My New Crayons

July 20, 2017


On Amazon. $10 with Prime. Mines.

Crayola retires crayon colors?! Who knew?

July 20, 2017

I have no idea what Mr. Twisty-Tie is doing here!

I was listening to Bloomberg News and there was a report that Crayola had retired the color “Dandelion.” This news quite upset me. I thought the Crayola crayon colors were standard and never changed. Nobody consulted me about this!

I went on the Crayola website and found out that they’ve been doing this for years. At least they have a Hall of Fame for retired crayons. The website states that Dandelion was taken on a tour of all his favorite places before he was retired. So, it’s better than I thought.

But I did get to remembering that I was in awe (envious, I mean) of a couple of kids who had the box with the 48 (or was it 64?) crayons and a sharpener built into the side. All I ever had was the regular box of eight crayons.

So, then I went on Amazon and found a kit with 152 different crayons plus a sharpener for $10 (the packaging was beat-up, but otherwise fine). I bought that thing in a heart beat! It’s amazing! It’s got a yellow plastic carrier with four compartments for the crayons, a central handle, and a slot with a really nice sharpener. And it has a Dandelion crayon too!

Childhood pain healed for $10? What a deal!

Mr. Twisty-Tie

July 15, 2017

Mr. Twisty-Tie runs away!

Rules, Beliefs and Thinking

July 14, 2017

Mr. Twisty-Tie prays

I had one of those conversations the other day that made me scratch my head.

Here is my memory of the exchange. It’s a bit cleaned up to make it easier to read. But I promise, not changed very much. I’ll call the guy Jake.

Jake: I just found out the Catholic Church has finally agreed that gluten free bread is OK for use in the church. Is it really that important we use bread and wine at Communion?

Me: Well, bread and wine is the standard practice going back to Jesus, and I am committed to keeping to the standards as much as possible.

Jake: Isn’t showing the love of Christ and reaching people more important? I mean I knew a priest who did the Communion service for homeless people with Pepsi and pizza. Why doesn’t that work better with those people?

Me: I have no idea the limits of God’s Grace in an emergency situation. If a group is stranded on a desert island and they try to have Communion with water and fish I guess that’s better than letting the Communion service get forgotten. But, unless it’s an extraordinary circumstance I believe we should stay with the traditional bread and wine.

Jake: That doesn’t make sense to me. You should do what connects with people. You shouldn’t just try to force something on people they don’t understand. Homeless people understand Pepsi and pizza.

Me: I think you’re missing the principle that the standard accepted practices for doing things gives people confidence that what they are getting is the real thing, and that it’s not just something made up out of thin air. Most people want some credentials from a plumber or an electrician so that they can be sure that the job will be done safely and to code. For instance, if you were doing the hiring at a hospital, would you hire a nurse who didn’t believe in germ theory?

Jake: Sure I would. I would try to respect the person and his or her beliefs. If the nurse promised to follow all the rules and procedures at the hospital why should I discriminate? That wouldn’t be fair. Anyway, there are a whole lot of priests who don’t believe in the church’s doctrine and they still do the Communion service.

(I really had this conversation.)

Me: So you would hire a nurse who doesn’t believe germs are harmful if the nurse promised to follow the rules for protecting people from germs? On the other hand you would also support a priest for breaking the rules (he promised to follow) by using Pepsi and pizza for Communion. Is that right?

Jake: You’re getting defensive and I don’t have time to debate this with you. I have an appointment. And do you really think people are getting physically healed at those healing services?

Me: Well, there are many opinions about the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church and in healing. That’s a whole different topic.

Jake: You don’t actually believe they get physically healed when they go to those services?

Me: You’re getting snarky. Probably better we end this.

Jake: No, you’re getting very defensive.

Me: Didn’t you say you had to go?

A Sermon on the Binding of Isaac

July 3, 2017


The beginning of chapter 22 in The Book of Genesis is called by Jews the Akedah. We call it the Binding of Isaac. For a hundred years it has also been known as the Sacrifice of Isaac. But this isn’t right because Isaac was not sacrificed. The story is the subject of interest and study by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholars. The Binding of Isaac is also of great interest to modern secular scholars.

