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Showing posts from February, 2009

Lent & Ash Wednesday

Rev. Sean over at his "ministrare" blog had a very beautiful post about Ash Wednesday. As we enter Lent, I have to confess something: Lent has always mystified me.

I can remember as a child, that I had friends who observed Lent, and my response was always confusion then. I didn't know what it was, what it symbolized, what one did and why, what it meant. Even when children tried to explain it to me, I just reacted with a sort of deep confusion: why would anyone do that?

I know the answers to those things now, but some of the mystery still surrounds it. If I was asked to do an Ash Wednesday service now, my response would be as much confusion as I experienced during my hospital chaplaincy during seminary when I was asked to give communion to a Catholic. I don't know the words, the order, the ritual. I think any Ash Wednesday service I did would be hollow and fake. For me, perhaps, it would be cultural borrowing to attempt such a thing. One could say I have the c…

Love in the Face of Hate Crimes

Jim David Adkisson pleaded guilty last week for the crime of shooting and killing two people during the Sunday worship service at the Tennessee Valley UU Church last July. The letter/manifesto he wrote and left in his car prior to the shooting has been released by the press. Before you read it or read further here, be aware that it is has strong negative and prejudicial langugage, as well as profanity. It can be read in full here. On the first page, he talks about his inability to get a job, and his hatred of liberals. He says, "The worst problem America faces today is Liberalism. They have dumbed down education, they have defined deviancy down. Liberals have attacked every major institution that made America great. From the Boy Scouts to the military, from education to Religion."

On the second page, Adkisson attacks Unitarian Universalists in particular, under a heading "The Unitarian Universalist Church," saying:

It isn't a church, it's a cult. The…

More on the "Recession"

Here in Jackson, it hasn't looked good lately. Some February developments:

Melling Tool is laying off 28 employees.
From a recent CitPat article:
• Gerdau Mac Steel has laid off 300 of 380 workers indefinitely.
• Michigan Automotive Compressor Inc. has offered buyouts to nearly all of its 740
workers.
• TAC Inc. has offered buyouts to 70 of 590 employees and gone to a
four-day week.
• CertainTeed has temporarily laid off 80 of 250 workers.
• Jackson-based Sparton Corp. has cut its workforce of 1,000 by 60.Michigan Automotive Compressor is also offering buyouts.
Multiple local restaurants have reduced busing staff.
Bullinger's Pub is closing.

That's what February in Jackson has looked like, so far.

The good news, if you can call it that, is that some area churches are showing increased attendance. We had a packed house on Sunday for our guest speaker on Darfur. This is a good time as a church organization to think about what our saving message is, what our role in the community is, and …

Signs of the Times

Here in Michigan, we're about as hard-hit as it gets with this recession, and in our county here in Jackson, we're worse off than state average in terms of unemployment, despite our proximity to the employment star of the state, Ann Arbor. Unemployment in Jackson, Michigan, reached 11% in December. Meanwhile, our local community is buzzing over the news of a pay raise for Jackson Community College President Dan Phelan. It was probably a necessary move for the college, because, like with churches, the search process can be expensive and the pay is usually increased to move up to going rates for the new hire. It comes as a hard pill for the community to swallow, however, in the same week as the unemployment rate was announced and while faculty (and adjuncts like myself) have no contract. It makes the college board look out-of-touch with the living reality of its students, faculty, staff, and the community that surrounds and supports it. Personally, I think the board's …