Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

This year my wife, the Pastor, asked if I'd like to assist as one of the readers in our Christmas Eve, Lessons, Carols and Candlelight service. I said, sure, as long as I get to read Luke 2:8-18 from the KJV.

Now I didn't have a blanket, but with a missing front tooth, I did sound somewhat like Linus.

Have a safe, Merry and Holy Christmas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Saw this movie the day it came out, on an IMAX screen. Loved the movie, but didn't write about it.

Went to see it again last week on a smaller screen, and I must say, my reaction is the same. Its almost like reading the book !! Steve Kloves, who's adapted the books for most of the movies was right when he convinced the producer David Heyman to spread the last book into two movies. You couldn't put all the threads of the final book in 2 hours 20 minutes, you would not give the book justice.

As it is, Steve had to reduce the number of characters seen in the book by having previously introduced characters in the movies do some of the actions. There are also some areas where people who were not fully introduced in earlier movies(Bill Weasley) had to be introduced in this one as they were crucial to certain areas of the story. So dialog had to be written to cover his scars from the werewolf attack.

That said, there is PLENTY of dialog as well as storyline taken straight from the book here so Potter fans will not be disappointed at all.

I can't wait until this coming summer for Part 2.

And so it goes ... ;)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

PCUSA being sued !!

Caught this on Church and World (Presbyweb) today: Presbyterians sued over alleged sex abuse.

Now normally I wouldn't worry about this, as the denomination does not have a central authority. However; with all the litigation by churches trying to separate the PCUSA to another denomination while keeping their property; the PCUSA has been arguing with with provided legal assistance, or friend of the court briefs, that the PCUSA is a hierarchical denomination.

What does that mean to us in the pews? Well, it could mean that even though the Hostel where the alleged abuse occurred was owned by a church supported entity, not the PCUSA corporate body, the tactic used by the PCUSA against churches, may be turned around and used against the PCUSA itself. I'm not a lawyer, nor pretend to be one, but is this not possible ??

Interesting conjecture, no ?? The PCUSA could be facing multi-million dollar lawsuits, that could threaten its financial stability. What would happen to the PCUSA then ?? Perhaps something that would be a positive thing. Funding for all the different committees, and associated staff would drop. Many of the committees that make work for themselves would have to stop making work because there would be no one to do the work.

It would pare down the size of the national staff in Louisville. Just think, perhaps the work of the denomination would then be reduced to just one thing - saving souls for the Father and Lord of all.

And so it goes ... !!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wow .. 17 days 'til Christmas

Its been an interesting month here in Cannoli PA. My wife, the Pastor has been preparing for Advent and Christmas. The local minister's group planned a Live Nativity, and I've been putting up the Christmas decorations.

Now we've never done the Santa, sleigh, reindeer, and elves thing in front of our house at any time.

The first year we were married, we went out to buy some outdoor lights to decorate. So there I was decorating our front door, stoop, and colonial awning/roof with lights. Trouble is they were all blue mini-lights, and when lit at night, reminded my wife of a shrine to the Virgin Mary. All we needed was the statue. I guess my Catholic upbringing subconsciously came out that year.

The next year we were in a different town and state, and so far off the road, that nothing I put up could be seen, except for the neighbors .. who surrounded us as we were in the middle of the piece of land, and 17 neighbors surrounded us. In the summer, we were hidden, in the winter the trees dropped all the leaves, and there we were.

I went out and bought white lights that year, and strung them around the back patio where they could be seen. That year it really was a white Christmas (and a white December as I recall), those lights just made it look like a Winter Wonderland (cue music). I remember taking them down one January, and there was a lot of snow on the roof. Did I mention it was a sloped roof down to the back patio ?? Luckily it was a light snow.

A few years later, and we were again in a new state and town, and we were right on the road, with neighbors in a row with us. We added some new lights, a large wreath that I used the extension ladder to place on the second floor foyer window, garland all around the front door, white lights in all the shrubs, and a lit garland around the post lamp. Still fairly secular, but not gaudy. The only problem came when I was trying to get the wreath up the ladder, luckily the snow broke my fall.

We also put lights on the back deck, as the community's walking trail was in the back of the house, on the other side of a small stream and copse of trees. They really looked good, until the squirrels starting chewing at the red lights. We think they thought the red ones were berries. I guess they got a shock.

Fast forward to today, and I found something on the web that I thought would be perfect for our house, which is, in reality, the manse. I created an Advent wreath made of Christmas lights. The original idea came from this website, and it has turned out nicely. The only change was that I used blue lights instead of purple/violet. The purple/violet lights I found really do not look any different from the rose lights, so I went with blue.

We're getting good comments, and I'm really glad I went with it. I did reuse the large wreath, as it looks good on the double front windows, and I didn't need a ladder to put it up.

So the second Sunday of Advent came, the live Nativity was set up, the temps dropped to a 14 to 15 degree wind chill, and only one set of Josephs and Marys showed up. So the live Nativity was over in about 45 minutes. While the live donkeys we had really didn't have a problem with the cold, the camel we were going to have and all the humans did. Next year we're going to try to figure out a way to provide heat for the creche.

All in all, a rather busy few weeks. Now I can start putting together my want list. I guess you can figure out what I want for Christmas:

And so it goes ....

Monday, November 8, 2010

Back from vacation !!

Its been a great few weeks away from semi-retirement. I do have a business which I've talked about here BTW .. I will send a small check for referrals !!

As I mentioned in my previous post, we hit Montreat, then headed further south to see my in-laws, my sisters, and the Mouse. I had a good time with the in-laws and the sisters, but I had FUN in Orlando.

Every time I hit Walt Disney World I'm a kid again. Gotta hit Pirates, get wet at Splash Mountain and do the Kilimanjaro Safaris® at the Animal Kingdom. However, this trip we made a detour over to Universal to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It really does look like the village of Hogsmead, with Hogwarts Castle towering overhead. Its worth the visit, even though the 'dueling dragons' rollercoaster is the old "Fire and Ice" coaster.

However, aside from Orlando, and the visits with family, there was time to recharge. Away from the Internet, except for email (see first paragraph, customer support is always needed), and for most of the trip, no TV. When I did get a glimpse, it was a political ad. Guess what, the ads I saw in Pennsylvania, were the same in Florida only the names were changed.

Along with the relaxation, came the notice that the last of my friends from PTS was ordained, albeit in a different Presbyterian branch that is much more conservative than the PCUSA. So, I was thinking about how much of the 'anonymity' I need to keep. Not as much as before, so I will reveal to those who haven't figured it out by now, that I'm the spouse of the Pastor at Cannoli Presbyterian Church.

The Preacher's Husband, and I don't play piano nor organ, nor do I teach Sunday School. I did say I would assist where I can around the church, but I drew the line at being the head of the local Presbyterian Women group.

However, based on what the other pastor's husbands and I talked about at the Wee Kirk conference, we've found a 21st century equivalent for male spouses. We run the sound board !! True, of the 5 or 6 male spouses there, we all ran the sound boards for our wife's church.

