Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bald Eagles in Augusta

It turns out we've had a larger influx of bald eagles this winter in our area. I'm not sure what that's about, but I'm going to keep my eyes open. That sight is worth looking for!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

Sorry for the absence. Too much to do, and not enough time to accomplish everything. This week I've been into all the usual stuff, plus spent good time with my Ghanaian missionary friends Rev. Kirk & Nicole Sims, attended all sorts of meetings planning some upcoming events, spent a day in ATL at a North GA UM conference subcommittee meeting (I won't even tell about the 6+ hour travel time which is usually 5 hours!!), & experienced the regular mysteries and miracles which seem to come with the job. I'll try to catch up on some of the more interesting happenings with posts in upcoming days. Though I must confess that now through mid-April looks to be a continuation of this last week. I wonder if anyone would miss my personally therapeutic ramblings?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Shameless Society and Sin?

I'm reading an interesting book by a professor who is comparing early Methodism with life today. Actually his writing is more of a critique and corrective to Methodism today than anything else. While that might bore you to tears, he does get into a subject that could create some discussion.

The prof gets into some broader issues about society, and how that tends to shape religious folk more than anything. Said another way, Methodists (and any other group for that matter) replaced our earliest historic peculiarities which made us different with a "bland acceptable almost civil religion." So the focus becomes upon us, people like us, and the national or cultural status quo in our religious thinking and practice.

Now this is where the argument gets interesting. The challenge is how a religious group conceptualizes and practices their need of God, and then how this is revealed as the group defines their theology/doctrine, e.g. say their understanding of sin. Notice how various groups define sin in different ways that matches their position in the nation and world. If we are so enmeshed in our society, culture, or subculture that we can't take a step or two away from it for a realistic view we may totally abandon a way of thinking or living, even if it is a historical and primary tenet of our religious heritage.

Here's the striking passage in one section of the book which brings this all home. Dr. Scott Kisker in "Mainline or Methodist?" writes:

"Americans will do anything, say anything, consume anything in the pursuit of the measures of worldly happiness. We are not a shameful society. We are more accurately a shameless one.

"People in societies defined primarily by consumer capitalism are not walking around wondering what they can do to win the approval of an angry God. We live in a culture of entitlement. We simply assume, no matter how we live, that God should accept us.

"Even when people recognize they are not living how they should, the offer of God's forgiveness and acceptance has very little impact. People are more likely to think, 'Why wouldn't God forgive me? My sins deserve forgiveness as much as the next persons. Of course God loves me. I'm lovable.'"

I'm curious how this strikes you. What are your thoughts on the topic/s?

Friday, January 23, 2009

$27 that Changed the World

Have you heard about microfinancing? Do you know about the "banker of the poor?"

"Sometimes, a small amount of seed money is all it takes to break the cycle of poverty. The growing microfinance movement is planting seeds of health and financial independence around the world, and both borrowers and investors are reaping the benefits. "

"In the early 1970s, a young economics professor returned to his native Bangladesh after earning a degree at Vanderbilt University on a Fulbright scholarship. The professor, whose name was Muhammad Yunus, soon found a teaching position in the port city he’d grown up in, at Chittagong University. But beyond the city limits, a famine was sweeping the countryside. The elegant theories of his textbooks, Yunus discovered, seemed increasingly irrelevant next to the widespread desperation of the poor. "

"In search of a better understanding of what was happening, Yunus ventured into a nearby village, where he met women surviving on the profits from bamboo stools, which they made and sold for pennies a day. Their profits could be greatly increased, they told him, if they were not indebted to the local lender, who loaned them the money to buy their supplies and also bought their finished stools at a set price. "

"To help the women pay off their debts and buy a supply of their own materials, Yunus loaned 42 villagers a total of $27. No longer in debt to the lender and able to sell their stools to the highest bidder, the women increased their daily profits from a few cents to more than a dollar."

