After 2009/1/20

Something I got from a United Methodist listserv, even though I’m no longer a UM; the date of the originating post is after May 2: Methodist Ministers Launch PR Campaign To Stop Bush Library At SMU»
Earlier this month, at the United Methodist Church’s (UMC) Quadrennial General Conference, the UMC’s governing body, voted overwhelmingly — 844 to 20 — to refer a petition to its South Central Jurisdiction. The petition urges the rejection of President Bush’s presidential library which is set to be housed at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The library has received significant criticism from SMU faculty, Methodist ministers and the public because of an attached institute —
independent of the university — that will sponsor programs designed to “promote the vision of the president” and “celebrate” Bush’s presidency. The South Central Jurisdiction, which owns the university property where the library is set to be built, will vote on the petition this July. In anticipation of the vote, some Methodist ministers have launched a public relations campaign to highlight the partisan nature of the library: [T]he opponents have hired a Maine public relations firm to design ads for Methodist publications and do other strategies, said the Rev. Andrew Weaver of Brooklyn, N.Y. He said the goal is informing people about the partisan think tank, which won’t be under SMU’s control and will promote the Bush administration’s policies — such as the war with Iraq and harsh interrogation techniques of military prisoners — that some Methodists feel conflict with church

Which begs the question, where does one get to sign up?

Actually, though, it seems as though we can be out of Iraq in practically no time. Maliki wants a timetable, Bush seems to want a drawdown, so we can just declare victory and leave.

Meanwhile, Dennis Kucinich is trying to get Bush impeached. A quixotic, though understandable, effort, but all I really want is this:


War to End All Wars

Since I understood its meaning, I always liked Veterans Day. When I was a child, I loved the parades.

Now, I appreciate the perhaps the foolhardy optimism of a war to end all wars, which is what they called The Great War; it ended on November 11, 1918, which became Armistice Day. Of course, the Great War became World War I when we fought World War II. Armistice Day became Veterans Day, and we’ve had a couple wars since then.

Even as we honor those who fight the wars the politicians send them to, the foolhardy dream remains:
I ain’t gonna study war no more,
I ain’t gonna study war no more,

Ain’t Gonna Study War No More.
United Methodist bishops call for US withdrawal from Iraq.


Follow Up

Since today is my fifth semianniversary (or is demi, or maybe hemi?), but in any case, 2.5 years, I thought I’d write a little about things I’ve written about in the (usually recent) past.
If you listen to Gordon’s podcast where he answers questions, you’ll hear me asking him some irreverent question about Raymond Burr, inspired, no doubt by a picture of Burr as Ironside on Gordon’s blog a couple weeks back. It made sense at the time.
The scariest Halloween costume I saw was this woman dressed up as a baby, all in pink, smoking a cigarette. Truly frightening.

Ken Levine wrote: “We had a dentist who gave out toothbrushes [for Halloween]. Thank goodness he wasn’t a proctologist.”
In the Supreme Court stay of execution this week, the lawyers for the defendant said, “It is clear that irreparable harm will result if no stay is granted.” Well, yeah. If a lawyer says it, it’s legalese; if anyone else had said it, it’d be d’oh-worthy.
I’ve mentioned more than once about why I left the Methodist church I had been attending for over 17 years, of which I was a member for most of that time. Now, it’s come out that the pastor, who was at least in the center of my departure, has retired, and not willingly; here’s a letter from an apologist of his. My wife and I had to at least briefly think about what this meant to us. We’re happy where we are, but we do miss some of the folks at the old place. What made it easy for me, though, was hearing about some internecine fight over whether someone who opposed the pastor should now chair the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee. And I realize that I don’t miss the grief.
My sister Leslie wrote to me: “San Diego has been hit hard, thousands of homes lost, I could see the fire from outside my front door, so we were packed up and ready to go in the event of an evacuation, but thank God, we were spared.”

Yeah, I’m happy that the Red Sox won; I picked them to win in six. The TV grid for the FOX network said the game was in a three-hour slot, but the games didn’t even start until 8:30 Eastern Time, and they all ran more than 3 hours. I’m thrilled by the sweep, because it means more sleep. I’d watch the game as long as I could stay alert, then record on the DVR programing up through 1:30 a.m., then wake up and watch in the morning. The key to watching the playback is to make sure that when I turn off the TV, to set it first to some non-sports station that does not have morning news; I recommend the Home & Garden Network.
I’m still in shock that Boston College beat Virginia Tech last week; I tuned in with five minutes to go, and BC was losing 0-10, so I figured the curse of the 2nd place BCS team was holding. I couldn’t believe it when the FOX baseball announcer said that they had won 14-10.
But my Boston rooting does not extend to the NFL Patriots, though I can’t explain why; it predates the Bellicheck cheating incident. I’m rooting for the 7-0 Colts to beat the 8-0 Pats this weekend. Can we have a 16-0 team and a 0-16 team (Miami) in the same season?

