Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday Morning Radio & RSS Notes

Sound Opinions:  Bubble Gum Music  as the "gateway drug" to hook and train up new rock and roll listeners.

The Church of Beethoven :  Maybe I should copy this.  Looks like home.  Good music, a poem, and silence. Hmmm. And, of course, good coffee.  What a great way to spend Sunday morning.

I laughed and laughed:  The Porpoise Diving Life:  reality for the rest of us!  What a clever title.

Great analysis of the wonderful song :  Brother, can you share a dime?

And on the sidebar:  What makes it great.  Songs discussed include "America the Beautiful" and "Over the Rainbow".

I'm off to bring in the plants.  It's freezing in Austin two weeks before the average date of the first freeze.  I guess that's why they call it an average.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Lord's Song

During the Babylonian captivity, the children of Israel learned to sing the Lord's song without the Temple.  Synagogues, that must have seemed much like the house churches of today, became places of study and worship for the exiled Jews. So, in exile, there is hope of finding new ways to follow God.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sine Nomine

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) (also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease) is a nasty disease. The disease eventually paralyzes its victim resulting in death by suffocation or maybe, starvation.  Tuesdays with Morrie  tells the story of a man with ALS.

My dad was a WWII vet that lost his left arm when he was injured on Friday, the 13th of April, 1945.  Infection  required the amputation of his arm.  He was 20 years old having turned 20 eight days before on April 5.  He died on April 10, 2001.

Because his right arm did all of the work for his whole adult life, it was a very strong right arm.  I don't believe I ever saw him defeated due to the lack of his left arm.  In fact, I know many tricks for doing things one-handed.

When ALS struck him, this strong right arm gradually lost it's strength and the muscles withered.  That strong bicep became a shell of its former self.   Thankfully, he died from a heart attack before the disease could complete its course.

William Walsham How was a Bishop of Warwick in England. Previously, he became the inspiring influence of a revival of church work. He founded the East London Church Fund, and enlisted a large band of enthusiastic helpers, his popularity among all classes being immense. He was particularly fond of children, and was commonly called the children's bishop.  He also burned Hardy's book, Jude the Obscure.  How wrote the hymn set by Ralph Vaughn Williams and sung most All Saints Days.  How's complete poem is found here.  

Although the hymn is full of battle of life images,  I especially liked this lyric as I sung the hymn yesterday:

  "And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.  Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tony Hillerman

and Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, RIP.

Jesus, Jesus, I love Jesus

Jesus has been hiding from me lately.  Ok, I know that it's me, not Jesus that's hiding, at least according to the "church" or other religious leaders.  But today, I was watching a Nooma DVD, Dust , and  I realized part of the reason I've been so sad about church, is that I've let the new wave at my church steal Jesus from me.  These days at my church if you're not between 20 and  40, you're, by definition, not creative , not interesting, not anything.  In the immortal words of Lucy or Linus or someone,  "aaaarghh".

Jesus picked people that weren't cool, weren't rich, and just maybe, they were old, what ever that means.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Laughing Boy

I continue my quest to read all of the winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, in order, mostly.  Laughing Boy by Oliver La Farge won in 1930.  It reads much like a Tony Hillerman book in that Navajo spirituality is critical to the book.  I read it out of order (I'm officially reading the 1926 winner, Arrowsmith) because it was on the banned book table at the library.  The novel is set in 1915, and often uses American stereotypes to the Navajos' advantage.  I still want to find some corn pollen for a morning blessing of the sun.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I admit it

I'm proud he's African-American and I'm proud he has a "funny name" because if he's president, people might like me better in Paris.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I Beseech You to Look

Fra. Giovanni was a Benedictine Monk and an architect who among other structures built two beautiful bridges in Paris by Notre Dame.  He is also the author of an inspirational Christmas letter  that I'm singing with Austin Singers as set by  Paul Sjolund .  I think the text is especially appropriate in these days of fear:

There is nothing I can give which you have not;
But there is much, very much, that while I cannot give it, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today.
Take heaven.
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present moment.
Take peace.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow.
Behind it, yet within reach is joy.
There is radiance and glory in the darkness, could we but see;
And to see, we have only to look.
I beseech you to look!

