Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Hearty Thanks!

I just have to take some time-out to say thank you to a bunch of people from First Presbyterian Church, Twin Falls, Idaho. At the risk of leaving a name or two off the list, for which I am deeply sorry, I just have to say that there are several people in our congregation who have gone the extra mile and then some.

Earlier this week Harry Geist and Rick Horner braved the wilds of our sanctuary attic and wondered out on top of the stained-glass dome that is suspended over or worship space and very carefully vaccumed off about a quarter of an inch of dust from the glass. According to some estimates, Rick and Harry cleaned away nearly twenty years of dust and dirt from an amazing piece of religious art suspended above our heads to reveal some astonishing colors. And while it is not as dramatic as the cleaning of the Sistien Chapel over the last few years, for many in the congregation tommorrow will be their first glimpse into the beauty that is the dome above their heads.

And while Harry and Rick have been at work on the dome, several other people have been at work adding color to our worship space. A few weeks ago Harry Geist along with Doug and Judy Pollow discreetly added flag-pole brackets to the side walls of our sanctuary. They did so because they wanted to hang banners along the sides of our worship space in order to add color and to visually narrow the width of our large sanctuary. Along with their adventures up the ladders and figuring out the measuring tape a number of women (Karen Grubb, Darlene Annen and Barb Bratt) got out their sewing machines to put hems on eight banners of various shades of red and yellow to hang on the recently affixed flag-pole brackets.

The effect of side banners and the newly cleaned stained glass dome will be, I hope, quite a statement for tommorrow's Pentecost worship. All of the hours put into creating the various visuals is a testament to the church holiday that commemorates the gift of the Holy Spirit to enliven the early group of Christians.

Throughout the last few weeks as those named above and others have come together we, at FPC Twin Falls, have seen a glimpse of what can happen when we rely on God to encourage us to share our gifts of time, talent and treasure for the good of the whole church. Thank you to all who have made this visually stimulating Pentecost possitble!

Friday, May 29, 2009

"A People's History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story" by Diana Butler Bass

This book was, in a word, Magisterial!

Diana Butler Bass succeeds and them some with her goal of telling the story of Great Command Christianity over and above what she calls "Big-C Christianity." The latter is what she says most people know about the history of Christianity, even if they don't know much, that is; Christ, Constantine, Christendom, Calvin, and Christian America. Big-C Christianity is the version of power and triumph that does not always take into account the life and love that the man Jesus of Nazareth taught. It is not as though Diana Butler Bass thinks there is no validity to Big-C Christianity, it is more that she wants us to hear the voices and wisdom of those who are often overshadowed by the leaders of Big-C Christianity.

On the other hand, or to borrow from the subtitle, Diana Butler Bass tells the other side of the story from the perspective of both men and women who have appeared throughout church history, some names we know and other names that are less familiar. The name for this "other side of the story," that is, Great Command Christianity comes from Luke 10:25-27 where "a lawyer approached Jesus and asked him, 'Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' Jesus responded, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart ... and love your neighbor as yourself.'" Most of "A People's History of Christianity" focuses on those who lived up to the command of loving God and neighbor, even if it meant doing so without being "in power."

The scope of the book runs from the Early Church Fathers and Mothers into Medieval Christianity, Reformation Christianity, Modernity and on down to our contemporary situation. I was able to pick this up at the Twin Falls Library and if you take the time to read these 300 pages you will be awakened to the wonders of Christian Spiritual Practices as well as an appreciation of the length, bredth and depth of the Christian Witness throughout 2000 years of humanity. As I said before, and I'll say it again, this book is impressive and a wonder to behold. I highly recommend that you take the time to read it, especially if you are interested in Church history and more importantly if you are interested in the people who have made the church what it is.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hopsack Brown, Blue Spruce & Green Day

Three colors marked the Price family's first day of Memorial Day weekend. We woke with the sun and taped off the trim in the "Master Bedroom" and followed up with "Hopsack" as the color of the day. This is a shade lighter than what is in our bathroom. Or as we both remarked throughout the morning, "it's a soothing color."

