Monday, June 30, 2008


“...he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.” (from Luke 12:37)

I’m only 53 but I guess I’m going to sound like a whining old geezer in this posting, but I WISH there was a nice, inexpensive family type restaurant in the Framingham/Natick are which was NOT primarily a bar or saloon, which was NOT expensive, and which was open after 9 p.m.!

Twenty-five years ago, virtually all of the “Bickford’s” family restaurants (I think in those days they were  called “Bickford’s Pancakes and Family Fare” were open 24 hours.  They served no alcohol, but you could get steak & eggs or “salisbury steak” with green beans, mashed potatoes and a salad, or any inexpensive family-style meal like that at any hour.  Come to think of it, what every happened to Howard Johnson’s with the fried clam dinners or the hot dog or hamburger dinners and finished off with a Howard Johnson’s sundae?!

In the old days almost every evangelical Protestant church had a Sunday night service, in addition to a Sunday morning service.  (For those of you  “unsaved” people out there, regular churchgoers went to BOTH.)  After church on Sunday night, depending on where you lived in the country, you’d all pile into Friendly’s or Denny’s or Shoney’s or someplace like that.  At 10 p.m. those places were “hopping” with the Sunday night church crowd.  And even when there WEREN’T Sunday night church crowds, those places were hopping with people who’d just gotten out of A.A. meetings and who couldn’t afford “high end” restaurants and didn’t want to go to a place which was PRIMARILY a bar.

Today, our church has a Sunday night service only once a month.  A couple of years ago, I had Dr. Ivor Nicklin from England as a guest speaker on a Sunday night.  He was staying with friends in Willimantic, Connecticut and driving their car.  After church (and Ivor selling tapes and CDs and talking with folks) I had Dr. Nicklin follow me to LaCantina on Rte. 135 in Framingham. We got to the door at 9 p.m. and were abruptly told, “You know we CLOSE at 9!”.  It was a little embarrassing, but I then had him follow me to Ruby Tuesday’s on Route 9.  At the door, the hostess told me, “Well, the KITCHEN CLOSES in a minute, but the bar is open for another hour”.  This meant having him follow me to Bickford’s (now “Bickford’s Grille”) on Rte. 30/Cochituate Road.  Fortunately, the kitchen was not closed, they were glad to seat us, and we ate a nice meal (he enjoyed a cup of hot tea along with it!) and left there around 10:30 or so.

Last night, Mary Ann and I went to a “recovery service “ at the Salvation Army where a friend of our was receiving his A.A. 23 year medallion.  After the service, we took him out to “Bickford’s Grille”.  We arrived at ten minutes before 9.

“You know we CLOSE at 9!” the hostess abruptly said.  No joke, she then asked if we could eat our meals real fast!  I asked what time we’d have to be out and she said “9:30”.  I said I thought we could do that.  We sat down and ordered and were served around 9:15.  We wolfed the meals down, paid, and left at 9:29.  On the way out, the three of us lamented that there don’t seem to be any more family type places in the area that stay open until at least 10 (and 11 would certainly be ideal).

Can’t we get a 24 hour Denny’s in Framingham or Natick, or is that too “low brow” for this area?!

Just venting!  

What do you think?

Saturday, June 28, 2008


“Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.” (John 9:9)

Truth is stranger than fiction!

If you read the posting entitled, “Thirty Years Since Ed Keefer”, AND the comments from readers, you read a comment from Dave Wedge, reporter from the Boston Herald.  In the “Ed Keefer” piece I stated that I worked a summer job in the 1970s with Dave Wedge, the Boston Herald reporter.  David the reporter posted the comment to say he is NOT THAT David Wedge!  The David Wedge I’d worked with was a B.U. student.  The David Wedge that works for the Boston Herald went to B.C. and never worked at Draper Mills in Canton!

You can’t imagine how weird it was for me to read that on Friday morning!

I HAVE seen Boston Herald reported Dave Wedge when he has appeared on Emily Rooney’s “Greater Boston” public affairs show on Boston’s PBS television station WGBH channel 2.  What makes this weird is that if you did one of those “America’s Most Wanted” style computerized age enhancement things on a photo of the Dave Wedge that I knew in the 1970s, it would come out to look remarkably like Dave Wedge the Boston Herald reporter!  When I saw Dave Wedge on television, I “knew” it was the guy I’d worked with.  He had the same FACE...same eyes, nose, mouth, the same basic look!  The David Wedge I saw on channel 2 had the same smile as the Dave Wedge I’d worked with!  The Dave Wedge I’d worked with was somewhat soft-spoken but well-spoken and articulate.  That’s also true of the reporter, who (as far as I was concerned) had pretty much the same voice!  

In a court room type situation, I’d have testified that the David Wedge I’d seen on channel 2 as a mature man was the same guy I’d worked with as a young man.  Now, if the Herald reporter had looked like Bill Cosby or Danny DeVito, I’d have known differently, but THEY LOOK ALIKE!  

I felt a little foolish that I’d said I’d worked with the Boston Herald reporter Dave Wedge years ago, and I hadn’t.  IF Ed Keefer is alive, he’d certainly yell at me and belittle me for that one!  In really giving this some careful thought, I do realize the Dave Wedge I’d seen on television looks TALLER than the Dave Wedge I’d worked with, and maybe that should have tipped me off that they might not be the same, but when you’ve got the same face and the same voice...well, you just think they’re the same!

They say everybody has a double.  Well, Dave Wedge of the Boston  Herald has a double who EVEN HAS THE SAME NAME!  I hope I haven’t embarrassed him, but somehow I don’t think I have!

Yes, for all of you fans of the Dr. Suess book, “The Cat in the Hat” who remember “Thing One and Thing Two”, truth is stranger than fiction!  There is a David Wedge ONE and a David Wedge TWO!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” (Luke 6:31)

This is a difficult posting for me to write.  Should it seem disjointed and poorly written, please forgive me.  Today is the last Thursday of June.  On the last Thursday of June in 1978 I worked my last day with a verbally and emotionally abusive man before I quit that job.  So, thirty years have gone by, and I need to get this out.

At first I wasn’t going to use his name, but I’ve chosen to use it.  His name was Ed Keefer.  I have no idea if he’s living or dead.  My guess is that if he’s alive today he’d be about 76 or 77-years-old or maybe just a tad older than that.  I worked with Ed Keefer for a few weeks in 1978 at Draper Mills in Canton.

My mother worked in the office at Draper Mills (the official name is “Draper Brothers Company”) for about twenty years.  One of the perks of working in the office at Draper’s is employees’ kids (as long as they were at least 18) were often hired for summer employment in the mill.  It helped out the kids as they were in college and it helped fill slots in the mill when regular workers were taking summer vacations.  I worked several summers at Draper Mills.  One summer I worked in the “Felt Finishing Department” with Dave Wedge who is now a highly respected reporter for the Boston Herald.  Dave was a student at B.U. in those days.  I did a lot of jobs in the mill.  Usually it meant you worked in one little spot of the mill doing one physically strenuous and horrible thing all day long in the heat.  Even so, some jobs were better than others.  By far the best job I ever had at Draper’s was during the summer of 1975.  The janitor had suffered a heart attack in early May.  I worked that whole summer as the janitor.  I loved it because every day I had an entire tour of the mill.  I went from one end to the other..from the plush offices to the filthiest parts of the mill.  When janitorial supplies were delivered, I picked them up on a large cart and wheeled them to my janitor’s closet.  I got to meet all sorts of employees of the mill that summer.  Some of the mill workers were old guys in their 60s who looked 90.  They had worked all their lives in the mill and were worn out.  Some were very big tough guys covered with tattoos. Many were black or Hispanic.  Most used the “F” word constantly.  If you treated them decently, they treated you decently.  

