Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Election Day Worries?

A good read for you today . . .

God's Not Worried About the Election

1:30 pm update - I did not vote early. I am kind of an old fashioned guy who still votes on election day. Went to my polling place right after Noontime prayer and walked right in. No line whatsoever. 5 minutes tops. Thank you to everyone who voted early and waited in lines for hours to make my life easy today! ;-)

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Undoing the Reformation?

With Reformation day on Saturday, a post for the Reformation . . .

Undoing the Reformation?

One of the things that greatly helped the cause of the Reformation was technology - the advent of the printing press. Could technology now be undoing the Reformation?

Before the Reformation, the people were largely spectators in church. People watched what was happening (when they could see), but didn’t participate. There was very little preaching. Many didn’t understand the language (Latin), they didn’t sing (the choir did that), they seldom received the Sacrament of the Altar. It was for most “ocular” communion - the belief that they could receive some kind of benefit just by seeing the Body and Blood of Jesus lifted up by the priest, whatever “hocus pocus” had caused the bread and wine to be changed. For most, it was the “professionals” who were doing what needed to be done. The people just watched (when they could see), or prayed at side altars.

The Reformation changed all that. With the German Mass, people sang parts of the liturgy in their own language. They sang hymns that taught the faith. The Words of Jesus in the Sacrament were spoken loudly and clearly for all to hear. They received the Body and Blood of Jesus (both kinds, not just one), and frequently. Church was for them again!

But today, and especially with the rise of Covid, many people have reverted to watching church again. Because people could not come to church, churches (including mine) now live stream services on the internet. But I wonder - are people participating? Certainly, they cannot receive the Body and Blood of Jesus at home, but what else are they not doing? Do they stand at the appropriate times? Speak the congregational parts? Kneel? Confess? Bow their heads? Or do people just sit and watch as spectators again? The situation is not quite as bad as before the Reformation, since the preaching and liturgy are in the language of the people, but I wonder how many are watching the whole service? How many fast forwarding to the sermon? How many not even listening to the whole sermon?

Live streaming and recorded services can be good and provide a valuable service . . . for those who must quarantine, those who cannot physically come to church, the sick, and perhaps also as an introduction to the church for those unfamiliar with it. It is easier to click and watch before stepping in the door. Those are good things. But if the electronic church becomes a substitute for those who can come, and should come, if it makes the people into spectators again (as sometimes happens in some “contemporary” services, which are more of a show than participation by the congregation), then are we unwittingly undoing the Reformation (at least in regard to worship)? Leaving church to the “professionals” again. That would not be good.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Good Virus and Coronavirus Information Video

I was informed about this video which explains viruses in general, and has a lot of information about the coronavirus in particular. The man presenting is a virologist and also the mayor of a town in California. His presentation is clear and easy to understand. I believe it is non-partisan, which seems to be hard to come by these days! (I cannot tell what political party he belongs to.) About 25 minutes into the video, after he gets through a lot of virus stuff, he starts to talk about the situation in California in particular - but not for too long. There is good stuff after that section, too, so don't turn it off at that point. So anyway, if you're not too Covid-weary and would like some clear information (and about viruses in general), click here.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Back to Vacation

I never finished my vacation photos . . . I don't have many left, actually. After leaving southwestern Virginia, we went to Appomattox/Lynchburg and spent a couple of days there. We saw the site where Lee surrendered to Grant and the Civil War Museum there. Another day we went to see the Country Estate of Thomas Jefferson called Poplar Forest and the D-Day Memorial. So this was more of an historical stop than a hiking/outdoors spot, although our hotel here did have an outdoor pool that was OPEN, so we enjoyed that very much. :-)  Anyway, a couple of pictures of the D-Day Memorial . . .

The pictures don't do it justice. This was a very cool memorial that it took some time to walk through. Very well done. It you are down near Lynchburg, I highly recommend it. 

