Tuesday, March 27, 2012


"Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;" (2 Peter 1:3)

I find it fascinating when in the midst of a seeming annoyance or inconvenience, something happens which triggers a very positive memory. That JUST happened. I'm on a short break from my job and I'm at the Framingham Public Library. It's COLD today in Massachusetts; last week's 80 degree weather is a distant memory! I came into the library, took off my heavy coat, laid down my bag, and suddenly realized I'd forgotten the library DVD I had to return. I'd left it in the car. I quickly rushed to the parking garage, and then felt very foolish because I'd forgotten that I did NOT park in the garage. It's completely full. I had to drive down Lincoln Street and find an "on street" parking space. I walked back to the car, coatless and cold, grabbed the DVD, and headed back to the library. At the front of the library, a woman driving a large white SUV rolled down her window and called to me, "EXCUSE ME!"

I thought, "Oh, no, where's she gonna ask me directions to?"
But that wasn't what she wanted.

"I can't find any space in the library garage, but I'm trying to return this book," she quickly explained, asking, "Will YOU return it for me?"

I said I would and grabbed the book from her. The book was the late David Brudnoy's autobiography, "Life is Not a Rehearsal". On the cover was a photo of David with his headphones on. David Brudnoy was not only an accomplished university professor, but he was the evening radio talk show host on WBZ Boston for about twenty years. The show was heard via "AM signal skip" in 38 states and 6 Canadian provinces.

I suddenly got a very pleasant mental picture. One of the highlights of my life and ministry is the night I was a two hour in-studio guest with David Brudnoy in February of 1989. I gave a presentation about the Assemblies of God and fielded phone calls. I was only scheduled for one hour but David said he was enjoying it so much that he invited me to stay for two. I absolutely presented the gospel that night, to David and his listeners.

I slightly teared up as I remembered that wonderful experience.

I also felt as though God was saying to me, "Don't put yourself down and feel like such a failure. I used you to do some wonderful things that you can rightfully remember and take satisfaction in!"

You know, that made my morning! A forgotten DVD, no parking spaces, cold, an interruption by a woman in an SUV. And what did that bring? An "eye spy"! An "eye spy" is what Christian inspirational author and speaker Karen Mains calls a moment when God just kind of steps in and shows Himself in a special way. You "SEE" it and it's very cool.

Thank you, God, for that "eye spy"!

Monday, March 26, 2012


"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (Romans 14:17)

Oh, the FLOW! Sudden; unexpected; quick; white dairy; wet; running rapidly into an instant creation of "falls"! Table, chairs, floor, napkins, EVERYWHERE!

Whoever coined the saying, "Don't cry over spilled milk!"? I don't know. But I do know one person who didn't CRY over spilled milk but rather "HAD A COW" over it! That would be my father, Gene Baril. We experienced that scene at least a dozen times at our home in Canton during our growing up years. Dad would start yelling confusing and angry instructions so fast it was almost like listening to a tobacco auctioneer. Then it would be, "MORE paper towels, MORE paper towels, MORE paper towels!"

My father was a very smart and talented guy. He achieved many successes. He also spent almost half his adult life upset about spilled milk, or fingermarks on the wall, or a tiny scratch on a new car's surface, or a missing pad of paper. Dad was a ROCK in times of true crisis. If some catastrophe happened, he was "Mr. Macho", strong, masculine, composed, and a guy you wanted to be in charge. He was the perfect police officer to arrive at a chaotic scene and assume total control; offering valuable help and wisdom. And, he was the guy who'd lose his temper over a broken door handle.

Am I trying to "trash" my Dad? Oh no, not at all! You see, in many ways I grew up to be like him. For years, I was very much in denial about this! As a pastor, I viewed myself as likable and approachable. I was the guy watching a Three Stooges short and having a belly laugh over it! I was the one doing impersonations, telling jokes, and giggling about anything and everything! Recently, a close friend of mine told me that over the years he'd heard from quite a few people who said they'd NEVER attend the church I pastored. They described Bob Baril as incredibly nit-picky and critical. Honestly, I never thought of myself as being like that. Yet, as I look back upon it, when it came to finding a broken faucet, or somebody's poorly done clean up job, or fingermarks on a wall, or clutter someone left behind, or...spilled milk...yeah, I was just like my father!

Yesterday, March 25, 2012, would have been my late brother Eddie's 56th birthday. His enexpected death at age twenty-seven devastated our entire family. I think about Eddie often. His birthdays are generally sad days for me. Eddie did not look like me. We had very little in common. But his loss is STARK. My son Jon was born just weeks after Eddie died. None of my kids ever saw their uncle. I wonder what children he would have fathered and what he would look like today. Eddie's death was the one tragedy that reduced my father to tears. I will say that following Eddie's death, Dad was a little bit less nit-picky.

Gene Baril died in 2000. If he could come back and speak to us, would he tell us the yelling over spilled milk and scratches was really pretty pathetic? I suspect he would.

Life and death.

Love and family.

God and Biblical spirituality.

THAT'S the stuff that's important.

I'm frankly sad and disappointed that people saw me as negative, nit-picky, and critical. I actually liked a lot of people, and I really wanted them to like me. In all my actions, I wanted to leave a positive impression for the cause of Jesus Christ with people. Of, I DID with SOME. Some folks do tell me my ministry very positively impacted and changed their lives; that I was a wonderful teacher, counselor, pastor, and friend. But there were times I obviously was very out of touch and I guess I scared and confused people. I desperately miss preaching, teaching, and pastoring. I miss it terribly. I think about that often. Listen, I know this piece could make it very easy for you to mentally throw tomatoes at Bob Baril. Can I tell you something straight out?! Look in the mirror! If you're an evangelical Christian, do you present an angry, negative, legalistic God to the world that no one in their right mind would want? Or do you humbly model the life of a follower of the God who so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son?
And, if you're an unbeliever, do you give the Lord a fair hearing, or do you insist on going your own way and putting up a selfish wall?

