Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Babs Reports from the Hustings

QG interrupts her regular blogging schedule to bring you this special news report by Babs, from the campaign trail with former President Bill Clinton in Houston:
Ok, so when I arrived at work today about 7:30 am, I realized that there is a Hillary rally at the Fiesta* (I kid you not) parking lot across the street. My co-workers and I trotted over and were then entertained by a mariachi band and free tacos from the taco stand. There were about 20 people at this rally, if this is any indication about how well Hills will do in Texas. I did get a free "Hillary 2008" sign and I was about ten feet away from Bill Clinton, who was the main attraction. He seemed very worked up and a wee ornery.

I did enjoy the taco.

More later, Babs
*Fiesta is a Houston area grocery chain that caters primarily to Hispanics, but also has foods from all over the world and so is popular with the large immigrant population of the area.

TE: Babs filed these photos to go with her report, showing President Clinton, and Babs and her friend Sharlie at the rally. Maybe she has a future as a photo-journalist?

Now He Tells Me

Rev. Mark D. Roberts is writing a good series about praying in the "public square" that I wish he had written a couple of weeks ago when I was preparing for that invocation at the Literacy Council event. Check it out here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Just What We Need

The website Decently and In Order tipped me off to the fact that the PCUSA is taking applications for people willing to serve on a new committee to produce a new hymnal.

Here's the link to the story on the PCUSA website:

I don't know about you, fellow PresbyReaders and Bloggers, but in my presbytery many of the smaller churches are still using the older "red" hymnal and never purchased the current "blue" one. In many churches, the congregation uses hymnal supplements that have more "praise songs" or other types of songs not included in the traditional hymnal.

In an increasing number of churches hymnals are not used AT ALL. Lyrics for praise songs, hymns, and responsive songs like the Doxology, are projected on screens. The hymnbooks languish, forgotten, in the pew racks. As a confirmed advocate of traditional, classic church music I may deplore that--but it is reality and this reality doesn't seem to fit with a new hymnbook to me. I wonder if the new committee will produce a digital hymnal, in place of, or in addition to a traditional format? An IPOD hymnal, like the one in this photo?

And lastly, do we really need to revisit the Worship Wars right now? Just wonderin'.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Old Testament Trail Mix, Anyone?

Today marked the halfway point in our journey through the Bible in 90 Days at church, so I planned a little celebration for my class. I set up an "Old Testament Snack Bar" featuring foods of from the OT for everyone to munch on.

Here's a picture of the OT Snack Bar:
Here's the menu, complete with scriptural citations--


2 SAMUEL 6:19; GENESIS 43:11; JEREMIAH 24:2-7
(dates,raisins,figs, almonds and pistachios)






Leviticus 7:12 (King James Version)
"If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer
with the sacrifice of thanksgiving... "
cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried.(King James Version)
Sounds like donuts to me!


Isaiah 65:8

The class is doing very well--no one is seriously behind in their reading and we are having great discussions. The "snack bar" was well-received. I think we should definitely do it again.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Most Sinful Cities in America

In this season of Lent, Forbes magazine brings us a survey of the Most Sinful Cities in America.

Check it out for yourself and decide whether geography is destiny. There's a cool interactive map of the US that you click on and it shows the location of the top 10 cities in each sinful category.

The Houston area didn't show up in the top ten anywhere, but is in the top twenty for gluttony and sloth. Guilty as charged.

Does your city show up on the list?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Early Voting

The QG family voted early today in the Texas primary election.

I was surprised to see that there were NO campaign signs for any of the presidential candidates--in either party--at the polling place, although there were lots of signs for candidates in local races. There weren't any poll workers, either.

But when I got home, there was a message from John McCain on my voicemail. El Jefe voted later this afternoon and while he was out Michelle Obama called. I'm expecting Hillary to call Babs this evening! Guess we haven't been forgotten after all....

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Campaign Comes to Houston

Babs has taken a big interest in the presidential primaries, so last night she persuaded me to sit down with her to watch the Wisconsin returns and Obama's speech from the Toyota Center in Houston just a few miles up the road.

