Thursday, May 31, 2007

Too dependent on technology

PART THE FIRST: This is when I know I'm dependent: I can't get on the internet because all my modem can get is a busy signal. I'm thinking that my ISP is down, so I call the ISP in another state that the computer at my mom's house is connected to. Also a busy signal. So I try to call my cell phone: busy signal. So then I think, OK, there must be an outage, I'll use the cell phone to call Qwest. I get no bars even though I usually get 5 bars. What good is the dang cell phone now? My feelings: a bit of panic because I can't get in touch with anybody. Not that I need to get in touch with anybody right now.... AND I can walk to a neighbor's house if I need some help. Well, probably several neighbors are at work, but I know that one 1/2 mile away is home because she works at home. OK, I'm fine. Besides, there are two cars in the garage that work.

How long will this technology breakdown take to fix???

Maybe when I travel to Africa in November I'll experience some healthy withdrawal. We've been calling two cell phone numbers there every week, unable to reach our friend.

PART THE SECOND: I went to the hardware store where the owner told me that the company building the four lane road cut the major fiber optic cable. She said we can call other people with the same first three digits of our phone number. But there is no 9-1-1 calling. And the hospital has no phone service at all because their whole phone system depends on the internet. McDonald's employees are having to use calculators to figure out the charges. (Yes, we have McD's in this dinky little town.) She said that phone service for about 75 miles is out.

Questions: Why is CELL PHONE out when it supposedly uses signals that travel through the AIR???
Why is the hospital's internet system out since it is high speed, not phone line internet?

Doesn't this illustrate just how easily someone with evil intent could disrupt our way of life? Just think of the calculator shortage that would occur when cash registers don't work, because kids haven't been taught how to add tax to a bill without a calculator.

PART THE THIRD: When driving to the hardware store, I became aware of funny noises coming from underneath the car. No I hadn't hit that wayward fiber optic cable. But I did stop at the Ford Dealer. "There are funny noises coming from the car." "Oh, like ha ha hee hee?" "No like tong pong pong tong." "You better let me drive it........Yes, that doesn't sound good. Something is broken." Sharp diagnosis there.

PART THE FOURTH: I drove (different car) to another town 30 miles away to do some errands. The cell phone received a signal there, and I received an important phone call....which I couldn't have gotten if I had stayed home.

PART THE FIFTH: The sun came out. That isn't technology however.

Love those Twins...

"Of Minnesota's 26 runs in this series, 18 came with two outs. ..."

The Twins just swept the White Sox, playing Piranha style baseball.

They were behind by 5 runs at one point in yesterday's game, but the relievers didn't give up any runs, contrary to the performance by the Chicago relievers.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Remembering ALL who have served.

The TV networks have been showing quite a bit about the military hospitals and the post-war care or lack thereof for veterans. Post traumatic stress is showing up in many of the Iraq veterans, for good reason, considering the randomness of the roadside bombs. Many of the soldiers who were not directly injured by a bomb have been shown to have head injuries from the concussive force of the bomb blasts.

And there are others who have been killed or injured in Iraq. The military hires many civilian contractors to provide basic services, reconstruction skills, as well as security services in Iraq. When these "veterans" come home, if they do, since 900 have been killed, they don't get the life long medical benefits that the "real" veterans get.

Article here:

'Ohio mom wants Iraq contractors honored'

Is this Kind of Christianity Christian?

An article asking some good questions.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Friday, May 25, 2007


In the pro-gun and anti-gun debate, there are cliche sayings such as "Guns don't kill, people do." And "There is no reason to have a pistol because its only purpose is for shooting people."

Well, apparently that ain't so. See this article about a boy who used a pistol to shoot a very large animal.

Now, if I were to ask a certain person I know about this situation, he would say what a shame it was to kill an animal who managed to grow that big.

I'm glad I didn't see it in the forest. 5 inch tusks?!?


Trillium, the trinity of flowers.


The workmen and the machines are here.  We may get running water by day's end!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The fire is contained!

The Ham Lake Fire, which burned 118 square miles in the US and Canada is contained on the US side of the border. Over 1000 firefighters and rain contributed to this success. The remaining evacuation orders have been lifted today. Now people will see which homes and cabins are gone. Photos here.

