Saturday, June 30, 2007


Well, today was my first experiment with having a combined birthday party. Since 2 of my kids have May birthdays and 2 have June birthdays, I told them that they could either each have a big birthday party every four years, (taking turns), or they could have a combined party every year. They opted for the combined party.

It went well!

We had about 20 kids total. The invitations had said that it was for a combined birthday party, and then said, "You will be the personal guest of ..." This way, the parents didn't think they needed to bring 4 presents. During the party, we separated the kids briefly into "mini-parties" for the gift exchange. Worked well. Each birthday kid wound up receiving about 2 gifts. (Most of the kids had siblings who also were invited, and when we divided up, we had whole families as the personal guest of just one kid.) So, that was nice. They still got presents, but it wasn't the "big" thing of the party.

Theme was carnival. All very made-at-home, no fancy clowns or inflatable jumping things. And the kids had a blast! Bowling with empty 2 liters as pins, bean bag toss, rubber duck pond, etc. Prizes for every game, and all who played won a prize. Cheap prizes, even better than Oriental Trading:

Thanks to Sams, we had a nacho stand (nacho sauce in a crockpot), hot dogs and veggie dogs (in hot water, in separate crockpots), and all the condiments. Set up the chocolate fountain, which was definitely the hit of the party. We adults may think they're hokey, but kids LOVE them.

Rented a big (uncarpeted) room at the church, so we didn't have to worry about weather. Side benefit: those families NOT from our church got to see where our church was.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fat ... Cat ... Sat ...

Boy in the Bands is talking to those of us who used to watch a lot of public television growing up and it prompted me to share something I just discovered on You Tube.

Those of you who grew up on 70's era Sesame Street ... remember this one?

Now, if I could just find that Sesame Street version of "Inchworm."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Announcing -- UU Ad Contest!

30 seconds to teach the world about UUism ... in a way that will make them rush to their computers to learn more and find a UU church near them!

UU Ad Contest

The GAers Come Home

Got up this morning to find lots and lots of posts from those who went to GA, reporting that they were home. I feel like an aproned old mama on the front porch, welcoming back the cowboys. "I see them, I see them!"

Welcome back, y'all.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Extension Ministry That Might Work

(Or "UU Minister Missionaries Teach Churches to Fly")

In my fantasy "if I ran the world" musings ...

LE's Extension Ministry Program

I used to work in a chain restaurant. Now, the way that many chains work opening a new restaurant, is they have their "Blue Ribbon" team. The best wait staff around the country, the best busboys, cooks, etc. That team goes in, hires the people and trains them. It's a big deal to be part of the "Blue Ribbon" team, and it's reflected in your salary. The restaurant company wants the best of the best to be setting up shop.

Wouldn't it be cool if that were the case with the Extension Ministry program? Now, I know of one church that had a wonderful experience with the program and it really grew their church. I know of another that had a completely awful experience and it damn near killed the church.

So, in my fantasy ...

Number one, the EM program should not in any way, shape or form be seen as a mutually beneficial program in which we have a program to place ministers, AND we have a way to help out churches. Nuh-uh. Two goals can lead to a big mess. Goal: to help churches. Period. Noble goal. Greater good. All that.

Of course, I'm not the first to come up with that idea. In more conservative churches, it's called missionary work. A minister will leave his/her church for a period of time -- often, 1 or more years -- to go work a continent away. They -- and their home church -- believe that they are doing something profoundly important. Saving souls.

So ... a super UU minister leaves his/her congregation for a couple of years, to go help a new congregation in Duluth. It is a sacrifice, both for the minister, and the home congregation. But hey, no malaria!

The minister would be a great minister, with lots of experience. NOT someone straight out of seminary. (This, coming from a seminarian.)

* any minister in the program would have been given special training in the areas of "Training Wheels,+" church growth, and "dealing with people unfamiliar with having a minister."

+Training wheels: many new churches, or churches who have not had a full-time minister, don't understand how to have a minister. They don't "get it." I say this, as a member and former Board officer of such a church. I didn't get it. Does the minister lead the church, or follow the Board's leadership? And writing a sermon, that only takes an hour a week, right? And the minister works for the church, right? So his job is to serve me, a member?

I would love for there to be "training wheels" ministry. Like interim ministry (real interim ministry, not "marking time til we get a minister/I get a perm job" ministry), but with an emphasis on teaching churches what to expect, how to work with a minister, etc.

