And Another Thing…

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Ministers, Missionaries, & other Church Leaders: Check This Out

Those of you have visited my links page may have noticed a link to Kelli Bigham‘s blog. She and I met when she began attending the congregation where my wife and I still attend. She also dated, and eventually married, one of my best friends. Through Kelli I had the opportunity to meet her brother, JR, who was a recent college graduate at the time.

I have never had opportunity to spend much time with JR, but we have had some interesting discussions in classes, on blogs, and via correspondence. He has always been a serious student of the Word and has demonstrated an understanding and passion for it.  JR and his wife moved to Florida several years ago and now have two kids. Since their move JR has had the opportunity to preach on many occasions and has found that it suits him; so much so that he is considering going back to school for his M.Div. and becoming a full-time preacher.

Wisely, JR has elected to take his time in making this very important decision and is seeking counsel from those with more experience. In addition, he has decided to keep a blog about this transition to whatever and wherever the Lord leads him and his family. To that end, I want to refer readers to JR’s blog Keep Thou My Feet as he shares his experiences and thoughts on this journey. I know that he would welcome feedback from any and all comers, especially ministers (both full-time and bi-vocational), missionaries, elders, deacons, and anybody else who has experience in church service and leadership.

I am looking forward to reading more about his journey. He writes well, thinks hard, and studies diligently. I believe those of you with experience will appreciate what he has to say and what he is wrestling with; I also believe that your sharing of wisdom gleaned from your experiences will be a blessing to him. By all means, check him out.

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How many of these have you read?

According to The Big Read the average adult American has only read 6 of the books below. I guess that they think the number should be higher. If you are interested, copy the list below, bolding the ones you have read and italicizing the ones you are currently reading or intend to read. Feel free to insert commentary.

[H/T: The Corban Chronicles]

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God loves wrestling

Or so it would seem, according to Todd Bentley

[H/T: Floating Axhead]

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Irony, thy name is NPR

I have absolutely no regrets about going back to school get my MSW. It has been a mostly pleasant experience, i’ve enjoyed the work, learned a lot, and I have made some great friendships in the process. However, like any other educational experience, one must take the meat and leave the bones.

For instance I have learned a great deal about behavior, mental disorders, public policy, statistics, research, and families. This is the meat. On the other hand, I have also had to resist indoctrination (in some classes and among some peers) about how the rich white cabal that secretly runs this country does everything in their power to continuously oppress women, non-whites, and every other person besides the destructive and over-privileged rich white male. Being a white male, I have yet to experience the phenomenon that my professors keep talking about where the world is handed to me for no other reason than my being a white male. This, obviously, is the bones.

I don’t deny that times are hard. I don’t deny that the power-brokers of our nation are pathetically out of touch with the working class. I don’t deny that honest, hard-working people sometimes get hosed. All it takes is a catastrophic illness or being downsized by their employer to push a lot of families into desperate financial straights. I believe that poverty is largely cyclical, passed on from generation to generation like a curse. I don’t even deny the existence of residual, institutionalized discrimination, although I don’t believe it is as widespread or prevalent as some would have us believe. And I believe that any civil society must make provisions for those at the bottom in the hopes of helping them transcend their circumstances. This idea goes back at least as far as the Old Testament, when God commanded the Israelites to leave some of their crops unharvested so that the poor would have access to them.

However, I also believe that people must participate in their own survival. I believe that any honest work, even work that is below one’s capacities, is more honorable than not working. I believe that welfare, while sometimes necessary in the short-term, robs people of their dignity and self-respect in the long-term.

It is with these thoughts in mind that I present this story from NPR. Read the story below, giving special attention to the part at the end where it talks about buying groceries, then click underneath it for a picture of the folks profiled in the article. One hopes that NPR photographers will be more careful about how they take pictures of the subjects of articles in the future.

For Some Ohioans, Even Meat Is Out Of Reach

Her father worked at General Motors for 45 years before retiring. Her mother taught driver’s education. Nunez and her six siblings grew up middle class.

Things have changed considerably for this Ohio family.

Nunez’s van broke down last fall. Now, her 19-year-old daughter has no reliable transportation out of their subsidized housing complex in Fostoria, 40 miles south of Toledo, to look for a job.

Nunez and most of her siblings and their spouses are unemployed and rely on government assistance and food stamps. Some have part-time jobs, but working is made more difficult with no car or public transportation.

Low-income families in Ohio say they are particularly hard-hit by the changes in the economy, according to a new poll conducted by NPR, The Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health. Two-thirds of lower-income respondents, or 66 percent, say paying for gas is a serious problem because of recent changes in the economy. Nearly half of low-income Ohioans, or 47 percent, say that getting a well-paying job or a raise in pay is also major problem.

