Thursday, December 2, 2010

Two noteworthy individuals this week

There have been two individuals with whom I have conversed this week that you may find interesting.

George visited our ministry-which-is-the-store on Saturday, the eve of the First Sunday in Advent, which the beginning of the Advent season, preparing for Christmas. George was coveting a special large nativity set that is noteworthy depicting Joseph holding the baby Jesus. Oh, George loves nativity sets. He collects them. “Today I begin setting out my nativity sets” he told me. Knowing that he has collected them for many years, I asked him how many nativity sets he has. “Oh, something like 220 or 230.” It takes George most of the season of Advent to display each of his nativity sets.

George’s wife has put her foot down, harder this year. She insists that he can not bring another nativity set in to the home unless he removes one. George was really captivated by the nativity set with Joseph holding the baby Jesus, but he was also conflicted over making the decision of which nativity would he give up in order to bring home the new one. (We do not display our nativity sets on our website, for several reasons. Mostly we don’t because they are in limited supply and we can order them infrequently. Displaying them on the website “does not compute” with our resources for supplying them.)

Wayne phoned from Alaska today. He had spent about one week visiting the faithful of the Church in Lower Yukon. Wayne says, “You really can’t get there from here, or from almost anywhere.” Upon his return Wayne was thrilled and spiritually uplifted by his interactions with the community in three small villages in Lower Yukon. They do not have telephone service nor do they have TV reception. They live very simple lives of survival in a very primitive place.

Wayne was housed in a village’s government building since there was no room in the small residences of the villagers, and there was certainly no hotel or other lodging. No mall. No shopping center. No chain grocery store. In the winter you travel when the weather allows, and when it doesn’t “you get along.” Wayne described his lodging: wake up and get up from the sleeping bag, wash your face and shave in a bowl of lukewarm water, and eat with others in their homes. The lodgings would not rate even a single star on the hotel five star rating scale.

Wayne experienced a very different world that exists in the U.S. in the 21st century. And, he can hardly wait to return to it! because of the sturdy folk with whom he met.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A story of commitment

A youngish woman artist friend has wanted to help her two older men artist friends who are down on their luck. Their food stamps have kept them alive, but without housing. Together the three of them found affordable housing in a small rural one-stoplight town a few hours from Seattle at the foot of the inspiring mountains. All three moved there a couple of months ago. The men are beginning to thrive and produce art once again.

The woman works in Seattle. The routine is that she and the man who owns the old pickup truck awake at 4:30 each morning. He drives her about one hour to the commuter bus stop where she catches the bus for the long commute to work in Seattle.

A few days ago the Seattle area experienced a strong windstorm. Broken tree branches took down power lines in many locations. The woman and the pickup truck owner went to sleep at their normal time. The other man usually stays up later. After the two were asleep the electric power went out. It was then that the one still awake realized that all of their clocks were plug-ins and had stopped. How would the woman know when to get up to go to work?

He stayed up throughout the night listening to his battery-powered radio. At 4:30 AM he awoke the other two so that they could begin the morning transportation routine. And he went to bed and sleep.

Commitment. She is committed and giving her heart to help the two old artists renew their art and their dignity. They each are committed to helping her do the work that she loves and needs to do.

Am I thoughtful enough to care about others’ needs sufficiently that I would stay awake all night so that others could be awakened at the time they needed?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When does the season of Advent begin?

The season of Advent begins a week from Sunday, officially. We have had Advent and Christmas merchandise on display in our store for a most of this month. Filling orders for candles for Advent wreaths as the days are shorter and it’s dark when we leave the store in the evening is a warm feeling of lights in the darkness, of which Advent is a part. Each day the numbers of orders grows as we all prepare for the season of preparation. I ran across a radio station this week that is playing Christmas music 24/7.

So when does the season of Advent really begin? Stating that Advent begins on the First Sunday of Advent is like saying that a marriage relationship begins at the wedding. Oh, no it doesn’t. The wedding commemorates a relationship that has been growing. And, in good marriages the relationship will continue to grow and change as time passes and the years go by.

Did Advent begin when Nancy began ordering Advent and Christmas merchandise back before Easter? Did it begin when Julie lovingly used her talents to display the Advent and Christmas items early this month? I know that officially Advent is not yet here, but it doesn’t seem that way today in this ministry-which-is-the-store.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Blessing the animals on the Feast of St. Francis

We have been selling a picture wall calendar that displays animals blessed in religious services around the world. The calendar has received considerable interest. Each day I have been more and more interested in experiencing the animals in our lives being blessed in a worship service. Three church websites in Seattle informed me that they were blessing animals during the Sunday morning services this morning. “Which one would have the best turn out of animals?” I asked myself.

I chose St. Mark’s Cathedral. It was a good choice. Big cathedral. Lots of animals.
The main pew section to the left (old Gospel side) had signs, “Cats only in this section.”
The main pew section to the right (Epistle side) had signs, “Dogs only in this section.”
Part of the further-left section read “Pet-free area.” It was a thoughtful touch.
The further-right section of pews’ signs read, “Pets other than cats and dogs.” I sat at the back of that section. The woman next to me had Thumper, a beautiful longhaired rabbit. There were also small animals in small cages including gerbils, hamsters, and a Guinea pig.

The homilist asked if there were any chickens this morning. She missed having chickens attend. I missed seeing any birds or snakes.

The liturgical leader reminded us at the start of the service that God is present in chaos, so when we experience chaos during the service, just remember that God is present.

My informal tallying indicated a significant majority of dogs, of all sizes, ages, breeds as well as mixed-breeds. Many worshippers were very appreciative of other animals as well as their own. The community was very engaged.

What I experienced this morning in the blessing of the animals during the Sunday worship service was a happy, alert, alive congregation that was only marginally distracted by all of the animals. During the Eucharist the liturgy seemed to struggle keeping the pets and their owners engaged in the seriousness of the Body and Blood of Christ, but otherwise the service flowed and connected very well.