For "training wheels" ministry, it's absolutely crucial to have a well-adjusted minister who knows how to lead. Someone who isn't going to get his ego hurt; someone who will not put "being liked" before "must ready this congregation for a full-time minister." A minister who is ready to roll up her sleeves and get down and dirty.

Okay, back to Extension Ministry.

Four aspects that must be there for this to work:

1) Understanding by the new church that this is a noble endeavor for all involved. That it involves sacrifice on all sides. Sacrifice from the UUA of funds/energy. Sacrifice from the minister for having to uproot for a period of time. Sacrifice from the minister's home congregation by being without their main minister. Major sacrifice from the new church, who will be expected to give up a lot of evenings/weekends/energy/blood-sweat-tears in order to get their church to be in a position of self-sufficiency, and ready to welcome a new minister.

2) Understanding by the minister that this is a labor of love; only ministers who truly believe that they are being called to save souls and begin a new community that can transform the world should apply.

3) Understanding by the minister's home church that as UUs, we are called to extend our gifts outward, that if we have more thriving UU churches, full of enthusiastic members bent on sharing our UU values, the world will be a better place. You will certainly not get unanimity, but the church as a whole needs to be behind the endeavor. (And along with the greater good, don't you think they'll get back a minister full of new ideas and vision? I do.)

4) Understanding by the UUA that this is missionary work, and that ultimately, the UUA will reap the benefits. They will not only get a new, thriving church, but that church will be full of members who understand the greater UU picture, a church full of members who will be going to UU conferences and GA and workshops (because that will be one of the things the minister will teach them). They would provide for the minister's salary during that period of time, so that there is little chance of "oooh, we don't have enough money to pay you, so after only 9 months, we need to let you go ..."

Meanwhile, the church would be required to pay a growing amount of money into a UUA fund. At the end of the extension period, some of that would go to the UUA as seed money towards the next Extension Ministry endeavor, and a large chunk would go into dedicated savings as a "just in case" for severance pay for the church's first full-time/perm minister, so that the church need never be in the position of saying, "Okay, things are iffy right now financially, I guess we need to let you go now, while we can still afford your severance pay." How often has a church been in an iffy position, only to have a burst of growth, or some other financially propitious event?

Obviously, there's tons of details and unanswered questions in all this. But if I ran the world ...

* Oh, one other detail. I don't know how this would work in. But there should be an element of choice with the above, for both the minister and the new church, in regards to choosing each other. Something other than telling the church, "Here he is ... you can reject him, but then you might lose out on this program." And no punitives for the minister, either, if he senses that they just aren't going to fit each other. That, in itself, is a learning experience for a church. How to choose. And how to learn to trust their instincts.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Instant Karma is Here!

Literally, not figuratively. Go here for the iTunes link.

The album benefits Amnesty International's Campaign to Save Darfur.

If you buy the regular album, there's 23 tracks. The iTunes version has 34 tracks.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me and The Husband

Last year, I wrote about how The Husband and I share the same birthday. Such a gift from the universe. He is precisely 1 year older than me, which means that this year, he hits 39. The last year of his 30's ...

Due to the fact that childhood testing was poor back then (I know -- tons of stories to say it ain't so great now), The Husband is also the same "class of" as I. Rather than recognizing that he was 75% deaf, it was decided that he was mentally retarded. By the time they got it figured out, he was a year older, so he started kindergarten at age 6. He will tell you that many people, including fast food workers, also confuse deafness with mental retardation, but that's another story.

Our birthday is not particularly exciting this year. I'm giving him cracked rock (for our backyard) and he's giving me mulch (for our flowerbeds). But isn't this part of getting older? We are both pleased as punch with our impending gifts. Simple stuff.

And even more simple: on Saturday, we were sitting in an outside seafood dive with our crew, listening to gulls fuss and a musician do Jimmy Buffett covers. I looked at my watch and realized -- June 16. JUNE 16. The one year anniversary of Little Warrior's last chemo.

She's now been off treatment for one year.

Yep. Great birthday.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What Lizard Eater and Gay Men Have in Common

We've both been asked to NOT donate blood.

