Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Saddest photo in the blogosphere

This picture makes me sad - it shows everything that's wrong with religion. It's a young Jewish man with his prayer shawl, saying his prayer in front of a tank that is likely soon to shoot at other people with their own prayer clothes on who in turn are in front of their weapons getting ready to shoot at other people in their prayer shawls . . . . .

It makes it especially hard to see having been in Israel less than a year ago. I led a delegation there with 17 church leaders from the Seattle area and we came to know many Palestinians and Jews. The differences are drawn so sharply, but they're both beautiful peoples. There is so much hatred, though, and so much sadness.

So I pray for the praying man who will shoot at the praying man who will shoot back at the praying man . . . .

Saying good-bye to two beautiful people

Today was a sad moment at the church offices. Due to budget cuts we had to say goodbye to Jean Ferguson and Edwin Beatty.

Jean has been with the church for several (I think, six) years. She's known sometimes as our "office grandma," "grandma Jean," or by many others simply as the kind voice on the phone. As well as her duties with the bulletin, Jean has shepherded the Shared Breakfast crew. At the last Shared Breakfast, Jean and her gang served nearly 260 people, as well as giving away coats, hats, gloves, socks, you get the message. Jean will really be missed around the church. We love her and are sad to see her go.

Edwin is much newer with the church, but what a help he's been these last several months. Edwin was first with ideas when I was looking for a Spanish restaurant to cater our Camino dinner in September. We'll miss his wit, his grace, and his hard work.

Budget cuts will also lead to three other departures - Dan and Crystal in 2010. But sometimes fiscal sanity comes at the price of emotional insanity. At the end of it will be a balanced budget - for the first time in 10 years - and we'll all be a little sadder and wiser, too.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Oh geez, St. Pat's (but it could've been us)

Time for St. Patrick's church to hire a P.R. man (or to reread the Sermon on the Mount every Sunday to the congregation). And to think this is a liberal congregation - as liberal as any Catholic church in Seattle. But, it could've been us. When will we ever learn?

I guess our typical rationale is . . . "I was late for Mass." Isn't it the same as the priest and the Levite in the Good Samaritan story? Ugh.

The strange allure of Facebook

I think it was Elizabeth Ingram-Schindler who turned me on to Facebook. She asked if I was "on Facebook," which I sorta was (meaning I'd responded to someone's invitation and had uploaded a profile). I checked into it again and this time stuck my toe in.

My first search was for friends from my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Sure enough, there was Stephan from South Africa. Then there was his friend Trevor. Soon I was connected to my Camino friends Dani (Berlin) and Trevor R. (Ohio/Connecticut). After that, I was being contacted by friends from Wenatchee, friends from high school, fellow United Methodist clergy, church members. And on and on.

Then I started getting into seeing what people were posting. Conner is tired. Lorie slept in. David preached a good sermon. Trevor went four-wheeling. All silly, all mundane, all superficial.

Soon I was posting my own silly, mundane, superficial stuff. So, world, I'm proud of my turkey burgers. Or happy about the snow.

Facebook doesn't give much depth to communication. You'll never know the real person by reading Facebook. But boy does it give width to communication. I know a tiny bit about way more of my friends now. A mile wide and an inch deep, I guess. But it all makes for fun, passes the time, and keeps me out of trouble.

And now people know I'm a fan of John Wesley and Jon Stewart, of Alfred North Whitehead and Stephen Colbert. Not deep knowledge of me, not revealing, but a tiny glimpse to tickle someone's interest and maybe share a laugh.

Check out my Camino video

Here's the Camino video that's now risen to the top of the YouTube search list (for "Camino de Santiago 2008" that is).

Lots of people ask about the music. Watch the video to the very end and you'll see the artists' names. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Why I no longer buy the Seattle Times

OK, I'd been leery of the Times for many years, but the first big turn-off came in 2007 when I visited the Times' editorial board to talk up the Mental Health/Substance Abuse Sales Tax. The tax - at a cost of less than $100 per household per year - would provide $48 million/year to fight the causes of homelessness in our county. Well, the Times editorial board asked all the wrong questions, then wrote a very pointed editorial against the tax. This even though there was no organized opposition to the effort. Well, the tax passed overwhelmingly in spite of the Times' opposition.

Then there were Lance Dickey's anti-tent city editorials.

But the final straw was the editorial board's endorsement of Dino Rossi for governor. Gregoire won 64 to 36%. The Times was obviously way out of step with its context - King County.

And here's the latest: the Times' campaign for salt on Seattle streets. As usual, Slog was the most eloquent: Seattle Times 1, Truth 0 and Times to Puget Sound: Drop Dead. Sand works fine. It just has to be applied after a street is plowed. Our problem is lack of plowing and sanding. Let's not punish Puget Sound for our lack of snow plows.

Just seems odd to me that such a progressive city would have such a backward major daily. Maybe I'm not the only one who's tired of the Times' backward attitudes - the paper's cutting back and laying off staff. Feels to me like the price of ideology over truth in journalism.

So yeah, you won't see me with a copy of the Times by my morning muffin and decaf. I'm readin' the P-I.