As I wrote here, people (i.e. tourists who would bring money) might perceive the fire as completely destroying the forest and the beauty of the place. A resort owner describes this false perception:

"We still have the Boundary Waters [Canoe Area Wilderness]," said Ted Young, owner, with his wife, Barbara, of Boundary County Trekking and Poplar Creek Guest House B&B. "We still have the beautiful lakes. And even where it's burned, it's not all burned."

Mike Prom, owner with his wife, Sue, of Voyageur Canoe Outfitters, put it this way: "If you had a map of the Boundary Waters on an 8½-by-11 sheet of paper, this fire would be the size of a quarter."

They know this, but some customers canceling -- most say it's a small number so far -- don't seem to understand it. That may be partly because of what might be called the "Yellowstone phenomenon."

In 1988, a major wildfire raged through Yellowstone National Park. News crews from around the world flocked to tell the story of the fire's damage to a national treasure. Because fire was the story, that's what the cameras showed and the words described.

What wasn't burned got considerably less attention. For years afterward, visitors, expecting to see a landscape of unbroken char were surprised at how good the place looked." The rest of the article is here.

Check this site for links on the fire and how it affected Wilderness Canoe Base, a Lutheran camp.

We also got rain last night, over an inch! That will be some help dealing with the lack of precipitation for the last year. I'll be able to pull weeds out of the garden today. I tried on Sunday, but the soil was like a rock. Of course, rain means the grass will have to be cut often, but I'll accept that.

And we may get our water system hooked up on Friday.

Blue for water!!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Falwell and Fire

I'm drawing a link between Jerry Falwell and the extensive fire in the BWCAW.

The fire did burn thousands of acres of forest. But many more thousands of acres are still beautiful and the lakes are still beautiful. The fire is mostly under control; the resorts are opening up; most of the Boundary Water entrance points are open.

The many business people and their employees in the area fear that people's perceptions of the fire will cause them to look elsewhere for their vacation time this summer.

Now to Jerry Falwell. My perception of Jerry Falwell is based on the sound bites and small dibs and dabs that I have seen on the news, many of which have seemed to me to be over the top and/or judgmental. Yet he founded a college and grew a church and many people, obviously, have found his pastoral leadership to be valid.

I've read a number of blog entries on his passing that were written by people of a different political persuasion. They were, for the most part, honest about the differences and also grace-filled in recognition that we all fall short of the Christian ideal.

I know that the supposed Luther quote about "sinning boldly" is often taken out of context. However, I think that the basic meaning might well apply to Falwell' work. Is it not better to try to make a difference in this world, to try to promote one's beliefs, to try to change lives and politics, to try to help people, knowing mistakes will be made in trying? The other course, that so many of us take, is to NOT try because we don't know enough, we're not smart enough, we're not Christian enough, we don't have leadership qualities, we don't know the right people, excuses ad nauseum.

Whether we make a little difference or a big difference in this world, lets not sit on our hands. We ARE the hands of Christ in the world.

Am I in the middle of a comedy TV show?

As I'm mentioned before, we've been without running water for 3 1/2 months. I've tried to keep a good attitude about this because, after all, we're better off than a large portion of the world's population, and cerainly better off than any of our ancestors not all that many decades ago.

We had a new well dug two weeks ago, but since we were going out of town, we didn't want it to be hooked up while we were gone, in case there were problems, plus we didn't want unknown people in and out of our house.

Today I called the 'XYZ Drilling Co.' to tell them we were back and please, put us on the list to get the rest of the work done. The rest of the work involves trenching in the water line, hooking up, installing the pump and pressure tank, and hooking up the electric line to the new pump.

The woman who answered at XYZ Drilling told me that we were responsible for getting all this done. Say what? Since we don't know all the specifics and since this means coordinating several different workmen, how can we take care of this ourselves? I said, "well, somebody with your company told me that you guys will contact the various contractors. "

She said, "That will be handled by the 'XYZ Pump Co.' I answer their phones too." [Sure enough, the phone book listing for both companies is the same phone number and same address.] So I asked her what do I do now. She told me she would tell the right men when they checked in.

I'm getting impatient. I want to know at least WHEN this will be finished. I have errands to run this week that I need to plan. I have two adult children coming home this week. I WANT RUNNING WATER!

What was that about bread being the staff of life? Maybe water is the STUFF of life.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

How one church helped in a real crisis.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church prepared, along with three other churches, to be of service during an evacuation crisis they hoped would never come. But it did come and they are carrying out their plans.