Just got a letter from my regional Blood Center. I donated blood about a month ago. Per their letter, something in my blood gives a false positive for Hepatitis C. They go on to emphasize that they did further testing and I do NOT have Hep C, I just have weird blood.

"We must ask you not to donate blood."

I hated the anti-gay-donor thing ever since I heard about it, found it to be ridiculous and hypocritical, but I didn't register it on a personal level before.

I admit it, I feel hurt that I can't donate blood. I don't blame them, in my case. My blood would gum up the whole process, make them do additional testing, etc. But after all the blood that Little Warrior was given, I'm disappointed on a personal level that I can't do my little bit for the world in this easy way.

Donating blood is such a gift, not only to the receiver, but to the giver. It's such a tangible way to express our desire to help out. Just witness the rush to blood centers after 9-11 or a natural disaster.

When Little Warrior was first diagnosed, that was one of the first things our church did, was set up a blood drive.

Imagine if LW had a beloved uncle, and he wasn't allowed to give blood, because he is gay. No matter his behavior. No matter how good his blood is.

I'm a straight, monogamous, never-did-drugs mom in tennis shoes. But my blood can't help anyone.

His could.

Monday, June 18, 2007

My peeps

Had a little heartwarming moment on Sunday. I was in a different town, visiting my mother-in-law, so I popped into the local UU church for Sunday services.

At the end of the service, the minister opened up the floor for folks to share their thoughts on immigration. Criss-crossing the room, people volunteered their thoughts. Most were well thought out and articulated; all were heartfelt.

Sitting there, listening to their ideas, I felt this warm glow -- the knowledge that I could walk into any UU church and find a similar experience. People sharing their ideas. People who want to help make the world better.

As the kids say, "These are my peeps." This is my tribe.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

8 Random Things About Me

And thanks, Mom to the Left, for the tag.

1) I met my husband when we were on the fencing team at college. I fenced epee, he fenced foil.

2) I write music. Mostly country/folk. Old style country. Not modern stuff.

3) I got a drama scholarship to college. After one year, I changed majors, to English. Some of my roles played: Emily in Our Town. Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The mother in All My Sons.

4) I'm one of the "models" in the UU ad that played in Times Square.

5) I think a round, full artichoke is the best food in the entire world.

6) I love to cook and bake really delicious things that make people happy. The best compliment I ever received was, "LE, you cook like you think sex is the competition."

7) I spent the majority of my life as a blonde.

8) I enjoy just about every type of music. I like punk. I like country. I like rap. I like Barry Manilow.


Lizard Eater, with great love, affection, and a huge wink, plonks both Peacebang and Jess on the foreheads for daring to complain about getting ready for GA.

I would LOVVVVVE to be at GA this year, and not just because it's someplace cool, while I sweat amongst the humidity and mosquitos that are my town.

Maybe next year. Heat and all.

(who hates packing and flying and would probably be grousing, too. Although, the idea of flying, sans children, with nothing to do but read a book ... ooooooh.)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Kathleen Parker joins the "Ann Coulter/Michelle Malkin/etc." pile

Admittedly, I haven't read a whole lot of Kathleen Parker's columns, but I thought she was your garden variety, educated, reasoned, conservative writer. I like reading editorial columns from all sides, especially when I know there's a chance the writer might say something that will resonate on both sides of the political line. Like George Will. He has his days.

Well, with one sentence, she threw out any chance of that, for me.

Writing about the statute prohibiting homosexuality in the military:
It's not about the rights of gays to serve, but about the rights of non-gays to be protected from forced intimacy with people who may be sexually attracted to them.

Um, no ... that's called "rape" and I believe that the military already has some rules about that.

I enjoy thoughtful discourse, even a good passionate row. But I must admit something ... when I hear an argument in which the debater substitutes a fake bogeyman for a well-reasoned point, my mental response is, inarguably, juvenile. Remember the original Saturday Night Live? Well, here's my mental response:


For what it's worth, I apply it regardless of gender. Hmph.

Certain types of stupidity just make me really, really angry. And that's when the Hulk comes out. Thankfully, not out loud or in person. Jimmy Carter lusted in his heart, I occasionally snark in my heart.

(sigh) Back to working on the "gentle" part of "We are a gentle angry people" ...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Inclusiveness leading to non-voluntary exclusivity

Okay, that title sounds pretentious.