Aside: there were about 20,000 people in the Toyota Center. Admission was by ticket only in order to control the crowd. Tickets were free, but the campaign ran out of them and started issuing "stand-by" passes a couple of days before the event. Momentum, anyone? In contrast Bill Clinton spoke to a mucho-dollares-a-plate fundraising dinner just a few blocks away at Swanky Hotel. I don't know whether that event sold out.

The speech was received with the kind of enthusiasm usually reserved for rock stars. Since I believe that the first priority of the federal government is national defense, Obama will not get my vote, though I concede he is an attractive, talented candidate, albeit with little experience or record of political accomplishment.

I expect both he, Hillary and Bill will be back in town again before March 4. And by the way, fellow TexasBloggers, early voting has begun so vote early and avoid the crowds on election day!

Anyone besides me and Babs getting a bit creeped out by the cult of personality developing around Obama's campaign?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pics from Presbytery

I'm still pumped about the two New Church Developments in our presbytery that are going to receive their charters in the next couple of months. The editor of the presbytery newsletter kindly sent me these photos and permission to post them here.

Here are the Peace Presbyterian NCD congregation members who came to the meeting attired in matching t-shirts that said on the back: "I've found Peace". This NCD is in Pearland--now a suburb of Houston. You can't see their organizing pastor, who is on the far left end of the picture and didn't get included--but he struggled up the chancel area on his crutches, recovering from recent knee surgery. He wasn't going to miss this day!

This photo below shows members of the congregation of the Biyaya NCD who also came to see their petition for a charter approved by presbytery. Biyaya is primarily a Filipino congregation, but does include folks of other ethnicities in a suburban area southwest of Houston. Their pastor is the gentleman on the far right of the picture in the front row with the jacket. He has an amazing story about following God's call to Houston to begin a church, arriving with only a few dollars in his pocket and knowing no one, and ultimately fulfilling his mission after many years of work.

That's me, with the stole on, with a big grin on my face, happy to be posting some good PresbyNews!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Beyond the Non-Sectarian Prayer

Help!! I've been asked to offer the prayer at the local literacy council's Book and Author event Sunday. I'm not a fan of the secular public prayer, but it is a cultural convention deeply ingrained around here.

Here's my concern and where I could use some help from my Gentle Readers. The crowd in attendance will include not just every possible flavor of Christian denominations (with extra dollops of born-again evangelicals mixed in) but also significant numbers of Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Sikhs, representing the wide diversity of folks in our community. Of course, I could stifle my habit of closing the prayer in the name of Jesus, but how to come up with an appropriate pan-theological invocation?

El Jefe suggested that I begin thusly:
Dear God (hereinafter referred to as "God" whether one or more irrespective of gender, or quality or spirituality) .....
Ummm. I don't think so. Suggestions?

Monday morning UPDATE: At last night's event I opened the invocation "Creator God" and closed "In Your Holy Name we pray." Thanks for your suggestions, they were quite helpful. A couple of people came up and complimented me on the prayer.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

CongressMom Returns

QG has been forced to leave her recovery bed and don her Mom of Congress persona by reports that Congress is holding hearings trying to decide whether Roger Clemens or his trainer is lying about alleged steroid use by the baseball legend enough years ago that the statute of limitations bars any prosecution by authorities.

Ok, CongressGuys and Gals, listen up. What the fireplace? You are embarrassing yourselves and your families with this spectacle. Your assistants are begging autographs from your star witness and telling him that they know he'll go to heaven. You are mugging shamelessly for the cameras while trying to act like the Prosecutor-in-Chief. CongressMom finds this behavior unacceptable.

The last time CongressMom checked, you are members of a legislative body, not a judicial one. You don't have the power to prosecute anyone. If the Justice Department has an investigation on this issue going, you have royally screwed it up.

As CongressMom always says: CongressPersons should be seen doing their work responsibly and not heard all over the media making fools of themselves showing that they don't understand the parameters of their jobs. There is real work to be done for the country.

Now, hand me those baseballs you got the Rocket to autograph for you, then go back to your offices and write sixty-eleventy times on your computer:

It's not my job.

