Sunday, May 31, 2009

Speaking In Beef Parts?

Today's sermon is right here!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gnosticism is Alive and...Well?

One of the things that drive me nuts about religion is the whole "oh so holy" thing. What I mean by this is the feeling that "things" have been imbued with God and therefore have to be treated with special reverence. Or the thought that God is kind of dumb so we have to make sure we tell God exactly what we want or God won't get it.

Example 1. I was talking to one of my parishioners. She went rushing into my office (something that pisses me off to begin with) and picked up an old palm that had fallen on the floor. She held it up and asked if it was blessed or not. I said that it was one of the palms that was to be burned for ashes for Ash Wednesday. She was appalled that it was on the floor. So she picked it up and threw it in the garbage can!

Frankly, I think throwing the thing in the garbage is worse than allowing it to remain on the floor. But then again, in my mind, it is just a palm! There is nothing mystical or magical about it. The feeling seems to be that in "blessing the palms" you are imbuing them with a special power or something. Or maybe we are trapping God in the palm.

I have always had a problem with blessing things. I believe in dedication of a thing or place, but actually BLESSING it? No, God blesses people not things. All the bowing and not letting things touch the ground? Seems like idolatry to me.

Example 2. A bunch of papers went up on the bulletin board at the church. I was not asked about this nor was I told what was supposed to happen with these sheets. I eventually was told that they were for a special recognition on memorial day. Ok, sounds good.

I had the sheets with the names brought up and prayed over the sheets. I prayed that God bless and protect those who are named. That God bless and protect all those in the selective services. That God send his peace into the world so that war is no longer necessary. And that God bless all soldiers, no matter what country. I also thanked God for the sacrifices that were made and that were currently being made by the people and their families.

BUT I DIDN'T SAY THE NAMES! People wanted to hear the names! We have to make sure God hears the names or God may forget to bless and protect the people! Oh No! God is so stupid that God does not know whom to look after.

Maybe I am wrong, but it seems odd that we have to tell God whom to bless. It seems to me that the true act of faith is to place ourselves into the care of God and allow God to work through us.

This whole thing felt like an effort to manipulate God through a certain series of actions.

Gnosticism is an effort to manipulate God through secret knowledge and through secret acts. Each of these things seem like an effort to manipulate God. I don't think God cares if the palm was blessed or not. I don't think God cares if the palm is on the floor or not. I don't think God even cares if the palm makes it all the way to the landfill. I don't think God will NOT bless the people just because their name was not read.

Ok, end of rant.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Not Quite Half Way

I've already started to think about Christmas presents, have you?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Jesus Is Praying For Us

This Sunday's sermon is right here.

Friday, May 22, 2009


fail owned pwned pictures
see more Fail Blog

A visual representation of my generally prejudiced opinion of the mentality of those who drive hummers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Where Are You?

Ok, I got one of the weirder calls I have received in my clergy career last night:

"Fr. Ben, did you tell anyone to move the church sign?"

"No, why?"

"I just got a call from Mona, she said that the sign has been moved."

"Did it get moved to where we wanted it?" (I asked hopefully.)

"No, supposedly it got moved near the parking lot enterence."

"You mean by the other sign?!?"

"Supposedly, but pointing toward the neighbor's house."

This was something that seminary could not prepare someone for: A phantom sign mover. We wanted to move the sign, but not to the area near the parking lot! Two signs within 15 feet of each other was way too close!

Then, today, I got another call:

"Fr. Ben, are you ready for a laugh?"


"Mona told me that the new sign is on the left side of the road that leads into the driveway.'


"I told Mona that that is where the sign had been for the past 20 years!"

That is right! The sign was not moved at all!! You just gotta love life in a small congregation!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

You see some interesting things at the ol' Bucks. Yesterday was no exception. Tfere was this man who came into the store and started to do scratch-off lottery tickets. After a little while, he would get up, walk away, and then return with more scratch-offs. This continued for over two hours! I wanted to say to him, "Why don't you just give me your money, I will give you 25% back, and you will be about at the same financial level. Then you can go out and enjoy the sun! Or, if you want to waste time indoors, go to a movie! It would be cheeper!

The stained glass is St. Francis. I made him for a friend of mine who has just graduated from seminary. He is a fan St. Francis so I thought it was appropriate.

I still am trying to figure out some way to keep my head above water and still keep my sanity. (What little of it there is.) I have talked about getting my hours reduced at SBUX because I really don't want to ditch the church thing. But keeping the sanity is what is really important. We live in a world that does not value self-care. So when you tell people that you need to do something just because, they tend to look at you funny.

Oh well, life continues on.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hopefully Not Crying "Wolf."

exploding church Pictures, Images and Photos
Well, it looks as if I am going to take my place in the secular world.

I was at a vestry meeting last night and pretty much cried the whole way home. Between feeling over extended at work and feeling humiliated by the deacon assisting us, I felt pretty well pummeled by the time the meeting was over. I really don't need this.

I am working almost 40 hours per week at work for $8/hr. Then I work trying to write a sermon. The church I am at has no real prospect of upping my pay to a level that would allow me to ditch the SBUX job and work at the church. And SBUX does not pay enough to allow us to live. I am going to apply for a management position at the store where I work. (I work for SBUX but am hired by a superstore chain.) Hopefully I can get a full-time position and insurance.

I think I have given the church a real shot. But frankly, something has to give and the only thing that seems to be reasonable is the church position.

I guess I am trying to talk myself into believing that this is a good idea. We shall see.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Hello all, sometimes I feel like the old Hee Haw song; "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all..."

The radiator is fixed, and that is a good thing. It only cost me $85 and that is also a good thing. Someone from my congregation does handyman work and was able to fix it.

I still need to figure out some way of doing the work that is before me while also taking care of myself. If I don't get enough sleep, decompression time, etc, I get just, as Nick would say, "Whackadoodle." Obviously, being whackadoodle is not a good thing. I need to get through to the lead barrista that I DO NOT need to be working 40 hours per week.

The new location is going ok. Most of the people I work with are nice. One, the "learning coach" (and I use quotes because the girl has not demonstrated any competency in her job) treats me as if any interaction with me is just annoying. I will make a comment and she will just give me a dismissive "ok" and then turn away from me. Thankfully, I don't have to work with her often.

I will be moving my glass stuff to the basement and that will be a nice thing. I appreciate having the place to work on it, but having to drive at least 10 miles to get there waw getting old. Having the stuff in the basement will be nice.

The "Whackadoodle Factor" has been kind of difficult here. I have been feeling totally flawed and unworthy of consuming the earth's resources. I have not been wanting to die, but not wanting to live either. It feels totally confining, caged, and futile.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Get Out There And Meet Some Weirdos!

This Sunday's sermon can be found here.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Don't Even Ask!

The radiator in the truck has sprung a fountain.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Pity Party

I haven't been feeling very "blogerary" lately.

The down times lately seem much more prevalent than the up times. I would feel sorry about that, but reading the blog is optional, not mandatory: If you don't like whiny posts, stop reading now.

My biggest frustration is, which seems to be almost always lately, is the feeling of being trapped. I don't have enough psych backing (no Ph.D.) to go into clinical. I don't have a teaching certificate. I have a Masters in psych but that is almost a useless piece of paper. The M.Div. seems to be another useless piece of paper lately; good for answering Jeopardy questions and for getting into arguments with people who have no formal education but KNOW that God is telling them directly. (Gnosticism IS alive and dysfunctional in America.)

I feel like I am not able to give all I can to the church that is financing the major portion of my life and am giving my soul to a store that flips out the word (is it even a word?) "Famliness" whenever they can, but never puts the concept into practice. But they make up the shortfall in finances. And yet, even though they are the minor share of my finances, they take up the major chunk of my time.

I feel stifled in trying to find another job. The job market here is so bad and this job does give me the flexibility I need for the church stuff. But again, I feel guilty at giving the church all I can.

I feel like a house divided: Like I need to pitch one or the other. Drop the church and go after a management position at the store or ditch the store and pray that the church check will cover the finances.

Then we have Nick. He has been such a mainstay in all of this. I know it wears on him too and try to keep the frustrations to a minimum. But life has a way of producing frustrations. Lately, the computer has been a major frustration. First the laptop screen gets broken in an accident of the cd rack falling on it. So we got a monitor on freecycle. Then the power source on the laptop dies. So we replace that. Then the monitor on the desktop dies and we steal the monitor that we got for the laptop. Now we are waiting for the power supply and hoping to find another monitor on freecycle.

But Nick is working in a job that he can do but I am sure is not overly fulfilling. He brings in the lion's share of finances but the thing seems to be a constant source of frustration.

Shouldn't life be more than constant frustration and making do?

I didn't realize when I came to Michigan, now almost 10 years ago, that this place was going to suck me in and pull me down.

Now I need to find a Dr. to help me get the meds that keep me stable but can't afford. (Can't afford the Dr. either.) Of course the Republicans keep telling me that I just need to work harder and then I can be an all upstanding member of society.

Or, maybe I should just deny who I am, enter a loveless marriage, pop out some pups, troll for blow jobs in the rest areas, and call myself a heterosexual.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

We Are All Sheep

This Sunday's sermon is here!