Forest Fire - or - News is Relative

Last week there were plenty of news reports on the national TV news shows about the fires in Florida and the two fires in California. We had to intentionally look for local news reports to find out anything about the large fire in my state. Here is a report from today about the Ham Lake fire that has burned 117 square miles of the US and Canada as of this morning.

According to the news reports many homes and other structures have burned, including 44 structures at a Lutheran Camp, Wilderness Canoe Base. Some pictures here. Apparently, several of the main buildings remain.

A number of homes in the area were saved because of having metal roofs and sprinkler systems installed. The local fire control people went to the homes periodically to deliver propane tanks to run these sprinkler systems.

Some of the evacuated people will be allowed to view their homes or the remains of their homes for a few hours today or tomorrow.

On Friday, as I was driving south, several hundred miles from the fire, the air was so thick with smoke that visibility was impaired. My eyes burned. The winds have been quite strong for the last week, switching directions every few days. At one point, people were allowed back to their homes, only to be evacuated again. Most evacuated people have had to go to Grand Marais, a beautiful town on the shore of Lake Superior.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Worship or being fed, well, not really........

I (we) attended the church of a family member on Sunday. This church is in a denomination which has, basically, the same doctrine of my denomination, however, it doesn't mix with other groups much, if at all. So we didn't (couldn't per instructions in the bulletin) take communion.

But we could worship and be fed by the Word, right? Well, that was hard. Really hard. There isn't much liturgy in this church, so I didn't get the usually time of praise that I am used to.

The hymns were out of the "new" hymnal that is supposed to be more geared toward younger people. Well, it looked to me like they were sort of old standards from other groups and camp songs. But, I'm sorry to say, when a song that the youth in my home church likes because of its content and peppy melody is played at less than half speed, it kind of sounds like one is putting the Spirit into the grave rather than singing in a spirit filled way.

The sermon theme was on evangelism, as it was Evangelism Sunday. The most concrete thing that the pastor said is that evangelism happens when the usher smiles when he hands you the bulletin. He said we don't have to go door to door. I was really really hoping to hear some new ideas on personal evangelism. Where is the depth?

The last time we attended this church, the other pastor preached on how God always takes care of us and nothing bad will ever happen to us. My companion said, "Well he wouldn't preach that the Sunday after the Tsumami."

So, it was really really hard to keep my mind and heart in the right place. I left feeling unfed and barely worshipful. How does this church keep two pastors employeed and three services every weekend?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lay people's duties in church

In my posting, "He Keeps Me Singing" (below) the comment section has discussion about lay people presiding at communion and then also discusses lay people or non-ordained people preaching. There are good reasons to both allow and not allow lay people to do the "official" things in church.

Pastor Eric says, "I understand the requirement of ordained clergy presiding over Holy Communion is to ensure good order, but a lay people can do far more damage preaching and no one says anything about that. As long as the Gospel is preached, go for it. Clergy have no special power."

I would like to suggest several things, or at least throw them out for discussion.

First, if the "power" of the communion is in the bread and wine, ie the body and blood, then it shouldn't matter who is presiding. The pastor may be a big hypocrit and sinner, unrepentant, but would be "ordained." The mouth that speaks the words or the hand that holds the bread doesn't hinder the Christ. I certainly understand that the Church has order to keep, however.

I was criticized on another Lutheran (of another stripe) blog because I said that I helped with communion at my church occassionally. Hey, I wasn't even presiding or saying a word. I was holding the tray! Where would we draw the line if the person was so important? Likewise, would we have to figure out who washed the communion ware????

Secondly, on the preaching. I'm sure there are "some" lay people who do a better job preaching than some "pastors." And there truly are some sermons that are memorable for years. But for the most part, people aren't going to remember what was said all that much.

Thirdly, I would suggest that the biggest influence that the lay people would have, positive or negative, in a church, is in their hospitality. How do they present themselves, and by extension, the Body of Christ, to anyone who comes through the door? And this applies to the weekdays as well as to Sunday Morning. Are they welcoming and helpful? Do they show any interest at all that someone is there?

About 25 years ago, our family attended a Lutheran Church in St. Paul that was across the street from the motel where we were staying. It was a nice church, nice formal liturgical service, stunning organ music, etc. No one greeted us. I greeted people as we left the pew. No one returned the greeting. We shook hands with the pastor, saying we were visitors. He didn't say anything welcoming. We took our daughter to the Sunday School so we could attend the adult forum. The Sunday School teacher wasn't welcoming at all. We were not greeted in any way in the Adult Fourm, even though we told people we were visitors. We talked with another pastor on the way out who also didn't greet us in any way.

