Thursday, September 25, 2008

Direct from the WTF Department

So I get this e-mail from someone in my church:

Great sermon last week. Next week you have to tell us how to DO it. I have a bet with someone who doubts you have the nerve. You have to help me win.

Umm--betting on sermons?? All righty then.

Monday, September 22, 2008

And speaking of fundraisers . . .

If the government can shell out 700 billion dollars to bail out the banking system, couldn't they give the schools enough money that we wouldn't have to sell f***ing Wrapping Paper every fall???

Just sayin . . .

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thin Mints and Pledge Cards

I hated selling Girl Scout cookies as a kid. Hated it. I really think that if a team of experts worked for a year to come up with the most effective method to torture shy little girls, making them go door to door selling cookies would be the method they would recommend.

I was a loyal Scout and a bright child. I "got" that the cookie selling was directly connected to our troop having the funds to do cool things later on. And since my Mom was Cookie Chairman for our troop at least once, I also got educated about how our cookie sales helped support the work of Girl Scouting nationwide. (Early training for interpreting per captia maybe?)

Still, I hated it. Even at that young age, this idea had somehow implanted itself deep in my psyche: If you ask for help you will appear lazy, stupid and incompetent. People won't like you. Better to go on the offensive and be as helpful as possible. Then you will appear kind, industrious and wise and people will love you. Asking people to buy my girl scout cookies, to my mind, equalled asking them to help me out. Yes, of course they weren't really helping ME but my organization--but I had a hard time making that distinction emotionally.

Fast forward 35 years. For me, the annual Stewardship Campaign feels EXACTLY like the annual cookie drives of yore. When I get up to address the pseudo-festive Stewardship Breakfast I might as well be wearing my old green uniform and knee socks, holding a box of Thin Mints in my trembling hand.

Would you like to buy some cookies?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Overheard on the Church Patio

Retired Professor to still-working Biblical Scholar,

"Hi Jim! How's the Old Testament?"

Still-working Bible Scholar to retired guy,

"It's doing well, thank you."

Good to know.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Attractional Blogs vs. Missional Blogs

In the years I've been blogging, I have encountered more than a few people who, upon learning that I have a blog, tell me, "I tried blogging. But I dropped it because no one ever seemed to read it."

When I probe a bit, it almost always turns out that what these former bloggers did was put up a blog, write posts, and wait for readers to appear. Of course those of us who are--for want of a better word--"successful" bloggers, know that this is not how it works. You have to go visiting. You have to read other blogs and leave comments. You have to read and comment on the blogs of those who read and comment on your blog. You have to join blog rings. If you want your blog to generate really interesting conversations, you have to read and comment on blogs written by people outside your own usual circle of friends and colleagues. In short, you have to put yourself out there.

I'll freely admit that there are times I don't do this. I get busy, tired, etc. and post infrequently and inanely. I stop visiting unfamiliar blogs and stick with my dozen or so favorites. Without fail, when I go through a spell like this, traffic to my own blog slows down.

I think I see a parallel between this reality and church. Most churches--my own included--would much rather just put stuff up and wait for the world to arrive at our doorstep. The time-consuming and more complicated process of putting ourselves out there and really engaging is harder, unfamiliar, more unquantifiable. So we just don't do it.

But we knew this already, right?

Joel Stein comments in his L.A. Times column today:

"In the last few years . . women in their 40s and 50s have gotten truly, deeply hot."

Glad someone finally noticed.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Yesterdays news brought a story about how the 70's band Heart is officially not happy that the Republican party is using its biggest hit "Barracuda" at rallies where VP candidate Sarah Palin appears. They do this because Ms. Palin's high school nickname was Sarah Barracuda because of her fierceness on the basketball court.

I had to smile. This brought to mind a nickname I had in high school, at least for a while. It was . . .

Wait for it . . . .


It came about like this. I was co-teacher of the Little Fishes group at my parish church in England. (Little Fishes=Sunday School-like gathering of young elementary kids that happens mid-week.) One evening, I had to pick one of the group to be "it" in a game we were going to play. To do this I stood in the middle of the circle of children, closed my eyes, and spun around rapidly. I pointed at the kid who happened to be in front of me when I stopped spinning.

"Okay! You're it!" I cried, opening my eyes. But the kids were all pointing at ME and chanting "It's Wonder Woman!" Apparently my spinning around reminded them of how the Linda Carter character transformed herself from mild-mannered school teacher(?) to super-hero--by spinning around and around. I didn't really look anything like Linda Carter, (still don't), but I WAS American and I DID have long, dark hair, and with the spinning and all, I guess it was an easy connection for them to make.

They got such a kick out of it, that this became a regular feature of Little Fishes night. I would spin around to pick kids for games, speaking parts in skits, etc. Soon, the kids from this group stopped calling me by name and started calling me Wonder Woman--even when meeting me in the shops or at football matches.

It was fun, but of course it could not last. The wheels of time spun rapidly and I soon left that village to return to the U.S. to attend college. My secret identity as Wonder Woman faded into history.

Still--if I were ever to run for high office and this story were unearthed, I think it would be an asset, politically. And I would hope whoever wrote the theme song for Wonder Woman wouldn't mind it being played as I strode onto the stage at the National Convention.

What about YOU? What was YOUR high school nickname? Would it be an asset should you decide to seek elected office? What song would be associated with it?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Check it Out

Hey, my friend just started a new blog. Drop by and say hi.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Glad It's not Me Department

Turns out my son and the son of the Pastor of the Academic Suburb UCC are in the same class this year. Two 10-year-old PKs in the same 5th grade classroom. Please be in prayer for their teacher . . .

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Tempus Fugit

My son is almost 11. His best bud across the street is two years older. Best bud had a birthday yesterday. That means my little boy is best friends with----A Teenager!!!

What just happened here?