Saturday, September 30, 2006


“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.”  (Psalm 32:8)

Many of you are aware that my late father, Eugene A. Baril, was an official of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (like the “DMV” in most states).  “Gene” Baril was the most skilled driver I’ve ever known.  Even as a man over forty, I was very intimidated to drive him as a passenger in my car!

People often tease my sister and me about one driving trait we each have, and it came straight from “the driving expert” Gene Baril:  when it comes to driveways and parking spaces, whenever possible, we back in.  As silly or petty as it may seem to some, it really makes more sense to back in!

I actually read an article a few months back which said that a huge percentage of car accidents happen in mall parking lots with people backing OUT of parking spaces.  In mall parking situations, whenever possible, I back into the space.  Or, if it’s one of those “double” type spaces that you often see in shopping center parking lots, I pull into an empty “double” space, then I pull up to the front space so I can just pull the car out when I leave and I don’t have to back out.

At home I ALWAYS back the cars into the driveway. When we leave in the morning, all we have to do is jump in the cars and GO.  There’s none of that awkward turning of the head and struggling to back out first thing in the morning that most people go through.  Even when I visit at friends homes, I usually back in.  Our friends the Ventrescos in New Hampshire always have a laugh that at a social function I always back IN to their long and big driveway, but I do!

I’d guess only about 10% of drivers are “backer-inners” like my sister and me.  I’ve noticed my kids usually back in, like me.  My wife will do either.  I guess a lot of it is habit.  But the big expert Gene Baril said to back in, so for me, that settles it!

(Incidentally, I know that certain parking lots do not ALLOW backing in.  That’s true for Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri where my daughter Amy attends.  They have diagonal parking and all cars must be “head in” or they get ticketed.  For my father, that would be heresy!)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


“...for the labourer is worthy of his hire.”  (from Luke 10:7)

Over the past few days, Boston’s 96.9 FMTalk has been gleefully promoting the news that Jay Severin is returning to his old Mon.-Fri. 3-7 p.m. time slot.  (You can read all about it at  I’m “not a happy camper” about this.

I listen to a lot of talk radio.  My wife would say I listen to too much of it.  Frankly, I probably do.  I particularly like 680 AM WRKO and 96.9 FMTalk WTKK.  WRKO has been a talk station since 1981.  In comparison, 96.9  FM Talk is a relatively “new kid on the block” having been around since September of 1999.  (Prior to that the station played “Smooth Jazz” and back in the 1980s it was a popular soft-rock station.)  When Jay Severin went on 96.9 FMTalk in 1999, I was delighted.  I was getting tired of WRKO’s Howie Carr and Severin was a nice alternative.  During 1999, 2000, and 2001, I was a regular listener to Jay Severin.  By 2003, I was getting tired of Jay Severin.  A self-proclaimed “libertine and libertarian” he made Gene Burns sound like Billy Graham, and Jerry Williams sound like Rabbi Howard Kushner!  I got tired of hearing about all the women Severin had relations with, about how “pro-choice” Severin was, and about what a jerk President Bush was.  I also got tired of hearing Severin strongly imply on a number of occasions that anybody who made less than $200,000 a year and who did not graduate from an Ivy League university was a second-rate failure who should be ashamed of himself or herself.

I was glad when Severin left that time slot to pursue a syndicated show which 96.9 FMTalk picked up in the evening.  When Michael Graham went on air in late 2005 I quickly became a huge fan and regular listener.  (I admit that I listen to Howie Carr and Max Robbins discuss TV on Mondays during the 5 p.m. hour, but otherwise I’m pretty regular with Michael Graham.)  I have e-mailed Michael on several occasions, and have received pleasant and thoughtful e-mail replies.  Jay Severin NEVER replied to any of my e-mails.  I met Michael Graham in person on a couple of occasions and found him to be very warm and personable.  I respect that Michael lives here in the MetroWest area with his family, unlike Jay who did the show from his home on Long Island, New York.  

Severin’s syndicated show has gone the way of the Edsel.  I have no problem with 96.9 FMTalk hiring him back as a local host, but I have a BIG problem with giving him the Monday thorough Friday afternoon drive slot.  THAT slot now belongs to Michael Graham.  I think it’s an insult to Michael Graham, and I’m honestly offended for him.

I have no idea if Michael Graham will be continuing on 96.9 FMTalk in another time slot.  I certainly hope he will be.  Even so, I would have given Jay Severin some less desirable time slot and would have left Michael Graham where he was.

I’ve e-mailed Program Director Paula O’Connor at WTKK to tell her pretty much what I’ve said here.  I don’t know if it will do any good, but I think she needs to listen to the listeners!  I wasn’t sure what Paula O’Connor’s e-mail address is so I used both paulao’  and
I figure one of them will work.

As a kid I wanted to go into broadcasting.  My father talked me out of it because he didn’t want me to go into a field where there is very little job security.  This situation seems to prove Dad was right.


Jeff Adair is a really cool reporter for the MetroWest Daily News and the Framingham TAB.  I loved his column in today's (September 27) MetroWest Daily News about "Words We Can Do Without".
I encourage you to check it out at
Hope you like it!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


“I exhort therefore, that, ... prayers ... be made for all men;  For Kings, and for all that are in authority...” (from 1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Monday evening at 6 p.m. was kind of a weird time for a debate to be scheduled but that was the time for last night’s Gubernatorial debate which was televised on Boston’s FOX 25 and in fact took place at the station’s Dedham, MA studios.  The man of the hour was featured.  I don’t mean any of the candidates- I mean Chris Wallace, fresh from his controversial interview with former President Clinton.

