Thursday, November 26, 2009


I am grateful for my son who is visiting and our great time in Chicago.

I am thankful it is not last year when I was painfully recovering from hernia surgery to repair five hernias from my abdominal surgery.

I am grateful that I don't appear to have cancer right now.

I am grateful for sunshine and warmth.

I am grateful for a job.

I am grateful for friends and family.

I am grateful for all of this world.

My prayer is that God's dream for the world will come into being.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


My blog just got spammed and my inbox is filled with Chinese. I have changed my setting to require verification before commenting. I'm sorry for this extra layer of rigamarole.

In other news. I have disappeared to Chicago. How wonderful. My son and I drove to Chicago on Monday and spend yesterday at the Shedd. On the way we stopped in Cairo, IL. More about that later, perhaps. Today the Institute of Art and then a drive home for turkey.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I was installed yesterday as called pastor. And a friend was dismissed from her congregation.

Our churches are in trouble and we don't know what to do. Amid the joy yesterday, a session member remarked that it was wonderful that "my friend Xavier" came for my installation. "My friend Xavier" is an African American young man with two twins with severe speech problems (they are four and do not yet speak). He is jobless and comes to the church and asks for work. I think he asks for handouts. This man has needs and has come to church to find help for those needs. He is MY friend. He is not a recurring visitor. He is not a potential new member.

The congregation will be overjoyed to learn that a couple has decided to join the church. One son has some difficulties and is extremely hard to manage. The Sunday school teachers have an extra person who works just with him. This couple has needs: a need for a safe place for their son to be loved and cared for. They have found their needs met in this congregation. They are not MY friends. They are potential new members. (Oh, they are white, middle class, dress nicely.)

I have no idea how I can open the congregation up to the possibility that Xavier is as much a part of us as the couple. That God has sent Xavier to us as clearly as God has sent two couples with young children. I say that, but it seems to slide off them.

Friday, November 13, 2009

An article in the NYTimes says that women are likely to be divorced after they are diagnosed with cancer. Husbands disappear. Wives tend to stick with their sick husbands.

Are female clergy more likely to stay with sick churches than male clergy?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I got into another one of those arguments with a parishioner--why the Memphis schools are so bad. I place the blame directly on those so-called Christian schools that grew up in the wake of integration. Then I made the statement that those schools mean that we spend less on the public schools than we ought to. The parishioner said that she had seen something that said that Memphis had one of the highest per pupil expenditures in the country. I declared that the statement could not be true. (Tact is not my strong suit.)

And so I looked. Memphis spends a lot per pupil, compared to the rest of Tenneessee (though a quick survey showed Nashville spends more). But, here is the surprise. Memphis spends about 2/3s the national average of all school districts. I took a look at a couple of northern states and their large districts spend much more than the national average. The school district attended (where he was the only white child in the class for three years) spends 2.5 times what Memphis does.

I looked at North Carolina and their expenditures were a smidge more than Tennessee. Durham schools seem to be the most spendy.

So, what is the connection between spending on education and the education of the population.

When I told my parishioner what I had found, she was amazed. She then asked, "well, I can't imagine how we could spend more money. Where would it come from?" My response, where we spend our money reflects what we value. (A reprise from my sermon on Sunday.)

Now, I grew up in North Carolina, in a family that valued education. When Terry Sanford was governor back in the 60s he wanted to move North Carolina to the forefront of education. California was the model for the state university system (the conservatives hit California with Prop whatever which drastically reduced spending for education in California, much to their detriment.)

Now, in my rambling: why do we not see the benefit of paying taxes so our children can be educated? Why are we so short sighted that we would rather spend our money on our toys than on our future and the future of our children?