Read more of this story and the larger project:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

ASBO Jesus

There is something about the British sense of humor and critical eye that I really enjoy. I found this on where Jon can be found. He writes about himself and the name of the blog "The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus":

"btw. for the non british among you… an ‘asbo’ is an ‘anti-social behaviour order’… the courts here award them to people who are deemed to be constant trouble in their neighbourhoods… presumably according to their neighbours!"

LOL I really appreciate that sort of view of Jesus. Too often we make it out as if everything we think and do as the Church is exactly like God thinks! This blog tries to share that satirical viewpoint of the Church that challenges and portrays Jesus the troublemaker. He seemed to be that way for the institutions and authorities of his day, so there's no reason to think that wouldn't hold true in our day.

ASBO Jesus shares this from Jonny Baker

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


What is it about the winter, staying inside where it is warm, and writing which speaks truth? Here's another Wendell Berry favorite as it captures what I know to be true of myself.

by Wendell Berry

I wish I was easy in my mind, but I ain't.
If it wasn't for anger, lust, and pride, I'd be a saint.

And a quote for the day:

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Warning

Here's another Wendell Berry poem that I resemble!

"A Warning to My Readers"
by Wendell Berry

Do not think me gentle
because I speak in praise
of gentleness, or elegant
because I honor the grace
that keeps this world. I am
a man crude as any,
gross of speech, intolerant,
stubborn, angry, full
of fits and furies. That I
may have spoken well
at times, is not natural.
A wonder is what it is.

A quote for the day:
"The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority."
Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Journey in This Day

I've enjoyed the poetry of Wendell Berry for many years. The Kentucky farmer, professor, and poet/writer speaks to my heart and life with his rural imagery, his turn of phrase, and his keen life observations using the everyday setting and circumstances of his home which he knows so well.

"Traveling at Home"
From A Part

Even in a country you know by heart
it's hard to go the same way twice.
The life of the going changes.
The chances change and make a new way.
Any tree or stone or bird
Can be the bud of a new direction. The
natural correction is to make intent
of accident. To get back before dark
is the art of going.

Quote for the day:
"If a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."
Martin Luther King, Jr., speech, Detroit, Michigan, June 23, 1963.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"Talking One Another Into Things"

I seldom find much from a bishop that catches my attention. I'm pleased to find this exception.

Here's an excerpt:

"Then it dawned on me. What I need most out of a covenant learning community are trusted colleagues who are willing to talk me into things. When I’m mulling over various options and have a notion of what needs to happen, I need someone to push me forward, to say 'go for it!' When I’m counting the cost and measuring the resistance, I need trusted friends who say, 'Be bold and audacious. Don’t settle for mediocrity. Take the risk. Don’t play it too safe. Just do it!'"

Saturday, January 17, 2009

True Celebration of MLK Day

I'm curious if anyone celebrates a day for MLK by serving in the community? If you are looking for that let me know and I can hook you up Monday. After all, our dreams and our actions work hand in hand. What better way to pay tribute to MLK than to usher in the reality?!

I recall a guy at grad school who would open his apartment window that overlooked the center of campus and he'd replay some of MLK's greatest speeches. Imagine walking to campus with a focus on class, the assignment you didn't read, your own little world, and having words echo through the open campus disrupting your individual march:

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Circuit Riders: The Old Methodist Spirit

I'm thinking about the old spirit, call, and fortitude which are part of the history and lore of denominations, yet must be claimed in fresh ways today. Often there is both humor and inspiration in these early stories.

My thoughts are there are new frontiers to work in, and this day calls for a similar spirit. We need people today who are willing to respond to the call to share in God's work, who are willing to go no matter how difficult the task. Notice how much is built on the initial work of the lay person which is then added to by the work of the clergy. Think of the new frontiers today whether locally or the ends of the earth. Imagine a current Methodist circuit rider who may work in the inner city or who may work in west Africa. Imagine one who might work the internet or TV. Imagine one who works in settings of poverty or in suburban or affluent settings. Imagine you becoming a part of the story today in ways which your children and grandchildren would share stories that make people laugh, and which inspire new generations!