I’m glad FOX 25 featured not only Republican candidate Kerry Healey and Democrat candidate Deval Patrick, but also Independent candidate Christy Mihos and Green-Rainbow candidate  Grace Ross.  I thought Wallace did a very good job moderating the debate, and managing to keep from having a smirk on his face!  The only candidate who did not impress me at all was Grace Ross, a seeming throwback to Haight-Asbury of 1966.  She makes Deval Patrick look like Rush Limbaugh.  I’m sure she’s a very nice woman, but I think she’d be much happier in some socialist country in Europe.  Seriously, Deval Patrick is NO Rush Limbaugh.  His defense of driver’s licenses for illegal aliens and instate tuition for illegal aliens was weak.  Despite that weakness, Patrick is handsome, articulate, and likable.  Kerry Healey is being painted by her opponents as a rich out-of-touch country club Republican and in fact she acted like a rich out-of-touch country club Republican!  The Romney-Healey administration has driven fees and fines through the roof; Kerry Healey is hypocritical in many respects when she talks about “rolling back the income tax” and other tax breaks.

Yes, I like Christy Mihos.  Although 96.9 FM Talk’s Michael Graham calls him “angry”, I think Mihos DOES have a good vision for Massachusetts.  His Proposition 1 which calls for rolling back property taxes is a great idea.  His criticism of the ineptitude of the politicians on Beacon Hill (I believe) is valid.  Mihos IS angry about his firing from the Mass. Turnpike Board by former Republican Governor Jane Swift due to his calling for accountability for Bechtel-Parsons and other contractors involved in the Big Dig.  I hope no Greek-Americans will be angry with me, but Mihos has that “nerdy Greek” demeanor going on just like Mike Dukakis did, but unlike Dukakis, Mihos is charismatic, funny, and a true populist.  He also is not afraid to get in Kerry Healey’s face regarding the shortcomings of the Romney-Healey administration (as he essentially did last night).

Can Mihos attract voters?  As of this writing, he is in the single digits in the polls.  Critics argue he is taking votes away from Kerry Healey and will guarantee that Deval Patrick is elected Governor in November.  Healey says she welcomes the third party candidates, but if you believe that one, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

You can probably guess I very much like Christy Mihos and will likely vote for him in November.  In substance, the winner last night was Mihos. In style and class, the winner was Deval Patrick.  For a “political junkie” like me, this is an interesting race, indeed!

Sunday, September 24, 2006


(See entry for Sunday, September 17, 2006 to truly appreciate this one!)
I almost didn't write this, and I'm not sure if it's a good idea or a bad idea to share it, but here goes:

This morning the church phone rang around 8:45 a.m.  I had been at the door greeting people who were arriving early for coffee and doughnuts before Sunday School.   I heard the phone ringing, and I went into our conference room.  One of our members had answered the phone but was having trouble hearing and understanding the caller.  I picked up the call.  I was also having a hard time hearing the guy on the phone.  He wanted directions to the church, but thought we were located at 1 Edgell Rd.  I explained to him that we'd rented an office at that location in the early 1990s but that it was a very out-of-date address.  He'd gotten the address and phone number off the internet.  I wonder:  where?!  If you do a search for "First Assembly of God of Framingham" you'll quickly find a link that gives a webpage about our church with a photo, our current address and information, and a place to "click" to e-mail us.  When the caller found out our address was 32 South Street, he was disgusted.

"I was there last week" he said.  Yes, it was the guy I called "Jerry-No-Stay".  He was trying to find a GOOD Assemblies of God church in Framingham as opposed to our worldly and apostate church where the pastor is rude and uncouth, there is "no prayer or Bible reading" and the material used is worldly and inappropriate.

I did my best to try to explain that every week there is a LOT of prayer and Bible reading at our church and that he really never gave us a chance.  I also explained that we are the only English-speaking Assemblies of God church in Framingham.  (There are at least 4 Portuguese-speaking Brazilian ones, and I think there's one Spanish-speaking Assemblies of God church.)  He was frustrated.  As much as I wanted to hang up on him, I calmly told him there's a large Assemblies of God church in Wayland and I gave him some information about it.

I ditto everything I wrote last week.  HOW can a person so thoroughly judge and condemn a pastor and a church after just a few minutes in attendance?

We had a pretty good Sunday School class and service.

No joke, we had a visitor for the service.   He sat through the praise and worship music part of the service fine.  About five minutes into my sermon, he walked out!

Is it me?  :-)

Saturday, September 23, 2006


If a camera crew had followed me around yesterday (Friday) they would probably have thought I'm a really bizarre guy.  I must say, yesterday I WAS even more bizarre and eccentric than usual!  First thing in the morning I watched a videotape of a "King of the Hill" episode.  It's from last season and the storyline is the crazy experiences that Hank and his family have when they join a megachurch.  I wanted that to be fresh in my mind, because I'm showing it for my Men's Fellowship this morning.  I even wrote several good (at least I think they're good) discussion questions to use after we watch that video piece.