And so it goes ....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wee Kirk

I've just returned from the Wee Kirk conference at Montreat. Over 280 Presbyterian ministers, CLPs, elders and deacons spent a few days in worship, in workshops, and just enjoying the time at Montreat.

Montreat in October is gorgeous, and the temperatures are comfortable during the day, and nicely cool at night. All in all, a great place for a gathering of small steeple leaders to connect, discuss, and commiserate.

There is a movement amongst small churches to band together, to show where the power really is in the church. I pray that this occurs sooner than later, and that this may help renew the PCUSA to faithfulness.

And so it goes ....

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

We're sorry but the page you are looking for cannot be found.

Have you been to the PCUSA website since they unveiled the remodel ??

The site looks great, although the proclamation on the main page I'm proud to be a Presbyterian because we are God-centered is a bit a farcical at this point in time, and shows a bit of hubris. There are other denominations who are Presbyterian also, but that's neither here nor there.

My main problem with the new PCUSA website is that you cannot find a bloody thing on the site. They did away with the old area based menu. You know, the one where you had five general areas of information, which then led you to another page that broke down the area into specifics.

The new site has everything listed by church department or office!!??!! You have to know which part of the bureaucracy oversees what you are looking for!! This is hard for the average Presbyterian to remember, let alone someone who is not a menber of the denomination.

Try looking on the main page for anything concerning Stewardship, you have to guess where it may be. Maybe Per Capita listed under the office of the General Assembly (OGA)?? Nope, it comes to a page listing the rates for the next few years, along with a definition (and justification) why we need to pay it. Maybe under Resources on the submenu on that page?? Nope, again more bureaucratic paperwork: the 2010-2011 budget (in PDF form), a downloadable brochure about Per Capita, where to obtain envelopes to grab, er collect Per Capita, and some opinions on why Per Capita is required, and if a church does not collect it and forwards it, why the Presbytery is required to pay in lieu of that church.

OK ... I get it, the PCUSA is all about the money. However, where is the area concerning STEWARDSHIP??

Its alright to want to get the Per Capita funds, but where is the denominational resources to assist churches in the yearly Stewardship drive ??

There is no where, I repeat NO WHERE you can get any idea of where to find Stewardship information. They list areas of information that may concern the staff in Louisville, but as far as the concerns of the average congregation of 100, not much. I finally had to use the main page's search function to find stewardship information.

Turns out Stewardship is listed under the General Assembly Mission Council (GAMC). Great ... but there is no direct link available on that page, nor is it available on any of the pages directly linked from that GAMC main page.

I hate to say it but you can see by the design where the staff in Louisville has their mindset, and again, its not the same as the church in middle America with under 100 members.

As you can see by this submenu that is on every page, the main mission of the PCUSA, at least according to the staff who assisted in creating the page, is Compassion, Peace and Justice. I'm glad to see that Evangelism & Church Growth is next, but then we get more Social Justice. We finally cover the areas where the church needs to concentrate: Theology, Worship & Education, Vocations, and World Mission.

However, once more, there is nothing for Stewardship, even under those broad topics. I went through every subheader and link on that GAMC main page to try to find something on stewardship. Zilch, Nada, Nothing.

I finally found Stewardship when I selected the Or By Title -> S-Z link. Lo and behold: STEWARDSHIP !! My quest was over, it only took 5 to 10 minutes of frustration. Did anyone talk to people outside of the headquarters on what was the area regularly visited by congregations? Was a website statistics package used to track page views ?? If this was a corporate page, and I were looking for a product, I'd be looking elsewhere.

Now, where did they put those online versions of the Book of Confessions and Book of Order ??

... and so it goes!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

An interesting GAPJC decision.

The General Assembly PJC just released a decision on a case where a session approved ordination of a elder-elect in a committed same-sex relationship. In the course of the Session's examination of the candidate for elder, he stated that he was fully compliant with the requirements of the BOO paragraph G-6.0106b, commonly known as the Fidelity and Chastity requirement.

In this case the Session took at face value the statement of the person in question, that he and his "partner" lived together, but were chaste and did not engage in any "self-acknowledged" practice the Confessions call sin. The Session did not have any information that was contrary to the statement of the elder-candidate. The GAPJC ruled that the rulings of the lower courts were valid. See full decision here.

This may sound strange coming from this evangelical, but I agree with this ruling. If the candidate was telling the truth, that he and his partner are chaste, reside together as a couple with no sexual element, then he is abiding by G-6.0106b.

If not, and any such activity is well hidden, then the One who is judge over all will pass judgment when he meets his Maker. If such activity is later found to be occurring and such information is brought before that Session, I fully expect the Session to perform its duty under the Book of Order to administer Discipline to bring the elder into compliance, or remove him from office.

... and so it goes !!

Friday, August 27, 2010

You're guilty, but we're sorry you are !!??!!

In a decision that follows the letter of the PCUSA Constitution, but not the Spirit of the Constitution; the PJC of the Redwoods Presbytery has convicted Rev. Jane Spahr of representing a same sex wedding as a ceremony of Christian Marriage, and signing the Certificate of Marriage as the person solemnizing the marriage. This during the period such weddings were legal in California.

However, these ceremonies were in violation of the GAPJC decision that exonerated her a few years ago that stated “…officers of the PCUSA authorized to perform marriages shall not state, imply, or represent that a same sex ceremony is a marriage. Under W4.9001, a same sex ceremony is not and cannot be a marriage."

They also convicted Rev Spahr of performing no fewer than 15 additional Marriages in violation of that same Book of Order paragraph.

Finally, they convicted her as failing to be governed by the polity of the PCUSA , in violation of her ordination vows.

They did not sustain the charge of failing to sustain the peace, unity and purity of the church.

After all that, this PJC gives a full page to why they're sorry they had to do this , but that the Book of Order was wrong, that the laws of the State of California at the time were correct, and that Rev Spahr was acting with faithful compassion in accord with the BOO paragraph W-7.3004.

Trouble is, they overlooked what the BOO says in W-7.3001, A Ministry of Compassion: God sends the church in the power of the Holy Spirit to exercise compassion in the world,

1. feeding the hungry,
2. comforting the grieving,
3. caring for the sick,
4. visiting the prisoners,
5. freeing the captives,
6. sheltering the homeless,
7. befriending the lonely

No where in that list do I see, violate the PCUSA Constitution in doing this.

Now maybe I'm reading this wrong, after all, six Ministers and Elders must know more than this member in the pew, right??

They go on to say that they ...commend Dr. Spahr and give thanks for her prophetic ministry that for 35 years has extended support to “people who seek the dignity, freedom and respect that they have been denied” (W7.4002c), and has sought to redress “wrongs against individuals, groups, and peoples in the church, in this nation, and in the world” (W7.4002h).

They complain that they had to follow the Constitution because the GAPJC decision is authoritative and should be followed until modified, which reading between the lines probably meant that it should have been this past GA and the only reason we're convicting now is because those areas were not addressed.