The following is an excerpt from regarding early Methodist circuit riders.

"Circuit riding took its precedent from the fluid examples of Britons John Wesley and George Whitefield, both of whom carried their ministries from city to city. Wesley said, 'The world is my parish,' and the early Methodist itinerants showed every evidence of having captured his spirit."

"With the founding of a new settlement, an ordinary layman would often take the initiative in inviting his neighbors to his cabin for religious services. A religious 'society' would be formed and brought under the 'wing' of a circuit rider who answered to a conference bishop, the church official responsible for supplying several circuits with preachers."

"The arrangement was flexible; yet it was this advantage that contributed heavily to the strain endured by itinerants (another name for a circuit rider). There simply were not enough preachers to man the circuits. Often a rider would have more than two dozen preaching stations and spend as long as a month making a single round. It is no wonder that Dr. Abel Stephens, a leading Methodist historian, states: 'Nearly half of those [circuit riders] whose deaths are recorded [by the end of the eighteenth century] died before they were thirty years old; about two thirds died before they had spent 12 years in the laborious service.' Had these preachers been looking for an easy ministry they certainly would have avoided the circuits."

"A pioneer preacher in Louisiana wrote, ' Every day I travel I have to swim through creeks or swamps, and I am wet from head to feet, and some days from morning to night I am dripping with water. My horse's legs are now skinned and rough to his hock joints, and I have rheumatism in all my joints…what I have suffered in body and mind my pen is not able to communicate to you.' This would be a bleak commentary had the preacher ended here, but hastening on he records, 'But none of these things shall move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy.'"

Methodists Everywhere
"Despite the hardships of the ministry, circuit riding seemed to attract the strongest young men, and by the time of Asbury's death he had seen hundreds join the ranks. The circuits were large, and the 1800s brought a tremendous surge in population; yet somehow the Methodist itinerants appeared everywhere. "

"An amusing example of this is recorded from the life of a rugged preacher by the name of Nolley, who was in a remote section of Mississippi when he noticed some wagon tracks that appeared to be quite recent. No circuit rider worth his salt ever ignored the possibility to make a new contact; so Nolley followed the wagon tracks until they ended in a fresh clearing. A settler had just a few moments before he begun to unload his wagon. "

"Nolley introduced himself to the new family, but when the settler found out who the visitor was he expressed the greatest disgust, exclaiming, ' Another Methodist preacher! I left Virginia for Georgia to get clear of them. There they got my wife and daughter. So I come here, and here is one before I can get my wagon unloaded!' "

"'My friend,' said Nolley, ' if you go to Heaven you'll find Methodist preachers there; if you go to Hell I'm afraid you'll find some there; and you see how it is on earth, so you had better make terms with us and be at peace.'"

"The ' before I can get my wagon unloaded' incident became a standard joke at later conference meetings. There's humor in the incident, but it also indicates the splendid determination and spirit of the circuit rider."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Call for Denominational "Do Over"

As a child did you ever call for a "redo" or a "do over?"

I'm calling for a do over!

I first wrote part of this around New Year's Day, and nearly forgot about it sitting in a draft file as the work days got very busy. I'm still plagued by some of those December thoughts about the Big 3 and the UMC. It's my love for the good and the ministry which have occurred through these denominations in the past which pushes me to desire a "conversion" of them so they'll be viable in the future. I'm merely asking how to appropriate the best of our tradition in sharing the Gospel yet be effective in reaching this generation.

The challenge is that the church tends toward status quo and pleasing our current constituency-- who happen to be disappearing faster than they are replicating! For every viable church, I see many across the mainline denominations which are either in ICU or in the hallway near the ICU. And our institutional leaders, who are usually the very best clergy we've got, are caught between a "rock and a hard place" as they must manage all the old clunky machinery of the institution with our formal and informal tomes of policy and procedure designed over 50-100 years for a middle class church. To look ahead 20 years is to see a different landscape in US religious life. Even in our strong areas for work the church is not maintaining pace with local and regional demographics.

