What's Tony Thinking

What’s Wrong with Memorial Services

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January 28, 2018 — Every now and then I encounter someone who has been to a Roman Catholic funeral mass and is aghast. “The priest never even mentioned the person who died!” For shame. I have the opposite problem. Going to memorial services in the mainline Protestant churches these days it is only the deceased who is mentioned. Well, considerably more... Read More

The Sad Irony of a U.S. Wall

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January 26, 2018 — The other evening we watched the 2015 movie Bridge of Spies. The story, based on actual events, is about a Cold War spy exchange. Remember Francis Gary Powers and “The U-2 Incident”? The main character Jim Donovan (Tom Hanks) is, at one point, in Berlin as the Wall is being built. There’s a scene of mortar... Read More

Senators, Talking Sticks and the Hard Work of Listening

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January 23, 2018 — Earlier this week Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) brought out her Masai tribal talking stick to help twenty U.S. senators from both parties listen to each other. Only then were they able to break the dead-lock that had shut down the U.S. Government. The talking stick practice, in case you’re not familiar with it, goes like... Read More

Paying My Respects: Connie Wentzel

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January 21, 2018 — Connie Wentzel died in the weeks before Christmas. We attended her Memorial Service yesterday at Plymouth Church in Seattle. I had worked with Connie for five years, 1991 – 1996, when she was the Church Business Administrator and I was Senior Minister. She came to Seattle to be near children and grandchildren, leaving a position... Read More

A Reading Suggestion: The Gospel of Mark

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January 18, 2018 — This is the year of the Gospel of Mark. If you are a preacher who uses the Common Ecumenical Lectionary, or a member of a congregation that uses the Lectionary, you know this. Mark was the earliest of the four gospels to be written. And it is the shortest. You can read the whole thing... Read More

“Shame on Me,” Says Police Chief

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January 17, 2018 — Distress signals are coming from Pacific County on the Washington coast. One came from Police Chief, Flint Wright, of Long Beach, Washington. In a televised interview (which I’ve not been able to find on-line), Wright who describes himself as a strong conservative said, “Shame on me,” for voting for Donald Trump. Why? Because friends and... Read More

In Praise of the Black Church

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January 15, 2018 — The Black or African-American Church is a great, but largely unsung, spiritual force and tradition in the United States. Martin Luther King Jr. Day seems a good day to honor the black church, from which King himself emerged. I am grateful to my own church experience in the Congregational/ United Church of Christ for providing... Read More

The Post: Impressions

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January 13, 2018 — The Steven Spielberg movie, The Post, with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks opened yesterday. We saw it today. In many respects, the movie — set in 1971 — comes to us from a very different world. People use pay-phones! Every restaurant and office is smoke-filled as people puff away on cigars and cigarettes. Rotary dial phones... Read More

It Is More Blessed to Receive (at least sometimes)

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January 11, 2018 — Okay, here’s a terrible thing I think about every now and again. Alzheimer’s Disease. Specifically, whether or not I will get it. My Dad had Alzheimer’s for eight years, maybe ten. The last three he was in a care facility. It was sad. Sad for him. Sad for all of us who loved him. So... Read More

If He’s Such an Idiot How Come He’s President?

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January 10, 2018 — Years ago I was in the stands for a spring training game in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Oakland A’s were playing the San Francisco Giants on a balmy March day in the desert. There was a guy in the stands who really had it in for one particular A’s player, though I can’t now remember who... Read More