I thoroughly enjoyed the sharing of our worship service with those beloved animals that share our lives. We are blessed each day by the presence of the pets in our lives and this morning the pets were blessed, after the recessional hymn, by the Church. It was very fitting.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A curious performance comparison

I sing in a community choir. We have completed the rehearsals and are ready for our concert on Saturday evening at a local Lutheran Church. (If you live in the Seattle area you may be interested in more details at )

There is a little sadness this morning as I think about the music and our singing. Throughout the summer we have been practicing the songs for the concert. Each week we have learned and improved our singing of the music. It has been enjoyable and fun. Now that we have practiced the music we will present the concert. Once. Then it will be over and we will not sing that music again. I will miss it and this saddens me, somewhat.

I am contrasting that this morning with what the professional music groups do. In my humble opinion a professional group will collect the music that they want to perform, much of which they have performed previously. They rehearse until they have the music ready. I suppose that they practice less than the community choir does because they are professionals and pick it up faster as well as having more talent and experience with more music and they have sung much of it before.

The professional performers then schedule many performances of their work. They may even take it on the road and perform the same concert in many different cities.

The contrast strikes me. The pros practice less and perform more while the amateurs practice more and perform less.

I wonder where else in our world there is this difference?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A note from a Taiwan customer

This was sent to the Seattle Times daily newspaper. Perhaps you will be interested in it. Each day, each of us (you, too) may not know what may result from our actions.

Seattle Merchant Flexes for Foreign Trade

On August 16th John Marshall, co-owner of Seattle’s Episcopal Bookstore received a note from a potential customer in Taiwan who had a problem. The Rev. David Alexander, a staff member at Tainan Theological College in Tainan City, had wandered into the website hoping to find good prices on interesting items, and hit what he considered to be a jackpot in the On-Sale section of the site. He selected five books and, with the click of a mouse, transferred them into his shopping cart. Complications came at checkout.

As is common in cyber-commerce, both billing and shipping addresses were required. The website was well engineered for international orders except for one thing. When it came time for Rev. Alexander to select the country, his only option was “Taiwan, Province of China”. That didn’t sit right with him, so the transaction stalled.

Rev. Alexander is a member of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, a group that has, for decades, stood for the independent recognition of Taiwan as an entity separate from China. The church often points out to the world that Taiwan was removed from Chinese sovereignty in 1895 and fell under control of the Nationalist Chinese following the Second World War. It continues under that government today. The government of the People’s Republic of China, which came into existence in 1949, has never held control over Taiwan. The assertion that Taiwan is one of China’s many provinces is considered insulting by most people in Taiwan, including Rev. Alexander.

In the past, when cyber-shopping and encountering the provincial option for billing and shipping, Rev. Alexander has stopped. This time, though, because he really wanted the books and because the prices at Episcopal Bookstore were considerably lower than ordering them from an alternative shop, so he wrote.

Mr. Marshall, in Seattle, did some research and responded. He discovered oth that the U.S. Postal Service lists Taiwan as a separate country and that the commercial postage and shipping label application that his business uses lists Taiwan separately as a country. This was the first time it had been brought to his attention that the Episcopal Bookstore’s own website did not list it separately. He promised to have the site changed. A joyful correspondence followed between Seattle and Taiwan resulting in the order being placed a week later.

Vendors using web-sites depend on pre-packaged software to facilitate things. Much of that software reflects either a political agenda or a lack of concern for the sensitivities of people in places like Taiwan. A kind person (and astute businessman) from Seattle has made a friend, and secured a customer, overseas.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Muslim mosque near Ground Zero.

Yes, they have a right, to freedom of religion, to build a mosque for prayer wherever it fits them.

Yes, others will take offense that they are planning to build a mosque so close to the site of the 9/11 disaster.

No, they shouldn’t build it now and by doing so show respect for those to whom it would offend. Show some respect.

No, those who are opposed should not expand the situation to be larger than it is. Show some respect.

Both sides have strong opinions.

What would be an Anglican/Episcopal response? Show dignity to both sides. The historic Episcopal resolution, in my humble opinion, would be to postpone the construction of the mosque. Work at a continuting dialog about Muslim and Christian faith, beliefs, and world views. In a few years most likely many of the opposition’s concerns will have moderated. At a time when feelings are not as strong I think that the mosque could be built, for the right reasons and with much less animosity.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In communication with God

I heard a thoughtful sermon this week.

From the Gospel of Luke: 11:9 "So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 11:10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

The homilist, Fr. Dave, described his 5-month old son: he cries and he gets fed, or changed, or cuddled to sleep. This is the young, early relationship between parent and infant. The infant asks through cries and his needs are attended to.

Fr. Dave’s 7-year old son was compared to the infant son. To the older child the parent can say, “Please pick up the toy (rattle, or whatever) that your brother dropped and give it back to him” and the older son does as he is asked. Most of the time.

The relationship between parent and older son is more fully developed. They communicate on a different level, a mutually interactive level.

So, too, is our faith relationship with God. In early stages of faith we ask God for help, and if we are paying close attention, our prayers are answered, though perhaps not in the way that we expect. In more mature stages of faith the communication with God is more complex. God asks us to help with God’s purposes. God asks us to help by assisting others, by showing love through actions to others. We become God’s helpmate by working to fulfill God’s desires on earth by helping others with the resources we have. When we lack the resources God works with us to help us develop the resources that we require to do God’s will.

This description fits what I have seen in the world of faith in my life. I appreciate the description. I know that Fr. Dave has lived this message, too. In his life he has heard God’s call to action for Dave and Dave has responded in amazing ways. Just one of those responses resulted in Fr. Dave terminating his job, and with his family they sold their home and moved a thousand miles away so that Fr. Dave could attend seminary to become a priest. For the three years of seminary they lived on the proceeds of the sale of their home, and at the graduation were out of money and in debt. That, in my mind, is called jumping off the cliff in confident faith that it is what God asks to be done. Fr. Dave used the resources that he had available (the value of their home and security of a job) to obtain the resources that he heard God asking him to develop so that Fr. Dave could persue more fully the work that God was asking of him, in his case to become a priest and now rector of a congregation.

That is powerful stuff to me and my faith.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Was it the presence of the Holy Spirit?

Last Saturday was a quiet July afternoon at our ministry-which-is-the-bookstore. There had been few customers. Gradually, quietly, that changed.