This taught me a lot. As much as I like liturgy and formality, and also music done really well, I'll trade that for friendliness and "spirit" and a real give and take any day.


Woman at the Well

I thought of setting up my camera to show me next to the new well, but a new well is actually a pretty boring thing. Hey, good pun.

But here is what it looks like to be in the process of getting a new well.A friend of mine has traveled all over the world. I asked him why it is that the settlers came to this country 100, 150, 200 or a few more years ago and did so well, progressed so much, etc. yet in other countries, where in some cases, the same peoples have lived for ages, they have so much poverty and bad living conditions. He thought that there are two main reasons. First, he said, good water is available in so many places in the US. And secondly, because much of the US is far enough north, we don't have the parasites that some places have.

We may be inclined to take our clean ways of living for granted. I know that it will be a long time before I take running water and a good sewer system for granted. Doing without for three months is a mighty lesson.

Blog send problem

I'm annoyed because blogger no longer sends my main email address an email when I get a comment on the blog, so I'm just lucky I saw the comments to my posts. Interestingly, blogger sends me a bounce, to the same address, a couple of days later. I can't find any place on the blogger help section to email to a real person to get this fixed. I changed the blogger "blogsend" address to my alternate address, but I have to go through a couple of steps to check that one.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Seven things about me.....

AKA...Seven Things You Really Didn't Want To Know About Me
And Because Of That You Never Thought To Ask

I think that this is the first time I’ve ever been tagged directly for a meme. I was tagged by Singing Owl. My computer is acting very badly today, so this may be the last known communication from me ever. Well, I’ll be out of town for a week, so I won’t be writing much, if at all, anyway.

1) My life has centered around water, lately. We’ve been without running water and adequate sewer for over three months. This tends to be annoying, but I’m trying to keep a good attitude because……..well because much of the world’s population lives in a worse situation than I do. And because having indoor plumbing is a relatively recent convenience. Plus it is more than a little humbling when I spouted off with complaints the first few days of this situation and found that the recipients of my complaints live like this in a permanent state. A new well will be drilled tomorrow! Blue for water.

2) Now that I am an “empty-nester” I would have thought that I’d be looking forward to traveling more. Well, yes (in theory) but I was away from home 79 days in the second half of 2007, and I’ve been away from home on three trips this year, with at least 6 more trips coming up. Mostly these are for family doings, which is great. I also have a trip planned to Uganda in November. But I realize that at heart I’m just a homebody. Love to be at home! Brown for the color of my siding on my home.

3) I sew. A lot. I often make things up as I go, without a pattern. Currently, I’m working on three quilts and some bags to attach to wheelchairs. I’ve got plans to sew some clothing. Note that this isn’t compatible with #2. I read about sewing topics. Teal because that is my favorite fabric color.

4) I love to take pictures, especially of flowers. I love having a digital camera for the instant feedback to help me improve my photos. I have another blog that was set up for my sewing interests, but it has mostly become a blog of photos of flowers, birds, and scenery. Gray for the color of my camera.

4.5) I also love growing flowers. This is a wild nodding trillium and my house.

5) I love baseball. I'm a devoted Twins fan, and I even subscribe to satellite TV just to watch the Twins. The magager of the White Sox called the Twins "Piranhas" last year. This year, they are proudly using that style as they get many infield hits. I helped coach my son’s baseball team for 7 years. Green for the grass of the outfield.

6) I first preached in a church about 20 years ago. I’ve done it occasionally ever since. I’d rather do that than work in the church kitchen. I’ve only led the worship once….not my cup of tea. Singing in the choir, however, is great. Brown for the color of the chancel furniture.

7) Since I have put a lot of thought and time into stewardship committee at my church, I find “feathering one’s nest” to be, in many cases, a poor use of financial resources when there are so many good causes that a person could choose to help. I live in this world and this society; I’m not doing without. What things do I “need” and what things do I just “want?” Do I give out of my need or out of my abundance? When is it OK to own lots of clothing? When should I refrain from spending and put that into a charity? Purple for trying to keep God’s prioritities in this world.

I'll have to put off tagging somebody else till later.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

He Keeps Me Singing

Hooray, no Gravy Song this week. I thought it was the hymn of the month and I'd have to chuckle for three more weeks. But new month, new music.