The whole letter is here.

Monday, September 29, 2008


A bumper sticker:

"History is one war after another with a bunch of murders and natural disasters in between."  Sarah Vowell, Assassination Vacation.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Home mortgages or commercial paper?

On Coast to Coast AM, hour 1, monetary historian, Andrew Guase stated that it would only take $100 billion dollars to completely pay off every mortgage in default in the United States.  He emphasized that this would not just pay off the back payments, this would zero the balance.  How much is the Fed asking for because of all of these poor decision making home owners:  $700 billion.  Who's being bailed out?

From his website:  Who owns the Federal Reserve? 

The Federal Reserve Banks are a privately owned consortium controlled by the eight major stock-holding families: The Rothschilds of England and Germany, Moses Seif of Italy, Lazard Freres of France, the Warburgs of Germany, Kuhn-Loeb of Germany, Goldman-Sachs of the United States, Lehman Brothers of the United States, and the Rockefellers of the United States. Only three of these families are American.This small group decides the fates of hundreds of millions of people by their financial policies and maneuvers. It was Baron Meyer Amschel Bauer Rothschild, (born in 1744 and died in 1812), who said, "Give me control over a nation's currency and I care not who makes it's laws."

My comics partner

My friend, Barbara, told me that she and her dad were eating partners.  Apparently, that's a term used around the weight loss industry to talk about family eating dynamics.

My dad was my comic strip reading partner.  After he died, reading the strips just wasn't fun any more, so I've quit.

Monday I realized I hadn't read any of the blogs captured in my Google Reader for two weeks.  Made myself catch up because there are many interesting people out there.  I especially enjoy reading food blogs from around the world.  Makes me feel like I have an old-fashioned pen pal.

 There's one woman in Oregon that is as "red" as they come.  I want to like what she writes, but, my my,  her diatribes against anything "blue" tire me out.  She'll never change my mind, and I'd never change hers.  I do think I'd enjoy having coffee or working in the garden with her.

Need to make sure that I keep the reading of those blogs fun!  Check out The New Birth Order Book:  those of us that are babies are all about having fun.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

. . .if necessary, use words

Talking isn't doing. It is a kind of good deed to say well; and yet words are not deeds.
William Shakespeare

We love a good orator.   If you can spin a pretty word, stand up on a soap box, pulpit, or bandstand, and we will judge your abilities by your words.

I have avoided listening to any of the speeches given at both political conventions, but this morning I heard a report from the Mugshot in Wisilla, Alaska.   Over by the pool table , a patron said that Palin's speech, just her speech, puts to rest any doubts about her abilities.  Listen to the news clip.

The same thing makes me suspect of Barak Obama:  he orates too well.   Too often, communities are swayed by smooth words and revival emotion.  There's not much that could ever change my mind about voting for that candidate, but I wish he'd skip a few beats.

Sorting out the truth about St. Francis of Assisi

Monday, September 1, 2008

Rock me baby

Maybe this will cure my church ennui:

The Shack

No thanks, I"ll watch Touched by an Angel reruns instead.

WWII, Westerns, Epics, and Musicals

My daughter works in the ad agency industry and is encouraged to see movies so that she can keep up with popular culture.  Mark Harris, author of Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of a New Hollywood,  (as reported on NPR), " . . .says, that something happened in the late 1960s to a Hollywood that was always a bit behind the times.  It was a moment, Harris says, when "movies finally started to catch up with what was going on in the culture at large.'"  (If you view some really early film, before the censors took over, you might have a different view of Hollywood.)

Harris posits that these five Oscar nominees for  best film in 1968  represent a shift in movies:  The Graduate shifted the audience of movies to the new, younger generation,  Bonnie & Clyde reflected realistic foreign films, Dr. Doolittle of the old school completely flopped.  The movies began to reflect popular culture.

I wonder if another shift has occurred and that movies are creating popular culture rather than simply reflecting it. Do we go to movies and watch TV to see what popular culture is or what it will be.   The Media does change culture in the sense of giving us new language, new ways to talk about the same old things.  I'm just saying....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Grace at half-time

The mid-season finale of Saving Grace aired Monday night.  The death of his brother has caused Ham, Grace's partner, to focus his grief on Grace and their wild, greedy relationship.  Ham tells Grace that he will ask for a new partner after he returns from his compassionate leave.