My point, and I do have one, is about how an urge to inclusiveness at all costs can wind up with a church that unintentionally excludes many.

I am thinking about this because of a line from Peacebang's wonderful post about what she has learned in 10 years of ministry. (And a quick shout out of "Congrats on your Ordination Anniversary, PB!)

Snipping one little bit:

(I) had no idea that congregations could commonly tolerate vile, destructive behavior in the name of "community” or “inclusiveness."


Our church just recently had a knock-down, dragout, because (thankfully, a minority) some members were vehemently opposed to having a disruptive behavior policy. They felt that it was wrong for a UU church to have a policy in which a member could be expelled from our congregation.

I think they are kind-hearted, loving people. But I do not agree with them.

What concerns me are all the people we lose over disruptive people in our congregations. Hard-working, good-hearted people who say, "I can't take this anymore."

Let me do the big disclaimer: No, I'm not going to define every type of disruptive behavior. And no, I certainly don't mean someone who is merely argumentative. Heck, I don't even mean someone obnoxious. I mean someone who is willing to kill the church with their actions. Vile, destructive behavior. And this is why I support having a good disruptive behavior policy with good checks and balances. I, by my ownself, should not be able to decide if a person is exhibiting "disruptive behavior." There should be steps of discernment. Phases of chances. Non-biased persons. Checks. Balances.

But that's jumping to the last step of everything. Better yet, of course, is being able to turn someone around. Show them what is considered acceptable.

And that takes a church community that is willing to step forward, rather than turning a blind eye, when someone begins with inappropriate behavior.

I have been reading Never Call Them Jerks, Healthy Responses to Difficult Behavior. This is after reading Well-Intentioned Dragons and Antagonists in the Church. Of the three, "Jerks" seems to come the most from love, and refuses to label trouble-makers.

(In the interest of honesty, I will admit that the other two are more satisfying in that you can say, Yeah! Yeah! when they describe certain types. But hey, satisfaction isn't often the solution to this kind of challenge.)

Where was I? Oh yes.

In "Jerks," there is a wonderful statement:

"Some churches are willing to trade integrity for tranquility."

What a great statement.

I am willing to bet that churches who are willing to make that trade don't grow. And probably shrink.

And along with the church not growing ... the destructive person doesn't grow. Aren't we cheating them out of a real opportunity? As a church, aren't we supposed to support each other in personal and spiritual growth? Sometimes, that support comes from saying, "This ACTION, we do not support."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Why It's Important for UU Ministers to Travel ...

Specifically, to speak at other UU churches. (I enjoyed Ms. Kitty's post about doing pulpit supply.) More specifically, to UU churches who don't have a minister:

1) To teach about UUism. Take our church. We haven't had a minister in what, a couple of years? Three years. Wow. So we have members who are church members, but may not necessarily be UUs, because while they've been exposed to a lot of different speakers, they haven't heard a lot from the pulpit about Unitarian Universalism.

2) To show people why it's important to have the goal of getting a minister. Again, we have a lot of members who have seen a UU minister only rarely, if at all. Why should they get excited about getting a minister? What's so special about a UU minister anyway? And then, the Sunday happens where we get a dynamic UU minister in the pulpit. And everyone says, "OHHHH! Gollum want shiny UU preacher!"

3) To bring a little bit of the outside UU world into a church. It's very easy -- especially in small, minister-less congregations -- for church members to become myopic about UUism. Convinced that they are the only UU church in the whole world. And then a UU minister visits and "Look! A stranger! From a faraway land! But she's ... one of US!"

4) To say things that someone from within the congregation can't say. I travel around, doing pulpit supply as a lay speaker, and this is one of the aspects I really enjoy. If a member of Doe UU congregation gets up in the pulpit and preaches about forgiveness, well, some folks are going to find that a little pointed, whether it is or not. But if I do it ... hey, it's just a sermon. I don't know these people.

5) To get in touch with your inner circuit rider. Universalist circuit rider preachers are an important part of our heritage and by all accounts, helped grow Universalism "back then." Wouldn't it be great if the same thing happened now?

Preach on! Amen! Blessed Be!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Can I apply as "Lizard Eater" to seminary?

This whole "internet thing" is still so new to us. (Yup, but ah think it's here to stay, Marge.) 50 years from now, what will they say about its impact on relationships and psyche?

