Thursday, June 29, 2006


I'm sure I'll end up writing a longer post, or even posts, about issues of separation of church and state and so on, but for now, I really want you to take the time to read this. It is an awesome exploration of faith in the public arena from a UCC layperson. Take the time to read this one, everyone, and give me your comments. If nothing else, this one should promote coversation!

God loves you,
Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

"Victims, Aren't We All?"

Kind of a rough day today. Or at least... draining. Even Jenny's "nothin' much goin' on here" post leads us to kinda sad places. She asks what our favorite Johnny Depp movie is. Of course Edward Scissorhands comes up. We have a hard time watching that movie, even though we love just about everything Tim Burton has ever done. The thing is, Edward Scissorhands makes us cry. Every time. The movie is... melencholy--just to begin with. But this is compounded by the fact that one of the most deeply, intimately sad death scenes I have ever seen, or read for that matter, was performed by Vincent Price in the last role he played before his own death. It's almost too much.

It's a little bit like watching The Crow, which again, we don't do all that often. The Crow is a film based on the hauntingly Goth comic of the same name by J. O'Barr. It is a soul-wrenching difficult piece of catharsis born out of the tragic death of his girlfriend at the hands of a drunk driver. And so the movie is violently sad to begin with. But this is compounded by the fact that Brandon Lee, the actor who played the main character in the film, died on the set in a tragic accident. (As a side note... this tragedy is further proof that there is no such thing as a "safe" gun. Even one loaded with "blanks" can kill you.) Taken all together... it's almost too much.

So Jenny and I had this conversation over lunch today--which is to say after I'd gotten done with performing a funeral. There is a sense in which funerals are--well, I daren't say "easier" but... more simple, I guess, than a wedding. But in the end, they are just as emotionally draining. Funerals are sad to begin with, of course. It's never easy to see the adult children of a beloved father openly weeping as they eulogize him in front of family, friends, and their own children. This is compounded by witnessing the little daughter, the granddaughter of the deceased, watching her mother weep... soon openly crying herself, on the shoulder of her grandmother. Taken all together, it's almost too much. But I have a job to do. And I briefly find myself wondering how other pastors deal with this situation. How can they numb themselves enough to continue? And as I continue, my voice strange in my ears, thickened with emotion--I realize that I hope I never get numb.

We've all experienced pain, and so (barring somthing clinically amiss) we all can empathize with each other. And I believe that, far from weakening us, empathy serves to make us stronger.

Don't get numb.

God loves you,
Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

World of Warcraft

As you all know by now, I love science fiction, fantasy, and video games. It should come as no surprise, then, that I am an avid fan of the Massively Multiplayer On-line Role Playing Game (MMORPG) phenom known as World of Warcraft. (Commonly abbreviated as simply, WoW) I could wax poetic about the game-play, the depth and beauty of the world, the intricacies of the background lore and the plot of the stories currently being told. But honestly, none of those are the reason I'm writing about WoW. What's really been striking me lately is the sense of community. WoW literally hosts thousands of players in their world (or worlds, if you want to get all techincal about the different servers and so on)--and even more than that, the game itself is set up to facilitate and even encourage communication and cooperation with the other people inhabiting the world with you. I've been discovering a lot about what that means to the game.

Even though most of us will tell you that we play to relax, that we immerse ourselves in this fantasy world as an escape from
the real one... it turns out there is no escape. Of course, some of us immerse ourselves more deeply and for much, much more time than others, but even if you were to completely loose yourself in a psychotic and unhealthy World of Warcraft bender... there's still no escape from reality. You see, WoW bares all the marks of every other kind of community, if you look at it. I'm sure that some college, or graduate student somewhere is doing a paper on the WoW society. It has it's own language, it's own slang, it's own social rules, heck, it has it's own economy. And of course all of these things are impacted by the rules inherent to the game, but the rules of the game are certainly not the whole, here. There's even some religion, if you're looking for it. For the most part priests are little more than glorified doctors, but still... it's in there.

