Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Shorts

  • I love my cats, and they usually get their way, but this?
  • I just finished reading another Jennifer Weiner book, Good In Bed (#17), which was, like In Her Shoes and Little Earthquakes, very good. She manages to write very funny, good stories, that you know would never happen to you, but somehow manage to seem realistic anyway, and let you imagine them happening to you. The title, by the way, refers to a newspaper column title.
  • Went today to the New York State Fair. Much in the fashion as when I was growing up, which I've written about before, I had a fun experience without spending much. Missed the free concert by Charo, though. When I was little, my favorite thing to do was pick up the free brochures that were at every table. I picked up one on Duchess County and became convinced that I would live there when I was older. Today, I got my handwriting 'analyzed' for $2.00, and found out that I am stubborn (no!) and have an overactive imagination. The Fair is a fun place to people watch - such a diverse group of people come to the Fair - including those who live at the fair and show livestock or race horses, those who come and spend big money on concerts and the midway, those who come to perform at the Pan-African or Native American villages, or the Dairy Princesses, who wander the Fair in tiaras on Dairy Day (which was today.) What a cross-section...
  • Question: If you have tried any online conversations/studies/forums with your congregation, how successful have they been? I'm thinking of trying an online bible study and/or book study this fall, but I wonder if anyone has had success with such a model?

Friday, August 25, 2006

RevGals Friday Five: Back to School

I always loved going back to school in the fall, so I thought I'd play this week's edition of the RevGals Friday Five:

1. What is your earliest memory of school? I remember lots of things from pre-school, actually. I remember the one day that I got to stay all day for pre-school instead of a half day, which meant I got to eat lunch there. I remember playing with the plastic cash register, and I remember the playground.

2. Who was a favorite teacher in your early education? I loved my third grade teach, Miss Brudette. Not many of the kids liked her - she had a reputation for being mean - but I thought she was great, and she really pushed me to do things that were challenging. Of course, my kindergarten teacher was also great - Mrs. Merrill - all of my siblings had her. I still see her sometimes around the area.

3. What do you remember about school “back then” that is different from what you know about schools now? When I went, the school system was K-6, 7-9, 10-12. Now it is K-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-12. That seems pretty strange to me.

4. Did you have to memorize in school? If so, share a poem or song you learned. Sure, but I remember mostly from kindergarten when we had the Maypole dance: "Cheep, Cheep, why do the birds sing cheep, cheep? Why do the birds sing cheep, cheep? The birds all sing cheep, cheep, cheep because it's spring!" Or "Bend and stretch, reach for the stars, there goes Jupiter, there goes Mars..."

5. Did you ever get in trouble at school? Were there any embarrassing moments you can share? Hardly ever. I was pretty much a goody-goody. In first grade, we were writing the Pledge of Allegiance, and I tore my paper, and the teacher made me start all over again. And the second time, my left hand margin was slowly creeping in, so she made me start all over a third time, and I had to go to gym late, and I was crying. Note: She was not in my favorite teachers list! Then, in fifth grade, I actually got in a fight with a girl at recess, and we had to sit in the cafeteria during recess for like a week - and we became good friends for a while after that!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Reflections: International United Methodist Clergywomen's Consultation

I just got back from a week in Chicago where I was attending the International United Methodist Clergywomen's Consultation. It was fabulous. I went not knowing what to expect, other than some time away, and time with clergy colleagues, which was enough for me. But I thoroughly enjoyed my time, the event, the worship, the experience.

I went to a college that had a very large, active Greek system, which I could never understand. I was totally turned off by the idea of sororities and fraternities. Didn't get the point. Sisterhood as a concept has never been appealing to me. It seemed to me mostly like a false sense of relationship with people based on - being women? Wearing the same Greek letters? Knowing secret rituals? But, for the first time, I felt a strong sense of sisterhood with my clergywomen colleagues, a sisterhood based on a common sense of call and vocation, a common faith, some common experiences, a common heritage, and hopefully, some common hopes/directions.

I was so proud to be a United Methodist clergywoman. I was very proud of our women bishops, who played a big role in the gathering. In a fun session, they each spent time sharing with us something they do for fun, relaxation, rest. They processed into the convention center wearing their robes, then took them off to reveal track suits, jeans, gardening-apparel, etc. Nice to see a different side of these women who I usually only see in worship, in AC, or leading a plenary of some sort.

