Sunday, July 26, 2009

World News Trust launches new site

For some time now I've been helping out at World News Trust. It's a great site for progressive news from around the world; it's well respected, well edited, thorough, and diverse. All in all a very good site and I'm proud to be associated with it.

Today, there's news. We've launched the new version! It's based on the latest version of Joomla, and it includes everything from the old site plus some new features. It's definitely worth a look.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Two Churches in one day

Lorraine and I took Mom to two celebrations of worship today. First we went to her church--well, our church, I guess--The Church of the Intercession, where we enjoyed a very nice Episcopal service led by Father Roger. Then, we got a ride to Northstar Community Church, just a few blocks from Mom's house, listened there to legless VietNam veteran Bob Wieland describing his ordeal as a blessing (and meaning it!), and finally enjoyed music and fellowship with some hot dogs and hamburgers (also at Northstar). It was a whirlwind of varied experiences, each one fun and inspiring in its own way.

The church was a big part of my life when I was growing up, but I don't get there often anymore. I think I'll try to change that. The Episcopal ceremony at Intercession woke old memories but at the same time made me think. Father Roger, in his sermon, said, "Shift Happens." Please note there is an F in there--that's a rather important difference from the saying that was popular a few years back. Our world, and our whole life, is constantly changing; we can marvel at how God makes things happen, and try to be a part of it, or we can sit back and complain about everything changing, fight the shift, and generally end up unhappy most of the time. He recommended the former... Later at that service we prayed for lots of different people, and one gentleman read the names of American soldiers who had died this week. I wanted to jump up and say, "What about the victims of the American soldiers, the people overseas who have been killed because we are fighting on their soil?" But I kept that thought to myself, although I did pray for them when the time came for us each to add our own silent prayers. I guess that means I shared the thought with God, at least, and now perhaps I'm sharing it with anyone who reads this far. I have very mixed feelings about patriotism, about governments and armies and countries. I used to condemn those who would fight for our country, thinking they were murderers; now I see that they are truly doing what they believe, just as I in opposing them am doing what I believe. And one of the things I so strongly believe is that everyone has the right to say what they feel and to be the person that they want to be, so I can't very well condemn them for having different beliefs. That doesn't make me feel any better about wars though. And when I see people being hurt simply because someone is trying to get more power or more money I still get very angry indeed.

Northstar is a lot more popular than Intercession. There were hundreds of people there, compared with about 20. The people are nice, too, and they truly reach out into the community to help those in need. The presentation from Bob Wieland was more like theater than a church service, but it was quite interesting and inspirational nonetheless. Wieland described how his platoon walked into an ambush, and people were screaming for help, and he had to decide whether to run away to safety or run toward his fellow soldiers and try to make a difference. Then suddenly he wasn't thinking a whole lot when he stepped on a mine big enough to take out everyone in a 30 yard radius. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, and even zipped into a body bag before someone noticed he was still alive somehow. Months later his goals were as simple as sitting up in bed--that one took days or maybe weeks to achieve. After a while they gave him some 5 pound weights and challenged him to lift them--and he swore he would not only lift those (that also took weeks) but that he would eventually set records in weightlifting. Years later he bench pressed over 500 pounds but they disqualified him from the competition because he didn't have legs. Then he learned how to walk using his hands, and one day he set off on a trip across the country. He thought it might take a year or so, but it turned out to be nearly four years before he made it to Washington D.C. from California. Pretty inspirational guy, to say the least.

The show, and the food, and the people, were great at Northstar. Since we had put all the money we had (a couple dollars in change) into the collection plate at Intercession, it was truly gratifying that someone we did not even know, sitting next to Mom and me at Northstar (Lorraine had to sit a few rows away due to the crowd), handed us some money so that we could in turn give it back to the church. Actually, I don't think she would have minded if we chose to keep it for ourselves, but I think she was very happy to see us put it in the collection plate. I noticed she had a peace sign on her purse; it happened that I wore my peace sign pin today, and that gave us something in common on a day that celebrated patriotism and the military more than it encouraged peace.

More nice people made a point of sitting near us at the long outside tables where we enjoyed our hamburgers. I may even have some computer business as a result, or at least I may be able to help some people with their computer related issues. I like doing that. Pastor Jay and his flock are a wonderful group of people, and if I'm not comfortable raising my hand to show that I've given my life to the Lord, or to show that I'm seeking His forgiveness, or whatever, it doesn't mean I don't respect them. Them meaning the people in the church, and the church itself, and God. I just have a little bit quieter and more personal way of showing it.

We walked back to Mom's house. I'd been worried that it might be too far for Mom, but I think she could easily have gone three or four times that far and I'd have probably been tired before she was. We watched a movie at her house before Lorraine and I returned home, where I promptly fell asleep for an hour.

All in all it was a great day, and I give thanks for it. I'm a bit surprised to be rambling on about religious stuff here, for the second post in a row. Don't get used to it, I'll probably write about something completely different next time. But these recent experiences have been quite wonderful.