What's Tony Thinking

Should Churches Continue On-Line Worship After the Pandemic?

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August 14, 2021 — During the pandemic we have attended services, over Zoom, with our daughter, who is a pastor, and her congregation, Bethel UCC in White Salmon, Washington. We’ve been grateful for that option. Zoom, at least as Bethel does it, allows for interaction with others in the congregation. So we’ve gotten to know people despite being on-line.... Read More

The Efficiency Trap

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August 12, 2021 — I came across a delightful essay the other day, “Escaping the Efficiency Trap and Finding Some Peace of Mind.” It was drawn from a new book, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. Burkeman has tried all sorts of tools and techniques to manage his time better, to be more efficient and make time... Read More

A Harbinger of Change?

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August 8, 2021 — Was there a harbinger of change for Seattle politics in the August 3 primary? Most commentators wrote it off as more of the same. Whatever portion of the Seattle body politic that is disgruntled failed to show or at least make an impact. The Mayor’s race gives us two City Council veterans. Bruce Harrell is... Read More

Why Love the Church?

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August 6, 2021 — As readers of this blog know I am working on a project for Vancouver School of Theology in Vancouver B.C. We’re evaluating the Field Education component of their program and helping re-shape it for the future. In my research I have found that VST is an unusual school among seminaries of the mainline Protestant tradition.... Read More

A Better National Story

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August 4, 2021 — We human beings create and tell stories about ourselves and the groups to which we belong. Often those stories flatter us and make us feel special. We tend, all of us, to create narratives that have a worm in the apple. That is, they make us different and better than other people. When someone challenges... Read More

Pandemic Panic, Puberty, and the Primary

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August 2, 2021 — Three topics here. First, pandemic panic. Is there reason to panic? The on-line newsletter “Dispatch” noted three alarming headlines trumpeted over the weekend, but then spent some time doing the numbers and analysis in context. This seemed to me important and helpful. Here are the headlines: From NBC News: “Exclusive: At least 125,000 fully vaccinated... Read More

A Capacity for Joy

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August 1, 2021 — This past week the folks at the Crackers and Grape Juice podcast taped another session with me and Will Willimon, a.k.a. “Grumpy Old Men.” This time the format was us responding to questions that had been submitted by members of their audience. By the way, several of you — readers of this blog — submitted... Read More

A Victory for the Unseen

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July 30, 2021 — Sunisa Lee’s gold medal at the Olympics in the all-round gymnastics competition is a victory for the unseen, and a victory the Hmong people in America. As I watched, I felt a small share in their joy. In 1978 our small congregation in Carnation, Washington, Tolt Congregational Church (UCC), sponsored a refugee family from southeast... Read More

Why Are Blue Cities So Outrageously Unaffordable?

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July 28, 2021 — As most readers of this column know, we spend much of the summer at an old family cabin in the Wallowa Mountains of Northeastern Oregon. But we keep an eye on our hometown, Seattle, where we have lived for over three decades. We get the Seattle Times on line. We hear from friends and neighbors.... Read More

On Being a Grandparent

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July 27, 2021 — We’ve just wrapped up a twelve day visit from three of our grandchildren (ages 9, 6 and 3). For the last four days of that their parents were off for a “get-a-way.” It’s not easy keeping up with such a three-some. Entertaining, endearing, irritating, exhausting . . . Anyhow, I thought I’d follow up by... Read More