There are organized groups of players, called Guilds, each of which has it's own philosphy or outlook, complete with politics
and pariahs. And again, the structure of the game impacts all this. After all, there are goals in-game that can only be accomplished by groups of 5, 20, or even 40 players working together. You don't have to be a member of a guild, but it helps. And besides which, guilds are often recruiting, and if you're un-guilded, they aren't afraid to harass you into joining!

But my point is this... that all the guilds and groups and societal structures are made up of people like you and me who have the time and the money to play the game. There are sweethearts and @$$%^&es, heartbroken and heartless, mourning and joyful, couples, singles, bigots and social activists, just normal, fallible people.

And the funny thing is that as much as I try to relax when I'm on-line playing WoW, I still end up being the pastor. Next to no-one in that world knows my real name or what I do to bring home the bacon, and yet I end up providing the listening ear, or the shoulder to cry on. If I wanted to, I could say that I'm a 12 year old girl in Minnesota, but in the end you can't really hide who you are. Your real self shines through.

There is no escape.

And I think that's probably a good thing.

God loves you,
Be good to each other,
Rev Josh

Friday, June 23, 2006

I Wish I Could Have Been There / Kevin Murphy, part 2

A Year at the Movies, by Kevin Murphy, chronicles a Super Size Me style stunt, only with movies and fewer physical ramifications. Murphy watched a movie a day for a whole year, and not just in his home state of Minnesota, either. I wish I could have been at the Boston Theological Institue's first Faith in Film Festival. (Incidentally, my alma mater, Andover Newton Theological School is a member of the BTI.) I'll have to settle for the next best thing, the account of Kevin Murphy. And unless you go out and by his book (go ahead, click the link at the top of the post, buy it, it's fun!) you'll have to make do with just this bit about the last two movies, Ordet, from Carl Theodor Dreyer and Bringing Out the Dead, from Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese.

In a nutshell, it’s the story of a family in rural Denmark, maybe a hundred years ago. Dad is an inflexible religious fundamentalist. He has a son, Mikkel, who’s an atheist; another, Anders, who wants to jump religions and marry outside the family’s faith; and yet another, Johannes, who thinks he’s Jesus.

So, it’s a lot like Minnesota.

Ultimately, Inger, the wife of atheist Mikkel, dies in childbirth, No, she doesn’t. Wait—yes, she does. The movie goes back and forth on this in a scene that lasts eleven months, real time. But she does die, and her children come to Johannes (Jesus) and ask him to raise her from the dead. Johannes bolts, I believe for three days. And he come back, no longer smelly and in rags, but cleaned up and obviously sane. Thing is, he still believes he’s Jesus, and he performs a miracle all the same.

Ordet is a powerful, spellbinding fable of death and rebirth, of grace and redemption, of tolerance and forgiveness. It is considered one of the greatest films of its kind ever made.

And the audience laughed at it.

One reason is the characters, their stereotypical Scandanavianness. They all seem like they stepped out of A Prairie Home Companion. Caricatures. Big, intolerant Danes.

Another reason to laugh is the coffee. Honestly. These people are obsessed with coffee. I counted about ten separate occasions in which characters sat down to have coffee, making a huge fuss over it every time.

But the biggest reason to laugh was the technique. Everything is symbolic and portentous. The perdurable shots, the stultified pacing, the stony seriousness of it all. The pace is slower than the Great Boston Molasses Spill of 1919. And the sheer mass of the melodrama weighs down on a modern audience like an old sweaty grandma.

So, we, the audience, chuckled. Then laughed out loud. Then heckling started. I heard “Oh, come on, get on with it!” from the back of the room. Remember these are theologians, Harvard folk, film scholars. And still we laughed and heckled what has been called one of the greatest films on faith ever made.

All this leads me to a thesis: We have outgrown classic cinema. But we are also too immature for it.