A young couple and their baby-in-stroller entered the store. They were looking for a very specific icon. It was Jesus as King and High Priest. Their words and descriptions showed that they knew little about icons, but what they did know was that they needed one very specific icon. It had to be a Russian icon, not Greek. “Is this a Russian icon?’ “How can you be certain?” I am not a icon scholar, but I pointed to the lettering on the icon and asked is that text in Greek or Russian (Cyrillic)?” They didn’t know, but I suggested that it looked like Russian letters to me.

During the few minutes of their questions and my replies, as I offered them a catalog of icons with descriptions and a book about icons, as I tried to leave them alone to talk on their own, some other customers had entered the store. I became aware that we now had in the store customers who included a bishop in the United Christian Church, a Seventh Day Adventist pastor, and a bishop in a conservative Orthodox Catholic church. Although this last bishop told me that he had been so overworked and tired that this was his first chance to visit our store in months, he soon gravitated to the icon shoppers. Almost immediately he engaged the couple in a teaching situation as he described the icons and their meanings.

The woman of the couple came to me to ask if there were other stores in town that had more icons than we have. I explained that most of the Russian and Greek Orthodox congregations have gift shops attached to them. Although those shops have limited shop hours of operation they are nearly always open immediately after their Sunday worship services. Not only do they have icons, they really know and appreciate their icons and would be more knowledgeable than I. I offered the name of one, St Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, certainly having a well-stocked store, although they are Greek and not Russian. “And where is it located?” Let me show you in the phone book. “Oh, I don’t use phone books. I haven’t used a phone book in five years. You have given me the name of the church and I will locate it in my computer.” “But, that is only one congregation and the phone book will list the various Russian and Greek Orthodox congregations.” “No. I don’t use the phone book and don’t want you to use it.”

Several minutes later the Orthodox bishop had stopped trying to teach them about icons. The couple had found two icons that they were interested in. One of the icons depicted Christ’s hand in one position. In the other icon Christ’s hand was in a different position. Placing both icons on the counter the couple continued to discuss them. They liked one icon, but not the depiction of Christ’s hand in that one. They preferred his hand in the other icon. Their discussion evolved to the topic of Photoshopping one icon and replacing the hand in it with the hand in the other one so that it would fit what they wanted.

By this time we all had given up trying to help the couple with the icons. It was obvious that they had no interest in the centuries of tradition and reverence for icons and iconography. They were only interested in getting a nice picture that fit what they wanted. As the bishop had earlier explained to them, icons are not pictures, they are an entry into the mystical nature of God. As I had tried to point out to them in books and descriptions of the icons in a supplier’s catalog, the specific icons have a specific history and meaning. These reproductions of the original icons refer back to the time when the “writer” of an icon would fast for 40 days, then seek permission and guidance from the bishop as to what the icon that was about to be created should manifest. Then, in all spiritual devotion, they would painstakingly attempt to create the work of spiritual art.

Nope. The couple intended to Photoshop the two icons so that they would have the one that they wanted and could put that picture of Jesus as King up in the window of their apartment.

Soon after the icon shopping couple left the store I realized that the clergy who had converged on our store had departed as well. It seems to me that the Holy Spirit was present during that event last Saturday afternoon as the clergy gathered, were present during a couple’s shopping experience, and then went away.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What do we do with the choices that we make in life?

I read the following piece in the Christian Century this week:

You’ve heard of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, founders of the hugely successful Apple computer company, but you’ve probably never heard of Ron Wayne, Apple’s other founder. Wayne bailed out of the firm after only 12 days because he was afraid of losing his shirt in a risky venture. His original 10 percent stake in the company would be worth more than $22 billion today—if he had held on to it. “I left Apple for reasons that seemed sound to me at the time. Why should I go back and ‘what if’ myself?” Wayne said recently. At age 76, he is living off Social Security checks and earnings from the sale of stamps and coins.

I think that there is quite an important lesson here. Wayne made a decision many years ago. There are two different ways to handle looking back on decisions that we all make. We can either wish that we had made different decisions and beat ourselves up for not making a different decision, and perhaps using it as an excuse for why we are where we are today, or we can admit that we made the decision and move on with a positive outlook for what we are doing today and plan for the future. Some people see the glass as half full of water and some see it as half empty. Same glass of water. It’s what we think about it, and feel about it that makes all of the difference. This doesn’t mean that we should forget the past. We can learn from our past decisions and actions. We can also forgive ourselves, put down the load of carrying around those old burdens, remember where we put them down so that we don’t forget the lessons, but not be burdened with continuing to carry the old burdens that will hamper our life today and in the future.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

What’s happening around the ministry-which-is-the-store this week.

After weeks of work, discussion, and collaboration, we signed the contract and half paid for the website upgrade. This is the first in two years, which is a long time in website time. You probably will see the results about the end of July.

We are preparing for our 20th annual big summer clearance sale next week. Nancy looked at the numbers of each item in our inventory to determine whether it will go on sale. It took her a long time and she was bleary-eyed by the end. I have created the postcard graphics, with Nancy’s help. Everything involves Nancy’s help. The postcards design and addresses for the local store friends have been sent to the printer and mailing service, through a jobber. Two E-mail newsletters are ready to go, one for our Frequent Buyers and another for our regular monthly E-mail newsletter. Twitter notice, and Facebook notices are being prepared. The advertisement button on our website is ready to “go live.”

We are preparing to start pulling the books and non-book items. They will be stickered and re-priced. Store signs are being made. Monday we will be closed for the Independence Day holiday which gives four of us several hours to revamp the insides of the store so that we can open with the Sale on Tuesday morning, July 6th.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A postal challenge

It is just a little challenge, but it is part of what makes running the bookstore fun.

You may have seen the Postal Service ads for their flat rate Priority Mail packages. Whatever you can fit in one of their flat rate mailers is shipped for a single price. It is not dependent upon weight.

We use Priority Mail almost exclusively with our sales on our website. The industry standard traditional shipping pricing has been based on weight. Each item has a weight, add the weights together and calculate the shipping charge by weight. For the past several years we have been using a simpler method, counting the number of items in the order. The first item costs a specific amount for shipping, and each additional item is added at a reduced amount. Books are weighted more in this scheme than are non-books because books generally weigh more.

