The Quixotic Pastor

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Interesting Things Afoot

After last Thursday's monthly call with my regional Elder [a Bishop-like person whom I will call Red] in response to my wailing and gnashing of teeth, my lamenting in sackcloth and ashes, I was invited to participate in a group of pastors of small MCC churches who are interested in transforming their churches' ministries and making them healthier and happier. It is a kind of church replanting or transplanting process, involving much of the same material our denomination has developed for the planting of new churches, but adapted to fulfill the needs of small or struggling churches. It starts for instance with a feasability study [which allows the entire congregation of an already existing church to begin asking such questions as "why are we here", "what do we have to offer and to whom shall we offer it?"] and leads into developing healthy patterns of communication [i.e. direct dealing instead of gossip/triangulation], distributes the tasks of ministry to leaders other than the pastor and so forth. Each pastor is also mentored by another pastor who has successfully grown a small, struggling church and turned it around.

My denomination does have a church revitalization process, but it is tremendously backlogged, so this represents Red working "out of the box" a bit in order to meet the needs of churches within our region. Our region does have the largest number of small churches of any of the seven regions scattered across the entire world and she takes our struggles to heart, but is challenged by many of the same things any of us pastors are, just on a larger scale.

I'm excited, although it will require a tremendous amount of hard and focused work on my part as well as a willingness to change, and hard and focused work on the congregation's part as well as a willingness to take a hard look at themselves and risk changing all sorts of systems and behaviors.

The first task --present it to the first of one of my congregations and invite/persuade/convince them to engage willingly in the process. They don't know any of this yet --unless they're reading this.

New wine in new wineskins --egad! What next?

What's intriguing about all of this is to read that many of the RGBP's long established denominations and churches are struggling with the same things. I am particularly intrigued by the latest series of postings on Quotidian Grace's blog as well as many of your responses. And I realize there are many emerging churches and emerging church pastors who are a part of this ring ... it would be helpful to spend time at your blogs too.

I also looked at the partially completed MCC Worship Resources for Lent 2007 and I like 'em. They have great potential.

In the meantime, DH just offered to do a six-week self-esteem [short term therapy] at the church that needs it most which will fit in very well with the worship theme in the MCC materials for the first Sunday. She's been after me to do it at one church in particular for months ... maybe even a year.

Of course, this has all been accomplished by sitting at my desk, making phone calls, researching web sites, pausing and reflecting --someone might be tempted to say I haven't been working. But I have.

Wooooeeeee! I am excited ... and I haven't even mentioned the Lavender Menace yet.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Been Sick

I have been feeling kind of rotten since Tuesday, either some sort of low level flu that's going around or just a well entrenched sinus infection, featuring a low grade fever, splitting headaches and on Tuesday and Wednesday an unpleasant nausea.

So I did things for my churches that I could do with a minimum of direct human contact --hence planning out and writing the first lesson for a new adult Christian Ed curriculum on the Sermon on the Mount, the updating of one church's website [a task which goes really slow for me since I am learning Microsoft Frontpage as I go], a conference call with my Regional Elder, a conversation with a Flint area mover-and-shaker about an exciting event series for the entire community around National Coming Out Day [October 11 for those of you who may not know] that I hope to get my church there involved with.

When I felt bad, I'd go lie down for a little while and watch TV until I felt better.

I also bottled my homebrew yesterday ... nothing's exploded so far.

But it means I really have to bust my butt today to get worship and sermon done.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007



I finally updated the Events page on the one church website for which I am responsible!

But the most important thing ---I finally got the links page working!!!

Yippee! But I have so many links to add ...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Omnipresent? I wish! Chortling? Often

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Very Lady Rev Dona Quixote the Omnipresent of Chortling Chesterton
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Monday, January 22, 2007

640 Ounces Worth of Beer Bottles

For those of you who have been following my beer brewing antics with any degree of interest --feigned or otherwise-- Bottling Day is this coming Friday.

Which means I have to strip the labels from and thoroughly scrub --inside and out-- somewhere between 30 and 54 empty bottles. Many of these bottles have been in a garage or basement for years. Some are 12 oz., some are 16 oz., some are 24 oz. --a few are German in origin and who knows what their capacity is? Some have swing-top caps [like Groelsch bottles] and some will require a bottle cap. Most of them are brown --the preferred color, since the living yeasty beasties in homebrew beer do not like light-- but some are green.

