Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

the first of the nephew photos is in!

"How Long Must I Suffer These Indignities?"
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

PeaceBang On A Little Hiatus

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
I feel that pre-holiday insane mania starting, so I'm going to try to put the brakes on a bit. When I feel the urge to blog, I think I'll pick up the BANJO instead.

Since I'm one of the bloggers who tends to post every day, don't worry if you don't hear from me for a week or so.

Love, Peace, Bang.

Sing Unto the Lord A New Song

My bluegrass sacred music group had a big gig tonight, starting with a worship service and moving into a straight-up concert.

Here's the memorable thing: it was in a bar!! A very gay-friendly bar/bowling alley, as a matter of fact.
But it was a huge, clean, super-funky, romantically-lit with red walls and loads of color, absolutely fabulous joint all decorated with Halloween goodies. People brought babies and children and it was just really cool. It was like a Den Of Iniquity for All Ages!

I joined this group a year ago at the request of its founder, and when he invited me to be part of it I told him that I'm a show tunes girl, not a bluegrass gospel girl. I said the whole idea of trying to sing in a new genre was intimidating but I would like to try it.
I took a tape recorder to our first rehearsals and practiced my harmonies in the car. I was nervous.

The music has become more and more a part of me. I even listen to it for FUN. A few gigs ago, I learned two numbers in the bathroom right before we went on (we don't have that many rehearsals to begin with, and I often have to miss the few we do have).
Tonight, though, I hit a new low (or high!): I learned two numbers while we were on stage performing them.

By this point, all I have to do is hear the first phrases and it's like, okay, I got it. Liz fed me the lyrics line by line and it was totally chill. I can sing soprano, I can sing alto, I can hear the harmonies so much more easily.

It's a little analogous to learning a new way to pray, or a new language for speaking about my religion. A few years ago, I spoke an entirely different language of faith. Or it would be more accurate to say that I didn't have one of my own. That was mighty frustrating. More than that: it hurt. Now, after some quality time steeped in Scripture, traditional Christian prayer and worship, phrases are in my mind, body and soul that may never leave. Images, stories and prayers from many traditions stay in my memory more easily than they used to and I find them far more readily available for worship preparation than they used to be. There was a time when in order to compose a prayer, I had to sift through a dozen books feverishly looking not for inspiration, but for confirmation that my own words could minister to my people.
Now, prayers just come. Opening words and invocations come so much more readily. The words to say at someone's bedside come more easily.

I even talk differently to myself.

I am aware of what's happening. I am very glad that I waited until I was a fully consenting, aware adult before I chose to hand myself over in this intimate way to the influence of the Christian faith. I am grateful that I had so many years' training in hearing and using religious language critically and from a "hermeneutic of suspicion."
I prepared myself for this indoctrination into Christian life and thought, and I even use the word "indoctrination" in its purest form, "to instruct in a body of doctrine."

It's fascinating to watch this relatively old dog learn all these new tricks.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Spiritual Practice

You know how some people meditate on an icon?

And some people by gazing at a candle?

Do you think it's okay if I spend a lot of minutes just looking at my cat's face?

Because to tell you the truth, that's the only form of focused meditation I get in regularly throughout the day, I mean of the kind where you empty your mind and your thoughts stop racing.

I think she knows this, which is why she parks herself right next to my left hand as I type, but back far enough so I can gaze upon her striped splendor.

To my right, on the wall, is a collage I made that I find myself looking up at a million times as I write, but not really seeing.

When I see Ermengarde, I always see just her.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Cod

I'm heading down to the Cape so I can spend the night there before our district conference.
It's supposed to be NAZZZZZ-TAY tomorrow, so I imagine lots of folks will stay home and dry rather than risk skidding out on one of the famously deep, easily-flooded dips in Route 6.

The Cape is very witchy this time of year. I love it.

I am bringing a pile of schoolbooks to study tonight. I'll probably fall asleep by 9 pm, though. I always do when I'm down there. There's some kind of opiate in the air.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Verbifying Perfectly Innocent Nouns

The next time I hear someone use the word "popcorn" as a verb, I'm going to shout an obscenity.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you haven't ever had to "popcorn," and I'm envious of your innocence.

What noun, when used as a verb, causes your blood pressure to rise? I know there are some I'm forgetting.

20 Million Single Women Didn't Vote in 2004

What is this I hear? TWENTY MILLION SINGLE WOMEN failed to vote in the November, 2004 elections??

Sister babes, what is UP with that?
I don't CARE if you were at work, I don't CARE if you had to get to the gym, I don't CARE if you had a pedicure scheduled or if you were babysitting your sister's kids or if you had a night class to get to or if you had to wax the kitchen floor or wax your legs that day or if you feel totally disenfranchised because no matter what you do, the same old asshats get elected to office.

That is NO EXCUSE, sister babes! You are NOT disenfranchised! Don't give me any 'tude about it, either! Did you see that fine movie "Iron Jawed Angels" where Hilary Swank tromped around in those adorable cloche hats as suffragist Alice Paul and suffered and practically starved to death in prison so that we could have the right to vote? What's yer problem, girls?

In all seriousness, vote in November. Vote in every election. Don't take this for granted. Don't blow this off. Don't be a fine, hard-working, great person in every other area of your life and behave like a moron around this issue.

Watch these videos and be inspired. Not by the bad eyebrow lift sported by one of the key actresses, but by the call to be involved in the democratic process, by gum:


Spend some time on this site, then spread the word. The next time one of your oh-so-sophisticated friends says she's not voting as a form of protest against the corruption of the system, throw your wadded up napkin at her and tell her to grow up, wake up, and wise up. And mean it.

If women don't stop being so cutesy-cozy with each other, so freaking understanding, we're going to keep getting the leadership we deserve. Meanwhile, what kind of example are we setting for the little girls in our lives?

[Thanks to PeaceBang reader Suzanah who wrote to me all the way from PRAGUE to pimp these videos]


Oh my HAY-vens! I just found out that 48 people are registered for the workshop I'm leading this Saturday, which means that I'd better prepare more thoroughly than I had planned to!

Things that can make your day: I got a card in the mail saying, "Thanks for agreeing to be a workshop leader. Get yourself a cup of joe or a bagel on the way to the conference." And tucked inside the note was a $5 Dunkin Donuts gift card.

What a nice thing to do. Religious life runs on volunteer energy, and since ministers make our living "doing" religious life, we feel it's our job to thank lay leaders, not to be thanked by them. That said, I must say that when life gets tough in the ministry, I take out my files of thank you cards and letters and re-read them, taking fuel for the heart from those tokens of appreciation. I have learned over time that gratitude is a very energy-generating thing. When someone takes the time to thank me, I get more energy. It's like a little science experiment that works every time. When I make a decision to cultivate gratitude, I get more energy. Simple. Voila.

