Sunday, September 30, 2007

Add "Protestant Medievalist" to the list of oxymorons (along with "systematic theology" and "church organization").

Article in The New York Times about New St. Andrew's College -- a Christian school in Moscow, Idaho founded by a local pastor named Doug Wilson.

And yes, there are several phrases in that sentence that need explaining.

First, "New St. Andrew's College" is not accredited. It has no dorms, no campus, and only 150 students or so -- students who spend their time discussing The Great Books of Western Civilization.

Second, "Christian" is defined by this school as conservative, Calvinist, and critical of contemporary culture -- so much so, the anti-slavery movement would be regarded by some as a dangerous innovation.

Finally, "Moscow, Idaho" was my home for three years -- and while there, I had several friends who attended Doug Wilson's church, and several more (including some Adventists) who attended his school for Grades 1-12. Nice people one and all . . . but not terribly fond of uncertainty.

(Click on the title of this post for a link to the article.)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

And yes, I believe you can buy "round tuits" at Staples.

One of these days, you might want to read these Twenty Tips on How to Avoid Procrastination -- myself, I've found #3 to be especially helpful.

No rush. Whenever you get around to it -- that would be fine.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Anytime somebody says "it's not the money -- it's the principle of the thing," it's really the money.

Out of Ur offers a snapshot of just exactly what pastors are making in terms of salary.

I don't have any hard data to support this, but my gut feeling is that our salaries are slowly falling behind those of our peers in other denominations. (We used to pay our newbies better than most, but "topped out" sooner and lower than most; now we're paying our newbies about the same, and "topping out" relatively sooner and lower than before.)

Keep in mind, however, that:
  • My memory of how our salaries used to compare with others may be wrong!
  • This survey only counts full-time pastors; there are a lot of part-time pastors in other denominations who would love to be making what we are.
  • This doesn't include the educational subsidy you get if you have children -- and if you have kids in academy or college, that adds up fast!
Click on the title for the link.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Just say "ARGH!"

As a public service, we've provided the following guidelines for National Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day (September 19).

What exactly is meant by "ARGH!"?
Like "aloha" or "shalom" or even "tax cut," "ARGH!" has many meanings -- the precise nature of which can only be determined by context. These may include:
  • "If I could have your attention, please?"
  • "Stop that right now!"
  • "Hello there!"
  • "I wasn't expecting that."
  • "Yes, that's a gun -- and no, I'm not happy to see you."
A friend of mine likes to say, "Argh, me mities!" Is this correct?
No. The correct phrases are "Argh, me hearties" or "Argh, maties!" Then again, your friend may be indicating that it is time to get him a new flea collar.

May one refer to one's friends as "lubbers"?
One may, but in as much as "lubber" is a synonym for a stupid, clumsy landsman who doesn't know a bowline from a bowsprit, one may want to reconsider one's choice of friends.

What about "scurvy dogs"?
Since dogs are able to synthesize their own Vitamin C, this term refers to a condition that is technically impossible. As such, it should be avoided.

A detailed examination of Yoda's syntax indicates that he is, in fact, a pirate. Would you care to comment on that?
No.

What about Jar-Jar Binks?
Argh!

Any final words of advice?
Just remember, me hearties -- kind words and a gun will get you a lot further than kind words alone!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Home and School

Looking for a charter for your local Home and School? Send me an email, and I'll send you a copy of the one we developed for Lincoln City.

And yes, I realize that Home and School may not be all that high on your agenda . . . but it is a church committee (and not a sub-committee of the School Board). It's your baby, in other words -- not the principal's. Add the facts that it:
  • has an annual budget that can run into the thousands of dollars,
  • can be a lightning rod for discontent and disagreement,
  • and has no guidelines for making decisions -- not in the Church Manual or any other document that I've been able to find, at any rate . . .
Well, that's why we put together a charter.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Green Day

From The Christian Science Monitor comes this op-ed piece, asking us to reduce our carbon footprint by keeping the Sabbath holy.

Click on the title for a link to the article.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007)

I grew up reading science-fiction -- the old stuff, the hard stuff, the stuff that promised you the stars if only you put your faith in Science (with a capital S). Asimov, Clark, and Heinlein were my trinity; Star Trek my secret vice.

But I was also a Christian -- a fundamentalist Christian who believed in angels and miracles and a life after death that didn't require some kind of nuclear transmogrification.

This created problems. Most of the people who read (and wrote) my kind of science fiction thought religion was bosh; most of the people who attended my kind of church thought any kind of fiction was suspect -- and science fiction positively demonic.

Then I read Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, and I saw how these two sides of my life could be bridged. It was science fiction and it was Christian; it spoke of both tessaracts and the psalms with the same respect.

To be honest, I've never managed to finish any of the other books L'Engle wrote . . . and to be really honest, I don't think A Wrinkle has aged all that well. Her description of IT's planet, for instance -- a world in which even the children's games run on time -- once struck me as horrible in its stifling conformity. Today, it seems downright homey -- the kind of place that might show up in a campaign commercial. ("Vote IT for a safer tomorrow.")

But long before I discovered hobbits -- back in the days when a wardrobe was just a piece of furniture and "hogwarts" something known only by veterinarians -- A Wrinkle in Time taught me that the old, old story could be told in a brand new way. And for that, I honor Madeleine L'Engle.

She died this week at the age of 88. If you'd like to read her biography in The New York Times, then click on the title of this post.

Update: to read Laurel Snyder's eulogy in Salon, click here.

Another update: for Kimberly Roth's tribute in the Burnside Writer's Collective, click here. And for Luci Shaw's tribute in Christianity Today, click here.