Thursday, June 15, 2017

Father's Day Gift Suggestion

As a pastor no one every asks me for last minute Father's Day gift.  nevertheless, that has never stopped me from offering advice.

The most obvious gift idea: a nice pair nose hair trimming scissors.  No dad wants to admit they have out of control nose hair, but it's a truth.  Furthermore, even if your dad is losing his head of hair his nose hair will continue to grow with abandon.

Beyond the most obvious.  I want to implore you to purchase your father a Brian Doyle book.  The title does not matter, just get one.  Write on the inside cover how much you love your father, even if it is a troubled and broken relationship, even if you can only write "read this book please."

Brian Doyle was a gifted and talented writer but I think his deep treasure was his ability to make dads, especially, appreciate fatherhood in a deeper capacity.  I love my children and I love being their father, but Brian Doyle made me love my children and love being a father even more.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Let Us Now Praise a Famous Man

Word of author's Brian Doyle's death circulated this weekend.  I and my family love Brian Doyle.  When I announced his death to my family all of us mourned.  His writing impacted every one of us from the way I include stories in my sermons, to great words he had for my lovely bride he signed in Grace Notes, to the stories I tell my kids at night (all rules are off), even to the way I talk to my dog (as a more cognizant animal). 

I saw him once a couple years back in Chicago; it was great.  He shared the most unusual writing prompts: describe the first time you kissed someone, when was the last time you hit someone, describe your favorite flower, tell me about the great sin you committed.  Oh those are some great prompts...

Doyle wrote this poem for the memory of Henri Nouwen, I offer it for Doyle as well. 

Poem for Henri Nouwen by Brian Doyle in Epiphanies & Elegies

The way he leaped up suddenly from the table
To make a point with the whole wild exclamation
Point of his body and the day his arm swirled
And swung and whirled and dance cheerfully
Around his cheerful face as he spoke and the way
As soon as he sat down he leapt up again to agree
Utterly and wholly from the bone of his being
With what you said rather than find the certain
Hole in what you said but then leaping off rom
What you said he would say something so new &
True and clear and refreshing and you wished you
Carried a notebook just for Henri but pausing to
Keep track of the swoop and zest of his thought
Would ruin the whole joy and verve of the thing
Which was a thing never before in the world and
Never again which was the sort of thing that gave
Henri a bubbling childish brilliant genius holy joy
Which was pretty much the point of Henri,
And what we miss most.

Brian Doyle, rest eternal.  thanks for catching (nutritious) stories and sharing them with us...

Monday, May 22, 2017

Let's Set a Record

So the last part of June and first part July the American Baptist Churches, USA will hold their biennial meeting.  This is a meeting of lots of American Baptists (clergy, missionaries, denomination staff, seminary staff, church delegates, institution folk, & etc.)  It is an enjoyable time. 

The last two were held in Overland Park, KS.  I understand why the venue was chosen but it felt like a fun desert to me.  You couldn't walk anywhere, poor bus service, and no bike share programs to be found.  This year, however, the meeting is in Portland!

Several months ago I began dreaming of a way to get clergy on bikes.  I thought what if we broke a record: most clergy on bikes.  I started researching and guess what: there are no clergy and bikes records!  So I filled out an application, paid my $5 Value Added Tax, and submitted my plans to the Guinness Book of World Records for a new record.  They said it would take several weeks, I haven't heard back yet; it has been several weeks.  But I am still hopeful.  Even if Guinness doesn't get back to me there are several other record books I have applied, they have accepted my record. 

Next came logistics: how am I going to get at least 250 bikes for clergy?  I asked some friends at NiceRide (Minneapolis/St. Paul's amazing bikeshare program) if they had any ideas.  Boy (and Girl) did they.  They put in contact with the person who is in charge of the bikeshare program in Portland: Biketown.  I got in touch with Biketown and sure enough they were game!

So the word started to spread and clergy began to get excited, but then a funny thing happened: non-clergy wanted to participate as well.  So the invitation was expanded to include both clergy and non-clergy.  So the record will be most clergy and most Baptists (religious group) riding bikes. 

It just so happens the stars were aligned for this event to take place: either other mainline denominations are not meeting this year or if they are they are meeting they are not meeting in a city that has a strong bike sharing program or if they are meeting in a city with a strong bike share program they do not have enough time to organize such an event (thus, why I have been so coy about this project).  But here is the fun part: I want this record to be broken.  I want the Lutherans or the Methodist to smash our record.  I want clergy and non-clergy riding bikes, getting healthy, exploring their communities, saving the planet, seeking economic and racial justice, gaining courage and putting a smile on their face.  Because the world needs courageous and joyous people right now.  But the Divine help us if the Southern Baptists find out about this record setting attempt; they have enough institutional might to overcome all of my obstacles...  They will crush the record, sanctify the bikes & then funk bike riding up for years to come. But who know maybe riding a bike will soften 'em up a bit. 

