What's Tony Thinking

Click and Clack of Church World


Remember the wonderful NPR show “Car Talk,” with Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers? Tom and Ray Magliozzi, they were the best.

Maybe inspired by “Car Talk,” the team at the Crackers and Grape Juice Podcast have booked Will Willimon and me do a sort of “Church Talk” together.

Perhaps you listened to the CGJ Pod that Will and I did together a couple weeks ago. Responses varied. One friend said he found it “so encouraging” and was sharing it with some friends in ministry who are struggling. Another told me he thought we were suffered a humility deficiency anemia, were entirely too full of ourselves. I said, “Oh, well, of course, you mean Will — not me, right?!?”

At any rate, we’re taping a new podcast on Monday July 19, 2021 for which I invite your questions, conundrums,  quandaries and challenges as church leaders, whether lay or clergy; or simply believers trying to follow Jesus in these strange and bewildering times.

Enter your question here at the Crackers and Grape Juice Podcast page at Facebook.

. . .

On other fronts . . . smoke from distant, and not so distant wildfires, has filtered into our area in the Wallowas in the last couple days. There was a time, years ago, when such a depressing haze was unheard of. We reveled in the freshness and clarity of the mountain air. Maybe eight to ten years ago, we started to have a week or two, usually in August, of smoke and haze. Now, it’s here in July.

As mentioned, this has been an unusually warm and dry summer in the Wallowas and really the whole Pacific Northwest. My friend Rich Wandschneider wonders, what will we make of this summer? How will we respond? Write it of as an unusual weather event, nothing to get too concerned about? Or something that is telling us climate change isn’t coming in the future, but is here right now?

It strikes me that there are similarities between the pandemic and climate change. Both are big — global — and menacing in their range and pervasiveness. Neither cares much about national borders. Both give rise to very different responses ranging from total denial to absolute panic. Both are the background to what Joe Biden has been raising as the Big Question: will democracy prove itself up to such challenges?

One of the effects of the higher temperatures is to warm the water of lakes, rivers and streams. This has adverse consequence for many species of fish, like salmon and trout. It’s not, as I thought, that they just prefer cooler water, like I prefer cooler days. It is because as water warms its oxygen content goes way down. Thanks to biologist friend, Scott Freeman, for that bit of information. Sadly, we could lose a lot of fish this summer and fall, in runs that are already in jeopardy.

One more note, in a recent blog which I titled “Now This Is Surprising” I reported on new research showing that the portion of the U.S. population that identifies as “mainline Christian” has gone up, while the percentage that identify as “evangelical” has gone down. I speculated on reasons, mainly suggesting that many evangelicals over-identification with Trump and the GOP has come back to bit them in the butt.

But another, related but different possibility, is that is that some “evangelicals” have dropped the word. I know some who have stopped using the term to describe themselves because of the association in the public mind of evangelicals and Trump. Maybe this too has contributed to a sudden diminishment of  their percentage of the overall population.

Now this, it should be said, is a damn shame as “evangelical” is a wonderful word. It means “good news.” How ironic and bizarre that it has been dragooned into the service of an agenda — Trumpism — that is so manifestly “bad news.”

Anyhow, use the Crackers and Grape Juice FB page to give us your questions . . .

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