Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Oklahoma Inmate Suffers Botched Execution

Today, state department of corrections officers were set to execute 2 inmates convicted of horrific crimes committed decades ago. What happened next is unimaginable.


Oklahoma officials have been in a bit of some controversy about the drugs used for executions. The mix of compounds used to sedate, slow the heart and eventually kill the inmate was once a matter of public record. But after the company that manufactured one of the drugs stopped providing Oklahoma with the product, officials sought another, untested concoction. Regulators, human rights advocates and lawmakers across the nation have been challenging the use of untested and potentially unsafe and inhumane execution practices.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Preaching Easter 2: "What Peace do you Seek?"



What Peace do you seek
Easter 2, 4-27-14

“The best stories come in the weeks after Easter” a seminary professor once told me. “It’s a shame”, they continued, “that church attendance doesn’t keep up with Easter Sunday for those weeks. People need to hear those resurrection stories.”
It’s true, I think – that we often move beyond Easter a bit too quickly. Kind of how we move past Christmas too quickly. As soon as the day is past we’re busy packing up the decorations and closing up the boxes – a symbolic gesture of once again sealing that tomb until next year. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Funding Oklahoma's Future

[this post was updated on 4-24-14. It originally appeared on 3-31-14]
 
Yesterday was a big day for OK education. The OK Hwy Patrol estimated that 25-30K people descended upon the south lawn and steps of the state capitol to show support for increased funding for OK education.

Over the past several years, upwards of $200 million has been cut from education budgets, resulting in decreases of supplies and resources for teachers, larger class sizes, and reduced retirement benefits for educators. The district that my wife teaches in is set to face a $4 million budget cut next school year, which will mostly be realized by faculty cuts, meaning larger class sizes. Class sizes could increase to 35-40 students, further widening the gap between teacher and student interaction and a loss of personal teaching time with students. And in an "insult to injury" style vote today, the OK Senate Finance Committee voted in favor of an income tax reduction, further decreasing state revenues.

Even still, the rally was quite impressive! Here are a few pics:

Why America Should Care About Cliven Bundy - But Why I Really Don't

AP photo
 
By now you've heard about Cliven Bundy. He's that brash Nevada rancher who for the last 20+ years has been grazing his cattle on public land. Now he's the soup du jour for Fox News' Sean Hanity and like-minded Tea Party folk in the American west for standing up to the tyranny of the federal government. You see, the feds have been after him for decades because he's not been paying the fees associated with grazing cattle on public land. Bundy says he doesn't recognize the federal government and thus owes them nothing.

Here's why this matters to the country.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Grapes!

This little guy is a bunch of grapes. And we've got loads of 'em this year!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Preaching Easter - 4/20/14



“Who? The Gardener?”
Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014
John 20:1-18

          There’s a church in Oklahoma City called City Presbyterian Church that has been open for a few years meeting in a rented space near downtown. Maybe you read a little about it in this weeks Oklahoma Gazette. Today, at this very hour they are having their very first worship service in a new location: a restored old church near 13th and Classen. The old church building had sat vacant for many years, had served as the front for a law office and several attempted and failed businesses (including a health spa) and sat vacant again.

Then came the growing congregation of City Presbyterian, a group of 200 or so people from mixed backgrounds with a heart for their neighborhoods. And so, after purchasing the property in November of last year, and 6 months of renovations, the old church will stand tall again – resurrected from the isolation of abandonment, and be given life anew through the ministry of City Pres.

Preaching Palm Sunday - 4/13/14



Everybody Loves a Parade
Palm Sunday Lent 6A, April 13, 2014

The story goes of a child who was sick on Palm Sunday and stayed home from church. When a parent returned from church holding a palm branch, the child was curious and asked, “Why do you have that palm branch?” “You see,” said the parent, “when Jesus came into town, everyone waved palm branches to honor him, so we got Palm Branches today.” The child sat up in bed with wide eyes and jaw wide open and replied, “You mean the one Sunday I miss church is the Sunday that Jesus shows up?”

On Temple Cleansing and Oligarchy

A recent study from Northwestern and Princeton named the United States as an oligarchy more than a democracy - meaning - the control of power rests not with the population or even the elected officials, but with a very small group of wealthy individuals. (Think Koch, Brock, etc).

From an MSNBC post:
...studies have shown that income inequality has grown in recent years. An economist at the University of California-Berkeley estimated that between 2009 and 2012, the richest 1% of Americans held 95% of all income growth.
This got me to thinking about power, control and politics, and how religion fits into it all.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hosannasaurus Rex

Happy Palm Sunday!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The culture of shut up

This is an amazing piece. A bit lengthy, but very worth the read. Some of the best social commentary I've read in a while.

http://m.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/04/the-culture-of-shut-up/360239/#

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Preaching Lent 5A, For the Sake of the Spirit



For the sake of the Spirit
Lent 5A, 4-6-14
Romans 8:6-11
 
6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
10But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
       
   I think Paul would have made a great advertising executive. Or maybe a marketing director. Something like the show Mad Men, but set in first century Palestine, with groups of Jews who follow Jesus spread out all over various towns and cities of the Roman empire. And he’s trying to bring unity to them, to get them to align under a common brand – specifically his understanding of what the Jesus movement means, and how the Christ stands to reconcile people to God. We can view the letters of Paul as a early marketing campaign. In some ways, he’s introducing something new, or he’s trying to convince people to switch to his product. Or he’s trying to clear up misconceptions about his product.
           It’s like that soap commercial that tries to get you to buy their brand because it gets your clothes cleaner. AND it smells good. AND it comes in a convenient package. AND it does more for less than the leading competitor! But wait! THERE’S MORE! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Garden. 2014

We're upping the ante with the garden this year . We secured a trailer and hauled over 7 tons of soil to fill up the 4 raised beds, the main flower beds and level some yard.

We also decided to build a garden fence instead of fences around each individual bed .






Not shown, rabbit fence border & unfinished gate. Also picked up 3 cu. yards of cedar mulch for the walkway paths.
We also scored 250 sq ft of bermuda sod at a very good deal, and have been trying to fend off patchy-grass yard syndrome.

That's 20, 1.5 foot x 6 foot rolls in the back of the 'runner. We had another 14 rolls on a pallet with the trailer before.
Oh, food: 3 varieties of potato, beans, strawberry, carrots, grapes, raspberry. Probably more. Updates to come!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Holy cow...THIS!


Hobby Lobby, everyone's favorite retailer of fine imported home-decor stuffs from China, and everyone's favorite ACA contraception mandate antagonist, is now found to be in a bit of a pickle. Mother Jones slays the dragon. 

So, the Greene family is now going to have to decide what to do. Do they continue denying full access to contraceptions to their employees or do they divest their their retirement programs and let employees take a financial hit? Oh the probz when religion and capitalism collide.