Pirate Church

It’s International Talk like a Pirate Day, but I really couldn’t find a Pirate themed church service. Why can we have “cowboy church” but no pirate church? If there was such a thing, it would have to include this fabulous pulpit from Moby Dick.

Like most old fashioned pulpits, it was a very lofty one, and since a regular stairs to such a height would, by its long angle with the floor, seriously contract the already small area of the chapel, the architect, it seemed, had acted upon the hint of Father Mapple, and finished the pulpit without a stairs, substituting a perpendicular side ladder, like those used in mounting a ship from a boat at sea. The wife of a whaling captain had provided the chapel with a handsome pair of red worsted man-ropes for this ladder, which, being itself nicely headed, and stained with a mahogany color, the whole contrivance, considering what manner of chapel it was, seemed by no means in bad taste. Halting for an instant at the foot of the ladder, and with both hands grasping the ornamental knobs of the man-ropes, Father Mapple cast a look upwards, and then with a truly sailor-like but still reverential dexterity, hand over hand, mounted the steps as if ascending the main-top of his vessel.

The perpendicular parts of this side ladder, as is usually the case with swinging ones, were of cloth-covered rope, only the rounds were of wood, so that at every step there was a joint. At my first glimpse of the pulpit, it had not escaped me that however convenient for a ship, these joints in the present instance seemed unnecessary. For I was not prepared to see Father Mapple after gaining the height, slowly turn round, and stooping over the pulpit, deliberately drag up the ladder step by step, till the whole was deposited within, leaving him impregnable in his little Quebec.

Heifer Ranch

In the post below, I described my experiences at the Heifer ranch in Arkansas. Here’s a video about the global village, though it was filmed in a far different season then when we were there. You couldn’t even end up in the refugee camp when we were there because it was too hot.

40000 square feet

A friend of a friend of ours knows someone who’s building a 40000 square foot house. This is not a Bill Gates or an Oprah, not even a country music star. It’s someone who lives in Tennessee. I didn’t type an extra zero. 40000. The Las Vegas Hilton Superbook, a sports betting paradise within the Las Vegas Hilton, boasts of its more than 30000 square feet. The 40000 square foot house is being built for a typical family of 4. (That’s not a picture of the house, it’s just to give you an idea of what we’re talking about here.)

No one would call my house extravagant, (especially if they could see the living room right now – it is obvious that we don’t have a housekeeper) but it is plenty. I can walk just down the street and see houses that are boarded up, houses that change renters several times a year. My nine year old even knows there’s a disparity and has admitted that he doesn’t like being there. It makes him uncomfortable, and he acknowledges it, though many of us just ignore it. I wonder if my house seems like a 40000 square foot house to any of them.

A few years back, I traveled to the Heifer Ranch in Arkansas and spent a night in the global village. They have an area set up that represents living conditions in various regions, based on the average for that area. Everyone wanted Guatemala. It had a roof and running water.

My daughter, M. , just 11 at the time, got assigned to the urban village: basically wood floors with tin roofs, no windows, just an open hole for a door. I got Thailand, which wasn’t much better, but for July in Arkansas was catching a decent breeze. M. slept in Thailand. The urban village was too much for her. The Guatemalan home, as humble as it would seem if put next door to my house, was a mansion for that day.

POTUS08 Christian Civility

In Sunday School this week, we talked about how we can disagree about politics and still respect one another as Christian brothers and sisters. We used Jim Wallis’ Plea for Christian Civility as one tool for witnessing in the political realm.

Other Christian bloggers are saying similar things. Scot McKnight has studied the issues and candidates and give his take on the matter in several blog posts: Public Issues.

POTUS08 – Lies are Lies

Regardless of which side we’re on (and we can also not be on any side, really) it would be nice if we would check facts. Sarah Palin has her faults, as do all the candidates, and focusing on those faults is fine. We should be aware of the political missteps and maneuvering that fill us in on how these people will lead. However, taking issues and fabricating new stories from small details is just wrong, regardless of to whom it’s being done.

The specific issue is with Palin’s alleged banning of books while Mayor of Wasilla (If you’re looking for a name for a band, Mayor of Wasilla is pretty great). Simply, she didn’t ban any books. Didn’t happen, no evidence, no books gone. Did she dismiss the librarian? She asked her for her resignation, along with several other Wasilla employees, but she didn’t leave until nearly the end of Palin’s first term.

You can read the details here: Boston Herald. The feed comes from McClatchy, which is a smart news source and can help us follow up on stories we’ve “heard.”

Obama’s religion, McCain’s wife, Biden’s train rides, Palin’s children: all are topics being discussed by people all over America, yet lies are being spread instead of truth. Our best witness as Christians may not be for whom we vote, but how we speak about those for whom we choose not to vote.

Getting Ugly – Politics

I think I’m going to be really glad when this Presidential campaign is over. It’s ugly. The news media pays attention to ridiculous small stories (What do the pastors of these candidates say!?) while ignoring the major stories of Afghanistan and the economic crises. We have pundits and politicians of both sides saying using double standards. Bring on November. At least we have Jon Stewart to help us through it.

Daily Show Catches Rep. Double Standards (yes they also make fun of Democrats, just not in this clip)