Blue Christmas/Longest Night rollcall

“Blue Christmas” and “Longest Night” services are related phenomena that respect the worship needs of mourners, depressed or distressed people. Or more generally, those for whom the cheer of the season brings more pain than joy.

But it’s not easy to find these services if you’re not looking for them, and some are well before Christmas.

If you know of a service (or are hosting one), feel free to note it here. Not that this will create a catalog, but perhaps will attract people to the idea and prompt them to plan for next year.

A question for wedding officiants

Legislative and court successes have expanded same-sex couples access to legal marriage; my husband and I have benefited from it. It’s exciting to see the couples line up on the first “legal” day. Some of these will then get married on the courthouse steps, or some location nearby. It’s particularly encouraging to see Unitarian Universalist ministers take their place there.

And these often long-awaited, but surely quickly organized weddings make a visible challenge to the now-normal way of getting married, with expensive jewelery, elaborate arrangements and a cast of thousands. I usually advise couples to elope, and these courthouse-step services look only a short step away from an elopement. Not only do I approve, but I’m glad to see the option depicted so joyously.

But then I recall another norm, or former norm: pre-marital counseling. I’m not really qualified to do it, and I’m not convinced it’s necessary. So, for those few weddings I do these days, I don’t offer or require it. And I wonder if that was part of the arrangement that lead a couple and minister to meet on the courthouse steps?

Do you, dear wedding officiant, offer or require pre-marital counseling? Any particular reason, either way?

ObscuraCam to help build church web sites

ObscuraCam is a phone app for Android to help citizen-journalists obscure faces in crowd photographs and videos, say, in undemocratic societies.

It might be helpful in building your church’s website. You can use it to hide the faces of minors and other vulnerable persons, should your church’s policies require or recommend it.

Two examples:


Your blogger, anonymized.


Your blogger, who doesn’t want his book choices known. (It isn’t perfect.)

Pastoral development: “Five Hours with Raja”

It makes a very difficult viewing — it took me three times to finish watching this over the air — but this documentary is worth watching and I recommend it especially for ministers and seminarians.

“Five Hours with Raja” is the story of a child born with am incurable and fatal condition; the preparations made for the tiny sliver of time his family had with him;, and the follow-on (particularly by his mother) who helping others surviving the same situation.

See a background page and watch the documentary online at Aljazeera English.

Male headship and Linux (but not together)

Pastors: if you need some background about and against “complementarianism” — male headship and female submission — for providing pastoral care or want to learn more about using Linux, check out one of my favorite blogs, 42, written by Methodist minister Dave Warnock.

He’s on a roll.

Uniting Church of Australia “patrol ministry”

I’m looking at some major Christian united-uniting churches to see how they define church membership and turned to the ever-interesting Uniting Church of Australia. More about that later; I found something even more interesting.

As you may know, the Australian interior is multi-ethnic but very thinly populated, making for special social accommodations — like radio schools and flying doctors — and the Uniting Church has long been a part of that network, both in social services and worship opportunities.

Their spiritual and pastoral support services are organized as geographic “patrols” and you can read more about there here.

My only Sen. Craig post

I won’t get into the partisan piece of the Larry Craig furor: enough has been said there for my contribution to be any use.

  1. I am a bit worried that this will be an important frame for discussing LGBT civil rights legislation in the near-term.
  2. I think an opportunity for modeling compassion, understanding, temperance or anything but gotcha politics has been lost.

I’ll refer you to a post today by Mark Simpson — he who coined the word metrosexual –  whose blog I enjoy very much. He writes, in part

Judging by the rush to ‘out’ Craig as a ‘hypocritical closeted gay’ by hordes of callous bloggers and columnists, it seems that liberals are equipped with even better and stricter sex-policing instincts than Minnesota’s Finest. Liberals don’t just finger your collar, they finger your soul – divine your innermost desires, make identifications on your behalf and work out what your own vested interests are for you. Even though they’ve never met you or even shared a bathroom with you.

I think he’s more right about more liberals than not. Read his whole article and judge for yourself.

Best links for June 29

Well, best for me, but I know some of you will like them too.

  • Michelle Murrain, writing from her Zen and the art of Nonprofit Technology blog, points out how the United States Social Forum is running on free and open source software. Fabu. Drupal and Linux (Ubuntu and Debian) love all around.
  • Several writers (here, here and here among others) note Linux users can have Google Desktop too, but not all are convinced it is either necessary or adequately private. Better says one commenter, perhaps, for those using the Xubuntu version which works on older computers but has fewer of the bells and whistles.
  • Chuck Currie, a United Church of Christ minister blogger, reviews what ministers may say in a campaign season.
  • Richard Layman (Rebuilding Space in an Urban Place) — writing about the neighborhood a scant few block to the east of me — revisits the role of churches in urban blight.
  • No bottled water on San Francisco’s official dime, according to Treehugger.
  • MAKE Magazine’s blog suggests using shower wallboard for making giant white boards.