Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Buzzword Bingo Oct 2004

General Board Meetings

The Church of the Brethren General Board will be meeting on Saturday, October 16, 2004 through Monday, October 18, 2004.

[Meeting Information] | [Meal Reservations] | [Buzzword Bingo]

Sunday, October 10, 2004

CoBACE funds make Christian education events possible.

Funds from the former Church of the Brethren Association for Christian Education (CoBACE) will make it possible for Brethren Press and the General Board's Congregational Life Teams to offer training events on Christian education at Annual Conference next year. CoBACE bequeathed a total of $1,678 to promote Christian education in the denomination when it disbanded in 2001. Over its 21-year career, CoBACE published a newsletter, hosted Annual Conference luncheons and insight sessions on a variety of topics, and provided continuing education activities for professional and volunteer church educators.

Conferencegoers will be able to earn continuing education credit, through the Brethren Academy, for attending a "track" of five insight sessions and a meal event focused on Christian education. CoBACE funds are paying for the leadership of Pamela Anderson, noted Sunday School teacher, at two insight sessions and the Brethren Press breakfast. Anderson spoke on becoming a dynamic 21st century Sunday school teacher, selecting Sunday school curriculum, and her three-year study of 150 different Sunday school curricula and how congregations nurture their children's spirituality in Sunday school, worship, and children's church.

At last year’s Conference, sessions were funded by Congregational Life Teams and featured Jacqueline Nowak, Christian educator and director of The Blessing Center at Memorial United Presbyterian Church, Xenia, Ohio, on family prayer time, the spirituality of children, and family faith formation. Fourteen people received continuing education credit, and between 17 and 65 conferencegoers came to each insight session. Julie Hostetter, CLT for Area 3, and Jewel McNary and Anna Speicher of Brethren Press coordinated the events.

The CoBACE bequest also supported insight sessions at last year's Annual Conference led by Judith Myers-Walls, associate professor of Child Development and Family Studies at Purdue University.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Scared Music

Kindling: Scared Music

Kindling has announced it's latest album, Black & Bluegrass: A Tribute to Ozzy Osbourne.

Thanks to MTV, Ozzy Osbourne and his family are household names - sort of a Beverly Hillbillies for the 21st century. Kindling could not agree more. Trading Ozzy's anguished vocals for high-lonesome harmonies, and screaming guitars for lightning-quick banjos, this collection gives the music of heavy metal's founding father the bluegrass treatment. Performed by Kindling and featuring such classics as "Crazy Train," "Paranoid," and "Flying High Again." Black and Bluegrass cooks up a tribute as good as mama's cornbread - with a side of dove heads.

Black & Bluegrass: A Tribute to Ozzy Osbourne is the kind of record that should probably never be made. It is a cynical pairing of two completely divergent streams of culture that is obviously only in existence to bilk people out of their money. Still, that being said, it is actually a pretty good record. Bluegrass is a surprisingly elastic form of music that can easily transform a heavy metal anthem like "Crazy Train" into something that sounds like it was written by Bill Monroe. Well, almost. The band doing the transforming of both solo Ozzy and Black Sabbath classics is called Kindling, and the four performers in the band are very proficient musicians and singers who sound like they are in on the joke. Their take on "Paranoid" is especially fun with plenty of lightning-fast pickin' and a suitable hellfire-and-brimstone vocal. They also do weird things with "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" and "Shot in the Dark" that almost defy nature. Most likely bluegrass fans will shun this like the plague, and Ozzy fans, should they stumble across it, will find the concept pretty hokey. It's their loss because Black & Bluegrass is a barrel of fun.

Lee Krähenbühl states, "There are plenty of innate differences in the styles that make a fusion difficult — the concept of melody being one. This album pinpoints the fact that in their original versions, these songs contain precious little melody, especially in the vocals, and we had to work hard to extract that and create harmonies behind the Shawn's lead"

Shawn Kirchner added, "Ozzy's songs are about alienation, an important issue for today's church. The church should be not be for just one type of music"

Peg Lehman indicated that the reason that Kindling made this album was, "we've run out of music for the autoharp".

Steve Kinzie was happy that none of the lyrics were attributed to Nelson Mandela.

Kindling premiered many of the numbers off their new CD at a concert hosted by the Tonoloway Primitive Baptist Church located in Hancock, Md.

Joseph Helfrich, not to be out done, will be releasing Fade to Bluegrass; The Bluegrass Tribute to Metallica, and donating the proceeds to a Suicide Prevention Hot-line.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Pity the Fool

Thou Shalt Pity the Fool: Mr. T gets spiritual at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren

It's Sunday night in the bustling lobby of Elgin's Community Church, and hundreds of clean-cut 20-somethings are asserting a pronouncement of profound benevolence.

They're voicing compassion for the world's less fortunate, but it's by repeating a sentiment not found in any Bible: "I pity the fool!"

Those weighty words, the "Whazzzzup?" or "You're fired!" of the mid-'80s, fill the air.

Why? Because Mr. T - née Lawrence Tureaud, later shortened to Tero, then simply T - is in the house.

But when he speaks to the crowd, he doesn't appear to be the Mr. T we all remember. The obligatory gold jewelry, the pounds and pounds of bling, are nowhere to be seen.

"When I'm in a house of God, I don't wear the jewelry," he explains softly. "If I were wearing my gold, I couldn't be humble. I want you all to see my heart of gold."

Bejeweled or not, Mr. T, 52, is indeed still pitying fools everywhere he goes. And tonight, Sept. 26, he's in Elgin to... well, we're not sure.

Many of tonight's packed house - Elgin officials says attendance is around 1,600 people - are certain that he's going to enlighten them with a very spiritual message.

