Sunday-only calendar for 2017

Back in 2008, I knocked together a Sunday-only calendar as a planning tool for church worship leaders. It has been evergreen at by old blog, Boy in the Bands. And so when I got a request to update it, I couldn’t do other than bring it up to date.

And so I’m crossposting it here. Enjoy.

You can also edit the OSD file in LibreOffice and (so it seems) newer versions of Microsoft Office. I included December 2016 and January 2018.

Esperantists find “parallel” path to regional gatherings

So, on August 20, swarms of Esperantists all over North America will meet for day-long gatherings “enjoying each other’s company while taking part in a celebration of the international language.” (suggested press release language)

It’s called Paralela Universo, which even to non-Esperantists should easily read as “parallel universe.” Parallel to what? Diffrerent places at the same time, sure. But also keep in mind that Esperanto events (especially in Europe) are days-long affairs, bolstered no doubt by long vacations, short travel distances and a critical mass of Esperantists to organize such things. North American Esperantists have none of these; surely an alternative is called for, and so much better if it calls to mind the endless possibilities of science fiction, which I bet appeals to (other) Esperantists.

So far, there are twenty sites, and counting. And what’s noteworthy is that there is no central organizing body, and no tickets. You pay for your transportation to and from the gathering, and your meals. It’s an idea, a format and coordination by Facebook and a Google group. That’s all.

Mi okazos la Paralelan Universon ĉi tie.

Let this be an inspiration for other groups who could benefit by low-effort, low-cost ad-hoc gatherings.

A moment with St. Margaret of Antioch

I know today is the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, equal-to-the-apostles, but you’ll forgive me if Iook back two days to St. Margaret of Antioch, a fourth century virgin-martyr who is reputed to have been disengorged by Satan, in the form of a dragon, or said to have beaten a devil (lye can variety) with hammer.

A hammer.

I hadn’t known much about her until I saw a number of tweets, and was too distracted by the fortieth anniversary of the Viking landing on Mars to make anything of then.

To repeat. Disengorged by a Satan-dragon. Beat a demon with a hammer. And people have problems with women being Ghostbusters.

Book give-away

I’m spending part of my summer clearing out books. Duplicates. Those I’ll never read, or never read again. Those that hae a marginal interest to me but might mean more to others.

If you read this blog, and live in the U.S., drop me a note through the contact form stating that you’d like to browse the list of books I’m offering, once it’s done. Note if you’re a seminarian (and where) — I’ll give you first dibs.

The unboxing

Phone, still boxedMy mobile phone of three years showed signs of instability after General Assembly, so rather than waiting for it to fail, I decided to get a new one. It arrived today.

There’s a custom of photographing the unwrapping — “unboxing” — esteemed electronics and then sharing the photos and thus the experience. This is considered normal behavior among Apple goods owners (I am not one) but it still strikes me as a bit precious, even ostentatious.  After all, what does it show, other than the ability to buy things?

Phone and gear in open boxI suppose it shows this: how lovely the thing is in itself, and more, how lovely it comes to the new owner. It is worth having, and cherishing. Since, I’ve seen beautifully packaged clothes, snack foods and charitable solicitation appeals that have the same attention to presentation. And, to be honest, they do seem better than the alternative, and so make me feel better about myself. I look forward to the moment of acquiring something, and not just the having (and so take pains to not shop for this thrill, but that another story.)

Phone in handSo, we turn to churches. In this culture where even a knockoff laptop battery (bought before GA) is carefully wrapped, how do we change how we prepare our churches for worship? Or present certificates and awards (when we do so) or arrange candles or implements of worship? Or share refreshments, or post signs?

Or any of a thousand ways we can say, “this house of worship is special, and beautiful, and you are welcome” — or not.

Universalist Christian Initiative at #uuaga

I’m soft-launching my new project, the Universalist Christian Initiative at the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly, which begins today in Columbus, Ohio.

It’s mainly about creating resources and finding direction for Universalist Christians, and at this point I’m looking for people interested in this work.

Please join the newsletter list here, and follow our Twitter account (@universalistci) here.

If you’ll be at GA, meet me at the UU Christian Fellowship booth (#115 in the exhibit hall)

  • Thursday, Jun 23 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Friday, June 24 from 11 a.m. to 12 noon

… or send a direct message to the @universalistci Twitter account if you’d like to talk.

Thinking about church style

This is a first thought, because it will make my next blog post — about communion ware — make more sense.

When we think about what it means to be “churchy” we’re often — but not exclusively — talking about tastes and norms set by “the Ecclesiologists,” meaning that medieval-focused, Romantic movement that overwhelmed the Church of England in the nineteenth century. For them, there was one correct style appropriate for Christian churches — in a word, Gothic — whether that meant fully expressed in stonework, or vernacularized into the carpenter style. Think of pointed stained-glass windows. Why did this style cross the Atlantic and denominational lines? The prevailing taste, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses and the perhaps nothing so pedestrian as who the church architects and suppiers were. (This isn’t an original thought, and I’ve seen it in a few places, most recently in chapter two, “Capital Ideas: Building American Churches, 1750-1860.” of James Hudnut-Beumler’s In the Pursuit of the Almighty’s Dollar.)

There are noteworthy examples of Gothic Unitarian and Universalist church buildings, but so as not to lose the point: the creation of a common vocabularly of taste that’s hard to buck, save with variations, like the engrossed domestic style the Universalists seemed to favor, or the (later favored) colonial revival the Unitarians of Boston imposed on the Western churches who wanted financial support. And the less said about the post-war community centers hiding in their own private parksor forests — the  newer UU norm — the better.

This clip, from a 1922 issue of the Universalist Leader, shows that advertizers thought we might buy stained glass.
This clip, from a 1922 issue of the Universalist Leader, shows that advertizers thought we might buy stained glass.

Of course, those days may be declining: not a particular style or fashion, but the ability of churches to chose the shape of their buildings at all. I can all to easily imagine borrowed, rented or shared spaces being a part of the survival strategies of Unitarian Universalist (and other) churches in the all-too-soon future. Consider how many newer congregations meet in office parks or retail space.

Is short, design will have to be expressed in ways other than the building, and without the influence of an eccumenical community of tastemakers. It will be interesting what we come up with, and if we appeal to older and more humble models.