Parish ministers don't just serve the parish, of course. We serve the larger movement and our communities, which means that in addition to our parish duties, we serve on denominational or inter-faith committees, we try to accept speaking engagements whenever we're asked (and some of us are asked pretty frequently), we write articles and essays as requested for various publications, we attend conferences and spend many hours consulting with ordained lay and clergy leadership on a wide variety of issues, we participate in or attend ordinations and installations, we go to collegial gatherings. Much of this work is invisible to the folks in our parish, but I have come to respect the office of the clergy far more deeply over the years as I realize all that my colleagues in parish ministry do outside their own congregations.

Most of what we do outside the parish gets little or no thanks. Actually, let me amend that. Much of what we do outside the parish but within the Unitarian Universalist movement gets little or no thanks. It has been a bugaboo of mine over which I am known to scream and yell, earning a reputation as "that Loud-Mouthed Wench Who Keeps Yelling About Needing To Appreciate Each Other More." I freely admit it. C'est moi.

So it was really lovely to open this card and get this appreciative "thumbs up" in the form of this card, and please don't tell me that Dunkin Donuts is an evil corporation, because while it's undoubtedly true, I am so using that gift card with no guilt, and with very warm feelings for the person who sent it. WELL played, madame.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

John Thomas and Bill Sinkford Together At Last!

The event tonight at Andover-Newton was really quite nice, and I sat in the back with three naughty boys who were a bad influence. It seems -- and I did not know this before -- that "John Thomas" is a British euphemism for a man's private bits in addition to being the name of the UCC denominational leader. This made for some very juvenile moments back in my row, but I must say that the Rev. John Thomas is a truly lovely and intelligent man with an excellent sense of humor, and I would like to say that the tomfoolery of my dingbat boy colleagues is no reflection on his dignity or leadership.
Honestly, I thought he was cute enough to play a Jimmy Stewart hero-type role in the movies.

I was impressed by all the participants in the panel discussion between the UUA and the UCC leadership. Better yet, it was an event full of humor and good-will, and it was really packed.

It just amazes me that such a big deal was made about the leaders of these two religious movements coming together, and that it generated so much buzz about MERGING. Merging? Vattya, kiddink?

Too tired to write much now, except to share this recent cuteness with you:

Can you see how the paws are tucked over the edge of the bookcase here?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Who Knew Acts Was So Fabulous?

A few years ago when I tried to read the Book of Acts, I literally slogged through it. In the immortal words of J.D.Salinger, it was like dragging the Statue of Liberty across the dance floor. I would read a few verses, yawn, and take a nap. All those characters. All that crazy supernatural stuff. All those gruesome martyrdoms. Pentecost. Totally nuts. Better to rent "Quadrophenia" than try to fathom the meaning of this nutso stuff.

Last night I opened Acts again and was riveted from the first chapter. It was absolutely cinematic! Way past bedtime I sat there propped against my pillows, finger in my mouth, following along in wonder and awe (of the "oh man, this is tripped out!" variety) and falling in love with some characters (Stephen!) while being totally baffled by others ("I just baptized the Ethiopian Eunuch, I think I'll transmogrify into space now! BEEP BEEP BEEP..."). What the HELL is that story about the early Christians who fake out the community on the price of their house and then fall down and die? And why didn't I see how totally dramatic Saul's entrance is into the story of the martyrdom of Stephen? You can practically here the villain music break out the first time his name is mentioned. Oh, this is hot-t.

So anyway, as soon as I get my hymns chosen for Sunday tonight I'm going to get into bed with Acts. This is My Sexy Life, ladies and gentlemen. You heard it here. God can't find me a man so he made the Bible really great bedtime reading for me. It's one of those very small, local miracles you never hear much about, like when people bury tiny plastic statues of St. Jude upside down in their lawn and their house sells within a week.

They Walk The Line

Walk The Line
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
I caught the last hour of "Walk the Line" on HBO last night. That's what my movie viewing has become lately: the last hour of something on HBO. I don't know why I even HAVE a Netflix membership anymore. I watch a movie once every five weeks or so and I'm paying a monthly fee of $13 just for the privilege of keeping a movie queue 80 flicks long that I'll never see until retirement.

Anyway, I did love the last hour of this film and mostly because Joaquin Phoenix was such a smoldering hot hunk of burning love. How come Joaquin didn't get the Oscar for so brilliantly incarnating the tormented Johnny Cash, and Reese Witherspoon got one for sticking out her chin and playing an autoharp as June Carter? If you ask me, Phoenix had twice the range she did, and I felt like Reese was just playing Tracy Flick with a Southern accent (actually, I love Tracy Flick more as a character).

This movie was just plain fun. It had all those great costumes and de rigeur drugged-out-musician scenes that make you stuff huge gobs of popcorn into your mouth with total concentrated concern ("Oh mah goh, what if he DIES?") and the obligatory screaming fight with the cheated-on wife to get your heart racing with worry for the kids who are weeping in the background. It was a lot like "Ray," but white. It really was. Even down to the "I'm Especially Tormented Because I Had a Sweet Little Brother Who Died In A Terrible Farm Accident And I Lived" detail.

I loved the singing, I loved the bitterly tense Thanksgiving scene, I loved the proposal on the bus scene, and I'm so corny I even loved the "I'm Sure It Didn't Happen But Hell, This is HOLLYWOOD" on-stage proposal when June finally, finally says "YES" and she and Johnny smooch like mad teenagers in love and he lifts her in the air and that's the final big image. Even though as a fat girl, I had the moment of upsetness thinking, "And the moral of the story IS... you can be as feisty as you want with your man, just make sure you're good and petite about it so he can pick up up and swing you off your feet and hold you way up in the air in the final shot! So that everyone knows you're really soft and dainty underneath all that southern spice."

Anyway, it's not June Carter Cash's fault that she wasn't a fat, sassy Yankee girl who can't get a date. I love me some June Carter, even if I think she was a whole lot more homey and real than the actress who portrayed her. Did you ever see her play Robert Duvall's mother in "The Apostle?" That is one of my favorite characters of ALL TIME!

So I need to see the first hour of this film.

Little Blessings

It's been Health Crisis Week in the life and ministry of PeaceBang, but today I was greatly cheered by two things:

1. We're having one of those amazingly gorgeous autumns during which you can't imagine living anywhere but New England and,

2. My nephews are being a chicken and a pumpkin for Halloween.

I haven't even seen the photos yet and I'm already cracking up.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Dawkins, "The God Delusion"

I saw Dawkins on the Colbert Report the other night. He was a good sport.