"He's a Christian, and he's been in Hollywood for 20 years," explains Joel Kline. "And he's battled cancer, too."

Others, well, they're here more for the camp value than anything else.

"We're big Mr. T fans," says Round Lake Beach's Jason Mount, who's holding a Mr. T doll that says "I pity the fool!" when Mount pulls the string on the back. "We're here to see the T!"

Pitiful fools

After an intro that features a band playing Survivor's stale "Eye of the Tiger," Mr. T walks onstage wearing a sleeveless black T-shirt, navy blue warm-up pants and sandals with white socks.

"Thank you so much," he says, in a voice not much above a whisper and holding a large Bible above his head. "I'm so glad to be here."

Wait - huh? Who is this low-key guy who seems to be inhabiting Mr. T's body?

Yes, he's got the muscles and the mohawk. But this man's T-shirt asks, "Got Jesus?" And a simple cross hangs from his neck on a necklace of wooden beads.

Joel Kline and Mr. T sit down and begin an earnest discussion about the Lord. Turns out, Mr. T has a lot on his mind, and most of it has to do with Jesus.

"Lord, I ask that you hide my face so my words can be heard," Mr. T says. "Tonight, we want to heal some hearts."

Whoa. Where's the "Cut the jibba-jabba, fool!" or "Better watch out, sucker!"?

This is like going to see Metallica in concert and watching them put down their electric guitars and start playing Gordon Lightfoot songs.

The clean-cut crowd stares at Mr. T spellbound, hanging on his every word. He talks about growing up in Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes, being one of 12 children and his adoration for his mother.

"I'm a big, tough, overgrown momma's boy," he says proudly.

The crowd laughs and cheers. The whole spectacle seems somewhat, well, odd.

After all, Mr. T's last movie was 2001's "Judgment," also known as "Apocalypse IV: Judgment." Not exactly "Spider-Man 2."

Yes, he was in "Rocky III," and "D.C. Cab" and of course, he was Bosco Albert "B.A." Baracus on the famed "The A-Team." But this was a long, long time ago.

The average age at Highland Avenue looks to be about 26, and "The A-Team" went off the air in 1987. So, in Mr. T's prime they were what - 8? 9? Are they really interested in his thoughts on religion? Or is this just a chance to see a celebrity?

Pity = compassion

Mr. T doesn't take long to warm up, and soon the low-key persona is gone. Talking about salvation gets him quite worked up, and he commandeers the microphone and leads the crowd like a preacher addressing his flock.

"These hands can break a brick, but at the same time I can go to a hospital and hold a little baby!" he says.

"God will never leave you," he says. "If you believe, everything will come to pass."

Mr. T eventually turns to his cancer diagnosis, which came in 1995.

"It shook me, it rocked me to my core, and it knocked me to my knees," he says. "But then I realized: What a great place to be, to pray."

Mr. T invokes the name of Jacob, the biblical character who wrestled with an angel, and the famously troubled Job.

Then, he finally explains what he meant by constantly decreeing that he pitied the fool. It turns out he didn't mean I pity you because your foolishness makes it inevitable that I will physically harm you.

Rather, his pity is a somewhat Christian message - albeit tinged with violent overtones: "You see, it allows me to pity fools and not beat them up," he says. "If someone cuts me off on the freeway, I just say, 'I pity him,' and then I'm done with it."

When his hourlong talk ends, the adoring throng treats Mr. T to a standing ovation.

He is the bomb

Afterward, Mr. T chats for a few moments before patiently signing hundreds of autographs.

He stands the whole time: "I can't sit down - I'm too excited to sit!" he says. "I got too much energy to sit!"

He talks about living in Lake Forest and the famous incident in which he cut down more than 100 trees on his property.

"A white man came up to me and said, 'I cut down trees all the time,'æ" he explains. "It was just because I'm black. And the same people who said I couldn't do that, they live in wooden houses."

Then he heads back upstairs to sign autographs for the hundreds of people waiting for him.

Mr. T knows how to handle the crowd: He shakes hands, poses for pictures and reacts good-naturedly when a woman suddenly reaches up and rubs his mohawk.

"See, it's good to have a short name," he says, signing as many autographs as he can. "If my name was Engelbert Humperdinck, we'd be here all night!"

Jill Schroeder of Algonquin hands him her cell phone with her friend Ray at the other end.

"Why aren't you in church?" he growls into the phone with mock anger.

The signing goes on and on, and Mr. T shows no sign of complaining.

"You were the bomb in 'D.C. Cab!'æ" yells Steve Mravik of Elgin.

"Thank you, thank you very much!" Mr. T replies.

The line between Christianity and celebrity seems to have blurred here, yet the crowd seems to have taken away nothing but goodness from Mr. T's talk.

"I don't know where God is in my life, and he sent me the message that I should look further," says Kristin Kiefer of Elk Grove Village. "He was really inspirational."

Behind her, Mr. T continues to strike poses for cameras, shake hands and offer thanks to the Lord.

"We met Mr. T!" Mravik says, high-fiving his friend Lauren Greeno.

"It was awesome!" she agrees. "It really was. He was really full of love."

Agrees Manning: "He delivered a message of humility and putting God first," she says.

"And pitying the fool!" comes a lone voice behind her.

And pitying the fool, indeed.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Ad-Hoc Additions

Ad-Hoc Additions

The ad-hoc relocifcation committee has secured the services of a group of consultants who will serve as inspectors for any possible sites that may be considered for national program in the future. The four consultants, Brian Kelly, Andy Ryan, Kevin Sexton, and David Marino are expected to positively impact any decisions through the years of experience they bring to the job. Two more consultants, Collin Flynn and Michael Gruring, are expected to join the team in the near future.