This past week Nancy and I have been figuring out a new way to calculate shipping charges for our web customers. It is based on volume. What can be shipped in each flat rate mailer is not based on weight but on volume, so we have been devising a method of determining each item's volume and replacing our current shipping calculation with this new one. Yesterday, as we neared the completion of this new method, I remarked to Nancy that the process was like inventing a new wheel. In her wisdom she replied, "You've seen the ads. Many businesses must be changing their shipping from weight-based to volume-based. Trucks and airplanes have figured out how many packages fit in a shipping container. Volume matters more to them than weight." We are not the only business that is, or has, changed their method of calculating shipping charges.

FYI, we are not measuring the specific volume of each item in the store in cubic inches or any other normal unit of measure. Our unit of measure is a flat rate mailer. If a flat rate mailer will hold a single volume, like a bible, then that item's volume is One. The same flat rate mailer may hold four smaller paperback books. Their volume is then 1/4. And, at the extreme end, 50 decals will fit in a flat rate mailer so their volume is 1/50. We have larger numbers for big items. One big object might be a Three, for instance (No, we will not cut the large item into three pieces to mail it!).

It's been challenging and, therefore, part of what makes managing this-ministry-which-is-the-store fun.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My first Quaker Meeting

I attended a memorial “service” for my dear old Godmother, Betty, last Saturday in a Quaker, Friends Meeting. They referred to the event as a Meeting and not a service. Here are some of my observations concerning my first Meeting. This comes from my history as a life-long Episcopalian.

It was my first experience at a Quaker gathering. I have always wondered and been curious about attending one of their services, eh, Meetings.

The Meeting room was large, rectangular, with one wall of large windows looking out on trees and all sorts of vegetation. Beautiful nature! The remaining three walls were covered with large panels of soft textured material and the floor was deeply carpeted. Well-padded chairs were set in rows looking toward the center where there was neither altar nor table. There were six sections of chairs of about eight rows deep. My estimate is that the room was about 80% full and was attended by close to one hundred people.

We had been informed before hand, and at the beginning of the Meeting, that we would begin with the usual 15-minutes of silence. Then, as it fit each individual, there would be time to stand and speak what you wanted to say, then sit down. That would be followed by a time of reflection until another person stood to speak. We were encouraged to project our voices when we spoke because the room was designed for quiet and absorbed sound.

The 15-minutes passed quickly for me. Sitting in silence with nearly one hundred other people, nearly all of whom were strangers to me, was not uncomfortable. It was actually, very comforting, quieting, and reflective. I felt a sense of deep peace in that room with those present.

Then the speakers began. Individuals related Betty stories for about an hour. Each one spoke about Betty and about an event that they had shared in her life. No one asked questions. Each person was free to say whatever was on her/his mind. The only reference from one speaker to another that I noticed was a gentleman who stood and began speaking after several others had spoken. “I have been quite humbled by what I have heard. Betty and I have worked together on social justice issues for a few years. I thought that I had a very special relationship to Betty. Now I see that Betty gave that same special relationship to everyone she knew...”

My heart felt full as I went home after the Meeting. There was also a feeling of deep gratitude for Betty’s life and her influence on so many people. I think that my feeling of deep peace was due to the silence and mutual respect from all who attended the Meeting. It was not “church” to me, but I could very easily return to participate in another Meeting.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A connoisseur of liturgy.

Last Sunday I visited St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church in Seattle. The Rev David Marshall (no relation) presided and gave the sermon. My determination of a good sermon includes whether I can remember it on Monday. Some Sundays I have not been able to recall the message of the sermon on my way home from church! Fr. David’s sermon stays with me this Thursday morning. I need to share it with you. Actually, I will share with you what I remember about last Sunday’s sermon on this Thursday. It may surprise the priest by being different than his intended message, but that is part of the risk of life and faith.

Fr. David used the metaphor of a wine connoisseur for our thoughts about our liturgy. As a connoisseur of anything, a wine connoisseur knows many details about wines. She/he has knowledge about the differences in wines from different countries and regions, perhaps even different years for the same wine region. Understanding the uses of the different wine glasses for different wines helps the connoisseur to enjoy the unique benefits of each wine. The proper storage of wines as well as the proper methods of opening and tasting wines is also part of the knowledge of a wine connoisseur.

If the wine connoisseur encounters a thirsty person, one who is “dying of thirst” would the wine connoisseur take the ailing person to the wine cellar and describe the various vintages? Or, would the caring person offer the ailing one a large glass of fresh water to begin to quench the thirst? Water would be the appropriate and needed drink for a dehydrated, thirsty person.

Likewise in our denomination, Episcopalians are, in many ways, liturgy connoisseurs. We know the details of good liturgy, only the raw basics of which include when to sit, when to stand, and when to kneel. Will you offer the host for intinction at the mass? Will Communion be offered at stations? Reading prayers or spontaneous prayers? It is “Aayy-men” or “Ahh-men?” Only one is acceptable in refined liturgy.

Then, as liturgy connoisseurs what should be our response to a visitor to the Episcopal Church? Do we require that they learn all of the liturgy before they can participate? Do we offer them a fine wine or a drink of water to quench their thirst for a taste of God’s loving presence?

I’ve been “chewing on” this bit of wine during this week. I wonder what your thoughts are about it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Putting Away Childish Things: A Tale of Modern Faith

It is like the first time I sang a Psalm that I had read and spoken for many years. Singing it was “the same, but different.” The words were the same, the meaning was mostly the same, but the music gave the words a new emphasis. So it is for me with this first work of fiction by one of my favorite authors, Marcus Borg.

Putting Away Childish Things: A Tale of Modern Faith, by Marcus Borg, HarperOne, 2010, hardcover, 342 pages, $25.99.

Kate Riley is the main character of the book. In many ways she reminds me of who the author may be in real life. We can only truly write about ourselves and our own lives, even when we write what appears to be a fictional story. Kate Riley is a college professor of religious studies, as is the author. I wonder how many of the events described by the author in Kate Riley’s life have been a part of Borg’s life.

I have enjoyed Borg’s books about Jesus, Christianity, and our views on religion for many years. The Heart of Christianity, The Meaning of Jesus, The God We Never Knew, The Last Week, The First Christmas, The First Paul, Jesus, and his very popular Reading the Bible Again for the First Time. They are all works of non-fiction. Borg’s writing in them reminds me of an excellent college instructor. He states what he will tell you, then lays down the thoughts in a very orderly manner, and concludes with a summary of the main points. Clearly written, well researched, and organized.