They then complain that the BOO paragraph W-4.9001 " ... we have inclusive
and broad descriptive language about marriage, “Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well being of the entire human family.” This sentence is followed immediately by “Marriage is a civil contract between a woman and a man.”

I wonder why they left out this part: For Christians marriage is a covenant through which a man and a woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship. In a service of Christian marriage a lifelong commitment is made by a woman and a man to each other, publicly witnessed and acknowledged by the community of faith. I guess that language is somewhat inconvenient in the context of the "slap on the wrist" they were giving.

But that paragraph goes on: "The language of the second statement draws on our cultural understanding today of marriage that is rooted in equality. But it is not faithful to the Biblical witness in which marriage was a case of property transfer because women were property. Nor does it specifically address same gender marriage."

"Biblical witness in which marriage was a case of property transfer because women were property." I seem to recall this Biblical witness:

Genesis 2:23-24 - The man said,"This is now bone of my bonesand flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man."
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

Matthew 19:3-12 - Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"

Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry."

Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it."

Finally, they did not convict on the last charge of violating the peace, unity and purity of the church because they "..we commend Dr. Spahr for helping us realize that peace without justice is no peace."

Wait a sec, in affirming that which the Confessions STILL call sin, this is supporting the purity and unity of the church ?? After 20 or more years of calling those who will not affirm sin, bigots, homophobes, and worse, this is upholding the peace, unity and purity of the church ?? After church upon church, voting with their feet to leave the PCUSA because of the drift to apostasy being pushed by those who see nothing wrong with sin, but everything wrong with faithfully following the Bible, this is upholding the peace, unity and purity of the church??

I don't know, but then again, I'm just a member in the pew, I'm not supposed to understand all this. As someone told me when commenting on a previous blogpost, trust the system.

Seems to me that we conservative Evangelical Presbyterians should rise up and overthrow the system.

... and so it goes!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Anonymity Redux!

My last post dealt with why I maintain my identity behind my pseudonym. Then I was asked by Church and World if they could link to that post. I was surprised, and flattered that something I wrote would actually have made that compilation of Presbyterian news and opinion.

What I wasn't surprised about was that only two people actually commented on that post. It appears that either people don't care, or just don't believe that there could be discrimination against conservatives in the PCUSA. Yet there is a first person account written by the Rev. Hector Reynoso, who along with being a Commissioner to the GA, was also running as a Vice-Moderator candidate.

I quote:
The time of the plenary came and one by one pretty much all items supported by the GLBT community were approved: continuing with an inclusive translation of the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belhar Confession, new form of Government, the removal of the famous Amendment B, redefining marriage (this one did not pass), Board of Pensions (BoP) benefits for same-sex couples, etc. I was witnessing the church of Christ losing all votes by a landslide. I was compelled to speak at the plenary during the debate for ordination standards for I could no longer remain silent. Speaking at plenary immediately made me receive the cold shoulder from many, but also the love and support of a few Biblically-faithful, Christ-centered Presbyterians.

He goes on to state that during the next plenary session, he twice rose to speak, and both times someone called the question. Was there a coordinated effort to stifle debate, to block conservative speakers from stating their views ??

Amidst all the talk of proper representation on committees and commissions, the one commissioner overture that would require proper theological representation was not even debated (as far as I can tell).

Could this be the newest elephant in the room, that the vaunted social justice machine of the PCUSA, will not even give justice to those who want to point out that the church was given the task to conform the world to the Word, not the other way around ??

... and so it goes !!

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Recently I was asked why I maintain my anonymity on this blog. After all, it's not as if I'm a widely read blogger! This may sound trite, but I stay anonymous to protect my friends.

I often speak of people I know who are (or were) in the process of becoming a Minister of the Word and Sacrament. As many Presbyterians know, this is not an easy process. Every step of the way you are evaluated, tested, and evaluated again. Psychological tests, Bible Knowledge and Ordination exams, written statements of faith; the testing requirements go on and on.

Then there are the evaluations and meetings with the Committee on Preparation for Ministry, or CPM. Members of the CPM are drawn from the elders and ministers of the Presbytery, and they all bring to the table their personal perspectives and beliefs. All the previous tests taken on route to be ordained are objective, unfortunately the CPM can be a hotbed of subjectivity.

In the ideal world, candidates would be judged on their fitness to pastor, their ability to preach, and their belief in the saving power of Christ. In the real world, it's often based on if you use enough inclusive language in your statement of faith, how P.C. you are in your beliefs about inclusion, and whether or not you're male or female.

Now, enough with the background for my reasoning to stay anonymous, let me talk of myself and the friends I protect.

I make no bones about the fact that I am conservative. I'm not as conservative as some, no posts about the Regulative Principle of Worship from me; but I'm more conservative than most, again no posts about affirming non-celibate LGBT ministers here either. I am a Five Solas Presbyterian, one who believes that Christ shed His blood, died, and rose to redeem us from our sins. Unlike some who are ministers in the PCUSA, I believe the Resurrection happened, that the Apostles saw the risen Lord, and that He ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father. The Nicene Creed is more than just words on a page, it is the bedrock of my faith.

The problem is that if I reveal who I am, I can accidentally tar those whom I write about with the brush some would use to paint my beliefs; and this could submarine those friends who are in the process. It is a shame that this could happen, but I know of at least two people who have had their conservative views cause problems for them; and these are women candidates.

One had a Session that was fully supportive of her starting the process by becoming an Inquirer, however the pastor at that church was dead set against letting this conservative woman proceed.

Another had views that were diametrically opposite those of the E.P. at her presbytery. The E.P. had some influence on who would be on the various committees, and used it to stack the CPM with like minded individuals. This CPM consistently caused problems for my friend, and her children, who were also in the process.

Another female friend in a very liberal presbytery luckily had a CPM advisor who was a conservative and who provided advice on how to make it through the CPM without getting 'flagged'.

Now I trust that there are non-celibate inquirers/candidates who also try to stay below the radar at conservative presbyteries. FWIW, from what I can tell, they usually move to a more liberal presbytery where they wouldn't have to stay below the radar. However, they are trying to hide their inability to resist their sinful nature, rather than hide their faithfulness to the scriptures.

Which is worse?? I leave that to the reader, but I suggest failing to recognize and repent of sin is a pretty good indicator.

More than likely I will be trashed by those come across this blog, and disagree with that statement. They will call me homophobic, backward, traditionalist, and (horror of horrors) that epithet of last resort Evangelical.

I have no problem with that, because they're MY beliefs, and I'd say so overtly, but I've a duty to my friends. Perhaps, in a year or two when everyone has been granted leave to circulate their PIFs, I'll reveal who I am.

... and so it goes !!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Blog Problem

I've been notified by a reader that since I've gone to the new template, they've been unable to cut and paste from my blog.

