Insurance for dummies and suggestions for the church

I’ve read most of it. All the analyses about the AHCA (“Trumpcare” or “Ryancare”), the proposed GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) have taken residence in my brain. I’ve also logged countless hours in conversation with an expert in the insurance world. So now I now offer a quick, admittedly simplistic summary for [Read More…]

Help! Do we ignore, avoid, or confront evil?

Evil is often disguised in a subtle call to comfort, to security, to safety. It will involve only the smallest of compromises. Dear Thoughtful Pastor: There is evil in the world, at many levels, from government and business, down to communities and ourselves. On encountering evil, what is our Christian responsibility, either as a church [Read More…]

The year everything broke

All of us live in the tensions between creation and re-creation. Nothing is stasis or particularly stable or immune from breaking. Last night, the dishwasher broke. (The repair service showed up promptly, fixed the problem but indicated that the fix is only temporary–we will be needing to replace it soon). Before that: The new coffee grinder [Read More…]

Church: take notice–people are leaving and not coming back

We all know the church ship is rapidly sinking. What fascinates me about the United Methodist Church is how little we seem to care. Instead, we wasted at least a generation and a massive amount of money with arguments over petty issues, and especially over petty issues that make us look like a bunch of [Read More…]

The Brother printer, customer service and the church

Bissell vs Brother Customer service at its worst. Endless correspondence, multiple useless fixes, and a relatively new, what should be long-lasting workhorse black and white Brother laser printer is now destined for the trash heap–or where ever I can take a piece of broken electronics where its burying place will not further pollute the environment. [Read More…]

Ask the Thoughtful Pastor: Popes then, celebrity pastors now?

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: When you were in Europe recently, did you learn anything while seeing historic Christianity that would give you insight as to how it affects your understanding of the way Christianity is practiced in the US today? After spending several weeks in a land where a town only four hundred years old is [Read More…]

Ask the Thoughtful Pastor: Can I use the Bible to convince my friends to vote a certain way?

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: Religion has a very unifying effect on its followers.  Is it even possible to separate religion and politics (that govern our everyday lives)?  The Bible is used to justify every conceivable political position. But let’s assume one can separate the two. What is the mental process to do that? If I can [Read More…]

Ask the Thoughtful Pastor: Am I supposed to let someone hit me?

Dear Thoughtful Pastor:  The Bible says to turn the other cheek when I am affronted.  How do such words apply in a world full of radicalism, threats, rampant murders, bigotry and hate? How many physical and mental assaults must a person or a group absorb before earning the right to ask this: Are you kidding [Read More…]

The church then and today: the need to exclude defines us

Saturday was Sicily. We wandered in the small villages that Francis Ford Coppola inadvertently made famous by filming parts of The Godfather movie series in them. We were making our way to a church where one of the scenes was filmed.  Along the way, we saw this arch. The guide told us that we now [Read More…]

Notes from a retired pastor, musings from cruisings: swans and emaciated Jesus

Luxury cruising: finding our bed strewn with rose petals and towel swans along with a bottle of champagne waiting for us as a way to honor our anniversary. Luxury cruising: having the head chef come our table and say, “I’ve finally found you–you are not taking advantage of ordering anything you want ahead of time. [Read More…]