Rather than staying real and gritty, the writer, Nancy Miller, shows Grace riding a white horse into a misty night at the edge of a lake, with the horse's rearing in front of a full moon.   I think she should have left her crouched in the corner with tears running down her face.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


The leaves on the butterfly weed are coming back just in time for the fall migration.  The plants have been covered with aphids, and no lady bug larvae have been around, probably due to the endless 100 degree days this summer.  But this last weekend, the temps dropped, the larvae showed up, the aphids are gone, and I've seen my first butterfly caterpillar. 

Monday, August 18, 2008

Don't forget to play!

Play, spirit, character

Talks about Charles Whitman and what might happen if you don't let your children play.
Watch a polar bears & huskies play together.   Slideshow

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Feel's like yesterday

Head in a lap, hand on my hair
feels like yesterday.
sweet smile, handkerchief, hot summer night
feels like yesterday
havin' a baby, can't talk right now, get me some gum
feels like yesterday
shaky handwriting, tax returns
feels like yesterday.
hole in my heart
every day

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A grave responsibility

Last month, in the same week, two people had the same response to an idea I had for inviting people to my church:  Too many people might come.  Besides the fact that people aren't exactly beating down the doors to come to my church, I had always thought the point was to have so many people come that you got to make room for them.

In the light of all of my ponderings about God and church and community, I've about decided they may have been correct.  I still think the point is to bring people into community, but I think that I was minimizing the responsibility that arrives with each new member.

Another quote from Inward/Outward, quoting Bonhoeffer's Life Together:

In a Christian community everything depends upon whether each individual is an indispensable link in a chain.  Only when even the smallest link is securely interlocked is the chain unbreakable.  A community which allows 'unemployed' members to exist within it will perish because of them.  It will be well, therefore, if every member receives a definite task to perform for the community., that he may know in hours of doubt that he, too, is not useless and unusable.  Every Christian community must realize that not only do the weak need the strong, but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak.  the elimination of the weak is the death of fellowship.

This quote could just be about making sure everyone serves on a committee or action team, but I don't think so.  To open the links of a chain, insert new links, and close the links is physically and emotionally difficult. When I bring someone to our community, I need to be ready to forge that chain.  Getting them through the door doesn't even compare to the huge task of gathering them into the community.

Another elevator speech that I practice is about my church.  It is said to each new member when they join the church, and I really like it.  It goes something like this:  We believe that we have gifts to share with you , and you have gifts to share with us. 

Putting that into practice is no small task.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


From On a JourneyAs much as we wish that Jesus had done it differently -- giving us the rules we crave, launching an institution to feed our pride, creating righteous elites to rule, perpetuating ancient prejudices -- Jesus had these commandments: love God, love your neighbor, share what you have, and don't be afraid. All the rest is our stuff, our baggage, our hunger for certainty, our desire to rule.

Touched by an Angel Theology

At the climax of each week's Touched by an Angel episode, the struggling human was told by an angel that God loved them and had a plan for their life.  When trying to come up with my "elevator speech" about my faith, I decided that I could believe and say this much for sure to anyone.  I now know that the some have a problem with that word "plan", but I can't remember what was suggested instead.  Process? Purpose?

I asked my spin-class pastor friend:  So what is the point of church?  He reminded me and we agreed , community.  And then, I had an email and a chapter in a book when I  got home from the Y about church and community.  It does seem that God's online and continues in print.

From Inward/Outward:  It is tempting to separate the love of God from the love of community—to sever the head from the body—but we only come to know ourselves as truly loved in the context of authentic community, where we are both known and loved.

From Inward/Outward: We begin to find community–one of the most joyous ways of experiencing God. By community I mean a coming together that puts us in touch with ourselves, with others and with God’s

From Finding Our Way Again , Bruce McLaren, chapter 11:   . . .between the realm of private contemplative practices and public missional practices is this realm of shared communal practices that is so easily misunderstood.  Some, of course, overemphasize the communal practices, as if being a Christian simply meant going to church.  Others, sadly, under emphasize them, and they do so in one of two ways. . . First they may go to church without understanding the potential and purposes of the communal practices they encounter there . . . others make the opposite mistake . .. to withdraw from communal practices altogether.

