Thursday, May 28, 2009

This and that

Been a busy time. Robbie, one of my students was assaulted and landed in the hospital with a badly broken leg. Lot's of people have been gathering support for him now that he is home, but it has taken a great deal of potential blogging time. Pray for him. He will be on crutches for a couple of months.

Last night, my ministry held the second annual worship service in support of Pride Week. James my soon to be seminarian preached a great sermon. Too bad the church has so alienated the GLBT community that most of them stayed home.

Wouldn't it be great if church officials thought their job was to support and enable new ministries rather than to simply figure out what the problems will be and therefore try to block them?

What kind of school would make students have to work/go to class from 10:00am to 10:30pm without a single break? Guilford College apparently.

If we did not want Supreme Court justices with empathy, we could program a computer to make our rulings.

People who object to national health insurance have not looked at 1) the complete insanity of what we have now, 2) the better examples of how it works, and 3) the satisfaction rate of people even in the so-called failure countries (e.g. Britain).

Free pulpit available to anyone who can come up with a lively sermon for Trinity Sunday (June 7).

Anyone want to bet on whether I get dismissed when I go for jury duty in June? (Yes, of course I will wear my collar!)

Don't buy an Iphone right now! They are dumping their stock in anticipation of a new model in July.

Why hasn't someone in the Episcopal Church realized that, with a new Lectionary, we need new collects too (sorry for the confusions that sentence is causing the non-Episcopalians.)?

What level of stupidity must yo possess to try to text while driving?

Today is the proposed feast day for John Calvin in our new list. But you already knew that didn't you?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

On Beer

Just one more difference between Anglicans and some conservative churches. We drink on occasion. Almost any occasion, actually. We are not ashamed of it. Jesus wasn't, so why should we be? Remember that wedding in Cana with the wine? That was a lot of wine he made. A whole lot. Go back and read the story, and realize those urns contained gallons of wine. Strong wine. The kind they usually diluted before drinking. Wedding parties went on for days back then. And no, it was not "new wine" -- i.e., grape juice. No one has a grape juice steward. And no one says something like, "Most people serve the good grape juice first and then wait until the guest have had their fill of it and can no longer tell the difference. But you have saved the good grape juice for last!"

And then there was that Passover thing. Only someone who has not been to a Passover meal (I mean a real one in a Jewish home or community, not that Christianizing crap some churches do) would claim Jesus used grape juice there, or did not drink it. The number of cartwheels and hoops you have to go through to reach that conclusion are absurd. Let's just take it on face value this time.

The reason we can be certain Jesus drank? Because water was unsafe. The ancients did not understand bacteria. But they did know that fermented liquids were not going to kill them (no cars on the roads to worry about). No wonder virtually every culture developed some fermenting process.

Drinking too much could get you in trouble, to be sure (see Noah), but drinking wine was still safer than drinking water. And Israel had grapes to spare more than grain, so wine was more plentiful than beer.

Well, we have both grain and grapes, although so many fields got planted with corn that we had a hops shortage last year. Just another fall out of the too-quick rush to corn-as-fuel binge we went on. If you noticed your local microbrew not serving up as much of you favorite double IPA, that's why. Things have settled out a bit now.

So it has become brewing season for me. FIRST INTERLUDE: Before I go any further, I should point out that, yes, I do work with college students. And yes, I am extremely careful about who gets to have any of my homebrew. I'm not kidding myself about whether those under 21 drink or not, but I like my job, and a I like being able to get a job. And anyway, I don't particularly like the drink to get drunk culture of undergraduate parties.

That said, have you noticed how many guys will cook things on the grill but not in the kitchen? Or maybe they will make chili or spaghetti sauce, but not potato salad or peas. And forget about those guys ever baking. All that measuring and precision seems beyond them.

Well, take a trip to your local homebrew store sometime and just listen. It's all about measuring grain, which brand of yeast works best, the bitterness of various hops, and extract versus all-grain brewing. If beer is 'bread in a bottle' then there are a lot of guys baking out there.

Ever since I began making beer, I have learned how many friends either have also been brewing or want to start. And brewers will talk endlessly about their last batch and what they will do with the recipe next time to make it better. Mind you, there was a period in time (through the 1990s) that home brewing was cheaper than buying a quality brew. Not any more. We can rightfully claim that we do it for the unique tastes we can produce. But, really, it's a lot of fun.

And truthfully, brewing beer smells great! And saying you brew your own is big time bragging rights, especially when you show up at the party with a few varieties. Which is why some of us obsess on getting labels made. Or setting up a separate area in our home (I gave my realtor a six pack and told him to find me an extra room. He not only found the room but a second refrigerator so that I could begin brewing lagers!).

SECOND INTERLUDE: I need to point out that no one brews beer to get drunk. It's too much work, and brewing in 5 gallon batches would have you working all the time. If an alcoholic is sad when the last beer is gone, let me tell you that homebrewers are almost distraught when we reach then end of a batch. That last bottle or two can stay on the shelf in the refrigerator for weeks just to say we still have a little of that batch left.

Now, there are plenty of women who brew beer, though I don't think I have ever seen one in the homebrew store without a guy who is also clearly into it. There is clearly a male culture about all this. Which is funny because, apart from a little heavy lifting, it's really cooking - serious cooking. Like the kind that people who make homemade candy have to do, checking temperatures and precise measuring. Well, there is a little bit of added science in measuring specific gravities, but really, it's cooking. Which means we should never be allowed to get away with claiming we don't know how to follow a recipe.

And the great thing is that the skill bleeds over to other items. I am making my second batch of wine right now, which has a few extra steps but doesn't have the time on the stove. And my hard cider recipe, which is truly easy--if you want a true English cider, not that sweet junk you find in the market, make your own--is a favorite among friends. And my great research project has been figuring out how to make a gluten free beer for people who have those allergies. And my next big project is mead.

So, I have a double chocolate stout brewing now, and a shiraz fermenting. A chili IPA is probably next because that is easy and fairly quick. And I'll be wearing my "What would Jesus brew?" T-shirt when I brew it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

This Just In...

The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), one of the chief centers of governance for this loose affiliation we call the Anglican Communion has decided that it really believes in the Windsor Document after all. This was the document that followed the Episcopal Church's consecration of Gene Robinson, and openly gay man (See article just below this one.).

The Windsor Report said that The Episcopal Church should refrain from further gay consecrations. But is also said that Bishops should stop intruding in the internal affairs of other dioceses. This part of the Report has been routinely ignored by dioceses who choose to accept North American clergy who have been deposed or have abandoned the Anglican Communion over the issues related to sexuality.

Typically these clergy align themselves with bishops and dioceses in Latin America and Africa who claim to be providing 'missionary work' in North America because they believe the Episcopal Church (USA) has abandoned any kind of sensibility about Jesus' message.

So what happened. Well, the ACC has chosen to tell the Church of Uganda that they cannot be represented by an American priest living in Georgia who remounced his orders years ago because then the ACC would be sanctioning a violation of the portion of the Windsor Report that chastises the attempts to establish jurisdiction by a foreign bishop in a diocese where there is already an established church. It has been a chief complaint that everyone has been making demands of the American (and Canadian) churches but this equally critical issue has not been faced. Well, now it has.

Read all about it here:

Thank you ACC. We are glad the admonishing is now going out to someone other than us: You cannot keep shouting 'Windsor Report' and simultaneously ignoring the parts of it that apply to you!

Okay, enough Episcopal Church and sexuality stuff. Next week, a report on beer making!