Hey, my brother's dead. My parents are dead. What's REALLY important?
Let's think about behaving in such a way that our lives make a positive impact on those around us- that we edify and do not destroy. And, if we "blow it", lets repent. And if someone else "blows it" let's forgive them! (See I John 1:9)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


“Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37)

Those verses come from the end of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan; possibly Jesus’ most famous parable. Jesus told His followers to CARE about others- even those from different racial or ethnic groups and even those from different religious groups. We are to GET INVOLVED and TAKE RISKS for the sake of others. I was first taught the Parable of the Good Samaritan by a Catholic “Sister of St. Joseph” in C.C.D. class (Catholic religious ed.) when I was in the third or fourth grade. It made quite an impression on me and I’ve never forgotten it. It teaches the exact opposite of what the Federal and State “powers that be” teach us to do. They essentially say, “DON’T get involved! Call 911. Trust the police and others to take care of it!”. Many of you know my father was “career law enforcement” having retired as a Registry of Motor Vehicles Supervisor in 1982 after a distinguished career as a police officer, Registry Inspector, and Registry Official. Yet, I’m sure my Dad would DISAGREE with what current political leaders such as Martha Coakley tell us to do.

Yesterday, Michael Graham presented a very disturbing story on his afternoon drive talk show on BostonTalks 96.9. It’s the story of Rodney Peterson, a married middle-aged father from the Chicago area. On March 2 as Rodney was pumping gas at a Shell station he noticed two teenage girls walking along in the raging snowstorm. They were not properly dressed for the weather at all, and did not even have an umbrella. He was amazed that they were out in such harsh weather without proper gear and thought someone ought to offer them a ride. After he drove off, he came upon them walking along. Rodney, stopped, rolled down his window, and offered them a ride. They were nervous, and declined the ride. Rodney thought that was that. Several days later he was ARRESTED for DISTURBING THE PEACE...for “scaring” these young girls. He is facing a $750 fine, and lots of negative publicity. It’s been devastating for Rodney and his family, and Rodney was just trying to be, yes, a “Good Samaritan”.

Michael’s broadcast made me think of two stories from my own life:

The first comes from the late Summer of 1995. The elderly mother of a family from Canton that I casually knew passed away. "Linda" whose Mom had died called me and asked if I would do the memorial service at Knollwood Memorial Park chapel in Canton. I did. After the service, she said, "Bob, please come over to my house and join us for some refreshments." I agreed to.

What I did NOT know is that about three years earlier, Linda’s family had moved from their small Cape Cod style home in a working class neighborhood just off Canton Center to a new home in an affluent subdivision in another part of Canton. I pulled up at Linda's old home in my navy blue Olds station wagon wearing my black suit. I waited and waited and waited. I could not understand why no one was showing up. There were some kids around age 10 or 11, playing in the street. I rolled down the window and asked (using Linda’s last name) if that family still lived there. The kids just glared at me like I was some kind of monster. After awhile, I just drove away.

Three weeks later, I got a phone call at home in Framingham from a CANTON POLICE DETECTIVE! At the time, my elderly parents lived in Canton. My Dad had Alzheimer's Disease, and my mother took care of him. I could tell many horrible stories about what a difficult time that was. I was so worried about my parents. When the detective’s call came, I wondered if there had been a murder/suicide...if maybe my mom had snapped, shot my Dad and killed herself, or something like that. My heart just about STOPPED! Instead, I was told that my car was observed in Canton on such and such a date with the driver parked and acting in a suspicious manner. THANKFULLY the cop believed my story and that was that, but it SHOCKED me that I could have been hauled in, fingerprinted, and my reputation ruined!

The other story of mine is really about my daughter, Amy, a nurse in Springfield, Missouri. As a nurse she has to go to work at the medical center no matter what the weather. There was a bad snowstorm, and a city like Springfield, Missouri just doesn’t really know how to handle snow! Amy was driving her small Subaru on a major highway and the car spun out and landed in the (snow covered) median area. A few minutes later, a truck pulled up and three young burly macho guys got out. "Need help??!!" they asked, and the next thing you knew they had her car out of the snow and on the way. Thank God they did not believe in the Martha Coakley way of doing things...well this WAS Missouri, not Massachusetts!

The whole way we as Americans in 2012 are being taught to think, act, and function is frankly upside down in comparison of how Americans of fifty or sixty years ago thought, acted, and functioned. Dangerous criminals who have “rights” roam about wreaking havoc while a guy like Rodney Peterson is arrested for offering a couple of teenage girls a ride in a snowstorm. What are we coming to?

Monday, March 19, 2012


"But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed." (2 Kings 6:5))

Recently, I heard a story on the radio about a new cell phone/smart phone which is being developed and will be COMPLETELY WATERPROOF. It's meant to solve the problem of people dropping their cell phones into the toilet, or into a sink, or a swimming pool, a puddle, or some other body of water. The phone is expected to be on the market in eighteen to twenty-four months. As I listened to this story, I was surprised to hear about all the people who have dropped their cell phones into water, frantically tried drying them with hair dryers and sadly discovered they were ruined. I was so glad that experience had never happened to me, and I was pretty convinced that it would never happen to me.

Never say never, and never THINK never!

Late Sunday afternoon, I got a phone call at home as I was in the midst of trying to clean up dishes. My phone is a very simple three-year-old cell phone, it's not a smart phone or anything fancy. It's either the third or fourth cell phone I've owned since I first got a cell phone in 1999. I had the phone propped with my shoulder and talked on the phone as I was washing some dishes.

Yes, you guessed it!

Suddenly, the cell phone shot into the air and plopped directly into the dishwater! It was submerged for no more than three seconds. I grabbed it and quickly dried it with a towel. Amazingly, my friend was still talking, unaware of what had happened.
After the call, I rushed frantically upstairs. I got out my hair dryer and blew hot air all over the phone. I took the battery out and put it back in. The phone started going through cycles of shutting itself off and me turning it on, only to have it shut itself off again. I made a quick phone call, and then I hooked the phone up to the A/C charger in the bedroom.

I love taking Sunday afternoon walks, and I went out for a late afternoon walk. I was out around forty-five minutes. I came back and checked out the phone. It was OFF; and pretty well DEAD. I tried and tried to turn it on. I took the battery out and put it back several times. I sprayed the hot air on it again. I then SLAMMED the phone onto the top of the bathroom vanity several times. Some water droplets DID spurt out of the phone. After awhile, it very briefly came on, only to quickly turn off again. Once again, no matter WHAT I did, it was DEAD.