Then, I began thinking about my sermon from Genesis 4 on Cain and Abel and I decided to create a monologue from Cain that he might give were he able to travel through time, speak English and speak to us.  I'm going to open my sermon with it tomorrow.  I realize that a few of our church people will read this blog before Sunday so they'll know about it, but I hope they'll just let everybody else be surprised when they hear it.  This piece is called: "Cain's Comments":

   I just can't win.  It's just not fair.  It's NOT fair!  I'm a very nice guy.  I'm a very talented guy. I'm a very capable guy.  I'm a firstborn - GUY that is.  My mother said, "With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a MAN."  Yeah.  She'd already had enough girls to fill 3  Girl Scout troops!  But I was the first guy.  That should count for something!

   I work hard.  I'm not lazy.  I believe in God.  What do you think, I'm stupid?  Of course I believe in God...and I worship God, and I serve God.  I'm very religious.

   I bring God offerings of the fruits of the ground.  It's not junk.  It's good fruit and vegetables.  I'm very faithful with that- with my offerings.

   My brother- oh, my brother.  He brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock as offerings.  ANIMAL KILLER!
And God just LOVED it!  I mean you should see the sappy look on my brother's face.  Sappy! Try to be around this guy for a few days.  Believe me, you'd be sick of him in 24 hours.

   Now, me. I've got ambition.  I'm going to build the first city, and I'm not some selfish jerk.  I'm going to name it after my son.  I know,I know, where did I get my wife?  How long do you think Adam and Eve lived?  Check it out. How many kids do you think they had?  Three?  Check out Genesis 5:4 among other places.  They had lots and lots of children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  And  I'm male number one.

   I really like most of them, too.  I really get along with most of them.  Except sappy, super-holy, animal slaughtering, "I'm right and everybody's wrong" Abel.

   God says I can't handle what's on my doorstep.  What do I look like, a dope?  I can handle it.  Don't YOU tell me I can't.  Who do you think YOU are, Abel the Second or something?

   Abel and I are going to take a little walk.  We're going to take a little walk out in the field.  We'll just see what will happen then!

   I know, I know, "Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do ... ?!"
   Listen, I'm not the bad boy- he is!

Well, now this is Bob Baril talking again.  I hope you liked that.  I just thought I'd share it.  If you are in the Framingham area and would like to visit our small church tomorrow morning, you're welcome!  We don't bite.  And no, we don't plan any "Cain" style murders, either!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


"Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." (2 Corinthians 8:21)

I can't remember if it was the entire Beatles group who recorded a song called, "Fixing a Hole" or if it was Paul McCartney & Wings.  Somehow, I think it was The Beatles.  Anyway, I KNOW it was the Beatles who (in the song, "A Day in the Life") sang, "I read the news today oh, boy, 4000 holes in Blatford, Lancashire, and though the holes were rather small, they had to count them all; now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall..."

Either of those songs would be a good theme song for the story I'm going to tell here.  AND, I'm not just writing this for the fun of it.  I really value your opinions on this one.  Either post a comment, or e-mail me, or both.

In the late Summer of 2005, I wrote a column for the MetroWest Daily News about "what I do all day".  Many who read that were probably surprised at how many "menial" tasks I do and that at least 50% of what I do in my "clergy job" has absolutely nothing to do with God or the Bible or anything like that.  This situation is certainly in that "secular" category.

Our church's parking lot is several decades old as is our church building.  (It's the former U.A.W. Union Hall and the property borders that of the Chicken Bone Saloon off Route 135 in downtown Framingham.)  One of the most annoying things about our parking lot is that we've had four sinkholes open up in the parking lot since the early summer of 1996.  Specifically, two in 1996, one in 1998, and one this year.  This year's sinkhole opened up in February.  There's a paving company right around the corner from us on Taylor Street.  I guess you're not supposed to name specific businesses on AOL's blogs, although I've done it a number of times, but just to be a good boy I'll call it the Taylor St. Paving Co., although that's not their real name.  The Taylor St. Paving Co. fixed  each of the holes from the '90s, digging, filling, and patching with asphalt.  Each of the repairs has stood up pretty well.  When the hole opened up in February (in the midst of a cold driving rain storm) I went over to the Taylor St. Paving Co. and asked them if they'd put a metal plate over the hole.  They did and I put an orange construction cone on top of it.  A few weeks later, Steve, from the Taylor St. Paving Co. contacted me.  He needed to do a required safety training for his workers, and wondered if he could use our facility to do the training and then they'd repair the hole for free. I thought that was a great idea, and I gave him a tentative "yes".  Unfortunately, the date they HAD to use was a March date in which I was away at a minister's retreat.  I had to decline.

Since then, I've contacted the Taylor St. Paving Co. numerous times- by phone, in person, and by mail.  I even mailed Steve a $10 Dunkin Donuts gift card.  I've asked them to give us an estimate and schedule the work.  They continually assure us they WILL get to it, but nothing happens.  It's now getting to be late September.  The hole has actually gotten a little bigger.  My board is getting restless.  A number of our church people are making comments.  And, actually, I'm getting very annoyed and just wanting to get this done.

My wife recommended I contact a big time paving company and have them do it.  I won't use their real name, but it starts with a "B"  so I'll call them "Big Time Paving Co.".  Big Time Paving Co. has a first-class website.  I e-mailed them asking them to call me.  They did call me and totally blew me off because I'm just a little guy and this is a little job they don't care about.  Talk about feeling insulted!  If I'm ever the pastor of a MegaChurch who wants a paving company to put in a 900-car-lot, do you think I'd EVER  call the Big Time Paving Co.?  Never!

A minister friend recommended a small paving company in central Mass. that once repaired a sinkhole at their church lot for $1500.  Honestly, Taylor St. Paving Co. will do it for around half that.  So, I'm not sure if I should call Small, Costly, But Reliable Paving Co. or not.

