Pancake humor.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives keeps an online collection of 19th century newspapers. I believe the writers and readers of these newspapers were completely insane. Perhaps it was because they sprinkled lead on their eggs each morning, or their tendency to put opium in their puddings and Methodist sermons. To demonstrate this insanity, I offer you pancake stories from 19th century newspapers:

This one was in two different newspapers 10 years apart. It was just that good a joke, I suppose:

“John,” said a stingy old hunks to his hired man,”do you know how many pancakes you’ve eaten?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Well, you’ve eaten fourteen.”
“Yes? Well, you count and I’ll eat.”

I don’t even know if I can believe this one, but it was right next to scarlet fever news and other items:

One directly Pancake Tuesday related:

Shrove Tuesday and its Pancakes.

To-day is generally known as Shrove Tuesday, though the fact that it is so-called because in olden times people shrove themselves, that is confessed their sins to priests, is as generally ignored. The light-heared French have given it another name, Mardi Gras, signifying “flesh-meat Tuesday,” the day when the “farewell to flesh” is pronounced. The masquerading and other amusements indulged in are by the antiquarians traced back to the Bacchanalia of the Greeks and the Saturnalia of the Romans, and Christian clergy have violently denounced them. In “merry England” the day was celebrated by the burning of effigies, cock-fights, throwing at cocks, games of football, and the “barring-out” of the schoolmaster. One of the customs then in vogues has been preserved to this day, principally among the Irish, and consists in the cooking and eating of large quantities of pancakes. In one of these is placed a ring, and the lucky finder is assured that he or she will be married within the coming year.

Aunt Jemima pancake flour has been around since at least 1892, and according to an ad “A Chicago policeman became polite from eating pancakes made from Aunt Jemima’s Pancake Flour.”

Pancakes also killed people on at least two occasions, both due to arsenic accidentally being put in the pancakes.

Mmmm pancakes.

Pancakes, lectionary and being subject.

So it’s Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Pancake Day. I made pancakes and bacon for the kids. I ate some bacon, but I’m doing without the pancakes. They tend to make me sleepy, especially with the required glass of milk. Of course, I didn’t do anything with Fat Tuesday or Ash Wednesday when I was growing up, but my children are far more familiar with the traditions of Lent and Holy Week. This is partly because of a seeming increase of Mardi Gras observation (Jackson, TN has 2 Mardi Gras parades now) and also because of the attempts by Methodist churches to stick to the Lectionary.

I’m glad the Methodist church has returned to the Lectionary. It gives guidance. It allows for us to be subject to something. I was recently talking to an acquaintance who, though she never stated it directly, made it pretty clear that she was not interested in being subject to anything. She was guided by her own desires in her work and home. If she couldn’t do it her way, she wasn’t really interested in doing it at all.

Of course, we all get like that. But if we can agree to be subject about some things, then we can work harder at being subject to one another. If the church can look at the pulpit and say “on this day, this is the text we will read” then it allows us to agree on something, which is better than we might do without such things.

Tomorrow, I will go get ashes on my head. I will be told that I am going to be dust. I will be there with others who will be reminded of the same thing, and we will remember the saints who have gone before us and with whom we share the life of the Kingdom. Come Lord Jesus.

Random thoughts on Transfiguration

I’ve been looking at this text all week. I’ve read the other parts of the Lectionary. I’ve read the commentary on the Lectionary. All I have is an unformed ball of clay. Literally. I bought sculpey. Plain white sculpey. Of course Robby had to have his own pack too. I guess it’s a start. It fits with transfiguration any way.

Of course, part of my mission tomorrow will include a sort of “here comes Lent” reminder. Very few people in the class (including me) were raised on the Lectionary/Liturgical year. I remember a youth group pastor talking about Lent and he brought a Roman Catholic friend with him like show and tell.

How inadequate Peter, James and John must have felt. John’s gospel doesn’t include the story. Maybe he didn’t even feel he had the words for the event? It’s no wonder they offered to build tents, tabernacles, monuments to Elijah, Moses and Jesus. It was Jesus’ transfiguration, but the disciples were transformed too.

They were told to be silent, they were told John the Baptist was Elijah. They were told that Jesus would rise from the dead. They had more information than they could process and they still had to go on, go forward, move to the next moment. They couldn’t stop and build monuments.

Angel Food, FBI, IRS.

Last week I received a phone call. It was a pre-recorded message. This is basically what it said:

A single search warrant was executed today on Angel Food Ministries home office. Angel Food Ministries believes that this is an investigation of an individual or individuals connected to the organization, and not regarding the ministry itself, its service to the public or its host sites in any way.

The Board of Directors has pledged full cooperation with government officials.