As much as I really believe in prayer, throughout life I have had a difficult time with people who pray for a car to start when the starter is burned out, or who pray for a lawnmower to work when a mechanic has pronounced it ready for the junkpile, OR who pray for a computer to work which a geek has said is "fried". This was very unlike me. I held the cell phone in my hand and I prayed for God to fully restore and revive the cell phone just as if it had never been in water. I plugged it in to the A/C charger. In a few moments, the phone WEAKLY lit up saying "phone charging".

This morning, I went to the cell phone, not sure of what to expect. The message on the phone read "battery required". I have never seen that message before. I wondered if the battery was truly dead and if the phone just would not work. I popped the battery out one more time, and put it in again. I turned the phone on. IT STARTED UP NORMALLY!

I have been using the phone today. It's completely normal! Would the phone have been OK anyway, or did God really fix it? You decide, but I think it's the latter!

Friday, March 16, 2012


"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 16:25)

Experts who've studied this issue at length have concluded that women's brains are designed such that they can multitask MUCH better than men can. I agree with that conclusion. If I try to multitask, sometimes I can make stupid mistakes, and sometimes I can even make dangerous mistakes. I realize this will "fire up" the anti cell phones behind the wheel crowd, but about three months ago, I was in an intense conversation on the cell phone with a friend. During this conversation, I got off the MASS PIKE at the 395/290 EXIT in Auburn. I have driven through this spot almost every day for over a year on my commute home to Webster from Framingham. I was so engaged in the conversation that I THOUGHT I was pulling up to the toll lane I ALWAYS pull up to. The overhead light was GREEN, and everything SEEMED normal. I pulled up to the window, and to my SHOCK there really was no "window". Instead, there was just a hunk of yellow metal. It was the WEIRDEST thing. I have a lot of vivid dreams in which totally unusual and unexpected things happen. This felt exactly like that. The exception is that often when that happens, I will suddenly wake up and think, "Boy, THAT was weird! What was THAT foolish scenario all about?!"

I sure wanted to immediately wake up and find myself in bed, but that did not happen. Suddenly it HIT me. I was in the FAST LANE...the lane for people who have windshield transponders. In fact, we DO have a transponder on our 2003 Honda sedan but NOT on the little old green 1995 Subaru Impreza that I usually drive. (I call it my "Lt. Columbo car". Now, HE had a 1950 Peugeot, but the car is of a similar ilk.) HOW could this happen? I was in the FAST LANE! Very quickly, I calculated my chances of BACKING UP and shifting to the cash lane. Had I done this IMMEDIATELY without one second's hesitation, I just MIGHT have made it. But one second was all it took for not one but two cars to come up behind me with angry drivers BLASTING their horns.

Talk about a NO WIN situation!

All I could do was drive through. And I did.

Several weeks later, a "VIOLATION NOTICE" arrived in the mail. It was a $50. ticket, due on March 19. There were all sorts of steps one COULD take to appeal the ticket. I thought about that. It just seemed very unfair. I've had very few violations in my driving career. Granted, I HAVE been stopped and gotten a few tickets, but in almost forty years, I think I've gotten maybe 3 or 4 tickets which is really not a lot. The most recent previous one was ten years ago. A brand new flashing red light had been added to an intersection in Framingham where there'd previously been no stop sign or traffic light. Just a few days after it had been installed, I habitually blew right through it, forgetting the new light was there. Suddenly there was a Framingham police car behind me with blaring flashing lights. I explained to the cop that I'd forgotten about the new light. He was very nice, totally understood, but still wrote me a ticket. And, I paid it a few days later.

I thought about it and thought about it. I really didn't want to mail in the $50. It seemed like legalized extortion. But today, I mailed it in. I don't suppose I will ever do that again. I know, you may wonder why I don't just get a transponder for the Subaru. Honestly, I don't prefer paying that way, and I don't like the fact that the transponder has a record of where you travel and where you pay tolls. It's a little too "Big Brother" for me, although my better half prefers the transponder and I see no reason why she shouldn't have it.

Of course, there's also the whole issue of tolls in general. Do you know that for every dollar paid in tolls on the MASS PIKE only twenty-eight cents actually goes to pay for road maintenance? The rest goes to pay for toll taker's salaries, executive's salaries, public relations, etc. Even so, the MASS PIKE is absolutely the best maintained and highest quality superhighway in Massachusetts, hands down. However, it's often argued that automobile commuters to the immediate Boston area from MetroWest and Worcester County are unfairly penalized by having to pay these tolls while North Shore and South Shore commuters get a "free ride" on Routes 3 and 93. Some have proposed tolls for those roads, and I don't necessarily have a problem with that.

No, I don't multitask as well as most women do, and I was distracted by being in a cell phone conversation, and today, it cost me!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." (Romans 13:1)

In the six years that I have written this blog, I have only written about politics a few times. I'm very much like my late mother, in that I am very interested in news and current events and very interested in politics. But I also know, politics can be very polarizing. In life, I've seen situations where just one brief phrase was stated about a politician which provoked a violent or hysterical outburst from another person. It seems to me, even as a guy who LIKES following politics, that it's just not worth provoking violent or hysterical outbursts. So, today maybe I am venturing into dangerous waters as I write about Rick Santorum.

I am a registered Republican who many years ago would have been categorized as very much "on the religious right". I'm still fairly conservative, but definitely more moderate and tolerant than I was fifteen or so years ago. This year, I voted for Ron Paul in the Massachusetts Republican primary. Donald Trump is correct in saying that "there's no way Ron Paul is going to be the Republican nominee", but I happen to like Ron Paul as a person. I don't agree with all of Ron Paul's positions. At least a couple of them could be considered extreme or "nutty". Ron Paul, however, has integrity and is authentic. He's a smart guy and a nice guy. It's ironic that the evangelical community pretty solidly has rallied around Rick Santorum because Ron Paul is the only evangelical Christian in the race (a Baptist) and he has had a 100% pro-life record for thirty years. (Rick Santorum is a Roman Catholic who is mostly NOT liked by Catholic voters! Unlike 90% of American Catholics, Santorum follows the Pope and traditional Roman Catholic doctrine and practice, including rejecting artificial birth control pretty much to the letter. It may surprise some of my readers that most evangelicals do NOT have any problems with people using contraceptives and DO have some serious problems with many Roman Catholic doctrines.)