Ed Keefer worked in the “Needle Room”.  If you’ve never worked in a textile mill, it’s difficult to describe what that means.  Draper’s made large industrial felts that looked like huge blankets.  They were often used in the papermaking industry, and some were used in the pipe making industry (I mean plumbing pipes).  In the Needle Room, the giant felts were placed on these machines that would pound rows of needles (almost like small nails) into the felt. It was all part of the manufacturing process.  When I’d go through the Needle Room area as the janitor, Ed Keefer was always very friendly to me.  He wore glasses, was a white middle-class guy, and just plain seemed a little more “normal” than some of the guys in the mill.

I was hired for the summer of 1978 by the Needle  Room Foreman Mr. Hollie Rand who was a super nice guy.  Mr. Rand drove a Karman Ghia sports car, commuted from Cape Cod, and as I recall he was a golfer.  I was assigned to work primarily as Ed Keefer’s helper on one of the machines.  (Once in awhile I’d work with a guy named Mr. Cogan doing other stuff, but most of the time it was with Ed Keefer.)  Understand that I am VERY unhandy and not particularly macho.  Even so, most guys I’d worked with in previous summers “got” that; yet they patiently taught me the job and helped me when I struggled.  The easiest job by far was janitor, but I’d ultimately learned to do all of the jobs in the mill I was given.  There were a number of steps to do when a felt was run through the needle machine.   There were these two measuring things called “clocks” which were put on the felt during part of the procedure.  After I’d been working in the Needle Room for about a week as a felt was going through the machine, I casually asked Ed Keefer, “Do I put the clocks on now, Ed?”

He went BERSERK!  He was yelling at me like a MANIAC.  He said that of course it was time to put the clocks on the felt and what kind of a stupid idiot was I to even think of asking the question?  Over the next few weeks, scenes like that repeated  themselves over and over and over...with Ed berating me and berating me....telling me I reminded him of a retarded guy who used to work with him who was “sick in the head”.  As we’d be working on a job he’d be yelling in a totally disrespectful and condescending way, “THINK BOB!  THINK BOB!  THINK BOB!”  How could I possibly “think” with this jerk yelling and intimidating and questioning and criticizing EVERYTHING I did!?  Ironically, sometimes I’d come in for work and he’d be all happy and friendly.  I remember coming in the day after Father’s Day.  He was all excited and happy about a book his daughter had given him for Father’s Day about all the NFL Super Bowls. (Well at that time there’d only been about eleven of them!)  Then, like a switch being flipped, he’d start yelling and threatening.  After the yelling he’d later come to me calmly and say something like,  “Look, I’m sorry, but I WON’T CARRY YOU!”  

O.K., Ed, how nice of you to apologize...or whatever you call it.

On the last Thursday of June in 1978. my sister flew out of Logan airport for a vacation.  I honestly forget where she was flying to.  I rode with my parents to Logan Airport and then my Dad took us out to eat at the very nice seafood restaurant called “The Village” in Essex on Boston’s North Shore. Until that night I had said nothing about Ed Keefer and what was happening at Draper’s.  During the meal, I told them everything.  To my GREAT surprise, my parents told me to quit the job.  My Dad said he had all kinds of manual labor to be done around his property and he’d essentially hire me to that instead.  I went into the personnel office on Friday morning and quit.

A few days later, Holly Rand the foreman talked to my mother and said to her, “Tell Bob it wasn’t his fault”.  I felt a little better about that, but that few weeks working with Ed Keefer really scarred me.  I later learned that Ed Keefer’s son had been killed in a car accident about two months before I worked with him at Draper’s.  Is THAT why Ed was the way he was?  Is it because he was grief-stricken?  Maybe.  But I suspect there was more than that.  The experience of working with Ed Keefer has tended to make me uncomfortable about situations with coworkers and nervous in social situations, AND insecure and struggling with low self-esteem to this day.  That may surprise you.  I can come across as very happy and confident on the outside, and be “anything but” on the inside.

Have I forgiven Ed Keefer?  I don’t know.  I know God calls us to forgive.  But writing this is very painful.  I could almost break down in tears.  I don’t hate Ed Keefer.  But he didn’t understand that I’m no handyman.  With a little help and understanding I can learn to do almost anything, but (and maybe he called it “carry you”) I  just didn’t get that from him.  Do I wish Ed Keefer could read this?  If he’s still alive and coherent, yes I do.  Would I be willing to sit and talk with him?  It would be difficult but I think I would.  I’ve actually tried to do on-line searches for Ed Keefer at times and nothing conclusive has turned up.

Yes, it’s been thirty years since Ed Keefer.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36)

Yesterday afternoon, I received an e-mail from my friend Jennie Maroney.  It was a copy of an e-mail she’d sent Jim Braude and Margery Egan, WTKK’s midday hosts.  (Jennie Maroney had also forwarded her e-mail to the WTKK Program Director.)  Jennie’s letter was highly critical of yesterday’s Jim Braude and Margery Egan program.  Jennie stated she’d found it insulting that they’d spoken so disparagingly of Christians and in such mocking tones as they’ve also done on many previous occasions.  Jennie Maroney cited the example of Don Imus’ firing for making negative remarks about Black people and essentially said they should be fired.  Jennie Maroney suggested I might also want to send off a similar e-mail.  I did, although I now regret it JUST A LITTLE BIT.  

The e-mail I sent stated I “agreed with what Jennie Maroney wrote”.  I actually at least 90% agree with it, but I don’t actually want Jim Braude and Margery Egan FIRED.  This reminds me of a situation in my life that happened a couple of weeks ago.  The driver of a commercial van sped past me as I drove southbound on Concord St./Route 126 in the “Junction” section of Framingham, and then cut in front of me.  The company’s website was displayed on the van.  I quickly drove home as I live only five minutes from that location, and I e-mailed a complaint to the company about the way the guy was driving.  Later in the day I got an e-mail from the company telling me the guy was being called in and that there was a strong possibility he’d be FIRED!  I actually felt kind of guilty.  I wanted the guy reprimanded.  I even wanted the guy threatened and put on some kind of probation, but I really didn’t want the guy fired.  WAS the man fired? I don’t know.  I never sent any follow-up e-mails to the company.

Jennie Maroney may want Jim Braude and Margery Egan fired.  Although I wrote that I was in agreement with her,  I don’t want them fired, but I DO want them to THINK about what they say and do.  I also agree with the spirit of Jennie Maroney’s letter which essentially said they had no class and were not in the same league as the other hosts at the station.  I believe in free speech.  I believe people have the right, for instance, to burn the American flag as a protest, to flip the bird to the President, etc. even though I find that sort of think ABHORRENT and DISGUSTING...but I do agree with free speech.  I did not hear all of Jim and Margery’s show on Tuesday.  It was my day off and I spent the bulk of the day doing yard work.  My mower died part way through doing my lawn and I had to finish the lawn with a weekwhacker, so I admit it wasn’t a “jolly holiday” kind of a day for me. I did catch Jim and Margery as I was in the car on an errand. They WERE yucking it up about people who believe in angels, and the number of so-called “believers” who really doubt God’s existence.  They also were laughing about people who believe in “creation” rather than “evolution”  (for the record, I believe in “creation”) and were rejoicing that Massachusetts has one of the lowest percentages of devout Christians in America.  This just SURE wasn’t their finest hour!