This tended to astonish me, as I was amazed that I blogged about anything that someone would WANT to copy ;)

That said, I just tested the copy function in IE8, Firefox and Opera, and it does work in all the browsers. That said, IE8 does tend to be somewhat strange both in highlighting the text, and accessing the Copy function. You can't right click on the highlighted text to copy it, you must go to the EDIT menu on the standard toolbar and select COPY.

On all the others, the right click properly brings up the menu so you can select copy from there.

Hope this helps those who are having a hard time.

... and so it goes!

Sola Scriptura

Thanks to Church and World, I was able to read the comments of our new Vice Moderator of the General Assembly on Bill Tammeus' blog about how Sola Scriptura is dead in most places ... so where do we lodge the authority of our faith?.

Coming to the Reformed faith late in life, after growing up Catholic, my knowledge of the Bible was sorely lacking. Oh sure, we got a dose of the OT and the NT at Mass, but not an in-depth study. Perhaps it has gotten better, but in the 50's and 60's, you just didn't get that in a Catholic school.

Anyway, in my membership class at Treeburn Presbyterian back in 'Nother Completely different Presbytery, concepts like Total Depravity, and the Solas were introduced into my consciousness. I did some additional reading, really started getting into small group Bible studies, found out what the Solas meant, and what Calvin said about Christianity and humanity.

While I always understood the Bible was the inspired Word, I came to understand what Sola Scriptura really meant. While I don't take the Bible completely literally; there is some allegory in Genesis after all, the laws as enumerated in the Old and New Testaments are clear, non-allegorical, and obviously meant to be followed. I also realized that my old denomination, the Catholic Church, while having a fairly direct lineage from the early Church through Peter, had lost its way through the manipulations of ritual and rules by the hierarchy.

The Reformers said Sola Scriptura, that anything outside the Scriptures is the work of mankind, and not that of God; and we should not follow such. Is that statement being rejected by our new Vice-Moderator?? Evidently so!

Others have commented on this here, here, here, here, and here, much better than I could. Many of my original thoughts were confirmed by those listed posts. However, I'm not capable enough to respond with the kind of theological argument that would refute that statement.

What I can say is that for many Presbyterians in the Pew his declaration could be construed as a call to schism. What he is saying is that if the Bible does not agree with what he wants, we just do away with the Bible as the authority for the church. In effect, he is calling for a split in the PCUSA of those who believe in Sola Scriptura, that is, conform the world to the will of God; and those who want to find a different authority, to conform the church to the world.

Many will say that split is already here, and those who believe in the authority of the Bible are voting with their feet. I tend to agree, the PCUSA shrunk by 60k this past year alone. Not all left with churches moving to another denomination, I'm not sure of the breakdown, but I don't believe the rest all passed on to join the Church Triumphant.

I won't be leaving, its too easy to walk away and give up the PCUSA. I won't leave, not when there are those in countries being persecuted for their faith in Christ. Can I not do the same in a denomination that is becoming less faithful to Christ and His Word?? A pastor friend of mine said to me, As long as I can preach Christ, and Him crucified I will stay!. As one who believes that the Word was made flesh, and that we can only learn about Him through the Word, I will stay and be faithful.

... and so it goes!

Friday, July 9, 2010

I like this priest !!

Once you get past the stuff about the flowers, it does get very interesting. See how an ecumenical advisory delegate perceives the PCUSA's GA deliberations.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

There is hope!!

At this weeks Christian Life Conference, the morning inspiration speaker talked about Lamentations, and how in Lamentations there was an underlying theme of hope. At that conference, there were prayers offered up for the commissioners at the GA, prayers that those attending would have the Holy Spirit move them to preserve the traditional teachings of the church.

Today, the GA voted on the overture to remove the fidelity and chastity provision of the PCUSA Book of Order. The vote was 53% to 47% for, 373 to 323 with 4 abstentions. This vote was far less than what was final at the 218th GA on the same question.

UPDATE: Later in the session, the GA approved a motion to include both the majority and the minority report on marriage in the study to be sent to churches. Then after a vote to disapprove three separate overtures that asked the GA to restate the traditional PCUSA view of marriage, a motion was made to use the approved minority and majority studies to answer the rest of the overtures under committee 12. Those overtures had been recommended for a floor vote as amended, and would have opened the door for authorized same-sex ceremonies.

The rational for using the action on the study to answer all remaining overtures was that the GA had just recommended this paper to the entire church with recommendations for its use, and to try to pass overtures which then affect the entire church and make the study moot, is illogical.

I suspect that there was rejoicing in some areas, and gnashing of teeth in others.

There is Hope !!

Why do we have YAADs again ??

As to emphasize the point I made in two previous posts, as I was watching the video feed from the 219th GA tonight I saw something that should make every Christian who believes John 14:6, whether liberal, moderate or conservative weep.

As I watched the nFOG floor debate, one Teaching Elder who was speaking in opposition to the nFOG brought up that the Foundations part of the nFog does not clearly affirm the teaching of John 14:6, and smacks of universalism, that is, there are more than one path to God.

In favor of the nFOG, a YAAD spoke up, and was talking about her feelings as a "young adult", which wasn't a problem, but then she addressed the previous speaker's universalism comments.

To paraphrase:

I don't think that that is against scripture and our teachings

I rest my case !!

UPDATE: I'm surprised no one told me that I had TAAD instead of YAAD in my title. I guess everyone knew what I meant ;)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

180 degrees out-of-sync!

As I try to follow what is going on at the GA, while trying to enjoy a brief R&R away from home, I keep seeing what appears to be the major disconnect between what the average PCUSA member believes, and what the GA votes on.

What I find interesting is that while a majority of presbyteries defeated the last overture trying to amend the Fidelity and Chastity amendment, a majority of members in the committee voted to approve the latest attempt to remove it, sending it to the Plenary session with its concurrance.

Even if you remove the 17 TAAD votes (grrrrrr) it still would show a majority of around 5 to 6 yea votes over the 17 nay. Why is this happening ??

Aa I was riding in a car in the N.C. mountains with my father-in-law (a Presbyterian elder) and his wife, along with my wife, we were talking about this, and I postulated the following:

As we all know, most of the elders who attend presbytery meetings are those saints of the church who are usually retired and female. This is not being stereotypical, just stating a fact that I have seen for myself at a few Presbytery meetings at Plodding Presbytery. This, coupled with the fact that many meetings are scheduled for weekdays when most men and women have to work, results in the majority of those attending being those who are: 1. Retired and can get to the meetings, and 2. specialized clergy who don't have pastoral duties that tie them to a church.

So, the resulting makeup of the meeting are those with a liberal leaning agenda, elders who want to be 'kind' and not hurt anyone, or those who really do not have a good grasp of the biblical/theological underpinnings of much of the Book of Order.

Am I stereotyping the 'specialized' clergy, not really, a read of the Presbyterian Panel results on some issues show that most specialized clergy lean to the left on issues, and most pastors lean to the right. As far as my opinion of the elders that attend Presbytery, that is my opinion based on the meetings I attended in what is considered a conservative presbytery.