I found this review of his book debunking religion interesting:


Unitarians get a very weird shout-out on the third page of the review. Dawkins apparently hypothosizes that there are very few atheists in prison, to which the reviewer parenthetically adds, "Even fewer Unitarians, I'll wager."
I'm not sure what he's saying. Is this a correlary to the old atheists in foxholes thing? Is this guy suggesting that an atheistic orientation or a specifically Unitarian faith is too corpse-cold to sustain a prisoner through the tribulations of incarceration? What do you think? Is he right? Have you ever known anyone who was incarcerated? I have, and I think he has a point.

Has anyone read the actual book? Comments?


I remember the first Revival of the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship in 1999. It was in New Orleans and I worked on the planning committee. We had NO IDEA what we were doing! None!

So I showed up in New Orleans and had a few days of vacation to explore that beautiful, wonderful, tragic city. I met my friend Poppa T Holder at a hotel -- he's gay, don't get excited -- and we had a great time carousing (by the way, Poppa T is profiled in a terrific article in the recent issue of Out magazine). I sang karaoke for the first time and became enamored of hot sauce, a passion that endures to this day.

When I got to the conference, I had never been to a gathering of the UUCF outside of Harvard Divinity School. There were about 90 people there, and we did things like SING GOD AND CHRIST-CENTERED HYMNS. Some people WAVED THEIR HANDS IN THE AIR (Chuck Thomas, where are you, dude? All grown up, married and a daddy now!). I walked around in a kind of bubble of thrill and confusion and anxiety and tremendously fragile hope. We had workshops on PRAYER and we had a HEALING SERVICE that cracked me open like a little egg and I wept and got a runny nose all over the beautiful people who laid hands on me in prayer and love.

I was BAPTIZED! It turned out to be very controversial with some people who thought it was bad ecclesiology. I didn't think Jesus would have a problem with my being baptized outside of a church community, seeing as he probably just dipped people in the River Jordan, or whatever, without worrying about their community of Christian formation. I wasn't offended by the critics, just bemused. I think there's a way to say, "I have to question the way this was done, but congratulations on this important moment and welcome to the faith." But they were just snotty. Hey, by their fruits ye shall know them.

We all went out to Bourbon Street one night and I wound up barfing into the sink of my dorm room later on. I wasn't inebriated, I swear. I think I was just really excited and overstimulated and the food was too rich for me.

So all in all, it was totally thrilling and really weird because I had never been a Christian in community before, and I made some wonderful friends and just let myself be filled with joy and commitment.

Someone in a UU setting asked me soon after that why I became a Christian. I said, "Because I'm not mature enough to be a Buddhist."

Anyway, I'm very much looking forward to joining the UUCF community again for the --what is it, the fourth? -- REVIVAL conference in New York City in two weekends. When we started this thing, we just had no idea that they would become a tradition, let alone that they would feature speakers like Gary Dorrien and draw participants from all over the country.


Hey, original REVIVAL pals, looking forward to seeing you there, and making new friends.

There's Always A Milestone

Last year I was 39 for most of the year and reflecting on turning 40. Where was I in life? How did I get there, when should I schedule my first eye-lift, blah blah blah.

This year is my tenth in the parish ministry. I feel like I started this work yesterday , so it's hard to believe I'll have completed a decade as a "Rev." as of June 14, 2007. Therefore, this is also a year to reflect: what has this all meant? Will it always be this intense? If it wasn't, would I find it as fulfilling? How have I changed? Am I touching lives in a good way? And so on and so on.

As I was considering refinancing my graduate school loan the other day (anyone want to donate $31K to The Cause?), I thought about committing to a 20-year payback period. I'm 40, I'll be 60 then and still working, it makes sense (God willing my health permits and the crick don't rise in the form of the market crashing or other unforeseen circumstance). I was cleaning the house while thinking about this issue and I just stopped dead in my tracks. TWENTY YEARS 'TIL I'M SIXTY.

I thought, holy holy cow, girl, you had better pace yourself. You've thought nothing of serving a congregation full time, teaching, working on a doctorate, pretty constantly coming up with new program ideas for your congregation, being a very counseling-centered pastor, writing two blogs, engaging in activism on a pretty regular basis (although not on an impressive basis), busting your butt trying to be a consistently strong preacher and worship leader, doing denominational work, and keeping one foot in the theatre and music worlds. That's fine for now, but is it fair to expect this level of activity for another 20 years? No one else will expect it of you, but will you expect it from you?

So today in church when we sang,

Guide my feet
while I run this race
For I don't want to run this race in vain...

Boy, was I feeling it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


I gave mini tarot readings at my church harvest fair today. Whoo, am I wiped out. I did about 8 of them, bam, bam, bam and they were all incredibly intense. The energy was very good today and the cards tuned me in to extremely specific information to help guide the querents. When I say something very specific about someone's life -- something that I could not possibly have known or picked up from any non-verbal cues -- believe me, I'm as shocked as the querent. I don't know how it works. I am well aware that in another time and place I would have been executed for witchcraft and divination for doing this.

It always surprised me who lines up for this kind of thing. First of all, I don't think I've done readings at this church before, although I've offered them for auction items at other congregations I've served. I find that I really like the intensity of a 15-20 minute reading, but the energy can be a bit wild, as though riding white rapids. A fundamentalist Christian mother, then her daughter. A middle-aged rationalist man who shakes with emotion once the cards start to reveal his story. A retired man and his wife in discernment about their life path. A woman who has recently taken up the study of Kabbalah. Most people I've never met before who just came to the church fair for the food, the fun, the crafts and the digging for used treasures.

One thing that concerns me is that although I shuffled the deck between readings, set all the cards facing one way again, and had the querents all shuffle the deck for themselves, several of the cards emerged again and again. This leaves me wondering: is there a community energy that the cards were expressing? I wish now that I had written down the specific cards that kept emerging for people. It would have been interesting to spend some time meditating on the images.

And now, in my psychically depleted state, it's time to dig back into tomorrow morning's sermon on that guy Moses, who did a whole lot of magic tricks himself (not that Tarot is a "magic trick" per se, but hey, you know what I'm saying).

Friday, October 20, 2006

Violating the Privacy of the Mind And the Body

This just makes me ill. It's like a primer on Pathologically Not Getting It:


Oh yeah, they swam nude and the priest fondled him when he was 12 years old but it wasn't "rape or penetration or anything like that," so "let bygones be bygones." "Remember the good times we had" and get over it already. And the neighbor, what a BRILLIANT insight: "He couldn't have done this because he was so quiet." Let's make her our new poster girl for community denial.