Now I know this has been pondered ad nauseum for a number of years; the challenge is that too many of our denominations have talked for so long with so little action that we may have been lulled into a sense of complacency. So I work, and dream, and pray as a denominational loyalist who has benefited from finding a home in the mainline, yet who honestly desires to create a bridge from the present to the future which will allow MANY, MANY others to find a home here as well. That causes me at the start of a new year to dream of a fresh start for a denomination. Just think if we could start from scratch with all the knowledge, experience, and tradition we already have. Imagine if we could call a REDO! Rewind a couple of weeks and join the dream...

It's a brand new year. Ah, everything is new and fresh again. The calendar isn't a mess, though my desk at work is still cluttered. I've had some time off, a change of pace, and a clearer head prevails now after the hyper busyness of December.

It makes me wonder about the possibility of a fresh start for an institution. Imagine if a denomination might have Jubilee year. Think about a "re-do" that might start everything from scratch. Forget a small clean-up, a nip and tuck, or a partial renovation. Think current day REFORMATION! While Methodists enjoy claiming John Wesley I'm not sure we'd really want to apply his thinking or approach to our current denomination because it would be too radical and call for too much change.

But it's a new year dream so let's play with that thought. Throw out the current polity (except as a lesson of history and institutional clutter) and redefine the denomination based on mission and ministry, and especially what we need to do in the present and future. Go with a more flexible, faster moving approach. Go with national and regional approaches that help us to transform our churches, cities, regions, states. Recapture the circuit rider mentality and enthusiasm which engages clergy and laity, yet don't tame it with institutionalism. Move from institutional and agency driven to highly flexible and mobile with a strong basis on sharing the gospel in word and deed where the people are. Our aim wouldn't be to create yet another separate denomination, but to re-create and invest new energy and power as we would use the very best approaches for today.

With the economy as it is, and prospects that we may be in a lengthy down cycle, this isn't so far fetched. But rather than dwell on what we'll be missing, and merely engaging in the "same ol' behavior" yet with less, it makes sense to look for positive ways to refine and re-define a new connection. Forget dwindling away doing the same old things and reminiscing about the "good ol' days." This approach finds the best days are now as we respond creatively to the work of God in our lives and the needs of people in our world. So, we adapt our structures and approaches to the needs of THIS DAY while retaining the missional impetus and the theological heritage which made us useful in days gone by.

Let's renew a denomination, shall we?

What would you require in a "new" denomination? The local church and strength of that entity would be primary in my view. This would be the basis for staging mission and deploying for mission. The whole denomination would be structured in a way to emphasize this necessity. We would NOT do top down management, we would not create funding formulas based on the needs of the denomination, and we would not create much beyond the local church except for the most necessary, streamlined personnel and entities which would advance local ministries. The necessary elements that should be strong in each local church, or perhaps in a cluster of churches or in a district, would be expected in any supporting elements of the denomination. The local congregation and the necessary strong leadership and resourcing of the churches would be the key to the puzzle of the new denomination.

It is a challenge that funding and finances are a huge element in current denominational life and this whole equation. I think that like other institutions who are "re-converting" to be viable in the current economy that religious denominations should strip down to the most essential, bare bones work beyond the local church and re-deploy people into the local church. This will allow us to redefine funding and place more of the power in the hands of a local church while retaining and actually strengthening what it means for churches to work together for a common mission in Christ. Unfortunately, most denominational approaches have made funding beyond the local church feel more like a tax to local church laity, even if the clergy and denominational loyalists call it by proper name and emphasize the missional impact. So many denominations have become so agency oriented that the local church has lost the passion for and involvement in mission! We think mission means sending a check and paying 100%!! We think that means institutional advancement! A new emphasis, especially in funding, must be on the effective ministry of local congregations and engaging their passion and direct involvement and ownership in mission. This will not happen by merely selling all the old institutional priorities, but must be integrated into the total life of the local church in worship, education, prayer, fellowship, and service. This priority would be expressed at every level of a new denominational structure- district, state, national, and international.