Confirmation of my feelings about the Cleveland Indians mascot.
Yes, I know that an Albany guy appeared on Jeopardy! last week; I haven’t seen it, I haven’t read about it, so please don’t tell me about it.
Smashing pumpkins on the ground
Makes bicycling difficult, I’ve found.

All of the US State Laws Concerning Bicycling.

Info about Critical Mass bike rides in Tucson (several posts) and here in Albany (October 29).

Cranksgiving! Race start: 9pm, Nov 17; registration/sign-up starts 8:30pm
A charity race where ALL the $$ goes to direct action. The Homeless Action Committee is on the streets doing work night after night. You WILL NEED a lock and a bag for this one. Ride any uni or bike or trike you like; as long as it’s got wheels and pedals and is you-powered, it’s all good. You will not be turned away for excess spandex or your lack of white belts.
Pre-registration via email to is encouraged for planning purposes.
Re: me feeling autumnal – The Stress Pig – Open the link, turn on the sound (but not too high) then, JUST CLICK ON HER NOSE. She may come in handy when you are having one of those days.
My prayers/good wishes go out to ADD and to Gordon’s mom.


More Light

This Sunday is More Light Sunday in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. So what is “more light”? “Following the risen Christ, and seeking to make the Church a true community of hospitality, the mission of More Light Presbyterians is to work for the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA).” But as it’s been the case in other mainline Protestant denominations, there are wide-ranging beliefs within the faith. As one article reads: “Will the religious conflicts about homosexuality be settled by compromise or schism?”

I was, for nearly 20 years, a United Methodist, another denomination having the same internal struggle. The Methodists’ Book of Discipline reads: “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.” Yet there are undoubtedly gay UM clergy. Indeed, on the season finale of the (fictional) Brothers & Sisters on May 20, the senator’s brother turns out to be a gay UM minister.

I don’t have a problem with gay clergy, or gay members of session or other boards. What I guess is bugging me is the fact that the denominations have rules of prohibition, yet it is well-known, by me, e.g., that the rules are ignored in some parts of the country. I guess I’d be more comfortable if the written rules of the denominations could be changed to become more inclusive, but based on the divisive nature of the issue, I can’t imagine that happening any time soon.
I’ve been fascinated by the fact that my former church, indeed m, my former pastor, has been fighting with the city of Albany over rock concerts in the church basement. Now, the pastor has been suspended by the church hierarchy. While the newspaper says that the suspension is unrelated to the court dispute, a reasonable person could reasonably infer from the story that the suspension really IS about the court case. That inference would be wrong. I’ve talked to some members of the church; I’m positive that the suspension and the court case are unrelated. But since the church hierarchy can’t talk about the situation, based on privacy concerns for the minister, I can’t really fault the paper for not getting it quite right.


Pastors for Peace-Cuba

Three posts-three riffs on blogs:

The Troy Conference of the United Methodist Church listserv received an interesting e-mail this afternoon that reads:

Pastor Steve Clunn (First UMC, Schenectady) reports that a caravan of aid headed for Cuba (via Mexico) in the wake of devastating Hurricane Dennis, has been blocked at the US/Mexico border by US Commerce Department officials.

The caravan is organized by a group called Pastors for Peace, and members of First Church Schenectady participated in packing some of the medical supplies for the shipment. Reports from the caravan are online.

You can also learn more here.

Persons who would like to make their voices heard in support of this grassroots effort, are encouraged to contact their Congressional representatives, as well as the commerce department. (Contact information is provided on the site above)

The following note is from the “blogspot” site:
As of 1:30 pm EDT, The Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba is being held up at the US-Mexico border by US Commerce Department officials. They are threatening to search every vehicle and every item of humanitarian aid. They are telling us that “only licensable goods will be allowed to cross into Mexico.”

Pastors for Peace does not accept or apply for a license to deliver humanitarian aid to Cuba.

There are 130 US citizens traveling with the caravan. They and the humanitarian aid are traveling in eight buses, a box truck and two small cars. It will take days to inspect the 140 tons of aid. We are prepared to do whatever we need to do to deliver our humanitarian aid to Cuba.

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