Dreyer developed his art in silent films and never left these techniques behind. Only one generation in this century grew up on silent film. They learned to read spectacular film style, an art form that evolved and matured faster than rock and roll. But this film style was abandoned so quickly and thoroughly it makes you reel. Along comes The Jazz Singer, and, wham, silent film gets it in the head. Chaplin struggled to make silent films an enduring art from, and he couldn’t do it. There was no money in silents, so they died.

But there is a direct link from Ordet and Dreyer to the film that closed the festival, Bringing Out the Dead, by Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese, and my favorite film in the festival. Bringing Out the Dead addresses the very same themes as Ordet, but in a style as different as night is from day. Both are in the transcendental style, using film techniques to create an experience beyond the narrative; something spiritual, emotional.

Paul Schrader is brilliant at this kind of writing. Remember Taxi Driver? Raging Bull? The Last Temptation of Christ? (Okay, forget American Gigolo.) I have no idea how he writes a script for a movie like this. The screenplay is an astounding read.

Bringing Out the Dead is nonstop, almost non-narrative, experiential. It’s three days in Purgatory, with glimpses of Hell along the way. Its stage is the lives of paramedics in New York City. But ultimately, like Ordet, it is a story of grace and redemption.

I loved this movie. The audience loved this movie. If they were honest, the whole audience would cop to loving it head and shoulders above Ordet. Ordet is a lecture, a slow sermon on a hot day in a stuffy church delivered by Reverend Lovejoy from The Simpsons. Bringing Out the Dead is an acid trip.

Sitting in the Brattle Theater, shivering because the heat sucks, I watched the audience watch this film. They were riveted. Bringing Out the Dead was made for us. And made very well, in a manner barely conceived of in 1955 when Ordet was made. It is proof to me that we’ve outgrown Dreyer.

Here’s the funny part: Paul Schrader loves Dreyer. He learned from him. He even wrote about him in the book Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer.
We sat there, intelligent, sophisticated film lovers, and we squirmed like fourth graders. And during a festival of faith in film, with God watching and everything. All because we were unused to a classic style of filmmaking, and too impatient to learn from it.

In short, as a culture, with more movies available than ever before, we are becoming film illiterates.

Shame on us.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Random Stuff I Like... Including My Brother!

I was going to put up a quote or two from Kevin Murphy, but I left his book, A Year at the Movies, where I was reading it last... in the bathroom of our apartment. What? Like you don't read on the toilet! You don't? You have time to read without, *ahem*, multitasking? Good for you!

And now that I've given you way too much information, where was I?

Oh yes, Kevin Murphy.

Kevin Murphy voiced and pupeteered my favorite character from one of my all time favorite television shows. The character? One Tom Servo. And the show? Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Never before and never again will I ever find such a brilliantly simple concept executed with a little bit of genius and equal parts literary references and potty jokes.

My brother and I (and Jenny too, for that matter) have spent many a two-hour block with MST3K. I'm looking forward to spending a good chunk of my vacation with my brother, watching sci-fi and wrestling, and yes, maybe a little Mystery Science Theater.

And monkeys.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sneak Peek

I know I've covered all of this before, but I feel pretty good about this summation. I wrote this for the church news letter, so for those of you who are members of the church and receiving the news letter, this is an official sneak peek! And you might get to have some visual aids that those suckers who still get the paper version won't get.

Don't you feel special?

To My Church Family,
As summer is beginning, and the children and youth are starting to have at least a little actual free time, I think it is the perfect moment to stop and think about one popular pastime: video games.

Video games seem to be more and more in the spotlight lately, and like most of the stories you’ll see on the major news networks, it always seems to be something dire. From Jack Thompson’s “Modest Video Game Proposal” and frequent use of the phrase “murder simulator” to Rockstar Games’ “Hot Coffee” incident, it has become clear that the days of “Pong” have passed. So we should simply ban video games from the lives of our offspring in an attempt to sterilize their world and protect them from becoming crazed, oversexed, rampaging monsters who can’t tell the difference between Dual Shock PS2 Controller and a .45 Auto GLOCK.

