Thursday, March 31, 2005

Relay for Life - Cancer statistics

check out these statistics from this article: "More than 60 percent of all cancer deaths could be prevented if Americans stopped smoking, exercised more, ate healthier food and got recommended cancer screenings, the American Cancer Society reported on Thursday.
And Americans could realistically cut the death rate in half, the report says. This year 1.368 million Americans will learn they have cancer and 563,700 will die of it.
'The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2005, more than 168,140 cancer deaths will be caused by tobacco use alone,' the organization said in a statement."

As I've mentioned before, I am taking part in the Relay for Life this June in my community. The money raised goes to support cancer research in local communities. So far, I haven't had any contributions outside of folks I know personally, so I am appealing to you all again! I'll even offer a special gift to the first three people who donate via this site. Click this link to donate online, and make a gift in honor or memory of a loved one who is struggling with / surviving cancer.

Proof of God: Crocuses

OK - I know it is simplistic. But today, going for a walk here in Central New York, I noticed the first spring crocuses in the yard of a neighbor. So beautiful, and always, for me, so unexpected, as I forget to look for them.

Peter Singer quote - why to go vegetarian

I just, after a ridiculously long haitus, finished reading Peter Singer's excellent Animal Liberation.

Toward the end of the book, I found this one excerpt that for me sums up some key arguments for becoming vegetarian, especially for social justice activists who argue that animal rights are just not a focus for them, amidst the certainly overwhelming list of important causes activists need give attention to. Here's the excerpt:

"the idea that 'humans come first' is more often used as an excuse for not doing anything about either human or nonhuman animals than as a genuine choice between incompatiable alternatives . . . Granted, everyone has a limited amount of time and energy, and time taken in active work for one cause reduces the time available for another cause; but there is nothing to stop those who dvote their time and energy to human problems from joining the boycott of the products of agribusiness cruelty. It takes no more time to be a vegetarian than to eat animal flesh. In fact . . . those who claim to car about the well-being of human beings and the preservation of our environment should become vegetarians for that reason alone. They would thereby increase the amount of grain available to feed people elsewhere, reduce pollution, save water and eregy, and cease contributing to the clearing of forests; moreover, since a vegetarian diet is cheapder than one based on meat dishes, they would have more money availalbe to devote to famine relief, population control, or whatever social or political cuase they thought most urgent. I would not question the sincerity of vegetarians who take little interest in Animal Liberation because they give priority to other causes; but when nonvegetarians say that 'human problems come first' I cannot help wondering what exactly it is that they are doing for human beings that compels them to continue to support the wasteful, ruthless exploitation of farm animals." (pg. 220-221)

Monday, March 28, 2005

new blog link - Bob Harris

happened across this blog, via the gutless pacifist, and this post in particular, titled "Happy Easter, everybody" - you really need to click through and read the article, since there is a lovely illustration involved. Check it out.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Good Friday thoughts

Today I participated in leading our community's ecumenical Good Friday service. Each year, the service focuses on the "Seven Last Words" of Jesus from the cross. It is not my favorite theme - I don't like the focus on these seven 'words' - I don't think they hit on what is most important about what is going on during this last day of Jesus' life on earth.

But that aside, one of the other pastors in the area, Mike Usborne, gave the message on the first word, "forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing." Mike's message particularly stuck out to me as meaningful - he said, "God will never use our past against us," and continued to say that when we use others' pasts against them we are showing we've failed to forgive. I like how he said it - it is not that we can't remember the past, that we forget. But to not use the past against someone - I think that has a different tone. He also said, "we can't settle others' accounts with God." Well said - aren't we always trying to do just that? Figure we can do better and get between God and others?

One of the other pastors, Betsye Mowry, talked about the word, "I thirst," and how thirsty Jesus was for human companionship in his last days, and how much that need was denied him on all fronts, by Peter, by Judas, by the others he asked to stay with him while we prayed. For me, that is the overwhelming emotion I see in Maundy Thursday and Good Friday - the abandonment of these days...

resurrection thoughts from A Religious Liberal Blog

This post from A Religious Liberal Blog caught my attention today, which touches on the question of the meaning of resurrection, particularly if belief in a bodily resurrection is not a focal point of one's theology. The questions raised are ones that I've been pondering as well.

