01.21.2022 – On Loving Lucy, But not Bull

I was at the dentist’s office the other day, and as they were doing whatever it was they were doing, the youngish dentist and even younger assistant were talking about Lucille Ball. The assistant had just seen the new Nicole Kidman movie about Lucy and the dentist was interested in knowing what she thought of it. The conversation continued and the dentist talked about how he has seen some old “I Love Lucy” and “Lucy Show” reruns on Nick at Nite and the assistant said she had a DVD collection of the shows and that, well, she loves Lucy. When no one’s fingers or tools were in my mouth, they asked me if I had ever seen much of Lucille Ball. “I’m old enough to remember watching ‘I Love Lucy,’ first run and in black and white,” I said. Wikipedia tells us the series ran through 1960, so it is altogether likely that my memory serves me correctly.

I am old enough to be my dentist and his assistant’s father. And, yes, I am old enough to remember “I Love Lucy,” first run and in black and white. Continue reading

01.14.2022 – Death Be Not Proud – and Do Not Devastate

Grandma was the matriarch of a large multi-generational and chaotic family. At any given time, at least three generations of the family lived in her house just down the street from the church. The youngest members of the family would sometimes come to our vacation Bible school or show up at Sunday School once in a while. Babies were born into the family and the whole family would come to worship for their baptisms. The baptisms were important to Grandma, and I took that to indicate at least a mustard seed of faith in her life. “We should err on the side of grace,” I would say in defending our decision to bring the babies to the font. Whether we made the right decision is another question.

Grandma suffered multiple comorbidities as we now put it. For the last several years of her life a small oxygen tank followed her wherever she went. I remember her sitting on the front stoop of her frame house with its peeling paint and smoking her cigarettes. I think she had closed the valve on her oxygen tank, but still not a good idea.

Grandma’s death came after a week or so in the hospital and I thought everyone understood that she would not return to her house just down the street from the church. Continue reading

01-07-2022 – “I quit!” – The Antonio Brown Option

Antonio Brown is, or maybe was, a an amazingly gifted wide receiver in the NFL. Also greatly troubled on and off the field. This past Sunday, Brown, who had been playing for the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, just up and quit. In the middle of a game with the New York Jets, he quit. He took off his helmet, his jersey, and his pads and walked off the field. After the game his coach said Brown was no longer on the team, but who knows. I am not a sports columnist, so go to ESPN or google “Antonio Brown” to get the latest news on the great quit.

Who hasn’t felt like just quitting? Oh, maybe not on national TV, maybe quitting a bit less dramatically than Antonio Brown, but who hasn’t felt like just quitting? Sometimes quitting might be the best thing to do – quitting a dead-end job, an abusive relationship, or an addictive habit. But that is not the kind of quitting I am talking about. I am talking about “the easy way out” kind of quitting.

I am about ready to quit this pandemic. I am tired, if not of the helmet and the pads, then of the masks and the worry. I am ready to quit. I might pull it off. Our pantry is pretty well stocked and, retired, we really don’t have to go anywhere. At least until Omicron peaks, we just might lock the door on the cocoon and wait it out. See you in February. Continue reading

12.31.2021 – Learning to Live Graciously with “Oops”

We know intuitively when it is an “oops” or something more.  Burning the toast is an “oops.” “Oops” won’t do for burning down the house.  Not getting the lab work done on time is an “oops.” Amputating the wrong limb is more than oops.  When the liturgist bungles a line from the Lord’s Prayer, that’s an “oops.”  When a preacher builds the sermon around denying the divinity of Christ, “oops” should not satisfy the Elders of the church.

Our world is not very tolerant of “oops.” When all of us are victims of one sort or another and ideological purity is demanded in every corner of our lives, “oops” become high crimes and misdemeanors, the treason trials begin, and the grand inquisitors expose the heretics among us.

Maybe I’ll make being more tolerant of “oops” a New Year’s resolution. Continue reading

12.24.2021 – God Bless “Think a Little Bit” in Illinois

“Think a Little Bit” is the Comments Section handle used by a New York Times reader in Illinois.  And that’s all we know.

This past Sunday “Think a Little Bit” commented on a column by Ross Douthat and the comment made it to the “Times Pick” list.

Douthat, a practicing Roman Catholic, may be the most conservative of the Times’ columnists, and regularly speaks about things of the faith and of his church.  The headline, whether Douthat’s or an editor’s, was click-baitish enough, “Can Politics Save Christianity?” I took the bait.

The column was Douthat’s Christmas column and ended with a warm “Merry Christmas.”  In the column Douthat wrote about the politics of his local parish in Connecticut and connected them with things happening in the whole world.  Implicitly, the piece argued for the importance of Christianity and the church to the wellbeing of the whole world.  I suppose that is what prompted “Think a Little Bit” in Illinois to respond.

Mostly off-topic, TALB in Illinois wrote, “I would like to know – is it possible to be a good person without fear of hell or reward of heaven? I believe it works for me – I don’t need religion or God to want a fair and kind world for all of us.”

“Nails it!” responded DeeK in Seattle. Continue reading