Yeah, that sounds wrong to me, too.

Here’s what I really believe: I believe that we were all created in God’s image, and that this means that it behooves us to seek God out in one another. I believe that one way in which we are like God is in our creativity and that therefore it behooves us to seek God out in the creative works of one another. I believe that all art: paintings, photographs, poetry, fiction, film, television—and video games—can and do bare the image of God to us, if we would only look. I believe that video games are a rapidly evolving art form that should enjoy the same rights and privilages of novels, movies, and television. I believe—just as I do for novels, movies, and television—that not all video games are appropriate to all ages, maturity levels, or abilities to separate fantasy from reality. And finally, I believe that it should be the responsibility of parents/guardians to make sure that their children aren't being exposed to materials they aren't equipped to deal with appropriately.

So here’s the bare bones of what you need to know as a parent or guardian of a young one who wants a copy of the latest Grand Theft Auto to play over the summer. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) has already done most of the work for you.
Video games have ratings, just like movies and television programs do. The rating is listed right on the box, and says exactly what age group the game is appropriate for. If the rating confuses you, or you can’t read the wee little print, then ask a clerk to explain it to you. If the clerk can’t, then it’s time to raise a fuss—just like you would if the person selling the movie tickets couldn’t explain what an “R” rating means. The ESRB has a website,, that would also be helpful to you. And finally, if all else fails, there are ways to rent games—in fact most video rental places have a video game section. So here’s a novel idea… rent the game yourself, make your offspring teach you how to turn the machine on, and play it yourself! Only you can make the decision as to what’s appropriate and what’s not, what’s too violent and what’s not, what’s too sensual and what’s not.

Besides which, you might find a game you like to play!

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

I love and hate to do this...

I love that my vacation is coming! Don't get me wrong, I love what I do--and really how lucky am I to get paid for doing something I love? But this is a high-stress, 24/7 kind of profession, and... man I just need the time already.

I hate that I've been forced to add an extra step to the commenting-on-the-ol'-blog-process. Especially since I get so few comments to begin with. But I've begun receiving spam comments... some of which are very entertaining, but still force me to waste time deleting them. So, ANYONE can comment! Really! Try it on out there, you might like it! Just follow the bouncing ball... er, rather, just click on the comment link and follow directions...

Back to the grind. More post later maybe.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Friday, June 16, 2006

Father's Day

I'm preaching this Sunday, which means I won't be getting home to see my dad for Father's Day. So I thought I'd put up a pic and the first part of my sermon, so you can see and appreciate my father. (Sorry guys, I'll find a better pic next time I get home...)

I can’t speak for all of you, but to me it feels perfectly appropriate that Music Appreciation Sunday falls on Father’s Day this year. I’ve grown up loving music of many kinds, and I give credit for that to my father. Now, to be fair, my mom did drive my brother and myself to our piano lessons, and she was the one who would go out and find the tapes and CD’s we wanted for birthdays and Christmas—heck, she even listened to them with us, even when she didn’t like what we were listening to. But my Dad is the musician in the family. I don’t know if I would have continued to serve in the choirs of North Stonington Congregational if I hadn’t had my father as an example. I don’t know if I would have been interested in playing percussion in middle school and high school if I didn’t know that he’d played snare in his high school marching band. I’m sure that I wouldn’t have the appreciation for doo-wop and good ol’ country music that I have if it weren’t for his records and evenings watching the Statler Brothers. And so as I further develop my love of music and my position on music in worship, I pause to thank my father.

Thanks, Dad.

Socks for Sheep

And now some knitting content. (Won't Jenny be thrilled?)

Jenny has a button! You simply push the button, and magical Socks for Sheep donation opportunities happen...

Also, if you click the Socks for Sheep banner, it'll take you to Jenny's definitive Socks for Sheep post! Yay!