Evangelical Christians HATE to use the word "luck" because officially we don't believe in "luck"... it's like a swear word.   But I'm going to break the evangelical Christian rule and say that typically I have terrible luck with contractors, repair men, etc.  I typically get fooled, conned, given "run arounds" etc. because I'm very unhandy and I hate all this kind of stuff.  (Well, I'm actually good at lawn care and pretty good at painting, but at anything else "handy"-FORGET IT!)  In a small church you have to handle all of this kind of junk.  In a big church there are all sorts of people to handle it and you don't typically have to deal with it.

Should I keep bugging Taylor St. Paving Co.?  Do you think it sounds like they REALLY are going to do the job or like they'd like to get rid of me?  Would you call Small, Costly, But Reliable Paving Co. in central Mass.?  Would you solicit the opinions of other pastors?  I thought of the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce as our church belongs and the "Chamber" is sort of a brotherhood, but NO paving companies belong to the chamber.

Remember how the Apostle Paul had a thorn in his side?  Well, this is a thorn in my side...actually in my parking lot.  What would you do?

Monday, September 18, 2006


I was going to wait and post this early Tuesday morning (September 19) to have the posting coincide with my 52nd birthday and because I “normally” like to post on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays...BUT this couldn’t wait.

For the past several years, as a birthday present to myself, I’ve gone into Boston “for the day” either on my birthday, on the day before my birthday, or on the day after my birthday.  Since I have church commitments for Tuesday, September 19, I decided to make today, Monday, September 18 my “birthday treat” to Boston.

I took the 8:30 train from Framingham and arrived at Back Bay Station around 9:15.  I spent a little time around Copley Place, then took the Orange line to the theater district area and walked to the Boston Public Garden.  This is the third year in a row that I’ve been at the Boston Public Garden on the day when the swan boats were being disassembled and hauled away to be put in storage for the winter.  It’s a pretty sad sight and is a harbinger that winter and cold weather are right around the corner.  That was difficult to believe today as it was sunny and warm and even somewhat humid and summery.  

I walked over to Wendy’s on Boylston Street and had an early lunch there.  Then I walked back to the Boston Public Garden.  Much of what I was doing today was walking and praying and reading my Bible.  As I sat on a bench  around 12:15 reading my Bible, a slim, dark-haired, bearded “thrityish” man looked at me and asked me if I was a Christian.  I replied that I was.  He said, “Please give me a Bible verse to help me!”

I turned and read him 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

The guy told me his name, but to keep it anonymous I’ll call him “Charles”.  Charles told me he IS fearful, but rationalized that since he is fearful of sinning it’s O.K.  He went on to say that he’s been a Christian (in the true Biblical sense) for eighteen years.

“I had eighteen years of chastity,” he said,”but last month I fell and had sex with a woman.  That’s all I can think about.  Right now the reason I’m in this park is I’m walking around looking for girls.”  

I had him sit down.  I shared some Scripture with him, gave him a pep talk, and laid hands on him and prayed for him right out loud in public.  He was very receptive.  As I’d prayed, I compared him to King David.  When I finished he was kind of blown away.  He told me he’s constantly thinking he’s like King Saul and that God is going to reject him.  I told him, “No.  You’re not like Saul, you’re like David, and that’s why God had me pray that way.”

I gave him my card and encouraged him to e-mail me.  I felt quite humbled that God had used me to minister to this young man Charles.

I started heading for the Orange line station and I realized I would not likely make the 1:10 train out of Back Bay.  I didn’t want to have to wait for the 2:45, but I concluded that if I did, I’d just do more reading and praying around Back Bay Station.

At the Medical Center/South Cove Orange Line “T” Stop I waited and waited for a subway train. Finally one came.  I glanced at my watch and realized there was no way I could make the 1:10 train at Back Bay.  

We got to Back Bay at around 1:12 and I hurried up one set of stairs and down another.  At around 1:14 the train was SECONDS from pulling out!  I ran and got on the train JUST IN TIME.

I wondered if God allowed the train to be late as sort of a reward because of the time I’d spent ministering to Charles.
Yup, I had an appointment in Boston today!

Sunday, September 17, 2006


"Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. " (Jude 21)

I don't usually post anything on my blog on Sundays- usually it's Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.  I just kind of had to "think out loud" on this one.

Today I had what could be called a "hit and run" first time visitor at our church.  It reminded me of a couple of visitors we had about eight years ago.  Then, a middle-aged woman and a young man came in quite early- around 8:30 a.m. when we have coffee and refreshments. They each helped each other to some coffee and refreshments.  The young man acted suspicious.  After a few minutes he asked me, "Do you believe in 'speaking in tongues'?!"  I informed him we did.

"Oh, so THAT'S how it is around here!" he angrily remarked and the two of them left like they were the last two people off the Titanic!

Today's "hit and run" was a bald guy who was maybe in his forties.  He arrived a few minutes before Adult Sunday School.  I introduced myself and he gave his name as "Jerry".  Somehow, he had "pleasant but judgmental and intolerant Christian" written all over him....oh, not literally, but I've met the type before.  Considering I'm VERY unconventional for an evangelical, I wondered how long he'd last.  In Sunday School we're watching a PBS documentary (on DVD) and discussing it in light of the Bible.  Many evangelicals would find that too "worldly, secular, and inappropriate".  I put the DVD on and began watching.  I glanced back and noticed the guy was gone.  All it took was a minute of that PBS documentary and he bolted!