I actually have little surprise with the fact that Jim (though Jewish) and Margery (though Catholic) are not big “God people” and are essentially agnostic.  I have no real problem with them stating that on the air.  But there’s a WAY to do it!  Gene Burns hosted a very intelligent and very classy talk show on WRKO in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Gene has a very high I.Q.  He’s well read and well spoken.  Gene Burns boldly proclaimed his agnosticism over the airwaves, but through the years he had many very fine people of faith make presentations on his program and he never was disrespectful to them.  That’s also true of the late David Brudnoy.  David was born a Jew.  He happens to be the cousin of Bob Dylan (real name Robert Zimmermann) who was born a Jew and is now a “born again Christian”.  David was pretty much an agnostic who leaned toward atheism. but he also loved to discuss religion.  In 1988 and 1989 David Brudnoy did a “Religions in America” series in which he invited clergy and spokespeople from various religious groups onto his program to discuss their faith with him and his callers.  I was on the air (in studio) for two hours with David Brudnoy in February of 1989.  It was one of the highlights of my life.  On and off air he could not have been more classy and more gracious.  

I wish Jim and Margery could be more like Gene Burns or David Brudnoy.  I’d love to see them have people of faith on their show and have classy, respectful conversations with them.  Maybe they’d learn something.

And, I’d love to see them send a short apology e-mail to Jennie Maroney.  Jennie is a controversial person.  I don’t even always agree with her, but she has a huge heart for people and for God, and a huge heart to see good, truth and justice prevail.  Jim and Margery could learn quite a bit about class from Jennie Maroney.  

That’s my “2 cents” on the subject!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


“For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.” (Romans 14:7)

A few days ago, there was a story on the front page of the MetroWest Daily News telling of Natick’s “Redmen Forever” group (or WHATEVER it’s called) and their latest plans to keep the “Redmen” name for the Natick sports teams.  Apparently the group is pushing for a vote at the Natick Town Meeting rather than a general ballot referendum.  

All I can say is, “Are they KIDDING?!”

There’s a lesson that Jerry Williams, the late great Boston radio talk show host, modeled for his listeners that the “Natick Redmen” proponents need to learn.  The lesson is that when it’s over it’s over.  Find another cause to get behind.  Jerry Williams was outspoken and highly opinionated in his opposition to the original Massachusetts seat belt law, which I believe went into effect sometime in the mid-1980s.  Williams and several others worked tirelessly to gather signatures to place the question of whether the seat belt law should be repealed on the ballot.  The anti-seat belt forces won, and the seat belt law was repealed.  Unfortunately for Jerry Williams, the left-wing totalitarian forces at the State House were not going to “go gentle into that good night”.  A few years later, the legislators passed ANOTHER seat belt law!  Williams vowed that once again he and his friends would get this issue put on the ballot and the law would be repealed, just as the previous law had been.  The question was AGAIN placed on the ballot.  I was one of those who voted to repeal the seat belt law, but THIS time, to the surprise of a lot of people, Jerry Williams and the anti-seat belt law folks lost badly!  After the passing of just a few years, public opinion had greatly changed.  The newest cars were coming through with easy to fasten combination lap and shoulder belts, and wearing them was pretty much becoming standard operating procedure.

The day after Jerry and his forces had lost, one zealot called Jerry’s show.  The caller was ecstatic about ANOTHER PLAN he was proposing to repeal the seat belt law.  Jerry would not have any part of it.  Bluntly, Jerry Williams told the caller,  “Look, it went on the ballot and we lost and that’s where it stands.  That’s the end of the matter.”  Jerry knew there were other issues to raise, other battles to fight and to win.  Jerry Williams disagreed with the verdict of the voters, but he was smart enough and mature enough to just close the door on the matter.

I realize someone from outside the Boston area may be reading this and have no idea what I’m writing about.  The name of the school sports teams in the Boston suburb of Natick is the “Natick Redmen”.  An image of a Native American as a logo is associated with the moniker.  The origins of “Natick Redmen” are not entirely clear.  Natick was founded in the colonial era by missionary John Elliot who Christianized the Indians of Natick.  They became known as the “Praying Indians of Natick”.  To this day, there’s a Boston area group known as the “Praying Indians” who trace their origins to John Elliot and the old Natick Christian Indian community.  Many of Natick’s citizens say the name “Redmen” has nothing to do with Indians or Native Americans.  It seems years ago, the sports teams of Natick dressed in the color red and were ultimately dubbed the “Redmen”.  The Indian logo came much later.  

A number of people of Native American heritage and a number of (what I’d call) liberal do-gooders have been rallying for at least a year to change the Redmen name and logo.  Many proponents of the name “Redmen” including a number of pretty fiery conservatives have been incensed that anyone would want to change the name. In the name of fighting political correctness, the proponents have essentially adopted a posture that they’ll fight to the death to retain the Redmen name.

My understanding is that the Natick School Committee and Selectmen have made the decision that the Redmen name is history and that the Town needs to come up with a new name and logo.  I can see both sides of the “Redmen issue”.  I think both sides have made some valid arguments.  Were I making the final decision, I would have made it to leave the name “Redmen” in place.

But the decision HAS BEEN MADE, and it has been made stating the “Redmen” name must go.  For good or for ill, the politically correct forces have won.  The name will be changed.  Learn a lesson from Jerry Williams.  Take your loss like a man...or like a woman...or whatever!  GET OVER IT!  There are other issues to champion!  There are other battles to fight and win!  


Sunday, June 22, 2008

ALAN'S AUTO A/C TIP! (extra entry)

We attended a wedding on Saturday and it was SO good to have the AIR CONDITIONING in our 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan repaired just in time so that we could have A/C as we journeyed in our best clothing to a wedding!

The A/C COMPRESSOR in the minivan had burned out a few months ago.  It was kind of an expensive job, but it is real nice to have A/C back in the Dodge minivan!

Today, my friend Alan Hawksley told me a tip that a mechanic friend of his told him about:

NEVER leave the A/C "on" when you shut your car off.  I have typically been in the habit of doing that.  I'd just leave the A/C on.  I'd turn the car off with the A/C on, and the A/C would be on when I started the car up.  According to Alan's mechanic that's very hard on the compressor and the compressor will have a much shorter life that way!

About 30 seconds before you shut your car off, turn your A/C off!

Then, AFTER you restart the car, turn the A/C back on.  The COMPRESSOR will last much longer.
Wish I'd known that but now I'm passing it on to you!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;” (Revelation 2:12)

In discussing the Chicago area Catholic priest who made a number of offensive and outrageous statements at the (predominantly) black “Trinity United Church of Christ”, WRKO afternoon “shock jock” Howie Carr recently said, “When I was a kid Catholic priests for the most part were not very good speakers.  In those days, the Catholic Church had a big advantage over Protestant Churches.  Catholics were told that if they didn’t go to church every Sunday, they’d go to Hell.  Protestants had to market their churches to people and give them a reason to want to attend.”

