Sunday, October 30, 2005

Worshiping at the cathode cathedral: recovering from a (literally) shaky sermon

One of my favorite professors at seminary--a fine Old Testament scholar--used to talk about how he would have been a much better scholar if he didn't spend so much time in front of the "cathode cathedral." I took great comfort in that confession during the 2-3 times I slacked off from my studies while in seminary (tongue planted firmly in cheek).

I just spent another Sunday evening of vegging watching Grey's Anatomy. Another hour of my life that I won't get back. If I don't get in to Boston University, I am going to blame it on Ellen Pompeo's sorry excuse for acting (I can't miss a train wreck like that). How did she get to be the lead character? Then again, if Ellen Pompeo can become the lead actress in a network television drama, then maybe I can get into Boston U. I'm still waiting for Sandra Oh to beat the crap out of someone like she did in Sideways. That was cool.

I would have been better off reading, but I have so much fluid packed into my sinus region that it hurts to think. This was a problem in my sermon today. Sermon #1 was a B. Sermon #2 became an excercise in maintaining equilibrium. I had that clammy sweat going, voice almost gone and drifting in and out of the head spins. I almost wasn't sure if I was going to connect the theological dots and get out of the sermon.

I know that people are not generally going to feel compassion for my severe congestion condition. This is something that I brought on myself after a stupid travel schedule that I completed 2 weeks ago, tied in with my feeble attempts to "prove myself" to this congregation that gave me a great opportunity. Some things in my life must change. Peeling myself away from the Ellen Pompeo train wreck is a small step. There will be other changes.

I must rest and prepare for another 75 minutes of fun having my gums scraped in the morning.

Stay classy, blog readers.

Beavis, Butthead (coming out on DVD...) and Elihu, maybe I'll be Rev. Dr. Elihu if I stop watching crap like Grey's Anatomy.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I hate carving pumpkins

Last year my spouse discovered that I do not care to take knives and other cutting instruments to members of the squash family.

"Why in the hell do we have a pumpkin carving party, anyway?"

The point is not having a place to carve pumpkins, but a family friendly activity that gives people an excuse to take in a few joyful beverages and listen to music--and talk about Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Alison Krauss, Cowboy Junkies and the Grateful Dead. We all learned something, including that Summit Oktoberfest Marzen Style Ale tastes like pumpkin flavored syrup. It sucks.

I'm not sure if it is South Dakotans, or it is just people in my stage of life, but it is hard to get people together where they don't get their undies in a bundle about child care and can relax long enough to enjoy some good conversation. We were on our way last night, but everyone left by 9:30. Huh?

I remember as a child going to many a party with my pj's on and a sleeping bag. We wouldn't leave until about 1-2 in the morning. Are these days gone? Or do our parties just bite?

I welcome your comments. Please. If anyone is reading.


Friday, October 28, 2005

Seasonal melancholy

I will always appreciate what the Midwest is able to display in autumn colors--the diversity of earth tones give me the feeling that I take part in bringing forth the harvest--if all I do is drive around the countryside to look at the corn and soybeans brought in by the combines. Combines, these behemoth machines that tend the fields like giant lawn mowers, give perspective of the magnitude of grain it takes to feed the earth.

I know that people flock to the northeast to see fall foliage each october, but I still believe that few places rival the Minnesota River Valley. The autumn view was one of the blessings of living in Mankato.

To see the leaves go away is a time of melancholy for me, for it is only a brief time that I experience such beauty and carefree temperatures. I raced around the blue highways in the tri-state area (Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota) trying to capture my own mental pictures of what a gift the seasons are in this part of the world--images that will carry me through the dark and dreary days of mid January-April. I hold on to these images along with the many hours I gaze at the white Christmas lights that hang from our back deck.

Melancholy is not a painful emotion--bittersweet it is. Sacred ground.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I think I'm going back to the Christian Science Monitor

Not that I would ever expect the Argus Leader to be something that it is not, but I read an article in the Christian Science Monitor that I would never find in the Argus. Consider the article the Anti-Argus. This is not a problem. No news source can even pretend to be all things to all people. The issue where I put my reading energy. Debate over the welfare state is narrow in scope in South Dakota, let alone this country.

I also think it is cool that there is an article about Finland in an American newspaper. I'm wondering how many articles about Finland have appeared in the New York Times. My imagination needs to be expanded--I have been able to do that when I read the Monitor.

I think that Americans experience a crisis of imagination--anything I can do to fight that tide is going to be helpful.

May you find resources that tweak your imagination.

Pastor Elihu

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

John Thune's comments on Supreme Court nominee

Many South Dakota liberals (not that big of a group) thought the apocalypse might be upon us when Tom Daschle was defeated by John Thune. I am no fan of John Thune. I have a hard time looking at the guy. I can't really say exactly why. I just do. When I drive into Sioux Falls and see a sign that says "Home of U.S. Senator John Thune" I will do something more pleasant, like stare directly into the sun.

That being said, I have come to some peace with John Thune being Senator. He truly represents South Dakota views. He should be the senator if that is the way people will vote. I will not be a life long resident of South Dakota. But when I think he is flat out wrong, I am going to say so.

In an Associated Press article, Thune questioned Bush's nominee Harriet Miers. He was hoping Bush would choose someone in the mold of Scalia or Thomas. It doesn't matter if I think Scalia and Thomas are buffoons--can't Miers be her own person? I am far from being a Bush apologist. I would like to be real here. The Republicans hold the cards and Bush will get his nominee through, most likely. I want to speak to this from a perspective of an interim pastor who works with the legacies left by others. One of the most destructive things any organization can do is look for someone "in the mold" of someone else. God created Harriet Miers as her own person. It is destructive to hold expectations that someone will be in a "mold" of someone else. God created people uniquely and they contribute to community based on what God has given them. At least that is always what I hope for and support in any organization I participate or watch. The organization of the Supreme Court should recognize and incorporate Miers' own gifts--not form her to someone else's mold. Congregations, sports teams, businesses, committees, what have you--people should be what God created them to be. Think of a time you have followed someone in the workplace. Doesn't it stink to have expecations attached to someone else laid at your feet?

To seek someone who fits in someone else's mold is wrong.

Thune may have questions about Miers' standards, but he should direct his energies away from Thomas and Scalia.

John Thune is wrong.

Rev. Smails