This is only step one of the cleansing process, by the way. On the actual day of bottling, every bottle has to be sanitized before it is used, step two, by being submerged in a certain kind of chemical bath. Every bottle cap has to be sanitized in boiling water. Even the rubber gaskets for the Groelsch bottles have to be sanitized in boiling water. [Anytime I do anything having to do with beer brewing, it looks suspiciously like someone is delivering a baby sometime during the Victorian era!]

Before I do step one, I'm going to my local homebrew supplier to beg for his empty cardboard beer boxes, into which the freshly cleaned, and later freshly filled, beer bottles will go. This way, in the event that the yeasty beasties in a particular bottle become a little too rowdy during their next sugarfest and the bottle explodes, the degree of consequential mess is greatly reduced, and I shouldn't have glass shards sticking out of the utility room walls.

So far we've had Brewing Day, Secondary Fermentation Day and we're talking about Bottling Day. Inquiring minds want to know, when is Drinking Day? Looks like February 9th, since one should wait at least two weeks after bottling. Hopefully that will be Drinking Day ... it could be POURING DOWN THE DRAIN day. Oh the suspense ...!

Michigan Minivan of Justice

OK, so I admit to be envious enough of the Texas Towncar of Justice that I want my own local version. For more info on the TToJ, click here and here

Just remember, St. C, QG, Mindy, Rach et. al. that imitation is the highest form of flattery ...

We certainly need it here in the land of God's Left Hand. We can broaden it's mission by making it the Midwestern Minivan of Justice if y'all like. As long as we have our passports, we can certainly cross over into Canada.

Question is ... what kind of minivan? Would it look like">this or this'>">this?

Perhaps this?

What about a theme song? Suggestions?

Meanwhile, Rainbow Pastor and Lutheran Chik have indicated interest in coming aboard. Anyone else?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Badda Bing Badda Boom Friday Five

It's been a very full, busy week. Here's the F5, short and sweet.

The questions are simple, the answers unlimited. Go!

Who My Dear Heart [DH]

What Candlelight Dinner

When Tonight

Where Our Private Dining Room

Why Cuz we've been waaaaaaay too busy lately [see previous posts!]

Bonus: How
Cous Cous Stuffed Portabellas, Salad, Home Baked Bread, Wine, Big Fire In The Fireplace, No TV, No telephone

Thanks, Reverend Mother, for helping me plan a wonderful evening.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Pistol Returns Home

Yes!!! Pistol, my mother-n-law, [she would be if DH and I could legally marry in the US] went home from the hospital yesterday. I picked her up and took her home. I have spent many hours this week and last week caring for this 78 year-old woman who has adopted me as one of her daughters [when you have 7 children, what's one more?] My DH, her daughter in fact, has been unable to get time away from her job to oversee her care, so the visits and phone calls fell to me. Since my church schedule has been fairly intense this week, with a meeting or a class every evening, I am about whipped ... but she is doing wonderfully well. Blood pressure's levelled out, heart rate is behaving, dizziness gone.

The next time you hear some eejit from Focus on the Family or the American Family Association say that gays and lesbians are anti-family, you tell 'em my story... it's the same story for countless other queer-folk, very much the rule rather than the exception, despite what James Dobson might tell you.

Monday, January 15, 2007

See, I told y'all --um,er, you all ...

See, I told y'all ---um, er, you all ...

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
The Inland North
The Northeast
The South
North Central
What'>">What American accent do you have?
Quiz'>">Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Where Have I Been?

I have missed blogging and checking in with my RGBPs ... but I have been busy with DH's mom's surgery last Wednesday and unexpected post-surgery complications/extended hospital stay.

DH's mom --whom shall be referred to as Pistol from here on out-- had a 99% blockage removed from her carotid artery last Wednesday. DH, having just started a new job, took the one sick day she thought she had and we went down together for the surgery. The hospital is in Pontiac --we are about a 1.5 hour drive away.