From about 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Kathy and I made our way around our bedroom. I took the roller and Kathy tended to the trim. It was well worth it as we cozied-up our bedroom and made it blend into our "nature" theme.

Then, before the sweat of the holiday weekend wore off completely we headed outside for the planting of a "free" Blue Spruce. I say that it was, quote-un-quote-free, because we had to purchase a Christmas Tree from Kimberly Nurseries in the first place, in order to qualify for our "free" spring spruce. But it was worth it as "she" is sitting out in our backyard waiting for a sprinkle from the heavens.

As for the "Green Day" I bought Green Day's latest CD "21st Century Breakdown". We listened to it throughout the morning and during clean-up, it was well worth it. Unlike "American Idiot" this latest album is far less politically angry and far more poetic. So if you have some work to do this Holiday weekend and you're looking for some inspiration then I encourage you to look into Green Day's latest, "21st Century Break Down". Between this album and whatever you have schelduled you're sure to get your work done!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Christ the Lord: the Road to Cana" by Anne Rice

Wow! Magnificent! A must read!

Over the last two Mondays (my day off) I have had the opportunity to read Anne Rice's (of vampire fame) latest in her series of novels about the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth. "Road to Cana" came out in 2008 and for some reason I didn't rush out and buy it, perhaps I let that whole election thing distract me, who knows, but I'm glad that I finally took the time to check it out from the Twin Falls Library because it was hard to put down once I opened it up!

Perhaps that's too many exclamation marks for one blog, but I just can't help but to underline how worth while the latest book was, not to mention the first in the series "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt". With "Christ the Lord" Anne Rice does a good job of honoring Christian Orthodoxy (she is a recent convert to Catholicism) while at the same time bringing her gift of writing compelling characters and a moving plot. Her Jesus of Nazareth feels like and sounds like your and my Lord and Savior. If we had more than just what the gospels say about Jesus, this "Christ the Lord" that Anne Rice is writing on behalf of sounds like the very one to whom we turn in prayer and guidance for life.

So as Memorial Day approaches and you are looking for something to read on vacation I strongly encourage you to check out both of Anne Rice's "Christ the Lord" books, they are both available in paper back or you can simply check them out at your local library, you won't be disappointed.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Habitat for Humanity Breakfast

I just got back from a delightful breakfast at the Ascension Episcopal Church in Twin Falls where the Magic Valley Chapter of Habitat for Humanity hosted a Helping Hands breakfast. The food was great, there were smiles all around and a positive energy about what Habitat for Humanity can accomplish in the Magic Valley in the year to come.

Hopefully you all know what an amazing ministry and mission HFH is; in case you don't their objective is to impact poverty housing and homelessness by renovating and building homes which people buy through no-interest loans and investing what HFH calls "sweat equity" a set number of volunteer hours on their own home usually in the neighborhood of 300 to 500 hours of work. So by the time that HFH gets done with the home the new owner has invested many hours of their time and can afford to sign a mortgage they can afford to become a homeowner.

HFH not only provides the opportunity of home ownership to those who are financially disadvantaged, but they also raise the value of homes in a variety of neighborhoods across the Magic Valley in the world. And so regardless of political or theological perspective, Habitat for Humanity is a mission that all can get involved with and since HFH makes use of people with both construction skills and no skills at all other than a willingness to Lend-a-Hand this is a mission in which all can get involved.

I hope that you will consider offering your time and talents to HFH in the Magic Valley.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mr. Mom Chronicles 14: Poptarts & Wiffle Ball

All in all Sunday was the best of the three days that Kathy has been gone. Eric and I got up with the sun, both showered, dressed and were off to Albertson's by about 7:15 a.m. We bought strawberry poptarts, grapes for the children's sermon, a Red Bull for me and a 7-Up for Eric. Then we drove over to church where I practiced the sermon in the sanctuary while Eric sat in the first pew eating his poptart and drinking his 7-Up. We then took care of some chores around the building and he went off to the nursery while I set up for adult Sunday school.