‘I Just Can’t Get A Job’

Nunez, 40, has never worked and has no high school degree. She says a car accident 17 years ago left her depressed and disabled, incapable of getting a job. Instead, she and her daughter, Angelica Hernandez, survive on a $637 Social Security check and $102 in food stamps.

Hernandez received her high school diploma and has had several jobs in recent years. But now, because fewer restaurants and stores are hiring, she says she finds it hard to find a job. Even if she could, she says it’s particularly hard to imagine how she’ll keep it. She says she needs someone to give her a lift just to get to an interview. And with gas prices so high, she’s not sure she could afford to pay someone to drive her to work every day.

People tell Nunez her daughter could get more money in public assistance if she had a child.

“A lot of people have told me, ‘Why don’t your daughter have a kid?'”

They both reject that as a plan.

“I’m trying to get a job,” Hernandez says. “I just can’t get a job.”

Hernandez says she’s trying to get training to be a nurse’s assistant, but without her own set of wheels or enough money to pay others for gas, it hasn’t been easy.

‘What’s Going To Happen To Us?’

Most of their extended family lives in the same townhouse complex. The only employer within walking distance is a ThyssenKrupp factory that makes diesel engine parts. That facility, which employs 400 people, is shutting down and moving to Illinois next year.

The only one with a car is Irma Hernandez, Nunez’s mother. Hernandez says that with a teenage son still at home, the cost of feeding him and sending him to school is rising, and she can no longer pay for the car.

She’s now two car payments behind.

“I’m about to lose my car,” she says on her way to pick up one of her daughters to take her to Toledo. “So then what’s going to happen to us?”

So Nunez and her daughter are mostly stuck at home.

The rising cost of food means their money gets them about a third fewer bags of groceries — $100 used to buy about 12 bags of groceries, but now it’s more like seven or eight. So they cut back on expensive items like meat, and they don’t buy extras like ice cream anymore. Instead, they eat a lot of starches like potatoes and noodles.

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Filed under: Politics, School, , , , , , ,

Unleavened atheists

A student at the University of Central Florida apparently violated Catholic doctrine by smuggling a piece of Eucharist out of a Mass. For those not in the know, our Roman friends believe that after a priest blesses the wafer and it is consumed by the parishioner, it somehow transmogrifies, literally, into the body of Christ (likewise, the same thing happens to the wine, which becomes Christ’s blood of course). 

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Everyone loves a biscuit…especially the James River Blues Society

Congratulations to my brother Kelly and the rest of The Buscuit Rollers who took first prize at the Sedalia Blues Festival, sponsored by the James River Blues Society. This means that they will get to compete in the 2009 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN.

Filed under: Music, , , ,

Mrs. Odgie turns 30

Today is Christine’s birthday, and all that needs to be said is that I couldn’t be happier to have her in my life.  Aside from my salvation, she is the greatest blessing I have ever received. Despite never being as grateful as I should be for the abundance of gifts in my life, I have lost track of the number of times I have thanked God for her.

And finally, we will be in the same decade, age-wise.

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Now, on to lighter matters

Since the past few days have been spent talking about such heady things as academic freedom, religion, educational ethics, and politics, I think it’s time to consider things of a less serious variety.

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Something I need to let commenters (old and new) know

Because I am married, working full-time, going to graduate school, and interning, I have to get my sleep where I can.  Often, this means sleeping during the day. Since normal people (and I assume that any commenters are in fact, normal) are actually awake and commenting during the day, your comment may not be responded to (or approved if you are new) as quickly as at other blogs. I apologize. However, I ask that you be patient with me and not let the lag time discourage you from commenting. I am always appreciative of people willing to kick in to any conversation here. As other bloggers have said, it’s the feedback to the post, not the post that makes for a good blog.

[This is also posted on a new page]

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And the dust settles

Well, that was fun. In my last post I ping backed Mark Elrod’s blog and my numbers went through the roof. I learned two things: First, moderating a load of comments is a lot of work. Second, people have strong feelings about this issue.

Elrod denied that HU was leaning on him about the general content of his blog or about his support for Barack Obama. As I said, I see no reason not to take him at his word. However, what he does not deny is that many people, instead of taking up their concerns with him, went over his head and whined (there really is no other word for it) to the administration. If this is the case, then both the administration and Elrod have my sympathies. As I stated on Frank McCown’s blog, it has to be as tiresome for the administration to field complaints from brother and sister so-and-so as it is for Elrod to have to hear about it.

With that said, I think that this fracas raises other interesting questions:

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Filed under: Faith and Religion, Politics, School, , , , , , ,

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