One of our members followed him out and tried to talk to him and encourage him to come back inside.  After about ten minutes the church member gave up and Jerry was gone.

I never got to hear what Jerry's objections were.  I never got to explain why we're using that material, and how it really IS relevant to the Bible.  Jerry also never got to be part of our morning worship service, which was particularly good today.  

Overall, it was a good morning, but those "hit and run" deals are quite annoying and unfair.

Here's a good rule:  DON'T do that!  All churches are different.  All pastors are different.  Give the place a chance.  TALK.  Interact.  Listen.  And understand that some Christians may nor share your political views...they may not share your philosophical views...they may not listen to the same kind of music you do.  Give them a chance.

In one scene of today's video (a documentary) a troubled Christian teen talks about his church and his pastor who accepted him with black fingernail polish and weird looks when he arrived at the church, and that acceptance led to him making it his church home.  I think we'd have accepted Jerry O.K. if he just gave us a chance!

This is just the Sunday afternoon venting of a pastor!  What do you think?

Friday, September 15, 2006


“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1))

Yesterday morning a I drove along Hartford Street, Framingham, I noticed a 1960s style wooden console television set on the sidewalk with a “FREE” sign on it.  Boy, did that take me back.  When my wife and I got married back in 1982, a television sales and repair friend of ours named Dick Lawless gave us a 1967 RCA color console television set.  I moved that set to Framingham in 1987 and used it until it died in 1989.  I know those sets are anything BUT “high tech” but I kind of miss them!

I don’t know if he made up the word or not, but our Neilsen guy once referred to himself as a “Vidiot”.  Yes, I said our Neilsen guy.  We were once a household in the Neilsen T.V. ratings.  You’re absolutely not supposed to tell anybody you’re in the ratings, but since we HAVEN’T been since February 1997, I suppose it’s O.K. now.  Among many born-again Christians it tends to be the “in” thing to have only one television set in the house and to only watch Christian programs, news programs, and occasional sports programs.  I must admit I often feel uncomfortable among my evangelical Christian peers because we have several sets and are big T.V. watchers.  Thus, although chosen entirely by random, we made a good Nielsen family.  Well, I guess we’re Vidiots, but considering my kids all have done outstanding in school, with very good grades, very good S.A.T. scores, etc., I don’t think it's done any harm.  

I look forward to this season of the year because it’s when the new shows start.  I can’t wait to watch “The Office” on Thursday night and see how things worked out between Jim and Pam.  Like my son, I’m excited that “Lost” will be back on ABC in October.  There WAS a sad bit of news this week, however.  Boston’s WHDH-TV Channel 7 became the latest major market network affiliate to buy out and essentially absorb a competitor, that being WLVI Channel 56.  For anyone who is excited about the new CW network being on 56, don’t panic.  They’ll continue to run all the CW programming, but the Channel 56 Dorchester studio and operations center will be sold, a number of folks will be laid off, a few will be rehired at Channel 7, and what used to be the Channel 56 news at 10 will become the Channel 7 news at 10 on Channel 56.  That sort of thing is already done in RhodeIsland where FOX affiliate Channel 64 is just “Channel 12 light” as it’s owned by Channel 12, and in fact Channel 12 results of the R.I. primary were simultaneously covered last week on both 12 and 64.  Yup, there’s less and less choice out there.  What was it Bruce Springstein said, “Fifty-seven channels and nothing on”?

Although I’m a pretty conservative Republican, when it comes to this kind of stuff, I’m a flaming liberal.  I usually HATE mergers and consolidations because inevitably the public loses!  Example:  banking in New England.  Example:  The MetroWest Daily News bought The Framingham TAB a few years ago, and now they’re essentially the same paper.  Example:  Shaws bought the Star Market chain a few years ago and now Star Market is just a Shaws with a Star Market sign out front.  

Well, I’m getting tired?  What’s on T.V.?!

Thursday, September 14, 2006


“I exhort therefore, that, ... prayers ... be made for all men;  For Kings, and for all that are in authority...” (from 1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Tuesday, September 19, 2006, is my 52nd birthday.  It’s also Primary Day in Massachusetts.  I’m a registered Republican, so my “primary” is really boring.  I may go to the polls “just so they know I’m still around” as radio talk show host Mo Lauzier says.  I DO have some thoughts on the people running for Governor, and I hope you’ll find my comments to be interesting.

This may surprise you (since I’m a pretty conservative Republican), but the person I like most in the Governor’s race is Democrat Deval Patrick.  Now, before you fire off any angry or confused e-mails, I want to make it clear that I said I “LIKE” him.  I did not say I’d vote for him.  But of all the people running, he’s easily the most likable and easy the most motivational.  Of all the people running for Governor of Massachusetts right now, he’s the one I’d most like to go to a ball game with or go out to lunch with.  He’s bright, articulate, has a vision for the state, and does a good job articulating his vision.  Unfortunately, Deval Patrick is ultra-liberal.  I LIKE him as a person, but he’s wrong on drivers’ licenses for illegal aliens, he’s wrong on in-state tuition at state colleges for illegal aliens, and he’s wrong on most major social issues.  (Why couldn’t a nice likable guy like that be a conservative Republican?! )

The person running for Governor that I like the LEAST is Tom Reilly.  I think of him as the personification of old-fashioned, “Democratic machine” , labor union, good ‘ol boy, backroom politics.  If the late Jerry Williams were still alive and on the air he’d have a “field day” trashing Tom Reilly.  In fact, Tom Reilly has done quite a job sinking his own campaign!