After this top, we had a couple of days left and so headed back up to northwestern Virginia to hike some more of the George Washington National Forest and to some of the waterfalls up there. However, storms were moving in - both to where we were at and at home, so we cut short a couple of days and came home. But overall, a very good and relaxing vacation this year. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

New Deck

 So we've been wanting to replace our deck for a few years now. Here's what it looked like:

It was in pretty bad shape. So two years ago I had some contractors come and give me an estimate. The one I really liked never returned my calls or emails. :-(  So I dragged my feet . . .  Last year I had three more contractors come over - two I really didn't feel comfortable with, and the third was okay. So I was going to go with him . . . but dragged my feet again. So this year, I contacted 5 more contractors and asked for estimates. Only one got back to me! But I felt very comfortable with this company and they were highly rated, so we went with them. Turns out it was a good decision. They did an incredible job, were courteous, cleaned up at the end of each day, and weren't put out by all my questions.

With this Covid summer, scheduling has been a problem for them, so they couldn't say exactly when they would be able to do the work. The county is very slow with their permits, weather delays, etc. They also told me that materials were not always available and that when they were ready, the materials may not be. So what we did was order the material right away and got it delivered to my house. My wife and I carried it ALL into the garage (and there was a lot!) where it sat and waited until they had an opening in their schedule to install it. And that was this week. :-)  They thought it was going to be a day and a half, maybe a two day job. Turned out to be 3 1/2 days! But the results are great. Then today the owner told me that my decision to buy and have the materials delivered and wait was genius - these materials are not available now and we would have had to wait a lot longer.

A couple of the things I wanted to do when they tore out my old deck was (1.) close off the fox den that was under there, so that if the foxes ever get back under there, they can't just move back in! And (2.) get rid of all the trash that had been thrown under there before. Successful on both counts. I also took a picture of some of the interesting items of trash we found under there . . .

A toy gun, a long drill bit, a fork, a steak knife, a wrench, and a chicken bone! I'm not sure if the chicken bone was left there by humans, foxes, raccoons, or some other critter, but all now gone. :-)  We are very pleased with the results, and I would highly recommend this company if you are looking into getting or replacing a deck.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

A Couple of Books

For exercise, one of the things I do is ride my bike on a stationary trainer in my basement. If you've ever ridden a bike indoors, you know that the times on the bike drags! It seems like a ride takes forever. But if I read while riding, the time usually flies. So that's what I do. Sometimes theology, but not always. I like to read other things as well, and as I am somewhat of a history buff, and especially American (Revolutionary and Civil War) history, I read a bunch of that. 

So, I thought I'd share with you two books I recently finished:

I found this book in a used book store last year sometime. I've been to Saratoga Battlefield and knew the story somewhat. But what separated this book from the rest was that a good portion of it was dedicated to the events leading up to the battle of Saratoga - a lot of information not usually given. That helped put it into context and really shed some light. So if you like this kind of history, I recommend it. It's not a "page turner" like a Jeff Shaara book is (more popularly written), and it's not short, but definitely worth the time to get into the nitty gritty. I also see that he has written on the Victory at Yorktown and Battles at Trenton and Princeton - I might have to look into those.

The book I read while on vacation this year:

I've read other books by McCullough and have usually enjoyed them. This book is not new - written back in 1978, I think - but very highly rated and does not disappoint. Again, what I really like about this book is all the historical things that happened that are not usually presented. Like, how the French were the ones to actually try and build this thing, but failed. How America got involved. All the challenges building this canal presented. So again, I would recommend. :-)

What am I going to read next? Not sure. Maybe some theology. I have some books on tap to read. I just ordered a Jeff Shaara book on the Civil War Battle of Vicksburg - used, but that hasn't arrived yet. We'll have to see what I feel like this afternoon . . .

Monday, August 31, 2020


So I was sitting out on my sun porch on Saturday working on my sermon when this little guy flew into the glass . . . pretty hard!

At first, he was on his back, just moving his mouth. Then when I unlatched the door and began to move it, he flipped over to his feet and just sat there, stunned. I talked to him a little, took his picture, but he didn't move for a bit. Until it started raining! Then he hopped under a planter box we have on our deck for cover, though it looked like he either hurt a wing or was still a bit loopy. A while later, I saw one of our neighborhood foxes going by and looked to see if this little guy was still on the deck - but he was gone. Glad he seemed to have recovered. :-)