Thursday, January 25, 2007

Martin Luther also known as...

If you are over 14 years of age or serious about your study of Protestant history, I am probably about to offend you. Oh well.

This past Sunday I snuck into our Middle School religious education program. We have a large group and they were in the middle of a lecture on the practice of selling indulgences in 15th century churches. Because of the latter piece of information, the large group looked at me imploringly to save them.

"Please!" their eyes cried. "A fire drill. A sudden emergency choir rehearsal. Save us from church history!"

I had that same look while I was in seminary and no one stepped in for me, so I felt it was my duty to tell them the most significant thing I ever learned in church history. Martin Luther had gas. Call it what you want: flatulence, gastrointestinal distress, irritable bowel... the result is the same and it works well with his name. Think about it. There you go. Got it?

And I wonder why they never ask me to come speak to the middle schoolers? My sincerest apologies to the REAL adults who lead that class every week. Please forgive me for bringing the discussion down to my level. It's a bad case of Post Traumatic Seminary Disorder. I can only hope the students bring this up in their college religion courses, and remember me kindly.

Marlon Brando - Now I Get it!

A few months ago I was sitting with our youth group here at church watching The Simpsons episode in which Marge stars in a community theatre musical version of Streetcar Named Desire. This episode is one of the greats in Simpsons history and it got me to realize that I had never seen the movie.

Well, I'd forgotten all of that, and I'd forgotten to update the Netflix queue so my husband and I were mighty surprised to have Marlon Brando show up last week. Luckily, I had my weekly bout of insomnia on schedule and stayed up late to watch it. Thank you, Netflix for including the classics in your inventory.

I learned three important things from the watching of this movie
1) Vivien Leigh's make-up was dreadful and the sets were laughable and this film was still better than most I've seen that were made in the last 5 years.
2) Sexual mores have changed to such a degree as to make part of this movie indecipherable, and it was still better...(see #1)
3) Marlon Brando was... wow.
I had no idea.

I've been working on what I was going to say about him ever since I saw the movie, and then the erudite and better-educated-in-this-than-I Stanley Crouch reviewed a new Marlon Brando DVD set on Slate.

So. Go to and read for yourself. Because after a week, "Whoa. Dude," is still the best I got. Many thanks to Stanley Crouch and whoever plops that Brando collection at my doorstep gets into heaven, no questions asked.

(As to my sudden breach of Protestant ethics and theology, it's just to get you to read my next post... Fartin Luther.)

Alcott Group - New Book Schedule

Here's our new schedule. People have asked for more time between books, so I have adjusted the calendar accordingly.This group meets on Thursday nights at 7:00 PM. Please join us!

February 22 - Hamlet's Dresser by Bob Smith
March 22 - Empire Falls by Richard Russo
April 19 - The Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid
May 24 - Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Summer '07 - Possession by A.S. Byatt

Tonight we met and discussed The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Everyone in tonight's group agreed that we wouldn't have chosen this on our own, but WOW. We've never read anything quite like it. We had a great discussion about culture differences, globalization, faith, the didactic and prophetic roles of science fiction, and what happens when you remove the bones from a human hand. Lively stuff! We recommend this book to other book groups who like to wrestle with their books a bit. Not a comforting or easy read, but worth it.

In Tune with Tuesdays

The most significant lesson of age is either how quickly things change or what a bummer it is that you'll never taste an Angelo's hot dog again.

Proponents of the timeless lesson of the Angelo's hot dog assert that you can never love anything as greatly as you do when it is gone. Angelo's served the world's best chili dogs and fries in the basement of a local department store. They are both long gone which is a terrible thing for me and my father in that we both wake from a dead sleep thinking about the hot dogs.

Those who are in the "time flies and change is constant" camp claim never to be surprised by new things. As I salivate over chili dogs I have loved, clearly I am not in this camp. However, I see their wisdom. Latest example? Tuesday nights at First UU.

On January 2, 2007 we combined our Vespers program with a simple supper and adult religious education. We have childcare provided and supper for all. And in 3 short weeks this has really taken off. The supper is delicious, Vespers are relaxing, and the classes are hugely popular. The kids seem to be having a blast, too.

So come join us next Tuesday. Yes, it is a change and it came about seemingly quickly. But unlike the demise of Angelo's, this is an improvement. Join us and we'll debate the nature of change and response. We'll share some soup. And maybe someone will show up with the recipe for Angelo's chili. It could happen.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

First Big Tuesday Together

Last night we hosted our first Big Tuesday Together at the church. We began the evening with a vespers service on the theme of renewal (see order of service below.) We then shared a delicious soup supper prepared by Rev. Jeanne and Regina. They cooked enough potato soup to fill the fountain! Then Rev. Jeanne led a class on "Articulating Your UU Faith." The kids had a big time painting and frolicking. We had between 20 and 35 people throughout the night which was really wonderful for the first night out. And EVERYONE commented on how much fun it was. So, we'll see you next Tuesday and we'll make more soup!

Vespers Order of Service Renewal January 2, 2007
Love is revelation, and revelation comes only with love.
Simone Weil
Words of Welcome
Lighting the Chalice
Opening Words Tao
Opening Music Sweet & Lovely Thelonious Monk
Words for Reflection
The Holy Man and the Apprentice Sheldon Kopp
Silent Reflection
What will we give to renew the world?
Sharing of Hopes and Concerns
Closing Music
This is My Story, This is My Song Thelonious Monk
Closing Words Marcel Proust
Extinguishing the Chalice

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Southeast Winter Institute in Miami

The family unit and I have just returned from UU Winter camp, SWIM. We are all groggy and very laid back from it all. I will post a few nuggets from the experience later, but here are some highlights:
1) Anyone who self-describes as an "old hippie" is an almost sure-fire guarantee for a good conversation partner.
2) 175 UUs of all ages in Florida for a week is the ultimate cure for the horrific consumerism of the holidays in America.
3) If a man named Ray Ring ever shows up at your door wanting to take over your kitchen... let him. Ray was lead chef of a merry band of cooks and volunteers who made some of the best grub I've had in awhile. Would someone, anyone on the Richmond restaurant scene please bow down before Ray and learn to make decent salad dressings? Please? I am a convert at the church of the Green Goddess (salad dressing, that is.)
4) It is January 2, 2007 and I feel calm and at peace. Can you say the same? If not, you may want to check out SWIM.
More to come... and happy New Year!