Howie Carr is absolutely right about that.  Local Catholic Churches of the pre-1980 days also often had another big advantage:  People were geographically assigned to the church they were to attend, based upon their residential addresses.  Thus, it was unlikely that a local Catholic Church would truly fail and have to close its doors in those days, and it was also unlikely that a Catholic Church would become a megachurch (the size of something like Joel Osteen’s nondenominational megachurch in Texas, for instance).  Granted, in those days, there were Catholic Churches in suburban Boston who had as many as 2000 people at “mass” every week, and usually those churches would have five or six masses per Sunday.  As Protestants count numbers, those WERE “megachurches”!
The geographic setup badly hurt churches in neighborhoods like Roxbury which went from being 75% Irish Catholic in 1940 to being 65% black (mostly Protestant) by 1970.  Most suburban Catholic churches, however,  thrived under that old geographic system.

There ARE a lot of things to be said about that geographic system of church attendance assignments.  Catholics at “St. Terri the Boring” church could feel very jealous of those in the parish of “St. Ryan the Cool”.  It was not unusual for people to complain to their diocese or archdiocese and say things like,
    “St. Ryan the Cool” church has air conditioning!  “St Ryan the Cool” church has a gym!  “St. Ryan the Cool” church has high school dances with the best rock & roll bands.  How come we have to go to “St. Terri the Boring” with no A/C, no gym, and no cool dances?  
    The diocese would reply, “Well, if you want your church to be like ‘St. Ryan the Cool’ then you’ll have to raise the funds and work to build it up and improve it.  That’s YOUR local parish church.  YOU do something with it.”

    I’ve often wondered what it would be like if the Assemblies of God operated geographically like the pre-1980 U.S. Catholic church did.  When I moved into Framingham in 1987,. there were at least 100 people from Framingham attending Wellesley Park Assembly of God in Wayland.  On a “real good” Sunday we had 40 people in church in those days.  (Today on a “real good” Sunday, it’s “30”!)  Following the Catholic analogy above, we were (and still are) St. Terri the Boring.  (Well, “boring” is a strong word.  I don’t think we’re BORING, but there’s no state-of-the-art gym or anything like that!!)  I used to wish I could have even ten of those Framingham residents in our church and wondered what a difference that might make.  I hope no ecclesiastical executives from the Assemblies of God are reading this, but I often find it curious that we beg and plead for funds to “plant churches” in certain communities that in fact have huge constituencies of people who happen to attend church in the next town, and sometimes I think it’s a bit disingenuous to raise funds that way.  Is it really appropriate to beg and plead and cry for someone to “Come and reach the lost in Jonesville which has no church?” when 300 people from Jonesville attend the big Assemblies of God church in neighboring Smith City every Sunday AND that church does a number of evangelistic outreaches in Jonesville?  That’s the kind of question that a lot of AG preachers THINK but very few will ask.

What got me thinking about the whole old Catholic geographic thing where, for instance, in my hometown of Canton, Massachusetts people who attended the slightly less prestigious St. Gerard’s were told they could not attend the more prestigious St. John’s?  I’m not sure.  Maybe it’s my struggle with low attendance figures and the desire for some quick and easy fix.  

Ultimately, the Catholic Church abandoned the geographic boundary thing somewhere around 25-plus years ago.  Today, Catholic Churches are shrinking and closing and they’re happy to just have ANYBODY attending, whether they drive 5 minutes to church or 55 minutes.  And, as Howie Carr observed, today’s priests can’t depend on people coming to church or they’ll go to Hell.  THAT teaching was thrown out, too.  The priests now have to be good speakers, and they’re competing in the marketplace like all the other churches.

Is that good or is it bad? I’m not sure.  As far as I’m concerned “the jury is still out on this one”...

Thursday, June 19, 2008


“Salute Herodian my kinsman...” (from Romans 16:11)

A “kinsman” is a relative.  On Saturday, my wife and I are going to the wedding of a relative of mine.  Well, since she’s a female, I guess I should say of a “kins    WOMAN” of mine.  I don’t know Erica well.  In my life I’ve probably seen her half a dozen times.  I suppose if you added each time up, it might come to three or four or even five hours.  So why am I going to Erica’s wedding?

Erica is the daughter of my cousin Janet.  Janet is the daughter of my father’s older brother, Raymond.  On my mother’s side, I have only a few relatives in all the world.  I could probably easily fit all my relatives on my mother’s side inside my residence for a social time.  On my FATHER’S side, I have many, many relatives!  If we ALL got together at the same time, well I guess we’d need a good sized function hall!  My mom had only one sibling.  My father was the youngest of eight children.  One died in childhood- his sister Irene.  She died at age 7 several years before he was born.  Besides Irene (the one who died in childhood) there were four girls and three boys.  Dad’s parents were immigrants from the farming country just outside Montreal, Quebec.  Their first language was French, and they moved across the border to New England over a hundred years ago.  (If Michael Graham is reading this, yes, they did everything legally!)  When my father was born in 1922 his brother Raymond was nearly 16.  Dad’s parents were in their middle forties when he was born.

By the time I was born, Dad’s father had been dead for eight years, and Dad’s mother was severely afflicted with dementia and would die when I was just a toddler.  Today, I realize that Dad’s eldest brother Raymond and his wife Milly really acted in the role of paternal grandparents for my brother, my sister, and me.
Uncle Raymond and Aunt Milly and their two kids, Donnie and Janet, moved to Canton in 1953.  THAT’S the reason my father bought a lot in Canton and moved us there to a new house in 1958.  Most of my cousins were “cool” ‘50s and ‘60s teenagers (like “Happy Days”!) when I was just a little kid.  Janet used to baby-sit us. and we enjoyed having her as a sitter, and Uncle Raymond and Aunt Milly came overt to visit almost every Sunday night.  

As the movie, “The Rain Man”, shows, it’s very difficult for a little kid to pronounce “Raymond”.  When my sister Dianne was around 3 she used to call Uncle Raymond, “Uncle Raympin”!  Uncle Raymond was “as bald as a billiard ball” as they say.  I guess he began losing his hair around age 21 and was completely bald at 30.  Aunt Milly was one of the most energetic and TALKATIVE people I’ve ever known.  As talkative as Aunt Milly was, Uncle Raymond was a FABULOUS storyteller.  Sunday night after Sunday night, we’d be hanging on every word as he told the most riveting stories.  Uncle Raymond worked as a gas company repair man. There were funny stories about things that happened on repair calls.  Then, there were funny stories about all the pranks he pulled as a kid.  There was frankly a lot of “bathroom humor” which little children find especially funny.   

Uncle Raymond and Aunt Milly came to virtually all of our school events, again, essentially in the role of grandparents.  I still remember the day they took the three of us kids to the U.S.S. Massachusetts in August of 1966.   Aunt Milly later complained to my mother that we didn’t know how to act in a restaurant.  Honestly, we DIDN’T.  We almost never went to restaurants!

In 1971 Uncle Raymond was diagnosed with cancer.  I was a Senior in high school and I was DEVASTATED.  He died in March of 1972.  My ONLY absence from school in my Senior year was attending Uncle Raymond’s funeral.  Aunt Milly was so grief-stricken with Uncle Raymond’s death that she eagerly became a “Jehovah’s Witness” when they came to her door and promised the opportunity to see Raymond again.  Ironically, I officiated at Aunt Milly’s funeral in December of 2000, just four months after my mother’s death.  

Yes, I know, that’s a LOT of family history, and I’m sorry if it was like watching somebody’s home movies for you!  But back to Erica’s wedding.  She is TRULY Raymond and Milly’s grandchild.  I don’t know her very well at all.  But I guess the biggest reason I’m going to her wedding is I’m thanking “Raympin”!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)

On Sunday, my 24-year-old son Jon presented me with a really bizarre Fathers’ Day gift, and yet I LOVE IT!  It’s the Klaus Nomi C.D. by Klaus Nomi.