Anybody game for a "Do Over?"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"To Be of Use"

Check out the expression, energy, and action of "work that is real" and what it means to be of use. This seems VERY familiar, perhaps from school days, yet resonates with me today as it reminds me of my action oriented friends, as well as those we hope to entice out of the shallows.

LOL "Parlor generals and field deserters!"

To Be of Use
by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

"To be of use" by Marge Piercy © 1973, 1982.
From CIRCLES ON THE WATER © 1982 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. and Middlemarsh, Inc.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Small Membership Churches with Big Local Mission

It is absolutely crazy how U.S. churches now equate mission with money. By doing that we have tended to pass mission service off to big churches, to professionals, and in general to act like a congregation will take care of it's own ministry first that it can fund, and that IF there is more money and time they might do mission. That has got to be fairly close to the heresy line even though I don't usually talk that way!

I really enjoyed the following article as it highlighted small membership churches which are engaged in substantial local community mission. They showcase churches ranging in membership from 20-400 in locations as varied as Chicago, SC, Texas, and Alaska. he projects ranged from refugee resettlement to fundraising and more traditional mission experiences. You will also find examples and inspiration from small churches that started a community center, run a food pantry serving 8000 a month, and caring for children with tutoring and after school ministries.

We are all called to be in mission in the world no matter the size of our bank account or the number of friends we've got in our church. What is your mission for God in your local community? How are others drawing inspiration from your response to the needs in your community and the work of God's love in your life?

Monday, January 12, 2009

"Saving a Squirrel By Eating One"

I grew up on a farm in south Georgia in the 1970's. We cut our own firewood. We had a large garden. We would hunt and fish and eat what we brought home.

So, a recent article in the NY Times stuck me as somewhat funny.

It turns out that the American Gray squirrels have invaded Britain!

It's true. And they are taking over and pushing out the native red squirrels of the UK. The American grays are taking over habitat, eating up everything in sight, and passing on a virus to the reds that the British squirrels are just beginning to develop a resistance to it.

But the Brits are fighting back. Or should I say BITING back?!

The article is titled "Saving a Squirrel by Eating One." AS the gray squirrel population needs to be controlled and therefore the squirrels culled, the Brits are eating up the problem. Now that's a way to turn around the ecology AND the economy!

You can read more at as advice on preparation and enjoyment of a squirrel meal is included. The UK's "Save a red, Eat a gray" campaign began in 2006. I rolled on the floor with laughter at the quote from the chef who cooks squirrels so as “'to recreate the bosky woods they come from,' braising them with bacon, 'pig’s trotter, porcini and whole peeled shallots to recreate the forest floor.' He serves it with wilted watercress 'to evoke the treetops.'”

And to think all we'd ever do back in the old days was to either fry them or make a stew!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Life Changed By Asking "Should I Do the Jesus Thing?"

Here's a story I like about a carpenter in Hawaii who sees a homeless guy.

Utu Langi had led a tough life. He'd run the streets, stayed in trouble, sold drugs, and spent time in prison. Langi was trying to get his life back in order, and was working as a carpenter. He sees the homeless guy as he's driving home from work, and pulls an old blanket off his tools after he asks himself, "Should I do the Jesus thing?" The encounter changed Langi's life. For the full story see

What needs do you see in your part of the world each week?

Has something gotten your attention and you asked "Should I do the Jesus thing?"

How can God meet the needs of your community through the skills, background, and abilities you have?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

An American Muslim Cartoonist: Vocation and Faith

Here's a unique story about a Muslim cartoonist. I always find it curious that people attempt to pigeon hole people of faith with simplistic stereotypes even in regards to vocation and career. Read the whole story and share your thoughts.

"G. Willow Wilson, the first American Muslim professional comic book writer, draws on both American and Middle Eastern culture in her work, ranging from autobiographical essays to superhero sagas. After graduating from Boston University and converting to Islam, Ms. Wilson spent four years in Egypt, where she wrote Cairo, her first graphic novel. Now back in the United States, the 26-year-old..."