In Putting Away Childish Things, Borg weaves the same information that I have read in his previous books into a gripping, page-turning story. My best test for his fiction writing occurred last night. Reading before bedtime nearly always puts me to sleep quickly. Last evening I was so engrossed in the events in Kate Riley’s life that I read longer than I had planned and was not ready to stop for the night. Borg has passed my test for engaging reading by keeping me engaged in the story line late last evening.

Kate’s life has encountered the two different ways of interpreting the stories in the Bible. The more conservative Christians, the ones who, in my humble opinion, have kidnapped the term Christian and defined it in their own narrow meaning, view the Bible as being the inerrant word of God. They believe that every word in the Bible is literally true and historically factual. The other group of more liberal minded Christians view and read Scripture as the story of human’s interactions with God as written in poetry, metaphor, parable, and as Borg writes in this book, as “overture.” In a symphonic piece of music the overture presents all of the major themes of the work in a condensed form and gives the listener a glimpse of the larger work of music that is to follow. Marcus Borg works through the lives of characters in his book to show the dynamics and theology of each view of the same Scripture.

For me, this work of fiction is the best way to read, learn, and think about theology, Christ’s life, and where we are in Christianity today.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What is the relationship between social justice and worship in the local congregation?

I’ve known a congregation that appeared to me to worship the worship service. They spent huge amounts of time and money to make the worship service as perfect as they could. I thought that their priorities were misplaced. From what I know Jesus’ actions did not include emphasis on making the worship experience perfect.

Much of the Gospel record shows Jesus caring for the poor, those with illness, the lowly, those filled with demons, and feeding the crowds. I translate this to “social justice” actions by Jesus.

How much should the Church be involved in social justice issues compared to building the institution which is the Church, remodeling the worship space, and supporting the education and other programs that benefit the members?

In Sara Miles’ book, Take This Bread, she describes how her congregation changed from the typical church worship activities to developing a total commitment to offering free food to the hungry.

Certainly St. Gregory’s, San Francisco, where the transformation took place, has swung far to the side of social justice issues. How far do our individual congregations go in serving the needs of the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the outcast, prisoners, jobless, mentally ill who reside within our communities? As I see it, the commitment is something like our Lenten disciplines. We are doing something, but we could do more. It is so easy to gravitate towards taking care of the routine activities of the congregation and to put off pushing ourselves to help others in need.

John 21: 15-18
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Nonduality is rather more complex than can be explained in a brief blog entry, but humans are good at simplifying to the point of nonsense. I’ll give it a try.

There seem to me to be three states of spiritual consciousness.
1. There is only me and my surroundings. What I see and feel and experience is reality. Nothing else is. God is a figment of our imagination.
2. I am here and so are the trees, the dog, my residence, and “stuff.” God exists, “out there.” I go to church and God is there. God is in heaven. This is described as duality. There is the spiritual world and there is my world.
3. God as Spirit exists both out there and within me and within all things. At special times, when we are attuned to it, we can sense the unity of Spirit and our bodies. There becomes no difference between the All of God and our wholeness and our world. This is referred to as nonduality. (Actually, I feel this often, almost whenever I look up from what I am doing, or when I stop for a minute to just take in my surroundings. I know, I feel, that God is here, present.)

Some eastern spiritual traditions practice becoming aware of the nonduality of existence. Our western culture has been focused on the reality of the physical world. “Seeing is believing.” Rational thought and testable scientific evidence has more influence on us than spiritual existence and experiences.

Recently there have been some interesting scientific studies (reported in a magazine article that initiated these thoughts of mine) that compare brain activity while we are in two different “states” or mindsets. One is a meditative state, such as praying or emptying our active thoughts to dwell on inner peace. The other is active thinking activities such as problem solving. There are some early suggestions that the state of nonduality can be measured with magnetic imaging in some individuals. It appears that our brain functioning is different when we perceive God as part of us, and part of all that is, compared to when we think of God as separate from our individual lives and being.

Is there hope that the rational western modes of thought, including science, will be able to meld with some eastern spiritual modes of being that will find a harmony that includes nonduality?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Is time changing or is it me?

The days and weeks seem to be flying by. I have always heard that relative time changes, speeds up, as we age. I wonder, why?

Could it be that I forget the time between events so that the events seem more compact? Am I slowing down so that it takes longer for me to accomplish routine activities that results in my sense that time is flowing faster? I don’t think so. But then, you know that the easiest person for each of us to fool is ourselves.

I’m reminded about the descriptions of traveling near the speed of light. As I remember it, the faster that an item travels in space the larger its mass becomes and the slower that time occurs to that object. Viewed from outside the object, such as to those of us on earth if we were observing a clock traveling near the speed of light as it traversed space, to us the clock’s time would slow down. A person traveling with the clock would age slower than the observers on earth and that person would observe her/his view as accurate and that time for us who are not traveling so fast would be speeding up.

Are we something like that when we age? No, I don’t think so. I can still keep track of a minute of time as well as younger people. Do you want me to come back and talk with you in about ten minutes? No problem. When I return we will both agree that it has been about ten minutes.

Then why has the last week and the past two months seemed to have passed by so quickly to this old guy I call me?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Faith and religion, the same thing?

Are religion and faith the same thing? I think that many people consider them the same and get mixed up in that thinking. From what I know faith is about our relationship with God. One’s faith is that belief, that trust, that God is there, exists, cares for you, listens to you. Faith is the relationship between you/me and God.

Religion is a system of beliefs and practices and attitudes that have been formulated by an institution. We join a religion, or a denomination within a religion. By joining it we accept and internalize the attitudes, practices, and beliefs of that religious system. This isn’t bad, in and of itself. Many learned scholars over the centuries have worked on defining and describing the beliefs, practices, and attitudes of each religion or denomination. It is a good thing to find one that fits you. By joining a religion you will be able to mold your life using the attributes of that religion or denomination within a religion.

Still, we have our own personal faith that is different from the religion to which we ascribe. If our lives are congruent, then our religion reflects our faith and our faith can grow through our practice of our religion. A disconnect between our faith and our religion causes incongruence in our lives.