I have been considering the second:  withdrawing from communal practices altogether.  But if  I'm to believe these words, my love of God will be more shallow than it need be if I do.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Tomato Pesto Bread Machine Bread

I share a box with the Librarian.  Now this box is full of vegetables that grow in central Texas and is purchased from Hairston Creek Farms as part of a Community Supported Agriculture program. The challenge is to find new and creative ways to use the same things that grow seasonally in Texas week after week.

Part of the fun has been finding food blogs around the world that have great recipes such as blue cheese, beat muffins.  See nami-nami which originates in Estonia.

As a plus share, we receive pesto.  Since I don't really eat much pasta any longer, the pesto had really built up in my freezer.  Then, I found this recipe on by Linda Larsen.  I'm very proud of myself for adapting it for my bread machine.  In fact, it's the first loaf of bread that looked like great homemade bread that I have prepared with this machine.  AND, it uses 1/2 cup of pesto per loaf!

2t bread machine yeast
2 T sugar
4 T warm water
3/4 c milk
1/2 c pesto
3 c flour
1/4 c finely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 T melted butter-to put on the crust after removing from the machine.  I omitted this, too.

The original recipe called for 1/2 t salt so this bread is a bit "unsalty", so I may try adding it back.  I placed the ingredients in the machine in the order suggested by the instructions to my machine and put the tomatoes and pesto on the bottom with the liquid ingredients.  I added the water one tablespoon at a time as the dough was kneaded.  I think the varying humidity in Austin affects these machines.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

What are we selling?

Sometimes I think we're just trying to get people in the door at my church, so we offer for sale anything that might coax someone into visiting:  authentic community, experiential worship, a people's cathedral..., traditional worship.
We sell worship.  Most often our ads try to distinguish our worship from some other church's worship.  Do we sell community?  There are many groups that sell community based on a common interest.  Do we sell discipleship and spiritual growth? 
I think I am taken with Milkshake Media because their tagline, we build brands that build community, is what I want our brand to be, a brand that builds community.
I stole this from Idea City's website:
"What difference do you really want to make in the world? What’s your fundamental purpose? We believe that great brands are the product of great organizations that truly make a difference in the lives of the people they are trying to serve. If an organization is just a commodity, me-too kind of company looking to do nothing but improve the bottom line, chances are they won’t ever be a great brand (or a great partner for us). We want to work with people as passionate and purposeful about making a difference as we are."

Friday, July 25, 2008

January 1, 1999

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace,

On this first Sunday of our new year, remind us that your new year began a month ago as we lit candles, prepared our hearts, and anticipated your coming. Now the candles of Christmas are gone, replaced with the star of Epiphany. Keep this star of faith burning in our hearts as the star continues on its path, loses its luster, and is planted in the hard ground of Calvary.

On this first Sunday of our new year, gather us in worship: let us hear you speak through every word, let us hear you sing through every song, and let us give you your place in every heart.

December 26, 1999

We have hurried to Bethlehem. We have cried on our way. We have laughed. There have been tender moments and hurt, angry moments. We have tried to focus on a family in a stable and seen the seams in our family split, widen, come apart. The star's shining illuminates the intensity of the advent season, magnifies every joy, every problem that dull and are ignored the rest of the year.

Let our gift to the Child be to select one of these to work on all year so that a greater blessing may be enjoyed next year, and perhaps, the pain will be less. Grant that this still day after Christmas will give us the time to reflect and choose where to work with God to grow and be ready for a different advent next year.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Leaving the group

I did it! I left the Adult 5 Yahoo group.

If you're a former Southern Baptist, you'll know that historically, Baptists have gathered their adult members into departments, roughly by age. This is the group that is closest to my age although I'm probably somewhere between Adult 4 and Adult 5--the lower the number, the older the group.

Leaving this group frees me from many emails and from many years of friendliness but no friendship. So what in the world took me so long?

This is my first step in freeing myself from something. Don't know quite what. The conundrum: do my belief in God and my church attendance have anything to do with each other?