Thoughts for a Fall Monday


It’s amazing to me how much I had to bundle up on a 63-degree day while I was out on my tractor. Something about that tiniest bit of chill in the air and being on a moving vehicle, that while not a motorcycle, still generates a breeze while one’s atop it. Also had to take the warmth precautions because I wasn’t feeling well, yet still had to do the work, as I am slammed this week and rain is forecast.

Five hours on a tractor will get you thinking…

Ox Gored: It never fails to amaze me the responses I get when I simply bring up the Acts 2 and 4 passages included in last week’s “Jumping from Bridges.” My main point was not to talk about alternative economies, but man did the folks come out of the woodwork who didn’t like the idea of sharing their stuff with anyone else. Hmm. Methinks I need to write more on this.

Hacking Me Off: I installed some software of the Cerulean Sanctum site to monitor hack attempts against its MySQL database. All I will say is this: It’s the computer equivalent of D-Day—and all day, every day. Also, I set up a server last week to do some testing and forgot to adjust one security item before I walked away from the computer to grab a bite to eat. Within 20 minutes two hacker sites were up and running on the computer. Unbelievable.

More Convenient Government Adjustments: Seems the feds’ method for tracking unemployed workers has got some holes in it, as they now admit they failed to account for an additional 800,000+ job losses. Though I recently talked about avoiding conspiracy theories, I’m forever annoyed at these convenient negative adjustments the feds make that come a year after the fact. “Oh sorry! Everything was worse than we said it was! No harm, no foul, because you’ve already forgotten about the past!” They’ve been doing this for years now with economic figures to the point that I’m not sure how anyone can trust them to get the tally right. Which is why all this “recovery” talk rings hollow.

In the BTW Department: It’s only a recovery when the jobs come back—which I have yet to see happen, especially when 800K+ unemployed were just added to the rolls.

Holy Grail Found: After two years of searching, I finally found a free WordPress theme that combines minimalism, good SEO, easy tweakability, threaded commenting, and bulletproof operation. Though this is my busiest quarter of the year workwise, I hope to have the new look for Cerulean Sanctum up by the end of the year. Expect an emphasis on the text, faster loading, more accessibility, and a stronger Google PageRank so you can find older posts more easily.

Church? What Church? I did something today that I don’t often do; I skipped church. I woke up not feeling well, didn’t have to play on the worship team (which is rarely the case), and had a few other reasons for not attending yesterday. When I ended up having to run an errand for my wife at a time when most people should have been in church, I was stunned to note the packed local Kroger grocery store. Packed. As in hard to find a parking spot. Seems to drive home the reality that we Christians are dropping the ball on evangelism. I mean, I don’t live in a very large town, but it seemed like half the town was at Kroger at 11 a.m. on a Sunday, and they weren’t in their “we went to the 9 a.m. service” clothes, either.

So Much for the Simple (Cheap) Pleasures: Rode in the county fair parade last week with my son’s Cub Scout pack, so we got into the fair free. Still, by the time we’d left, we’d dropped close to $45 on a bare minimum of food for three people and a ride pass for my son. Yikes!

The Difference Between the Rich City and Poor Country: While riding in that parade, I noted an extraordinary amount of clearly mentally disabled people of all ages along the parade route as we rolled by. I would not be exaggerating if I said that every twentieth person was mentally challenged. It makes me wonder if we in the country simply cannot afford to send such disabled family members to expensive group homes, so they end up living with us instead. In other words, our broken people are part of our community and are not tucked away somewhere out of sight. Makes for a lot of soul-searching. A week later, I’m still thinking about this.

My Two Cents: Everywhere I turn, it seems people are talking about tithing. I wonder how much of that talk is linked to the recession and a downturn in giving.

Two, Two, Two Bibles in One! Last week, I killed two birds with one stone by buying the one type of Bible I do not own in one of the few translations we don’t have in our combined collection: a New Living Translation (NLT) chronological Bible. While the chronological part is extremely handy, my one-word review of the NLT is “dull.” And dull is not what a translation should ever be. I mean, the Phillips Translation is simply worded, but it’s definitely active and gripping. Still, I keep holding out hope that someone will do a modern translation of the entire Bible that really makes use of the breadth of the English language, something that caters to a demographic other than sixth graders. I think the closest we have gotten is the one that J.R.R. Tolkien provided English wording for, the original mid-’60s Jerusalem Bible.

Because of my workload this week, I may not be able to post much or reply to comments, but your comments are deeply appreciated. Have a great week. And don’t forget to bless others in the name of Jesus!



It’s county fair week in my pastoral community.

When you live in the country, you step through a rift in time. Whatever life you once lived vanishes in a flash, and you wake à la Rip Van Winkle in unfamiliar environs. But in the reverse of old Rip, you half expect to turn around and see Andy and Opie in black and white out back by the old fishin’ hole.

Back in Mayberry’s heyday, the entire community year revolved around the county fair. Youngsters primped their 4-H livestock,  fresh-faced young women coming into the bloom of maturity practiced their finest equestrian moves with their own personal Flicka, while their moms slaved in the kitchen, hoping against hope to beat that Edna Mae Krebs and her strawberry-rhubarb pie that takes home the blue ribbon year after year, “Bless her little heart—You thinkin' that's Silver Queen?and I hope she gets bit by a rabid polecat after stepping on a rusty nail because heaven knows she’s good, but she’s not that good.”

You know, what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

Or maybe you don’t.

Around here, 4-H rules, Flicka still rides, and Edna Mae Krebs continues to be the source of a lot of ground-down teeth amongst the womenfolk. It’s fair week! Around here, local businessowners throw in the towel because, heck, no one shows up for work.  It’s fair week! And the schools? Forget about it. Little Jess and little June are too busy making sure their stew rabbit plumps up nicely for the judges. The principal’s got a bull he just sold at the cattle auction. School? Hey, it’s fair week! Who’s going to be Tobacco Queen this year?

When you live in the country, the local newspapers ain’t like nothin’ you read in the big city. The op-ed pages resemble a seminary debate, as the pastor of the Holiness Church takes umbrage with the editorial written by the Methodist pastor the week before, the darned liberal. And the pastor of the Pentecostal church complains that people today aren’t like they were when he was growing up. Back then, people had no problems with a Tuesday night service, a Wednesday night service, AND a Thursday night service. Now you can only pack ’em in on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights. The world’s goin’ to hell in a handbasket. And, of course, the general store is running a sale on handbaskets through the end of the month.

Probably won’t be any elders’ meetings at the churches because it’s time to get the crop in. When you’re a farmer, the pastor’s just gotta understand that nothing stands in the way of the crop. God knows.

That cloud of dust? It’s the combines harvesting the soybeans. If you look carefully, the corn farmers wear a crooked smirk because they timed their rotation right this year and made a killing. Too bad for the soy guys. Too darned bad.

Out here in the country, you ponder daily the fate of your mailbox, but when that’s about the only thing you’ve got to worry about, life’s not too bad. Your neighbor invites you over to hang out on the back porch, and the old farmer’s wife across the way brings one of those orange cakes slathered in homemade whipped butter frosting with the little bits of pineapple and mandarin oranges in it. A cake good enough to set Edna Mae Krebs’s teeth on edge, I’ll tell you.

You cool your heels on that back porch and listen to the debates about whether Silver Queen is still king, or whether White Magic, Fantasia, or Silverado has got it goin’ on now. And if you’re the city-slicker—like me—you pay extra special attention because you know this is a life or death sort of discussion that might determine your ultimate eternal destination. Even if it is about corn.

It’s fair week. And the Lord Himself is smiling down on us all.