Does our faith change as we mature, age, grow older, in the different stages in our lives? I think that it should change as we perceive the physical world and the spiritual world differently. Perhaps one of the stumbling blocks in our lives is when our faith evolves over the years but our religion does not accommodate our changing faith. Do we cling to the old religion and subvert our faith or do we change religious affiliations in order to keep our faith congruent with our religion? Perhaps we can find that our religion has a different lens than the one we have been using. Perhaps we can keep the same religion by looking at it through a different frame of reference as our faith matures.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

With whom do I talk?

Last Sunday’s Gospel lesson has me thinking. It was the story about Christ’s third appearance after the Resurrection. Jesus meets some of the disciplines on the beach after fishing. He feeds them fish. Three times he tells Peter, “Feed my flock.” At other times Jesus is reported to have said “In as much as you have done it to the least of my children you have done it to me.” From these and other statements has grown the social gospel of caring for others.

I wonder, and want to ask questions of those faithful among us who state that they are conservative, and leaning toward libertarianism, meaning to me that they support individual effort and accomplishment and disdain broad social programs by the government. I want to ask how they fit their emphasis on individual freedom and reduced government with the apparent instruction of Christ to care for, and feed, his flock, the “least of these.”

The question soon became, “Whom do I ask?” and “Where do I find a libertarian-leaning, thoughtful person who is faithful to Christ’s message that will answer my question?” And soon the question of where do I find someone with whom I can engage in a meaningful, respectful conversation on a topic on which we may disagree? It did not take long for this question to overshadow the original question about the social aspect of the Gospel and one’s individual liberty. From what I see in our culture today a conversation between two people with very different political, social, or religious views is, at least, unusual, and more likely avoided because it will result in hate-filled speech.

One of my cousins warned me about her brother, another cousin, obviously, whom I have seen at a family party only once in the past half century. She said, “If you mention religion or politics with my brother he will yell at you with his very strong conservative opinions, and when he is finished he will not speak to you ever again.”

I have poked around the Internet looking for chat rooms and blogs where I might find a religiously faithful politically conservative, thoughtful person with whom I could converse. What I have read has not encouraged me to begin an interaction with them. Everyone, it seems, is only conversing with others with whom they agree, or in a flaming rage about those with whom they don’t agree.

Decades ago there were politicians who described carrying on long and vigorous debates with their colleagues in Congress and afterwards they would go out to dinner with those same colleagues and share their friendship that surpassed their political differences. It is evident that such an atmosphere does not exist in Congress today, and I don’t see it in the rest of us.

I wonder if it is possible to locate a thoughtful, caring conservative and/or libertarian with whom I could have a meaningful conversation about how that person’s views fits with the Gospel lessons that I heard on Sunday.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Three important couplets

A customer/friend, Wayne, who has become a friend-and-an-occasional-customer shared this description with me today.

The heart of the Christian story consists or three parts. These parts are irrepressibly tied to Good Friday and Easter.
1. Mercy and Grace
2. Dignity and Respect
3. Forgiveness and Reconciliation

When we omit, forget, or skip over one of the parts we do so at the peril of our faith.
My response consists of two responses.
I have not been able to put down Wayne’s description today and that informs me that it has importance (and so I share it here).

The other response is the realization that it is so very easy to forget, or skip over one of the parts of each couplet. I can demand Mercy without remembering, realizing, and accepting Grace. I can demand Respect without giving Dignity to the person(s) from whom I want respect. I can want Reconciliation without having to forgive. When I do or think these things, then it is a shallow event and I am the lesser because of my thoughts.

Three important couplets. Perhaps, hopefully, by writing them to you they will grow stronger in me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I gave up church for Lent.

Well, that is an overstatement. I am trying to decide what my future will be in relationship to an individual congregation. I have actually, mostly, given up attending the congregation that I have been worshipping with for the past nearly ten years.

Why did I decide to attend there in the first place? It was the best that I could find. It was also a long drive, one that took a gallon of gas and a half-an-hour of time each way. What attracted me included the thoughtful, creative sermons, the fantastic, creative, jazz-driven music, and the social conscience of the congregation that was most immediately obvious by seeing that at least half of the worship space was being used by a child care facility during the week.

At that point I was very tired of attending churches where the worship was either plastic or worshipped for itself. “Plastic” congregations to me were those where it looked nice and shiny, but where there was little or no substance. Some years earlier I had realized that every Sunday we were saying the identical words. I did not need to read them in the prayer book because I had them memorized. One may experience this with the Lord’s Prayer. Can you recite it so easily that you don’t need to actually think about what the words of the prayer mean? I was tired of attending worship services where the service words were mostly memorized such that one could attend the service and be little or not at all affected by it. It is kind of like saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag without thinking about what the words mean, what you are actually pledging to do. Worship is not simply a pledge to a flag, it is worshipping in a community to our loving and ever-present God. It therefore requires of me much more than reciting the memorized words.

Likewise, I found the sermons in most of those congregations to be that form of baby formula cereal that we call pabulum. My criteria for whether a sermon is good or not? If I can remember some thread of the substance of the sermon on Monday or Tuesday then I deem it good. In most congregations that I tried, back there ten or so years ago, I couldn’t remember the ideas in the sermon while on my way home from church, let alone the next day!

The other kind of congregation was the kind that worshipped the worship service. They spent huge amounts of time, energy, and money making the worship service unique and special. The emphasis was so much about the worship service that to my mind, they missed the reason for the service, which involves praying to God corporately as a body, listening to God, all-in-all, the community being in communion with God. In those congregations, in my humble opinion, the worshipping experience appeared to become their God.

Over the years, attending “my “ congregation I did continue to enjoy the creative music, but there were negative aspects to it. The location is so far away from my home that I can not drive my electric vehicle to it and home again without recharging the batteries, so I drove the “global warmer.” The preacher’s sermons had become more pabulum and less thought provoking. The childcare center moved out of the sanctuary and into its own portion of the building, which was added on specifically for it. As a result the child care center became less immediate to the life of the congregation, in my humble opinion. And, more and more, the distance, time, and gasoline that it took to travel to and from church weighed upon my mind and soul, and my environmental ethics.

So, I am taking this Lenten season to review and contemplate what I could do differently about worshipping on Sunday mornings.