Some things are just ... very odd, to our conventional way of thinking. And here's the perfect example:

I'm applying to seminary. Well, I'm applying to one UU seminary, and hoping I won't have to reapply to my old seminary, after the extended leave with LW's birth, infancy, and cancer. But I might have to redo that process as well, if they won't let me just pick up where I left off.

One requirement: recommendation from a UU minister.

I don't think this will be a problem; I've still got contacts with a couple whom I've worked with. But it's not as easy as it is for someone who actually attends a church that has a minister.

But here's the thought that is interesting to me: there are ministers out in the UU-blogosphere who know me far better than the ones who know me flesh-and-blood. Ye gods, the blog-ministers probably know me better than some members of my family. It is here that I have shared the pain of my spiritual journey as I angered at God, let go of certain beliefs, and found fresh spirituality. It is here that I have shared my soul.

Interesting, no?

(I don't think I need to state this, but for that anxious feeling in my stomach, let me hereby announce that in no way is this any sort of a hint for a recommendation, yada, yada, yada.)

And that's the other, interesting part of this. We are so conditioned to believe in what we see, rather than what we read. I know that I would question the ethics of giving someone I only knew as "Lizard Eater," someone whom I had never seen, never spoken to, a recommendation.

And then there's the whole issue of whether I am even as I present myself. It's an interesting conundrum:

IF you know me in real life, then you can base your recommendation on how I conduct myself, how I act around others, how others seem to treat me. But that doesn't mean you know me.

IF you only know me through this blog, then you know my deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings. You know my fears. You know the questions I ask of God and religion. You know me. But you've never met me.

Huh. 50 years. What will they say then?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Reunion, Reconciliation

I'm glad I went.

Like many have said before me, the twentieth class reunion is miles away different from the 10 year. 10 year, it's all about "Look at me!" 20 year ... people have gained weight, lost hair, dyed hair henna red (okay, maybe that's just me), had kids, gotten divorced, accepted compromise. Cliques are gone.

Our reunion was not so much a high school class reunion as it was a slightly incestuous family reunion. I'd say about 85% of those who showed up had begun kindergarten together. Including me. I had the fun of going up to a big, tough, beefy lookin' guy and saying, "You got me in trouble in kindergarten during playtime, making me hold up a toy apron while you charged it like a bull!" He apologized very sweetly and asked if he could make it up to me.

That was not the only apology of the night, though it was a lot more fun than the next. Next time was much more serious ... and I was the one doing the apologizing.

I had a close friend in high school; we'll call her "Sue." She and I had a fairly typical high school friendship -- bickering, making up, sleepovers and giggling over boys. After graduation, we drifted apart, going to different schools. But summer after my sophomore year, we found ourselves waiting tables at the same greasy spoon. We weren't quite BFFs again, but we enjoyed our time working together. A few weeks before I went back to college, she discovered she was pregnant. We talked a bit about it; she was going to keep it. I went back to school and she went on with her life. When I said "See ya," that last time, I didn't know it was the last time. Surely we'd meet up again, as we always did. Except we didn't. And so, 18 years later, we were at our high school reunion.

I had tried to contact her over the last couple of years, once I discovered the magic of online reunion sites. She never responded, but hey, those things aren't so reliable. And then in the last few months, I posted a message to her on our online reunion bulletin board. She never acknowledged the message. Hmm.

At the reunion, it was obvious she had some bitterness towards me. The Husband was the one to pinpoint it. "It was when you were asking about her first child," he whispered, when we were alone.

So, later in the evening, I ventured out with that information. "I'm sorry I wasn't more involved when your daughter was born."

She looked me straight in the eye. "I was very angry with you over that." The tone of her voice disputed the past tense of her statement.

I tried to put my feelings into words ... "I'm sorry. Until I had a child of my own, I just didn't 'get' how huge that was."

We hugged. We talked more about our lives.

When I got home, I wrote her a long email. I explained that she always seemed so self-sufficient and strong, it never occured to me that she needed me. That's true. And what can I say ... I was 20, self-centered, sheltered. My heart breaks, thinking of the incredible opportunity I had. An opportunity to nurture her, to be a part of her journey.

Can you imagine ... for 18 years, she has carried around that anger. For that, my heart breaks the most. That kind of anger is hard to sustain. It hurt her. On some level, it affected who she is.

