Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Listen to ancient liturgical music & readings

Try Ancient Faith Radio by clicking on the appropriate link in the upper right hand corner, depending upon your computer connection. Guaranteed to lower your blood pressure. here

Who are the scientists against evolution?

During the last 5 years a petition has been circulated among scientists asked to support the following proposition: "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."
Of the 128 biologists who signed, few conduct research that would directly address the question of what shaped the history of life. Read more ...

Watch a video on evolution in Central Park by clicking on A Walk in the Woods.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

. . . as we think about Lent

Many years ago a young woman brought her 7 year old son to Mahatma Gandhi. She said: “Babu, my son has a bad habit of eating lots of sugar. Please tell him to stop this.”

Gandhi said: “Come back in one week.”

She did. And then Gandhi put his arms around the little boy and said very softly and firmly. “You should not eat all that sugar, it is bad for you.”

Then the mother asked Gandhi: “Babu, why did you not tell my boy this a week ago?”

Gandhi replied: “Because a week ago I was still eating sugar.”

Lent is coming and Lent is always a time for conversion, the conversion of our own life. The only person we can really change and need to change is ourselves, and we can only do that with the help of God. So we have Lent to ask God to help change the things we need to change, to accept the things we cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Abbot Thomas

Blue Cloud Abbey

Saturday, February 25, 2006

. . . but Spring is coming

Fear of Islam extremists

One newspaper finally admits that the press is afraid of Islam extremists.

Journalists can be incredibly brave, but when it comes to covering the Arab and Muslim world, too many news organizations have knuckled under to threats. Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, a veteran foreign correspondent, admitted long ago that ''physical intimidation" by the PLO led reporters to skew their coverage of important stories or to ignore them ''out of fear." Similarly, CNN's former news executive, Jordan Eason, acknowledged after the fall of Saddam Hussein that his network had long sanitized its news from Iraq, since reporting the unvarnished truth ''would have jeopardized the lives of . . . our Baghdad staff."

Friday, February 24, 2006

Mission takover by Southern Baptists

The Southern Baptist Convention is weighing a proposal to bring the world's largest Protestant missionary group for women under the control of the denomination, a move that critics say would reinforce the conservatism and male dominance of the SBC. more

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Who are the 15 new cardinals?

Read about the first cardinals selected by Pope Benedict XVI.

What would Jesus do?

The decision by a Christian school to fire an unwed pregnant teacher has been upheld by a judge who ruled the school is exempt from federal pregnancy discrimination law.

U.S. District Judge William Acker Jr. said Tessana Lewis' pregnancy was a motivating factor in her firing but Covenant Classical School in Trace Crossing, as a religious institution, is exempt and can hire and fire based on its beliefs.

School lawyers said Lewis was fired not over pregnancy but sex outside marriage, which violates Covenant's Bible-based principles.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

You can do anything -- but not everything

I have always been intrigued by time management programs and I'm certain that there is no one perfect answer for me. Many of you are familiar with David Allen of Getting Things Done fame. I agree with most of what he espouses; the following is from an interview with him back in 2000. In my opinion, much of what he says is particularly applicable to pastors.

So a big part of setting priorities is being clear about your values?
Be careful. That's a very popular notion these days: If you focus on your values, than you'll improve the "balance" between your business and personal lives. Give me a break. Focusing on your values may provide you with meaning, but it won't simplify things. You'll just discover even more stuff that's important to you.

I've been working with the most values-driven organization that I've come across. And it has a big burnout problem. People there are always invited to collaborate; everyone wants to play. But how many 7 AM-to-7 PM meetings can you attend? You want to attend all of them because your values tell you that they're all important. But your spouse and your kids start saying, "We never see you."

We suffer the stress of infinite opportunity: There are so many things that we could do, and all we see are people who seem to be performing at star quality. It's very hard not to try to be like them. The problem is, if you get wrapped up in that game, you'll get eaten alive. You can do anything -- but not everything. The universe is full of creative projects that are waiting to be done. So, if you really care about quality of life, if you want to relax, then don't focus on values. Just control your aspirations. That will simplify things. Learning to set boundaries is incredibly difficult for most people.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Ash Wednesday

One of my most memorable Ash Wednesdays was at Blue Cloud Abbey several years ago. I truly felt Christ presence as Abbot Thomas placed the mark of the cross on my forehead. It is a powerful symbol of our faith. Yet it can cause a dilema for some believers as described in the following comments by Amy Green:

John Spink, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution photographer, often observes Ash Wednesday while shooting services for the newspaper. He sets aside his camera, walks to the altar and feels the sensation of a priest's finger making the blackened image of a cross on his forehead. Spink says he then returns to the office, sometimes getting quizzical looks and odd comments such as, “Excuse me, there's something on your forehead,” as if he didn't know. Many Christians will mark the start of Lent on March 1 by observing Ash Wednesday, when an ashen cross is smeared on the forehead as a sign of one's sins and penance. But the day poses a dilemma at work. With office religious displays often a sensitive issue, could the ashen cross be seen as a proselytizing gesture? And if workers wipe ashes off their foreheads, are they somehow denying their faith? For Spink, the answers are clear. For others, they're not.

Monday, February 20, 2006

What next?

Yesterday I finished 3-weeks of filling in at Cross of Glory Lutheran Church in Mounds View. I miss preaching on a regular basis and am looking forward to my next opportunity. However, I have to keep in mind that it is not what I want to do, but what God would have me do, that should control my plans.

