The Sounds of Silence

The words to a Simon and Garfunkle song from my youth have been reverberating in my brain all week as I continue to agonize over the heartbreaking news in community where I live and serve.  Remember this? Hello darkness, my old friend I’ve come to talk with you again Because a vision softly creeping Left its seeds while I was sleeping And the vision that was planted in my brain Still remains Within the sound of silence In restless dreams I walked alone Narrow streets of cobblestone ‘Neath the halo of a street lamp I turned my collar to the cold and…

The Epic Battle: Message Series Starting This Sunday

“Just think how much good you could do!”  Those enticing words also may be some of the most dangerous words around–they can open the door to extraordinary evil, perfectly disguised and cloaked with something that just looks so right. Starting this Sunday, May 26, I will begin a five week message series on the necessity of learning as early as possible to discern that which is good from that which is not good. Because even the youngest need to learn to develop that facility if they are to make wise decisions, I want to make this series as accessible as possible for…

Missing Babies, Feral Males, “Smokin’ Hot Wives” and Female Appointments

A little background here before I weave together some threads of thought. Sex Selective Abortions First, look at issue of sex-selective abortions and female infanticide. These are major issues especially in India and China.  For multiple financial and cultural reasons, many families have a strong preference for male babies over female babies.  The growing availability and affordability of ultrasound technology makes it increasingly easy to abort unwanted female fetuses.  If an unwanted one makes it to birth, the child is often abandoned and left to die. The result is a growing disparity between the number of males and females entering adolescence and…

Called and Gifted? How about Called to Circuits?

The blogging world of United Methodist Clergy has exploded recently with the revelation that the Texas Annual Conference is floating a document that appears “ageist” in its suggestions as to who might or might not be encouraged to seek ordination there. I want to thank Jeremy at Hacking Christianity for this post which exposes the possible plans in the Texas Annual Conference for discouraging older people from entering the ordination process. Now, there are lots of comments flying around. One, from someone who was part of creating the proposal, reminded us that we live in the real world and that, among other…

We Do Love Our Tools

Humans are tool-making and tool-using creatures.  Our opposable thumb and finger grasp strength provide the springboard to create and use machines as extensions of our bodies and brains. We are also tool-purchasing creatures.  Tools to cook, tools to communicate, tools to study, tools to build, tools to create, tools to clean, tools to repair, tools to heal, tools to build muscles and increase stamina, even tools to help us relax and have fun. We really do like ‘em. Last spring I saw what a tool-wonder New York City is for my two-year old grandson. A north-south avenue near his house is undergoing…

On Popes and Retirement

I doubt that there is anyone in this connected world who does not know by now that  Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, has announced his retirement as of February 28, 2013. Apparently, many of his closest aides were flummoxed and unprepared for this announcement.  And within moments, the cyberworld starts asking, “Is a new scandal concerning the Roman Catholic church starting to break?”  And, “How can the RC possibly function with two living Popes?” as though Ratzinger is not quite elderly and hardly physically robust, and has already said he will live out the rest of his…

Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief

With both horror and fascination, I just finished reading the Lawrence Wright exposé called Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief. This exquisitely researched book takes us into the bowels of Scientology, a religious group that has apparently systematically lied, cheated, abused its followers, sought to destroy its detractors, devastated families, amassed giant amounts of money which impoverished many and landed in the pockets of very few, and pandered to celebrities whose egos got stroked by the maniacs who run the show. Scientology doctrines do not actually address the major religious concept of a holy God or the idea that there might…

Controlling the Narrative: Lance Armstrong and the Rest of Us

“I wanted to control the narrative.”  That phrase has sprung out of the otherwise unsurprising Lance Armstrong doping confession. The need to “control the narrative” captures much human motivation and underlies multiple decisions. If we can indeed control the narrative, we can keep ourselves protected, lie with impunity and still look intact, together and successful. Armstrong’s real problems lie far beyond the lying and the doping. Those transgressions can be seen as primarily self-destructive. But Armstrong was other-destructive because he insisted that all who rode with him had to submit themselves to the full doping regimen AND routinely lie about it. Frankly,…

A Normal Day Interrupted by a Divine Appointment?

I woke yesterday with a sense of work-urgency informing my plans for the day.  It was the first day I had any real schedule freedom to do intensive work on the many messages that need to be prepared and delivered in the next 12 days. My Director of Worship and I have been working on the services for several weeks.  Initial concepts have been examined and modified, perfected, so to speak.  Music pieces discussed, musicians recruited, especially for the 11:00 pm Christ Mass on December 24, and our first ever Blue Christmas service on December 20. Acolytes and readers are lined up,…