Yesterday, Boston radio talk show host Doug Meehan on BostonTalks 96.9 asked WHY Santorum is doing so well. He invited callers to speculate on whether it's because voters LIKE Santorum and what he stands for, or if it's because they DON'T like Mitt Romeny. After fielding numerous calls, Meehan stated he believes it's mostly the latter.

My own take on it is that it's both, BUT that it's PARTICULARLY that they don't like Mitt Romney. ONE of Mitt's problems is that he's a Mormon. While I totally disagree with the Mormon religion, that's not an issue for me. I voted for Mitt Romney in 1994 when he ran for U.S. Senate against Ted Kennedy. That was the only race for Senate Ted was ever in that WAS competitive. At one point polls showed them deadlocked and suggested Mitt COULD win. Of course, Ted won, but not by much. I also voted for Mitt for Governor a few years later. I was not particularly thrilled with Mitt Romney as Governor. He argues that he did not raise taxes, but he raised FEES. FEES for ANYTHING to do with the state (like your driver's license renewal) went through the roof! Then there was "Romneycare". Listen, SOME aspects of Romneycare are good, but overall it's been BAD for Massachusetts. My son was one of many young adults who resented having to buy health insurance or be penalized on his state tax return and I can't blame him. Former State Treasurer Tim Cahill said Romenycare was a disaster for the state. Even worse, Mitt Rommey will say ANYTHING to get elected. He was totally pro-choice in 1994; probably more pro-choice than Ted Kennedy if that's possible! He cited his Mom's longtime support of Planned Parenthood and access to abortions. I'm surprised Mitt didn't cut an ad for N.O.W.!
Mitt also indicated he was more in favor of gay rights than Ted Kennedy, and listen, he WAS for mandated government health care.

What has happened? Now, Mitt is the "pro-life candidate" who totally opposed Obamacare?! Is he serious? And, he is TOTALLY out of touch with "real people". I admit I have SOME problems with Rick Santorum. Believe it or not he really said, "We have to stop handing out money to black people." That is a totally off the wall statement! And some of his social views are pretty conservative even for me. However, anyone who thinks Rick Santorum is really going to have Roe vs. Wade overturned (that's never going to happen) or outlaw gay marriage (that's not likely to happen) or make all contraception illegal (are you crazy?!) has nothing to worry about. Santorum is a sincere guy with convictions. I don't even agree with all of them, but I'd take him over Mitt Romney any day. I absolutely will not vote for Mitt Romney if he is the Republican nominee this fall...absolutely not. I would either blank it or vote third party. But I WOULD vote for Santorum with little reservation.

There's an ugly stereotype about people in the South and Midwest...that somehow they're all stupid rednecks. SOME of them are, but most of them are really good people. As Robert Duvall said in his commentary about his outstanding film "The Apostle", "People from the east and west coasts make all kinds of judgments about the hard working Bible-believing people of the 'flyover states'. In fact, these are mostly wonderful people and wonderful places to live. The elite people from the coasts have really never gotten to know them." I agree. Were if possible for me, right now, I would move to southwestern Missouri in a heartbeat. These are people who work hard, love their country, almost never swear, often do not have any sex until married, and value Godliness, and clean living. When I listen to callers from the Boston area who can't understand why the girl at Stonehill College (MY alma mater and a "Catholic" school) was upset that her roommate was regularly having sex with her boyfriend in the room with the girl THERE; numerous callers saying that was a REGULAR part of their college experience and no big deal; well, THAT makes me all the more ready to move to the Bible belt and vote for Rick Santorum.

True, Rick Santorum is kind of extreme to the right and Barak Obama is kind of extreme to the left. Listen, Obama is a nice guy and has done some good things as President. But who's version of America would I prefer: Obama's or Santorum's? It's a no brainer. AND, regarding Mitt, in a number of respects he is worse than Obama. If you get a chance, do an on-line search for MITT ROMNEY COMEDY THEME SONG which is on youtube. That youtube presentation by a couple of amateurs that I am very familiar with pretty much says it all!

Monday, March 12, 2012


"Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him." (Genesis 40:23)

This past Saturday morning, I received a brief e-mail that saddened me. It was a notification by the Rev. Richard "Rich" Hurst, Pastor of the Lutheran Church of Framingham that he is resigning due to health reasons. He and his wife live in a church parsonage, so they'll be moving out, and moving in with Rich's parents in Natick. The e-mail was brief, matter-of-fact, and as positively expressed as something like that could be. It was not at all what I'd probably have written. Admittedly, I tend to be sensational, wordy, and have a flair for the dramatic and even melodramatic. Rich Hurst is not at all one to call attention to himself. He is not at all comfortable calling attention to himself. Frankly, that makes him all the more admirable and worthy of honor, in my opinion. Romans 13:7 says we ought to give honor to whom honor is due, and thus, I'm writing this piece to express my appreciation of Rich Hurst and to give him recognition he so rightly deserves.

The above verse from Genesis is from the story of Joseph. (If you've ever seen, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", then you are familiar with the story!) One of the saddest verses in the story of Joseph is the one I opened with. The chief butler promised Joseph he'd put in a good word with the Pharaoh; he'd let Pharaoh know Joseph was a good guy who'd gotten a really raw deal; he's stand up for Joseph; he'd be instrumental in making things right for Joseph. Sadly, ten minutes after the chief butler was released from the prison and had his position restored, he was essentially saying, "Joseph WHO?!". When people (and communities, for that matter) go through great times of crisis, initially, "everybody" rallies around them. It doesn't take long, however, for people to forget. Within the first three months of the church I pastored having closed, and me having to make very difficult and radical changes in my life, I had all sorts of people calling me and writing me, giving me special gifts, etc. Almost like clockwork, after three months, most of that dried up. I became old news. Back in early June, we were all talking about the town of Monson, Massachusetts which had been hard hit by a tornado. No, it wasn't as bad as Joplin, Missouri, but for a MASSACHUSETTS town to face catastrophic camage from a Level 3 tornado was still a HUGE story. For a few weeks "everybody" was talking about it. Volunteers went out to help the needy there. Collections were taken up. It took about three months, and most of us completely forgot about Monson and the other western Massachusetts towns that were affected by the tornadoes on June 1. After a few weeks and months, I don't want us to be saying, "Richard, WHO? Oh, yeah, that guy who pastored the Lutheran Church; I really don't know what's become of him. He's probably just moved on."