So how does that result in the commissioners we get at GA? Again, many times its done because the person is available to take a week off, not because they are the best person for the job or that they will represent the views of the majority in the presbytery. In many cases, the kindly saint who has attended every Presbytery meeting for the past 8 years is selected as a 'reward' for her faithful attendance or service.

And when they get to GA they vote because they believe that the committee who wrote the report put a lot of time into it, and it should be approved; or that they are swayed by the passionate view of one of the TAADs, who knows that the Jesus I know would not do that .. (see my previous post's rant about TAADs).

Then, how are people assigned to the different committees ?? Are the assignments done in order, that is, pick a name, fill a position on committee 1, then the next goes on committee 2, and so on; or is there a pick and choosing of who goes where??

A few posts ago, I talked about how I felt that that Presbyterians Today had injected itself into the controversy about the Belhar Confession when it printed a glowing review in the edition prior to the GA. I'm sure a free copy of the issue or a reprint made it into the hands of many commissioners.

At that time, I said I believed the 'fix was in'. Looking at how the many votes against Biblical faithfulness happening in the committees, can anyone show me where I'm wrong??

Friday, July 2, 2010

General Assembly

The General Assembly will be starting tomorrow about 24 hours from when I finish this post. I'm not one to mince words, so I really don't think that much is going to surprise me as I also believe the fix is in.

[Rant Mode ON]

What's that, you say ?? Well, when you have as many overtures and issues being discussed as the PCUSA has presbyteries, you can't expect each and every commissioner to understand the reasoning, or the issues behind them. They will rely on staff notes which often means that they will get a biased view of whatever overture or report they're going to be looking at.

Eh ?? Biased ?? Of course!! Most of the specialized clergy and staff are liberal, so trying to get a balanced report from most of the PCUSA staff is near impossible. There are small pockets of moderates and conservatives, but they're kept out of the areas that really have power.

Then you have the advisory committees such as the one for women, who couldn't resist putting in their two cents on the Middle East report, or giving rational on overtures that have no basis in theology or reformed thinking.

Finally, you get to my favorite nitpik, the Young Adult Advisory Delegate. These advisors who have no real life experience, get to vote before most every vote at the plenary sessions. Most of these advisors barely have a working knowledge of the Bible, let alone the Book of Order, and vote based on their feelings. Yet, they can influence the votes of many at the GA simply based on the 'feeling' that these young people are the future of the Church and if that what they feel, it must be right.

This is a result of the PCUSA's drift from the basis of the Reformed Christian faith. We have become so progressive that anyone's feelings or beliefs have validity, even when those feelings and beliefs go against a few thousand years of tradition and faithfulness.

This is why a break is going to come, and the PCUSA had better decide whether it will be gracious in its view toward separating churches, or will be needing to find money to pay for lawyers.

Churches will leave, rest assured more members will leave, what will remain might as well merge with the UCC, as there won't be much difference.

[Rant Mode OFF]

Where will I be this weekend? I along with others will be at the Presbyterian Mecca, Montreat for the Christian Life Conference sponsored by Presbyterians for Renewal; where we'll pray for the Commissioners at the GA and the PCUSA in general.

I fully expect to see that there will be some interesting Presbytery meetings this coming year.


Every so often I'll come over here and decide to change the look of the blog. Blogger has introduced a new 'template designer' feature, so I used it to select this template, and to do some tweaks.

It'll last about six months before I get tired of it again ... ;)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lost all respect !!

The other day I received my copy of Presbyterians Today, the magazine of the PCUSA. I understand that the mag is designed to present information about the PCUSA in as best a light as possible. However, I always believed, based on previous articles that were not so flattering, that it was fairly independent.

I've lost all respect for that idea after this edition.

As many Presbyterians who take the effort to find out what's going on in the PCUSA know, one of the issues coming up in the General Assembly this year is the adoption of the Belhar Confession as one of the Confessions of the Church. Belhar was written at a very specific time in the South African church. It deals with a form of racism that really is not part of the PCUSA today. Adding it as part of the Constitution of the PCUSA, which the Book of Confessions is, is not necessary as the other part of the Constitution, the Book of Order, is very specific about the requirements for racial inclusion.

However, in many orthodox Presbyterian minds, that is not why its being brought forward for inclusion. Dr. Richard Mouw explains why here. Viola Larsen has been going over Belhar in a series of posts here. The inclusion of Belhar is not a done deal, so there has been advocacy done by those for and against. Frankly, I've seen more from the for group, than the against.

So, what does that have to do with my lack of respect for the editors of Presbyterians Today ??

After reading all my favorite areas of the magazine, especially Best of the Blogs by fellow Presbyterian blogger Quotidian Grace. I started to read the rest of the magazine. There as part of a 10 Part Series on the Confessions of the Church is an article on the Belhar Confession by a member of the Special Committee on the Belhar Confession.

In the article J.C. Austin gives the three questions that must be answered for any addition to the Book of Confessions. Then he answers them all in the affirmative. However, the questions he asks, are really not what the Book of Confessions itself says about adding a new confession:

When the proposed confession is a historic document, the church should understand
the original circumstances of formulation and reception. Additionally, the
contemporary need for the confession and the possibilities for reception should be
demonstrated. Then, the value of the historical confession should be tested by a
period of reception in the church. A confessional statement should prove itself
foundational to the church’s faith and life before it is proposed for inclusion in the church’s confessional standards.

The Assessment of Proposed Amendments, PCUSA Book of Confessions

Ok, so its a puff piece about Belhar, what does that have to do with my losing respect ??

Because there is NO rebuttal by an opposing voice, and neither can there be any that would be available to any GA Commissioner prior to the GA. All they see is a very affirmative piece, with no criticism of the reasoning behind the piece.

Considering that the Belhar is not even part of the Book of Confessions, including it in a 10 Part Series on the Confessions of the Church is being presumptive at best, since there are only 9 current Confessions in the BoC (which includes the Larger and Shorter Catechisms), and manipulative at worst.

Then there's the timing of the piece. I had missed the 2 previous pieces on the Confessions, but I'm assuming that if they were done in order, they would have been the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed. Even if they were only doing the actual Confessions, the Belhar would not have been the next in line.

No, this piece, was planned for this edition to appear right before the GA. In this action the editors of P.T. have shown that they are just as political as the rest of the GAMC in advancing an agenda that does not reflect the thoughts of the majority of Presbyterians in the pews.

I had just resubscribed to P.T., having accidentally let the subscription lapse, thinking that I would get some good information I could take with a grain of salt. Taking a teaspoon of salt would not make this article less palatable. I think I'll let my subscription lapse after this year.

And so it goes ....

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is not for boosting our armed forces, or thanking a vet. That's what Armed Forces Day and Veteran's Day are for. Memorial Day is for remembering those who have gone before, volunteering and giving their lives to keep freedom alive in whatever part of the world it may have been threatened.

To absent friends, long remembered !!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Advisory Delegates

Again, as the time for GA comes near, we're going to see a lot of advocacy for and against some overtures and proposals coming up. Commissioners will be getting hit from all sides, and hopefully they will do more than just accept the advocacy at face value.

