysterically. The day my best girlfriend and I tried this with "Barry Manilow Live" we about peed our pants. It also turned Rod Stewart's "Do You Think I'm Sexy" into an entirely different kind of song.

Ipod, Schmipod.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Blogging Ethics

So--my church is looking for an Associate Pastor. (We have an interim Associate right now.) In my denomination, the Head of Staff isn't supposed to direct or overly influence the search process, so I've only been to a few key meetings of the search committee. They do, however, copy me on their e-mails.

In reading through their last round of e-mails, I discovered that a committee member has googled the name of one candidate they are particularly interested in. From the results of that google search it was only a matter of a few mouse clicks to discover this person's blog. Now the whole committee is checking out this persons blog and discussing it amongst themselves. For some, reading the blog makes this candidate even more appealing. Some of the folks who are less familiar with blogging find the blog juvenile and worry about potential breaches of confidence that might occur. One actually posed the question, "Would we feel comfortable with a pastor who blogs?"

Of course, they already HAVE a pastor who blogs. Me. But I blog under a pseudonym and if anyone in the church has discovered my secret identity, they are keeping very quiet about it.

The ethical dilemmas abound. Knowing that having a blogging pastor could be an issue for some, am I honor bound to come clean? As a fellow blogger should I let this candidate know that the search committee has discovered and is reading their blog?

What do you all think?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

One absentee speaks

I had my haircut today. My hairdresser is a guy who was singing in the choir at my church off and on the first six months I was here. Then, he stopped coming at all. I figured it was because his voice teacher had applied to be our new Director of Music, but was not chosen for the position. I figured he was mad on her behalf and was thus staying away. I kept going to him for haircuts, though I didn't bring up the subject because there were usually quite a few others in the shop at the time and I didn't think it was appropiate to bring up the topic in a "public" place.

Today I was the only one there. I came at it obliquely. "Are you doing any singing?"

He enthusiastcaly told me about a Master Choral Society he had just joined and invited me to their Christmas concert.

"That's great!" I said. "We sure miss your voice in our choir, though."

He sighed. Then he told me that in the last year his daughter had left her husband and moved in with him bringing her two pre-schooler sons. Also, his parents' health had taken a downward turn and they were able to do less and less for themselves, becoming more and more isolated.

He said, "I feel bad about church, but on Sunday mornings I either spend time with my two grandsons. They've been pretty torn up by the whole divorce and need some grandpa attention. Or I drive out to my parents, (about an hour away), and spend Sunday doing stuff for them around their house or taking them out to errands since neither of them drive anymore."

Our eyes met in the big salon mirror.

"It sounds like you are too busy being a good Christian on Sundays to get to church." I told him.

He smiled. "I guess I never thought about it that way."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Elizabetha and Balrog: The Interview

Thanks for interviewing us, Amie!

For Elizabeth:

1. You are obviously a cat of high standing, with others who look up to you. What is the most important thing that Balrog can learn from you about being a successful and fulfilled cat?
I don't know that I want Balrog to be successful. Isn't enough of a success for her that she was chosen by MY family to come live at MY house and share MY territory? But anyway--she really ought to consider:

You won't be cute forever, so you'd better cultivate some manners.
Humans don't like raw sparrow, so you can stop bringing them to the back patio.
If you think the kids are annoying now, you should have met them five years ago.

2. Where do you stand on the issue of peaceful coexistence with dogs? (Full disclosure: The whole idea of peaceful coexistence with cats is a stumbling block for me. Perhaps we can find some common ground.)

Frankly, I prefer dogs to other cats. Especially one particular other cat who lives in this house.

3. In the interest of peace and reconciliation, what one thing do you think dogs need to understand about cats?

Dogs don't need to understand us. They just need to leave us in peace. And those leashes?? Ha!

4. Are you a good hunter?

My reflexes aren't what they used to be. In my prime, I used to hide in the fushia bush behind my old house, waiting for a hummingbird to come within range. When one did, SWIPE! and that was all she wrote. Now I just watch them and remember.

5. How do you show your humans that you love them?

I sit on them. Especially if they are reading.

For Balrog:

1. Do you remember much about your life before you came to your current home?

Not too much. My family adopted me when I was just six weeks old. I remember my sisters and brother and of course, Mama Cat. I still see my first Human Mom pretty often since she comes over here a lot to look after they boy and girl of this house when the Mom and Dad of the house both need to be gone at the same time. She always exclaims about how much I've grown and brings me news of my Mom and siblings who all still live with her.

2. Where do you stand on the issue of peaceful coexistence with dogs? (This may be an opportunity to provide a good example to your elders.)

Dogs scare me. There is one who lives next door who barks a lot. I try to stay out of his way.

3. It seems that Elizabeth has not been all that welcoming to you. What is the main thing you want to learn from her, if she will teach you?

How to get humans to let you sleep in bed with them. Elizabeth gets to sleep in Mom and Dad's bed every night. But no one will let me sleep with them. Why not? I don't get it! I try really hard to make sure it's a fun time: I leap, I do around-the-room races, I play soccer with earrings, I chase moths, I shred homework, I do arias---but every night they put me out in the hallway and shut all the bedroom doors so I can't get in. What's up with that?

4. What is your favorite cat/human activity?

I like the game where I hide outside when it starts to get dark. If I hide long enough, they'll get out a can of wet cat food and tap the edge of it with a spoon. That means I WIN and I can come out my hiding spot and get some of that delicious stuff.
5. You are still a growing kitten. What do you hope to achieve over the next year?
I'm looking forward to eating some Thanksgiving turkey and climbing the Christmas Tree.

Thanks for your answers!

In the interest of cross-cultural communication,