Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Hmmm...Backyard Project?

This video was posted on Mike's blog.
I'm thinking it might be a fun backyard project. It would require leveling a small area and using something like sport court tiles or even a small area of concrete or asphalt, but it would be fun.
Of course, we never have people over, so maybe not.

https://youtu.be/y0IfM9JdfUU

John

Monday, April 19, 2021

When does a "new way" become Tradition?

I didn't go to church yesterday. 
Okay, I kind of did -- in my sweats, on my sofa, with my coffee -- online.
Yeah, I forsook the assembly and skipped the "traditional" gathering at the brick and mortar building. 
If I continue to do what I've been doing for most of the past year, will it ever become a new tradition?
Will online Facebook live and YouTube services be the new way to go to church far beyond the end of the coronavirus pandemic?
I don't think that would be a bad thing -- except for the potential income of many churches.

How important is a weekly gathering of like believers?
Is a weekly Sunday morning pastor's sermon foundational to growing or maintaining our faith?
As a former preacher, I am painfully aware that most of us have forgotten 90% of what was said on Sunday morning by the time we get to work on Monday. We are more likely to remember the pitch count from Sunday's baseball game or the total passing yards from our team's football game than we are at remembering any of the text (much less the subject) of Sunday's message.

Why is that?
Could it be that we don't experience church with the same emotional connection we have with our team's sporting event? Or with a concert? Or with a movie? Or even with a mini gathering of family or friends at the lake or around a meal?

Honestly, I've done more connecting to God sitting alone on my back porch this year than I have in decades of going to church. Just as the pandemic had positive effects on nature, maybe it had some positive effects on our spiritual lives, as well. I know it did for me.
Never fear -- I'm not ready to give up on church just yet. However, I do hope that pastors and church leaders will consider that maybe there is a new and better way to do church. A little evolution and adaptation is a good thing.

If you were going to restructure church in a post pandemic world, what would it look like?
Would you meet weekly?
Would you have more of an online presence?
Would you encourage more personal meditation and study of nature and of God?
Or maybe you see the old ways as good enough for you and good enough for future generations and you would double down (pardon the gambling pun) on the failing traditions of the past.

How would Jesus worship in twenty-first century America (or wherever you might be)?
How would Jesus teach in twenty-first century America?
Would Jesus look at the way we structure worship and teach about God and think it is a good thing?

According to the gospels, Jesus told his disciples that people would know they were his followers by the way they love.
Do people look at the church today and think -- "Those people are followers of Jesus. I can tell by the way they love others!" 

Just some crazy thoughts for a Monday morning.
Nothing to see here. Move along.

John

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Big Brother is Watching (and listening, and reading what you write)

It happens.
You click on an advertisement and suddenly your feed is filled with that ad and other similar ads.
You have a conversation about a product or vacation and start to see ads for that product or for travel on your phone or social media feed.

Yesterday I wrote about running out of coffee.
Today this pops up in my Facebook feed: Bottomless
Coincidence? 
I think not.

I suppose it's a good idea and product, but...
I know when I need coffee. (The 454g I bought yesterday is nine days of coffee.)
I have been hesitant to subscribe to coffee delivery in the past.
I find most coffee subscription plans to cost more than I usually spend of coffee.
So...no thanks, creepy coffee company.

John

Monday, April 12, 2021

Coffee

I finished the last of my coffee beans this morning. As a matter of fact, I was a couple of grams short of my usual 50 g for my one liter of water. That means I'm going to have to venture into public today to buy some beans at some point. sigh

I know that it is a possibility that I'll forget, as I am accustomed to staying home throughout most days. I do have some decent Irish breakfast tea on hand for those days when I find myself without coffee, but it is a poor substitute for a good cup of coffee. I'm not over the top picky about my coffee. I do use whole beans and prefer that they be recently roasted, so that eliminates buying at the grocery store except in pretty rare cases. That usually means a trip into Springfield since there aren't any local roasters or shops closer. I've toyed with the idea of buying green beans and roasting my own, but I doubt that's going to be a thing. 