Some excerpts:

"As Easter approaches there are a number of voices, both on the blogs and in many churches across the country that will triumphally assert the bodily resurrection of Jesus, proclaiming it as the basis for Christian faith. My question is this: can Easter be religiously significant for those of us who are not likely to think in such terms?

I admit that I'm agnostic about the afterlife so what could a phrase like 'conquering death' mean for someone in such a situation? ... 1 John 2:17 puts it this 'world is passing away with all its allurements, but he who does God's will stands for evermore' I'm apt to believe that the faith of Easter is found here, in the hope that despite the array of forces against it, reconciling love has the final word. It wasn't killed at the crucifixion but rather continues when disciples everywhere break bread together.

And that somehow when we participate in this, we're participating in something which is larger than us and will continue on. 1 John writes of eternal life not as a spatial location but rather something which 'dwells' within us, when we love one another. It is through one's acts of love that we touch something of immortality."

all i need to know i learned from george...

ok, i know i shamelessly promote my brother's blog - hey, he and i, even from our different perspectives, think very much alike, though we express ourselves very differently.
but, anyway, do read this post of his, titled, "all i really need to know i learned from George W. Bush." as always, my brother uses more colorful language than i do....

an excerpt:
1. Mercury isn't bad for you.
2. Neither is asbestos.
3. Global warming doesn't exist.
4. The blind insistence that all votes be counted is irrational, undemocratic, and anti-American.
5. Using bankruptcy laws to assist the poor is an abuse of their original function; it's high time we restore them to their proper place as a safety net for the very rich.
6. Executing retarded people is okay.
7. Executing children is okay.
8. Deceiving the public is an inherent right of leadership. Phony news stories, pay-offs to columnists, plants in the press room and the like should be used at the discretion of the commander in chief.
9. People who buy airplanes (or have them bought for them) and use them to kill civilians are heroes; people who steal airplanes and use them to kill civilians are terrorists.
10. People who don't work and collect Medicaid, welfare, food stamps and the like are milking the system; their benefits should be cut and the churches should decide what to do with them.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Palm/Passion Sunday reflection from Daily Kos

found via The Religious Left,

this reflection: The Word For the Week from Daily Kos -

"For most of the history of the church, believers would attend services throughout the week between Palm Sunday and Easter, where they would hear of Jesus' rejection by the same crowds who had welcomed him, and of his betrayal, trial, and eventual execution. These days, though, many Christians skip Holy Week and go directly to Easter. Which is to say from triumph to triumph.

So, many churches have taken to celebrating the day as 'Palm Passion' Sunday. The stories of Jesus' suffering, traditionally reserved for Good Friday, are placed next to the remembrance of his 'ticker-tape' parade to remind the faithful that the path to the resurrection goes through the cross and the tomb, not happy, cheering crowds.

It's a useful reminder for those who seek political change in their country. Many of my progressive friends have expressed frustration lately; they'd like to see things moving more quickly against the Bush administration. They begin to despair that things will ever change in our country.

I've taken to reminding them that success and rightness are separate things; we don't do what is right only because we think it can carry the day. Thousands marched against the war in Iraq yesterday, the practical effect of which is almost nothing, especially with an administration as smug and entrenched as this one. So why do it? Because the war is wrong, and somebody needs to say so. We need to say so."

I've been feeling pretty down this week about things like: the federal budget proposal, the Senate vote on drilling in the ANWR, etc. These words really hit the spot.

Read the full reflection here.

from - 'Astronauts' sweat provides water for drinking'

file under fascinating, and potentially life-saving, along with weird: this article from "Astronauts' sweat provides water for drinking."
Yep, that's right. Apparently, this system has been in process for NASA astronauts that would use sweat, respiration, and even urine to provide drinking water - pure drinking water, after it runs through this system being created. It isn't ready for space yet, but some groups are looking into using it on earth sooner than later - to provide, for example, clean drinking water for tsunami victims.