For two Sundays of this Lenten season I have tried to stay home and not attend a worship service. That experience reminded me that ever since my teenage years I have been attending Sunday morning worship services. When I was in high school and did not have transportation, and while my parents and siblings remained home, I would walk about a mile to attend the worship services at the cathedral. Sunday morning worship services have always been an important part of my spiritual life. It is somewhat like eating lunch. Yes, I could skip lunch and not die before dinner. I have skipped lunch on occasion, for very important reasons at the time, but I am not comfortable missing lunch. I get really hungry before dinnertime. Oh, even when I do eat lunch I am usually pretty hungry before we get to dinner. For me, Sunday morning worship is the same way. I can skip it, but I feel…uh, hungry later. Perhaps it is my soul that feels hungry when I skip church. I’m not certain what it is but I know that it is definitely something lacking inside me when I have not been in a worship service on a Sunday.

The first decision that has resulted from me “giving up church for Lent” is that I realize that I can not continue to give up church. I really need to attend someplace.

The second realization concerns the music. I am now a member of a local community choir. We meet weekly, Tuesday evenings, for two hours. The director is the best choral director I have ever sung with. His musical knowledge and directing skills, combined with his sense of humor and philosophy of choral singing are amazing and fun to be with. I enjoy singing with that choir much more than I enjoy singing in the church choir, which really is not a choir but a small group of us who get together on Sunday mornings to sing back up to the instrumentalists.

The third realization is that in the past ten years other congregations in the Seattle area have changed clergy and some have changed attitudes about the emphasis and directions of the worshipping experience. I need to check them out again. One way that I have found to observe and sense the spirit and directions of local congregations is by studying their websites. A poorly maintained or sketchy website does not tell me to avoid a congregation, but well maintained and complete websites can inform me about a congregations mission, direction, activities, commitments to the community, and even some sermons. From reading and viewing local congregations’ websites I have formed opinions about several of them.

I intend to continue this thread with further developments later.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What makes us conservative or liberal?

I read part of a FaceBook page from a friend from high school. On it she describes her political views as “conservative with constitutionist and libertarian leanings.” My views are more liberal/progressive. And I wonder, how did this happen to both of us?

In high school, as I remember it through the fog of a half-century, we came from somewhat similar families. Our fathers were blue collar workers. It was at a time when our mothers did not work outside of the home. We both lived in modest homes. The parents on both sides, as I remember it, were not involved in politics.

My parents were Republicans. When my siblings and I “came of age” each of us became more liberal and Democratic than our parents. Obviously my friend’s views went the other way, to more conservative.

How did this happen? I can certainly support and defend my views on the role of government in society, as I am confident that my friend also could. It appears that I have become more progressive in my thinking about what is best for society and she has become more conservative in what she thinks is best for all. Have these changes occurred due to family influence, or whom we married? Did our church affiliations influence us similarly and in opposite directions? Has it been other societal or life experiences that have taught us to view the world differently? Or has been a complex mixture of these influences and more?

This is one of those questions without an answer for me at this time. Thinking about it keeps me wondering about one more of the amazing aspects of living, and living for so many years.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I just taught a kid to lie

A young boy, hard to determine his age, middle school age, entered our store a few minutes ago. He asked to do work so that he could earn five dollars. He was willing to rake leaves, but there are no leaves this time of year. He was willing to wash windows, but they are clean now, and not really needed.

I engaged him in conversation,
So, why do you need five dollars?
To buy a skate board deck.
That’s pretty cheap for a skate board deck.
They said that it was free. I rode the bus from the suburbs for over an hour to get here and get the free deck, but when I got there they said it was five bucks.
A deck? What would you do for wheels for the deck?
Oh, I have the wheels in my back pack. I need the deck.
Here’s a dollar. Now all you need is to go to other stores and work for four dollars.
I’ve been to all the other stores. They say that they do the work themselves. I can’t do any work for them for money.
Okay. Here is what you do. I’m giving you five one dollar bills. Put four of them in one pocket and one in another pocket. Go back to the skate board place and tell them you have only four dollars. Maybe they will sell it to you for four.
If they refuse, then walk away from them and go around the corner. Wait a couple of minutes. Then put the one dollar with the four and go back in and say that you found a fifth dollar bill. Buy it for five.
But, there is one more thing that you need to do to earn this five dollars.
What’s that?
Come back here and give me a report on how you did.
You want me to come back here and tell you if I bought it for four or five dollars?
Okay. I will.

As he walked toward the door he was talking to himself, “I put one dollar in this pocket and the other four in this pocket…”

He just came back to the store. He is carrying an old beat up green skate board deck. He seemed pretty happy. Me too, even if I taught him to lie, or negotiate.

How much? Oh. Five. The kid said, “They were hard nosed.”

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Jim Wallis and The Great Recession paradigm shift

Have I given up blogging for Lent? No.

This has been a time of introspection. The radio has been silent. I get to think. I replied to my granddaughter on her FaceBook “wall,” and was self-conscious about it. She will read it, but who else will read it? Do I want to share my thoughts with others that I don’t know? Blogging, too. You all are very smart and thoughtful. What can I contribute? Being quiet and listening is good.

But, alas, here is something for us. Jim Wallis (The Great Awakening, and God’s Politics among others) writes a thoughtful article in the latest AARP Bulletin (Yes, I’m old enough to receive it and read. You may not be, but the article talks to all of us, in my humble opinion.) The article is about the good side of the economic troubles that we have been experiencing during The Great Recession.

Wallis reminds us that it is during challenging times that we re-think our daily patterns and outlook on life. Let’s face it, the past decade or two we have had the mindset of greed. It’s all about Me and what I want now. This past year or two has encouraged us to take a new look at our paradigm. Perhaps we will return to the mindset the builds community and well-being for others instead of focusing so much on ourselves. Jim Wallis’ article rings true to me today and I see it in the actions and comments of our customers. Maybe it will remind you of a different paradigm.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lenten activities poll results

Our store’s website offers an ongoing opinion poll (on the first page, left side, near the bottom). I find the results interesting but can not share them with others because the website is not set up to do that. Our next revision of the site will most likely include the option to view the results of the previous polls.

The current poll asks:
What are you including in your Lenten practice? Pray more. Fast more. Read more. Attend more church events. Increae my involvement in good works.

