Saturday, November 10, 2007

OK, so I guess I'm in the right place these days . . .
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What's your theological worldview?
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You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox




Roman Catholic


Reformed Evangelical




Classical Liberal


Modern Liberal




Friday, November 09, 2007

Dick Cheney. 1976. Make up your own caption.
Your Inner European is Swedish!

Relaxed and peaceful.
You like to kick back and enjoy life.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Faith Works 11-10-07
Jeff Gill

What We Don’t Own (Mostly Everything)

Working on important family projects with a vital household tool in hand, I suddenly realized that I didn’t own it.

Waiting for a small printer to spit out a receipt, I read on the back of my debit card from the bank: “This card remains the property of Major Financial Institution . . .”

This slab of plastic I use everyday isn’t mine, but the bank’s. Kind of like my house, which I own in some senses, but don’t in others. As divorcing folks realize quickly, there’s the spousal interest; even for those of us happily married, we own a home as a couple, in full partnership with the mortgage holder.

Which leaves me owning the eaves and gutters, it would seem, but I share those with the trees as a handy place to store their fallen leaves.

The bank never offers to help mow or trim shrubbery, but the neighborhood association has a claim on a broad swath where bushes suddenly appear, and then disappear in the maws of ravening deer, who have a family claim on my whole neighborhood going back to the last Ice Age.

Then there’s the municipal folk, who offer a courtesy call just before a truckload of workmen show up to dig holes in “their” easement and imperfectly replant the desirable, deer proof shrubs they shoveled aside.

The Lovely Wife and I do, in fact, own our cars, but many in our neighborhood lease, a relationship I’ve never quite understood. But you don’t own it, so you’d better not cut a moon roof in the top – can you put college stickers in the windows of a leaser?

Some of these leased vehicles get parked in front of my house, blocking the postal worker’s access to the mailbox, which I’m told we don’t own, mostly. Even if we bought it at BigBox ourselves and dug the hole and poured the concrete, the box itself is somehow the property of the Postmaster General (when is his turn to paint?), so the right to store or swap items around the block in that space is limited.

The upside being that this is why folks dropping fliers around the neighborhood are breaking the law if they put stuff “for free” in the PG’s mailbox.

Back in my wallet, there’s the driver’s license which allows me to drive the car I do, sort of, own; property of the state. Try to ask for the picture half back when you get a new one and see what I mean. It’s like you asked them to give you a $5 from their wallet.

Oh, that Lincoln engraving? The money you carry, that you earned, this “legal tender for all debts, public and private”? Not yours. It remains the property of the Federal Government while you make use of the symbolic value in everyday transactions.

And the change in your other pocket? That board almost filled with 50 state quarters? Well, the board may be yours, but not the quarters, not technically.

Just like the license plate on that car you “own,” the trash roller bin from the service company, the downloads on your computer, “your” library card, and your Tivo box. But unlike a few years back, we own our phones now, which may or may not be a good thing.

Your body, though, that you “own,” right? Well, science tells us that every seven years is the “turnover period” for your cellular material, with the stuff that makes up your corpus delicti swapped out for new matter on the old design. Which gives a whole new understanding to “you are what you eat,” doesn’t it?

The upshot of all of this being: we don’t really own much, even in an age of consumerism and materialism. We really are stewards in this life, the only question being whether we are conscious, intentional stewards, or fumblingly wasteful caretakers who deserve to be fired.

That’s the upshot of most stewardship campaigns that many churches conduct in November, reminding their members of what giving is really about, which is just putting our treasures in the right places. Giving as a primary part of our personal stewardship is a key step to remembering that we own nothing, really, but have a great gift in our care for a season, life itself, and what that life can shape and effect.

For the more hardened materialists, good news! Under Ohio law, your estate owns your corpse, and has a pretty much unassailable right of disposal as you choose. So there’s one thing you can own without variation or dispute, but only after you die.

Me, I’m thinking organ donation.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; he’s a blood donor now and an organ donor on his driver’s license (property of ODMV). Tell him what you value at

Monday, November 05, 2007

Notes From My Knapsack 11-11-07
Jeff Gill

Veterans and Voters and Vehemence

Booster Snapshots’ publication date is November 11, which puts the anniversary of the end of World War I smack on Sunday. Some of you get tomorrow (Monday) off work, and the mail and banks and courts hesitate a day, along with a few schools.

