My current delight is the children’s musical directed (and co-authored) by Tom Shelton and “preached” to Princeton United Methodist Church on February 24. The musical theme is God will be there for you,” and to hear it from these young voices is very meaningful to me.
I probably won’t get around to answering your cards this year, again. Sometimes I have sent New Year’s cards. Or Valentines. Or St. Patrick’s Day cards.
Instead, here is a list of resources that are helping me face 2019.
At Princeton United Methodist Church, we have embarked on a series called Relationships and Faith, based in part on materials from the Arbinger Institute. to learn the difference between an Inward Mindset and an Outward Mindset. Pastor Jenny Smith Walz is undertaking the important and difficult task — to talk about difficult questions of gender and race within the church. Her challenging sermon series, titled “The Beloved Community,” begins this month, focusing on “What God wants for God’s people.” The ongoing study has workbooks available in the church office. Also here is a link to one of the Arbinger books,
I am also led to discover, and embrace, the work of Julia Cameron. Known for founding The Artist’s Way, Cameron recommends — nay, requires — those pursuing creativity to write “Morning Pages,” three pages written in the morning, first thing, to clear the addlement from one’s brain. I found my first Cameron book in one of those “free libraries” on the street in DC in October, and it has taken me this long to convince myself it might work.
For the evening, I am trying to use a journaling system called Vertellis Chapters, This “mix of mindfulness and stoicism practices” is a Netherlands-based journaling system (the Dutch are so smart!) and I found it at my favorite shopping spot – online.
Then, my old favorite, is the Upper Room Disciplines. a book of daily devotions based on the lectionary — the Bible passages read throughout the Christian church. So often, that commentary, that scripture, speaks to a current sadness or gladness of the day. My small group at PrincetonUMC, the Monday Morning Group, uses these readings for informal study.
Am I reading these, writing these, studying these consistently every day? No.
George was a habit-driven person and I am the exact opposite. He did exercises daily without fail. When it comes to doing exercises daily, I mostly fail.
But I am trying to create these habits. And I feel led to share them with whoever is out there, just as Jenny, Ginny, Gerri, Aimee, Anthony, Ineke, Judi, Mary Lib, Pat, Deborah, Susannah and so so many more have shared their inspirations with me.
Since I learned that the design for Princeton United Methodist Church, built in 1909, has its roots in William Morris’s Arts and Crafts Movement, I have been trying to learn more about it, And my friend, Mary Pat Robertson, enlivens my research by posting Instagram pictures from England.
Wiley came to the streets of Saint Louis and Ferguson and painted 11 original portraits of people that he met. From the website of the Saint Louis Art Museum: Kehinde Wiley creates large-scale oil paintings of contemporary African American subjects in poses that recall grand traditions of European and American portraiture. His models—real people dressed in their own clothing—assume poses adapted from historic paintings. Wiley’s portraits often feature ornate and decorative backgrounds, elements of which surround and sometimes weave around his subjects. His works address the politics of race and power in art, drawing attention to the pervasive lack of representation of people of color in the art world.The exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum continues through February 19, 2018 and admission is free.
In a NYT article, Choral Music is Slow Food for the Soul, composer Nico Muhly has wise observations about how “the choral tradition operated in a series of interlocking cycles based on the liturgical year, with the music and the musicians playing a role in a larger drama.” Rather than expecting applause, church choir singing is “meant for worship…to be heard in a state of quiet meditation.. to guide the mind out of the building into unseen heights and depths.”
Choristers — and attentive listeners — will agree with Muhly, that the liturgical tradition of choral music brings “sharp pangs of nostalgia, followed by a sense of gratitude that this tradition has been such an important part of my musical world.”
Though the ‘regular’ tickets are sold out, there are ‘obstructed view’ seats available and who cares about the view? But the snow will discourage some, and concert series director Marna Seltzer suggests “likely you will be able to move to a better seat.”
3 p.m. – Friendship Concert – Princeton United Methodist Church
• ChildrenSong of New Jersey (Haddonfield, NJ, USA)
• Paduan Suara El-Shaddai Universitas Sumatera Utara (Sumatera Utara, Indonesia)
• Liberty North High School Choir (Liberty, MO, USA)
• Shanghai Jiao Tong University Choir (Shanghai, China)
• Vassar College Majors (Poughkeepsie, NY, USA)
So you can imagine my delight when I learned that the Chancel Choir at my church (Princeton United Methodist) will sing Morning Star n an arrangement by Helen Kemp at a Christmas concert on Sunday, December 18 at 5 p.m.. They previewed it in morning worship the week before.
Jesus mine, in me shine, fill my heart with light divine…
She talked about how Christians are ‘called by God to glorify God in all that we do,” quoting the well-known saying about how a shoemaker can make shoes to glorify God. “We are called into being for a divine important purpose — and we are called to make a space where others can glorify God.”
But, she cautions, if we go to far in claiming a divine calling, ‘this could keep us from being self-critical.”
Her response to the election turmoil — her call — is to establish her own public voice.
She writes: I know that lots of Christians who are afraid of the policies that are about to hurt people – and are already hurting people – are going to find their voice. But we need to speak individually as well as collectively.
Here is the link to her very first post on her brand new blog, Speaking Up.
Christians who disagree with those radically conservative evangelicals who support Trump need to speak up. This blog will be my effort to add my Christian voice to the public realm.