Here are the results at this hour:

1. All of the above. 20% have responded with this answer

2. Some of the above. 40% have responded with this answer

3. One of the above. 5% have responded with this answer

4. Something other than those listed. 5% have responded with this answer

5. None of the above, I don’t “do” Lent. 30% have responded with this answer

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Mom and Pop Store

Nancy said that she gave me The Mom and Pop Store: How the Unsung Heroes of the American Economy Are Surviving and Thriving, by Robert Spector mostly because she liked the title. But it turns out that I am enjoying it immensely. Here’s why.

There are different economic realities in employment in our culture. I have previously worked for institutions and corporations. I did not know what being an entrepreneur entailed when we began working at and then purchased the Episcopal Bookstore. It is really a different world of work. The Marshall family was a product of parents who worked for employers, for businesses and corporations. We did not know about the world of the entrepreneur.

The book’s author, Robert Spector, traveled around the country and took a few international trips with the purpose of finding and interviewing the owners of the mom and pop stores. His book is mostly just a retelling of dozens of their stories. Mostly all of them are in retail, or the restaurant business, which, I guess, is also retail. Bicycle shops. Corner grocery stores/delis. The local hardware store. Yes, bookstores, and many other businesses are reported in this book. (My favorite hardware store, Stone Way Hardware, is locally owned, one location, and they are thriving even more than is our bookstore. As I heard one similar hardware store owner state, “You could put our hardware store in the parking lot of Home Depot and we would still be as busy as we are now.” In my hardware store there is no reason to spend twenty minutes roaming the aisles looking for something. And, you can ask anyone of the staff questions like, “I want to do this thing. What do you have that will work?” and they will have an immediate answer and the product in your hand in less than two minutes. I love it!)

Here are some of the items of note, that I and Nancy and I “do” but I have been less aware about. People often remark that we don’t take enough vacation time. As I see it now, IMHO, vacations are mostly for people who work for others. Since one is working for someone else it is good to get away from that environment frequently. We are working for ourselves. If the work environment is stressful then we can change it. Often on my day off I have an urge to go to our store because there are things happening there that I want to be a part of. Usually Nancy and I spend most of an hour at the end of the day off for either one of us catching the “off” one up on what happened at the store. The “work” of the store is very different from work that I have performed for other employers.

Along that same line, those who have worked for employers ask us, “When are you going to retire?” I think today, that it is a question to be answered by employees, not by entrepreneurs. It’s different. By retiring we would have to give up on what we enjoy doing so much. That wouldn’t be much fun. “You could then travel a lot.” Hmm, travel requires two things, the desire to go other places and sleep in strange surroundings, and the saved money to do it. I don’t have either of those. I don’t need to retire so that I can travel and miss the joys of the events in our store each day. Yes, this is narrow-minded, from a non-traveler, but it is “where I am today.”

Remember the credit crunch where businesses could not, many still can not, obtain loans that they needed to meet payroll and many filed for bankruptcy or simply failed? We were astounded to learn that bigger business would borrow money in order to meet payroll. We told each other, “What kind of business model is that?!”

As a family we did not grow up with the entrepreneurial model. We did not know what it was like. Therefore, in my humble opinion, we all went into jobs as employees of large organizations. Robert Spector describes how many mom and pop businesses pass the business down to succeeding generations. The kids grow up working in the store and they learn about that good life. As adults they often choose to be entrepreneurs. I see this in my sister Julie’s family too. Her husband has been, well, in several employment positions, often working as an entrepreneur. Now their son, after college, has spread his wings and is trying to keep his own business, Anchor Light Productions, flying.

The author points out another element to this business scene. None of the mom and pop storeowners entered the business planning on making lots of money. They all knew that they were not in it for the money. They have instead a passion for their business. Spector also steps around those individuals who began by owning a single store location, then grew it into several stores, a chain, and became successful and rich. Mostly he avoids those individuals because their model is very different from the mom and pop storeowner.

Now that I know about the life as an entrepreneur and have lived that life I want to share it with others. But the others in the family have lived in the employee-to-a-corporation-or-institution and do not know about this different style of living with work. I don’t feel badly for them or wish them a different lifestyle, but I am very happy with my life as an entrepreneur.

Monday, January 25, 2010

All are parts of the Body of Christ

Yesterday’s Scripture passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians (12:12-30) struck me especially. You know the one, we are all members of the one body, the Body of Christ, the Church. There are no more separations between Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free. We are all members of the same body. Further, all parts of the body, can not be identical and are all vital to the life of the Body. The ear and the eye are different. Neither is wrong or contemptible, both (all) are necessary for the life of the Body. At least this is my recollection of the words that were read in that lesson yesterday.

What struck me about this passage at this time is the idea that all (“ALL”) parts of the Body of Christ which is the Church are necessary for the life of the Church. “All?” Does this mean those branches of the Church that some think are wrong, or perhaps are even abominations? Does the Northern Cone of the Anglican Communion need, have necessity of, the Southern Cone? And, does the Southern Cone have necessity of the Northern Cone? Evidently, from what Paul wrote, we do.

Are the gay and lesbian faithful members of the Church, even the ordained, even the gay and lesbian bishops “necessary” for the Church? Evidently, from what Paul wrote, they are. They are part of the “All.”

Are those who read the Bible literally just as needed as those who interpret the Bible as metaphor and poetry? Evidently they are. And, those other denominations, even those that some have referred to as sects? Those who worship on Saturday, of Friday? The Mormons? Evidently we are all necessary for the life of the Church.

But, but… I want to categorize and niche people. It makes it so convenient to name the Other as less. Okay, I really try not to categorize and put others in little boxes, but I know that the temptation is there. Good old Black or White. I think that guys are especially prone to divide people into such categories. What I heard Lucy read in church yesterday reminds me that Paul argued against such handy categorizing. I’m working on it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I've added Followers

Thanks to Kimberly W. and at her encouragment I have added the Followers button on the left margin of this blog page. Kimberly wants others to follow this blog and tells me that this is the way to do it. If you add your address to the Followers then your reference will be displayed among the Followers.

Let's see what happens with it. Both you and I can always change it. I can turn it off and you can remove your contact information if that fits you better.

In faith, John