What's your coffee pleasure?
Are you a daily coffee drinker that is content with a bulk ground coffee like Folgers or Hills Bros?
Are you a fancy latte sippin' drinker or maybe something sweeter and creamier?
Maybe you use a one cup pod brewer for a daily variety?

For the most part I'm one liter of hot water poured over 50 grams of freshly ground beans, and I generally drink it black. Maybe I'll treat myself to an afternoon or evening cup today at a coffee shop when I go to buy beans. Maybe I'll have another random conversation with a stranger. Maybe not.

Enjoy your Monday.

John

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Conversations

I don't have too many conversations with people, much less unplanned, random conversations. I had a couple of those this week -- one with someone I knew and one with a stranger. Both were a little surprising; like I said -- I really don't talk much with people.

As you might expect, the conversation with the stranger was pretty casual. He was a little older than me, retired, and like me -- looking at stuff to work in his yard. I'm not sure why he decided to converse with me, but sensing he just needed to talk to another guy, I went along with it. He is relatively new to the Ozarks, having moved here from central California four years ago. He and his wife relocated to help his son and daughter in law by taking care of their kids while they finished college and got started in life after college. After spending a couple of years living in the kids' basement, mom and dad bought their own home and they now have the house with the worst yard in their neighborhood. 
I was buying mulch and cow manure. He (Warren) was buying sod. In addition to the personal story, I was informed of some of the differences between life in CA and life in SWMO. All-in-all, it wasn't a bad experience; just something unexpected and out of the ordinary.

The other conversation was with a pastor friend that I have known for a number of years. In addition to pastoring a church, he serves as the Chaplain at two rural Mercy hospitals and oversees us volunteer chaplains. I really did enjoy sitting for an hour or so talking shop with him. We talked a bit about the job of serving as chaplain and some of the challenges we face in dealing with patients, staff, and hospital protocols. We also talked about life in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), non-denominational churches, and religion in general. 
In my own experiences I am finding God to be a lot less confusing when I am able to relate to God alone rather than trying to figure out how people view God and try to relate to (or manipulate) their own idea of God. I sometimes wonder how important it is to God that we love him back.

As a dad, I love my kids. I started loving them long before they were able to even understand the concept of loving me back. Today I would continue to love them even if they didn't demonstrate that they returned my love.
We always say that God's love is unconditional and then we turn around and say that we're going to hell if we don't love God back and follow all of his rules. I've come to the conclusion that most of those rules are a bunch of crap that religion made up to control us rather than conditions set forth by God.

I know this is heresy to my SBC friends, but I think most of them are full of themselves, their idolized denomination, and a bag or two of the cow manure I bought for my garden -- but I suppose that's a conversation for another day.

John

Friday, April 09, 2021

Another Beautiful Day in the Ozarks

I hope to begin most of the coming days just as I am this one -- deck, coffee, sunshine, and the sounds of nature. I am looking out at our backyard and trying to visualize my compass rose. It is staked out, but that's all. I am looking for a sundial to place in the center. I am harvesting some of the many rocks from the yard for the principle compass points, and need to figure out what flowers to plant to just make it look pretty. 

I'm thinking that I'm going to have to make it a habit to start working earlier in the day than have been. There is so much work that needs to be done. So far, it hasn't become too much of a dreaded task. I pretty much work until I don't feel like working any more and leave the rest for another day. There is some stuff that needs to be done sooner rather than later, and it isn't always what I want to do. That sort of makes it more of a task than doing the other stuff, but other than that - working in my own yard beats the hell out of having to go to a job every day!

I'm going to have to finish early today since our son in law is smoking a pork shoulder and they have invited us over for dinner. Yum! Can't wait!

I have zero plans on keeping up with the news or politics today. I'll be playing in the dirt, planting flowers, and making garden -- until I'm not. Then I'll be enjoying a cool drink and smoking a cigar. I have a pretty good gig.