Some write, some discuss publicly, some engage privately, some protect, some demonstrate — each of us, no matter what our faith, can find a way. We all crave a community. .
Engaging and inspiring, Rev. Dr. “Buster” Soaries simultaneously aggrandized his Princeton chamber listeners and challenged them. The pastor of the 2,000-seat First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens dealt with the latest Trumpisms right away. “This country has survived even more turbulent times,” he reassured. “Our strength is not only in the election of candidates, but also in our infrastructure of voluntary associations to preserve the integrity of our society — people who recognize others’ talents and are willing to share their resources, to invest in who we have been and who we will become.”
Partnerships are key, he said, referring to podium banners touting the chamber’s gold, silver, and bronze sponsors. “To be who we are called to be in history, we have to prove that the freedoms we enjoy work for everybody. To say ‘what’s mine is yours if you need it.’ By giving to others, we can be who we say we are.“
To combat “a Bermuda triangle of deprivation” three decades ago, he partnered with, for instance, United Jersey Bank’s Joe Semrod to transform the “worst public housing I have ever seen in my life” into what now looks like private condos. But he might also partner with current and former gang leaders to muster support for community change.
Three requirements for successful partnerships:
Partnerships must be relational not just transactional. It’s not just writing checks. Without spending extra money, a hospital can move its health screening facilities to a needy community. Police offers can visit schools. People can tutor other people’s children.
Partnerships must be horizontal. Those with money should trust the knowledge and talent that are in the community. For instance, a Thanksgiving turkey giveaway went awry because the people standing in line were just reselling the food. The ‘respectable’ church ladies needed to consult with those less ‘respectable’ to get their charity to the right people.
Partnerships must be sustainable, not seasonal. “As political seasons change, there go our projects. The government can fix a street but it can’t fix a broken heart. We are nurtured by the neighborhood we build. We need to focus on what it takes to build each other up.”
Helping people to live within their means is an important part of ministry, says Soaries, who believes that churches should teach people how to budget. He learned the hard way. As a young man he was a big spender, buying a Cadillac because he assumed preachers drove expensive cars and spending for expensive clothes. “I had more money on my back then I had in my bank account.”
Don’t blame government for the legacy of poverty, he says. “We could raise the minimum wage to $200 an hour and some people will still be broke.” Instead, switch from premium cable to basic cable and use the extra $75 for a life insurance policy. “Then you will close the gap for your children.”
Ken Kamen of Mercadian asked how to help people change their spending ways. “We live in a culture of entitlement that thinks fantasy and reality are twins,” Soaries said. In the first three chapters of his book, Breaking Free from Financial Slavery, “I trick people into confessing that they have a problem.”
Phil Slater of Omega Financial Services , a new chamber member at the Carnegie Center, revealed his company might be hiring loan processors.
And I was delighted to introduce Audrey Yeager, new on the staff of the Princeton Symphony, to Chip Jerry, brother of the late Philip Jerry, — a Joffrey Ballet star who spent part of his career at American Repertory Ballet/Princeton Ballet School — where Audrey studied when as a student at Rider. It was a serendipitous way to welcome her to Princeton’s business community.
I’m happy to share good this news, offered by Dr. Karen Zumbrunn. Karen – and Jim and Anna Looney -are good friends of mine at Princeton United Methodist church. Congratulations to all involved in this exciting project, and good luck in Wisconsin!
For the second year in a row, the Science Olympiad team at West Windsor-Plainsboro North High School will represent New Jersey at the National Science Olympiad to be held May 19 to 21 at the University of Wisconsin-(Stout campus) in Menomonie, Wisconsin.
The team is coached by Dr. Jim Looney, who has taught in the West Windsor-Plainsboro system since 1999. He was recently named Teacher of the Year by his colleagues at WW-P North.
From a pool of 60-70 students two teams of 18 members each are selected. For the state competition each school can bring only one team to compete. For the nationals 15 members and 7 alternates are selected. During the year the teams went to invitational tournaments in CT, PA, NJ, NY and also prepared at the local public library and in each other’s homes.
The Science Olympiad has 25 events in all aspects of Science. Some events are tests, such as Disease Detective, and Dynamic Planet. Other events, such as Forensics, Anatomy, Fossils, have a lab component. Still others require building a device, such as a Robot Arm or Protein Modeling. Participants can win individual medals; the team score is based on the total score from all events.
At the national tournament the WW-PN team will meet teams from all over the country and have challenges at a high level of competition. The Science Olympiad provides opportunities to develop leadership skills and learn the value of teamwork.
“As a coach, I am responsible for the tests, team selection, mentoring and organization” says Looney, but he credits physics teacher Regina Celin, biology teacher Holly Crochetiere, and chemistry teacher Kerry Pross, who are indispensable help in organizing, coaching and attending competitions. Looney acknowledges, “Coaching is such a time and labor-intensive job that it would be impossible to do all we do without their help” and assistance of other faculty as well as supportive parents. He himself brings extensive science experience in laboratory work in molecular biology in both commercial, medical and academic contexts. He holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology and genetics from Columbia University.
Dr. Looney is active at Princeton United Methodist Church. For several years he went with church youth for an Appalachian service project. He has served as president of the United Methodist Men’s Group. He is married to Dr. Anna Looney, an assistant professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. They have one child, Emily, a family physician who lives in the Pacific Northwest and is completing a fellowship in hospice and palliative care.