Friday, June 24, 2005

Any fish in this hole?

Centreville Churches image hosted by Photobucket.comSo I was doing a little research the other day on the area where my church is located. I noticed that there are a lot of churches in Centreville. Frankly, I'm surprised the place is not glowing with glory. But I have noticed that they tend to be separated by many factors - denominations, races, worship styles, and I got to thinking, what would it be like if there was one - one - church there - the Church of Jesus Christ.
The reason I mention this is I have been reading a couple of books that speak to this kind of thought, particularly The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren. He uses the analogy of fishing when discussing reaching out to people in your community. So out of curiosity I thought I would look up "churches in Centreville, VA" on What I found was amazing. The little black dots with numbers in them on the picture are the ones that hit on a map. It only counted the churches that actually had phone numbers in the area around where U.S. 29 and Virginia 28 intersect (Centrevillagers will know where I am talking about) and it hit on at least 11 of them. Not to mention the churches who meet in the same building but don't have a phone number. Eleven churches within about two miles of each other.

Now I'm no expert, but if there are that many churches in a small area -- Baptist, Assemblies of God, Presbyterian, Korean, Bible, Community, -- how can there be anyone who does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? And that doesn't even count the Mormons!

Are we doing something wrong? Or are we all fishing in the same hole?

When I talked it over with my wife, I started to brainstorm: what if there were only one church -- one great big one in a building like the multiplex? You know, 12 auditoriums all equipped with A-V equipment and all that?

You could have services in there all day on Sunday (maybe even on Saturday for the 7th-Day Adventists) and you could every now and then have one GIANT service for the whole church. Wouldn't that be a novel idea?

But maybe I'm dreaming. Maybe pastors don't want to be in the same building because they are afraid of "losing their sheep." But can you imagine what it would be like -- having the "black church" and the "white Church" and the "Latino Church" and the "Asian Church" all be The Church? The one Jesus died for? What would that look like?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

What did Thomas Wolff Say?

US Open image hosted by So the PGA Tour goes to my old home town next week - Pinehurst, North Carolina for the U.S. Open, the second major tournament of the year.
It has been six years since Payne Stewart won the U.S. Open at Pinehurst and the old home town is getting ready to host the big party again. But my most poignant memories of the small North Carolina village have little to do with golf (I played tennis). If you are fortunate enough to go there, don't think that golf is the only thing you can do there - but don't look to live la vida loca either.

Pinehurst when I lived there was mostly for people who were not from there. Even I was not from there, although I am a native North Carolinian. My parents moved us there when I was six and we lived in a house that was called Pine Tree Cottage. Now when this thing was called a cottage, it was kind of the English version of cottage - you know, massive.

This house had 22 rooms, with 8 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms. It had a veranda that stretched around it and it was great to sit on that porch when it rained. I remember two huge Magnolia trees in the front yard and claw-foot bathtubs with endless hot water.

This house had been built in 1896, which wasn't too long after the Village of Pinehurst was developed by the Tufts family. Turns out the house used to be an overflow hotel for the Holly Inn. The architecture was the same and the house was meant for more than a family of four.

We lived in this place for the eight years I was in school. When I was in high school we moved to a more modern, ranch-style house near the local airport and Community College.
But the thing that really, really feels like a lost opportunity is that when we moved, we could have bought the old place for $25,000! Can you imagine that? The thing was in the middle of the village of Pinehurst and would have made a bed and breakfast that I could be retired in now. But Dad had other plans and decided to move to the ranch, which he ended up paying $50,000 for.

Dad had other plans though. It was in the living room of the Pine Tree Cottage on a rainy Saturday morning - the morning of the UNC-NC State football game - that Dad told mom that when I turned 18 he was leaving. So I guess asking him to think about buying an 80-year-old house that needed probably $75,000 of work would be a little ridiculous, huh?

But have you tried to get a hotel room in Pinehurst this week?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Betty Crocker: Curse of the Kitchen

Brownies Image hosted by Photobucket.comWhy do people bring brownies to work?

Today, when I was feeling especially plump because I have put on a few pounds, someone decided to bring brownies to work! And not just crappy brownies. I mean the really chocolately ones with the walnuts that would go great with coffee. And I love brownies and coffee.

I could tell this wasn't going to be an easy day. I mean come on, chocolate fudge brownies with walnuts hooked up with a steamin' hot cup-o-joe. It's like crack.

I mean you get a really good brownie, warm and steamy and just out of the oven, so the fudge chips in it form these long chocolate strings when you break it and you can see the steam coming off it and you can smell the chocolate.

Take a bite and you want to chew the whole thing in one gulp, but you don't dare because it would mean plowing through this thing really fast. And you wash that first orgasmic bite down with a great cup of coffee (not the swill the serve at McDonald's but real coffee, good stuff that takes time to brew).

But, such pleasure has to be taken in little doses. And rather than forsake brownies forever, I have found a substitute. They are called "No-Pudge" brownies and may the almighty bless the woman who invented them. Her name is Lindsay Frucci and she is a confessed brownie addict. You can read her story at the above link.

But these things provide those of us who long for a brownie fix to get our chocolate Jones and not die for it. The mix is made with yogurt instead of butter and cream and all the other crap. But it tastes like the real thing. And with a little "Better N-Peanut Butter" from Trader Joe's or Wegman's
, these things are righteous. Drop a dab of fat-free Cool-Whip on them, and that's the end. Anybody got some coffee?

So I will be able to hold out when the office good-will ambassadors bring in the junk food. But it ain't always easy.