Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Interesting conversation today. A co-worker of mine came to me during lunch, asking how the meeting went between services on Sunday regarding the re-calling of our pastor (i.e., whether or not she should return after her present call terminates in December).

I relayed to her a few of the sentiments expressed, that with a few exceptions, the voices mostly supported keeping her on as pastor. I told her one individual in particular had a small list of concerns that he didn't have time to relate, reasons why he is opposed to the idea of bringing R. back. I said that if I knew what those reasons were, I might consider swinging my vote in the other direction.

She said, based apparently on the scuttlebutt she'd heard, she's opposed to keeping R. on. She didn't go into too much detail, but she seemed to agree it would be a difficult but good step toward "healing" for everyone. She also said she really didn't understand why it is such a big deal. We should just address it, and be over it.

I mostly agreed. Our congregation's mission statement is that we are a people "saved by grace..." I have often wondered where our sense of grace is in all this, and other issues. It was funny, though, that all during this conversation at lunch, my friend barely ever looked me in the eye. Always looking off in some other direction. I mean, it's one thing to maybe glance and an ear, off to one side, but to always have some kind of eye contact at least once in awhile. She didn't. Even as she walked off, she didn't look at me. Why is that? It seemed to be more than just discussing religion within the workplace.

I don't know if I should press the issue. I'm not at all sure of the level of trust we have with each other, but this matter does seem to bother her a lot. I guess it's all the more distressing that she seems to have taken D's side of the issue, even though I'm sure there really isn't an "issue" to take sides on. She said she'd always preferred his particular style of preaching, and I totally understand that. Preachers have different styles that affect people in different ways.

However, she seems to understand the resulting chain of events to be a matter of vindictiveness on R's part. I hope I misunderstood her meaning in this, and I related what I had heard; these are Pastors, they're moral leaders in our church community. Basically, if there is something that is not right with a Pastor that might affect how he or she performs his or her duties, the other Pastor is responsible to report that, which evidently, R. did.

I am angry. Not that D. did something he shouldn't have. The resulting crisis aside, I'm actually fairly pleased to know he's human, too. No, I'm angry at the crisis that has come of it. I know the church higher-ups are doing what they think is best by barring him from preaching for a couple of years, but let's face it, they're doing that because of how people are. Where's the grace, I bitterly wonder. Well, come to think of it, the unique nature of a husband and wife as team pastors really complicates things a lot.

No, that raised another issue I'm having with my congregation. Last Sunday, we met partly to discuss the fate of a plot of land out beyond our parking lot. A number of years ago, a social service organization apparently asked for part of the land to develop an assisted living facility. No problem. The problem is that it has been five years, and they haven't raised the funds to build the building, sooooo... the question was whether or not to allow another five years to let them keep trying to raise the funds. As I understood it, we'd essentially be cutting them some slack with the extension. Hey, it's not easy trying to raise money for a non-LDS denominational project in Utah. We know that. We have a hella mortgage and an unfinished extension to our building to prove it.

I was therefore alarmed by many of the harsh phrasings used in the discussion, all but calling this organization a bunch of deadbeats. Our problem was that we didn't have essential information to make an informed decision, honestly. I was dismayed that the vote to grant an extension to the lending of the land failed miserably by a vote of 69 to 14. Where is the grace? Where are these Christians so well versed in Jesus's parables of grace, compassion, and forgiveness? I was a heartbeat away from dying of shame on the spot.

Now, next week, we're facing what is shaping up to be a divisive issue. Pro-Pastor-D vs. Pro-Pastor-R. Of course, we're liable to lose a few members, one way or another. Reckon we've lost some, already with the original resignation letter.

I'm about to throw up my hands, realizing we don't seem so much Christ-centered, as we are more into the "personality-driven" church, among other things.

Restoring Spirit, where are you?

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Morning After

I actually went to a few of the 5 a.m. sales this morning, mostly to find out what it's all about, but, yes, partly to see what kind of deals I could get for my Christmas shopping.

I did find a couple of items, though no gifts of particular interest. I did find a couple of laser pointers, but they were at their regular price, and not the reason I went out.

I cruised Riverdale road at about 4:30 this morning. A few people in line at f.y.e., a GREAT line outside of Circuit City, a full parking lot at Babies 'R' Us, but the most horrifying sites were the mob scene just outside of Best Buy, and the line of people camped out near the Newgate Mall.

Maybe I'm just anti-social, and bent on living outside the fringe, but that's insane. Looking at these materialistic boobs, I may question my own sanity, but I have by no means reason to dismiss it entirely.

I was a bit disappointed to find that the one item I thought I'd buy Pam as a surprise (i.e., a gift she didn't specifially ask for): a relatively low-cost alternative to the iPod. Suckers sold out within moments of the doors opening.

Well, that was interesting. I probably won't do that again... at least, not until Elias starts getting the peer pressure to keep up with the latest (and most expensive) toys on the market. Maybe I'll get lucky. By then, the whole economy will collapse, and the "must have" item in school will be lunch.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving disorganized stream of consciousness.

09:56. Wife and child are watching the parade downstairs. He sounds excited.