It goes on and on and on. Generation after generation. This is why we have to have rules and laws that legislate morality -- because so many men still don't get that you don't treat children in a sexualized way, period. You don't fondle, you don't rape, you don't penetrate, you don't exploit them for your pleasure. Why is this so hard to understand? Why is this still considered a grey area for so many men, and even priests, who should be more deeply in touch with the inherent dignity and privacy of the developing child than the average guy?

We blame a lot of Catholic sexual abuse on the hierarchical structure of the Church. There's good reason for that blame, but I am beginning to think that this is more than an ecclesiological corruption. I am beginning to see a correlation between violating a child's private inner life in the form of catechisms and doctrines that permit no freedom to privately discern important existential truths, and the tacit institutional permission to similiarly violate the privacy of the child's body. I'm not trying to be a theologian here, just an angry woman who would like children to be able to come of age unmolested by adults.

If it's part of the Catholic tradition to penetrate children's minds at a young age and demolish their privacy regarding theological reflection and decision-making, can it really be so shocking that penetration and violation of the privacy of their bodies is not far behind?

We must protect children's freedom of religious imagination just as surely as we protect them from physical molesters and exploiters. They are two pieces of the same cloth.

[This post has generated HOT STUFF with some readers. Wally Nut posts his own thoughts here http://grandfathertree.blogspot.com/2006/10/power-corrupts.html and here's Sallie Ellis responding in the "nay" at http://missellis.blogspot.com/2006/10/response-to-peacebangs-privacy-post.html-- PB]

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Museum of Bad Art: Madonna and Smile

We're having our church fall fair tomorrow, and SisterBang just sent me this beauty from the Museum of Bad Art, acquired at a church fair:


UU Minister In Media Blitz

Hank, we love ya. Here's the latest in his media blitz, and it's hilarious:


Whoever wants to join Holy Cow and the Calves, raise your hand.

"My Country, My Country"

My super-liberal, super-brainy cousin Matthew says that he and his wife were deeply moved by this documentary


and urges us all to watch it on PBS on October 25th. Now that "Project Runway" is over, I guess it wouldn't hurt us to watch something a little more deep and meaningful on a Wednesday night, now would it?

(still miserably sniffling about last night's episode)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Cell Phone Etiquette: Two Universal Symbols Of Cell Phone Use Disapproval

I propose a rebellion against obnoxious cell phone users.


This is activism at it's easiest!

Our rebellion will take form in The Two Universal Symbols of Cell Phone Use Disapproval.

1. Whenever someone's cell phone goes off in an inappropriate place, everyone in the room should stop what they're doing and make a big "L" for Loser sign on their forehead with their index finger and thumb. You know how it's done. Turn and look silently at the Cell Phone Abuser until they turn their ringer off or leave the premises.

2. When someone is talking too loudly on their phone (also known as "cell yell"), everyone around the offender should make a "phone" with their thumb and pinkie, hold it to their ear, and mime talking really loudly with an exaggeratedly open mouth. In order to achieve this effect, open the mouth as wide as possible and silently mouth the words "BLA BLA BLA BLA BLA."

PeaceBang believes that these two silent acts of disapproval could go a long way in curbing obnoxious cell phone usage.

Will you join the revolution???

She is grateful to Adam for giving her the initial inspiration for the "L" sign.

Shut Up, Cell Phone Head!!

All Ages

I like going places where people of all ages are hanging out doing life together.
I love it when little tiny kids are scrambling around on the ground playing with something super fascinating like a puppy, or maybe just a worm, and really old folks are there, too, leaning against canes and doing their own version of playing. The mamas and the papas move around it all being parents and children at the same time.

You don't generally see this in America, so I mostly have to leave the country to really get a good dose of intergenerational life.

One of the things I love best about church life is the span of ages doing life together. Today I got to visit a brand new baby -- and he was a really good, really cute baby who let me hold him without getting all hysterical, and also he had that baby smell that immediately lowers your blood pressure -- and it was a great balance to all the visiting of the sick and elderly I've been doing lately. What that baby doesn't know yet is that when he's 85 and in the hospital recovering from hip replacement, he's going to feel just like he did at the age of 18 or so inside, but his body's going to be telling him a whole different story.

What the 85 year old doesn't know yet is that when he was a brand new person like that baby, he wasn't at all worried about where he came from before he was born, so he really shouldn't worry about where he's going when he's done being alive.

I think one of the best things you can do for your heart is to watch very old people hold new babies. They totally get each other. And they know that one of the secrets of human life is that we are radically dependent on each other. The people in the middle mostly don't have any idea.

PeaceBang's Lastest Book Order

March Geraldine Brooks

Praying for Sheetrock: A Work of Nonfiction Melissa Fay Greene

Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence Matthew Sanford

Being Sick Well: Joyful Living Despite Chronic Illness Jeffrey H. Boyd

Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness Nan C. Merrill

"If Only You Recognized God's Gift": John's Gospel As an Illustration of Theological Reflection Robert L. Kinast

Monday, October 16, 2006

"The Thin Red Line"

I finally saw "The Thin Red Line." It was on HBO today and I was sorry to miss the first 25 minutes.

I think this was ten times the artistic achievement that "Saving Private Ryan" was.

It was exquisite; a war film without any patriotism in it at all. It was full of death and fear and violence, but not in a way that glorifies the death and violence of war.

It proposed an entirely new version of masculine strength I have never seen before. If I hadn't known better, I might have thought it was directed by someone like Jane Campion.

I think I would like to own it, and to watch it many times. It may be one of my favorite films. Not because I loved it that much, but because I was so grateful for the different and new way of seeing soldiers portrayed as deeply soulful men.

What's So Appealing About the Mega Church?

I read this with a good deal of interest the other day, and commented there:

The ChaliceBlog: A mega-church like community of liberals.

I also commented at great length at Peter Bowden's blog Live at UU Planet:

My salient points to Peter's blog were,
1. I'm one of the many UU leaders who isn't convinced that Small Group Ministries is the salvific force in liberal religion that some folks think it is;
2. I do not see how Unitarian Universalist leadership could (or should) market the Small Group Experience to seekers and expect a huge response;
3. Unitarian Universalists do religion so differently than mainline Christians, we're being more than naive in thinking we can translate that model to the way we do church and "do" theology and expect anything like the same results;
4. I genuinely wonder why UUs lust after the Christian mega-church model, yet we never hear mention of a mega-mosque or mega-sangha. I propose that it isn't just numbers we're after, but the political power, clout and money that comes with the Christian version of mega-church.