I met Rich Hurst for the first time at a special Marian High School assembly in the early Fall of 1996. The school had invited area clergy to come in support of the cause of world peace. I'd say at least fifteen clergy attended, and the school had three or four speak. Rich Hurst had just moved into Framingham from a pastorate in western Massachusetts. He was no stranger to MetroWest however, having grown up in Natick from a family with a strong heritage in that community. What struck me about Rich is how well he connected with the kids. He was enthusiastic, funny, bright, and very spiritual. He had the attention of the student body. I was impressed with this guy. There are a lot of "preachers" around, but not a lot of true pastors. I happen to be a good public speaker, but as I reflect on my many years of ministry I think I could have been more sensitive to people and more pastoral. I could be the type who was looking at his watch, hurrying to be someplace else. Rich was NEVER like that. This guy ALWAYS had time for people. There were a number of times when I was going through my own struggles that he'd make time for me. He was never rushed. He was a great listener, and always had very wise things to say.

Rich was very involved in the entire Framingham community, but he was NOT political. So many clergy either get involved with the religious right, as I did in my earlier years, or get wrapped up in the causes of the religious left, and believe me, there IS a "religious left". Rich was into neither. If something had something to do with spreading the Gospel and being Christlike, Rich wanted to be part of that. If not, he was not interested. During his stint as Convener of the Framingham Interfaith Clergy Association a few years ago, Rich put together a prayer vigil on the steps of the Memorial Building on the evening prior to a Town election. There was a lot of polarization in the town over issues such as illegal immigration. There were people who did not speak to one another and who pretty much hated one another. Rich endorsed NO candidate. The idea was to pray for our community and for healing in our community. Sadly, some accused him of leading that with a political agenda. NOTHING could have been further from the truth. I was proud to be part of that prayer vigil.

There are some ministers who don't like to get their hands dirty. Not Rich. Several years ago, a LARGE tree limb fell from a one hundred year old Norway maple in my own parsonage back yard. It hung suspended in the tree. Our church was struggling. There was no way we could hire a tree company to come and saw it up and haul it away. Guess who did? Rich Hurst. I did not realize that he'd done a lot of tree work in his younger days. Rich showed up with his hardhat and chainsaw, and Bill Lincoln from our church and I helped him. He did a very professional job dropping the large limb and cutting it up.

Rich comes from a great family. They have a big July 4 cookout every year, and my daughter Rachel and I have been privileged to attend the last couple of them. The most fun we had was Rich driving us around in his Dad's classic 1939 maroon Ford convertible! Rich is also a GREAT storyteller. He'll captivate you with stories from his years of pastoring in Gloversville, New York, or even his antics as a high school kid. Rich's story of receiving his first Holy Communion is frankly hysterically funny. I know that may sound hard to believe, but he was a young adult at the time, and if you really want to hear that one, you'll have to ask him! I've also attended at least one special Christmas celebration at his home and enjoyed seeing his model trains.

I know that over the past decade, Rich has battled some serious health problems. He's kept plugging. I was not aware of how many health problems he was having recently. He did not make a big deal about it. I am truly sorry to see him have to step down from his pastorate.

My friend Claire Grimes often says, "Where is it written that life is fair?"...and in many ways life in this fallen world is NOT always fair. No, this doesn't seem fair for Rich. But God's Word does say to learn to be joyful in our trials, and that it's in the trials where we grow the most. Even so, I am very sorry to see Rich going through this. Rich is probably not the kind of guy who'd have been nominated for "Framingham Person of the Year" or something like that, and he'd be really embarrassed to be nominated for such an honor, but truly he would be worthy of it.

I hope each person who reads this will offer a prayer for Rich Hurst and his family and will invite others to pray for him.

Now, the LAST thing Rich Hurst needs is any "Job's Comforter's" and I trust you know what I mean by that. However, if you have a brief message of encouragement and support for him, I think he'd like that. In a public forum, I just can't share his personal contact information. BUT, if you e-mail a message for Rich Hurst to ME at
revrbaril@aol.com I will forward it on to him. AND, should you want to send him a card or a note, you are welcome to send it to Bob Baril, P.O. Box 4702, Framingham, MA 01704 and I will see to it that he receives it.

Friday, March 9, 2012


"...I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance..." (from 2 Peter 3:1)

Yesterday evening after I'd just picked up a couple of prescriptions at Walgreen's on Route 9 in Framingham, I found myself thinking about the Framingham I'd moved to in January of 1987 and how much has changed. (Many of you know that I served at pastor of First Assembly of God of Framingham which closed a couple of years ago. I lived in Framingham until one year ago when I moved to Webster, although I have a secular job in Framingham so I come to the community almost every day.)

Walgreen's on Route 9 did not exist in 1987. On that exact site was "Duca's" which had been a popular restaurant and nightspot for many years. On the site of what is now the stip mall which includes Staples and Ruby Tuesday's was the Boston West Hotel. That hotel had opened in the early 1960s with a Spanish name; I think it was the Fonda Del Corro. For awhile after we sold our original building, we held services in that hotel. In fact, the hotel broke its lease with us because it had been sold to the strip mall developer.

Cars were still being built at the GM plant on Western Ave in the late 1980s. As I recall, it was the mid-sized GM cars that were built there. You'd see all the car carrier trucks driving through Town loaded with brand new Buick Specials and Pontiac 6000s. Speaking of GM cars, there was a Chevrolet dealer, Crown Chevrolet on Union Ave. I got thrown out of there on Washington's Birthday 1987. I went in to just ask a couple of questions about leasing, and a salesman threw me out because I was "wasting his time"! Of course, there was also Long Cadillac on Waverly Street which has now been gone for a few years.

One of the first things we did in Framingham was to open bank accounts at Pioneer Bank which was a one story brick building on the site of what's now the parking lot in between the police station and the Memorial Building on Union Ave. Pioneer was a very customer friendly bank. After a few years, they closed that site and relocated to Edgell Rd. A couple of years after that, they were bought out by Bank of Boston. Of course, Bank of Boston is now long gone. In 1987 there was still a popular charismatic and evangelical boostore (Logos Bookstore) in Town located on Union Ave. That closed up many years ago.

