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June 2011

May 2011

Bill Clinton Scandal

Tonight, while hanging out with friends, I had the opportunity to give my position on the Clinton impeachment, a position I have held to since the incident and despite my eventual changes in political party, etc. (I supported the impeachment and removal for reasons long time readers of this blog have heard before). 

Reflecting on my standard speech after I returned home, I realized that this fascinating moment in American political life requires some reflective thought now that it is receding further into history and that the various complications and issues of that case help us to reflect on other issues that have arisen in the past decade (I also believe George W. Bush committed impeachable offenses, for instance). 

So, if my resolve holds, I plan on entering into a series of blogpost on this moment in American life and explore my thoughts now many years later.  So, if I get the chance, tomorrow I'll rehearse that standard view I've had since the late 90's.  And then go from there.

Doesn't sound like the cutting edge to me

Gallup now reports that 53% of Americans support marriage equality for gays and lesbians.  And after the Presbyterians decided to ordain openly gay persons they joined what one commentator described as the mainstream position in international Protestantism as more than 26 churches in the World Reformed Alliance, including the founding churches in Germany and Switzerland, already did. 

But, moderate Baptists are holding a conference on sexuality that will open a dialogue and not take any positions, and they are describing it at "cutting edge".  Are you serious?


In the summer of 2009 I determined to finally begin reading James Joyce's Ulysses.  For years I had awaited a time when I thought I was ready to read it.  I read Dubliners and Portrait of an Artist in the 90's and enjoyed them, but felt that Ulysses was in a league of its own, and I wasn't knowledgable or experienced enough to read it.  I also, always, had a somewhat negative opinion of its reputation.  When it was named the Greatest English-Language Novel of the 20th Century by the Modern Library in 1999, I was shocked that a book that hardly anyone reads or has read could be number one.

So, in the early weeks of reading the novel, I moved along quickly enough, doing a pretty decent job of following and at times enjoying a word, a phrase, an approach to a topic.  But, eventually, I started reading other things and would, every now and then, read 5-10 pages of Ulysses, all the while intending to one day finish.

Until this weekend.  Last week I went to the bookstore to buy some new books to read and when I got home I surveyed the sizable pile of things I'd like to read and then thought of the even longer list and determined that life was simply too short to waste on Ulysses.  I'm not finishing it, so there.

Marty Peercy said that it was okay.  He's read it more than once, however.

Recent Movies

Here are some quick comments on Thor and The Hangover, Part Two. 


Joined a few friends for a mindless evening at the Marcus Midtown Cinema (our first venture, as we are not fans of these eating while watching movie things, though I think it could be done a lot better).  The counters there are too high and distracting, not like Studio Movie Grill in Dallas.  Anyway, for the film itself.

Enjoyable entertainment with some nice visual elements, but not much else to commend it.  Surprised that this is a Branagh film, which probably kept it from being too ridiculous.  The story, of course, has some strengths, being rooted in ancient myths (I'm looking forward to seeing the next opera in the Ring Cycle from the Met).

Anthony Hopkins, whom I once loved, continues to be tiresome, playing the roles one expects of him.  Thor did a passable job and looked good while doing it.  Natalie Portman can have fun doing a campy fantasy film -- why those atrocious performances in the Star Wars saga? 

My only complaint was that a film based on these stories could have been much better, but is enjoyable enough in its own right.

2 film reels
4 popcorn kernels

The Hangover, Part Two

Wickedly funny.  Though the storyline doesn't make sense at all of its turns, it is such a wild, fun ride, who cares?  The comic performances are pitched perfectly.  The setting was a blast -- I can't remember a film set in contemporary Bangkok.  The Thai seaside is enchanting (I've been wanting to go there for years).  I'm glad they stuck to the formula; it was a risky choice that paid off.  I only wish that the dark-haired friend (the one missing last time) had a bigger role, as I like him and think he is cute. 

This film also pushes some people's buttons.  It is weird being the in the theatre observing people's reactions to the scenes referencing anal sex. 

3 1/2 film reels
5 popcorn kernels

Pastoral Prayer, 29 May 2011

I preached sans manuscript today, so I don't have a sermon to share, but here is my pastoral prayer.


Let us pray.


God, Mighty and Strong,

We come to you this Memorial Day weekend.

It is a time of great festivity and remembrance,

As many of us join with friends and family to eat, drink, and be merry.

Bless these celebrations with happiness and joy.


It is also a time when we remember our deceased loved ones,

As many travel to gravesites and carefully decorate them with emblems of beauty,

And others recall those who gave their lives in war, honoring their deaths.

In you with live and move and have our being,

So lift up our bereaved hearts.


Today our nation also joins in mourning with the people of Joplin, Missouri

And other towns and cities throughout the heartland

Who have lost people to the most deadly spring storms in sixty years,

While other towns suffer floods and brace for more water to come.


As the waters rise and fall,

As the winds blow with destructive force,

As the deep thunder clouds form chariots of wrath,

We turn to you in silent prayer.




In the midst of all these big troubles,

It is good that we can minister to one another,

Seeing the fruit of your Holy Spirit in us.

We thank you for the opportunity of breaking bread with our neighbors yesterday.

And, we pray for Elizabeth, as she recovers from eye surgery.


As you are "God of the earthquake and God of the storm,"

You are also "God of the loving heart."


And, now, as our Savior taught us, we pray: