Friday, July 29, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, August 7, 2016, the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

1:1 Did Isaiah have only one vision.  What is a vision? Does it matter that Isaiah was the son of Amoz? When were the days of these kings and what were their reigns like?
1:10 Why are the rulers of Sodom and the people of Gomorrah singled out?
1:11 Is this an anti-institutional rant?
1:12 Had the LORD not previously asked for sacrifices?
1:13 This could sound like an indictment of corporate worship, or at least high church liturgical worship with smells and bells.
1:14 The Lord is beginning to sound like a reforming iconoclast.
1:15 What does the mention of stretched out hands refer to? How are the people’s hands full of blood? Does the LORD ever not hear our prayers?
1:16 What sort of washing is envisioned?
1:17 A good progressive call to social and economic justice, especially in the midst of a Presidential campaign!
1:18 What does “argue it out” mean?  Is this a legal reference? Why might sins be the color of scarlet and crimson?
1:19 Where else in Scripture do we find a connection between obedience and a vibrant land?  Is there a similar idea expressed in the Grail Legend?
1:20 Following upon the preceding verse, this almost sounds like a “two ways” proposition.

51:1 How and why does God summon the earth? What does it mean to summon the earth?
51:2 If God is omnipresent, why does God shine forth out of Zion? Can God not shine out of anywhere?
51:3 This sounds like a storm God.  What about the God of sheer silence?
51:4 What does calling to the heavens and to the earth have to do with judgment?
51:5 I thought God made a covenant, not the faithful ones. What was the sacrifice?
51:6 How do the heavens declare God’s righteousness? Can the Hubble Space Telescope help us see this declaration?
51:7 Why does God testify “against” Israel?
51:8 Then why does God rebuke?
51:22 This verse makes God sound like a ravishing lion.
51:23 This verse, as well as 51:8, sound contradictory to the reading from Isaiah.

11:1 This definition sounds antithetical to those who seek to “prove” God’s existence.  I like this definition of faith, but I also like Calvin’s definition of faith as   “a firm and certain knowledge of God's benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit." (Institutes 3.2.7)
11:2 Note that “ancestors” is plural, so who else might Paul have had in mind in addition to Abraham?
11:3 Why “worlds” plural?  How many worlds are there? Which creation account might Paul be alluding to?
11:8 Abraham is established as the archetypal faithful person.  Why is Sarah not mentioned?
11:9 Why was staying in the promised land after he arrived an example of Abraham’s faith?
11:10 What city did Abraham look forward to?
11:11 Sarah is finally mentioned!
11:12 Modern biology would say “from these two people”.
11:13 Who are these?  Are we talking about more than Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob?  Are we all still not strangers and foreigners on the earth?
11:14 Where do Christians find their homeland?
11:15 One should never look back?
11:16 How does this verse influence Christian attitudes to the Nation of Israel and the physical Holy Land? What is the relationship between the “better country” and “the city prepared for them”?

12:32 What was the little flock afraid of?  How little was it? What are YOU afraid of? What is the relationship of “the kingdom” in this verse to the “country” and “city” in Hebrews 11:16?
12:33 How do capitalist American Christians, especially “Prosperity Gospel” Christians, reconcile their economic behavior with this verse?
12:34 Where is YOUR treasure?
12:35 What might be a present day image or metaphor to capture the idea of this verse – perhaps “Have your clothes, shoes, flashlight, and cell phone close at hand”?
12:36 Does the fact that the master was returning from a wedding banquet rather than some other function influence the way we interpret this passage?
12:37 The servers become the served. The master becomes the servant.
12:37-38 How do we deal with “slavery” language with all its racial, cultural, and historic baggage?
12:39 The introduction of a “thief” seems to confuse the metaphor.  Can we drop this verse and still preserve the message?
12:40 What is the historical significance of “Son of Man” imagery and language?  Is the Son of Man coming like a master returning from a wedding banquet or like a thief? Does it make a difference?

ADDENDUM
I am currently a Member at Large of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am a trained and experienced Interim Pastor currently available to supply as a fill-in occasional guest preacher and worship leader or serve in a half-time to full-time position.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Flats

I managed to cycle through my first two seasons, 395 miles in 2014 and 602 miles in 2015, without experiencing a single flat. This season, however, I have already experienced two flats.

I was fortunate that neither flat was catastrophic nor interrupted a ride. In both cases I was not even aware I had experienced a flat until a few days after a ride when I went out to the garage to get my bike to put on the car rack and noticed that the rear tire was flat. The cause of the first flat was obvious as a thorn that had pierced the tire and tube was still lodged into the side wall.

Somehow that thorn managed to stay lodged in the sidewall as I was riding my bike for who knows how long.  It remained lodged while I  loaded my bike onto the rack after the ride, through the ride home, and taking my bike off the rack and wheeling it into the garage. At least it still being lodged there when I discovered the flat made it easy to identify the cause of the flat.

I had read about and watched You Tube videos about fixing flats. I had even practiced patching a tube when I took a bike maintenance workshop at REI. Still, actually taking the rim off the bike, removing the tire and tube from the rim, and patching a tire for the first time, is something I am not sure a cyclist can ever be fully prepared for.

To be honest, I cheated a little. I had purchased a spare tube when I acquired the bike and always carried the tube with me when I rode. Rather than patching the pierced tube and putting it back in the tire I replaced it with the new tube, reinstalled the tire and new tube on the rim, and put the rim back on the bike.

I added more air to the leaking tube and placed it under water in the kitchen sink until I located the leak.  I then patched the leak and after a few minutes inflated the tube. I let it sit in the garage a few days to see if the patch held. It did! The patched tube then served as my spare.

Several weeks later the same thing happened. The only difference was this time there was no thorn sticking out of the side wall or any evidence of a puncture other than a pinhole leak in the tube. I replaced the leaking tube with the one I had earlier patched, patched the leaking tube, and after making sure it held pressure, am using it once again as my spare.

I both instances I was able to put the bike up on the car rack to take the rear wheel off and was able to change out the tube and patch the leaking tube in the comfort of home. The second repair seemed easier take less time than the first because I had already done it once, just a few weeks before. Having done this twice at home I now feel more prepared to do it out in the field if, or when, I have to.

I recommend that you too read a couple articles and watch a few You Tube videos about fixing flats and patching a tube. Always carry a spare tube as well as a patch kit. If you have an old tube around, practice patching it before you need to do it for real.

Here are links to previous installments in the series:

Beware Dehydration (Twelfth Installment)

Creams & Powders for your Butt (Eleventh Installment)
Group vs. Solo Rides (Tenth Installment)
Competitiveness (Ninth Installment) 
Stats (Eighth Installment)
Accidents Happen (Seventh Installment)
Pedals for Cleats (Sixth Installment)
Riding Shoes with Cleats (Fifth Installment)
Be Kind to Your Behind (Fourth Installment)
Combating Hand and Arm Numbness (Third Installment) 
Reading and Riding (Second Installment)
Starting Over (First Installment) 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, July 31, 2016, the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

11:1 When was Israel a child and when did it move out of childhood?
11:2 As I read this, the problem is not offering incense but rather offering incense to idols.
11:3 Who is Ephraim? When did God heal Ephraim?
11:4 Is there any special meaning or symbolism associated with “cords” and “bands”?  Are they technical religious terms?
11:1-4 Last Sunday we heard about Hosea’s Children.  This week we hear about God’s children.  How many parents have you heard wax and wane like God about their errant, wayward children?
11:5 How can they return to Egypt if Assyria is their king?
11:6 Who and what are oracle-priests?
11:7 Why does the Most High not raise them up?
11:5-7 Is this an example of God exercising some “tough love”?
11:8 Who were Admah and Zeboiim and how did God give them up?
11:9 How do proponents of a wrathful God deal with this one? “The Holy One in your midst” is one of my favorite monikers for God.
11:8-9 Is this an example of God having second thoughts?  Is it an example of God repenting?
11:10 Images of C.S. Lewis’s Aslan? I wonder if the God sounds anything at all like Liam Neeson.
11:11 What is the meaning of birds from Egypt and doves from the land of Assyria?

107:1 Apparently this Psalm is intended to reflect Hosea 11:8-11 rather than Hosea 11:1-7. I think it sounds like a call and response.
107:2 This sounds like a liturgical instruction.
107:3 Note the four cardinal directions and similar language in the Invitation to the Lord’s Table found in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Book of Common Worship page 68 “A”.
107:4 Is this an allusion to the Exodus?
107:5 Why am I thinking of Jesus?
107:6 What does it mean to cry to the LORD?
107:7 Is a straight way always the better way, or does this have nothing to do with physical attributes?
107:8 Perhaps this is an invitation to return to 107:1
107:9 Like 107:3, this is language that could be used in a Eucharistic setting. It also harkens back to an answer to the cry in 107: 6
107:43 This last verse echoes an in a sense sends us back to 107:1

3:1 Is this a hypothetical “if”?
3:1-2 How do we, in a post Copernican world, handle “above” language when it points to the spiritual dwelling place of the “ascended” Christ and of God (and of the Holy Spirit), when our “above” is “down” on the other side of the globe?
3:3 What is the meaning of “hidden”?
3:4 What does it mean for Christ to be revealed and for you to be revealed with him? What is the relationship between things hidden and revealed?
3:5 Is it safe to assume that this list is not exhaustive? How is greed idolatry? Why the parenthesis?
3:6 Here comes Paul’s wrathful God! Can we please have a just and merciful God without also having an angry and wrathful God?
3:7 In answer to my question, the list in 3:5 apparently was not exhaustive because the “ways” of this verse lead to mention of more vices.
3:8 And the list grows …
3:9 … and grows. What do you make of the old vs. the new self?
3:9-10 What do you make of the old vs. the new self?
3:10 What is this “knowledge”?
3:11 A nice theological move, but were we prepared for it?  Is Paul suggesting that divisions based on such criteria are also expressions of disobedience? Did Paul mean for this list to be exhaustive?

12:13 Was the person in the crowd being sincere, cynical, or simply showing respect by addressing Jesus as “Teacher”.  Shall we hear this as a prefiguration of Luke 15:11-32?
12:14 Why does Jesus refer to his interlocutor as “friend”?  Does the question Jesus asks assume the answer “no one”?
12:15 A nice one liner, especially within the context of American capitalism and consumerism in the midst of a Presidential election campaign.
12:16-20 Is there a risk that we might read too much into this parable?
12:16 Why is the man not named?
12:17 Is this antithetical to last week’s “give us each day our daily bread (Luke 11:3)”?
12:18 How do we do this in everyday life?  
12:19 In the present economy, with its growing economic inequality and the disappearance of the middle class, many in America would never feel like they could say this.
12:20 Isn’t this what wills and estate plans are for?
12:21 Is it ok to store up treasurers on earth if one is also rich toward God?  Where does one draw the line between prudent investing for retirement and health care versus an obsessive/compulsive saving/hoarding of wealth?

ADDENDUM
I am currently a Member at Large of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am a trained and experienced Interim Pastor currently available to supply as a fill-in occasional guest preacher and worship leader or serve in a half-time to full-time position.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Beware Dehydration

Two of my water bottles with water enhancers
I have learned these past couple of years that is easier to become dehydrated while cycling than it is when I engage in the other outdoor adventure sports I enjoy, namely hiking, backpacking and kayaking.

Think about this. At best I can hike or backpack three miles an hour, so on a hot day when there is no breeze I can really feel the sweat, the perspiration helping to cool my body.  I will probably stop every hour to take a drink and maybe munch on a snack, and when I do stop I don’t feel any rise in temperature because a three mile an hour hiking/backpacking pace does not create much of a cooling effect. A three mile an hour hiking pace does not cause a lot of evaporation.

Similarly, I can, at best, paddle six or seven miles per hour, which still does not offer much of a cooling effect. But when I feel hot I can easily dip my arms and hands in what is usually cool water and splash my face, chest, and, if I am not paddling with a spray skirt, my lower body, offering an instant cool down. I tend not to stop for long breaks while paddling and can easily rehydrate from a water bladder kept in the kayak.

When I cycle, however, if there is no head or tail wind, I can usually ride twelve to fifteen miles an hour on a flat, paved surface or even up to seventeen miles an hour if I push it. That creates a cooling effect, a wind chill, if you will, increasing evaporation of moisture. Even on a warm and humid day when there is no breeze I am in essence creating my own cooling effect. I might perspire but the perspiration easily evaporates in a twelve to fifteen mile an hour breeze. Every molecule and ounce of sweat that evaporates off my body can lead to dehydration because the more perspiration that evaporates the more my body produces to maintain the cooling effect.

Even though I regularly drink from a water bottle while riding (I don’t like riding with a water bladder on my back) and usually carry enough water for my rides, at least an ounce per mile, I have learned that after a long ride, say anything over twenty to twenty-five miles, even in moderate temperatures, no matter how much I drink while cycling I am thirsty for several hours afterward. Sometimes it seems like I cannot drink enough to quench my thirst and it takes several hours to feel rehydrated.

Since I find flavored water tastier and tend to drink more when I have flavored water compared to plain water, I have been flavoring the water in my water bottles with either NUUN Active or Mio Fit. Both contain electrolytes to help replenish what I lost through pirspiration. Mio Fit also contains B vitamins. I really like the effervescence of NUUN but Mio Fit is less expensive.

How do you stay hydrated while cycling? Do you find that you are thirsty even a couple hours after a ride and can’t seem to quench that thirst?

Here are links to previous installments in the series:

Creams & Powders for your Butt (Eleventh Installment)
Group vs. Solo Rides (Tenth Installment)
Competitiveness (Ninth Installment) 
Stats (Eighth Installment)
Accidents Happen (Seventh Installment)
Pedals for Cleats (Sixth Installment)
Riding Shoes with Cleats (Fifth Installment)
Be Kind to Your Behind (Fourth Installment)
Combating Hand and Arm Numbness (Third Installment) 
Reading and Riding (Second Installment)
Starting Over (First Installment) 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, July 24, 2016, the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without overreliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

1:2 Two weeks ago Amos gave us the image of a plumb line, and last week he gave us the image of a basket of summer fruit.  This week Hosea gives us the image of a whore and children with names worthy of a lifetime in therapy. How is forsaking the LORD equivalent to committing great whoredom?  Is this a charge of idolatry?
1:3 Is there any significance to the names Gomer or Diblaim?
1:4 What does “Jezrell” mean?  In our culture where people name their children after relatives, movie stars, and sports stars, how can people in the pews comprehend the symbolic meaning of Hebrew names in general and “Jezrell” and his siblings in particular?
1:5 What, if any, is the relation between Jezrell, son of Hosea and Gomer, and the valley of Jezrell? 
1:6 What does the name Lo-ruhamah mean?
1:7 This sounds as though while God is forsaking Israel, God will save Judah.  Hawkish politicians who place their faith in a strong military ought to take note of this verse.
1:8 I wonder how close in time the three children were conceived and born.
1:9 What does the name Lo-ammi mean?
1:10 Is this a verse of hope in the midst of judgement? Relatively speaking, is there more sand in the sea or stars in the sky?

Shall we read this psalm as Judah’s response to the prophecy of Hosea?  Or shall we read it as Israel’s expected response after a hoped for restoration?
85:1 What is the relationship between land and Jacob?
85:2 What this forgiveness earned or freely given?
85:3 How do deal with a wrathful, angry God?
85:4 How many times has God restored the people?
85:6 Does this sound like a quid pro quo?
85:7 How is God’s steadfast love related to God’s anger and wrath?
85:8 What does God speak to people who do not turn to God in their hearts?
85:9 What is the nature of this fear?
85:10 I like the paired imagery of this verse.
85:11 I like this imagery as well, contrasting ground with sky. Bu also consider that the ground here may point back to the land in 85:1 and 85:9.
85:12 Once again we encounter land imagery. Is anyone else thinking of the Fisher King legend?
85: 13 How can righteousness make a path?

2:6 Is there a difference between “living lives in” Christ Jesus and Jesus living in Christians?
2:7 What does it mean to be rooted in Christ?
2:8 As an amateur philosopher, I object!  What are the “elemental Spirits of the universe”?
2:9 Incarnation! Just how full is deity?
2:10 What does it mean to “come to fullness” in Christ Jesus?
2:11 What is “spiritual circumcision”? Are females also spiritually circumcised?
2:12 How are Christians buried in baptism?
2:13 Is Paul presuming a Gentile audience?
2:14 Does this verse presume or demand a penal substitution theory of the atonement?  Is there another way to read it?
2:15 How were rulers and authorities triumphed over?
(2:16-19 What is the author warning about?)
(2:16 I wonder what festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths Paul had in mind.)
(2:17 In spite of 2:8 this sounds very Platonic.)
(2:18 I wonder what self-abasement Paul was referring to. Who was worshiping angels? Who was dwelling on visions?)
(2:19 This is some pretty graphic bodily imagery.)

11:1 This is the only reference in the Gospels that I am aware of that talks about John teaching his disciples to pray.  Was teaching disciples to pray a pedagogy peculiar to John and Jesus or did other religious leaders of that the day engage in such teaching?  If John thought it necessary to teach his disciples to pray, and one of Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus to teach his disciples to pray, how much more do we need to be taught, and once taught, to teach others to pray?  While the desire to pray might be innate, praying well does not come naturally but is an art that can be modeled, taught and nurtured.  Presbyterians in particular ought to refer to Growing in the Life of Christian Faith, especially the preface.  http://www.pcusa.org/resource/growing-life-christian-faith/
11:2-4 The prayer easily divides into two.  Is there a correlation with the two tables of the law?
11:2 This verse focuses on God and praising God.
11:3 This and the following verse focuses on our needs, not wants. What is the meaning of “daily”?
11:4 Is forgiveness conditional on our forgiving others? What is the time of trail?
11:5 Is there any significance to the number three?
11:6 Always be prepared.
11:7 How could the friend answer without getting out of bed, opening the door, or disturbing the children?
11:8 Is there something missing here, like maybe a verse or two? What persistence is he referring to?
11:9 We heard about asking and knocking but this is the first mention of searching.
11:10 What do we say to people who have earnestly prayed but it appears that their prayers have not been answered. Does this and the preceding verse open the door to a health and wealth Gospel?
11:11 Is there any significance to the imagery of a fish and a snake?
11:12 Where did the egg and the scorpion come from? Is there any imagery at work here?
11:13 We are evil?  So, we can ask, search, and knock, but regardless of what we ask for, search after, or knock on, all prayer is answered with the gift of the Holy Spirit? What if I pray for a fish or an egg? Do I receive the Holy Spirit instead?

ADDENDUM
I am currently a Member at Large of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am a trained and experienced Interim Pastor currently available to supply as a fill-in occasional guest preacher and worship leader or serve in a half-time to full-time position.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Creams & Powders for your Butt

Assorted Powders and Cream I Have Used
Even when I ride wearing cycling shorts with a chamois I can still experience chaffing and after ride soreness, especially on longer rides such as thirty miles or more. If I expect to ride any distance at all, say ten or more miles, I usually apply a generous amount of Anti Monkey Butt Anti-Friction Powder with Calamine to my butt and inner thighs to absorb perspiration and reduce friction while riding. I will also sometimes use it following an after ride shower to sooth any lingering soreness. I like that it contains Calamine, a mild antiseptic and astringent.

I have also tried Gold Bond Medicated Body Powder in the same way but actually do not like feeling the effects of its 15% menthol, though others might like the cooling feeling. If I do not have any Anti Monkey Butt Anti-Friction Powder with Calamine around I will use a small amount Tinactin Antifungal tolnaftate Super Absorbing Powder instead.

I never used a skin lubricant and cream until after a couple of thirty plus mile days in the rain on the C&O Canal. While taking a break at the C&O Bicycle Shop in Hancock, MD I saw a small and inexpensive .3 ounce tube of Chamois Butt’r. The small size afforded me the opportunity to try it to see if I liked it without having to pay more for or carry the weight of a larger supply. I tried it the next day and liked it enough to buy a couple more .3 ounce tubes when we stopped at the Confluence Cyclery in Confluence, PA. I continued to use it the next couple days. Since I was already a little sore I can’t say it prevented chafing but I did not feel any worse after using it and it may have actually helped me feel better.

While I prefer Anti Monkey Butt Anti-Friction Powder with Calamine over Gold Bond Medicated Body Powder, I have used and like Intensive Healing Gold Bond Anti-Itch Skin Protectant Cream after long rides to help soothe and heal soreness. While I have never tried applying it before a ride, it might also help prevent chaffing, like Chamois Butt’r.

What creams and powder do you like, use, and recommend?

Here are links to previous installments in the series:


Group vs. Solo Rides (Tenth Installment)
Competitiveness (Ninth Installment) 
Stats (Eighth Installment)
Accidents Happen (Seventh Installment)
Pedals for Cleats (Sixth Installment)
Riding Shoes with Cleats (Fifth Installment)
Be Kind to Your Behind (Fourth Installment)
Combating Hand and Arm Numbness (Third Installment) 
Reading and Riding (Second Installment)
Starting Over (First Installment) 

Friday, July 8, 2016

End The Culture of Gun Violence

            Yes, I am advocate for common sense gun safety legislation. I think the Assault Weapons Ban should be reinstated. But that is not what this post is about. This post is about our culture of gun violence. There is simply too much gun violence depicted and glorified in movies, on television, and in video games and graphic novels.

            Because of the negative effects of cigarettes you almost never see a character in a modern film or television shown smoking. Public establishments have banned smoking and most smokers are now relegated to smoking only in their own homes, in designated smoking areas, or in dispersed outdoor settings. It is time we, as a culture, move the same direction with regard to the depiction of gun violence.

            I am old enough to remember watching The Andy Griffith Show. Sheriff Andy hardly ever carried a gun, maybe in only one or two episodes. Andy’s deputy, Barney Fife, carried a gun but he carried only one bullet, in his pocket, not in the gun itself. I think neither Andy or Barney was ever depicted firing their service weapons. They were certainly never depicted shooting and killing anyone.

            My favorite television show is now The Big Bang Theory. I think I have seen every episode of The Big Bang Theory and I cannot recall ever seeing a gun except in the holster of a police officer investigating a theft and an episode where the Leonard and Penny characters went to a shooting range and Leonard shot himself in the foot.  Never, ever, has anyone ever been depicted firing a gun at another person or a person being shot, let alone killed, yet this is one of the most highly rated shows on television.

            Various media, however, from motion pictures to television shows and video games to graphic novels glorify gun violence by using the portrayal of gun violence, including blood, guts and brains being splattered about, accompanied by car crashes and various explosions, to entertain and titillate us. But they also desensitize us to gun violence, making it seem all too commonplace. The Military uses similar media images to desensitize combatants and turn them into socially sanctioned regulated, killing machines. That should give us pause.

            Gun violence is depicted in the media because it sells. If people no longer watched media or purchased media depicting gun violence then such images in the media would almost disappear. I call upon all those who claim that Black Lives Matter, who believe people praying in a church should not be shot and killed, who think children should be safe not only in their schools but in the playground and at home, who know that Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered citizens have the right to safely party at a nightclub, and affirm that Police Officers and other first responders and public servants should be free from fear of dying on the job, to stop watching television shows, stop attending and renting movies, and stop purchasing video games and graphic novels that depict and seem to glorify and normalize gun violence.

            We can not legislate an end the depiction and glorification of gun violence in the media but we can send it to the gutter where it belongs. We can, as a culture, if we choose, make it culturally anathema. It is time. It is past time.


Here is a link to my Original POEM OF PROTEST written in response to the mass shooting in Orlando. http://summittoshore.blogspot.com/2016/06/a-poem-of-protest.html




Thursday, July 7, 2016

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 for Sunday, July 17, 2016, the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 is a revised continuation of Lectionary Ruminations.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.0 draws on nearly thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without over reliance on commentaries I intend with comments and questions to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.  All lectionary links are to the via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website.

8:1 What does the basket of summer fruit symbolize?
8:2 Is God bringing the end, or allowing the end? Summer fruit looks good but will soon start to rot if not eaten. Once the fruit is picked the fruitfulness of the summer is gone. Everything might look right but it is far from right. When had the Lord GOD previously passed the people by?
8:3 Is anybody else thinking of the Wailing Wall?
8:4 Who has been trampling on the needy?  Who has been bringing ruin to the land?
8:5 What is the connection between the new moon and selling grain?
8:6 After all, there was no Consumer Protection in Biblical times.
8:7 What deeds?
8:8 Why the references to the Nile?
8:9 On what day?  Does any of this imagery find its way into accounts of the crucifixion? Look again at 8:3.
8:10 Baldness on every head?
8:11 What time?  I love this metaphor. People, countries and cultures may be financially rich but spiritually poor. Is sounds to me, based on the way people were acting, that was already a spiritual famine in the land.
8:12 What does the word of the LORD represent? Where do we find the word of the LORD today?

52:1 Who is speaking?  Who is the mighty one? Who are the godly?  What are the contemporary applications and implications?
52:2 Whom is the Psalmist writing about?
52:3 I have asked this question before and I will ask it again. How do you handle “Selah” in the public reading of scripture?
52:4 What words devour?
52:5 Is this a warning or a threat?
52:6 Are the righteous the same as the godly in verse 1?
52:7 What are the implications for American capitalism and consumerism?
52:8 Where there green olive trees in the temple? What are the characteristics of a green olive tree?
52:9 What has been done? How can God’s name be proclaimed when God’s name is not to be pronounced?

1:15 What Greek word is translated into English as “image”? How can anything invisible have an image? What is the theological implication of being “firstborn”?
1:16 What does it mean that all things were created in him?
1:17 What does it mean to be before all things? Is this purely a temporal statement? Accoding to physics, what holds things together?
1:18 What good is a head without a body, or a body without a head?
1:19 Does the idea of “dwell” mean the same as “incarnate”? What is God’s fullness?
1:20 Are any other PCUSA Presbyterians thinking of the Confession of 67? How can blood make peace?
1:21 Is Paul thinking only of the Colossians?
1:22 Before whom?
1:23 Does “provided” suggest a conditionality?
1:24 What is Paul suffering?  How is Paul suffering for the sake of the Colossians? Something in Christ’s afflictions were lacking?
1:25 How and when was God’s commission given to Paul?
1:26 To what mystery does Paul refer?
1:27 Does Paul mean that to the Gentiles Christ was a mystery?  How shall we read this against the backdrop of Mystery Religions contemporary in Paul’s context? What does it mean to be mature in Christ?
1:28 Everyone?  Is this universalism?
1:26-28 Do these verses have any relevance to Christian mysticism?
1:29 Do you look at your Christian vocation as a toil and struggle?

10:38-42 Is this, perhaps, one of the shortest Gospel Readings in the three year lectionary? Apparently some have interpreted this passage in ways similar to passages about Leah and Rachel in the Jewish Scriptures.
10:38 Who are among the “they”? Why is the village not named? Does Martha own the home?
10:39 Is this at all a symbolic posture?
10:40 Why did Martha speak to Jesus and not Mary?  How are we distracted by our many tasks?  Might this passage have anything to say about mindfulness meditation, contemplative prayer, and Christian mysticism?
10:41 I think there is a little Martha in all of us.
10:42 What did Mary choose?

ADDENDUM
I am currently a Member at Large of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am a trained and experienced Interim Pastor currently available to supply as a fill-in occasional guest preacher and worship leader or serve in a half-time to full-time position.