Worship went well with Eric sitting with Doug and Judy Pollow. Honestly, other than seeing Eric during the children's sermon I didn't even know he was there. After worship there was cake for Mother's Day, time in the gym shooting finger-rockets and then off to an Italian Restaurant as guests of Jack and Terry Miller. Although Eric usually has a good time with that group of twenty or so adults, Bob & Judy Wright's daughter and grandson were visiting and so Eric enjoyed brunch with Ethan while the adults talked.

The afternoon was time for dad to read a little and then a marathon session of wiffle ball in the back yard. We each got to bat and pitch and Eric not only enjoyed himself but looks like he's getting a handle on both batting and pitching, we still have to work on the catching thing, but he's making progress.

The rest of the day was Wii, pizza, TV and bed for us both. So that was a really nice way to end the weekend, don't you think?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mr. Mom Chronicles 13 CHARCOAL!!!

Saturday without Kathy started off GREAT! We got up with the sun and walked over to the grocery store and bought two donuts each. We enjoyed breakfast with cartoons, coffee, juice and some special guy time and then I worked some more on the sermon and did a little reading. It really was a great way to start the day.

By midday we were outside enjoying the wonderful weather with some wiffle ball, frisbee and then firing up the fire pit for roasting weenies for lunch. Shortly after lunch we watched some baseball on the TV and Eric allowed me to take a nap. What a day, right? Well things went down hill fast after my nap. While I was talking on the phone with a friend, about four hours after our fire pit lunch Eric decided to take the top off of the fire pit. I was sitting right there talking on the phone and watching all of this transpire. So as he took the top off of the fire pit I didn't think anything of it. And as he took the fire pit tool and raked the cinders and pulled out a charcoal I didn't think anything of it either until he reached out with his left hand ... to ... pick ... it ... up!

At first shock, then tears and then a blister started forming on his left thumb and fast! I hung up with our frind and called Kathy who directed me to a first aid kit in the car and let me know I might have to drive to the Emergency Room. So, among hysterical cyring and copious tears I applied ointment and a band-aid to his thumb and instead of going to the ER I called our friends Jennifer and Dan Pruecil who are doctors. They graciously encouraged us to come over to their house to look at Eric's hand. When we got their they confirmed that it looked like a second degree burn and told us to go to Walgreens for some Polysporin. We talked and Eric played with Will and Josie until Eric discovered that his middle finger was beginning to blister too! So we were off to the pharmacy and home.

Thankfully with the polysporin, some rootbeer and ice cream and television and Eric was off to a quiet time and rest for bed. Which allwed me to watch the third Mummy movie (which wasn't as good as the first two) and get ready to write this blog and look forward to bed and soon. Pray for me that Eric and I get through tomorrow with far less interesting times.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mr. Mom Chronicles 12

Today started WAY EARLY for us! Kathy's alarm went off some where in the neighborhood of 5 a.m. and Eric and I weren't too far behind. By 5:30 we were off to the Shilo Inn and the Boise Shuttle to get Kathy off to her weekend of Kennedy Family Fun on the Olympic Peninsula. Kathy, her mom, sister, aunt, cousins, grandmother and other assorted Kennedy female family are off to a weekend of quilting, crafting and girl "stuff" until Monday.

So we got Kathy to the bus stop and then we came home for an hour more of sleep before getting ready for school, which went o.k., that is the resting, breakfast and off to school bit. Then I went for a 45 minute run/walk at CSI before a little quiet time of my own at home. The day really started off quite well, that is, until I pulled up at Harrison Elementry to pick up Eric. I was hoping for the sight of him running across the green grass yelling at the top of his lungs, "Greeeeen Day!" (meaning that his behavior was o.k. at school). Unfortunately as his class dismissed and I got out of the car and headed over to collect my son I saw him sit down by his teacher. So I made my way over to him as he waved me over.

When I got to Mrs. Standley she said something to the effect of, "Well at least it is something different." And then she proceeded to tell me that Eric would be written up on Monday and miss "specials" because on the feild-trip to Roper Auditorium Eric spit at a second grader! He spit at someone else, can you believe it? I mean, spitting at his age, at the ground, may just be part of figuring out what it means to be a boy, but spitting at another person whom he does not know?!?