The Choir sang He Keeps Me Singing today. It has a barber shop type harmony and a very lively piano accompaniment. While singing that song, I started wondering if any other Lutheran church in the country would be singing barber shop harmony today.

I guess I was day dreaming more than that. I started longing for my lunch and thought about going to the grocery store across the street for a ham steak and some hash browns, onions, and green peppers. When I got home, I discovered that I had forgotten to eat my breakfast. No wonder I was hungry.

The pastor is away at the synod convention today. Our bishop granted our parish nurse the privilege of presiding over the communion.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

That darn Gravy Song is stuck in my head today.

On Sunday we sang "Up from the gravy, a rose" and now it is stuck in my head.  And will be for awhile , because apparently it is the hymn of the month.  We even had to rise out of our seats on the Rose part.  Normally, I like the variety of music at my church, but not this time. 
Of course, it wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't read the joke version just recently.  Kind of goes along with "Jesus is sneaking through Humboldt Park."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Lutherland....the other side of the coin

The two Lutherland (see previous post) states I've lived in also have very many Roman Catholics. Despite having so many Lutherans and Catholics, who both practice infant baptism, there are plenty of unchurch people. Unchurched to the extent that they may not even bring their babies to be baptised for fire insurance.

A previous pastor in my current church told me that this county has about 50% unbaptised people. I don't know where he got that statistic. I should explain that this county is larger than some of those tiny states out east, has one not-so-large big city, two small cities, several even smaller cities, and lots of dots along the road. The ethnic diversity, while primarily northern European, also comes from about 50 other countries, as well as Native American. It is working class with a smattering of farming. Most of the immigration and settlement occurred after 1900.

IMHO, an historical failing of the Lutheran church(es) in general is that it has been a chaplaincy church, that is, taking care if her own, but not reaching out much at all.

In the Lutheran magazine, April, 2007, there is an article entitled, "More than just Preacher Factories." This has some good news about what is being taught in seminaries. But I found it also to be a sad commentary on the Lutheran church. When I read between the lines, my reaction was, "What took you (us) so long?"

For example: in a survey of recent seminary graduates from 2004, "that same survey underlined the need for increased training in evangelism at first-call pastors said they felt very unprepared for 'reaching out to unchurched persons.'"

Granted, the Bible says that we have different gifts. Perhaps the Lutheran seminaries have neglected finding and equipping people who have the gifts of evangelism.


My son, who now lives in The Big City, was home on the weekend. He said, "I need to find a church." He mentioned that there is a big church within about two blocks of his apartment, but he didn't know what kind it was.

I am aware of the ELCA's church locator on the website, so it was easy to find a list of churches near his place. It was also pretty easy to figure out which church he was referring to; it is one of the biggest churches in the city.

This search made be realize that I live in Lutherland. The church locator lists 70 ELCA churches within 5 miles of his zip code. Within 25 miles, there are 242 ELCA churches. In fact, even in my rural area, there are 28 ELCA churches listed within 50 miles.

One aspect of many churches in a rural area is that they tend to be small; some so small that they have a hard time either finding or supporting a pastor. Sometimes they go without a pastor for years. The people don't want to give up their local church, their historical place of worship. In contrast, in our area, some of the other denominations have few churches, but they are larger and therefore have more programs and opportunities for worship and service, but the people have to travel much further to attend them.

Supporting Friends

My son was home to visit the son of the woman whose funeral was last week [mentioned in the 4/23/07 posting.] My son was friends with this woman in the sense that he often visited at their home when he was in high school. I've been very impressed with the closeness that my adult children exhibit with their hometown friends. They keep in touch, get together in the big city, and they support and help each other. Having cell phones is a big part of this because they can communicate even in the process of moving from college to a new apartment.

My daughter was able to come home in the middle of the week to attend the funeral and see the two children and the step daughter, with whom she is friends.

I was away for the week, but yesterday I was able to have a heart felt talk with the woman's mother, who is my friend.

My son has had 7 friends die untimely deaths (car accidents and also carbon monoxide poisoning in a home) and also two mother's of his friends have died. He is a person who is very good about keeping in touch with us and with his friends. He really understands the concept of our fleeting mortality. A few weeks ago, my son was home to play basketball in a men's tournament put on in memory of 5 of these friends. Men's teams came from all over to participate and there was a pig roast. The money raised was given to a local church for their youth work.

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st, 2007

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2007

and more info here.