Seeking the Alter

This happened years ago, but I remember my question: Where was the alter? The cross was easy to find, hanging high above the choir loft. Since it was large, and smack dab in the middle of the chancel area, the pulpit was obvious.

But what about the alter?

Back then I was officially on a sabbatical and not serving a church. I decided to attend one of the “mega churches” in the Fresno area. You know: wherever two or three thousand are gathered in my name . . .

I should be honest and put a few labels on the table . . . or on the alter? I am a liberal, progressive Christian. The church I attended was not. Since I’m being confessional, I will admit that I attended the highest profile church in our region out of curiosity, and not to worship our loving Creator. Continue reading →

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On the Darker Side of Light

I didn’t mind the absence of light. We slowed down. We talked . . .

Me.

My wife.

All alone.

Candlelight.

Dare I share about the romantic gestures, the knowing looks, or the whispered words? No, I dare not. After all, we were sitting in the dark, candles sputtering and flickering, because all of the electricity was kaput. Years back, I recall when a roiling, boisterous thunderstorm zigzagged across the Fresno area and we were under one of the more dramatic zags. Indeed, the next day it was reported that our part of town was drenched by a half-inch of rain in less than an hour. We also had hail, pea and penny-sized as it dropped in the backyard, but sounding like large caliber bullets when smacking against our garage doors.

Across town at the airport (where rain measurements are officially recorded for Fresno), there was “trace” moisture. Go figure. Continue reading →

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Among the Chosen

Once, not so long ago, the Feds got me.

Was I in shackles, accused of poor writing? Nope. Was it for that little IRS slight-of-hand a few years back? Wrong again (and tell the IRS I’m only kidding). Alas, it’s mundane. I had been summoned for jury duty. Federal Court. The Eastern District in California. Whoa.

Federal Court is different from my local Superior Court. Instead of having a citizen “on the hook” for one week or one trial, the Feds nab you for an entire month. If you are selected for duty and serve on a jury, you’re done. But if you are not selected, the Feds are like a bad habit . . . they keep coming back. Do they want me this week? Or next? Or next?

A month can seem like a long time.

The other thing that can seem like a long time is camping in the jury room lounge, trapped with other Eastern District denizens while watching the exciting (not) and emotionally riveting (not) “Federal Jury Video.” Bring on the popcorn.

Fifteen minutes can seem like a month. Continue reading →

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