Check it out, if you like.

Cancelling Sunday Morning Worship At GA: Not A "Cultural Shift" -- A Mistake

Here's the latest on the shoving of Sunday morning worship to the position of closing ceremony at General Assembly, from the UU World online magazine,


This part disturbs me greatly,

"McGregor, of the Planning Committee, posted responses on the blogs and answered questions about the changes on the UUA-GA email list. She said that the changes 'are part of an ongoing multi-year effort to gently evolve the GA and shift its focus 'toward 'a meeting of congregations, where congregational representatives interact and learn, and delegates discuss and act on denominational issues and directions.'
'We're in the midst of a subtle but intentional cultural shift, with attendant discomforts,' she said.
'It's an experiment,' she added. 'We're going to try it and see how it works, but we're excited about the possibilities.'

This isn't personal, but I find McGregor's words an incredible insult to my intelligence and to the integrity of our member congregations and delegates.

We're an association of congregations: a religious organization. Our "business" is to share religious life, and the way we "interact" (could that language be more coldly corporate?) IS to worship. Our work as an association IS a form of worship; it is an incarnational expression of our highest values and our communal vocation as champions of the inherent worth and dignity of all people, among other things dear to us. When we worship together, we make explicit what is implicit in our gathering; that it is not "business" that ultimately brings us together, but reverence and a sense of calling.

To de-emphasize worship in our largest annual gathering isn't a "cultural shift," but a blatant attempt by one group to re-direct our priorities. I think that's dangerous, and I encourage you to watch this development carefully.

As for me, I am not feeling "attendant discomfort" about change. I am feeling deeply suspicious and angry that, just as many in our movement are finally beginning to understand that if we are to be taken seriously as a force for personal and societal transformation in the world-- and if we are to be respected and heard at the table of interreligious dialogue-- we must not shy from religious language, we must be willing to make professions of faith where we once offered only intellectual arguments against what we do not believe, and we must engage in religious life together not only for the good of our public reputation but for the good of our souls and for the sake of our work.

Again, this isn't personal. I respect the hard work of the Planning Committee but I think their orientation around this decision is deeply skewed and troubling in ways that they probably didn't realize when they began the discussions around this change. It's another case of not being able to see the forest for the trees.

We are not a secular organization. Any business we have that isn't grounded in spiritual solidarity is no business for us to be about. We do not build spiritual solidarity and cultivate reverence by spending Sunday morning in meetings.

This is not a "cultural shift," it's a mistake. A bad one.

Truly, my sympathies are with Ms. McGregor and her team for the conflict they've engendered. If they need the support of ministers and lay people in working through this and amending the error, my hand is up to volunteer.


I think I coined a word the other day on Beauty Tips For Ministers,


Here it is in its original and first appearance:


I like and admire evangelicals. We make a serious mistake by using "fundamentalist" and "evangelical" synonymously. To be an evangelical religious person is not necessarily to be fundamentalist or even conservative. It means to be a spreader of the good news of one's faith.

I coined the word "megavangelical" to refer to those evangelicals -- whether very conservative or sort of stealthily conservative (like Joel Osteen) who aren't necessarily fundamentalists but who are the type of Christian that believe that God wants us to be personally economically prosperous, who think that the accumulation of great personal wealth isn't at all a bad thing, and who think that the point of prayer is to get God to do very specific, personally rewarding things for us, because God is a GREAT GOD, hallelujah!

I think you get where I'm going with this, but feel free to help me further clarify this new term, which I think has legs. No one else has used this word, have they? I'd be so embarrassed if Alban Institute has already been talking about megavangelicals for dozens of years.

[I just googled the term and got no hits. I think we have a winner here, ladies and gentlemen.-- P.B.]

Treadmll Dance

Maximize your screen and enjoy this little spot of hilarious choreographic brilliance:


Someone asked me the other day what I would call the generation after Generation X. I said I think of them as angry jesters in the court of King George, and that I love their sense of humor. I would say that this video -- whatever the ages of the dudes appearing in it -- epitomizes what I mean.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Mom and sister are here for the weekend. If you can imagine, it's like the biggest treat of all time to see them twice in one month. It's like getting an injection of all the silliness and energy and fun and carefreeness you had in high school when you're much older, less fun, and far less carefree. Good medicine, that.
The autumn weather has been splendiforous, and the foliage takes my breath away.

I knew it would happen: I hit my ministerial stride this week, where I feel more like I Can Do This and less like "Oh my God, what's next?" as I scramble in my bag with a racing heart to consult the day planner and to juggle the whole jumble of it all.

I am back to the gym on a regular basis. Therefore, energy is up.

Harvest decorations cheer the house. You know why we like to have pumpkins around this time of year? Because they're extremely cute. They might just be the cutest vegetable there is.

I'm excited about Thanksgiving. And terrified about Christmas. Right on schedule. I'm at the point of begging my Muse and the Holy Spirit for some ideas: "Excuse me, Holy Spirit? Gods of the liturgy? Anyone? A creative and heart-warming Christmas Eve theme? I need one again."

I make soup. I am planning May programs. The basil is harvested and frozen into blocks of pesto. The winter boots and shovel are prepared for service.

Aunt Sadie still makes the best autumn scented candles of anyone. It's nothing like Yankee Candles, which we refer to in my family as "Yankee Headache."

The cat is mesmerized by the falling leaves.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

"Thy Kingdom Come"

Something I have never thought about until recently is what exactly I am praying for when I pray, "Thy kingdom come."

What do I really mean by that? What am I envisioning? Some kind of Precious Moments figurine with a brown child, a black child, a yellow child, and a pink child holding hands while puppies and kittens roll at their feet? A kind of Shangrila type situation with everyone scampering around paradise in bad polyester tunics and bowl haircuts, singing tunes by Burt Bachrach? What?

"Thy kingdom come."

I do wish for it, fervently.

Right now, it just means, "Please God, let there be this forever and ever. Let there be life for my children and their children and their children and on and on until the sun burns the whole thing out, and even then let them not be afraid, let them go out in a burst of grateful glory, let there be singing in all the cosmos when this whole amazing planetary project is over."

But when I think of the sun burning the whole thing out, I drop into an abyss of existential terror that, if I dwelt on it, would require me to be heavily medicated, so I try to get my mind onto another image pronto.

Thy Kingdom come.
I think,
"Let there be moral evolution. Let there be food for everyone, and some chance for joy and growth and the experience of deep love. Let there be nature in all her splendor, and let us not all be required to move to the Moon because we totally screwed up this planet."