Be well,

John

Thursday, April 08, 2021

A Quiet Thursday Night

For most of the past several years I have spent Thursday nights downtown Springfield at Barchurch. It started at Ernie Biggs Piano Bar and then moved to The Venues at 425. Even during the pandemic era, I have attended barchurch via Facebook live.
Now it is on hold for the month of April and will be back in a new way and in person in May.

There was a bit of a vibe change when we moved from the rented space to our own place at 425. It took a little adjustment for me. I really liked the vibe at Ernie Biggs. I think it just had a more organic kind of bar feel. After all, it was a bar.
The Venues at 425 is more of a venue for meetings, weddings, and events and it has a bar. It's a significant difference. But The Venues at 425 developed its own comfortable vibe. The pandemic and going online with barchurch changed the vibe as everyone had to make adjustments. It will be interesting to see how the vibe changes as we move forward.

Tonight felt weird without barchurch. By next week, it will just be another night. By May -- I might just be used to sitting on the deck, enjoying a cigar, and listening to the evening sounds without the background of a video feed. I've really become comfortable with this isolation.

John

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Full Disclosure: maybe honesty isn't the best policy

While I think it's safe to say that dishonesty isn't a good practice, it may also be true that complete transparency isn't always a great idea. What if my full disclosure inadvertently hurts someone else or puts them in an awkward position? Wouldn't it be better if I didn't say anything at all? Or maybe only talked to people that had a need to know?

Face it -- most of the time we just want to know all of the details of any peripheral situation to satisfy our own curiosity rather than because we really need to know. I've found myself being much more willing to stay out of other's business than I used to be. Nearly without exception -- knowing or not knowing changes nothing for me. The only real effect is that I have less to gossip about. 
Besides, if gossiping is the goal or purpose for knowing stuff -- isn't it more fun (and potentially more harmful) to just make shit up anyway?

I realize that some people seem to have a lot of time for keeping track of other people's business and spreading their insights around to anyone that will listen. Personally, I have my hands full trying to keep my own butt out of offensive situations to spend much time worrying about what anyone else is doing.

I think the whole "honesty is the best policy" might be exaggerated. I'm going to go with love and grace is the best policy.
...That and minding my own damn business.

John

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Isolation is a Good Thing

I spent my Monday working outside. I picked up soil, compost, and mulch from the lumber yard and that was my social contact for the day. I spent pretty limited time on the internet and didn't watch any TV.

I'm just going to say that I feel pretty good about life after a day of working outside and not interacting with people. I commented to a friend recently that I'm rarely disappointed by the actions of others because deep down I believe that people pretty much suck. 
I think I'll spend my Tuesday the same way -- a nice long walk, more work in the sun, maybe an evening cigar and beer on the deck -- it will be nice.

I'd say I'll see you after the pandemic, but other than a weekly appearance at church not much will change for me. I'll be spending most of my summer chillin' on my deck or working in my yard. Social interaction has never really been my thing anyway, so this little blog and a few Facebook posts or tweets works well for me. 
I do hope you enjoy your socially distanced day and have few encounters with sucky people.
People probably suck so much because they don't get enough love in their life. Be kind to sucky people. They are the ones that need it the most.

In the words of Joe Maddon -- Go out there and "try not to suck!"


John

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Contact

Hmmm...
I checked my e-mail this morning and am realizing how seldom I actually look at it. I do get notifications on my phone but I guess I mostly ignore them. I should probably check it more often. I suppose text or messenger is the best way to contact me -- even if it's a message to "check your e-mail!"

I have been trying to make some contacts with people that might be alone or disconnected. As more people are getting vaccinated, there should be less isolation. Although cases in Missouri are on the rise, this area seems to be doing well and is now vaccinating anyone 16 years old and up.
We will be going to church in person this morning. It's the second week that we're back in person -- still wearing masks, limited occupation, and socially distanced, but back in person.
The kids are coming over for Easter dinner this evening, so we are getting back to a more normal routine.

For those of you that don't follow my other blog, Healthy Living (by an unhealthy guy), I'm back to posting there on a regular basis (at least for the time being). You can follow along as I work to get back into shape and try to be better at living a healthier life.

If you are celebrating Easter today, I wish you a Happy Easter.

John