Friday, January 9, 2009

Mutant Replicators

I was driving home last night with the radio on. Often I just like the peace and quiet. But in these short winter days when it's already dark for the commute, and especially at the end of the week when I'm tired, I seem to keep some noise to move the journey along from work to home.

I clicked on National Public Radio to catch up on all the news I'd missed through the day. As they always do, they offered the highlights, and then shifted to some interesting discussions which I don't often find in other media. They are always intriguing enough to keep me awake and move the trip along quickly.

The most interesting segment concerned the scientific investigations into how the first living creatures evolved on the earth. Now you may think it odd that this is of interest to me, or you may even feel uneasy as to how clergy would deal with such a topic. Actually I've never struggled with this so much. I mean, isn't it possible to have a strong, living faith that engages your mind and your heart? Just as mind and heart aren't mutually exclusive and necessary for total health, I believe that science and faith aren't mutually exclusive and can actually learn from one another and together create a stronger community/ nation/ world. But that's for another day and another conversation.

The NPR story found clues in how life began as scientists have been able to identify self replicating RNA in a lab. The key seemed to be in the dish full of various RNA replicators that some RNA would attach to other different strands unlike them and create mutant replicators. Of course, as with much of scientific inquiry, while there may be new understandings and theories related to the first stages of life on earth, there is also typically breakthroughs that help the world in real life applications today and tomorrow. For more of the science story go to

Yet another thought related to the "mix in the dish" as various replicating entities attract to one another and mix to create new mutant replicators strikes a note of truth about everyday life to me. There's something in this that intrigues my creative nature. I know how I'm drawn to others who ask questions, who seek to create and express, who seek understanding, and who are drawn to other similar characters because of the renewal of energy, the new thoughts, the new life that springs from this. That's part of what I enjoy about church work, about university campus ministry, and certainly with the type mission work I am privileged to enjoy.

HAHA Mutant Replicators of Truth, Justice, Mercy, Life and Faith

May that tribe continue to increase!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Did You Know Helium is Endangered?!

Kim, the administrative assistant for mission and children's ministry at my church, was calling around town this morning trying to find some other business to supply us with a helium tank. She spoke with someone who supplies helium tanks for rentals, but he said they weren't taking any new customers AND gave the rationale. He explained about the rising cost of helium and that eventually there will be NO helium!


No helium balloons? No Goodyear blimp? No medical application?

Like many natural resources helium is irreplaceable and nonrenewable. Helium is being consumed very rapidly in the United States. There are still large reserves in Russia but it has not been marketed to this date. While capturing and recycling the element is an option that hasn't been practiced in many applications yet. Find more info at

Helium is endangered!

It's really strange to think my grandchildren might not hold a helium filled balloon.

What kind of world would that be?

I wonder what other things might disappear if we don't get serious about taking better care of our world for our grandchildren and for their grandchildren.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

UGA Iron Horse in Greene County

I had to drive close to four hours on New Years Day to pick up one of my son's friends in Watkinsville GA. We had lived in the Greensboro/ Madison area a couple of years ago, and still have many wonderful friends from that region. And there are LOTS of wonderful characters and stories from the area that we still enjoy.

Do you know about the Abbott Pattison Iron Horse?

It sits in a field just off Highway 15, just across the Oconee River yet inside the Greene County area just before you cross into Oconee County. In the winter it is relatively easy to see. In the late summer it is a fun challenge to find as the farm usually has tall corn in the field where the horse stays.

Originally the horse sat on the UGA campus in the mid '50's, but the students didn't treat the horse well. So, it was moved rather quickly after it's debut at UGA, and by the late '50's found its home on the farm of a UGA professor. Check out that picture again. Can you believe this thing was THAT controversial?! If I think much about the 1950's in Georgia and the world I realize there may have been any number of more important happenings to engage our energy and emotion.