Chris Gabrieli is O.K. but just O.K.  He’s on the wrong side of embryonic stem cell research.  His T.V. ads which make Governor Romney sound like a cruel guy who wants little kids to die of diabetes really turn me off.  His “kids should be in school all day” ads really turn my kids off, even though they’re young adults now.  Gabrieli is the most electable of the Democrats but comes across as a know-it-all and he’s boring.

Ironically, the NOVEMBER election is on my sister’s birthday!  I am leaning toward Christy Mihos, but it’s certainly possible I’ll vote for Kerry Healey in November.  Mihos is for gay marriage, and that’s the part of him that I really DON’T like.  However, Christy Mihos is a “character” and is the second most likable person running for Governor.  He’s on the wrong side of the gay marriage issue, but he’s on the right side of many issues.  I think it takes ENORMOUS guts to run as an independent candidate and I respect him for that.  Kerry Healey is O.K.  She doesn’t really excite me, but I think she’s competent and would be an O.K. Governor.  

You may suspect that I’m a big Mitt Romney fan.  I’m really not.  Actually, I can take him or leave him, but he’s certainly been a better Governor than Shannon O’Brien EVER would have been!

Well, that’s my take on it.  If I do go to the polls on Sept. 19, my Republican ballot will list a lot of offices that have no Republican running.  Maybe I should write MY name in!  What do you think?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


As I write this, I realize that it’s something that meant a lot to ME.  I’m aware it may not resonate with anyone else.  Yet, I’m compelled to write it anyway.

I’m not proud of this, but at times I CAN be cynical.  I tend to expect a lot of people, and I do mean a LOT.  (Well, I also expect a lot of myself!)  Anyway- the “expecting a lot” stuff typically can lead to disappointment.  Lots and lots of disappointments in people can lead to cynicism.  Believe me, I’m not proud of any of this, and I KNOW it’s not God’s will for me to be cynical, so I battle this tendency constantly.

To try to make a long story quite short, I’ve been attending meetings of the civic organization called “Framingham Downtown Renaissance” for about five months.  I’ve felt a bit like a “fish out of water” there, but I’ve also felt that I’m on a “mission from God” (I know that sounds like the Blues Brothers!) to get downtown clergy and their churches, especially the ethnic churches involved with this group.  I have a particular Brazilian pastor friend who has made commitments to go to “F.D.R.” meetings and then backed out.  It’s been frustrating.  The next “F.D.R.” meeting is on Thursday morning of this week and the Brazilian pastor called me Saturday to tell me he won’t be attending due to a doctor’s appointment.

“Great,”  I thought sarcastically, “I’m going to go to another meeting empty handed and wondering what I’m accomplishing!”

I DO thank God that He then gave me an idea I really should have thought of a long time ago:  to just send a blanket e-mail to all of the clergy in Framingham  speaking of the virtues if “F.D.R.” and encouraging them to attend.  I was delighted that within twenty-four hours, the Rev. Dr. J. Anthony Lloyd of Greater Framingham Community Church e-mailed me that he’d be going to the meeting!

Yesterday, on September 11, I got another e-mail from another minister that MADE MY DAY.  It was from the Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell of First Baptist Church on Route 9.  Mindi is very new to the community and a really impressive clergywoman.  She told me she would be attending the “F.D.R.” meeting.  That impressed me because her church is not even located downtown, nor does she live in the downtown area.  The next part of her e-mail greatly humbled and sobered me.  About four months ago I put out a blanket e-mail requesting prayer for an acquaintance of mine from Brookline named Bruce Allen and his wife Dorothy.  Bruce had been badly injured in a bicycle accident. His wife also faces numerous and other medical issues - plus they have many financial needs.  Honestly, it was over four months ago that I put out that e-mailing and I had forgotten that I’d put it out.  We DID have prayer for the Allens at our church over the first few weeks after Bruce’s accident, but (hate to admit) I’d forgotten to pray for the Allens of late.

In her e-mail Mindi asked me if I could give her an update on how the Allens are doing and she informed me there’s a prayer group from her church that has faithfully prayed for the Allens EVERY week.  I was embarrassed that she’d been more faithful to pray and be concerned for the Allens than I’d been!  I did hear from the Allens recently and I did give Mindi an update.  The fact that someone had SO taken that prayer request to heart, AND was coming to a civic meeting I’d promoted, well, again, it humbled and blessed me.

After lunch on Monday I took a brief walk, and as I walked, I prayed:

“Lord, thank you for Mindi.  Forgive me for the cynicism I’ve had at times, and for my complaints about how disappointed I’ve been in people.  Thank you for this faithful young woman who has modeled compassion, faithfulness, humility, service, and class to me in a way that greatly humbles me and even shames me a bit.  Lord, may I be such a humble servant with a good attitude.  Amen.”

She made my day!

The people at First Baptist on Route 9 are blessed to have such a concerned and focused pastor, the Framingham community is blessed to have this woman among us, and I’m blessed to have been inspired by Mindi, my clergy colleague!