But what a gift she gave me. It would have been so easy to just blow me off. But she gave me the opportunity to learn about how I had affected her. More generously, she allowed me to apologize.

I don't know if my apology gave her balm in any way. I don't know if she'll ever respond to my email. But I know I will carry the experience with me for the rest of my life and it will affect the choices I make. That is her gift to me.

Friday, June 08, 2007

When I am an old woman ...

Along with wearing a red hat and such, what kind of person do I want to be?

I have been thinking about this, not only because Ms. Kitty is, (and all the cool people do what Ms. Kitty does), but also because LE has a fabulous role model in her home church. I think of this woman as "The Elder Stateswoman."

It should be noted that age is not necessarily a requirement of being an Elder Stateswoman. Experience, however, is a necessity. THE Elder Stateswoman does not qualify age-wise, as an old woman. She is, however, a role model to the women younger than herself. And others.

This woman has done her time in leadership roles through the years at church. When asked, she is generally agreeable to giving advice. She gives it, and that's that. If you want to take it, fine. If not, fine. She suggests it as another ingredient in your decision-making, not as a substitute for your decision-making.

Having already done her own time as a leader, The Elder Stateswoman is more than happy to give authority to those now in charge. She believes in allowing leaders to lead, and not be mere managers.

When posed with a question, The Elder Stateswoman always pauses before answering. She gives thoughtful answers. If she doesn't have an answer, she says, "I don't know." She is always interested in learning something new, or in hearing a new idea.

It is because of all this that the leaders of the church, male and female, young and old, go to her for counsel. She unequivocally has an agenda and is open about it: she wants the best for the church. She wants the church to grow so it can meet the needs of others. She wants everyone to be given opportunities to make the world a better place.

As you can tell, I'm kind of in awe of the Elder Stateswoman.

I hate to deviate from this glow-fest to go into negativity, but since I hope to look back on this someday when I am readying myself to be an Elder, I must jot down what is not part of being an Elder Stateswoman:

* Being afraid of change
* Fear of being irrelevant
* Demanding respect for one's age and experience
* Being unwilling to give up power

There is a grace and dignity that goes along with being an Elder Stateswoman. And those stay with you whether you have a red hat on your head, or a beer mug in your hand.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Apparently, there are a lot of we '87ers out there. Boy in the Bands and Boobless Brigade Master, to name two. And moi. Someone else ... Nancy?

My class reunion is this Saturday. Tickets are bought, grandma is coming up to watch kids; I am going.

Is there anyone who isn't either negative or ambivalent about going to their 20th high school reunion?

As an adult, 4 years is just a blip. It might as well be four weeks. But those four years of school seem to mark us as little else does. Has anyone written a book about this? Seems like it would be ripe for psychological dissection.

I have a friend who is a therapist and she claims that all our problems stem from our family of origin. I dunno. I think high school marked a whole lot of us.

We lived in an area where few moved in or out. For grades 5-8, we lived in another place because of my father's job. But his job changed, and we went back to the house I had known since birth. So some of these people I have known since kindergarten.

On the outside, I was Miss Involved: editor of the paper, frequent lead actress in the school plays, a speech nerd, all that. Dressed crazy, acted fairly bubbly. Inside, I was the kid dressed all in black, sitting in the back of class, counting the days til I could leave and never look back.

I felt like the only liberal in a school of Reagan-worshipping Republicans, and I know I was the only UU in a school that predominately went to the community Southern Baptist church.

I am going to my reunion out of curiosity. How did people change? Is there anyone I can relate to, now? I will wear my medallion with all the different religious symbols surrounding a chalice. It is a limited amount of time to reconnect with these people ... I don't hold much hope of finding another UU, but I figure if someone has ventured outside the religion they grew up with, my necklace can start that conversation ...

(Of course, it can also begin the "Can I give you my testimonial?" conversations.)

At the very least, I'm sure the reunion will give me some stories to tell.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Candy Everybody Wants

When people come to our churches, having left behind fundamentalist Christianity, we often focus on the negatives they have left behind: judgment, discouragement for thinking for themselves, hellfire and brimstone.

But often, they're leaving behind beliefs that can be seen as theological gifts. Gifts isn't the right word, but neither is "candy." Not sure what the right word is.

My point, and I do have one ...