An excerpt: "The Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, has been testing a device intended for the space station that would recycle astronauts' sweat, respiration and even urine into drinking water purer than any found in a tap.
"They just breathe and exercise, urinate into the urinal and our system handles the rest," said Robyn Carrasquillo, chief of the environmental control and life support division at Marshall.
It could be two years before the water system -- as large as two refrigerators -- is loaded onto a shuttle to serve an American astronaut and Russian cosmonaut living in space. But smaller and simpler versions will soon be put to use on earth.
Reno, Nevada-based investment firm Crestridge and the charity Concern for Kids are developing the systems for humanitarian purposes in nations lacking a reliable water supply, starting with Iraq and countries in southeast Asia.
"There are 1.8 billion people who have never had a drink of fresh water," said Kevin Chambers, Crestridge's managing director. "Our mission is grand, but we've got to start somewhere and sometime -- and now is the time."

Thursday, March 17, 2005

repost: tenebrae liturgy/resources

I've noticed many hits to my site recently with folks searching for 'tenebrae resources.' Last year, I posed the question on my blog - wondering if anyone had tenebrae liturgies besides those in the UM Book of Worship. I did receive some feedback, but the comments no longer appear to be available, so here's another post about tenebrae with some resources i've since found. (Please feel free to comment if you have more ideas!)

The most helpful site I've found so far is here, put together by Ken Collins. On his site, you will find information about what a tenebrae service is and how to conduct a tenebrae service, typically on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, or perhaps Easter Eve.

Another good resource and complete liturgy can be found here, by Rev. Moira Laidlaw (who has many good liturgy resources that I check out regularly when planning worship.)

You can also find orders of worship/readings for tenebrae here, by Bass Mitchell, another site I frequently visit.

Hope this helps, and do share if you know of good resources.

Monday, March 14, 2005

from BushTV

found this blurb in imdb's daily studio briefing section:
"Bush TV - At least 20 federal agencies have produced and distributed hundreds of promotional news clips during the past four years, many of which have aired on the news programs of local TV stations with no disclosure of the government's role in their production, the New York Times disclosed Sunday. They include a State Department-produced clip filmed in Kansas City purportedly showing reaction of Iraqi-Americans to the fall of Baghdad, with one man appearing on camera saying, 'Thank you, Bush. Thank you, U.S.A.' Another report showed a public relations worker for the Transportation Security Administration appearing on camera as a 'reporter' describing the administration's launch of a security program as 'one of the most remarkable campaigns in aviation history.' The 'reporter,' the newspaper revealed, also 'used a false name.' Although recent articles have suggested that a handful of columnists and commentators had been paid by the Bush administration to air positive reports about its programs and policies, the Times said, 'the administration's efforts to generate positive news coverage have been considerably more pervasive than previously known.' The article also accused television stations of 'widespread complicity or negligence' and violating ethics standards by airing the clips without attribution."

Eesh. I don't know why things like this surprise me anymore, but sometimes I'm still caught off guard...

Friday, March 11, 2005

methodist blogroll

Shane Raynor over at Wesleyblog has created a Methodist blogroll, which I've added to my blog (in the ever-lengthening left-hand column) - if you want to add your Methodist blog, follow this link.

Let's Get Jesus Back - Bill Moyers

found via Deep Calls to Deep is this good article from Bill Moyers - Let's Get Jesus Back.

Some excerpts:
And they hijacked Jesus. The very Jesus who stood in Nazareth and proclaimed, “The Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor.” The very Jesus who told 5000 hungry people that all of you will be fed, not just some of you. The very Jesus who challenged the religious orthodoxy of the day by feeding the hungry on the Sabbath, who offered kindness to the prostitute and hospitality to the outcast, who said the kingdom of heaven belongs to little children, raised the status of women, and treated even the tax collector like a child of God. The very Jesus who drove the money changers from the temple. This Jesus has been hijacked and turned from a champion of the disposed into a guardian of the privileged. Hijacked, he was made over into a militarist, hedonist, and lobbyist…sent prowling the halls of Congress in Guccis, seeking tax breaks and loopholes for the powerful, costly new weapon systems that don’t work, and punitive public policies.

Let’s get Jesus back.

