Category Archives: Random

It’s that month again

Of course you already knew that October is Clergy Appreciation Month. If you’re wondering whether to bother observing it this year or not, offers their reasons why you should:

Pastors and their families live under incredible pressures. Their lives are played out in a fishbowl, with the entire congregation and community watching their every move. They are expected to have ideal families, to be perfect people, to always be available, to never be down and to have all the answers we need to keep our own lives stable and moving forward. Those are unrealistic expectations to place on anyone, yet most of us are disappointed when a pastor becomes overwhelmed, seems depressed, lets us down or completely burns out.

I’m one of the lucky clerypersons who gets a lot of appreciation already. My ministry here in the Palo Alto church is primarily with children and teens, so I get hugs and warm smiles and friendly waves from dolls and stuffed animals nearly every week, and it doesn’t get any better than that. On top of that, the lay leaders here in Palo Alto are supportive and appreciative and just plain good folks. But what is true of me is not true of every clergyperson. So maybe it’s worth considering whether your clergyperson needs appreciation or not.

If you decide to appreciate your clergyperson, the Web site has a few suggestions. Below are three additional suggestions:

  1. If you are moved by a sermon, tell your clergyperson so. (Three years ago, someone told me that one of my sermons changed her life, and just thinking about that improves my mood — wow! someone actually listened to me! and paid attention! and that was a good thing for them!)
  2. If you are a lay leader and you think your clergyperson is looking stressed, call them up and ask if things are OK. (Thanks Kathy, it made all the different when you did.)
  3. If your clergypseron does something worth thanking them for, send a thank-you note. You know, a physical note, using paper technology. (I keep every thank-you note I have ever received from a parishioner, and every year or so I re-read them and have warm memories of the people who sent them.)

As I said, I don’t need any extra appreciation this month, and yes I will delete your comment if you try to appreciate me here. Furthermore, I figure you’re a responsible human being, and can figure out on your own if your clergyperson needs your appreciation or not. (Note to Palo Alto folks: Just a reminder that Amy’s a good preacher, and it would be good practice to tell her when her sermons move you.)


Our church rents space to a private elementary school, and this summer they are running a summer school. I know a couple of the children in this summer program because also go to our Sunday school. One of them, a boy who’s about ten years old, is surprisingly good with words. He’s also, in his very talkative way, quite shy. He is one of the last children left at summer school today, and because the playground is four feet from my office window, I’ve been listening to him talk to one of the teachers:

“My eyes burn.”

The teacher laughs, so it can’t be that he got something in his eyes. So what happened? I can’t figure out what they’re talking about.

“They burrrrn! No, please delete that picture of me. Delete it!”

Ah, now I get it.

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction Department

Andy Pakula, minister of the Newington Green and Islington Unitarians in London, tells an interesting story in a recent blog post:

I received a very interesting email the other day:

“I am going to be in London over the summer with my girl friend Amy and we are interested in your fellowship. The issue is we are both people in the arts and grew up in conservative churches .. me Roman Catholic, she Protestant fundamentalist and we really got hurt. We found a Unitarian fellowship in America and this was healing for us both. Would we fit with you? We are ‘out there’ in terms of style. I (Chad) wear short skirts and tall boots and Amy goes bra-less and wears very very short dresses. We have been rejected in our home churches and wonder if we would be welcomed dressed as we are in your church. — Chad Bradford”

The message came through the British Unitarian Association’s web site contact system. My intention was to contact these folks and find out more about them. There are certainly people who are biologically men and identify as women and I would and do welcome them completely. This didn’t sound like that at all though. The story seemed – well – more than a bit odd.

And if you read the rest of Andy’s post, you’ll find out that the true story is indeed odd.

You are welcome to leave your thoughts and comments as to the motivation behind all this. Is it someone baiting religious liberals as Andy contends? Is it an in-the-closet transgender Canon as some of Andy’s commenters imply? Or is it a combination of northern New England inbreeding and cabin fever, which I find plausible?

See the first comment below: it’s all about Manny Ramirez!

The good dinner phenomenon

Carol and I have noticed this phenomenon many times in the past: I just get back from eating a huge Christmas dinner with some friends — pot roast, Yorkshire pudding, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, fried sweet potatoes, stollen, cookies — and even though I thought I couldn’t eat another bite while I was there, as soon as I got home I felt hungry and ate an apple. Is it merely that we associate arriving home with eating something? I don’t know, but I’m going to go make a jelly sandwich to eat with my tea.

Abby’s birthday present

My younger sister is having one of those Big Birthdays today. She said the only thing she wants is for Barack Obama to win the presidential election. As much as I’d like to be a good brother and get her exactly what she wants, I’m not quite up to giving Abby the election result she wants.

However, the BBC Web site is now predicting that Obama will probably win the electoral college vote, based on their review of five different expert projections, including Congressional Quarterly magazine, “Real Clear Politics” Web site, “,” New York Times, and Professor Larry Sabato. Full story here.

If you want to help Abby get her birthday present, you can go vote for Obama et al. on Tuesday.

(Happy birthday, Abs!)