You HAVE to have a totally bizarre sense of humor to appreciate Klaus Nomi.  You also have to be a LONG-TERM Rush Limbaugh listener to appreciate Klaus Nomi...somebody who was an avid listener to Limbaugh in the early 1990s, which I was.

I miss the “old” Rush Limbaugh...the one who had some sort of canned rock music for one of a half dozen or so “update themes”.  In those days, there was the Homeless Update and the theme was “Ain’t Got No Home” by Clarence “Frogman” Henry; there was the Condom Update and the theme was “Wouldn’t You Like To Ride In My Beautiful Balloon?” (by The Fifth Dimension, I think), AND one of my favorite update themes was for the Gay Rights Update which was a remake of the pop hit, “You Don’t Own Me” sung by KLAUS NOMI.  How do you describe a song about a romantic desire for another man (BY a man) who is singing with a German accent in a totally feminine high voice?!  The song and it’s upbeat, peppy electric piano accompaniment is, well, hysterically funny!

Some of you will be very disappointed in me and will think of me as very juvenile and not a whole lot different FROM Rush Limbaugh or Howie Carr, but, well, as far as my sense of humor goes: I’m very juvenile and not a whole lot different FROM Rush Limbaugh or Howie Carr!  Somewhere around twelve years ago, Rush Limbaugh came on the air excitedly announcing that one of his producers had gone to some suburban record store in the New York City area and found an album by Klaus Nomi which included “You Don’t Own Me”.  Limbaugh gave a “heads up” that he would be playing some particularly funny pieces from the album and that listeners might want to get their tape players ready to record.  I DID, and from time to time I still dig that old tape out, play it and laugh.  Limbaugh played Nomi’s version of Lou Cristy’s hit “Lightning Strikes” which was very funny and Nomi’s version of Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” which was SO funny I was laughing, crying, and having trouble breathing the first time I heard it!  I played that tape for a friend of mine shortly after recording it- the friend told me Limbaugh HAD to have been pulling my leg and that Klaus Nomi could not possibly be a real person.  In fact HE WAS!

Klaus Nomi’s real name was Klaus Sperber.  He was a German national.  He was a homosexual and an outstanding singer, with some very bizarre tendencies.  Klaus Nomi died of A.I.D.S. in 1983.  If you do an internet search for Klaus Nomi you can learn more about him.  In fact, my son DID an internet search and the result was learning how he could order Klaus Nomi’s C.D. entitled “Klaus Nomi”.  I “imported” some of the songs into the iTunes on the home computer.  For me, this Klaus Nomi C.D. was better than a tie, or a gift certificate to Home Depot or anything!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


“...many shall run to and fro,  and knowledge shall be increased.” (from Daniel 12:4)

Jack got up one beautiful spring morning and slipped into the driver’s seat of his four-year-old blue sedan.  He placed the key in the ignition and tried starting the car only to experience NOTHING.  There was no sound.  There was no vibration.  There was no sense that anything was happening.  NOTHING.  Confused and frustrated, Jack got out of the car and opened the hood.  The engine was gone.  NO ENGINE!  There was no evidence that someone had stolen it, and amazingly, there was no oil, nor antifreeze, nor fluid of any kind leaked below the car!  In fact, the hoses were all suspended in place with fluid inside of them, but amazingly and miraculously, none was leaking out!  Jack phoned Mr. Perkins, service manager at the dealership where he’d purchased the car (brand new) in 2004.  

Jack was was talking excitedly “a mile a minute” but Mr. Perkins seemed bored and almost disinterested.

“Yes,” Perkins said, “I know what you’re talking about.  The engine just disappeared.  It happens.  The older a car gets, the more likely it is to happen.  It’s just a glitch with cars.  It’s technology.  Sometimes engines just disappear.”

To his amazement, Mr. Perkins added, “We COULD replace the engine, although you’re no longer under warranty so that would cost ‘a pretty penny’.  But I wouldn’t recommend it.  We’re talking about a FOUR-YEAR-OLD vehicle here.  We seldom work on cars that are more than two or three years old, anyway.  At FOUR-YEARS-OLD, it’s definitely time to upgrade.  Why don’t you come in and check out the latest and best cars we have?!”

Marian was driving along the Massachusetts Turnpike (better known as the MASS PIKE) in the Sturbridge area around 11 p.m. on a Thursday night when her three-year-old car just FROZE.  I didn’t say “stalled” because it really didn’t stall.  I didn’t say “lost power...wouldn’t respond to the gas pedal being stepped on” because that is NOT what happened.  I didn’t say overheated, because that’s not what happened.  It FROZE IN PLACE instantly, appearing as if someone had hit “pause” while viewing a movie on VHS tape.  It’s a good thing she was wearing a seat belt, although she did not feel violently thrown around or anything like that.  One second her car was traveling at 65 miles per hour.  The next second it was stopped.  It was terrifying for Marian!  No matter what she did, she could not get the doors to open.  She could not get the car to respond in any way.  A CONVERTIBLE, she WAS able with great difficulty to tear through the roof fabric and get away from the car.  Terrified, Marian called 9-1-1 and in a short time two State Police Ford Crown Victoria sedans and a flatbed truck arrived.

Like Mr. Perkins with Jack in the previous story, the cops and truck driver seemed quite bored.

“Cars freeze,” one officer said.  Sometimes you can “reboot ‘em.”  Marian had wondered  why that officer had kicked one of the rear tires hard a couple of times when he’d arrived.  He explained that sometimes kicking the tires will make the car work normally, but that it doesn’t always work.  The guys were all surprised that Marian was so nervous and upset about what had happened.

Ted’s story is also troubling.  A salesman, he depends on his car and puts a lot of miles on it.  At 100,000 miles, Ted went to a tire shop to have four brand new tires put on his car.  This was the third set of tires which had been on his midsized sedan, but Ted did not mind having them installed because he needed to be safe.
The next morning, Ted was stunned to go to his garage and find all tires were GONE!  The car was sitting on the garage’s concrete floor on four rims with no tires and no wheel covers!

Ted called the tire shop.  

As in the above cases, he spoke to a very bored person.  

“Yeah, sometimes the INSTALL doesn’t work,” said Tony the tire guy.
“We WILL have to order new wheel covers, and I’m afraid we can’t cover that, but in the meantime we’ll get you four new tires free if you can just get the car lugged over here on a flatbed truck!”

Yes, these stories are all fictional and absurd!

My point it, we’d NEVER put up with this kind of stuff  happening to our cars!
Why are we conditioned to believe that this kind of aggravating foolishness should be NORMAL when using computers!  :-) 

Friday, June 13, 2008


“...this night thy soul shall be required of thee..." (from Luke 12:20)

Wow.  Tim Russert dead.

In the words of WTKK’s Jay Severin I’ve discovered I really AM one of  “the best and brightest” when it comes to news and current events because I’ve been really surprised that when I’ve asked a few folks, “Did you hear Tim Russert died?” their response has been, “Who’s he?!”