I've always been curious about this sculpture/relic of a different time. Was it really just a few drunk fraternity boys that caused the trouble or more of a mob mentality against the horse? Was this merely a common ignorance of that time and place, or more about the ignorance of the sculptor as to how his art would be received by the locals? And to make this a more current discussion, are we any different today?! Are there Iron Horses today that consume our energy and emotion, yet which in retrospect will seem a rather ridiculous waste of energy. Even in 2009 I suspect there may be some Iron Horses among us.

I'm curious what you make of this odd story from the recent past. I'm curious if you see any Iron Horses in our world today?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Parrish Christmas Card on the Eighth Day of Christmas

On this Eighth Day of Christmas
And Throughout this New Year
May the Angels’ Song be YOUR Song!

Scott’s Imagining of an angel singing at night.
January 1, 2009

As in the Days of the Shepherds Long Ago
Who Were Drawn From their Work
To Witness the Greatest Gift of God,

May You also… Not Be Afraid.
May You Join in the Mighty Chorus,
May You Go on Great Adventures for God,
And May You Spread the Word
About the Mighty Works of God
which Continue Yet Today!!

Christmas Blessings in This Season and Throughout 2009

With Love,
Scott, Monica, Zeke, Sydney, and Cooper Parrish

Eighth Day of Christmas

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5: 3-10

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Many Opportunities in a New Year

My college student friends I've gotten to know through campus ministry started posting their resolutions about a week ago. The Facebook approach of swapping ideas with notes is to share info with a number of friends (even realizing more friends can look in and comment on your note) & then asking for their thoughts, ideas, encouragement. "Am I honest and real with this?" and "What do you think?" are the common questions to end the notes.

They are a challenging, trouble making bunch! I say that because I've tended not to think much about the new year, much less assess my life, or consider how I need to set goals or take steps forward. And they add a whole new wrinkle to this as they don't merely keep their resolutions personal but make it a communal activity. Now that's brave and has potential for real action and change.

So, I thank them for sharing their lives and thoughts with me, and for getting me better prepared for 2009. After struggling with this for a few days I shared the following note in return with my college friends. Now comes the work!

The “experts” always warn about not creating too many unrealistic, “undoable,” resolutions, but to have a smaller focus and to create a plan. I think time management might be the overarching theme for me though these are the life issues I need to focus on in the new year. These thoughts will be good to keep on my calendar, in my computer, and maybe for some of you to reinforce with me.

1) Allow my life to be renewed and change more as I keep the balance between serving/doing & replenishing my body/soul/life—fuel the fire and act on what I know/sense to do each day.

2) Step up—now is the time for social and community change--transform my church, transform Augusta, transform my denomination, in general build a bridge to a better future through my life and profession.

3) Do more writing—make the time to pull the articles & book/s together. Perhaps this really is just on Facebook and blogging, but creating the bridge (#2) takes time for dialogue and communication. Continue to learn and grow in this by listening to those around me, especially college students and friends outside the church.

3) Spend more time making the biggest difference for people at just the right time. Make sure we launch the medical clinic, help the community development take stronger shape, work to establish mission camps in Augusta, etc.

4) Get more creative- nurture and grow my artistic interests. Flee the computer or TV and spend more time with a paint brush, pencil, pen, etc. and grow the spirit of visual creativity and expression.

5) Spend less time with work and more time at being a better husband and dad. Take the family fishing, go to the beach, escape to the mountains, take a vacation, and in addition to the planned options work on being more spontaneous.

6) Personally, I need to get into an exercise routine. In college and grad school I biked a lot. I think I’d like to do that and need to get into the routine. Somewhat related as a lifestyle issue, I also enjoy gardening and growing heirloom food. That’s the old vegetables and flowers before hybrids. I’ll definitely stay active in the yard with that and produces some different items plus spend time with my family while providing quality food.

Hmm, ambitious but achievable I think.

How about you? What's God calling you/ pulling you/ dragging you toward this year? I hope we all live up to those dreams and take our next steps of faith. The year and our world await our response.