Now, I want to share a little of one of Jenny's favorite blogs/authors. (Yes, she has been published and well read in certain circles... knitting circles of course. Feel free to boo the pun, I can take it!) If you want something more or less kid friendly, or just one of the sweetest things ever, check this out. This one, however, is rated at least "T for Teen" for multiple references to booze. But it has this one little aside that caught my attention. The focus is on Stephanie's birthday party, which she held in a local yarn shop, but she mentions that she's considering putting it in her will that her funeral should be in one, too. From what I've heard from Jenny, this would make all kinds of sense, as no-one who actually knows Stephanie could possibly imagine her without knitting. I'm usually more or less against forcing mourners to bow to your will from beyond the grave--after all, the funeral is actually for the grieving, the dead (I'm convinced) don't really care what the service is like. But in this case, what better way could there be to remember this avid, er... obsessive, knitter?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Silver Lake is Great!

I know, I know, it's been a while since I posted last, but it was a long post, and I hope it kept you busy for a while...

Last weekend was the all-church family style Silver Lake retreat! Woot! We all had a great time, and here is photographic evidence!

This is the door to one of the old cabins. And when I say old, I mean OLD. Apparently these cabins were part of the boys' camp that predates the UCC's purchase of the land. They are about 100 years old. When I asked how long Pooh has been up the answer I got was "forever."

Here's Jenny pretending to be a lifeguard at the "New Waterfront." Also, you can see Tim, who was my counselor when I was coming to Silver Lake as a teen. Oh yeah, and now he's the co-director of the camp!

Just kidding about that lifeguard thing. Actually Jenny was up there to get this shot. Definately worth a short climb, right?

I recently found out that the church I am serving was responsible for building this chapel. Of course, they didn't have to do much to the decor, but still, pretty impressive, right?

And now the teaser. This photograph was also taken at Silver Lake, and hopefully some day soon the story(ies) of this pic will be written out by the girl in the photo so I can share them with you all.

I keep hoping that Jenny will post about her experience at The Lake, because it was her first time and all... So far she hasn't though. I will share one thing she told me though. She was trying to think of a way to describe the feel of the place, and she said, "Saying that it's just good doesn't seem to cut it. But it is. It's just Good."

Be good to each other,
Rev Josh

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Did you know that there's more than one definition of "apology"? If you think about it for just a sec, it shouldn't be a surprise. After all, you already know that language is fluid and evolving. For example, it wasn't all that long ago that if you said "bling bling" people would have thought you were speaking in baby talk. Honestly, I still think it sounds like baby talk, but it's really popular baby talk, so I guess I'll have to deal with it. "Bling" incidentally, is slang for shiny expensive things, like pendants studded with enough diamonds to buy a small country. I read somewhere that it's supposed to approximate the sound shiny things make in cartoons. I would have said that sound was "ding!" but... whatever.

Anyway, the point was that there's another definition of apology, and that definition is "a formal justification or defense."

I don't know formal you can consider it, but this is my defense of one of my favorite pastimes.


First of all, what is Dungeons & Dragons?
Well, for an in depth look you can click the D&D logo above or the link in the sentence before this one. Otherwise, you're going to have to live with just my take on it. First and foremost, D&D is a game. It's nothing serious. It's a diversion, a pastime. It's just fun! So what kind of game is it? I describe D&D as a game of cooperative storytelling. Each player is in charge of one character in the story, with the exception of one person who is in charge of, well, everything else. After all, the protagonists (think heroes) of the story don't and shouldn't know what the antagonists (villains) are going to do next! So there has to be one person who is in charge of the antagonists, the shopkeeps, the crowds on the streets, the mysteries and wonders to be found--all so the other players can have the sole responsibility of their one character. This is why D&D and games similar to it are known as Role Playing Games (or RPG's)--because each participant plays the role of a character in the story that all the participants are working together to tell. Remember when I said that there is one player who is responsible for the antagonists, etc? 4364093
In D&D that role is given the forbidding sounding name, "The Dungeon Master" (or DM)--and the term has a certain logic to it. After all, the DM is also the referee, he or she is responsible for working knowledge of the rules of the game, as well as being responsible for knowing what lies behind locked door #2 of the castle's dungeon. But I prefer the term presented by White Wolf: Storyteller.