Standout highlights:

  • A bible study led by two young adult clergy women on our focus text, Isaiah 61:1-6. One of the women focused on the word ashes. She asked, "what do we do with the remains" of what has burned in our life? She suggested we sometimes wear them, wallow in them, or even worship them, but that we ought to give our ashes to God, and God gives to us beauty from the ashes.
  • Bishop Sharon Brown Christopher commented (though now I cannot remember in what context) that "offering only my gifts [to God] is not enough."
  • Bishop Judy Craig preached another fabulous sermon - on Luke 18's "persistent widow." She spoke about clergywomen as door-knockers, and encouraged us, once we've succeeded in opening doors, to lay the doors on their sides and make them into bridges. Her sermon - phenomenal.
  • First woman bishop elected in a Central Conference Rosemarie Wenner preached on the hemorrhaging woman, and noted that Jesus did not say to her "my power has made you well" but "your faith has made you well."
  • Bishop Minerva Carcano preached at the closing worship. She has excellent use of her voice - varying it as part of her preaching style, using it to communicate. She talked about knowing that we were called, and knowing we were called in the midst of the sometimes "anger and violence of an unrepentant church."
  • Best: At our banquet celebrating fifty years of full clergy rights for women in the UMC, we got to hear from the three surviving female members of the class of 1956. (Full UMNS story here.) Rev. Grace Huck, 90, Rev. Marion Kline, 94, and Rev. Jane Ann Stoneburner Moore, 75, each spoke words of wisdom and encouragement. Kline said, "Back then, I could have never imagined that I would be in a room like this, of women ministers, district superintendents and bishops. Just see what God is doing." Wow - what an inspiration.

Irony: While spell-checking this post with the Blogger tool, the tool kept suggesting a replace "clergywoman," which it didn't recognize, with "clergyman." Eesh. Of course, the tool also doesn't recognize the word 'blog'...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Me, In the News

I was interviewed for the Syracuse paper The Post Standard this week, and you can read the story here. Apparently, the exciting life of hip young single pastors is newsworthy. Who knew?

Thanks John and Jason for linking to the story!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Review: The Devil Wears Prada

I should have known better. I mean, Prada is in the title! What was I expecting? Still, the book The Devil Wears Prada had a lot of fans, and the movie looked cute enough in an "I can spend $4.50 to see it at a matinee" sort of way. I like to read the book before seeing the movie, so I read Prada (#16), by Lauren Weisenberger.

The book, as others have mentioned when it came out, is very similar to The Nanny Diaries, which depicted an unbearable set of wealthy parent-employers in Manhattan. And like The Nanny Diaries, Prada has a rather unlikable protagonist. The main character, Andy, is just not convincing or admirable. The point of the book, sure, is to see her go through these trials of working in the fashion world and then learn a lesson, but I don't sympathize with her along the way.

The plot is also boring. It goes like this: Andy's boss, Miranda, asks her to do something outrageous. Andy does it, to keep her job, which supposedly will guarantee her a spot at The New Yorker, her dream job, even though her job has nothing to do with journalism/writing. In the process of doing said outrageous task, Andy ignores friend/boyfriend/family, and they feel hurt. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. And then, finally, Andy breaks the cycle. The end.

Certainly some humorous scenes. For those of us who work far, far away from Manhattan and fashion or anything close to it, we wonder if the scenes described can really be so horrific (no doubt, some of the tales Weisenberger have a basis in truth). Of course, I'm sure some associate pastor or church staff member could write a funny tale about senior pastors (though probably funny to a limited audience!) But all in all, pretty ho-hum. I'd have been better off just seeing the movie - less time consuming.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Sundays

For clergy: How many Sundays are you out of the pulpit each year?

I miss two Sundays each year for GBCS meetings, and two for CCYM, and one for AC as a given. That doesn't even factor in any extra events or any vacation Sundays. I worry about it sometimes.

Thoughts?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Two Memes

Two memes to fill time between posts of substance!

First, found at Inner Dorothy, the Ten Book meme:

Ten Books

1. One Book That Changed Your Life - Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition, by David Ray Griffin and John B. Cobb, Jr.

2. One Book That You've Read More Than Once - The Chronicles of Narnia (in the original order!!) - I probably read these once a year. And most Louisa May Alcott books, especially the Little Women series, An Old Fashioned Girl, and Eight Cousins/Rose in Bloom. Oh, and Harry Potter books.

3. One Book You'd Want On a Desert Island - see question 2. Does a set count as one?

4. One Book That Made You Laugh: Bridget Jones' Diary and Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason, by Helen Fielding. Hilarious. Especially Edge of Reason.