I certainly know that Tim Russert was a major fixture on NBC and a phenomenally gifted commentator and communicator.  One of the frustrations of being a pastor is that I DON’T usually get to watch the “Sunday talking heads shows” because they happen on Sunday morning.  Almost every week, however, when my wife and I pull out of the church parking lot around 12:35 p.m. on Sunday, the radio goes on to WTKK and I’m glued to Tim Russert and “Meet the Press”.  I also heard the “informal” Tim Russert many times on Don Imus’ radio show talking about his beloved Dad “Big Russ”.  Thus, this happening on Father’s Day Weekend is, well, unbelievable!

On Friday nights I teach a Bible study at church.  Tonight, my wife was not home, but I got take-out Chinese food for my 24-year-old son Jon, my 21-year-old daughter Rachel and me.  As we sat down to eat I flipped on WTKK and Jay Severin was going on and on about Tim Russert.  At first, I thought he was just doing a commercial for “Meet the Press”.  Then he sounded really morbid, and I just couldn’t understand it.  Out loud I said, “Boy, why is he talking all about Tim Russert, I hope he didn’t DIE or something!”  No sooner were the words out of my mouth than Jay announced Russert had died.

Tim Russert died of a heart attack at 58, and as far as I can tell this was completely unexpected.  Russert was a Type A, overweight 58-year-old and I’m a SORT OF Type A, overweight 53-year-old.  That’s kind of an uncomfortable feeling.

I’m REALLY not superstitious, but today IS Friday the 13th.  Well, yes, if it had been the 12th or the 14th, Tim Russert still would have died.  I just wish it hadn’t been on Friday the 13th because that will feed the stupid beliefs of all of the superstitious; AND it will be so hard on his family on Father’s Day!

When I started the blog in early 2006 I did not want it to be all Hell fire and brimstone sermonizing, all postings about Christ’s soon coming, and all that kind of stuff.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I believe in all that stuff.  I just know that average secular Joes and Marys get really turned off by the wall-to-wall sermonizing of many evangelicals.  So, I wrote about my favorite soft drinks, and the New England Patriots, and collectible Massachusetts license plates, and all sorts of stuff.  Lately I’ve been thinking about the blog and realizing that in the past four months I’ve done a lot more “preaching” and a lot less talking about restaurants I like or T.V. weathermen or the grass seed that will give you the greenest lawn.  I had actually decided that for the next stretch of postings I’d go with much more “light” stuff.  There’s a comical post about cars and computers that will appear sometime on Saturday, for instance.  But this Tim Russert thing just throws me back in the pulpit again!

Folks, I AM an evangelical and I’m telling you as so many of my fellow evangelicals have said, “There’s a heaven to gain and a hell to shun!”  Where did Tim Russert stand spiritually?  I have absolutely no idea of his spirituality or lack thereof.  I HOPE he had a strong personal commitment to God and His Holy Word.  

“Here today and gone tomorrow”.  That’s Tim Russert.  Funny, I don’t know why but this week I was thinking about John Ritter and how he dropped dead at 55.  Maybe it IS the bit that I’m 53 and overweight and haven’t had a physical in a long time.  I don’t know.  But this stuff of people just dropping dead IS hard to take.  Why is Walter Cronkite still alive at 90-plus?  Why is Andy Rooney still giving those Commentaries on “60 Minutes” at 89?  Why (to use a Howie Carr line) will 58-year-old Tim Russert “not be down for breakfast”?

It’s all in God’s hands.
Well, spiritually speaking I’M in God’s hands.  Are you?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


My inspiration for the title was from the title of a posting by my friend Michelle McElroy on
The following is the exact text of a mass e-mail I sent out to many in my address book today.  I also wanted to post it here.   I pray you'll read this very carefully and give it some thought:

To:  People who have known Joanne & Bill L.  and their family over the years; AND clergy friends of mine; AND personal friends and family of mine:

“Fatherless  Kids  and  a  26-year-old widow”:

On Tuesday, June 3, at 1:30 a.m., highway construction worker ROBERT  AUGERI  of Londonderry, NH, was killed instantly
in a highway construction accident on Route 495 in the Lawrence, MA area.  
He left a widow, 26-year-old Kimberly, and 3 little children under age 6, one of whom could not understand why Mommy was not baking a birthday cake for Daddy.

I have know Kimberly’s grandparents (Joanne and Bill L.)  well for over 20 years as they’ve been active and faithful Members at the church I pastor; and they’ve been friends.  I’ve also know Kimberly’s Dad, Cliff, not REAL well, but I do know Cliff as a decent, hardworking “stand up” kind of a guy.

During the first few years I pastored in Framingham (roughly 1987 to 1992) Grandmother Joanne and “Papa” Bill brought many of their grandchildren, including Kimberly, to Sunday School at our church on a fairly regular basis.

There is a fund for the Augeri Family which has been set up at TDBankNorth in Londonderry, NH.  The bank’s address and phone number are as follows:

62 Nashua RD
Londonderry, NH 03053

Checks and Money Orders can be made out to “Robert Augeri Family Fund” and sent to TDBankNorth-Londonderry at the above address.  I’m not sure if donations can be received from credit or debit cards, but I’m sure the bank can give you that information if you are interested.

On Sunday evening, June 22, at our church’s 6:30 p.m. Communion service, we’ll be receiving our Communion offering for the “Robert Augeri Family Fund” and will send off a check to TDBankNorth-Londonderry for whatever amount is received that night. If you’re a regular attender at First Assembly of God of Framingham, you can plan to give in that offering if you like.

For those of you who know how to pray, please remember to pray for Kimberly and her children.  They’ll need our prayers in the days ahead.

If you would like to communicate with me, I can generally be reached during business hours at 508-875-5030 or at  or

Sunday, June 8, 2008


“For every man shall bear his own burden.”  (Galatians 6:5)

[At the outset I have to explain that this posting is NOT about the possible discontinuing (in Framingham) of the transportation service for the disabled called “The Ride”.  That’s a big controversy in Framingham and is a “loaded” topic.  I may write about that sometime on a future blog posting.]

Contrary to what probably 75% of Americans believe, there is no Bible verse which says, “God helps those who help themselves”.  That concept is not taught in the New Testament.  In fact, the message of the Gospel is that human beings could NOT help themselves and that’s why they needed Jesus Christ for salvation.  HOWEVER, the closest thing to “God helps those who help themselves” that I can find in the New Testament is  “For every man shall bear his own burden.”  (Galatians 6:5).  That verse teaches that we ALL have responsibilities which WE need to address and that we can’t be whining and expecting the government to bail us out or the church to bail us out or our relatives to bail us out or anyone else to bail us out.  WE EACH have responsibilities that WE EACH have to take care of.  When the load gets overwhelming (such as the 26-year-old widow  with several small children I wrote about on a recent blog posting) THEN that’s the place for many other people to step in and generously lend a hand.

I’ve got to vent about something!  It drives me crazy when people show up at church for a service, then whine when the service is over that they have no way to get home and they need a ride.  

About two years ago, a 55-ish woman that I’ll call Mabel who is on Disability and has had a background of psychiatric problems showed up for a Sunday morning church service by taxi.  (I know her background; a friend of hers used to come to our church many years ago.)  After the service, Mabel asked to use the phone and called for a taxi to take her home.  She waited for 45 minutes before the cab showed up.  This meant my wife and I, and a Deacon and his family “hanging around” waiting for the taxi to arrive.  We were SO glad when it finally came, but standing around for 45 minutes was, well, annoying.  The next week she showed up and the same scene was repeated, except that the cab never showed up.  Finally, my wife and I drove her home.  I knew she’d be expecting this every week.  I told her “Mabel, I don’t mind us driving you home ONCE IN AWHILE, but you really need to be responsible for your own transportation.  Slip out about twenty minutes before the service ends, and call for a cab in the future.:”  Mabel never returned.  You may think I’m heartless, but I was honestly relieved that she did not return.