“...she hath been a succourer (that means “helper”) of many,and of myself also.” (from Romans 16:2)

Saturday, September 9, 2006


"...and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord."  (from Genesis 12:8)

Here in Massachusetts, we see a fair amount of Quebec license plates over the summer months.  Many Canadians vacation in New England and they love Cape Cod.  I remember from my early childhood that the Quebec plates used to say "La Belle Province" but the new motto "Je Me Souviens" comes out of the Quebec separatist movement.  My paternal grandparents each emigrated from just outside Montreal, and my heritage in Quebec goes way back.  I deeply regret that I speak very little French, but I do know that "Je Me Souviens" means "I remember".  (No, I won't talk about my French Canadian heritage today- maybe another time.)

I remember.

I remember September 11, 2001.  I also remember November 22, 1963, for that matter.  Up until 9/11/01, November 22, 1963 held the record in my memory as being the most sad and intense day that I could ever remember in this country.  The shock of the news of the Kennedy assassination, and all that followed was so vivid and horrible.  I never thought any day would equal the sadness and horror of November 22, 1963; and none did until September 11, 2001- which tied it.

Maybe it's because my birthday is in September, but I absolutely LOVE September.  On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I was on a day off (as I usually am on Tuesdays).  At that time, my two daughters were students at Framingham's Marian (Catholic) High School.  Since both were on "financial aid" my wife and I had to "give something back" to the school.  (That was before my wife was the full-time head administrative assistant at Marian as she is currently.)  I was committed to doing clerical work in the Development office at Marian every Tuesday, just as I'd done over the previous school year.  Sept. 11 was my first day "serving" for that year.  I was up VERY early that day.  I drove Amy and Rachel to school.  I then went out and took a long walk.  It was a BEAUTIFUL morning.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky.  As I walked, I prayed that (like Joseph in the Old Testament) I would do a good job at Marian and find favor with my superiors.  I was so happy and so thankful for the beautiful day.  I picked up a Boston Herald and perused it over my breakfast table as I ate a bowl of Special K.  One article leaped out at me.  It said Regis Philbin was holding tryouts in Boston on Sept. 13 for college students.  I ran upstairs and told my son Jon, a Freshman at Emerson at the time. Jon was ecstatic and determined to try out.

After watching the last few minutes of a particularly good episode of Northern Exposure on A&E, I left for Marian at 9 and was in the office by 9:15.  After some cheerful "chit chat" I sat at the computer and began to work.  At 9:30,  Mr. Flynn (one of the teachers) burst into the room.

"My mother just called and said two planes crashed into the World Trade Center," he exclaimed.

There was a radio in the room, so I turned it on.  At first I believed some terrible accident had happened.  After about fifteen minutes, the announcer speculated that it must be "terrorism".  I now feel stupid writing this, but I hadn't even thought of terrorism.  I felt almost sick to my stomach.  A few minutes later, it was announced that a plane had just crashed into the Pentagon.  Like everyone else, I knew America was under attack.  I couldn't believe that this wonderful September morning had turned into what seemed like a horrible nightmare.  Then it was announced that a plane had crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.  I knew my son was in Boston to attend classes at Emerson, and that my sister worked in an office building near Copley Square.  I genuinely feared for their safety.  I wondered if the trains would be shut down and how they would get home.

In my heart, I was really afraid.  I prayed a silent prayer, asking God to calm me down and to lead me to a Scripture passage to read.  I carry a small "New Testament & Psalms" with me at all times.  I opened it to Psalm 27.  That Psalm gave me such peace and ministered to me in such a powerful way that I used it for the text for my sermon on the following Sunday.

The final period of the day was a special assembly to address the terrible events of the day. Fr. Sheridan, the Catholic Chaplain came in from his parish in Ashland and spoke.  I had to give him a lot of credit because I was not even sure what I'd say.  Sitting across from me was the mother of a Marian student.  She was also a woman who'd left our church six months earlier.  It was not a pleasant time and we'd angrily clashed over the departure.  After the service,  I spoke to her, urging us to forgive each other and reconcile.  We did.

The train service was slow and sporadic but Jon finally got home from Boston.  I remember feeling very patriotic and very emotional at the end of that day.  I suspected other attacks would follow within the next few months, and of course that did not happen.  I suspected America would never be the same, that we'd really draw closer to God and to one another.  That lasted for about three weeks, and then everything was back to "normal".  That still surprises and saddens me.

September 11, 2001.  I remember.

Thursday, September 7, 2006


“...for the labourer is worthy of his hire...” (from LUKE 10:7)

I took a bit of flack from some people for my recent postings “knocking” NorthWest Airlines and Framingham’s Meineke Car Care Center.  For those of you who disliked those, I do hope you like this one.  Today I want to say some positive things about Comcast.  Admittedly, I’ve heard some criticisms of Comcast’s TELEPHONE service, but I don’t have that service, and thus I can’t speak to it.  I also don’t use Comcast for internet.  I DO use Comcast for Cable television, and I’m quite happy with them.

Our Comcast remote “gave up the ghost” a few days ago.  It had been kind of “acting up” for awhile.  We’ve got several T.V. sets in the house, but the only one that’s hooked up to Cable is the 27-inch living room set.  We’ve had that particular Comcast remote for four years, since they upgraded us up to Digital Cable from the analog we’d had since 1988.  Of course the remote had been dropped and temporarily lost more times than I’d care to count.  I remember that back in the 1990s , it used to cost $25 to buy a replacement remote at Comcast (which was ATT before it was Comcast, and was Mass. Cablevision before that).  On Tuesday I walked into Comcast’s  office behind Midway Chrysler-Jeep on Burr Avenue in Framingham.  I fully expected to pay at least $25 for a new remote.  To my surprise, I learned that current remotes cost only $6, but that if I’d agree to turn in my old remote, the new one would be FREE. On my word of honor, Chip from the office let me walk away with a free remote, and I drove my old one in within the hour.  Chip couldn’t have been nicer or more considerate.

