Friday, June 30, 2006

movin' out

A friend,our wives and I saw "Movin' Out" last night, a performance of Billy Joel songs with a slight narrative imposed upon it by a very good dancing troupe. The story was almost nonexistent, IMHO, but I have such strong emotional attachments to many of the songs that the show still worked for me.

"Movin' Out" and "I've Loved These Days" seem appropriate, as we pack up and move from this to the next phase of our lives. I was once an "Angry Young Man" but Joel's song helped move me toward less anger and more engagement. Less autobiographical, I like the stories in "Piano Man" and "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant." I expect some day to preach on these songs, and several others, including "Summer, Highland Falls" and "We Didn't Start the Fire."

From the last: "We didn't start the was always burning, since the world's been turning...No we didn't light it but we tried to fight it." I am learning in my life that fighting my self is less useful than integrating those (my) Shadow elements. This is probably true of our world, too. Throw in some justice-making examples, and you've got twenty minutes easy.

After a Grateful Dead sermon series, a Billy Joel series might be in order. Then Chrissie Hynde, Mary Gauthier, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Holly Near, et al. Other suggestions welcome.

Monday, June 26, 2006

no means yes

This is the "Yes Church" but sometimes a "no" is a "yes." I was invited to serve on a UUA-level committee last week, but chose to postpone such involvement, and focus on my local congregation. Once I have a year of "real" ministry experience, I do want to get involved at the district and/or national level. But this first year, I feel it important to focus on congregational work.

...and I had already agreed to serve on the UUMen Steering Committee. Which may sound like a contradiction, but it is only two more meetings per year, one of which is at GA, where I'd be anyway.

So, I am happy to have been asked, and I am happier that I am learning to keep a balance in my activities.

Friday, June 16, 2006

turnaround lottery

I just got back from a trip to Boston, with eight 13- and 14-year-olds (and two other adults). It was a great experience, about which I will write more later. Today, I want to talk about our tour of the U.S.S. Constitution--"Old Ironsides," the oldest active-duty warship in the world. She went 30-0 in battle, and is still impressive today.

A few times per year, they sail her out into the bay, turn her around, and sail her back into her berth. A few civilians are allowed to ride as they do this. Because so many people want to, they have established a lottery to determine who goes. If you win, please take me with you.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

bittersweet companion

I am not a huge fan of the radio show "Prairie Home Companion" but I absolutely loved the movie. I encourage you to go see it.

I loved the music, I loved the acting, and I am intrigued by its theology. While the character G.K. espouses a very in-the-moment philosophy, the film seems to promise that everything will work out "in the fullness of time." On the other hand, the ending is suitably bittersweet, which feels "real" to me.

Two thumbs up.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Boston (and Clarksville, and St. Louis) bound

I’ll be traveling for two solid weeks, beginning two days from now. I do like to travel, but three trips, back-to-back-to-back, is causing some anxiety. To calm down, I offer Stuart Davis’ “Invincible” (off his self-titled album):

I am with you when you cry
closer to your face
than the water in your eyes

those tears become my own
I know that you are homesick
even though you're home

I whisper in your ear
"You are already free"
Soon you will laugh
and remember that you're me
You were never lost
the Heart was always full
the Heart is all there is

I am with you when you weep
when both your eyes are closed
and you don't know you're asleep

at night you dream of harm
You dream that you are lost
but you're sleeping in my arms

I whisper in your ear
"You are already free"
Soon you will wake up
and remember that you're me
You were never lost
the Heart was always full
the Heart is all there is

Friday, June 02, 2006


I just got back from a surprise birthday party for my sister. She just turned 40, and 50+ of her closest friends showed up and celebrated with her. I wonder about why surprise parties are so popular. Is it that they take extra work, so the birthday person feels more special, due to all the secret collaborations and machinations? Do the party-givers like them more than the receivers, because it is fun to fool somebody, and even more fun when it is dozens or scores of people in on the joke? Or do we just appreciate the sheer delight of being surprised? Is it fun to be taken out of the usual rhythm of our lives?

I would probably be kicked out of the ministers' group, if I didn't point out how surprise parties are like our interdependent web of existence: a huge net of people around us, supporting us and appreciating us, even when we do not know they are out there. Surprise!

It was good to see the delight on her face.