The surgery went great Wednesday --but when I drove down Thursday late to see her, thinking I'd be taking her home [because DH works for a place that taking an unpaid day to care for her mom seems to be a problem], we discovered that her blood pressure hadn't stabilized yet. Whenever she would sit up for an extended time, say to eat, the top number would plummet to about 80 or 90, the bottom number about 30 --much too low. They had to give her medication to stabilize that, which took about 48 hours to work. It appears to have done the trick, so far.

Friday and Saturday I worked all day to make up the time I lost Wednesday and Thursday. With two services and a board meeting on Sunday, there was no time to do anything extra that day.

In the meantime, Pistol's developed fluid in her lungs, making it difficult for her to breathe, so now she's on oxygen. Thankfully so far it is clear fluid, but they're supposed to get a chest X-ray today. She's also not producing as much urine as they would like, and they found a trace of blood in the first test they did, but not the second. They've also had to do two fecals, and they're waiting to do a third, but, although she's eating pretty well, she hasn't produced the necessary material for the test.

DH also has to be careful about the number of personal calls she makes right now, so today, I'm the one making the calls and trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Trying to figure all of this out over the phone isn't easy. DH is very worried about her mom, but also doesn't want to create any problems with her employer. Pistol also gets frustrated when she doesn't understand what the medical staff is telling her, and while she's pretty mentally sharp for a 78 year-old, she does sometimes get confused. Pistol's condition isn't critical --she's not in ICU-- but we'd like to know what the doctor thinks is going on, and we haven't seen him since the surgery.

I wouldn't mind just hopping in the car and going down there --except that we've gotten four inches of snow today so far. The roads are pretty passable right now ... but would they be OK after dark, when the snow melt refreezes? I'm still working on shoveling our driveway, so we don't have to drive across an ice rink to get into the garage.

Anyway, I just needed to vent all of that --and warm up before I shovelled some more. Almost done!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Beer Soup and Other Mysteries

Last Friday, I brewed my first batch of beer in my kitchen.

It was a very interesting experience, although I felt a little like Dr Frankenstein ["Fr-r-rankstein, you've created a monster!!!"] playing around with various concoctions, pots, containers and measuring devices.

The wert, a mixture of malt extract and water boiled for an hour, looks a great deal like a thick soup [especially since I boiled it in a giant enamelled menudo pot] about the color of clover honey in this instance, to which it also has a similar smell.

Once the wert cools to around 70-80 F, you put it in a fermenter, a food grade 6.5 gallon bucket with a tightly fitting lid, add yeast and wait for the airlock to begin bubbling merrily, hopefully within 24 hours, which shows the hungry yeasty beasties are doing what they do best, which is consume sugar and excrete alcohol and carbon dioxide.

To my delight, when I awoke Saturday morning, even before I made coffee, I checked the airlock and it was indeed bubbling away at a happy rate. Amazin'

Of course, I just have to theologize about this. To five gallons of wert, I added maybe a teaspoon, maybe 2t. of yeast --and it "leavened" the entire thing. I began with five gallons of syrupy sweet, non-alcoholic soupy looking stuff ... and now I have about 5 gallons of beer, at about 4% alcohol, if I read the starting and finishing gravity correctly on the hydrometer.

It is very true that a little leaven goes a long, long way ... maybe the leaven of the Spirit will work equally as subversively in my life and the lives of my churches.

And, just like the leaven of the Spirit, this is an ongoing process. Wednesday evening or early Thursday morning, it has to be siphoned into a secondary fermenter, which is a giant glass bottle, very much like one for a water cooler. Then it sits in a cool, dark place for two weeks more, when more chemistry takes place, and the leaven works more magic. Then a little more sugar is added, the beer is siphoned into bottles, tightly capped, and the yeasty beasties have a light sugar snack and carbonate the beer, which this time is trapped in the liquid instead of allowed to escape.

Two more weeks, and one can open the first bottle and taste and see whether God is good --and if one did everything correctly, with appropriate sanitation and no introduction of wild yeasts or sugar-loving nasty tasting bacterias.

You may have noticed by now that this is also an exercise in patience, and God knows I could learn some more of that!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


... someday. Just not today.

Wonderful Christmas and New Year, but it's been a whirlwind of activity, despite my being on vacation ... more later!!!!