The Jesus who inspired a Methodist ship-caulker named Edward Rogers to crusade across New England for an eight-hour workday. Let’s get back the Jesus who caused Frances William to rise up against the sweatshop. The Jesus who called a young priest named John Ryan to champion child labor laws, unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, and decent housing for the poor—ten years before the New Deal. The Jesus in whose name Dorothy Day challenged the Church to march alongside auto workers in Michigan, fishermen and textile workers in Massachusetts, brewery workers in New York, and marble cutters in Vermont. The Jesus in whose name E.B. McKinney and Owen Whitfield challenged a Mississippi system that kept sharecroppers in servitude and debt. The Jesus in whose name a Presbyterian minister named Eugene Carson Blake was arrested for protesting racial injustice in Baltimore. The Jesus who led Martin Luther King to Memphis to join sanitation workers in their struggle for a decent wage.

Toward the end, (which by the way is created from a speech Moyers gave at Riverside in NYC) he speaks about really loving our neighbors, another section I thought was excellent, but couldn't find a good place to cut and paste - so I encourage you to just read the whole thing yourself ;)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

"Making Peace" Conference

I want to direct you to this conference called "Making Peace", sponsored by Jeff Krantz and Michael Hardin over at one of my favorite preaching resources, Preaching Peace. The conference is taking place at Watson Homestead in Central New York. You can find details and registration info on their site, but here's a bit more about the event:

Real tools for living Jesus' Vision -

...of peace with Creation
...of peace with ourselves
...of peace within our families
...of peace within the Church
...of peace for the World

As leaders in Christian churches, our hearts burn for the Kingdom of peace that Jesus offered. We find ourselves in a world bent on spiraling violence. We know ourselves called to be peacemakers, but find it more and more difficult to stand against the Principalities and Powers of this world without succumbing to the temptation to become violent in our rhetoric and lives.
What Making Peace offers is a set of tools, tools to understand the growth of rage in our day, tools to resist it in ourselves and in those around us, tools to lead us out of the mob that threatens to engulf us.

What Tools?

We'll come to understand why rage and violence continue to spiral upward through the use of Rene Girard's "Mimetic Theory."
Through study of the Bible, we'll uncover the way that Jesus resisted the victimage mechanisms of his day, and learn practical methods of applying those ways of resisting in our own lives.
We will use prayer, worship, and contemplative practices to build in ourselves a habit of relying on God's sources of strength for the task of resisting violence without becoming violent ourselves.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Test your Poverty IQ - from beliefnet

I found this quiz while surfing on "Test Your Poverty I.Q.: Do you know how many children in the U.S. are living in poverty right now? Or which area of the world is home to the most hungry people? Take the quiz to see how attuned you are to the problem of poverty in the U.S. and in the world."

I did OK on the quiz, but a couple of the correct answers stuck out to me:
1) The richest fifth of countries in the world consume 45% of the meat, and the poorest fifth consume just 5%. Bad use of resources? You bet. Please, eat less meat. It is really not that difficult.

2) $17,960 - that's the poverty line in 2001 for a family of four (two parents, two children). I am single, and I earn about twice that amount. And I sometimes have a hard time with my finances. Putting things in perspective.

Related, check out this article by David Kuo. He talks about the federal budget in relation to poverty, along with his own personal choices - specifically, an $800 stroller he wants to buy for his baby. It's an extreme example, but Kuo is honest and up front about his dilemma in a confessional sort of way. Reminds me of my brother's post about moral opportunity that I highlighted last week. What choices are you struggling with?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A Cup Of Cold Water - Meditations by Charlened Elizabeth Fairchild

Thanks for responses to my request for communion liturgies. I'll be checking out your suggestions soon. Another piece I've been using in my weekly Lenten services is a guided meditation in place of a message or sermon. I've tried hard to find good ones on the internet, and I want to point you to the site where I've found the most quality meditations all in one place:
A Cup Of Cold Water - an Index Of Devotionals, Poems and Other Writings
By Charlene Elizabeth Fairchild. Many of you sermon-writers will recognize the name Fairchild - these meditations come from the same super site Sermons and Sermon - Lectionary Resources put together by Rev. Richard Fairchild. I encourage you to check both out.

Also, again my apologies to bloglet users - the site seems to keep "un-enabling" my subscriptions, and I have to manually re-do. Sorry for the inconsistency!