Angel Food Ministries, welcoming its 15th year of serving food to those in need, reaches 39 states to hundreds of thousands of families with nearly six million boxes distributed in 2008. It is our mission to do that, and it will continue to do so. AFM is taking orders and is prepared to fill them as usu


Of course, I was concerned. My wife and I brought the information regarding Angel Food to our church about 3 years ago and our church jumped in and started working. Three years later we’ve served as many as 200 boxes in a month, and average close to 50 each month. We’ve picked up our food at locations in 4 different counties, and we’ve always felt like we were doing good work.

We still do. But now we have questions. Employee compensation in non-profits is a touchy subject, and based on the reports I’ve read (I’ll put some sources at the end of the article for anyone who wants to dig a little deeper)the IRS gave the board at Angel Food advice to diversify when they began the work in 2000. They should have done that. They didn’t, and as a result, voting themselves a large pay raise and taking out loans against the company looks suspicious.

I don’t know where this story will end. I hope this weekend when we distribute food, we have more information, but it’s not looking like it. The Angel Food Ministries website has no additional information (you get the quote from above if you click the Important News link).

We discussed this in class on Sunday and the consensus was that we carry on. This month we have more orders than we’ve had in about a year, and it continues to be more than $30 worth of food for $30. But we will be praying for discernment and wisdom as we try to follow God’s will.

Angel Food site

Atlanta Journal Constitution

Public Opinion Online
Ministry Watch: list of issues with charities. (pdf file)
Angel Food and USDA partnership (pdf file)

spiritual doctor

I went to the doctor last week for a muscle pain. My potassium’s lowish, (it’s Within Normal Limits, but on the low side) but I know what the problem really is. I need to eat better and exercise more.

In the same way, I have struggles in my faith for which I am aware of the real solutions. My potassium may be low, but a banana won’t take care of the problem. I’ve got to give God time to help me. I’ve got to listen to the ways in which he would shape my life. I need to quit trying to do it myself. I need to pray and pray and pray. Lord hear my prayer.

Willimon Road Trip?

The two general editors for the Wesley Study Bible (reviewed below) are Dr. Joel B. Green, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and Bishop William H. Willimon, who is listed on the packaging of the Wesley Study Bible as “Resident Bishop of the Birmingham Area of the United Methodist Church” but who is, I’m pretty sure, known in Methodist circles as the Bishop of North Alabama. He is also a rather prolific writer and speaks often at churches in his conference.

One topic he will be speaking on is “Reading the Bible Like Wesleyans”.

This will be a discussion, led by Bishop Willimon, on the unique Methodist way with scripture. How does United Methodist “practical Christianity” inform our reading of scripture? Bishop Willimon will discuss the particular Wesleyan contribution to the study, interpretation, and embodiment of Holy Scripture.

This should be thorough (2.5 hours alotted) and informative conversation. I know some Methobloggers are discussing making the trip to Birmingham on the 7th of March, but I’m closer to Huntsville, and I’m thinking of getting a group from church together to make the trip on the 14th.

You can read more about the sessions and Bishop Willimon’s thoughts about the project at the North Alabama Conference website.

Wesleyans! Study Bible!

I wish I had not known about the Wesley Study Bible until it was already published and on the shelves. I’m not patient when waiting on preordered items and Cokesbury is probably grateful that I won’t be calling them any more now that I have received my copy. Overall, I am very pleased with this version of the Bible and have no doubt it will be my new Bible for primary use. The Wesley Study Bible uses the NRSV and is published by Abingdon Press. If you are a member of any Methodist/Wesleyan heritage church or have an interest in Wesleyan thought, this is a great resource.

Shane Raynor, over at The Wesley Report did a brief review and I have similar thoughts in terms of the readability and feel of the book. There is also afacebook group which is discussing the merits and shortcomings of this new presentation of the NRSV.

Of course the notes are the important consideration for any study Bible, and this Bible sets itself apart in that regard, including significant details in the life and theology of John Wesley and other early Methodists. The sources for the notes are John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible and the Bicentennial edition of The Works of John Wesley.

An example: on page 1199, with the story of the sheep and the goats, we have an inset on Wesley’s friend William Morgan and his invitation to visit prisoners. Visiting Prisoners is one of the “Wesleyan Core Terms” which also include Physician of Souls, Lay Leadership, Tradition, Liberty, Mind of Christ, and I’d guess about 100 other topics. Thankfully, all these terms, as well as the “Life Application Topics” and the maps are indexed, but as one of the facebook users (Ron N.) points out, the index might be more helpful with page numbers. Instead, if you’re looking up a life application topic or Wesley Core Term, the index only provides you with the book that it can be found in. Granted, they also list it by the order that it appears, which helps, but it’s a fairly significant inconvenience, particularly for a group study setting. You can take a look at this indexing system yourself by downloading the free sample.

I am also surprised that there is no concordance, something I think is an important part of any Bible calling itself a study Bible. This is, however, a Bible specifically designed as a resource for better understanding of the Wesleyan perspective on Scripture, and it fulfills that task. I’m looking forward to using it, as well as giving it to some of my Wesleyan brothers and sisters.