How does one play? Well, just like any game, it would be easier to show you than it would be to describe it. There are books and books and more books chock full of rules for anything you could imagine your character wanting to do... and then some more. The beauty of the D&D rules system, tho, is that you can be very flexible. If you decide that your character leaps from the saddle of a charging horse in an attempt to tackle your opponent, then that's what your her or she does. There will be rules for that somewhere, or at least rules for something similar--and then a simple die roll determines how successful your character is.

So, if D&D is a fun, creative, collaborative game, why is it so vilified? Why does it have such a bad connotation for so many people? Why, for the love of God, is it associated with Satanism? Well, for one thing, there are certain socially and religiously conservative and extremely vocal sects of Christianity that view anything with a fantastic setting as Satanic. They have a such a huge problem with genre that they rarely get into content, let alone symbolism. When boiled down, most fantasy stories are about Good vs Evil, and personally I don't see why a Christian should have problems with that theme.

Another argument I've heard against the fantastic is that it is dangerous because people can loose their grip on reality. I personally have never met anyone who fits this description (and I've known a lot of gamers over the years) but I imagine that somewhere there's a mentally ill person who is lost in his or her own fantasies. I would argue, however, that such cases are not only rare, but that the genre is not a cause of the mental illness. So why does this theory have such a widely held belief, especially in reference to Dungeons & Dragons specifically? Two words: Rona Jaffe. You see, Rona Jaffe wrote the 1981 novel, Mazes and Monsters. The book, which claims to be based on a true story, was later adapted into a made for TV movie by the same name. The film featured a young Tom Hanks, and while few remember the film or the book, there are still persistent stories of "that guy that got killed in the steam tunnels while playing D&D." Well, the "true story" that the novel was based on was newspaper articles concerning the 1979 disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III from Michigan State University. He was very smart, was a computer expert, loved fantasy and played D&D. When he went missing, many people, including the media, theorized that he was killed or committed suicide in the steam tunnels under campus while playing D&D. Gruelling searches of the tunnels turned up nothing. In fact, James had simply run away, and was later found in Morgan City, Louisiana. There is no truth whatsoever to the story that he died in the steam tunnels while playing D&D.

The fact of the matter is that Dungeons & Dragons recently celebrated its thirtieth anniversary. If the game were in fact dangerous to your mental health, it would never have made it this long. It is devil worship only in the same sense that C. S. Lewis was a devil worshiper (which is to say not at all). In point of fact, far from being harmful, D&D is collaborative, creative, and fun! It might not be for everyone, just like not everybody is a football player, or a chess player, or an actor.

But it's something I enjoy, it is not nor has it ever been counter to my faith or my calling, and I'm going to play when I can!

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh
Storyteller and Dungeon Master

Friday, June 02, 2006

G'boy / All Dogs Go To Heaven

Jenny got to go home and be with our mothers for Mother's Day, and I was unable to go. My responsibilities for the church simply did not allow it. And one of the things she said when she came back was, "Your puppy misses you." And I told her that the dog loves her, too, and she said yes, that he greated her warmly, but that when he was done he looked around for me. Ever since that day I've wanted to get home to see my family, including our Great Dane, Loki.

Well, a lot has happend since then. Loki had exploritory surgery intended to diagnose a chronic stomach disorder. And while they had him there they took a couple of x-rays. One of the x-rays was up high enough to see his esophogus--and that's how they found the mass. It turned out that he had a massive tumor in his esophogus, and he quickly became unable to swallow. They did everything they could for him, and I hoped to see him again... to say goodbye. But my responsibilites kept me here for the work day, and this morning Loki was a lot worse.

At 12:30 Loki went to the vet for the last time.

I didn't make it home in time.

I hope that Loki understood when Jenny told him that I love him. I hope that he wasn't still looking for me when he went off to die.