Generally, the once Armistice Day, still Remembrance Day, is marginally recalled as Veteran’s Day, and is a good time to say a “thank you” to those who returned, just as we honor those who did not make it back from their service on Memorial Day in May.

But with the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month falling in the middle of many worship services, I hope there’s an acknowledgment on Nov. 11 of the significance of World War I, and a recollection of what this country began learing about wars overseas.

The lessons, of course, continue.

With the detritus of Hallowe’en still laying around the house, this is a good time for me to introduce you all to the Lovely Wife’s contribution to economic forecasting. Perhaps you’ve already heard of the “Chocolate Percentage Trick-or-Treat Index of Economic Optomism,” or CPTTIEO (which has a nice, authoritative ring to it).

When the Little Guy returns from his Beggar’s Night rounds, his practice is to carefully sort the candy into types and sub-types by brand. What the Lovely Wife adds to this process is a casual eye to how much of the total candy haul are chocolate-based goodies, or as she puts it, “real candy.”

Apparently pixie sticks and suckers never did much for her.

What my wife believes is that when the percentage of a standard haul on Hallowe’en night that is chocolate-based (C-B), then a decline in the C-B% indicates reduced economic optomism, while a C-B% uptick shows people feel flush and want to share it.

Sounds as useful as anything else Jim Cramer has to say. What did your neighborhood show?

There was also some interesting seasonal news out of Iowa, where some officious idiot realized that the profusion of small pumpkin sale operations (y’know, entrepreneurism) was due, in part, to the fact that if they only sold pumpkins, they didn’t have to mess with sales tax, since Iowa like most states exempt food items.

Ah ha, said the said bureaucrat, but they do not generally eat them, they use them as d├ęcor, which means – tonight, we tax! (Mwahahahahaha. . . .)

So the Iowa Farm Bureau and others put together a form, akin to the legal lie that associates itself with fireworks, for people to attest that they will eat some portion of their pumpkin purchase. No, really, this happened.

Which then made a number of religious thinkers ask: “Is it permissible to avoid an unjust tax by telling a lie?” Owww. Meanwhile, the bad publicity did what it was designed to do, and the legislature in Iowa will likely craft an exemption for pumpkins by next fall.

Around Sycamore Lodge, we avoid this whole problem by making pumpkin chicken soup, roasting acorn squash with butter and brown sugar (or maple syrup does nicely), and we always roast the pumpkin guts, both seeds and strings, on a cookie sheet with salt and olive oil. Take that, Iowa!

Spaghetti squash is a tradition in my family around this time of year, and the Little Guy was very skeptical as I made the sauce with the last of the garden basil, tomatoes, and green pepper. He had already figured out that the acorn squash, sweet and tasty as it may be, was a vegetable, and he was against it. So why would this big yellow thing be any different?

But the weird alchemy of scooping out real spaghetti looking stuff after an hour in the oven won him over, and he ate it all, including the sauce. Thus are small parenting victories won.

A last note, which I’ve been sitting on for a while as I don’t want to lapse into Andy Rooney parodism. This is something that’s really been bugging me for a while, though.

Surely someone can invent a radar speed measurement device for our fine state troopers that doesn’t involve shaping it like a cannon that works best when said trooper adopts a firing line stance, arms extended, sighting along the barrel, aimed right at your face?

My brief military service never involved getting shot at, but I’ve spent a fair amount of time around guns, and have spent much time teaching young people never to aim a firearm, even a toy one, at someone. And I’ve been shot at, twice, both in odd circumstances precipitated by irresponsible idiodicy on the part of others.

Anyhow, I’ve never been able to avoid a clench of my hands on the wheel and had to fight an urge to swerve when I round a bend on Route 16 and see, up ahead, someone lined up in ready position. Why should I get used to that feeling? Can’t we invent a more citizen friendly radar device? Peace out, y’all.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; if you know how to get the state to quit pointing things at us, contact Jeff at