5. One Book That Made You Cry: Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo. He is a heart-wrenching writer.

6. One Book You Wish Had Been Written. "Every Pastoral Experience You Will Encounter and the Perfect Way to Handle It." (answer borrowed from InnerDorothy - too perfect)

7. One Book That You Wish Had Never Been Written: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Silas Marner by George Eliot. I was a school-lover and loved everything I read in school for assignments, except these two.

8. One Book You're Currently Reading: The Secret Message of Jesus, by Brian McLaren and Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser.

9. One Book You've Been Meaning To Read: I have a whole shelf of books purchase but not yet read. Waaay too many to list.

10. Tag five people. No. I'll just tag everyone. (answer borrowed from InnerDorothy)

and then, this meme from Bene Diction:

Blog Tipping

If you're not familiar with blogtipping, it works thus:
  • Choose three or more bloggers you admire and link to them;
  • List three reasons why you admire each one; and
  • Add one tip for each blogger.

1. Jockeystreet - my big brother's blog. Because 1) He's a really excellent writer, deep and funny. 2) He has a great range - frirreverentant, ranting, profanity-laced biting posts to mellow, reflective posts, and they're all good. 3) He's always trying to do the right thing, or perhaps always seeking to come closer to doing the right thing all the time.

Tip: Don't stress about blogging. And realize that you're good.

2. Take My Hand - Natalie is a young (17 this week) Metho-blogger. Because 1) She's very articulate. 2) She has plans and visions and strategies for young people to make their voice/place in the church. 3) While I was active in the church when I was in high-school, I was never so aware of events in the larger church/world as she seems to be, and I'm impressed.

Tip: Blog more often, if you can - you have good stuff to say!

3. Andy Bryan's EntertheRainbow. Because 1) He is such a gracious member of the blogosphere - he seems in posts and comment to seek not to offend, but to encourage and articulate carefully, even when he disagrees with people. 2) His theological content is well-written, deep, and challenging. 3) He looks like Luke Skywalker.

Tip: Stop being so deep! :) Your posts are so full of good content I have to bookmark them to come back to again when I have more time to ponder and absorb.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Bigger Barns

Last night, I bought several 'containers' - storage bins of different sizes for putting stuff in.

The first sermon I ever preached was based on Luke 12, which reads, in part:

"And [Jesus] said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

Ah. I can argue, of course, that I didn't get any more things, I just wanted a better way to organize the things I already had. Very reasonable. Sensible. Stress-reducing to have less piles. Still, "And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?" It definitely echoes in the back of my mind.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

SWF, 26, Seeks UM Ordination

No, not me. I'm 27, and (yippee!) ordained. But otherwise, I very much related to this article: "SWF, 26, Seeks UM Ordination", written by my friend from seminary for United Methodist Relay, the newsletter of the Greater New Jersey AC.

Here's an excerpt:
I cannot reminisce about Carter’s presidency, the days before “U” was added to “MYF,” or a time when polio was a threat to children in this country. Contrary to popular belief, I do not need others to remind me of these obvious truths. I grew up with color TV, barely remember the Reagan years, and started using a computer at age four. Even so, I still have a story. Just because my story is only 26 years long does not make it any smaller than 62 or 97 year stories.

There is a subtle, “What can you possibly offer beyond that textbook knowledge you’re so proud of?” floating in the air. Is this how we approach all young adults in the church? We as a denomination have not found a good place for these persons in their graduate or post-college years who still define “family” as family of origin.

I consistently feel welcomed in the church. Congregations seem to enjoy the novelty of a young woman titled Reverend. (I am one of 93 female local pastors under the age of thirty
in the world.) I have found people to be pleased to give me a place in the pulpit (whether or not I have any authority is another matter entirely). From my perch in the chancel I note the lack of twenty- or thirty-somethings in the pews. If young adults are not welcomed, what is to keep them from seeking extra-church agencies when answering God’s call to ministry?

(Karen's bio info: The Rev. Karen G. Puckett, M. Div., certified candidate and ordination-seeker, is assistant pastor at Mt. Fern Church, Randolph. She may be reached by e-mail at karengpuckett at yahoo dot com)

I relate to the sometimes uncomfortable place of being a young clergy person. Throughout my candidacy process, I constantly ran into places where the process clearly was meant for those who were second-career, and already serving churches as local pastors during candidacy. I run into people who ask if I have a family - I say yes, I have family that lives nearby, and they tell me: "No, I mean a family of your own." Oh. A tricky place to be sometimes.

Any other young clergy, single clergy, have stories to share?