Loki loved my mother. He wasn't truly happy unless he was near her. And if she left the house for too long, Loki voiced his disapproval. Sometimes when Loki was being ornery my mom was the only one he would listen to. He made it known that she was the Matriarch.

Loki loved my wife. He would get so excited around her that he couldn't keep his head still, and while she would try to pet him, his head would bash her in the chest. And yet somehow she knew that this was love. When Jenny and I would take care of the house, and of Loki, while my parents were away, Jenny became Back-Up-Matriarch. He certainly would listen to her over me, any day.

Loki loved my father. He loved to "help oversee" when my father worked outside, and he would play all kinds of games with him. I think his favorite was the black hat. My father would wear this black hat with a wide brim to work. When he came home, Loki would meet him at the door and bark at him, because the black hat was scary. Loki would beg my father to chase him up the stairs in the black hat. And then my father would say, with no small amount of love in his voice. "Crazy dog!"

Loki loved my brother. Matthew would get down on the floor and hug him, and Loki would try to get away and jump on his head. But he especially loved sitting on my brother. Any time Matthew would sit on the couch, here would come Loki to sit on his lap! Mother kind of disapproved, and Matthew would complain about Loki's bony butt--but secretly we all knew that he liked it.

Loki loved me. When he was just a wee little puppy, I was the one who would sleep downstairs on the couch so he wouldn't be alone. I was the one who stood in the cardboard box that was his first home with us when he would cry from loneliness. I was the only one I've ever seen Loki kiss. And for some reason, Loki loved the smell of my belly button. This provided no end of entertainment for the rest of the family!

I think people will always debate whether or not pets have souls, or go to heaven. I could give you scriptures that make me think that maybe they do, for our sakes. But you can make scripture say anything you want it to. Our traditions seem to differ or are silent on the subject. Reason on its own can only get you so far--and reason has yet to pierce what Shakespeare called "the undiscovered country." That leaves us with personal experiences, and my experience is this:

Loki was full of love. He wanted to love everyone he ever met. And I can't believe that such love simply ends. So Loki, if you can hear me, know this: I love you. I miss you. I'm sorry I wasn't there. I'm glad that you aren't suffering any more. And I know in my heart that we will meet you again.

You're a good boy.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Several things have come to my attention today, the most pressing (read, "late") is that the National Council of Churches has asked that today be a day for all faithful people to join in prayer as the Gulf Coast readies itself for the hurricane season. The UCC reported on it here.

So stop what you're doing, and have a chat with God about it, ok?

No, really, I'll wait.


OK, done? Then let's move on.

A member of our congregation recently went through a bilateral masectomy. Those of you faithful readers who are members of my congregation probably know who I'm talking about. If you want to know how she's doing, go here. What a great idea, huh? This way everyone can see how she's doing, but she can pace herself... if she's too tired for the attention of well-wishers, she can just turn off the computer for a while!

Finally, I'd like to go back to Jack for a sec. OK, so he'll probably be a reoccuring theme, cause I strongly disagree with almost anything that comes out of that man's mouth, but anyway... He calls video games "murder simulators" and blames them for all kinds of violence. I have already argued (a) that video games are a rapidly evolving art form and should enjoy the same rights and privilages of novels, movies, and television (b) that not all video games are appropriate to all ages, maturity levels, or abilities to separate fantasy from reality and (c) that it should be the responsibility of parents to make sure that their children aren't being exposed to materials they aren't equipped to deal appropriately with. (Incidentally, I can't believe that no-one has commented on any of this... not even a raised eyebrow to the pastor playing Halo... is no news good news?) Anyway, here's a little something that dovetails into the conversation, er monolog (I really wouldn't mind it being a conversation, honest!)

So, I was going to go from here to all my thoughts and feelings on the Columbine High School Massacre, but... that's be a huge post, and, quite frankly, I don't have the emotional energy today. So, something to look forward to.(?)

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh