Sunday, January 25, 2009

It never fails to amuse me...

...just how badly my congregation sings, "This Little Light of Mine." It's such a simple song, but we just can't seem to get it right.

I think playing it on the organ has something to do with it. The organ was not made for upbeat ditties, despite its ubiquitous presence at skating rinks everywhere up until the last twenty years or so.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yet another person active in the Civil Rights Movement who I never knew existed.

Ever hear the saying that goes something like those who forget the past are doomed to reapeat it? These folks are dying. We can't let their memories or their actions die.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Reflections on a Moment in History

I was thinking today, as we celebrate the life of a great proponent of human rights and as we prepare to see the first non-white person ever inaugurated into the highest office in the country (something I honestly never thought I'd see), about the Civil Rights Movement.

As someone who was born in the 70's and who grew up in the north, I don't think I have nearly as much appreciation of everything that happened in the South in the 50's and 60's. I mean, I have never witnessed institutional racial discrimination (to the best of my knowledge). I have seen bigotry, but it is usually covert, as opposed to out in the open. To me, it seems like a distant part of history.

But then I read articles like this. Almost half of the school systems in Louisiana still have desegregation suits pending. That's insane. And I learned today that the bus boycott in Montgomery, the one we all learned about in school, was actually patterned after a successful bus boycott in Baton Rouge, which we never learned about up north. And I watched this documentary, which was fascinating.

I'm realizing now how little I know about the struggle for civil rights for African Americans and other racial minorities. And through my friendships with certain other minorities who still don't have equal rights in most states, I realize how far we still have to come.

I think my next reading jag is going to be about the Civil Rights Era. So much I don't know...

A Foray Into Politics

I like Barak Obama. I voted for him because I though that, of the two candidates we were offered, he was the best option.

I don't understand, however, the almost cult-like following that has arisen around him. I just read about Oprah talking with a whole bunch of celebrities about what Obama's election has meant to them.

I'm sorry, but I didn't realize that Justin Timberlake was terribly influenced by what happens in Washington.

And Oprah had this to say about Obama's election:

"I feel like I am better because of his being elected," Winfrey said. "And
I think that the country is going to be better. I feel like it is a beautiful
thing, and we all start to see ourselves differently, the possibility."

He hasn't done anything yet. I think he has a lot of potential, but wait until he actually does something substantial to make those kind of judgements.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I thought this article was really interesting.

In all my years of being a good, little Catholic girl, I never knew such an office existed, or that there were sins a priest couldn't forgive.

Of course, I pretty much gave up on reconciliation as a sacrament back in high school, after a couple of bad experiences. For a sacrament that is supposed to be healing, it has never done anything other than cause me pain. As far as I'm concerned, sin is a matter that can be (and has been) handled directly between human beings and God in the person of Christ.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hello, loyal readers...

...I am not dead from proposal. The thing shipped on Wednesday, and I promptly slept for 20 hours straight. I really haven't done that since college, and I'm not actually sure I made it that long back then. I'm getting old, though, and the all-nighters are taking more out of me these days. It didn't help that I had a major adrenaline rush at the end of the whole process. The high-volume printer broke, just as we were getting ready to reprint sections with corrections. We had two additional color printers, but they were much, much slower. Plus, we still had to prepare electronic versions of the proposal, and there was some miscommunication about the lable for the cd's, and that was about 95% my fault.

But it is done, and that's all that matters. And I know I'm at least two big proposals away from managing another one of these. Maybe by then our process will be fully mature, because this one went better than the last one we did.

So today my congregation had a unity service with an African-American Baptist church. It was really cool. And their choir showed us how to really sing spirituals. Although I have to say it was funny to see us white midwesterners try to figure out when it was appropriate to clap during a hymn and when it wasn't. We sing. We don't clap or wave our hands or otherwise engage bodily with the music. We tried, though.

Actually, I've learned some really interesting things about my congregation over the past couple of months. It turns out that we were one of the first five "white" churches in Baton Rouge to declare ourselves fully integrated and welcoming to all, and we did it within a year of our founding. Now, for a congregation in the deep, deep south to do that in in 1959-1960 took a lot of guts. And even though it was mostly a symbolic gesture (there still aren't a lot of African-Amercans in the ELCA), it has been part of our heritage to this day. We have about 5 or 6 African American families who are memebers, which is more than a lot of churches twice our size can claim.

I also learned that we were one of the founding members of the interfaith federation in my city, and we are still one of the more active congregations. In fact, their Executive Director keeps at our church. We were also one of the first churches to participate in the Congregation-to-Congregation program that was instituted after a series of church burnings in the south in the late 1990's, and we are one of only four congregations still doing it (our partner is the African-American Baptist church; the other two are the Unitarian church and a predominantly African-American United Methodist Church).

I think that's really exciting for a lot of reasons. First of all, denominations tend to stick to themselves down here. That was a big shock when I went to work for the CCC. I was all about trying to do things ecumenically, which I was used to in the area where I grew up. You would have thought I had grown two heads. The Catholic churches down here are really scared of the big, bad Protestants trying to steal away their young people. I always wanted to say that perhaps if we made an effort to be more relevant, that wouln't be a concern. I always found that doing some things ecumenically made a huge difference to everyone who participated.

Perfect example. In my neighborhood, every Good Friday the Catholic churches (one of which was my church) and the mainline Protestant churches (we invited the non-denominiationals, but the declined to participate) sponsored a community Cross Walk. Basically, we reinacted the Stations of the Cross (an ecumenical/biblical version - no Veronica in this one, and the Last Supper was added) on a walk through the neighborhood up to the West End Overlook. The youth played most of the parts, and they took it very seriously and prayerfully. It moved the whole community (literally about 500 people came out for it every year), and really had an impact. That kind of thing just doesn't happen here.

So it's exciting for me to belong to a congregation where inclusivity and diverstiy matter.

Next week, we start on some developmental tasks in preparation for calling our next pastor. This could prove to be an adventure, I think.

Now, I'm going home to watch the Steelers, unless I fall asleep.

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

An advantage to working long hours by your self in the middle of the night... give yourself a mental break, you can learn a new skill.

Tonight, I finally, after trying for over 30 years, learned how to use chopsticks.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

There is nothing quite like editing technical text written by a Ph.D. who is not a native English speaker (he/she is from India) and who was educated in schools based on the British educational system, and therefore teaching British English and writing style.

It has taken me all day to get through a 25 page section of text.

Friday, January 02, 2009


They just don't make TV like Doogie Howser, M.D. anymore.

That's what's wrong with this country.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Dear Whole Foods...

I am not a cook. I don't pretend to be a cook. That is why I buy prepared food at your fine establishment.

However, Whole Foods in Baton Rouge, I know enough to know that when you make any kind of custard or mousse, you have to temper the eggs and strain the custard. Otherwise, you end up with bits of cooked egg in what should be a perfectly smooth end product. Like the ones in the Dulce de Leche mousse I bought today. There is nothing more disgusting than having bits of stuff in mousse.

Please make a note of it.


A loyal but slightly disgruntled customer.