In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Speaking Too Soon

OK - I mentioned the link to this political quiz. In 2004 I took it, and it said that I was a Kucinich guy. Well, I just took it again and Chris Dodd showed up at the top of my list. It's still not likely that its someone who's going to make it far in the primaries. However, I was surprised that the front runners both appeared near the top of my list. They were even ahead of Dennis Kucinich.

Maybe I should take this every time. It can show me how I have grown and changed as a person.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Holy Hospitality

We just returned from church this morning. It's Reformation Sunday, where we remember/celebrate Martin Luther and the reforms that he advanced within the Christian church. The pastor told an excellent sermon that somehow connected reformation with the given text for the Sunday, which was the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector. It talked about the need for any institution to be continually reforming itself, lest it get too high an opinion of the acts performed in the past.

As a part of the sermon, the pastor also talked about hospitality to strangers that happens within congregations. He said that this particular church has often been given high marks for its hospitality to the visitors. We are long-term visitors to this place, and we happen to agree.

However, when we left the sanctuary, my Other Half found that his leather jacket was missing. Someone probably took it by accident. However, we had a laugh over the admonition to extend hospitality to visitors in the sermon and the missing leather jacket after the worship service.

We are hoping that someone discovers that this is not their jacket and returns it AND that the church office remembers that we lost ours.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Jumping the Season

I don't know how to preface this announcement, so I'm just going to come out and say it.

We have a Christmas tree up in our living room.

Actually, we have TWO Christmas trees up in our house, one in the living room (by the front window) and one in the spare bedroom.

That's right, this year we are about on the same page as Wal-Mart when it comes to putting up our Christmas decorations. But it's not our fault! Last year, we went to a play about Christmas and the winter holidays. Our friend was in it, and it was great. We were especially impressed with a set piece. It was a large, spiral tree that had various lights on it. As the scenes changed, different strings of lights would light up, giving a different mood impression. We were so enamored with this idea, we decided that we should try it at home for the next year.

We went out in the "after season" sale to try to get some inexpensive stuff, a spiral tree and some rope lights. We bought all LED lights, since we were wanting to move in that direction anyway. We are hoping that LED will cut down on our electricity bill this year.

All year long, the lights sat in a box. Last weekend, my Other Half decided that we needed to order some more strings of LED lights. I have been partial to solid color strings lately, which are hard to come by in a store. So we went on line to buy some more strings of lights. However, we didn't quite know what we would want until we saw what the rest of it looked like. So, we put up our spiral tree and hung the rope lights in the empty space inside. It looked pretty good. We decided that two strings of solid lights would round it out perfectly.

Instead of putting it all back away for a proper time (like Advent, for example), we opted to keep the tree up. It's a conceptual tree, not a real or a "I am fake, but I look real" tree. It's all lights. It looks cool, and I'm excited for it. Sometimes, we turn on the lights briefly just to see the glow. But mostly we keep it off. We don't want to be the weird neighbors that have their Christmas decorations up in October.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Evening with Bill

Last night, my Other Half and I went to hear Bill Clinton speak at a theatre in town. We got an invitation over the email. There were various prices of entry (this was a fund raiser, after all for Hillary). At first, we were going to opt for the student price, because we both happen to be students.

However, my Other Half decided that students would probably be stuck in the nosebleed seats. Instead, he opted for the pricier seats that would be closer to the stage.

How true he was. It was general seating, with a few exceptions. We were allowed to sit in the first 20 rows (but not in the first 3 rows). Others who paid less than we did had to sit 20 rows back. We ended up being near the center of the 7th row. Not bad at all.

I find that I'm not a political "groupie". Other folks were acting like the Beatles had just walked on stage. They were taking photos with their phones (and sometimes even real cameras). They clapped every time someone said Hillary Clinton. There were "opening acts" to this political rally as well. At one point, someone wanted us to chant "Hillary is our Hope." That didn't set well with me.

I really liked hearing President Clinton speak. I think it would have been even better to hear him not campaigning. I think he has good ideas and he can express himself very well. The problem was that he would start out with a great observation of what we need as a country right now, but then he would move right into a comment like, "Hillary is the best one for the job."

I did appreciate that he didn't slam the other candidates. He also gave some good practical reasons for making her the Democratic nominee. He pointed out that she has been slammed by the right-wing machine for 16 years now. She knows how to handle it. He recalled John Kerry being nominated in 2004. We thought he had a good chance, especially since he was a veteran. But somehow Swift Boat and others found a way to turn that into a liability. She would be experienced enough to know it was coming and prepare for it.

I'm still not sure if I am throwing my support behind Hillary. I really would like to take a look at the other candidates closely. I've discovered, sadly, that the candidates that best represent my values are often the candidates that are the least likely to be elected. If we looked at things purely from my opinions (which you can do here, by the way), I'm a Dennis Kucinich guy. But no one will ever take him seriously.