Again, just in case you DO think I’m heartless, on Saturday a guy from our church was about to walk two miles to the supermarket to buy a couple of large bags of groceries and then walk the heat and humidity.  His car is broken down and will cost at least $1500. to repair.  He did not ask me for a ride or anything like that, but he’d come to the church for a special Saturday prayer meeting.  I took him aside and said, “Bob, don’t walk to the supermarket in this heat.  It’s crazy.  Let me drive you.”  I drove him to the market, waited in the car while he shopped and then I drove him home.  I was glad to do it.  But he never pushed me nor manipulated me to drive him.  It was my offer to him.

On Sunday, June 8, another female with a background of psychiatric problems that I’ll call Susie attended our church’s morning service.  Susie used to attend our church but hasn’t been present in about seven years.  Susie lives about six- tenths of a mile from the church.  She walked to church.  After church, Susie went up to several people and said, “It’s HOT.  I want you to drive me home so I don’t collapse in the heat.”  I happen to know Susie routinely walks all over downtown Framingham and she hasn’t yet collapsed.  My sister was asked by Susie to give her a ride and she said “no”.  My sister privately told me, “I’m unsure about her.  What if she wouldn’t get out of the car or something.” I have the same concern, and I told my sister not to worry about it.  I’d feel even worse about a man driving her, if she’d then say he tried to rape her or something like that.  Susie was turned down for rides by a number of people.  Finally she came up to me and tried the routine on me.  (My wife was not going home with me, she had to do a special job for a teacher at the Marian High School office directly from church.)  I bluntly said to Susie, “Look, the rules around here are you provide your own transportation TO and FROM church and that’s the way it is.”

She did not like that!

Susie somewhat angrily said, “Oh, I get it FATHER!!! I mean PASTOR!! I get how it is!!”

A man then said, “I’ll drive her” and he did.  Of course I looked like a jerk, but he foolishly put himself at risk.

When someone becomes a “regular” at church, we’re very generous with them.  There’s an elderly woman from Wayland that  I’ve picked up and given rides to on a number of occasions.  There was another elderly lady for whom the church purchased an air conditioner.  There was a situation years ago where a man’s brother committed suicide and there was no money for any funeral.  The church donated the money for a cremation and burial.  So it’s not that we don’t help people.  But this stuff of :  "here I am, I’ve got psychiatric problems, I’m showing up, and I expect you to give me a ride...” or whatever else they expect... well, bluntly, I don’t like it and I think it’s very manipulative, and this is my vent about it.

What do you think?

Thursday, June 5, 2008


“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth now down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?  Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.”  (Luke 14:28-30)

My later father used the expression, “Gung Ho” whenever he was describing somebody who was ecstatically committed to something and enthusiastic about it.  I’m not sure where the expression comes from...maybe World War 2?  ...maybe before that?  I certainly know what “Gung Ho” means.  I’ve encountered many people in life who were Gung Ho about something.  The sad thing is, many START out Gung Ho about something but then lose their zeal and quit.

I remember a woman that I’ll call “Zelda”- it’s not her real name- who moved to Framingham from Maine somewhere around fourteen years ago.  If such a statistic is really possible, she got 200% involved in the Framingham community.  “Fifty-ish” she had the energy of a 27-year-old.  She was one of the leaders of the “downtown Framingham clean up” days of the late 1990s.  She ate, slept, drank, breathed the cause of beautification and development in downtown Framingham.  Somewhere around eight years ago she moved out-of-state.  At least a year before that, she had kind of lost her zeal for Framingham and seemed to have more on a “let someone else do it this time” attitude.  

My first year pastoring in Framingham a young African-American couple began attending our church.  They had just moved in from Providence, Rhode Island.  The wife was originally from Springfield, Missouri, and since I’d gone to Bible College there, we had a connection.  This couple that I’ll call the Jacksons (and honestly, since it’s been twenty-one years I really don’t remember their name) began attending church every time the door was open.  They were excited.  They told me I could count on them...that they’d be totally committed to the church and to me, and that God was going to do great and marvelous things in our church.  Exactly six weeks later, they left our church.  I never saw them again and I have no idea what became of them.  In twenty-one years here I’ve seldom seen a couple who were so “Gung Ho”, but I wish that could have lasted longer than six weeks.

One of the reason I tend to NOT go on diets is that I’ve seen too many people start diets all “Gung Ho” to stick to the diet and lose weight.  I’ve seen that last three or four days, and then the diet is over.  I’m honest enough to know that’s exactly what I’d do, myself, so I don’t even START a diet!

I know a guy named Bill who is now around 74-years-old.  As long as I’ve known him he’s said he will make a lot of money and move to Florida.  He was very “Gung Ho” for that back in the early 1980s.  He still lives in Massachusetts.  He DID have some years of great financial success, but today he is financially poorer than he’s ever been in his life.  I know I wrote that “As long as I’ve known him he’s said he will make a lot of money and move to Florida.” but that’s not totally correct...for at least the past year he has not mentioned Florida.  He WAS very “Gung Ho” but something happened...

As I think back over my life, there are scores of people who were “Gung Ho” about something or “Gung Ho” to accomplish something, but most of them lost interest and gave up.  

How does a person STAY “Gung Ho”?  
No joke, as I’m writing this, the song playing on the iTunes on my computer is Tom Petty singing “I Won’t Back Down”.  I LOVE THAT SONG!!  It’s one of my favorites.  Maybe that’s how you stay “Gung Ho” least part of don’t back down!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


"Jesus wept," (John 11:35)

There are sad and tragic stories in the news every day.  If we were to dwell on all of them, we would become crippled by hopelessness and depression and would be unable to function.  All of us hear these terrible stories but take them in stride.

But sometimes one of those terrible stories affects people you know.  Such is the case for me this week:

You may have heard a story yesterday (Tuesday, June 3) that was reported on Boston's channel 5 and also on a couple of the News/Talk radio stations in the Boston area, about a construction worker who was killed at 1:30 a.m. on Route 495 in the Lawrence, MA area.   The deceased was working on a paving crew.  A dump truck ran over him and killed him instantly.  My understanding is that the dump truck was put into reverse gear rather than forward gear and was driven by a man who was operating it under the influence of alcohol. 

The dead man was married to the 26-year-old granddaughter of a couple who have been Members of our church for many years.  Her name is Kimberley.  His name was Rob.  What the news story did not tell you is that he was killed on his birthday and that he had three little children.  According to their great-grandmother, the kids could not understand why they were not making a birthday cake for Daddy.

I've seen Kimberley a number of times when she was a child, but I really don't know her well.   I don't ever remember meeting Rob, unless he was at Kimberley's grandparents' Anniversary party that I attended in 2002.  Even so, this affects people that I care very much about.  So, for me, it wasn't just a fleeting story on the news.

Terrible tragedies happen in life.  Often there are no answers to the "whys".  In ministry you are part of life's happiest moments, but at times you are placed in the situation of trying to help people through these tragedies.

So, I'm sharing today that this construction accident affected people I know.