I used to do food shopping at both the Big D on Waverly Street and Purity Supreme in Saxonville. Once in awhile, I'd go to the old Stop & Shop on Waverly St. Market Basket in Ashland had not yet been built. On that site was a closed up old King's Dept. Store. There was a lot of talk about what kind of development should go on that old King's site, and of course, now we know. What was Big D closed up somewhere around 1991. The latest business there was Paramount Motorcycle which is now gone. Stop & Shop was at the corner of Waverly and Beaver Sts. That store was closed and eventually replaced by the brand new Stop & Shop on Old Connecticut Path. Purity Supreme was once a popular chain in the Boston area. I think they are now all gone. That store is now the Robinson's Ace Hardware.

Believe it or not, the traffic pattern on Route 126/Concord St. between Route 9 and downtown was different. That used to be used as a FOUR lane road- two on each side! No kidding! It was a lot like the Jamaicaway in Boston's Jamaica Plain section or Nahatan Street Norwood. In late 1987, they radically changed the traffic pattern, changing it to ONE lane on each side with turning lanes in the middle. Everybody HATED it at first and predicted it would become a traffic nightmare. It has. Would it have been any better if they'd have just left it alone? I don't know.

The Sampan was a pretty good Chinese restaurant in downtown Framingham in 1987. It was small, too small to have a buffet, but the food was very good. Around 1995 the food quality started to slide a bit, and by 2005 it had gotten pretty bad. Of course, Limey's Pub is in that place to day. In 1987 Wallace's Family Restaurant was still operating on Concord St. near Hartford St. It was a very popular family restaurant and in the years before I'd moved to Framingham was known for its ice cream. Somewhere around 1990, Wallace's changed hands and became the Han Dynasty Chinese Resturant. The Han started out very bad, got good for awhile, got very bad again, and closed a couple of years ago. The Union House was very popular in 1987, as was its rival, LaCantina, just down the street. Rumors had it that the Union House STOLE LaCantina's house salad dressing recipe, or was it the other way around?! I liked both restaurants but thought the Union House was slightly better. Alas, the Union House has been gone for probably at least eleven years. Ken's has been around in Framingham for years. It got kind of mediocre in the 1990s but in the past five years has updated and rebounded to be a very popular and very good restaurant.

The original Shopper's World was still functioning in 1987. I went there on a Spring day in 1987 to the special WRKO blood drive. I donated blood and watched Gene Burns and Jerry Williams broadcasting outdoors under the gazebo. Jerry was doing all he could to "work the crowd" but was having kind of a tough time of it that day. I do miss the old Shopper's World. It was a very unique and special place. I also miss the original Natick Mall even more. That present Natick Mall is a monstrosity.

There were Brazilian residents and businesses in Framingham in 1987, but only about a fifth as many as there are today. Downtown Framingham was more Puerto Rican than anything else. Say, I also forgot to mention that I miss Brigham's in downtown Framingham and Friendly's on Union Ave.

I joined the Framingham Interfaith Clergy Association shortly after coming to Town. I was amazed at the longevity of some of the clergy. Lutheran pastor Andy Finger had been in Town since the 1950s- almost as long as I'd been alive! Episcopalian Rector Mason Wilson had been at St. Andrew's since 1961. I got a kick out of him. He had a very nasal way of speaking, was heavy and very bald, and had quite a strong personality. The Rev. Wilson shared his reflections about Framingham at the time of the Kennedy assasination in one of our meetings. That had been one of his most challenging times as a minister in town. Methodist Pastor John Ambler at First United Methodist was almost at the end of his career. He'd marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the civil rights marches in the South and said he'd have "followed him anywhere." I really enjoyed Mark Ferrin, pastor of First Baptist Church. He looked and acted a lot like comedian Bill Murray. In fact, Mark used to literally dress up as a clown and entertain that way. In those days, there was another American Baptist Church in Town, Park Street Baptist on the common downtown (now the Armenian Orthodox Church). That church was pastored by Mike Scott an interesting guy who was a former police officer. Notice that the clergy then were pretty much all MALE. By the end of my stint as a Framingham clergyperson, msny of my pastoral colleagues were WOMEN.

I was just 32 when I came to Framingham, with a full head of dark brown hair and a perfectly brown mustache. Now I look at my thinning, graying head and my white mustache at age 57 and wonder where the time went. What will Framingham be like in another 25 years?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

I do a LOT of writing, but this is a very significant and important piece. I have prayed much about it, and I have asked that the people who are supposed to read this will be directed to read it. If this is a busy time for you, I ask you to come back to it later. I'm asking each reader to read this thoroughly and give it thought and prayer. It's not an easy piece to write.

I tend to be a person who is very dramatic, very emotional, and who can be very sensational. These traits can be good and they can be bad. On the positive side, they tend to help me to be a very effective public speaker and storyteller, and also a good writer and storyteller. But on the negative side, a person with my persona runs the risk of not being taken very seriously when he or she needs to be. My mother often told us as kids the Aesop fable of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf". Most of you know it. When the kid REALLY needed the help, he was not taken seriously, and it was his own fault. I remember that when my mother was near death, I told a family friend of her condition. At her funeral, this guy actually said to me, "Bob, when you told me she had only days to live and was about to succumb to cancer, I did not take you seriously. I just thought you were exaggerating." I realized that maybe I should rethink being emotional and sensational about EVERYTHING, but I guess I still have not done that.

So, I hope you will not be like the guy who did not believe how close my mother was to death and did not take me seriously. There have been several very serious times of crisis for my family and me. This is one of them. It MAY be the worst. Honestly, I think it is the worst. On a scale of 1-10, a 1 being something very minor and a 10 being catastrophic, this one is a 13.

Some time ago, I received a letter from someone who really took me to task. This person said I should NEVER let anyone know of my problems...that it meant I was not trusting God. I have been told that by others, as well. Shortly after that, I had coffee with Pastor Rob Woods of New Hope Church in Marlboro, MA. Rob told me he flatly disagreed with that letter writer and with anyone who tells me I have to keep my problems bottled up and just trust God in secret. "How are we supposed to know how to pray for you and how to help you if you don't TELL us?" Rob admonished, and that helped me. That is also the spirit of the Bible verses I opened with. As much as I CAN be a loner and very private about SOME things, I also believe very strongly in the BODY OF CHRIST concept- that (in the best sense of the words) we really ARE to be very involved in each other's lives, and that means earnestly praying for and encouraging one another. Maybe more so than other people, but I need that! I also expect others to contact me regarding their own prayer requests and problems, that I can get involved in praying for them and helping them when and where I can.