And then I think, "Wait a minute PeaceBang, you big ninny head. THY will be done means that this is about the mind of God, not about the mind of PeaceBang. 'Thy will be done' is not an invitation to talk to God about what you think should happen, but an invitation for you to shut up and listen to the great silence of God."

I heard today that "Be still and know that I am God" could also be translated, "Let go and know that I am God." Is that true, or is it just some mushy seminary thing I'll be ignorantly repeating all over the place because I happen to like it? Hebrew and Greek scholars? Anyone?

I find Christian spiritual practice to be necessary for my life now, like eating and sleeping. This has happened so gradually and over so many years that I didn't notice it happening. I found myself wondering today, "who was I before I started on this path? What was different?"
The fact that I am far less interested in the answer to this question than I am in the answer to the question of what it means to pray "Thy will be done" pretty much says how I'm different. My sense of self is in a different place.

I read with a sense of spiritual support and solidarity (but not similarity) of my dear friends Boy In the Bands and Peregrinato and fellow blogger Shawn's departure from Unitarian Universalism in order to pursue Christian ministry in the Christian church. I hear their criticisms, and I have shared them. Denominational identity is important in ministry, and so is the specificity of tradition. However, I am taking a class right now with UCC seminarians who voice -- occasionally verbatim-- exactly the same concerns and frustrations as do Unitarian Universalists. The liberal church is in trouble. I place no great hope in any particular sect and simply wish for all of us the joy of living out a ministry with a congregation or community that cherishes our gifts and welcomes us fully into its midst.

It doesn't occur to me to say that I will miss James and Scott because where are they going? Nowhere. Yes, it's more collegially convenient to belong to the same ministerial association, but ultimately, we belong to each other. They are my true brothers in faith and different denominational affiliation won't change that.

The rabbi was dying, and his followers gathered around him and wept. He gathered his strength and said, "Why do they weep so?" One of his disciples said, "Rebbe, they weep because you are leaving us."
"Leaving?"asked the rabbi. "Where do they think I could go?"

Another Stupid Blog Entry On Foley

Did anyone see the recent op-ed called "A Tear In Our Fabric" by NY Times' David Brooks? You have to have to buy it or have Times select to see it (I downloaded it as a free podcast). He opines about the fact that we excoriate Foley's sexual pursuit of teenaged pages as "perverted" yet "celebrate" the tale of an adult secretary's preying on a 13-year old girl and initiating her sexually in Eve Ensler's "Vagina Monologues."

I thought it was an interesting enough piece, but he totally missed the point that while Foley had professional power over the pages (whether that extends beyond their term of service in Washington, DC is not clear to me), the woman in Ensler's story was a neighbor kid who was happily seduced by the sexy lady across the street. "If this was rape," she says, "It was a good kind of rape."

I remember feeling rather sickened by that particular monologue when I last saw "The Vagina Monologues" last February. I certainly was not one who laughed and whooped and applauded the story, even as I respected the fact that Ensler collected this narrative through interviews, and was therefore dramatizing a story told her by the woman much of society would label the victim of sexual predator.

Of course we haven't really heard the pages' stories. I'm sure it's just a matter of time.

I just wondered if you read Brooks, and what you thought. Some conservative bloggers are getting all frothed up about it, of course.

Kiss of Peace

You know how some churches invite you to "pass the peace" at a certain time in the liturgy?
Someday I want to go into a church with a huge group of friends and when it comes that time, just totally go around and give everyone these huge smacks on both cheeks, very continental, very con molto brio.

Why? Because I hate when people limply take my hand and avoid eye contact and mumble, peace of christ to me. I feel like if Jesus saw that he would be like, "Oh PLEASE! She doesn't have COOTIES!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Charred Paper

While I was sweating it out on the elliptical cross-trainer today at the gym, all the television screens were showing footage of the fire in NYC. As you have undoubtedly heard, a small plane crashed into a 50-story condo, killing at least four people.

At the time I assumed that many people and animals were trapped in the building, and it just felt obscene to be watching their fiery demise live on television. I bowed my head as I worked out, trying not to watch. It was all too reminiscent of Sept. 11th, a day America watched people die on live television. We should not have seen that. However, given the unprecedented nature of the day, I understand that editorial choices had to be made that did not err on the side of sensitivity, but tried to fulfill our desperate need to know what the hell was going on.

Of course the vile media bastards at Fox News took close-up footage of a big chunk of something like charred PAPER falling out of a window and they showed it again and again as if it was something incredibly poignant and important, which was a total visual reference to people jumping out of the Twin Towers on 9/11, and don't tell me they didn't know that. What a bunch of manipulative &%$s. I could just hear some producer say, "Get something falling out the window! I don't care what it is! If you can't get a person, get SOMETHING!"

Fox News, you are just too disgusting for words.

My fingers are so cold I can barely type. It's October 12th tomorrow. Do I have permission from anyone to turn the heat on yet? Staunch Yankee types, please advise.

You Are NOT Grounded, Young Man!!

In a really dreadful way, I find this hysterically funny. It's by Patrick Andrade for the New York Times:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday that the United States did not intend to invade or attack North Korea, but she warned the North’s leaders that they now risked sanctions “unlike anything that they have faced before.”

... Even China, North Korea’s most important ally, said Tuesday that tough measures were in order, though its representatives said the punishments might not necessarily be the harsh ones that Washington was proposing.
“For China, we need to have a firm, constructive, appropriate, but prudent, response,” said Wang Guangya, the country’s ambassador to the United Nations. “There have to be some punitive actions, but also I think these actions have to be appropriate.”

PB here. Let's create an analogy. Say that I'm a really rebellious teenager and my parents are Condi Rice and Wang Guangya. They find me smoking dope behind the house and they go, "DAMN IT, young lady! We have told you a thousand times that you CANNOT be smoking pot behind the house, or anywhere else! It's dangerous, it's illegal, your little brother could see you, and we just won't have it! We aren't going to ground you, and we aren't going to take the car away, and we aren't going to stop paying your tuition, but you'd better believe that you're going to be punished in some appropriate way that's punitive yet firm, constructive and prudent!"

Can't you just hear the squeal of the tires as I peel out of the driveway to go hang out with my friends and laugh at my parents? With a dime bag of weed in the trunk?*

* PeaceBang would like to clarify that she is not, and never has been, a partaker of illegal drugs. She's just making an analogy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Liberalizing = Weakening?

In studying the 17th century church, it's a little upsetting to realize that it was after the liberalizing trends of the second generation of Puritan Congregationalists (like the Halfway Covenant) that the New England church kind of had the ginger taken out of it and was never as powerful again.