During the last year and a half, I've gotten to know some devout, fundamentalist Christians who were going through the experience of having a child with cancer. They praised God when things went well, and held on to faith when things went bad, repeating over and over that God can make miracles.

And for some of them, the miracles did not happen. And they lost their children.

I have seen so many who responded to that by holding on to the vision that their child was now with Jesus. That what is a lifetime to us, would only be one day to the child in Heaven, and then they would be reunited. That as they grieved, their child was in the most blissful place imaginable. And that Jesus was holding him on his lap.

I normally feel pretty snarky about religious "toys" -- plastic Jesus hanging from the rearview mirror. But I saw something in that line today that made me tear up. A family just lost their toddler to the same cancer that Little Warrior had. Before she got too ill, they took her to a photography studio. At this place, they apparently had some sort of Photoshop magic so that the final picture made it look like the child was sitting in Jesus' lap.

Don't you know that picture is such a comfort to them today?

While it is true that you can still have those beliefs and be a UU, I haven't met many folks that have it, or at least, not with the fervent faith that is encouraged in a fundamentalist church.

Most likely, if they have come to us, it is because they had to. Because they couldn't believe that way anymore. Because their personal theologies needed more room than they had there.

But along with leaving rigid dogma, they had to leave behind some things that could give them comfort.

We need to respect and honor that. It was a sacrifice, in exchange for the noble goal of being true to themselves.

Monday, June 04, 2007

"Paper Illusioning" my bathroom, during and after

Meadville-Lombard Modified Residency Program

Has anyone done it? Thoughts? How did your "home" (non UU) school treat you, since you were taking classes at their school, but not planning on graduating there?

Inquiring minds, and all that.

ML is doing a Summer Intensive session at First U in Dallas, and it looks like a big part of it involves change theory. I'm sure it's way too late to register, considering I'm not even an accepted student of ML, but I'm drooling. After our experience this past week, we need some good learnin' about change. It feels like we're poised to really start making our church dreams come true (a minister, please God!), but there's going to be some real growing pains. If anyone has any good, practical books on the topic, let me know.

In our church, there seem to have been two school's of thought about change. a) Just push on through, never slow down, and don't think about collateral damage. And b) If we just love each other enough, and collaborate on every decision, then somehow we'll get there.

I think both of those leave something to be desired.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Policy passed

And by a wide margin. Still and all, what will the fallout be? How will people heal from their feelings of distrust?

In September, I take the pulpit to sermonize (tee-hee, like simonize) about forgiveness.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Swamp Thing Dog

I cannot post this on Weight of the World, my blog dealing with religious persons and healthy living. It breaks the laws of good nutrition, whole foods, and to some, undoubtedly, good taste and common decency.


Take a big hot dog bun. Not one of those wimpy ones. On your grill, cook up some Nathan's hot dogs. That's one of those things you Yanks really do best -- franks. Stuff your bun (dirty mind, I'm talking food here) with frank, chili, queso, caramelized onions, guacamole, and candied jalapenos.

Anyone here watch The Cosby Show back in the 80's? Remember the gusto in which they said, "Bacon-BURGER-DAWWWWWG!"

Well, no great name like that for mine. But I think, on account of the guac, I christen thee, "Swamp-Thing-Dog." (Hmm, it's a UU dog. "I dedicate thee ...")

Ahhhh. And I guess this does sum up my philosophy on nutrition/dieting/health: there's gotta be room in there for a chili dog once in a while or I ain't buying.

Aaagh! Who needed a wall treatment???

I can't remember who blogged about this. But my paperillusions came today, and this stuff is KILLER! We got script cobalt blue. It really is as easy as they say. We have an irregularly shaped entry-way bathroom that had old wallpaper on half the wall and funky swirled texture on the bottom. Well, we painted the bottom, no problem. The top ... I attempted to pull down the wallpaper, to have the experience of the vinyl coming off, leaving the paper behind. And, oh joy, they had never primed the wallboard. What to do?

Well, here's what I did: put wallpaper primer over the ripped up shreds of paper and wallboard. Didn't even bother to sandpaper. Began ripping and slapping up the paper illusions. It Looks So Cool. Yes, yes, pictures are forthcoming. It's so easy, I have even let the almost-5 and the almost-8 help out.

The Husband was way impressed when he came home. We're already making plans for the peeling 70's wallpaper in our master bath.