However, while one can avoid the advocacy by avoiding some breakfasts, lunches and dinners, voting commissioners cannot avoid the advocacy of the Advisory Delegates. Why? Because they get to give an advisory vote, which is announced just before the commissioners actually vote on an overture.

Someone may have thought this was a good idea, but in practice all it does is give some commissioners the idea that they're just following what the future leaders of the church want. The problem is the advice they're getting is often based less on biblical and historical data, and more on feelings.

The worst example of this was at the last GA, which I followed online via streaming media. During the debate on changing the Fidelity and Chastity amendment, one young adult delegate got up to speak in favor using the words I feel the Jesus I know ....

You really do not know Jesus or the Triune God without knowing what the Bible says. And you do not know what the Bible says unless you take the entire Bible and understand that what was in the Old Testament, unless specifically superseded in the New Testament is still in force today.

By ignoring the Old Testament, as many do in advocacy for a specific position, they are no better than Marcion (sp??) whose teaching that the God of the OT was not the God of the NT was denounced by the church as heresy.

Which brings me back to the YADs, of whom I would say 80% have not been fully versed in the teachings of the OT and the NT, the historical background behind many Presbyterian norms, and do not have the maturity to understand the consequences of many of their beliefs. Am I being harsh, perhaps, but I also remember what I was like at 18, and do not think that 18 year olds of today, are any different than I was back then.

I fully believe that the comments of the YADs are valuable, but they should be kept in the commissions that they have been appointed to. YADs should not be able to address the floor during specific votes, nor should there be an advisory vote taken and announced prior to those of the Elder Commissioners, who should be influenced by the movement of the Holy Spirit, not the vote of those who have not yet gained enough experience to differentiate between their feelings and true inspiration.

And so it goes ....

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Sniping Season has begun.

Normally in May, we think of new growth, trees turning green, flowers blooming, and the fullness of Spring appearing on the Earth.

However, to Presbyterians (at least since 1998 when I joined a PCUSA congregation) I've found that May in the years of a General Assembly (annually at the beginning, biannual now) we see the birth of Sniping Season.

The left snipes at the right, and the right snipes at the left. There are those who will agree to disagree amicably, but then there are those who will take pot shots at the beliefs of those they disagree with, then throw in an ad hominem attack.

This year it has started over the discussion of the Belhar Confession by Viola Larson at her blog. Instead of just disagreeing with Viola on her blog, this person had to send an email to Church & World (Presbyweb) to have it published to the world.

Now Viola doesn't need me to defend her, there are others who did it much better than I could here and here, but if you're going to disagree with someone, disagree with the content, not the person. As one person put it, it was a vitriolic response to her. Hardly something that we were taught to do as Christians.

Of course, the Belhar Confession won't be the only area of disagreement between those on the left and right, but already its being pushed as something that will be used by those on the left to push against the standards that are in place in our Constitution.

I'm taking my old 1950's training to heart, that is, I'm going to duck and cover because I hate being sniped at.

And so it goes ....

Friday, April 30, 2010

Down to Business

Some of you may know that I'm a computer geek, yeah I know, big surprise. Well, I've been doing computer support through my own home-based business for a while. I've also done a few websites for other companies.

Well, as a friend told me when she was looking at churches who were looking for pastors, some churches really have lousy looking websites. She thought that they really did not want to host visitors, because trying to find out any information about worship times, and location was virtually impossible.

I did some research, boy was she right. I saw plenty of Twirling Crosses but not much in the way of information for visitors. So, I saw an opportunity to offer a decent website, at a price small churches can afford.

So, if anyone needs a site, or wants to get rid of the twirling crosses, or the scrolling Jesus Loves You drop me an email. I can help you out, and you can keep me employed ;)

And so it goes ....

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

There are ministers in the PCUSA who do not believe that Jesus Christ died and rose on the third day. They say its a fairy tale created by the first century writers of the Gospels. There are those who hide behind their collar (if they wear one) with these apostate beliefs and keep them hidden, or who proclaim them openly but their presbytery does nothing.

There are others who claim that the idea of the Crucifixion reflects a God who believes in child abuse, or that there was no substitutionary atonement by Christ for our sins.

Why do they insist on trying to see the mysteries of God through the eyes of modern man; to use reason to fathom the unfathomable? It may be because their view of the Bible is that it was written by men, and not inspired by God. That the Word of God is nothing more than words on a page.

There are two quotes that I'd like to pass on to you that may point out their errors:

You cannot go on 'explaining away' for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on 'seeing through' things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. C.S. Lewis

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible. attributed to St.Thomas Aquinas

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rainbow Bridge

We put my cat Delenn down today. As I mentioned in this post she was diagnosed with cancer. At the time her chest filled with fluid, it was drained, but they did say it would happen again, and would we like to do chemo.

Sure, who would we be doing the chemo for, us or Delenn. We decided to make sure she was comfortable for the time she had left, and for another 6 or 7 weeks she was her old self.

However this weekend, she was listless, and we noticed that her breathing was back to the way it was when her chest was full of fluid. We knew it was time, and I think she did too. All day today she just sat or dozed, but she would look at me and meow that meow that kinda said ... I'm not feeling well, do something!. But there was nothing that we could do except make her comfortable, and stop her pain.

A while ago, someone passed on this text called Rainbow Bridge, its not theologically sound but it makes us feel better, just as knowing that when we go, in the words of the Jeremy Camp song:

There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of Heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing: they each miss someone very special, someone who was left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; his eager body begins to quiver. Suddenly, he breaks from the group, flying over the green grass, faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into those trusting eyes, so long gone from your life, but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together...

*Author Unknown*

Or as a long time friend of mine who knows the origin of Delenn's name told me.
She's just going Beyond the Rim!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Well, everyone else weighed in ....

... on that historic bill that will provide health care for all according to those on the left, or the bill that will take this country into socialism according to the histrionics of those on the right.

As I've said before, a pox on both their houses. Neither side has been honest with the electorate: there are costs that will raise the deficit, but there are good areas that will lower some health costs. Yet, what does this bill do ... no one really knows.

Its funny however, listening to the GOP alternative plans, they sounded awfully like those we heard about 18 years ago, from Bill and Hillary !! If they are so keen on their health co-ops, why didn't they just go for it then?? Well, its wasn't their idea then, and anything coming from the other side is a bunch of socialistic nonsense. Hmm, sounds familiar.

Has the level of discourse come to this, that nothing the other side proposes will be agreed to because its from the other side. That compromises and negotiations are sneered at as caving?? Oh please, without such negotiations or compromises most of the major legislation of the 60's and 70's would not have passed.