It's not my job.

It's not my job!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's ON in Texas

Last night while Babs and I were watching the "Potomac Primaries" returns, we saw our first campaign ad for Hillary Clinton. First one we've ever seen down here. The polls in Maryland hadn't closed yet because time was extended by court order due to bad weather.

No, we haven't seen an Obama ad yet.

It's ON in Texas, friends. And just when I thought our primary was too late (March 4) to be important for either party. Dang, it will be all Hillary all the time as long as her funds hold up.

Babs and I predict Obama and McCain will win handily here. Fellow TexasBloggers, what's your call?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wired for Recovery

Well, the 'scope wasn't bad at all. I was home by 9:30 am! I am, however, all wired up with:
  • a pump that sends novacaine to the affected knee continuously (no, I can't "push" it)
  • a cool water pump thingy that wraps around the knee. You have to lie on the bed to use it 95 minutes a day/off 2 hrs/on 95 minutes/etc all day but not all night
  • a continuous flexion gizmo that the leg is strapped into and you use with the CWPT for about an hour three times a day
All this equipment keeps me close to home and close to my bedroom. The knee is achey and somewhat stiff, but not really painful. I've got reading and phone calls to keep me busy. With El Jefe as my practical nurse and Babs as my personal chef, I can't complain. In fact, I may like it too much!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Strengthening Weak Knees

"Therefore strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees."
Hebrews 12:12
I had to chuckle when we were memorizing this verse in the BSD study of Hebrews a few weeks ago (we're trying to memorize all of chapter 12).

I have one very weak knee, due to a couple of accidents when I was in my late teens. The ACL was torn up and surgery to repair the knee done....let's just say several decades ago. It has always been something I've had to work around and got used to living with. But in the past few years it has become more and more of a problem. So I finally listened to the pleas of the family and got myself to the orthopedic surgeon, hoping I was a candidate for those fluid injections.

The bad news is that the answer was no. The good news is that there is not a lot of arthritis and I'm not a candidate for knee replacement either. The middle-of-the-road news is that the doc is going to 'scope the knee tomorrow morning to get rid of torn tissue that is aggravating the joint in order to relieve pain and prevent more deterioration.

So I'll be spending most of the week at home, recovering and rehabing the knee until I'm cleared to drive. Should be a good chance to catch up on my reading, perhaps do some extra blogging, and give a shout-out to my friend Diane who is having similar surgery on Tuesday. Last one off crutches is a rotten egg, Diane!

A-Nother Book Meme

How many book memes are going around the 'net right now? Presbyterian Gal tagged me for this one.

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)
I am in the kitchen. The nearest book is the Bible I use for my Bible in 90 Days class. Cross my heart and hope to die, PG!!

Find Page 123.
That would be Numbers 11. Everyone's favorite!

Find the first 5 sentences. Post the next 3 sentences.

"When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down. Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to his tent. The Lord became exceedingly angry and Moses was troubled." Numbers 11:9-10.

And really, who can blame God and Moses. Don't we all hate whiners?

Lots of people have already been tagged and played, so I'm not tagging anyone. But please feel free to play!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Double the Blessing

The highlight of today's presbytery meeting was the motion to approve the requests of two New Church Developments to be fully chartered as churches in the PCUSA: Peace Presbyterian and Biyaya. It was especially meaningful to me because one of the congregations meets in the church we used to attend, and we know several friends who have been working very hard to establish the other congregation in an area just east of our home.

Both congregations are in the southwest suburban area of Houston where I live. Both are multicultural, though one of them is primarily Filipino. What a joy it was to see members of both congregations come to the front of the church where presbytery was meeting in support of their petition to charter and to pray for the continued success and expansion of their mission and ministry!

That was an event that is not likely to be repeated this year, and certainly doesn't happen every year, so I'm very privileged to have the opportunity to participate in the chartering process. A double blessing, to be sure.

Friday, February 08, 2008

A Web 2.0 Moderator?