In fact, all of my dealings with Comcast have been very good.  We’re always a little behnd on our Cable bill, but when I walk in to make payments, I’m always treated well and never given a bad time about being a little behind.  We don’t often have problems with the Cable service, but when we do, the company has been first-rate about correcting any problems.

Framingham is very fortunate in that we have cable T.V. competition.  There are two cable companies to choose from.  I know that most Framingham residents know the name of the other company.  I have nothing personally against the other company, but I’m so pleased with Comast that I have no plans to switch!

Monday, September 4, 2006


“And he must needs go through Samaria.” (Gospel of John 4:4)

Yesterday, my daughter Rachel went back to school at Westfield State College.  She’s going to be twenty in just a few days and is a Sophomore.  Like her “old man” Rachel is unique.  She tends to be shy one-on-one, yet she can perform on the stage as well as any professional actress.  She’s an amazing artist, a good writer, and an astute observer of the world around her.  

Massachusetts has something like fourteen counties, but Rachel has it broken down much more definitively.  In Rachel’s imaginary atlas, Massachusetts is broken up into three parts:  The Cape, The Bay, and The Box.  Now, I realize Massachusetts technically has two Capes (and Rachel DOES love Rockport) but for the sake of giving the three areas names, it’s Cape Cod, Greater Boston along with Greater Worcester and virtually anything within their spheres of influence, AND the 413 area code which looks like a box on the map-hence “The Box”.

Westfield wasn’t Rachel’s first choice for a college.  She got into Savannah in Georgia, but was offered very little in the way of financial aid, so she opted for Westfield.  Rachel is really O.K. about Westfield State but she wishes it wasn’t in The Box.

I annoy Rachel because I like The Box.  (Maybe it’s also because I’m over fifty.)  Life is slower in The Box.  Natives of The Box do NOT have Boston accents, nor do they have typically northeastern accents.  They talk like they’re from Columbus, Ohio.  They also look and act like they’re from Columbus, Ohio.  They’re decidedly friendlier and calmer than Bostonians.  They definitely SEEM more midwestern than like New Englanders.  They drive better.  The big radio talk station in Springfield airs Christian commercials asking people if they’re sure of going to Heaven when they die, etc.  Can you imagine that on WRKO?! The big newspaper is The Springfield Republican.  None of the Boston television channels are available, except on certain cable systems.  Instead, all the major affiliates are either in Springfield, MA or Hartford, CT.  In fact, in Westfield, you’re closer to the New York state line than you are to downtown Boston.   The Box has towns such as Mount Washington, Otis, Florida, and Savoy.  There’s even a Belchertown!  People from The Box often feel trivialized and neglected by thosein eastern Massachusetts.  When I tell people from Framingham that Rachel goes to Westfield State and they say, “Oh, where’s that, in Connecticut?!” then I kind of know how they feel!

I doubt I’ll be able to afford to retire anywhere in Massachusetts- it’s just TOO expensive.  But if I did retire here in Massachusetts, it’s pretty likely it would be in the 413 area code.  Meanwhile, Rachel dislikes life in The Box.  Oh well...that’s life...

Saturday, September 2, 2006


Some of you have read my entries dealing with my 2006 trip to Springfield, Missouri with my daughter Amy ("Fine Dining in Greenup"  being one of them).
This piece is drawn from the trip we took last year, in August of 2005.

It is so unfortunate that the Boston area has no comtemporary Christian radio station.  In many radio "markets" of the country, you can find a contemporary Christian music FM station- often with the professionalism or Boston's Magic 106.7 or Worcester's Continuous Soft Rock WSRS 96.1.

As we drove from Massachusetts to Missouri in '05, Amy kept hitting the car radio's "seek" button, looking for Christian music.  We found our first FM Christian music station somewhere around Syracuse, New York, and we heard a very penetrating song called "Held".  At first I was not sure what it was about.  I wondered if it was about a girl who'd had an abortion.  It also seemed to be expressing doubt and disappointment with God.  But by the time we arrived in Springfield, Missouri, we'd heard the song at least a dozen times and had a good handle on it.  It's about the tragic death of a two month old baby, despite prayers that went up for the child.  It expresses the mother's heartbreak.  It also expresses her reaching out to God despite her pain.  The song is very beautiful and very deep.  In Springfield, I bought the album on which "Held" is featured.  On a Sunday morning about a year ago, I played it during our morning worship service and had an altar call.  Many were powerfully ministered to, and there was hardly a dry eye in the place.  Another time, I brought the song to my pastors' prayer group, with a similar result.

"Held" is found on Natalie Grant's "Awaken" album.  It was a huge hit on Christian radio in the Spring and Summer of 2005.  Locally, it HAS been played on Worcester's 96.1, although I'm not sure it's still in their lineup.  Get that song.  You'll love it, but also, make sure you have a big box of Kleenex close by!

The words and music of "Held" were written by Christa Wells.

Here are the words:
Two months is too little
They let him go
They had no sudden healing
To think that Providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling

Who told us we’d be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
We’re asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it’s unfair

This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow

If hope is born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait, for one hour
Watching for our Savior


"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."  (Romans 8:28)