When has it become an offense to disagree with your party on something, when has it become traitorous to vote your conscience, rather than with the rest of the party? Why must an elected official have to worry about being called RHINO or BLUE DOG when they take their assignment from the people who elected them serious; to vote their conscience, and stand their ground on principle? Why does a Representative who was not sure about the bill, be subjected to pressure from special interest groups on both sides to vote their way; then be threatened by these same groups when he votes opposite, even when he fully defended his actions with studies that the bill will not contain health costs, which the Representative was concerned about?

FWIW ... I agree with the Representative, there isn't much in the bill that will contain health costs. Having gone through a recent surgery and checking out what was billed, and what was actually paid by the insurance company, I can't understand how hospitals can get away with charging non-insured patients the original rates. If they can make money getting paid with the insurance company payment, why can't they do the same for all users.

Then again, maybe requiring everyone have health insurance will do that?? I have no idea, and unfortunately, I'm not sure those jackasses and packyderms (to steal a line from Dr. Bob Kopp) in Washington have any idea either.

All I can say is that I've been lucky in that I've always had a job that provided health insurance, the last one cost me about $160 a month for me and my wife. That said, I was working at Trader Joes for about $15.50 an hour, and part-time to boot (about 24 hours a week). If I didn't already own my house, I couldn't afford the insurance, as I'd have a hard time paying rent and eating.

Oh sure, I had a fall back, as I retired from the military, and have Tricare. However, they have a deductible, and per visit fee also.

Luckily having both a primary and a secondary insurance all these years, I've been sheltered from having to worry about paying what any insurance doesn't. But if I didn't have a secondary, I'd have no idea where I'd find the money to pay the hospital and surgeon what the insurance company didn't.

And that is the bottom line, while its great that this bill provides insurance for all (registered trademark of DNC), what happens when those who are covered, get the final bill for all the stuff that's left over? Where is that cost containment?

Oh wait ... I don't think its there!

... and so it goes !!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why have a book of rules ??

I spent 23 years in the military. From the very first day you were trained that there was a regulation that covers everything you do. While it may not have been true that everything was covered, it sure seemed like it to this basic trainee at the time.

If you did not follow the rules, well lets just say that there were specific corrective measures that were spelled out. However, in basic training, individual punishments were not normally meted out, they were usually applied collectively. So you learned that what you did affected the rest of the guys in the unit. This was a lesson in unit cohesiveness, that was very effective, as some in the unit found out when they didn't want to follow the rules.

Those who were in the military know what usually happens is called a blanket party. In its mildest form, the offender is wrapped up in his sheets and blanket (hence the term) and is given a 'party' to try to make him see the error of his ways, usually being left outside the dorm, in a very embarrassing manner, often without a stitch of clothing !!

In its worst form, the guy is beaten black and blue, or fragged. The worst form is usually reserved for battlefield violators who, through their offense, managed to have someone other then themselves maimed or killed. This is the sort of thing that was the basis for the movie A Few Good Men, where they labeled it a Code Red.

In my case, there was one guy who didn't want to shower, and found out how rough those toilet brushes really were. The DI (drill instructor) 'happened' to be staying at home that night. We wrapped him up, dragged him into the shower, turned on the water, poured on the liquid floor soap, scrubbed him down with toilet brushes. He showered daily from then on.

So, why am I bringing this up. Well, much is made of how the PC(USA) is a connected denomination. What one presbytery does, it does in the name of all presbyteries, and following that logic, in the name of all individual members of the PC(USA).

Well, John Knox Presbytery just did something that Bob Davis over at PresbyBlog calls a Constitutional Crisis. There is a link to the Presbyterian Outlook story in this post that can give you more background.

He continues that original post with a follow up talking about what to do about it. I fully expect that those Presbyterians who follow what is going on in the PC(USA) will be either up in arms, or clapping hands.

I'm firmly in the 'up in arms' camp, and wondering when the blanket party will finally happen, if ever.

And so it goes .....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Presbyterian Humor

For those of the Frozen Chosen who can chuckle ta themselves, Joseph at A Higher Orthodoxy blog has posted You Might Be A Presbyterian if ....

Some of these have been around before, but some are new, and all are funny, but they do tend to hit close to home!

A Tip of the Hat to Steve Salyards at the Ga Junkie.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My kitty has cancer.

Back in 1997/98 we had to put our cat Niniane to sleep. It was a painful time for me, I was a 'dog' person you see, and would never grow close to a cat. That was until I married SWMBO, who had two. Ninny adopted me, made sure I understood cat routine, as well as cat hierarchy, which is "Feline first, human second". I willingly adapted to that paradigm, which made it all the harder when we had to put her down. I said at that time, never again.

Until I saw Delenn at a local adopt-a-cat weekend in Tampa. She was part Russian Blue, like Ninny, and she sat on my shoulder without batting an eyelash. As she grew older, she never tired of trying to sit on my shoulder, although as she grew older, it was harder to fit her on my shoulder. She was my 'little girl' with a fuzzy face.

Today we found out that she probably has lymphoma. The vet was all prepared for us to start chemo immediately, but was somewhat stunned when we asked what was the prognosis. The average was six months, which to us, did not make any sense. That time was more for us, then for her, as we really have no idea what her quality of life would be during that time. Nausea and diarrhea were just some of the side-effects mentioned, although they do not treat pets as aggressively as humans. That said, why put her through that, just for us to selfishly have her around for a few more months, avoiding the pain and the loss.

Its not right ... so we'll get her home tomorrow, make her as comfortable as we can, and when it looks like its time, we'll put her to sleep.

And I'll bawl my eyes out, just as I did 12 years ago.

And so it goes ... !

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Another year of membership losses!!

Julia Duin of the Washington Times was linked to by Church and (the old Presbyweb) on Saturday. On her Belief Blog she talks about the 2010 yearbook from the National Council of Churches. In it, the NCC lists all the different denominations in the US and Canada, and their membership totals for 2009.

Its no surprise that the PCUSA again dropped 3.28% of its members, however we also dropped to last place in the top 10 denominations in the yearbook, we were passed by the Assemblies of God, who also gained 1.27%. I fully expect that next year we may drop out of the top 10, joining the UCC which is also down by 2.93% and who went from 22 to 23 on the list, and the Episcopal Church, down 2.81% but maintaining its status as 15th.

So who's gaining?? Of the top 25* on the list, the Catholic Church (not sure if this covers only the Roman Catholic, or all Catholic churches who recognize the Pope), number 1 on the list and up 1.49%. Well, I expected that, with 68 million members, the birth rate would allow for that growth. The Mormons (#4), Jehovah's Witnesses (#22), the Church of God (based in Cleveland TN) #24.

So who shows growth?? Two denominations that affirm the Apostles Creed (I believe the Church of God does), and two that affirm no Trinitarian creeds and could be labeled 'cults' by some. However, in all cases, those showing growth take a traditional view of the hot topics of the day.

And who are losing members?? Denominations that are willing to redefine the Bible in ways to fit the mores of society, rather than trying to teach society that it should redefine its mores to fit what is taught in the Bible.

... and so it goes !!

* these are denominations with over 1 million listed members.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cardiac Cath

When you get to a certain age, it seems like your warranty expires and everything starts to go south.