As part of my devotional reading, I've been using A Year with C.S. Lewis, a gift from my daughter. Lewis reminds me:
For it is not so much of our time and so much of our attention that God demands; it is not even all our time and all our attention; it is ourselves. . . . Let us make up our minds to it; there will be nothing "of our own" left over to live on, no "ordinary" life. I do not mean that each of us will necessarily be called to be a martyr or even an ascetic. That's as may be. For some (nobody knows which) the Christian life will include much leisure, many occupations we naturally like. But these will be received from God's hands. . . . For He claims all, because He is love and must bless. He cannot bless us unless He has us. When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, He claims all. There's no bargaining with him.
-- from A Slip of the Tongue

Sunday, February 19, 2006

You are like a mosquito

One thing we should all try to avoid is a mosquito mentality. I was sitting with some elderly Native American women as the Senior Citizen Center at St. Michael's Indian Mission in North Dakota. Actually I was having my usual noon lunch with them. But being the German that I am, I am also very scheduled. When 1 p.m rolled around I quickly finished my lunch and told the ladies that I had to go get my mail. Then Mary put her hand on my hand and politely tapped it and said: "Now Father, you just sit down here with us for awhile and visit. You don't have to rush off to the post office just now. You are so much like a mosquito. You land, eat, and take off.
Now that hit me where it hurts and her words have stuck with now for the last 20 some years. I tell myself: "Thomas, don't be like a mosquito. Take time with people, visit with people, don't be in such a hurry to go somewhere or to do something. Put your own agenda aside for a change, and be present to people."
We need to take time for others and not be in such a hurry to do our own thing or to keep our own schedule. Take time with family and friends and fellow workers, they are important. And above all take time with God, He is very important. Take time to pray and visit with God everyday.

Abbot Thomas
Blue Cloud Abbey

Saturday, February 18, 2006

It's still cold!

How much do you earn?

How much time do you spend with your children? Check out this video.

Dobson tries to ride the fence

“I want our listeners to understand, because my integrity means more to me than my life. And that's what's being assaulted here.”

-- James Dobson, host of the “Focus on the Family” program, responding to criticism within conservative Christian ranks to his support of a Colorado state Senate bill that would give unmarried people, including gays, certain benefits. Dobson, who was quoted in Citizen Link, his ministry's e-newsletter, denied that his support of the legislation runs counter to his opposition to gay marriage.

The Rabbi vs. the Archbishop

Conflicting views and interests in Britain. Read more ...

Friday, February 17, 2006

Yes, it's cold today!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Norwegian prayers for wind

Read about the Norwegian Church Abroad. Click here ...

Statistics on evangelicals

Recent stats on evangelicals and abortion, and American spirituality. Click here ...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Orthodox Jewish blog

http://www.cross-currents.com/ -- a blog written by traditional Orthodox Rabbis and teachers, took first place honors in the Second Annual Jewish and Israeli Blog Awards last week. The writers of Cross-Currents post their thoughts and insights on an ongoing basis, sharing their reflections on news, current events and Jewish issues. The blog represents a broad diversity of opinions, and dismantles many common stereotypes about the Orthodox Jewish world.

Dove Superbowl ad

You may think it odd that I would recommend an ad for you to watch -- but, take a look at it. Click here.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Science is not a threat to faith

According to Pope Benedict, science and religion are not opposed to each other and Christians should not be afraid to try to understand how they compliment each other in explaining the mystery of life on Earth. "The Church joyfully accepts the real conquests of human knowledge and recognizes that spreading the Gospel also means really taking charge of the prospects and the challenges that modern knowledge unlocks." Read more ...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

No more state church?

A national panel has recommended separation of church and state in Norway after 469 years of Lutheranism as the official state religion. Denmark also recognizes Lutheranism as the state church, but Sweden ended the state system in 2000. Read more ...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

How then shall we live?

Jesus never structured the purposes of God around themes of self-importance or self-esteem. Rather, he spoke of taking up a cross, laying one's life down for others, and following in the footsteps of one described as a man of sorrows acquainted with grief.
Douglas Baker

Sunday, February 05, 2006

worth checking out

MY FUNDAMENTALIST EDUCATION: A Memoir of a Divine Girlhood Christine Rosen; 231 pp. PublicAffairs. $24 Read more ...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

God is nice

Read how a young priest discovered that God is nice. Click here & scroll to the bottom of the page. (This page changes weekly.)

How to start your day

The duties and cares of the day crowd about us when we awake each day - if they have not already dispelled our night's rest. How can everything be accommodated in one day? When will I do this, when that? How will it all be accomplished? Thus agitated, we are tempted to run and rush. And so we must take the reins in hand and remind ourselves, "Let go of your plans. The first hour of your morning belongs to God. Tackle the day's work that he charges you with, and he will give you the power to accomplish it."
Edith Stein

Friday, February 03, 2006


Palestinian Christians are expressing deep concern at the success in last week’s elections of the Islamist party Hamas. Christian residents of Bethlehem have said Hamas’ victory was “a disaster for Christians.” Read more ...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


To pray is to breathe. Do it deeply and you will be filled with life.
Keith McClellan O.S.B., Prayer Therapy

in response to my Jan. 23 squirrel post

From Alabama Dave:


I'm glad those Minnesota squirrels are in good condition per your blog. This poor critter was a northern transplant now living in southern Florida. The poor thing is no longer able to reach the feeding station, but the new Medicare has a lot of nuts.


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