I hope you can join us for this record setting event, Friday June 30 8:30am - Portland, OR. 

here is the link to the actual press release, just in case you think I'm making all this up.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Need for a Clergy Union, part 73

many pastors may not know that our brothers and sisters to the north of us have a union for clergy, no foolin'.
but some of you will ask, but why would we ever need a union? personally, i do not. the good folk at Judson Memorial Baptist Church treat me great.  but one cannot define the world solely by their experience.  we are brothers and sisters of the spoken word. 

so have a look-see at what a church around the corner is doing to their pastor for easter: six back-to-back services, six back-to-back times he has to announce Christ is Risen (i cant help but think by the third time it seems a little melodramatic), not to mention when does the dude even get to go to the bathroom?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Creative License

As a kid I was a sucker for any free toy in a box of cereal.  I especially loved the free bike license plates that came in a box of Honeycomb (you can buy them on ebay, of course).  Of course other classmates in elementary school were able to get license plates with their names on it at Kmart, but Travis was never to be found on the rack of license plate names (Tracy, but never Travis).  Nevertheless, I happily placed a state of Colorado license plate on my Schwinn and rode around town. Of course, no one ever asked me if I was from Colorado or anything about Colorado.  If someone had asked me anything about the state I would have looked at them like they had three ears or pedaled home as fast I could convinced they were trying to kidnap me.

Some of you may know that for the past couple of years I have had a CLERGY auto license plate on my bicycle.  For the record I totally swiped this idea off of Rev. Laura Everett, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches.  I just had to have one of my own.  First I called Judson Press (publishing arm of the American Baptist Churches, USA) to see if they carried any CLERGY license plates, they did not.  Then I scoured the internet and found two places: the Methodist shop (aka Cokebury) and the UCC shop (aptly named UCC Resources).  Interestingly, Cokesbury no longer carries the license plate but they do carry a window decal, a "clergy" auto tag holder, and a "clergy" auto rearview hanger.  The UCC shop has them for $10.00.  I purchased one from the UCC shop, but seeing that the UCC one, rightly so, had the UCC logo I went over to the American Baptist Churches, USA resources page and downloaded an ABC,USA logo and taped it over the UCC logo.

Okay reader, go ahead and catch your breath and give your heart a chance to settle down, I know that was pretty damn exciting.

The auto license plate served me well.  But I really wanted a bike specific clergy license plate.  Sure enough thanks to the wonders of the information superhighway there is a company that manufactures personalized bicycle license plates.  And sure enough, I ordered one; for $10.

I like it.

you notice my bag to the left of the bike, I just got back from playing basketball; so consider this an action shot as well.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Winter Biking 2016-17 Year in Review

Now that the first pitch has been tossed, 30DaysofBiking is well under way, liberal solicitors are blanketing south Minneapolis neighborhoods, and pastry shops are jumping the gun by serving rhubarb treats it is time to do a review of the winter biking season.

1.  The Bike.  This year I dedicated the Breezer as a winter biking only bike.  This decision worked out well.  Last weekend I simply took the bike (studded tires and all) and placed it in the basement till it snows again.  However, due to climate change the snow is not like the snow of yore.  Several times I had a presbyterian of a time navigating the wet chunky snow.  Despite low pressure tires with studs I could barely remain upright.  So I may be in the fat tire bike market.

I am having a difficult time even thinking about purchasing a fat tire bike.  Why?  Shortly after moving to Minneapolis the kiddos and I were walking around the lake when some jackass on a fat tire bike came rumbling through.  The dude was drunk and zigzagging all over the path and cursing at everyone within 10 feet of him.  That was the first time I had ever seen a fat tire bike, never mind someone riding one.  So forever in my mind, even though since that experience I've met many kind hearted compassionate souls who ride fat tire bikes, every time I see someone on a fat tire bike I have a difficult time not saying, "shut up jack ass." 

2.  Gear.  Three big advances this year. 
1.  An Endura jacket (one with a built in light on the back).  This jacket was (and is) amazing.  One person told me that it was so bright I looked like I was on fire.  Yeah, it's bright.  And it is Scottish made so the zipper is on the opposite side. 
2.  A Buff.  I was skeptical of anything called a buff, but this sleeve shirt looking thing is quite amazing as well.  Thanks to the good folk over at The Road Less Pedaled for this recommendation.  Then finally 3. A fleece lined beanie.  Again I was skeptical of anything that resembles a condom but I was quite surprised.  A gentleman over at The Hub recommended a beanie + a ear band + the Buff as three layers for winter biking.  Yeah, it worked amazing.  Because I had three layers I could adjust due to the temperature/wind.

3.  The 46th St. Station.  I was surprised how much I used this station this winter.  Several times I biked over to the station then put my bike either on the bus or the light rail to get me to where I needed to go. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

30 Days of Biking Blessing

This year April 1st fell on a Saturday which meant I could participate in the kickoff ride for 30 Days of Biking.  What a day for it.  Sunshine, blue skies, temp in the 60s, and my lovely and talented bride by my side for the ride!

And since I was at the ride I delivered the bike blessing in person, no foolin'.  I modeled it after a Celtic ship blessing.
For thirty days you shall ride your bike
For thirty days you shall be made anew
For thirty days you shall find strength

What can befall you?
Check your brakes, oil your chain, pump up your tires.

What can cause you anxiety?
Watch our for cars, potholes, and thrill seeking squirrels!

The charm of the biking community be with you
The charm of a tail wind find you
The charm of bike riding joy never leave thee.

What can tempt thee?
It's not a contest, dress appropriately (or not), you can do this.

Beloved, enjoy your rides...

(rarely does a preacher get an action shot)

I thought long and hard about wearing a clerical collar for this blessing, but then I discovered the bike bow tie by, it was no contest.  bow tie it was.

Happy 30 Days of Biking Everyone...