As the time for the biennial General Assembly meeting approaches, candidates for Moderator are being endorsed. Among those "standing" so far is Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow. (For my non-Presby readers, the Moderator is the highest elective office in the denomination and serve for one two-year term.)

Bruce is much younger than your average "standee" for this position and, as befits one of his generation, is using web tools such as blogs and Facebook to introduce himself and to invite dialogue and discussion with him about the issues in the denomination.

Apparently he is getting criticism about his "2.0 Moderator" approach.

I like it. We need more transparency, not less, in the denomination if trust between the "higher courts" and the person in the pew is going to be restored. I'm looking forward to following his "campaign" through his blog and he's even going to force this old fuddy-duddy to finally check into Facebook to see what that is all about. I may not agree with all of his views, but I welcome the way he is inviting folks into discussion about them. Check it out for yourself.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

SuperFatShrove Tuesday

Any of the rest of you living in non-Super Tuesday states feeling more than slightly irrelevant? The Texas primaries aren't scheduled until March 4. Who will still be active candidates in the presidential nomination races by then? The nominees in both parties could already be determined by that time. It's hard to get out the vote under those circumstances.

It's also Fat Tuesday in Galveston, New Orleans and the other cities that celebrate Mardi Gras (excuse the redundancy, albeit in French). But Chez QG, resident Anglophile Babs has decreed today is Shrove Tuesday and is planning a traditional pancake supper. I think I'll challenge her to a traditional Shrove Tuesday pancake flippin' race down the esplanade in front of our house. Loser washes the dishes!

How are you observing SuperFatShrove Tuesday at your place?

Monday, February 04, 2008

The FOG and the Co-Pastor Trend

My recent post "The Co-Pastor Trend" prompted quite a few comments and some good discussion about the pros and cons of calling a co-pastor who becomes senior pastor upon the retirement of a (usually) long-time senior pastor in the PCUSA.

I just realized that the Form of Government (FOG) recommendations to General Assembly address some of the concerns that gave rise to the co-pastor model for pastoral transition. Just as in the poem, this FOG is stealthily coming upon us like little cat feet, and there are many who will be surprised by what is in it.

For example:
Upon a 3/4 vote of the presbytery, an associate pastor may become the next installed pastor of that congregation (G-2.0303a);

An interim pastor may called to an installed position (G-2.0303b)
There's a whole lot more in the FOG recommendations, but given the recent discussion here, I'm highlighting these two which, if approved, would represent a major change in the denomination's historic policy that prevented associate pastors from being installed as senior pastor in the same church and interim pastors from being called to a permanent installed position in the church they are temporarily serving.
There would be little need to call a transitional co-pastor if the church could hire an interim pastor and then call the interim to the installed position. Permitting the approval of "promoting" an associate pastor as the senior pastor raises a lot of issues--never mind making that approval contingent on a super-majority vote of presbytery.

Presbytery of New Covenant has a task force studying the FOG and preparing an interpretive report for our commissioners and sessions. When the final report is made it will be posted on the presbytery website and I will post a link to that for those of you who are interested. Meanwhile, here is a link to the FOG report itself, which is posted on the PCUSA website. Remember that the FOG Task Force was instructed not to make any changes to the "trust" provisions in the property sections of the BOO or to the "chastity and fidelity" requirement of section. 6.0106b.

UPDATE: A bit more sleuthing around the FOG report revealed that there is now an additional recommendation at the end stating that the GA may wish to ask presbyteries to remove provision allowing an associate pastor to become the installed pastor with a 3/4 vote of presbytery. Apparently there has already been an outcry over this. I don't understand why the task force didn't just amend their report to cover that if they reconsidered the change. Maybe some of you can enlighten me. But it's just another reason why I think we won't be ready to adopt this sweeping change on the accelerated schedule that was set for the FOG Task Force.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Reading Challenge 2008-Post 5

As of this Sunday, I finished reading Joshua, Judges, Ruth and 1 Samuel as part of my Bible in 90 Days class.

Most memorable and relevant verses:

"In those days Israel had no king: everyone did as he saw fit."Judges 21:25.

I'm still plugging away at Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy, too.