Of course some of that diminishing was due to the increasing religious pluralism of the later 17th and early 18th century (now you had your Catholics, you had your Baptists, you had your Anglicans, you had your Scottish Presbyterians, etc.), but it's quite clear that once the church stopped requiring a true conversion experience as a condition of full membership in the church, things got notably whimpier in the Standing Order.

This is a gross simplification and I'm sure that the Boy In the Bands and Fausto and Adam and Chris and LT and others will correct me -- and they should -- but it all makes me think that the liberal church makes a huge mistake in requiring pretty much nothing of its new members. Sign your name, get a nametag, come to a newcomer's dinner, attend an orientation or two... get applauded in church.

What if the minister or some church elders asked, "Why do you want to be a member of this church? Why do you want to join with this faith tradition? What promises will you make to us, and are you ready to hear our promises to you? Are you ready to enter into this covenant with full commitment, joy and preparedness to be changed by the religious life we share here?"

You know how we always scream, "You can't have creedal requirements for membership! Ayiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeee!"?? Well, that's not a creed. It's not even signing onto the Seven Principles. It's a series of questions designed to weed out the folks who aren't ready and need to be further nurtured or mentored in some way, who don't know what they're doing and need to take a ride on the clue bus, or have no intention of really sticking around.

Someone I really like and respect said to me today (and I'm paraphrasing from memory), "I don't think Unitarian Universalism will disappear entirely. There is always going to be the type of person with an interest in generic spirituality who wants to have the intensity of their ethical commitments validated in community."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the Living Tradition of our future, but an honest one.

More On Why Men Don't Go To Church

This is a terrific and important post by Doug Muder,


The comments are really interesting, too.

Doug, it seems to me that this is a winner for the UU Men's Network Sermon Contest. I hope you submit it.

Still Harping on the GA Closing Worship

Another reason not to move the General Assembly big worship service to the hour most people are packing up to leave: the local service project (whihc last year raised over $3,000) which benefits some good cause in our host city, earns the vast majority of its money at the Sunday morning worship service.

NOT cool.
Given the Planning Committee's decision and its direct economic impact on one of our big service projects, I have to ask: is it more important to discuss how we'd like to be of service, or is it more important to actually BE of service?

Monday, October 09, 2006

MotherBang, Triumphant

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

This is my mother after her triumphant debut as a solo cabaret artist in New York City.

She was absolutely wonderful; a star. I soaked a hankie as I marvelled at her wonderful singing, watching her not as my mother but as a woman of amazing talent, wit, charisma and beauty. She was charming and confident, she was glamorous, she was hysterically funny, she was emotionally moving, and she totally commanded the stage. It made me think that no one under the age of 50 should attempt cabaret singing: they just don't have enough life under their belts to enrich each song with very many layers of memory and meaning. Watching her sing, it was very powerful to realize that I knew much of the story she was communicating, but not all of it. I saw shades of her yesterday that I have never seen before, and that I'm not sure she shows anyone very easily. She was riveting.

Here she is, glowing. How many women do you know who can comfortably wear a feather boa on a Sunday afternoon? Three words for you, Mom:



I hope we can start choosing numbers for your next show when you come visit next weekend!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Really, I'm Not Offended By I Corinthians 13, Okay?

I participated in a Catholic wedding today, because the priest was sweet enough not to do that Catholic exclusionary thing I've encountered before and refuse to let the PROTESTANT take any role at all.

He was an old dear, and very very welcoming of me. It was a beautiful wedding.

Someone from the Catholic side of the wedding party approached me and said,"It was so nice of you to agree to do those readings and to lead those prayers." And I said, "I was very happy to do it. The pastoral prayer is almost exactly like the one I pray every night from one of our Unitarian or Universalist prayerbooks." She couldn't hear this. She mowed me right over like a steamroller, so determined was she to insist on our great religious difference. In a tone that implied, "This must have been very hard for you" she said, "We know it's not your faith, so it was really generous of you to be here."
By then I was getting frustrated and offended.
I put my hand on her arm and in the same slow, sympathetic tone she had used on me, I said,
"I. was. happy. to. do. it. I thought all those readings were JUST. LOVELY."

I was irritated for several reasons. First, that this woman actually thought I would get up and read prayers or scripture that were contrary or objectionable to my religious beliefs and my faith tradition. Second, her total inability to stand in front of a non-Catholic and see them as a fellow Christian. Did she assume I was Jewish? I'm a Reverend; not bloody likely, despite my Jewish last name. I can only assume that she found out that I was a Unitarian Universalist and assumed I was a Christian-phobic crank. Ay, ay, ay. Whatever the reason, she was just determined to cast me in the role of emotional martyr, resentfully trading away my Protestant authority to the priest just for the privilege of being able to be there for the UU bride.

As if any clergyperson with any personal integrity would do that.
And as if I wouldn't find the words of the Tobit, I Corinthians and the pastoral prayer beautiful, loving and a privilege to bring before a group of dearly beloved on a wedding day. I have this vision of myself throwing the Bible across the room and yelling, "I can't SAY THIS GARBAGE!" I mean, c'mon, lady! Is that really the reputation Unitarian Universalists have earned?
And did you actually think the bride and groom and the priest and I weren't going to carefully discern appropriate things for me to do in the service? Like I was going to walk through the door and he'd say, "Oh here. You sing the 'Ave Maria and distribute the host, 'kay?"

Yes, it was hard to lose another UU kid to the Catholic church. But that's what happens when two people fall in love and one person's tradition insists on their marrying and raising their children in their Church, while the other tradition doesn't seem to much care whether or not they go to church at all, or how they raise their children. When a religious liberal person falls in love with an orthodox person, the liberal by definition will be more likely to abandon their tradition on behalf of the other's. You know why? Because the orthodox person will ask them to. I can only hope (and trust) that the couple will make compromises and work it out so that the Unitarian Universalist stream of argument will be part of their spiritual lives. And in the end, I care more that they share a spiritual life together than in dictating what tradition they observe. It is my observation that intellectually curious, tolerant people find a way to be intellectually curious, tolerant religious people even within orthodox traditions.

And so it goes with the sectarian turf wars throughout human history.
Ninety percent of the congregation this morning could not even share Communion with the bride and groom because they were not Catholic. And I had the personal feeling that if that priest was in charge of things, every one of us would have been welcome at the table.

And so it goes.

And so I go off to NYC to see MotherBang do her cabaret act tomorrow afternoon at Danny's Piano Bar on 46th and 8th. Come if you can and cheer her on. It's at 2 pm.

full of grace, baby

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Hug Campaign And Ministerial Discretionary Accounts

One of the hardest and weirdest things about having a Ministerial Discretionary Account (we once called ours "The Worthy Poor Fund!") is that you get to help people by the grace of other people's generosity, but you are the one who winds up getting wept all over and called an angel. We take up a collection for my discretionary account on Christmas Eve, and it's amazingly rewarding to be able to share with the congregation on that blessed night how their gifts have helped people in the past year. I don't think we have collected less than $2500 any Christmas I have been here.