Last night as I washed dishes, in my heart I asked God this question:

"Is it right for me to 'put this out there' to ask for prayer support as I feel I am in way over my head and drowning, or is it right to just keep it to myself and trust You?"

Immediately, and I mean IMMEDIATELY the Lord spoke to my heart in that "still small voice" that some of you know about. He reminded me of the Apostle Paul in Acts chapter 23 verses 12-24. Paul had been arrested and jailed in Jerusalem. His nephew learned that more than forty of his enemies had bound themselves in a conspiracy to neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. The nephew told Paul. Paul immediately called for a soldier and told the soldier to take the young man to his Commander; that the young man had something important to report. When the young man told the Commander what was going on, the Commander called for a bunch of soldiers and horsemen as escorts, and had Paul taken scores of miles away to the jail in Caesarea where he'd be safe. The Lord pointed out to me that Paul didn't just sit there in Jerusalem and say, "Well, I'm just going to KEEP THIS A SECRET and TRUST GOD to protect me." He had the matter reported, and literally had a LOT of help in getting out of there safely! The Lord impressed me that, likewise, to ask for many people to earnestly stand with me in prayer during a time of crisis is NOT wrong at all.

One of my all time favorite films is the 8-year-old Christian football film, "Facing the Giants". I had watched that at least 4 times, but I watched it again last night. THIS time I watched it with the verbal commentary track running. While I LOVE that film and never get tired of it, my one regret about it is that it's a fictional film and not a true story. How I'd wished those miracles in the film had REALLY happened! Well, was I ever surprised last night?! It turns out that almost every miracle portrayed in the miracle: Coach Taylor being given a new vehicle paid for by one of the Christian school parents; his wife getting pregnant when they'd been told they could NOT have children; an older man praying earnestly for revival to break out in the school and THIS HAPPENING; all of that and more that you see in the film REALLY HAPPENED- just not all as part of the same story. The filmmakers combined a bunch of miracles and true stories into one movie BOY, did that excite me!

If you have a chance to get that "Facing the Giants" film, please do so! How I identified with Coach Taylor last night, more than I ever had before. The filmmakers stressed the character's perceived failures as a leader and as a man; this led to depression and low self esteem. YET, he turned to God and changed his entire focus, and miracles happened!

I never minimize young people. My daughter Rachel who is in her mid-twenties has sent me several e-mails lately. She has specifically encouraged me to pray for wisdom and to believe God for GREAT MIRACLES for the near future. She has shared with me magnificent answers to prayer in her own life as she's done this. Listen, she's encouraged me more than almost anyone else over the past few days.

But I do covet your prayers. I ask you to please pray for me today. And, if you know someone who really knows how to pray...whether or not they know me or know anything about me...would you have them read this, as well, and would you ask them to pray for me.

I'm trusting that as we all pray, miracles will happen.
If anyone wants to personally contact me, my e-mail is


"Let no man despise thy youth..." (from I Timothy 4:14)

Yesterday I voted for the first time as a resident of the Town of Webster. I had registered shortly after moving to Webster and there's been a Town election or two, but since I really don't know ANY of the Webster politicians or their positions I opted to pass on those.

We vote at the Webster Town Hall, which is a very fancy and impressive building. At first I was not even sure which entrance to use, but I noticed one where several cars were parked. There were no political signs outside or anything like that. Standing just outside the entrance was a young man who approached me. My title for this piece will be appreciated by anyone who knew the late Ken Lavers. Ken passed away last May; I think he was 84. Whenever Ken met ANY man under the age of 70, he would smile and enthusiastically proclaim, "Just a YOUNG man!". Well, this guy who met me just outside the Town Hall door really WAS just a young man!

It turns out he is Ryan Fattman of Sutton who will be our new State Representative due to redistricting. He asked me if I would take one of his handouts on my way out of the polls and I said I would.

We voted in a big room. There were a lot of poll workers, but not a lot of voters at all. (This was around 6 p.m.) I had no idea which Precinct I live in. They had listings of all Precincts and which streets belonged to which Precinct. After checking out a few lists, I discovered I live in Precinct 1. I went through the process of getting a Republican ballot and casting my vote for Ron Paul. Yes, Mitt Romney carried Massachusetts with 72% of the vote, but I am still glad I did my part for Ron Paul. There was a place to vote for Republican Town Committee members, but there was not one person listed! In Framingham, there were always several people on the list for Republican Town Committee.

On the way out I did stop to see Ryan Fattman (incidentally, he is NOT fat!) and got one of his cards. Nowhere on his card did it state his party affiliation, but I'd suspect he's a Republican. He listed the causes he believes in, and I'd say I agree with all of them. He's been a State Rep. for awhile. He is just new to represent Webster. Ryan's got to be one of the youngest State Reps. I give him a lot of credit. I also was impressed he took the time to stand out in the cold and meet voters. Of course, he was not on the ballot this week, but he will be on the ballot in November.

So, that was my experience of voting in Webster!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." (Romans 12:18)

I had an unexpected and kind of surreal experience yesterday. Most of you know that although I am an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, right now I am working at two very humbling secular jobs. One (my main job) is as an operator at a telephone answering service. The other is a few hours a week as a greeter and handout distributor at a BJ'S Wholesale Club in Framingham, MA. (BJs is very much like "Sam's Club".) One woman stopped and looked intently at me.

"Did you used to be a Framingham Town Meeting Member?" she asked.

I told her that while I was not a Framingham Town Meeting Member, I did live in Framingham for over twenty-three years and was quite active in the town. I asked her if she was Dawn Harkness. (Dawn Harkness is a prominent liberal Framingham activist who ran for State Rep. a few years ago.) She replied in the affirmative and then she asked me for my name.

"Oh, YES," she commented, "I remember YOU. YOU wrote all kinds of nasty things about me without even knowing or meeting me! YOU said I was a MOONBAT!"

"I don't remember writing that," I replied.

"Oh, yes, YOU certainly DID! And it really HURT my teenage daughter at the time!"

I was kind of taken back. I supposed I COULD have called her a "moonbat" in print. I honestly didn't remember.