Of course, I'm thankful. Glad to be here, although I do wish I knew what I'm supposed to be doing. Rearing a child? Just prolonging the human condition?

I read some remarks by Stephen Hawking on Wikipedia the other day. Enlightening. He brought up one aspect of Global Warming I hadn't previously thought or heard of:

"The danger is that global warming may become self-sustaining, if it has not done so already..."

Well, we don't really know until we try to reverse it, now, do we? I think it was only a suggestion, and that remark shouldn't be taken as a fatalistic "why bother" comment. No. Definitely not a fatalistic remark, not coming from a man living on borrowed time since he was in his early 20's. Now, THERE'S a man who has done something with himself.

It drives me nuts to hear some of my co-workers dismiss anything that does not align with their orthodoxy. They laugh derisively at talk of global warming, and even matters of social justice. I suspect sometimes there might be a touch of racism in their rhetoric, as well. Conservatism has failed me in a big way. Well, Republicans have, anyway. I just cannot fathom this groupthink that has developed among the die-hards in the party.

But how do I shake myself from this blah acceptance of what appears to be a tortuous dead-end job? I spend most of my waking hours in a job that is, well, your basic 9 to 5, with no particular prospects for change, except to apply to transfer to other agencies within the government. Pheh! What a waste. Aside from the job security one allegedly gets after a number of years with the federal government (as in, it takes an act of Congress, or an act of God, both equally likely, to fire a complete deadbeat), an unremarkable health insurance program, and a retirement fund that I can probably duplicate with a fair financial planner, what is the allure of this place where I work?

I hate conformity. Two million alleged years of evolution, and all we have to show for it are sheep who can drive SUV's.

I took the job to feed and house my wife and son. My wife is at her rope's end with her job, about 15 feet from where I sit at work. She's on a team of four people, she and one other person are the only ones who are able and willing to do the job at hand, another MIGHT do the job, if she ever came in from her smoke breaks long enough to LEARN it, and the other has put in 35 years in the federal service, and by God, he's EARNED the right to spend the day browsing the web and checking his mutual funds.

She wants to quit. I want her to quit. We'll be down to one income, and we might end up in a postition to default on a few debts, but she (hopefully) will have a little peace of mind.

Am I really a hippie for thinking like this? Anarchistic, maybe. I'd love to spend some time in an "anarcho-synchronous commune," to see if and how it works.

Midlife angst, I guess. I'm tired, and I'm tired of being tired. Many of the people around me tire me all the more. Routine. Same old same old. What is it about? What's so great about it? I know children need a bit of routine, to help them feel a bit more secure, but when it goes into adulthood? To the point where people wind up talking about the exact same thing every day, in the exact same manner...

"Da DUH da DUH Da DUH da DUH Da DUH da da DUH.
Da da DUH da DUH Da DUH da DUH Da DUH da DUH. (Hmmm.)

Da DUH da DUH Da DUH da DUH Da DUH da da DUH.

Da DUH da DUH Da DUH da DUH Da DUH da da DUH.
Da da DUH da DUH Da DUH da DUH Da DUH da DUH. (HA HA HA!)"

Would you believe I look forward to talking to my 21-month old son, for the intelligent conversation?

Oh, spark of life! Look at those eyes! The grin that says the worst that's ever happened to him was getting circumcised, and he doesn't even remember that. I hope.

Happy imp, wrestling with his daddy.
Grouchy baby boy, not getting his way.
Loving little child, clinging around my neck.
Sleepy little monkey, nestling to my chest, dozing to his own, vast dreamland.
Curious boy, adventuring into drawers and cupboards where he shouldn't be, finding things he doesn't understand, but make a lot of noise when he drops them.

Yes, I'm thankful, actually, even in this haze of confusion and angst.

Oh, spark of life. I'm wet and I'm cold, but thank God I ain't old! This little boy, and this loving wife make me want to rise again, long live the Phoenix, and be something I'm proud to call a husband and father. Protector, teacher, role model, mate for life.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Good morning. It's 6:51 MST at the top of beautiful Hill A.F.B., Utah. The sky is finally brightening a bit, and the clouds are looking like someone took some quilt batting and stapled it to the ceiling (I wrote this part to tick off George Carlin, who expressed a deep aversion for descriptions of clouds in an essay in his Brain Droppings).

It occured to me yesterday that as I observed an unusual, uh, oblong white... thingy, whatever, sticking up into the air that I may well be working not much further than about a mile from a working ICBM silo. I want to go home.

Yyou know, I always used to hate it when I'd call friends to talk for a while, and they'd be too busy to be talk. You know, like dinner time, or something. Last night I got a call from a very dear friend and... I was having dinner. I wanted to talk, but I also needed to spend time with my wife and child. I so much more need to be with my son who has taken to biting me. I guess. He also often hits. One or the other might be a problem, but together... I'll have to look that up.

She sounded like she wanted very much just to socialize. Life being what it is, I can imagine. Maybe I'll give her a call tonight. Around dinner time.

Hard to get too enthusiastic about the job at the moment.

It's quiet, though. I actually have time to post something.