Needless to say, Eric spent a large part of the afternoon in his room and went to bed early without a story. Hopefully Saturday will bring a brighter and more happy child.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Yesteryday the Price family was graced with the generosity of Phyllis & Terry Fletcher who gave us a piano for Eric's use. A piano was something that Kathy's family had when she was a child, but not something that my family had so I didn't know quite how Eric would react. My own musical experience began in the fourth grade when I took up the Alto Saxophone which I played with the band through graduation from High School. For my part the daily practice quickly became drudgery, which I'm sure most of you who have ever practiced a musical instrument have experienced the same as well.

So these first hours with the piano are a lot of fun, mostly because Eric just gravitates to the keyboard of his own free will, for now. In fact, well before I wanted to get out of bed I heard Eric creating a new musical piece around 6 a.m. Hopefully his curiosity and creativity will not wane as he ages and maybe just maybe he has found something that will really capture his imagination and light a passion within. Thanks especially to the Fletcher family for sharing such a wonderful gift with us.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"How to Win a Cosmic War" by Reza Aslan

On an impulse, I purchased this book two weeks ago and could not put it down, especially after reading "Journey Into Islam". It wasn't a complete impulse-buy, because I had read his previous book "No god but God" and knew that his writing style appealed to me along with the depth of his scholarship.

This current book has as it's subtitle "God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror". Throughout the book Aslan provides both the history of how we have gotten to this point in global history as well as the way through the current rhetoric that would leave us at best at a permanent stall and at worst living in fear of the other for generations to come. At the heart of his argument is that both "sides" have raised the level of rhetoric beyond the earthly into the cosmic realm of good versus evil along spiritual and religious lines. But as he does so he points out that both Christian and Muslim adherents of such philosophy are a rather small percentage of those engaged in the conflict. That, as the book "Journey Into Islam" pointed out, the extremists in America and the extremists in the Muslim world are a rather small part of the picture and we (those not taken by the cosmic lines of battle) are letting the extremists frame the story.

And so it is to those of us in the middle, who may not completely trust the other, but who recognize that our enemy may be children of God as much as we are to whom Reza Aslan makes an appeal. He quite capably argues that democracy is compatible with Islam, but for democracy to succeed those who promote it must actually stand by the results of elections, even if we don't like those who are elected. Along with democracy as a tonic, Aslan points out that if we leave the War on Terror at the cosmic level the only way to win it is through means other than military.

This may not be the most politically expedient message to be promoting, but I believe that most Americans don't want to see a long, drawn-out, hot/cold war with an amorphos group of people who are never going to surrender. But Americans have historically shown that lifting others up through democracy and common interests is something we are willing to pursue. So if you are not drawn into the hyperbole that all Muslims are out to get us and if you believe that God desires for his children to get along, then I encourage you to take a look at Reza Aslan's latest book, "How to Win a Cosmic War".

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Change in Perspective

As I sat in bed this morning listening to the rain I thought about how I've had to change my perspective about the weather now that I live in the Magic Valley of Southern Idaho. For years, rain was almost always a good thing, whether it was my growing up years in Southern Pennsylvania, or the seminary years in Richmond, Virginia or the Kentucky years and most especially the Colorado Foothills years. In every place I have ever lived and since I have never lived in Tornado or Hurricane country, rain has been a positive thing all year round.

But not in the Magic Valley. No, thanks to the wonder of irrigation, once the canal company releases the waters the farmers don't want to hear their pastor pray for rain or give thanks for it. It almost seems as though some farmers that I've had conversation with over these past three years wouldn't mind if it didn't rain at all during the irrigation season. Of course that could just be a few individuals and not all people involved in agriculture in Southern Idaho.

Thinking about it theologically for a moment, it is something that even here in very conservative and traditional Southern Idaho how man's impact on God's creation takes prominence. I mean, for all the editorials in the local paper about maintaining traditional values takes a back seat to the progress of contemporary agricultural technology. Perhaps its no big deal and maybe I don't quite have a grasp on the situation, but it really has been a challenge to realize that once the irrigation begins, talk of rain for most people turns sour until Autumn.