I've already talked about my thumb joint problems (which is better BTW), but then something else decided to cause an issue. I have these pains that feel like someone is clamping on my esophagus. The pain sometimes radiates to my jaw, and that triggered a response by my GP to get a stress test.

Got the test, the cardiologist didn't like what he saw, so I had to go in for a cardiac cath test. Turns out the pipes are fairly clear, just need to watch my cholesterol and such. Great, but I can't do anything like lift 10 lbs, or push anything for three days.

Comes the snow ... weather reports said about 6 to 10 inches, looks a heck of a lot deeper than that.

So, I guess SWMBO will have to learn how to use the snow blower today.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Happy Happy Joy Joy !!

OK ... I happen to have liked Ren and Stimpy, it was mindless entertainment, and that song of Happy Happy Joy Joy was the most mindless of all.

That said, when I got the news that Crimson-Rock Presbytery examined and passed my friend from PTS, that tune just popped up in my head. Happy Happy Joy Joy!!.

... and so it goes!!

Perhaps it won't go ...

The nFOG that is.

Most of those who track Presbyterian polity and what comes out our the PCUSA GA's will know that the nFOG is the acronym for New Form Of Government. This is the revision of our current FOG that is supposedly going to make the PCUSA more missional and foster our connectivity, but will probably cause more dissension, lack of trust and member losses.

Most of the dislike of the nFOG by many moderates and conservatives in the PCUSA is due to the fact it does away with a lot of previously fought over procedures that have been put together over the years in order to govern the various levels of the PCUSA. There's a reason there's a book entitled Blood on Every Page which has a history of how the BOO was put together. The conservatives see it as another loosening of the biblical standards that the procedures were put in place to prevent. The moderates see it as something that will upset the status quo, and heaven knows we don't want that to happen.

However, in a link from Church and World (previously Presbyweb), there is a story from the Layman that talks about how three different GA Advisory Committees (and some of the most liberal) are upset because the nFOG does away with some procedures that they don't want to see removed. Its fine with them to do away with others, but not these.

I guess the nFOG is good until your ox gets gored. Its ok if THEIR ox is gored, but leave ours alone. However, with negative comments from all sides, will it get off the ground ??

Again, there's a reason why there's Blood on Every Page.

.... and so it goes !!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I hope the PNC meant what they said ... !

In my last post, I mentioned that a friend was being called to her first pulpit. Evidently the PNC was very enamored and made her feel very welcomed. While not all felt the same way, most of those she met before the congregational meeting were happy to have her come to shepherd their church. I pray that the PNC reflected what the rest of the church thinks.

I regularly read the blog Kopp Disclosure. I find that his insights on church life are always dead on. While reading his post of Jan 13th, I came across this line: Churches and countries can't move forward if they're always looking at their, uh, behinds.. Which makes me reiterate, I PRAY that the PNC reflected what the rest of the church thinks.

This reminded me about a conversation I had with a former pastor. He was telling me about a pastor friend of his that believed the PNC's ideas about the future of the church. Unfortunately, those ideas were not reflective of some in the church, the some who happened to be the movers and shakers (or sneaks and submariners, take your pick) in the church.

Needless to say, that didn't turn out too well. Again, I PRAY that the PNC reflected what the rest of the church thinks.

..... and so it goes !!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Good News .. but somewhat bittersweet

The readers of this screed (and you know who you are, all three of you) know that I have a few friends who attended Plodding Theological Seminary. I mentioned that one of them was in the middle of the call process, and was going to do her candidate sermon before the congregational meeting to vote whether to call her as the Pastor at Cannoli P.C.

The meeting and vote happened this past Sunday, and she accepted the call. This is a time for celebration, but the vote was bittersweet. During the discussion prior to the vote, someone brought up what Paul said in 1 Timothy. While I understand that the moderator handled the question well, it obviously did not impress a few people sitting in the pews.

The vote was not unanimous. She had accepted the possibility that there may be a few people who are opposed to women as Pastors, she didn't expect that about 12 to 14% would vote no. It was a minority that couldn't be overlooked. It didn't help that some of the people had to leave before the moderator could arrive, those 10 or so people would have made the minority look smaller. That said, she looked at how the Spirit has guided her to Cannoli, and came to the conclusion that God wanted her here at this time.

Next stop, presbytery meeting for her examination. She fully expects that there may be questions about the vote, but she knows that the Spirit would not have led her this far for her to be examined and rejected at the last minute.

So she'll be ordained at 'Nother Completely-different Presbytery, then installed at Cannoli in February.

God be praised !!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Being "Inched" to death !!

For the past 15 days (except for Dec 30th) Plodding PA has had snow. It may have been a flurry, it may have come down in a steady fall, but we had snow. Along with the rest of the country, we've also had the arctic cold coming in from the lands of our neighbor to the north.

The past day we had 4 inches come down, primarily due to the storm front and low pressure area that sailed across the country from the midwest to the east. We're supposed to get another 2 or 3 overnight into Saturday evening. Areas around here have seen from 5 to 25 inches; depending how close to Lake Erie they area. Yes, its mostly lake effect snow, but we didn't see as much last year as we are this one. Our unofficial measurement outside my wife's office window measuring the amount of snow on the roof of our patio, shows about 10 inches.

I can handle snow, I can't handle idiot drivers, which is why I stay home until the roads are clear. Which is the same reason I think this deer has decided to rest in my backyard until the snow stops. I fully suspect that they are safer from the hunters, than the drivers around here.

.... and so it goes!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Year ... and an old problem.

Its now the year 2-thousand and ten, or as some would have us say, twenty-ten. In either case its the beginning of another year.

While most people say its the end of the decade, geeks like me say we have one more year to go. After all, we don't start counting from the year zero do we !!

Now that I have that off my chest, its time to look forward to the new year. There will be changes coming up, one of which is that I will probably have to leave my job at TJ's due to complications with my left hand.

The left thumb surgery went fine, that joint is doing quite well. However, due to some unknown cause, my left hand cannot grasp as well as it used to. It is one third as strong as my right, and is very achy and stiff. While I'm doing occupational therapy twice a week, along with exercises at home, it does not appear to be doing all that much better.

I'm not sure if the problem was due to the hand being in a cast for six weeks, and my trying to do something with that hand while in that cast, or that the joint pain was so bad, it just overwhelmed the other problems in that hand. In any case, I will have to give up my job as I've run out of leave time. I can reapply to TJ's after everything is healed, but the date of that is unknown.

I really wanted to start off this year with something that wasn't about me, but this has become a constant in my life lately, and its hard to think about much else. That said, I'm in pretty good health otherwise, just need more exercise.

Enough of me; now, back in December I remarked about a friend coming up for a call. The congregational meeting is coming up soon, and I'm asking all three of my readers to keep her in your prayers. While the congregational actions are normally pro forma, there is always that gadfly that seems to show up to cause ripples. Please pray for clear sailing!

Finally, I wish everyone a happy and safe 2010.