Over the past ten days I have had occasion to use money from this account in ways that were literally life-saving for two families I had never met before. I am going in a few minutes to bring prescription money to someonewho was once comfortably middle class and is now leading a very precarious existence. Believe me, I am SO HAPPY to be able to do this. I am so grateful that I have the means to do so. This has nothing to do with me; I am just a conduit, and yet I get all the thanks. I only wish everyone who made a Christmas Eve contribution could hear these conversations and make these deliveries. It's the money that matters, yes, but even more so is the reality that someone cares, that there are sisters and brothers who really don't want you to fall through the cracks. It is this realization that really breaks open the hearts of these struggling folks, and the emotional release can come in a torrent. Someone does care.

So you might understand why when Arline sent me this link, I just wept watching it:

Now I have to go wash my face, reapply my eyeliner and get across town with money and gas vouchers.

Thought For The Day

"We need love, we need beauty, and we need at least passing acquaintance with eternity. To the soul these are absolutes, and yet in modern life these three graces of life are values largely neglected. We reduce love to interpersonal relationship and then treat relationship as an emotional problem. ... The soul longs for love that is unconditional, unending, and without tangible object."

~ Thomas Moore, from Education of the Heart

Book Review: Why Men Hate Going To Church

I raced through David Murrow's book Why Men Hate Going to Church on Sunday night, chortling and hooting all the way.

I am guessing that a lot of my colleagues of all denominations are going to HATE this book. They're going to hate its critique of the feminization of the Church, they're going to hate the conservative theological analysis of the problem, they're going to hate the gender stereotypes that are rampant throughout.

I say to them, and to you, it's okay if you hate this book. Just read it and take it seriously. There's a lot of hard news in there, but I think Murrow is right on about a lot of things.

I have to say that I particularly love the cover of this book, which features a handsome white guy in a sports jacket and tie fast asleep in a pew. His mouth is even hanging open. It's a hilarious image and should strike at least some amount of fear into liberals who think this isn't a problem in our churches.

I feel very fortunate to have inherited a very gender-balanced congregation from my predecessor. I am reading this book for my dudes, who DO teach Sunday School and help in the kitchen and totally support their female minister (the first chick in over 360 years of church history).

The Ministry of Blogging

The Happy Feminist asked me if I would be linking to my church podcast with my sermons and preacher's commentary. I replied that I would be happy to provide the link to regular reader/commenters, at my discretion. They just need to contact me at lunadiva at msn.com and we can decide together.

I would say that I blog not anonymously, but "anonymously." It doesn't concern me if people know who I am, but I keep my PeaceBang work separate from my parish ministry work for a few reasons:

1. PeaceBang is not a person, but a persona. She is myself on a tear. In my real life, although a feisty wench for sure, I am not so often on a tear. PeaceBang allows me to get as big and hyperbolic and passionate as I want; qualities I do not think are always attractive or appropriate in "real" time.

2. PeaceBang is a pastoral ministry to me. I am hyper-verbal and tend towards mental mania. When I suffer an excess of thought, blogging is a productive outlet. I used to either race around in my head, e-mail my friends and family probably far more often than they appreciated, or talk to myself until my throat was hoarse, processing ideas and impressions ("She crazy!" you say. Well, yea). Now that all goes into PeaceBang. Works for me! And if it works for you, too, then that's wonderful. I make the assumption that many of the things I blog about are of no interest to my congregation. That's one of the main reasons I keep my real name off of it. The way I see it, they are subject to my reflections, rantings, blatherings and blusterings enough as it is.

3. Blogging seems to be emerging as a kind of large small-group ministry among Unitarian Universalists. It's not the sharing-and-caring-in-silent understanding kind of ministry, but rather a ministry of evangelizing, witnessing to our own faith journeys, inspiring one another through conversation, debate and camaraderie. All online without the need to coordinate our schedules. I call that well nigh miraculous! In the process, we have interested some non-UUs in our faith tradition.
My blogging ministry is a distinct entity from my parish ministry. Blogging as PeaceBang helps me retain that distinction.

I curtsey to the Divine in you today.

Monday, October 02, 2006


I am really excited and nervous because we are starting to podcast my sermons.

Sermons are scary enough just delivered to a congregation in person on Sunday mornings. Mine get published on the internet and in a pamphlet form, so they live that way after the Sunday. I'm glad for it, because Sunday School teachers and shut-ins and faraway friends of the church can read them, and people can share them as a form of evangelism. It makes me work harder on creating something coherent and meaningful.

But podcasting is something else. It's really intimate and yet public at the same time. I am afraid of sounding like a dork. But it's the new thing, and I believe in it, and as an avid fan and consumer of podcasts myself, I fully support churches joining the podcast revolution. I love having lots of neat podcasts to listen to.

Just because I thought it might be really interesting and "value-added," I will be recording a Preacher's Commentary podcast in conjunction with each sermon. This will include my thoughts about developing the topic, composing the sermon, and the act of delivering it. It will be an honest sharing of the preacher's process, and the ministry that was intended by the specific sermon. I want it to be warm and personable. I hope it will appeal to other preachers and seminarians.

So that's what we've been doing lately. That and ... life.

Go Thou And Read

Just got off the phone with Boy In the Bands, who is making his own soap out of two different kinds of soap. He says the current effort looks like raw chicken meat. I told him to just keep his eyes closed in the shower.

I am making beans and rice and have to do some homework.

This is great stuff:

Sunday, October 01, 2006

PeaceBang Reviews "Festen"

I watched Thomas Vinterburg's 1998 film "Festen" ("The Celebration") the other night and highly recommend it. It is a Dogme style work like Lars Von Trier's "Breaking the Waves" (brilliant! 4 stars! Just don't plan to leave the couch for like an hour afterwards!), and it packs a similar punch.


The premise is the gathering of a family for the patriarch's 60th birthday, and beyond that I can't say too much or I'll be spilling some major beans.

All I can say is, if you're interested in an emotionally moving depiction of the depth of family dysfunction with a big side order of pathological denial, you must see this film. I found it helpful to a situation I am facing now in the pastoral ministry.

Stars Ulrich Thomsen and Paprika Steen are beautiful and heartbreaking as totally damaged siblings.

It's all hand-held camera, so you may need to take a Dramamine first. I myself was fine, and I usually get woozy watching this sort of thing.