("Moonbat" is radio talk show host Howie Carr's word for idealistic people on the very far left of the political spectrum. It's not so much meant to be nasty as is to be humorous. It's kind of like the way one of my Bible College professors, The Rev. Terry Lewis, referred to authors who make a lot of money writing pop culture Christian books but really don't know what they're talking about. Dr. Lewis called them, "Twinkies". He said they were "creme filled but not Spirit filled"!)

Dawn Harkness did not stop with that. She added, "You were out to ATTACK me, and I don't know why- you came against my efforts to move Town Meeting to an energy efficient location."

That I definitely did not remember.

Her final gripe was the most cutting of all:

"Weren't YOU a plaintiff in the legal case against gay marriage in Massachusetts?"

How I wished she hadn't brought that up. I'll address that further on in this piece. It's something I deeply regret.

"Yes" I said,

"Yes, A HOMOPHOBE! And I'm GAY!"

What do you say to that?

I kind of nervously said, "I'm sorry,"

Confidently, she proclaimed, "I don't THINK you ARE!"
And she was off.

I had only a short time between finishing up work at BJ's yesterday and starting on my late afternoon shift at the answering service, but I stopped at the Framingham Public Library to do some research. I needed to read some of my blog archives and see exactly WHAT I had written about Dawn Harkness.

First was the "moonbat" issue.

THAT, it turns out, came from a posting on this blog from July 21, 2008. The post was entitled, "Kerry at Dunkin Donuts". It was about Sen. John Kerry's visit to Dunkin' Donuts on Route 126 in downtown Framingham. I wrote that Dawn Harkness was there with her green converted ambulance vehicle. In describing Dawn Harkness, I wrote:

"She is what Howie Carr calls a "Moon Bat"".

THAT'S the "moonbat" comment. Would I write that AGAIN? I don't know. But, actually I didn't CALL her a "moonbat". I wrote that, "She is what Howie Carr calls a "Moon Bat"". THAT is absolutely true. Frankly, I could write of MYSELF, "Bob Baril is what talk show host Jim Braude calls a 'religious nut'!" and THAT would also be true.

NOW, what about the "attack" on Dawn Harkness for wanting to move Town Meeting to a more energy efficient venue?

That comes from a May 5, 2008 posting on this blog entitled, "Don't 'Mothball' the Memorial Building". Here is the exact wording of my first paragraph of that piece:

"A front page article in Monday’s (May 5, 2008) MetroWest Daily News really perturbed me. It was at the bottom left and was entitled, 'Pointing out the "energy monsters" '. The article was about the 'Greener Framingham Committee’s first report to Town Meeting'. According to the article the first target of committee Chairman Dawn Harkness was the two chandeliers in Nevins Hall which 'do not pass the green grade' because they use 3,500 watts of electricity. Criticizing the high ceilings and draftiness of the Memorial building as well as its inefficient heating system (but a new heating system is soon to be installed), the Committee is recommending that the Memorial Building just plain NOT EVER be used after 4:30 p.m. and that committee meetings and other functions be held in other facilities around Town."

At the time, I was an active Member of the civic group Framingham Downtown Renaissance. Several Members of that group, including me, strongly believed the Framingham Memorial Building's Nevins Hall is seriously under appreciated and under used. It was our goal to see Nevins Hall refurbished and used much more for concerts, plays, etc. AND certainly for Town functions. My piece was not and was NEVER a personal attack on Dawn Harkness. Not at all! It was, rather, a strong advocacy of utilizing Nevins Hall more.

Now, for the criticism of Dawn Harkness that has merit: my signing on as a plaintiff on the anti-gay marriage case in Massachusetts. I have regretted that decision hundreds of times. Honestly, I wish I never did that. I probably will never run for public office in Massachusetts, but if I ever did, I'd be "vetted" and that would be thrown in my face. I would be labeled a hate monger, a homophobe, and a dangerous right-wing extremist.

In fact, I have a number of gay friends, including gay clergy; and including married gay clergy. Back in the mid-2000s, I had a couple of very close clergy friends who were activists in the anti-gay marriage crusade. Now, don't get me wrong, I did oppose gay marriage; and I frankly think (to use that famous quote) that "marriage is between a man and a woman". I also, however, do NOT oppose civil unions for gays, and I once wrote a column about that in the MetroWest Daily News. An individual I respect asked me if I'd be a plaintiff in that case. Without batting an eyelash, I said I would be.

Big mistake!

Had I even given it twenty-four hours to think and pray about, I really believe I would have said "no". I have been ashamed of what I did and continue to deeply regret it. I have the same honest struggle with this issue that most honest evangelicals do. We really believe the Bible teaches homosexual behavior is wrong. If it was ONLY the Old Testament that taught this, maybe there would be some leeway. But there are New Testament passages, especially the one in the Book of Romans that absolutely condemn homosexual behavior.

NOW, does THAT mean we hate gay people? Outside of those NUTS from the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, I'd say 98% of evangelicals do NOT hate gay people. We have gay people in our churches. We have gay friends. But, we also just can't flush those New Testament passages down the toilet.

An older woman who is a very good friend of mine talked to me about this at the time gay marriage passed in Massachusetts. She told me she has two lesbian friends who live as a couple in western Massachusetts. She really likes them and she considers them friends. But on Biblical grounds, she opposed gay marriage. She said, "I just HOPE they don't decide to get married and to invite me to the wedding. I really like them but I just couldn't go. I just HOPE I don't get put in that position."

And, for my gay friends, do you think you know the late Jerry Falwell's position on gays? It might surprise you that he went through that same struggle. He preached against homosexuality with boldness, but he was deeply pained by the violence done to gays, and one of his closest friends was gay author Mel White. With Mel White, he ran a day long "Gay and Lesbian Dialogue" at his Thomas Road Baptist Church. He felt he needed to get to know the gays in his community and they needed to get to know him. He did not change his mind about the Bible, but he did say he would never preach hate against gays. Incidentally, the Westboro Baptist crowd picketed Falwell's church that day, holding up signs that said, "Judas Falwell!"

I really wanted to give what I have just written to Dawn Harkness. I tried to find her U.S. Mail address but cannot find it. If any reader knows Dawn Harkness personally, would you please direct her to read this post.

And, hey, Dawn, I AM really sorry I offended you.