There is a famous book by the literary critic Erich Auerbach called Mimesis. It is subtitled The Representation of Reality in Western Literature. In Mimesis Auerbach compares the Binding of Isaac story to Homer’s description of Odysseus’s scar in the epic poem The Odyssey.

The scar on the leg of Odysseus is disclosed pretty far into the story. How Odysseus got the scar is laid out in an intricate set of flashback narratives. Auerbach’s thesis was that Homer was writing entertaining fiction, but in the Bible the author of the Binding of Isaac was writing what he believed to be absolutely true about God.

The author of the Binding of Isaac was setting down an important story in the history of Israel. The Binding was a very well known story. It had to be included in the Book of Genesis. There was no way to avoid it. But how to tell the story?

The author believes that Abraham was a real person. He believes that God told Abraham to kill his son. The author believes that there is one God, and that God is the God of the Hebrew people. How do you tell the story?

The story is told in 14 verses. 14 verses. This is totally different from the leisurely, fully developed, and completely explained soap opera of Homer’s epic tale.

14 verses. It’s a terrible story. Is the author just trying to get through it as fast as possible? What’s going on here? If you’re a Jew or a Christian how are you going to defend it? Read the rest of this entry »

Chairs: Shaping the back legs

June 17, 2017

The rear legs of a typical side chair have a backward curve near the floor. This keeps the chair from tipping over backward. The tops of the back legs are also angled backward so that the chair back is at a comfortable angle.

The wood for the back legs should be sawn from a board that has a compatible grain direction for the shape of a the leg. If the grain direction is wrong the leg will be prone to break and it will also look bad.



Read the rest of this entry »

Chairs . . . slowly

May 22, 2017

Side chairs present a number of difficulties. The chairs I am making have back legs that are spread out at the top three degrees so that the legs are closer together at the floor. This keeps the footprint of the chair small. The back legs are also turned in three degrees. This simply looks better.

The seat on this type of chair is narrower in the back, and wider at the front. Read the rest of this entry »

Homily for Jane Gale’s Funeral Service

May 18, 2017

Windowselection+034_editedI cannot imagine Jane Gale without this building. The Gales’, Thompsons’, and Warrens’ were connected by marriage and family. And these families were all connected in the founding and support of this church. Eliakim and Phebe Warren and their children came to Troy first. Later the Gales’ were joined to the Thompson family. And then the Gale-Thompson family became connected to the Warren family. Read the rest of this entry »

Annual Rector Report; Given as the Sermon at the 10am Eucharist on the Third Sunday in Easter, April 30, 2017

May 3, 2017

SPCEtchingToday is the Annual Meeting and Election. I want to share with you our successes of this past year. I would like to express my gratitude to everyone. I would especially like to thank some of the people who went above and beyond to help St. Paul’s. I want to say something that connects today’s lessons to the Gospel. To finish, I want to bring you a hopeful message about plans for the future. Read the rest of this entry »

2017 Easter Sermon

April 17, 2017

SPCInteriorFlagsIn the Name of the Father . . .

Christians all over the world gather today to celebrate and proclaim our oldest credal statement: Christ is Risen! The Lord is risen Indeed!

This Easter greeting is standard in the Eastern Orthodox churches and often accompanied by three kisses on the cheek. I started out Roman Catholic and as a kid in Chicago I don’t remember the Easter greeting. I remember Ash Wednesday, fasting in Lent, giving up something for Lent, and Easter baskets. That’s about all I remember about Easter from my childhood.

When I joined the Episcopal Church I had to learn the Easter Greeting. There was that awkward moment when a church lady said, “Christ is Risen!,” and then gave me that church lady look. Then she fed me my line, “The Lord is Risen Indeed!” and I repeated it back to her, and she looked at me like she was very disappointed in me.

It is hard to get the Easter message right. It is not just a period of ashes and fasting followed by an Easter Egg Hunt. It’s not just Palm Sunday followed by Easter Sunday and remembering the right words to say when someone challenges you with, “Christ is Risen!” Read the rest of this entry »