Friday, August 24, 2007

All Fired Up

Thanks for all your comments on Profile Change; they were very helpful. My logic for posting the following is that it happened in front of a lot of people. I mean, you can't really "go public" with something that happened in public, can you?

I've posted before that I lead worship for one of my church's services. It's a small service. Only about 30 of our 100 members attend and although we call ourselves contemporary, we're not. We're more of a traditional service with electronic media and a couple of praise songs thrown in the middle, but we do our best.

In our sanctuary we have two candles on the altar on either side of the cross. That's not unusual - you'll find that setup in most Christian churches in the U.S. In our tradition, we light the candles to symbolize the presence of the Holy Spirit- a living, active God present with us here on Earth. Important note: we don't think God's presence depends on the candles or anything, it's just a symbol. It's one I really like though, because I like a visual reminder that God is with us. I gotta be honest, if God just shoved us out onto the path alone I probably couldn't do this Christian thing, not even in the hit-and-miss fashion I manage now.

At the later service, the acolytes "bring in the light" wearing white robes and carrying these long goldish, lighter thingies with wicks. (They have some fancy name, but I don't know it.) At the end of the service, they also carry the light out, symbolizing our duty to carry God's light out into the world.

We're less formal at the earlier service, so the ushers do it. They've been forgetting lately, and two Sundays ago I had some time before the service started. I noticed the candles weren't lit, so I lit them, and made a joke to the pianist. I smiled and said, "I've figured out exactly how Methodist I am... I'm just Methodist enough that it bugs me when the candles aren't lit." We had a little laugh and got on with worship.

Sermon time came around, and the pastor listed all the things we turn into idols and worship instead of God. Then he said, "For instance, we don't worship candles, we worship a living, moving God." Then he really layed into the whole candle thing. He told a story about how the Holy Spirit is producing signs and wonders in Africa, and the African people don't worry about things like candles. They don't have a beautiful building like we do, but they worship with more joy than most of us Americans can muster.

Since I lead the hymns and liturgies, I sit facing the congregation. Unfortunately, when I get really really mad, I cry. I couldn't stop tears from sliding down my face. The whole time. I tried to spin it as spiritual, but it was pure anger. He mentioned lighting the candles two more times. He seemed to be circling around and tying all the points of his sermon together with those blasted candles. When we missed a scripture and he went back to it, he turned to me and said, "That's how Methodist we are." Nice.

At the end, I got up and led the closing hymn that he chose. When the last two words of it were "eternal flame" he felt compelled to speak again before the benediction to remind us that we don't worship an eternal flame, we worship a living God. I guess he couldn't have the centuries-old hymn of the church giving me any comfort.

The funny thing is, that whole "living God" thing - it's the whole reason the candles mean something to me. It's a reminder of exactly that! I don't think that God is absent when the candles aren't lit anymore than I think I'm not married when leave my ring at home because I took it off to knead the biscuit dough. It's just a symbol of something that's always true.

I admit, lighting or not lighting candles is a pretty insignificant thing to argue about. Ironically, I totally agree with the point of his message. However, there were kinder ways to convey that message than throwing me under the theological bus in a setting where I couldn't comment.

Bottom line: I like to worship differently than he does. That does NOT automatically make my worship style wrong.


Today is my day off. Boy, it was time for a day off. I'll put it this way: I never have an urge to watch "The View" anymore. When I wanna listen to a bunch of chicks bitching at each other, I just go to work. I mean, seriously.

So, today has been pure chill time. It's almost 3:30, and I'm still in my pj's watching Flight of the Conchords clips on you tube. I caught a chick flick and ate a couple of cinnamon rolls. I didn't have to listen to any fighting. It was pure bliss.

Now if I could only figure out a way to keep my coworkers from disturbing my peace. I'm thinking paintball guns...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Profile Change

Well, I came by to change the age on my profile, since as of last week I'm a "32-year-old southerner turned midwesterner." Yes, yes, I had a birthday. And I did all the required introspection and ate a lot of chocolate. (Kudos to Bryan for creating the "Melting Pot at Home" experience. See, I normally like to go to the real restaurant, but this was a creative and VERY well executed fondue experience where I got to wear my PJs. He's a good boy.)

Let's get down to business: Lately I've struggled with what's "okay" to write about here. I started MRF thinking of it as a good journaling incentive. Journaling is a great way for me to dump everything out of my brain. This is important, because if things are allowed to stay up there, I will overanalyze them. Plus, it's dark and moldy and nothing deserves to stay locked up there forever.

I have an impressive stack of beautiful real-world journals. Every unmarked, gilded-edged page is a testament to how bad I am at actually using them. When I'm at the bookstore the thought of the Zen I will experience writing in THIS journal is exhilirating. THIS one will be different. But the never-writing-in-them part makes it kind of a waste. So, I skipped the journal 12-step program and just quit cold turkey. I figure, Blogger is free, and there's some accountability involved since one of you nice folks might pop over to see if there's a post.

HOWEVER, I've started to worry about when/if someone from church will find MRF, or if a coworker will find it. Which has really stunted my writing because lately there are things going on at both church and work I've wanted to write about. And, if the wrong person happened upon my little web island, an honest post could hurt someone. If dooce has taught us anything, it's that writing about your job is dangerous. Sigh. Blog ethics suck.

I know some of you blog about personal things. What are your boundaries? At some point I decided to post my picture, but now I'm not sure that's the best idea. Maybe I should use a cookie instead.

Am I overreacting? I mean, what are the chances a person from real life that I haven't actually sent a link would find MRF? Probably slim to none. Any thoughts on this?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Good Reads

(Blogger ate the first posting of this, so if it appears twice assume Blogger hurled.)

You should read this, if only because of this:

"One day we drove into Reno to fetch Sarah at the airport. Reno smelled like meth and grandmas. I worry about Reno. I want to give Reno a sandwich and some tissues and a note from its mom saying it’s okay, it can come home now, all is forgiven."

When I grow up, I wanna write like Sarah Brown. Even though I'm pretty sure she's younger than me. Ouch.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Good Reads

You should read this, if only because of this:

"One day we drove into Reno to fetch Sarah at the airport. Reno smelled like meth and grandmas. I worry about Reno. I want to give Reno a sandwich and some tissues and a note from its mom saying it’s okay, it can come home now, all is forgiven."

When I grow up, I wanna write like Sarah Brown. Even though I'm pretty sure she's younger than me. Ouch.

Monday, August 6, 2007

A Lesser Known Sign of the Apocalypse

I bought a box of wine. A box.

How the mighty have fallen.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Mild Abusement

Tonight at McDonald's (which is kind of a splurge-treat these days) I grabbed my drink cup, and Bryan handed me his. I said, "What do you want?" to which he replied, "Diet Coke." As I left the line, he smacked me soundly on the ass.

As I got our drinks, I saw a biker guy from our fair hamlet laugh appreciatively. Next, I noticed my dearly beloved laughing as well.

My thought process: "Hmmm..what's this funny feeling I'm having? I don't mind him asking me to get his drink... we get things for each other a lot. I don't mind him smacking my ass... we do that a lot, too... it's kind of our thing. WAIT - it's the rapid succession of the two events (AND biker guy's response) that triggered the fire behind my eyes!"

Moral: if you ever want your wife to get your Coke again, don't smack her booty in front of an appreciative Harley driver. Then for GOD'S SAKE, don't follow it with a nod and wink.