It makes me wonder what would happen if we all voted along our ideas, not along spin. Our country would look very different, I believe.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Apparently, I am Lutheran

Eucharistic theology
created with
You scored as Luther

You are Martin Luther. You'll stick with the words of Scripture, and defend this with earthy expressions. You believe this is a necessary consequence of an orthodox Christology. You believe that the bread and wine are the Body and Blood of Christ, but aren't too sure about where he goes after the meal, and so you don't accept reservation of the Blessed Sacrament or Eucharistic devotions.













The Best of Both Worlds

One of my most recent favorite books (which is a light and easy read) is The Cheap Bastard's Guide to New York City. One, it feeds my obsession with a city I don't live in. Two, it is a funny book. Three, it's a great reference, telling you how to best take advantage of free stuff.

The best part is that the principles can be applied. Since I work in a college setting. There are lectures, plays, concerts, sports events, and a host of other events that are mine for the taking. Often, they are free for staff. Just on Wednesday, we heard from Peter Bisanz, a documentary filmmaker who is also exploring social entrepreneurship through an MBA and PhD. Pretty impressive stuff. I've been mentally stimulated by the convocations we hold and get to enjoy a high life of culture. While I don't take in a lot of sports, I sure could.

Let's compare this to my Other Half. He start a new job this summer with a hip company that employs a lot of young professionals. His company also has a lot of fun events. Last night was one such example. We dressed up and went to a private party room at the Walker Art Center. There was semi-live music (a DJ and a percussionist...I didn't totally get it). There were free art tours (it was a free night, so the free art wasn't that special). There were drink tickets that covered anything you wanted to drink. All in all, it was a very "trendy" night.

As I was staring out the window at the downtown skyline and the traffic from Lyndale Avenu, I realized that we had the best of both worlds. We could be intellectual and hip at the same time. We could immerse ourselves in culture and in a techno-infused party sipping cosmos.

The best part is that both of these events were free to us. We were invited because of our jobs. We get to do some pretty cool stuff.

These are the perks with the jobs we have.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Too Snarky?

I'm feeling that my last post may not have been in the best of taste. As you can see, however, I haven't taken it down. All the information is true. I really did go to college with this guy. And I feel I should say, he was a good guy. I'm not ragging him. This is more about my brush with non-fame. It's also a fun fact to share about my life. Maybe I need a more exciting life?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Vocation...Oh The Places You'll Go

This is really old news, but I thought I'd share.

The police officer who arrested Sen. Larry Craig in the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport restroom is from the area where I grew up. We went to college together for a couple of years.

Then, he was a hockey player.

Now he's an airport sex sting cop.

Vocation is where your deepest gladness meets the world's deepest needs.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fall Cooking

Yesterday, we had some friends over for dinner. We often talk about having friends over, but we rarely ever do it. In part, we have very busy lives, so it is hard for us to know when we will have free time. However, on this occasion, a friend asked my Other Half to take a photo for his bar mitzva (he's a 40-something year old convert to Judaism). Since he (and his partner) were coming over for photos, we decided to serve them dinner as well.

Before you start thinking how nice and generous we are, we should disclose that they invite us for dinner at least once per year. They have a beautiful house (actually, two of them...they don't live together). They are such great hosts that we feel a bit inadequate with our cluttered house and our lack of invitations for dinner.

However, we had all the ingredients for a fun dinner with friends. We still have a lot of salmon from our Alaska trip this August. Our last few farm shares have sent us a lot of squash. We decided that salmon and squash would be a good dinner combo. The food and the company made for a great dinner.

Here are some random comments that tangentially relate to this dinner:
  • I hated squash as a kid. Now that I'm grown up, I don't mind it as much. I still think it's not my favorite food, but when we steam it with some garlic, it can be pretty darn good!
  • Our summer farm share has ended, but we signed up for a winter share. Now, we are getting produce every two weeks. It's going to be a lot of stored vegetables, as well as root vegetables. Hopefully, it is as good as our summer share.
  • We can't help but compare our house to that of our friends. Right now, our house looks like it needs a lot of TLC. We aren't often home enough to organize and put things away, so there are a lot of "piles" laying around. We are hoping for some time to make our home not so trashy.
That's it. Have a good Monday.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Perception or Reality?

UPDATE - I finally found the article. It's here.

The other night, my Other Half asked me and our roommate which was more important: perception and reality. I had just written my past post, so I quickly said "perception". Our roommate said "reality".

Upon more critical thinking, I think that the important thing is to have perception and reality match one another. The main point of my last post was that if people perceive church-folk to be judgmental and anti-grace, then the reality of us not being so will never matter. However, I also know that we cannot simply put on a face of welcome and grace. The two need to match.

There was an article (that I'm really trying to find on line again!) that said that a new study showed that people perceive Christians to be judgmental and anti-gay. Again, I really want to find it to link to it, but Google News is not cooperating. When I saw the headline, I thought, "Well, duh." Does it really take a study to figure that out? I mean, I realized that, and I am a Christian. This is not to say that all Christians are judgmental (I doubt that any readers here are either), but enough are that we can all get painted with the same brush stroke.

This perception is hurting the Christian church. People don't trust us. I'm not sure we have given them good reason to do so. How do we change our ministry to one of reconciliation between a Church that has hurt people to one that asks for forgiveness for its wrongs and the people it has hurt?