Monday, June 2, 2008


“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?  So run, that ye may obtain.” (I Corinthians 9:24)

Some time ago, I posted an entry on this blog entitled, “Protocol”.  As I recall, it essentially expressed my opinion about how people should and should not conduct themselves in life.  I “got some flack” as a result of that posting.  I realize at the outset of this piece I may be setting myself up for the same kind of thing- this MAY offend some people.  I assure you it’s really not meant to be offensive!  A guy I knew years ago used to walk around wearing a button which read, “Pobody’s Nerfect!”.  Indeed, we’ve all got shortcomings.  If I were to write a piece entitled, “The Shortcomings of Bob Baril”, it would be so long that I’d probably have to present it in four or five installments!  Yes, I’ve got LOTS of shortcomings, but I do desire improvement in my life.  I really don’t want to be a prisoner to my faults and failings and I certainly don’t want those faults and failings to cause me to have a far less enjoyable and successful life than I could have experienced. Soooo, this paragraph is my disclaimer for what’s coming!

Sunday evening,  in the midst of eating a bowl of pasta and  watching television,  I was thinking about the paradox of somebody I know who constantly offends people by his behavior, and yet has absolutely no idea  how often or to what degree he offends people.  I started pondering that, and then I started thinking about traits people have that I greatly admire as well as traits people have that I greatly dislike.  I actually scribbled them down on a napkin...well that’s all I had for paper in proximity to my T.V. tray!  I came  up with seven traits I dislike and seven traits I admire.  

Here are the seven traits I dislike in people, going from the one that least bothers me to the one that most bothers me:

7.  LAZINESS.  I was once such a lazy person that I could have been “the sluggard” described in the Book of Proverbs. As a kid when I’d watch the character Dr. Zachary Smith who wanted to just lie around and avoid work on the “Lost in Space” T.V. show I used to think he had a point!  Somewhere in my 20s all that began to change and by the time I was in my 30s, I’d become a “workaholic”.  So, it’s not that I’ve never been a lazy person, because I HAVE been.  Perhaps, in the same manner that former smokers can be the most brutal critics of smokers, the fact that I’ve forsaken and overcome laziness is why I now really dislike that trait in people.

6.  “NOSY PEOPLE”.  I tried to think of a classier term, and there must be one, but that trait of people snooping into other people’s business (when it really should be of no concern to them) bothers me.  I guess the classier term for such people is “busybodies”.

5.  CLUELESSNESS.  Clueless people are not perceptive people.  A clueless person doesn’t pick up on “body language” or other social cues.  A clueless person  may think someone wants to listen to them spend a half hour talking about the benefits of automatic transmission cars verses standard shift cars....or about unbleached coffee filters verses bleached coffee filters.  They don’t.  A clueless person would say something like, “We were WRONG in Vietnam!” not even considering he may be talking to a Vietnam Vet who is still dealing with the pain of coming home for a horrific war experience and never even being welcomed home.

4.  MANIPULATIVE.  My father disliked a female relative who used to try to con him into doing favors for her by saying things like, “YOU WOULDN’T MIND driving me to the airport!”  I encounter all kinds of manipulative people in all kinds of situations.  Sadly, some evangelical ministers are quite manipulative and don’t understand why that would be offensive to people!  

3.  PROCRASTINATORS.  Listen, I still struggle at times with being a procrastinator, so this is a trait I dislike in MYSELF, but I know of one person who left a substantial portion of his house unfinished for over forty years, planning to finish it when he got around to it... wait, no kidding, I know of another such person who also did the SAME thing.   Cats may have 9 lives, but people don’t!  If there’s something that needs to be done, well, do it.

2.  SUSPICION.  I don’t mean healthy curiosity, that’s good.  Sure, if someone is acting really weird and they make a number of bizarre claims, you SHOULD be suspicious.  Some people, however, are ridiculously suspicious.  I know of one guy who is suspicious of EVERYBODY.  He constantly makes statements such as, “I’d like to know what they’re REAL motive is”...about EVERYBODY...all the time!  Iguess he should have been a detective.  Yes, we should not be naive, but we also don’t need to be automatically suspicious of everybody all of the time.

1.  “CHEAPNESS”.  I guess there’s got to be a classier word for it, but I call it “cheapness”.  I’ve heard some “holier-than-thou” people say, “I’m just being a good steward”.  No, you’re cheap.  If you always leave less than a 10% tip at restaurants, you’re cheap.  If you’ll NEVER buy some kid’s Girl Scout cookies because you resent being asked to, you’re cheap.  If you waste gasoline trying to find the cheapest gasoline, or even worse, if you drive to Cape Cod to save $10. on some item (but forget about the time and money it cost you to drive to Cape Cod to buy the item) you’re cheap.

Now, lest this get too depressing, here are the seven traits I LIKE in people, going from the least to the one I MOST admire:

7.  RESILIENCY.  Resilient people don’t let anything keep them down.  No matter what difficulties they face, they get right up and keep going.  I know of  family who lost everything in a fire when their home burned to the ground.  Actually, no kidding, I know of two such families.  In both cases, they were very positive, pressed on, and became inspirations to others.

6.  QUIETNESS.  I can think of several people I know who talk incessantly, and I also have a tendency to talk incessantly.  There’s just something I admire about the person who is quiet...who doesn’t say much, but when they do talk, they say something really beneficial or profound.  Job’s Comforters talked incessantly.  The one friend of Job’s who helped him just came and sat quietly.  There’s a lot to be said for quietness.  (Yes, ponder THAT last sentence for awhile!)

5.   LOYALTY.  A Brazilian pastor friend of mine told me that when he pastored in New Jersey he showed up for church one Sunday to find most of the people in his church were GONE.  The guy’s youth pastor had started another church and taken most of the people with him.  The youth pastor neglected to say anything to the pastor about it!  Now that’s disloyalty!  President George W. Bush is a very loyal person.  He’s taken tremendous criticism for keeping people on the job too long and refusing to fire people due to loyalty to them.  Yes, I know he’s thought of as a jerk for that,and I’m NOT a big George W. Bush fan but I actually ADMIRE the fact that he is “loyal to a fault”.

4.  AFFIRMING.  I like affirming and encouraging people!  I like it when people build others up rather than tear them down.  It’s what the Bible calls “The Gift of Exhortation”.  We need more encouraging people.  We need to affirm positive traits in others.  When I meet an affirming person, I want to “hang out” with that person!

3.  COMPASSION.  I have a friend who lived in inner city Newark, New Jersey working with mostly needy children and teens.  I know of a woman who has dedicated her life to helping desperately needy people in Haiti. What a wonderful trait compassion is!  It’s the opposite of selfishness.  Compassionate people make a difference!

2.  HUMOR.  Where would we be without humor?!  People sometimes don’t understand why I like “The Three Stooges”, or why I’ll sometimes be laughing so hard at one of life’s situations that I’ll throw up!  Laughter is a great gift.  I think humorous people contribute quite a bit to society.  I miss Larry Glick.  He was a Boston area radio host.  Yes, I know, he was into hypnosis and some really stupid stuff, BUT he had a great sense of humor and his show was SO funny!  I love humorous people!

1.  FORGIVING.  People who have learned the secret of forgiveness are the most blessed people in the world!  Unforgiveness is a cancer that can destroy you.  Forgiveness is liberating.  Jesus Christ STRESSED the importance of forgiveness.  I know it’s not easy to forgive some people, but think of how YOU feel when people refuse to forgive you, and I hope that will make it a little easier for you to forgive other people.

Well, I hope you can forgive me for writing such a long piece, and I hope this one goes over better than “Protocol” did!